Monday, September 26, 2016

War - Nations in Distress

Three bombings in Baghdad kill eight people - UPI.com
UPI reports: "At least eight people died and 25 were injured in Baghdad on Sunday after three bombing attacks, including one claimed by the Islamic State. The deadliest attack, in which six people died in western Baghdad's Iskan district when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt, was carried out by the Islamic State."

Islamic State feels the heat as showdown over Mosul nears - UPI.com
UPI reports: "As the showdown approaches with the Iraqi Army, backed by the Shia-dominated militias and Kurdish Peshmerga with aerial support by the U.S.-led coalition forces, Islamic State militants are preparing for a protracted war over Mosul. Residents said trenches were dug around the city and neighborhoods on the corners were cleared of residents. All areas on the city border were said to have been booby-trapped. "

Comment: The war against the Islamic State is moving along on multiple fronts, but the bloodiest battle is going to be the battle for Mosul.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Unrest in Kashmir after clashes between protesters and armed forces - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Indian armed forces and protesters continued to clash after soldiers shot and killed 19-year-old Waseem Ahmad on Friday amid unrest in Kashmir. Ahmad was shot by soldiers who were firing back against protesters who reportedly threw stones at an army convoy, police said. Witnesses to the incident disputed official's response saying Ahmad was not demonstrating when government forces opened fire. [...] Eighty-seven people have died in the region since the conflict began on July 9."

Pakistan military prepares for a possible Indian attack - The Washington Post:
The Washington Post reports: "Military officials are calling it a routine exercise, but the thunderous spectacle of Pakistani fighter jets touching down on a major highway Wednesday and Thursday, with commercial flights suspended and traffic blocked for hours, has fueled public speculation that something much more ominous is afoot. The display of military readiness, which included a late-night jet flyover Thursday above this capital city, has come amid an unusually tense showdown with India, Pakistan’s nuclear-armed rival, following a militant attack Sunday that killed 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed border region of Kashmir. [...] Indian officials have accused Pakistan of sending the armed attackers across the de facto border into the Indian portion of Kashmir."

Comment: One of the word's major-war tripwires is not settling down. 

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Earthquakes

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes 80 miles from Japan's east coast - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck about 80 miles off the east coast of Japan at a depth of about 6 miles on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The Japanese city nearest to the quake is Katsuura with a population of about 22,300. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning related to the earthquake."

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Famine

AFP - Five million Somalis now going hungry
AFP reports: "Five million Somalis, or more than two out of five people in the country, do not have enough to eat, the United Nations said Tuesday, calling for extra funds for food aid. The latest figures represent an increase of 300,000 food insecure people since February, said the UN's humanitarian affairs office, OCHA. [...] Harvests have been hit this year by a severe drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon which occurs every five to seven years. Worst hit by hunger are the estimated 1.1 million people displaced from their homes by conflict, some of them forced to move several times during the past two decades."

Comment: People don't really talk much about famine anymore. That's doesn't mean it's not happening. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pestilence

More must be done to fight 'superbugs': U.S. gov't report - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" remain a major public health threat, and only a multipronged attack can address the problem, a new U.S. government report warns. [...] Scientists have long known that bacteria have ways of thwarting the drugs designed to kill them. But in recent decades, overuse and misuse of antibiotics have fueled a global spread of drug-resistant bugs, which include Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA."

Comment: It's pretty scary to think that our antibiotics might fail. I'm glad they are working on the problem.  Let's hope they have both the time and the funding they need.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

India scrutinizes Pakistan after 18 soldiers killed in Kashmir - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Demands are growing in India for a response to Pakistan for the killing of 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed province of Kashmir. Initial reports said four gunmen believe to be members of Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based militant group, stormed an army base Sunday in Uri, near the Pakistan-India border in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing 17 soldiers. An eighteenth died of his injuries after he was transferred to Delhi. Senior government leaders in New Delhi blame Pakistan's military for helping launch the attack, the BBC reported Monday, and are urging retaliation. A response will likely escalate tension between the countries."

Comment: Kashmir does not make the news as often as other tripwires like North Korea, the South China Sea, or the Persian Gulf, but it remains just as volatile. It's a place where a small spark could lead to war between the two nuclear powered neighbors and the results could be catastrophic.

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War

Minnesota mall attacker identified as American born in Kenya - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The man who stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall before being fatally shot has been identified as an American born in Kenya. CNN identified the suspect as Dahir A. Adan, 22, according to federal law enforcement sources and two Somali community leaders in contact with Adan's family. [...] The Amaq News Agency posted a statement online Sunday, saying, 'The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition.'"

Suspect is shot and captured in New York-area bombings - AP
AP reports: "A New Jersey police officer responding to a call about a hoodied vagrant curled up asleep in a bar doorway roused him and quickly recognized the bearded face of perhaps the most wanted man in America. Ahmad Khan Rahami — identified in an FBI bulletin just hours earlier as a man wanted in the weekend bombings in New York City and New Jersey — pulled a gun, shot the officer and triggered a running gun battle in the street that ended with Rahami wounded and in custody Monday, authorities said. "

Comment: As difficult as it is to deal with lone wolf attacks, the authorities did an admirable job in apprehending the suspects with little loss of life.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pestilence

Zika virus: Miami Beach transmission zone expands - CNN.com
CNN reports: "The Zika virus transmission zone in Miami Beach has tripled in size, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday night. [...] The new zone was set after the Department of Health identified five people, two males and three females, in the area who all experienced Zika symptoms within one month of one another. The virus poses a particular threat to pregnant woman due to its link with neurological disorders in unborn children."

Comment: Did you notice how they release this information on a Friday night? It's picked up by news media and reported on Saturday but really, how many people are paying close attention on a busy almost-Fall weekend?  Announcing bad news on a Friday is a tried-and-true tactic recommended by PR people but you would think that news relating to public health and safety would be treated a bit better than your average scandal or damage-control spin.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

War

U.S. forces face unexpected backlash from allied rebels - UPI.com
UPI reports: "American special operations troops have arrived in Syria to help Turkish forces fight the Islamic State, but it appears that some of the U.S.-backed rebel fighters there aren't too happy about that support. Several videos appeared on social media channels by Friday, showing allied members of the Free Syrian Army -- fighters the Pentagon has propped up with financing and logistical support -- expressing a multitude of contempt for American troops who came to help. American commandos, in fact, were reportedly forced to flee in some areas when they encountered severe abuse and insults from FSA members."

Comment: I know the "fog of war" can be bad, but how is it that the fog would stretch all the way to Washington and the decision-makers at the Pentagon who thought backing the FSA was a good idea to begin with? Right, that's not fog, it was the cool aid. Perhaps now the Pentagon will understand that giving such groups arms and financing didn't turn them into "moderate" jihadists.  I'm almost glad the American people are too busy to pay attention to this, it's a real mess.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wickedness Increases

New Mexico mother sought out men to rape her daughter - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A New Mexico mother admitted she sought out men to rape her daughter in the weeks leading up to the girl's eventual killing, police said."

Comment: I think we sometimes get so desensitized by the media that "evil" as a concept no longer registers. The average person now personally witnesses more evil acts  than people ever did in past ages. Does it matter that the murder you witnessed tonight was on a police procedural on TV? You watched another human being getting killed. But, that's ok, it was fake, all in good fun. Fun? When did watching someone being killed get equated with fun? How is it that we can call that entertainment? But for all of that, true evil still exists and from time to time we hear of actions so evil they shock us despite our jaded sensibilities. The above news story is one such event. You'll note that I'm only quoting one sentence of the news report with this word of caution: it's really shocking. Read it if you dare but remember your mind will go there and you will be forced to think about what that mother did to her child.

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