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20 Oct

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.

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World Politics

Italy

Italian regions go to the polls in Europe’s latest referendums on autonomy>>

United States

Barack Obama rebukes Donald Trump in all but name – video

Former President Barack Obama, back on the campaign trail for the first time since he left the White House, has appealed for unity in America. Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Obama said: ‘Instead of our politics reflecting our values, we’ve got politics infecting our communities.’ He went on: ‘If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you won’t be able to govern them.’

George W Bush condemns bigotry and lies in coded attack on Trump>>

Trump links UK crime rise to ‘spread of Islamic terror’>>

Was Donald Trump right to blame terrorism for rising UK crime figures?>>

Senate passes Trump’s budget, a first step toward contentious tax reform>>

Emotional John Kelly lashes out at Trump critics over military deaths>>

Exclusive Document given to the Guardian rejects Chinese government claims that activists voluntarily confessed to their crimes at trials

Lawyer Xie Yang who has been detained by Chinese authorities as part of a crack down on human rights.

Lawyer Xie Yang who has been detained by Chinese authorities as part of a crack down on human rights. Photograph: Supplied

The United Nations has demanded that China should immediately release prominent human rights activists from detention and pay them compensation, according to an unreleased document obtained by the Guardian.

The report, which has not been made public, from the UN’s human rights council says the trio had their rights violated and calls China’s laws incompatible with international norms.

Christian church leader Hu Shigen and lawyers Zhou Shifeng and Xie Yang were detained and tried as part of an unprecedented nationwide crackdown on human rights attorneys and activists that began in July 2015. The operation saw nearly 250 people detained and questioned by police.

Hu was jailed for seven and a half years and Zhou was sentenced to seven years on subversion charges, while Xie is awaiting a verdict.

“The appropriate remedy would be to release Hu Shigen, Zhou Shifeng and Xie Yang immediately, and accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations,” said the UN report seen by the Guardian, adding that China should take action within six months.

The UN’s working group on arbitrary detention, which reviewed the case, rejected Chinese government claims the three men voluntarily confessed to their crimes at their trials and said their detentions were “made in total or partial non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial”.

The group is a panel of five experts that falls under the UN’s human rights council, of which China is a member. While its judgements are not legally binding, it investigates claims of rights violations and suggests remedies.

China promised to cooperate with the group when it ran for a seat on the human rights council in August 2016, when it also pledged to make “unremitting efforts” to promote human rights.

The group’s report on the Chinese activists said the trio were subjected to a host of rights violations, including being denied access to legal counsel, being held in “incommunicado detention” and their families “were not informed of their whereabouts for several months”.

Their detentions were due to “their activities to promote and protect human rights“, the UN found, while the opinion also encouraged China to amend its laws to conform with international standards protecting human rights.

Although Xie was released on bail after a trial in May, his wife, Chen Guiqiu said her husband was far from a free man.

State security agents rented a flat across the hall from his and Xie has 12 guards stationed 24-hours a day outside his building, Chen said. Police follow him whenever he goes out and despite the constant surveillance, he has to prepare reports for state security agents every four hours on what he has done and who he has spoken to.

But Chen welcomed the UN’s report and said she felt vindicated.

“Of course, he didn’t commit any crime, his arrest was completely illegal and I’m glad the UN, a very objective party that represents the international community, can see that,” said Chen, who fled to the US earlier this year. “I hope this will put pressure on China and make them think twice the next time they consider arresting people on political charges.”

“Paying compensation would show the government admits they harmed our family, that they were wrong to subject us to more than two years of continuous harm,” she added.

During his detention, Xie was beaten and forced into stress positions, his legal team said, with one interrogator telling him: “We’ll torture you to death just like an ant.”

Ambassadors from countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, wrote to China’s minister of public security in February, voicing concerns over the torture claims and calling for an independent investigation.

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One in five children under the age of five is estimated to be acutely malnourished, requiring medical attention

A Rohingya refugee boy cries as he climbs on a truck distributing aid for a local NGO near the Balukali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

A Rohingya refugee boy cries as he climbs on a truck distributing aid for a local NGO near the Balukali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Nearly 340,000 Rohingya children are living in squalid conditions in Bangladesh camps where they lack enough food, clean water and health care, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said on Friday.

Up to 12,000 more children join them every week, fleeing violence or hunger in Myanmar, often still traumatised by atrocities they witnessed, it said in a report “Outcast and Desperate”.

In all, almost 600,000 Rohingya refugees have left northern Rakhine state since 25 August when the UN says the Myanmar army began a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” following insurgent attacks.

“This isn’t going to be a short-term, it isn’t going to end anytime soon,” Simon Ingram, the report’s author and a Unicef official, told a news briefing.

“So it is absolutely critical that the borders remain open and that protection for children is given and equally that children born in Bangladesh have their birth registered.”

A large group of Rohingya people try to cross the border in Palongkhalii of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

A large group of Rohingya people try to cross the border in Palongkhalii of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Most Rohingya are stateless in Myanmar and many fled without papers, he said, adding of the newborns in Bangladesh: “Without an identity they have no chance of ever assimilating into any society effectively.”

Safe drinking water and toilets are in “desperately short supply” in the chaotic, teeming camps and settlements, Ingram said after spending two weeks in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“In a sense it’s no surprise that they must truly see this place as a hell on earth,” he said.

One in five Rohingya children under the age of five is estimated to be acutely malnourished, requiring medical attention, he said.

“There is a very, very severe risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases, diarrhoea and quite conceivably cholera in the longer-term,” he added.

Unicef is providing clean water and toilets, and has helped vaccinate children against measles and cholera, which can be deadly, he said.

The agency is seeking $76m under a $434m UN appeal for Rohingya refugees for six months, but is only seven percent funded, he said, speaking ahead of a pledging conference in Geneva on Monday.

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Global pollution kills 9m a year and threatens ‘survival of human societies’

Landmark study finds toxic air, water, soils and workplaces kill at least 9m people and cost trillions of dollars every year

A Bangladeshi rickshaw puller rides past smoke created by burning waste materials on a street in Dhaka.

A Bangladeshi rickshaw puller rides past smoke created by burning waste materials on a street in Dhaka. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Pollution kills at least nine million people and costs trillions of dollars every year, according to the most comprehensive global analysis to date, which warns the crisis “threatens the continuing survival of human societies”.

Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world, the landmark report found, and the true total could be millions higher because the impact of many pollutants are poorly understood. The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

The vast majority of the pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths. The international researchers said this burden is a hugely expensive drag on developing economies.

Rich nations still have work to do to tackle pollution: the US and Japan are in the top 10 for deaths from “modern” forms of pollution, ie fossil fuel-related air pollution and chemical pollution. But the scientists said that the big improvements that have been made in developed nations in recent decades show that beating pollution is a winnable battle if there is the political will.

“Pollution is one of the great existential challenges of the [human-dominated] Anthropocene era,” concluded the authors of the Commission on Pollution and Health, published in the Lancet on Friday. “Pollution endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”

Prof Philip Landrigan, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, US, who co-led the commission, said: “We fear that with nine million deaths a year, we are pushing the envelope on the amount of pollution the Earth can carry.” For example, he said, air pollution deaths in south-east Asia are on track to double by 2050.

Landrigan said the scale of deaths from pollution had surprised the researchers and that two other “real shockers” stood out. First was how quickly modern pollution deaths were rising, while “traditional” pollution deaths – from contaminated water and wood cooking fires – were falling as development work bears fruit.

“Secondly, we hadn’t really got our minds around how much pollution is not counted in the present tally,” he said. “The current figure of nine million is almost certainly an underestimate, probably by several million.”

This is because scientists are still discovering links between pollution and ill health, such as the connection between air pollution and dementia, diabetes and kidney disease. Furthermore, lack of data on many toxic metals and chemicals could not be included in the new analysis.

Children with respiratory diseases receive treatment at a hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China.

Children with respiratory diseases receive treatment at a hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

The commission report combined data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and elsewhere and found air pollution was the biggest killer, leading to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other illnesses. Outdoor air pollution, largely from vehicles and industry, caused 4.5m deaths a year and indoor air pollution, from wood and dung stoves, caused 2.9m.

The next biggest killer was pollution of water, often with sewage, which is linked to 1.8m deaths as a result of gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections. Workplace pollution, including exposure to toxins, carcinogens and secondhand tobacco smoke, resulted in 800,000 deaths from diseases including pneumoconiosis in coal workers and bladder cancer in dye workers. Lead pollution, the one metal for

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20 Oct

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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The War Criminal and His Two Buddies

 

Former U.S. Presidents, from left, Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton greet spectators on the first tee before the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The above picture makes me sick. It should make every decent human being sick. Why, one may ask? One reason follows.

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.

And the three play golf and have their picture taken. Bullshit!

The McGlynn

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War News

IRAQ BODY COUNT>>

Total Dollar Cost of War>>

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Cost of Military Action Against ISIS>>

RAQQA, Syria (AP) — Drone footage from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa shows the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and the Islamic State group and thousands of bombs dropped by the U.S.-led coalition.

Footage from Thursday shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighborhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.

The video showed entire blocks in the city as uninhabitable with knocked-out walls and blown-out windows and doors, while some buildings had several stories turned to piles of debris. The stadium that was used as an arms depot and prison by the extremists appears to have suffered less damage compared with surrounding buildings.

Long before the ground offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces began in Raqqa in early June, warplanes pounded the city for months.

Read full story »

AP: US drone strike targets al-Shabab after Somalia attack

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — The U.S. military said Friday it carried out a drone strike this week against al-Shabab in Somalia, shortly after the extremist group was blamed for the country’s deadliest attack.

The strike occurred Monday about 35 miles (56 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, the U.S. Africa Command told The Associated Press. The U.S. said it was still assessing the results.

Saturday’s truck bombing in Mogadishu killed more than 300 people and wounded nearly 400 others, leaving scores missing. Al-Shabab has not commented on the bombing, which Somali intelligence officials say was meant to target Mogadishu’s heavily fortified international airport. Several countries have embassies there

The U.S. has stepped up its military involvement in the Horn of Africa nation since President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group early this year. The U.S. has carried out at least 19 drone strikes in Somalia since January, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks U.S. drone strikes in a number of countries.

Earlier this week, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States has about 400 troops in Somalia and “we’re not going to speculate” about sending more.

Read full story »

AP: Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress are demanding answers two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, with one top lawmaker even threatening subpoenas. The White House defended the slow pace of information, saying an investigation would eventually offer clarity about a tragedy that has morphed into a political dispute in the United States.

Among the unresolved inquiries: Why were the Americans apparently caught by surprise? Why did it take two additional days to recover one of the four bodies after the shooting stopped? Was the Islamic State responsible?

The confusion over what happened in a remote corner of Niger, where few Americans travel, has increasingly dogged President Donald Trump, who was silent about the deaths for more than a week.

Asked why, Trump on Monday turned the topic into a political tussle by crediting himself with doing more to honor the dead and console their families than any of his predecessors. His subsequent boast that he reaches out personally to all families of the fallen was contradicted by interviews with family members, some of whom had not heard from Trump at all.

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IraqiNews: Iraq army seize Kirkuk area, Peshmerga say 26 fighters killed in 4 days

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Iraq’s military command said Friday it totally took over an area north of Kirkuk following reported clashes with Kurdish Peshmerga troops, further establishing its influence in the disputed province.

The Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said Counter-Terrorism Service, Federal Police and Popular Mobilization forces took over Alton Kobri area, on the Kirkuk-Erbil road.

“The town is under the control of our federal forces,” read the WMC statement.

The development came as news reports told of an exchange of artillery fire between Peshmerga and security forces at the area.

Meanwhile, Alghad Press quoted a senior Peshmerga commander saying in a press statement in Kirkuk that the force had lost 26 of its fighters during encounters over the past four days.

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IraqiNews: Peshmerga, PMF exchange heavy fire in Kirkuk: network

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga troops and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces exchanged fire Friday morning, hours after deadly clashes were reported in Nineveh.

Kurdish-owned Rudaw network said the two sides exchanged heavy artillery fire on a Kirkuk-Erbil road at Alton Kobri area.

PMF media have yet to confirm the clash.

Earlier reports have told of limited, but deadly, clashes between the two forces last week as Iraqi government forces invaded Kirkuk.

A medical official in Sulaymaniyah was quoted last week saying that Peshmerga deaths since the Iraqi incursion in Kirkuk stood at 84, with more than 160 wounded.

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REU: Kurdish officials say thousands flee Kirkuk since Iraqi army takeover

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Kurdish officials said on Thursday thousands of their people had fled Kirkuk region fearing persecution since Iraqi armed forces retook it following a referendum on Kurdish independence that was rejected by Baghdad.

The officials said roughly 100,000 people had gone, though that number could not be confirmed independently, and many Kurdish neighborhoods in Kirkuk city appeared to be operating normally.

The United Nations voiced concern at reports that civilians, mainly Kurds, were being driven out of parts of northern Iraq retaken by Iraqi forces and their houses and businesses looted and destroyed, and urged Baghdad to stop any such abuses.

A mayor from the town of Khanaqin, Mohammed Mulla Hassan, said a Kurdish man was killed and six wounded by Iraqi security forces while protesting at the army’s takeover there.

Kurdish troops had left Khanaqin, near the border with Iran, on Tuesday to avoid clashing with advancing Iraqi forces.

Central government forces swept into Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic city of more than 1 million people and the hub of a major oil-producing area, largely unopposed on Monday after most Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew rather than fight.

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NYT: Iraqi and Kurdish Forces Exchange Fire at Border

ALTUN KUPRI, Iraq — Iraqi and Kurdish forces are exchanging fire at the border between federal and Kurdish lands, days after Kurds withdrew from disputed territories across northern Iraq.

Iraqi artillery forces shelled Kurdish military positions north and south of the town of Altun Kupri. Thick smoke could be seen rising from a checkpoint just north of the town.

Kurdish forces responded with rocket fire.

Kurdish authorities have sent reinforcements to the front lines. An Associated Press team saw a convoy of 50 armored vehicles arriving at the Kurdish side of the front.

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AP: Iraqi court issues arrest warrant for Kurdish vice president

KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — A Baghdad court issued an arrest warrant for the vice president of Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region on Thursday for saying that Iraqi forces had “occupied” the disputed province of Kirkuk this week.

However, the warrant against Kosrat Rasul is unlikely to be executed as the central government in Baghdad has no enforceable authority in the Kurdish-administered north.

The court accused Rasul of “insulting” Iraq’s armed forces, which is forbidden by Iraqi law.

On Monday, Iraq’s federal forces, supported by Iranian-sponsored militias, rolled into the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, forcing Kurdish militias, known as the peshmerga, to withdraw after brief clashes.

Read full story »

No options other than elimination or surrender left for terrorists: Ghani

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in reaction to the recent wave of deadly attacks has said that no option is left for the terrorist groups other their elimination or surrender. The Office of the President, ARG Palace, quoted President Ghani in a statement as saying “The criminal groups linked to the outsiders, in the latest terrorist

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Durand Line fencing to prevent terror attacks in both countries, says Pak General

A top Pakistani army General has said the fencing work along the Durand Line with Afghanistan will help prevent terror attacks in both the countries as the Afghanistan oppose any work along the line calling it an unresolved issue between the two countries. Major General Nauman Zakaria, the commander for the South Waziristan tribal region

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New deadly clashes erupt among Taliban and ISIS in Nangarhar

New wave deadly clashes have erupted among the Taliban and ISIS militants in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to the local government officials, both the Taliban and ISIS militants have suffered casualties during the latest clashes. The officials further added that the new incident has taken place in the vicinity of Khogyani district of

Read full story »

Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was part of a joint U.S. and Nigerien train, advise and assist mission.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger as a result of enemy fire. His body was recovered by U.S. personnel Oct. 6. He was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three soldiers who were part of a joint U.S. and Nigerien train, advise and assist mission. They died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol. All soldiers were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The incident is under investigation.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio

Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia

The Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, 20, of Tyler, Texas, died Oct. 1 in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy. The incident is under investigation.

Missildine was assigned to the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Polk, La.

Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

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

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19 Oct

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.

View All>>

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World Politics

United States

Case filed in New York concerns interpretation of ‘emoluments clause’ in regards to president’s hotels patronized by foreign government officials

The Trump International Hotel in Washington.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

A federal judge on Wednesday pressed government lawyers to explain why Donald Trump’s ownership of hotels patronized by foreign government officials did not violate the constitution, a key question that could shed light on Trump’s finances if a civil lawsuit heard in New York is allowed to proceed.

At issue in the case brought by the left-leaning public policy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) is the interpretation of the so-called foreign “emoluments clause” of the constitution, a provision meant to prohibit bribery of federal officials by foreign governments.

A lawyer for Crew, which represents competing restaurateurs, hotel owners and others in the industry, said during oral arguments in Manhattan federal court that by doing business with foreign officials with an interest in currying favor with the White House, Trump runs afoul of the constitution. A lawyer for the Department of Justice disagreed, saying a violation only happens if an actual act is done in exchange for a payment.

US District Judge George B Daniels said he would rule on whether the case can go forward in the next 30 to 60 days. The government has sought to dismiss the case.

If Daniels allows the case to proceed, it could reveal much about Trump’s business and personal finances, possibly forcing him to disclose tax returns and other financial information in the course of discovery.

Trump, who made his fortune in real estate, marketing and entertainment, bucked decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential elections. That has fueled suspicions about his possible conflicts of interests as well as concerns about the source of his income, including whether any of it comes from sources abroad.

Government lawyer Brett Shumate argued for a precise definition of the emoluments clause, saying that because an emolument includes the exchange of payment for an official act, Trump’s business income couldn’t qualify as such a payment.

Daniels repeatedly questioned him on that point and others, proposing that if the president promises to take an official act in exchange for money – by signing a treaty, for example – the money transferred is an emolument whether or not the president ever follows through on the action.

The framers of the constitution did not just want the president not to take money from foreign governments, “they wanted him to not take the promise of the money”, he said.

Later in the hearing, Daniels pushed Crew attorney Deepak Gupta to explain why the issue is even something the courts should have to resolve, asking at one point whether Congress, instead of the courts, was best suited to resolve the case.

“They have the power to act if they had a concern about acting,” Daniels said, at one point likening litigation on behalf of rival hotels, restaurants and good-government groups to “a street fight” with the president.

The clause at issue allows for that, saying no US official can “accept any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state” without the consent of Congress.

Attorneys for Crew say that court precedent on the topic gives the judicial branch authority to explore the issue.

Crew, in a lawsuit first filed in January, has argued that Trump, who didn’t put his businesses in a blind trust after becoming president, has an unfair business advantage while in the White House that harms his rivals in the industry, taking away their business and enriching him by actors with an incentive to curry favor for official acts.

Read Full Article>>

Eric Holder calls Trump administration’s crime policies dangerous and dispiriting>>

Trump digs in over call to soldier’s widow: ‘I didn’t say what the congresswoman said’>>

‘He keeps zigging and zagging’: the perils of doing a healthcare deal with Trump>>

Jeff Sessions shifts ground on Russia contacts under Senate questioning>>

Travel ban: Chad added because it ran out of passport paper, US officials say>>

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University of Florida says Richard Spencer has authority to deny access

Expert: school has ‘unfortunately sacrificed’ journalists’ first amendment rights

Richard Spencer is paying the university $10,564 to rent the Phillips Center and pay for security inside the venue.

Richard Spencer is paying the university $10,564 to rent the Phillips Center and pay for security inside the venue. Photograph: UPI/Barcroft Images

A white nationalist has been given full control over which journalists will be permitted to cover his “freedom of speech” event at the University of Florida on Thursday, a university spokeswoman said, a situation one expert called “ironic”.

“They’ve rented the facility. It’s their event. It’s not our event,” university spokeswoman Janine Sikes said on Wednesday. “It’s their event, so that’s why they can have whomever they want.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer, who is headlining the event, has the authority to handpick which journalists can cover his speech or deny access to any journalists at all, first amendment experts at the University of Florida said.

Spencer’s group has also been given complete control over who will receive audience tickets. The group announced they will hand out tickets in person about an hour before the speech starts, a plan one student organizer called “volatile” and “a huge danger”.

The university’s negotiations with Spencer appear to have “unfortunately sacrificed” journalists’ first amendment rights, said Clay Calvert, the director of the University of Florida’s Marion B Brechner First Amendment Project.

Asked who was to blame for this state of affairs, Calvert said: “The university would be responsible. I don’t want to say the word ‘blame’. The university is the entity that ultimately made the decision not to allow a free access pool of journalists, and they could have negotiated that.”

Calvert went on: “It is a rather ironic situation. Here’s a individual who gets to speak because of the first amendment, but he also gets to exclude members of the press based upon his whim, who are also protected by the first amendment.”

“It’s a hard thing to wrap your head around,” said Frank LoMonte, the director of the university’s Joseph L Brechner Center for Freedom of Information. “I can only imagine that the goal is not to entangle the university in the management of the event.

“The president here has been very clear that the university didn’t invite this speaker, doesn’t condone this speaker, and it may be that they’re taking an especially hands-off policy so as not to get entangled.”

I love mainstream liberals. Those are my favorite journalists

Richard Spencer

University of Florida president Kent Fuchs said this month the school had no choice but to allow Spencer to rent a public campus venue to discuss his white nationalist ideas and racist advocacy. Spencer is paying the university $10,564 to rent the Phillips Center and pay for security inside the venue. By law, the president said in a statement, the university must shoulder the additional cost of more than $500,000 to provide security for Spencer’s event and the protests around it.

But the details of ticketing and media credentialing would have been negotiated by private contract, not constitutional law, the two experts said.

“Once you’re turning the space over completely to a private lessor, then unless the contract provides otherwise, the university can and I guess does relinquish control over the event,” LoMonte said…………..While they had originally set aside 100 seats for journalists, “we might boost that up to 150,” Spencer said.

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Pipeline company downplaying major legal and financial risks of crossing unceded First Nations territory in British Columbia

Secwepemc activist Kanahus Manuel in front of a tiny house being built in path of Kinder Morgan pipeline’s planned route through her Nation’s territory in British Columbia, Canada.

Secwepemc activist Kanahus Manuel in front of a tiny house being built in the path of Kinder Morgan pipeline’s planned route through her Nation’s territory in British Columbia, Canada. Photograph: Ian Willms/Greenpeace

The controversial expansion of a pipeline that would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast will be doomed by the rising power of Indigenous land rights.

That’s the message that Kanahus Manuel, an Indigenous activist from the Secwepemc Nation in central BC, plans to deliver to banks financing the project as she travels through Europe this week.

She’ll have in hand a report being released today by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which argues that Texas-based Kinder Morgan has misled financial backers about the risks of expanding its TransMountain pipeline, almost half of which runs across “unceded” Secwepemc territory.

The project, whose cost has ballooned from $5.4 to $7.4bn, would nearly triple capacity on an existing pipeline to ship 890,000 barrels a day to Asian markets, locking in expanded production of one of the world’s most carbon-intensive oils.

The report details “significant legal, financial and reputation risks” that amount to “serious obstacles” it says have been downplayed by Kinder Morgan in its dealings with Canadian and international banks.

The key risks, identified by economists and lawyers based on the pipeline’s history, Canadian legal precedents, and financial documents, include Kinder Morgan’s plans to build on lands whose ownership is hotly contested.

The pipeline crosses 518km of Secwepemc territory over which the First Nations assert Aboriginal title, a type of land rights that the supreme court of Canada has recognized were never ceded or relinquished through treaties.

TransMountain pipeline's route through the Secwepemc Nation in British Columbia, Canada.

The Secwepemc could not oppose the original Trans Mountain pipeline being built through their territory in 1951, because it was illegal at the time for Indigenous peoples to politically organize or hire lawyers to advocate on their behalf.

“[Kinder Morgan] either does not understand the diverse realities of Indigenous rights in Canada or they are wilfully ignoring the consequences of those rights for the project,” the report says. “Either way, it should be a major red flag for investors, lenders, and other financial backers.”

Kinder Morgan did not return a request for comment.

Banks are increasingly rethinking their investments in the tar sands – French bank BNP Paribas pledged last week to stop financing pipelines carrying tar sands oil, following similar moves by Dutch Bank ING and Sweden’s largest pension fund AP7.

The report also notes that the likelihood of increasing Indigenous protest has not been accounted for by the company.

Inspired by her time at the Standing Rock encampment, this fall Manuel and others finished constructing the first of several tiny houses – to be outfitted with solar-panels – that they will place in the path of the pipeline as an act of defiance.

“We will defend with all of our capacities our unceded lands and waters from this climate chaos-fuelling pipeline,” Manuel said from Europe. “The government has to follow the minimum standards laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – that includes free, prior and informed consent, which they have not gotten from us for the project. Instead Kinder Morgan is hiding the risks and the costs their backers will face when this pipeline doesn’t get built.”

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Madrid will press ahead with suspending autonomy on Saturday after Catalan leader refuses to abandon independence push

An independence campaigner holds a placard saying ‘Freedom – we want you back home’ at a rally in Barcelona

An independence campaigner holds a placard saying ‘Freedom – we want you back home’ at a rally in Barcelona. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

The Spanish government is to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and impose direct rule after the region’s president refused to abandon the push for independence that has led to Spain’s biggest political crisis for 40 years.

The announcement of the unprecedented measure came after the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, threatened a unilateral declaration of independence if the Spanish government did not agree to talks on the issue.

In a letter to the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, sent on Thursday morning – the deadline set by Madrid for the region to abandon its independence plans – Puigdemont said discussions were the only way to resolve the crisis.

The Catalan president accused Spanish authorities of seeking to repress the independence movement after two of its leaders were denied bail by a national court judge this week, and he said using article 155 of the 1978 constitution to impose direct rule from Madrid would force his hand.

“The suspension [of the independence declaration] is still in place. The [Spanish] state is entitled to decide to apply article 155 if it secures the senate’s approval,” he wrote.

“But despite all our efforts and our desire for dialogue, the fact that the only reply we have been given is that autonomy will be suspended suggests that you do not understand the problem and do not wish to talk.

“If the [Spanish] government persists in hindering dialogue and continues with its repression, the Catalan parliament could, if it deems appropriate, proceed to vote on the formal declaration of independence, which it did not vote on on 10 October.”

In a statement on Thursday morning, the Spanish government said Puigdemont had again not confirmed whether independence had been declared, adding: “At an emergency meeting on Saturday, the cabinet will approve measures to be put before the senate to protect the general interest of Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and to restore constitutional order in the autonomous community.”

It criticised Catalan authorities for “deliberately and systematically seeking institutional confrontation, despite the serious damage it’s causing to coexistence and Catalonia’s economy”.

According to article 155, which has never been used, the Spanish government will need to lodge a formal complaint with Puigdemont, then submit its proposals to the senate for debate and approval. As a result, it will be at least a few days before concrete steps are taken.

This week, a Spanish government spokesman said article 155 had been designed not to remove Catalonia’s autonomy, but ensure its autonomous government adhered to the law.

“We have envisaged a range of scenarios and will apply 155 accordingly,” he said. “It’s not a question of applying it in its entirety or of taking over every government function or department. Clearly the Catalan government would lose many of its powers, though not all. It’s a case of using a scalpel, not an axe.”

In theory, its application could still be avoided if the Catalan government were to call a snap regional election without a confirmation of independence. However, the Catalan foreign minister, Raül Romeva, speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, said: “Elections from our perspective are not an option.”

Although Puigdemont has claimed that the unilateral independence referendum held on 1 October, in which 90% of participants opted for independence, gave his government the mandate to forge a sovereign state, he has ignored Rajoy’s demand to clarify whether or not independence has been declared.

He has instead proposed that the effects of an independence declaration be suspended for two months while both sides open dialogue aimed at resolving the standoff.

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19 Oct

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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The War Criminal and His Two Buddies

 

Former U.S. Presidents, from left, Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton greet spectators on the first tee before the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The above picture makes me sick. It should make every decent human being sick. Why, one may ask? One reason follows.

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.

And the three play golf and have their picture taken. Bullshit!

The McGlynn

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War News

IRAQ BODY COUNT>>

Total Dollar Cost of War>>

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Cost of Military Action Against ISIS>>

AP: US wants quick vote on Syria chemical weapons inspectors

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Wednesday the United States is circulating a resolution that would extend by another year the work of inspectors seeking to determine who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Haley told reporters the United States wants a quick vote so the Joint Investigative Mechanism is renewed before its expected report Oct. 26 on responsibility for the April 4 attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 90 people.

She said “there’s overwhelming support” in the Security Council to renew the inspectors’ work for another year. But, she added, “Russia has made it very clear that should the report blame Syria” for the attack “they won’t have faith in the JIM. If the report doesn’t blame the Syrians then they say that they will.”

Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, who heads the country’s delegation to the General Assembly’s disarmament committee, told U.N. reporters Friday that Russia will wait for the report on the Khan Sheikhoun attack before deciding whether to extend the inspectors’ mandate.

“We can’t work like that,” Haley said. “We need to look at the attack. We need to prove that it was actually a chemical, and then we need to look at who did it. We can’t go and pick and choose who we want to be at fault, who we don’t.”

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GUARD: Escape from Raqqa: how my three-year ordeal in the Isis stronghold ended

I had vowed not to leave the Syrian city until the hated black flags came down. Then a chance encounter set me on an unintended path fraught with danger

We had gathered as usual in one of the Raqqa houses for a dinner that consisted of a pot of bulgur cooked on firewood, olives and old bread. The older people shared a can of halva to maintain their level of blood sugar. The flames of the candles flickered with the breeze that came in through a hole created by shell damage to the house, and making out the details on the faces around me was difficult.

There wasn’t enough food for everyone owing to the sudden late arrival of some families driven out of their homes by Islamic State because the battles with the Syrian Democratic Forces had drawn closer to their street.

In one corner of the room sat a man and his wife and their four small children. They were among the new arrivals. The man refused to eat and said he wasn’t hungry, a response that baffled everyone, for how could a man not be hungry in Raqqa? We insisted that he join us but he refused, although his wife joined us so she could feed their children. Her eyes were swollen from continuous weeping – which was not strange, because the women and children always cried.

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AP: Uncertainty as Mideast turns a page with IS defeat in Raqqa

BEIRUT (AP) — The Middle East may have turned a page with the defeat of the Islamic State group in its self-declared capital of Raqqa, but the future is looking even more tangled, and potentially as violent.

The downfall of a common enemy could open up cracks in temporary alliances created to fight the extremists, and rivalries for influence are now likely to take center stage.

Already, a multitude of players in the crowded theaters of Iraq and Syria are racing for the spoils of war. And while the group fights its last battles in what remains of its self-styled caliphate, world powers and smaller players alike are vying to create new facts on the ground.

SYRIAN ARMY AND ALLIES

With the pivotal capture of east Aleppo in late 2016, President Bashar Assad’s government effectively neutralized its most threatening armed opposition, allowing it to train its full attention on IS.

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BBC: Syria war: UN says it is ready to go into Raqqa

The United Nations is ready to get into the Syrian city of Raqqa after so-called Islamic State (IS) was driven out after three years.

A UN official in Damascus told the BBC access to the area was the main priority while warning that some 300,000 people who had fled the city had “enormous” needs in nearby camps.

Aid workers have said it may take years before they can return to their homes.

A US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters says it has full control of the city.

Operations were under way to uncover jihadist sleeper cells and remove landmines from the last areas of Raqqa, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Mustefa Bali said.

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‘Iraq may become a country of widows & orphans’

AP: Iraq’s Kurdish region postpones elections

BAGHDAD (AP) — Kurdish media says Iraqi Kurdish officials have postponed elections for parliament and president of the autonomous region in the wake of the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from disputed regions across northern and eastern Iraq.

The news agency Kurdistan 24 says the Kurdish region’s elections commission decided Wednesday to postpone the elections originally slated for November 1. It said the regional parliament would pick a new date.

Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party are in a delicate position after spearheading last month’s independence referendum. The vote angered Iraq’s central government, which has since seized control over the city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas long coveted by the Kurds.

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IraqiNews: Islamic State impose curfew after Iraqi flag raised in Qaim

Qaim (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants declared a curfew in their bastion in western Anbar on Thursday after unknown persons raised an Iraqi flag there, a paramilitary commander said.

Qatari al-Obaidi, a senior commander of tribal forces in Anbar, told Alsumaria News that Islamic State members declared a curfew at al-Obaidi region, Qaim (350 Km west of Ramadi), after unknown individuals raised the Iraqi flag above a local school, also painting  hostile graffiti  reading “down with Daesh (IS), hail to the Iraqi army”.

Since Islamic State militants took over large areas of Iraq and Syria to establish a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014, Iraqi government forces, backed paramilitary troops and U.S.-led coalition, launched a wide-scale campaign to retake those regions.

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IraqiNews: U.N. Security Council voices concern over Kirkuk violence

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The United Nations has expressed its concern regarding tensions between Iraqis and Kurds in Kirkuk province, urging de-escalation and avoiding the use of force, while stressing support for Iraq’s territorial unity.

“The members of the Security Council expressed concern over recent reports of violence near the city of Kirkuk, Iraq,” a statement released late Wednesday read.

“Council members called on all sides to refrain from the threat and use of force, and to engage in constructive dialogue as a pathway to de-escalation and a means to preserve Iraqi unity while upholding the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution,” the council added.

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REU: Turkey’s Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border any moment: Hurriyet

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey may shut its border with northern Iraq “at any moment” after closing its air space to the region, Hurriyet newspaper reported on Thursday, reviving a threat first made after Kurds there voted for independence.

“We have completely closed our air space to the regional government in northern Iraq,” the paper cited Erdogan as telling reporters on his plane returning from a trip to Poland.

“Talks are continuing on what will be done regarding the land (border) … We have not shut the border gates yet but this could happen too at any moment,” he added.

Turkey announced on Monday it was closing its air space to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and said it would work to hand control of the main border crossing into the region to the central Iraqi government.

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REU: Taliban kill at least 43 Afghan troops as they storm base: officials

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban stormed a military base in the south of the country killing at least 43 troops on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said, with the militants putting the toll at at least 60.

Of 60 soldiers manning the base in the province of Kandahar, 43 were killed, nine were wounded and six were missing after the militants attacked in the middle of the night, the ministry said in a statement.

At least ten Taliban were also reported killed.

Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a local spokesman for the militant group, said the attack began with a suicide car bomb followed by an assault that overran the base.

The attack killed at least 60 Afghan soldiers and wounded many more, he said.

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NYT: Pakistan, Afghanistan in Angry Tangle Over Border Fence to Keep Out Militants

ANGOOR ADDA, Pakistan — Pakistan is betting that a pair of nine-foot chain-link fences topped with barbed wire will stop incursions by Islamist militants from Afghanistan, which opposes Islamabad’s plans for a barrier along the disputed frontier.

Pakistan plans to fence up most of the 2,500 km (1,500 mile) frontier despite Kabul’s protests that the barrier would divide families and friends along the Pashtun tribal belt straddling the colonial-era Durand Line drawn up by the British in 1893.

Pakistan’s military estimates that it will need about 56 billion rupees ($532 million) for the project, while there are also plans to build 750 border forts and employ high-tech surveillance systems to prevent militants crossing.

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Afghan army and Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Kandahar base attack

The Afghan army and Taliban insurgents have suffered heavy casualties in a coordinated attack by the Taliban insurgents on an army base in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan The Ministry of Defense spokesman General Dawlat Waziri confirmed the attack in Maiwand district and said the two sides have suffered casualties. However, he did not disclose

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ISIS suffer heavy casualties in latest US airstrikes in Nangarhar province

Militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group suffered heavy casualties in the latest airstrikes conducted by the US forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The provincial police commandment in a statement said Wednesday that the latest airstrikes were carried out in the past 24 hours in Nazian and

Read full story »

HIA led by Hekmatyar warns regarding troops surge and increased airstrikes

Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has warned regarding a surge in foreign troops number as well as the airstrikes as new wave of violence leaves scores of people dead across the country during the past few days. The party issued a statement in reaction to the latest deadly attacks across the country, specifically the deadly

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Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was part of a joint U.S. and Nigerien train, advise and assist mission.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger as a result of enemy fire. His body was recovered by U.S. personnel Oct. 6. He was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three soldiers who were part of a joint U.S. and Nigerien train, advise and assist mission. They died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol. All soldiers were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The incident is under investigation.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio

Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia

The Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, 20, of Tyler, Texas, died Oct. 1 in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy. The incident is under investigation.

Missildine was assigned to the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Polk, La.

Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

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

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