The Nine Circles of Hell! for Tuesday: Back with a Vengeance Nine Circles of Hell!


Israel warns Syria about war spilling over border.
The Associated Press reports, “Israel’s military chief issued a stern warning to Bashar Assad on Tuesday, saying the Syrian leader would ‘bear the consequences’ of any more attacks on Israeli forces near the Syrian border.
“Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz issued his threat hours after an Israeli jeep came under fire during a patrol in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
“Syria claimed it destroyed an Israeli vehicle that crossed the cease-fire line in the Golan Heights overnight. The Israeli military said the vehicle suffered light damage. It said that the Israeli troops reported a ‘direct hit’ from the return fire but provided no further details.
“It was the latest in a string of incidents in which gunfire and mortar shells have struck the Golan in recent months. Israel believes that most of the fire has been spillover from the Syrian civil war, but that several cases, including Tuesday’s were intentional.
“That was bolstered by the fact that it was the first time the Syrian army has acknowledged firing at Israeli troops across the frontier in what appeared to be an attempt by Assad’s regime to project toughness following three Israeli airstrikes near Damascus this year.”
The AP explains, “Israel has warily watched the Syrian civil war, fearing the more than two-year-old conflict could spill across its borders.
“Israel is concerned that Assad, in a bid of desperation, will try to escalate tensions on the border to draw in Israel and divert attention away from his struggles against rebel groups seeking his ouster. Israel also fears that Assad’s sophisticated weapons could be transferred to Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon or fall into the hands of the rebels, including Islamic extremists connected to al-Qaida who are among their ranks who Israel believes will turn their attention to the Jewish state if they topple Assad.
“Tensions have been rising between Israel and Syria in recent weeks, particularly following the airstrikes, which targeted alleged Syrian arms shipments bound for Hezbollah. Israel has not confirmed carrying out the attacks.
“The strikes marked a sharp escalation of Israel’s involvement in the Syrian civil war and raised fears that the conflict could turn into a full-fledged regional war.
“Syria vowed to retaliate and Assad said Syria is ‘capable of facing Israel’ and would not accept violations of its sovereignty. Firing at an Israeli target seems to be in line with the tougher rhetoric that followed the airstrikes.”
Lt’s hope this war doesn’t cross any other border.
Okay, that’s a tease for another Circle of Hell!

Jordan closes border to Syria war refugees.
Reuters reports, “Jordan has turned away thousands of Syrian refugees in the past week in the first such clampdown since the crisis in Syria began more than two years ago, diplomats, activists and aid workers said on Tuesday.
“Jordan, due to host an international conference on Syria on Wednesday, has already taken in 473,587 Syrians out of a total of 1.5 million who have fled the conflict in an exodus that has accelerated in the past four months, U.N. figures show.
“All four unofficial crossing points used by refugees trying to escape bombardments in the southern province of Deraa have been closed for the past six days, refugees and aid workers say, although the official frontier post at Jaber remained open.
“They said Syrian families trying to pass into Jordan from the rebel-held border villages of Nasib and Tel Shehab had been turned away with no reason given by the Jordanians.”
Reuters says, “The daily exodus is facilitated by Syrian rebels and Jordanian troops on either side of a border marked only by a barbed wire barrier and Jordanian sentry towers.
“A Western diplomat linked the closure to security measures before Wednesday’s “Friends of Syria” meeting in Amman, where foreign ministers of Western and Gulf states opposed to Assad will discuss the quest for a political solution in Syria.”
Reuters adds, “Resource-poor Jordan has long sought to win more outside help in its struggle to cope with the vast influx of refugees.
“In Geneva, a U.N. official said it was important that Jordan keep its borders open to refugees.”
Reuters continues, “UNHCR’s representative in Jordan, Andrew Harper, confirmed to Reuters that the refugee flow had slowed to a trickle in the last few days, but said the reasons were not clear.”
Reuters mentions, “Harper said fewer than 30 refugees had arrived in the last three days, compared to the usual 1,000 to 2,000 a day, but said Jordan had told UNHCR it was not turning back refugees.
Reuters notes, “U.N. agencies say privately they cannot verify what happens at the border because they only register refugees when they arrive at Zaatari camp, which houses more than 100,000 people and is by far the largest Syrian refugee camp in the region.
“Harper said much more needed to be done to expand relief efforts inside southern Syria to relieve the burden on Jordan, where resources are stretched to the utmost.”
Got any plans on how you raise that aid. How about a web site that takes donations.
Fuck, try Kickstarter.
I’d rather kick in money for Syrian refugees than the new movie by Zach Braff.

Fears grow over Syria war spreading into Iraq.
The Guardian writes, “A recent tide of sectarian tensions that erupted into the worst violence seen in Iraq in five years is testing the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose ability to contain the crisis could hinge on a conflict raging beyond his control in Syria.
“The prospect of a regional power shift driven by the bloody civil war next door, where a mostly Sunni rebel movement is struggling to topple the Shia-dominated regime, has emboldened Iraq’s Sunni minority to challenge its own Shia government and amplified fears within Maliki’s administration that Iraq may soon be swept up in a spillover war.
“Sectarian bombings and assassinations targeting both Sunnis and Shias increased last month after government forces raided a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq, killing more than 40 people. Shootings and bombings continued last week.
“Meanwhile, Iraq’s embittered Sunnis say the successes of the Syrian rebels have given them the confidence to challenge what they call worsening government discrimination and abuse against the minority that once ruled the country under Saddam Hussein.
“Iraq’s Sunnis have been staging a growing wave of anti-government demonstrations in Sunni-majority provinces across the country for five months, raising tensions that some say could reignite the civil war that peaked in 2006. The combustible situation, underpinned by what critics call mistakes of the decade-long US occupation that enshrined sectarianism, has been aggravated by Maliki’s increasingly authoritarian policies, analysts say.
“The government has labelled the protest movement a project of Saddam’s former Ba’ath party and of al-Qaida, an allegation denied by Sunni participants, who say they represent a cross-section of Iraqi society. They list among their key grievances laws and practices codified under US occupation that bar former Ba’athists from participating in public life and authorise the use of secret informants – many of them originally cultivated by the US military – whom human rights groups say Maliki uses to target Sunnis.
“But the 23 April assault on the Sunni camp in Hawijah, coupled with increasingly antagonistic rhetoric from clerics and political leaders on both sides, has injected an ominous militant tone into what had been a largely peaceful protest movement. Last month, tribal leaders in the Sunni heartland of Anbar province announced the formation of a ‘tribal army’ to protect demonstrators; residents say the force has drawn heavily from jihadist groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq.
“Meanwhile, at least two powerful Shia militia leaders have rallied followers to crush the protest movement, which they, like the government, say is dominated by terrorists.”
Now we have to choose which terrorists to support?
It’s either that or having nothing to do with this conflict whatsoever.
And that’s looking like the best choice.

Rise in Iraq killings continues.
Voice of America informs us, “New attacks in three Iraqi cities have killed at least eight people and wounded dozens more — a day after more than 70 died in assaults on Shi’ite Muslims, stoking fears of all-out sectarian war with minority Sunnis.
“Officials say a suicide bombing followed by clashes between militants and Iraqi troops left three soldiers dead Tuesday in Tarmiyah, north of the capital, Baghdad.
“Farther north, two car bombs exploded in Tuz Khormato, killing three and wounding 38, while car bombs in Kirkuk killed at least two people. Both cities are in an area that Iraq’s Kurds want to incorporate into their autonomous region, a move the central government opposes.
“Iraq is experiencing its worst sectarian violence since U.S. troops withdrew from the country in December 2011.”
Yeah, top that Iraq.

Taliban attacks kill six Afghan cops.
Reuters tells us, “Dozens of Taliban insurgents launched coordinated attacks on Afghan checkpoints in the south on Tuesday, killing at least six Afghan policemen, officials said, adding that a clash was going on.
“Seven policemen were wounded in the attack in Helmand province, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak said. It was the latest Taliban assault this year involving many militants attacking Afghan forces.
“Concern is mounting over how the 352,000 members of Afghanistan’s security forces will cope after most foreign NATO-led combat troops leave by the end of next year.
“Accounts of how many insurgents were involved in the attacks on the posts varied.
“Zwak said up to 1,000 militants were involved but NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said there were 10 groups of 4-5 fighters each. ISAF said in a statement that the militants conducted drive-by shootings at checkpoints.
“Zwak said 25 Taliban insurgents were killed.”
What’s known is this war keeps going and going and going…

Afghans increasingly jail women for ‘moral crimes.’
Associated Press says, “The number of Afghan women and girls jailed for ‘moral crimes’ has risen dramatically in the past 18 months, raising concerns that gains in women’s rights might be reversed with the withdrawal of most international troops next year, a rights group said Tuesday.
“New York-based Human Rights Watch said 600 females are now detained under charges listed as moral crimes, a catch-all category that covers running away from home and sex outside of marriage. The number of females behind bars has jumped by 50 percent since late 2012, it said.
“Many women who report rapes to police find themselves arrested for adultery, and many who flee violent abuse or forced marriages are jailed for running away from home, though that is not a crime under Afghan’s criminal code, said Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Asia.”
Kine said, “The majority of women and girls imprisoned for ‘moral crimes’ are actually victims themselves.”
The AP adds, “Of the 600 females now detained for moral crimes, about 110 are girls under 18, almost all of them charged with running away from home, said HRW’s Afghanistan researcher, Heather Barr. Many police and prosecutors cite provisions of Shariah Islamic law to order the detentions based on ‘intent to commit adultery.’
“The number of women and girls jailed for alleged loose morals is the highest since the ouster of the Muslim fundamentalist Taliban regime in a U.S.-backed invasion in 2001, Barr said. The Taliban were known for harsh treatment of women under their strict interpretation of Islamic law during their five-year reign, ordering beatings for women failing to wear the full-body burqa garment in public and banning them from leaving their homes without a male relative.
“Activists fear that hard-won women’s rights, one of the most visible improvements since the invasion, are in danger of eroding in Afghanistan, where many people remain deeply conservative and opposed to rights measures they see as imposition of Western values.
“Tuesday’s report came three days after conservative parliamentarians fiercely opposed ratifying a presidential decree on protection of violence against women, rejecting provisions banning child marriage, domestic violence and jailing of rape victims as un-Islamic. Some activists worry the parliament may try to amend or even repeal the decree, which remains in force for now.
“Barr said the sharp increase in prosecutions for moral crimes could be related to religious conservatives feeling more confident with the departure of international troops. Most foreign forces will leave by the end of 2014.”
The AP ends with, “Human Rights Watch called on President Hamid Karzai to issue a decree banning police from jailing girls for running away from home. It also called on international donors to focus on preserving gains in women’s rights after 2014.”
I remember Laura Bush saying this war was about women’s rights.
Can someone please ask her how she feels about the new democratically elected government, backed by her husband, and its current women’s rights record please?

Congo war re-starts after six months.
BBC News observes, “Fighting between government and rebel forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has continued for a second day, near the regional capital, Goma.
“Four government soldiers and 15 rebels died on Monday, government spokesperson Lambert Mende told the BBC.
“These are the first clashes between the two sides since the rebels pulled out of Goma last year.
“The UN said it would speed up the deployment of a new intervention force in response to the violence.
“A 3,000-strong brigade is being sent to neutralise and disarm the rebels, with the first contingent arriving last week.”
BBC continues, “The BBC’s Maud Jullien in the capital, Kinshasa, says the government believes the M23 is trying to disrupt the deployment of the UN force.”
BBC points out, “The two sides exchanged artillery and mortar fire north of the city of Goma, with each accusing the other of provoking the clashes.
“Fighting in Mutaho, 10km (6 miles) east of Goma, broke out early on Tuesday after M23 rebels tried to take back positions lost to the army on Monday, Col Olivier Hamuli told AP.
“In a statement to AFP, M23 denounced the ‘military option’ taken by the government and reaffirmed its commitment to peace talks.
“Peace talks began following the withdrawal of M23 troops from Goma in December but have stalled in recent months.
“On Monday, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the BBC that UN troops had ‘in some cases’ made the situation in DR Congo worse.
“He said any military effort to bring peace to DR Congo needed to be ‘properly co-ordinated’ with political efforts.
“Mr Kagame dismissed long-standing UN allegations that Rwanda backed the M23.
“Some 800,000 people have fled fighting since the M23 launched its rebellion last year.”
I hope they’re not planning on going to Jordan.

Libyan weapons killing elephants for ivory.
Reuters reveals, “Armed groups in central Africa are using powerful weapons, some of which may be left over from the civil war in Libya, to kill elephants for their ivory, the United Nations said on Monday.
“In a report to the U.N. Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said elephant poaching was a growing security concern, particularly in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Gabon.
“Ban said the illegal trade in ivory may be an important source of funding for armed groups, including warlord fugitive Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).”
The report stated, “Also of concern is that poachers are using more and more sophisticated and powerful weapons, some of which, it is believed, might be originating from the fallout in Libya.”
Reuters adds, “Ban said that in Minkebe Park in northeastern Gabon, more than 11,000 elephants had been slaughtered between 2004 and 2013, while in Chad in March, poachers killed 86 elephants – including 33 pregnant females – within a week. In Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjida National Park, more than 300 elephants were killed during the last two months of last year.”
Ban said, “The situation has become so serious that national authorities in some countries, such as Cameroon, have decided to use the national army, in addition to law and order enforcement agencies to hunt down poachers.”
Reuters continues, “United Nations officials say growing Asian demand for ivory is helping to drive a poaching boom.
“The U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts, who monitor an arms embargo imposed on Libya at the start of an uprising in 2011 that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, said last month that the North African state had become a key source of weapons in the region as its nascent government struggles to exert authority.
“The experts said weapons were spreading from Libya at an ‘alarming rate,’ fueling conflicts in Mali, Syria and elsewhere and boosting the arsenals of extremists and criminals in the region.
“Ban’s report singled out the LRA and Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He and his commanders are accused of abducting thousands of children to use as fighters in a rebel army that earned a reputation for chopping off limbs as a form of discipline.”
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A swine flu has hit Iowa and Indiana farms.
Reuters finds, “Farms in two of the nation’s leading pork producing states have tested positive for the potentially fatal porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), U.S. pork industry veterinarian official said Monday.
“Three farms in Iowa and one Indiana operation have confirmed cases of the virus, said Dr Lisa Becton, director of swine health information and research for the National Pork Board. The cases in Iowa were located on farms ‘all across the state, not in one specific area,’ Becton said.
“PEDV does not pose a food safety or health risk to humans and the pork is safe eat. Other animals cannot contract the swine-only virus.
“Still, this marks the first time PEDV had been found in the United States, and poises yet another challenge for hog farms still recovering from record-high feed costs from last summer’s historic drought.”
Reuters explains, “Iowa is the nation’s leading hog producer with more than 20 million hogs and Indiana is No. 5 with 3.65 million, according to USDA.
“Agriculture Department officials are pulling together an agricultural epidemiologic survey, and plan to send the questionnaire out to swine veterinarians in the coming days, to try to determine how the virus was introduced into the nation’s pork production chain and see how it spread, Becton said.”
Dr. Keith Roehr, Colorado’s state veterinarian. said, “There’s a lot of biosecurity and prevention measures in place that prevent the spread of disease. That’s what’s so puzzling in this case. To be in different states, and to have crossed between different swine operations and between different owners, all of which are painstakingly kept separate to prevent the spread of disease – that’s unusual.”
Reuters says, “There is no cure or vaccine for PEDV, which causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration in hogs and could result in deaths – particularly in baby pigs whose immune system can be weak. The virus is similar in some ways to transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) where mortality can range from 50 percent to 100 percent among pigs that are a week old or younger, Becton said.
“Older pigs can be affected but will recover in a matter of a few weeks after contracting the disease. There is no effective treatment for PEDV other than good care, warm housing and adequate water to combat dehydration.
“Strict bio-security and quarantine measures can help to slow the spread of the virus. PEDV also is sensitive to heat and sunlight, which may help curtail the spread of the outbreak as the weather turns warmer in the Midwest, veterinarians say.
“While this marks the first appearance of PEDV in the U.S., the virus dates back to the 1970s. Over the years, it has cropped up on pork operations in England, Canada, China and South Korea and Japan, said Becton.”
Don’t worry. It’s not bad for you.