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24 Jun

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

War News

BBC: Islamic State captives ‘must be tried or freed’, says UN’s Bachelet

The UN says tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters and family members being held in Iraq and Syria must be tried or released.

Human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, also called on countries to take responsibility for their citizens and take them back them if not charged.

She said that children in particular had suffered “grievous violations” of their human rights.

The last IS strongholds fell in March and some 55,000 people are being held.

To inflict statelessness on children who have already suffered so much is an act of irresponsible cruelty,” she said.

Who are the captives and where are they being held?

A vast number are at al-Hol camp in north-eastern Syria, which has seen a huge increase since the collapse of the last IS strongholds in Syria.

About 1,000 foreign IS fighters were captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces but several hundred have already been transferred to Iraq for trial. Those remaining are mostly family members.

The UN says there are about 29,000 children of foreign IS fighters in Syria, 20,000 of them from Iraq, but overall there are about 50 nationalities.

What has Ms Bachelet said?

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said there should be no doubt about what must happen to those being detained.

“Accountability through fair trials protects societies from future radicalisation and violence,” she said, adding that continuing to detain individuals not suspected of crimes was not acceptable.

She added: “Foreign family members should be repatriated, unless they are to be prosecuted for crimes in accordance with international standards.”

Ms Bachelet highlighted in particular the plight of children born to IS fighters, reported to number about 29,000.

“States should provide the same access to nationality for children born to their nationals in conflict zones as is otherwise applicable.

However, as most of the children were born in Syria, the governments of parents’ nations have often refused to recognise them.

France, Russia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands have taken back some. Australia also confirmed it had evacuated six children from a “bleak and complicated” situation at a Syrian refugee camp.

But many nations have shown unwillingness to allow repatriation. They fear prosecutions of IS fighters may be difficult and public opinion is often strongly against repatriation.

Trump official seeks to isolate Iran as Washington plans further sanctions

A burning oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman

Iran denies responsibility for attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Photograph: AP

The US is to propose an international maritime Gulf protection force, its special envoy on Iran has said, as the Trump administration prepared to announce fresh economic sanctions on Tehran.

Brian Hook said he had been holding extensive talks with US allies in the wake of the Gulf of Oman tanker attacks, when two vessels were damaged by explosions. He believed a global coalition to protect shipping was required.

“There have been too many attacks. We could have had an environmental disaster and extensive loss of life due to reckless Iranian provocations,” he said.

Hook said the G20 summit this week in Japan would be a good forum for discussions. As many as 17 countries had been adversely effected by the recent tanker attacks either directly or through crew, insurance or contracts, he said, and an international force might isolate Iran diplomatically as well as make it more perilous for Tehran or its surrogates to mount further attacks.

Iran has denied responsibility for the blasts.

Hook, seen as one of the hawks on Iran inside the US administration, said Tehran faced a choice: “They can either start coming to the negotiating table or they can watch their economy continue to crumble.”

Tensions with Iran have been mounting since Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal last year and began applying pressure on Tehran through economic sanctions.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, met Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince for talks on Monday as the US sought to promote an anti-Iran alliance at a time of mounting tensions in the region.

“You are a dear friend,” King Salman told Pompeo, who was due to fly to the United Arab Emirates later on Monday for further discussions.

Before his departure from the US, Pompeo had said Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “great allies in the challenge that Iran presents”.

He also reiterated Donald Trump’s offer of dialogue to improve relations with Iran. “We’re prepared to negotiate with no preconditions. They know precisely how to find us,” Pompeo said.

Last week, the US pulled back from the brink of a military confrontation with Iran after Trump called off strikes ordered in retaliation for the shooting down of a US drone.

Iran has said it will not enter into discussions until sanctions are lifted. The fresh round of US sanctions is however an attempt to force the Iranian leadership to hold talks with the US. A near-total ban on oil exports is already in place.

On Sunday, the hawkish US national security adviser, John Bolton, said Tehran should not “mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness”.

A drone strike on an airport in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, which left one person dead and 21 injured, will have coloured the mood among Gulf states. It follows another attack on 12 June.

Hook is also to meet officials from Britain, France and Germany this week, but declined to say what pressure he will putting on those countries to follow the US out of the nuclear deal with Iran if, as Tehran has threatened, it breaches its permitted uranium enrichment stock levels on Thursday.

The EU has the choice of either putting the issue in the nuclear deal dispute mechanism, or threatening its own retaliatory measures.

The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the UK was focused on de-escalating the dispute and refused to comment directly on claims that London had not been consulted before Trump sanctioned and then cancelled the planned strike on Iran last Thursday. Hunt said the UK had the closest possible intelligence relationship with the US.

Germany appeared cool towards US talk of building a global coalition against Iran. A foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday that Berlin had “taken note via the media” of Pompeo’s comments and added that “our top aim is and remains a de-escalation of the serious situation”.

Hook claimed the EU was being subjected to nuclear blackmail by Iran, and claimed Iran had rejected the opportunity to take various diplomatic “off-ramps” in the past year.

The UK, together with France and Germany, is urging Tehran to wait for European countries to set up the much-delayed financial mechanism designed to help businesses in Europe trade with Iran, circumventing secondary US sanctions. Iran saw an increase in trade as one of the key benefits of the deal.

REU: U.S., Taliban aim to firm up date for foreign force exit from Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) – Upcoming peace talks between the United States and the Taliban will focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee militants won’t plot attacks from Afghan soil, sources said on Monday.

A seventh round of talks between the warring sides begins on Saturday in Qatar’s capital of Doha, where U.S. and Taliban negotiators have been trying to hammer out a deal to end to the 18-year-long war since October.

“Once the timetable for foreign force withdrawal is announced, then talks will automatically enter the next stage,” said Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha.

“We don’t need to wait for the completion of the withdrawal, both withdrawal and talks can move forward simultaneously.”

The focus of the talks has been a Taliban demand for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces and a U.S. demand the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.

Two other main issues in the process are a ceasefire and talks between the rival Afghan sides – the insurgents and the Western-backed government.

But the Taliban have long refused to talk to the Afghan government, denouncing it as foreign “puppet”, and fighting has seen no let-up.

Two other sources with knowledge of the talks said the sixth round in May ended with unease on both sides, but since then informal meeting had taken place to work out what can be agreed on.

The U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has also held informal meetings with the Taliban leadership in Doha.

“Based on my recent visits to Afghanistan and Qatar, I believe all sides want rapid progress,” Khalilzad said on Twitter.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born American diplomat has been leading the talks to secure a political settlement with the hardline Islamist group that now controls more Afghan territory than at any time since being toppled in 2001 by U.S.-led forces.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to the United Nations. Thousands of Afghan soldiers, police and Taliban were also killed.

Nevertheless, the Taliban leader vowed this month to sustain the fight until their objectives were reached.

In March, a draft agreement was reached on the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as al Qaeda.

A Taliban source said both sides were expecting some clarity and results on the prime issues in the new round talks.

“A ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks will not be discussed during the seventh round,” said the Taliban source, who declined to be identified.

Some Afghan government officials side fear the United States and the Taliban will strike a deal on the withdrawal of foreign forces, enabling the United States to get out of an unpopular war but leaving government forces to battle on alone.

AP: Iraqi special forces kill 14 IS militants in country’s north

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi special forces say they have conducted an operation near the northern city of Kirkuk in which they killed 14 members of the Islamic State group.

A statement from Iraqi Counterterrorism Forces on Monday says that during the operation, Iraqi forces received support from warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition

The statement says the operation, just south of Kirkuk, lasted for two days and included Iraqi special forces rappelling from helicopters.

Although Iraq declared victory against IS in July 2017, the extremists have since been trying to mount a guerrilla-style insurgency, going into hiding and staging surprise attacks in different parts of the country.

AP: Taliban threaten Afghan media, say reporters to be targeted

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban have issued a threat to Afghan media, saying journalists will be targeted unless news outlets stop broadcasting what they describe as government propaganda against the insurgents.

Monday’s statement gives Afghan radio stations, TV channels and others a week to cease transmitting anti-Taliban announcements paid for by the government.

The Taliban say that Afghan media that refuse to do this will be considered enemy intelligence nests and their journalists and other staffers will not be safe.

The government in Kabul pays media outlets to regularly air please to the public to inform authorities if they see any suspicious Taliban activities.

The Taliban have targeted Afghan media, radio and TV stations in the past but this is the insurgents’ first threat over a specific issue such as the government-paid announcements.

AP: Kansas Sen. Moran votes to block arm sales to Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran has broken with most other Republican senators in voting to block President Donald Trump’s administration from selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

The Kansas City Star reports that Moran supported two resolutions Thursday disapproving of Trump’s use of emergency authority to make the sales.

Moran was among seven Republicans to vote for the two measures. Fellow Kansas Republican Pat Roberts voted against them.

One resolution objected to arm sales based on the Saudi regime’s involvement in a civil war in Yemen and evidence of a role in the murder of U.S.-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Moran said the resolutions prevent Congress from being bypassed on arm sales.

Trump is expected to veto the measures. They passed 53-45, well short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto.

US foreign policy

Bush’s Five Big Lies That Led to the Iraq Quagmire

These are the five lies Bush told that Ralph Nader documented to impeach him.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction. The weapons have still not been found. Nader emphasized, “Until the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was our government’s anti-communist ally in the Middle East. We also used him to keep Iran at bay. In so doing, in the 1980s under Reagan and the first Bush, corporations were licensed by the Department of Commerce to export the materials for chemical and biological weapons that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney later accused him of having.” Those weapons were destroyed after the Gulf War. George W. Bush’s favorite chief weapons inspector, David Kay, after returning from Iraq and leading a large team of inspectors and spending nearly half a billion dollars told the president We were wrong. See: David Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 2004-01-28.Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) ’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.

  • Iraq Ties to Al Qaeda. The White House made this claim even though the CIA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) repeatedly told the Administration that there was no tie between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. They were mortal enemies — one secular, the other fundamentalist.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to the United States. In fact, Saddam was a tottering dictator, with an antiquated, fractured army of low morale and with Kurdish enemies in Northern Iraq and Shiite adversaries in the South of Iraq. He did not even control the air space over most of Iraq.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to his Neighbors. In fact, Iraq was surrounded by countries with far superior military forces. Turkey, Iran and Israel were all capable of obliterating any aggressive move by the Iraqi dictator.

  • The Liberation of the Iraqi People. There are brutal dictators throughout the world, many supported over the years by Washington, whose people need liberation from their leaders. This is not a persuasive argument since for Iraq, it’s about oil. In fact, the occupation of Iraq by the United States is a magnet for increasing violence, anarchy and insurrection

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

None

War Casualties By Name

Save The Children Organization

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children and has been working with families, communities and local authorities in Iraq since 1991, leading NGOs in general relief and development programs.Save the Children is currently responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) and the Syrian refugees in Iraq, in camps and non-camp settings. Our goal is for children in Iraq to be supported in raising their voices and attaining their rights, especially the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. They should have access to quality education, health and protection services. We are increasing access to community based services that protect, educate and improve quality of life for children. We are ensuring that there is an increased participation of boys and girls in age appropriate activities and services. We are ensuring that children benefit from government actions that create an environment of awareness and accountability to uphold child rights. We are also developing new resources and innovative practices that support our work for children and youth.In Iraq, Save the Children’s interventions include Child Protection, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, Shelter and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), reaching vulnerble children and families in northern and central Iraq. Save the Children’s programs are implemented through field offices in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Kalar, with a country office located in Erbil.

Visit Save The Children Organization>>

Image result for Iraq war child pictures

Global Research Photo

Iraqi War Child

Please Never Forget.

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23 Jun

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

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>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

Meltdown: the climate crisis – in pictures

MELTDOWN – a visualisation of climate change has opened at Natural History Museum of Vienna. Created by the climate crisis charity Project Pressure, the exhibition on vanishing glaciers uses art to inspire action and behavioural change. Unlike wildfires, flooding and other weather events, the retreat of the world’s glaciers can be attributed to global warming. To incite action, Project Pressure has created a carbon footprint calculator in collaboration with ClimateHero to learn how carbon-intense the users’ lifestyle is.

 

Calais-based human rights observers report ‘relentless harassment’ of asylum seekers

French gendarmes patrol a beach near Calais, northern France, as they try to intercept migrants attempting to cross the Channel.

French gendarmes patrol a beach near Calais, northern France, as they try to intercept migrants attempting to cross the Channel. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

British and French authorities have ramped up attempts to prevent refugees reaching the UK with camp evictions in north France running at several a day, new analysis reveals.

More than 800 clearances of migrant camps near the ports of Calais and Dunkirk have been recorded since last August, a zero tolerance strategy that campaigners say is designed to stop migrants attempting to cross the Channel by boat.

French police carried out 12 evictions in Calais last July when reports of Channel crossings began to emerge, compared to 79 in May, the latest month for which figures are available.

Charities argue that the increasing tempo of evictions, a strategy backed by UK border authorities, is forcing the 1,300 refugees currently in northern France to risk the dangerous Channel crossing. Last month the number of crossings by migrants from France hit record levels.

The Calais-based organisation Human Rights Observers and French group L’Auberge des Migrants have produced a report that shows attempts to drive out refugees from northern France have increased to record levels, with 803 forced evictions recorded between 1 August 2018 and 1 June 2019.

“It’s an astronomical figure which illustrates the authorities’ relentless harassment of displaced people in Calais. The cadence of these operations is uncompromising, occurring on the weekends as well as on bank holidays,” said Jenni Whitaker of Human Rights Observers.

The controversial “migrant management strategy” is backed by the UK-France Coordination and Information Centre in Calais, which is staffed by Home Office border officials, National Crime Agency officers and British immigration enforcement staff.

The centre, funded by the UK, shares “real-time intelligence between UK and French agencies” and is dedicated to stopping refugees trying to cross the border.

The repeated destruction of makeshift camps around the Calais port area and the town of Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, has forced many of the refugees to sleep without shelter and also lose their possessions.

Of 500 migrants currently living near Calais, 139 are unaccompanied minors, with another 150 children among 800 living in rudimentary camps close to Dunkirk.

The scheme to transfer vulnerable child refugees from France to Britain has reportedly been ended, leaving hundreds of lone children facing exploitation. A 10-year-old unaccompanied boy was among those recently attempting to reach the UK, where he has relatives.

“The relentless and repetitive nature of the evictions appear to deliberately exhaust the communities, and render them even more materially precarious,” said the report.

Of particular concern, says Whitaker, is how police establish a “security perimeter” during evictions to prevent refugees retrieving their belongings. On one occasion last March, gendarmes are alleged to have initially prevented a mother retrieving her child from a tent.

The Human Rights Observers, set up in October 2017 to investigate allegations of mistreatment by the French authorities against refugees, also report that tents have been routinely broken and confiscated and food sprayed with teargas, and that even jerrycans of drinking water have been slashed.

“These evictions only serve to add to the accumulated trauma of refugees and migrants, and aim only to create further hostility rather than offer a dignified solution. This has led to a deterioration of both the physical and mental health of those affected,” said the report.

The vast majority of evacuations occur at Calais, with clearances in Grande-Synthe more sporadic, and currently take place at a rate of two per week.

However, conditions at Grande-Synthe are said to be dire with 87% of migrants telling a recent survey they do not have access to a toilet and more than half saying they do not have enough to eat.

Charities celebrated a legal victory last week against the French authorities over alleged human rights violations at Grande-Synthe, a verdict that means the state must provide water, showers and toilets for the hundreds living there.

A Pakistani man told the report’s authors: “Today police came. They take my tent. In two days, I sleep maximum two hours. It’s too much difficult. The mind is not working, the brain stops working. All the refugees are so afraid now.”

In October 2016 a huge semi-permanent camp in Calais, home to around 8,000 refugees, was demolished in a move by the French government to remove migrants from its northern coast.

Oklahoma is holding the drug giant with the family-friendly image responsible for its addiction epidemic

The state of Oklahoma is suing Johnson & Johnson in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit.

The state of Oklahoma is suing Johnson & Johnson in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Day after day, the memos flashing across screens in an Oklahoma courtroom have jarred with the family-friendly public image of Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant best known for baby powder and Band-Aid.

In one missive, a sales representative dismissed a doctor’s fears that patients might become addicted to the company’s opioid painkillers by telling him those who didn’t die probably wouldn’t get hooked. Another proposes targeting sales of the powerfully addictive drugs at those most at risk: men under 40.

As the state of Oklahoma’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson has unfolded over the past month, the company has struggled to explain marketing strategies its accusers say dangerously misrepresented the risk of opioid addiction to doctors, manipulated medical research, and helped drive an epidemic that has claimed 400,000 lives over the past two decades.

Johnson & Johnson profited further as demand for opioids surged by buying poppy growing companies in Australia to supply the raw narcotic for its own medicines and other American drug makers.

One expert witness at the forefront of combatting the epidemic, Dr Andrew Kolodny, told the court he had little idea about Johnson & Johnson’s role until he saw the evidence in the case.

“I think it’s fair to characterize Johnson & Johnson as a kingpin in our opioid crisis,” he said.

Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, is suing Johnson & Johnson for billions of dollars for its alleged part in driving addiction and overdoses in his state in the first full trial of a drug maker over the opioid epidemic.

But Hunter’s lawsuit has put the wider industry in the dock, too, by laying out how opioid manufacturers worked together to drive up sales by using their huge resources to influence medical policy and doctor prescribing. Hunter said the strategy was motivated by the industry’s “greed” as profits surged.

The case is being closely watched by a host of opioid makers, drug distributors and pharmacy chains facing more than 2,000 other lawsuits by communities across the country to see if a court is prepared to hold a pharmaceutical firm responsible for the worst drug epidemic in American history.

Hunter accuses Johnson & Johnson of joining with other companies to create a false narrative of an epidemic of untreated pain in the US to which opioids were the solution, in part by funding front organizations such as the American Pain Society. The strategy helped drive a surge in opioid prescribing as narcotic painkillers ballooned into a multibillion-dollar-a-year market.

Purdue Pharma kickstarted the epidemic with its high-strength, long-lasting opioid, OxyContin, in the mid-1990s. The court heard how Johnson & Johnson quickly realized the potential and set about competing.

Its drug division, Janssen, was founded by Paul Janssen, a Belgian who invented an artificial opioid, fentanyl, in 1960. In the early 1990s, Janssen Pharmaceuticals was selling a fentanyl patch, Duragesic, to treat severe pain in people with cancer. But with the arrival of OxyContin, the company aggressively widened the market for Duragesic by falsely claiming there was a very low risk of addiction to the drug, according to Hunter.

Hunter brought to court 35 boxes containing thousands of subpoenaed “call notes” – sales reps reports on their meetings with doctors – that he claimed showed Johnson & Johnson was more interested in increasing demand for its drug than seeing it properly prescribed.

Johnson & Johnson hired the consultants McKinsey & Company to identify opportunities to sell more. McKinsey recommended sales reps focus on doctors already prescribing large amounts of OxyContin. McKinsey also proposed a strategy to keep patients on Duragesic even if they had an “adverse event”. The broader push was to get as many patients as possible off of lower strength opioids and on to Johnson & Johnson’s more powerful drugs.

As the company ramped up its drive, sales of Duragesic surged past $1bn a year. A senior Johnson & Johnson marketing executive, Kimberly Deem-Eshleman, defended the sales strategy as reps “educating” doctors.

Johnson & Johnson, which is already facing compensation payments of several billion dollars after asbestos in its baby powder caused cancer, strongly denies that it bears responsibility for the opioid epidemic.

At the core of its defense is the claim that the company was distributing drugs approved by federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, and that it sold a relatively small amount of opioids in Oklahoma that cannot be tied to any specific overdoses.

Hunter is painting his case on a much broader canvas by characterizing the company as working in coordination with its rivals to change the narrative around opioids to drive up prescribing across the country so that they all benefitted from a bigger market.

Some of the most damning testimony has come from Dr Russell Portenoy, a pain specialist and influential early cheerleader for the wide prescribing of opioids who was a paid adviser to Johnson & Johnson, Purdue and other drug makers.

Portenoy told the court that painkiller manufacturers “understated the risks of opioids, particularly the risk of abuse, addiction and overdose” to boost sales. He accused the drug makers of distorting his research and that of other specialists by selectively quoting the results, including omitting information about the dangers of narcotics.

“Those messages about risk were neglected and de-emphasised,” he said in recorded video testimony shown in court. “I think the purpose of doing that was to improve the sales of their products. ”

Portenoy was among a group of doctors hired by Johnson & Johnson and Purdue as speakers to promote opioids to other physicians. He said the talks “generally favored the drugs created by the drug companies” even though they were ostensibly offering independent advice.

The court was shown Janssen’s 2012 business plan which said that “speaker programs often trigger first use” of Duragesic.

The Oklahoma case is closely watched by other drug firms being sued by towns, cities and counties in nearly 2,000 lawsuits combined in a single action in federal court in Ohio, known as the Multi District Litigation (MDL).

Last week, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the MDL proposed that any compensation settlement cover every municipality and county in the US in order to deal with all potential lawsuits at once. The lawyers believe this will be an incentive for the drug firms to settle because an agreement will shield them from further claims, although it would not deal with actions by state attorney generals such as the one underway in Oklahoma.

Paul Farrell, one of the lead lawyers on the MDL, said he was hesitant to put too much weight on any one trial. But he said that if Johnson & Johnson lose the Oklahoma case it would be a blow to the other drug companies pursuing similar lines of defence.

“If the judge decides to rule that Johnson & Johnson is not liable in Oklahoma because of the facts in Oklahoma, then I think they’re going to have to replicate that result in 49 other states and in at least 1,900 other governmental entity cases. If, on the other hand, the judge does find liability against Johnson & Johnson, despite the fact that they claim their market share was so small, you would think that that would have reverberations across the industry,” he said.

  • Chris McGreal is the author of American Overdose, The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts

World Politics

Great Britain

Far-right activist claimed he helped with Boris Johnson’s resignation speech as foreign secretary

New evidence suggesting close links between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump’s controversial former campaign manager Steve Bannon can be revealed, calling into question the former foreign secretary’s previous denials of an association with the influential far-right activist.

Video evidence obtained by the Observer shows Bannon, who helped mastermind Trump’s successful bid for the presidency but was later exiled from the White House, talking about his relationship and contacts with Johnson, and how he helped him craft the first speech after his resignation as foreign secretary, in which Johnson tore into Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

The revelations will pile new pressure on Johnson after the Guardian reported that police had been called to the flat he shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds, in the early hours of Friday morning after neighbours heard a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging.

Reports of Johnson and Bannon’s relationship were first published last summer. When asked about it at the time, Johnson said: “As for the so-called association with Steve Bannon, I’m afraid this is a lefty delusion whose spores continue to breed in the Twittersphere.”

He said he had met Bannon in his role as foreign secretary and found the accusation that he was ‘with Bannon’ to be ‘perplexing’.

The unpublished footage was shot in July last year by Alison Klayman, an American film-maker who followed Bannon over many months for a new documentary called The Brink. It sets out Bannon’s account of how the two had been in close contact particularly around the time of Johnson’s resignation from the May government.

The clips were shot in the week Johnson resigned over Brexit, when Bannon was in London meeting leaders of the European far right, including Nigel Farage. They are not included in the final film, which is being released in July, but Klayman passed the footage to the Observer.

The first clip shows Bannon reading a front page story in the Daily Telegraph about Johnson’s resignation speech with the headline ‘Let’s Make Britain Great Again’. He says: “Today we are going to see if Boris Johnson tries to overthrow the British government. He’s going to give a speech in the Commons.”

Bannon then says: “I’ve been talking to him all weekend about this speech. We went back and forth over the text.”

Read Full Article>>

United States

  • President to reporters: ‘I have no idea who this woman is’

  • Picture shows Trump with E Jean Carroll around 1987

Donald Trump makes remarks to the press as he departs the White House

Donald Trump makes remarks to the press as he departs the White House. Photograph: Mike Theiler/Pool/EPA

Donald Trump has claimed again not to know the latest women to publicly accuse him of sexual assault, E Jean Carroll, after his claim on Friday that he had never met her was disproved by a photograph of them together at a party.

The photo was included in the New York magazine article in which Carroll, a writer and celebrated advice columnist, made public her allegation that Trump assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s.

“I have no idea who this woman is,” Trump told reporters at the White House, as he left for weekend meetings at Camp David.

When a reporter reminded the president that he and Carroll had appeared in a photo together, he replied: “Standing with my coat on in a line, give me a break. With my back to the camera. I have no idea who she is.”

In the article – an extract from her new book, What Do We Need Men For? – Carroll alleged that in late 1995 or early 1996, Trump asked her for advice on a gift to buy a female friend.

In a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan, Carroll wrote, Trump lunged at her and for the next three minutes sexually assaulted her.

“He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights,” she wrote.

Carroll said there was then a “colossal struggle” as Trump opened “the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway – or completely, I’m not certain – inside me”.

New York magazine said two of Carroll’s friends – prominent but unnamed journalists – said she told them about the alleged assault at the time and that they had full recollection of her account.

On Friday, Trump responded to the allegation for the first time, saying in a statement: “I’ve never met this person in my life.

“She is trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”

Trump’s claim that the two had never met was not true. The New York article included a photo of Trump next to his then-wife Ivana Trump and facing Carroll and her then-husband, TV news anchor John Johnson, at a party sometime around 1987.

More than 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Carroll listed 15 of them in her article: Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson and Cassandra Searles.

Trump and his allies have dismissed each accusation as a lie.

Related:

The sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump – the full list

Biden stumbles over abortion rights while Warren receives cheers>>

Democrats look for that old debate magic – but can anyone defeat Trump?>>

Trump announces delay in planned Ice raids on migrant families>>

‘Death by a thousand cuts’: Trump raid delay prolongs migrants’ agony>>

Promises, promises: has Donald Trump kept his word in office?>>

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22 Jun

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

War News

GUARD: British arms sales to Saudi Arabia deemed unlawful, but now the hard work begins

The onus is on MPs to ensure the government respects a legal ruling criticising the export of weapons used in Yemen

Artwork is seen on a London street depicting a young Yemeni boy holding a gun

Artwork is seen on a London street depicting a young Yemeni boy holding a gun. A sackful of weaponry behind him is tagged: ‘Merry Christmas Yemen from the UK.’ Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

This week’s legal decision by the appeal court that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful finally opens the door to accountability for Britain’s role in the war in Yemen and the humanitarian disaster it has caused.

But while Thursday was a day of celebration for campaigners, now the hard work begins of trying to get the government to respect the decision.

The government says it will not allow arms exports where there is a clear risk they might be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law. Yet for the past four years, it has provided diplomatic cover for the Saudi-led coalition’s abuses committed primarily with UK and US supplied weapons.

The government has expended significant amounts of energy in trying not to know, or be seen to know, about those abuses. At every turn, in response to every criticism the government has mobilised doubt and ambiguity about what can be known about the conduct of the war and stuck to its claim to have one of the most robust control regimes in the world.

The court of appeal concluded on Thursday that the government has failed to assess the risk of misuse properly, as it has made no assessment of whether there is a past pattern of violations by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The trade secretary, Liam Fox, whose signature goes on arms export licence approvals, has already tried to minimise the significance of the decision and indicated that the government intends to appeal.

Liam Fox delivers a speech on the future of exports from the UK after Brexit

Liam Fox delivers a speech on the future of exports from the UK after Brexit. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

New data from Yemen indicates 11,700 civilian fatalities from direct targeting – two thirds of whom have been killed by the Saudi-led coalition – and famine and cholera continue to decimate the population. As the pursuit of accountability continues, three things are worth noting.

First, this decision sticks the final nail in the coffin of the tired argument that arms sales bring influence and leverage. The government has repeatedly claimed that its friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia brings special levels of insight into, and influence over, its conduct of the war. Yet the court was clear that without assessing whether there have been breaches of international law, and whether the training has actually made any difference to how the coalition is fighting the war, all this talk about training, support and influence are moot. The government uses this argument about leverage to justify what it wishes were true and to facilitate ongoing arms exports and diplomacy, rather than as an accurate description of reality.

Second, the decision vindicates the value of open-source information coming from non-governmental organisations and the UN. The government sought to diminish the significance of open-source information, claiming superior – but secret – information from intelligence and military sources. The court of appeal recognised that NGOs and the UN had representatives on the ground in Yemen who were able to bring evidence into the public domain of likely violations of international humanitarian law, and that their methods are rigorous and reliable. This is a significant victory for activists – and especially for the Yemeni and Yemen-based researchers, journalists, and fixers who undertake this work at great personal risk.

UN officials monitor the removal of sandbag barricades in the embattled Yemeni Red Sea port city of Hodeida

UN officials monitor the removal of sandbag barricades in the embattled Yemeni Red Sea port city of Hodeida. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Lastly, there has been significant effort within government to try to manage information, minimise paper trails, and not create a record of how it was (failing to) assess risk. The court drew attention to an undocumented Ministry of Defence decision in 2016 that there would be no attempt to answer the question of whether the Saudi-led coalition was breaching international law. And last week it was revealed that the Foreign Office has repeatedly sought to delay the release of information about its processes. It is now clear there has been a cross-government effort to minimise the possibility of scrutiny and accountability.

So what now? The court has found government policy to be unlawful, so the government has to make fresh decisions, this time lawfully. The government has committed not to issue new licences to the Saudi-led coalition for weapons to be used in the Yemen war. Deliveries under existing licences are not automatically suspended in the meantime – although that would be a prudent precautionary move, if the government were serious about correcting its policy. Parliament has a crucial role in keeping up pressure on the government to put this into practice. The parliamentary Committees on Arms Export Controls must resume their role as scrutineers of government policy and put Yemen firmly back on the agenda. Given that the current and former foreign secretaries are vying to be the country’s next prime minister, the task of accountability has never been more urgent.

Dr Anna Stavrianakis is a senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Sussex

GUARD: Foreign Office minister to visit Iran to call for ‘urgent de-escalation’

Andrew Murrison will raise concerns about country’s conduct amid rising tensions

Iranian soldiers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian soldiers in the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman, where two oil tankers were attacked on 13 June. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

A Foreign Office minister is to visit Iran on Sunday and call for “urgent de-escalation in the region”, amid heightening tensions between Tehran and Washington after an unmanned American drone was shot down.

Andrew Murrison, the MP for South West Wiltshire who covers the Middle East as part of his brief, will raise UK and international concerns about Iran’s “regional conduct and its threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal to which the UK remains fully committed” during “frank and constructive” talks with the government in Tehran.

“At this time of increased regional tensions and at a crucial period for the future of the nuclear deal, this visit is an opportunity for further open, frank and constructive engagement with the government of Iran,” the Foreign Office said.

Iran claimed the downed aircraft was “spying” in its airspace and had crossed a “red line”. However, Washington said the incident had occurred in international airspace.

UK relations with Iran have been dominated by the ongoing imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national who has always denied the spying allegations upon which she has been held in Iran since 2016.

Speaking about Murrison’s planned visit to Iran, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said: “I’ve been asked how hopeful I am. I’m not sure if I’m hopeful, but certainly will be watching very closely to see how things develop and what comes back.”

Ratcliffe is on day eight of a hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London in solidarity with Zaghari-Ratcliffe. “[Murrison will] be talking to the foreign ministry; we’ll be looking to see what reaction comes from inside the prison to those conversations,” Ratcliffe said.

“The sooner the British government’s able to work with the Iranian government and find a resolution, that’s better for our family, for sure.”

However, US-Iran relations have overshadowed her ongoing confinement, and while both countries have said they do not have any appetite for conflict Donald Trump told NBC on Friday that if it comes, Iran would experience “obliteration like you’ve never seen before … but I’m not looking to do that”.

Trump said the US was “cocked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran, but that he had cancelled planned strikes just minutes before they were to be carried out on Thursday after being told 150 people could die.

Iran has vowed to defend its borders. “Regardless of any decision [US officials] make… we will not allow any of Iran’s borders to be violated,” the foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, told Tasnim, a semi-official news agency. “Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America.

Last year, the US unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six other powers and reimposed sanctions on the country. International sanctions had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.

A senior Arab diplomat said sharply increased tensions would further harm the crisis-hit Middle East region.

“De-escalation is very important because tempers are flaring… It’s very important we avoid confrontation right now,” they told Reuters, on condition of anonymity. “Confrontation, whatever we think about Trump or Iran, will be disastrous for everyone.”

On Saturday, Etihad Airways followed Qantas, British Airways, Lufthansa and a number of other airlines and suspended “until further notice” operations through Iranian airspace over the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

The United Arab Emirates-based carrier said “the safety of our passengers and staff is the highest priority” and that it would use alternative flight paths on a number of routes to and from Abu Dhabi.

The US has warned that commercial airliners could be mistakenly attacked after the US Navy Global Hawk drone was shot down on Thursday.

Tehran dismissed the concerns, which come 30 years after the US Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian civilian flight flying in Iranian airspace, killing almost 300 people.

GUARD: Britain’s responsibility for carnage in Yemen

Responses to Arron Merat’s long read on the UK’s role in Saudi strikes on Yemen, and this week’s court ruling that British arms exports to Saudi Arabia are illegal

The UK’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, meeting Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in November 2018

The UK’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. ‘Not only did Jeremy Hunt want to continue UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but even more despicably he wanted to dissuade other countries from halting any sales,’ writes Rae Street. Photograph: AP

In his illuminating long read (‘They couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s role in Yemen’s deadly war, 18 June), Arron Merat describes the increasingly shaky claims made by ministers that the UK is not a party to the Yemen conflict (despite the UK posting personnel to prepare and maintain Saudi Arabian fighter jets, and sending UK special forces to fight on the side of the Saudi-led coalition). Such claims are clearly designed to avoid responsibility under rules of the Geneva conventions and other international humanitarian law that bind parties to conflict.

Under the international law of state responsibility, however, the UK could still be liable for “aiding and assisting” another state that committed an internationally wrongful act or maintained a serious breach of a peremptory norm of international law. The overwhelming evidence collected on the ground by Mwatana, Ceasefire’s partner organisation cited by Arron Merat, testifies to gross and systematic violations including repeated airstrikes against schools, hospitals, markets, farms and food storage sites, far from any military objective.

Nor is responsibility for war crimes restricted to individuals who are linked to a party to the conflict. The government’s policy is again placing UK service personnel at risk of prosecution, including RAF liaison officers stationed in command and control centres in Saudi Arabia. Rumoured techniques such as walking out of the room whenever a sensitive civilian target is discussed may not be enough for officers to escape responsibility for aiding and abetting a war crime.

REU: Friday blast at Shi’ite mosque in Baghdad wounds several: police sources

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A bomb blast at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in eastern Baghdad wounded at least seven people on Friday, security sources said, correcting earlier reports of seven killed.

Police sources said on Friday a suicide belt or improvised explosive device had been used in the attack in the Baladiyat neighbourhood, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The toll was initially put at seven dead and more than 20 wounded. But police and other security sources said on Saturday the attackers had leaked false news of casualties through witnesses that police relied on for their reports.

An investigation had been launched, they said.

It was a rare attack on a Shi’ite place of worship in the Iraqi capital.

Sunni extremists carried out high-profile bombings of Iraqi Shi’ite sites during the worst of the country’s sectarian violence after the U.S. invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Baghdad’s security improved significantly with the defeat of Islamic State in 2017 and bomb attacks of any kind in the city have been rare since then.

REU:  U.S. forces prepare to evacuate contractors from Iraqi base: military sources

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S. forces are preparing to evacuate hundreds of staff working for Lockheed Martin Corp and Sallyport Global from an Iraqi military base where they work as contractors, three Iraqi military sources said on Friday.

Nearly 400 contractors from the two firms are getting ready to leave Balad military base, which hosts U.S. forces some 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, over “potential security threats”, they said, without saying what those threats might be.

The U.S. military denied any planned evacuation from the sprawling Balad base, which last week was hit by three mortar shells. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“There are no plans at this time to evacuate any personnel from Balad … Should there be increased threats to our people, the U.S. Air Force will put measures in place to provide the protections required,” Air Force Colonel Kevin Walker said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Lockheed in the Middle East said: “We are not evacuating Lockheed Martin employees right now from Balad Air Base.” She did not say whether any other evacuation was being prepared.

A military official with knowledge of the base’s daily operations said earlier that the U.S. military had informed Iraqi officials they would begin evacuating about half of the 800 employees who work for both companies at Balad.

The official said the evacuation would take about 10 days.

Two other military sources said the evacuation would take place in two stages and would be carried out by military aircraft.

“Americans informed us that they will only keep limited, necessary staff who work closely on the maintenance of Iraqi F-16 war planes.” Lockheed Martin began delivering the first F-16s to Iraq in 2014.

Read Full Article>>

AP: The Latest: Trump says he’s in ‘no hurry’ to strike Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on The United States and Iran’s tensions over the shoot-down of a massive U.S. drone (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he abruptly called off the military strikes on Iran Thursday because the likely deaths of 150 Iranians would have been out of proportion to the shootdown of an unmanned American surveillance drone.

He is also indicating he still hopes for talks with Iranian leaders rather than any escalation of military conflict.

Trump says he is “in no hurry,” adding that increasingly severe sanctions meant to push Iran to the nuclear negotiating table are “biting” the Iranian economy.

Bush’s Five Big Lies That Led to the Iraq Quagmire

These are the five lies Bush told that Ralph Nader documented to impeach him.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction. The weapons have still not been found. Nader emphasized, “Until the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was our government’s anti-communist ally in the Middle East. We also used him to keep Iran at bay. In so doing, in the 1980s under Reagan and the first Bush, corporations were licensed by the Department of Commerce to export the materials for chemical and biological weapons that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney later accused him of having.” Those weapons were destroyed after the Gulf War. George W. Bush’s favorite chief weapons inspector, David Kay, after returning from Iraq and leading a large team of inspectors and spending nearly half a billion dollars told the president We were wrong. See: David Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 2004-01-28.Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) ’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.

  • Iraq Ties to Al Qaeda. The White House made this claim even though the CIA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) repeatedly told the Administration that there was no tie between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. They were mortal enemies — one secular, the other fundamentalist.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to the United States. In fact, Saddam was a tottering dictator, with an antiquated, fractured army of low morale and with Kurdish enemies in Northern Iraq and Shiite adversaries in the South of Iraq. He did not even control the air space over most of Iraq.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to his Neighbors. In fact, Iraq was surrounded by countries with far superior military forces. Turkey, Iran and Israel were all capable of obliterating any aggressive move by the Iraqi dictator.

  • The Liberation of the Iraqi People. There are brutal dictators throughout the world, many supported over the years by Washington, whose people need liberation from their leaders. This is not a persuasive argument since for Iraq, it’s about oil. In fact, the occupation of Iraq by the United States is a magnet for increasing violence, anarchy and insurrection

Recent Casualties:

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Save The Children Organization

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children and has been working with families, communities and local authorities in Iraq since 1991, leading NGOs in general relief and development programs.Save the Children is currently responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) and the Syrian refugees in Iraq, in camps and non-camp settings. Our goal is for children in Iraq to be supported in raising their voices and attaining their rights, especially the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. They should have access to quality education, health and protection services. We are increasing access to community based services that protect, educate and improve quality of life for children. We are ensuring that there is an increased participation of boys and girls in age appropriate activities and services. We are ensuring that children benefit from government actions that create an environment of awareness and accountability to uphold child rights. We are also developing new resources and innovative practices that support our work for children and youth.In Iraq, Save the Children’s interventions include Child Protection, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, Shelter and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), reaching vulnerble children and families in northern and central Iraq. Save the Children’s programs are implemented through field offices in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Kalar, with a country office located in Erbil.

Visit Save The Children Organization>>

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21 Jun

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

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>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

London’s toxic school runs: how polluted is the air children breathe? – video


Military operation reportedly called off, as Democrats warn US could ‘bumble into’ war

Donald Trump is reported to have initially ordered missile strikes on Iran after a US drone was shot down.

Donald Trump is reported to have initially ordered missile strikes on Iran after a US drone was shot down. Photograph: Handout ./Reuters

Donald Trump reportedly gave initial approval for the US military to launch strikes on Iran in retaliation for Tehran shooting down an American drone, before pulling back at the last minute.

Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down on Thursday night, the New York Times quoted an unnamed official as saying.

US military and diplomatic officials were expecting strikes on a handful of radar and missile sites after the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders gathered at the White House, the paper said. The military operation was called off around 7.30pm ET (12.30am BST).

The UK was informed of the US plan for the attack and not told the reprisal raids were off until 3am UK time (10pm ET).

It was not clear whether strikes would go ahead at a later date. The White House and Pentagon have not commented on the reports.

On Friday Reuters reported that Trump had passed a message to Tehran via Oman warning an attack on Iran was imminent.

“In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” an anonymous Iranian official told the news agency. “He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran’s immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei to decide about this issue.”

A second Iranian official said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision … However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

Oman – along with Japan, Iraq and to a lesser extent Switzerland – has acted as an intermediary for messages between Trump and the Iranian leadership.

Khamenei has repeatedly said he will not talk to the US until it lifts economic sanctions, adding he does not trust Trump’s motives.

The reported contact with Oman suggests that the White House might have been involved in brinkmanship with Tehran, but pulled back when Iran did not flinch.

US officials said that Trump was known to want talks, but was also a believer in sending mixed messages to keep his adversaries guessing about his next move.

He is surrounded by some officials – notably the national security adviser, John Bolton – who are thought to favour an attack.

The Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who had attended a classified White House briefing with other congressional leaders on Thursday, had said the administration should “do everything in our power to de-escalate”, while the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said he worried the administration “may bumble into a war”.

He said he told the president there must be a “robust, open debate” and Congress should have a real say. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, said: “The president certainly listened to what we had to say.”

One of the targets of the planned strikes was the S-125 Neva/Pechora surface-to-air missile system, Newsweek quoted a Pentagon official as saying. It reported that the US believed the system was behind the US drone attack, although Tehran said it had used its “3rd Khordad” air defence system, the Iranian equivalent of the Russian Buk system that downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.

The strikes were seemingly set for early in the day to minimise risk to the Iranian military or to civilians.

Trump had earlier appeared keen to calm tensions following the shooting down early on Thursday of the US Global Hawk drone, saying blame might be on a “loose and stupid” Iranian officer acting without authorisation from Tehran.

Many observers fear there is an absence of ways out if warfare was to break out.

Trump’s allies claimed he was intent on listening to all sides of the argument, but his instinct, relayed to the UK, had been to use economic pressure to force the Iranians to the bargaining table, and not to press for regime change.

“We didn’t have a man or woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference,” Trump said. Asked how the US would respond, he said: “You’ll find out.”

The downing on Thursday of the unarmed aircraft was the latest of a series of incidents that have raised tensions in the Gulf region. Earlier, a total of six oil tankers were damaged in two separate attacks.

According to a US official who spoke to the Associated Press, the strikes were recommended by the Pentagon and were among the options presented to senior administration officials.

The report of the swift reversal on US retaliation came as the US Federal Aviation Administration banned all US airlines and aircraft from flying in Iranian airspace close to where the US drone was shot down due to “heightened military activities” in the region.

There have been reports of an increase in Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps activity in the strait of Hormuz, increasing the chances of attacks on oil tankers operated by America or its Gulf allies if the US did mount an attack.

The FAA issued an emergency order saying all flight operations over water in the Tehran flight information region of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were prohibited until further notice because military activities and political tensions “present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations and potential for miscalculation or mis-identification”.

The order applies to US aircraft only but since the MH17 disaster all countries rely on airspace risk advice from the US, UK, France and Germany.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister and the US military offered competing graphics showing the drone’s flight path and where it was brought down.

Javad Zarif said Iran had recovered parts of the drone in its waters and that it had originally taken off from the United Arab Emirates.

World Politics

United States

‘Does the president have the power to declare war?’: Democrats question Trump official – video

The US state department’s expert on Iran, Brian Hook, is repeatedly asked by Democrats how the Trump administration interprets its powers to declare war, following a recent rise in tensions with Iran. Hook repeatedly stressed the US was pursuing diplomacy with Tehran, saying: ‘No one should be uncertain about our desire for peace’

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