Palestinians flee the Shujayeh neighborhood during heavy Israeli shelling in Gaza City.
Palestinians flee the Shujayeh neighborhood during heavy Israeli shelling in Gaza City.
Worldcrunch

Monday, July 21, 2014

GAZA DEATH TOLL TOPS 500
Israel pushed ahead with its military operation in Gaza, with Reuters reporting massive attacks, including one that killed 25 members of the same family, as the death toll reached 508 in 14 days of the operation “Protective Edge,” with at least 81,000 displaced.

The Guardian also reported that the IDF is using flechette shells, a weapon described by an Israeli human rights organization as “anti-personnel” and which use goes against “rules of humanitarian law.” NBC News and Al Jazeera said that Israel had fired white phosphorus, a chemical weapon it has used in the past, but the reports have not been confirmed. Haaretz reports that 13 Israeli soldiers have also been killed this weekend during the operation.

In a strong worded statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the military operation as an “atrocious action” and called for “an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire.” John Kerry meanwhile is expected in Cairo where he will try to renew global efforts to push for a ceasefire.

MH17: NEW BATTLES AS INVESTIGATORS ARRIVE
Three Dutch investigators arrived this morning in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk where they are expected to be joined later by Malaysian officials, as calls for an international investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 continue. Simultaneously, reports came out of an assault on Donetskby Ukrainian troops with a leader of the pro-Russian rebels saying that at least four Kiev tanks were trying to break into the city.

Tensions between Ukraine and the West on the one hand and Russia on the other hand escalated over the weekend, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announcing that Washington was in possession of an “enormous amount of evidence” that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for shooting down the aircraft with the complicity of Moscow. Early today, Vladimir Putin reiterated calls for security for the international investigators and criticized those who “use this tragedy for any kind of vested interest.”

More than 250 bodies have been recovered so far, with hundreds of people still involved in the search operation in the area. There were several reports over the weekend indicating the rebels in control of the region were blocking the proper recovery and storage of the victims’ bodies.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Meanwhile in Saint Petersburg, Russian youth have never been so enamored with Vladimir Putin, reports Swiss daily Le Temps. “At the next door, a small team discusses the best way to support Putin's government policies, writing the major lines on a white board. The network, created a year ago, is based on some essential principles: against gay marriage, in support of Putin, and promoting idea that the four principal religions should be Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. They also aim to protect the Russian language. For this reason, their actions so far have focused primarily on the events in Ukraine. The first one consisted of installing stands to show passersby “how civilized countries use old tires — for flower pots or sports equipment — instead of burning them like in Maidan.”

Read the full article, Putin As Youth Idol For Russia's Anti-Maidan Movement.

IRAN ELIMINATES ENRICHED URANIUM
The United Nations’ nuclear agency said that Iran has completed the process of converting or diluting its 20%-enriched nuclear material, as agreed last year as part of the negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. According to AP, the move reflects “Iran's desire not to derail the diplomatic process.” Over the weekend, the United States and the other five countries involved in historic discussions with Iran agreed to push yesterday’s deadline to November 24. “There are still significant gaps on some core issues,” explained the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

PRIVATE HELP TO SAVE WOULD-BE IMMIGRANTS
An Italian-American couple based in Malta have taken the rescuing of migrants coming into Italy’s water into their own hands, launching "Operation Moas" — Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Regina Catrambone and her husband Christopher wanted to "make sure that people do not die in desperation," and their inaugural mission will embark in August. Funded by the philanthropic couple, a team will use drone technology and a boat once involved in search-and-rescue in the U.S., but will not compete with Maltese or Italian rescuers. Read more about the operation from Malta Today. Over the past few days the Italian Navy has rescued more than 4,000 migrants, raising the total number for this year to a staggering 70,000.

FAST FOOD SCANDAL IN CHINA
China is facing a new food safety scandal after a media report revealed that a supplier sold expired meat to McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. According to news agency Xinhua, the Shanghai food and drug administration suspended the operations of the supplier, which said it would cooperate in the investigation. At the end of 2013, KFC had already been affected by a food safety scandal over the quality of the chicken it sold.

THREE ACTORS GONE
In the span of three days, three acting legends have died: Stritch, Angulo, Garner. Read from our Farewell page.

YOUNG BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION
At the age of 25, Rory McIlroy has nabbed his third grand slam golf title, with a two-shot victory at the British Open. Read more from CBS.

MIDDLE EAST FRIENDSHIPS AND ENMITIES EXPLAINED
Struggling to keep up with who supports who in the Middle East? This simple chart will get you started with the basic friendships and enmities in the region.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

PREHISTORIC GEOGRAPHY
Researchers in Tasmania found evidence suggesting that the island, which lies south of Australia, has prehistoric North American roots.

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Geopolitics

Taliban And Iran: The Impossible Alliance May Already Be Crumbling

After the Sunni fundamentalist Taliban rulers retook control of Afghanistan, there were initial, friendly signals exchanged with Iran's Shia regime. But a recent border skirmish recalls tensions from the 1990s, when Iran massed troops on the Afghan frontier.

Taliban troops during a military operation in Kandahar

The clashes reported this week from the border between Iran and Afghanistan were perhaps inevitable.

There are so far scant details on what triggered the flare up on Wednesday between Iranian border forces and Taliban fighters, near the district of Hirmand in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province. Still, footage posted on social media indicated the exchange of fire was fairly intense, with troops on both sides using both light and heavy weaponry.

Keep reading... Show less
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