War & Conflict

2017 Nobel Peace Prize: What is ICAN?

The Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Sunday. ICAN has been at the forefront of pushing for an end to the use of nuclear weapons through the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has 50 signatories including Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam to date. The Nobel committee cited ICAN’s efforts “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition on such weapons”, in an announcement in Oslo, Nowary on October 6. ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn told reporters that given the current political atmosphere around the world, the call to ban nuclear weapons is more imperative. “The treaty is meant to make it harder to justify nuclear weapons, to make it uncomfortable for states to continue the status quo, to put more pressure...

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Led by U.S. Weapons Makers, Global Arms Sales Soared in 2016: Analysis

by Jessica Corbett – With U.S. weapons companies claiming more than half of global sales, and despite five previous years of decline, arms producers around the world raked in $375 billion in profits. With U.S. weapons makers leading the way, and after five consecutive years of decline, sales among the world’s 100 largest arms producers rose in 2016, garnering nearly $375 billion in profits, according to a new analysis of industry data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). “The growth in arms sales was expected and was driven by the implementation of new national major weapon programs, ongoing military operations in several countries, and persistent regional tensions that are leading to an increased demand for weapons,” according to a SIPRI fact sheet (pdf). Considering more than half of SIPRI’s top 20 weapons sellers are based in the United States—including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman in the top five—the report declares the...

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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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World Reacts to US Israeli Embassy Relocation Plan

Leaders from the Middle East and elsewhere have cautioned Donald Trump against relocating the US embassy in Israel, warning that such a move could destabilise the region and spark turmoil in the region. The US president on Tuesday called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to say that he intends on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He later also had a phone conversation with the leaders of Jordan and Egypt to inform them of his plan. No country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem, and the international community, including the US, does not recognise Israel’s jurisdiction over and ownership of the city. Israel claims the city as its capital, following the occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan, and considers Jerusalem to be a “united” city. Palestinians have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Here is how leaders from around the world reacted to the news of Trump’s planned relocation of...

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North Korea Warns Massive U.S.-South Korea Military Drills Put Nations on ‘Brink of Nuclear War’

by Julia Conley – As tensions once again rise, Chinese officials chide Trump administration for not suspending provocative war games. The North Korean government called the latest military drills by the U.S. and South Korea a “grave provocation” on Monday, adding to regional and global fears that President Donald Trump’s aggressive actions at a time of heightened tensions could endanger civilian lives. The U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marines are participating in war games involving more than 200 American planes and 12,000 military personnel this week, days after North Koreatested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date. In commentary published in North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodung Sinmun on Sunday, the government of Kim Jong-un warned that the drills would bring tensions “to the brink of nuclear war.” In a separate statement, they said “insane President Trump is running wild,” and added, “The U.S. and South Korean puppet warmongers would be well advised to bear in...

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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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Federal Judge Orders Military to Begin Accepting Transgender Troops on January 1

by Zack Ford – The Trump administration can’t delay it anymore even if they wanted to. A federal judge clarified Monday that her ruling against the Trump administration requires that the military allow transgender people to begin enlisting on January 1. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee to the D.C. circuit, had previously ordered back in October that President Donald Trump’s order banning transgender people from serving in the military be suspended and that the retention and accession policies revert to the status quo. Before Trump’s order, the retention policy was that trans servicemembers already serving could not be removed for their gender identity, and the accession policy was set to allow trans people to begin joining the military as of January 1, 2018 — having been delayed six months by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Trump administration appealed this decision last week, and also sought clarification about whether Mattis was, in fact, prohibited by the order from...

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Dubai Security Chief Calls for Bombing of Al Jazeera

A senior security official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sparked outrage after calling for the bombing of Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based media network. In a series of posts on Twitter on Friday, Dubai Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan launched a scathing attack against Al Jazeera, accusing it of provoking a bomb and gun assault on a mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula earlier in the day. ضاحي خلفان تميم ✔ على التحالف أن يقصف الآلة الداعية للارهاب..قناة داعش والقاعدة والنصرة جزيرة الارهاب 9:41 AM – Nov 24, 2017 “The alliance must bomb the machine of terrorism … the channel of ISIL, al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra front, Al Jazeera the terrorists,” the former police chief and now head of security in the Emirate told his 2.42 million followers on the social media site. “For how long will they continue to tamper with the security of Egypt and the Arab world?” he tweeted....

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Saudis to Ease Yemen Siege but Millions to Still Suffer (VIDEO)

by Faisal Edroos – Saudi Arabia‘s decision to ease its blockade on Yemen does not go far enough, say aid and human rights groups, pointing to the spectre of famine that looms over the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country. The Kingdom has said it will ease its blockade on rebel-held parts of the country from Thursday, and allow “urgent humanitarian and relief materials” to pass through the Red Sea port of Hodeidah and the capital’s Sanaa international airport. Saudi Arabia, which has been conducting an air campaign in Yemen since 2015, intensified its embargo on the country on November 5, closing all of the country’s land, sea and air ports after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards the capital, Riyadh. The Kingdom said the blockade was a necessary precaution aimed at preventing weapons being smuggled into Yemen by Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Iran has rejected allegations of arming the Houthis, calling them “malicious, irresponsible, destructive and provocative”....

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Ratko Mladic Sentenced to Life in Prison for Genocide (VIDEO)

Former Bosnian Serbian commander Ratko Mladic has been sentenced to life in prison, for genocide and war crimes during the Balkan conflict more than two decades ago. The presiding judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday found that the 74-year-old general “significantly contributed” to genocide committed at Srebrenica. Previous judgments of the tribunal in the Netherlands already ruled that the massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica was genocide. Judge Alphons Orie ruled that the perpetrators of the crimes committed in Srebrenica intended to destroy the Muslims living there. ‘Heinous crimes’ The judge also ruled that Mladic carried out and personally oversaw a deadly campaign of sniping and shelling in Sarajevo. “The crimes committed rank among the most heinous known to humankind,” he said. The former general initially appeared relaxed as he listened intently to the verdict, but was later...

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State Department Officials Accuse Tillerson of Violating Anti-Child Soldiers Law

by Jake Johnson – Secretary of State’s decision to exclude Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar from a list of nations using child soldiers has also been widely condemned by human rights groups. Around a dozen U.S. State Department officials have formally accused Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, citing his recent decision to exclude Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar from a list of nations currently conscripting child soldiers despite his department’s public acknowledgement that children have been used in combat by these nations. The accusations were leveled in a confidential “dissent” memo (pdf) obtained and reported on by Reuters for the first time on Tuesday. “Tillerson’s decision was at odds with a unanimous recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus overseeing embassies in the Middle East and Asia, the U.S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the department’s human rights office, and its own in-house lawyers,” Reutersnoted. Passed in 2008, the Child Soldiers Prevention...

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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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Is the Trump Administration Planning a First Strike on North Korea?

by Gareth Porter, Truthout | News Analysis – Ever since the Trump administration began a few months ago to threaten a first strike against North Korea over its continued missile tests, the question of whether it is seriously ready to wage war has loomed over other crises in US foreign policy. The news media have avoided any serious effort to answer that question, for an obvious reason: The administration has an overriding interest in convincing the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un that Trump would indeed order a first strike if the regime continues to test nuclear weapons and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Therefore, most media have shied away from digging too deeply into the distinction between an actual policy of a first strike and a political ruse intended to put pressure on Pyongyang. The use of military threat for “diplomatic coercion” is such a basic tool of US...

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Investigation Reveals US-Led Bombings in Iraq Kill 31 Times More Civilians Than Reported

by Jessica Corbett – New York Times reporters uncovered “consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate” in what “may be the least transparent war in recent American history”. An 18-month investigation by a pair of New York Times reporters reveals far more civilians are killed in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—particularly in the air war—than the U.S.-led coalition reports. After visiting nearly 150 bombing sites in northern Iraq between April 2016 and June 2017, as well as the American base in Qatar where decisions are made about coalition air strikes, Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal “found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition.” Since the U.S.-war against ISIS began in August 2014, the coalition has released monthly reports in which it...

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House Approves $700B ‘Cash Cow for Weapons Companies’—But Single Payer ‘Too Expensive’

by Jake Johnson – “What if we tell House Republicans and Democrats that North Korea wanted to close schools, take our healthcare away and pump CO2 into our air—we could suddenly, magically find $700 billion dollars for all of it.” In a bipartisan show of support for endless war and out-of-control military spending, the House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the nearly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 that aims to boost war outlays by $80 billion—an amount that critics noted would easily cover the costs of free public college tuition and other initiatives that are frequently dismissed as too expensive. The final vote tally was 357-70, with 127 Democrats throwing their support behind the bill. Sixty-seven Democrats—including Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and John Conyers of Michigan—voted against the legislation. In addition to providing cash for 90 F-35 jets—20 more than President Donald Trump requested—the measure also approves...

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In Zimbabwe, Uncertainty and Optimism After Army Takeover

by Enock Muchinjo – The capital of Zimbabwe finds itself caught between hope and uncertainty as it dawns on residents that after 37 tumultuous years Robert Mugabe may no longer be ruling the country. The mood is a major shift considering that people here usually avoid discussing sensitive political matters in public, wary of attracting the attention of authorities with little tolerance for dissent. But after the discontent of recent years, the military’s surprise takeover on Wednesday appeared to give a new impetus to free speech on the streets of Harare. “If this comes to pass, we will regard this in the future as a ‘second Independence Day’, after that of April 18, 1980,” said Tineyi Chimwanda, who identified himself as a local businessman. “This is how it feels.” ‘Pleasing development’ In power since 1980, Mugabe, 93, led Zimbabwe’s fight for independence in the 1970s. However, he has frequently faced accusations of political repression and...

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Fearing Trump, Congress Holds First Hearing in Decades on President’s Nuclear Authority

by Jessica Corbett – “If a crazy president orders a legal nuclear strike from one of the already vetted war plans, there is no one that can stop him.” Despite Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) insistence that the congressional hearing on Tuesday about the authority to use nuclear weapons “is not specific to anybody,” it is the first hearing on this topic in decades, and comes at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump seems to have made a sport out of taunting North Korea’s leader as his nation advances its nuclear abilities. Even before Trump took office and started threatening North Korea with “fire and fury,” the Pentagon had developed a $1.7 trillion plan under Barack Obama “to build a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines, and missiles, as well as new generations of warheads to go with them”—even though, as William Hartung describes in an excerpt from his new book about nuclear weapons, “in every sense of the term, the U.S....

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Mass Graves ‘of ISIL victims’ Found in Iraq’s Hawijah

Mass graves containing at least 400 suspected ISIL victims, many wearing prison uniforms, have been found in northern Iraq. The sites were discovered on Saturday near Rashad airbase close to the group’s former stronghold, Hawijah, 45km west of Kirkuk. Iraqi forces recaptured the town of Hawijah and surrounding areas from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in October. It was one of their last strongholds in Iraq. Rashad airbase, located about 30km south of Hawijah, was used by ISIL as a training camp and logistic base. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said it was a common ISIL tactic to imprison and execute anybody who was in opposition to their rule. “The graves are a significant find, most of all for the families of the victims who have been seeking closure for years,” Khan reported. “According to locals, ISIL turned the military base...

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U.S. Gave Its Torturers a Pass, So International Court Steps In

by Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program & Joshua Manson, ACLU Human Rights Program – After a decade of collecting evidence, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court announced last week that she will take steps toward a full investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over the course of the armed conflict in Afghanistan since May 2003. While the process could take years, this development means that, for the first time, U.S. officials could face the specter of indictment by the international court. The prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has requested to launch a full investigation into whether a number of actors committed gross violations of international law, including “war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment.” That implicates U.S. military and CIA personnel, as well as private contractors. In a 2016 report, the prosecutor’s office revealed that it had reason to believe that members of the U.S. military “subjected at least 61 detained persons...

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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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Carter’s Bold Bid to Make Peace Between Trump and North Korea

by Miles Mogulescu – Donald Trump left on Friday for a 12-day trip to Asia, including stops in South Korea and China. Unless advisors keep a tight muzzle on him, there’s  reason to worry that aggressive rhetoric could increase the risks of escalating into a deadly war with a nuclear-armed North Korea. But former President Jimmy Carter has stepped up to point a direction to potentially achieving a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. Carter  personally told National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster that Carter is prepared to go to North Korea to initiate peace talks, which could eventually lead to an agreement consummated by a trip by Trump to Pyongyang, similar to President Nixon’s world-changing peace trip to communist China in 1973. Trump should take Carter up on it. Trump in Pyonyang Let’s call it the “Trump in Pyongyang” deal, a throwback to Richard Nixon’s 1971 trip to open...

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ISIL Reels From Defeats in Iraq and Syria

Fighters lose more ground with recapture of al-Qaim by Iraqi forces, after defeat in Deir Az Zor city across the border. ISIL has lost further ground in Iraq and Syria as the armies of both countries and the Syrian opposition squeeze its forces. Late on Friday, Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, announced the recapture of al-Qaim, the group’s last stronghold in Iraq. Iraqi forces took full control of the city on the Syrian border after seizing the last border crossing held by ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group. They have been getting help from Sunni tribal fighters and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a Shia paramilitary force. Just five months ago, ISIL still controlled vast expanses of territory, including major cities, on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border. Since then, it has been driven out of Mosul in Iraq and its self-declared capital Raqqa...

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Would Extremer Vetting Have Stopped This Week’s Attack in Manhattan?

by Jacob Sullum – It is hard to see how anyone could have predicted Sayfullo Saipov’s seven-year journey from eager immigrant to Islamic terrorist. In response to this week’s terrorist attack in New York City, Donald Trump promised that “the United States will be immediately implementing much tougher Extreme Vetting Procedures,” because “the safety of our citizens comes first!” But the more we learn about Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant accused of running down pedestrians and bicyclists with a pickup truck in Manhattan on Tuesday, the harder it is to see how extreme vetting, extremer vetting, or even extremest vetting could have stopped him. Last night ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, and Saipov has said the group inspired him. But so far there is no evidence that he was directly recruited or instructed by ISIS, contacts that might have offered an opportunity to catch him before he carried out his plan. More to the...

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The Fall of the House of ISIS

by John Feffer – ISIS is on the decline, but the catastrophic political divisions in Iraq and Syria that gave rise to it are no closer to being mended. The Middle East today is enduring a replay of World War II — with the Islamic State in the role of Nazi Germany. Having seized much of Europe and parts of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany reached the peak of its expansion by the fall of 1942. Then, stopped at Stalingrad and unable to overwhelm Britain, the Nazis began to fall back, and the war turned into a race between the Soviet troops marching from the east and the Allied soldiers surging from the west. After the war, as a result of the competition between these two sets of armed forces, Europe would remain divided for the next half century. The Islamic State likewise reached its peak expansion in mid-2014 when it...

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A Court Blocked Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Because Trump is Lazy and Incompetent

by Ian Millhiser – Trump keeps losing in court because he’s a bumbling goon. Before most presidents announce a significant policy change, they spend some time studying the problem. They consult with outside experts and various stakeholders concerned about the issue. They seek the input of senior advisers, who themselves seek input from a team of researchers and policy experts. Donald Trump, by contrast, is more inclined to simply announce a major policy shift on Twitter. This lack of concern with the intricacies of policymaking bit Trump hard on Monday. In a 76-page opinion, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. halted Trump’s attempt to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military — a ban which Trump announced on Twitter without informing senior military leaders. The case is Doe v. Trump. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s opinion is significant for several reasons, including the fact that it holds that courts should treat all government discrimination...

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Fears of Radiation Leak Soar After North Korea Nuclear Site Collapse

by Jake Johnson – The disaster is believed to have resulted from Pyongyang’s hydrogen bomb test, which sparked earthquakes and landslides. Experts are issuing urgent warnings of a possible radiation leak following the collapse of a tunnel at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, an accident that reportedly killed at least 200 people. “Should sink, there is a possibility” that hazardous radioactive gas could be released into the atmosphere, warned South Korea weather agency chief Nam Jae-cheol during a parliamentary meeting on Monday, ahead of reports of the incident. The tunnel’s collapse, first reported by the Japanese outlet TV Asahi on Tuesday, is presumed to have occurred as a result of the destabilization caused by Pyongyang’s powerful hydrogen bomb test last month. The Telegraph, citing South Korean news agency Yonhap, reported that the original incident took place on Oct. 10 though it remains unclear exactly when the secondary collapse may have occurred. Business Insider‘s Alex Lockie reports that according to...

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IAEA’s Yukiya Amano: Iran is Living up to Nuclear Deal

by Zein Basravi – What would have been a routine visit by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) became a public relations opportunity for the Iranian government. Yukiya Amano was in Tehran on Sunday, his first visit since US President Donald Trump told Congress that Iran is not complying with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the 2015 nuclear deal. The IAEA chief put a positive face on proceedings, but the stakes are high. This time, his verification of compliance was a moment of vindication for Iran and another international rebuke of the White House. “Ladies and gentleman, I am very happy to come to your country again,” Amano said during a press conference at Iran’s nuclear agency. “Since January 2016, the IAEA has been monitoring and verifying the nuclear related commitments made by Iran under the JCPOA. The IAEA believes that the JCPOA is...

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A U.S. Soldier Died in Niger. What on Earth Are We Doing There?

by Peter Certo – When our soldiers kill and die in wars we don’t know about and can’t end, we’re not a democracy anymore. In our military-revering culture, it’s a strange thing for a president to start a war of words with the grieving families of slain soldiers. Strange, yes. But from Donald Trump’s campaign season feud with the parents of Humayun Khan, who died protecting fellow soldiers in Iraq, to his recent feud with the mourning widow of La David Johnson, who died on patrol in Niger, it’s no longer surprising. At root in the latest spat is a comment Trump made to La David’s widow Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” Myeshia thought that remark was disrespectful — she later said it “made me cry.” Beyond insensitive, though, there’s a good chance it simply wasn’t true. Why, after all, should La David have expected to die in a...

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The Benghazi / Niger Comparison

by ptgkc – In 2012, 4 Americans are killed in Africa. The President condemns the “act of terror” within 24 hours. The Secretary of State briefed Congress within 10 days. Critics hound the administration about the initial classification of the attack as possibly (or partially) spontaneous, as opposed to a pre-planned terrorist attack. Charges of cover-up continue for years, but the debate was largely over conspiracy theories about a lack of urgency in response or a cover-up about the groups involved. In reality, there was hair splitting in use of terms as the investigation to motive unfolded. However, that was enough to initiate Congressional investigations, hearings, testimony and reports. This month, 4 Americans are killed in Africa. The President doesn’t mention (or tweet) about the attack for 12 days. His first response is silent on the attack. 21 days later, he continues to ignore it. There has still been no condemnation of the terrorist attackers. No promise of...

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Gold Star Father Rebukes Kelly for Treating Soldiers’ Deaths as ‘Political Football’

by Julia Conley – “Former General Kelly indulged in defending the behavior of the president and made the situation even worse,” said Khizr Khan. Khizr Khan, the father of an Army captain who was killed in 2004 in Iraq, sharply criticized White House chief of staff John Kelly on Sunday’s edition of Face the Nation for defending President Trump’s treatment of Gold Star families over the past week. Khan has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump since the 2016 election, when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention about Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. On Sunday he turned his attention to Kelly, who on Thursday waded into the controversy over Trump’s call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four soldiers killed in Niger this month. Khan accused Kelly and the White House of turning the deaths of Johnson and his fellow soldiers into a “political football.” Watch: In his press conference,...

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Women of the House Congressional Black Caucus Demand John Kelly Apologize to Rep. Wilson

by ursulafaw – The old adage, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” is on display today, as the women of the Congressional Black Caucus issued the following statement in response to the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s release of a video of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) 2015 speech at the dedication of a new Miramar, Florida FBI Building. The video confirms that Wilson’s account of the speech is true and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s account of the speech is false. That’s how the battle lines are drawn; and the fight keeps escalating from day to day because in Trump’s tangled web, everybody is a liar but him — and that’s the biggest lie of all. CBC.House.Gov: “The women of the Congressional Black Caucus stand in strong support of our colleague, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.  Congresswoman Wilson is a woman of impeccable integrity and a dedicated public servant.  She...

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Afghanistan Reels After Two Mosque Bombings Kill Nearly 90 People

by Ali M. Latifi – “Never in my life could I have imagined that mosques would come under attack.” For years, Ali Kadem has had a perfect view of the Imam Zaman Mosque from the window of the bread bakery where he works. As he sits cross-legged handing out 10 Afghani ($0.15) loaves of bread, the 18-year-old often looks out onto the mosque he has been to thousands of times. He has watched members of his community in the Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood of Kabul enter the green-and-white mosque for the five daily prayers, Eid holidays, Ashura commemorations, and any number of other occasions. But nothing could prepare him for what would befall dozens of worshippers on Friday evening. Kadem was preparing loaves of bread when the sound of the bomb rang out throughout the neighborhood. “We were just sitting here when we heard the sound and saw the smoke rising,” he...

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Trump and Netanyahu Walk in Lockstep on Iran

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – During his presidential campaign and throughout his nine-month presidency, Donald Trump has been fixated on ending the Iran nuclear deal, which he called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program and in return, it received billions of dollars of relief from punishing sanctions. Iran has allowed 24-hour inspections by officials from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Iran has gotten rid of all of its highly enriched uranium,” Jessica T. Mathews wrote in the New York Review of Books. “It has also eliminated 99 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium…. All enrichment has been shut down at the once-secret, fortified, underground facility at Fordow … Iran has disabled and poured concrete into the core of its plutonium reactor — thus shutting...

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Fallout From Trump’s Insult to Green Beret Widow, Use of Kelly Deemed Political Dynamite

by ursulafaw – John Kelly said about his late son, Robert, “He was the best man I ever knew. He was a good husband, a good son, a good brother.”  Kelly has gone out of his way to keep his son’s death private and Donald Trump managed to throw a floodlight onto a personal topic involving his chief of staff when he made the now-epic crack Tuesday about President Obama never calling Gold Star families, which was immediately proven to be unequivocally false. The purpose of the comment was to make Obama look bad once again, at any cost. Now John Kelly is caught in the cultural cross fire because Trump is tone deaf to everybody’s needs other than his own and just had to shoot off his big mouth. The word is that Kelly was taken off guard and he’s understandably dismayed.CNN: CNN asked the White House to talk to...

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Bowe Bergdahl: Traitor to American Exceptionalism and White Supremacy

by Matthew Hoh – “There is no forgiveness in this loudly and righteously proclaimed Christian nation, only the scapegoating of a young man and his family for the failures of immoral and unwinnable wars.” Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s guilty plea begins the end of this phase of an embarrassing, sad and morally absurd saga of American history. Sergeant Bergdahl, who was dismissed from the Coast Guard because of mental illness, recruited into the Army in spite of such issues, and then sent to the frontlines of Afghanistan where he walked away from his base and was captured, kept as a prisoner, and tortured by the Taliban for nearly five years, has been offered almost no compassion, sympathy or forgiveness by large swaths of the American public, political classes, veterans and the media. The shameful blood-crazed calls for vengeance against Sergeant Bergdahl, screamed across Fox News, talk radio and Twitter, by millions of Right Wing...

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Trump Repeats Obama Conspiracy Theory When Pressed on Families of Fallen Soldiers

by Zack Ford – “The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents — most of them didn’t make calls.” During a surprise press briefing Monday, President Trump claimed that President Obama did not call the families of fallen soldiers. The president was answering a question about how he was responding to the death of four elite U.S. special forces in Niger earlier this month. Trump explained that he had written the families personal letters and said that he will call them “at some point” after “a little time” has passed. “The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents — most of them didn’t make calls,” he said. “A lot of them didn’t make calls.” As former White House aides and even former Obama Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco pointed out on Twitter after Trump made the claim, Obama and other presidents did, in fact, make calls to those families. Additionally, Obama also reversed a policy of not sending condolence...

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Baghdad: Iraqi Forces in Full Control of Kirkuk (VIDEOS)

The Iraqi army says it has taken full control of Kirkuk following a major advance on Kurdish-held territories. The federal government in Baghdad and sources inside the city told Al Jazeera on Monday that Iraqi security forces had captured the governorate building in the centre of Kirkuk city. According to security forces, troops moved into the building with no opposition from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. A dozen Humvees from Iraq’s US-trained Counterterrorism Service arrived at the building and took position in the vicinity, alongside the local city police. There was no immediate comment from Kurdish authorities. ‘Complete withdrawal’ The advance was part of a major operation to retake the oil-rich province, amid an escalating dispute in the wake of a controversial September 25 referendum on Kurdish secession that Baghdad had declared illegal. The Iraqi army said on Monday it had seized control of the city’s airport, in addition to an oil field,...

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Trump’s Speech Against Iran Deal a National Disgrace

by Trita Parsi – The most insulting of Trump’s lies was when he sought to pass himself off as a champion of the Iranian people. Trump’s speech today was a national disgrace. This isn’t an effort to stiff a contractor over a real estate project, it’s a matter of war and peace. Donald Trump is in way over his head.   Contrary to the reporting, Donald Trump is killing the deal – not in one move, but in several moves. First, Congress will attempt to kill it through deal-killing legislation from Sen. Tom Cotton. If that is blocked, Trump has vowed to kill it himself. Either way, the deal will get killed by this process triggered by Trump. Cotton’s legislation would seek to unilaterally rewrite the nuclear deal, an unequivocal violation of the agreement. A vote for that bill would be as significant as a vote for the 2002 war with...

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What is Left of ISIL in Iraq? (VIDEO)

by John Beck – Far from the force that swept across Iraq in mid-2014 and seized control of nearly a third of the country, ISIL today has been weakened significantly, relegated to just a few dozen square kilometres of ground, with manpower in the low thousands. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group was removed last week from yet another stretch of the country, the latest in a series of blows to the once-powerful armed group. The town of Hawija, which ISIL had held since 2014, lies around 240km north of Baghdad and was its last urban stronghold in Iraq. The offensive began on September 21 and was expected to be tough going. Within just two weeks, jubilant Iraqi forces and members of the country’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) had hoisted their flags in squares and roundabouts. ISIL crumbled rapidly, with hundreds of fighters fleeing north towards...

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In Iran and North Korea, Trump Is Playing With Nuclear Fire

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which spearheaded a landmark nuclear disarmament treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The significance of this award cannot be underestimated. Donald Trump’s bombastic and frightening threats against North Korea and Iran may portend a catastrophic attack that could impact the entire world. The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, killing 210,000 people. During the week following the bombings, thousands of survivors experienced a unique combination of symptoms, Susan Southard wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Their hair fell out in large clumps, their wounds secreted extreme amounts of pus, and their gums swelled and bled. Purple spots appeared on their bodies, signs of hemorrhaging beneath the skin. Infections ravaged their internal organs. Within a few days of the onset of symptoms, many people lost consciousness, mumbled deliriously and died in extreme pain; others...

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VIDEO: The U.S. War in Afghanistan Is Now 16 Years Old. Trump Has No Plans to End It

by Phyllis Bennis – Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The war is now 16 years old — and that’s not even counting the decade of U.S. intervention in the country during the Cold War. Donald Trump once advocated the “speedy withdrawal” of U.S. troops from that country. As president, however, he’s gone in the opposite direction, demanding the U.S. must now “fight to win.” As Phyllis Bennis, director of the IPS New Internationalism project, explains in this short video, Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. He’s not said how many new troops he’ll send or how long they’ll be deployed. Worse still, civilian casualties in multiple U.S. wars have been on the rise since he took office — by 67 percent...

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10 Reasons the US Should Stick With the Iran Nuclear Deal

by Medea Benjamin – On Trump’s wildly false argument that the agreement is not in the country’s national interest. President Trump is expected to announce this week that he will not recertify that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal. He will argue, falsely, that the agreement is no longer in the national interest of the United States. The president’s announcement will not end the deal but will pass the buck to Congress. In the next 60 days, Congress could impose new sanctions that would scuttle the deal or it could pass new legislation addressing issues that were never part of the original mandate, which would also effectively kill the agreement. Enough public pressure could keep the agreement intact. Here are 10 good reasons why the US should uphold the deal. 1. President Trump’s claim that Iran is not complying with the conditions of the deal is false. Iran is complying,...

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Ellsberg, In Upcoming Book, Warns of Nuclear Dangers in the Era of Trump

by Greg Mitchell – As the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receives Nobel Peace Prize, author Greg Mitchell reviews a new book reflecting on the history of nuclear weapons and the growing threat posed by them today. For most people, Daniel Ellsberg is known mainly for — or only for — the Pentagon Papers he leaked in 1971. And that’s plenty. It set in motion a landmark First Amendment case and led to shifts in public opinion that helped quicken the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the end to that war. Ellsberg was back in the public eye recently in relation to the epic 10-part PBS series on Vietnam, which included a lengthy segment on the Pentagon Papers — but his absence from the series as an interview subject drew criticism. Coming up: a movie drama on the Papers directed by Steven Spielberg. But, for me, the name Ellsberg does not immediately...

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Iranian President: ‘Entire World Will Condemn America’ if Trump Kills Nuclear Deal

by Jake Johnson – “We have achieved benefits that are irreversible. Nobody can roll them back, neither Trump, nor 10 other Trumps.” Amid reports that President Donald Trump is planning to decertify the Iran nuclear accord sometime this coming week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday that any attempt to undermine the deal will earn the United States condemnation from “the entire world.” “We have achieved benefits that are irreversible. Nobody can roll them back, neither Trump, nor 10 other Trumps,” Rouhani said in an address to students at Tehran University. “If the United States violates , the entire world will condemn America, not Iran.” Right-wing hawks within and outside of the Trump administration have for months urged the president to scrap the accord, which he repeatedly slammed on the campaign trail. Critics have argued that withdrawing from the deal would represent an embrace of “war over peace.” “If one seeks war, Trump’s decision makes...

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Trump’s Threat to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal is Scarier Than You Think

by D. Parvaz – It not only escalates tensions with Iran, but further subverts U.S. diplomatic efforts for decades to come. In a White House briefing on Thursday, President Donald Trump said that he will not recertify the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, according to The Washington Post. The story is couched in caveats, but if Trump does, indeed announce on October 12 that he will not recertify the deal because he doesn’t view it as being in U.S. national security interests, then there are two clear takeaways from that decision. First, Trump is upping the ante in his rhetoric against Iran, and second, he is committed to publicly undermining his top advisers, undoing U.S. diplomatic protocols and progress. It was only on Monday that Defense Secretary James Mattis told a Senate hearing that it was “in our best interest” to stick with the Iran deal. He added that if there’s no proof that Iran...

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Anti-nuclear Weapons Group Wins 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The Geneva-based organisation ICAN was awarded “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition on such weapons”, Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Nobel Committee, announced on Friday. “We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time,” she said. “Some states are modernising their nuclear arsenal, and there is real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.” Reiss-Andersen said that nuclear weapons continued to pose a threat to the world, as no binding international agreement has...

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Why US Aid to Egypt is Never Under Threat

Despite concerns over recent secret arms deal with North Korea and human rights abuses, US aid to Egypt seen continuing. Egyptian businessmen ordered more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades from US rival North Korea in a secret deal last year, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. The United Nations described it as the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. The UN revealed that the business executives sought to buy weapons for the Egyptian military. The report prompted US criticism, while the Egyptian embassy in Washington pointed to Egypt’s willingness to cooperate with UN officials in “finding and destroying the contraband”. The Post reported that the North Korea incident was among a number of factors that led US President Donald Trump’s administration to freeze nearly $300m in military aid to Egypt in August. Egypt also remains unaccountable for human rights violations. Over the past several years, there...

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The Definition of Leadership: In Response to Racism, Air Force Lt. Gen. Gave a Speech for the Ages

by Jen Hayden – Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria is the Superintendent of U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the speech he gave, seen below, in response to a racist incident on the campus of the U.S. Air Force Prep Academy is the absolute definition of leadership. Here is the back story from the Air Force Times: Racial slurs were written on the dormitory message boards of five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School earlier this week. Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, director of public affairs for the academy, said the slurs were discovered Monday. One cadet candidate’s mother posted a photo on her Facebook page Wednesday that shows the words “go home n*****r” written on the white board outside her son’s room. “This is why I’m so hurt!” the mother said in her post, which was at first public but then taken offline Thursday. “These young people are...

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