Headlines 8-26-2014

**Israeli Assault of Gaza Enters 50th Day; Over 2,130 Palestinians Dead
Israel has bombed two high-rise buildings containing scores of homes and shops in Gaza City. As the Israeli assault has entered its 50th day, the Palestinian death toll has reached more than 2,130, the vast majority civilians, with 68 dead on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers. At least two Palestinians have been killed so far today. The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports at least 12 were killed Monday. Reuters says the victims included at least four people killed when Israeli aircraft struck four homes in the town of Beit Lahiya. A journalist, Abdullah Murtaja, reportedly died Monday, two weeks after he was injured by an Israeli attack in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City. Egypt, meanwhile, has floated a new proposal for a truce between Israel and Hamas. Since a ceasefire collapsed last week, well more than 100 Palestinians have been killed.

**Protesters Continue Bid to Block Israeli Ship in Washington State
Residents in Washington State have continued to protest the Israeli assault and the longstanding blockade of Gaza by trying to block a cargo ship run by the Israeli company ZIM. One person was arrested after scores of people gathered at the Port of Seattle on Monday. The protesters said they plan to continue their actions.

JM Wong: “There’s already another ZIM ship that’s here that we didn’t know about, but they’re coming, they’re coming, and if we keep doing monthly protests and monthly blockades of ZIM they’re going to get the idea that Seattle does not want them here.”

Obama OKs Spy Flights over Syria in Possible Step Toward Strikes
The United States is sending spy drones and manned surveillance flights over Syria in the latest step toward possible airstrikes against Islamic State militants there. According to unnamed officals in the New York Times, President Obama authorized the spy flights over the weekend. On Monday, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed willingness to work with the United States against the militants, but warned unilateral action would be seen as an “act of aggression.”

**U.N.: ISIL Militants Killed 670 Prisoners in Iraq
The United Nations has found evidence Islamic State militants killed as many as 670 prisoners from a jail in Mosul, Iraq. After taking control of the city in June, the group separated out all the Shiite prisoners and shot them. U.N. human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the militants, also known as ISIL, are committing abuses daily.

Ravina Shamdasani: “Grave human rights violations are being committed daily by ISIL and associated armed groups. These include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, the destruction of places of religious and cultural significance and the besieging of entire communities because of their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation.”

**Sectarian Attacks Kill Scores in Iraq
A car bomb has killed at least 10 people today in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Across Iraq on Monday, at least four dozen people were killed in a series of bombings targeting mainly Shiite areas. In Baghdad, 11 people were killed by a suicide attack inside a mosque. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for that attack, calling it revenge for a mass shooting that killed 73 people at a Sunni mosque east of the capital on Friday.

**Egypt, UAE Strike Militias in Libya; U.S. Reportedly Unaware
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have carried out airstrikes on Islamist-allied militias in Libya. Unnamed officials told The New York Times the United States was unaware of the strikes and that Egyptian officials actually denied involvement. Both Egypt and the UAE are close U.S. allies who have received billions of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment. The United Arab Emirates provided the planes and pilots for the strikes, which began a week ago. Libya has been roiled by fighting among rival militias following the U.S.-backed ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. On Sunday, Islamist militias claimed control of the Libyan capital Tripoli after taking over the main airport. On Monday, the country was thrown into deeper turmoil when the former parliament, which is led by Islamists, reconvened and chose a new prime minister. The move effectively left the country with two governments. We’ll have more on Libya with Vijay Prashad later in the broadcast.

**170 African Migrants Drown After Boat Sinks Off Libya
Off the coast of Libya, at least 170 people have died after a boat carrying migrants sank while trying to reach Europe. At least some of the migrants appear to be from Sub-Saharan Africa.

**Alleged Recording of Michael Brown Shooting Shows at Least 10 Shots
New evidence has emerged in the death of Michael Brown. The African-American 18-year-old was shot dead on August 9 by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking two weeks of protests. On Monday night CNN aired an audio tape which allegedly captured the moment Brown was shot. On the recording tape, at least 10 gunshots can be heard. A private autopsy had shown Brown was shot at least six times, twice in the head. The recording has not been independently verified but the FBI has questioned the man who says he recorded it. On the recording, you can hear the unidentified man chatting in a building near where Brown was killed. As he says, “You’re pretty,” six gunshots can be heard in the distance, then a pause, then four more shots. The audio lasts about 10 seconds.

**Thousands Attend Michael Brown’s Funeral in St. Louis
Thousands of people attended a funeral in St. Louis Monday to remember Michael Brown. Rev. Al Sharpton was among the speakers.

Reverend Al Sharpton: “This is about justice. This is about fairness. And America is gong to have to come to terms with there’s something wrong that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, but we don’t have money for training or public education or money to train our children.”

**Presidents of Russia, Ukraine Meet for Talks as Tensions Mount
The Ukrainian and Russian presidents are meeting for talks in Belarus today amidst tensions over a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and the rebels has killed more than 2,000 people. Hours before the talks, Ukrainian security forces claimed to have captured 10 Russian paratroopers in Ukrainian territory southeast of the rebel-held city of Donetsk. On Monday, Russia announced plans to send a second batch of humanitarian aid into the region after its previous convoy made its delivery and returned to Russia. Ukraine, meanwhile, is facing a political crisis in Kiev after President Petro Poroshenko dissolved parliament, accusing many members of siding with the rebels. He has called for early elections in October.

**French President Dissolves Government over Austerity Spat
France is in the midst of a political crisis after a dispute over harsh austerity policies caused the president to dissolve the government. President Francois Hollande took action after his economy minister harshly criticized the government’s policies and urged them to resist what he termed Germany’s “obsession” with austerity. German-backed economic measures have crippled economies and sparked mass protests across Europe.

**Liberian Doctor Who Received Ebola Drug Dies
A Liberian doctor infected with Ebola who received one of the last doses of an experimental drug has died. Two American missionaries recovered after getting the same drug; a Spanish priest who received it also died. The World Health Organization said Monday an unprecedented proportion of healthcare workers have been infected in the West African outbreak due to factors, including a lack of equipment and dire staff shortages. More than 240 healthcare workers have contracted Ebola and more than 120 have died.

**Guatemala Declares State of Emergency over Drought
Guatemala has declared a state of emergency in 16 out of 22 provinces amidst one of the worst droughts in decades. Local activist Dina Cardona said farmers are facing severe shortfalls.

Dina Cardona: “Some parts are drier and in others no crops have grown. In others there has been a total cut of crops, not even the cattle want to eat it because its too dry. The farmers would have liked to sell their crops to recover what little they can but they can’t, they’ve lost everything.”

The World Food Programme has estimated about 2.5 million people have been impacted across Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. California has been grappling with similar conditions with 98 percent of the state now deemed to be in a condition of “severe drought.”

**Brazilian Prisoners to End Occupation over Poor Conditions
In Brazil, hundreds of prisoners have reached a deal to end their takeover of a prison in the southern city of Cascavel. Police say the rioters killed four fellow prisoners, two of whom were beheaded, after taking control of the prison Sunday. The deal will see most prisoners transferred to other facilities after they complained about food, strip-searches and other conditions. The United Nations and human rights groups have repeatedly warned of dire conditions in Brazil’s overcrowded prisons.

**Environmentalist Daniel McGowan Sues over Arrest for Writing Article
Environmental activist Daniel McGowan has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for jailing him in solitary confinement after he wrote an article about his earlier imprisonment. McGowan spent more than five years in prison for arson as a member of the Earth Liberation Front. For part of his term, he was held in the prison’s highly restrictive Communications Management Unit, or CMU. After his release to a halfway house in 2012, McGowan wrote an article for the Huffington Post about how documents proved he was held in the CMU in retaliation for his political speech. Three days after the article came out, McGowan was again taken into custody, and told he would be returned to a CMU. He was released the next day after federal authorities were notified they had arrested him under a regulation declared unconstitutional. McGowan’s attorney told the Huffington Post, “Communication management units are wrong now, they were wrong then, and trying to tell that to the world should not get you thrown back in prison.”

**Report: NSA Built “Secret Google” for Agencies to Search Data
A new report by The Intercept news site reveals the National Security Agency is secretly providing troves of data to nearly two dozen government agencies using a “Google-like” search engine. Documents from Edward Snowden provide proof that for years the NSA has made data directly available to domestic law enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI. The search tool, known as ICReach, contains information on both foreigners and millions of U.S. citizens who have not been accused of wrongdoing. It is designed to share more than 850 billion records — that’s more than twice the number of stars in the Milky Way.

**U.S. Military Bans, Blocks The Intercept News Site
The report comes after The Intercept discovered that the U.S. military has banned all employees from visiting the news site and begun blocking it on work computers, purportedly because it has published classified material. Military employees reported being told it was “illegal and a violation of national security” to read The Intercept.

**Occupy Protesters Win Legal Victory over Brooklyn Bridge Arrests
Occupy Wall Street protesters have won a legal victory against the New York City Police Department. A federal appeals court has rejected the city’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s mass arrest of 700 Occupy demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which filed the class-action suit, called the mass arrest “one of the largest … mass violations of civil liberties in U.S. history.”

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