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Ferguson: Police Shoot Armed Man Near Michael Brown Protest

Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

At about 1 a.m., a St. Louis County Police officer shot and critically wounded a man who police said pointed a handgun at the officer near the intersection of West Florissant and Chambers Road.

The shooting happened near Chambers and Sheffingdell Court, not far from the site of protests against police over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. The location is less than a mile from the QuikTrip on West Florissant that was looted and burned Sunday night.

Police said they received a call reporting about four to five men in the area armed with shotguns and wearing ski masks. They also got reports of shots fired in the area. Police officers arrived and saw “multiple subjects running,” said police spokesman Officer Brian Schellman.

An officer approached one of the men and he pulled a handgun on the officer who then fired, Schellman said.

Police said they recovered the handgun at the scene. The man was taken to a hospital.

Officers cleared the shooting scene shortly before 5 a.m. By 6:30 a.m., the streets were quiet and school buses were running. . .

Let's hope things calm down soon. - Greg Pollowitz

Maliki Backing Down on Use of Force to Stay in Power?

Via the New York Times:

After two days of defiance and the deployment of special security units around the Iraqi capital that raised the specter of a coup, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on Tuesday appeared to back away from his implied threat of using military force to secure his power by saying the army should stay out of politics.

On Monday, Iraq’s president nominated a candidate to replace Mr. Maliki, who then challenged the decision by saying it was unconstitutional. On Tuesday, Mr. Maliki backed down, at least rhetorically, from his intransigence in the face of growing opposition to his rule.

Iran, a longtime supporter of Mr. Maliki, also lent its weight on Tuesday to the constitutional process of replacing him with the new candidate, Haider al-Abadi, adding pressure on Mr. Maliki to retreat from his threats. The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, congratulated Mr. Abadi during a meeting of Iranian ambassadors, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The Obama administration, which has deployed United States warplanes to help the Iraqi government battle a marauding force of Sunni militants in northern and western Iraq, has also been pressuring Mr. Maliki to move aside. President Obama and his top aide congratulated Mr. Abadi on Monday and exhorted him to quickly form an inclusive government that would depart from Mr. Maliki’s polarizing policies, which have alienated many in the Sunni and Kurd minorities. . .

Good news, if true. - Greg Pollowitz
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Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr.: Strikes ‘Unlikely to Affect’ ISIS’s ‘Overall Capabilities’

Via Fox News:

A top Defense Department official acknowledged Monday that U.S. airstrikes in Iraq are unlikely to affect Islamic militants’ “overall capabilities” or their operations elsewhere in Iraq and Syria but rebuffed calls to expand the mission.

Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director for operations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described a stay-the-course approach during a briefing with reporters Monday afternoon. He spoke four days into a renewed U.S. airstrike campaign in northern Iraq meant to drive back militants with the Islamic State (IS), the group formerly known as ISIS.

Mayville said Air Force and Navy aircraft have conducted 15 “targeted strikes” to date and “helped check” IS advances around the cities of Sinjar and Irbil.

He said the strikes have “slowed” the group’s “operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances towards the province of Irbil.”. . .

Wonderful. - Greg Pollowitz

FBI Now Investigating the Michael Brown Shooting in Ferguson

Via the NY Daily News:

The FBI has launched a civil rights probe into the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a suburban St. Louis cop.

The agency announced it was investigating the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown a day after what was supposed to be a peaceful candlelight vigil turned into a night of mayhem and looting.

Nearly three dozen people were arrested after an angry crowd looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles and taunted police officers in Ferguson, Mo.

A member of Brown’s family denounced the lawlessness.

“I just want everyone to know and understand that the stealing and breaking in stores is not what Mike will want, it is very upsetting to me and my family,” an unidentified cousin said in a statement released to KTVI television. “Our family didn’t ask for this, but for Justice and Peace.”. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

About Time: U.S. to Arm Kurds Directly

Via The Guardian:

The Obama administration has announced it will arm the militia forces of Iraqi Kurdistan, to prevent the fall of the final bastion of pro-US territory in Iraq.

The weaponry is said to be light arms and ammunition, brokered not through the department of defense – which supplies Baghdad and its security forces with heavy weaponry – but the Central Intelligence Agency, which is better positioned to supply the Kurdish peshmerga with Russian-made guns like AK-47s that the US military does not use. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

US officials say they are not currently considering providing Kurdish forces, which are not under the control of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, with missiles, armored vehicles or helicopters. The move to arm them raises questions about how the US-provided rifles will affect the military balance against the Islamic State (Isis), which has captured US-supplied armored Humvees and other heavy weapons from the Iraqi military. . .

This is long, long overdue. - Greg Pollowitz
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Science: ‘Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist’

Via Real Clear Science:

In 2011, Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University and director of the GI Unit at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, published a study that found gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley, to cause gastrointestinal distress in patients without celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder unequivocally triggered by gluten. Double-blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled, the experiment was one of the strongest pieces of evidence to date that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), more commonly known as gluten intolerance, is a genuine condition.

By extension, the study also lent credibility to the meteoric rise of the gluten-free diet.Surveys now show that 30% of Americans would like to eat less gluten, and sales of gluten-free products are estimated to hit $15 billion by 2016 — that’s a 50% jump over 2013’s numbers!

But like any meticulous scientist, Gibson wasn’t satisfied with his first study. His research turned up no clues to what actually might be causing subjects’ adverse reactions to gluten. Moreover, there were many more variables to control! What if some hidden confounder was mucking up the results? He resolved to repeat the trial with a level of rigor lacking in most nutritional research. Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. With this new study, Gibson wasn’t messing around.

37 subjects took part, all confirmed not to have celiac disease but whose gastrointestinal symptoms improved on a gluten-free diet, thus fulfilling the diagnostic criteria for non-celiac gluten sensitivity.** They were first fed a diet low in FODMAPs for two weeks (baseline), then were given one of three diets for a week with either 16 grams per day of added gluten (high-gluten), 2 grams of gluten and 14 grams of whey protein isolate (low-gluten), or 16 grams of whey protein isolate (placebo). Each subject shuffled through every single diet so that they could serve as their own controls, and none ever knew what specific diet he or she was eating. After the main experiment, a second was conducted to ensure that the whey protein placebo was suitable. In this one, 22 of the original subjects shuffled through three different diets — 16 grams of added gluten, 16 grams of added whey protein isolate, or the baseline diet — for three days each.

Analyzing the data, Gibson found that each treatment diet, whether it included gluten or not, prompted subjects to report a worsening of gastrointestinal symptoms to similar degrees. Reported pain, bloating, nausea, and gas all increased over the baseline low-FODMAP diet. Even in the second experiment, when the placebo diet was identical to the baseline diet, subjects reported a worsening of symptoms! The data clearly indicated that a noceboeffect, the same reaction that prompts some people to get sick from wind turbines andwireless internet, was at work here. Patients reported gastrointestinal distress without any apparent physical cause. Gluten wasn’t the culprit; the cause was likely psychological. Participants expected the diets to make them sick, and so they did. The finding led Gibson to the opposite conclusion of his 2011 research. . .

The piece goes on to say that FODMAPs -- fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates -- which are in most products that also have gluten (i.e., bread), are what people are sensitive to. So, really, the name of the diet is FODMAP-free, not gluten free, and the actualy food you eat are the same. - Greg Pollowitz

Science: Pessimism Is Good For Your Health

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Listen up Pollyannas of the world: A dose of pessimism may do you good.

Experts say pessimism can at times be beneficial to a person’s physical and mental well-being. Some studies have found that having a more negative outlook of the future may result in a longer and healthier life. Pessimism and optimism are opposite ends of a spectrum of personality traits, and people generally fall somewhere in between.

“All too often in the literature and in the public conversation, we want people to be more than 90% optimistic,” said Dilip Jeste, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California San Diego. “That’s not good. It is much better to have a balanced perspective and have some pessimistic streak in your personality in order to succeed.”. . .

I like it. From now on I'll not only consider the glass "half empty," but add that "whatever's in the glass is probably of no use to me anyway." - Greg Pollowitz

FAA Bans Flights Over Iraq For U.S. Airstrikes

Via Washington Post:

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it was banning all U.S. airlines from flying in the airspace above Iraq.

Flights are barred from flying over Iraq “due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict” in the area, the agency said. U.S. airlines will only be allowed to fly through Iraqi airspace with authorization from the FAA or another U.S. governmental agency.

The announcement came after U.S. military jets carried out two airstrikesoutside of Irbil, with President Obama authorizing airstrikesand humanitarian drops of meals and water. A senior administration official told The Washington Post that the airstrike authorization is narrow but that there could be a number of situations in which such strikes could be launched. . .

Usually the air corridor that flies right over Iraq and Baghdad is packed with planes. - Greg Pollowitz

Report: ISIS Has Captured Iraq’s Largest Dam

Via New York Times:

Sunni militants appeared on Thursday to have captured the Mosul dam, the largest in Iraq, as their advances in the country’s north created an onslaught of refugees and set off fearful rumors in Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital.

An official in the office of Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish regional government, said Thursday afternoon that Kurdish forces, or pesh merga, were still fighting for control of the dam. But several other sources, including residents of the area and a Kurdish security official, said it had already been captured by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a potentially catastrophic development for Iraq’s civilian population.

The dam, which sits on the Tigris River and is about 30 miles northwest of the city of Mosul, provides electricity to Mosul and controls the water supply for a large amount of territory. A report published in 2007 by the United States government, which had been involved with work on the dam, warned that should it fail, a 65-foot wave of water could be unleashed across areas of northern Iraq.

Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh Province, whose capital is Mosul, said in a telephone interview from northern Iraq, where he has fled, that ISIS had secured the dam after what he called an “organized retreat” of the pesh merga. . .

So if the ISIS is eventually defeated, they can blow the dam and flood northern Iraq? Wonderful. - Greg Pollowitz

If True, Why Aren’t We Air-Dropping Food and Water to the Trapped Yazidi-Kurds?

Via Reuters:

50,000 People From Iraq’s Yazidi Minority Are Starving After Fleeing Islamic State Near Kurdish Regional Capital

[. . .] Yawar said 50,000 members of Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic minority who fled the offensive and are hiding on a mountain near the town of Sinjar risked starving to death if they are not rescued in 24 hours.

“Many have already died,” he said without elaborating.

 

Let's get the planes in the air. We've had no better friends in Iraq than the Kurds and they need to be helped. - Greg Pollowitz

Another Insider Attacks Leaves 7 Afghan Police Officers Drugged and Shot

Via ABC News:

U.S. officials prepared Wednesday to fly the body of a two-star general slain in an Afghan “insider attack” back home, as a similar attack saw an Afghan police officer drug and shoot dead seven of his colleagues, authorities said.

The investigation into the killing of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranked U.S. officer to be slain in combat since 1970 in the Vietnam War, continued Wednesday without any clear answers into why a man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire. The shooting wounded about 15 people, including a German general and two Afghan generals.

In a statement, NATO said Greene’s body was being prepared to be flown to the U.S. via Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Maj. Gen. Greene’s family, and the families of our soldiers who were injured yesterday in the tragic events that took place in Kabul,” NATO said. “These soldiers were professionals, committed to the mission.” . . .

Exit question: Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has praised the attacks, is still alive. Why? -

Report: It Was a Major General Who Was Killed in Afghanistan Insider Attack

Via New York Times:

A United States Army major general was killed on Tuesday by an Afghan soldier, shot at close range at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, officials of the American-led coalition said Tuesday. The officer was the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities in the Afghanistan war.

The coalition officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity and would not release the name of the major general, said an unspecified number of other service members of the American-led coalition and Afghan soldiers, including a senior Afghan commander, also were shot. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Other details of the shooting were sketchy, and the coalition, in an official statement, would only confirm that one of its service members had been killed in what it described as “an incident” at the Marshall Fahim National Defense University in Kabul. The coalition declined to specify any further details, saying it was still working to notify the family of the deceased. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Insider Attack in Afghanistan Leaves One U.S. Soldier Dead, 12 Wounded

Via A.P.:

A man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire Tuesday on foreign troops at a military base, killing at least one U.S. soldier and wounding 15, including a German brigadier general and “about a dozen” Americans, authorities said.

Details about the attack at Camp Qargha, a base west of the capital, Kabul, weren’t immediately clear. Gen. Mohammmad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, said a “terrorist in an army uniform” opened fire on both local and international troops. Azimi said the shooter had been killed and that three Afghan army officers were wounded.

A U.S. official said one American soldier was killed and “about a dozen” of the wounded were Americans, but declined to comment further. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss details of the attack by name on the record. . .

Bring them home. - Greg Pollowitz

Ebola vs. Shootings in Chicago: 3 Dead, 6 Wounded on Monday

Via Chicago Sun-Times:

Three men were killed and another six people were wounded in shootings across the city Monday, police said.

The most recent fatal shooting happened about 9 p.m. in the in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the South Side, police said.

A 39-year-old man was riding a bicycle about 9 p.m. in the 7600 block of South Hoyne when a red vehicle pulled up next to him and someone exited the vehicle and fired shots, police said. The man was struck in the chest and arm and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office could not confirm the death early Tuesday.

About 4:35 p.m., a man, 26, was shot to death in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. . .

Another night of multiple deaths in Chicago and still the national media doesn't care. - Greg Pollowitz

ISIS Fighting to Control Iraq’s Water, Electricity

Via Fox News:

Militants from the Islamic State are battling ferociously to control one of Iraq’s most vital resources: water.

Fighters with the group launched a three-pronged attack over the weekend in a drive to capture Haditha Dam, in western Iraq, a complex with six power generators located alongside Iraq’s second-largest reservoir. At the same time, they are fighting to capture Iraq’s largest dam, Mosul Dam, in the north of the country.

Seizing the dams and the large reservoirs they hold would give the militants control over water and electricity that they could use to help build support in the territory they now rule by providing the scarce resources to residents. Or they could sell the resources as a lucrative source of revenue. . .

Not good. - Greg Pollowitz

Marine Andrew Tahmooressi Back in Tijuana Court

Via Fox News:

On Day No. 127 of imprisonment, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi entered a federal court in Tijuana to face four border officials who were involved in his March 31 arrest on weapons charges.

In the Monday hearing that is expected to last several hours, defense attorney Fernando Benitez will grill the officials, looking for discrepancies in what they said and originally reported on the night of the arrest, according to Jill Tahmooressi, Andrew’s mother, who is in Tijuana for the hearing.

Benitez asserts Tahmooressi’s civil rights were violated because he was not provided a translator to adequately explain why he was being arrested. He also alleges the 26-year-old Marine was held at the port of entry, where her crossed from San Ysidro, Calif., for more than eight hours before being transported to the federal police headquarters and formally charged with the Mexican federal crime of bringing weapons and ammunition used by the military into the country. He was not charged with weapons trafficking. . .

Fingers crossed. - Greg Pollowitz

Maliki Orders Air Force to Help Kurds Fight ISIS

Via Reuters:

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered his air force for the first time to back Kurdish forces against Islamic State fighters after the Sunni militants made another dramatic push through the north, state television reported on Monday.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters, who cut their teeth fighting Saddam Hussein’s troops, were regarded as one of the few forces capable of standing up to the Sunni insurgents who faced almost no opposition from Maliki’s U.S.-trained army during their lightning advance through the north in June.

Then on Sunday the Islamic State inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Kurds with a rapid advance through three towns to reach the Mosul Dam, acquiring a fifth oil field to fund its operations along the way. . .

Well, this is welcome news. And maybe Iraq should consider bombing the oil fields now controlled by ISIS? - Greg Pollowitz

Russian Soldier Posts Selfies to Instagram and Reveals He’s in Ukraine

Via Daily Mail:

Alexander Sotkin may have thought he was harmlessly posting selfies to his friends back home, but last night the 24-year-old Russian soldier was at the centre of international intrigue.

For the photographs he has posted on the web appear to offer evidence that Vladimir Putin’s forces have been operating inside Ukraine.

Geotagging – the process of adding a location to a photograph taken by a mobile phone camera – creates a trail that leads Sotkin, a sergeant in the signals corps, from a military base in southern Russia across the troublesome border to villages inside rebel-held parts of Ukraine. . .

Hilarious. What a moron. - Greg Pollowitz

Cease-Fire Over? IDF Reports Hamas Kidnapped Soldier During Suicide Bomb Attack

Via CNN:

A cease-fire in Gaza unraveled Friday less than two hours after it took effect, with both sides accusing each other of violating the fledgling truce and the Israeli military saying one of its soldiers possibly was kidnapped.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said an Israeli attack on Rafah in southern Gaza killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 100.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said assault involved Israeli artillery shelling, calling it a “violation of the cease-fire.”

Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan told CNN that the latest cease-fire attempt between Israel and Hamas made it clear that there was to be no military action whatsoever, and Israel violated it by attacking houses in Rafah. Hamas is still committed to the cease-fire, but will protect itself, he said. . .

If the entire timeline of events as reported above is true, I don't know 1. why Israel would agree to another cease fire anytime soon and 2. every death in Gaza from this point on is Hamas's fault. - Greg Pollowitz

CIA Admits Searching Senate Computers

Via Washington Post:

CIA Director John O. Brennan has apologized to leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an agency investigation determined that its employees improperly searched computers used by committee staff to review classified files on interrogations of prisoners.

The embarrassing admission by the agency follows a dispute that erupted earlier this year when the CIA and the committee traded accusations of snooping on one another, allegations that led to an extraordinary public feud between Brennan and senior lawmakers.

The conflict centered on computers that the CIA set up at a secret office in Northern Virginia to enable committee aides to examine records of the agency’s use of harsh interrogation measures on al-Qaeda suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A statement released by the CIA on Tuesday acknowledged that agency employees had searched areas of that computer system that were supposed to be accessible only to committee investigators. Agency employees were attempting to discover how congressional aides had obtained a secret CIA internal report on the interrogation program.

“Some employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached” between the CIA and lawmakers in 2009, when the committee investigation was launched, according to the agency statement, which cited a review by the CIA’s inspector general. The CIA statement was first reported by the McClatchy news service. . .

Exit question: Can Brennan survive? - Greg Pollowitz

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