Notations On Our World: On the Eve of a New Week w/thoughts on #Sclia; #Afghanistan, #Israel & Other Thoughts

It has been quite a weekend as the US Political scene again got transformed with the sudden death of Justice Scalia.   It reminded us of the classic First Monday in October which we hope all enjoy a clip of it  here:

The film depicts the central role the United States Supreme Court plays in the life of the United States as underscored by the current caseload before it.  It also underscores that the Justices of the Supreme Court are indeed human.     We hope all enjoy the clips available on YouTube as we await determinations from the White House.  As we went to press, we received an update from the White House noting that the President will await the return of the US Senate before nominating a replacement.  This is also as the Daily Update here in #Outsiders reported Senator Cruz' intentions to filibuster any nomination by the President.

What will be fascinating to watch is the moves by the President.   The President has the power of recess appointment which will allow a 9th Justice to take office.   However, it will problematic especially in light of the setback The President had with the members of the National Labor Relations Board.   It will be fascinating to be witness to.   The challenge took central stage in the latest Republican debate as well. The Daily Update also noted what Senator Cruz plans to do if President Obama nominates a successor.  

Beyond the shores of the United States, the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq rage on. Afghanistan has not been as "evident' lately.  However, what the Afghanistan Analyst Network reported on the latest from the UN on civilian causalities underscores the profound challenges before the current Afghan President and President Obama:

Afghanistan Analysts Network

Here are the recent updates from the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

The Bloodiest Year Yet: UN reports on civilian casualties in 2015

By Kate Clark on Feb 14, 2016 11:02 pm

2015 was the worst year for civilians in the Afghan conflict since UNAMA started systematically documenting casualties in 2009. Its annual report looking at the protection of civilians in 2015 found the trend towards more casualties in 2015 particularly marked for women and children. For women, IEDs are now the second biggest killer, with increased […]
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New Troops are being readied for Afghanistan.   Although we understand that the ceiling of 9,800 Troops will not be breached, new Troops are slated to be sent forth.    We will continue to assess over the ensuing days and weeks.

As we also went to press with this edition of "Notations" we received this from #Israel on some what we consider very interesting development on the ongoing friction between the European Union and Israel with some interesting implications: 

Cabint communique
Israel and the European Union have agreed to put their relations back on track. EU HRVP Mogherini has come out strongly against BDS and against economic sanctions against Israel, which is a step in the right direction.
(Communicated by by the Prime Minister's Media Advisor)

Israel Cabinet meeting. Reuters archive photo.
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today, (Sunday, 14 February 2016):

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Last night, Avigdor 'Yanush' Ben-Gal, an Israeli hero, passed away. Yanush was a child Holocaust survivor from Poland who grew up to became an IDF Major-General. As commander of the 7th Brigade in the Yom Kippur War, he – along with his brave soldiers – blocked the Syrian attack on the Golan Heights and saved the State of Israel. Three weeks later Yanush and his soldiers were at the gates of Damascus. I knew him as an extraordinarily inspirational and level-headed commander; he was courageous, wise and unpretentious. Even though he was aware of his uniqueness as a commander, he was not arrogant. He knew how to give precise orders on the battlefield. I knew him after the war and after my brother fell because they fought together, shoulder-to-shoulder, on the Golan Heights and afterwards when my brother served on the Golan Heights. This personal connection strengthened over the years. When Yanush fell gravely ill he showed the same courage and quiet he roism. He was an exemplary human being. The Jewish People have lost one of its greatest fighters. May his memory be blessed.

Israel and the European Union have agreed to put relations between us back on track. In the conversation I had over the weekend with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, I heard from her that the EU is opposed to any boycott of Israel, and about their action regarding product labeling, she defined it as non-binding and said that it does not reflect their position regarding the final borders of the State of Israel, which can be determined – that is what she said – in direct negotiations between the sides.

Israel, as a representative of democratic values, is entitled to receive support from Europe and not just criticism, and I think that this step is welcome. Of course, this is not to say that there will not be friction. There are things that we do not agree on. Neither is this to say that there will not be friction with specific countries within the EU, just as there are countries, more than a few, that also support our position. But the fact that the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has come out strongly against BDS and against economic sanctions against Israel, is – of course – a step in the right direction.

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