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Daily News Flash with Rahul Mahajan on Barrel Bombs in Syria, US Sanctions on Russia, and House Punishment of Obama on Immigration – Plus an Update on Gaza

Uprising’s guest expert Rahul Mahajan, a sociologist and news analyst and author of Full Spectrum Dominance: US Power in Iraq and Beyond, analyzes today’s news headlines:

Human Rights Watch has found that the Syrian government increased its use of so-called “barrel bombs,” on civilian populations this year. HRW released a new report this morning, denouncing the use of what it calls “unguided high explosive bombs [that] are cheaply made, locally produced, and typically constructed from large oil drums, gas cylinders, and water tanks, filled with high explosives and scrap metal to enhance fragmentation, and then dropped from helicopters.” The group found that such bombs were dropped at least 650 times in Aleppo this year alone, and wants the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the government and rebel groups. Violence has recently spiked sharply in Syria with about 1,600 people being killed in less than two weeks. Click here for a Time.com article about the story.

A day after the US and EU announced strong sanctions on Russia over its support of separatists in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin remains unmoved. The sanctions are expected to affect the Russian population, igniting what the New York Times asserts is “growing alarm” inside Russia. Meanwhile CNN reports that US evidence of Ukrainian forces firing short-range ballistic missiles into regions held by pro-Russian rebels will not be released, apparently because Ukrainians are, in the words of one official, “the good guys.” The US just accused Russia of violating its treaty obligations by testing a medium-range ballistic missile. Click here for a New York Times article, and here for a Commondreams article about the story.

The GOP-dominated House has defied President Obama on the immigration crisis by passing a bill authorizing $659 million to deal with the issue of Central American child refugees. Obama has been pressing for $3.7 billion. Meanwhile Senate Democrats, who pushed through their version of a similar bill last year, are threatening to attach a comprehensive immigration package in a conference. President Obama is also openly considering taking significant executive action on immigration at the end of the summer – which, in addition to the Affordable Care Act, could be the impetus Republicans are looking for to initiate impeachment proceedings against him. In fact, House Republicans are expected to vote to sue the President today. Click here for a New York Times article and here for a BBC article about the story.


Israeli artillery shells hit yet another United Nations school at the Jabaliyya refugee camp this morning, where thousands of Palestinians were taking refuge. At least 20 people were killed. The attack is all the more brazen given that the UN Human Rights Council last week sharply denounced an earlier attack on a school which led to 16 deaths and has initiated an investigation into what it calls “war crimes.” Israel also struck several mosques overnight. The Israeli military initiated a 4 hour humanitarian ceasefire earlier today.

So far more than 1250 Palestinians have been killed, at least ¾ of whom are civilians. Two hundred of them were children.