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16 Jan

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.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

Le Monde>>

View All>>

World Politics

Great Britain

Ben Jennings on Theresa May and a possible delay to Brexit – cartoon

Ben Jennings 14.01.19

Illustration: Ben Jennings for the Guardian

United States

Former Trump campaign chief started communicating with Konstantin Kilimnik on plan for future of Ukraine in 2016

Robert Mueller alleges that Paul Manafort, above, lied when he claimed he had no communication with Trump administration figures after they took office.

Robert Mueller alleges that Paul Manafort, above, lied when he claimed he had no communication with Trump administration figures after they took office. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Paul Manafort and an alleged Russian intelligence operative hatched a plan for the future of Ukraine during the 2016 presidential election campaign that continued even after Manafort was criminally charged, prosecutors indicated on Tuesday.

The office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, said in a court filing that Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, communicated with Konstantin Kilimnik between August 2016 and March 2018 about a topic that was blacked out from public view.

But an exhibit included with the heavily redacted court filing showed that Manafort worked on a Microsoft Word document titled “new initiative for peace” in February 2018 as part of his continuing discussions with Kilimnik.

Attorneys for Manafort, 69, revealed in a separate court filing last week that he is accused by Mueller of discussing a “Ukraine peace plan” with Kilimnik “on more than one occasion” – and then lying about it when questioned by investigators.

The allegations, if confirmed, would mean that Trump’s campaign chief was working on a plan to settle Russia’s conflict with Ukraine on terms favourable for the Kremlin while the Russian government was interfering in the 2016 US election to help Trump.

US intelligence chiefs concluded that the Russian interference operation was ordered by Vladimir Putin to benefit Trump’s campaign and harm Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent. Mueller is investigating whether Trump associates were involved in the Russian activities.

Kilimnik, 48, trained at a university connected to Russia’s military intelligence agency, formerly known as the GRU, which allegedly spearheaded the Kremlin’s effort to disrupt the 2016 election.

Mueller has said Kilimnik was described as “a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU” by Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy on the Trump campaign. Kilimnik denies that he worked for Russian intelligence.

Manafort and Gates were indicted on financial crimes in October 2017 in Washington and for further offences in Virginia in February 2018. Gates struck a plea deal with Mueller’s team. Manafort was convicted in Virginia on eight counts and later pleaded guilty to charges in Washington.

The filing by Mueller’s team on Tuesday was intended to support its allegations that Manafort lied about several subjects even after he pleaded guilty and began cooperating with the investigation. The alleged lies prompted Mueller to tear up a deal that promised Manafort favourable treatment when he is sentenced.

Manafort’s attorneys deny that he intentionally lied. They blamed his false statements on a failure to recall certain details and his lack of access in jail to records that could jog his memory.

Mueller alleges that Manafort lied when he said he had no communication with members of Trump’s administration after they entered office in January 2017. Tuesday’s filing said Gates told investigators Manafort boasted that month that he was getting people “appointed in the administration” via an intermediary.

On 28 May 2018, according to Tuesday’s filing, Manafort was sent a text message by an associate, who asked: “If I see POTUS one on one next week am I ok to remind him of our relationship?” Manafort allegedly replied: “Yes” and “even if not one on one”.

Manafort joined Trump’s campaign at the end of March 2016 and was promoted to campaign chairman that May. Following revelations that he received millions of dollars in illicit funds from Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin former president, the campaign announced on 19 August 2016 that Manafort was leaving.

Mueller’s team said on Tuesday that Manafort and Kilimnik discussed the Ukraine peace plan in person and in messages from 2 August 2016. Kilimnik has previously said the pair met in New York around that date.

Read Full Article>>

Administration’s alternative to clean power plan would let emissions ‘rebound’ via coal-fired power plants, researchers find

‘It’s a recipe for increased carbon emissions,’ says a study coauthor of Trump’s plan.

‘It’s a recipe for increased carbon emissions,’ says a study coauthor of Trump’s plan. Photograph: J David Ake/AP

The Trump administration’s replacement for the linchpin Obama-era plan to combat climate change would increase greenhouse gas emissions in much of the US more than doing nothing at all, according to new research.

Planet-warming emissions would “rebound” under the Trump policy, researchers found, as it delays the retirement of coal-fired power plants. Carbon dioxide emissions would be 8.7% higher in 18 states and Washington DC by 2030, compared with having no policy at all.

The study by Harvard comes ahead of a congressional hearing on Wednesday to confirm Andrew Wheeler as the administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and an architect of the new Trump emissions policy, has been acting EPA administrator since his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, departed last July.

“This new plan essentially gives out a free pass for carbon pollution,” said Kathleen Lambert, an expert in climate change and public health at Harvard who coauthored the research. “It’s a recipe for increased carbon emissions. It will make it even harder for the US to meet its emissions targets under the Paris accord and sets us in exactly the opposite direction we need to go in.”

The world faces disastrous climate change in the form of flooded coastlines, droughts, food insecurity and deadly heatwaves without radical cuts in greenhouse gases, with scientists warning that emissions must be halved within 11 years and completely eliminated by 2050 to avoid breaching critical warming thresholds.

Despite this urgency, greenhouse gas emissions crept up in the US as well as globally last year. The EPA’s rollback “could make things even worse”, said Jonathan Buonocore, another co-author of the Harvard report. “This will throw a wrench into the climate action plans for many states and cities.”

The clean power plan, crafted by the Obama administration, would have set limits on carbon pollution and helped phase out the use of coal, the most polluting energy source for greenhouse gases. The plan was halted due to legal action, with the Trump administration intending to replace it with a watered-down alternative called the affordable clean energy rule.

The new rule sets no pollution limits for states and merely advises them to make power plants more efficient. Harvard researchers, who used EPA’s own data, found such upgrades would probably enable coal-fired power plants to run for longer, boosting output of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

Carbon emissions at nearly a third of coal plants would escalate over the next decade compared with no policy at all, the research found, while 20 states would experience climbing levels of sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides, which can form harmful smog.

The EPA’s own analysis has shown the new Trump administration plan would result in about 1,000 additional deaths a year and raise carbon emissions by 3.5% compared with the clean power plan.

The dismantling of Obama’s signature climate policy is a key priority for Wheeler, who has abetted Trump in his zeal for deregulation.

The acting administrator has overseen efforts to undo restrictions on power plants emitting mercury, a powerful toxin, as well as pare back clean car standards. There has also been a slowdown in the EPA’s pursuit of polluters, with 2018 marking a 30-year low in the number of cases referred by the agency for criminal prosecution.

Trump has said Wheeler has done “a fantastic job and I want to congratulate him”. The president nominated Wheeler to become permanent EPA administrator last week, with the confirmation process to push ahead despite a government shutdown.

He is likely to be approved by the Senate committee on environment and public works before being confirmed by the Senate itself, with both bodies controlled by Republicans.

“Putting a coal lobbyist like Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA is like giving a bank robber the keys to the vault,” said Matthew Gravatt, the associate legislative director of the Sierra Club, one of nine environmental groups that called on senior Republicans to delay Wheeler’s confirmation hearings.

“Wheeler isn’t just friendly with corporate polluters, he’s been on their team for years.”

Read Full Article>>

Kirsten Gillibrand: New York Democrat will run for president in 2020>>

Trump’s attorney general pick says Mueller report may not be made public>>

 

 

After extreme weather-related events, there is ‘need for international cooperation’

a melting glacier

World Economic Forum chief Børge Brende wants ‘coordinated, concerted action’ among world’s powers to halt climate change Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Growing tension between the world’s major powers is the most urgent global risk and makes it harder to mobilise collective action to tackle climate change, according to a report prepared for next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The WEF’s annual global risks report found that a year of extreme weather-related events meant environmental issues topped the list of concerns in a survey of around 1,000 experts and decision-makers.

But with Donald Trump announcing protectionist measures aimed at China and the European Union in 2018, the report said the international cooperation needed to limit further global warming was breaking down.

“Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening,” the report said, noting that nine out of 10 people polled said they expected relations between the leading powers to worsen in 2019.

“The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centred politics, noted in last year’s Global Risks Report, continued throughout 2018.”

The global economy slowed in the second-half of 2018 and the report said activity this year would be held back by growing geo-economic tensions, with 88% of respondents expecting further erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements.

Børge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum, said: “With global trade and economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation.”

“We simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown that current dynamics might lead us towards. What we need now is coordinated, concerted action to sustain growth and to tackle the grave threats facing our world today,” he said.

Environmental risks continued to dominate the risks report, although there were also long-term concerns about the dangers posed by cybersecurity breaches in the years ahead.

The report tracks five environmental risks: biodiversity loss, extreme weather events, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, man-made disasters, and natural disasters. All five are thought to be in the high-impact, high-likelihood category.

The risks report is a collaboration between the WEF, the Zurich Insurance Group and the professional services firm Marsh & McLennan

“It is no surprise that in 2019, environmental risks once again dominate the list of major concerns. So, too, does the growing likelihood of environmental policy failure or a lack of timely policy implementation.”

Martin said a significant increase in infrastructure was needed to effectively respond to climate change in order to adapt to the new environment and transition to a low-carbon economy.

She added: “By 2040, the investment gap in global infrastructure is forecast to reach $18tn against a projected requirement of $97tn. Against this backdrop, we strongly recommend that businesses develop a climate resilience adaptation strategy and act on it now.”

Trump’s “America First” agenda has involved pulling the US out of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, the introduction of tariffs on imports into the US, the announcement that American troops are being pulled out of Syria and the decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

The risks report said: “Reconfiguring the relations of deeply integrated countries is fraught with potential risks, and trade and investment relations among many of the world’s powers were difficult during 2018.

“Against this backdrop, it is likely to become more difficult to make collective progress on other global challenges – from protecting the environment to responding to the ethical challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.”

Read Full Article>>

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15 Jan

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

Damn The War Criminals,

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England.

Afghan War Children

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.

Civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan (2001–present)

During the war in Afghanistan (2001–present), over 31,000 civilian deaths due to war-related violence have been documented;[1][2] 29,900 civilians have been wounded.[2] Over 111,000 Afghans, including civilians, soldiers and militants, are estimated to have been killed in the conflict.[1] The Cost of War project estimated that the number who have died through indirect causes related to the war may be as high 360,000 additional people based on a ratio of indirect to direct deaths in contemporary conflicts.[3] These numbers do not include those who have died in Pakistan.

The war, launched by the United States as “Operation Enduring Freedom” in 2001, began with an initial air campaign that almost immediately prompted concerns over the number of Afghan civilians being killed[4] as well as international protests. With civilian deaths from airstrikes rising again in recent years,[5] the number of Afghan civilians being killed by foreign military operations has led to mounting tension between the foreign countries and the government of Afghanistan. In May 2007, President Hamid Karzai summoned foreign military commanders to warn them of the consequences of further Afghan civilian deaths.[6] The civilian losses are a continuation of the extremely high civilian losses experienced during the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s, and the three periods of civil war following it: 1989–1992, 1992–1996, and 1996–2001.

The McGlynn

War News

REU: U.N. delivers food for 9.5 million in Yemen last month, shy of target

FILE PHOTO: Internally displaced people gather to collect food aid from an ICRC aid distribution centre in Bajil, Yemen, December 13, 2018, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. food agency delivered emergency food and vouchers for over 9.5 million people in Yemen in December, just shy of its 10 million monthly target in the famine-threatened country, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Yemen’s nearly four-year war and economic collapse have left 15.9 million people, 53 percent of the population, facing “severe acute food insecurity”, and famine looms if immediate action is not taken, a survey said last month.

“We were at a bit less than 10 million because the actual situation slowed down a bit the distribution in some areas. The security is not as good as expected in some areas,” World Food Programme spokesman Herve Verhoosel told a Geneva news briefing.

“Some of our trucks were also stopped for longer than usual in some security checkpoints.”

Verhoosel later clarified that the figures represented food aid that was “dispatched” to local distribution centers across Yemen but not all had been handed out to recipients yet.

The WFP, which got supplies to 7-8 million Yemenis in November, is trying to reach as many as 12 million people at risk of starvation. In December it said that some food aid meant for Yemenis was being stolen and sold in some areas controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthi militia.

Read Full Article>>

BBC: Saudi Prince al-Faisal warns against US Syria pullout

A senior member of the Saudi royal family has warned against a US troop withdrawal from Syria.

Prince Turki al-Faisal told the BBC the action would have a negative impact, further entrenching Iran, Russia and the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

US President Donald Trump announced in December that it was time to bring US troops home from Syria.

Prince Turki was speaking just before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began a visit to Riyadh.

Mr Pompeo is on a tour of the Middle East, and has already visited Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain.

What did Prince Faisal say?

He said that the world community was guilty of neglecting the Syrian people and the US troop withdrawal would make things worse.

“The US actions from my perspective is that it is going to further complicate, rather find any solutions to it and further entrench not only the Iranians, but also the Russians and Bashar al Assad, so from the perspective it is a very negative development,” he said.

The prince added that the departure of Defence Secretary James Mattis in December was unlikely to help matters either.

Read Full Article>>

GUARD: Yemen conflict: Trump faces bipartisan move to end Saudi support

Newly empowered Democrats could force president to use veto to continue unpopular war

Congress is expected to make an unprecedented challenge to Donald Trump’s authority to take the US into a war in the coming weeks, with a bipartisan measure calling for the end of US military involvement in the Yemen conflict.

The Senate passed the measure, invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution, last month but a parallel effort in the House of Representatives was sunk by the Republican leadership. Now the House is under Democratic control, there is a plan to put forward identical measures in both chambers, which would put a permanent end to US refuelling, logistical support, intelligence and special forces operations with the Saudi-led coalition.

It would force Trump to accept the constraints on his executive power, or use his veto to continue an unpopular war, in support of an unpopular ally in Riyadh.

It is unlikely his opponents could muster the two-thirds majorities in each house required to override the veto, but the standoff would highlight the deep divide between the president and Congress over Saudi relations, at a time when Yemen is on the brink of famine, and in the wake of the brutal murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul……………..Since the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi by Saudi operatives, Trump, Pompeo and Mattis played down the culpability of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close Trump ally, in spite of a CIA assessment that he almost certainly ordered the murder. Administration briefings and attempts to prevent the CIA director, Gina Haspel, briefing Congress, angered members on both sides of the aisle.

“It has made members of Congress more willing to assert their article 1 rights of having a role in foreign policy,” Khanna said. The first article of the US constitution formally gives Congress the sole authority to declare war, but that has been largely ignored by a succession of presidents from both parties. Khanna argues that the Trump administration will force the legislature to take its duties more seriously.

“The overreach by the administration and the disregard for Congress has awakened Congress from our slumber,” he said.

Read Full Article>>

REU: Afghan Taliban claim lethal car bomb attack in Kabul

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a car bomb attack near a heavily fortified foreign compound in Kabul that killed five people, including an Indian national.

The bombing sparked international condemnation as efforts increase to strike a peace deal with the Islamic insurgents to end more than 17 years of war.

More than 110 people were wounded in the blast near the Green Village compound, which houses several international companies and charities, in eastern Kabul.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militants were responsible for the attack in which he claimed dozens of foreign and Afghan security forces were killed and wounded.

“Five attackers, including the suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle, were involved,” Mujahid said in a statement.

The Taliban often inflate casualty figures in attacks against government or foreign targets.

Read Full Article>>

AP: Supreme Court rejects appeal over military burn pits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is rejecting appeals from military veterans who claim they suffer health problems because of open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The justices on Monday left in place a federal appeals court ruling that more than 60 lawsuits over the burn pits could not go forward.

The lawsuits said military contractor KBR dumped tires, batteries, medical waste and other materials into open burn pits. The suits claimed the resulting smoke caused neurological problems, cancers and other health issues in more than 800 service members. The complaints said at least 12 service members died.

The appeals court said KBR was essentially under military control and had little discretion in deciding how to manage the waste. KBR’s attorney said the decision to use burn pits “was made by the military.”

KBR was formerly owned by Halliburton Corp.

AP: Taliban suicide bomber kills 4, wounds over 100 in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least four people and wounded scores when he detonated an explosive-laden vehicle late in the evening in the Afghan capital, officials said Tuesday.

Afghan security forces gather at the site a day after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle in the capital Kabul on Monday evening, according to officials. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

It was the latest in a relentless wave of near daily attacks by the Taliban, who now hold sway over about half of the country and regularly target Afghan forces. The violence comes despite stepped-up efforts by the United States to find a negotiated end to the country’s 17-year war.

Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said as many as 113 wounded were taken to different hospitals in Kabul after the Monday evening explosion near the Green Village compound, home to several international organizations and guesthouses.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry condemned the bombing, in which it said a German police officer was also lightly wounded.

The area has been the frequent target of attacks in the past. Many foreigners live in the compound, which is heavily guarded by Afghan forces and also private security guards. Roads to the area remained blocked by security forces through the night and into Tuesday morning.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the attack in a statement to the media, saying it involved five attackers, including the suicide bomber. The four other attackers engaged Afghan forces in a clash, he said, without elaborating on what happened to them.

One of the victims, 35-year-old pharmacists Emal Fayzi, said he was wounded by shrapnel in the chest as he was walking home in the evening. The blast was so strong, he couldn’t see anything for a while. Later, he realized he was inside an ambulance.

“No one is safe in this country, innocent and poor people are the victims of these attacks,” Fayzi said from his hospital bed.

Read Full Article>>

NYT: Squabble Over Venue Latest Hurdle in Taliban-U.S. Peace Talks

KABUL — Efforts to negotiate a peace deal to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan, already beset by disagreement about the agenda, are facing a new hurdle over the venue for the talks.

Last week, Taliban leaders called off a fourth round of talks with U.S. officials in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar due to an “agenda disagreement”, and refused to allow “puppet” Afghan government officials to join.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, is holding talks with regional powers and was expected to meet the Taliban in the coming days.

But diplomatic sources said differences over the venue had caused a delay.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE (United Arab Emirates), have made it clear that they will not participate in the peace talks if the meeting takes place in Qatar. But the Taliban insists on holding them in Qatar,” said a Kabul-based diplomat whose country shares a border with Afghanistan.

Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

None

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

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 Program Locator 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

A Syrian man begs for money for his family on a roadside in Manbij, northern Syria (31 December 2018)

Syrian War Refugees

Please do not forget the children.

The McGlynn

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14 Jan

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.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

Le Monde>>

View All>>

Isolated in Berlin Trump’s Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany

Since arriving in Berlin as U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell has flouted diplomatic conventions and attempted to interfere in domestic politics. He has since become politically isolated in the German capital.

By

Photo Gallery: Trump's Man in Berlin

Tucker Carlson’s worldview doesn’t come across as particularly complex. It can be summed up in three words: Foreigners threaten America. That’s all that’s needed for good ratings.

His show on the right-wing Fox News channel is among the most successful political shows on American cable TV. The mouthpiece of the American neo-Nazis, the Daily Stormer, has described him as “literally our greatest ally.” His most prominent viewer is Donald Trump.

In late November, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” once again tackled the subject of immigration, and, not for the first time, Germany. On the show, “Lessons from Germany” appeared in big red letters next to a photo of a grim German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her face framed by a Russian and a Turkish flag.

Carlson was joined by a special guest from Berlin, a man with short, gelled hair sitting before a backdrop of the nighttime Brandenburg Gate dressed in a suit jacket but no tie: U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell. The 52-year-old has been Trump’s man in the German capital since May.

Carlson was happy to cede the spotlight for the interview. After all, Grenell didn’t need much encouragement. He had been a pundit on Fox News for a long time and knew what was expected of him. He is not known for keeping his opinions to himself.

The ambassador made it clear in just a few sentences how little he thought of the chancellor’s refugee policy. “There was no plan in place,” he said, “so the policy really fell apart.” He claimed that anyone calling for secure borders in Germany today faces an “overreaction.” The discourse, he said, is largely being controlled by “elites in Berlin” and he argued that anyone who speaks openly about the issue runs the risk of being portrayed as being part of the “radical far-right” by the German media.

Sebastian Kurz, Grenell said, “won in a very big way” in Austria because he called for clear immigration rules. As a result, he said, the young chancellor was becoming popular “throughout Germany,” adding that everyday Germans and Europeans were yearning for leaders who want secure borders.

Grenell’s TV interview was a thinly veiled call for a change of government in Berlin. It was akin to a German ambassador in Washington attacking the American president’s immigration policy on German public television and then touting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a role model.

Refrain from Meddling

Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relationships obligates diplomats to refrain from meddling in their guest country’s domestic affairs. Their duty is to cultivate discreet contacts within the country’s government apparatus and to further their own government’s positions.

In Berlin, the representatives of Germany’s most important ally usually have the easiest jobs. Many previous U.S. ambassadors were major political and social figures in the capital, enjoying excellent connections to the Chancellery and federal ministries, and playing host to the most powerful and influential personalities in Germany.

Barack Obama’s ambassador, Philip Murphy, invited longtime adversaries Helmut Kohl and Merkel to his dining room in 2012 for discreet talks aimed at reducing the tensions between them. By the time his tenure was over after four years, he had made so many friends he had to rent out the Olympic Stadium for his goodbye party.

Grenell has taken a different path. On the day he took up his post, he tweeted that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” Martin Schulz, the former head of the center-left Social Democratic Party, compared his behavior to that of “a right-wing extremist colonial officer.” Four weeks later in Breitbart, the main organ of the pro-Trump, right-wing “alt-right” movement, Grenell essentially called for regime change. “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe,” he said.

These days, the spotlight on Grenell seems to have grown dimmer, though not necessarily by choice. He still tweets assiduously and he never seems to say no when Fox News calls, but in Berlin, he has largely become isolated. The powerful avoid him. Doors have been shut. Few politicians to the left of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AFD) and the populist-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), want to be seen with him.

Anti-Americanism

In the week before Christmas, Grenell wrote a letter to DER SPIEGEL about the Relotius case, in which longtime DER SPIEGEL journalist Claas Relotius was revealed to have invented reporting for several of his stories, including about the United States. Grenell was justifiably angry, but he didn’t stop there. He accused DER SPIEGEL of anti-Americanism, writing that the United States was clearly “targeted by institutional bias.”

DER SPIEGEL editors and reporters, he argued, had regularly published reports “which could have been proven untrue if they had checked the facts with the Embassy first.” He also wrote that “unfortunately, it is common practice for Spiegel reporters to not even call us before writing.”

DER SPIEGEL has been reporting this article since October and sent multiple interview requests to Grenell since early December, to no avail. On Thursday, the embassy answered a list of questions with a written statement: “All seven of your questions are based on fabricated stories that are not true. Every one of the questions assumes something that is false. Konstantin von Hammerstein uses the same tactics as Claas Relotius by pushing a false narrative with anonymous sources.”

Because the ambassador was unwilling to grant an interview, DER SPIEGEL focused its reporting on conversations with more than 30 sources who have come into contact with Grenell. These include numerous American and German diplomats, cabinet members, lawmakers, high-ranking officials, lobbyists and think tank experts. They were all willing to speak openly but did not want to be quoted by name.

Almost all of these sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others. After one of his appearances, we were told, he asked almost shyly how he had done.

They also say Grenell knows little about Germany and Europe, that he ignores most of the dossiers his colleagues at the embassy write for him, and that his knowledge of the subject matter is superficial. “Ric only scratches the surface,” said one person who regularly interacts with him.

Read Full Article>>

Tucker Carlson’s worldview doesn’t come across as particularly complex. It can be summed up in three words: Foreigners threaten America. That’s all that’s needed for good ratings.

His show on the right-wing Fox News channel is among the most successful political shows on American cable TV. The mouthpiece of the American neo-Nazis, the Daily Stormer, has described him as “literally our greatest ally.” His most prominent viewer is Donald Trump.

In late November, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” once again tackled the subject of immigration, and, not for the first time, Germany. On the show, “Lessons from Germany” appeared in big red letters next to a photo of a grim German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her face framed by a Russian and a Turkish flag.

Carlson was joined by a special guest from Berlin, a man with short, gelled hair sitting before a backdrop of the nighttime Brandenburg Gate dressed in a suit jacket but no tie: U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell. The 52-year-old has been Trump’s man in the German capital since May.

Carlson was happy to cede the spotlight for the interview. After all, Grenell didn’t need much encouragement. He had been a pundit on Fox News for a long time and knew what was expected of him. He is not known for keeping his opinions to himself.

The ambassador made it clear in just a few sentences how little he thought of the chancellor’s refugee policy. “There was no plan in place,” he said, “so the policy really fell apart.” He claimed that anyone calling for secure borders in Germany today faces an “overreaction.” The discourse, he said, is largely being controlled by “elites in Berlin” and he argued that anyone who speaks openly about the issue runs the risk of being portrayed as being part of the “radical far-right” by the German media.

Sebastian Kurz, Grenell said, “won in a very big way” in Austria because he called for clear immigration rules. As a result, he said, the young chancellor was becoming popular “throughout Germany,” adding that everyday Germans and Europeans were yearning for leaders who want secure borders.

Grenell’s TV interview was a thinly veiled call for a change of government in Berlin. It was akin to a German ambassador in Washington attacking the American president’s immigration policy on German public television and then touting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a role model.

Refrain from Meddling

Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relationships obligates diplomats to refrain from meddling in their guest country’s domestic affairs. Their duty is to cultivate discreet contacts within the country’s government apparatus and to further their own government’s positions.

In Berlin, the representatives of Germany’s most important ally usually have the easiest jobs. Many previous U.S. ambassadors were major political and social figures in the capital, enjoying excellent connections to the Chancellery and federal ministries, and playing host to the most powerful and influential personalities in Germany.

Barack Obama’s ambassador, Philip Murphy, invited longtime adversaries Helmut Kohl and Merkel to his dining room in 2012 for discreet talks aimed at reducing the tensions between them. By the time his tenure was over after four years, he had made so many friends he had to rent out the Olympic Stadium for his goodbye party.

Grenell has taken a different path. On the day he took up his post, he tweeted that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” Martin Schulz, the former head of the center-left Social Democratic Party, compared his behavior to that of “a right-wing extremist colonial officer.” Four weeks later in Breitbart, the main organ of the pro-Trump, right-wing “alt-right” movement, Grenell essentially called for regime change. “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe,” he said.

These days, the spotlight on Grenell seems to have grown dimmer, though not necessarily by choice. He still tweets assiduously and he never seems to say no when Fox News calls, but in Berlin, he has largely become isolated. The powerful avoid him. Doors have been shut. Few politicians to the left of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AFD) and the populist-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), want to be seen with him.

Anti-Americanism

In the week before Christmas, Grenell wrote a letter to DER SPIEGEL about the Relotius case, in which longtime DER SPIEGEL journalist Claas Relotius was revealed to have invented reporting for several of his stories, including about the United States. Grenell was justifiably angry, but he didn’t stop there. He accused DER SPIEGEL of anti-Americanism, writing that the United States was clearly “targeted by institutional bias.”

DER SPIEGEL editors and reporters, he argued, had regularly published reports “which could have been proven untrue if they had checked the facts with the Embassy first.” He also wrote that “unfortunately, it is common practice for Spiegel reporters to not even call us before writing.”

DER SPIEGEL has been reporting this article since October and sent multiple interview requests to Grenell since early December, to no avail. On Thursday, the embassy answered a list of questions with a written statement: “All seven of your questions are based on fabricated stories that are not true. Every one of the questions assumes something that is false. Konstantin von Hammerstein uses the same tactics as Claas Relotius by pushing a false narrative with anonymous sources.”

Because the ambassador was unwilling to grant an interview, DER SPIEGEL focused its reporting on conversations with more than 30 sources who have come into contact with Grenell. These include numerous American and German diplomats, cabinet members, lawmakers, high-ranking officials, lobbyists and think tank experts. They were all willing to speak openly but did not want to be quoted by name.

Almost all of these sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others. After one of his appearances, we were told, he asked almost shyly how he had done.

They also say Grenell knows little about Germany and Europe, that he ignores most of the dossiers his colleagues at the embassy write for him, and that his knowledge of the subject matter is superficial. “Ric only scratches the surface,” said one person who regularly interacts with him.

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Trial is notable for highlighting land and nature defender murders that ordinarily go unpunished

Demonstrators outside court during the murder trial of activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras.

Demonstrators outside court during the murder trial of activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras. Photograph: Jorge Cabrera/Reuters

The sentencing on Thursday of seven men accused of murdering the Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres is only partial justice, but it should inspire anyone committed to ending the slaughter of land and nature defenders around the globe.

A court in Tegucigalpa handed down guilty verdicts on all but one of the eight accused, including two employees of the hydro-electric dam company that the indigenous Lenca woman had been campaigning against before her assassination on 2 March 2016.

The Goldman environmental prize winner was shot in her home by armed intruders along with Gustavo Castro, a Mexican environmentalist, who survived by pretending to be dead.

The judge ruled the murder was carried out by a gang of hitmen on the orders of executives of the Agua Zarca dam company Desa, who were frustrated at costly delays caused by the protests.

A number of those accused of murdering environmental leader Berta Caceres in a courtroom in Tegucigalpa.

A number of those accused of murdering environmental leader Berta Caceres in a courtroom in Tegucigalpa. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

Two Desa managers were sentenced: Sergio Ramón Rodríguez, communities and environment manager; and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, the company’s former security chief.

Yet the verdict has not fully satisfied Cáceres’s family, who believe the prosecutors imposed a ceiling on who they were willing to hold accountable for the killing. They are convinced the masterminds are still at large because high-level authorisation would have been needed for the killing of such a globally renowned activist.

The trial has been tainted by highly dubious procedures. Castro, the only witness to the killing, was not invited to testify, though he offered to fly to Tegucigalpa to identify the assassin. The Cáceres family’s lawyers were also barred from participating and their access to the evidence has been restricted.

The most senior executive implicated – Roberto David Castillo, who was executive president of Desa at the time of the killing, is still awaiting trial. He and Desa have denied any wrongdoing.

Senior politicians and powerful families who were involved in the construction of the dam have not been called to account. There has also been inadequate focus on the international financial institutions who initially refused Cáceres’s request to stop providing loans to a dam that was opposed by local people. Dutch bank FMO, Finnish finance company FinnFund and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (Cabei) only pulled out after the murder.

Yet there has been progress of a sort. It is unlikely that anyone would have gone to prison without the huge domestic and international outcry that followed Cáceres’s murder. The vast majority of the 200-plus defender killings in the world each year go unpunished and uninvestigated. A trial of this prominence is almost unheard of and should make those in power think twice in the future about approving assassinations.

For most of the past decade, Honduras has been one of the world’s deadliest countries for land and environmental defenders, according to the watchdog group Global Witness. But there has been a marked decrease in the past year. One reason may be that the powerful interests behind the killings have been given notice that they can no longer rely on impunity.

People honour the late assassinated environmentalist Berta Cáceres with a religious ceremony on the Gualcarque River near Tegucigalpa in 2016.

People honour the late assassinated environmentalist Berta Cáceres with a religious ceremony on the Gualcarque River near Tegucigalpa in 2016. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

This shows global public opinion can make a difference, particularly when focused through international institutions and NGOs. Cáceres’s murder probably would not have gained as much attention if she had not been awarded the Goldman environmental prize. It would be harder to understand the context without watchdog groups like Global Witness. And the news would have reached fewer people without environmental and human rights campaigning organisations such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch.

Cáceres’s case is also often cited by the United Nations in its efforts to lobby member states to recognise the human right to a healthy environment. This would provide a legal instrument for campaigners to challenge polluters, land grabbers and extractive industries. It would also serve as a vehicle to encourage judges, police and prosecutors to pay more heed to environmental cases.

As John Knox, the former UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, noted in a call earlier this year for more support for the defenders like Cáceres: “If we can’t protect them, then how can we protect the environment we all depend on?”

Related:

Berta Cáceres, Honduran human rights and environment activist, murdered

Fellow Honduran activist Nelson García murdered days after Berta Cáceres

World Politics

United States

Donald Trump speaks in the cabinet room of the White House on Friday.

Donald Trump speaks in the cabinet room of the White House on Friday. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The FBI launched an investigation into whether Donald Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests – and Trump went to extraordinary lengths to conceal from his own administration the details of his conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin, according to two bombshell reports.

The New York Times reported on Friday that law enforcement officials were so concerned about Trump’s behavior after he fired James Comey as FBI director that they launched a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was acting as a Russian agent, either intentionally or unwittingly.

According to another report by the Washington Post, Trump has taken unusual steps to conceal the contents of his discussions with Putin. After meeting with the Russian president in Hamburg in 2017, the Post reported, Trump took his interpreter’s notes and instructed him not to disclose what was discussed to other US officials.

On Saturday night, Trump was asked by a Fox News host whether he had ever worked for Russia.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he said.

Why is he so chummy with Vladimir Putin?

Senator Dick Durbin

He did not give a yes or no answer.

As for his conversations with Putin, he said: “I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less.”

On Sunday, Democrats said the latest revelations raise serious questions about Trump’s relationship with Putin and Russia.

“Why is he so chummy with Vladimir Putin – this man who is a former KGB agent, never been a friend to the United States, invaded our allies, threatens us around the world, and tries his damndest to undermine our elections?” Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said on ABC’s This Week.

“Why is this President Trump’s best buddy? I don’t get it.”

Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said it was suspicious that Trump has “parroted” the policies of Putin.

“I do think it’s curious that throughout that whole summer when these investigations started, you have Vladimir Putin policies almost being parroted by Donald Trump,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.

This is not a traditional president. He has unorthodox means

Senator Ron Johnson

“You had Trump say only nice things about Putin – he never spoke ill about Russia. The Republican campaign doctrines softened on Russia and decreased their willingness to defend Ukraine.”

Warner said the US government still does not know what took place in Trump’s meetings with Putin, including another in Helsinki last summer where Trump appeared to embrace Putin’s claim, rejected by US intelligence, that his country had nothing to do with an interference effort in the 2016 election.

“The American government does not know what was discussed between Trump and Vladimir Putin in that frankly pathetic, embarrassing encounter,” Warner said.

Republicans defended the president, saying the US during his administration has imposed tough sanctions against Russia in response to its interference campaign during the 2016 election and its aggression in Ukraine.

“We’ve been very tough on Russia,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “Look at the sanctions that we have taken with this administration. I know this administration and I know this Congress is very tough on Russia and we will continue to be so. But I want this president to be able to build a relationship, even on a person level, with all the world leaders.”

Trump meets Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, last July.

 

Trump meets Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, last July. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican senator and chair of the homeland security committee, said he had only heard “innuendo” about Trump’s interactions with Russia, not any evidence of improprieties. He said there were legitimate reasons to want to guard the president’s conversations with Putin.

“This is not a traditional president,” he told CNN. “He has unorthodox means, but he is president of the United States. It is pretty much up to him in terms of who he wants to read into his conversations with world leaders. He was burned by leaks in other areas and he was pretty frustrated.”

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of the president, was more forceful, telling Fox News Sunday: “I am going to ask the FBI director: ‘Was there a counterintelligence investigation opened up regarding the president as being a potential agent of the Russians?’ I find it astonishing.

“If this really did happen, Congress needs to know about it. How could the FBI do that? What kinds of checks and balances are there?”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not answer specific questions about whether he was aware of the FBI counterintelligence work when he directed the CIA.

“The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous,” he told CBS.

Trump losing battle to avoid blame for shutdown as day 23 rolls on>>

Live FBI discussed whether Trump was taking orders from Russia – live updates>>

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13 Jan

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

Damn The War Criminals,

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England.

Afghan War Children

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.

Civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan (2001–present)

During the war in Afghanistan (2001–present), over 31,000 civilian deaths due to war-related violence have been documented;[1][2] 29,900 civilians have been wounded.[2] Over 111,000 Afghans, including civilians, soldiers and militants, are estimated to have been killed in the conflict.[1] The Cost of War project estimated that the number who have died through indirect causes related to the war may be as high 360,000 additional people based on a ratio of indirect to direct deaths in contemporary conflicts.[3] These numbers do not include those who have died in Pakistan.

The war, launched by the United States as “Operation Enduring Freedom” in 2001, began with an initial air campaign that almost immediately prompted concerns over the number of Afghan civilians being killed[4] as well as international protests. With civilian deaths from airstrikes rising again in recent years,[5] the number of Afghan civilians being killed by foreign military operations has led to mounting tension between the foreign countries and the government of Afghanistan. In May 2007, President Hamid Karzai summoned foreign military commanders to warn them of the consequences of further Afghan civilian deaths.[6] The civilian losses are a continuation of the extremely high civilian losses experienced during the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s, and the three periods of civil war following it: 1989–1992, 1992–1996, and 1996–2001.

The McGlynn

War News

GUARD: Real risk’ of refugees freezing to death in Syria after rains destroy shelters

As temperatures fall, aid workers warn of danger to at least 11,000 people across Idlib, with storms also battering camps in Lebanon

Damage caused by flash floods at Atma refugee camp in Idlib, in late December. Temperatures there have now dropped below freezing. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

At least 11,000 child refugees and their families are facing a weekend of freezing temperatures with no shelter, after torrential rains across Syria’s Idlib province swept away tents and belongings.

Aid workers warn there is a real risk people will simply freeze to death as temperatures have already dropped to -1C, amid a shortage of blankets and heating fuel.

The shelters of Syrian refugees inside Lebanon have also been battered by high winds, rain and snow this week, according to UNHCR, which says 361 sites have been affected.

Camps in the border town of Arsal have been buried in snow, while settlements in the central and west Bekaa areas, where there has been heavy flooding, have experienced even worse damage. It is forecast that rains will begin again on Sunday.

Arsal refugee camp in Lebanon. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On Thursday, the UN confirmed an eight-year-old Syrian girl died in Lebanon after slipping and falling into a river during the storm.

In north-west Syria, Save the Children is distributing plastic sheeting to displaced families. Caroline Anning, Syria advocacy and communications manager for the charity, said there were cases of babies freezing to death last year, and added that more people are vulnerable this winter.

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BBC: Syria conflict: Pompeo ‘optimistic’ on deal to protect Kurds

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is optimistic an agreement can be reached with Turkey to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria after the US leaves.

He was speaking in the United Arab Emirates following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart.

US forces in northern Syria have fought alongside a Kurdish militia against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Turkey, however, regards the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terrorist group and has vowed to crush it.

Mr Pompeo is touring the Middle East to try to reassure allies following President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement last month that US forces would withdraw from Syria.

Talking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the US recognised “the Turkish people’s right and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s right to defend their country from terrorists”.

“We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well,” he said.

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AP:  Arab nations inch toward rehabilitating Syria’s Assad

FILE – In this file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA Dec. 16, 2018, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Sudan’s President Omar Bashir in Damascus, Syria. Assad has survived years of war and millions of dollars in money and weapons aimed at toppling him. Now after nearly eight years of conflict, he is poised to be readmitted to the fold of Arab nations, a feat once deemed unthinkable as he brutally crushed a years-long uprising against his family’s rule. (SANA via AP, File)

BEIRUT (AP) — He has survived eight years of war and billions of dollars in money and weapons aimed at toppling him. Now Syrian President Bashar Assad is poised to be readmitted to the fold of Arab nations, a feat once deemed unthinkable as he forcefully crushed the uprising against his family’s rule.

Gulf Arab nations, once the main backers of rebels trying to oust Assad, are lining up to reopen their embassies in Syria, worried about leaving the country at the heart of the Arab world to regional rivals Iran and Turkey and missing out on lucrative post-war reconstructive projects. Key border crossings with neighbors, shuttered for years by the war, have reopened, and Arab commercial airlines are reportedly considering resuming flights to Damascus.

And as President Donald Trump plans to pull out America’s 2,000 soldiers from northeastern Syria, government troops are primed to retake the area they abandoned in 2012 at the height of the war. This would be a significant step toward restoring Assad’s control over all of Syria, leaving only the northwest in the hands of rebels, most of them jihadis.

It can seem like a mind-boggling reversal for a leader whose military once seemed dangerously close to collapse. But Russia’s military intervention, which began in 2015, steadily reversed Assad’s losses, allowing his troops, aided by Iranian-backed fighters, to recapture cities like Homs and Aleppo, key to his rule.

Assad rules over a country in ruins, with close to half a million people killed and half the population displaced. Major fighting may still lie ahead. But many see the war nearing its end, and the 53-year-old leader is sitting more comfortably than he has in the past eight years.

“Rehabilitation by Arab states is inevitable,” said Faysal Itani, a resident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

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AP: Afghan official: Taliban attack on checkpoint kills 5 police

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least five Afghan security forces were killed after their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents in the southern province of Kandahar, according to a provincial official.

Aziz Ahmad Azizi, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said that two other police were wounded in Saturday’s attack took place in the Spin Bolduk district. He said seven Taliban insurgents were killed and six others were wounded in the fighting.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban’s spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in Kandahar.

In another report from the western Herat province, a number of gunmen attacked a city police station on Saturday evening, killing five people, said Gelani Farhad, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

Farhad said that two policemen and three civilians were killed in the attack while four others were wounded during the battle.

Initial findings show that three gunmen started shooting at the entrance of the police station, one of which was killed by security forces, he added.

The area is now once more under the control of security forces and a search operation is ongoing, he said.

A car bomb also detonated near the attack site, Farhad added.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility for attack in Herat, but Taliban insurgents have been carrying out near-daily attacks targeting Afghan forces.

The violence comes despite stepped-up efforts by the United States to find a negotiated end to the country’s 17-year war.

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NYT: Gunmen Attack Police Station in Western Afghanistan, Five Killed

KABUL — Five people were killed on Saturday in clashes between the police and gunmen who attacked a police station in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, officials said.

Two gunmen who stormed the building killed three policemen, a civilian and a child, the spokesman for Herat provincial governor, Jailani Farhad, said, adding that four policemen were also wounded before the attackers were killed.

Members of the Afghan National Security Forces seized a vehicle packed with explosives from the attack site.

No militant group claimed responsibility for the assault, launched two days after Taliban fighters launched a series of attacks on checkpoints in four Afghan provinces, killing 32 members of the security forces and pro-government militias.

The Taliban has inflicted a heavy toll on government forces this winter, while the U.S. military with their government allies have killed Taliban field commanders with air strikes.

NYT: Islamic State Commander Killed in Afghanistan, U.S. Forces Say

KABUL — A senior commander of the Islamic State militant group was killed in Afghanistan in a raid, U.S. Forces Afghanistan said on Saturday.

Khetab Emir was killed in the raid on Jan 10 in the eastern area of Nangarhar province, said Lt. Ubon Mendie, a spokesman for the U.S. forces based in Afghanistan.

Emir, who was known by multiple names, facilitated high-profile attacks and supplied Islamic State fighters with weapons and materials to make explosives, Mendie said in a statement.

“His removal helps protect innocent Afghans from future Islamic State violence and weakens their presence in Nangarhar,” Mendie said.

Islamic State fighters have developed a stronghold in the province on Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan and have become one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups.

The hardline militant group’s local affiliate, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and foreign forces.

The fight against Islamic State and other militant groups including Al Qaeda and the Taliban is at the heart of the U.S. led counterterrorism mission being conducted alongside the NATO-led Resolute Support operation aimed at training and advising Afghan security forces.

Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

None

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

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 Program Locator 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

Syrian War Refugees

Please do not forget the children.

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