Wednesday, July 23, 2014
GAZA: WAR CRIME ACCUSATIONS
An emergency UN Human Rights Council is being held in Geneva as Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” enters its 16th day, with the death toll in Gaza now standing at least 647, after new attacks this morning. UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay opened the meeting saying that Israel may be committing war crimes in Gaza, where its punitive house demolitions and killing of children raise the "strong possibility" that it is violating international law, according to AFP. She also condemned Hamas for its “indiscriminate attacks.”
Israeli and Palestinian leaders exchanged war crime accusations. The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki accused Israel of committing “a crime against humanity” for which he said “Israel must be held accountable.” Israel’s ambassador to the UN argued that it was Hamas that was guilty of war crimes and that Israel was acting according to international law.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile defied a ban to fly to Israel’s main airport in Tel Aviv, after a rocket fell nearby yesterday. At a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Kerry said that "some steps forward" towards a ceasefire had been made but added that more work needed to be done. According to Reuters, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas agreed to back Hamas demands for a ceasefire. These include the end of “ the aggression and lifting the blockade in all its forms.”
DUTCH MOURN AS MH17 BODIES ARRIVE
A national day of mourning has been declared in the Netherlands, as the plane carrying a first set of bodies of the victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is due to arrive in Eindhoven this afternoon. Meanwhile, the aircraft’s two black boxes have arrived in Britain, where they will be examined by air accident investigators.
The European Union yesterday failed to agree on new sanctions against Russia but a new meeting is expected on Thursday. Differences appeared between countries on the possibility of an arms embargo, with France reluctant to cancel a 1.2 billion euro contract to sell Mistral-class helicopter assault ships to Russia. Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that Britain still has 200 licences to sell weapons to Russia, despite PM David Cameron previous claims that he had imposed an embargo.
This came as U.S. intelligence officials said yesterday that they had no evidence that Russia was directly involved in the shooting down of the plane, although they added that Moscow had “created the conditions” that led to it. The officials say the most likely explanation is that the plane was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine “by mistake.”
ISIS CARRIES SUICIDE BOMB ATTACK IN BAGHDAD
Jihadist organization Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack that killed at least 33 people in Baghdad this morning, Reuters reports. This is the latest in a string of attacks from the radical group, including several on Saturday that left 27 people dead.
In another report, the news agency explains that the group is now selling crude oil and gasoline from small oil fields it seized during last month’s offensive to finance their proclaimed caliphate. According to a local gas station owner in Mosul, they are now being charged $1.0 or $1.50 a liter, depending on quality, triple the price they used to pay.
ARGENTINA WILL DEFAULT, SAY LAWYERS
A deal between Argentina and its debt holders before the July 30 deadline is “not possible, even with round-the-clock talks,” Argentine lawyers said at a hearing in New York, meaning that the country is likely to default on its debt for the eighth time, the Financial Times reports.
COSTA CONCORDIA’S LAST JOURNEY
The wreck of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia is being towed away from the island of Giglio where it capsized more than two-and-a-half years ago. The ship’s last journey, to a scrapyard in the port of Genoa, is expected to last four days and will take it through a whale and dolphin reserve. The voyage is raising wider concerns for the environment with some calling the ship, which carries as many as 12 tons of toxic products and polluted sea water, a “maritime Chernobyl.” Read more from The Independent.
French daily newspaper Le Monde reports on a surprising project that could not only save lives but also the newspaper industry in Sri Lanka—citronella oil. Citronella-scented newspapers can protect readers from mosquito-borne diseases like the dengue fever. It has also started to help increase the papers’ sales and circulation. “The time of day when newspapers are typically read — in the morning and evening — coincides with when mosquitoes are the most threatening,” writes Julien Bouissou. “In the first days of this trial, newsstands around the country sold out a special printing of 200,000 copies, 30% more than ordinary days.”
Read the full article, A Surprisingly Fragrant Way To Save The Newspaper Business.
A new wave of French singers are embracing their love for whining and cursing, in music. Merde alors!
MEANING OF DEMOCRACY
Pronounced the winner of this month’s presidential elections in Indonesia, Joko Widodo is a novelty in the world’s third-largest democracy.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
[rebelmouse-image 27088137 alt="""" original_size="610x600" expand=1]
COMMONWEALTH GAMES BEGIN TODAY
Queen Elizabeth II is expected in Glasgow later today for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Check out this BBC quiz to see what sport you should compete in.
ASSASSIN’S CREED MEETS PARKOUR
To celebrate the Oct. 28 release of the video game Assassin's Creed Unity, set in 18th c. Paris, the French video game company Ubisoft has hired a team of “parkour” enthusiasts for a breathtaking expand=1] video.