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13 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.

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  • Sea ice also melting at fastest pace in 1,500 years, US government scientists find

  • ‘The Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago’ – author

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“It’s a liberal conspiracy”
“There’s no real evidence”
“Liberals faked the moon landing”
“The earth is flat”
“Climate change is a lie”
“Migrants are to blame for poor public services”

Right… Now you don’t have to talk bullshit, I’ve covered it all for you… Can we get on with solutions…?

If not please get the hell out of the way!

 The McGlynn

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An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland, near the Arctic circle. The far northern region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland, near the Arctic circle. The far northern region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Photograph: John Mcconnico/AP

 

Permafrost in the Arctic is thawing faster than ever, according to a new US government report that also found Arctic seawater is warming and sea ice is melting at the fastest pace in 1,500 years.

The annual report released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed slightly less warming in many measurements than a record hot 2016. But scientists remain concerned because the far northern region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe and has reached a level of warming that’s unprecedented in modern times.

The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator to the planet, but the door of the refrigerator has been left open

Jeremy Mathis

“2017 continued to show us we are on this deepening trend where the Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago,” said Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA’s Arctic research program and co-author of the 93-page report.

Findings were discussed at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans.

“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic; it affects the rest of the planet,” said acting NOAA chief Timothy Gallaudet. “The Arctic has huge influence on the world at large.”

Permafrost records show the frozen ground that many buildings, roads and pipelines are built on reached record warm temperatures last year nearing and sometimes exceeding the thawing point. That could make them vulnerable when the ground melts and shifts, the report said. Unlike other readings, permafrost data tend to lag a year.

Preliminary reports from the US and Canada in 2017 showed permafrost temperatures are “again the warmest for all sites” measured in North America, said study co-author Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

Arctic sea ice usually shrinks in September and this year it was only the eighth lowest on record for the melting season. But scientists said they were most concerned about what happens in the winter – especially March – when sea ice is supposed to be building to its highest levels.

Arctic winter sea ice maximum levels in 2017 were the smallest they’ve ever been for the season when ice normally grows. It was the third straight year of record low winter sea ice recovery. Records go back to 1979.

About 79% of the Arctic sea ice is thin and only a year old. In 1985, 45% of the sea ice in the Arctic was thick, older ice, said NOAA Arctic scientist Emily Osborne.

New research looking into the Arctic’s past using ice cores, fossils, corals and shells as stand-ins for temperature measurements show that Arctic ocean temperatures are rising and sea ice levels are falling at rates not seen in the 1,500 years. And those dramatic changes coincide with the large increase in carbon dioxide levels in the air, the report said.

This isn’t just a concern for the few people who live north of the Arctic circle. Changes in the Arctic can alter fish supply. And more ice-free Arctic summers can lead to countries competing to exploit new areas for resources. Research also shows changes in Arctic sea ice and temperature can alter the jet stream, which is a major factor in US weather.

This is probably partly responsible for the current unusual weather in the United States that brought destructive wildfires to California and a sharp cold snap to the south and east, according to NOAA scientist James Overland and private meteorologist expert Judah Cohen.

Read Full Article>>

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World Politics

United States

Doug Jones becomes first Democrat to win any statewide office in Alabama in decades after Moore’s campaign for Senate marred by sexual assault claims

The Democrat Doug Jones has beaten his Donald Trump-backed Republican rival Roy Moore in the diehard Republican state of Alabama, setting off a political earthquake that shook Washington.

His victory in a special election for a US Senate seat – by a margin of 49.9 to 48.4 with 100% of precincts reporting – is a major personal blow to the president and his efforts to pass tax reform on Capitol Hill.

Jones was able to become the first Democrat in a decade to win any statewide office in Alabama by beating Moore, who had faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during a campaign which exposed Republican party faultlines.

Moore, who late on Tuesday was refusing to concede the race, had been favored in the deep red state until two women came forward to claim that Moore assaulted them when they were teenagers; a number of other women said the Alabama Republican had romantically pursued them when they were underage. Moore has denied all the allegations.

Alabama has long faced a profound racial divide, which was reflected in the results. According to an exit poll, Jones won 95% of the African-American vote but only 27% of the white vote in the Yellowhammer State. However, widespread African-American turnout on Jones’s behalf overcame Moore’s margins in rural, predominantly white parts of Alabama.

Jones also made significant inroads among college-educated whites. He won well-educated Madison county by a margin of 57-40. A center of the aerospace industry, the county voted for Trump by a margin of 55-38 in 2016.

‘More in common than what would divide us’

Jones emerged to a euphoric reception just before 10pm local time. “Folks, I gotta tell you, I think that I have been waiting all my life and now I just don’t know what the hell to say,” he said, beginning a 10-minute speech. “I have always believed that the people of Alabama had more in common than what would divide us.”

The election had never been either about him or Moore, he insisted. “This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of what zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake.”

His speech was met with cheers and applause and chants of “USA! USA!”

Doug Jones waves to supporters after the results were announced.

Doug Jones waves to supporters after the results were announced. Photograph: John Bazemore/AP

The Democratic victory will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49 once Jones takes his seat on Capitol Hill. This significantly reduces the margin for error as Republicans attempt to push through a major corporate tax cut.

They already have one defector in senator Bob Corker, and Jones’s election means a single additional Republican breaking ranks would sink the legislation.

Moore’s defeat also marks a major personal blow to Trump, who endorsed the Alabama Republican and held a rally on his behalf just over the state line in Pensacola, Florida. Although most national Republicans rushed to distance themselves from Moore in the aftermath of the allegations, Trump reaffirmed his support through tweets and public statements.

Read Full Article>>

Alabama election: Democrats defeat Roy Moore, dealing huge blow to Donald Trump>>

Alabama has spoken: Roy Moore and the Bannon-faction will not be tolerated>>

Democratic euphoria as Doug Jones wins Alabama – in pictures>>

Five things we learned from Doug Jones’s win in Alabama>>

As Democrats rejoice in Roy Moore loss, Republicans look for someone to blame>>

‘This race has been about dignity’: Doug Jones’s victory speech in Alabama>>

Trump attacks senator and dismisses sexual harassment claims as Democratic conspiracy>>

FBI agent removed from Russia investigation called Trump an ‘idiot’>>

Roy Moore arrives on horseback for Alabama vote as sister says ‘every single woman is lying’>>

Rex Tillerson US ready for talks with North Korea ‘without preconditions’>>

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Palestinian president demands UN takes charge of peace process after Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul

Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has formally declared that Palestinians will no longer accept the US as a mediator in the Middle East peace process following Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In his strongest public statement since Trump’s announcement last week, Abbas said Palestinians would go to the United Nations security council to seek full membership of the UN while asking the world body to take control of the peace process as Washington was no longer “fit” for the task.

The meeting took place a day after the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, suggested that the linked – and equally contentious – move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem might not actually take place during Trump’s current term in office.

Abbas was speaking at a hastily convened meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, where members were called upon to recognise a Palestinian state amid strong condemnations of both the US and Israel.

“Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” Abbas told delegates. “We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on, because it is completely biased towards Israel.”

The Palestinian president’s comments were echoed later in the summit’s official closing statement, which declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine” and invited “all countries to recognise the state of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital”.

The statement said the OIC summit viewed Trump’s move “as an announcement of the US administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace” in the Middle East, describing it as legally “null and void” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism”.

The summit was attended by King Abdullah of Jordan, the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who called on all Muslim nations to unite to defend the rights of Palestinians.

In remarks echoed by a number of speakers, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, opened the meeting by denouncing the US move as a provocative “red line” for Muslims, describing Israel as an occupying and “terror” state.

In a sign of cracks in the unity of Muslim countries – and reflecting the wider tensions in the region – Saudi Arabia and Egypt were represented at a relatively junior level, and took a back seat in the proceedings.

Palestinians protest in the West Bank town of Hebron on 13 December against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel last week.

Palestinians protest in the West Bank town of Hebron on 13 December against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel last week. Photograph: Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA

In comments pointedly aimed at Saudi Arabia, Rouhani said the only reason Trump had dared to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was because some in the region were seeking to establish ties to Israel.

Rouhani’s remarks – and the prominence of countries closer to Iran at the summit – suggest there is a risk that the contentious issue of Jerusalem will be sucked into the escalating confrontation between Riyadh and Tehran.

Away from the summit, however, King Salman of Saudi Arabia echoed its language, telling the kingdom’s consultative council that Palestinians had the right to establish the Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem as their capital.

Read Full Article>>

 

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Pictures of the year: Natural disasters

A woman wades through a submerged street in the UNESCO heritage town of Hoi An after Typhoon Damrey hit Vietnam, November 6. REUTERS/Kham

David Gonzalez comforts his wife Kathy after being rescued from their home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Orange, Texas, August 30.
REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

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13 Dec

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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The War Criminals

The war criminals of the Bush regime lied and fabricated evidence to go to war.

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell are war criminals and today they are enjoying freedom.

The thousands dead, the region in chaos, the creation of Islamic State and the trillions of dollars cost and for what? The worst of all is that they were so desperate for war that they had no plans for peace.

So where are the protests and demonstrations today in the US to bring Bush, Chaney, Wolfowitz, Rice, Powell andRumsfeld to Justice? There are none. There has been none. And now the US people ask – why do we have so many enemies and why do peoples from other cultures hate us?


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

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

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War News

Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

IRAQ BODY COUNT>>

This data is based on 51,544 database entries from the beginning of the war to 28 Feb 2017, and on monthly preliminary data from that date onwards. Preliminary data is shown in grey when applicable, and is based on approximate daily totals in the Recent Events section prior to full analysis. The full analysis extracts details such as the names or demographic details of individuals killed, the weapons that killed them and location amongst other details. The current range contains 36,537–38,380 deaths (20%–19%, a portion which may rise or fall over time) based on single-sourced reports.

Graphs are based on the higher number in our totals. Gaps in recording and reporting suggest that even our highest totals to date may be missing many civilian deaths from violence.

Total Dollar Cost of War>>

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

 

AP: Russia shuts its embassy in Yemen, evacuates diplomats

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia says it has temporarily shut its embassy in Yemen and evacuated all of its diplomats.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in Tuesday’s statement that the ambassador and other diplomats will fulfill their duties from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Zakharova said the decision to close the embassy, in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, was related to the security situation in the country, without elaborating.

A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with Iran-backed Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who control much of the north, since 2015. The stalemated war has killed 10,000 people, displaced 3 million and pushed the country to the brink of famine. Tensions have escalated recently after Houthis killed their top ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Read full story »

REU: U.S. aid chief says no sign Yemen port blockade easing to allow aid in

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – There are no signs that a blockade of Yemen’s ports by a Saudi-led military coalition has eased to allow aid to reach communities increasingly at risk of starvation, the head of the U.S. government’s aid agency said on Tuesday.

USAID administrator Mark Green called on the Saudi-led military coalition to open Yemen’s ports and for Yemen’s Houthis to cease firing to allow food and medical supplies to flow to tens of thousands of Yemenis caught in the fighting.

Green was speaking after the U.S. announced another $130 million in emergency food aid for Yemen, bringing U.S. assistance to nearly $768 million since October 2016. The new funds includes nearly $84 million in U.S. food aid and $46 million in emergency disaster assistance.

Read full story »

GUARD: The Guardian view on Putin in Syria: victory and desolation

A wounded Syrian girl looks on at a make-shift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus, following shelling and air raids by Syrian government forces on August 22, 2015.

The Russian president has been on a victory lap to Syria and the Middle East, intent on showing that he has outplayed the US in the region

Vladimir Putin went on a victory lap of Syria and the Middle East this week, intent on showcasing his ability to secure the upper hand against the US in the region. On a surprise visit to a Russian airbase on the Syrian coast, he demonstratively embraced the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose hold on power Russia’s military intervention has all but saved. “Friends, the motherland is waiting for you,” Mr Putin told a detachment of Russian soldiers. “You are coming back home with victory.”

Meanwhile, in eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus where Russia had announced earlier this year that a ceasefire would take hold, children living under siege are starving. Despite the “de-escalation” deal, Syrian government forces continue to pound the area, backed by Iranian and Russian allies in an attempt to score a decisive victory. These two scenes spoke volumes about Russia’s calculus, and about the realities it has helped create on the ground. That the Russian president has now announced a substantial troop withdrawal must be taken with a barrel of salt. Similar pledges have been made before and remain unfulfilled. On Tuesday a Kremlin spokesperson said Russia would retain a sizable force in Syria to fight “terrorists”. Russia’s definition of “terrorism” in Syria is like that of the Assad regime, which equates it to political opposition.

Read full story »

REU: U.N. warns of new Syrian refugee wave to Europe if aid dries up

GENEVA (Reuters) – Syrian refugees could again seek to reach Europe in droves if aid programs are not sustained in five neighboring countries hosting the bulk of them, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

A refugee girl from Syria runs at a makeshift camp for refugees and migrants next to the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was giving details of the $4.4 billion appeal to support 5.3 million Syrian refugees in surrounding countries as well as to host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt that have taken them in.

The agency, which has received only 53 percent of its $4.63 billion appeal for 2017, needs international support, Amin Awad, director of UNHCR’s Middle East and North Africa bureau, told a news briefing.

He listed ”many reasons“, including: ”The vast number of refugees that we have in the region, the geopolitical status of that region, the risk that a population of 5.3 million people can bring to an area, a small region already volatile as it is, if there is no assistance.

Read full story »

NYT: Under Putin, Russia Increases Clout in the Middle East

MOSCOW — When Russia launched a military campaign in Syria two years ago, President Vladimir Putin sought to save his ally from imminent collapse and break Russia’s international isolation over a crisis in Ukraine.

He achieved that and more, emerging as a key stakeholder in the Middle East who has brokered deals with many of its key players — from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Turkey and Israel. It’s a regional footprint that comes with a degree of clout that even the Soviet Union, which depended on a handful of Arab allies, couldn’t dream of during the Cold War era.

And it was accomplished with limited resources and a lot of audacity.

“Vladimir Putin is determined to restore a greater role for Russia as a global power … and the Middle East is really the main area where Russia has that potential, in part because the Soviet Union played that role in the Soviet period,” said William Courtney, an adjunct senior fellow at RAND Corporation.

With just a few dozen jets and several thousand troops, Russia waded into Syria’s war and stubbornly pressed its campaign despite international scorn and an outcry over resulting civilian casualties.

Read full story »

REU: U.S. wary of Putin’s declaration of military victory in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is voicing skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a major withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria and is arguing that his declaration of victory against Islamic State was premature.

Putin, during a surprise visit on Monday to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria, declared that the work of Russian forces was largely done in backing the Syrian government against militants in the country’s war following the defeat of “the most battle-hardened group of international terrorists.”

Still, U.S. officials are challenging the Russian and Syrian portrayal of Syria as a country poised for peace once the final enclaves of the Islamic State militant group, known as ISIS, are recaptured.

Syrian government forces, U.S. officials said, are too few, too poor and too weak to secure the country. Islamic State, and other militants in Syria, have ample opportunity to regroup, especially if the political grievances that drove the conflict remain unresolved, the officials said.

Read full story »

IraqiNews: Three Islamic State militants killed, attack foiled in Salahuddin

Salahuddin/Diyala (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi troops and tribal fighters killed three Islamic State members in a raid and foiled another attack by the militants in Salahuddin province on Tuesday.

The Iraqi military intelligence directorate said in a statement, quoted by Shafaq News, said intelligence services in Salahuddin, backed by Popular Mobilization Forces and Tribal Mobilization chased four IS members in an island at the center of the Tigris River.

Forces engaged with the militants at the town of Shirqat, killing three, while the fourth blew himself up.

Read full story »

IraqiNews: 22 people killed, injured in Salahuddin mortar attack

Salahuddin (Iraqinews.com) About 22 people were killed and injured in a mortar attack on Tuz Khurmatu city east of Salahuddin province, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.

“Five mortar shells were fired from a Kurdish-controlled mountainous area towards Tuz Khurmatu city, leaving two people dead and 20 others injured,” MP Jassem Mohammed Jaafar told Alsumaria News.

“One of the mortar shells fell on a secondary school in the city,” he said, adding that the attack caused damage to several buildings.

Jaafar expected demonstrators to take to streets later in the day to call on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to protect them from the Kurdish attacks.

Read full story »

Afghan Air Force size to be tripled by 2023, says US General

The size of the Afghan Air Force will be tripled by 2023 as efforts are underway to boost the capabilities of the Afghan Air Forces which have proven as effective and lethal in the fight against terrorism, a senior US General has said. U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Lance Bunch, the direcotr of the future

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Taliban commander famous as Paraq arrested in Nangahrar province

A local Taliban commander was arrested during an operation of the Afghan security forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to the local government officials, the Taliban commander was arrested during an operation from Momand Dara district. The provincial government media office in a statement confirmed that the detained Taliban commander has been identified

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Raid on Afghan-Turk high school in Kabul sparks furor

A raid on Afghan-Turk highway in capital Kabul has sparked furor with the parents of the students of the school organizing a gathering to protest against the raid. The parents of the students called on the government to intervene and the security institutions must provide satisfactory information regarding the raid. They said the security institutions

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ISIS attempts to occupy lands in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Iranian minister

An Iranian minister has claimed that the Islamic State terror group is attempting to occupy lands in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the group has been suppressed in Syria and Iraq. Iran’s Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alavi has said “The ISIL has lost land but it has not surrendered its arms and is after occupying lands

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Taliban to face a very long winter, says US General

The U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Lance Bunch has said the Taliban group will face a very logn winter as operations involving air campaign is underway against the group mainly focusing on fincial resouces of the group. “Since the beginning of this campaign, we have eliminated 25 narcotics processing labs from the Taliban inventory.  This

Read full story »

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

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

Cpl. Todd L. McGurn, of Riverside, California, died Nov. 25, 2017, in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of a non-combat related incident.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The incident is under investigation.

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

Sgt. 1st Class Hughton O. Brown, 43, of Brooklyn, New York died Nov. 14 in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, as a result of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 306th Engineer Company, 411th Engineer Brigade, Farmingdale, New York. The incident is under investigation.

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

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lee M. Smith, 35, of Arlington, Texas, died Nov. 11 at Camp Taji, Iraq, due to injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY. The incident is under investigation.

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

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12 Dec

Parliament just called for trump to be banned from a state visit to U.K.

Parliament just called for trump to be banned from a state visit to U.K.

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12 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.

View All>>

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World Politics

United States

Women who accuse Trump of sexual misconduct call for Congress investigation – video

A group of women who have accused Donald Trump of sexually inappropriate behaviour demanded that Congress open an investigation on Monday. The three women – Samantha Holvey, Rachel Crooks and Jessica Leeds – first came forward during the 2016 presidential election but say they hope politicians from across the political divide will now take action in the wake of public support for the #MeToo movement

The EPA has fulfilled almost all major demands made by the American Petroleum Institute within its first year under Trump

Demonstrators in California protest against Donald Trump’s executive order fast-tracking the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

Demonstrators in California protest against Donald Trump’s executive order fast-tracking the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s zeal for environmental rollbacks has enabled it to fulfill almost all of the top priorities in a “wishlist” drawn up by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the leading lobby group for US oil and gas companies.

In a document called “comments on specific regulations” sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May, API highlighted eight key changes it wanted to ease the regulation of air and water pollution. An analysis shows that the EPA has now so far either partially or wholly delivered on six out of these eight key demands within the first year of the Trump administration, which solicited input on government rules from a number of trade groups.

This comes as the Guardian and the Center for Public Integrity publish an investigation into the way the oil lobby has worked for decades to influence US government policy – and is tightening its hold.

Earlier this year a letter penned by Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory affairs at API, accompanied the lobby group’s wish list for government, and it stated that fossil fuel companies are thriving “despite the unprecedented level of federal regulatory actions targeting our industry”.

Feldman called for the federal government to alter regulations in a way that “promotes access to domestic oil and natural gas resources, streamlined permitting and cost-effective regulations”.

The letter is addressed to Samantha Dravis, an EPA associate administrator who previously held a senior role at the Republican Attorneys General Association and was counsel to Freedom Partners, one of the groups in the Koch brothers network.

The 25-page list of API’s suggested regulatory changes places particular emphasis on eight key demands that peel away standards primarily imposed under Barack Obama’s administration. The EPA’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, previously a harsh critic of the agency who has pledged to reign in its “out of control, anti-energy agenda”, has overseen the delay or repeal moves in line with six of API’s eight highest priorities.

“There’s no question that energy lobbyists are calling the shots in this administration, which has been all too willing to roll back public health protections,” said Jeremy Symons, vice-president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Anyone who doubts that can just look at their record.”

Pruitt and his team have made it clear that oil, gas and coal industries trump science

Liz Purchia Gannon, former EPA communications head

On March 22, Pruitt met with API executives at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC . Less than a month later, Pruitt wrote to Feldman, as well as three other oil and gas industry representatives, to tell them he was temporarily suspending regulations that curb leaks from drilling operations while the EPA reconsiders the rule.

In June, the EPA proposed a two-year pause to the rule, which was drawn up under the Obama administration in 2016 and aimed to reduce “fugitive” emissions such as methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In July, a federal court blocked the attempted suspension of the rule.

The EPA has fared better in fulfilling other top API priorities. In June, Pruitt signed a two-year delay to regulations designed to improve the safety of chemical facilities. API argued that the rule, which followed several disastrous incidents at chemical plants, would be burdensome and do little to improve safety.

API said the EPA “should reverse” a separate regulation requiring power plants to follow air pollution rules when they are starting up, shutting down or undergoing maintenance. Pruitt, who previously sued the EPA to halt the rule, is now reassessing it.

Read Full Article>>

Alabama deserves better’: Shelby breaks with Republicans to denounce Moore>>

Trump’s lawyers call for second special counsel to investigate Russia special counsel>>

Trump blames Democrats for ‘fabricated stories’ of sexual misconduct>>

Trump visit to UK expected in new year, says US ambassador>>

Women who accuse Trump of sexual misconduct call for Congress investigation – video>>

The right-wing takeover of the US court system will transform America>>

Donald Trump’s accusers demand Congress investigate sexual misconduct claims>>

Roy Moore battles bigotry claims on eve of Alabama vote: ‘Our attorney is a Jew’>>

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European council president Donald Tusk to tell EU summit that mandatory quotas have been ‘divisive and ineffective’

Syrian migrants wear life-jackets before boarding a dinghy to cross the Aegean Sea to the Greek island of Lesbos from the Ayvacik coast in Canakkale in 2016.

Syrian migrants wear life-jackets before boarding a dinghy to cross the Aegean Sea to the Greek island of Lesbos from the Ayvacik coast in Canakkale in 2016. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

The EU could scrap a divisive scheme that compels member states to accept quotas of refugees, one of the bloc’s most senior leaders will say this week.

The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, will tell EU leaders at a summit on Thursday that mandatory quotas have been divisive and ineffective, in a clear sign that he is ready to abandon the policy that has created bitter splits across the continent.

Tusk will set a six-month deadline for EU leaders to reach unanimous agreement on reforms to the European asylum system, but will propose alternatives if there is no consensus.

“If there is no solution … including on the issue of mandatory quotas, the president of the European council will present a way forward,” states a draft letter from Tusk to national capitals, seen by the Guardian.

In effect this means scrapping mandatory quotas, because Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic are fiercely opposed to the idea of dispersing refugees around the bloc based on a formula drawn up in Brussels. Tusk is likely to face opposition, however, from other EU bodies, including the European commission.

EU leaders introduced compulsory quotas in 2015 at the height of the migration crisis, as thousands of people arrived daily on Europe’s shores, many of whom were refugees from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea. Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic voted against the move, but the policy was forced through by a majority vote.

Hungary and Poland have defied the rest of the EU by not taking a single refugee under the scheme, which aimed to relocate about 120,000 refugees, mainly Syrians. The Czech republic has taken in only 12. All three countries were referred to the European court of justice last week for failing to implement the policy, the usual procedure for flouting EU rules.

Despite the backlash against the emergency scheme, the European commission proposed making quotas a permanent feature of EU law in 2016. Under its proposal, countries that refuse to take part in a “corrective allocation mechanism” to take the pressure off member states bearing the brunt would have to pay a “solidarity contribution” of €250,000 (£220,000) per asylum seeker.

The idea has been stalled for months, as home affairs ministers who make the law have been unable to agree on it. Any move to drop the plan is likely to upset Italy and Greece, countries that have urged the rest of the EU to help them cope with large numbers of refugees and migrants in recent years. Germany and Sweden, backed by the European commission, are also likely to contest any plan deemed to reduce the help offered by other member states.

One EU diplomat said some member states were surprised by Tusk’s letter “because it doesn’t seem to be in sync” with work undertaken by home affairs ministers working on the file.

Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, thinks mandatory quotas have been a gift to hardliners, such as the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has seized on migration as part of his wider Stop Brussels campaign. Eurosceptics in Poland, such as the Law and Justice leader Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski, whose party won an election victory over Tusk’s centre-right group in October 2015, have also criticised the policy.

Tusk’s scepticism about the prospect of consensus has been evident for months. He said in October that mandatory quotas had put members states in almost permanent conflict.

Tusk will call on EU governments to take charge, rather than leaving Brussels to set the pace in managing refugee policy.

“Only member states are able to tackle the migration crisis effectively,” Tusk’s letter says. “The EU’s role is to offer its full support in all possible ways to help member states handle the migration crisis. But the EU has neither the capacity nor legal possibilities to replace member states.”

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