Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Over 200 families feared buried by landslides in Sri Lanka

ELANGAPITIYA VILLAGE, Sri Lanka (AP) -- Soldiers and police used sticks and bare hands Wednesday to dig through enormous piles of mud covering houses in three villages hit by massive landslides in central Sri Lanka, with hundreds of families reported missing.
By evening, rescuers had pulled 17 bodies from the mud and debris unleashed by several days of heavy rain across the island nation. Officials said the extent of the tragedy was still unclear, but the Sri Lankan Red Cross said at least 220 families were unaccounted for.
"The task is to figure out what happened to them," the Red Cross said in a statement, noting that some people may have left after local officials warned earlier this week of possible landslides.
Heavy fog, rain, electrical outages and the loose ground were complicating efforts to search for survivors. As night fell, the rescue operation was suspended until dawn. Officials warned that, with rain still falling, more landslides could occur in the area.
Villagers said torrents of muddy water, tree branches and debris came crashing down around their homes Tuesday in the three villages, located at different heights on the same hill in Kegalle District, about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo.
"I heard a huge sound like a plane crashing into the Earth," said 52-year-old A.G. Kamala, who had just returned to her house in one of the villages, Siripura, when the landslides hit. "I opened my door. I could not believe my eyes, as I saw something like a huge fireball rolling down the mountain."
Near the village of Elangapitiya — furthest down the hill — soldiers carried bodies to a school, where families waited for news of missing loved ones.
Farmer Hewapelige Lal said he had identified the body of his nephew, but that 18 other family members were possibly buried under the mud. He and his wife had left their home to take fruit to a daughter who lived elsewhere, but at some point his wife turned back.
"That was the last time I saw her," Lal said, sobbing. When he heard of the landslide, he rushed home but found the area covered with thick, heavy mud. "All I could do was scream."
Officials could not give the populations of the villages of Siripura, Elangapitiya or Pallebage, but such villages typically include 1,000-1,500 residents.
In Elangapitiya alone, where 14 bodies were recovered Wednesday, about 130 people were still missing, according to Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, who was coordinating rescue efforts.
Hundreds of stunned villagers took shelter in four temporary camps set up in schools and a Buddhist temple, where they were being given food, blankets and basic medical treatment.
At the Viyaneliya Temple, about 300 villagers shared a meal of brown bread and curried lentils. Local officials interviewed each one to learn about missing family members and possessions buried under the mud.
Local media said President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the disaster sites earlier Wednesday.
In Siripura, 70-year-old A.G. Alice said all nine of her children were unaccounted for.
"I don't know what happened to me" after the landslides swept down, she said.
A man said his wife, mother-in-law, son and daughter-in-law were all in his house in Siripura when the landslides hit. "I still can't locate my family," M.W. Dharmadasa said. "I still don't know what happened to them."
The same rains that unleashed the mudslides also caused severe flooding in cities including Colombo, the capital, where tens of thousands of homes were at least partially inundated. Schools were closed due to the bad weather.
Sri Lanka's disaster management center reported 11 deaths from lightning strikes and smaller landslides elsewhere in the country on Monday and Tuesday. Nearly 135,000 people have been displaced and are being housed in temporary shelters.
Mudslides are common during the monsoon season, with heavy deforestation to clear land for agriculture leaving the countryside exposed.
During heavy rains in December 2014, authorities evacuated more than 60,000 people from thousands of homes damaged or destroyed by floods or landslides. Two months before that, dozens of tea plantation workers were killed when mudslides buried their hillside homes.
Associated Press writers Bharatha Mallawarachi in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Katy Daigle in New Delhi contributed to this report.


MARK CUBAN: Donald Trump is 'probably not as smart as he thinks he is'

Mark CubanMark Cuban emphatically shut down the idea of his third-party candidacy on Monday, just days after a Washington Post report posited that anti-Trump operatives were looking to recruit the brash billionaire to run for president.
"Look, it was just an email through one of my associates and it was ... a quick response of no,"he told CNN's Erin Burnett. "It's impossible for it to work."
"There's not enough time to get on the ballot," he continued. "The hurdles are just too great. It was a ridiculous effort, so I passed."
He added that there was no chance of a third-party run under any conditions.
However, the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks didn't hold back his fire on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
"You know, where Donald has come from to today, you would think that he'd be more [knowledgeable] on the issues — that we would look at what he's had to say and say you know what, he's really picked up some in-depth knowledge, he's nuanced on different topics, whether it's immigration, whether it's the jobs plan, whether it's the economy, whatever it may be," he said. "But that just hasn't happened. And to me, that's a problem."
Cuban said it's clear Trump "hasn't invested the time" to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the country. Trump, he opined, is "probably not as smart as he thinks he is."
"That's an issue," he said. "Now, when you have that amount of uncertainty, when there's, you know, you're flip-flopping, when you're not sure what the candidate is going to say from one thing to another, that uncertainty, you know, potentially as the president of the United States, that's the last thing Wall Street wants to hear."
When it comes to whom the billionaire business mogul would vote for, Cuban said he still has six months to make up his mind. But as of now, he said he's leaning toward Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton "because the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."
"I know what Hillary's positions are," he said. "I can go to Hillary's website and there's spreadsheets, there's depth, there's analysis, there's details. Is going to Donald's website — which I have — he lists issues. He lists top-line things that he'd like to do, but he doesn't say how he's going to get there."

Poll: McCain locked in tough reelection fight

The survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) released Tuesday found that McCain leads the Republican primary field with 39 percent, followed by former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has 26 percent. The other three GOP candidates are polling in the single digits.
But in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up, McCain ties Ward with 41 percent.

The incumbent GOP senator also has an unfavorable rating among Republican primary voters, pollsters found, with 35 percent viewing him favorably and 50 percent giving him an unfavorable rating. He fares worse among those who describe themselves as “very conservative.”

If McCain wins the primary, his prospects in the general election are far from certain. He leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) by 6 points, 42 to 36 percent, but has a similar unfavorable rating among all Arizona state voters.

If Ward wins the GOP nomination, however, the general election race is even tighter. She leads Kirkpatrick, 37 to 35 percent.

“John McCain’s going to have a hard time getting through the Republican primary,” Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in a statement. “Even if he does survive Kelli Ward, the general election’s likely to be tough for him too.”

McCain's campaign brushed off the poll's results and said the findings show he's in a better position than when the last survey was conducted.

"We put zero stock in a partisan Democrat poll that is obviously aimed at boosting John McCain’s opponents in the primary and general elections," spokeswoman Lorna Romero said. "And even if you took this bogus poll at face value, it actually shows McCain in a stronger position today than PPP’s last poll, with his favorability up eight points since March."

“John McCain has always known this will be a tight race - that’s why he’s built a strong campaign that’s ready for any challenge this November," she added.

The GOP senator conceded in leaked audio that “this might be the race of my life” with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump as the party's standard-bearer. While he said he’d support the eventual nominee, McCain has criticized Trump's harsh rhetoric and called on the billionaire to apologize to prisoners of war.

The PPP poll of 896 registered voters and 443 GOP primary voters was conducted between May 13 and 15. It has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points for all voters and a margin of error of 4.7 points for Republican respondents.


Thanks, Obamacare

As you know, the Republican Party has spent the past seven years trying to save the country from the appalling tyranny of something resembling universal healthcare, which passed through the totalitarian means of getting enough votes in a democratically elected national legislature and being signed by a democratically elected president. The results are in, sheeple. Lady Liberty weeps, according to the CDC:

The number of uninsured persons has declined in the past year. In 2015, 28.6 million persons of all ages (9.1%) were uninsured at the time of interview-7.4 million fewer persons than in 2014.
In other words, 90 percent of the American people currently are oppressed by having health insurance now. (Sarah Kliff on Vox pointed out on the electric Twitter machine that this is the first time this ever has happened.)

Who will free us from this authoritarian nightmare?

How to make Republican men like Hillary Clinton

Poll after poll shows Hillary Clinton is not popular among white men. Her policy stances haven’t won their admiration. A cultural shift toward feminism hasn’t helped much, either.
But the Democratic front-runner in the presidential campaign has a secret weapon, one that could help her snare crucial voters from presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump: her husband.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Poll: Clinton holds slim national lead over Trump

Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem in New York, March 30, 2016. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)Over the past couple of weeks, Donald Trump has become the presumptive Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton continues to inch closer to the magic number of delegates she needs to lock up the Democratic contest. Clinton continues to lead Bernie Sanders in our national tracking poll (she is up by 14 points in this week’s results).   
Attention is now rapidly moving to the hypothetical match-up between the leading candidates with an emphasis on a Clinton and Trump contest. In this week’s poll, Americans are nearly split between their choice of Trump or Clinton; her margin over Trump narrows from 5 points last week to 3 points this week to 48 percent to 45 percent.
This early data indicates a very close race right now – though that may change considerably before November. Understanding why the race is close requires a deeper look into how various demographic groups break for either candidate. 
The demographic-based analyses below are from the latest data from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll conducted online from May 9 through May 15 among 14,100 adults including 12,507 who say they are registered to vote.
Clinton, who was able to maintain her front-runner status throughout the Democratic primary by winning over black and Hispanic voters, continues to do extremely well among these voters over Trump.  She wins black voters 84 percent to 9 percent – a 75 point gap—and wins Hispanics 65 percent to 28 percent. Trump is the preferred candidate among white voters by 14 points over Clinton—53 percent to 39 percent. This is up slightly from last week’s 11-point margin among white voters.  
There is also a significant gender gap with Clinton beating Trump by 15 points among women, while Trump carries men by a similar 11-percent margin. Gender appears to be critical to this race already with Trump’s controversial comments about Clinton playing the “woman’s card” in order to explain her success over Sanders.  
When examining voters’ preferences by income and education, those with a high school degree or less favor Trump over Clinton by 5 points. Those with college degrees favor Clinton by 7 points. Though there are many narratives that state working-class voters—at least on the Republican side—are one of the main groups responsible for Trump’s success, overall, Americans from households who earn less than $50,000 a year favor Clinton over Trump by 20 points. Those from higher-earning households favor Trump by 5 points. 
While many people are speculating that Republican voters will ultimately end up supporting Trump, and Democrats will line up behind Clinton, a big question is where independents will place their support.      At this moment, independents break for Trump 44 percent to 36 percent. This group will be heavily targeted this summer and fall by campaigns and outside groups as they will be a critical voting bloc in determining the winner.
While political ideology correlates highly with partisanship, it is interesting to note that Clinton does much better than Trump among moderate voters. This group breaks for Clinton 53 percent to 39 percent. While those who say their political leanings are “conservative” solidly support Trump, voters who identify as “very conservative” are slightly less strong in their support of the presumptive nominee.

In a general election, turnout is everything. However, the 2016 election is a bit more unpredictable in that what motivates key groups to support—or cast a vote against their party’s opponent—could be different with a non-traditional candidate like Trump in the race. On the Democratic side, Clinton may need to focus her efforts on overcoming large unfavorable ratings in order to sway unaffiliated voters.   The same would likely to true for Trump who holds even higher unfavorable ratings than Clinton.  Tracking how these various groups break for either candidate helps give early clues into where each candidate needs to focus their campaigns in the coming months. 
The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online May 9 through May 15, 2016 among a national sample of 14,100 adults aged 18 and over, including 12,507 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points. A full description of our methodology and the poll can be found..

Actress Beauty-Shamed for Wearing Purple Lipstick at Cannes Film Festival

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is undeniably gorgeous, thanks to her effortlessly classic looks. So it came as a surprise when she showcased a rather fashion-forward lip color at the premiere of her film Sarbjit, at the Cannes Film Festival.

The actress sported a pale purple lip color, which immediately divided opinion online.

Photo: James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock
Although we all know purple lips are by no means a new trend, it was all anyone was looking at. Even though Bachchan was also wearing a showstopping floral-embellished Rami Kadi dress.While some may feel taking a style risk at Cannes is a misstep, the red carpet at big events has become a parade of neutral looks, so we’re on board for this look, which adds an edge to her ladylike gown.  
People on Twitter immediately sunk their teeth into the beauty look, with one user tweeting, “Did Aishwarya kiss a Smurf?” and another asking for a petition to fire her makeup artist. Seems a tad dramatic, no?

Egypt president backs French proposal for Mideast talks

CAIRO (AP) — President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Tuesday that Egypt's relations with Israel, rooted in a landmark 1979 peace treaty, can only be "warmer" if his country's former enemy reached a settlement with the Palestinians and pledged that Cairo would "make every effort" toward a solution.
The Egyptian leader also declared his support for a French proposal to hold a Mideast peace conference, an idea already rejected by Israel, citing it along with U.S. efforts, a 2002 Arab peace plan and the international Mideast peace quartet as possible avenues to such a settlement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed el-Sissi's "willingness to invest every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians."
Israel, he said in a statement, was ready to join Egypt and other Arab states in "advancing the peace process and stability in the region."
Netanyahu has rejected the French initiative, saying direct negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians and is on record as saying the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative has some positive aspects but could not be the basis for negotiations.
The Arab peace plan offers Israel full recognition by Arab states in exchange for Israel's withdrawal from territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
In one of his most detailed public comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since taking office nearly two years ago, el-Sissi called on Israel and the Palestinians to seize what he described as a "realistic" and "great" opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement to their decades-old conflict, saying they need look no farther than the Egypt-Israel accord to see the positive outcome of peacemaking.
He said the "trust" that exists between Egypt and Israel nearly 40 years after their peace accord is demonstrated in Israel's consent to the deployment of Egyptian troops backed by warplanes and armor in a section of the Sinai Peninsula that borders Israel and should be demilitarized under the provisions of their peace accord. The deployment is part of Cairo's fight against Islamic militants.
Egypt and Israel fought four, full-fledged wars between 1948 and 1973 before the two neighbors signed the 1979 treaty, the first between Israel and an Arab state.
Acknowledging the widely held assessment that his country's peace with Israel has been "cool," the Egyptian leader said: "There will be no warmer peace without a solution for our Palestinian brothers. If we do that (reach an Israeli-Palestinian settlement), we will have changed a very difficult era ... I have genuine hope."
France plans to host a ministerial meeting of 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, as a first step ahead of an international conference tentatively scheduled for next month and aimed at reviving the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Addressing Israelis and their government, el-Sissi said there was a "real opportunity" for peacemaking although some in Israel did not think peace is now necessary given the turmoil in the region. An Israeli-Palestinian deal, he added, would "give safety and stability to both sides. If this is achieved, we will enter a new phase that perhaps no one can imagine now."
"I want to say to all those listening, Palestinians and Israelis: Please, there is now a great opportunity for a better future and life and greater hope and stability," he said. "Should not we seize the chance and move in that framework?"

America is freaking out over a cartoon of Michelle Obama

If you're not upset about this Michelle Obama cartoon, you're part of the problemAt this point in the 2016 presidential election coverage, it is no longer surprising to hear of racism, sexism or any other vitriol coming from the Trump camp or his supporters. Though he has not specifically endorsed Trump, political cartoonist Ben Garrison has an affinity for cartoons espousing conservative views, and his latest falls right in line with being sexist and racist.

Garrison says the cartoon — which appeared on his website — meant to "express our outrage at the growing tyranny of Big Government."

More: There's no going back after you realize someone you love is racist

Featuring our first lady, Michelle Obama, and Donald Trump's wife, Melania Trump, it misses the mark in regard to addressing government tyranny and instead expresses racism, sexism and transantagonism. And while the reasons it is offensive are many in number, an age-old message reads loud and clear: black women are held to a different standard of "greatness" than white women.

We want to provide a very explicit disclaimer that we in no way mean any disrespect to Melania Trump. Really and truly. We have zero qualms with the fact that she has chosen to pose for nude photographs and is an immigrant in the United States (something Trump himself is not in agreement with, as his “build a wall”/ “Mexican immigrants are rapists” rhetoric makes clear).

But Michelle Obama is the pinnacle for conventional respectability (which, admittedly tends to be problematic) — she is Ivy League-educated from both Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She is happily married, a devoted mother, a snazzy dresser and an incredibly competent FLOTUS.

More: It may be 2016, but marriages like mine are still under attack

None of that, however, is enough to protect her. The cartoon clearly shows her stylized as a man, her real-life curves replaced by male features, including a penis bulge. It portrays her with a scowl as though she never smiles, perpetuating the "angry black woman" stereotype.

The critiques of the uber-successful tennis player Serena Williams also accuse her obviously female-professional-athlete-21-time-grand-slam body of looking manly to denigrate her. Black women are often not even seen as people, let alone attractive, so any defense that this cartoon was just a joke will never be enough. This is harmful stuff.

That Michelle Obama is still not considered “great” despite her extensive list of accomplishments is questionable enough. Add to it the fact that the woman they compare her to has literally none of the same accomplishments, save being an attractive white woman and former model, is telling.

We cannot imagine a world where the xenophobia that Obama has faced from conservatives, despite not even being foreign-born, would suddenly be acceptable in our black FLOTUS. And we certainly cannot imagine a news station that would not flock to devalue Michelle and what she's done because she chose to pose nude. Quite simply: These things are unacceptable in a black woman and especially would not be acceptable (to conservatives, the public, the media) in our first lady.

More: I pulled my kid out of school when Bernie Sanders came to town

That we accept and celebrate in Melania Trump things we often shame and chastise women for, while also using problematic stereotypes and imagery to say that Michelle Obama is somehow short of greatness definitely comes from a racist and misogynistic place. It is shameful that this is still happening but not at all surprising.

Donald Trump fumes after Hillary Clinton allies unload on him in new ads

Donald Trump fumes after Hillary Clinton allies unload on him in new adsDonald Trump lashed out at one of Hillary Clinton's top super PACs over new advertisements that used Trump's own statements against him.
In a series of Tuesday-morning tweets, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee criticized the ads released by the group, Priorities USA, on Monday. One of the ads spliced together derogatory statements that Trump had made about women's bodies.

Trump accused the super PAC of taking a quote from a New Hampshire speech in which he said China and Mexico could "go f--- themselves" out of context.

"The pathetic new hit ad against me misrepresents the final line," Trump wrote. "'You can tell them to go BLANK themselves' — was about China, NOT WOMEN!"

The real-estate magnate also reiterated his attempt to brand former President Bill Clinton, an admitted friend of Trump, as an "abuser" of women because of decades-old infidelities.

One of the ads, titled "Speak," showed men and women mouthing many of Trump's most infamous opinions about women's bodies from public interviews with radio host Howard Stern.

The 30-second spot included the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's assertion that "a person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10," as well as his judgment that reality-television star Kim Kardashian does not have a good body but "absolutely" has a "fat a--."

While Clinton is still waging a Democratic presidential primary fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders, her campaign and her allied super PACs have largely turned their fire on Trump.

Both the Clinton campaign and Priorities USA have launched digital video campaigns against Trump.

Earlier this month, Clinton's campaign released a one-minute montage of top Republican leaders slamming Trump during the Republican presidential primary.

Priorities USA's ads Monday represented the first of a reported $130 million ad campaign designed to help turn out female, black, and Latino voters, many of whom polls have shown to be turned off by Trump's inflammatory rhetoric.

Monday, May 16, 2016

That time a handful of Israeli airmen led by a former US Marine took on 10,000 Egyptians – and won

1947 israel partition plan UNIn November 1947, the United Nations voted to partition what was then called “Palestine.”
The plan called for a complete British withdrawal, separate Jewish and Palestinian states, and an international regime to control the ancient, holy city of Jerusalem.
The partition plan was rejected by Arab nations in the region on the grounds that it violated the UN charter’s principles of self-determination.
Before May 1948, the conflict consisted of separate Arab and Jewish fighting for supremacy and fighting to expel the British. On May 15, 1948, the Jewish people of the region declared independence as the state of Israel and the world hasn’t been the same since.
The Partition of Palestine passed in the UN General Assembly in November 1947. Immediately after the partition vote passed, the country descended into a civil war for control of the political and cultural hearts of the region.
May 14th, 1948 was the day the British announced their intent to end their UN mandate. Shortly before midnight that day, Jewish political leader David Ben Gurion declared an independent Israel.
The Jewish people in Palestine didn’t just get independence handed to them. The conflict that started the day after the partition vote now exploded into a full-scale war, the day the British were to leave.
The neighboring Arab states Egypt, Transjordan (now modern Jordan), Iraq, and Syria immediately invaded the territory declared to be Israel. Jewish paramilitary groups that were once considered terrorists under the British Mandate coalesced into the Israel Defence Forces.
Screen Shot 2016 05 16 at 9.35.26 AMPublic DomainBen Gurion (center)with Israeli forces in the Negev during the 1948 war.
These groups were already engaged in conflict with Palestinian Arab units throughout the area, including the Arab Liberation Army and Holy War Army. The British were functionally gone anyway and the major cities of Tiberias, Jaffa, Haifa, and Acre had already fallen to the Israelis.
Syrian forces would invade from the North, linking up with Iraqi and Jordanians forces in Nazareth, then pushing West to take the coastal city of Haifa. The Egyptians were supposed to capture Tel Aviv from the South. The Jordanian King Abdullah I didn’t want to invade any area given to the Jewish state under the UN partition, and the plan was changed.
Israel butterfly haganah negevPublic DomainA “Butterfly” improvised armored car of the Haganah at Kibbutz Dorot in the Negev, Israel 1948. The armored car is based on CMP-15 truck. The car brought supplies to the kibbutz.
The Egyptians, by far the largest of the invading armies, were still to invade from the South and capture Tel Aviv. Two weeks after the Israeli declaration of independence, Egyptians were knocking at the door, ready to move on Tel Aviv. The defense of the city fell to one man, Lou Lenart. Lenart would enter the history books as the man who devised and executed the IDF’s first aerial strike.
Lenart was a seasoned combat airman. He joined the Marine Corps in 1940 with the singular goal of killing Nazis. He would go to flight school later in his career, which saw him serve as air support for Marines on Okinawa and participate in bombing raids over Japan. After the war, he found out he lost 14 family members in the Holocaust. That loss galvanized his feelings on an independent Jewish state. By the time he arrived in Israel, he was an experienced combat pilot.
Lenart and three fellow pilots (Ezer Weizmann, Mudy Alon, and Eddie Cohen) flew four Czech Avia S-99 airplanes, cobbled together with the remains of Nazi Messerschmitt fighters. Armed with a machine gun and four 150-pound bombs, the four flew south to Ashdod where they’d heard the Egyptians were camped.
They had no radar, no radios, and communicated with hand signals. Finding masses of Egyptian troops, trucks, and tanks, the Jewish pilots dropped low, dropped their bombs and shot up anything they could see.
Avia S-99 israelPublic DomainAvia S-99 being fitted for combat in 1948.
“They didn’t even know Israel had an air force,” Lenart would say later. “The Arabs had everything, we had nothing. And we still won. When I’m asked how we did it, I say: ‘We just didn’t have a choice. That was our secret weapon.’”
Louis (Lou) LenartPublic DomainLouis (Lou) Lenart.
They encountered what turned out to be an armored column of 10,000 Egyptian troops and 500 vehicles. 
Cohen was killed in the attack and Alon was shot down (he would be killed later in the war).
The Egyptians were stunned and scattered. By the time they recovered, Egypt had lost the initiative.
This was the beginning ofOperation Pleshet. Israeli forces would then harass the Egyptians and group for a counter attack.
Though that counter was not successful, Egypt’s strategy turned from offensive to defensive and to this day, the bold Israeli airstrike is credited for saving Tel Aviv.
The (first) war for Israel’s existence would drag on until March 1949 but Tel Aviv would never fall to an Arab army.
Lenart died in 2015 at the ripe old age of 94. His efforts in the 1948 war were never forgotten.

Pablo Escobar's chief assassin reveals the 2 things that spook drug lords like 'El Chapo' Guzmán

Pablo Escobar's chief assassin reveals the 2 things that spook drug lords like 'El Chapo' GuzmánWhen drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was spirited from a high-security prison in central Mexico to one just miles from the US border under the cover of darkness on May 7, many saw it as a step toward the fate that terrifies drug traffickers: extradition to the US.

According to Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez — Pablo Escobar's top hitman — extradition to the US is the fate that drug barons like Escobar and Guzmán fear most.

In the jails and prisons of Latin America, kingpins often exercise a great deal of influence.

While detained at Puente Grande Federal Prison from 1993 to 2001, for example, Guzmán was allowed to host his family for a vacation inside the prison grounds, held multiple parties for friends, and had female inmates brought to the all-male jail for his enjoyment, Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez said in an interview.
Pablo Escobar's chief assassin reveals the 2 things that spook drug lords like 'El Chapo' Guzmán
The US legal and prison systems, however, strip drug barons of their power.

Extradition threatens powerful narcos like Escobar and Guzmán because they would be cut off from their cartel business, their family, and corrupt authorities willing to accept bribes.

In the words of Escobar, "better a grave in Colombia than a cell in the United States."

In an interview with Univision, Velásquez elaborated on another thing that scared traffickers: "wanted" posters.

View gallery
.El Chapo Guzman escape
(REUTERS/Henry Romero)
Federal police officers handing out fliers with photos of drug lord Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán offering a reward of 60 million Mexican pesos for information near the Marquesa toll booth outside Mexico City on July 16.
Pablo Escobar's chief assassin reveals the 2 things that spook drug lords like 'El Chapo' Guzmán
As one of the few surviving members of Escobar's Medellín cartel, Vásquez, commonly referred to as "Popeye," claimed that the "king of cocaine" once told him, "Popeye, we're dead," after seeing his face on a "wanted" poster.

"The 'wanted' poster is very dangerous for us as bandits because you go to a store to buy a drink and there's your photo. Someone sees it on TV and knows you are worth 10 million dollars," Popeye said.

For Guzmán, the yearslong "wanted poster" portion of his criminal career, which included two brazen prison escapes, appears to have given way to the extradition portion.

Pablo Escobar's chief assassin reveals the 2 things that spook drug lords like 'El Chapo' Guzmán
View gallery
Mexican officials dismissed the possibility of his extradition to the US after Guzmán was captured in 2014, but the government seemed to be changing its mind before his breakout last July.

The extradition of Guzmán to the US was already in the works, according to the Mexican attorney general's office — Mexico received the extradition request on June 25, but Guzmán slipped out of prison through a mile-long tunnel two weeks later.

Now, four months after Guzmán was reapprehended in January, he sits in a jail outside Ciudad Juarez, miles from El Paso, Texas. A Mexican judge recently signed off on the legal proceedings involved in the kingpin's extradition, but diplomatic and political hurdles remain.

It seems unlikely that Guzmán will arrive on US territory anytime soon, but the move does put him within surveillance range of US intelligence assets in Texas, which could help Mexico prevent or respond to an escape attempt.

And, as Nathan P. Jones of Rice University's Baker Institute has noted, the new location puts Guzmán near El Paso, where he faces indictment and where he can be moved quickly if the Mexican government decides to expedite his extradition.

View gallery
.popeye escobar
(El Proceso)
Popeye was Escobar's chief assassin during the final years of the drug lord's life, and he was responsible for more than 300 assassinations and for organizing another 3,000 homicides.

He spent 23 years in six different Colombian prisons after he turned himself in to authorities in 1992. He was released in August 2014.

Popeye estimates that Guzmán's 2015 escape could have cost at least $50 million in bribes to authorities and prison workers since "at [Altiplano] they have sensors and cameras to prevent tunnels," according to his interview with Univision, though other sources put that number much lower.

But no amount of money is likely to win Guzmán favor in a US prison, something the Sinaloa cartel kingpin most likely knows all to well.

Here's what happened when a White House intern hung up on Hillary Clinton

Hillary ClintonBelow we are republishing an anecdote from Ellen Vrana, one of Quora's top writers and a former White House intern, about an experience she had with Hillary Clinton while Clinton was the first lady.
I was in college, 1999. I had a summer internship at the Clinton White House. I loved government and wanted to get into it.
I worked in a building within walking distance to the White House. You didn't need a badge to get into my building. Or an ID. In fact, all you needed were hands to open the door.
My job was to listen to speeches and type them up. The technical word is "transcribe." I transcribed the heck out of quite a few speeches. I also did "copying," "collating," and occasional "binder clipping." I could see the White House from our building.
Funny enough, my boss's name was also Ellen. This is important.
One day I was covering for Boss Ellen's assistant who was out with the flu, playing hooky, or just dead — I cannot remember. I got a break from the copier (and it got a break from me). Promoted! I was scared.
clinton phoneMark Wilson/Getty Images
It was going fine, relatively fine, when Boss Ellen got a phone call on her line. I answered it for her outside her office.
Me: "Hello, Ellen's Office."
On the phone: "Hey Ellen, it's Hillary. What do you think about … "
The first lady was calling me! She knows my name! She wants to know what I think!
Me: "HOLY SH--; IT'S YOU!!!"
I just swore at the first lady of the United States!
[Panics. Slams phone.]
I just hung up on the first lady of the United States.
It is as bad as it sounds.
Overwhelmed by the awesomeness of talking to the first lady, thinking she meant me directly when she said "Ellen," I got verbal diarrhea and swore at her. Then, in shock, I slammed down the phone, thinking that would undo everything. Realizing that I had done that, I then yelled out an even worse obscenity to the entire office.
The rest happened pretty quickly:
My boss called out, "What is going on out there!?"
The first lady's aide called back immediately, and I apologized. She ignored me and said, "Put us through, please."
I put the call through.
My boss never mentioned it to me. I was too embarrassed to look at her again. I went back to the copier. My old friend. I never did meet Hillary Clinton in person.
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Sadiq Khan joke backfires on Italy's Beppe Grillo

The leader of Italy's largest opposition party has made an unsavoury joke about London's first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, saying that he would "blow himself up in front of Westminster".
Beppe Grillo, who is also a comedian, made the remark while he was performing in Padua, Northern Italy.
The leader of the populist Five Star Movement started his comedic act on Saturday by praising Khan's political achievements and said the new mayor's success served as "a prime example that one must never stop dreaming", according to British and Italian media.
But, Grillo then added: "Now I want to see when he blows himself up in front of Westminster".During the show, Grillo also wrongly referred to Khan, who is of Pakistani origin, as "Bangladeshi".

The comments prompted a backlash on social media, with hundreds of people accusing him of Islamophobia and racism.

People also made comparisons between Grillo and the US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who previously called for halting Muslims entering the US.

The anti-establishment Five Stars Movement was founded by Grillo in 2009, and is now the single largest party in the Lower House and second in the Senate.

Both the voters and the elected representatives of the populist and Eurosceptic group are in the younger age brackets.

In fact, although Grillo himself is 67, his group found most of its voters among the under-30 group.

Bangladesh politician arrested for 'Israel handshake'

Bangladesh police have arrested a senior official from the main opposition party and accused him of plotting against the state following his meeting with an Israeli political adviser in India.
Aslam Chowdhury, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) joint secretary general, was arrested on Sunday after local media reported that he had met an Israeli government adviser in India in March.
"We have arrested Chowdhury for allegedly plotting conspiracies against the government by personally meeting an Israeli politician abroad," Abdul Baten, detective police commissioner, said.
Maruf Hossain Sorder, the Dhaka police spokesman, said officers were preparing to file a criminal case against him.
Sheikh Hasina's government has been increasingly cracking down on political opponents, amid a wave of killings of secular bloggers and activists.
Chowdhury, a businessman from the southern city of Chittagong, has denied plotting against the government, saying that he met the Israeli political adviser during a "personal business trip" to India.
Bangladesh has no diplomatic ties with Israel and Bangladeshis are banned from travelling to the country.
The arrest is the latest against the BNP. Khaleda Zia, the party leader and former prime minister, was last week charged with masterminding arson attacks during anti-government protests last year, the latest in a string of charges that she says are politically motivated.
Bangladesh has been hit by a political crisis since the BNP and other opposition parties boycotted the general election in 2014.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Turkey's Erdogan blasts Europe's silence on Bangladesh leader's execution

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday lashed out at Europe's silence over the execution of a veteran Islamist leader in Bangladesh, accusing the West of "double standards."
"If you are against political executions, why did you remain silent to the execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami who was martyred a couple of days ago," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul.
"Have you heard anything from Europe? ... No. Isn't it called double standards?" Erdogan said.
Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at a Dhaka jail late Tuesday for the massacre of intellectuals during the 1971 independence war with Pakistan.
The 73-year-old former government minister was the fifth and the most senior opposition figure executed since the secular government in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation set up a controversial war crimes tribunal in 2010.
The 1971 conflict, one of the bloodiest in world history, led to the creation of an independent Bangladesh from what was then East Pakistan.
Prosecutors said Nizami was responsible for setting up the pro-Pakistani Al-Badr militia, which killed top writers, doctors and journalists in the most gruesome chapter of the war.
The trial heard Nizami ordered the killings, designed to "intellectually cripple" the fledgling nation.
In protest, Turkey on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Bangladesh for consultations.
Since coming to power in 2002, Turkey's ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has sought to boost the country's power in the Muslim world.
Last year, Erdogan condemned a death sentence handed to Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was a close ally of Ankara until he was overthrown by the military in 2013.
At the time he condemned the West for turning a blind eye to the "coup" by army chief army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who is now president.