War & Conflict

State-Sanctioned Torture in the Age of Trump

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump declared he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because the United States is facing a “barbaric” enemy. He labeled waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation. Waterboarding, which involves pouring water into the nose and mouth to make victims feel like they’re drowning, has long been considered torture, which is a war crime under US and international law. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for waterboarding as a war crime after World War II. In late November 2016, Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out torture in the Trump administration. Torture Is Always Illegal What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that...

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Report Warns Trump Against Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal (VIDEO)

by Megan O’Toole – Ending the agreement would lead to ‘unfathomable consequences’ throughout the region, International Crisis Group says. Should the Iran nuclear deal fall apart, the consequences for the Middle East region would be “unfathomable”, according to a new report from the International Crisis Group. The report, coming on the eve on Donald Trump’s inauguration, urges the US president-elect to preserve and strengthen the landmark agreement, rather than tear it up as he has threatened to do. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which took effect one year ago, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment programme in return for sanctions relief – a pact derided by Trump as the “worst deal ever negotiated”. “Any attempt by the Trump administration to undercut the deal in the hope of ‘fixing’ it is likely to backfire … Moreover, by destabilising the JCPOA, the new administration could usher in what it...

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Trump Declares NATO ‘Obsolete,’ Wants European Union Disbanded in Frightening Interview

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump is paving the way for Russian aggression against Europe and admitted it during an interview with European newspapers. Trump has had a cozy relationship with Putin ever since Russia helped him win the election in November. In fact, that was the consummation of a relationship that began months earlier when Trump started attacking NATO and made it clear that he intends to eliminate sanctions that were slapped against Russia after Putin seized the Crimea from Ukraine. Now Trump is practically inviting Russia to be more aggressive in Putin’s pursuit of tyrannical rule. “I said a long time ago that NATO had problems,” Trump told the Times of London on Sunday. “Number one it was obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago. Number two the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying.” Trump then went on to praise Putin and...

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Trump’s Sec. of State Nominee, Tillerson, has a Plan to Defeat ISIS, and it’s not Very Good

by Justin Salhani – And it could greatly upset a key U.S. ally. During the hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, the candidate, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, pinpointed what he views as the gravest threat to the United States: ISIS. He also laid out a very basic plan in defeating ISIS. “In the case of the most immediate threat of ISIS — can we construct a renewed coalition using the forces that are already there, including the Syrian Kurds, which have been our greatest allies,” Tillerson told the panel. “We recommit to the Syrian Kurds that we intend to continue to support you with the capability to continue the advance on Raqqa and then build coalition forces that can contain ISIS if it attempts to move into this other part of the country. And eliminate them from Syria.” Watch: There’s one major...

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Abbas Warns Trump not to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem (VIDEOS)

Palestinian leader tells US president-elect that a relocation would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process”. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has written to US President-elect Donald Trump telling him not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian media reports. Trump has said at various times that he plans to relocate the embassy, and last month chose David Friedman, a right-wing lawyer who has pledged to move the mission to Jerusalem, as his ambassador to Israel. ‘The settlers and the guards harass us and our children’ In an official letter, Abbas gave warning that such a move would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”, Palestinian news agency Wafa said on Monday. Wafa, which did not specify when the letter had been sent, said Abbas aimed to explain the “risks”...

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ISIL Ramps up Fight with Weaponized Drones

by John Beck – In addition to using drones for reconnaissance in Iraq, ISIL has been sending them out with bombs attached. Mosul, Iraq – As fighting raged in eastern Mosul on a recent afternoon, a black Humvee arrived at an Iraqi army command post with a collection of plastics, electronics and rotor blades lashed to its back. Soldiers leaped to unload the cargo, which comprised the remnants of the latest tool in ISIL’s armoury: drones. The haul included a number of small devices of the kind favoured by filmmakers and hobbyists, costing a few hundred dollars apiece. But there were also larger, fixed-wing craft fashioned out of corrugated plastic and duct tape, apparently made by the fighters themselves. Since mid-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group has held Mosul, after sweeping through northern Iraq in a shock offensive. It is now their...

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The Assad Conundrum (VIDEO)

by John Bell – Some argued that without his rule, radical Islamists such as ISIL would take over Syria. It is safe to say that, until recently, the debate over Syria’s political future came down to one thing: the fate of President Bashar al-Assad. With his victory in Aleppo, and the firm support of Iran and Russia, it is also fairly safe to say that the Syrian president’s future is secure, for the time being. What is it about Assad that has made him such a key issue? Some argued that without his rule, radical Islamists (ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham etc) would take over Syria. This has not only presented a threat to Syria and its minorities, but it was a problem for Europe, Russia and beyond. As Russia, Iran and Assad have repeated: only Assad and his system can effectively keep them at bay. The counterargument has been that it...

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Netanyahu Calls for Pardon of Convicted Soldier Azaria (VIDEO)

Israeli prime minister calls for pardon after military court convicts soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier found guilty of manslaughter after he shot and killed a wounded Palestinian last year. “This is a difficult and painful day – first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel’s soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me … I support granting a pardon to Elor Azaria,” Netanyahu said Wednesday on his Facebook page. The country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who has the authority to issue pardons, said he will wait for the legal process to run its course before making a decision. “In the event that a pardon should be requested, it will be considered by the president in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities,” he said in presidential statement. The remarks were...

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White House Expects More Guantanamo Transfers

The White House ignores President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze transfers from the Guantanamo Bay. The US government has pledged to move ahead with the transfer of inmates out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze. With President Barack Obama set to leave office on January 20, White House spokesman Josh Earnest put Trump on notice on Tuesday that more inmates would be moved. “I would expect, at this point, additional transfers,” he said. Earnest’s comments come just hours after Trump tweeted that “there should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”  Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield. There are 59 prisoners remaining at the controversial detention...

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6 Foreign Hotspots the Trump Administration Will Have to Deal With in 2017

by Ed Krayewski – As the world turns. 2016 is mercifully coming to an end this weekend, and the Obama presidency will end less than three weeks later. Despite Donald Trump’s insistence that he’ll do things differently, January 20, 2017 will be no more a clean break from the past than January 20, 2009, was, especially when it comes to the exercise of U.S. foreign policy abroad. Both Barack Obama and Trump made a change in foreign policy part of their successful first presidential campaigns—for both, that promise of change was nebulous and uncertain. It allowed people with all different kinds of ideas about U.S. foreign policy to believe his vision would comport with their own. President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, just 10 months into office. He leaves office with a war in Afghanistan that’s gone on longer than the Civil War, World War I, and...

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Nuclear Experts Warn Trump: Do Not Torpedo Successful Iran Deal

by Lauren McCauley – Dozens of top scientists say the deal has led to greater non-proliferation in the region. President-elect Donald Trump has said that his “number one priority is to dismantle” the Iran nuclear accord, but dozens of the nation’s preeminent scientists and nuclear experts sent the incoming leader a strongly-worded letter (pdf) on Monday urging him not to do so, saying that the deal “has dramatically reduced the risk” of nuclear weapons in Iran. In turn, the scientists note, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is formally known, “has lowered the pressure felt by Iran’s neighbors to develop their own nuclear weapons options and none has announced a new dual-use nuclear program of its own,” referring to possible military use of civilian nuclear power technology. The letter, initiated by IBM Fellow Emeritus Richard L. Garwin, is meant to serve as an “assessment of the current...

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Istanbul: ISIL Claims Responsibility for Reina Attack (VIDEO)

Group says it carried out New Year’s Eve raid on Istanbul nightclub where “Christians celebrate their apostate holiday”. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that killed 39 people on New Year’s Eve. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group released on Monday a statement claiming responsibility for the raid. “In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday,” the statement said. The announcement came as a manhunt was under way in Turkey for at least one assailant who attacked those celebrating New Year at the Reina nightclub. Shortly after the ISIL claim, AFP news agency citing local media said that police have detained eight suspects over the...

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Coming to Our Senses Regarding Nukes

by Robert Dodge – As part of President-Elect Trumps daily tweets this past week he stated: The United States must greatly strengthen its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.  In his 140 character tome he proposes maintaining a status quo of the mythology of nuclear deterrence and self-assured destruction (SAD) or a “coming to senses” of the nuclear states.  As President of the United States, he will have a significant role to play in determining which path is followed. He can lead us further down the road toward nuclear annihilation or lead us at long last to nuclear abolition and a world free of nuclear weapons.   Nuclear deterrence is indeed a myth propagated for 71 years since the beginning of the nuclear age. Rather than deterring a nuclear arms buildup, it is instead the greatest driver of the arms race as each...

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Iraq Resumes Mosul Operation After a Two-Week Lull (VIDEO)

Iraqi forces launch the “second phase” of the battle to retake eastern Mosul from ISIL. Iraqi troops backed by US-led air strikes have pushed deeper into eastern Mosul after a two-week lull in the operation to retake the city held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group. Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a senior officer in Iraq’s counterterrorism service, said the second phase of the operation, now in its third month, began on Thursday. He told the AFP news agency that forces began advancing towards the Quds neighbourhood. “Now our forces clashed with the enemy and there is resistance,” al-Assadi said, adding that forces on the northern and southern fronts were also advancing. Special elite forces also pushed into the Karama neighbourhood, while army troops and federal police advanced into nearby Intisar, Salam and Sumor neighbourhoods, the AP news agency reported. Smoke...

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Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed in 2015

by Nadia Prupis – Even as other nations tighten budgets for weapons amid domestic financial concerns, US manages to sell $40 billion in one year. The U.S. sold more weapons than any other country in 2015 despite a drop in the global arms trade, according to a new congressional report. At $40 billion, the U.S. signed more than half of all arms agreements last year, and more than double the next-highest seller, which was France at $15 billion. American weapons sales included bombs, missiles, armored tanks, Apache attack helicopters, F-15 fighter jets, and other items. The report (pdf) was published by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts national policy analysis for Congress. It looked at conventional arms transfers to developing nations from 2008 to 2015. Russia sold $11.1 billion, a slight drop from its 2014 count at $11.2 billion. China sold $6 billion, doubling its output from last year. The leading...

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Turkey and Russia ‘Agree’ on Nationwide Syria Ceasefire

Truce, excluding areas where Assad forces are battling “terrorist” groups, may come into effect by Wednesday midnight. Turkey and Russia have agreed on a countrywide ceasefire plan for Syria, except for areas where government forces are battling armed groups declared terrorist organisations by the United Nations. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday that a ceasefire plan had been submitted to Syria’s rival parties and could come into force as soon as midnight 22:00 GMT. Citing a source who requested anonymity, Anadolu said “terrorist organisations” would be excluded from the deal. I am a Syrian Child This would most certainly exclude the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front. The source also said that if the ceasefire succeeded, political negotiations would start in the Kazakh capital, Astana, under Turkey and Russia’s guidance. Samir Nashar, a Syrian...

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‘Let It Be an Arms Race’: Trump Clarifies Tweet on Expanding Nuclear Stockpile (VIDEO)

by Nadia Prupis – President-elect’s explanation seems to call even more explicitly for nuclear war games. “Let it be an arms race.” That’s how President-elect Donald Trump clarified a tweet he sent Thursday which said the U.S. must “strengthen and expand” its nuclear arsenal, a remark that set off warnings and calls for explanation. He then spoke on the phone with MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, who reported on air Friday morning that the president-elect said, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass.” Co-host Joe Scarborough added, “And outlast them all.” “And outlast them all,” Brzezinski confirmed. Both hosts were seated in front of a fireplace wearing pajamas and slippers. Watch below: Trump on Thursday tweeted that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”—a statement that seemingly echoed Russian...

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Saddam Hussein Was Not ‘Worth Removing From Power’: Ex-CIA Agent

by Nadia Prupis – New memoir details institutional failings that led to catastrophic invasion of Iraq and rise of Islamic State. A former CIA analyst who personally interrogated Saddam Hussein said the U.S. “got it so wrong” on the invasion of Iraq and should have left the now-deceased leader in power. In an excerpt from a memoir about his time with the agency, Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein, former analyst John Nixon—who was the first officer to question Hussein after his capture in December 2003—writes that the Ba’athist president was not “worth removing from power,” and that the decision to do so needs to be viewed in the context of what came next: the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). Nixon writes: Today, a decade following Saddam’s execution, with ISIS’s black flags still unfurled over sections of Iraq, we need to ask ourselves some provocative questions. One of...

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Aleppo Evacuation Will be Complete ‘In Days’ (VIDEOS)

Russian and Turkish ministers expect operation to be complete by the week’s end as Syria agrees to sending UN observers. The evacuation of Aleppo should take no more than two days, Russian and Turkish foreign ministers say, following a rare breakthrough and show of unity by world powers over Syria that allows UN monitors to observe the operation. A total 37,500 evacuees have so far left the war-torn Syrian city and the goal is to complete all evacuations by Wednesday, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish foreign minister,   wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. The evacuation of of Aleppo would be complete in a maximum of two days, Sergey Lavrov,  Russia’s foreign minister,  said. UN passes resolution on monitors for Aleppo Lavrov said that Russia, Iran and Turkey had used their influence to make the evacuation happen and that the 19-member International Syria Support Group including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the US...

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What are President Putin’s Plans for Syria? (VIDEO)

With the evacuation of Aleppo under way, the Russian leader turns his attention to a political settlement. It has been a stop-go situation in east Aleppo as thousands of Syrians – both civilians and rebel fighters – are still waiting to get out. The chaotic process has already been halted several times. Activists say government forces opened fire on convoy trucks on Friday. But the government says it was the rebels who started shooting at the troops. Russia, Syria’s ally, is playing a major role in the operation. Its soldiers are in control of checkpoints along the route out of eastern Aleppo. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is trying to organise peace talks on Syria, possibly in Kazakhstan. Turkey would be involved but significantly, both the UN and the US would be excluded. What is Putin’s game and what does he hope to gain? Presenter: Dareen Abughaida Guests: Marwan Kabalan...

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The World, Not Just Assad, Is to Blame for Aleppo Tragedy

by Wardah Khalid, Truthout | News Analysis – “You bear responsibility for these atrocities,” US Ambassador Samantha Power said to the Bashar al-Assad regime, Russia and Iran at Tuesday’s UN Security Council emergency briefing on Syria. She was referring to the mass atrocities committed against Syrian civilians in eastern Aleppo, including 82 people who were gruesomely executed by pro-government forces on Monday. While Power was correct in her anger toward a regime that has killed over 400,000 people and displaced millions in the last five years, she was wrong to insinuate that the international community, including the US, is excused from blame. “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there no act of barbarianism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?” Power pressed. The Assad regime certainly did not express shame when it ignored President Obama’s famous “red line” warning in August 2012 and launched...

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Syria Rebels Reach Evacuation Deal with Government (VIDEOS)

Buses reportedly set to begin carrying fighters and civilians out of embattled city amid reports of summary executions. An agreement for the imminent evacuation of civilians and opposition fighters from east Aleppo in Syria has been reached, according to rebel officials. After weeks of heavy fighting, government forces took full control of Aleppo on Tuesday, dealing the biggest blow to Syria’s uprising in more than five years of civil war. Russia’s UN ambassador announced late in the evening that all military action in east Aleppo had come to a halt and that the Syrian government was in control of the area. “Over the last hour we have received information that the military activities in east Aleppo have stopped, it has stopped,” Vitaly Churkin told a heated emergency UN Security Council meeting. Aleppo onslaught: UN says Syrian forces executing civilians “The Syrian government has established control over east Aleppo.” Fears...

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Syria’s Civil War: What Went Wrong in East Aleppo?

by Samer Abboud – The collapse of the armed opposition in Aleppo has removed the major military threats to regime advancement. When the Russian intervention into the Syrian conflict accelerated in mid-2016, many analysts and partisans declared the “Battle of Aleppo” to hold the key to the future of the Syrian conflict. Decisive victory one way or another, or the re-establishment of a military stalemate, would dramatically affect the course of the conflict and the possibilities of a political solution, no matter how flawed or unjust. As 2016 draws to a close, the Russian-led intervention into Aleppo has led to virtually the entire city falling under the control of regime-aligned forces, begging the question: What next? While sound prediction and analysis in this moment is a challenging, if not entirely flawed, exercise, there are certain trajectories that point to what the future may hold. There were no restrictions or limitations to...

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James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis – Retired marine General James Mattis, who retired from being the head of CENTCOM in 2013, has become known recently for his stance against what he calls “political Islam.” “Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States?” Mattis said at the far right-wing Heritage Foundation in 2015. “I suggest the answer is no, but we need to have the discussion. If we won’t even ask the question, how do we even recognize which is our side in a fight?” Another controversial aspect of his selection that much of the media is focusing on is the fact that in order to get the job, Mattis would need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that it has to have been seven years since defense secretaries have been on active duty. Congress has only bypassed that law once...

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Pentagon Buried Report Finding $125 Billion in Bureaucratic Waste

by Anthony L. Fisher – Rather than face reality, Defense Department wants to continue to peddle the fiction that it is underfunded. The Department of Defense (DoD) learned the hard way to not ask for the truth if you don’t want to hear it. Senior Pentagon officials commissioned a study from the Defense Business Board, titled “Transforming DoD’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” which delivered its assessment of the department’s spending in January 2015. The very first words summarizing the report are “We are spending a lot more than we thought.” But the report never saw the light of day, because its staggering finding of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste contradicted the Pentagon’s repeated complaints that the U.S. military was being deprived of necessary financing, according to the Washington Post. The report found that the DoD was employing almost the same amount of people as active duty troops (1.3 million)...

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Iraq Army Launches Assault on Vital Mosul Bridge (VIDEO)

After weeks of close-quarter combat, Iraqi soldiers aim to sever important ISIL fighter route over the Tigris River. Iraqi soldiers bore down on a vital bridge over the Tigris River in Mosul’s city centre as the seven-week battle to recapture ISIL’s last stronghold in the country intensified, the army said. Lieutenant-General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah, the campaign’s commander, was quoted by Iraqi television as saying on Tuesday that troops had entered Al-Salam Hospital, less than 1.5km from the Tigris, which runs through Iraq’s second-largest city. Air raids by the US-led coalition aided the ground advance in the Salam neighbourhood. “Starting before dawn, we heard more than 20 air strikes,” said Fathii Muhammad Yousef, who took cover from the clashes with his family in their home just a block from the front. For the past month Iraqi forces have battled ISIL fighters on the streets just outside Yousef’s home. Four...

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Iraq: Scores Killed in Gas Station Hilla Attack

ISIL claims responsibility for blast targeting Shia Muslims returning from Arbaeen pilgrimage in holy city of Karbala. At least 97 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a massive suicide truck bomb blast at a petrol station south of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, according to medical sources. The target of Thursday’s attack near the town of Hilla  appeared to be Shia Muslim pilgrims returning from the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage in the holy city of Karbala. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid said, reporting from Erbil, said the attack involved a rigged petrol tanker which was parked near a petrol station that also has a restaurant popular with travellers on its premises. “When the gas tanker blew up, it also torched several buses and minivans that were carrying the pilgrims,” Abdel-Hamid said. “The...

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Mosul: Supply Line Secured, Severing ISIL from Syria (VIDEO)

Shia militia takes main route linking Tal Afar to Sinjar, blocking ISIL’s crucial supply route from Mosul into Raqqa. ISIL’s last supply line from Mosul to Syria has been severed by Iraqi-led forces, leaving the armed group’s stronghold completely isolated. Shia-Muslim paramilitary forces, known as Hashed al-Shaabi, captured the road linking Tal Afar to Sinjar west of Mosul on Wednesday and linked up with Kurdish forces there, security officials say. “Hashed forces have cut off the Tal Afar-Sinjar road,” Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, a senior commander, said on social media. A Kurdish security official told AFP news agency the Shia militia had linked up with other anti-ISIL forces, including Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters, in three villages in the area. Also on Wednesday, an air strike by the US-led coalition “disabled” the fourth bridge on the Tigris River in Mosul, leaving the city with a single functioning connection and further...

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What is NATO, and Why Should You Care?

by Mark E Andersen – During the past election, there was a lot of noise about NATO. President-elect Trump stated that if Russia attacked NATO member states, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.” And while NATO is fairly well-known, there is a good chance that most of American citizens don’t really know what NATO is, or what it does. NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Formed in 1949 at the beginning of the Cold War, NATO was seen as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, as well as a way to prevent the rise of nationalist militarism in Europe. The original member states were: Belgium Canada Denmark France Iceland Italy Luxembourg Netherlands Norway Portugal The United Kingdom The United States One of the key components of NATO is Article Five, which states: The Parties agree that an...

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UK Set to Approve Most Extreme Spy Bill in ‘History of Western Democracy’

by Nadia Prupis – “Snooper’s charter” poised to become law by end of 2016 after passing both houses of Parliament this week. The U.K. surveillance bill known as the “Snooper’s charter” is poised to become law after passing both houses of Parliament this week. It only needs to be approved by Royal Assent, which is expected to happen by the end of the year. The Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill is, as transparency advocates describe it, the most extreme surveillance law ever passed by a democracy. Approved amid the chaos of the post-Brexit vote and President-elect Donald Trump‘s historic upset, the bill has implications that reach far beyond its borders. Jamie Killock, executive director of the civil liberties organization Open Rights Group, said Thursday, “The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the U.K.’s shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human...

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Russia Pulls Out From International Criminal Court

Moscow’s decision follows UN report on Russian rights abuses and discrimination in Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to withdraw Russia from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Russia in 2000 signed the Rome treaty that established the Hague-based court but never ratified it. Putin’s decree, published on the Kremlin’s website on Wednesday, comes a day after the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee approved a resolution condemning Russia’s “temporary occupation of Crimea”, and blamed Moscow for rights abuses and discrimination against some Crimean residents, such as Tatars. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said the withdrawal is based on “national interests” and argued that since Russia never ratified the creation of the court, Wednesday’s decree was just a formality. Peskov also dismissed the ICC’s accusations of an “armed conflict” in Crimea, arguing that Crimea joined Russia after a legitimate popular vote....

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Five Horrifically Bad Foreign Policy Ideas That Should Disqualify John Bolton From Being Secretary of State

by Eric Boehm – Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is reportedly on the Trump administration’s short list for secretary of state. Even though no official announcement has been made, Bolton’s consideration is already drawing rebukes from libertarian-minded Republicans like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who on Tuesday called Bolton’s foreign policy views “unhinged.” Paul’s spot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee gives him significant sway over the nomination of Bolton—or anyone else—as secretary of state, but you don’t have to share Paul’s skepticism about America’s interventionalist foreign policy to be terrified by the prospect of having Bolton in charge of the State Department. Here’s a brief reminder of some of the terrible things Bolton has done (or wanted to do) in the realm of foreign policy. We only included five of the worst examples, but share your own not-so-fond memories of Bolton’s disastrous ideas in the comments below. 1. Bolton was a...

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Street Battles Rage in Mosul as ISIL Counterattacks (VIDEO)

ISIL mortars, RPGs, and suicide car bombs target Iraqi forces as urban push meets stiff resistance. ISIL fighters have launched several fierce counterattacks on Iraqi forces in Mosul city, underscoring the intense battle ahead as government troops and their allies push into densely populated neighbourhoods. An ISIL suicide car bomber targeted Iraqi troops in the city’s eastern Qadisiya neighbourhood early on Saturday, setting off heavy fighting that involved mortar rounds, gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi officers told the AFP news agency fighting was also under way in the adjoining Arbajiya area. “The fighting is intense this morning. We’re trying to fortify our positions in Arbajiya before continuing our attack into al-Bakr,” Colonel Muntadhar Salem of the counterterrorism unit said. Salem later clarified the aim was to surround the al-Bakr neighbourhood, but not to assault it for now. To the south of the city, militarised Iraqi police said they had come within 5km...

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Pentagon Admits It Underreported Civilian Deaths in Iraq and Syria

by Nadia Prupis – In report released quietly on Election Day, U.S. Central Command adds new numbers to death toll, admitting it is double previous estimates. The U.S. Pentagon has vastly under-reported civilian deaths from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria—by half. According to new figures released Wednesday by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), 119 civilians died since bombing against the Islamic State (ISIS) began in 2014, an update that now includes an additional 64 deaths between November 2015 and September 2016. Previously, CENTCOM only acknowledged 55 civilian deaths since airstrikes began. The new figures come after an internal investigation was launched into the bombing campaign after rights groups accused the U.S. military of “significantly underestimating” the toll on civilians and infrastructure. Those groups, such as Amnesty International, have put the death count much higher, estimating that more than 1,700—and possibly over 2,500—civilians have been killed since 2014. “The latest disclosure is in...

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The Battle for Mosul: Inside ISIL’s Bomb-Making Factory

by John Beck – Iraqi and Kurdish forces are unable to cope with the volume of explosive ordnance left behind by ISIL. When fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) abandon bomb-making factories, they usually rig them with explosives designed to kill anyone attempting to enter. Well aware of the risk, the Iraqi troops that found one on the eastern approach road to Mosul recently let Lieutenant Mohammed Abdulkadir go first. The Lieutenant, a quiet friendly man with a well-maintained moustache, is trained to defy instinct and move towards improvised explosive devices (IEDs) rather than swiftly away. He is one of a team given the often lethal job of disabling the weapons, typically left by ISIL in large quantities as they withdraw from an area, and linked to roadside tripwires, house entrances or even children’s toys. First, Abdulkadir checked the doors of the factory,...

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Right-Wing Militias Preparing To Wage War If Hillary Clinton Beats Trump

by Stephen D Foster Jr – As Election Day approaches, the threat of violence and bloodshed is becoming more and more likely. So far, the threats of a violent coup against the federal government had only been coming from a few deplorable Trump supporters like Dan Bowman who told the Boston Globe last month that he is literally hoping that conservatives overthrow the federal government in the event that Trump loses to Hillary Clinton on November 8th. “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup,” he said. “She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it. We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take…I would do whatever I can for my country.” Many Trump supporters have echoed Bowman in one...

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In Historic First, ICC Preparing to Investigate US War Crimes in Afghanistan

by Nika Knight – Foreign Policy reports that the International Criminal Court is poised to formally investigate U.S. actions for the first time in its history. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is preparing to initiate a full investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan, including those committed by U.S. military personnel, Foreign Policy exclusively reported Tuesday. The magazine writes: Multiple sources have indicated that the chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will seek to initiate an investigation in the coming weeks, likely after the U.S. presidential election but before the end of the year. U.S. officials visited The Hague recently to discuss the potential investigation and to express concerns about its scope. “Is the prosecutor concerned enough about the accusations of discrimination levied against the ICC that she’s willing to go after U.S. clients and U.S. officials?” —Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies A formal investigation of U.S. activities would be the first...

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Military Expert Vows To Take Trump Up On His Challenge

by Wendy Gittleson – Donald Trump, like any bully, loves to talk crap, but when his victim stands up to him, he always, every single time, backs down. While Trump is a bit beyond the age of schoolyard scuffles (don’t tell him that), he does like to challenge people who are much smarter than him to intellectual “scuffles.” One such smart person is retired Col. Jeff McCausland, who is a military expert – one Trump thinks he can teach “a couple things.” McCausland says, bring it on. Trump won’t. McCausland is a visiting professor of international security studies at Dickinson University. He’s the former dean of the Army War College. He’s also a retired army colonel, so, yes, he knows a thing or two about military strategy. He says Trump doesn’t “know a damn thing” about it. Trump, when asked about it by George Stephanopoulos, couldn’t leave well enough alone. Instead,...

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Shia Militias Open New Front in Battle for Mosul (VIDEOS)

Militia coalition, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, had not yet played a heavy role in the fighting. Shia militias say they have launched an assault to the west of Mosul, opening up a new front in the battle to drive ISIL from the country’s second city and the group’s last major bastion in the country. The coalition of militias, know as the Popular Mobilisation Units, had not played a heavy part in the fighting, but the offensive on Saturday indicates a bigger role than many observers had anticipated. Battle for Mosul: Peshmerga troops clear villages Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Iraq, said although many towns and villages on the road to Mosul had been taken by the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, the city itself – and ISIL’s position there – remained as formidable as it was before the operation to take the city began 12...

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After Cancer Diagnosis, Vet Refutes Government’s Agent Orange Expert — And Wins

by Charles Ornstein – After the VA rejects his claim for benefits, an Air Force veteran challenges the findings of the government’s go-to Agent Orange consultant. Six years later he emerges the rare victor. For years, the U.S. military and Department of Veterans Affairs have used the work of a Wyoming-based herbicide expert to flatly reject the claims of groups of veterans who believe Agent Orange made them sick. But occasionally, individual veterans have fought back — and even more rarely, they have won. One of them is Air Force veteran Phil Cacioppo. In 2007, Cacioppo was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He assumed he’d be approved for cash compensation and to receive treatment at VA hospitals. After all, he believed he’d been exposed to Agent Orange while he served as a ground radio equipment repairman at the U-Tapao Airfield in Thailand from 1969 to 1970. And his...

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Donald Trump, Prophet of Doom, is Ready to Write Off Mosul

by Mark Sumner – First Donald Trump said that Aleppo had already fallen, which would be news to the 400,000 people still living in the city. Now, after months of mocking the United States in general, the military in particular, and daily rolling his eyes over the idea that we would allow ISIS forces in Mosul to know that an assault was on it’s way, Donald Trump is ready to declare defeat. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN! 7:40 PM – 23 Oct 2016 The problem with Trump’s statement isn’t just his running down the United States and implicitly cheering for ISIS. It’s that he’s wrong. The attack on Mosul is proceeding well. Kurdish Peshmerga forces are within five miles (eight kilometers) of Mosul, commanders said Sunday, after days...

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Appeals Court Reinstates Torture Case Against Infamous Military Contractor

by Nadia Prupis – Ruling rejects CACI’s argument that its conduct was outside the court’s bounds, stating, “It is beyond the power of even the president to declare lawful.” An appellate court on Friday reinstated a lawsuit against a private military contractor accused of torturing detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, reversing a lower court decision that dismissed the case and rejecting the defendant’s claim that the issue of torture was beyond the court’s jurisdiction. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ruled against the Arlington-based contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc., sending the case back to the district court in Alexandria for additional review. CACI had argued that its conduct was outside the court’s bounds, but the panel disagreed, stating, “It is beyond the power of even the president to declare lawful…. The determination of specific violations of law is constitutionally committed to the...

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Battle for Mosul: Peshmerga Seizes Bashiqa from ISIL

President of the Iraqi Kurdish Region Masoud Barzani says Kurdish soldiers had succeeded in recapturing Bashiqa. Kurdish Peshmerga have taken the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as coalition forces pressed their offensive against the armed group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq. A US official said Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdish Region, had informed US Defense Secretary Ash Carter that the Kurds had succeeded in recapturing Bashiqa from ISIL. Kurdish fighters told reporters at the scene they had entered Bashiqa, but journalists were not being allowed into the town. Kurdish forces announced their new push on Bashiqa at dawn on Sunday. The successful advance took place as US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan to support the unprecedented offensive, which a US-led coalition is backing with air and ground support. On a trip to...

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Judge Slams Rick Scott’s Florida for ‘Obscene’ Disenfranchisement

by Joan McCarter – The courts are not looking kindly at Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s multiple efforts to keep people—primarily Democrats—from voting. Last week, his refusal to extend the voter registration deadline in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew was denied, and voter registration continues into this week. Then on Sunday, a federal judge ruled that the state must allow absentee voters to verify their signatures and have their votes count. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling was a victory for the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, which sued the state Oct. 3 arguing Florida canvassing boards shouldn’t immediately reject a ballot if a voter’s signature doesn’t match the one on file. The state gives voters who forget to sign their mail ballots a chance to fix the problem before Election Day—but doesn’t offer voters with mismatched signatures the same opportunity. “It is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the...

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Finally Free: ‘Guantánamo Diary’ Author Released After 14 Years Without Charge

by Hina Shamsi – After unlawfully imprisoning our client Mohamedou Ould Slahi at Guantánamo for 14 years without charge or trial, the U.S. government has finally released him. He is now home in his native Mauritania. We are overjoyed for Mohamedou and his loving family, who have been anxiously awaiting his return for so many years. His release brings the U.S. one man closer to ending the travesty that is Guantánamo. Mohamedou’s release comes after long legal battles and an outpouring of support worldwide, and he expressed his gratitude: “I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me. I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, transcultural, and trans-ethnic. I’m thrilled to reunite with my family.” That Mohamedou’s first thoughts are for his family and supporters is unsurprising, especially if you’ve read his deeply human and humane best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary,” which was released to critical acclaim...

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Battle for Mosul Begins as Aid Groups Warn of ‘Massive Civilian Bloodshed’

by Nadia Prupis – Without safe escape routes, many ‘will have no choice but to stay and risk being killed…trapped beyond the reach of humanitarian aid.’ Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Monday launched an offensive to take back the city of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, as human rights groups warned of the campaign’s potentially catastrophic impact. “The hour has come and the moment of great victory is near,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an early-morning speech, followed by U.S. envoy Brett McGurk tweeting that the U.S.-led coalition was “proud” to support the “historic operation.” Smoke rose over the city as the U.S.-led coalition began conducting airstrikes shortly after the announcement. The United Nations has long estimated that the battle could displace at least 1 million people, worsening the country’s humanitarian crisis, and the agency’s high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said from Baghdad on Monday that protection...

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U.S. Missile Strike Hits Yemen After Rebels Target U.S. Navy Ship

by Justin Salhani – The U.S. launched missiles into rebel-controlled territory inside Yemen late Wednesday night, the first time the U.S. has directly made such an attack in the Yemen war. The strikes targeted radar sites along the coast. A funeral in Yemen’s capital city Sana’a was hit by an airstrike Saturday, killing more than 140 people. A Saudi-led, anti-rebel coalition is the most likely culprit (they denied it, but U.S. officials told the Washington Post they don’t buy the denial). The heavy death toll has resulted new implications for the United States, which backs the Saudi coalition against the Houthi rebels. The attack angered locals, as more than 4,000 civilians have been killed since bombing started in March 2015. So many people are being killed by the airstrikes that the Red Cross began donating morgues to local hospitals to help managing the overwhelming number of dead. While most of the...

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‘Homegrown Terrorists’ Are Mostly Motivated by US Atrocities Abroad: Secret FBI Report

by Nadia Prupis – Secret 2012 report also finds that prison time, military service, international travel did not “significantly contribute” to radicalization. Anger over U.S. military operations abroad was the most commonly cited factor in motivating “homegrown terrorists,” according to a secret FBI study reviewed by The Intercept on Tuesday. The study, conducted in 2012 and titled Homegrown Violent Extremists: Survey Confirms Key Assessments, Reveals New Insights About Radicalization, also found that there was no clear path to “radicalization” and that predicting future attacks remained effectively impossible. A unit in the FBI’s counter-terrorism department interviewed agents and analysts responsible for almost 200 cases throughout the U.S. involving “homegrown violent extremists,” finding that they “frequently believe the U.S. military is committing atrocities in Muslim countries, thereby justifying their violent aspirations.” The Intercept‘s Murtaza Hussain and Cora Currier write: Online relationships and exposure to English-language militant propaganda and “ideologues” like Anwar al-Awlaki are...

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Syria War: France Wants Aleppo War Crimes Probe

by Shafik Mandhai – Foreign minister says France committed “to saving population” of city currently facing Russian-backed Syrian offensive. France has announced it will ask the international criminal court to investigate possible war crimes committed in Syria’s Aleppo. Russian-backed Syria forces have made significant advances in its renewed two-week-old offensive in Aleppo, seizing territory to the north and pushing back the front line in the city centre. “We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo,” Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, told France’s Inter radio on Monday. READ MORE: The politics of war crimes in Syria He saId President Francois Hollande will take into account the situation in Aleppo when deciding whether to see his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when the latter visits Paris on October 19. “If the president decides , this will not...

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Syrian Refugees may have Just Stopped a Major Terror Plot in Germany

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – A group of Syrian refugees may have helped prevent a major terrorist attack from taking place in Germany, after they held down another refugee inside an apartment in Leipzig while waiting for local police to arrive. Jaber al-Bakr, a 22-year-old Syrian national who was granted asylum status in Germany last year, was arrested on Sunday, following a two-day manhunt after police found “several hundred grams” of an explosive at an apartment in Chemnitz, enough to cause significant damage. Al-Bakr asked other Syrians on an online forum for lodging near the Leipzig Central train station. “The Syrians took him home, where they constrained him and then called police,” CBS News reported. The German newspaper Bildreported that the refugees who housed him grew suspicious of him, posting a photo of him to Facebook to ask other Syrians whether he looked like the suspect wanted in the manhunt. Once...

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Dan Rather Buries Trump In Epic Post-Debate Analysis That Everyone Should See

by Stephen D Foster Jr – This is why we miss Dan Rather at the CBS News desk. At a time when the media often fails to dig deep and ask the hard hitting questions all for the sake of ratings, at least we still can rely on Dan Rather to deliver an analysis that makes people think. After the debate on Sunday night, the legendary newsman delivered a damning criticism of the Republican nominee and warned Americans of the dire consequences of this election. “I am not sure it is possible to truly put into words what we witnessed tonight,” Rather wrote. “This election has long since passed the stage of rationality and reason, the realm of the written page, and into the territory of the heart and spirit, where emotions swirl that we cannot fully distill into coherent sentences and paragraphs. But I will humbly try…” Rather launched...

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US Reviewing Support for Saudis After Brutal Massacre, But Will Arms Sales Stop?

by Deirdre Fulton – The US has resisted previous attempts to hold its ally—or itself—accountable for the civilian slaughter in Yemen. The United States, which is supplying arms and other assistance to Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, has “initiated an immediate review” of its support for the kingdom in the wake of airstrikes on Saturday that reportedly killed at least 140 people and wounded hundreds more. “U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Saturday night, reiterating previous remarks that have had little effect on the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Describing the U.S. as “deeply disturbed” by reports of the bombing, which could be the deadliest attack yet in a war that has already claimed thousands of civilian lives, Price added: “In light of this and other recent incidents, we have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to...

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Report: Combat Vs. Climate

by MIRIAM PEMBERTON, NATHAN DOCTOR AND ELLEN POWELL – Fifteen of the sixteen hottest years ever recorded have occurred during this new century, and the near-unanimous scientific consensus attributes the principal cause to human activity. The U.S. military’s latest National Security Strategy says that climate change is “an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water.” What they don’t say is that the overall balance of U.S. security spending should be adjusted to fit that assessment. And we know less about how much we are spending on this urgent threat than we used to, since the federal government hasn’t produced a climate security budget since 2013. In this new report, Combat vs. Climate, the Institute for Policy Studies steps in to provide the most accurate climate change security budget currently available, drawing data from multiple agencies. And it looks at how...

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Sen. Mike Lee: U.S. Can’t Bomb Syrian Forces Without Congressional Approval

by Robert Naiman – According to multiple voices in the DC press, the idea of the U.S. bombing Syrian government forces is “back on the table” this week. On Sunday, under the headline, “Four military options for Obama in Syria,” The Hill reported that the administration could be weighing four possible options: “No-fly zone,” “Safe zones,” “Target Assad’s air force,” “New weapons for rebels.” On Tuesday, “war-positive” Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin reported under the headline “Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again” that: U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria … A meeting of the Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet-level officials, is scheduled for Wednesday. A meeting of the National Security Council, which could include the president, could come as...

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ACLU Lawyers Will Get to Question Ex-CIA Officials in Torture Case

by Dror Ladin – In a critical step towards accountability, a federal judge has ordered that former high-ranking CIA officials will have to sit for depositions in the lawsuit against the two psychologists who designed and implemented the CIA torture program. Two of the officials are John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez, who both held top positions when the torture program was developed and carried out. Rizzo was the CIA’s chief lawyer, and Rodriguez was the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center and then deputy director of operations. The depositions are expected to happen in the next few months as part of the discovery process, which will be completed by mid-February. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three men — Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, Gul Rahman — who were tortured using methods developed by the CIA-contracted psychologists, James Mitchell and John “Bruce”...

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Syria’s War: US Suspends Ceasefire Talks with Russia

Decision denounced by Russia comes as air strikes continue in Aleppo with another deadly attack on its largest hospital. The United States has suspended talks with Russia on trying to end the violence in Syria and accused Moscow of not living up to its commitments under a ceasefire agreement. Both countries had been working to try to secure a ceasefire in Syria but the latest truce collapsed last month after several days of relative calm. Following the deadly attacks on Aleppo, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was “on the verge” of ending talks on Syria with Russia. The US government released a statement on Monday confirming the suspension of talks. Ex-Assad classmate speaks out after Aleppo hospital attack “The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby...

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338 People were Killed by Bombings in Aleppo this Week

by Justin Salhani – More than 100 were kids. The indiscriminate bombing of the rebel-held part of Aleppo by Syrian and Russian air forces continued this week. According to the World Health Organization, 338 people were killed in the attacks this week, including 0ver 100 children. The death toll is expected to rise even further. Another 846 are wounded, including 261 children, and with attacks on multiple hospitals in recent months perpetrated by the Russians and Syrian government, treatment is hard to come by. Only 35 doctors are left in the city. In addition to hospitals, the Russians and the Syrian government have also been accused of bombing schools, marketplaces, and other basic infrastructure by international monitoring groups, without taking civilian casualties into account. Rebels told the New York Times the local water plant was hit on Friday. Russia was accused of committing war crimes in Syria by the UN Security Council...

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United States Close to Suspending Talks with Russia Over Syria

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – “We are on the verge of suspending the discussion.” The United States is “on the verge” of suspending talks with Russia following a series of deadly attacks in Aleppo that most recently struck two hospitals and killed hundreds of people, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday. The United States has “no notion or indication of seriousness of purpose,” Kerry said in a discussion with The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Clemons in a Washington Ideas Forum event. The Secretary of State said that the bombing of Aleppo was an “inexcusable” situation that is “beyond the pale” and requires a political solution. “We are on the verge of suspending the discussion because it’s irrational in the context in the kind of bombing taking place to be sitting there and trying to take things seriously,” Kerry said. “There’s no notion or indication of the...

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The Complicated Legacy of Shimon Peres

by Evelyn Anne Crunden – Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel, died on Wednesday in Tel Aviv at the age of 93, following a massive stroke. The passing of the Polish-born Peres, who also served as prime minister twice, has been met with mixed emotions around the world. Throughout his career, Peres worked for two seemingly opposite goals: growing Israel’s defense operations, while also playing an active part in peace-building efforts like the Oslo Accords, for which he shared the Nobel Peace Prize. The left-leaning Israeli publication Haaretz offered perhaps the best analysis of Peres, acknowledging his dueling roles: as military man and peace advocate, as settlement proponent and settlement naysayer, as an aging senior statesman but as a mistrusted opportunist. To say that these contradictions are not all true of Peres is to offer an unfinished account of his legacy. Acknowledging these discrepancies, however, is proving hard for American...

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Trump Praises Egypt’s Autocratic President, says they have a lot of ‘Chemistry’

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – Just days after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sat down with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, he called him a “fantastic guy.” “I thought it was very productive,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday, after being asked about his meeting with Sisi in New York on Monday, on the sidelines of the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants. “He’s a fantastic guy. He took control of Egypt, and he really took control of it, and I thought it was a great meeting. We met for a long time, actually. We had a long meeting, and got along. There was a good chemistry there.” Trump went on to praise Sisi as someone who took control of the “tremendous problem” of terrorists in Egypt. “I’ll tell you, he took control of the country, he has gotten the terrorists out and wiped them out, and...

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Dozens of Syrian Soldiers Reportedly Killed in Strike

Russian and Syrian militaries say a US-led coalition air strike on an army base has killed more than 60 Syrian troops. More than 60 Syrian soldiers have been reported killed in US-led coalition air strikes near a military base as they battled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters, a Russian military spokesman said. Major-General Igor Konashenkov said the air strikes on Saturday took place near the Deir Az Zor airport in eastern Syria and were carried out by two F-16s and two A-10s. He did not identify the planes’ country affiliation, but said they were part of the international coalition. Konashenkov said Syrian authorities told the Russians that 62 soldiers were killed and more than 100 wounded. The Russian Defence Ministry said the planes had bombed Syrian troops battling ISIL near the airport. Fierce fighting between the Syrian army and ISIL fighters was now under way. Russia...

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US Jets Fly Over South Korea in Show of Force (VIDEOS)

Demonstration of solidarity between the allies comes in response to North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test to date. Two US jet bombers have flown over South Korea in a show of force and solidarity after North Korea’s nuclear test last week. The pair of supersonic B-1 Lancer strategic bombers, based in Guam, were escorted on Tuesday by South Korean and US fighter jets in a low-altitude flight over South Korea’s Osan airbase. The facility is 77km from the demilitarised zone border with the North and about 40km from the South’s capital Seoul. North Korea carries out fifth nuclear test Speaking in Seoul on Tuesday, Sung Kim, the US special representative on North Korea, said the US remained open to authentic, meaningful dialogue with Pyongyang on ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. “Our intention is to secure the strongest possible resolution that includes new sanctions as quickly...

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Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost Nearly $5 Trillion (and Counting): Report

by Nadia Prupis – As nation remembers 9/11 victims, report calculates cost of military response to attacks The U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost taxpayers nearly $5 trillion and counting, according to a new report released to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the attacks. Dr. Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Brown University, released the figures in an independent analysis (pdf) of U.S. Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs spending, as well as their base and projected future spending. Crawford is also a director at Brown’s Costs of War Project, which works to draw attention to the human, economic, and political toll of the military response to 9/11. In total, the wars already boast a price tag of $4.79 trillion, she found. And the cost is still climbing. Crawford’s estimate includes budget requests for the 2017 operations in Afghanistan—which are poised to continue...

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Syria Ceasefire Comes into Effect Under US-Russia Deal

Tentative truce brokered by the US and Russia begins across Syria, but there are concerns about whether it will hold.   A nationwide ceasefire in Syria brokered by the United States and Russia began at sundown on Monday, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, but there are concerns about whether it will hold. Several hours into the ceasefire, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said major conflict zones across the country were quiet. “Calm is prevailing,” said SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman, adding, however, that there had been light shelling by both rebel groups and government forces in the country’s southwest. The deal, agreed to on Friday by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, aims at putting an end to fighting and moving towards a political transition after more than five years of war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and...

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Are We Near the End of NATO?

by JOHN FEFFER – Problems with Turkey, Eastern Europe, and Donald Trump could tear the rickety alliance apart at the seams. If the number of eager applicants on a waiting list determines the strength of a club, then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is in fine fettle. At its most recent gathering in July, NATO welcomed its 29th member — Montenegro — which means that the alliance now outnumbers the European Union. Nearby Macedonia has been waiting for 17 years to be let in the door only to have Greece block entrance every time because of a longstanding dispute over Macedonia’s name. Bosnia also wants in but must first overcome its internal divisions. Georgia’s membership, too, has been on hold, for fear of inciting Russia’s wrath, though that hasn’t prevented the country from hosting U.S.-NATO military exercises. Perhaps more surprising, the traditionally neutral Scandinavian states of Sweden and Finland have...

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With Civilian Deaths Rising, Efforts to Block US-Saudi Arms Sale Gain Steam

by Deirdre Fulton – With clock ticking in Congress, US senators prepare push against $1.15 billion arms deal Opposition is growing on Capitol Hill and beyond to the U.S. government’s planned sale of $1.15 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, whose U.S.-backed coalition has wreaked devastation and displacement on the Yemeni population. Citing “multiple congressional aides,” Foreign Policy reported Wednesday that “Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut are preparing legislation, to be filed this week, opposing the U.S. package of tanks, ammunition, and machine guns to Saudi Arabia.” According to Foreign Policy : The measure is expected to take the form of a non-binding resolution of disapproval that would receive a floor vote in about two weeks. But the two senators are also considering binding legislation that would block the proposed sale if they sense that the measure would pass, according to congressional aides. This comes on...

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Syria’s War: HNC Unveils Roadmap for Transition (VIDEOS)

Assad must go after six months of talks, HNC says, adding it will reject any US-Russia deal that strays from its terms Syria’s main opposition bloc has put forward a plan for a political transition and a ceasefire to end more than five years of civil war in the country. The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said on Wednesday that the proposed process would start with six months of negotiations aimed at setting up a transitional administration made up of figures from the opposition, the government and civil society. Syrian government blamed for Aleppo chemical attack President Bashar al-Assad would be required to leave office at the end of those six months, the bloc, which represents Syria’s political and armed opposition factions, said at a meeting in London attended by foreign ministers from around the world. The transitional body would then run the country for 18 months, after which there would be elections....

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Gary Johnson Displays Stunning Foreign Policy Ignorance On ‘Morning Joe’ (VIDEO)

by Shannon Barber – Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has been seen as an alternative to Donald Trump for many Republicans and other right-leaning types who can’t stomach their own party’s nominee and don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. However, that prospect likely just went right out the window for many people after a Thursday morning question that revealed Johnson’s ignorance when it comes to foreign policy. Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and when asked about what he would do about Aleppo, he actually asked, “What is Aleppo?” Veteran columnist and frequent Morning Joe panelist Mike Barnacle looked at Johnson with the rest of the panel, visibly stunned. He responded, “You’re kidding.” Johnson said, with a blank stare, “No.” In case anyone here is as clueless as Gary Johnson is on this matter, Aleppo is the largest city in Syria, and the heart of the refugee crisis. It’s...

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Iraqi Woman Uses Chilcot Report in War Crimes Lawsuit Against George W. Bush

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – Sundus Saleh, an Iraqi woman, first filed her lawsuit against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz in September 2013. Alleging that the Iraq War constituted an illegal crime of aggression, Saleh filed the suit on behalf of herself and other Iraqis in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The district court dismissed Saleh’s lawsuit in December 2014, saying the defendants acted within the scope of their employment when they planned and carried out the Iraq War. Saleh then appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In her appeal, Saleh is arguing that the Bush officials were acting from personally held convictions that the US should invade Iraq, regardless of any legitimate policy reasons, and that theyknowingly lied to the public when they fraudulently tied Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and...

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Turkish Tanks Enter Syria in New Front Against ISIL (VIDEO)

Turkey sends in more tanks west of Jarablus, opening a new front in its battle against ISIL positions on the border Turkey has sent more tanks into northern Syria to the west of a border town seized from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group last week, opening a new front in its cross-border intervention aimed at sweeping the hardline group from the area. Saturday’s developments come after Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels seized the strategic border town Jarablus from ISIL on August 25. Turkey and Syrian rebel forces are now continuing an offensive against ISIL in the area, with rebels capturing several other towns on Saturday close to the border with Turkey. “Today, the rebel factions managed to take control of the villages of Arab Ezza, al-Fursan, and have moved towards Lilwa,” Ahmed Othman, a commander in the pro-Turkey rebel group Sultan Murad, told Al Jazeera from Aleppo’s northern...

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ISIL Spokesman Adnani ‘Killed in Syria’s Aleppo’

ISIL-linked website says Adnani, the group’s main spokesman, was killed while monitoring operations in Aleppo province The main spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, has been killed in the Syrian province of Aleppo, according to an ISIL-linked website. Amaq, the ISIL-affiliated media outlet, said on Tuesday that Adnani was killed while monitoring military operations in Aleppo. Inside Story – Can air strikes alone defeat ISIL? Adnani, described as ISIL’s second most senior leader, has been one of the group’s longest-serving figures. The details of Adnani’s reported death remain unclear. Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington DC, said there was no immediate comment or confirmation from US officials of his death. “Sources within the Pentagon are being fairly cryptic when it comes to reports that Adnani is in fact dead,” she said. “What they will say is that the US-led coalition...

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Libyan Forces Make Final Push to Retake Sirte from ISIL

Dozens of fighters loyal to UN-backed government killed in clashes with ISIL as the “final battle for Sirte” begins Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government have pushed into the last areas of Sirte held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they press a months-long offensive to retake the coastal city from the armed group’s fighters. Sunday’s advance saw fighters loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) “enter the last areas held by Daesh in Sirte: district number one and district number three”, a government spokesman said, according to the AFP news agency. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIL, which is also known as ISIS. “The final battle for Sirte has started,” Reda Issa said, adding that about 1,000 fighters allied with the GNA were taking part in the offensive. In a statement on its Facebook page, the city’s field hospital said 34 pro-GNA...

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Held 14 Years Without Charge, CIA Torture ‘Guinea Pig’ Abu Zubaydah Asks for Freedom

by Lauren McCauley – Zubaydah was the CIA’s first captive after 9/11 and was accused of being one of the highest ranking leaders of al Qaeda, though that claim has been officially recanted After 14 years of being held without charge, Guantánamo prisoner Abu Zubaydah, who was subject to brutal torture and is known as the “guinea pig” for the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “enhanced interrogation program,” made his first appearance on Tuesday before the Periodic Review Board and requested to be set free. In a statement (pdf) read by his personal representative, he explained how he “initially believe that he did not have any chance or hope to be released” but has “come to believe that he might have a chance to leave Guantánamo.” Further, Zubaydah “expressed a desire to be reunited with his family and begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture.” Among other...

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John Bolton, Trump’s Likely Secretary of State, Is Addicted to Regime Change

by Matt Purple – How does this square with the candidate’s stated foreign policies? When George W. Bush nominated John Bolton to be his ambassador to the United Nations in 2005, it was cathartic for many conservatives, who had been stewing for years over the bureaucracy at Turtle Bay. A working-class guy from Baltimore with a Yosemite Sam mustache, Bolton had once opined that if U.N. headquarters “lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” It was easy to imagine him hurling abuse and possibly heavy objects at gelatinous U.N. functionaries as they fled down the hallway. Alas, Senate Democrats filibustered Bolton’s nomination, limiting him to a recess appointment. His term was brief, controversial, and idealistic, as he set about trying to reform the U.N.’s farcical and mass murderer-dominated Human Rights Commission, which earned him rare praise from the New York Times. So when Donald Trump announced he was...

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Syria War: Manbij Celebrates Liberation from ISIL (VIDEOS)

Coalition claims control of city on supply route between Turkish border and Raqqa after two months of heavy fighting BATTLE FOR MANBIJ Celebrations have erupted in the Syrian city of Manbij, with civilians pouring onto the streets and rebel fighters claiming they have “liberated” all of the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Scenes of jubilation could be seen in many neighbourhoods of the city over the weekend, with men clipping their beards, women lifting their veils and people smoking in public. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance consisting of Arab and Kurdish fighters, said on Sunday that they were in control of all of Manbij, which had been held by ISIL, also known as ISIS, since 2014. Nasser Haj Mansour, an adviser to the SDF, said that Manbij was “under full control,” adding that search operations were ongoing to try find any...

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