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18 Dec

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.

.

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.

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

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

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry.

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

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The McGlynn

War News

Photo

Hagar Yahia holds her 5-year-old daughter Awsaf, who is suffering from malnourishment from living mainly off of bread and tea, in this Feb. 9, 2018 photo in Abyan, Yemen. Yahia, her husband and eight children fled from their hometown on Yemen’s western Red Sea coast to escape the war, eventually ending up more than 200 miles away in the village of Red Star in the south. Ever since, they’ve struggled to find enough food. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

AP: In 2019, Mideast economic troubles loom as wars wind down

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — As the Middle East ushers in 2019, the decade’s ruinous conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq seem to be winding down after exacting a painful price — many thousands killed, millions uprooted from their homes and entire cities reduced to rubble.

Yet the potential for unrest remains high, including in countries that escaped civil war after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Millions of young people in the region remain locked out of economic and political participation as authoritarian governments fail to tackle soaring youth unemployment and other deep-seated problems.

“I think 2019 is a very challenging year,” said analyst Amer Sabaileh in Jordan, where weekly rallies against economic policies toppled a prime minister this year and now take aim at his successor.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s policy of siding with one Middle East powerhouse, Saudi Arabia, against its main rival, Iran, has further heightened regional tensions. For now, Tehran seems determined to wait out Trump’s presidency, sticking to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers despite the U.S. withdrawal and restoration of heavy sanctions.

In a region where violent conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, the brutal slaying of one Saudi writer, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, by Saudi agents has been one of the most significant events of 2018. The killing, for which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was widely held responsible — including by the Republican-led U.S. Senate — forced a reckoning of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war and a review of the U.S.-Saudi relationship……………..

A malnourished boy sits on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center in the Yemeni town of Hajjah. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed,

U.S. POLICY

The Trump administration’s staunch support for Saudi Arabia is expected to continue despite the Khashoggi scandal, in part because the alliance with Riyadh serves as a means of pressuring Iran.

Read full story »

BBC: Yemen: Where children rummage through rubbish for food

After nearly four years of war in Yemen, Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led military coalition appeared to agree to pause fighting. But it wasn’t to last.

International pressure has been mounting to end the conflict, which has pushed the country to the verge of starvation.

The BBC’s Nawal Al-Maghafi reports from a camp for displaced people, where children hunt desperately for something to eat.

Read full story »

NYT: In the United States, His Problem Wasn’t the Taliban. It Was Everything Else.

Azizullah with his son, Khaybar, 14, and daughters Marwah, on the left, and Dewah.CreditGabrielle Plucknette-DeVito for The New York Times

Strolling the aisles at a Kohl’s department store near his home in Rochester, N.Y., Azizullah Sharifi spoke Pashto with his daughter Marwah as they picked through shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops for the summer. The father and daughter stopped to check their shopping cart, when a woman next to them muttered, “Speak [expletive] English” in a low growl. Once Sharifi realized she was talking to him, he quickly pushed his cart away without responding. But he wasn’t fast enough. Though she was only 7, Marwah recognized that the woman had “said something really bad.” “Just ignore her,” Sharifi told her. It was a drastic shift from the way he was treated in his home country of Afghanistan, where American service members, with whom he had worked closely, treated him with respect. Much of his experience in the United States has been positive, but sometimes, “you feel Islamophobia, the racism — not all people, but you can feel it,” Sharifi said.

Sharifi, who worked as an interpreter for American forces in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014, is one of more than 48,600 Afghans who have been admitted to the United States through the Special Immigrant Visa (S.I.V.) program. Recognizing the incredible risks taken by Afghans like Sharifi who were helping the American-led coalition during the war, Congress passed a bill in 2009 to provide special visas to interpreters and civilians who had worked for at least one year — later changed to two years — for the American government and who could prove there were imminent threats on their lives. Similar legislation was enacted for Iraqi interpreters in 2008.

More than 17,000 Afghans who have applied for the S.I.V. over the years are still waiting for an answer from the State Department as their applications crawl through the grueling vetting process. About 1,240 applicants were rejected in the first three quarters of this fiscal year, mostly for insufficient proof of employment by an American company or failure to provide evidence of the“faithful and valuable service” to American forces that the special visa requires. When applicants appeal, their application is moved to the bottom of the list, but half the initial denials are overturned. For those who receive a visa, the move to the United States raises a new set of problems, like finding employment, housing and a community that makes them feel welcome. While the State Department’s United States Refugee Admissions Program gives refugees funding for the first 90 days after arrival, people have to rely on their own resourcefulness and on nonprofit organizations for help acclimating to a new country and culture that’s vastly different from the one they fled.

Read full story »

GUARD: Yemen: fighting dies down in Hodeidah as ceasefire starts

Retired Dutch general due to be deployed to Hodeidah by Wednesday to oversee truce

Yemen’s warring parties are observing the first day of a UN-negotiated ceasefire in the key port city of Hodeidah, opening the way for monitors to enter the area and start the process of administering a formal withdrawal of troops over the next month.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who negotiated the breakthrough agreement at talks in Sweden last week, said he expected a retired Dutch general, Patrick Cammaert, to be deployed to Hodeidah by Wednesday under UN authority to oversee the ceasefire and the two-phase troop withdrawal.

Griffiths said the ceasefire was breached soon after it came into force at midnight on Tuesday, but since then the skies had been silent.

He told BBC Radio 4: “So far, so good, fingers crossed. There was some skirmishing between 1 and 2 o’clock on the frontlines. The skies are quiet above Hodeidah. The pattern at the moment is a positive one.”

He said the monitoring committee chaired by Cammaeret would meet for the first time on Wednesday. The aim was for the first phase of withdrawal to be completed by the end of the year and the second phase – taking troops out of the city port area – by the middle of January, allowing aid to travel freely on the road from Hodeidah to the capital, Sana’a.

He stressed that further progress was needed on economic reform, since the risk of famine partly stemmed from the cost of food and the collapse in the value of the rial rather than a lack of supplies………….If the ceasefire continues to hold and is extended to the other ports of Salif and Ras Issa, as intended, the chances of the UN security council being able to agree the terms of a resolution endorsing the outcome of the Sweden talks, and future humanitarian access, will be higher.

UK diplomats, penholders – in charge of drafting decisions – at the UN, held off from formally tabling a resolution before the talks in Sweden after Saudi Arabia raised objections. Both Saudi and its military partners the United Arab Emirates seem content with the truce and argue the previous assault on Hodeidah was necessary to force the Houthis to the negotiating table.

The draft UN resolution calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.

Read full story »

REU: Russia, Iran and Turkey seek deal on new Syria constitutional body

GENEVA (Reuters) – Russia, Iran and Turkey are close to agreement on composition of a Syrian constitutional committee that could pave the way for drafting a new charter followed by elections, diplomats said on Monday.

The foreign ministers of the three nations, who support opposing sides in Syria’s nearly eight-year war, meet for talks on Tuesday in Geneva, where they are expected to seek the United Nations’ blessing for their joint proposal, they added.

Staffan de Mistura, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria who steps down at year-end, has tried since January to clinch agreement on the identity of 150 members of a new constitutional committee to revitalize a dormant peace process.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the opposition fighting to topple him have each submitted a list of 50 names, but the three nations have haggled over the final 50 members from civil society and “independent” members, diplomats say.

“The three countries are coming with a proposal for the third list, which has been the heart of the problem,” said one diplomat.

Turkey and other nations would consider working with Assad if he won a democratic election, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday, two days before coming to Geneva to meet Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif.

Turkey supports rebel fighters who control part of northwest Syria. A year ago, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described Assad as a terrorist and said it was impossible for Syrian peace efforts to continue with him.

Read full story »

REU: Afghanistan ceasefire push in focus in U.S., Taliban talks

KABUL (Reuters) – Talks between U.S. and Taliban officials aimed at arranging peace negotiations in Afghanistan were set for a second day on Tuesday after discussions around the future of foreign forces and a possible six-month ceasefire, Taliban sources said.

The three-day meeting in Abu Dhabi is at least the third time that U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met Taliban representatives as diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year war have intensified this year.

On Monday, a Taliban delegation met officials from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates ahead of their meeting with Khalilzad, who was appointed to oversee Washington’s peace effort in September.

Taliban officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. delegation was pressing for a six-month ceasefire as well as an agreement to name Taliban representatives to a future caretaker government.

The officials said the Taliban, fighting to drive foreign forces from Afghanistan and bring in their version of strict Islamic law, were resisting a ceasefire as they felt it would damage their cause and help U.S. and Afghan forces.

“If these three countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan – become guarantors and the U.S. appoints the head of a caretaker government in Afghanistan that we nominate, then we can think about a ceasefire,” one senior Taliban official said.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

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’s Sentinel.

Sgt. Jason Mitchell McClary, 24, from Export, Pennsylvania, died Dec. 2, 2018, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27, 2018, in Andar District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

McClary was assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers and one airman who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The service members died Nov. 27, 2018, from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

The soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The airman was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The incident is under investigation.

The deceased are:

Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

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

Please do not forget the children.

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17 Dec

Michelle Obama And George W. Bush, Pathetic

Per Michelle Obama:

I’d love if we as a country could get back to the place where we didn’t demonize people who disagreed with us. Because that’s essentially the difference between Republicans and Democrats,” she said on Today.

“We’re all Americans. We all care about our family our kids, and we’re trying to get ahead. We have different ideas about what’s the best way to get there,” Obama continued. “That doesn’t make me evil. And that doesn’t make him, you know, stupid — it’s just a disagreement and that’s how I feel about your father. You know? He’s a beautiful, funny, kind, sweet man.”

The Truth:

Being a War Criminal is just a disagreement?!

The nation’s 43rd president left office nine years ago in the midst of the worst economic crisis of the last half-century. His foreign policy agenda had resulted in a series of horrific, expensive, and unending wars. He sanctioned torture while wrapping his administration in a warm embrace of faith-based discrimination.

George W Bush was such a good president. He declared war on Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction. 14 years later, no WMDs, thousands dead, $2 trillion in debt and now ISIS is murdering people in Iraq. 2003 invasion of Iraq violated (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11) of the US constitution and it also violate Fourth Geneva Convention. George W Bush is awesome.

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Far from being a part of any resistance to Trump, Bush held a series of fundraisers for embattled House and Senate Republicans—to help ensure that there would be no meaningful checks on the current administration’s excesses. He can’t be too concerned with the politicization of the Justice Department anyway; one of his administration’s biggest scandals involved the politically motivated firing of US attorneys.

He lobbied senators for a man who misled the Senate repeatedly on key details of Kavanaugh personal and professional life, in part because Kavanaugh had worked in the Bush White House. Americans have always had a problem with historical memory. But if Democrats have forgotten who George W. Bush is and was, then such people are irrelevant and dumb.

Bush is a damn war criminal and when Michelle plays kissy kissy IT HURTS those of us who fought the good fight against the war.

She sold her soul to the Devil. Anyone that followed the Bush administration closely knows what I’m talking about. Could she be just too damn stupid to know it.

But, damn it,  I keep asking myself, WHY, Why, Why.

And I have one word, BULLSHIT.

Read: United States Wars, News and Casualties

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17 Dec

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>>

The circumstances of Jakelin Caal Maquin’s sorrowful death are being seized upon as evidence both for and against the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration

Central American migrants hold a demonstration after the death Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal, seven, who died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by US border patrol agents.

Central American migrants hold a demonstration after the death Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal, seven, who died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by US border patrol agents. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

After a final stretch on foot along a dirt road through high desert, a father and his young daughter crossed into the United States at the end of a 2,000-mile journey through Mexico.

It was after dark and they were part of a group of 163 people, apparently including dozens of unaccompanied children, who had made it to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, considered the most remote spot along America’s entire southern border.

Just over 27 hours later, in spite of desperate efforts to save her, seven-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosemery Caal Maquin was dead.

And whilst the results of an autopsy may not be known for some days, the circumstances of her sorrowful death in the custody of the US border patrol agency are already being seized upon as evidence both for and against the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration.

Donald Trump’s supporters lay blame with a parent who would put their child’s safety at risk on a perilous journey. Critics of the president’s fear-mongering talk of an “invasion” at the Mexican border blame his policies for driving people to increasingly desperate measures.

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) begins an investigation, there are gaps in the story and some vital details are disputed by Jakelin’s family.

According to DHS , her death followed days of traveling through the desert without enough food or water. A Washington Post report said the border patrol agency cited statements from her father.

An anonymous Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official also told the Post her father did not raise the alarm about her worsening fever while they were in custody. “There were plenty of opportunities, if her father had noticed anything and brought it to agents’ attention,” the official said.

Her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, 29, who has praised the efforts of emergency responders to save his daughter, later insisted in a lawyer’s statement that he looked after her on the journey and made sure she was fed and had water.

Family members in Raxruha?, her tiny village home in Guatemala, said Jakelin, who celebrated her seventh birthday on the journey north through Mexico, had been given her first pair of shoes for the journey.

Grandfather Domingo Caal said the family got by on $5 a day earned harvesting corn and beans and Jakelin’s father hoped to be able to send money home from the US.

The Associated Press described the family home, a “tiny wooden house with a straw roof, dirt floors, a few bedsheets and a fire pit for cooking, where Jakelin used to sleep with her parents and three siblings. The brothers are barefoot, their feet caked with mud and their clothes in tatters. A heart constructed out of wood and wrapped in plastic announces Jakelin’s death.”

View of a heart-shaped sign with the name of Jakelin Amei Rosmey Caal Maquin.

View of a heart-shaped sign with the name of Jakelin Amei Rosmey Caal Maquin. Photograph: Johan Ordóñez/AFP/Getty Images

Her grandfather said that the journey had taken about a week and her father had paid a human trafficker to get them across the border, making their crossing into a desolate section of New Mexico wilderness known as the Bootheel, where the border cuts across the mountainous Chihuahua Desert.

Ruben Garcia, director of the Annunciation House shelter in El Paso, Texas, where her father is now being looked after, said father and daughter were not part of one of the so-called “caravans” of people walking north across long distances.

“He came up as part of a smaller group that then gathered with other people on the way here,” Garcia said. “He was traveling by bus and there were 40 people, that’s what he told us.”

Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul in Del Rio, Texas, said Jakelin’s father told him the group they were traveling with was dropped off in Mexico about a 90-minute walk from the border.

They crossed the border at Antelope Wells, which consists of just four buildings, the border agency’s port of entry, two houses and a trailer. At 4,665 feet, it is higher than Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, though sun-baked, and even in December, typically reaches daytime temperatures of 76F (24C).

DHS gave a timeline of what happened after the group of 163 who crossed the border on Tuesday 5 December and were stopped by three border agents at 9.15pm. It is said to be the most remote of 43 ports of entry along the border and those who do cross here are usually “give ups” who hand themselves in to border agents.

However, Trump policies of placing border sentries on international bridges to block people from stepping onto United States soil has increased the numbers traveling to more dangerous and remote spots.

Informal “waiting lists” to claim asylum are holding people up, but instead of waiting at ports of entry for days or weeks at a time, often in squalor or without shelter, frustrated asylum seekers are opting to cross the border between ports of entry.

Claudia Marroquin, 27, the mother of Jakelin Caal, who died on 8 December.

Claudia Marroquin, 27, the mother of Jakelin Caal, who died on 8 December. Photograph: Esteban Biba/EPA

The group Jakelin and her father were in was moved to a covered area and apparently interviewed and observed “to identify any health or safety problems to ensure that they receive necessary medical care”.

The DHS said during the screening: “The father denied that either he or his daughter were ill. This denial was recorded on Form I-779 signed by the father. At this time, they were offered water and food and had access to restrooms”.

The father’s lawyers said in a statement that the form was in English, a language her father does not speak or read. He communicated with border agents in Spanish but he primarily speaks the Mayan Q’eqchi’ language. “It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand,” the statement said.

The agents decided to transport the large group by bus to the nearest border patrol station at Lordsburg, 90 minutes away. The bus arrived and at 18 minutes past midnight, took the first group of 50, all unaccompanied children.

At 4am the bus returned for the second group. “Around 0500, as the second group of detainees – including the child and father – was preparing to depart … the father advised border patrol agents that his child had become sick and was vomiting,” the DHS said.

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World Politics

United States

At least a scoundrel knows when he is doing wrong. But the president is blind to the very idea of public interest

Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un

‘According to Donald Trump, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un writes him such ‘beautiful letters’, that ‘we fell in love’.’ Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trump has described the payments his bag man, Michael Cohen, made to two women during the 2016 campaign so they wouldn’t discuss their alleged affairs with him, as “a simple private transaction”.

Last Saturday, when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Cohen if Trump knew the payments were wrong and were made to help his election, Cohen replied “Of course … He was very concerned about how this would affect the election.”

But even if Trump intended that the payments aid his presidential bid, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he knew they were wrong.

Trump might have reasoned that a deal is a deal: the women got hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for agreeing not to talk about his affairs with them. So where’s the harm?

After two years of Trump we may have overlooked the essence of his insanity: his brain sees only private interests transacting. It doesn’t comprehend the public interest.

Private transactions can’t be wrong or immoral because, by definition, they require that every party to them be satisfied. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a deal.

Viewed this way, everything else falls into place.

For example, absent a public interest, there can’t be conflicts of interest.

So when lobbyists representing the Saudi government paid for an estimated 500 nights at Trump’s Washington DC hotel within a month of his election, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman rented so many rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan that its revenues rose in 2018 after years of decline, Trump saw it as half of a private transaction.

The other half: Trump would continually go to bat for Saudi Arabia and the crown prince, even after the Senate passed a resolution blaming him for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40m, $50m,” Trump told a crowd at an Alabama rally in August 2015. “Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

Ethics shmethics. Without a public interest, no deals can be ethical violations. All are just private transactions.

When someone donated $1m to Trump’s inaugural committee and subsequently received a $5bn loan from the Energy Department, what’s the problem? Both parties got what they wanted. (Federal prosecutors are now investigating this.)

When Trump aide and former Fox News executive Bill Shine continues to rake in millions each year from Fox News, and Fox News continues to give Trump the positive coverage he wants, why worry? It’s a good deal for both sides.

This private transactional worldview also helps explain Trump’s foreign policy.

According to Trump, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un writes him such “beautiful letters,” that “we fell in love”.

So what if Kim continues to develop nuclear missiles? Trump gets bragging rights as the first American president to have a good private relationship with the North Korean president.

He and Russian President Vladimir Putin have a “beautiful relationship,” presumably opening the way to all sorts of private transactions.

In July 2016, after emails from the Democratic National Committee were leaked to the public, Trump declared “Putin likes me” and thinks “I’m a genius”. Trump then publicly called on Russia to find emails Hillary Clinton had deleted from the private account she used when she was secretary of state.

That same day, Russians made their first effort to break into the servers used by her personal office, according to an indictment from the special counsel’s office charging 12 Russians with election hacking.

So what? Trump asks.

Even as evidence mounts that Trump aides were in frequent contact with Russian agents during this time, Trump insists he wasn’t involved in any collusion with Putin.

Collusion means joining together in violation of the public interest. If Trump’s brain comprehends only private interests, even a transaction in which Putin offered explicit help winning the election in return for Trump weakening Nato and giving Russia unfettered license in Ukraine wouldn’t be collusive.

When private deals are everything, the law is irrelevant. This also seems to fit with Trump’s worldview.

If he genuinely believes the hush money he had Cohen pay was a “simple private transaction,” Trump must not think the nation’s campaign finance laws apply to him. But if they don’t, why would laws and constitutional provisions barring collusion with foreign powers apply to him?

As we enter the third year of his presidency, Trump’s utter blindness to the public interest is a terrifying possibility. At least a scoundrel knows when he is doing bad things. A megalomaniac who only sees the art of the deal, doesn’t.

Robert Reich is a former US secretary of labor, and professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley

Nancy Pelosi seeks to stop Trump impeachment talks among Democrats – live updates

  • Incoming House speaker wants to protect Mueller’s investigation, and allow him to finish his work

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on 13 December.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on 13 December. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking to stop talk of impeaching Donald Trump among her fellow Democrats, Politico reports.

Pelosi and her allies are looking to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and allow him to finish his work before considering impeachment proceedings.

“We must wait to see the entire picture and then engage the American people about how we go forward as a nation,” Pelosi told Politico. “We must protect the integrity of the Mueller investigation, so that the American people can get the full truth.”

‘A reason to stand up’: Wisconsin activists fight threat to African American vote>>

Saudi Arabia rebukes US Senate over Khashoggi resolution>>

Giuliani: Trump interview with Mueller would happen ‘over my dead body’>>

‘They’re a joke’: Rudy Giuliani steps up attack on Mueller – video>>

Video shows Trump’s next chief of staff calling him ‘terrible human being’>>

Trillions of dollars of investments are being taken out of carbon-intensive companies. Governments must now take notice

A flare on an ocean oil rig.

‘We have recently marked the 1,000th divestment in what has become by far the largest anti-corporate campaign of its kind.’ Photograph: Dazman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

I remember well the first institution to announce it was divesting from fossil fuel. It was 2012 and I was on the second week of a gruelling tour across the US trying to spark a movement. Our roadshow had been playing to packed houses down the west coast, and we’d crossed the continent to Portland, Maine. As a raucous crowd jammed the biggest theatre in town, a physicist named Stephen Mulkey took the mic. He was at the time president of the tiny Unity College in the state’s rural interior, and he announced that over the weekend its trustees had voted to sell their shares in coal, oil and gas companies. “The time is long overdue for all investors to take a hard look at the consequences of supporting an industry that persists in destructive practices,” he said.

Six years later, we have marked the 1,000th divestment in what has become by far the largest anti-corporate campaign of its kind. The latest to sell their shares – major French and Australian pension funds, and Brandeis University in Massachusetts – bring the total size of portfolios and endowments in the campaign to just under $8 trillion (£6.4tn).

The list of institutions that have cut their ties with this most destructive of industries encompasses religious institutions large and small (the World Council of Churches, the Unitarians, the Lutherans, the Islamic Society of North America, Japanese Buddhist temples, the diocese of Assisi); philanthropic foundations (even the Rockefeller family, heir to the first great oil fortune, divested its family charities); and colleges and universities from Edinburgh to Sydney to Honolulu are on board, with more joining each week. Forty big Catholic institutions have already divested; now a campaign is urging the Vatican bank itself to follow suit. Ditto with the Nobel Foundation, the world’s great art museums, and every other iconic institution that works for a better world.

Thanks to the efforts of groups such as People & Planet (and to the Guardian, which ran an inspiring campaign), half the UK’s higher education institutions are on the list. And so are harder-nosed players, from the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund (at a trillion dollars, the largest pool of investment capital on Earth) to European insurance giants such as Axa and Allianz. It has been endorsed by everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to Barack Obama to Ban Ki-moon (and, crucially, by Desmond Tutu, who helped run the first such campaign a generation ago, when the target was apartheid).

And the momentum just keeps growing: 2018 began with New York City deciding to divest its $189bn pension funds. Soon the London mayor Sadiq Khan was on board, joining the New York mayor Bill de Blasio to persuade the other financial capitals of the planet to sell. By midsummer Ireland became the first nation to divest its public funds. And this month, a cross-party group of 200 MPs and former MPs called on the their pension fund to phase out its substantial investment in fossil fuel giants.

Heavy hitters like that make it clear that the first line of objection to fossil fuel divestment has long since been laid to rest: this is one big action you can take against climate change without big cost. Indeed, early divesters have made out like green-tinged bandits: since the fossil fuel sector has badly underperformed on the market over recent years, moving money into other investments has dramatically increased returns. Pity, for instance, the New York state comptroller Thomas DeNapoli – unlike his New York City counterpart, he refused to divest, and the cost has been about $17,000 per pensioner.

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The deeper question, though, is whether divestment is making a dent in the fossil fuel industry. And there the answer is even clearer: this has become the deepest challenge yet to the companies that have kept us on the path to climate destruction.

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres with President-designate of COP21 Laurent Fabius, at the Paris summit in 2015.

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres with President-designate of COP21 Laurent Fabius, at the Paris summit in 2015. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

At first we thought our biggest effect would be to rob fossil fuel companies of their social licence. Since their political lobbying power is above all what prevents governments taking serious action on global warming, that would have been worth the fight. And indeed academic research makes it clear that’s happened – one study concluded that “liberal policy ideas (such as a carbon tax), which had previously been marginalised in the US debate, gained increased attention and legitimacy”. That makes sense: most people don’t have a coal mine or gas pipeline in their backyard, but everyone has – through their alma mater, their church, their local government – some connection to a large pot of money.

As time went on, though, it became clear that divestment was also squeezing the industry. Peabody, the world’s biggest coal company, announced plans for bankruptcy in 2016; on the list of reasons for its problems, it counted the divestment movement, which was making it hard to raise capital. Indeed, just a few weeks ago analysts at that radical collective Goldman Sachs said the “divestment movement has been a key driver of the coal sector’s 60% de-rating over the past five years”.

Now the contagion seems to be spreading to the oil and gas sector, where Shell announced earlier this year that divestment should be considered a “material risk” to its business. That’s how oil companies across the world are treating it – in the US, petroleum producers have set up a website designed to discredit divestment,. and for a while had me under round-the-clock public surveillance. The pressure is not preventing anyone from acting: when Yale arrested 48 brave students who were occupying its investment offices last week, they left chanting: “We’ll be back.”

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16 Dec

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.

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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.

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

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

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry.

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

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The McGlynn

War News

AP: Wreaths Across America ceremony remembers the fallen, and one mother who lost her son in Iraq always attends

Seven wreaths went up Saturday at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex at the annual Wreaths Across America event commemorating the veterans who died for their country, along with prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Relatively sparse attendance at this year’s ceremony may have been due to the cold weather. But one woman sitting quietly in the second row said she never misses it.

Thirteen years ago, Darlene Moore’s son U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. James Moore was the first of Douglas County’s sons to die in Iraq after 9/11.

After the ceremony, Darlene Moore and others laid many wreaths on the graves of the fallen. She laid one for her son and one for her father-in-law. They’re buried side by side at the old Roseburg National Cemetery on West Harvard Avenue.

It’s people like her who have borne the true cost of war, and no ceremony can give her back what she’s lost. James Moore, like many young men, entered the military for idealistic reasons. He was deeply affected by the 9/11 attack, Darlene Moore said.

Moore didn’t want her only son to join the military. She told him she’d need him to take care of her in her old age — to no effect.

“He couldn’t wait to get over there. That’s the way boys are,” she said.

Moore died Jan. 26, 2005, when his helicopter was caught in a sandstorm. He was 25 — killed when his mother still thought of him as a boy.

“You know how boys play Army, play war. He wanted to protect his family. He didn’t want the war to come to (his niece’s) backyard,” she said.

She recalled that when the Marines came to her door to inform her of her son’s death, she lost it. She kicked them, but they just stood at attention, tears in their eyes. She couldn’t accept it. But the Marines remained for eight days to help them through the transition. Later, she thanked them.

Even now, laying a wreath at her son’s grave, she said she felt like she was going to have a heart attack. She could feel her heart pumping and her hands were wet.

She’ll be back at the grave again on Christmas Eve. Every year the family places candles at the graves of James and his grandfather James Alvin Moore. Usually it’s foggy, and the light illuminates the fog.

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NYT: At Least 20 Afghan Civilians Killed in Airstrike – Officials

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — At least 20 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, were killed in an airstrike targeting a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Kunar late on Friday, local officials said.

The strike, against local Taliban commander Sharif Mawiya, was the latest in a series targeting senior insurgents, including the shadow governor of the strategic southern province of Helmand, who was killed on Dec. 2.

Several Taliban military commanders have been killed this month by Afghan forces, backed by U.S. advisers and air power.

The tactic has raised the risk of civilian casualties and Abdul Latif Fazly, a member of the provincial council, said eight women and 12 children were killed and more than 15 others wounded in Friday’s airstrike.

However a spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission denied that there were civilian deaths, although she said some civilians were wounded.

“The Taliban continue to use civilians as shields and barricade themselves inside compounds while engaging the Afghan forces,” said Debra Richardson of Resolute Support.

She said U.S. airstrikes were supporting the new Afghan army strategy of targeting the entire Taliban organization, from low level fighters to high ranking leaders.

“We have reports over 40 Taliban fighters were killed in the Afghan-led operations, supported by U.S. air strikes in Kunar province,” said Richardson.

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President Ashraf Ghani, center, at the opening ceremony in Herat, Afghanistan, on Thursday for a key economic initiative. Videos that emerged from the event were far less flattering.CreditJalil Rezayee/EPA, via Shutterstock

HERAT, Afghanistan — It was supposed to be a grand moment for President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan — the opening of a new trade corridor that brought his landlocked country a link to Europe through Central Asia, and promised him some rare positive news as a re-election campaign approaches.

But what grabbed the headlines after Thursday’s event was chaos and violence.

Members of the president’s staff, in front of hundreds of people, assaulted a young member of the crowd who wanted to hand a petition to the president. Videos posted on social media in the days since portray an even more chaotic scene, with the president screaming at and slapping one of his own aides for mistreating the young man.

Mr. Ghani’s elite guards, the Presidential Protective Service, continued to assault the man once he was taken out of the president’s sight, footage suggests, and he remains in detention.

It was not an isolated incident. Those who guard senior Afghan officials — undoubtedly a difficult task in one of the most dangerous countries in the world — have repeatedly assaulted civilians, including journalists. In most cases, there is no indication that anyone was held accountable, further fueling a widespread culture of violence with impunity.

The meeting this past week, attended by diplomats and dignitaries, happened in the western city of Herat, where Mr. Ghani inaugurated what is called the Lapis Lazuli Corridor. The corridor makes it possible for Afghanistan to export its goods to Europe through Central Asia — a priority for Mr. Ghani not just to boost his own trade, but also to build regional consensus around peace in Afghanistan.

As Mr. Ghani finished his speech at a packed hall and walked from the stage, Raees Wafa, 18, stood up in the crowd and shouted that he wanted a minute with the president to give him a petition about injustice against his own family, video from the event shows.

The young man was unlikely to have posed an immediate physical threat — before being allowed near the Afghan president, he would almost certainly have gone through multiple checks by the Presidential Protection Service.

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ALJ: Opinion  The Afghan government should not be sidelined in peace talks

The US and Russia have bypassed the Afghan government and engaged the Taliban directly. This could be disastrous.

At last month’s Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, it was clear that the presidential elections were less than five months away. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani put a lot of effort into making sure he appeared to be the right man for his job.

He took the opportunity to read out a list of achievements in the areas of security, women’s rights, justice and the anti-corruption effort. As usual, international donors applauded the achievements, re-affirmed their support for the Afghan government, and pledged more military and humanitarian aid.

But President Ghani did not stop there. He also announced a “roadmap to peace” his administration had prepared in order to launch peace talks with the Taliban. As part of that plan, he announced the formation of a 12-members team, headed by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi, to engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban. Ghani made it clear that the peace process has to be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”, implying his administration cannot be excluded from the process.

The Afghan president has been facing major challenges at home, suffering a number of major failures on the political and security fronts. Against the backdrop of a deteriorating situation at home, launching and owning a peace process seems to be the only achievement that can ensure his political survival and potential re-election next year.

In this sense, the conference in Geneva was an opportunity for him to convince the international community that the Afghan government possesses the operational capacity to bring the Taliban to political reconciliation through diplomatic means. Ghani also declared that he was running in the next presidential race in order to “finish the job” and warned the international community of dire consequences if his reforms and peace plan were abandoned.

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Taliban’s military commission chief killed in coalition airstrike in Helmand

The officials in southern Helmand province are saying that the military commission chief of the Taliban Haji Barakat has been killed in an airstrike of the coalition forces in Greshk district.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the coalition forces carried out airstrikes on Taliban hideouts in Yakhchal area of Greshk district, leaving the military commission chief of the group for Yakhchal area dead.

The statement further added that two other accomplices of Haji Barakat were also killed in the airstrikes and another militant was wounded.

A hatchback type vehicle and a motorcycle were also destroyed during the same airstrike, the provincial government added.

At least two militants were killed and a motorcycle was destroyed n a separate airstrike conducted in Washir district, according to provincial government.

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Newly-appointed female Afghan mayor barred from taking office

The newly-appointed mayor of Maidan Shahr city, the provincial capital of Maidan Wardak province, has been barred from assuming office.

Zarifa Ghafari was appointed as the mayor of Maidan Shahr city nearly five months ago and was due to assume office during a ceremony on Saturday.

However, Ghafari has reportedly been barred from assuming office as the newly-appointed mayor due to the intervention of influential figures.

Ghafari has said she has been residing in Kabul for the past five months and has not been able to assume charge of Maidan Shahr municipality so far.

She was appointed as the mayor of Maidan Shahr based on a presidential decree and her appointment was confirmed by the provincial government as per decree.

According to Ghafari, she has been barred from assuming the office due to the interventions of haji Ghulam Mohammad who is the brother of Haji Mohammad Musa, president Ghani’s aide.

Haji Ghulam has confirmed his intervention and claims that Ghafari has been elected as the mayor by committing forgery.

This comes as efforts are underway to increase the role of women in the government leadership and the country’s first female mayor was appointed for Neli city of Daikundi province few months back.

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Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

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

Sgt. Jason Mitchell McClary, 24, from Export, Pennsylvania, died Dec. 2, 2018, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27, 2018, in Andar District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

McClary was assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers and one airman who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The service members died Nov. 27, 2018, from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

The soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The airman was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The incident is under investigation.

The deceased are:

Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

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

Please do not forget the children.

The McGlynn

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