Middle East conflict update


Staff & Wire Reports



Palestinians rush to check the place following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinians rush to check the place following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)


Smoke raises in the background following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)


NEWS

Netanyahu visits southern region following Gaza escalation

By ARON HELLER

Associated Press

Monday, July 16

JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited a southern Israeli town bordering Gaza on Monday that was pummeled with rockets from the strip over the weekend and told community leaders there that Israel is engaged in a “lengthy battle.”

Netanyahu’s visit to Sderot comes a day after an informal cease-fire took hold to end 24 hours of intense fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas militants that had threatened to devolve into all-out war.

Israel pounded Hamas targets in its most massive bombardment since the 2014 war, while militants fired dozens of rockets toward Israel that halted daily life in the area. Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, while four Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a residential home in Sderot.

Netanyahu visited a local kindergarten and pledged that Israel would put an end to the rocket fire and a Gaza militant campaign of flying incendiary kites and balloons across the border that have ignited fires damaging Israeli farms and nature reserves.

Hamas will face a “wall of steel” if it keeps up its aggression against Israel, Netanyahu warned, adding however that the threat won’t disappear overnight.

“It doesn’t end in one strike,” Netanyahu said. “We know we are engaged in a lengthy battle.”

Hours after Netanyahu spoke, the Israeli military said planes bombarded two Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip in response to flaming balloons launched into Israel.

On Saturday, the Israeli military said it struck several Hamas military compounds and flattened a number of its training camps. Hamas retaliated with more than 200 rockets and mortars toward Israeli communities, it added.

After Hamas accepted an Egypt-mediated cease-fire late Saturday, the situation calmed down but flaming kites and balloons continued to drift over into Israel, with the adopting signaling a new policy of striking back immediately.

The government is under pressure from local communities to show zero tolerance to this new threat, and Netanyahu told local leaders that he had instructed the military to halt it completely.

“There is no such thing as a cease-fire that does not include the flaming kites and balloons,” he said. “If this is not understood through my words, it will be understood through the military’s actions.”

On Sunday evening, the military announced that following a “situation assessment” it reinforced its Iron Dome batteries in central Israel and in the country’s south and called up a small number of reserve army soldiers. The Iron Dome shot down more than 20 projectiles over the weekend.

With Israel focused on efforts to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military foothold in neighboring Syria, it has been wary of escalating violence in Gaza. But the extensive offensive appeared aimed at signaling to Hamas that it was unafraid to engage if necessary.

The flare-up came after months of near-weekly border demonstrations organized by Hamas aimed in part to protest the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Over 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began on March 30.

Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover for attempts to breach the border fence and attack Israeli civilians and soldiers.

VIEWS

Opinion: Pompeo Errs by Citing Vietnam as a Role Model for North Korea

By Donald Kirk

InsideSources.com

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has compounded the debacle of his weekend in Pyongyang by a plea that North Korea partake of the same “once unimaginable prosperity and partnership we have with Vietnam today.”

Pompeo, on a tour that took him from Pyongyang to Tokyo to Hanoi to Kabul and Abu Dhabi before winding up with President Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels, overlooked history.

Vietnam emerged as a united country after communist forces from “North” Vietnam defeated the U.S.-backed “South” Vietnam regime in April 1975. Was he suggesting that maybe North Korea could emerge as a great country if the North Koreans overran South Korea and united Korea under Kim dynasty rule?

Obviously not, but the reference to U.S. ties to the communist government in Hanoi was more than a little disturbing to those who lived through the terrible Vietnam War. Vietnam, under communist rule, did not reform economically for more than a decade after the victory of the forces from the North.

Under communist rule, Vietnam is still repressive, closed to political opposition or free-thinking criticism while free enterprise, including foreign investment, flourishes. U.S. ties with this communist government have grown in response to China’s takeover of the South China Sea, where the Vietnamese have had to abandon their quest for undersea gas and oil reserves.

The Americans are dreaming if they think Kim Jong-un is about to follow the Vietnamese example. He’s counting on his Chinese big brother to disregard U.N. sanctions and send in the oil, food and other vital supplies needed to keep his regime on life support. If any country is worth emulating, aside from China after years ago doing away with the hard-line nonsense of Mao Zedong, it would be South Korea. Far more than Vietnam, the South has turned into a powerhouse built on free enterprise.

It’s not difficult to find fault with the South Korean system, with economic inequities, with domination of the economy by the chaebol, but South Korea stands as a shining example of success compared with North Korea’s record of stark poverty enforced by profligate investment in useless nukes and missiles.

Interestingly, Pompeo tried to persuade the North Koreans to be like the Vietnamese after the North Koreans had thrown cold water over his notions of getting them to take the first baby steps toward denuclearization. The North’s categorical rejection of whatever he was suggesting was definitive and humiliating. Yes, we all know North Korea is not going to give up its nukes, but did they have to make it so blunt, so plain, so embarrassing? Kim Jong-un is not taking the bait of American economic largesse predicated on concessions he will never make.

South Korea leader Moon Jae-in, however, has too much at stake to reverse himself and tell the Americans it’s time to resume war games. And Trump, having been thoroughly conned by Kim at Singapore and shaken hands on a statement that meant less than nothing, will keep on looking for the silver lining in the storm clouds. If Kim’s goal was to buy time while re-stoking his economy and recovering from collapse of parts of a mountain and the deaths of who-knows-how-many people in the seventh and last nuclear test last September, he’s succeeded admirably.

While Kim chose to visit a potato farm rather than see Pompeo, Moon was courting India, Asia’s other giant. India may not be nearly as powerful as China, but the South can still play one against the other, building up joint ventures, increasing trade and investing in the India economy as a counter to Beijing’s hold over North Korea and attempts to intimidate the South.

That’s why Moon shook hands with Lee Jae-yong, Samsung heir, at the opening of a smartphone plant south of New Delhi. Never mind that Lee not long ago got out of jail on a suspended sentence after having been convicted for bribery that led to the downfall of Park Geun-hye. Hyundai sedans, off a Hyundai line near Chennai, compete on Indian roads while Mahindra Motors introduces new models at Ssangyong Motors, taken over seven years ago.

Pompeo, by citing Vietnam as a role model for North Korea, conjured unpleasant memories. India is quite different. North Korea and India have historic diplomatic relations. In the quest for inter-Korean rapprochement, Moon and Kim Jong-un might agree on the potential of India, the other Asian giant, as a foil against China.

India may never rescue either North or South Korea in war but thrives on capitalism that the North would do well to emulate if Kim is more serious about economic reform than he is about denuclearization.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Donald Kirk has been a columnist for Korea Times, South China Morning Post many other newspaper and magazines. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Opinion: Creating Safe Skies As Drones Proliferate

By Randall G. Holcombe

InsideSources.com

A decade from now, your order from Amazon will likely be delivered to your doorstep by a drone. Want to order a pizza? Drones will probably deliver those, too.

And drones are already at work inspecting construction sites and cell phone towers and documenting damage for insurance claims. But the proliferation of drones will only happen if a system is developed to prevent them from colliding with each other.

NASA, along with the FAA, is working on that issue by developing technology that enables drones to broadcast their positions to nearby drones so they can avoid collisions. The collision avoidance system would be decentralized, much as it is today with automobile traffic. Drivers see and avoid each other, aided by traffic signals and rules of the road, without any central direction. Drive where you want, when you want, and follow the rules to avoid collisions.

But NASA’s system promises to be more reliable than driving because it relies on electronic technology rather than human drivers who might be tired, or texting, or drunk.

One advantage of a decentralized system, where drones avoid collisions with each other rather than being directed by a centralized air traffic control as airliners are, is that the capacity of the system can be much greater. This will be important as drones proliferate in the future.

If the system were designed like the current air traffic control system for airliners, which is a centralized system in which air traffic controllers direct pilots who then follow the controllers’ directions, capacity will be much more limited, and your drone-delivered pizza may not become a reality. Designed in the 1940s and barely changed since then, airliners report their positions to a controller, who then gives directions to aircraft so they remain separated.

Imagine a highway system that operated like the air traffic control for airliners. Drivers would have to file a travel plan and get it approved ahead of time, and a government controller would assign road space to ensure that cars remained separated. You have to stick to your driving plan, unless the controller alters it to avoid conflict with another vehicle. Such centralized highway control would severely limit the capacity of roadways, just as centralized air traffic control limits the capacity of airways.

The principle behind NASA’s proposed technology that enables drones to report their locations to other drones to avoid collisions by themselves is much like self-driving cars, but the big difference is that self-driving cars (currently) use their own sensors to look out for conflicts, with no information coming back from potential conflicting traffic. Drones would broadcast their positions to other drones, simplifying their ability to identify and avoid conflicts.

As with automobiles, and unlike with airline traffic, NASA’s proposed system would allow drones to fly where their owners wanted, when they wanted, without requiring permission from a government controller. But this same system could also be used for airline traffic, converting the current antiquated system of top-down air traffic control into a decentralized system in which aircraft electronically see and avoid each other. The technology for aircraft to see each other electronically already exists, and is already required for airliners.

One ironic aspect of NASA’s plan for drones is that, if implemented as it is planned, not only could it facilitate the proliferation of drones but it could also provide a model for modernizing our air traffic control system for airliners beyond its 1940s design and into the 21st century.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Randall G. Holcombe is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore professor of economics at Florida State University. He is the author of Rules for Preventing Conflicts between Drones and Other Aircraft in The Independent Review, the quarterly journal of The Independent Institute. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

LINKS

‘I’m tired of that’: Chuck Todd finally shuts down Hugh Hewitt for saying the media lies about Trump and Russia

https://www.rawstory.com/2018/07/im-tired-chuck-todd-finally-shuts-hugh-hewitt-saying-media-lies-trump-russia/

White House Official Who Advocated for Refugees Sacked and Escorted From Office

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/13/stephen-miller-united-nations-refugees-migration-white-house-944666/

Sen. Warner says more Americans should be in Trump-Putin meeting

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/15/politics/mark-warner-vladimir-putin-donald-trump-meeting-cnntv/index.html

McConnell rejects special panel for Russia election allegations

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/309936-mcconnell-rejects-special-committee-for-russian-hacking-allegations

Fintan O’Toole: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375

Analysis: Government set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-spending-debt-analysis-20180203-story.html

Ex-President Jimmy Carter unloads on ‘cruel’ Trump: US government is now ‘worse than it has been before’

https://www.rawstory.com/2018/07/ex-president-jimmy-carter-unloads-cruel-trump-us-government-now-worse/

Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Line Pulled From Yet Another Department Store

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/whats-hot/ivanka-trump%E2%80%99s-clothing-line-pulled-from-yet-another-department-store/ar-AAA4qbK

Judge tells U.S. to pay costs of reuniting immigrant families

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration/judge-to-weigh-new-rules-as-u-s-works-to-reunite-migrant-families-idUSKBN1K31A7

Mexican airline offers to reunite immigrant families for free

https://nypost.com/2018/06/22/mexican-airline-offers-to-reunite-immigrant-families-for-free/

HHS Plans to Delete 20 Years of Critical Medical Guidelines Next Week

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/hhs-plans-to-delete-20-years-of-critical-medical-guidelines-next-week/ar-AAzXUJC

Trump’s presidency is illegitimate

https://www.salon.com/2018/07/14/trumps-presidency-is-illegitimate/

New emails show Tennessee law enforcement focused on counter-protesters at a neo-Nazi event

https://thinkprogress.org/tennessee-law-enforcement-focused-on-counter-protesters-neo-nazi-event-97f56fa537b7/

Trump supporters enraged by ‘angry baby’ balloon to fly over London during president’s UK trip

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/donald-trump-giant-angry-baby-london-orange-sadiq-khan-a8434981.html

Theresa May: Donald Trump told me to sue the EU

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/15/theresa-may-donald-trump-told-me-to-sue-the-eu

GOP tax cut includes $67 billion in carve-outs for real estate developers

GOP tax cut includes $67 billion in carve-outs for real estate developers

McConnell knew the Russians were helping Trump and that’s why he held the SCOTUS seat open.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/14/1780586/-McConnell-knew-the-Russians-were-helping-Trump-and-that-s-why-he-held-the-SCOTUS-seat-open

The Swamp Isn’t Easy to Drain

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/07/the-swamp-isnt-easy-to-drain/565151/

Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?

Some MAGA hats made in China may increase in price because of tariffs

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/397048-some-maga-hats-made-in-china-may-increase-in-price-because-of-tariffs

Elon Musk Unmasked as Top Donor to House Republican PAC

https://www.thedailybeast.com/elon-musk-unmasked-as-top-donor-to-house-republican-pac

Trump Voters Losing Their Jobs Daily Because Of Trump’s Policies

https://trofire.com/2018/07/14/trump-voters-losing-their-jobs-daily-because-of-trumps-policies/

The Same Day Trump Called for Russia to Hack Clinton’s Emails, They … Hacked Her Emails

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/same-day-trump-called-russia-172600608.html

Muslim swimmers asked to leave public pool in Delaware

https://www.usatoday.com/news/

Novartis had ‘longer and more detailed’ relationship with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Senate report finds

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/novartis-had-longer-and-more-detailed-relationship-with-trump-lawyer-michael-cohen-senate-report-finds-2018-07-13

FROM FACEBOOK

Q- ‘What are your goals for the meeting?’ A- ‘I’ll let you know after the meeting.’ This really was said by Trump

21 trillion dollars is missing from the Pentagon. Why is no one looking for it?

It is looking more like the NRA is the GRU. Now, it all makes sense.

Undermining American democracy to serve Russian interests. Is this what you have become, Republicans?

Retweeted Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen):

Jim Jordan is leading a charge to IMPEACH Rod Rosenstein, for not turning over confidential documents quick enough.

I saY we need to IMPEACH Jim Jordan for not turning over a Doctor who sexually assaulted young wrestlers quick enogh.

Super PAC linked to Paul Ryan raises record-breaking $51 million for midterms

-USA TODAY Ryan wants to be President! He is buying votes (support) when he runs. He is playing a long game by so openly buying America’s voters. Ryan likes power. Just not close enough that any dirt would run off on him! It is an act to buy back control of our gov’t by republicans. I suspect Mitchie is involved!

Republicans are willing to sell their souls for greed and power Today we see just how corrupt they can be!

All 12 RUSSIANS indicted were MILITARY! RUSSIA conducted a MILITARY ATTACK on USA in 2016 … & who HEADS the Russian Military?

GOP is trying to impeach Rosenstein {Republican} to slow down the Russian probe. This is textbook treason. Russian Intelligence or the GRU are the right hand men for Putin and 12 were indicted by Mueller. Now the GOP wants to stop the treason investigation as it gets closer to their hero Orange Menace. They want to blame Dems, but everyone of the investigators are Republicans so they cannot point to that. 39 indictments several guilty pleas, and the GOP wants this treason to stand. They are traitors one and all. Do not think they are doing what is right, they are allowing Russia to attack us and cooperating with the enemy to slow down or stop an investigation into obvious treason. That makes them traitors, period.

On July 27, 2016, Trump asked the Russians to invade our country. On July 27, 2016, the Russians did.

trump’s ‘advice’ to Theresa May: “sue, don’t negotiate”. And there you have HIS art of the deal

“Hitler lied shamelessly about himself and about his enemies. He convinced millions of men and women that he cared for them deeply when, in fact, he would have willingly sacrificed them all. His murderous ambition, avowed racism, and utter immorality were given the thinnest mask, and yet millions of Germans were drawn to Hitler precisely because he seemed authentic. They screamed, “Sieg Heil” with happiness in their hearts because they thought they were creating a better world.” — Madeleine K. Albright, Fascism: A Warning

Palestinians rush to check the place following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/07/web1_120949640-e2d8632eeb0b45b79bbe39f9f898b312.jpgPalestinians rush to check the place following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Smoke raises in the background following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/07/web1_120949640-d5386c0b08c14b348ac06849d8fe7cb8.jpgSmoke raises in the background following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border. No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Staff & Wire Reports