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Righteous Anger: Activists in Paris clash with police after they ban pro-Palestinian protests

paris protests
© (Reuters / Philippe Wojazer)
Pro-Palestinian protesters face police during a demonstration against violence in the Gaza strip, which had been banned by police, in Paris, July 19, 2014.
A demonstration in Paris in support of Palestinians has resulted in several injuries and at least 38 arrests as activists clashed with riot police who used tear gas to disperse an unsanctioned rally that gathered despite a government ban on such rallies.

Demonstration in Paris against the Israeli military operation in Gaza strip, which recently escalated into a ground invasion, took place despite Friday's municipal government ban. Operation Edge in the twelfth day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza has so far claimed the lives of 342 Palestinians, with at least 46 people killed on Saturday alone.


Malaysian Airlines says Ukraine air traffic controllers instructed MH17 to fly lower - at 33,000 ft

Mh17 debris
© Reuters
Flowers lie on debris from the MH17 plane near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said tonight that it was told to fly low over Ukrainian airspace by ground controllers, putting it at 33,000 feet, just skimming 1,000 feet above restricted altitude.

In a statement here, MAS explained that MH17 had initially filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000 feet above Ukrainian territory, which it described as close to the "optimum altitude".

"However, an aircraft's altitude in flight is determined by air traffic control on the ground.

"Upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000 feet," the national carrier said.

The decision by MH17's pilots to skim closely to the prohibited air zone - which is 32,000 feet, according to Europe's aviation authority Eurocontrol - has prompted numerous questions whether this may have contributed to what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

Authorities have yet to confirm what brought down the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight with 298 on board, but suspicion has fallen on the pro-Russian separatists who are believed to have fired an air-defence missile at the civilian airliner after mistaking it for a military transporter plane.

Comment: Who was the controller who gave this instruction? What was his or her reason?


First aerial image of 8-mile MH17 debris field

MH17 crash site
© Airbus DS/AllSource Analysis
A satellite image shows the primary crash site (left), of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 located near Hrabove, eastern Ukraine.
The first aerial pictures of the MH17 crash site have emerged, laying bare the breathtaking scale of the disaster that claimed the lives of 298 innocents.

The stills, taken from the skies over the village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, show the scorched earth at the point of impact and gives an idea of how much more severe the devastation could have been had it come down in the nearby family homes.

Grabovo is controlled by pro-Russian rebels, widely suspected of shooting the plane out of the sky on Thursday afternoon. The pictures emerged as the train carrying the bodies of all of the victims of Flight MH17 finally set off after four days in situ.

MH17 crash site
© Airbus DS/AllSource Analysis
This image shows just how close the crash site was to civilian homes in the twon of Grabove, Ukraine
It comes amid uproar over the treatment of the corpses, which have lain in the baking summer heat since Thursday.

Comment: The reason they were laying in situ for four days? Because the OSCE requested they be left in situ until the international investigative team arrived, and because said team took four days to get there, thanks in part to Kiev stalling!

Finally, after repeated calls from leaders to speed up the chaotic clean-up operation, officials at the site in eastern Ukraine have agreed to hand over the bodies to the Dutch at 7pm today.

The train pulled away from a station in Torez, nine miles from the rebel-held field where the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by a missile.

Today President Barack Obama rebuked Russian President Vladmir Putin today for not using his influence to stop Russian backed separatists in Ukraine from 'tampering' with evidence at the site of the MH17 crash.

Comment: A loaded question/demand, the diplomatic equivalent of asking Putin when he stopped beating his wife. Incidentally, also a symptom of pathocracy, according to Andrew Lobaczewski.

Arrow Down

McDonald's and KFC in China food scare after supplier 'falsified expiry dates on rotten meat'

Expired Meat
© The Independent, UK
Shanghai Husi Food Company hit by allegations that it reprocessed food and falsified expiry dates on meat.
American fast food giant McDonald's and Yum! Brands, the owner of Pizza Hut and KFC, have stopped buying meat from a Shanghai-based supplier following allegations that it sold "rotten" chicken and beef.

McDonald's and Yum! have issued an apology to its Chinese customers and announced they will launch an investigation into allegations that supplier Shanghai Husi Food Company falsified expiry dates on meat products in the latest food scare to hit China.

Earlier today, the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration suspended Husi's operations and ordered its products to be recalled, China's Xinhua News Agency reported, after an undercover television report alleged that the supplier violated food safety regulations.

The report by Dragon TV showed footage of employees picking up meat from the floor and "rotten" beef being repackaged with a new expiry date, which was then sold to international clients including Yum!'s KFC and Pizza Hut chains and McDonald's.

Western greed largely responsible for impetus to create BRICS new development bank

BRICS photo
© AFP Photo / Evaristo Sa
Family photo of the BRICS-UNASUR Summit in Brasilia, on July 16, 2014.
One of my high school history teacher's favorite topics was the European revolutionary movement of 1848, or as he would put it, time and again, 'the turning point where Europe failed to turn'.

"What do you think the test will be on?" the students would ask each other sarcastically, after another lengthy rumination, "The turning point where Europe failed to turn?"

But I never forgot the phrase or the events it denoted, and I think that current economic crisis could well go down in history as the turning point where the entire Western world failed to turn. The recent creation of the New Development Bank by the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which will compete with the IMF and World Bank, is yet another example of how international control is skittering away from those nations that are failing to adapt to a changing world.

In a certain sense, falling behind like this is actually quite an achievement, given that Western countries not only invented the IMF and World Bank - up until now, the preeminent international lenders of last resort - but also gave themselves a controlling stake within both institutions. They set the rules of the game. Therefore, all they had to do to stay on top of that game was throw the other players a crumb once in a while.

It's not exactly rocket science.

Comment: For more information on the creation of the BRICS New Development Bank, see:

Anti-dollar alliance: BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency reserves to counter Western dominance
How throwing BRICS at Israel will be good for the entire Middle East
Putin's six-day tour of Latin America ends with creation of BRICS and signing of energy agreements as opposition to Western powers gains strength

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Upps! Sanctions against Russia leads to economic contraction in Germany

Putin and Merkel
© Unknown
It is no secret that the gist of western thinking has been that sanctions against Russia would pressure its economy enough to force Putin to finally crawl to the negotiating table, tail between his legs, and beg for western forgiveness. Call it the law of unintended consequences striking once again, because while Russia's economy continues to hum along (if only for now, something that can't be said about Ukraine's) and has forced the Kremlin to seek a variety of deals with China to avoid western isolationism, one other country may have been crippled far faster than Russia: Germany.

As Germany's Bundesbank reported overnight, in its latest current monthly report that was widely ignored due to the blanket media coverage of events in the Ukraine, if not so much in Gaza, "Germany's economy may have stagnated in 2Q."

Who is to blame? Why the ongoing Ukraine conflict of course, and more specifically, the western response to it. As Deutsche Welle reported,
"the institution said in a monthly report released Monday that second-quarter growth in Germany had likely slipped due to turbulence in Ukraine and Iraq and a number of public holidays which led to shorter work weeks."
Arrow Down

Another banker death: Goldman managing director found dead in apparent kite surfing accident

Police are still investigating the tragic death of
Nicholas Valtz
© Unknown
39-year-old Goldman Sachs Managing Director Nicholas Valtz
39-year-old Goldman Sachs Managing Director Nicholas Valtz this weekend. As Bloomberg reports, Valtz, a "novice kiteboarder," was found dead yesterday by family members who went searching for him after he didn't return from a kiteboarding outing. While there is no accusation of suicide in this case, it sadly brings the number of young financial services executives deaths to 16 this year.

As Bloomberg reports,
Nicholas Valtz, a managing director in cross-asset sales at Goldman Sachs in New York, was found in Napeague Harbor off the coast of Long Island, according to the East Hampton police. Valtz, 39, was a "novice kiteboarder" and was found floating in the water secured to his kite, police said in a statement released yesterday. Other kite gear was found in a grassy area of the harbor, police said.

Valtz, who joined Goldman Sachs in 2000, was promoted to managing director in 2010. His wife, Sashi Valtz, also works at Goldman Sachs as head of global third-party research sales, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Police are still investigating the death, according to the statement.
In March 2008, Valtz shaved his head to raise money for childhood cancer research, according to the website for St. Baldrick's Foundation. Valtz enjoyed technology products and fast cars, according to the website for his brother-in-law's 2012 wedding in which he was a groomsman.
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French people outraged over Gaza, triggering 'outbreak' of anti-Israel comments online

Paris demonstration
© AFP Photo / Pierre Andrieu
French riot police officers face rioters in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, after clashes following a demonstration denouncing Israel's military campaign in Gaza and showing support to the Palestinian people.
Moderators of French websites have been overwhelmed by a storm of hatred over the Israeli incursion into Gaza. The latest conflict has triggered outbreaks of violence in France between the country's Jewish and Muslim populations.

While Parisian protests over Israel's operation in Gaza descend into violence and clashes, the internet has seen an explosion of hate speech related to the conflict. French law bans racist, anti-Semitic or discriminatory messages, but moderators have been hard-pressed to keep up with the rise in hateful comments.

Representatives from companies that monitor online content told AFP that they normally block 25 to 40 percent of comments, but since the Israeli incursion this statistic has shot up to up to 95 percent. They say the nature of the online hate comments is very specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as both parties seek to monopolize websites with their hate messages.

"On the pro-Palestinian side, identical messages are posted on dozens of sites. On the pro-Israeli side, there are fewer messages but they are better organized," said Jeremie Mani, head of Madagascar-based company Netino that trawls through millions of comments every month. "This sickening content is peculiar to this conflict. The war in Syria does not trigger these kinds of comments."

Comment: The pro-Israeli comments are 'better organized' because they are in all likelihood posted by Hasbara trolls, who have a well-manufactured propaganda template from which to work.

Apparently the comments are not just restricted to subjects related to the conflict. Mani said offense dialogue on the issue even cropped up in an article about the Tour de France and in another about salmon fishing.

Comment: If the comments are increasingly 'hateful', that is because Israel's conduct is increasingly egregious and inspires powerful emotions in people who value justice and humanity. The world is turning against Israel. Meanwhile, world leaders are just following the Israeli party line, which only frustrates the people even more.


2 separate plane crashes on the same day kill 6 in Arizona

July 20, 2014: Smoke from a fire sparked by the crash of a single-engine plane rises over Fay Canyon, near Sedona, Arizona.
Authorities say six people were killed Sunday in two separate small plane crashes in Arizona, with one sparking a wildfire.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that hikers reported the first crash in the Bear Mountain area near the town of Sedona at approximately 3 p.m. local time. Approximately 3 hours later, the United States Forest Service said that the wreckage of a single-engine plane had been found.

No further details about the plane or the victims were immediately available. Officials told the Associated Press access to the crash site was difficult because of the uneven terrain and the nearby fire.

The Arizona Republic reported that the crash had sparked a fire in Fay Canyon. As of 7 p.m. Sunday, the fire had burned 25 acres and was 0 percent contained. Two helicopters, two engines, one fuels crew and the Sedona Fire District were responding to the fire Sunday evening, and one hotshot crew and three helicopters were due to arrive in the area Monday.

Is it worth it? Sanctions against Russia affect quarter of German exporters

EU US flag collage
© Jamdesign
United States and European Union sanctions against Russia, introduced in several stages over the past few months, affected a quarter of German companies working abroad, deputy head of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) Volker Treier said, in an interview to Rheinische Post.

"These [sanctions] affected about a quarter of German companies conducting activities abroad," Treier stated, as quoted by Rheinische Post.

The most affected are the companies that have business interactions with both Russia and the United States, since their activities now have to undergo numerous checks because of the sanctions, he added.

"Business contacts of German companies conducting activities in Russia and the United States. They have to go through checks to determine whether they comply with various sanctions of the United States and European Union," Treier said.

The United States and the European Union have already imposed packages of targeted sanctions against dozens of Russian officials and companies in response to the country's reunification with Crimea and Moscow's position toward the situation in Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is counterproductive to all parties and could have a boomerang effect on European economies.