ICG:

July 2006 was the grimmest month for conflict prevention around the world in three years. In 36 months of publishing CrisisWatch, the International Crisis Group has not recorded such severe deteriorations in so many conflict situations as in the past month, and several have significant regional and global implications.

The Middle East erupted with full-scale conflict between Israel and Hizbollah in south Lebanon, and there was a major escalation in Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza – both fronts threatening further regional destabilisation. Insecurity and sectarian violence surged in Iraq, claiming over 100 civilian lives daily, as the U.S. military reported a 40% increase in major attacks in Baghdad.

The Horn of Africa also showed ominous signs of breakdown. Somalia sits on the brink of all-out civil war, which is drawing in the wider region: Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to support the transitional federal government, and Eritrea is arming the opposing Union of Islamic Courts. In Sudan, implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement was at a standstill, with rebels split, and fighting, over the agreement.

In South Asia, the 11 July Mumbai bombings that killed over 200 had wider implications for the normalisation process between India and Pakistan, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of being soft on terrorism. Sri Lankan government troops launched a ground assault on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after four days of air strikes, considered by the LTTE to be an “act of war”.

Tensions rose dramatically on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang fired seven test missiles, which received unanimous condemnation from the global community. The situation also deteriorated in Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.

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PunkNews:

it is not with a heavy heart that we write these words but with a head held high. we wanted to collectively inform you that BOYSETSFIRE has decided to retire. thank you all for your support and belief in us over the last 12 years…please know it meant the world to us.

BOYSETSFIRE for us was always a vehicle for changing the world and we believe that change comes about by starting with yourself, so instead of awaiting certain things to come our way, as always we decided to take our destiny in our own hands. we’re not sure which path each of us will take from here on out, but we plan to continue following our dreams… we will play all the shows of our upcoming european tour and possibly one or two last shows on the east coast sometime this fall (we will keep you posted on this)

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SportsShooter:

Months after my trip to El Salvador with Give a Kid a Backpack Foundation, images still keep me awake at night.

I can’t get rid of the passionate embrace those kids gave me on the last day. I can still feel the tight hugs they gave me as they uttered “Thank you” over and over again.

They didn’t let me go then and I know that I still haven’t let go of them.

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NYT:

A few moments later, Amuri’s eyes rolled back in his head, his chest stilled and he was dead.

“Bring something for us to wrap the boy,” a nurse called out.

His mother, Maria Cheusi, realized that her son’s life had slipped away. He was the third child she would bury.

“Mama, mama,” she cried, collapsing to her knees in a contorted pose. “My only son, my only son.”

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TMZ, via WMFU’s Beware the Blog:

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Mel Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?”

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Guardian:

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office seems determined to press ahead with courting radical Islamists. Just this month, the British government paid for Yusuf al-Qaradawi to attend a conference in Turkey to discuss the future of European Islam. At home, it funded two Islamist youth organisations, the Federation of Islamic Student Societies and Young Muslim Organisation, to help run a roadshow of Muslim scholars to tour the country. Fosis and YMO, while condemning violence, are ideological allies of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami. It is ironic that conservative thinkers categorise these organisations accurately as part of an Islamist extreme right, while many on the left continue, wrongly, to see them as part of some wider international Muslim liberation movement.

While this situation remains, there is no shame for those on the left opposed to the rise of radical Islam to build alliances with conservatives prepared to call fascism by its real name.

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From SF Chronicle:

A jury convicted four leaders of a white-supremacist prison gang Friday on charges they used murder and intimidation to protect their drug-dealing operations behind bars.

The trial is part of one of the largest federal capital cases, with more than a dozen people potentially facing the death penalty. More defendants face trials in Los Angeles later this year.

Barry “The Baron” Mills, Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham, Edgar “The Snail” Hevle and Christopher Overton Gibson were the first defendants to stand trial in the federal racketeering case aimed at dismantling the feared Aryan Brotherhood.

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From the Daily Sun, Nigeria’s King of the Tabloids:

The young man, who was arrested for impersonating the Super Falcon’s captain, Miss Perpetua Nkwocha, has revealed that he duped people because he wanted to see his siblings through secondary school.

Also, he said he engaged in nefarious activities because he discovered that human beings love lies!

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From the BBC:

Television journalists were travelling with Russian forces who captured a group of rebel fighters sheltering in the village of Alkhan-Kala.

Mr Yandiyev, dressed in camouflage, can be seen in the footage standing injured near a bus.

He is questioned by a Russian general who eventually shouts: “Take him away, finish him off, shoot him, damn it!”

Mr Yandiyev was then led away and has not been seen since.

General Alexander Baranov, who was seen on camera sending him off to be shot, has since been promoted and awarded a Hero of Russia medal.

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From CJR:

Anderson Cooper followed up this past Monday with a similar report, telling viewers that “we found ourselves with other foreign reporters taken on a guided tour by Hezbollah … They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings.”

“This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they’ve been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians … These ambulances aren’t responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.”

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From PDN:

Getty Images photographer Spencer Platt says photographers in Beirut have been scrambling to the scene of explosions whenever they hear them, but doing so isn’t easy because Hezbollah is keeping photographers at arms length. “They’re very suspicious of our motives,” he says, explaining that they suspect there are Israeli spies among the Western journalists. Moreover, Platt says, Israeli aircraft are targeting cars in some places, so if you go on certain roads, “There’s a high probability that you’ll be attacked.”

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Corey Arnold, 30, is a Freelance Photographer and Alaska Crab Fisherman. During October, January, and February you will find him working and photographing aboard the f/v Rollo in the Bering Sea. The rest of the year he lives in Norway or San Francisco and spends the working hours photographing for exhibitions, art projects, books, magazines, bands, and advertisments. Recently, Corey has been focused on making pictures aboard fishing and whaling vessels in Northern Norway and Alaska (His so-called “life project”) You might have seen him as a deckhand aboard the f/v Rollo in the Discovery Channel’s emmy nominated series “Deadliest Catch”. He is also the co-founder and editor of Fisk Magazine, a new international “Cultural” fishing magazine which will launch in September 2006.

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From the New York Times:

The crisis in Darfur, long neglected, finally burst into the world’s consciousness. Congo remains largely forgotten. It is hard to understand why. Four million people have died in Congo since 1998, half of them children under 5, according to the International Rescue Committee. Though the war in Congo officially ended in 2002, its deadly legacy of violence and decay will kill twice as many people this year as have died in the entire Darfur conflict, which began in 2003.

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From the Daily Sun, Nigeria’s King of the Tabloids:

Too young to fathom out what actually occurred to him, Ndubuisi who had passed out during the incident came around to ask the grim question: What happened to my leg? Up till date, he is yet to know what exactly had happened to his leg, hence he continues to ask questions.

Moved to tears, his father, Emmanuel said the boy simply said: “ Daddy a lorry broke my leg, why not tell the doctor to repair it fast I want to go to school tomorrow.” Emmanuel replied that the doctor would do that immediately- a vein assurance.

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From the Washington Post:

The very setup of the U.S. presence in Iraq undercut the mission. The chain of command was hazy, with no one individual in charge of the overall American effort in Iraq, a structure that led to frequent clashes between military and civilian officials.

On May 16, 2003, L. Paul Bremer III, the chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-run occupation agency, had issued his first order, “De-Baathification of Iraq Society.” The CIA station chief in Baghdad had argued vehemently against the radical move, contending that, “By nightfall, you’ll have driven 30,000 to 50,000 Baathists underground. And in six months, you’ll really regret this.”

He was proved correct, as Bremer’s order, along with a second that dissolved the Iraqi military and national police, created a new class of disenfranchised, threatened leaders.

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From the Guardian:

Only 45 people turned up on Friday at Milan’s Civic Arena for a performance by the 51-year-old singer and songwriter. The venue has a capacity of 12,000.

Geldof refused to go on stage once he realised the dismally small number of people waiting to hear him perform. Before taking a taxi back to his hotel to pack his bags, he stopped to placate those who had turned up by signing autographs and having his photograph taken.

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NYT Magazine:

The counterfeiting of American currency by North Korea might seem, to some, to be a minor provocation by that country’s standards. North Korea, after all, has exported missile technology in blatant disregard of international norms; engaged in a decades-long campaign of kidnapping citizens of other countries; abandoned pledges not to pursue nuclear weapons; and most recently, on July 4, launched ballistic missiles in defiance of warnings from several countries, including the United States.

But several current and former Bush administration officials whom I spoke with several months ago maintain that the counterfeiting is in important ways a comparable outrage. Michael Green, a former point man for Asia on the National Security Council, told me that in the past, counterfeiting has been seen as an “act of war.” A current senior administration official, who was granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of relations between the United States and North Korea, agreed that the counterfeiting could be construed by some as a hostile act against another nation under international law and added that the counterfeits, by creating mistrust in the American currency, posed a “threat to the American people.”

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