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24 Jun

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

The War Criminals

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell who sold us the war still go on doing what they do.

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago Mr. Bush was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.)

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

War News

ALJ: An unworthy war? US/UK reporting on Yemen

As the assault on Hudaida makes news, we examine flaws in coverage of the war in Yemen. Plus, chemical attacks in Syria.

Contributors:
Piers Robinson, chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism, University of Sheffield
Alex Emmons, reporter, The Intercept
Shireen al-Adeimi, assistant professor, Michigan State University
Hashem Ahelbarra, senior correspondent, Al Jazeera

On The Listening Post this week: As the assault on Hudaida makes news, we examine flaws in coverage of the wider war in Yemen. Plus, the warring narratives around chemical attacks in Syria.

How US and UK media report the war in Yemen

A conflict described by Amnesty International as the “forgotten war”, Yemen has found itself in the news this past week.

The reason was an assault by the combined forces of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the port city of Hudaida. While it’s the Saudi-led coalition that has waged this war for the past three years, many media outlets describe Yemen as a proxy war, hence the term ‘Iran-backed Houthi rebels’.

But what about the US and the UK whose weapons sales and military assistance have enabled the Gulf states to carry on the war?

For British and US journalists that should make Yemen a foreign war with plenty of domestic angles. But you wouldn’t know it from the kind of coverage – and the overall lack of it.

GUARD: UK ‘hides extent of arms sales to Saudi Arabia’

Campaigners say licences for ‘less sensitive goods’ are being used for bombs that hit civilian targets in Yemen

The Republican Palace, destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen.

The Republican Palace, destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of British-made missiles and bombs have been sold to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen under an opaque licensing system that makes tracking arms sales more difficult.

The disclosure has prompted accusations that the government is trying to mask the true extent of British-made arms exports to Saudi, a claim denied by the Department for International Trade.

Britain’s role in selling weapons to the Saudis is attracting controversy amid the kingdom’s operations in Yemen, where thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced in a proxy war.

Human rights groups allege that the Saudi-led coalition backing the country’s government has been targeting civilian infrastructure and buildings, something that would constitute a war crime. Iran-backed Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-led coalition have also been accused of committing war crimes against civilians in the key port city of Hodeidah, now the scene of heavy fighting and where there are fears of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Britain has consistently said that it keeps all arms exports under close scrutiny and that licensing is made on a case-by-case basis. But now a freedom of information request reveals that for the last five years, Britain has been selling Storm Shadow and Brimstone air-to-surface missiles and Paveway IV bombs to the Saudis under what are known as Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs), which the government says are for the export of “less sensitive goods”………….“Open licences issued in the years before Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war are still being used for the export of hundreds of millions of pounds of bombs today. If it were not for this Observer report neither parliament nor the committee tasked with scrutinising arms exports, on which I sit, would have any idea that these weapons are being sent,” said Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who sits on the Commons committee on arms export controls.

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GUARD: You’re on your own, US tells Syrian rebels, as Assad goes on offensive

Russian jets make first foray into south-west as government ramps up campaign to regain strategic area

The US has warned Syrian rebels in the south-west of the country they should not expect military support to help them resist a major government offensive.

The message from Washington comes as Russian jets struck an opposition-held town on Sunday in the first air cover provided by Moscow to an expanding Syrian army offensive in the strategic area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The US message sent to heads of the Free Syrian Army said Washington wanted to make clear that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us”.

The Syrian army began ramping up its assault last week in order to recapture the area.

Washington had warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian allies that violations of a “de-escalation” zone agreed by the US and Russia last year would have “serious repercussions” and pledged “firm and appropriate measures”…………“We in the United States government understand the difficult conditions you are facing and still advise the Russians and the Syrian regime not to undertake a military measure that violates the zone,” the message also said.

The advice seems to be going unheeded by the Russians. Two tracking centres that monitor military aircraft movements recorded at least 20 strikes on Busra al-Harir, north-east of Daraa, two sources told Reuters.

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REU: Syria pounds rebel areas in south, thousands flee to border zone

AMMAN (Reuters) – The Syrian army and allied forces pounded rebel-held areas of the southwest as thousands of civilians fled to safer opposition held areas along the border with Jordan and Israel, aid workers and rebels said.

FILE PHOTO: Men inspect a damaged house in Busra al-Harir town, near Deraa, Syria March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Faqir/File Photo

They said hundreds of families with their personal belongings had arrived in the last two days in the towns of Tayba and Mataiyah, just a few kilometers from the heavily patrolled border with Jordan.

Busra al Harir, Nahta, Maliha and a sting of towns and villages east of Deraa city have borne the brunt of a ramped up assault by the Syrian army begun last week. It is targeting opposition areas in the strategic region bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Thousands of Syrians also fled frontline opposition-held villages of Masahra and Hara in the Quneitra province to makeshift camps near the border with Israel, where Syrian artillery avoid shelling, two residents said.

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REU: Iraq bombs meeting of Islamic State leaders in Syria: military

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq has launched an air attack on a gathering of Islamic State leaders inside neighboring Syria, killing 45 members of the hardline militant group, its military said on Saturday.

F-16 fighter jets destroyed three houses on Friday which were connected by a trench in the town of Hajin, where the leaders were meeting.

Those killed included high profile targets such as the group’s “deputy war minister”, one of its “media emirs”, its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s personal courier and its chief of police, the military said in a statement.

Islamic State, which once occupied a third of Iraq’s territory, has been largely defeated in the country but still poses a threat along the border with Syria.

“Iraqi F-16 jets carried out a successful air strike that targeted a meeting of Daesh leaders … in the Hajin area within Syrian territory. The operation resulted in the complete destruction of the targets, and the killing of around 45 terrorists,” the military’s Joint Operations Command said.

Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

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NYT: In About-Face, Iraq’s Maverick Al-Sadr Moves Closer to Iran

BAGHDAD — Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq’s parliamentary elections last month, campaigned on a platform to end sectarian politics and replace it with a government that puts Iraqis first.

Instead, he has forged a postelection coalition with a rival Shiite bloc that includes some of the most powerful militias operating in Iraq — groups that get their funding and support from Tehran.

The deal underscores the active role Iran is taking in shaping the next government of Iraq, sending key military and spiritual advisers to revive a grand coalition of Shiite parties as a conduit for its influence in Baghdad. It also illustrates how Iran has gained sway over al-Sadr, who once called for booting foreign influence from Iraq.

Two Shiite politicians with inside knowledge of the party talks told The Associated Press that the new coalition between al-Sadr’s Sa’eroun bloc and Hadi al-Amiri’s Fatah bloc came on the heels of intensive Iranian lobbying, including visits by the influential Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the highly respected son of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who met with al-Sadr earlier this month………”This coalition is a product of Iran’s desire to influence internal forces in Iraq,” said Wathiq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies. “But besides the Shiite National Alliance, there will be a Sunni alliance and a Kurdish alliance, and a return of sectarianism among all the armed blocs and factions… This is the most dangerous thing in Iraq right now.”

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NYT: Iraqi Political Alliance Unites a U.S. Friend and Foe

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an American ally, and the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, a longtime foe of the United States, said on Saturday that they had become political allies in an effort to form a new government in the wake of widely discredited elections.

The announcement, made in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in a meeting between the two leaders, came as a surprise to many political observers, especially because Mr. Sadr — the top vote-getter — had already announced an alliance with a pro-Iranian Shiite leader, Hadi al-Ameri. Mr. Ameri was second in the polls, while Mr. Abadi was third.

“This is a call for an alliance that is nonsectarian and rejects ethnic politics in order to include all of the Iraqi people,” Mr. Sadr said at a joint news conference with Mr. Abadi, who is still the prime minister until the new parliament sits on July 1 and elects his replacement………..American military officials, who still have 4,500 troops in Iraq and Syria fighting against the Islamic State, and are active in training and advising Iraqi troops, face a difficult decision in how to deal with a government dominated by Mr. Sadr and other militia leaders like Mr. Ameri, who have close ties to Tehran at a time when the Trump administration has repudiated the nuclear agreement with Iran.

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NYT: Islamic State-Free Sunni Women or Iraqi Security Men Die

BAGHDAD — Islamic State militants have kidnapped six members of Iraq’s security forces and threatened to kill them in three days unless the government releases Sunni Muslim female prisoners, the group said on Saturday.

In a video posted by the group’s Amaq news agency, six men with visible injuries on their faces appear sitting on the floor with two masked gunmen, pointing assault rifles at them, standing behind. Islamic State’s black banner hangs in the background.

Iraq’s military spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

In the video, the men identify themselves as members of Iraq’s police or the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella grouping of mostly Shi’ite Iran-backed militias that fought with government forces against Islamic State and nominally report to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

“I implore the central government of Haider al-Abadi and the Anbar provincial government, we are now with the Islamic State, and we have three days. If the demand to release Sunni women from prisons is not met, we will all be killed,” said one of the hostages.

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Ghani welcomes Saudi Imams remarks against the ongoing violence in Afghanistan

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the remarks by the Saudi Imams against the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Speaking with the provincial government and military officials of the 34 provinces via video teleconference, President Ghani welcomed the remarks by Al-Haram and Masjid Nabawi Imams for rejecting the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan as ‘Haram’ or illegitimate.

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Clash among armed robbers and police leaves 5 dead, wounded in Kabul

At least five people including armed robbers and policemen were killed or wounded during an armed clash between the two sides in Kabul city. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said the clash between the armed robbers and the police forces has taken place in the vicinity of the 15th police district of the city. The .

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Pakistani Taliban appoints Noor Wali Mehsud as new leader of the group

The Pakistani Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has announced that the leadership of the group has appointed Noor Wali Mehsud as the successor of Mullah Fazlullah to lead the group. TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani issued a statement on Saturday confirming the appointment of Noor Wali Mehsud as the new leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. He said Muzahim .

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Will Afghans hug you again?!

By: Abdullah Abed “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Afghanistan is among handful of countries in the world which has been bearing the brunt of extremely deadly war for years even decades.  However, recently Afghans witnessed a long-awaited but unsteady breakthrough. The breezy ceasefire initiated by president Ghani and .

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Current Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Color denotes today’s confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Octave Shield.

Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, died June 8, in Somalia of injuries sustained from enemy indirect fire. The incident is under investigation.

Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Spc. Gabriel D. Conde, 22, of Loveland, Colorado, was killed in action April 30 as a result of enemy small arms fire in Tagab District, Afghanistan. The incident is under investign.
Conde was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

 

Iraq A Deadly Deception – War Documentary 2018

WAR DOCUMENTARY: IRAQ A DEADLY DECEPTION ALJAZEERA DOCUMENTARIES 2018 On the evening of 9/11, George W Bush made a vow to the American public – that he would defeat terrorism.
Unknown to those listening in shock to the presidential address, the president and his advisers had already begun planning their trajectory into an invasion of Iraq. It was packaged as “holding responsible the states who support terrorism” by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser between 2001 and 2003.
“I believe it represented a recognition that we would never succeed against the terrorists if we went after them one at a time and as long as governments were facilitating the organisation, training, equipping of, financing of terrorist organisations, we were never going to get it under control,” says Perle.
After 100 days spent fighting those who had become publicly accepted as the culprits – Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan – the US set the ball rolling for war against Iraq.
On the evening of 9/11 the president is saying: well, maybe we’ll be going after Iraq now and somebody said, well, that would be against international law. The president responded: I don’t care, we’re going to kick some ass.

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23 Jun

What happened next to the man with autism whose aide was shot by police


Comment by Commentator: Good article and exposé on the system of residential services for adults with developmental disabilities. It is worth mentioning that the Medicaid waiver referred to in the article (commonly called the HCBS waiver – for “Home and Community-Based Services”) is state specific. Meaning, even though the money is federal, the states administer it. So, if you move from one state to another it doesn’t follow your child. You have to reapply, go to the end of the line, and hope that your new state has the same (or better) eligibility threshold as your old one, offers at least the same array of services (including non-residential), number of service hours, and doesn’t require years of waiting to obtain them. Most states have substantial waiting times. Finally, it would be interesting to know how Soto’s former behavioral aide, Charles Kinsey, is doing today after being shot during the encounter.


Charles Kinsey, with his arms raised, and Arnaldo Rios Soto in 2016. (WNYC)

Arnaldo Rios Soto was filmed on a cellphone video in the summer of 2016 after he walked out of his group home in suburban North Miami and sat in the middle of a quiet intersection holding a silver-colored toy truck that police mistook for a gun.

Soto, who has autism and is nonspeaking, was accompanied by a behavioral aide, an African American man named Charles Kinsey. When police came, Kinsey lay on the ground with his hands in the air, shouting that Soto was not a threat. Nevertheless, an officer fired, wounding Kinsey in the leg and leaving Soto traumatized.

Soto became famous as an illustration of police violence, but nearly two years after the shooting, his story reveals a different problem. People with disabilities are at risk not only of abuse by the police but also by the very systems charged with their care and protection.

America’s disability-services system takes in billions of dollars in Medicaid funding to care for people with disabilities and integrate them into the wider community. It often relies on isolated, institution-like facilities where residents are subjected to physical restraints and antipsychotics to keep challenging behavior under control. Disability-rights advocates have long argued for reform, and under the Obama administration, stricter standards were established for group homes that receive federal funds. Those rules are now being reinterpreted by the Trump administration.

“That’s a huge danger that needs to be guarded against to meaningfully prevent abuse and neglect,” said Shain Neumeier, a Massachusetts-based lawyer and activist with autism who is focused on disability law.

In need of round-the-clock care after the shooting, Soto, then 26, was committed to a hospital psychiatric ward until a new group home could be found. But a stay that should have lasted a few days turned into more than a month as the agency charged with his care, Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or APD, struggled with a lack of suitable options.

The demand for in-home and group-home care is growing nationwide. Advocates say the small, individualized settings provide a better quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities than the rigid structure of institutions. But most states, including Florida, require people to obtain a Medicaid waiver to cover the cost of group homes or in-home services. (Medicaid covers institutional care.) And there are not enough waivers. More than 400,000 Americans were on waiting lists for a waiver in 2016.

APD offered Soto a place at Carlton Palms Educational Center, a care facility for the severely disabled outside Orlando. The state had prohibited the facility from accepting new clients just months earlier because of a spate of abuse reports, according to a settlement agreement, but with few alternatives for Soto’s care, it made an exception.

In the past two years, APD has received more than 680 incident reports related to Carlton Palms, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has responded to the facility more than 100 times. Since 2013, two residents have died, and despite state-mandated video surveillance on campus, video was unavailable for both deaths.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families has substantiated a number of abuse cases, ranging from a staff member striking a resident with a belt to another choking a resident until he nearly lost consciousness. Disability Rights Florida, a federally funded advocacy and protections group, released a report earlier this year finding that Carlton Palms failed to comply with reporting requirements.

The facility is owned by Bellwether Behavioral Health, which also operates homes in Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia. It declined repeated requests for an interview but said in a statement, “When incidents inevitably occur, we strive to address them responsibly.”

Carlton Palms holds a unique designation under Florida’s Medicaid program, as a transitional education program meant to help residents progress to less-restrictive settings. That designation qualifies it to receive funding for community-based services under Medicaid, totaling more than $21 million last year. It also means the facility is not subject to the federal regulations typically applied to institutional facilities.

Yet Carlton Palms bears many of the hallmarks of regimented, institutionalized care. Soto lived among more than 150 residents on a remote five-acre campus. He had set times for meals and going to bed. He lined up with other residents to walk from one building to another.

“There are places like Carlton Palms all across the country,” said Alison Barkoff, director of advocacy at the Center for Public Representation. They are community-based care only in name, she said.

While at Carlton Palms, Soto suffered frequent cuts and scratches on his body, according to his mother, Gladys Soto. And although he was assigned to be continuously monitored, she said, Soto was able to obtain a razor and shave his own head before staff noticed.

Leaving his room at night was risky. Although Soto displayed no signs of violence, his caregivers categorized these late-night strolls as an act of aggression, according to his behavioral therapist, Nikki Keefer, who is not affiliated with the center. She’s watched surveillance footage of staff physically restraining him. “Four or five people would put him down and hold him down,” she said.

Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities declined interview requests, saying it would not comment on individual cases, but it said in a statement that it “has no tolerance for any failure to protect the safety of those in our care.”

Two months before Soto’s arrival, it reached an agreement with Bellwether to close Carlton Palms. At the time, APD said it would complete the closure by March 2019. After the most recent death at Carlton Palms, in March of this year, APD imposed a $10,000 fine on the facility and filed a court case to revoke its license.

Michael J. Martin, the chief executive of Carlton Palms’ parent company, wrote to the Florida APD in response, “We are dismayed by these allegations, many of which we deny outright, and others which we feel are misleading.”

In early May, APD announced that Bellwether plans to cease operations in Florida by the end of the month. APD says it will appoint another company to take over Carlton Palms until all residents are transitioned to other facilities. It will try to retain the same staff.

Bills in the state legislature to shutter Carlton Palms have been introduced in past years but failed.

A review of administrative complaints filed by APD shows that the agency has repeatedly backed down after efforts to penalize the facility. In one case, APD asked for thousands of dollars in fines but settled for increased employee training. In another, it sought a one-year moratorium on admissions but, two months later, settled for more video surveillance. In that same complaint, the agency noted conditions that “threaten the health, safety and welfare” of residents but determined it would be too disruptive to close the facility. Carlton Palms houses about 30 percent of disabled Floridians with challenging behavior who are in residential facilities. With few other qualified group homes in the state, the agency has expressed concerns about where these residents will go.

This lack of alternatives allows providers such as Carlton Palms to convince families that their facilities are the only option to care for their loved ones, said James Toews, a former official within the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Families, in turn, become some of their fiercest champions, putting “tremendous pressure” on elected officials to keep them open, he said.

Denise Cosco enrolled her son at Carlton Palms when he was 14 years old. He’d been kicked out of other group homes because of his aggressive behavior, and when he was home, Cosco says she called 911 several times a month out of fear he would harm himself or others. “I was definitely in a crisis situation,” she said.

After a decade at Carlton Palms, Cosco said staff have helped Gene Cosco control his behaviors and move to a new facility that is less restrictive. “I would not have the son I have today, who is so well behaved, if it were not for Carlton Palms,” she said.

Under the Obama administration in 2014, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, CMS, published a new rule requiring facilities that receive community-service funding to meet certain requirements, such as permitting residents to eat or sleep on their own schedule and allowing them to interact with members of the community who aren’t disabled. Facilities that didn’t comply would lose their designation.

However, states have lobbied to weaken federal oversight in the implementation of those requirements. And under President Trump’s appointee, Seema Verma, a former health-care consultant who has worked closely with a number of state Medicaid programs, CMS is reviewing its guidance on how to execute the rule. It’s expected to grant states greater discretion in determining which facilities meet the new criteria, according to those familiar with the proceedings but not authorized to speak publicly.

In a statement, CMS said it’s weighing input from a variety of parties, but disability-rights advocates are concerned about giving states more power when federal investigations have shown that without oversight states routinely fail to regulate or report improper conduct.

APD has begun transitioning residents to new homes. However, Florida’s budget for closing Carlton Palms includes language allowing it to end the process if the federal rule is invalidated.

Soto is one of about 50 residents who have already left. He now lives with one other man in an Orlando group home. Another intended housemates was one of the two residents who died at Carlton Palms. The recent court case APD filed against Carlton Palms alleges he died after a staff member removed a protective helmet required for his medical safety and taunted him with it. An investigation into the death is ongoing.

Aneri Pattani is the producer and Audrey Quinn is the host of the new podcast series, “Aftereffect,” from WNYC Studios. It takes an in-depth look at Arnaldo Rios Soto’s story and the state of the developmental disability-services system in the United States. Subscribe at AftereffectPodcast.org.

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23 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

In damning report, UN’s poverty monitor hit back at criticisms by Nikki Haley, saying government policies would punish millions of low-income Americans

The UN’s monitor on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, visits residents of the Jobos, Guayama neighborhood in Puerto Rico on 10 December 2017.

The UN’s monitor on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, visits residents of the Jobos, Guayama neighborhood in Puerto Rico on 10 December 2017. Photograph: José Jiménez-Tirado/Getty Imag

The Trump administration has been castigated at the United Nations in Geneva for consciously exacerbating levels of inequality in America that are already the most extreme in the western world.

The excoriating report on the state of the US nation was delivered to a packed hearing of the human rights council on Friday by the UN’s monitor on extreme poverty, Philip Alston. In what is now turning into a battle of words between the US government and international observers, Alston hit back at criticisms that had been leveled at him the previous day by Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN.

Haley complained that it was “patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America”. She accused the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights of political bias and wasting UN money by carrying out a six-month investigation into poverty and inequality in America, saying he should have focused instead on countries like Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Addressing delegations from 46 countries gathered in the chamber of the human rights council, Alston fired back that “when one of the world’s wealthiest countries does very little about the fact that 40 million of its citizens live in poverty, it is entirely appropriate for the reasons to be scrutinized”. He said that the “massive tax cuts” promoted by Trump would “overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy” while other policies pursued by the US government would stigmatize and punish millions of low-income Americans.

In his most caustic comment, Alston threw back at Haley a term that she herself had used to deride the UN human rights council as a “cesspool of political bias”. Alston said that same council that he had seen with his own eyes real cesspools ­– in Alabama, during his tour of poverty hotspots in America.

“I witnessed raw sewage poured into the gardens of people who could never afford to pay $30,000 for their own septic systems.” He added poignantly: “Cesspools need to be cleaned up, and governments need to act.”

Such criticism of the world’s most powerful nation was all the more striking given the absence in the room. That morning, the chair normally occupied by the US delegation to the human rights council in Geneva was removed from the chamber following the decision of the Trump administration on Tuesday to withdraw from membership.

The departure of the US makes it the only country to have pulled out of the world entity since the council was founded in 2006.

Haley said the decision to depart was motivated by anger over the council’s perceived anti-Israeli bias, and about the continued membership within the body of human rights abusers such as Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But there was also growing speculation over whether the timing of the withdrawal had anything to do with Alston’s deeply critical report on poverty in America.

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, asked in a tweet: “Is it just a coincidence that the US withdraws from the UN Human Rights Council two days before it examines the Trump administration’s neglect of poverty in the United States?”

Had the US delegation been present in the council for the hearing, they might have been forgiven for wincing at Alston’s presentation. He accused Haley of wanting to exempt the US from precisely the kind of international accountability over human rights that the Trump administration demanded for other countries.

Turning to the findings of his tour of the US, he noted that maternal mortality rates among African Americans were now almost double those in Thailand. He cited new World Health Organisation data that shows that babies born in China today will live longer healthy lives than babies born in America.

While accepting that the US economy was enjoying a period of growth, Alston said: “But the question is, who is benefiting. The benefits of economic growth are going overwhelmingly to the wealthy.”

Since 1980, he said, the average national income before tax for the bottom half of US income distribution had stagnated at just $16,000, while earnings of the top 1% had soared. “In other words, the American dream of mobility is turning into the American illusion, in which the rich get ever richer and the middle classes don’t move.”

Most ominously, the UN monitor warned that the persistence of extreme poverty in the US would have a knock-on on the health of its democracy. He said such enduring problems “create ideal conditions for small elites to trample on the human rights of minorities, and sometimes even of majorities”.

The warning was echoed by the ACLU, which told the human rights council that under Trump the US was suffering “the erosion of political participation. People living in poverty in the United States are being systematically deprived of their right to vote.”

The ACLU’s Jennifer Turner referred to the more than 6 million Americans who have been disenfranchised as a result of felony convictions. One out of four African Americans in Kentucky, for instance, have been stripped of their votes as a result of felony disenfranchisement.

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World Politics

United States

Two Liars

 

Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders ejected from Virginia restaurant

  • Red Hen in Lexington at centre of social media storm

  • Sanders says asked to leave ‘because I work for POTUS’

Sarah Sanders conducts a White House daily news briefing on Monday. There have been no briefings since.

Sarah Sanders conducts a White House daily news briefing on Monday. There have been no briefings since. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed on Saturday that she was thrown out of a restaurant because she works for Donald Trump.

Social media erupted, with some lavishing praise on the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, for taking a moral stand. Others sympathetic to the president urged a customer boycott.

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for POTUS and I politely left,” Sanders posted on Twitter. “Her actions say far more about her than about me.”

The press secretary added: “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Her father, Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and strong Trump supporter, responded to her tweet by writing: “Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the “Hate Plate”. And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds’.”

Sanders’ banishment comes after Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser responsible for its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, and Kirstjen Nielsen, the cabinet member responsible for enforcing it, were reportedly heckled and hounded out of Mexican restaurants in Washington.

Members of the Trump administration are facing a fierce backlash over the policy that has seen more than 2,300 children separated from their parents at the southern border and tarnished America’s reputation around the world.

Sanders has been notably reluctant to answer questions on the issue. Monday’s White House press briefing was delayed by four hours so Nielsen could fly back from New Orleans to face reporters instead. There were no briefings over the next four days, which is highly unusual.

That seems not to have spared Sanders the wrath of restaurant staff at a Friday night family dinner. Jaike Foley-Schultz, who claims he is a waiter at the restaurant, wrote on Facebook: “I just served Sarah Huckabee Sanders for a total of two minutes before my owner kicked her out along with seven of her other family members.”

Brennan Gilmore, executive director of the progressive group Clean Virginia, tweeted a photo of a handwritten note apparently from the restaurant that includes: “86 — Sara Huckabee Sanders.” The number “86” is industry slang for “throw out”.

Supporters and opponents of the administration swung into action with reviews on the restaurant’s Facebook and Yelp pages. Some gave it one star, others awarded it five. Twitter users traded blows over whether the incident was comparable to the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, which went all the way to the supreme court.

Michael McNamara Sr posted on the Red Hen’s Facebook page: “Better not speak while you’re there because if the staff disagrees with you they will toss you out. Why bother with the hassle? Plenty of real restaurants who serve everyone.”

Sapphire Cianfriglia wrote: “I appreciate how you decided to take a moral standing against an administration that is essentially emulating Nazi Germany (locking up children, letting white supremacists march freely in the streets, etc).”

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Ice was created as part of the response to 9/11. There is no fix for an agency that was designed tear families and communities apart with little oversight

‘There is no reforming an organization based on the idea that mass deportations make us safer.’

‘There is no reforming an organization based on the idea that mass deportations make us safer.’ Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock

Every day I live with the terror that my husband Ravi will be taken away from me and permanently exiled from his home in the United States, where he has lived for almost 25 years.

Ravi is facing deportation because of a criminal conviction for wire fraud from almost 20 years ago, back when he had a green card. As a longtime immigration lawyer and immigrants’ rights advocate, I know our immigration laws are unforgiving. Just about anyone who has a criminal conviction is subject to deportation, without the possibility of ever returning. Ravi is one of thousands facing deportation for this reason, many of whom have been living in the US with permission for years.

Much of what I am living through, along with these thousands of other families, feels like a battle – we are in a fight for our lives. Under the Trump administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has dramatically escalated its tactics. There were more than 143,000 immigration arrests in 2017, a 41% increase from the previous year. Rather than using discretion to allow people to remain in the US, Ice ignores things like humanitarian need, family and community ties, and letters of support. Instead people are methodically and heartlessly torn away from their homes, often in the middle of the night.

In the last several weeks, over 2,000 children have been ripped away from their parents and detained across the US under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, a practice denounced as a human rights violation by the United Nations. Now the administration is trying to detain families indefinitely. Countless families across the country are living with the trauma of having a loved one snatched away, with barely time to react.

Many people across the country have seen Ice’s destructive practices and have called for reforms. Both my personal and professional experiences have led me to believe that this is not sufficient. There is no fix for an agency that was designed to tear apart families and communities and with very little oversight or accountability. There is no reforming an organization based on the idea that mass deportations make us safer. Ice itself must be abolished.

‘Much of what I am living through, along with these thousands of other families, feels like a battle – we are in a fight for our lives.’

‘Much of what I am living through, along with these thousands of other families, feels like a battle – we are in a fight for our lives.’ Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock

Ice is a relatively new agency. It was created in 2003 as part of a government response to 9/11 that included mass surveillance, racial profiling and militarism. Housed within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Ice was positioned to view immigrants as a security threat, rather than as an integral part of communities. Now the agency has over 20,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately $6bn.

Before 2003, immigration enforcement was the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). After the creation of DHS, INS was divided into three separate agencies – Ice, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Although there were significant problems with INS and its immigration enforcement, it did not have as big a budget or as broad a mandate as Ice and CBP, nor the same level of brutality and lack of accountability.

In Ravi’s case, as in so many others, Ice has done its best to avoid accountability at all costs. When the agency refused to issue a stay of deportation and we challenged them in court, they said that the court has no jurisdiction over their decisions. When Ice detained Ravi and members of Congress asked for his release, Ice ignored the request. When hundreds rally to ask Ice not to deport someone, Ice will often deport that person even more quickly. When immigrants are actively and publicly challenging Ice practices, they or their family members are targeted for deportation to keep them quiet.

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23 Jun

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

The War Criminals

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell who sold us the war still go on doing what they do.

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago Mr. Bush was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.)

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

War News

GUARD: Opinion The US demolished Raqqa when they ‘liberated’ it. Who will rebuild it?

A recent Amnesty International report makes clear the cost of America’s ‘war of annihilation’ against Isis 

The McGlynn, a few thoughts

Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are mirror horrors.

The USA attacked and destroyed Iraq,on a false premise, and we knew it. Now we are kidding ourselves that they have a democracy, so it was all worth it. Trump even went as far as saying that we should now own most of their oil. We have been involved for 17 years in a war in Afghanistan, which seems to get worse every year. Add Syria to the total havoc in that area.

Many Americans agree with Trump, that we should not let Muslims into the country. But without our interference there would not be this massive refugee crisis to begin with.

Bernie Sanders said it best. We have spent trillions of dollars in the Middle East, created havoc and now ignore the death and destruction we caused.

The McGlynn

raqqa

‘Once, Isis stalked American nightmares. “Bomb Isis,” Americans demanded. Now, America’s moved on, with little care for the ruins those bombings left.’ Photograph: Amnesty International/PA

Earlier this month, Amnesty International released a report proving that the US-led coalition had committed war crimes in their final push to oust Isis from their capital in Raqqa. Amnesty’s report is harrowing. Thirty-nine members of a single family killed. A father listening to the pleas of his children, buried under rubble, as they slowly died of thirst. A city destroyed. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians dead, not the 21 the US military so risibly claimed.

Unsurprisingly, it barely made a blip in the US media. Once, Isis stalked American nightmares. “Bomb Isis,” Americans demanded. Now, America’s moved on, with little care for the ruins those bombings left.

I spent the last three years writing a book with Marwan Hisham, a journalist from Raqqa, who risked his life reporting undercover during the Isis occupation of his city. In September 2014, Marwan broke the news on Twitter that the US-led coalition had begun its airstrikes – 20 minutes before the Pentagon announced its campaign. Until January 2016, when he finally fled the city, Marwan lived under coalition bombs. These bombs, as well as those dropped by Russia and the Syrian regime, leveled whole neighborhoods. Only a few days after the first strike, coalition bombs claimed Raqqa’s first civilian casualty, a young security guard named Ismail whose body Marwan helped pull from the rubble. As the months wore on, US bombs turned Raqqa into a wasteland of broken buildings and broken bodies, and Marwan watched his neighbors’ eagerness to be rid of Isis morph into horror.

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NYT: Rights Group Warns Blocking Aid in Yemen Endangers Millions

CAIRO — Yemen’s warring parties are obstructing the flow of crucial aid from the Red Sea port of Hodeida endangering millions in what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, an international rights group said. It urged the U.N. Security Council to impose “targeted sanctions” on those responsible for hampering humanitarian assistance and violating international law.

In a report titled “Stranglehold,” Amnesty International blamed Iran-backed rebels known as Houthis for “excessive and arbitrary bureaucratic procedures” that are restricting the movement of humanitarian workers and causing delays in aid delivery across Yemen.

Amnesty cited aid workers in its report as saying the rebels exert influence over who receives aid, where and by which organizations. They also said the Houthis work in a “fragmented manner” that hampers timely distribution of aid.

Several aid workers also described incidents in which the Houthis demanded money to approve aid projects or authorize deliveries, threatening “to cancel projects if a bribe was not paid.”……..”The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s unlawful restrictions on imports, coupled with the Houthis’ harmful interference with aid distribution, are preventing life-saving supplies from reaching Yemenis who desperately need them,” Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said.

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REU: As Hodeidah battle grinds on, residents suffer lack of clean water, electricity

DUBAI (Reuters) – Residents unable to flee Hodeidah face constant bombardment, lack of clean water and power cuts as an Arab coalition battles to capture Yemen’s main port from Iran-aligned Houthis in the biggest battle of a three-year war.

A displaced boy from Hodeidah city carries his brother who is affected by monoplegia, at a school where displaced people live, in Sanaa, Yemen June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

“We hear loud explosions all the time,” Assem Mohammed, a 30-year-old pharmacist, said by telephone. “We haven’t had water for three days.”

Mohammed, with his wife and six-month-old daughter, are among a dwindling number of residents who have remained in Hawak district, a neighborhood sandwiched between the airport, captured this week by the coalition, and the sea port, the latest target of the military offensive.

Drivers transporting fleeing residents out of Hodeidah have more than doubled their fares since the battle began, while the hospital where Mohammed works has threatened employees with dismissal if they are absent for long periods.

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A major offensive in the area close to Israel could risk drawing Washington further into the conflict

Families flee shelling near Deraa in Syria on Friday.

Families flee shelling near Daraa in Syria on Friday. Photograph: Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters

Syrian army helicopters have dropped barrel bombs on opposition areas of the country’s south-west for the first time in a year, reports said, in defiance of American demands that president Bashar al-Assad halt the assault.

Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army this week began ramping up an assault there, threatening a “de-escalation” zone agreed upon by the US and Russia last year.

The US on Thursday reiterated its demand that the zone be respected, warning Assad and his Russian allies of “serious repercussions” of violations. It accused Damascus of initiating air strikes, artillery and rocket attacks.

The UN’s secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, on Friday demanded an immediate end to military escalation in south-western Syria, saying he was “concerned at the significant risks these offensives pose to regional security”.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said earlier on Friday that the Syrian military escalation “unambiguously violates” the de-escalation arrangement and that over 11,000 people had already been displaced.

“Russia will ultimately bear responsibility for any further escalations in Syria,” Haley said in a statement.

A major offensive would risk a wider escalation that could draw the US deeper into the war. The south-west is of strategic concern to Israel, which has this year stepped up attacks on Iran-backed militia allied to Assad.

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REU: Assad defies United States, presses assault in southwest Syria

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on opposition areas of the country’s southwest on Friday for the first time in a year, a war monitor and rebel officials said, in defiance of U.S. demands that President Bashar al-Assad halt the assault.

Children ride on a truck with belongings in Deraa countryside, Syria June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Faqir

Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army this week began ramping up an assault there, threatening a “de-escalation” zone agreed upon by the United States and Russia last year.

The United States on Thursday reiterated its demand that the zone be respected, warning Assad and his Russian allies of “serious repercussions” of violations. It accused Damascus of initiating air strikes, artillery and rocket attacks.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday demanded an immediate end to military escalation in southwestern Syria, saying he was “concerned at the significant risks these offensives pose to regional security,” a spokesman for the U.N. chief said.

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Murder of Herat cleric an unforgivable terrorist act: Ghani

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned the murder of a religious cleric in western Herat province of Afghanistan, calling it a unforgivable terrorist act. The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said President Ghani strongly condemns the murder of religious cleric Jafar Tawakali and has called the perpetrators the enemies of

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Clash among the Taliban and ISIS militants in Laghman province

A clash has taken place between the Taliban and militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan. The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East said the incident took place on Friday in the vicinity of Alingar district. The source further added

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Current Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Color denotes today’s confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Octave Shield.

Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, died June 8, in Somalia of injuries sustained from enemy indirect fire. The incident is under investigation.

Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Spc. Gabriel D. Conde, 22, of Loveland, Colorado, was killed in action April 30 as a result of enemy small arms fire in Tagab District, Afghanistan. The incident is under investign.
Conde was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

 

Iraq A Deadly Deception – War Documentary 2018

WAR DOCUMENTARY: IRAQ A DEADLY DECEPTION ALJAZEERA DOCUMENTARIES 2018 On the evening of 9/11, George W Bush made a vow to the American public – that he would defeat terrorism.
Unknown to those listening in shock to the presidential address, the president and his advisers had already begun planning their trajectory into an invasion of Iraq. It was packaged as “holding responsible the states who support terrorism” by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser between 2001 and 2003.
“I believe it represented a recognition that we would never succeed against the terrorists if we went after them one at a time and as long as governments were facilitating the organisation, training, equipping of, financing of terrorist organisations, we were never going to get it under control,” says Perle.
After 100 days spent fighting those who had become publicly accepted as the culprits – Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan – the US set the ball rolling for war against Iraq.
On the evening of 9/11 the president is saying: well, maybe we’ll be going after Iraq now and somebody said, well, that would be against international law. The president responded: I don’t care, we’re going to kick some ass.

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