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UN Calls for Syria Peace Talks in Oct./Nov.

Al-Manar | August 17, 2017

The United Nations hopes for “serious negotiation” between the government and a still-to-be-formed unified Syrian “opposition” in October or November this year, the U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday.

“Regarding the [Syrian] government, we are counting very much on Russia, on Iran, on anyone who has got major influence, and on the government of Syria to be ready finally to initiate when they are invited to Geneva, a genuine, direct negotiation with whatever [opposition] platform comes out,” he told reporters.

De Mistura also said that a letter from Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu in August had paved the way for Russian military police to be staged along the route of a U.N.-Red Cross convoy which reached Douma in eastern Gouta near Damascus on Thursday, the first time since May.

De Mistura added that the aid convoys are being prepared to be sent to Foaa & Kefraya in addition to other towns.

Six Civilians Killed by US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Syrian Deir Ez-Zor

Sputnik – 17.08.2017

The US-led coalition’s airstrikes on the Syrian eastern province of Deir Ez-Zor have claimed lives of six civilians, including three children, media reported Thursday, citing local sources.

The homes of civilians in a number of towns in the Syrian province have been shelled for two days by the coalition’s airstrikes, which also caused material damage to private and public properties as well as to the infrastructure, the SANA news agency reported.

According to the agency, at least 17 people fell victims of coalition’s airstrike on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Raqqa, a stronghold of Daesh terrorist group, outlawed in Russia and in the United States.

Earlier in the day, Damascus called on the UN Security Council to “stop the US-led coalition’s crimes against Syrian citizens,” a statement issued by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said. … Full article

Korea and Venezuela: Flip Sides of the Same Coin

By Jacob G. Hornberger | Future of Freedom Foundation | August 14, 2017

By suggesting that he might order a U.S. regime-change invasion of Venezuela, President Trump has inadvertently shown why North Korea has been desperately trying to develop nuclear weapons — to serve as a deterrent or defense against one of the U.S. national-security state storied regime-change operations. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Venezuela and, for that matter, other Third World countries who stand up to the U.S. Empire, also seeking to put their hands on nuclear weapons. What better way to deter a U.S. regime-change operation against them?

Think back to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The U.S. national-security establishment had initiated a military invasion of the Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, had exhorted President Kennedy to bomb Cuba during that invasion, and then had recommended that the president implement a fraudulent pretext (i.e., Operation Northwoods) for a full-scale military invasion of Cuba.

That’s why Cuba, which had never initiated any acts of aggression against the United States, wanted Soviet nuclear missiles installed in Cuba. Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro knew that there was no way that Cuba could defeat the United States in a regular, conventional war. Everyone knows that the military establishment in the United States is so large and so powerful that it can easily smash any Third World nation, including Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela. … continue

Russia throws weight behind Iran’s missile program

Press TV – August 16, 2017

Iran’s defensive missile program is part of its “national interests,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says, asserting that the new US sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its missile activities are “illegitimate” and only harm the nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1.

Speaking to reporters in a news conference on Wednesday, Lavrov said Iran’s development of an array of ballistic missiles was not in violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, adopted in July 2015 to endorse the landmark nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA.)

“The missile program is Iran’s internal affair. Iran is not prohibited from having it,” Lavrov said. “The UN Security Council’s resolution contains no legal bans on that score.” … continue

Russia Summons 3 Ambassadors Over Poland’s Sobibor Museum Renovation

Sputnik – 17.08.2017

The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned ambassadors of the three countries, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Israel, that decided to continue their activities in the project to renovate the museum in the former Nazi concentration camp in Poland’s Sobibor without Moscow’s participation, the ministry’s spokeswoman said Thursday.

The Russian side was invited to join Israel, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia in the project for the renovation of the museum and memorial site in Sobibor in 2013. However, in July Moscow received an official message from Warsaw that the project would continue without Russia’s participation. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its disappointment with Warsaw’s refusal to allow Moscow to participate in the project. … Full article

Question Al Gore on climate change and he’ll call you a ‘denier’

By Ross Clark | The Spectator | August 2017

… The former vice president was in London last week to promote his new film and I, along with the world’s press, was invited to a private screening before being allotted an entire eight minutes talking with the great man.

An Inconvenient Sequel is an odd film. Billed as a film about global warming, it is really about Gore himself. It starts with him plodding around on a glacier in Greenland, but much of its running time is devoted to scenes which really have nothing to do with the subject — other, perhaps, than that they depict a lifestyle somewhat at odds with a man preaching the need to cut carbon emissions. Gore is seen driving a large Jeep to visit his childhood home, and jetting off around the world. As for the scenes of his failed presidential campaign in 2000 and the Bataclan massacre in Paris in 2015, I fail to see what they have to do with climate change.

But one scene catches my eye and makes me want to look into the subject more deeply. The film cuts from Gore on his melting glacier to a flooded street in Miami Beach, with a voice-over from Gore making a strong connection between the two — the melt-water from Greenland is already spilling over the streets of US cities. An elderly Miami resident is seen telling Gore that the streets never used to flood when he was young. The implication is that sea-level rise is happening frighteningly quickly — and it is all down to carbon emissions, if not nature’s revenge for all those hanging chads which denied him victory in Florida and therefore the 2000 presidential election.

It caught my eye because it reminded me of an issue of accuracy which Gore encountered with his first film, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006. In a High Court ruling over whether the film could be shown in schools, Mr Justice Barton ruled that while it was ‘broadly accurate’, it contained nine ‘significant errors’. One of them concerned a claim that sea levels could rise by 20 feet in the near future due to the melting of ice in Greenland or the west Antarctica ice sheet — something the judge ruled to be ‘distinctly alarmist’. Another involved a false claim that residents of Pacific atolls had already been forced to evacuate to New Zealand due to sea-level rise.

Not being a climate scientist, the threat of sea-level rise is not something on which I feel qualified to propound, but I wasn’t going to take Gore’s word for it — not least because he is no more a climate scientist than I am. So I got in touch with Shimon Wdowinski, associate professor of marine geology and geophysics at the Florida International University, who has studied the flooding problem in Miami — exactly the sort of expert, one might think, with whom Gore or his team of researchers might have been in touch before making a documentary film involving the issue of flooding in Miami.

Wdowinski — who said that he had had no contact with Gore or his team — did not refute the connection between sea-level rise and glacier melt, but suggested it is more complex than Gore’s film makes out. Over the past decade and a half, sea levels in Miami and along the rest of the eastern seaboard of the United States, have taken an upwards jolt and are currently rising by between 6mm and 9mm a year. However, the long-term rise in sea levels — caused by a combination of melting ice and thermal expansion of the oceans — is only 2mm. The rest is short-term variability caused by changes in ocean currents. Interestingly, there may be some link between meltwater from Greenland and the change in ocean currents — Wdowinski has identified a similar short-term uplift in the rate of sea-level rise in Florida in the 1940s, when temperatures in Greenland saw a temporary upwards blip and were as high as they are now. But these findings he describes as only ‘preliminary’. He has also investigated another factor behind flooding in Miami — subsidence in parts of the city which are built on reclaimed swamps. Satellite measurements reveal that some streets now lie 16 to 24cm lower than they did 80 years ago — which might explain why long-established residents are seeing places flood which never used to flood when they were young.

When I put all this to Al Gore and ask him whether his film would be stronger if it acknowledged the complexities of sea level rise — why it is rising in some places and not in others — I am expecting him to bat it away, saying that it doesn’t counter his central point and that there is a limit to what you can put into a film pitched at a mass audience, but his reaction surprises me. As soon as I mention Professor Wdowinski’s name, he counters: ‘Never heard of him — is he a denier?’ Then, as I continue to make the point, he starts to answer before directing it at me: ‘Are you a denier?’ When I say I am sure that climate change is a problem, but how big a one I don’t know, he jumps in: ‘You are a denier.’

That is a strange interpretation of the word ‘deny’, I try to say. But his PR team moves in and declares ‘Time’s up’… Full article

Implementing Single Payer is Not Rocket Science

By Dr. Ida Hellander | Health Over Profit

Liberals have created a new single payer bogeyman to justify their renewed pursuit of failed incremental policies for health reform (“Medicare for All Isn’t the Solution for Universal Health Care” by Joshua Holland, The Nation, August 2). It used to be that single payer was not “politically feasible”. Now, according to the likes of Joshua Holland, Harold Pollack, and Dean Baker, it’s that single payer advocates haven’t worked out a plan to “implement” single payer, or the “brass tacks.”

In fact, implementation is the easy part of health reform. The Canada Health Act is less than 14 pages long, and is only that long because it is also printed in French.  … continue

Islamic Jihad, Hamas and PFLP reject PNC meeting in Ramallah

Palestine Information Center – August 16, 2017

GAZA – The Islamic Jihad Movement on Tuesday announced its rejection of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting set to be held in Ramallah and considered it a prelude to the exclusion of Palestinian resistance factions from any future national project.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Movement said that the statements made about the current arrangements for holding a PNC meeting will entrench the internal division.

According to statements by a number of Fatah representatives lately, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, decided unilaterally to hold a PNC meeting in Ramallah in September.

Islamic Jihad called on Fatah Movement and the PA to abide by the understandings reached in Cairo and in the PNC preparatory committee meetings in Beirut.

Hamas Movement as well as the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine expressed earlier their rejection of Fatah’s call for a PNC meeting in Ramallah.

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian attacker’s home in Kobar, shoot and injure journalist

Ma’an – August 16, 2017

RAMALLAH – Israeli forces demolished on Wednesday morning a home in the central occupied West Bank village of Kobar belonging to the family of a Palestinian accused of killing three Israeli settlers in July.

Omar al-Abed, 19, is currently imprisoned by Israel after breaking into the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish on July 21 and carrying out a deadly stabbing attack. He was shot and moderately wounded by a neighbor of the victims and subsequently detained following the attack, although Israeli media has reported that he has not yet been charged.

Locals told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed Kobar, which has been sealed by Israeli forces since the attack, early on Wednesday and surrounded the al-Abed’s home as excavators tore the building down.

Violent clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces during the demolition, when Israeli soldiers posted leaflets in the streets of Kobar threatening residents with similar punishment should they attempt to carry out attacks against Israelis.

Palestinian Red Crescent medics told Ma’an that 12 Palestinians, including Palestine TV photojournalist Muhammad Radi, were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes. Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Radi was shot in the face at close range. … Full article

Artists boycott Israel sponsored festival in Germany

MEMO | August 16, 2017

Four artists have cancelled their scheduled performances at an international festival in Berlin citing the festival’s partnership with the Israeli embassy and their support for the Palestinian call for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Pop-Kultur festival, which is due to take place in Berlin next week, is an annual event that attracts thousands of visitors. While the two-day event also boasts over 30 sponsors including several internationally recognised brands, Israel appears to be the only foreign country taking a keen interest. … continue

Pentagon Denies Sending Chemical Agents to Syrian Opposition Groups

Sputnik – August 16, 2017

The Pentagon said Wednesday it had never sent chemical agents to so-called Syrian opposition groups after Damascus accused the United States of supplying terrorists with toxic agents.

US military assistance to vetted Syrian opposition forces is limited to those fighting against the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia) and has never included chemical agents, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik on Wednesday.

The statement comes after Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused US and UK-based companies of supplying toxic agents to terrorists, adding that CS and CN substances, allegedly produced by NonLethal Technologies and Chemring Defence, were found in Aleppo and Damascus.

“Department of Defense assistance to Vetted Syrian Opposition groups is limited to those groups fighting ISIS [Daesh]. That assistance does NOT now, nor has it ever, included chemical agents like you describe,” Pahon said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the fact that the United States and the United Kingdom could have supplied toxic agents to militants in Syria is “beyond understanding.” The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in June that its fact-finding mission confirmed that man-made chemical sarin, a gas used as a chemical weapon, was used in an attack on Khan Shaikhoun in Idlib in early April, but did not determine who was responsible.

The US-backed militias blamed the use of chemical weapons on the Syrian government, despite Syrian President Assad told Sputnik following the attack in April that there was no chemical weapons  in Idlib.

Donbass: Ukrainian Sniper Opens Fire at Construction Workers Near Horlivka

Sputnik – 16.08.2017

DONETSK – The Ukrainian sniper opened fire at construction workers in the area around the Maiorsk checkpoint near the city of Horlivka, located in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the acting head of the city administration said on Wednesday.

The official said that the sniper opened fire when six construction workers were in the area. No one was hurt in the shelling, the official added.

“There were exactly four bullets, according to the marks on the building. Thank God no one was shot. But it is obvious that the Ukrainian side is trying to breach the ceasefire by all means and arranges regular provocations,” the spokesman added. … Full article

A ‘new normal’ in South China Sea

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 16, 2017

… Ironically, Duterte’s new thinking bears striking similarity with the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s policies toward China. Yet, Duterte’s political personality happens to have more in common with Prime Minister Modi than with Manmohan Singh. Like Modi, Duterte is also a strongman populist. Both thrive on polarizing domestic politics and both pursue controversial approaches to social problems. Neither can claim to have a sophisticated understanding of international affairs. But where Duterte leaves Modi miles behind is in his pragmatism to eschew confrontation and megaphone diplomacy to leave the territorial disputes as a stalemate and instead maximise the economic benefits of the China relationship .

These are early days, but according to reports from Hanoi, the Spanish drilling ship, which has been prospecting in the disputed waters in in Vietnam’s Block 136/3 last month, has left the area after pressure from China. Interestingly, according to reports citing a “diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the situation”, Hanoi’s decision to suspend the drilling followed the visit of a Vietnamese delegation to Beijing.

The big question is whether the tidings from Manila and Hanoi presage a “new normal”. Though the Code of Conduct between China and the aggrieved members of the ASEAN is not yet a done deal, a future order of the SCS based on international rules and norms seems a near-term possibility. The Global Times newspaper carried on Tuesday a “preview” of what a future SCS order might look like – based on principles of “equality”, “balance” and “openness”. … Read full article

Kim Jong-un ‘made very wise & well reasoned decision’ over Guam – Trump

RT | August 16, 2017

North Korea’s decision not to follow through on a threat to strike the island of Guam is “very wise,” according to US President Donald Trump, who said such an attack would have been “catastrophic.”

“The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

Relations between the two nations deteriorated drastically in recent weeks, culminating in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claiming he was preparing plans to fire missiles at the US island territory in Micronesia.

North Korea has now, it appears, halted these plans, with its state media reporting that the government is open to defusing the tension in order to “prevent dangerous military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump described the developments as a “well reasoned decision” early Wednesday, after a sustained period of rhetoric from both nations suggested a military conflict was on the cards. … Full article

Shocking videos raise #Venezuela fake-news fears

SKWAWKBOX · 03/08/2017

All the mainstream news channels and publications have been running dramatic footage of a night-time police raid to arrest one of two Venezuelan opposition leaders as part of their odd clamour for the UK’s opposition leader to ‘condemn’ Venezuelan President Maduro’s actions.

The raid, which occurred earlier this week and was caught on apparent mobile phone footage inside the raided house, is certainly dramatic enough, with half a dozen police officers in camouflage uniforms bundling Antonio Ledezma out of his house at night.

Equally dramatic daytime footage, however, sheds new light on the incident – and raises fears that the presentation of events in Venezuela may involve fake news… continue

Bangladesh sees new influx of Rohingya Muslims

Press TV – August 16, 2017

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh in recent days, following a fresh military build-up in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.

Rohingya community leaders said on Wednesday that at least 500 members had made the difficult journey into the neighboring country. The refugees claim that they have been abused by soldiers in Myanmar.

Abu Toyyob, 25, said he escaped with his seven-member family as the military vandalized houses belonging to the Rohingya and detained young men.

“They arrested my younger brother from home and injured my two-year-old son by kicking him with boots,” Toyyob was quoted as saying by AFP. “I immediately set off with my family and crossed the Naf two nights ago,” he added, referring to the river between Myanmar and Bangladesh. […]

Numerous accounts have already been provided by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began. The military has blocked access to Rakhine and banned journalists and aid workers from entering the zone. … Full article

Bahrain must stop discriminating against Shias: Tillerson

Press TV – August 15, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on the Bahraini regime to stop discriminating against Shias residing in the Persian Gulf country.

“In Bahrain, the government continue to question, detain and arrest Shia clerics, community members and opposition politicians,” said the top diplomat Tuesday. […]

“Members of the Shia community there continue to report ongoing discrimination in government employment, education, and the justice system,” adding that “Bahrain must stop discriminating against the Shia communities,” Tillerson said. … Full article

China, Philippines Agree on Modus Vivendi in South China Sea

Sputnik – 16.08.2017

The foreign ministries of China and the Philippines have found a ‘way to get along’ by banning new construction in the South China Sea as the two nations seek to enhance bilateral ties.

“The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor are they going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal,” Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana told lawmakers on Tuesday, according to China News Asia. The waters near the shoal are frequented by Philippine fishers, but from 2012 to 2016 China blockaded the area.

Specifically, “there is a status quo now that is happening in the South China Sea brokered by the secretary of Foreign Affairs,” he said, adding “it would be a very serious thing if China will occupy any of the islands.”

The two sides are reportedly collaborating on a commercial arrangement to jointly conduct oil exploration… Full article

The blame game

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | August 14, 2017

For the sake of argument, let’s accept the IPCC conclusions regarding attribution of global warming, and their 21st century projections. So, exactly who in the U.S. bears the blame for current and future damages?

This is not an academic question. There are two landmark lawsuits that are gearing up, that ‘blame’ different entities.

Juliana versus U.S. Climate Lawsuit

Youth filed their constitutional climate lawsuit, called Juliana v. U.S., against the U.S. government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2015. Other plaintiffs in the case include world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter, and Earth Guardians, as an organizational plaintiff.

Their complaint asserts that, through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources. […]

Marin County vs Oil  Companies

Marin County, California, had filed a lawsuit against major petroleum companies [link]. The lawsuit is summarized by Mercury News :

Two Bay Area counties sued 37 oil, gas and coal companies Monday asserting the companies knew their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but failed to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution.

The lawsuit was part of a coordinated litigation attack by Marin, San Mateo County and the city of Imperial Beach.

The lawsuit, filed in Marin County Superior Court, alleges that “major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.” […]

These two cases promise to be very interesting, not to mention profoundly important in determining how the political debate surrounding climate and energy policy plays out in the U.S.

I find the two cases to be interesting when considered together, regarding who is getting blamed. The California case blames the petroleum companies. They somehow knew better, and apparently should have stopped producing fossil fuels. The Juliana case blames the federal government: the U.S. government that declined to sign on to the Kyoto protocol, pass a carbon tax and trade bill, and a Senate that declined to vote favorably on the Paris agreement.

Never mind the consumers and businesses dependent on fossil fuels. […]

These cases hinge on future damages, not on damages that have already occurred. This will be an interesting legal test of the precautionary principle: suing someone for damages that a model says will occur far in the future. … Read full article

Russian Foreign Ministry BASHES Ukraine for deportation of TV reporter

By Anna Lutskova | RussiaFeed | August 15, 2107

Moscow is outraged by the deportation from Ukraine of the correspondent of the Russian VGTRK television Tamara Nersesyan and demands from Kiev to fulfill its obligations in the field of media freedom, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, VGTRK reported that Nersesyan was deported from Ukraine. Soon after that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed the deportation, however it had not provided details on the issue.

“We express indignation at the gross violation of the rights of Russian journalists and demand official Kiev to strictly observe international obligations in the field of media freedom and ensure their security,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement added that Kiev continued its policy hampering activities of media outlets and expanding the list of foreign reporters unable to visit Ukraine’s territory.

“We call upon the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media,Harlem Desir, to pay attention to the policy of the Ukrainian authorities towards the media and to give a principled evaluation of their actions,” the statement said.

The statement added that the case of Nersesyan is not the first case of deportation of foreign reporters from Ukraine, citing the July deportation of Maria Knyazeva, who worked for Rossiya 1 and Rossiya 24 broadcasters. … Full article

Israeli Soldiers Demolish Residences and Stores in Jerusalem

IMEMC News – August 15, 2017

Israeli soldiers and personnel of the City Council of occupied East Jerusalem, invaded on Tuesday morning, the town of a-‘Eesawiyya, in occupied East Jerusalem, and demolish a two-story building, used for residence and commercial purposes.

The WAFA Palestinian New Agency quoted Raed Abu Mayyala of Jerusalem’s Follow-Up Committee, stating that the building was modified ten years ago on the original structure, and included apartments and stores.

Abu Mayyala that dozens of soldiers and police officers, accompanied the City Council bulldozers, invaded the area, and surrounded the building before demolishing it.

The soldiers also instated a strict siege on the entire area, especially around the demolished building.

Israeli police arrest Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah

Ma’an – August 15, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Israeli police detained Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the outlawed Islamic Movement in Israel, on Tuesday morning and transferred him for interrogation “over suspicions of his involvement and support of an illegal and banned union,” according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri.

While al-Samri did not refer to Salah by name, he was identified by Israeli news website Ynet.

According to Ynet, large police force arrived at the Mahajina neighborhood of the Umm al-Fahm village in northern Israel and arrested Salah, after a joint investigation between police and the Shin Bet, which was ordered by Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.

Al-Samri added that Salah is accused of “inciting violence and terrorism, as well as affiliation with and support of an illegal and banned union.”

“According to available information, the suspect delivered inciting speeches before crowds and a number of his quotes were disseminated on different media outlets,” al-Samri said, adding that the Lahav 433, a special investigation unit of the Israeli police, were interrogating the “suspect.” … Full article

Al-Araqeeb village: Palestinian Bedouins refuse to surrender 116 times

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | August 15, 2017

On August, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb was destroyed for the 116th time. As soon as Israeli bulldozers finished their ugly deed and soldiers began evacuating the premises, the village resident immediately began rebuilding their homes.

Twenty-two families, or about 101 residents, are estimated to live here. By now, they are all familiar with the painful routine, considering the first round of destruction took place in July 2010.

It means that the village has been destroyed nearly 17 times each year since then. And each time, it was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again.

If the repeated destruction of the village is an indication of Israel’s stubborn insistence to uproot Palestine’s Bedouins, the rebuilding is indicative of the tenacity of the Bedouin community in Palestine. … continue

Tillerson says US still interested in dialogue with North Korea

Press TV – August 15, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that Washington remains ready for talks after North Korea postponed a threat to fire missiles into the waters near Guam.

“I have no response to his decisions at all at this time,” Tillerson said at the State Department on Tuesday. “We continue to be interested in finding ways to get to dialogue, but that’s up to” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The top US diplomat maintained that it would be up to Kim when such negotiations would begin.

Tillerson had previously insisted Pyongyang must show that it is ready to abandon its nuclear program by halting ballistic missile and nuclear tests for an unspecified period of time before negotiations can begin on how to resolve the standoff and stop any threat of US military action.

North Korea announced Tuesday that it had completed plans to test ballistic missiles near Guam but would not immediately carry them out. Kim however warned that his country would stay fire-ready while keeping a close eye on Washington’s actions. … Full article

South Koreans protest THAAD deployment, joint military drills with US

Press TV – August 15, 2017

Thousands of South Koreans have taken to the streets of the capital to protest against joint Washington-Seoul military drills as well as the deployment of a controversial US missile system amid tensions with the neighboring North.

An estimated 10,000 protesters packed the streets around Seoul Square on Tuesday, calling on the government to scrap the deployment of the so-called US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and stop the joint military drills scheduled for next month.

“The deployment of THAAD should be pulled back as it is of no use to defend South Korea,” one of the rally organizers said on a podium at the square.

“The US has recently increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, voicing out threats of military action (against North Korea), but no one has the right to take military action here, and the threats must stop now,” the organizer told the crowd.

South Korea decided to host the missile system last year under ousted president Park Geun-hye to deter perceived threats from North Korea.

Both the THAAD deployment and the joint annual military exercises with the US have angered Pyongyang, which views the moves as a threat to North Korea’s national security.

The protesters also chanted slogans such as “No THAAD deployment” and “Stop joint military training exercises” as they marched from the square towards the nearby US embassy.

“It is my first time out here to make my voice heard, and I believe the deployment of THAAD is only for the sake of strategic security interests for the US, and we must stop the deployment before it triggers another war on the peninsula,” said Han Min-woo, 37, who participated in the rally.

About 6,500 law enforcement personnel had been deployed to Seoul, setting up barricades with buses across the city to hinder movement.

On the same day, rival protests were held separately just a few kilometers away, where demonstrators called on the government to deploy the missile shield as planned for the sake of national security.

Taliban to Trump: Withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, foreign occupation is main driver of war

RT | August 15, 2017

In an open letter, the Taliban have urged US President Donald Trump to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, as the commander-in-chief ponders his next move in the country.

“Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might,” the Taliban stated in 1,600-word English-language letter, released to the media through spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

The letter accused “warmongering” generals and politicians of prolonging the conflict and claiming more and more American and Afghan lives.

The militants said that the only true path to peace was an end to the American presence in the country.

“Everyone now understands that the main driver of war in Afghanistan is foreign occupation,” the letter reads.

“The Afghans have no ill-intention towards the Americans or any other nation around the world but if anyone violates their sanctums then they are mighty proficient at beating and defeating the transgressors.”

The letter claims that Afghan officials are downplaying the seriousness of the situation and that only a fear of causing mass civilian casualties is holding the Taliban back from a large-scale offensive.

Though Trump himself has previously criticized US interventionism abroad, his administration is considering a new strategy there, which could see deploying thousands more troops to the war-torn country as part of the NATO-led coalition, at the request of General John Nicholson, the senior US commander in Afghanistan.

On Monday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the White House was looking at a number of options for the new US strategy in Afghanistan, which range from a troop surge to increased use of contractors to a full withdrawal. … Full article

Israel’s Chorus Sings Again

Less than total loyalty to Israel is un-American

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 15, 2017

Congress is on a one-month summer recess. You would think that given the recent turmoil over the bill to eliminate Obamacare and the upcoming debate over tax policy the nation’s legislators would be back in their home districts talking to the voters. Some are, but many are not. “More than fifty” Congressmen are off on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel to demonstrate that “there is no stronger bond with any ally we have.” Yes indeed, a congress which cannot pass legislation to benefit the American people finds that it has only one voice when it comes to our troublesome little client state that also doubles as the leading recipient of U.S. tax dollars in the world. … continue

Is Britain helping the status-quo in Bahrain?

‘Seven Days of Blockade’: UK Activists Vow to Oppose September London Arms Fair

Sputnik – 15.08.2017

LONDON – Anti-war activists from across the United Kingdom plan to gather in the UK capital in September for a week-long event in opposition to London’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs, a spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) group, told Sputnik.

“As far as arms fairs go this one is one of the biggest and you can quite literally buy anything here, from air to air weapons to naval armaments. The problem is that it will be hosting delegations from governments with awful human rights records, despite the fact it’s cosponsored by the Ministry of Defence and the Department of International Trade,” Andrew Smith said. … continue

Amnesty International – weaponizing hypocrisy for the US and NATO

Tortilla con Sal | Telesur | August 12, 2017

Over the last year, in Latin America, Amnesty International have taken their collusion in support of NATO government foreign policy down to new depths of falsehood and bad faith attacking Venezuela and, most recently, Nicaragua. The multi-million dollar Western NGO claims, “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion”. That claim is extremely dishonest. Many of Amnesty International’s board and most of the senior staff in its Secretariat, which produces the organization’s reports, are individuals with a deeply ideologically committed background in corporate dominated NGO’s like Purpose, Open Society Institute, Human Rights Watch, and many others. … continue

Palestinian Journalists Declare Hunger Strike

By Jaclynn Ashly | IMEMC News | August 14, 2017

As local and international criticism continued to mount against the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s (PA) tightening noose on freedoms of expression in the occupied West Bank, seven Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the PA have begun a hunger strike after being detained under the controversial Cyber Crimes Law, approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month.

Palestinian journalists Mamduh Hamamra, a correspondent for Al-Quds News, Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Tariq Abu Zeid, and freelance journalist Qutaiba Qassem all declared a hunger strike immediately after their detentions were extended by up to 15 days on Thursday, according to a statement released by Omar Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and former prisoner of Israel.

Issam Abdin, a lawyer and head of advocacy at Palestinian NGO al-Haq, confirmed to Ma’an News Agency that four more Palestinian journalists –Al-Quds News correspondent Ahmad Halayqa, Shehab News Agency correspondent Amer Abu Arafa, and reporters Islam Salim and Thaer al-Fakhouri — had declared a hunger strike on Thursday to protest their detention.

The journalists had all been detained several days prior for allegedly violating the terms of the new law, according to Abdin.

All seven of the journalists reportedly work for media outlets that were among 30 sites blocked by the PA in June — all of which were reportedly affiliated with the Hamas movement, the ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip which has been embroiled in a bitter ten-year rivalry with the Fateh-led PA, or Abbas’ longtime political rival, Muhammad Dahlan.

While the move to block the websites in the West Bank was condemned at the time as an unprecedented violation of press freedoms in the Palestinian territory, Abbas took the crackdown on media to another level last month by passing the Cyber Crimes Law by presidential decree. … continue

Israeli hospital raid kills sick Palestinian

MEMO | August 14, 2017

An Israeli raid on Al-Makassed hospital endangered the lives of patients and left one dead last month, a report by Israeli NGO B’Tselem has concluded.

Hospital CCTV footage has emerged that shows Israeli soldiers evacuating patients and staff from numerous wards as they attempted to arrest 20 year old Muhammad Abu Ghanam, who had been shot during Al-Aqsa’s “Day of Rage” on 21 July.

Occupying forces fired rounds of rubber coated bullets and stun grenades at hospital security guards as they entered the building.

They then restrained and assaulted the doctors and nurses treating Abu Ghanam as they tried to take him to an operating theatre. Consequently, Abu Ghanam’s condition quickly deteriorated at which point doctors tried to resuscitate him in a nearby X-Ray room. Their attempt was unsuccessful and he was declared dead at the scene. … Full article

Israeli forces demolish EU-funded homes in southern West Bank Bedouin village

Ma’an – August 14, 2017

Israeli forces demolished housing donated by the European Union (EU) in a Bedouin village in the southern occupied West Bank on Monday morning, locals told Ma’an.

Muhammad Shanan, a resident of Khashem al-Daraj, told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers under heavy military protection demolished two houses in the village belonging to Mustafa Salim Awwad and Moussa Ahmad Awwad.

Meanwhile, Ratib al-Jabour, a coordinator of the National and Popular Committees in the southern West Bank, told Ma’an that Israeli troops had also escorted bulldozers in the nearby Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, where residents feared their homes would also be demolished.

A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, said they were looking into the reports.

Khashem al-Daraj and Umm al-Kheir are among dozens of small communities located in the Masafer Yatta area — also known as the South Hebron Hills — which falls within Israel’s “Firing Zone 918,” and inside the occupied West Bank’s Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control.

Palestinians are prohibited from entering firing zones without rarely granted permission from Israeli authorities, which has had “a serious humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and dramatically reduced the land available to them for residential and livelihood uses,” according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). … Full article

IRGC drone patrols In Persian Gulf will continue despite US psychological operations

Press TV – August 14, 2017

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has rejected US claims that a drone made an “unsafe approach” to an American aircraft carrier.

The IRGC’s drone division released a statement on Tuesday stressing that all aerial operations in Iran’s Air Defense Identification Zone are carried out in accordance with safety regulations, rejecting the claims by the US Navy.

“IRGC drone patrols in operations areas will continue with precision and in a continuous manner to safeguard the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran without taking heed to the psychological warfare operations of foreign forces present in the Persian Gulf,” added the statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey said in a statement that an Iranian QOM-1 drone flew within 300 meters (1,000 feet) of aircraft based on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in international waters on Sunday night, calling it an “unsafe and unprofessional” incident. … Full article

Statement from The Rutherford Institute Regarding Violence at the August 12 Rally in Charlottesville

The Rutherford Institute | August 14, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE — That this weekend’s display of hate, violence and civil disorder resulted in the death of Heather Heyer is not just a tragedy for those who knew and loved Heather, but for all of us who believe that love is greater than hate and that freedom for all is imperative if we are to stand strong against the forces of tyranny that continue to batter this nation.

There is always the temptation following a tragedy to point fingers and find someone to blame in addition to those directly responsible for committing acts of violence. It is unfortunate that those leading the charge right now have chosen to cast the blame on civil liberties organizations that were compelled to stand up for the principles of the Constitution when the government failed to do so. To suggest that the ACLU of Virginia or The Rutherford Institute or the federal district court were in any way complicit in this weekend’s violence is to do a grave disservice to every individual who has ever fought and died for the freedoms on which this nation was founded.

The City of Charlottesville had several lawful options it could have pursued to prepare for this weekend’s anticipated clash between protesters… continue

An Inconvenient Split?

By Paul Matthews | Climate Scepticism | August 13, 2017

In many ways, the climate debate has hardly changed since I got interested in it about ten years ago. Public opinion wobbles up and down with hardly any real change. The same tired arguments and claims come round again: every climate conference is the last chance to save the planet; the Arctic ice is always about to vanish in one or two years, or ten years; climate scientists continue to be accused of selecting data sets to create hockeysticks and manipulating data; and teams of climate scientists keep producing reports saying almost exactly the same thing as the previous reports, which then get misrepresented and hyped by the media.

So when something does appear to change it’s worth taking note of. I have a feeling that a split may be developing on the ‘warmist’ side, between what we might call the ‘extremists’ and the ‘moderates’. Here are three recent examples of this. … continue

Media hyping North Korea threat to sell the public on another war

By Danielle Ryan | RT | August 14, 2017

It’s not every day that you’ll hear a news anchor be so upfront about the media’s worst proclivities — but last week, NBC anchor Brian Williams told a panel of guests that the media’s job was to “scare people to death” about North Korea.

Keep in mind that Williams is the same anchor who was widely ridiculed for waxing lyrical about the “beauty” of American missiles back in April when President Donald Trump bombed a Syrian air force base. Oh, and he’s also the guy who was suspended from his job for six months for making up a story about coming under fire in Iraq. Clearly, Williams has some issues with romanticizing war.

Anyway, what Williams said last week about the media’s role when it comes to tensions between the US and North Korea was remarkably revealing and forthright — even if he didn’t quite mean it that way. … continue

South Korean President: “NO MORE WAR ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA”

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | August 14, 2017

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has issued a strong statement which sends a clear message to his putative ally, the United States that South Korea wants to avoid re-starting the Korean War at any cost.

Speaking in the South Korean capital of Seoul, President Moon stated,

“There must be no more war on the Korean Peninsula. Whatever ups and downs we face, the North Korean nuclear situation must be resolved peacefully.

I am certain the United States will respond to the current situation calmly and responsibly in a stance that is equal to ours”.

This is the strongest statement yet from President Moon which indicates that he remains committed to the policy of de-escalation on which he campaigned in his election in May of 2017.

Ukraine Hosts US Military to Be Permanently Stationed on Its Soil

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.08.2017

… Russia has to react in view of massive militarization of the region against the background of high tensions. An accident may spark a big fire. The US military presence in Ukraine is a highly provocative step, which will very negatively affect the situation. … Read full article

94% of Brazilians Say Temer Doesn’t Represent the People: Poll

teleSUR | August 13, 2017

The latest Ipsos poll published by one of Brazil’s most widely read newspapers, State of Sao Paulo, has indicated that democracy is not being respected in the country, showing that the nation is currently being governed by politicians who usurped power, according to Brasil 24/7.

The poll shows that 86 percent of respondents consider the impeachment of democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff a clear indicator that the terms of democracy have been systematically ignored in Brazil.

Some 94 percent of respondents consider that the current federal government, led by senate-imposed president Michel Temer does not represent the will of the people.

Published a little more than a year prior to the 2018 presidential election, the poll textually noted that “the wave of negativism contaminates public perception about democracy: only half of the population considers that this is the best system for Brazil, and a third affirms that it is not.” […]

After a period of sharp political polarization, no less than 88 percent of respondents agreed that “people should unite behind common causes and not fight over political party A and political party B,” for such battles do not address the “real problems” of the country. … Full article

Remembering the Rabaa massacre

By Amelia Smith | MEMO | August 14, 2017

Four years ago today the Egyptian army stormed a sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa square and slaughtered 1,000 people who were protesting against the removal of the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi. People were shot, burnt alive and suffocated with tear gas. Security forces blocked the entrances so that ambulances couldn’t get in to treat the wounded. … continue

Saudi razes hundreds of houses in Shia-majority town

Press TV – August 14, 2017

Saudi Arabia has reportedly laid waste to at least 320 houses in an eastern Shia-majority town, which it has placed under siege for about three months.

Local activists reported the figure on Monday, saying the structures in Awamiyah had mostly been populated by Shia Muslims.

They said Saudi forces also flattened four mosques and three Husainiyahs — centers for Shia mourning rituals.

Awamiyah is located in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Shia-populated Eastern Province. Since 2011, the small town of 30,000 has served as the epicenter of anti-regime rallies, with the protesters calling for an end to the kingdom’s discriminatory policies against the country’s Shia minority.

The region has witnessed sporadic deaths of Saudi forces at the hands of unknown gunmen. Riyadh blames the Shia population for such assaults.

Since May, Riyadh has imposed a siege on Awamiyah in what it calls a “security campaign” against the gunmen there, launching almost daily attacks against the town, destroying residential areas, setting fire to buildings, and reportedly threatening the residents to either leave or face potentially deadly swoops. … Full article

Netanyahu Backs Partitioning Iraq for Kurdish State

teleSUR | August 14, 2017

During a meeting with a U.S. delegation, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed interest in partitioning Iraq.

The Prime Minister told the group of 33 congressmen that he favored the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in the Arab country. Israel has a longstanding relationship with the Kurds, who remains one of its few non-Arab allies in the area.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a source who attended the meeting said Netanyahu referred to the Kurds as “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”

Netanyahu previously spoke on the issue in 2014 when he said in a speech that Israel should “support the Kurdish aspiration for independence.”

Two months ago Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani warned about bids to break up Iraq, saying the partitioning of Arab countries serves the interests of Israel. “The Zionist regime seeks Iraq’s disintegration,” Larijani accused during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Tehran.

A report published in the New Yorker magazine in 2004 said Israeli military and intelligence operatives were active in Kurdish areas and providing training for commando units.

According to the report, Israel has been expanding its presence in Kurdistan and encouraging Kurds, its allies in the region, to create an independent state.

US senators meet with head of anti-Iran terrorist group MKO

Press TV – August 14, 2017

A group of senior US senators has met with the head of the anti-Iran terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), Maryam Rajavi, in Albania.

The delegation of Republican Senators Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, and Thom Tillis had a meeting with Rajavi in Tirana, the capital of Albania, on Saturday. The senators also met with other members of the terrorist group.

Blunt, the junior senator from Missouri, is chair of the Senate Rules Committee; Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas, is the current Senate Majority Whip; and Tillis, the junior senator from North Carolina, previously served as the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

During the meeting with the American lawmakers, Rajavi welcomed Washington’s hostile approach toward Iran, especially the imposition of new sanctions and called for “regime change” in the Islamic Republic.

The MKO has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials over the past three decades.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to MKO’s acts of terror.

Also back in April, Republican US Senator John McCain met with Rajavi and some other members of her group in Tirana, and praised her anti-Iran activities.

He congratulated the terrorist group’s “successful transfer” from Iraq and praised its members for what he described as “sacrifice.” … Full article

Liberals and neo-cons are vastly more dangerous than the US far-right

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | August 14, 2017

American liberal mainstream media has picked up a story which originated from the state-owned Qatari propaganda outlet Al Jazeera which seeks to link the American far-right, sometimes called the alt-right with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. (Syria’s Assad has become an icon of the far right in America, Washington Post, August 13, 2017)

Those who advocate for violent, illegal, immoral and gruesome war have no leg to stand on when criticising anyone else. […]

The fact of the matter is that it is the liberal and neo-con parties in the US that consistently advocate for, apologise for and actually implement crimes against humanity in foreign countries that have left millions dead.

The illegal US wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, the extra-legal fascist coup in Ukraine and the disastrous Hillary Clinton authored crime against humanity in Libya had nothing to do with the alt-right/far-right but they had everything to do with the opponents of the far-right/alt-right. Ironically, this includes liberals who label their domestic opponents as ‘fascist’ even when they are not, while supporting open, classical fascists in Kiev.

The labels of right and left are becoming increasingly difficult to pin down. While the anti-Vietnam war movement was generally a leftist movement for peace, today’s radical left say precious little about foreign war, preferring instead to feign being upset by distasteful memes which do not result in any country going to war.

Not only has the liberal left lost its way, but in advocating for war against a secular, socialist, tolerant, religiously pluralistic and pro-women’s rights Arab Socialist Ba’athist government in Syria, one could reasonably say that they have also lost their minds. … Full article