War & Conflict

North Korea ‘Fails’ in New Missile Test: South

South Korean and US officials say they have detected a failed missile launch attempt by North Korea. A new North Korean missile test appeared to have ended in failure, according to South Korean and US officials. The reported failed launch on Wednesday came during large-scale annual military drills involving US and South Korean forces that the North has called a rehearsal for an invasion. Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement that Pyongyang fired one missile from an air base in the eastern port of Wonsan but the launch was believed to had failed. “We are in the process of analysing what type of missile it was,” it added. The statement came after Japan’s Kyodo news service, citing an unidentified government source, said the North might have launched several missiles and that they were a failure. A US military spokesman also said they had detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with...

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Rebels Launch Second Damascus Attack in Three Days

Government forces and rebels engaged in fresh fighting as rebel offensive near Jobar neighbourhood enters third day. Syrian rebels stormed a government-held area in northeastern Damascus for the second time in three days, sources on both sides said, pressing the boldest assault on the capital by opposition fighters in several years. The spokesman for one of the main rebel groups involved in the attack said the new offensive began at 0300 GMT, targeting an area rebel fighters had seized from government control on Sunday before being forced to retreat. “We launched the new offensive and we restored all the points we withdrew from on Monday. We have fire control over the Abassiyin garages and began storming it,” Wael Alwan, spokesman of rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, told Reuters. Syrian government hits back at rebels after Damascus assault Failaq al-Rahman rebels are fighting alongside fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and...

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ISIL After Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry

by Alia Brahimi – As the battle for Mosul reaches its final stages, what we are witnessing is ISIL’s transformation, not its demise. “The battle now is in the final stages,” Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi said on March 14 of the government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL. “They are cornered, and if they will not surrender they will definitely get killed.” While the impending combat threatens to be circuitous and uncertain – involving, as it will, fighting among civilians in the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – Abadi’s confidence about the final outcome appears to be warranted. But what will be the broader repercussions of Mosul’s liberation for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)? Back to insurgency WATCH: More than 76,000 flee Mosul’s war zone (2:30) Firstly, on the tactical level, ISIL will continue to devolve into an insurgency –...

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Israel Carries Out Air Strikes Inside Syria (VIDEO)

Fighter jets bomb multiple targets, prompting Syrian retaliation with ground-to-air missiles, Israeli army says. The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria overnight, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted. It was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011. In response of Thursday night’s attack, the Syrian government deployed air defence systems and fired a number of missiles towards Israeli jets, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. None of the missiles struck the jets, the army said, though one of the projectiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defence system north of Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. “Overnight … aircraft targeted several targets in Syria,” an Israeli army statement said. “Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and aerial...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Cambodia Outraged as US Demands Repayment of ‘Blood-Stained’ War Debt

by Nika Knight – The US dropped more than 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Cambodians are responding with outrage to the U.S. government’s demand that the country repay a nearly 50-year-old loan to Cambodia’s brutal Lon Nol government, which came to power through a U.S.-backed coup and spent much of its foreign funds purchasing arms to kill its own citizens, according to Cambodia’s current prime minister Hun Sen. While the U.S. was backing the Lon Nol government, it was also strafing the Cambodian countryside with bombs—a carpet-bombing campaign that would eventually see over 500,000 tons of explosives dropped on the small Asian country, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and leaving a legacy of unexploded ordnances. “ dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF not to lend us...

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Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

by Adam Hudson, Truthout | Report – Before Barack Obama left office, he released 10 detainees from Guantánamo to Oman. Among them was Abdul Zahir, a 45-year-old man from Afghanistan. Zahir was detained at Guantánamo for 14 years, even though the US government later admitted that he was wrongfully held. He was mistaken for another man who shared his nickname, Abdul Bari. Zahir’s story exemplifies the cruelty of Guantánamo and the policies of indefinite detention and torture, which will, in all likelihood, continue with Trump as president. “I want to leave behind the bad things that happened to me while I have been imprisoned. I want to focus on the positive things ahead of me, seeing my family again, studying at university and perhaps being able to help others,” Zahir said, according a press release provided by his lawyers before he left Guantánamo. Zahir has three sons and speaks Arabic, Pashto and some Urdu,...

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US says ‘All Options on Table’ to Deal with North Korea (VIDEOS)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley calls Kim Jong-un arrogant and not ‘a rational person’. The United States has said “all options are on the table” to deal with North Korea. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after the United Nations Security Council discussed Pyongyang’s launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday. “We are not dealing with a rational person,” said Haley. “It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong-un at this time.” China urges US and North Korea to avoid ‘head-on collision’ She said the administration of US President Donald Trump was reevaluating how it would handle North Korea and that “all options were on the table”. “We are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly,” Haley said. North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan’s...

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Trump Spreads Lie About Obama Releasing Gitmo Prisoners

by Laurel Raymond – Trump doesn’t just get his news from Fox News. He takes it and runs with it. President Donald Trump began his Tuesday by live tweeting statistics from Fox News — and embroidering the media coverage on Fox to spread a falsehood about how which Guantanamo detainees former President Barack Obama released. While the statistic had appeared on Fox shortly before, the falsehood was Trump’s own extrapolation. At 6:13 a.m. during a news rundown, Fox News mentioned the death of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Yasir al-Silmi, who was killed in an air strike on Yemen on March 2nd. “A win in the war on terror, the Trump administration just killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama, Yasir al-Silmi,” the segment went. “He had been released back in 2009 even though the department of defense recommended that he stay behind bars. 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to...

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Father Of Slain SEAL Demands Investigation Into His Botched Yemen Raid

by John Prager – Donald Trump’s botched Yemen raid left 30 civilians — including an 8-year-old American girl and other women and children — dead, as well as a Navy SEAL. Trump has been largely silent about the death of William “Ryan” Owens, and with good reason: it was his negligence that caused it. An 11-year-old child was the first to be struck by a bullet after he heard a commotion outside. Many more children as young as three months old would lose their lives in the bloodbath that was Trump’s first military operation. Trump, in his haste to approve the operation over dinner without adequate “intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations” according to military officials, failed to kill his primary target. All that we have to show from the botched mission are a few training videos the Trump administration touted as evidence of their success. The videos have been...

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McMaster’s Challenge: His Boss Is Already Making America Less Safe

by Vikram Singh and Peter Juul – At a time when the Trump administration continues to spark an immediate and growing national security crises due to mismanagement and reckless policies, the national security community felt great relief at the president’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as the next national security advisor. McMaster will be tasked with resolving a number of serious foreign policy blunders already committed by the new administration. President Trump must ensure that McMaster has the authority and tools to deal with the following seven problems. Chaotic and dysfunctional management. Even before former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s forced resignation, President Trump’s National Security Council proved disturbingly dysfunctional. For example, U.S. military officials told Reuters that the president “approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” The operation in Yemen was launched with no normal process and resulted in the...

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Iraqi Forces Take Control of Mosul Airport (VIDEO)

Iraqi forces storm ISIL-held Mosul International Airport as they continue offensive on western half of the city. US-backed Iraqi security forces closing in on the ISIL-held western half of Mosul have stormed the city’s airport and a nearby military base, state television said. Counterterrorism service (CTS) troops and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response forces descended on the airport early on Thursday and the nearby Ghazlani military complex, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told state TV. Iraqi army hits ISIL positions amid Mosul airport push “This is one of the major achievements that the Iraqi forces were hoping to get in the first phase of going towards the Western side of the city,” said Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Erbil. “This area is about 30 kms away from the western edge of the city, and Iraqi forces now say that they are in full control. “They...

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Iraqi Forces Push Into ISIL-Held Southern Mosul

Troops backed by jets battle their way to Mosul airport, as US defence chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit. Iraqi security forces have pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new offensive to drive ISIL fighters from the city’s western half, as US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit. Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport on Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s stronghold in the city’s west bank. “The federal police has resumed its advance … Our cannons are targeting Daesh defence lines with heavy fire,” federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat said, using and Arabic acronym for ISIL, also known as ISIS. INSIDE STORY: Will the latest Iraqi offensive mean the end of ISIL in Mosul? (25:10) The main...

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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to Seize Oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders. Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Under the president’s deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL. And any plan is likely to depend on US and coalition troops working with and through the local forces in both countries. “We’re going to make...

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Trump Walks Back Years of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East (VIDEO)

by E.A. Crunden – The president says he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution. The two-state solution as we know it may be over. Speaking during a press conference Wednesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump failed to commit his support for a future Palestinian state, saying that he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution and that he would defer to whatever solution might be preferred by both parties. “I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.” Trump’s comments are an ominous sign that a shift is coming, and a dramatic shift away from decades of U.S. foreign policy. Broad bipartisan support exists for the two-state solution and few U.S. presidents have seen fit to rock...

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Trump’s Over Dinner Commando Raid Loses an Ally in the Fight Against Extremists

by Mark Sumner – It’s amazing. Donald Trump has said the magic words “radical Islamic terrorism,” and yet it doesn’t seem to have caused all opposition to dry up and blow away. In fact, Trump’s Muslim ban has proven to be a gift to enemies. The beneficiaries of this policy have been extremists, who can now say across the Muslim world: “The US will never help you.” And in his first military action — approved over dinner with Bannon and Kushner — Trump has created a costly catastrophe that has had drawn mockery from the terrorists it was mean to target and made the fight that much harder. Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials. Also not helping the situation: A delusional White House...

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ISIL Fighters ‘Besieged’ in Syria’s al-Bab in Aleppo (VIDEO)

ISIL is now surrounded by Syrian army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, monitoring group says. Syrian government forces have advanced on the ISIL-held city of al-Bab, cutting off the last supply route that connects it to the armed group’s strongholds further east towards Iraq, according to a monitoring group. ISIL fighters in the area are now effectively surrounded by the Syrian army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, as Damascus and Ankara race to capture the largest stronghold of the armed group in Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday. Syrian rebels meet fierce ISIL resistance in al-Bab The British-based war monitor, which tracks developments in Syria’s conflict, added that the army and allied militia had made gains southeast of al-Bab overnight and fought ISIL there on Monday. Backed by air strikes, they severed a road...

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Echoes of Iraq Heard in Latest Threats Against Iran

by Ben Schreiner – (Screenshot via CNN) Marx offered that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.  A mere two weeks into the reign of a new administration in Washington, it appears the farce has already commenced. In an eerie parallel to the George W. Bush administration’s fevered fixation on “regime change” in Iraq from its very earliest days, the freshly minted Donald Trump administration has wasted little time in laying the groundwork for a disastrous military confrontation with Iran. Appearing before the White House press corps last Wednesday, Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn provocatively boasted that the administration was now “officially putting Iran on notice.” The following day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to further explain Flynn’s “on notice” broadside by carelessly conflating a Saudi naval vessel with an American vessel and Yemeni Houthi rebels with Iranian forces.  According to Spicer, Iran is “on notice”...

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NATO Calls on Russia to Stop Violence in Ukraine

NATO chief says Russia must end the violence as both sides move heavy artillery close to front line. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to use its “considerable influence” to end fighting in eastern Ukraine after a renewed surge in violence there. Moscow-backed rebels and government forces have trade blame for the flare-up in the industrial east that has seen the highest casualty rate since mid-December and cut off power and water to thousands of civilians on both sides of the front line. The shelling eased on Wednesday, but the January 29 to 31 clashes near the Kiev-held front line town of Avdiyivka brought the festering conflict back into focus amid warnings of a looming humanitarian crisis. “We call for an immediate return to the ceasefire,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels. “We call on Russia to use its considerable influence over the separatists to bring the violence...

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White House says Raid that Killed Civilians and a SEAL was ‘Successful Operation by all Standards’

by Aaron Rupar – Military officials said the Trump administration acted on insufficient intelligence. During his press conference on Thursday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer characterized President Trump’s first military raid — an action against al Qaeda in Yemen on Sunday that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and many civilians — as a “successful operation by all standards.” “It’s hard to ever call something a complete success when you have loss of life or people injured, but I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions and probably throughout the world, in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards,” Spicer said. Yemeni officials say 16 civilians — eight women and eight children — were killed, while medics at the scene said the number of...

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U.S. Military Officials Find that Trump’s First Counterterrorism Operation was Unprepared

by First Amendment – What a clusterf**k. Donald Trump is totally unprepared to run our country. Trump administration is a complete disaster. They can only be counted on to f**k up anything they touch. Trump administration drops SEAL team into reinforced Al Qaeda base that was defended by landmines and snipers and without sufficient intelligence, ground support and adequate backup preparations! Women and children killed in fierce firefight. SEAL team member killed. Totally unprepared and it cost many lives. We heard about Benghazi for months and just two weeks into Trumpland they have this massive screw up. Will there be outrage from Republicans? Don’t count on it, as they’re drunk with power and couldn’t care less. Without any conscience or sense of duty to country coming from Republicans, this will almost certainly be repeated. mobile.reuters.com/… U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens died in the raid on a branch of al Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al Bayda province, which the Pentagon said also killed 14...

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Israel Begins Evacuation of Illegal Amona Outpost

Israeli police move to clear West Bank settlement as construction of 3,000 new settler homes announced elsewhere. Hundreds of Israeli border police have entered a hardline Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank Wednesday to evict its residents after a court ruled the homes were built on private Palestinian land. Hundreds of officers marched into the Amona outpost near Ramallah on Wednesday, just hours after the Israeli government announced that another 3,000 more illegal homes would be built in occupied Palestinian territory. The officers’ evacuation of Amona marked the end of months of attempts by government hardliners to legalise the outpost, and the approval over the past two weeks of nearly 5,000 new settler homes elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories was widely seen as a move to win their support. There had been fears of violence after hundreds of hardline sympathisers of the settlers slipped past army roadblocks on...

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White House is ‘Putting Iran on Notice’ While Ignoring Russia’s Alleged Escalation in Ukraine

by Aaron Rupar – Iran test-fired a missile. Russia is accused of escalating an illegal war. During the White House press conference on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the administration is “officially putting Iran on notice” in response to the country recently test-firing a ballistic missile. Flynn — a staunch opponent of the Iran nuclear deal who last year tweeted on separate occasions that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” and dared “Arab & Persian world ‘leaders’ to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed” — blamed Obama for the alleged provocation. “The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s actions — including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. “The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk. President Trump has severely criticized the...

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LA Converts Abandoned Motels into Apartments for Homeless Veterans

by Brianna Acuesta – This creative solution is helping hundreds of homeless veterans find housing. Cities around the world have implemented countless programs and methods to combat homelessness on their streets, especially when many of those homeless people at one point fought in their country’s military. Though many programs fail to meet the needs of homeless people, some are successful in permanently housing these people and even addressing the problems that caused them to turn to the streets in the first place. One such program is an idea adopted by the city of Los Angeles and the organizations working inside the huge city to end homelessness. When the infrastructure of the city began to change, motels that were once constantly busy turned into financial black holes that were no longer viable. As a result, many of these broken down motels were closed and abandoned, becoming useless until Step Up, a group...

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Trump and Bannon’s “America First”

by Robert Reich – Donald Trump has reorganized the National Security Council – elevating his chief political strategist Steve Bannon, and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bannon will join the NSC’s principals committee, the top inter-agency group advising the President on national security. Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend meetings only when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed,” according to the presidential memorandum issued Saturday. Political strategists have never before participated in National Security Council principals meetings because the NSC is supposed to give presidents nonpartisan, factual advice. But forget facts. Forget analysis. This is the Trump administration. And what does Bannon have to bring to the table? In case you forgot, before joining Donald Trump’s inner circle Bannon headed Breitbart News, a far-right...

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Mikhail Gorbachev: Appears ‘The World Is Preparing for War’

by Andrea Germanos – ‘Wars must be outlawed, because none of the global problems we are facing can be resolved by war,’ writes former Soviet leader. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that it appears “as if the world is preparing for war.” Writing in an op-ed published Thursday at TIME magazine, Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War, writes that the most pressing problem facing the world is “the militarization of politics and the new arms race.” State budgets, he continues, claim austerity to sacrifice social spending, but easily back funding for weapons of war. At the same time, he writes of the buildup on Russia’s borders: “NATO and Russian forces and weapons” are now in close proximity “as if to shoot point-blank.” He continues: Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and...

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Federal Hiring Freeze will Kneecap Veterans more than Perhaps any Other Group

by Kerry Eleveld – Without bothering to check the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Monday that Donald Trump’s hiring freeze on nonmilitary federal employees would combat the “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” But the only thing it will actually combat is veterans’ services and employment opportunities. Federal hiring has been significantly outpaced “in recent years” by the increase in civilian hiring—rising only about 3 percent from 2014 to 2016, compared to a 4.9 percent jump in civilian workers. Christopher Ingraham writes: As a share of the total civilian workforce, in percentage terms, the federal workforce is smaller than it’s been in nearly 70 years. There’s considerable doubt about the efficacy of hiring freezes as a federal management tool. A 1982 Government Accountability Office report found that “governmentwide hiring freezes, regardless of how well they are managed, are not an effective means of controlling federal employment.” The report...

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UN Condemns Huge Israeli Settlement Plan (VIDEO)

UN joins EU in denouncing Israeli move, as Palestinians call on more support against illegal settlement activity. The United Nations has denounced recent Israeli initiatives to accelerate settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory, stressing that “unilateral actions” are an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution. “For the secretary-general there is no plan B for the two-states solution,” UN chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday. “In this respect any unilateral decision that can be an obstacle to the two-state goal is of grave concern for the secretary-general.” Israel approved a plan to build 2,500 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, two days after it accepted building permits for more than 500 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The biggest settlement plan announced since 2013, it comes close after the election of US President Donald Trump, who has not been critical of...

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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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