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Thursday, July 31

If America can do this for Israel, why can’t other countries (i.e Saudi Arabia and Egypt) in the Middle East do the same for Palestinians?
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By the way, has anyone seen the Palestinian Authority recently?

The Obama administration’s $225 million request to aid Israel during its war with Hamas may not be enough, warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday afternoon.
At the request of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Senate Democrats folded $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system into a larger bill that offers $2.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the influx of Central American migrants to the southern border. But Reid said Israel will need even more help from the United States if the war in Gaza continues, demonstrating the need to pass the funding package this week ahead of a five-week congressional recess.
Reid predicted that Hagel’s aid request for Israel may turn out to be “only temporary” given the steep costs associated with operating Iron Dome, which picks off Hamas’s rockets at a price-tag of $62,000 per missile, according to Reid.
(Also on POLITICO: Susan Rice: Gaza death toll 'alarming')
“We should not give the Israeli people the minimum amount of aid and then cross our fingers and hope it all works out in the future,” Reid said. “We can do better and need to go further in protecting Israel.”
Delivering money to Israel during its pitched conflict with Hamas is sure to receive bipartisan support in Congress, but Democrats’ attempts to tie $2.7 billion in border funding, $615 million for wildfires and the Iron Dome money has not yet moved Republicans to support the $3.57 billion package.
Instead the GOP is pushing a standalone bill containing $225 million for Israel, hoping to bypass Democratic attempts to tie the border bill to Iron Dome funding.

Lawmakers Scramble To Seal $225 Million Aid Package For Israel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats and Republicans in Congress vowed urgent support Tuesday for a $225 million missile defense package for Israel, boosting the likelihood that legislation will clear Congress before lawmakers begin a monthlong vacation at week's end.
"Let's stop playing games," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., calling the assistance a necessity for the "life-or-death struggle Israel faces."
Graham and other supporters made their comments as Israel unleashed its heaviest bombardment yet in the four-week war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. At least 1,200 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 100 Tuesday, according to Palestinian health officials. Israel has reported more than 50 soldiers and three civilians killed.
Amid a daily barrage of Palestinian rocket fire, Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system has been credited with knocking hundreds of missiles out of the sky. While the Obama administration has pressed for a cease-fire, it also has backed Israel's desire to replenish its missile defense stockpiles. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel extended Israel's request to Congress last week.

Despite Growing International Condemnation, No End to Gaza Violence in Sight
DESVARIEUX: Alright. And, Phyllis, the UN on Sunday, the UN Security Council, they decided to actually call for a ceasefire. But, obviously, we don't have one. Why didn't it work?
BENNIS: Well, there's a couple of reasons. The broad reason is that the Security Council right now, because of the U.S. veto and threat of veto, is rather paralyzed, is not in a position to enforce anything against Israel, because the U.S. won't allow it. The technical reason is that the decision that they made at midnight or so on Sunday night was not to pass a resolution at all, but simply to issue what's known as a presidential statement, which is a statement reflecting the unanimous views of the council members but that has no authority, no enforcement, no force of international law. It's what they do when the U.S. vetoes or someone else vetoes (mostly it's the U.S.) or threatens to veto and they don't want the U.S. to have to get up publicly and say, we are hereby vetoing a call for a ceasefire.
How Did Israel Learn How to Spin Its Disastrous Deadly Policies? From a GOP Pollster, Naturally
The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz.
Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed. 
There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those "who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel". 
Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked "not for distribution or publication" and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled "The Israel project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its "dos and don'ts" for Israeli spokesmen. 
These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.
Media Hype and Gaza's 'Terror' Tunnels
The Times story even notes: "As part of the propaganda push, the military has also invited a few journalists underground for a tour."
That is revealing, since the only thing missing from these nightmarish scenarios of terrorists emerging from the ground to kill innocents is any evidence that anything like this has ever happened. The Times story quotes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the "sole purpose" of the tunnels "is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children." But have there been any such attacks?
Journalist and media critic Greg Mitchell has posed this question on his blog (Pressing Issues, 7/29/14), where he reports that CNN's Jake Tapper responded to his queries on Twitter by noting that all of the the tunnel deaths he was aware of have been Israeli military.
Palestinian deaths, military and civilian (Intercept)Glenn Greenwald (Intercept, 7/29/14) notes  that the Israel–often credited in US media with taking great care to avoid civilian casualties–has actually killed three noncombatant for every "militant." Meanwhile, only 5 percent of the much smaller number of deaths caused by Palestinian fighters have been civilians, even though Hamas's disregard for innocent life is taken for granted by US journalists.
The Right-Wing Agenda Propelling False Claims of Christian Persecution
How right-wing hacks created a sect of victims.
If you only consumed the Fox News Network or books penned by Fox “journalists,” you could be forgiven for believing that the streets of America run red with the blood of Christian martyrs or that Bibles are being burned in the streets of San Francisco by marauding atheists.  The claims of religious persecution are laughable even on cursory examination, but this slice of American self-delusion can no longer be ignored.  The manufactured war on Christians provides cover for fundamentalist to perpetrate actualdiscrimination, against gay people, religious minorities and women.  With the latest decision from the Supreme Court creating religious rights for billon-dollar corporations like Hobby Lobby, this wholesale nonsense has gone beyond anyone’s capacity to ignore.
To understand the rise of the Christian victim myth, one must trace it to the source: Fox News and especially its affiliated radio and book empire.  Even among the intellectually atrophied, there are a few who stand out for being worse than the rest.  At Fox News, I would argue it’s the trifecta of Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity and my personal favorite (and the main subject of this post), Todd Starnes.  To understand the creation of the religious victimization myth, I thoroughly examined Starnes’ latest polemic: “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.”  Forwarded by Huckabee and promoted by Hannity, this Fox News corporate product captures everything that is wrong, untrue and stupid about this ongoing narrative.
Is the FBI Creating Terrorists to Pad Counterterrorism Conviction Rates?
In addition, there is a good chance that, without the government's active participation, many of those ensnared by the government did not have the mental or intellectual capacity to plan, finance and/or carry out a terrorist event.
"Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US," said Andrew Prasow, Human Rights Watch's deputy Washington director, in a statement. "But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts."
According to the report, entrapment, or what smells like entrapment, is writ large over several of the cases. However, the report points out that proving entrapment is not an easy task for defendants: "In theory, the defendants in these cases should be able to avoid criminal liability by making a claim of 'entrapment.' However, US law requires that to prove entrapment a defendant show both that the government induced him to commit the act in question and that he was not 'predisposed' to commit it. This predisposition inquiry focuses attention on the defendant's background, opinions, beliefs, and reputation — in other words, not on the crime, but on the nature of the defendant. This character inquiry makes it exceptionally difficult for a defendant to succeed in raising the entrapment defense, particularly in the terrorism context, where inflammatory stereotypes and highly charged characterizations of Islam and foreigners often prevail. Indeed, no claim of entrapment has been successful in a US federal terrorism case to date. European human rights law—instructive for interpreting internationally recognized fair trial rights — suggests that the current formulation of the US defense of entrapment may not comport with fair trial standards."
"Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions" also "documented the following patterns that raise serious human rights concerns":


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