Society's ChildS

Star of David

Ex-soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces: "I've seen how shockingly we treat Palestinians"

IDF abuse
There are moral red lines. Why do we keep crossing them?

I only knew Gaza from the stories. It was the military zone for which the Givate Brigade was responsible, but we all knew the stories about how they managed to kill several militants in one ambush. Honestly, we were a bit jealous. I was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at the end of the Second Intifada into a special operations unit of the paratrooper brigade. From the start of my service I knew that Nablus and Jenin would be the areas for which we were responsible. Child's play, seemingly, compared to the stories that came out of Gaza - but my child's play. I'll never forget the first time that I was shot at, the first Palestinian corpse I ever saw, and the fear and adrenaline during my first military operation.

My first mission involved the seizure of a Palestinian home. I had never before had the opportunity to be inside a Palestinian home, and my squad was surprised for a moment by the fact that within the home lived an entire family - spanning three generations. We woke everyone up, and took over the house. We put everyone in one room - women, men, children, and the elderly. One of the guys was stationed at the door to ensure that they didn't get out. In the meantime, we took care of our business. I remember asking myself: what do they think about all of this? What would I do if soldiers broke into my home? But I immediately repressed these questions and carried on with the mission. As time passed, fear turned into boredom, adrenaline stabilized, and my doubts about the extent of the operational logic and its justification would return to gnaw at me. But the next day there were already new operations. This was our daily routine, and as a result, the next time I didn't really think about how the family whose home we entered felt. My personal red moral line blurred very quickly. Every time I would tell myself - this is still okay. But it's in the nature of red lines to move along an imaginary scale. I wasn't bothered when we destroyed entire homes during search operations, and when my squad accidentally shot an innocent woman, and we quickly buried the incident and moved on. Today I know that my ability to distinguish whether a particular action crosses the line, didn't really exist back then.

Arrow Up

Number of young adults who live with parents rising sharply

© Anne Cusack / Los Angeles TimesMore young adults are living with their parents or grandparents in multigenerational households, according to a Pew survey
More Americans than ever live in multigenerational households, and the number of millennials who live with their parents is rising sharply, according to a study released Thursday.

A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population, lived in multigenerational arrangements in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. That's more than double the 28 million people who lived in such households in 1980, the center said.

A multigenerational family is defined as one with two or more generations of adults living together.


Waves of refugees fleeing Central American gangs enter US, while Obama nowhere in sight

child immigrant US border
© Eduardo Verdugo—APA young girl from Honduras waits for a northbound freight train to depart in Mexico as she makes her way to the U.S. border
It's time to stop running away from the nation's troubles

The woman from Honduras was tiny and extremely pregnant. "When are you due?" asked Sister Norma Pimentel, the director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley. "Ya," the woman replied in Spanish: "Already" - she was past due. She had left Honduras to save her daughter, who is 12 - peak poaching age for the killer gangs that are wreaking havoc in that country these days. "A man came into our house and tried to kill my girl with a machete," the woman said. "I stopped him." She showed Sister Norma her right hand, which was slashed down the middle and had healed crumpled. The man also slashed her daughter's arm, but they managed to fend him off. The woman paid a coyote to get herself and her daughter across the border as soon as possible.

It seems clear to Sister Norma - and to the hundreds of volunteers who staff her processing center on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas - that this summer's tide of Central Americans crossing the border are refugees, not immigrants. They have fled, terrified, from countries that are the Latino equivalent of Syria or Iraq - but in Central America it's anarchy, not religious fanaticism, they are fleeing, the rampaging of militant drug gangs. The refugees here are a lucky subset: they have verifiable family members in the U.S. The Border Patrol releases them to Sister Norma with bus tickets to the places where their families are living. Catholic Charities then provides a way station, a place to take a breath, take a shower and get a meal, new clothes and a medical exam. The center processes as many as 200 families a day. When a family arrives, the entire staff applauds. No doubt, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh would be appalled, but when you see the relief and smiles and tears on the faces, which seem far more humble than menacing, you cannot help but be moved.

Treasure Chest

UK lord forced to apologize for flagrant misconduct: Lobbying parliamentarians on behalf of Cayman Islands

house of lords
© AFP Photo / Toby MelvilleHouse of Lords in London
Conservative peer, Lord Blencathra, has apologized to the House of Lords for signing a contract under which he agreed to lobby both Houses of Parliament on behalf of Cayman Island government officials. The lucrative contract generated £12,000 per month.

The Standards Commissioner for the House of Lords ruled on Monday Blencathra had breached the Code of Conduct by which he was bound, and ordered the former Tory chief whip to apologize.

The Conservative peer subsequently apologised on Thursday to the House for his "misjudgement", admitting his conduct was "wrong".

Blencathra who holds the position of director of the Cayman Islands Government Office in London, claims he had no intention of lobbying the UK Parliament despite the fact he signed a contract which obliged him to do so.

"I misled myself into thinking that, since it was understood that I would not be making representations in reality, then the wording did not matter," he said.

"But words do matter; I was wrong and I apologise to the House for that misjudgement," he concluded.

Comment: Might this be a strategy to fool the public into believing the UK government is 'cleaning up its act' and to stem the tide of public outrage over the pedophile scandals?

UK government ignored warnings about pedophiles: "There's too many of them"


Virginia congress introduces bill making retaliation against whistle-blowers a fireable offense

Sen. Claire McCaskill
© Lauren Victoria Burke/AP“Whistleblowers are critical to our efforts to guard against waste and misconduct in government -- and in the case of the VA, against the compromise of patient care,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo
Members of Congress want to fire more federal employees.

From tax delinquents to Veterans Affairs Department senior executives to workers who do not solve audited problems, lawmakers have made clear they think more feds deserve pink slips.

The latest measure, introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., would require VA to fire employees found guilty of retaliating against whistleblowers. Currently, retaliation is a fireable offense, though lesser punishments such as fines and reprimands are also acceptable responses.

"Whistleblowers are critical to our efforts to guard against waste and misconduct in government -- and in the case of the VA, against the compromise of patient care," said McCaskill, a consistent whistleblower champion. "This bill requires the firing of any VA employee found to have retaliated against a whistleblower -- no ifs, ands, or buts -- and I'm hopeful it will be a step in the right direction to change the culture of the VA and ensure our veterans are receiving the highest level of care."


15 Ukrainian border guards seek medical attention in Russia

ukraine border
© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov
Fifteen Ukrainian border guards have been taken to hospitals of the Russian city of Gukovo in the southern Rostov region, the spokesman of the regional branch of the Russian Border Guard Service told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

"Today, on July 16, at 16:00 Moscow time (12:00 UTC), servicemen of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service came from Ukraine's Krasny Partizan border checkpoint waving a white flag and asking to render medical assistance to them," Vasily Malayev said. "They all were taken to Gukovo's medical institutions and were provided with medical help."

Malayev said that, proceeding from the principles of humanism, Russia agreed to host the wounded and did everything possible to render urgent medical aid to them without delay.

Gift 2

World Cup winners donate their prize money to charities

Mesut Ozil
© AFP Photo / Fabrice CoffriniGermany's midfielder Mesut Ozil (C) celebrates with his medal after Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup final football match between Germany and Argentina 1-0 following extra-time at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 13, 2014.
The World Cup may be over for Germany and Argentina, but players on both teams are putting their cash winnings to good use by donating them to worthy causes.

According to the UK-based Express, 25-year-old German football star Mesut Ozil has donated his World Cup prize money - totaling more than $400,000 for winning the tournament - to various charity projects in Brazil. The hefty sum is reportedly going to fund surgeries for 23 Brazilian children.

Ozil made the announcement official on his Facebook page, where he wrote the following:

"Dear fans, prior to the #WorldCup I supported the surgery of eleven sick children. Since the victory of the #WorldCup is not only due to eleven players but to our whole team, I will now raise the number to 23. This is my personal thank-you for the hospitality of the people of Brazil."

The announcement comes after reports initially stated Ozil would be donating his winnings to the children of Gaza, a claim that was ultimately denied by the soccer player's representative Roland Eitel.

"The claim that Mesut donated money to Gaza is not true," Eitel told Express. "Maybe in the future, who knows? He donated money to causes in Brazil and he is now on holiday."

Comment: Ozil may not be donating money to Gaza, but Algeria is: Algeria team donating money earned at Brazil World Cup to people of Gaza


Donetsk and Lugansk militias force Kiev troops to retreat

donetsk fighters
Self-defense fighters in the southeast Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions have forced the Ukrainian military to retreat, the local news agency Novorossiya reported on its website on Thursday.

The Ukrainian troops have left their positions in the settlements of Sabovka, Govorukha, Roskoshnoye and Georgiyevka outside Luhansk and retreated to the west, the news agency said.

The militia has also established control over the settlement of Marinovka in the Donetsk Region. During the battle, the Ukrainian troops were surrounded by self-defense forces and had to retreat.

Troops of the Donetsk People's Republic opened fire from 120 mm mortars against the Ukrainian military's fortified positions in the area of the settlement of Mospino in the Donetsk Region, destroying a KAMAZ truck, an armored personnel carrier and an anti-tank system and killing and wounding about 50 personnel, self-defense militia reported.

Kiev has not yet commented on this information.

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Wednesday evening that fierce fighting was underway between self-defense militia and the Ukrainian military in the settlements of Amvrosiyevka, Marinovka and Izvarino in the Donetsk Region.

Comment: So the shootdown of MH17 came hot on the heels of this humiliating defeat for the Kiev forces. Coincidence?


Malaysian flight pilot diverted plane into danger zone, instructed to fly lower

mh17 flight path
Is this proof that MH17 change course into a war zone? A route map compiled by Twitter user Vagelis Karmiros using data from flight-tracking website Flightaware claims to show how the doomed Malaysia Airlines plane took a different flightpath to the ones taken by the previous ten MH17 flights
The pilot of MH17 radioed that he 'felt uncomfortable' about the route he was flying while over Ukraine and fatally altered his course to hostile territory, according to an expert.

Dr Igor Sutyagin, Research Fellow in Russian Studies from the Royal United Services Institute, believes that MH17 was shot down by rebels based in the 3rd District of Torez, in eastern Ukraine, after mistaking his plane for a government military transport aircraft.

He told MailOnline that information had been leaked from a source he was unwilling to name that the pilot of MH17 'felt bad' about his course over Ukrainian airspace, so changed direction.

Little did he know, according to Dr Sutyagin, that his plane would then be mistaken by rebels who brought it down using a ground-to-air Buk missile system. Malaysia Airlines today denied that the plane was told to alter its course.

His comments come as Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire by pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces to allow for negotiations.

Dr Sutyagin's theory appears to be supported by a route map which shows the passenger plane travelling on a different course to the ones taken by the previous ten MH17 flights.


Putin calls for full investigation of Malaysian airliner tragedy in Ukraine

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash
© Reuters / Maxim ZmeyevAn armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
The crash of a Malaysian Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine must be investigated thoroughly and objectively, Russian President Putin said in a statement. The tragedy underlines the urgent need for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in Ukraine.

Putin's statement came after he contacted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to express condolences over the deaths of his fellow citizens in the disaster.

The majority of the passengers of the ill-fated flight, which was apparently shot down over the war zone in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, were from the Netherlands.

Earlier the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), a Russia-based international body tasked with investigation of all civil aircraft incidents in most former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, called for the formation of an international investigative group under the aegis of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN body, to investigate the incident.

The IAC said such a group should be handed over MH17 flight recorders, which are currently being recovered in Ukraine's Donetsk Region.

So far two flight recorders from the plane have been reportedly recovered in the region currently controlled by the militia forces. Some militia officials said they intended to hand them over to Moscow because they didn't trust Kiev to properly investigate the incident.

The probe into the loss of the Boeing-777 is bound to be a politically loaded one. There was no official confirmation that the plane was shot down rather than crashed from a different cause, but the parties involved are already trading blame for the tragedy.