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22 Jul

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

United States

Guardian Opinion cartoon>>

Ben Jennings on Ivanka Trump’s role in the White House – cartoon

 

Ivanka Trump, the former businesswoman and fashion model, briefly took her father’s seat during a G20 session in Hamburg, prompting claims of nepotism and a heavy dose of sarcasm about her diplomatic credentials

 

Jeff Sessions discussed Trump campaign with Russian ambassador – report

US intelligence intercepts show Sergey Kislyak told supervisors he discussed Trump campaign and policy issues during meetings with attorney general

jeff sessions

Jeff Sessions’ accounts of his meeting with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, clash with those of Kislyak. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Jeff Sessions discussed Donald Trump’s White House bid with the Russian ambassador to Washington in 2016, according to reported US intelligence intercepts which contradict the US attorney general’s assurances that the campaign was not discussed.

Sergey Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow he talked about campaign-related matters and significant policy issues during two meetings with Sessions, according to current and former US intelligence officials, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The ambassador’s accounts of the meetings – which US spy agencies intercepted – clash with those of Sessions and pile fresh pressure on the attorney general just days after the president publicly criticised him.

Sessions was a senator and senior foreign policy adviser to Trump during the presidential race. After being tapped to run the justice department, he initially failed to disclose his encounters with Kislyak and then said the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

Jeff Sessions denies contact with Russians during Senate hearing – archive video

During his January confirmation hearing to become attorney general, Sessions was quizzed by Democrat Senator Al Franken about alleged contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians,” Sessions – who was under oath – told him. Now evidence has emerged that Sessions in fact met twice with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. A spokeswoman for Sessions said the meetings were in his capacity as a member of the armed forces committee and denied he had misled the Senate.

The Post cited an unnamed US official who called Sessions’ statements “misleading” and “contradicted by other evidence”. An unnamed former official said the intelligence indicated Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for bilateral relations in a Trump administration, the paper reported.

The officials acknowledged that the ambassador could have mischaracterised the meetings in his briefings to Moscow.

The attorney general has repeatedly said he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was in his capacity as a senator, not a Trump surrogate, that he met Kislyak. “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” he said in March.

The apparent discrepancy with Kislyak’s version of events capped a torrid week for Sessions. Trump said in an interview published on Wednesday that he regretted appointing him after Sessions recused himself from investigations into links with the Trump campaign and Russia.

The president, marking six months in office, appeared to be venting concern that the investigation headed by Robert Mueller was reportedly expanding to include his business ties with Russia.

Sessions told reporters on Thursday that he would continue in his job “as long as that is appropriate”. He made no immediate response to the Post’s article on Friday.

However in a statement, a justice department spokeswoman told the paper: “Obviously I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me.”

In a separate development on Friday, the Senate judiciary committee said that next week it would interview the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and his former campaign chief Paul Manafort behind closed doors rather than in public testimony, as originally planned.

Both men agreed agreed to negotiate to provide the committee with documents and be interviewed by committee members and staff prior to a public hearing, the committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, and its ranking member, Dianne Feinstein, said in a statement. “Therefore, we will not issue subpoenas for them tonight requiring their presence at Wednesday’s hearing but reserve the right to do so in the future.”

The report about the Russian ambassador capped another tumultuous day in Washington.

 Read Full Article>>

Trump condemns Sessions: ‘I wouldn’t have hired him’ – audio>>

Robert Mueller asks White House to preserve Trump Jr meeting documents>>

Sean Spicer resigns as Trump press secretary after six months>>

Spice world comes to an end>>

Anthony Scaramucci: who is new White House communications director?>>

Russian man at Trump Jr meeting had partner with Soviet intelligence ties>>

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Janeé Harteau has ‘lost the confidence of the people’ says mayor Betsy Hodges, who in turn faces calls to resign at chaotic media conference

in Minneapolis, and agencies

Source: AP/KSTP

Demonstrators take over a news conference held by Betsy Hodges on Friday, asking her to resign following the shooting of unarmed Australian Justine Damond by a police officer. The conference took place hours after the Minneapolis police chief, Janeé Harteau, resigned at Hodges’s request

The chief of police in Minneapolis has resigned at the request of the city’s mayor, Betsy Hodges, after Hodges said she had “lost the confidence of the people”.

Janeé Harteau has faced criticism for her handling of the shooting of unarmed Australian woman Justine Damond, as well as previous killings going back to 2013.

“I’ve lost confidence in the chief’s ability to lead us further,” said Hodges in a media statement. “And from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well. For us to continue to transform policing … we need new leadership at [Minneapolis Police Department].

Hodges’ own media conference later on Friday evening quickly descended into chaos as protesters angrily called for the mayor to resign as well, saying they “had been terrorized enough”. The crowd – a coalition of community groups pushing for police reform – drowned out her comments with chants of “Bye bye Betsy.”

Echoing the catchcry used in calls for justice after the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile, they shouted: “If Justine don’t get it, shut it down.” The initial round of protests were led by Jonathan Thompson, a friend and coworker of Castile.

After the room was cleared and the conference restarted, Hodges said it had been a “heartbreaking and challenging and awful week for the people of our city”.

“I share people’s frustration about the pace of change in our policing and building community trust. Transformational change is difficult, it is uncomfortable and it takes time,” she said.

Hodges nominated assistant chief Medaria Arradondo to be the next chief. Nicknamed “Rondo”, he served as the department’s public face after Damond’s shooting while Harteau was on personal leave. Arradondo, who is African-American, has been with the department since 1989.

Reached after the protest, Thompson said it was important that he had confronted the mayor in front of an assembled crowd of reporters that included many Australian journalists.

The fight for Justine is not over. It’s just begun. We got a lot of allies.

Jonathan Thompson, protester

“Betsy Hodges was trying to appease the international press, trying to say, ‘I did something about it. I did something really good. I asked the chief to step down,’ and thinking that’s going to end what’s happening, but it’s not going to end nothing,” he said.

Thompson, who now runs an organization called New North, added that he hoped Australians would find ways to get involved. “The fight for Justine is not over. It’s just begun. We got a lot of allies. We need Australia right here with us … and we won’t stop fighting for Justine and victims like Justine.”

Mel Reeves, a long time community activist in Minneapolis, was part of the group that stormed the media conference. He said that initially they had just planned a street protest, but went to city hall when they heard about the meeting, and after a few failed attempts, managed to get inside.

“What you witnessed there was frustration. The frustration in this city is building over. The international community needs to understand that the Minneapolis Police Department has been a very abusive one. The killings are just the tip of the iceberg. People get brutalized on a regular basis,” he said.

Harteau on Thursday attempted to distance the police department from the actions of officer Mohamed Noor, who shot the unarmed woman after she made an emergency call to police. She said the killing “shouldn’t have happened”.

The death of Damond, 40, who was fired at multiple times through the open window of a police patrol car, has outraged her relatives and the public in both Australia and the US. The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, called it “shocking” and “inexplicable”.

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Palm oil plantations on illegally deforested land in Sumatra – home to elephants, orangutans and tigers – have allegedly been used to supply scores of household brands, says new report

Deforestation in the Leuser ecosystem, Sumatra

Deforestation in the Leuser ecosystem, one of the last homes to Sumatran elephants, orangutans, rhinos and tigers. Photograph: Sutanta Aditya/Barcroft Images

Pepsico, Unilever and Nestlé have been accused of complicity in the destruction of Sumatra’s last tract of rainforest shared by elephants, orangutans, rhinos, and tigers together in one ecosystem.

Plantations built on deforested land have allegedly been used to supply palm oil to scores of household brands that also include McDonald’s, Mars, Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble, according to a new report.

“If more immediate action is not taken to enforce ‘no deforestation’ policies, these brands will be remembered as the corporate giants responsible for the destruction of the last place on earth where Sumatran elephants, orangutans, rhinos and tigers roamed side by side,” says the study by Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Using satellite data, photographic evidence and GPS coordinates, the research builds on evidence gathered earlier this year to show ongoing illegal forest clearances across swathes of the 2.6m hectare Leuser ecosystem, despite a moratorium announced last June.

The palm oil reaches major brands via a twisting supply chain that stretches from the PT Agra Bumi Niaga (ABN) logging company, which delivers to a processing mill owned by PT Ensem Sawita (ES), which then sells the palm oil on to some of the world’s largest traders. PT is an abbreviation that denotes a limited liability company in Indonesia.

PT ABN declined requests for comment but after extensive Guardian inquiries, PT ES admitted using ABN’s palm oil – due to confusion after the logging firm changed its name – and said that it “regretted this failure”.

The company promised to “strengthen our traceability practices by exchanging information to relevant stakeholders who have palm oil plantation data.”

However, Gemma Tillack, RAN’s agribusiness campaigns director, said that ABN’s name change had been reported, and the continued inability of palm traders and food brands to source the palm they used back to the plantations showed a wider failing of due diligence systems.

“Relying on NGOs to uncover the truth is simply not good enough,” she said. “If RAN, with our relatively limited budget, can figure it out, then multibillion dollar, multinational corporations certainly can. The fact that they haven’t demonstrates that it is not a lack of ability holding them back, but a lack of will.”

Leuser’s vanishing ecosystem is already have a devastating effect on critically endangered elephants which use it as a migratory corridor. At least 35 elephants were killed in Leuser between 2012-2015, and human-animal conflicts are fast increasing as palm plantations fragment animal habitats.

Many species such as tigers, clouded leopards and sun bears are becoming more vulnerable to poachers, as their environment disappears. Leuser is still Sumatra’s largest rainforest and its Unesco world heritage status was reaffirmed this month, despite Indonesian government protests.

But its deforestation rate is among the world’s highest. In the 2015 haze disaster, Sumatran wildfires, often linked to plantation activity, destroyed 8,000 sq miles of rainforest, contributing to the early deaths of an estimated 100,000 people and emitting more CO2 than the whole of the UK that year.

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo responded with a moratorium on new palm oil permits last April. Two months later, Aceh’s governor, Zaini Abdullah ordered palm oil companies to halt all forest clearing, even where valid permits existed.

But RAN’s research shows that ABN continued clearing another 336 hectares of Sumatran rainforest after Abdullah’s instruction, with 12 hectares of new deforestation since February.

In just one district of the Leuser, nine other suppliers to milling companies continued logging activities since last June across concessions with a combined area of more than 26,000 hectares, according to RAN’s research.

Tillack said: “We believe that there was a rush to clear land because the [logging] companies knew that there would be government intervention to stop forest clearances.

“Global brands like Pepsico can no longer hide behind paper promises and simply blame their international partners for forest crimes. The Leuser ecosystem will die a death of a thousand cuts if brands don’t start taking urgent action to address the root cause of this crisis.”

  Read Full Article>>

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Protesters gather in cities across country with critics saying legislation is further step towards authoritarianism

People attend a protest against supreme court legislation in Gda?sk.

People attend a protest against supreme court legislation in Gda?sk. Photograph: Jan Rusek/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

Poland’s upper house of parliament has approved a supreme court overhaul, defying the European Union and critics at home who say the legislation will undermine democratic checks and balances.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Warsaw and cities across Poland for candlelit vigils to protest against the draft bill, as the senate debated it late into the night.

Some protesters carried Polish and European Union flags, chanting: “Free courts.“

To become law, the proposal still has to be signed by the president, Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. The eurosceptic PiS argues new rules are needed to make the judiciary accountable and efficient.

But the opposition and judges’ groups in Poland as well as critics in Brussels say the legislation is a new step by the Polish government towards authoritarianism.

The United States, Poland’s most important ally in Nato, issued a statement urging Poland to ensure any changes respect the constitution. “We urge all sides to ensure that any judicial reform does not violate Poland’s constitution or international legal obligations and respects the principles of judicial independence and separation of powers,” it said in a statement.

An opinion poll for private television network TVN showed on Friday that 55% of respondents said Duda should veto the overhaul of the judiciary, while 29% wanted him to sign it.

Since coming into power in 2015, the PiS has sought to tighten government influence over courts, and brought prosecutors and state media under direct government control. It has also introduced restrictions on public gatherings and made it harder for some non-governmental organisations to function.

“We believe that Poland is slowly but systematically turning into a penal institution,” opposition senator Jan Rulewski, a veteran activist of the anti-communism movement, said during the debate, dressed in a prison uniform.

The PiS remains broadly popular among its electorate, despite an upswelling of protest in recent days as it rushed the judiciary overhaul through parliament. With the economy growing robustly and unemployment at record lows, the party’s nationalist rhetoric infused with Catholic piety resonates strongly among Poland’s conservative voters.

The government of the EU’s biggest eastern member state has so far dismissed criticism, saying the changes would ensure state institutions serve all Poles, not just the “elites“.

On Wednesday, the EU gave Poland a week to shelve the judicial reforms that Brussels says would put courts under direct government control.

If the PiS government does not back down, Poland could face fines and even a suspension of its voting rights, although other eurosceptic EU governments, notably Hungary, are likely to veto strict punishments.

Senior Czech judges denounced the judicial overhaul in Poland as an attack on the rule of law on Friday.

Read Full Article>>

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22 Jul

United States Wars, News and Casualties

 United States Wars, News and Casualties

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Our Country’s Treasure, Chapter One

Originally Published in 2007

“I regret they got hurt,’ Bush,the former president and war criminal said of the veterans.”

To the War Criminal Bush – And to the thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians?

Never, ever forget that the War Criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. founded ISIS and today are proud of what they did and feel no regret.

‘It was the right decision’: Bush says he has ‘no regrets’ about invading Iraq and Afghanistan when asked how he feels when he sees wounded veterans

Since the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts began, at least 8,000 US and allied soldiers have died, according to CNN.

Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, according to the United Nations.

The civilian death toll in Iraq is estimated to be somewhere between 170,000 and 190,000, according to Iraq Body Count

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>>

Cost of Pentagon Slush Fund>>

 

A Syrian family who fled from Raqqa and the battle between U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State militants, sit outside their tent at a refugee camp, in Ain Issa town, northeast Syria, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. The U.S. military is supporting local Syrian forces in a campaign to drive IS from Raqqa. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

AP: Spain’s National Court drops probe into Syrian crimes

MADRID (AP) — A panel of top judges in Spain says the country’s courts have no jurisdiction to investigate the first foreign criminal case for torture and terrorism against the Syrian government.

The U-turn by Spain’s National Court is a setback for activists and human rights campaigners who had hailed the case as a stepping stone for accountability in Syria.

Judge Eloy Velasco was investigating the alleged role of nine Syrian intelligence and security officials — including long-time Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, intelligence chief Ali Mamluc and air force intelligence chief Jamil Hassan — in the disappearance and killing of a man in 2013.

The body of Abdulmuemen Alhaj Hamdo emerged among the trove of macabre photographs smuggled out of Damascus by a sympathetic forensic photographer codenamed Caesar.

The man’s sister, Amal Hag Hamdo Anfalis, a Spanish national, filed the complaint in February with the support of Guernica 37, a group of international lawyers.

On Friday, the court decided to drop the probe after the public prosecutor argued it lacked jurisdiction to judge the crimes, a court statement said.

Read full story »

AP: Militants burst from tunnels, hit weak points in Raqqa fight

RAQQA, Syria (AP) — The surprise attack came before dawn. An Islamic State group militant emerged from underground right into a deserted building being used as a position by U.S.-backed Syrian forces on a front line in Raqqa. He screamed, Allahu akbar, or “God is great,” and threw a bomb, killing a guard.

More militants burst out of the tunnel, raced up to the top floor and killed three fighters, capturing the building and the battling for hours with other fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces. More than a week after the battle, described to The Associated Press by SDF fighters and commanders, IS militants still hold the building on Raqqa’s western side, their snipers face to face with the SDF snipers meters away. While AP visited the site, an airstrike hit the top of the building, yet soon after, an IS sniper there opened fire — a burst of bullets to proclaim that he had survived.

………..The fighting along with U.S. airstrikes have raised fears for the 30,000-50,000 civilians believed to be still trapped in IS-held parts of the city. Since the assault began, 293 civilians have been killed, along with 416 IS fighters and 192 SDF fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict.

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REU: Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Syrian army advance in border offensive: reports

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Shi’ite militia Hezbollah and the Syrian army advanced against Sunni militants on Saturday, the second day of an assault to drive them from their last foothold along the Syria-Lebanon border, pro-Damascus media reported.

The operation has targeted Sunni Muslim insurgents from the former Nusra Front, a group that was aligned to al Qaeda and who have controlled the barren, mountainous zone of Juroud Arsal.

A military media unit run by Hezbollah said its forces captured Jwar al Sheikh, Wadi Kriti and other areas in the southern part of Juroud Arsal.

Syrian warplanes struck militant positions on the Syrian side of the border, near the Syrian town of Fleita, it said.

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REU: Syrian military says jets attack Islamic State east of Raqqa: state TV

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian warplanes carried out air strikes on Saturday against Islamic State in an area of countryside east of Raqqa and close to where U.S.-backed forces operate, Syrian state TV reported, citing a military source.

The attacks in the town of Maadan and village of Bir al-Sabkhawi, near the provincial boundary with Deir al-Zor governorate, “destroyed several bases and vehicles” belonging to the Islamist group, the source said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said it was the first time in several weeks that the Syrian military had launched an attack in that area.

The Syrian army has active front lines with Islamic State in Raqqa’s western countryside, where it has recaptured territory from the jihadists.

But air strikes in the east take the fight closer to where the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance dominated by Kurdish fighters, are operating.

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REU: Many foreign fighters likely to stay in Syria, Iraq: U.S. official

ASPEN, Colo. (Reuters) – In a new assessment, the U.S. intelligence community judges that large numbers of foreigners fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria likely will stay to defend what is left of their self-declared caliphate rather than return to their homelands, a top U.S. counter-terrorism official said on Friday.

“Many if not most of the foreign fighters who made their way to the conflict zone will end up staying, fighting and potentially dying in order to maintain the caliphate,” Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the U.S. National Counter Terrorism Center, told the annual Aspen Security Forum.

That contrasts with the previous assessment that many foreign fighters would return home, posing major security threats.

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Syria News: US-led coalition intensifies airstrike on Mayadin near Deir Ezzor

Deir Ezzor (Syria News) Warplanes belonging to the US-led international coalition carried out heavy air strikes on the city of Mayadin, in the countryside of Deir Ezzor, leaving several casualties, a source told Qasioun News on Friday.

The source said that the international coalition warplanes carried out heavy air strikes on the governmental building of al-Saray in the city of Mayadin, in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, leaving several casualties.

Moreover, coalition aircraft bombarded al-Baloum area in the city of Mayadin, using high-explosive missiles, leaving several civilian casualties.

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GUARD:  US friendly fire kills at least 12 Afghan policemen in Helmand

Sources say US gunship bombed checkpoint just 30 minutes after police unit retook it from Taliban

A US gunship has killed at least 12 Afghan policemen in a friendly fire airstrike in Helmand, according to local officials.

The incident is a setback for the US-Afghan fight against the Taliban in the embattled province, and comes as the US administration and its Nato allies are preparing the deployment of several thousand additional troops to Afghanistan.

Since 2001, Helmand has consistently been the deadliest province for both foreign and Afghan forces. Since the international drawdown in 2014, the Taliban has seized territory across the province, leaving the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, and the economic hub, Gereshk, as some of the only areas still in government hands.

The attack occurred on Friday afternoon, when, according to local police sources, an Afghan police unit retook a checkpoint captured by the Taliban on Thursday. Due to apparent miscommunication, a US gunship bombed the police unit 30 minutes later, according to police sources.

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REU: Son of Afghan Taliban leader dies carrying out suicide attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – The son of Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada died on Thursday carrying out a suicide attack in the province of Helmand in southern Afghanistan, one of the insurgent movement’s main spokesmen said.

Abdur Rahman, 23, also known as Hafiz Khalid, died driving a vehicle laden with explosives into an Afghan military base in the town of Gereshk, north of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, the Taliban’s main spokesman for southern Afghanistan, said.

He said Abdur Rahman had been a madrassa student but had wanted to carry out a suicide attack. “He succeeded in his mission last Thursday,” he said.

Taliban fighters drove three captured Humvee vehicles into checkpoints during heavy fighting around Gereshk on Thursday.

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US forces confirm airstrike on Afghan security personnel in Helmand

The US Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) confirmed an airstrike on the Afghan security personnel in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan. “We confirm local security personnel aligned with Afghan Government forces were killed in an airstrike in Greshk district in Helmand province late this afternoon,” a statement by USFOR-A said. The statement further added “We would

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Suicide attacks plan on gatherings and protesters foiled in Kabul city

The Afghan security forces thwarted militants plan to carry out attack suicide attacks on gatherings and protesters in Kabul city. The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said two people who were planning the attacks were arrested by the intelligence operatives. A statement by NDS said four suicide bombings vests were also confiscated from

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Deadly clash erupts among ISIS militants and local residents in East of Afghanistan

A deadly clash erupted among the militants of ISIS terrorist group and local residents in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, leaving several people dead. According to the local officials in Nangarhar, the incident took place on Thursday in the vicinity of Khogyani district of Nangarhar province. The provincial government media office also confirmed the incident

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 supporting Operation Freedom Sentinel.

Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska, died July 3, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from wounds received during an indirect fire attack. The incident is under investigation.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

DOD:  The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

They died June 10 in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds sustained in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

The Soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Company D, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.

Killed were:

Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland;

Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California; and

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, North Carolina

Total Casualties

Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

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, Benefits, or Claims.

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21 Jul

Condoms don’t work, smoking doesn’t kill, GOP is saving Medicaid—the world class lies of Mike Pence

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21 Jul

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

Trump condemns Sessions: ‘I wouldn’t have hired him’ – audio

US president reveals his anger about attorney general Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia inquiry, saying if he had known that would happen he would have ‘picked somebody else’ for the job. Trump, speaking to the New York Times on Wednesday, also branded Sessions’s decision as “extremely unfair … to the president”

Trump is now attacking his own administration, including Jeff Sessions>>

Senator Mark Warner speaks out as reports emerge that US president’s lawyers are seeking to discredit Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation

Reports that US President Donald Trump may be exploring pardons for aides ‘extremely disturbing’ say Democrats.

Reports that US President Donald Trump may be exploring pardons for aides ‘extremely disturbing’ say Democrats. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The highest-ranking Democrat on the US Senate intelligence committee has said it was “extremely disturbing” if Donald Trump was contemplating a pardon for aides that could be implicated in a probe on Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Senator Mark Warner was referring to a Washington Post article late Thursday saying that Trump was consulting with advisers “about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself” in connection to the probe led by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller.

Trump’s lawyers were attempting to “corral the probe” and were compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest in order to “stymie his work”, according to the Post, which quoted anonymous sources for the article.

In a statement, Warner said that Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections “was an attack on our democracy. Both the Senate intelligence committee and special counsel Mueller are currently investigating whether any coordination occurred between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign”.

“The possibility that the president is considering pardons at this early stage in these ongoing investigations is extremely disturbing,” said Warner, the senior senator from Virginia and vice-chair of the intelligence committee.

“Pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line.”

The White House has yet to comment on the Post report.

In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Trump warned Mueller that some of his family finances should be off-limits to his investigation.

Asked if Mueller looking at finances unrelated to Russia would be a red line, Trump responded: “I would say yes.”

A move by Trump’s legal team to look for conflicts of interest among members of Mueller’s investigative team was also reported by both the New York Times and Associated Press on Thursday.

AP said two people with knowledge of the investigative process say efforts under way include exploring the political affiliations of Mueller’s investigators and their work history.

Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s external legal team, told AP that the lawyers “will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue”.

Read Full Article>>

Jeff Sessions on Trump criticism: I’ll stay ‘as long as appropriate’ – video>>

Janee Harteau distances herself from actions of officer Mohamed Noor in shooting of Australian woman in Minnesota

Guardian staff and agencies

Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau speaks for the first time in response to the death of Australian woman Justine Damond, who was fatally shot by an officer. Harteau says ‘this should not have happened’ and assures Justine’s family, as well as ‘those in Australia’, that she will do everything in her power to make sure ‘due process is followed and justice is served’

The Minneapolis police chief has said the fatal shooting of Australian woman Justine Damond “shouldn’t have happened” and that it was the result of the actions and the flawed judgment of one officer.

The death of Damond, 40, who was fired at multiple times through the open window of a police patrol car, has outraged her relatives and the public in both Australia and the United States. The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, called it “shocking” and “inexplicable”.

The police chief, Janee Harteau, who was on leave at the time of the shooting last week, distanced the police department from the actions of officer Mohamed Noor in her first public comments on the matter. Her press conference also followed the release a statement by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension [BCA] on the investigation on Thursday.

“Justine didn’t have to die. Based on the publicly released information from the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension], this should not have happened,” Harteau said.

“On our squad cars you will find the words, ‘To protect with courage and serve with compassion.’ This did not happen. Having the information that is publicly available right now recognising there’s an open BCA investigation.”

Harteau said Noor’s shooting of Lamond, who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault and was in her pyjamas when she approached the squad car and was shot multiple times, “go against who we are as a department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers”.

Harteau also questioned the training and body camera procedures that the police department had in place. “We had the cameras for about eight months, so it’s not second nature for officers to put those cameras on yet,” she said.

Flowers are placed at a memorial for Justine Damond on the steps of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community church in south Minneapolis.

Flowers are placed at a memorial for Justine Damond on the steps of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community church in south Minneapolis. Photograph: Aaron Lavinsky/AP

“Which is why we want to do everything we can in training and in policy to ensure that they’re put on before an officer arrives at the scene, because one can never predict when something is going to happen.”

Harteau said she had spoken to Damon’s family and fiance, Don Damond, on Thursday morning.

“I told him I was sorry for his loss and that this did not have to happen,” Harteau said.

“Don expressed the concern and fear our community may have in calling 911. Although disheartening, I understand the fear and why it exists.

“This has had a negative impact on the community trust we have built.”

Justine Damond and her partner Don Damond.

Justine Damond and her partner Don Damond. Photograph: Facebook

Responding to a question from a reporter that it was rare for a police chief to publicly disown an officer under investigation, Harteau acknowledged it was unusual but said “each situation is different, and when information has been made public, I certainly can speak on what the public knows”.

Noor should have had his body camera activated and the department was working on ways to ensure cameras are on when they should be, such as automatically turning on recording when a gun is drawn, she said.

Noor has refused to speak to investigators, which Harteau said was his “constitutional right”.

In response to a question from another reporter citing speculation that Noor was an “affirmative action hire” and did not receive adequate police training, Harteau said: “It’s not about race or ethnicity. We have a very robust training and hiring process. This officer completed that training, very well, just like every officer, he was very suited to be on the street.”

Harteau’s press conference came hours after a lawyer who represented another police shooting victim in Minnesota said Damond’s family had hired him.

The lawyer, Bob Bennett, reached a nearly $3m settlement in June for the family of black motorist Philando Castile from the St Paul, Minnesota, suburb of St Anthony. Castile was shot and killed in July 2016 during a traffic stop.

“Usually people who call the police in their pyjamas are not ambushers, especially spiritual healers and pacifists,” Bennett said in a telephone interview. Damond owned a meditation and life-coaching company.

“You shouldn’t shoot unarmed people who call the cops,” Bennett said.

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The life of our reef is intimately linked to the health of our politics and the future of our communities. Coal has no role to play

 

Environmental activists voice their opposition to Indian mining company Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, outside Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia, 25 May 2017.

Environmental activists voice their opposition to Indian mining company Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, outside Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia, 25 May 2017. Photograph: Dan Peled/EPA

Ten years ago, David Simon’s iconic TV series The Wire portrayed contemporary Baltimore as wracked by illegal drug use, violent crime and failing institutions. But underneath the symptoms were the structures of political economy. As the show’s tagline had it, “everything is connected”. Simons explained that the show was intended to depict “a world in which capital has triumphed completely, labour has been marginalised and moneyed interests have purchased enough political infrastructure to prevent reform.”

A world away and the idea that everything is connected through a malformed political economy is also central to Anna Krien’s recent Quarterly Essay, The Long Goodbye. Coal, Coral and Australia’s Climate Deadlock. In Krien’s Australia, it is the power of the coal industry that is the fundamental problem.

Journeying across Australia, Krien visits proposed mine sites, coastal and inland towns, and snorkels the Great Barrier Reef. Everywhere she goes, there is evidence of the coal industry’s malign influence, distorting civic debate with dodgy jobs figures, marginalising other voices, corrupting politics, thwarting urgent reform for the common good, and driving the carbon pollution that is killing our reef.

With an evocative eye for human detail, Krien shows that in addition to being unsustainable in environmental terms, the coal industry is also terrible for the health of our democracy. The revolving door of elites is “a harmonious shifting of bodies in and out of politics, fossil fuel industry groups, energy and mining companies”. The access enjoyed by coal mining lobbyists (“always happy to see you”) is contrasted with the eminent scientist who can’t get a meeting with the minister.

Regulations are written to suit big coal – not the fresh water, farmland, wildlife or people they are notionally intended to protect. When someone is plucky enough to take the big companies on – a farmer, an Indigenous group, an environmental group – the coal mining companies get into fits of temper about the rules, and politicians are inclined to reward the tantrums by making things even easier.

The economics of coal doesn’t make sense but, says Krien, “it all adds up” because “spending has been locked in, promises made, factions formed, donations offered”. She concludes that Australia’s political system is effectively captive, subject to a “Stockholm syndrome built on donations, royalties, taxes and threats”.

In Krien’s account, the symptoms of coal’s unhealthy influence on Australian politics are seen to spin out in all directions, from the political response to the tenacious struggle of Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to stop the Adani mine, to Tony Abbott’s obsessive war on renewable energy, to the distortion of Australia’s global diplomatic agenda.

A broader idea of sustainable business denotes an appreciation that the proper role of business in a democracy and society has limits. It would be for the good of Australia if many of the connections described by Krien could be loosened or severed. “Ban political donations”, says Krien; but there is much more that can be done, including improving freedom of information laws, slamming shut the revolving doors, addressing the crisis in mainstream media diversity, introducing next generation anti-pollution laws, ensuring affected citizens have proper access to environmental justice, imposing the full costs of mine remediation on the perpetrators, and ending all tax breaks to fossil fuel companies and their representatives. And we need a federal Icac.

Perhaps above all, a moratorium on new coal developments is now essential to meeting globally agreed climate targets. But taking the expansion of the coal industry out of the game is not only essential to halting global warming but could also be a bonanza for improving and cleaning up our democracy.

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Opinion

The reasons for her low appeal need to be confronted by the Democratic establishment. And it would be wrong to pin it all on sexism

Donald Trump

‘The Democratic establishment appears to not be learning any lessons.’ Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump is one of the least popular politicians in the history of the United States. Yet, Trump is still more popular than Hillary Clinton. Let that sink in.

According to the latest Bloomberg National Poll, Trump has a net favorability of 41% whereas Clinton has a net favorability of 39%. If Democrats are to escape the political wilderness, they will have to leave Clinton and her brand of politics in the woods.

Now, there is no doubt that Clinton has suffered sexist double standards just as Barack Obama encountered racist double standards. Trump labeled her “Crooked Hillary” and his supporters rallied around the chant “Lock her up”. Rich in hypocrisy, Trump has continued to attack Clinton for her emails even though his son has proven to have done much worse.

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to pin all of Clinton’s unpopularity on sexism and the conspiracies of the extreme right. The Bloomberg poll demonstrates that more than one-fifth of Clinton supporters say they now have an unfavorable view of her. Based on follow-up interviews with poll participants, many Clinton voters expressed that their negative feelings were not simply due to her losing but were about the Democratic party’s positioning for the future.

Even though Clinton has blamed everyone but herself, it is clear that her campaign’s failure to galvanize voter turnout was one of the biggest reasons why Trump won. Her checkered record on progressive policies, bland centrist message and the Democrats’ presumption that Trump’s nomination sealed their victory probably did not help.

Clinton has largely kept a low profile since the election, occasionally sending Twitter barbs in Trump’s direction. The best case scenario for Democrats is for Clinton – and her family – to stay away. The wise thing for the party to do is to abandon the failed “Third Way” centrist politics that she and her husband have come to exemplify.

Even so, the Democratic establishment appears to not be learning any lessons. Kamala Harris, the first-term California senator rumored to be a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, recently mingled with top Clinton donors and supporters in the Hamptons. Apparently tying rising talent to the infrastructure of a politician less popular than Trump is the game plan for moving forward.

Playing mostly defense against Trump and talking a lot about Russia, the Democratic establishment has struggled to develop an alternative message that Americans find attractive. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 37% of the country believes Democrats “stand for something”. Even the new sticker options for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are depressingly shallow. Some of the slogans read: “Make Congress Blue Again” and “I Mean, Have You Seen The Other Guys?”

Although the establishment comes across as unimaginative and clueless, it is not as if Democrats lack other options. Bernie Sanders has become and remains the most popular politician in the whole country. His bold and progressive populist campaign may have lost out to Clinton in the primaries, but it may reflect a more viable blueprint for the future. The question is whether Clinton loyalists will put aside their purity politics and be pragmatic enough to change the direction of the party.

Looking across the pond, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party provides another example to learn from. Dismissed by Blairite centrists in his own party, Corbyn not only over-performed in the general election, he rewrote British politics.

As Matthew Yglesias argued in Vox, Corbyn’s electoral map looks a lot like Clinton’s; not only did he inspire young voters in a similar way to how Sanders did here, Corbyn ran on a bold policy agenda. In an age in which voters are characterized as irrational creatures who don’t vote because of policy, YouGov found that the top reason supporters backed Labour was because of the party’s social democratic manifesto.

Democrats have become a tale of two wings. If the Clintonite establishment wing comes across as hopelessly uninspiring, the Berniecrat progressive wing has appeared energetic and full of ideas. Consider the #PeoplesPlatform sponsored this week by Sanders’ Our Revolution alongside other organizations, such as Democratic Socialists of America, Women’s March and Fight for 15. This platform – which Americans can sign a petition for – urges Democrats in Congress to support bills, such as Medicare for All, Free College Tuition, Voting Rights and Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights.

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