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Botched Execution, Gaza From Space, Algerian Plane Missing

German astronaut Alexander Gerst's "saddest photo yet.”
German astronaut Alexander Gerst's "saddest photo yet.”

37 Palestinians were killed this morning in Gaza, taking the death toll after 17 days of the Israeli operation to 734, with more than 4,000 injured, Ma’an news agency reports. Hamas meanwhile claimed to have killed 8 Israeli soldiers early this morning, as Tel Aviv was targeted by more rockets. This comes as the FAA lifted its ban on U.S.-Israel flights to and from the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called yesterday for a temporary truce to allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, although he repeated that there would be no lasting ceasefire until full negotiations and the end of Israel’s blockade on Gaza. Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon however said that the army was “preparing the next stages of the fighting,” telling troops "You need to be ready for more important steps in Gaza,” according to The Daily Telegraph. This came as the United Nations Human Rights Council said it would launch an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.

Israeli daily Haaretz is reporting that human rights organization B’Tselem’s broadcast mentioning the names of dead Palestinian children had been banned by the country’s media watchdog for being “politically controversial.”

The Washington Post reports the doubts of Gazans that the U.S. can broker a peace agreement given its financial ties with Israel.

From the International Space Station, German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this bleak photo on social media, calling it his “saddest photo yet.”

One week since the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the question of responsibility still burns. A report by Reuters yesterday quotes Alexander Khodakovsky, a rebel leader from eastern Ukraine, as saying that his group had BUK missiles, the type that Washington believes was used to shoot down MH17. But that account was contradicted by BBC journalist Gabriel Gatehouse, who reports that Khodakovsky himself later denied “all the details in the Reuters story” and claimed he had been “misunderstood.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Minister challenged Washington to publish the evidence it claims to have, and accused the U.S. of “manufacturing” the facts.

Writing on the possibility presented by U.S. intelligence officials that a Ukrainian army “defector” might have fired the missile, investigative journalist Robert Parry claims that another explanation might be that the man was indeed working for the military.

At least 60 people were killed after a prisoner convoy in Iraq was hit by roadside bombs and came under heavy gunfire, AP reports. Among the dead are 8 soldiers, the 52 others being prisoners. The attack began with an assault on an army base, with forced officials to leave, raising the possibility that the move was intended to provoke a jailbreak. The extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) has carried such attacks in the past. Today’s violence came as the Iraqi Parliament was preparing to elect the country’s new President, having already postponed the vote yesterday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also expected in Baghdad today for a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Taiwanese officials defended the flight clearance given to the TransAsia Airways flight that crashed yesterday, killing at least 48 people. Despite severe weather conditions due to the presence of a typhoon, leading to the plane crashing into buildings after a failed landing attempt, the Transport Minister said that “the meteorology data showed that it met the aviation safety requirements.” Read more from the South China Morning Post.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines' flight MH17 may change Putin's hand in eastern Ukraine, but a weak and divided Europe is still no match for the well-armed Russian poker player, according to Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza’s Andrzej Lubowski: “Future conflicts and misfortunes will soon overshadow the MH17 tragedy. Matters will get back on old tracks. U.S. sanctions will only be a pinch to the Russian economy, as long as the European Union continues dragging its feet. If even a brutal aggression doesn't stop France from supplying Russia with modern weapons; if the CEO of Siemens can't restrain himself from visiting Vladimir Putin's dacha, doesn't it mean that Europe lacks character, political will and imagination? Russia's ruler is laughing out loud at the European impotence.”
Read the full story, What Europe Still Doesn’t Understand About Vladimir Putin.

A Spanish private airline Company, Swiftair, said it had lost contact with one of its planes, operated by Air Algérie. The flight, which took off from Burkina Faso with 116 people on board, never reached Algiers, its intended destination. Developing

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland broke the European human rights convention when it helped the CIA render two terror suspects in 2002-2003 who have since been transferred to Guantanamo. According to the BBC, the Polish government must pay $135,000 in damages to each man.


Fighting groups and representatives from the Central African Republic’s interim government have signed a ceasefire, in what could be a first step towards the end of a months-long conflict between Muslim and Christian groups. France 24 however warns that there has been no agreement yet on disarmament or on the country’s political future.

A lethal injection execution in Arizona took close to two hours, in what appears to be another botched application of the death penalty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is switching Russia to wintertime permanently, a move that is expected to increase the general health and mood of Russians.

A pine tree planted in memory of George Harrison has been killed ... by beetles.

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Turkey: The Blind Spot Between Racial And Religious Discrimination

Before the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war, a social media campaign in Turkey aimed to take on anti-Arab and anti-refugee sentiment. But the campaign ultimately just swapped one type of discrimination for another.

photo of inside Istanbul's Eminonu New Mosque

Muslims and tourists visiting Istanbul's Eminonu New Mosque.

Levent Gültekin


ISTANBUL — In late September, several pro-government journalists in Turkey promoted a social media campaign centered around a video against those in the country who are considered anti-Arab. The campaign was built around the idea of being “siblings in religion,” and the “union of the ummah,” or global Muslim community.

(In a very different context, such sentiments were repeated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Israel-Hamas war erupted.)

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While the goal is understandable, these themes are highly disconnected from reality.

First, let's look at the goal of the campaign. Our country has a serious problem of irregular migrants and refugees, and the administration isn’t paying adequate attention to this. On the contrary, they encourage the flow of refugees with policies such as selling citizenship.

Worries about irregular migrants and refugees naturally create tension in the society. The anger that targets not the government but the refugees has come to a point which both threatens the social peace and brought the issue to hostility towards the Arabs, even the tourists. The actual goal of this campaign by the pro-government journalists is obvious if you consider how an anti-tourist movement would hurt Turkey’s economy.

However, as mentioned above, while the goal is understandable, the themes of the “union of the ummah” and “siblings in religion” are problematic. The campaign offers the idea of being siblings in religion as an argument against the rising racism towards irregular migrants and refugees; a different form of racism or discrimination.

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