Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur:
Malaysia has relinquished the rights to host the 2017 FIFA Congress, a sports official said Monday after the predominantly Muslim country refused to issue visas to Israeli delegates.
“We were advised by the government to withdraw from hosting the congress due to security issues,” Affandi Hamzah, deputy president of the Football Association of Malaysia, told AFP.
Affandi declined to elaborate on the “security issues” but said the move was tied to comments by Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi over the weekend.
Zahid had said Malaysia was unable to provide visas to Israeli officials because it did not have diplomatic ties and could rile up local sensitivities.
“Some of the conditions of hosting the event include placing the (Israeli) flag on the table during the congress,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times online.
“After comparing the benefits and the risks, it is better for Malaysia to avoid playing host.”
Syrian doctors shocked by the shock over 'everyday' bloodied child photo - from ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill:
Through a WhatsApp group, the doctors send me and a bunch of other reporters a continuous stream of updates.
They tell us when the airstrikes begin and when they can hear the bombs start falling.
They send videos of mad, crowded emergency rooms, where the floor is covered in blood and there are just not enough beds to accommodate the tens of people who have been injured in the latest strike.
They send pictures of babies, children and their parents maimed and killed on a near-daily basis.
Most are too graphic for any Western media outlet to publish.
But on Wednesday night, one of the pictures they sent stood out — a little dusty boy sitting shocked in the back of an ambulance.
The doctors said his name was Omran and he was five years old.
They sent another photo of him with his head all bandaged. They told us they treated him for a head injury.
Video then emerged of Omran as he sat blinking in the back of that ambulance, wiping his little pudgy hand on his bleeding head and then looking down at the blood in confusion and wonder.
I put it up on Twitter, and within a few hours, it was retweeted over 10,000 times.
The video we put on the ABC Facebook page has been viewed more than 14 million times.
I have received countless emails and messages of people from all over the world, who tell me they are distraught and thinking of Omran.
One email said: "I've asked my boss if I can work overtime so I can send my overtime money to Omran. Can you help me and make sure it's given to him?"
"My heart is broken as soon as I saw his little face. My tears have not stopped," Paul from London wrote.
The doctors inside Aleppo and their colleagues supporting them outside are still wrapping their heads around the way Omran's picture went viral.
"These pictures we are seeing dozens of them everyday. Frankly … I am shocked by the shock," said Dr Zaher Sahloul, chair of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a US-based NGO that helps fund the doctors inside besieged Aleppo.
He runs the WhatsApp messaging group and has seen this phenomenon before. He said it never lasts....
Dr Sahloul said Syrian children are "not dolls to cry over and then move on".
He said if you were upset by the video, then do something about it.
"What is happening in Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis in our lifetime collectively," he said.
"So whether you live in Australia or whether you live in United States, you have a responsibility to end this crisis."
Dr Sahloul said he wanted people to lobby their politicians for a no-fly zone in Syria and humanitarian corridors for civilians.
"This is all doable and this is all done in previous crisis," he said.
"I think advocacy is the key, and our policy makers have to feel the heat."
The Syria Campaign's campaign director James Sadri said: "I think after five years of conflict, people find it easier to just think about it as some kind of abstract thing — as war that just happens to some unfortunate people in another part of the world.
"And perhaps they don't want to name who it is, because that might actually take them a step closer to doing something about it.
[Photo: Syrian American Medical Society)
Mr Sadri said not enough pressure was being exerted on the Syrian regime and its ally Russia to stop airstrikes on civilians.
"We know which helicopters and which planes are dropping them," he said.
"The vast majority of the violence is being conducted by the Syrian Government of Bashar al-Assad and its allies the Russian Government.
"So what are we actually going to do to put pressure on them to stop this war? That's what we should be asking.
And the answer? Nothing, really. We've washed our hands of it.
Not in our name.
New York, 1931. "City Bank-Farmers Trust Building, William & Beaver streets":
Photographed the year of its completion, in the heroic age of towering art deco masterpieces: the Chrysler Building was completed the previous year, 1930, with the Empire State Building early 1931.
Still standing, as 20 Exchange Place:
The building was designed by the architectural firm of Cross and Cross. Although Cross and Cross described the building as having no particular architectural style, it was described at the time as being in the style then known as "modern classic", with minimal art deco ornamentation. Originally designed in 1929 to be the world's tallest building at 846.4 feet (258.0 m), with a pyramidal top and a budget of $9,500,000, Depression era realities resulted in a scaled back, 741-foot (226 m) tall building, New York City's fourth tallest building at the time. It remained among the top ten tallest buildings in New York until 1970. Today, as the sixth tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and the 33rd tallest in New York City, it is still among the most prominent buildings in the city skyline.
That picture of 5-year-old Syrian Omran Daqneesh, sitting in hospital with blood and dust over his face, has been plastered over the front pages - just like the picture of little Alan Kurdi, lying washed up on the beach, last year. Of course thousands - tens of thousands - of children like Omran have been caught in bombing raids launched by Assad or by his Russian allies. Many of them will have suffered worse than Omran. Many will have died. No one was really that bothered. Until now, when concerned liberals finally get a chance to express their personal anguish on Twitter.
Noah Pollak - How to Virtue-Signal With Dead Kids:
Liberal anti-interventionists have a guilty conscience. They know the Assad regime, now joined by Russia and Iran, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in the worst mass slaughter since the wars in Africa in the 1990’s. They also know that, unlike in Africa, the United States could have done things, relatively easy things, to prevent much of the killing.
They know that bombing Assad’s handful of runways and destroying his handful of aircraft and helicopters is an afternoon’s work for the United States Air Force. They know that enforcing a humanitarian no-fly zone over parts of Syria would have been, relatively speaking, neither complicated nor dangerous. Helicopters that have been destroyed on the tarmac cannot drop barrel bombs on hospitals, and Iranian transport planes laden with weapons cannot land on bomb-cratered runways.
But liberal anti-interventionists believe there’s something worse than mass civilian slaughter: U.S. military intervention to prevent that slaughter. That may seem a harsh judgment, but if it were not true, wouldn’t the president have acted? Even if Obama, sophisticate that he is, believed that leaving Syria alone was a price he had to pay for the Iran deal, wouldn’t we have seen Obama’s liberal supporters clamoring for action to stop the slaughter? There has been no clamor.
For liberal anti-interventionists, Syria creates a clash between two dearly held forms of self-regard: the feeling of well-earned moral superiority over the adventurists who got us into the Iraq war, and the feeling of universalist compassion for all peoples of the world. What do you do when your enlightened rejection of militarism is undermining the credibility of your expressions of solidarity with the oppressed?
Well, now we know. You tweet about how bad you feel. You tweet about how shaken you are by images of destruction and suffering. You express bewilderment at the senselessness of violence. You engage in histrionics. You distract from the moral unseriousness of liberal anti-interventionism by flattering yourself as morally serious on a personal level. You’re haunted by the images of Aleppo, your conscience is tormented, submit tweet, and now you’re a compassionate person who doesn’t have to say whether we should get our hands dirty trying to stop the killing.
It is important, then, for the photogenic dead and wounded children of Syria to understand their actual role in American and European politics today. It is not to shame the indifferent or the cautious into action—it is to provide cover for their inaction. It is to allow westerners an opportunity to reassure each other by posturing and emoting together on social media. One day, should they survive, a few of the children of Aleppo may grow up, learn English, and acquire social media accounts, and at that point they will be able to check in on today’s tortured consciences, just to see how they’re holding up.
Five Russian airstrikes destroyed the only hospital in a north Aleppo town Tuesday night, killing four patients and leaving 400,000 people without any medical facility or ambulances, the head of the hospital told Syria Direct on Wednesday.
“Sick patients and injured people are being transferred to hospitals in pick up trucks, vans, service cars and some residents' cars to hospitals in neighboring cities, ” Abdelmanaam al-Shaykh, the head of the al-Reeh al-Mursala Hospital in Darat Azza told Syria Direct on Wednesday. The nearest functioning medical facility is 50km away, added al-Shaykh.
Russian planes pounded al-Reeh al-Mursala Hospital with five airstrikes, killing five patients and injuring several medical staff, said al-Shaykh, who is also a doctor. Darat Azza was hit with an estimated 13 airstrikes on Tuesday, local media reported, a number consistent with Syria Direct’s reporting.
The Reeh was the only fully operating hospital in Darat Azza city, located 30km northwest of Aleppo city. The facility served 400,000 people, half of whom were displaced residents who fled there after the intensified battles in and around Aleppo that broke the regime’s blockade on the rebel-held eastern part of the city.
The airstrikes set the hospital aflame and caused the building’s roof, walls, and machines to collapse, rendering the facility inoperable, said al-Shakh.
Apart from damage to the actual building, the strikes destroyed five electricity generators, two ambulances, a service car, three doctors’ cars, water tanks, fuel, the pharmacy, the kitchen, the operations theatre and a refrigerator.
The only other hospital in the city was bombed on February 26 and is not equipped to treat patients. “It only handles emergency cases,” said Ahmed al-Rasheed, the head of the The Media Center in Darat Azza, which has been covering the airstrike story.
These bombings are, of course, war crimes. Will anyone call to Putin to task? Or Assad?
There's something of a Country tradition where the singer bumps into an old flame on the street and tries to be casual, only for the heartache and the bitterness to break through. Willie Nelson's 1961 Funny How Time Slips Away is perhaps the gold standard here, but Conway Twitty runs him close with this melodramatic exercise in maudlin self-pity, released in 1970:
It's amazing how he manages to express all that emotion without hardly opening his mouth. That's class, I guess. Roy Orbison had a similar style, with high drama and heartbreak delivered impassively, with a minimum of movement. Roy was the greater singer, admittedly, but Conway here - born Harold Lloyd Jenkins - was pretty damn good, and had style and charisma by the bucket-load.
"He was in the Fargo/Moorhead area. He was working as a busboy at a place called the Red Apple Cafe. We didn't know that at the time. Bill [Velline] was in a record shop in Fargo, Sam's Record Land, and this guy came up to him and introduced himself as Elston Gunnn--with three n's, G-U-N-N-N.
"He said he heard we were looking for a piano player, which we were, and he said that he had just gotten off the road with Conway Twitty. Bill was blown away. 'Man, how good can this be? This was as good as it gets!' And went over to the radio station with him, over to KGFO, and there was this piano in the studio and auditioned him on the piano. He came back and he said, 'He played pretty good in the key of C.' We didn't realize it at the time, but that's all he could play in, was the key of C. I-IV-V in the key of C.
"So we hired him to come out. And he was a neat guy. He was friendly. I remember his dark, curly hair. We bought him a shirt to match ours and paid him 15 bucks a night, which was about what we were making. Went to pick him up for the show, and he didn't have a piano. There weren't a lot of piano players in our area anyway--there were mostly guitar players--but they had the little Wurlitzer pianos, and we just assumed he had a piano. He didn't, of course. We took him to the gig anyway, and there was a piano there. It was terribly out of tune. He sat and he played that, and when he got lost he would come up and do background parts and do Gene Vincent handclaps. It was a trip!
"It was ill-fated. I mean, it wasn't gonna work. He didn't have any money, and we didn't have any money. The story is that I fired him, but that certainly wasn't the case. If we could have put it together somehow, we sure would have. We wished we could have put it together. He left and went on to Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. A couple of years later I was in New York in Greenwich Village. I was walking down the street. There was a record store there, and there was an album in the front window. And it said, 'Bob Dylan.' And I thought to myself, 'Looks a lot like Elston Gunnn!'"
Twitty previously - Only Make Believe.