War & Conflict

Yemen Hit by 5,676 Airstrikes in Six Months

by D. Parvaz – The country is dealing with over 30 airstrikes a day and half a million cases of cholera. According to a new report, the number of clashes and airstrikes in Yemen have increased dramatically in 2017: In the first six months of the year, there were 5,676 airstrikes in Yemen – much higher than the total of 3,936 in all of 2016. Data gathered by the Protection Cluster in Yemen – led by the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) – found that the average number of monthly clashes has also increased by 56 percent. The uptick follows the same trend recorded in Iraq and Syria, where U.S.-led airstrikes have led a dramatic rise in civilian casualties this year. Yemen’s conflict has been a relatively short one when compared to Iraq and Syria. The country has been mired in a civil war since March 2015, with the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi under attack by Houthi...

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Defense Secretary Reveals the Trans Military Ban is in Limbo

by Zack Ford – The White House has yet to provide any guidance. Secretary of Defense James Mattis sent some mixed messages Monday when he stopped by the Pentagon newsroom to discuss President Trump’s intended ban on transgender personnel in the military—which the president announced via Twitter. At best, the proposal remains in limbo and is still being studied; at worst, it’s inevitably still coming. The key takeaway Mattis revealed is that Trump has yet to actually issue anything other than a few tweets and public comments. “I am waiting right now to get the President’s guidance in and that I expect to be very soon,” he explained. In the meantime, the military is continuing to study the issue, consistent with what Mattis announced when he agreed to delay the implementation of transgender recruitment by six months. The change to recruitment policy was initially set to take place July 1.”The policy is going to address whether or...

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We Should Have Followed Germany’s Example for Our Confederate Monuments

by kristenc – On Saturday, a white nationalist-Nazi-KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned into a brawl between protesters and counter-protesters, and resulted in a brutal murder. Three days later, the country is still grappling with the effects of the protest, but it’s important to remember how it all began: with a ‘Unite the Right’ rally meant to defend a confederate monument that was slated for removal. This is something we as a nation need to most past, and we even have a clear model we should be following: Germany’s. After World War II, Germany had to grapple with something ugly in its history. The country chose to deal with the aftermath of the Nazi regime by banning all Nazi iconography, destroying Nazi statues and allowing remaining Nazi architecture to fall into ruins, with little more than a plaque warning visitors to avoid the dangerous, crumbling remains. In Germany, expressing Nazi ideology...

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Iran Could Quit Nuclear Deal if New Sanctions Imposed

Iranian leader describes his US counterpart Donald Trump as ‘not a good partner’ after US imposed new sanctions. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Tehran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers within hours if the United States keeps on imposing new sanctions. In a speech to parliament on Tuesday, he also hit out at US counterpart Donald Trump saying he had shown the world that Washington was “not a good partner”. Rouhani’s comments come with the nuclear deal under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and Washington imposed new sanctions, with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement. The US Treasury sanctioned six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile programme after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit. Rouhani warned that Iran was ready to walk out of the 2015 deal, which saw...

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A Preemptive Strike on North Korea Would Be Catastrophic and Illegal

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – As Special Counsel Robert Mueller impanels two grand juries to investigate Donald Trump and his associates, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home is searched, Trump needs to distract attention from the investigation into his alleged wrongdoing. North Korea has provided just such a distraction — albeit a potentially catastrophic one. On Tuesday, Trump stated, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Friday morning, Trump warned North Korea that the US military is “locked and loaded.” Trump has learned that bombing other countries enhances a president’s popularity. In April, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, each armed with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, he went from scoundrel-in-chief to national hero virtually overnight. The corporate media, the neoconservatives and most of Congress hailed Trump as...

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Trump Issues Vague Military Threat to Venezuela, Caracas Call Out His ‘craziness’

by D. Parvaz – The president says a military “option” is on the table as a means of intervening in Venezuela’s national crisis. In a strange parallel with his tactics in dealing with North Korea, President Donald Trump on Friday threatened military action in Venezuela, intervening in the country’s political crisis, Reuters reports. Of course, unlike North Korea, which has been test firing ballistic missiles, Venezuela in no way poses a threat to the United States. Still, as with North Korea (to which Trump issued the “locked and loaded” threat on the same day) the president jumped from sanctions to military threats when on Friday he said that the United States has “many options for Venezuela, including a military option, if necessary.” He also refused to take a call from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. In a rapid response to Trump, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, shot down any notion of a...

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Trump Thinks the Trans Ban is ‘doing the military a great favor’ (VIDEO)

by Zack Ford – He doesn’t seem to care he’d be firing thousands of people. It’s been two weeks since President Trump announced on Twitter that he’d be banning transgender service in the military, and though there’s still no actual policy in effect, Trump is standing by the decision. Speaking to the press Thursday, Trump claimed to have “great respect” for the transgender community and boasted that many transgender people had voted for him. “It’s been a very difficult situation and I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it,” Trump said. “As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military — it’s been a very confusing issue for the military — and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.” The Pentagon announced in June of 2016 that it would be immediately lifting the ban for transgender servicemembers who were already serving...

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What You Should Know About the Unfolding U.S.-North Korea Crisis

by E.A. Crunden – You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. It’s been an action-packed 24 to 48 hours in U.S.-Korea relations. After learning of North Korea’s increased nuclear potential on Tuesday, President Trump threatened the isolated nation with “fire and fury”—a hint at nuclear war. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un promptly proceeded to threaten Guam, a U.S. territory, with an offensive attack. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later attempted to temper Trump’s comments and downplay the risk to Guam, saying that no “imminent threat” currently exists and that the world can rest easy for now. Then, on Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his aggressive stance in a series of inaccurate tweets about the U.S. arsenal. At the same time, Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared to threaten North Korea with annihilation, should the country’s nuclear ambitions continue. With the situation still unfolding and new off-the-cuff statements hitting headlines seemingly on the hour, things can get a...

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Terrorism for Profit

by Robert C. Koehler – Donald Trump stands cluelessly at the edge of history, exemplifying everything wrong with the past, oh, 10,000 years or so. The necessity for fundamental change in humanity’s global organization is not only profound, but urgent. Trump’s latest outburst about North Korea’s nukes — threatening that country “with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before” — creates a comic book Armageddon scenario in the media, except, of course, his power to launch a nuclear war on impulse is real. What this makes clear to me is that no one should have the authority — the power — to declare any war whatsoever. The fact that this is still possible, so many decades into human awareness of war’s utter insanity, reveals the paradox that civilization remains economically tied to its own destruction. Another icon of this paradox is Erik Prince, immensely wealthy...

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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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N Korea Threatens Missile Attack on US Territory Guam

Korean People’s Army statement comes just hours after Trump said any threat to the US would meet ‘fire and fury’. North Korea said on Wednesday it is “carefully examining” a plan to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after US President Donald Trump told North Korea that any threat to the United States would meet “fire and fury”. A spokesman for the Korean People’s Army, in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, said the attack plan will be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once leader Kim Jong-un makes a decision. In another statement, quoting a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the US showed signs of provocation. Trump threatened North Korea “with fire and fury like the world has never seen” on Tuesday after reports suggested the communist country has mastered one of...

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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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Court Throws Out Blackwater Guards’ Sentences for 2007 Baghdad Massacre

by Jessica Corbett – Three former mercenaries who killed and injured 31 unarmed Iraqis in Nisour Square will be resentenced, and a fourth may be retried. A federal appeals court on Friday threw out lengthy prison sentences of three former operatives for private mercenary firm Blackwater Worldwide—and ordered a retrial for a fourth operative who had received a life sentence—for their roles in the notorious 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, which left 14 unarmed Iraqis dead and another 17 wounded. “The men, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough, and Nicholas Slatten, were convicted in October 2014 after years of legal battles,” Common Dreams reported in 2015, when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Slatten—who the government says fired the first shots—to life in prison and the other three men to “30 years and one day each on charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.” During the 10-week trial in...

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Clooney Foundation To Open 7 Schools For 3,000 Syrian Refugee Kids

By Amanda Froelich – The Clooney Foundation for Justice agreed to donate $2.25 million to build 7 public schools, which will educate approximately 3,000 refugee children in Lebanon. Thanks to actor George Clooney and his wife Amal, Syrian refugee children who have faced unimaginable hardship will soon receive an education. This is because the Clooney Foundation for Justice agreed to donate $2.25 million to build 7 public schools, which will educate approximately 3,000 refugee children in Lebanon. The donation was made as part of an educational campaign in partnership with Google and Unicef. The ultimate goal is to provide relief to children and their families during one of the most arduous humanitarian crises since WWII. The couple said in a statement to AP: “They have been victims of geography and circumstance, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Our goal with this initiative is to help provide Syrian refugee children with an education and put them on a...

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Kushner’s Plan to Create Middle East Peace Without Reading Books or Learning History

by Melanie Schmitz – Congressional interns were asked not to record the session. A recording found its way to the media anyway. Despite stern warnings not to tape the session, a leaked recording of White House adviser Jared Kushner’s off-the-record lecture to a group of congressional interns on Monday managed to find its way into the hands of Wired reporter Ashley Feinberg. The recording itself features Kushner discussing his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that fails to inspire confidence. Ahead of the lecture, Katie Patru, a House staffer who organized the event, briefed the interns and noted that recording and disseminating any audio or video from the session would be a major “breach of trust.” “This town is full of leakers and everyone knows who they are, and no one trusts them,” Patru warned. “In this business your reputation is everything. I’ve been on the hill for 15 years. I’ve sat...

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Three Things to Know About North Korea’s Missile Tests (VIDEOS)

by Alex Gatopoulos – With advances in its long-range missile programme, here are three technical milestones and why they matter. Since Kim Jung-un’s ascendancy in December 2011, North Korea has accelerated its missile development programme, the tempo of tests increasing considerably from those under his father Kim Jung Il. After failures in 2016, North Korea has this year made bold advances in its missile programme. Kim Jong-un moved closer to make good on his threats to reduce the US “to ashes” with the July 28 launch of long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), claiming that this flight test demonstrates the capability of the missiles to reach the US mainland. This test comes just weeks after Pyongyang tested what it claimed to be the country’s first ICBM. Immediately following the launch, US and South Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises and the US flew two supersonic B-1B jets over the Korean peninsula in a show of force. US ambassador to the UN stated that the US...

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Joe Kennedy Debases Trump’s Soulless Transgender Ban. We Think It—Kennedy Says It

by Leslie Salzillo – Once again, the very vocal Democratic House Rep Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts speaks out against Donald Trump and the continuous slew of atrocious actions by the Republicans Party and injustice at its worst. On Wednesday, after Trump announced his ban on transgender people serving in the military, Kennedy adamantly censured Trump for the ban, adding ALL of our soldiers serving for ALL of our country deserve at minimum common decency and respect show to them. Here is the lede to his Facebook post followed by the YouTube video of his speech. “Our soldiers do not discriminate. They do not offer to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect some lives and not others. Their government owes them that courtesy – that decency – in return.” –Joe Kennedy III Video: Transcript: Mr. Speaker, When our bravest men and women raise their hand and volunteers to defend our nation, they defend all of her people: rich and poor, young and old, Democrat and Republican, gay straight— Americans of...

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The White House Has No Idea How to Proceed in Afghanistan

by D. Parvaz – While Afghans suffer horrific casualties, President Trump can’t seem to decide between a modest troop surge or sending in more private contractors. Snippets of news coming out of the White House in recent weeks indicate that the Trump administration is at an impasse in choosing a strategy for Afghanistan. Indecision in battle is never good, and Afghanistan is being pummeled: The number of civilian deaths continues to rise, attacks in the capital, Kabul, are growing increasingly deadly, and the Taliban now holds more territory than any time since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Most of these daily battles don’t even make it into the U.S. news cycle, but to read Afghan news sources, such as TOLOnews, is to witness a bloody tick-tock of districts and provinces lost and reclaimed in an almost endless cycle of battles between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. On top of that, the self-proclaimed Islamic State...

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U.S. Mum on Iran-Iraq Military Agreement

by D. Parvaz – What does the agreement mean, and how will it affect anything on the ground? Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Sunday that would see strengthened military cooperation aimed at fighting “terrorism and extremism,” a deal that probably won’t please President Donald Trump. Iranian state media reports that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) “includes expansion of cooperation and exchange of experiences on combating terrorism and extremism, security of borders, as well as educational, logistic, technical and military support.” There hasn’t been much response to the MoU in the United States so far. But given what we know, it’s doubtful that the deal with be met with high-fives. The Trump administration has ratcheted up tensions with Iran, recently accusing the Islamic Republic of violating “the spirit” of the nuclear agreement. The two countries have also butt heads over the civil war in Yemen, with the United States siding with the Saudi-led coalition that...

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Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing

by Wim Laven – Assessments are a key tool in most fields. In some industries they are provided through do-well/do-better meetings, in others through critical feedback loops, and, in mine, through teacher evaluations and student report cards. In order to be effective assessments use rubrics to assess key data points, frequently against objective standards, on behavior, knowledge, and performance. Six months into his presidency Donald Trump has come up short on all counts. His all-or-nothing strategy may have done him well as a business leader, where profit was the bottom line, but he has shown no growth in taking on his new role. People will focus on his numbers: 991 tweets, 42 bills signed into law, 40 days out golfing, 1 news conference, and 0 pieces of major legislation. Some will highlight his 38.8 percent approval rating. His approval rating reflects the public’s lack of approval with what he is doing. But, while the...

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