World

EU Shuns Call to Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital (VIDEOS)

The European Union has rejected Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying the two-state solution remains the only path to resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, met with Netanyahu on Monday in Brussels, the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to the European Union in 22 years. The meeeting came less than a week after the United States announced it would recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move its embassy to the city, a contentious move that has led to widespread condemnation and deadly clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers. “You know where the European Union stands. We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine along the 1967 line,” Mogherini...

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Trump on Jerusalem: A Quintessential Netanyahu

by Marwan Bishara – Arabs and Muslims hoping to hear directly from Donald Trump on his new policy on Jerusalem on Wednesday must have been shocked to witness the United States president deliver an Israeli speech instead. The tone was Trump, but the words and spin were all Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump’s claim that officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was merely “recognising reality” is pure Israeli reasoning – central to the occupation’s strategy of creating facts on the ground. Palestinians know this. Arabs know this. The international community knows it, too. They all know that if you give an inch of Jerusalem to Israel, it will take the lot, and in the process, undermine peace efforts and cause havoc. The US Congress also knew this, which is why they put a waiver clause in the original 1995 US Embassy Act in the first place. Three previous US presidents also knew it, which is why they used the waiver to...

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What Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel Means for the Middle East

by Spyros Sofos & Vittorio Felci – Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and start preparations for the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city, has the potential to further inflame tensions across the Middle East. Although this is not an unexpected move – Trump expressed his intention to do so during his electoral campaign – the decision breaks with years of precedent. Trump’s decision to move the embassy means he will not follow his predecessors by renewing a waiver on the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which required the embassy to eventually be moved from Tel Aviv. Since then, there has been a cross-party consensus in the US that any act which recognises the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel and its designation as the country’s capital would affect the fragile balance of power in the Middle East – and the ability of the US to promote...

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North Korea Ready for Direct Talks With U.S., Says Russian Foreign Minister

by Jessica Corbett – “We know that North Korea wants first of all to speak with the United States about its security guarantees,” says Sergey Lavrov. “We are ready to support it. We are ready to help promote such talks.” After talking with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of an international summit in Vienna on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said North Korea is ready for direct talks and Russia is willing to help the two nations enter diplomatic discussions in order to decrease rising nuclear tensions and the threat of war. “We spoke about the situation on the Korean peninsula,” Lavrov, told TASS, a Russian news agency, about his talks with Tillerson. “Our position on this matter is unchanged. We are confident that it the vicious spiral of confrontation and provocations must be stopped.” “We know that North Korea wants first of all to speak with the United States...

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Trump Wants to Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel. Doing so Would Have Disastrous Results

by E.A. Crunden – The decision would further exacerbate an already tense situation. A report published this week claimed the Trump administration may soon move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and declare the latter the capital of Israel. It’s a highly controversial move likely to exacerbate an already tense situation, one experts say could have a lasting negative impact on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Unnamed officials told the Washington Post on Thursday that Trump is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as early as next Monday. The announcement could come in the form of a presidential speech or via Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to travel to Israel in mid-December. The move would likely buy the president time on fulfilling a campaign promise he has repeatedly delayed, the much-anticipated embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post initially reported on Wednesday that embassy staff would be...

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Ex-Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh Killed

 Yemen’s ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed by Houthi rebels near the capital, Sanaa, a development expected to have major implications for the war in the Arab world’s poorest country. The death was first announced on Monday by the Sanaa-based interior ministry, controlled by Saleh’s former allies-turned-foes, the Houthi rebel movement. His killing was later confirmed to Al Jazeera by Saleh’s political party, the General People’s Congress. Footage circulating on social media appeared to display a body resembling Saleh, with one video showing how armed militiamen used a blanket to move the corpse into the back of a pickup truck. There were earlier reports that the Houthis blew up one of Saleh’s houses. Houthi sources said Saleh was killed by the rebels in a rocket-propelled grenade and shooting attack on his car. In a statement read out on Houthi TV, the interior ministry announced the “killing” of “Saleh...

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Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, and the Logan Act

by Richard Silverstein – What Flynn’s guilty plea has to do with lying about Trump sabotage of Security Council Resolution against Israeli settlements. This morning, former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts with Jared Kushner to torpedo a United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.  These included lobbying the Russian ambassador to help in this campaign by delaying or cancelling a vote on the matter. Earlier today, I published a new column in Middle East Eye (MEE) which outlined the case against Kushner. Here’s how the Times laid out the context: In one of the conversations described in court documents, the men discussed an upcoming United Nations Security Council vote on whether to condemn Israel’s building of settlements. At the time, the Obama administration was preparing to allow a Security Council vote on the matter. Mr. Mueller’s investigators have learned through witnesses and documents that Prime Minister Benjamin...

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New Email Suggests Russia Tried to Use NRA to Build Relationship With Trump Campaign

by Zack Ford – The May 2016 email sought to establish a “Kremlin Connection” at an NRA convention.  An email turned over to Capitol Hill investigators and described to the New York Times provides evidence that Russia sought to build a relationship with the Trump campaign and suggests that the National Rifle Association (NRA) sought to serve as a liaison to establish a “Kremlin Connection,” according to a Times’ report on Sunday. In May of 2016, an NRA member by the name of Paul Erickson reportedly reached out to Trump campaign adviser Rick Dearborn, seeking advice from both Dearborn and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) about how to connect then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The email stated that Russia was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would attempt to make “first contact” at the NRA’s national convention that month via Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of the...

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North Korea Fires Another Ballistic Missile

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile, the first such launch since mid-September, according to officials in South Korea, Japan and the United States. “North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at dawn today”, South Korean army officials told South Korean news agency Yonhap. There was no immediate comment from North Korea. The missile was fired from Pyongsong, a city in South Pyongan Province, at around 3:17am local time (18:17 GMT) on Wednesday, according to South Korea’s military. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile reached an estimated altitude of around 4,000 kilometres and broke up before landing in the country’s “exclusive economic zone”. His US counterpart, Jim Mattis, said the missile went higher than ever before, describing it as a step towards Pyongyang building missiles that can “threaten everywhere in the world, basically”. “With these tests, North Korea wants to demonstrate...

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The Top Secret Info That Trump Gave the Russians

by subtropolis – A new article by Howard Blum, Vanity Fair contributing editor, sheds light on the secrets that the so-called president spilled to the Russians last spring, and the shadow  that it cast upon the relationships between America’s Intelligence agencies and its foreign partners—as well as US political leadership. It should be noted at the outset that Mr Blum has very good contacts within the Intelligence community. Exclusive: What Trump Really Told Kislyak After Comey Was Canned Still on an adrenaline rush after firing Comey, Trump hosted the Russian Ambassador to the US and the Russian Foreign Minister at the White House, where he proceeded to make a fool of himself in a bid to impress. It wasn’t just Trump’s reputation that was damaged, though. As many of us had been fearing, his childish, insufferable narcissism—coupled with his greed and lust for power—would lead him to making an utter disaster of US foreign...

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Why There Can Never be a Two-State Solution

by Farah Najjar – For the past 50 years, a United Nations Security Council resolution has helped to sustain Israel’s occupation of Palestine, analysts say. Ghada Karmi, a British-Palestinian author and lecturer at Exeter University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic studies, says the central issue is that Israelis “never intended” to comply with UNSC Resolution242, adopted on November 22, 1967. “From the steady colonisation of the Palestinian area, you can see that there has been no attempt on the part of Israel to comply with any part of the resolution,” she said. Resolution 242 Following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, a resolution called on Israel to give up the territories it occupied in exchange for a lasting peace with its neighbours. Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, resulting in the Palestinian “Naksa”, or setback, in June 1967. In that year, Israel expelled some 430,000 Palestinians from their homes. The Naksa was...

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EU Cuts Turkey Funding After ‘democratic deterioration’

by Umut Uras – The European Union will cut funds allocated to Turkey due to the “deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights” there, according to a European Parliament (EP) statement. The bloc will shrink the so-called “pre-ascension funds” for Turkey by 105m euros ($124m) and suspend an additional 70m euros in the 2018 budget, the statement said on Saturday. Ankara is entitled to receive 4.45 billion euros from the EU between 2014 and 2020 in the framework of the bloc’s “Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance”. The Council of the EU and the EP, the two legislative institutions of the bloc, still need to formally approve the new budget. “Concerning Turkey, MEPs made sure to cut pre-accession funds by 105 million euros (with a further €70 million in commitments put in reserve), as they consider the deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights worrying,” the statement by the...

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Robert Mugabe Sacked as Leader of ZANU-PF

by Tendai Marima – Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, has voted to sack President Robert Mugabe as its leader. Members also voted to name sacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who Mugabe fired on November 6, as new party leader. “They were determined to fire Mugabe as leader of the party,” said Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, as she described jubilant scenes. Mugabe remains president of the country, however, amid calls for him to resign following a military takeover on November 15. In opening remarks at ZANU-PF’s Central Committee meeting, Obert Mpofu, the minister of home affairs who chaired the gathering, blamed First Lady Grace Mugabe and her allies for taking advantage of the veteran leader. “We meet here today with a heavy heart because Mugabe’s wife and her close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition and abused the resources of the country,” he told members. “I warmly welcome you all to this historic...

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Australians Overwhelmingly Expressed Support for Marriage Equality. Now What?

by Zack Ford – The big survey has come to a conclusion, but no outcome is guaranteed. Around 79 percent of all eligible voters participated in Australia’s national postal survey on marriage equality, and now the results are in. As projected, there was very strong support for legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, with 61.6 percent calling for it to be legalized and 38.4 percent percent opposing it. Every state and territory recorded a yes vote, and only New South Wales’ yes result fell below 60 percent (57 percent). But because it was a survey, not a referendum, the results have no immediate effect. The government promised, if the “yes” vote prevailed, that it would allow the Parliament of Australia to hold a conscience vote on a marriage equality bill. But nothing requires the MPs to vote according to the survey. Multiple versions of marriage equality legislation have also been proposed that...

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60,000 People March in Massive Nazi Rally in Poland

by Alan Pyke – “Europe Will Be White,” one sign carried by marchers read. Right-wing racists flew in from Slovakia, Hungary, and Spain to join tens of thousands of Poles at a white supremacist rally in Warsaw on Saturday where marchers bore signs with messages like “Europe Will Be White” and “Clean Blood.” Reporters on hand said the crowd numbered roughly 60,000, citing police estimates. A polish neo-nazi group called The Radical Camp, borrowing its name from a 1930s fascist movement in the country, organized the march. “A number of people in the crowd said they didn’t belong to any neo-fascist or racist organization but didn’t see a problem with the overall tone of what has become Poland’s biggest independence day event,” the Wall Street Journal noted. Counterprotesters also showed up in far smaller numbers. One small group in the square held a sign reading “We are Polish Jews” and stood...

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Detention of Amnesty Official by Israel Raises Alarm

by Dalia Hatuqa – The Population Authority’s interior ministry also confirmed to media that Jarrar was barred from entering Israel due to “his activities”. A leading human rights group has raised the alarm over an incident that it fears is an indication of the Israeli authorities’ growing intolerance of dissent. Last week, Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Amnesty International USA, was stopped at the Allenby crossing between Jordan and the West Bank while on a personal visit to his family following his father’s death. Jarrar, who is an American citizen of Palestinian origin, was detained and questioned for hours before being denied entry into the West Bank. Prior to joining Amnesty International, Jarrar had been allowed into the West Bank on at least four occasions in the past. According to an Israeli spokeswoman, the office of Public Security and...

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Saudi Arabia and Iran in War of Words

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of “direct military aggression” through the Houthi rebels in Yemen, firing another warning shot at the Islamic Republic. Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi heir apparent, was referring to the missile fired over the weekend at Riyadh from Yemen in pointing the finger at Iran for supplying the weapon. Iran has dismissed the accusation, reported by the Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday, as “contrary to reality”. The Houthis have given warning that Saudi and UAE airports could be their next firing targets. The Islamic Republic supports the Shia Houthi rebels but denies arming them. However, the current crisis extends far beyond Yemen: Saudi Arabia has made clear it wants to curb Iranian influence not just in the Arabian Peninsula but across the region. Iran has proxies across the Middle East: in Iraq, it controls paramilitary forces that are stronger than the state. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia...

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Saudi Arabia Princes Detained, Ministers Dismissed (VIDEO)

 Saudi Arabia has dismissed a number of senior ministers and detained nearly a dozen princes in an investigation by a new anti-corruption committee, state media reported on Saturday. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, was among those held, according to Reuters news agency, citing an unnamed senior official. The senior ministers who were sacked include Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the economy minister. Abdullah al-Sultan, commander of the Saudi navy, was replaced by Fahad al-Ghafli. In a statement on the official Saudi news agency, SPA, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud alluded to the “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money” for the creation of the anti-graft committee. Anti-corruption probe Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel reported that at least 11 princes, four current...

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Turkey’s Western Allies Silent as 11 Human Rights Activists are Dragged to Court

by D. Parvaz – The rights activists, including two who work for Amnesty International, are facing “politically motivated” terrorism charges. Turkey’s unabated march towards authoritarianism continues this week with the trial of 11 human rights workers there facing terrorism-related charges and up to 15 years in prison. Two of the defendants, Idil Eser and Taner Kilic, work for Amnesty International and are among the thousands who have been swept up in the crackdowns the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have instituted since the attempted coup against him July 2016. Recent visa-related spat aside, President Donald Trump has been largely supportive of Erdogan and his policies. According to Erdogan, Trump even apologized for a May fight between his security staff and protesters in Washington, D.C. in which arrest warrants were issued for twelve members of Erdogan’s security team. (The White House denies that Trump issued an apology for the fight.) Eser, director of Amnesty International (AI) in Turkey, was among...

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Czech President Holds Up Machine Gun Marked ‘for journalists’ During Press Conference

by Luke Barnes – It comes as a billionaire right-wing populist becomes the country’s prime minister. The President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, crudely insulted reporters by showing off a replica AK-47 with the inscription “for journalists” — less than a week after an investigative journalist in Malta was killed by a car bomb. Zeman brandished the fake assault rifle during a press conference on Friday, as Czechs voted to elect populist billionaire Andrej Babis as prime minister. Zeman said on Saturday that he would name Babis as the country’s prime minister. Critics however are concerned that Babis’ media dominance — he owns two of the country’s leading newspapers and a radio station — will lead to conflicts of interest. In addition to Babis’ success, the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) made surprising gains in the election, potentially positioning them as the country’s political kingmakers. Michal Kubal @MichalKubal “Na tom samopalu je vypálený nápis ´Na novináře’. Můžete...

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Spain to Suspend Catalonia’s Leaders, Call Elections (VIDEO)

by Creede Newton – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has confirmed that Spain will go forward with Article 155 after his cabinet held a crisis meeting to decide how to put an end to Catalonia’s secession drive. The previously untapped article of Spain’s constitution will enable Madrid to seize powers from the wealthy northeastern region. Rajoy listed four goals for enacting Article 155: A return to legality, to recover normality and co-existence, to continue with economic recovery and to have an election in Catalonia in “normal political circumstances”. The Catalan government will be dissolved as a result. Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras said new elections were “not the best way of moving forward”. Rajoy told reporters in Madrid that Catalonia’s independence drive has been “unilateral”, calling the October 1 independence vote a “referendum that the whole world knew the Spanish government couldn’t accept”. Catalonia voted in a disputed independence referendum...

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Spain to Trigger Article 155 to Block Catalan Autonomy

by Creede Newton – Spain will enact Article 155 of the Constitution which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. The measure will be sent to the Senate for approval on Saturday, the statement on Thursday said. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was responding to a letter by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, which said Catalonia will declare independence should Spain continue to block talks and enact Article 155. Spain denounced the attitude maintained by those responsible for harming “the coexistence and economic structure of Catalonia”, the prime minister’s statement said, promising that Madrid would do everything in its power to restore “legality and constitutional order”. Spanish government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo told reporters in Madrid: “Cabinet ministers will approve the measures on Saturday, which will be submitted to the Senate to protect the interests of the Spanish people – including the Catalans in Catalonia....

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‘Wake-Up Call for Progressives’ as Far Right Surges in Austrian Elections

by Andrea Germanos – Far-right party head feels “vindicated by the fact that way more than 55 percent” of voters chose its platform. Preliminary results from Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Austria point towards a 31-year-old immigration hardliner becoming the country’s next leader and his conservative party forming a coalition with the neo-Nazi linked Freedom Party. Millennial Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (OVP)—which he’s moved further to the right—took in 31.6 percent of the vote, while the Social Democrats and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) each received about 26 percent of the vote. Newsweek writes that Kurz “achieved electoral success partly by adopting some of the Freedom Party’s positioning on” immigration. That fact was noted by FPO head Heinz-Christian Strache. “I’m feeling somewhat vindicated by the fact that way more than 55 percent have voted for the Freedom Party’s platform, because big parts of our program were copied by other parties,” he said on a television panel....

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Hamas: Deal Reached With Palestinian Rival Fatah (VIDEO)

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas leader and former prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday, without providing further details. Further information will be announced at a noon news conference (10GMT) in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday. “Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship,” Haniyeh said in a statement. The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas in fighting in 2007. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt. The meetings in Cairo are centred around implementing the 2011 Cairo Agreement between the two political parties, in hopes of ending the 10-year political schism. A party to the negotiations, who asked not to be identified, told AFP news agency the agreement would see forces of...

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Who was Che Guevara?

A look back at the life and legacy of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. The life and legacy of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna is in focus this week 50 years after his death on October 9, 1967. We answer some of the key questions about the man behind the moniker “Che”. The man Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, known worldwide as Che, was born on June 14, 1928, into a middle-class family in Rosario, northeast Argentina. He had a left-leaning, and literary, family life before beginning his studies in medicine at Buenos Aires University in 1948. Two years later, Guevara started the first of two motorcycle journeys through Latin America which in successive years would help shape his political views and sense of purpose. Guevara became convinced during his journeys – 4,500km and 8,000km respectively – that the solutions to the widespread poverty and oppression he had witnessed were armed revolution and communism....

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Germany: The Rise of the Right

by Gwynne Dyer – A general trend towards the authoritarian, ultra-nationalist right in Western politics has emerged. Angela Merkel’s slogan in her campaign for a fourth term as Chancellor was terminally bland and smug – “For a Germany in which we live well and love living” – but it did the job, sort of. Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is back as the largest party, so Merkel gets to form the next coalition government. But the neo-fascists are now in the Bundestag (parliament) too, for the first time since the collapse of Nazi Germany. It’s not Merkel’s fault, exactly, but the numbers tell the tale. The CDU had its worst result ever, down from 40 percent of the vote at the last election to only 33 percent this time. And it looks like the 7 percent of the vote that the CDU lost went straight to the Alternative for Germany (AfD),...

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German Election: Angela Merkel Wins Fourth Term (VIDEO)

Chancellor’s bloc secures most votes, as a far-right party enters parliament for first time in decades. “There is very leftish wing in the Greens party, and there is a very conservative, even close to nationalism, wing in the FDP,” he added. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a fourth term in office after a general election that has surged an overtly nationalist party to enter parliament for the first time in decades. Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union party secured 33 percent of the vote on Sunday, down about nine percent compared to the last election in 2013. Their main rival and current coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats led by Martin Schulz, got around 21 percent of the vote – their worst result in post-war Germany. But the biggest change to Germany’s political scene was the emergence of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as the country’s third biggest political...

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Schulz Fails to Make Headway Against Chancellor Merkel (VIDEO)

by Laurence Lee – With just a few days to go before what is expected to be a comfortable victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday’s elections, her main contender on the left is facing mounting criticism for his campaign. Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate, is stuck in polls of about 20 percent support, seemingly unable to make any headway against the CDU’s Merkel. “He is an extremely accomplished politician,” Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Karlsruhe, said, referring to Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament. “And yet, at a time when many Germans are unsure about Angela Merkel, he has made precisely no progress against her.” Some supporters of the SPD have pointed out that there is little to distinguish their party leader from Merkel. “Sometimes I feel like they are a long married couple,” Jan Siebenbrock told Al Jazeera. The choice of German leader could affect...

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PM May On Way Out As Leader of the Free World Looks Forward to Election Victory

by Lib Dem FoP – Two pieces of Euro-news. Opinion polls put Angela Merkel in an unbeatable position to remain as German Chancellor after federal elections on September 24. The second is the start of the exit of Theresa May as British Prime Minister. The latter needs a bit of “reading the runes” but bear with me. The latest opinion polls give Merkel’s CDU/CSU (the aligned parties have different names in some lande) 38% and the main rival Social Democrats 22%. Four smaller parties; the Left Party, the Greens, the centrist liberal Free Democrats and the neo-Nazi AfD (“Alternative for Germany”) are all hovering around the 9-10% mark. Germany’s proportional system means that no party will have overall control but it is probable that the “grand coalition” of the CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats will continue. The leader of the Free World therefore appears to be safe to continue her work. Theresa...

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UN: Israel Settlements Big Hurdle to Two-State Solution

Antonio Guterres condemns ‘illegal’ Israeli settlement construction, calling it an ‘obstacle’ that needs to be removed. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, has lashed out at Israel’s illegal settlement activity, calling it a “major obstacle” to achieving a two-state solution and peace with the Palestinians. “There is no plan B to the two-state solution,” he said on Tuesday after meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “A two-state solution, end to occupation, creating conditions to end the suffering of the Palestinian people are the only way to guarantee that peace is established,” Guterres added. His remarks came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to never uproot any West Bank settlement – just days after a White House envoy was in the region trying to restart peace talks with the Palestinians. “We have returned here for good,” Netanyahu said. “There will...

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Death Toll Continues to Rise in Duterte’s War on Drugs (VIDEOS)

Police claim killing of 25 criminals in Manila’s week of bloodshed as President Duterte continues crackdown. Twenty-five criminals were killed, including 14 in anti-drug operations, overnight in the Philippine capital Manila in a second night of heavy bloodshed this week as President Duterte’s fierce war on drugs intensified. Thursday’s killings across Manila followed 32 deaths in near-simultaneous police operations on Monday night through to Tuesday in Bulacan province, marking the deadliest period of Duterte’s controversial crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos. Philippine police ‘dumping bodies’ of drug war victims Joel Napoleon Coronel, director of Manila Police District, told reporters the 14 were killed in sting operations and 11 other deaths were robbers who were also involved in narcotics. The identity of the killers of the 11 people were not known and the incidents were under investigation, police reports said. On Wednesday, President Duterte praised the operations, adding that he will order the...

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UN: Venezuela Uses ‘excessive force to crush dissent’

UN’s rights office says Venezuela’s security forces are responsible for at least 46 deaths in connection with protests. The United Nations has criticized Venezuela’s “widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions” against protesters, amid worsening tensions and fresh moves against the opposition. The UN’s human rights office based in Switzerland on Tuesday highlighted witness accounts of police and soldiers using “disproportionate force to instill fear, crush dissent, and to prevent demonstrators from assembling, rallying and reaching public institutions to present petitions”. Maduro inaugurates contentious Venezuela assembly The team’s analysis found security forces were allegedly responsible for at least 46 deaths, and pro-government armed groups were allegedly responsible for 27 among 124 deaths being investigated in connection with demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro’s government. The protests have stemmed from anger over the installation of an all-powerful Constituent Assembly that they see as a power grab by Maduro. The dire economic situation also...

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Mueller Investigation Expands Focus to Probe Flynn’s Finances

by Julia Conley – The special counsel is examining whether former national security advisor Michael Flynn concealed payments from the Turkish government. Financial entanglements of former national security advisor became the focus of the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election on Friday night. Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly questioning witnesses about whether Flynn’s company, Flynn Intel Group, received secret payments from the Turkish government late in 2016. The alleged payments were reportedly made in exchange for a campaign discrediting a cleric accused of orchestrating the military coup that threatened to overtake Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. Investigators also want to determine whether Flynn paid a Turkish businessman to help conceal the source of the payments, which amounted to $530,000. Such payments and the attempt to hide the source of the money could lead to criminal charges for Flynn, including...

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Israel Moves to Close Al Jazeera, Ban its Journalists (VIDEOS)

Request made by Israel’s communication minister targets both the network’s Arabic and English channels. Israel is moving forward to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network’s office in Jerusalem, the country’s communication minister has announced. Ayoub Kara made the announcement on Sunday during a press conference, where Al Jazeera was barred from attending. “We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” Kara said, adding that the channel is being used by groups to “incite” violence. Kara said he expects Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to consider his request in the next session. “I will go through the legislatory mechanism to create the authority in which I can act freely. We will try to end it as quickly as possible.” Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Jerusalem on Sunday, said that the request to...

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The UK High Court Is Wrong

by César Chelala – The decision by the UK High Court to block a bid by a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army to bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair for his responsibility over the Iraq War is misguided. It means, essentially, that one of the architects of a war that almost destroyed a country will continue to enjoy immunity for this dreadful act. General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat accuses Mr. Blair of having committed a “crime of aggression” by orchestrating with President George W. Bush the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein. As is widely known, that invasion left hundreds of thousands of civilian victims, many of them children, destroyed the country’s infrastructure and public health system, and dangerously polluted the country’s environment. The Iraqi General’s lawyers had requested permission to seek judicial review from the Supreme Court. They want that highest court...

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Netanyahu’s Former Chief of Staff Turns State’s Evidence in Corruption Probe

by durrati – Wow, times are tough for for RWNJ heads of state out there, with Mueller impaneling a grand jury and now… Former Netanyhau Aide Ari Harow Reaches Deal to Become State’s Witness “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow has reached an agreement with the prosecution to turn state’s witness in two corruption cases against Netanyahu. Under the deal, Harow will be convicted of fraud and breach of trust in a separate case, but will avoid jail time. Instead, he will do community service as pay a 700,000-shekel ($193,000) fine. The Israel Police confirmed on Thursday that the prime minister is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu’s bureau rejected the allegations on Thursday, calling them “unfounded claims.” Harow served for two terms in key positions in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2009 he was appointed bureau chief, but left after a year to pursue private business...

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Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Lopez and Ledezma Sent to Jail

Opposition figures critical of vote sent to jail as court says they were planning to flee, drawing criticism from UN. Two of Venezuela’s leading opposition figures, who were detained a day after a controversial constitutional vote, have been sent to jail on the orders of the country’s top court. The Supreme Court on Tuesday revoked house arrest measures granted to Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma and put them back in jail because the opposition leaders were planning to flee. Lopez, 46, and Ledezma, 62, both former mayors in the capital Caracas, were seized from their homes overnight on Tuesday, according to their relatives and supporters. International condemnation as Venezuelan president celebrates election The opposition, which boycotted the constituent assembly election held on Sunday, says President Nicolas Maduro wants to consolidate power through the new super-legislative body tasked to reform the country’s constitution. The Venezuelan president hailed the election victory, that according...

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Poland is Turning Authoritarian (VIDEOS)

by Claudia Ciobanu – Will the Polish people be able to stop it? Late Friday night, the Polish parliament completed the adoption of a set of laws that amount to the executive taking control of the judiciary. The Constitutional Tribunal, the highest appeals court, and the body responsible for appointing judges – all three – will be largely in the hands of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), when these laws come into effect. Technically, Polish President Andrzej Duda can still veto the laws. A few days ago, he asked that one of the laws be changed, calling for a larger parliamentary majority than that initially proposed by PiS to dictate changes to the body appointing judges. It’s unclear whether Duda’s gesture was part of a larger PiS calculation to appear compromising to the protesting crowds, or an attempt by the president to gain political capital by resisting unpopular...

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Is Nigeria on the Brink of Another Civil War? (VIDEOS)

by Fisayo Soyombo – On the 50th anniversary of its bloody civil war, Nigeria is struggling to prevent another. On August 1, 1966, after the collapse of last-ditch attempts by Nigeria’s power brokers to prevent the impending civil war, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu said only one thing would make the rebels cease fire: “that the Republic of Nigeria be split into its component parts; and all southerners in the North be repatriated to the South and that Northerners resident in the South be repatriated to the North”. WATCH: Biafra: Young Nigerians renew calls for independence (2:52) On May 30, 1967, Oxford-educated Ojukwu declared Biafra an independent state in the southeast of the country. On July 6, 1967, civil war broke out in Nigeria, which claimed more than a million lives in just three years. Fast-forward to June 2017. Irked by renewed secessionist calls from the same Igbo ethnic group, a coalition of northern groups issued a notice,...

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Hundreds of Thousands Gather in Turkey to ‘Revolt Against Injustice’

by Julia Conley – Opposition declares massive rally in Istanbul the beginning of a pro-democracy movement. Turkey’s opposition leader declared a new beginning for the country and demanded reforms to the country’s current government at a huge pro-democracy rally in Istanbul on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Turkey’s first city following a peaceful 25-day March for Justice that began 250 miles away in the capital city of Ankara. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), organized the march with other politicians to protest President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian government. Since rising to power as Turkey’s prime minister in 2002, Erdogan has exhibited an increasingly dictatorial style of leadership. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has muzzled the press and removed judges from the country’s highest courts in an apparent effort to gain control over the judiciary. After a deadly coup attempt in the summer of 2016 by a...

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Russia: No Deal on De-escalation Zones in Syria Talks (VIDEOS)

Russia, Turkey and Iran fail to reach an agreement in Astana on how to run the de-escalation zones, Moscow’s envoy says. Russia, Turkey and Iran have failed to hammer out details on an agreement over the war in Syria, including the boundaries and policing of four safe zones previously agreed, according to Moscow’s chief negotiator. Russia’s Alexander Lavrentiev said on Wednesday that documents outlining how the four zones should work “need finalising” despite being “essentially agreed” between the three key powerbrokers, after two days of negotiations in Kazakhstan. He added that there had been no definitive agreement over the contentious issue of “which specific forces” would police the zones. However, the three sides have formed a working group to finalize an agreement on creating de-escalation zones in Syria, according to a joint statement. Syrians split over ‘de-escalation zones’ The countries previously said they would hold the next round of talks in...

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Theresa May ‘delaying report on funding of extremism’

Publication of report, which reportedly focuses on Saudi Arabia, has been delayed by the PM, British media says. British Prime Minister Theresa May is withholding a report on “foreign funding of extremism” which reportedly criticises Saudi Arabia, according to UK reports quoting statements by the Home Office and Downing Street. Both offices said that the prime minister is personally responsible for deciding whether to release the report, which had been commissioned by ex-Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 and approved by May, who was home secretary at the time, The Guardian reported. In a written reply to a June 27 question by the Green Party co-leader, Caroline Lucas, May said on Monday: “Ministers are considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to Parliament with an update in due course.” According to The Guardian, Sarah Newton, a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Home Office, also responded to Lucas this week: “The...

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‘Victory’: Irish Lawmakers Ban Fracking

by Andrea Germanos – It’s “a day for #ClimatePride,” says Friends of the Earth Ireland after historic vote. Ireland is poised to ban onshore fracking after its Senate on Wednesday passed a bill outlawing the oil and gas extraction method. Anti-fracking campaigning group Love Leitrim celebrated the development as a “victory for people power.” Love Leitrim @love_leitrim Victory for people power today as bill passes through the irish Seanad. Now just needs our presidents signature. #irelandbansfracking 11:54 AM – 28 Jun 2017 · Dublin City, Ireland It now awaits the president’s signature to become law, as it already passed the lower house of parliament in May. The Irish Independent writes: “President Michael D Higgins is expected to sign it into law in the coming days with a date to be confirmed for the commencement of the ban.” The bill was brought forth by Sligo-Leitrim Dáil member Tony McLoughlin, who called its passage one of the “proudest moments” of his political career.  Tony McLoughlin TD @TonyMcLTD...

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The Swift, Shocking Collapse of Theresa May and the Tories

by m2c4  – It is hard to believe but it was just two months ago that Theresa May called a snap election in the UK. With polls showing around a 20 point lead for Conservatives, the expectation was that May would solidify her “strong” leadership position for the difficult Brexit negotiations ahead, the Tories would get a 75 to 100 seat majority in the House of Common, and the resulting Labour party losses would put them into minority status for a generation to come. It didn’t quite work out that way. The election resulted in a hung Parliament. May and the Conservatives actually lost their 17 seat working majority and were forced to join with the anti-abortion, climate change denying Northern Irish DUP party in order to try and actually form a government. May, who had run as a “strong leader” that the UK needed to move forward for the next...

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Grenfell Fire: Residents Demand Justice

by Shafik Mandhai – Pressure grows on local council and PM Theresa May to hold those responsible for safety failings to account. A member of Al Manaar mosque in West London opens up the doors to its prayer area in a vain attempt to cool the community hall where hundreds of people, including survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, have gathered. The temperature is 30C outside, but the inside of the hall offers little relief to those dabbing away sweat and trying to fan themselves cool with leaflets. Nevertheless, an unrelenting stream of locals, Muslim and not, continues to flow through the mosque’s entrance further cramming the room. They have come to listen to a group of local lawyers and social housing experts who have taken it upon themselves to advise those who have lost their homes on the best course of action. Those addressing the crowd urge a united front and...

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Iran Accuses Saudis of Supporting Terrorist Groups

Iran’s Zarif says Tehran has intelligence that Riyadh supports terrorist groups operating on the eastern side of Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorist groups inside Iran, days after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed attacks in Tehran. “We have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups operating on the eastern side of Iran in Baluchestan,” Zarif said on Tuesday at a news conference on the sidelines of an annual peace mediation in Oslo. He said the armed groups were “using the territory of one of our neighbours against its will to launch attacks against Iran which only two months ago led to the murder of nine Iranian border guards,” refering to Pakistan. “On the Western side the same type of activity is being undertaken, again by using the diplomatic...

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Israel Plans Most Settlement Homes Since 1992 (VIDEO)

Defence minister says first half of 2017 has seen most illegal expansion since before “Oslo peace process” began. Israel has so far this year advanced its highest number of settlement projects since 1992, the defence minister said, despite warnings such plans make a two-state solution impossible. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman made the comments on Sunday as Israel’s government faced mounting pressure from leaders of the settlement movement, who wield heavy influence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Netanyahu has found himself seeking to balance the competing demands of the settlers and US President Donald Trump, who has asked him to hold back on such projects for now as he seeks a way to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman told journalists and ministers at the start of a cabinet meeting that, so far this year, plans had been advanced for 8,345 homes in the occupied West Bank,...

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The Resurrection of Jeremy Corbyn: Truth Can Be an Effective Political Weapon

by Mark Weisbrot – The Labour Manifesto allowed voters to see that Corbyn stood for things they believed in. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has made a remarkable comeback after his political obituary had been written and widely accepted as recently as seven weeks ago. Although the Tories, led by Theresa May, will still have the largest number of seats, they have lost their majority, after calling the election in the belief that they would increase it. Labour has picked up at least 29 seats. The result is a hung parliament, and it is not yet clear whether a coalition government will be formed or new elections will have to be held. Observers have pointed to various historical causes that have brought Corbyn to his leadership position and kept him there, such as the failure of the centrist, neoliberal project of “New Labour” to provide economic security or...

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A Gulf Crisis: How Did We Get Here? (VIDEOS)

by Sultan Barakat – Qatar is being punished for refusing to join Saudi Arabia’s war mongering. Qatar’s residents woke up on the morning of the June 5 to the news that the country is now subject to a siege-like isolation through land, air, and sea imposed by its erstwhile brethren of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt. This latest crisis is more serious than the diplomatic spat of 2014, which involved the withdrawal of ambassadors but not the closing of borders or expulsion of citizens. The message from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is that Qatar must concede to their demands or be prepared to face a blockade, similar to the one Israel has imposed on Gaza. This will have a real lasting legacy on the integrity of the Gulf, as families are split, employees lose their jobs and people are forcibly displaced. WATCH: Amnesty slams embargo on Qatar over rights violations (2:20) In effect, it is shocking to...

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‘Absolute Joke’: Despite Thrashing, May Forges Far-Right Coalition to Hold Power in UK

by Jon Queally – Though rebuked at polls and hopes for mandate terminated, Conservatives move fast to keep Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from taking over as prime minister. Despite failing to win an outright majority of seats in Parliament in Thursday’s snap-election, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative party looked determined to cling to power despite results that stripped them of the strong mandate they sought ahead of upcoming Brexit negotiations. Reports confirm that May has reached a deal with the right-wing Democratic Unionist party (DUP) in Northern Ireland in order to prevent the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from assembling his own minority coalition and becoming prime minister. According to a DUP source who spoke to the Guardian: “We want there to be a government. We have worked well with May. The alternative is intolerable. For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, we will ensure there’s a Tory PM.” For street-level perspective from...

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