Galilee Youth Circus training session, Bi’ina, Israel, June 30, 2016

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The Galilee Youth Circus is comprised of Arab and Jewish kids, ages 6-18, from towns and villages in the Beit HaKerem Valley, which bridges the upper and lower Galilee in northern Israel. Weekly rehearsals are held after school in local gyms and performances are given all over the region for schools, festivals and events through the aid of an active parents’ committee.

According to circus cofounder, Rabbi Marc Rosenstein: “Circus will not bring peace to the Middle East. But, it can help to make dialogue possible by reducing fears, lowering barriers and building trust. It can provide a model of a shared loyalty that transcends ethnic identities. It can teach the art of taking risks for the common good. It can demonstrate, to a wide audience, that what appears to be impossible is, indeed, possible. None of these may be sufficient to bring about the requisite social change, but without them, no change is possible.”


Remembering Abdelqadir Fassouk, an amazing Libyan photojournalist, killed last week in Sirte, Libya.

IRAQ. Basra governate. Basra. September 19, 2005.

“A British soldier makes his way out of a burning Warrior fighting vehicle in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. I remember that day. I remember the risk, fear and danger with mixed feelings: “A man burns in front of my eyes, what should I do?” A part of me says, "This is something that I do not care about,” but the other part says, “The man is suffering. Go and save him. I feel his pain. Oh my Lord, why did you choose me to witness this? I am too weak for this.” Harder than that, insurgents surrounded me — I had to pretend to be joyful but my heart was breaking. After taking this image, I came to hate fire and I avoid the kitchen. I can’t stand seeing my wife cooking. Sadness hung over me for a long time — I hope to one day see the soldier and check on him.”

Photograph: Nabil al-Jurani/AP

British forces took the city on April 6, 2003 after having encountered unexpected resistance in Basra and its environs. In the aftermaths of the Battle of Basra (March 21 – April 6, 2003), several organisations accused the British Army of having committed war crimes such as: 

  • Indiscriminate bombing of heavily civilian-populated areas. Attacks on legitimate military targets must be proportional, and guarantee that the military advantage of such attacks outweigh the possible harm done to civilians. This was not respected.
  • Intentional or unintentional deprivation of essential commodities such as water and electricity. For instance, the Centre for Economic and Social Rights reported that the “Anglo-American deprived one million residents of access to safe drinking water for almost two weeks”, a war crime under the Geneva Convention and Hague Convention.

  • The use of cluster bombs. They are controversial because they can leave unexploded “bomblets” which, like landmines, pose an ongoing threat to civilians. The UK did not acknowledge any use of cluster bombs until 3 April, at which time it maintained that these bombs were not used near dense civilian populations. On 7 April, UK Secretary of Defence Geoff Hoon said he was “confident that the right balance [had] been struck” between avoiding civilian casualties and protecting Coalition troops. On 28 May, Britain said it had used cluster bombs in Basra. According to the UK Ministry of Defence, 2% of these (around 2050) were “duds” that did not explode immediately. UK cluster bombs caused numerous civilian casualties in Basra during the first few days of battle, Human Rights Watch reported.

  • Later investigation has found that coalition bombers used heavy metals, such as lead and mercury. These metals poisoned babies who were born in Basra after 2003, in some cases causing serious birth defects. A 2012 study found that babies born in Basra during 2011 were 17 times more likely to suffer from birth defects than babies born in 1995. These defects most commonly involved damage to the central nervous system. Childhood leukaemia rates have increased substantially. Cancer rates have also increased overall.

  • US and UK forces used depleted uranium munitions in the course of the battle. Depleted uranium used during the 1991 Gulf War had already been responsible for birth defects, epidemics of childhood sickness and cancer among the city’s population. The Basra area reportedly contains the country’s densest concentration of sites contaminated by these weapons. The UK Ministry of Defence later released information on 51 locations in Basra Province where it used depleted uranium munitions.

Without surprise the occupation was extremely uneasy. Contrary to US and UK pre-war declarations, the Shia population of the city did not welcome them. Until British troops transferred control of Basra governorate to the Iraqi authorities in 2007, they were daily plagued by attacks from the Iraqi insurgency (see picture above).

A BBC survey of local residents found that 86% thought the presence of British troops since 2003 had had an overall negative effect on the province.


Photos of the day - July 27, 2016

Riot police secure a police station, which is being hold by an armed group, in Yerevan, Armenia, women walk at a shopping street in Istanbul, an Indian paramilitary soldier uses his shield to protect him from rain during a curfew in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, a man takes a picture before Pope Francis’ arrival at a welcoming ceremony at Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Poland and workers secure a fence at Olympic Park as they make preparations for the upcoming Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are some of the photos of the day. (AP/EPA/Getty/Reuters)

Photo credits: Vahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo/AP, Petros Karadjias/AP, Mukhtar Khan/AP, Stefano Rellandini/Reuters, AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

See more photos of the day and our other slideshows on Yahoo News.

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World Youth Day

Pilgrims descend on Krakow, Poland to see Pope Francis at the World Youth Day gathering.

The world is at war, but it is not a war of religions, Pope Francis said Wednesday as he traveled to Poland on his first visit to Central and Eastern Europe in the shadow of the slaying of a priest in France.

The killing of an 85-year-old priest in a Normandy church on Tuesday added to security fears surrounding Francis’ five-day visit for the World Youth Day celebrations, which were already high due to a string of violent attacks in France and Germany. Polish officials say they have deployed tens of thousands of security officials to cover the event. (AP)

Photo credits: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel, Agencja Gazeta/Michal Lepecki/via REUTERS (2), Agencja Gazeta/Jakub Porzycki/via REUTERS, REUTERS/David W Cerny 

See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.

A man seen lying and praying on top of the tomb of Jesus Christ, as thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Easter holiday. April 30, 2016. Photo by Hadas Parush

IRAQ. Al Anbar governorate. November 21, 2005.

“It was the end of Operation Steel Curtain in 2005 and the Marines were organizing the transfer of hundreds of detainees to be processed. The volume that they were shipping off on any given day bothered me because I had seen that the method for evaluating suspected insurgence in an Area of Operation (AO) was far from full proof. If in doubt, men would be ziptied and flown back to Baghdad to be held for weeks/months for further questioning. I expect that the majority of those men had little to nothing to do with the insurgency that was flourishing in Anbar province at the time.”

Photograph: Jehad Nga/Corbis

Operation Steel Curtain was a military endeavour executed by coalition forces in early November 2005 to reduce the flow of foreign insurgents crossing the border and joining the Iraqi insurgency. The operation was considered successful.


On the drive to Fairview Cemetery in the Boston neighborhood of Hyde Park, six seniors from Roxbury Latin boys’ school sit in silent reflection. Mike Pojman, the school’s assistant headmaster and senior adviser, says the trip is a massive contrast to the rest of their school day, and to their lives as a whole right now.

Today the teens have volunteered to be pallbearers for a man who died alone in September, and for whom no next of kin was found. He’s being buried in a grave with no tombstone, in a city cemetery.

“To reflect on the fact that there are people, like this gentleman, who probably knew hundreds or thousands of people through his life, and at the end of it there’s nobody there — I think that gets to all of them,” Pojman says. “Some have said, ‘I just gotta make sure that never happens to me.’”

'Today We Are His Family’: Teen Volunteers Mourn Those Who Died Alone

Photos: Kayana Szymczak for NPR