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17 Jan

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 and Rumsfeld 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

GUARD: Yemen war: 5,000 children dead or hurt and 400,000 malnourished, UN says

Unicef says five children a day have been killed or injured since March 2015, with ‘nearly every child in Yemen’ in need of humanitarian aid

A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital.

 

The war in Yemen has killed or injured more than 5,000 children and left another 400,000 severely malnourished and fighting for their lives, according to the UN children’s agency.

In a report unveiled on Tuesday, Unicef said nearly 2 million Yemeni children were out of school, a quarter of them since the conflict escalated when a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015.

More than 3 million children were born into the war, it said, adding they had been “scarred by years of violence, displacement, disease, poverty, undernutrition and a lack of access to basic services”.

Unicef said the more than 5,000 children killed or injured in the violence amounted to “an average of five children every day since March 2015”.

“An entire generation of children in Yemen is growing up knowing nothing but violence,” said Meritxell Relano, Unicef representative in Yemen.

Read full story »

REU: U.N. hopes imports will help stave off famine in Yemen as diphtheria spreads

GENEVA (Reuters) – United Nations aid agencies called on Tuesday for the Yemeni port of Hodeidah to remain open beyond Friday, the date set by a Saudi-led military coalition, to permit continued delivery of life-saving goods.

 

A nurse holds a premature baby in an incubator at the child care unit of a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where 8.3 million people are entirely dependent on external food aid and 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a potentially lethal condition, they said.

The Arab coalition, under international pressure, eased a three-week blockade which was imposed on Yemeni ports and airports in November in response to a ballistic missile fired by the Houthi movement toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Read full story »

REU: Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria and South Sudan

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Britain announced on Tuesday it would be putting girls and women at the heart of its work to end conflict in nine countries including Iraq, Nigeria and South Sudan.

“Empowering women and girls … improves peace and stability, economic growth and poverty reduction,” senior ministers said in a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

The ministers said women and girls were disproportionately affected by conflict, but were also part of the solution.

Evidence shows peace agreements are more likely to last when women are involved, according to the five-year plan launched late Tuesday.

“Without question women must have a seat at the table,” Foreign Office minister Tariq Ahmad said in a statement.

“We know that when women and girls participate in political processes, conflict resolution and mediation their contribution helps to build a more sustainable peace.”………………The plan said evidence showed missions which included women were more effective and better able to engage with local people.

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BBC: Syria crisis: Why Turkey is poised to attack Kurdish enclave Afrin

Turkish television channels have been reporting from the Syrian border every top of the hour with pictures showing the deployment of troops, tanks and armoured vehicles.

“The countdown has begun for Turkey’s operation against Afrin,” said one pro-government channel.

Its correspondent underlined that the troops on the border were already pointing at what the authorities term terrorist targets within Syria. There were also reports of Turkish artillery shelling the area.

Earlier this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an operation against the Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria was imminent.

“We will get rid of terror nests one-by-one in Syria starting with Afrin and Manbij,” he said.

Read full story »

AP: Syria Kurdish party appeals to world against Turkish threats

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s dominant Kurdish party is appealing on the international community to help ensure the security of a Syrian Kurdish enclave threatened by Turkey.

Ankara has threatened to launch an imminent military operation on the northwestern Kurdish enclave of Afrin, where an estimated 1 million people live.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, is the political arm of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which currently control nearly 25 percent of Syrian territory.

The PYD says in Wednesday’s appeal that, should Turkey launch the operation, the world will bear responsibility for the lives of the people in the enclave.

Read full story »

REU: Syrian Kurdish PYD urges action against Turkish bombing of Afrin: statement

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The main Syrian Kurdish political party called on world powers to stop Turkey’s bombardment of the Afrin region in northern Syria.

“Afrin will not be alone,” the PYD said in a statement on Wednesday, vowing that all northern and eastern Syria would stand with it.

Ankara has warned of an imminent military operation in Afrin, one of three autonomous cantons that Kurdish forces and their allies have set up since the start of Syria’s conflict in 2011.

Read full story »

NYT: U.S.-Backed Force Could Cement a Kurdish Enclave in Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A plan to create a new American-backed, Kurdish-led border force in northeastern Syria has raised alarms in the region that the United States may be helping to cement an autonomous Kurdish enclave that could further divide the country.

The 30,000-strong force, vehemently opposed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and the Syrian government, could also ignite a new phase in the war that could pit American allies against one another and draw the United States deeper into the conflict.

While Kurdish and American officials sought to tamp down the controversy on Tuesday, insisting that the force was really nothing new, they confirmed some of the fears.

They said the border force will help defend and preserve the section of northeastern Syria controlled by the Kurdish-led, United States-backed militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, an area that has become a de facto semiautonomous zone. And they said that the United States was committed to backing the force for at least two years.

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GUARD: US must do more to force Assad to negotiate, says Syrian opposition leader

Nasr al-Hariri, chief negotiator for Syria’s umbrella opposition group, says without pressure there will be no settlement

The US is showing a new commitment to forcing the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to make concessions to end the country’s seven-year civil war, but must still do more to persuade Russia to put pressure on Assad to negotiate, the Syrian opposition leader has said.

Nasr al-Hariri, chief negotiator for the Syrian Negotiations Commission, Syria’s umbrella opposition group, said he welcomed the US keeping 2,000 troops inside Syria, so long as it helped bring a political settlement.

He said, however, that the US should also look at sanctions and trade action to force the Syrian regime to negotiate. “The leverage on the regime is the critical issue,” he said. “We saw during the last round of negotiations that the regime is under no pressure to negotiate. They had zero interest in the talks. Without pressure from Russia, the political process will not work.

Read full story »

FP: Twilight of the Kurds

Kurdish officials once dreamed of forging their own state out of the ashes of the war against the Islamic State. Now they are fighting for their very survival.

Just a few months ago, it appeared that the Kurds of Iraq and Syria were the biggest winners in the war against the Islamic State. Bolstered by alliances with the very Western powers that had once betrayed and divided them, they dared to dream that they were on the verge of undoing what they perceived as a historic wrong, when geopolitical maneuvering denied them a state following the end of World War I.

Yet, instead of witnessing the creation of an independent homeland, the Kurds have suffered a major setback. As the military campaign against the Islamic State winds down, the United States and its allies’ enthusiasm for using the Kurds as their proxies against the jihadi organization has not translated into long-term military or diplomatic backing and certainly not into support for statehood.

Kurdish leaders were always aware of such dangers but nevertheless agreed to go along, seeking a fair reward for sacrifices made: the thousands of lives lost and massive investments diverted from the development of Kurdish areas to recapturing areas of great concern to the United States and its allies but not necessarily to Kurdish forces themselves. Such missions caused deep frustration among the Kurdish public. A Kurdish lawyer in the Syrian city of Qamishli noted that Kurdish forces had fought to liberate numerous Arab towns while majority Kurdish areas still suffered from a lack of basic infrastructure, such as schools and electricity……………As a result of this hubris, it is now increasingly doubtful whether they will be able to build Kurdistan anywhere at all.

Read full story »

IraqiNews: Three people, including conscript, killed in armed attack, north Baghdad

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Three people, including a military conscript, were killed in an armed attack, north of Baghdad, a security source said on Tuesday.

“Unidentified gunmen opened fire against three persons, including a military conscript in al-Shaab region, north of Baghdad,” the source told Alghad Press.

“The victims were taken to forensic medicine department,” the source added.

According to the monthly release by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 69 civilians, excluding police personnel, were killed, while 142 others were wounded in December due to acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict across the country.

The worst affected province was Baghdad with 122 civilian casualties (24 killed, 98 injured). Salahuddin ranked the second place, with 7 killed and 25 injured, then Kirkuk came third with 15 killed and 6 injured.

Read full story »

15 Tajikistani militants killed in Afghan Air Force raids in Badakhshan

At least fifteen militants hailing from Tajikistan were killed were killed in a series of airstrikes conducted in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. According to the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military, the Afghan Air Force carried out a series of airstrikes against the militants hideouts in Jurm district using the A-29 planes. A

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Afghan Special Forces continue pursuit of Taliban in the North

The Special Operations Forces of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) continue to apply pressure on the Taliban through an aggressive winter campaign in the northern parts of the country. With the new fighting season is due to kick off in coming months, the size and strength of the Afghan Special Forces are

Read full story »

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>>

Recent Casualties

 

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

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

Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, died Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident. Sullivan was assigned to the 16th Signal Company, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. The incident is under investigation.

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

Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, died Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol. Golin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado. The incident is under investigation.

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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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16 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

View All>>

Without Haiti, the United States Would, in Fact, Be a Shithole And some other things about the country that Donald Trump doesn’t know and doesn’t care to know

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500 Haitian volunteers fought in American army at Battle of New Orleans

It feels strange to me after so many years of thinking and writing about Haiti, to say nothing of simply being there, to have to rise to the country’s defense against a fool. But that fool is the president of the United States, so let’s start with first things first.

It goes without saying that Donald Trump knows nothing about history. But those who do have heard of the Louisiana Purchase, the incredible deal President Jefferson struck with France to buy the giant piece of land, 828,000 square miles of river and breadbasket, that stretches from what is now the Canadian border down to New Orleans and the delta. Without this territory, the United States would never have become a continental power nor, subsequently, a great global power. Jefferson got it at a bargain-basement price: $250 million, in current dollars, doubling the size of the country for less than 3 cents per acre.

You may ask what this has to do with Haiti (although any president with a competent staff would have this information at his fingertips). Here’s the answer, White House staff: Napoleon wanted to sell this fabulously valuable piece of New World real estate because for more than a decade he had failed to put down the startling slave revolution in the French colony of Haiti, losing two-thirds of French forces there in the process.

The First Consul (that’s Napoleon, Mr. President) could see the writing on the wall. France was pushed to the limit of its military and financial means by the Haitian uprising, and the future emperor (NB: also Napoleon) had lost his taste for further involvement in the Americas. He sold us Louisiana. Then on January 1, 1804, Haiti declared its independence from France, and by extension, from white men like Donald Trump.

So it is the courage and tenacity of the rebellious slaves of Haiti that created the United States as we know it. Score one for the shithole.

Haitian history is full of many other amazing facts, not least that it can claim to have spawned the Americas’ first successful freedom fighters, the Cacos, who waged a sporadic but unstoppable guerilla war against the US Marine Occupation that began in 1915. Along with popular opinion in the US, they finally forced the Americans out in 1934.

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Nonetheless, the Marines had done their damage. While improving Haiti’s infrastructure, the occupation opened the country up for “foreign investment,” which meant, essentially, the severe exploitation (including chain gangs) of Haitian labor, the appropriation of lands by US groups, the manipulation (which continues) of Haitian elections, the takeover of the lucrative Haitian sugar industry and of Haitian banks, and a national move away from self-sufficient subsistence agriculture into a cash economy that continues to be responsible for repeated food shortages and economic decline. How to become a shithole: the Americans will help.

I could go on in this vein, but I won’t. I’m pointing a finger at the United States because I’m responding to the US president. France, after Napoleon, also had a hand in Haiti’s decline. Emmanuel Macron, however, has yet to call the country un trou de merde—and I doubt he ever will.

Finally, I want to write personally about Haiti, the experience of Haiti as a place to visit, to see, be in, live in.

Haiti is what Ronald Reagan was dreaming of when he suggested that shrinking the state would allow the business sector to move in and replace government functions in a market economy. Haiti has a vestigial state. There is no national health care, no social security, no pensions, very little taxation, very few labor regulations, a tiny national coffer. This is the direction in which Reagan pushed us and which Trump and his people continue to move us.

There is very little organized sanitation, unemployment is the norm, housing is less than substandard, and electricity is delivered in a capricious and severely limited fashion. Poverty means that people have to live day by day, earning a goud here and a goud there. It means that individual and family plans for the future are nearly impossible to make. Many of the ablest Haitians have immigrated to the United States and Canada, though Trump apparently does not appreciate their many contributions to our economy as doctors, engineers, attorneys, academics, dentists, accountants, etc.

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World Politics

United States

Donald Trump: ‘I am not a racist’ – video

Source: AP

The US president responds to the furore surrounding his recent comments calling Haiti and African countries ‘shitholes’, telling reporters: ‘I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.’ Donald Trump was accused of using the vulgar word during an Oval Office meeting last week with a bipartisan group of six senators. People briefed on the conversation also say that during the meeting the president questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the US

Trump insists ‘I am the least racist person’ amid outrage over remarks>>

‘Are you a racist?’ Trump questioned over ‘shithole’ comments – video>>

Pastor denounces Donald Trump, with Mike Pence in the congregation>>

War of words over ‘racist’ Trump remark risks push to solve Dreamers issue>>

Opinion ‘Shithole countries’? Words worthy of a racist-in-chief>>

Golf, three TVs and Big Macs in bed: my week in the life of Donald Trump>>

Is this the beginning of the end of Trump’s real estate empire?>>

 

 

Hundreds of young women are killed every year and many face sexual violence in the world’s most dangerous land. Now the president wants to send 200,000 more Salvadorans back home

Estrella Alfaro, deported from the US has made a new life in the rainforests of north El Salvador

 

Inside an apartment block in San Salvador beneath the shadow of the volcano that dominates the city skyline, 20 girls aged between 14 and 18 are in hiding, fearing for their lives. Recently deported to the country of their birth from the US by Donald Trump as part of his evolving immigration clampdown, the teenagers are wanted dead by the street gangs that make El Salvador the most homicidal place on Earth.

Survival necessitates drastic measures when the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, or its rival 18th Street gang want you murdered. First, the girls – branded traitors for daring leave El Salvador to set up home in America – are given radical makeovers; new haircuts and new clothes along with sunglasses that are rarely removed. Then they learn to talk differently, walk differently. All trace of their previous existence is erased. Travel is arranged using bulletproof cars with tinted windows. Finally, the safe house is placed on a short-term lease; the slightest intelligence that the gangs have identified its whereabouts and they’re gone.

“The gangs want to kill them because these girls have specific testimony on the gangs, they want to silence them, but also punish them because they dared escape,” said María García, of ISNA,an organisation that runs the secret safe house as part of the elaborate measures required to protect young women in a country controlled by its barbarous gangs.

It is into this maelstrom of violence that the US president intends to deport nearly 200,000 Salvadorans after he outraged the international community last week by announcing he would terminate their temporary protected status, then denounced El Salvador as a “shithole”.

Twenty five years after the accords that ended the country’s ferocious civil conflict, Trump’s deportees will return to the world’s most dangerous country not at war. As with most hostilities, women are routinely caught in the crossfire. Around 10 a day are subjected to violence and sexual assault, with many afraid to speak out. Others are silenced forever. El Salvador ranks among the world’s deadliest countries for women. During 2016, 524 were killed, one in every 5,000, although such figures document only bodies taken to morgues and not those discovered in hidden dumping grounds.

Those inside the safe house are the fortunate ones. Few of those deported from the US or who have fled the gangs are granted such sanctuary in a country devoid of any state or witness protection programme.

“Deportees from the US face being killed or sexual violence. Most girls try to hide from the violence. The problem is that most don’t have a place to go,” said Salvadoran lawyer Laura Morán.

Salvadoran lawyer Laura Moran, 30, who has fought many cases of sexual violence against women

Salvadoran lawyer Laura Moran, 30, who has fought many cases of sexual violence against women. Photograph: Mark Townsend for the Observer

Speaking at a shopping centre with heavy security in San Salvador, Julia, 19, describes how to navigate life on the run from the gangs. The crucial step requires resurfacing in territory controlled by the rival gang.

“It’s because the gangs rarely communicate with each other, the trick is to materialise without suspicion. You should have deleted Facebook, everything about you. You start all over,” she said, intently scanning passers-by.

If successful, prosaic but vital measures are adopted to stay alive. Each time Julia leaves home she carries $2 in change in case a gang member randomly stops her on the street and demands a gift. “Otherwise they will take your cellphone and if you are not carrying your cellphone then they might kill you.”

She never carries ID. If a gang member discovers you are from rival turf they might punish you, again by death. And always scan the footwear of those nearby. Nike Cortez trainers, says Julia, are the preserve of the 18th Street with Adidas Concha worn by MS-13. Yet identifying members is increasingly fraught, amplifying the risk for the girls and women in hiding.

The stereotype of tattoo-smothered thugs is gradually being challenged. Many now wear suits. Some work in government. “I could be talking to one any time. You cannot trust the authorities, the police are also infiltrated with informants,” said Julia.

Walking in San Salvador is dangerous, but public transport is notorious for attacks. The number 44 bus traverses the capital and is among its most important, yet Julia and her friends never use it for fear of robbery or sexual assault.

Also off-limits is wearing shorts, skirts or tight-fitting clothes: Julia and her friends uglify themselves. “You don’t want the gangs to think about you, ever.”

Even so, evading the gangs of El Salvador can seem futile. Boys aged between eight and 12 are recruited as lookouts and patrol street corners, the ojos – eyes – of MS-13 and 18th Street. Girls live in dread of the moment a gang member decides she is his girlfriend. “If they choose you, you cannot say no. If you say no to sex then they will kill you,” said Julia.

Garcia, who has counselled dozens of gang victims, has identified a structural approach to rape. “One girl is chosen by the palabrero (leader) and she is only his, but the other girls can be shared between 20 to 25 gang members. The girls cannot say no, they are forced to have sex.”

On the north side of the city, behind a reinforced iron door and two men with shotguns, Silvia Juárez is one of El Salvador’s most seasoned authorities on the gang brutality faced by thousands of girls and women. As co-ordinator of the violence prevention programme at the Organisation of Salvadoran Women for Peace, Juárez corroborates the reality that consent is dead for many girls and women in the country. “A lot of women have been murdered for saying no, some manage to run away,” she said. At least 1,200 Salvadoran girls and women simply vanish each year. Juárez recently finalised an exhaustive investigation – not published online because it would prompt attacks – based on interviews with women, government officials and, unusually, testimony from 25 gang recruits. “One answer from all the gang members regarded their niña, girlfriends, and greatly concerned us. All said that if their niña say no they have to die.” Other disquieting truths emerged. In some areas suicides among teenage girls is increasing. Rather than be raped, death is preferable…………………Many of the teenage girls and young women come back from the US traumatised. But even the 1,500-mile journey there, García said, is treacherous. Most girls set off for the US expecting to be raped by traffickers. “Many have a contraceptive injection that protects them for three months. When they return to Salvador, many have psychological problems, sexual infections, some are pregnant,” she said. And then the hard work starts: protecting them from men who want them dead.

Some names have been changed

Read Full Article>>

Negotiations over immigration in America have always been precarious, but Trump has complicated the picture even more

Demonstrators at an immigration rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs, in Washington DC on 6 December 2017.

 

Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.

Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.

She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.

Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.

In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.

“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”

Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.

He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.

Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.

“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.

“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”

As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.

Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.

There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.

The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.

The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.

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Australian Taxation Office says investigation of data leak has identified 731 individuals and 344 corporate entities so far

Australian Taxation Office

 

The Paradise Papers have helped to reveal a global industry of tax avoidance packages that are offered to wealthy individuals much like holiday packages, the Australian tax authorities say.

The Paradise Papers have also revealed how offshore tax providers have expanded dramatically since the financial crisis, growing super-sized networks of accountants, lawyers and tax specialists that dwarf similar networks from a decade ago.

Mark Konza, deputy commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office, said: “These [leaks] send a clear message to those people who are involved with these types of service providers: if you’re getting involved in any arrangement that relies on secrecy then you can’t rely on secrecy.

“What we’re seeing [increasingly] is there are ordinary people who are becoming sick of some of the things they see happening.”

Two months after the Paradise Papers were published, he told Guardian Australia that the names of 731 Australian taxpayers and 344 corporate entities had already been identified in the data.

He said the ATO was still cross-matching the data in the Paradise Papers with the larger Panama Papers, which were released in 2016, but the information extracted so far was proving significant.

“I would expect that as the data is interrogated further and cross-matched with other datasets [those numbers of individuals will increase],” he said.

He said it was too early to say if individuals identified in the Paradise Papers were already known to the ATO. But the information gleaned from the Paradise Papers had revealed the extent to which intermediaries such as banks, law firms, and accountants have commoditised tax avoidance, he said.

“The Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers led us to think about, well, what’s happening with these intermediaries that are encouraging this type of behaviour?” he said.

“When we focused on the intermediaries, that’s when we began to see … the commoditisation of tax [avoidance].

“We were aware that there were companies providing these services, but I think what we’ve learnt is the commoditisation, with the internet, has continued apace.

“We’ve also identified that after the global financial crisis, there was a round of mergers and acquisitions in the offshore provider industry itself, so while there are thousands of these offshore service providers we’ve identified that some large networks have begun to emerge.

“One company we know has offices in 46 jurisdictions around the world, through constant merger and acquisition activity.”

Konza said tax specialist intermediaries that help individuals avoid tax often specialise in particular regions of the world, such as the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean, or Asia and the Pacific Ocean. He said some of these intermediaries were brazenly promoting tax avoidance “packages” to individuals exactly like holiday packages.

A simple internet search shows how such packages can be promoted.

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In report for NGO, former Lib Dem leader says rule of law, democracy and interference by Beijing are areas of concern

Hong Kong’s skyline

 

Freedoms in Hong Kong have been increasingly eroded and human rights have been undermined, according to a report by Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader in the UK, that paints a bleak picture of the city’s future.

Lord Ashdown, who travelled to Hong Kong in November on a fact-finding mission, said rule of law, democracy and interference by Beijing were areas of concern.

China’s increasing interference in Hong Kong – acts that potentially contravene an international treaty signed with the UK – threatened Beijing’s image as a “trustworthy leader in the contemporary world”, he said.

“Over the past five years, the freedoms guaranteed to the people of Hong Kong in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, have been increasingly eroded,” Ashdown wrote in the report. “The rule of law is under pressure, human rights are undermined and the city appears no closer to democracy.”

Ashdown said the city’s judiciary remained objective, but he added: “The independence of officials at the Department for Justice is in doubt.” Several high-profile prosecutions in the past two years have lead to activists being jailed and democratically elected lawmakers being disqualified.

The report was published by Hong Kong Watch, an NGO founded by the human rights activist Benedict Rogers, who previously lived in the city. Rogers became a household name in Hong Kong’s democracy circles overnight when he was barred from entering the city in October without explanation.

If Hong Kong’s freedoms continue to deteriorate, the UK should consider granting holders of a special class of British nationality the right of abode, Ashdown said. “Britain bears the responsibility for the position in Hong Kong.”

He said a proposal to allow Chinese police to enforce laws in a portion of a Hong Kong rail station “set a dangerous precedent and could undermine confidence in the rule of law”. The project has been highly controversial, with the Hong Kong Bar Association saying the plan “severely undermines” confidence in the rule of law.

In a rare personal rebuke to foreign criticism, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, rejected Ashdown’s report. “I take great exception to the comments and conclusions in that report. Those comments are totally unfounded and unfair,” Lam said at a press conference. “The nature of this is that a foreign institution meddled in the internal affairs of our country and Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s leaders and officials in Beijing often bristle at suggestions that freedoms and laws are under threat, and say any assessments by foreigners is undue interference.

Hong Kong officials were not the only ones to come under fire in Ashdown’s assessment. He criticised the system that allows nearly half of the city’s legislature to be elected by business and professional groups, calling it “the worst legacy left behind by Britain”.

“They continue to be a major barrier to the realisation of universal suffrage in Hong Kong,” Ashdown said.


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16 Jan

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 and Rumsfeld 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

More than 4,000 people are homeless two weeks after security forces demolished camps sheltering internally displaced Somalis

 

Two weeks after being forcibly evicted from their shelters, thousands of vulnerable families are still living rough in the outskirts of Mogadishu.

Somali security forces went in and destroyed 23 camps for internally displaced people, housing more than 4,000 Somalis, on 29 and 30 December last year according to the UN.

People say they woke up to bulldozers and soldiers demolishing their shelters. “We were not even given time to collect our belongings,” said Farhia Hussein, a mother of nine. “People were screaming and running in all directions. Two of my children went missing in the chaos. They are twin sisters, aged six – thank God I found them two days later.”

Hussein, 46, came to the city nine months ago from the Shebelle region. “I was a farmer but I lost everything to the drought and I cannot go back now because the security situation is terrible there,” she said. “I never thought my own people would treat me this way in Mogadishu, I felt like a foreigner in my own country.”………………And as Isis regroups, so does Baghdadi. A US military assessment is that he is probably hiding in the Euphrates river valley, along the border with Syria. However, regional officials say he has returned to a tract of land between the Tharthar basin and the desert, nearer to where it all began for the now diminished leader and his downsized terror group.

Read full story »

REU: Erdogan: we will ‘strangle’ U.S.-backed force in Syria “before it’s even born”

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Monday to “strangle” a planned 30,000-strong U.S.-backed force in Syria “before it’s even born,” as Washington’s backing for Kurdish fighters drove a wedge into relations with one of its main Middle East allies.

The United States announced its support on Sunday for plans for a “border force” to defend territory held by U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led fighters in northern Syria.

The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad responded on Monday by vowing to crush the new force and drive U.S. troops from the country. Assad’s ally Russia called the plans a plot to dismember Syria and place part of it under U.S. control.

But the strongest denunciation came from Erdogan, who has presided as relations between the United States and its biggest Muslim ally within NATO have stretched to the breaking point.

“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey?”

“Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

Read full story »

GUARD: ‘We will get him’: the long hunt for Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The world’s most wanted man remains at large, but as his ‘caliphate’ has crumbled so has the discipline of his leadership

Day and night for the past three years, an unprecedented number of the world’s spies have zeroed in on a patch of Iraq and Syria to hunt for one man. Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, has eluded them all. But only just.

The most wanted man on the planet has been traced to a specific place at least three times in the past 18 months alone. And despite the protection of a devoted network, there have been other sightings of the reclusive leader, reported by Isis members shortly afterwards and confirmed later by intelligence officers. Being a fugitive in the digital age, or in a losing cause, clearly has its shortfalls.

One 45-second mistake on 3 November 2016 almost cost Baghdadi his “caliphate” before its collapse last year. As Iraqi and Kurdish forces advanced on Mosul, Baghdadi took up a handheld radio in a village between the west of the city and the town of Tal Afar. Spies based in a listening post further north were stunned as his distinctive voice exhorted followers to stand their ground.

“He spoke for 45 seconds and then his guards took the radio from him,” said a senior member of the Kurdistan Region Security Council who monitored the call. “They realised what he’d done.”

Read full story »

Iraqinews: Clashes with Iraqi forces near Sulaymaniyah prison leave militant dead

Sulaymaniyah (Iraqinews.com) – Clashes erupted on Monday between militants and counter-terrorism forces near the Chamchamal federal prison in Sulaymaniyah, a security source was quoted as saying.

Speaking to Baghdad Today on Monday, the source said, “The clashes between the two sides near the Baghdad-run prison in Chamchamal left a militant dead and another injured.”

Meanwhile, Ramik Ramazan, the mayor of Chamchamal, said the Iraqi government has agreed with its Kurdish counterpart to “transfer the central prison from Chamchamal to Susey in Sulaymaniyah.”

Kirkuk officials previously urged reinforcing military troops in the south and west of the province, as the region still has Islamic State members who escaped during liberation of Hawija to remote areas.

Read full story »

Iraqinews: Three people wounded in southern Baghdad bomb blast

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Three civilians were wounded in a bomb blast, south of Baghdad, a security source said on Monday.

“A bomb placed on the side of the road in Jisr Diyala region, south of Baghdad, went off in the morning, leaving three people injured,” the source told AlSumaria News.

“Security troops cordoned off the blast spot and transferred the wounded to nearby hospital for treatment,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, added.

Early on Monday, a twin suicide bombing rocked al-Tayaran Square in central Baghdad killing 26 and injuring 95 others.

Read full story »

REU: Baghdad reports ‘atmosphere of trust’ in talks with Kurdistan region

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s central government said “an atmosphere of trust” marked talks held on Monday with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to resolve a conflict that triggered armed clashes in October.

Envoys of the two sides met in the Kurdish regional capital Erbil in northern Iraq and discussed issues including security, control over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) land borders, airports, the oil industry, customs revenue and river dams, a statement from the Iraqi cabinet said.

“The meetings were held in an atmosphere of trust and understanding and concluded…by formulating a number recommendations” to help resolve the issues, the statement said, giving no further details.

Conflict broke out after the KRG held a referendum on independence at the end of September, angering neighbouring states including Turkey and Iran, with their own restive Kurdish minorities, and drawing rebukes from the Iraqi Kurds’ key Western supporters, the United States and European Union.

Read full story »

NYT: Suicide Bombings in Baghdad Puncture Newfound Hope

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers killed more than two dozen people in Baghdad on Monday, mostly street vendors and day laborers gathered at dawn in hopes of finding work at an open-air market, in the first major attack in the Iraqi capital since the government declared victory over the Islamic State.

The carnage in Tayaran Square punctured a growing sense of hope and pride that had permeated Baghdad after Iraq’s security forces, bolstered by large numbers of volunteers and fresh recruits, successfully fought grueling battles against the insurgent group that had held one-third of Iraqi territory and terrorized millions of citizens.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but officials in charge of security in the capital immediately cast suspicion on Islamic State sleeper cells, the target of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism forces since major military operations ended in the fall.

Even as battles against Islamic State militants raged in northern Iraq and in its second-largest city, Mosul, Baghdad had largely been free of violence. The suicide bombings Monday morning caught many residents of the capital off guard, as they had become used to living relatively free of fear, taking their families to parks and shopping malls.

Read full story »

NYT: The President, the Strongman, and the Next U.S. Headache in Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Atta Muhammad Noor, a strongman who has ruled a prosperous northern Afghan province more like a king than a governor for 13 years, was driving between meetings in Dubai last month when he got the call: President Ashraf Ghani was firing him.

For three years, Mr. Ghani had tried to ease Mr. Noor, 54, a commander of the mujahedeen resistance to the Soviets who then became a warlord in the civil war and in the battle against the Taliban, out of his spot as governor of Balkh Province, the country’s commercial hub. Negotiations over a deal that would see Mr. Noor finally leave in return for more government seats for his political party faltered. And when Mr. Noor began meeting with other important regional power brokers who were also critics of the president, Mr. Ghani decided he had finally had enough. He ordered Mr. Noor out.

The Afghan president may have miscalculated.

Since returning to Balkh, not only has Mr. Noor rejected the Afghan president’s firing of him, but he is using his defiance of the American-backed administration in Kabul as a platform to project himself as a player in the presidential elections that are supposed to happen next year.

A regional power’s rejection of the central government has long been seen as a likely test for the heavily centralized but potentially fragile Afghan state set up after 2001.

Read full story »

NYT: When America and Pakistan Fight, It’s Afghanistan That Suffers

The failing relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been failing for such a long time that experts are running out of breakup metaphors to describe it: separation, divorce and — that mutual favorite — back-stabbing friends.

When Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad as secretary of state a few years ago, she was asked why America behaved like a disgruntled mother-in-law. An American official was once quoted as saying that Pakistanis were the kind of people who would sell their mother for a few thousand dollars. That hurt.

These banal analogies hide the basic facts. A monstrous pact between these two countries has destroyed another country called Afghanistan, twice over. The destruction of Afghanistan didn’t start, as most experts tell us, just after 9/11. It first happened nearly 40 years ago, in 1979, when an American president and Pakistani generals walked hand in hand into Afghanistan, with their Saudi friends carrying suitcases full of dollars, all with the dream of giving the Soviet Union a bloody nose and defeating Communism………………….After all these years of the United States twisting arms and playing footsie, its current president says America has been foolish to give Pakistan billions of dollars because it got nothing but deceit in return. So the Trump administration recently decided to cut off aid to Pakistan for not helping out with Afghanistan. But that’s as bad as giving aid to Pakistan for helping out with Afghanistan: The war will continue, still under false pretenses. Trump is only hiding behind the myth of American innocence — much like Pakistan disguises its deceit as strategic interest………………Some experts’ solution to the current tensions is that Trump, that stable genius, should ask his new Saudi friends to use their influence over Pakistan to play broker. Imagine this: Four decades on, an American president, a Saudi prince and a bunch of Pakistani generals walk back into Afghanistan.

What could go wrong?

Read full story »

23 militants killed in separate US drone strikes in Afghanistan

At least twenty three militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group and other insurgent groups were killed in separate drone strikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan military said Tuesday that the latest airstrikes were carried out in Achin and Shirzad districts.

Read full story »

Clashes in Balkh province leaves over 20 militants dead, wounded

At least twenty two militants were killed or wounded during the clashes in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan, the Afghan army officials said late on Monday. According to the officials of the 209th Shaheen Corps, the clash took place in the vicinity of Chahar Bolak district of Balkh province between the Afghan armed forces and

Read full story »

Top US, NATO commander warns Taliban not to be safe anywhere

The top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has warned that the enemy is not safe anywhere in Helmand province as he insisted on condition-based implementation of the new US strategy. Gen. Nicholson who is also in command of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan made the remarks during a ceremony, the first

Read full story »

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>>

Recent Casualties

 

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

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

Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, died Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident. Sullivan was assigned to the 16th Signal Company, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. The incident is under investigation.

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

Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, died Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol. Golin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado. The incident is under investigation.

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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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15 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

View All>>

Video: Is Trump slamming door on Muslims’ American Dream?

By Jessica LE MASURIER , Tom PIETRASIK , Emmanuel SAINT-MARTIN

Since US President Donald Trump came to power, Muslim Americans say they feel increasingly unwelcome in their own country. According to critics, Trump’s executive orders banning travellers from several Muslim-majority countries and his anti-Muslim rhetoric have normalised Islamophobia. FRANCE 24’s reporters went to meet members of this community in Michigan, who feel uncomfortable in Trump’s America.

Following the October 31 terrorist attack in New York, Donald Trump requested a heightened immigrant vetting programme and signalled he wants to scrap the visa lottery scheme. This response was seen by critics, including Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, as a way of politicising the attack and using it to spread hatred of immigrants and anti-Muslim sentiment.

>> Watch our Debate: “After the New York attack: “Extreme vetting or racial profiling?”

Back in March 2016, Trump said he thinks “Islam hates us”. He has also repeated the false claim that he saw thousands of Muslim Americans cheering in New Jersey after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

This hateful rhetoric appears to be having a direct impact on Muslim Americans.

According to a recent study of FBI crime data analysed by the Pew Research Center, Muslims are more frequently assaulted in Trump’s America than they were post-9/11.

Sixty percent of Muslims reported personally experiencing religious discrimination in the past year, compared with 17 percent of the general population, according to a survey carried out by The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank.

Forty-two percent also said that their children had been bullied in the previous year.

More than a third of American Muslims even say they fear for their own or their family’s safety from hate groups.

FRANCE 24’s New York correspondent Jessica Le Masurier travelled to Detroit, Michigan, with cameraman Tom Pietrasik to meet Muslim Americans and find out if their reality matches the statistics.

Parts of the city of Detroit are home to the highest concentration of Muslim Americans in the United States. The vast majority of them did not vote for Trump in November 2016, but the state of Michigan gave its Electoral College votes to the Republican billionaire.

Dearborn, Michigan is home to the United States’ largest mosque and the suburb of Hamtramck is the only place in the country where the Islamic call to prayer can be heard in the streets.

FRANCE 24’s documentary gives the seldom told Muslim American perspective on the current political climate in the United States.

World Politics

United States

If we stand together against powerful special interests we can eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy and tackle climate change

Here is where we are as a planet in 2018: after all of the wars, revolutions and international summits of the past 100 years, we live in a world where a tiny handful of incredibly wealthy individuals exercise disproportionate levels of control over the economic and political life of the global community.

Difficult as it is to comprehend, the fact is that the six richest people on Earth now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people. Further, the top 1% now have more money than the bottom 99%. Meanwhile, as the billionaires flaunt their opulence, nearly one in seven people struggle to survive on less than $1.25 (90p) a day and – horrifyingly – some 29,000 children die daily from entirely preventable causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

At the same time, all over the world corrupt elites, oligarchs and anachronistic monarchies spend billions on the most absurd extravagances. The Sultan of Brunei owns some 500 Rolls-Royces and lives in one of the world’s largest palaces, a building with 1,788 rooms once valued at $350m. In the Middle East, which boasts five of the world’s 10 richest monarchs, young royals jet-set around the globe while the region suffers from the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, and at least 29 million children are living in poverty without access to decent housing, safe water or nutritious food. Moreover, while hundreds of millions of people live in abysmal conditions, the arms merchants of the world grow increasingly rich as governments spend trillions of dollars on weapons.

In the United States, Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon, and currently the world’s wealthiest person – has a net worth of more than $100bn. He owns at least four mansions, together worth many tens of millions of dollars. As if that weren’t enough, he is spending $42m on the construction of a clock inside a mountain in Texas that will supposedly run for 10,000 years. But, in Amazon warehouses across the country, his employees often work long, gruelling hours and earn wages so low they rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing paid for by US taxpayers.

Not only that, but at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, people all over the world are losing their faith in democracy – government by the people, for the people and of the people. They increasingly recognise that the global economy has been rigged to reward those at the top at the expense of everyone else, and they are angry.

Millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages than they did 40 years ago, in both the United States and many other countries. They look on, feeling helpless in the face of a powerful few who buy elections, and a political and economic elite that grows wealthier, even as their own children’s future grows dimmer.

In the midst of all of this economic disparity, the world is witnessing an alarming rise in authoritarianism and rightwing extremism – which feeds off, exploits and amplifies the resentments of those left behind, and fans the flames of ethnic and racial hatred.

Now, more than ever, those of us who believe in democracy and progressive government must bring low-income and working people all over the world together behind an agenda that reflects their needs. Instead of hate and divisiveness, we must offer a message of hope and solidarity. We must develop an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world of economic, social and environmental justice. Will this be an easy struggle? Certainly not. But it is a fight that we cannot avoid. The stakes are just too high.

As Pope Francis correctly noted in a speech at the Vatican in 2013: “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.” He continued: “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalised: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”

A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations. Such a movement must overcome “the cult of money” and “survival of the fittest” mentalities that the pope warned against. It must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people – from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change.

Here is just one example of what we have to do. Just a few years ago, the Tax Justice Network estimated that the wealthiest people and largest corporations throughout the world have been stashing at least $21tn-$32tn in offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. If we work together to eliminate offshore tax abuse, the new revenue that would be generated could put an end to global hunger, create hundreds of millions of new jobs, and substantially reduce extreme income and wealth inequality. It could be used to move us aggressively toward sustainable agriculture and to accelerate the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of power.

Taking on the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations and the influence of the global billionaire class is not only the moral thing to do – it is a strategic geopolitical imperative. Research by the United Nations development programme has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support rightwing extremism and violent groups. When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem.

Read Full Article>>

Steve Bell on Donald Trump and harassment claims – cartoon

Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that the harassment accusations against him were a Democratic conspiracy as he lashed out at a female Democratic senator with what she quickly dubbed a ‘sexist smear’

War of words over ‘racist’ Trump remark risks push to solve Dreamers issue>>

Since 2015, Ireland has allowed people to change gender by self-declaration. Now Holyrood and Westminster are considering following suit

Toryn Glavin.

 

Toryn Glavin was 17 when she began to live the life that she wanted to, as a woman. The transgender teenager, still feeling her way in a public female identity, found it easier not to engage with the cumbersome bureaucracy involved in legally changing her documents.

But this had practical consequences. The Dublin-based office administrator and activist explains: “I was once stopped at the airport for two hours because they weren’t convinced that I was who I said I was. I didn’t apply for any internships at the end of college because I was so worried about not having the right documents.”

Two years later, in 2015, transgender rights in Ireland evolved dramatically when the country became one of four legal jurisdictions in the world where people may legally change gender by statutory self-declaration. The gender recognition bill was passed months after the people of Ireland backed same-sex marriage by a landslide vote in a referendum that marked another significant social shift in a country that had decriminalised homosexuality only two decades before.

At the age of 19, Glavin was able to undertake a simple legal process to declare herself female. “It was a monumental change for me personally,” she says. “It made me feel that I had the right to identify as a woman, especially because nobody else had a say in that or a veto.”

Last November, the Scottish government launched its own plans to introduce more progressive gender recognition legislation to Holyrood. The proposals, which include a self-declaration system based on the Irish model, would remove the current requirements to provide medical evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to live in an acquired gender for two years. The Westminster government is expected to bring forward a similar consultation this spring.

There were 277 applications to change gender in Ireland from September 2015, when the legislation came into force, until September 2017. The figures have grown steadily month on month, and activists believe that this gradual increase rather than a sharp spike indicates that people are accessing the facility as they need it along their coming out journey.

According to the legislation, younger people, aged from 16 to 18, still require court approval to change gender, and only nine out of the 277 have fallen into this age group.

Two years on from its introduction, a review of the framework is now being conducted, which is also tasked with considering arrangements for younger teenagers and those of non-binary identity. No quantitative research has been completed on the effects of the legislation but activists report that it has had the significant knock-on effect of a reduction in mental distress.

Among those the Guardian spoke to, there was no evidence of the legislation leading to individuals – in particular teenagers – being pressured to undertake medical transition, or men falsely declaring themselves female in order to invade women-only spaces, as some feminist activists have feared.

Critics of self-declaration have also raised concerns about the impact on the monitoring of sex discrimination and the provision of sex-segregated services, such as refuges or prisons, but, with relatively low numbers of applicants in Ireland, no such conflicts have been initially reported.

It is, says Sara Phillips, chair of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), foremost a user-friendly system that is easy to navigate. It requires an individual to apply to a specialist government unit, to complete a simple application form and then to sign a statutory declaration before a legal official that they understand the consequences of their actions, and intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their life.

For Senator Kevin Humphreys, who guided the legislation through when he became minister of state for social protection in 2014, the effect on the wider community has been profound.

Read Full Article>>

Modern day Republicans and Democrats often speak as if they love King, even as they excoriate the real heirs to his legacy

Today is the day American many politicians pretend to care about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr, one of the wisest souls who attempted to save this sorry nation. Don’t fall for their scams.

While King did care about black and/or poor people in the United States and around the world, he was no American exceptionalist. “Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world,” King once said.

He also criticized how Americans “have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice,” when “the fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, here and abroad”.

And yet, modern day Republicans and Democrats often speak as if they love King, even as they excoriate the real heirs to his legacy: the Black Lives Matter activists and other social justice warriors who fight for racial and economic liberation. But the truth is, many of these American politicians would have hated King when he was alive as much as they hypocritically dishonor his radical legacy today.

Take President Trump, who signed a bill a week ago turning King’s birth place into a national park, only to viciously refer to immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and all countries as Africa as “shithole countries” a few days later – stirring up the kind of racist hatred King died trying to defeat over the weekend the nation remembers him.

If he’d lived past age 39, King would have been offended by Trump calling Haiti a ‘shithole’ country

Take Democrat Senators (who love to talk about loving King) and who recently voted for a $700bn war funding package this fall, the kind of bill King would have excoriated as part of “the three evils of society” – “the giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation and militarism.”

Our war-loving politicians would not have liked when King got all up at Riverside Church a year to the day before he was assassinated to deliver his most powerful speech: “Beyond Vietnam.” They’d have cringed when he criticized American imperialism, warning “if we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam” and that “the world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve”.

If he’d lived past age 39, King would have been offended by Trump calling Haiti a “shithole” country and saying Haitians “all have Aids”. But King would have been equally angry about the exploitation of Haiti for centuries – by enslavement, by colonial plunder, and even by “respectable” US Republicans like George HW Bush.

It was under Bush senior in the early 1990s, after all, when the US intercepted hundreds of fleeing Haitian refugees, sent them to a makeshift prison at Guantanamo Bay (this, not 9/11, is how Gitmo became an indefinite detention center), tested them for HIV, and sterilized the HIV positive women without their knowledge or consent.

‘If he were here today, King would be down on his knees with NFL protesters questioning the premise of the National Anthem.’

‘If he were here today, King would be down on his knees with NFL protesters questioning the premise of the National Anthem.’ Photograph: Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

If King were alive today, American politicians would likely be enraged that he was unhappy about the tax scam bill or the Dow hitting 25,000, and they’d be aggrieved when he got angry about Walmart laying off thousands of Sam’s Club workers with no notice and states wanting to add cruel work requirements to Medicaid for people who can’t work.

As often as American politicians are always saying they wish Ferguson or NFL protesters did things “more like King”, white Americans have never really liked any kind of racial protest, and didn’t especially like King when he was alive. They didn’t like him marching at Selma or helping run a bus boycott in Montgomery. The didn’t like him organizing a Poor People’s Campaign to try to bring together economically exploited people of all races. And they certainly didn’t like him showing up in Memphis to help sanitation workers strike for better working conditions after two of their own, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were killed on the job.


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