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22 Jun

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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Minors detained at the border are placed in foster care, unsure if they will be reunited with their siblings or parents

toys at border fence

Shoes and toys left at a Tornillo point of entry to the US, in Texas. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

For five long weeks Evelin* had no idea where her two children were. She was apprehended with them at the US border on 19 May – after fleeing violence in Guatemala – and her family was ripped apart under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Evelin was prosecuted and sent to the Don Hutto immigration detention centre in central Texas. Her two children – Eddy, 17, and Lilian, 9 – were left behind at a processing centre and then flown to foster care in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were held in separate homes. Lilian cried for her mother all the time; she remembers and relives being in detention in Texas, where she said she was once woken up at 3am, pulled by her hair, and forced to shower.

Evelin, over a thousand miles away, suffered migraines and was sick with anxiety. “She went through hell,” said Elmer, recounting his family’s story publicly to the Guardian for the first time. “[My wife] has high blood pressure. She was so sick. She was devastated.”

Elmer, who is also seeking asylum in the US, had fled Guatemala two years ago, after he received death threats from a local gang, and said his wife and children fled after their lives were also put in danger.

“They wanted to kill me and the kids,” he said.

Two days ago the children were reunited with their father in Massachusetts, after their case was picked up by an advocacy group in the Texan capital, Austin. He broke down in tears when they reunited at Logan Airport in Boston. But Evelin remains detained.

“I hope that maybe she’ll come soon,” Elmer said, his voice cracking. “I’m hoping that the United States will help me, help my family because all we want is to live together.”

Their story is just one in an mass of suffering in Donald Trump’s policy of forced family separation, which was abruptly halted on Wednesday after international outcry and bipartisan criticism.

And in some ways this Guatemalan family are luckier than others. Thousands of children remain separated from their families, many already dispersed to locations across the country. Here in south Texas, where the winding Rio Grande separates the US from Mexico, advocates and lawyers warn that some parents could be deported before they are reunited with their families.

There remains little, if any, coordination between government agencies to bring families back together. Officials are also struggling to determine which elements of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy – that attempts to criminally prosecute as many migrants illegally crossing the border as possible – they can continue to implement without separating families.

“There is no plan for reunification. They have no idea how they’re going to do this,” said Michael Bochenek, a senior counsel to the children’s rights division of Human Rights Watch.

Bochenek was among a delegation of legal observers at two customs detention facilities in McAllen last week. He witnessed a girl between the age of 2 and 4, separated from her aunt, being tended to by older, unaccompanied migrant children who were forced to change the toddler’s diapers themselves as no customs staff intervened.

Many of the pro-bono attorneys here are only just coming to terms with what they have witnessed over the past few months.

Efrén Olivares has led a team of lawyers from the South Texas Civil Rights Project to document every separated family member prosecuted through the federal magistrates court in McAllen. Out of about 150 defendants in court each day – all charged with the minor crime of illegally entering the US – around 30 were parents separated from their children.

Among them Olivares documented an El Salvadoran mother separated from her brain-damaged pre-teenage son; a Guatemalan mother so distraught to be taken away from her daughter, she threatened suicide multiple times; and another mother who was separated from her teenage child who had survived rape.

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World Politics

Hungary

Opinion Hungary is making a mockery of ‘EU values’. It’s time to kick it out

Criminalising help for refugees is a sign of Viktor Orbán’s growing authoritarianism. Europe cannot afford to ignore it 

A protest against the Orbán government in Budapest, April 2018

A protest against the Orbán government in Budapest, April 2018.
Photograph: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

It’s time for the European Union to kick Hungary out. There it is, a member state, casually flouting basic democratic norms and human rights, swiftly evolving into an authoritarian nightmare, with absolutely no meaningful consequences.

Consider the latest act in Hungary’s slide towards what its prime minister Viktor Orbán boasts is an “illiberal democracy”. The country’s parliament has not just passed a law making claims for asylum almost impossible: the very act of helping migrants and refugees has been criminalised. Furthermore, a 25% tax has been slapped on funding for NGOs that “support immigration”: in practice, that means having anything positive to say about immigration.

In the same week, the musical Billy Elliot was cancelled in Budapest after a vicious homophobic campaign by the pro-government press, including the claim in one government-linked newspaper that it could “transform Hungarian boys into homosexuals”.

In its war on democracy, the Orbán government has launched a bitter campaign against George Soros that is littered with antisemitic tropes. His Open Society Foundations network is leaving Budapest because of what it calls “an increasingly repressive political and legal environment”. Another target of the government is Budapest’s Central European University, seen as a focal point for anti-Orbán sentiment, which says legal and political pressure may drive it out of the country. The state media promotes pro-government propaganda and smears the opposition; pro-government media is buying up independent publications; media outlets that are opposed to or critical of Orbán are under growing pressure.

And yet – as Michael Ignatieff, president of the Central European University – puts it, this is happening with the “collusion and compliance” of the EU. Orbán’s Fidesz party remains a member of the European People’s party – the grouping of the EU’s centre-right parties – which, when it met in Warsaw earlier this month, failed to even reprimand Hungary. The EPP leader, Manfred Weber – an ally of Angela Merkel – has even leapt to Orbán’s defence.

At the very least, article 7 of the Lisbon treaty – which demands “all EU countries respect the values of the EU” – should be activated, with the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights and other sanctions. This demand has already been made by the European parliament’s civil liberties committee, which lists 12 breaches ranging from the weakening of the judiciary to restrictions on free speech.

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United States

NewYorker cover.

Demagogues and charlatans are stoking fear, says Joe Biden>>

Greater than usual presence of Phalaris grasses this year could be behind the neurological damage in the animals

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22 Jun

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

The War Criminals

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell who sold us the war still go on doing what they do.

 

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

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

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago Mr. Bush was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.)

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

 

War News

NYT: Hodeidah Offensive Prompts France to Downgrade Yemen Conference

PARIS — France is downgrading an international humanitarian conference on Yemen after Saudi-led coalition forces stormed the main port Hodeidah, diplomatic and aid sources said on Thursday.

The gathering of countries and international organizations, co-chaired by Saudi Arabia, had been due to take place at ministerial level in Paris on June 27 with the objective of addressing the “urgent humanitarian situation” in Yemen.

The conference was announced in May by President Emmanuel Macron with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman alongside him, and Macron had been due to deliver a speech and had wanted concrete results from the meeting.

A French diplomatic source said the meeting would now be at “international expert level” to prepare a future conference.

“The offensive on Hodeidah made this conference even more untenable, especially if you don’t have all the players on board,” said a second French diplomat.

The Western-backed Arab alliance that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 captured Hodeidah airport earlier this week but now face fierce urban combat with Iran-aligned Houthi forces dug into Hodeidah’s residential districts.

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REU: Yemen’s Houthis indicate willingness to hand over port to U.N.: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the United Nations, a potential breakthrough in a conflict that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, sources familiar with the efforts said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a swift military operation to take over the airport and seaport without entering the city center, to minimize civilian casualties and maintain the flow of essential goods.

The Saudis and Emiratis, who intervened in Yemen in 2015, say they must recapture Hodeidah to deprive the Houthis of their main source of income and prevent them from bringing in missiles.

Hodeidah port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen. U.N. officials have warned that large-scale fighting in the city could threaten tens of thousands.

U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths has been in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this week to try to negotiate a solution.

A U.S. official said the United States was urging the Saudis and Emiratis to accept the deal. A diplomatic source at the United Nations said the coalition had informed Griffiths it would study the proposal.

The source said the Houthis indicated they would accept overall U.N. rule for port management and inspections.

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BBC: Is Sara a ‘refugee’ or a ‘would-be surgeon’?

Sara

Sara’s home has been a tent for the past three years, since being forced from Syria by war Paddy Dowling

At the age of just 11, Sara’s plans for the future are already clear.

“I will become a surgeon,” she says firmly.

It’s a noble ambition, shared by youngsters the world over.

But unlike many of her peers, Sara has more hurdles to overcome to achieve her goal.

Because Sara, along with her parents and three little brothers, Ali, Deeb and Hadi, currently lives in a two-room tent in an informal settlement in the Zahle District in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon.

‘Lost generation’

They are refugees from Syria.

The youngster is one of millions of children around the world who are currently displaced due to conflict, violence and war – and whose plight is highlighted on World Refugee Day.

Homework in a tent

Outside of school, she helps at home, and plays with her brothers.

While adulthood is still some years away, Sara’s eye is on her future career.

“I will become a surgeon, a doctor, in the future,” she says, her reason simply “because they take care of people.”

Refugees

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Syria’s refugees are making a new kind of family in camps scattered across the region

The youngster says she knows she will have to study hard, and believes her school is helping her on the path to success – science is a “good subject” for her, she says.

Her homework is done in the main room of the family’s tent, built by her father Ghassan, for $1,000 at $100 a month.

It has been the family’s home for the last three years.

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REU: U.S. bombs Syrian army position near Tanf: pro-Assad commander

AMMAN (Reuters) – A Syrian army officer was killed in a U.S strike on a Syrian army outpost near a U.S. base close to the Iraqi-Syrian border, a commander in the regional alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters.

The Pentagon, said, however, that a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group stationed in the Tanf garrison had engaged on Thursday evening an “unidentified hostile force” outside a “deconfliction zone” around the garrison, forcing it to retreat. It said there were no casualties on either side.

Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias who have gained control of the desert border area since last year have on several occasions come under fire from coalition air power to stop any advances on the base.

Tanf is part of a region known as the Badia, which consists of vast, sparsely populated desert territory that stretches to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

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REU: Syrian Observatory: Syrian army drops barrel bombs in southwest

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported on Friday that the Syrian military had dropped more than a dozen barrel bombs on rebel-held territory in the southwest, its first use of the munition there in about a year.

It represents an escalation in the army’s days-old assault in the area northeast of Deraa that has so far included artillery bombardment but only limited use of airpower.

AP: Turkey says 35 Kurd leaders killed in airstrikes in Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again asserted that Turkish jets have dealt a heavy blow on the outlawed Kurdish rebels’ leadership in Iraq, saying some 35 high-level militants were killed.

Addressing crowds during a campaign rally on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkish warplanes recently struck Iraq’s Qandil mountain while a group of 35 senior militants were holding a meeting. He did not provide details.

Qandil, near Iraq’s border with Iran, is where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, maintains its headquarters.

Erdogan said: “We caught them during their leaders’ meeting. During this leaders’ meeting, we finished off 35 important names.”

In Iraq, a PKK spokesman, Serhet Varto, confirmed heavy Turkish airstrikes in the area but denied they had caused any casualties.

The claims could not be in verified independently.

AP: Iraq set for election recount to salvage tainted result

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a disputed law ordering a hand recount of the ballots from last month’s national elections after widespread allegations of fraud embarrassed political leaders and marred the initial result.

What was supposed to mark the start of a new era for Iraq has turned into a political crisis as the charges of vote tampering grew too loud for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s government to ignore.

The May 12 election was the first since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group, which was in control of one-third of Iraqi territory just three years ago. But the euphoria over that milestone was quickly overshadowed by the charges of voter irregularities that surfaced on the day of the election and grew louder in the weeks that followed.

Adding to the outcry was a suspicious fire days after Parliament ordered the recount that burned down a warehouse believed to contain some of the ballots cast by Baghdad voters.

The Interior Ministry said the June 10 blaze was confined to a storage unit holding the electronic machinery introduced in the election to speed up the vote count and protect against ballot stuffing, and insisted the ballots were secure. But eyewitness reports said some ballots were charred and others soaked as firefighters battled the blaze.

A hand recount of all 11 million ballots could take weeks, if not longer, and promises to delay the already sluggish process of forming a new government.

Still, the populist preacher Muqtada al-Sadr, who came in a surprise first place in the vote, called on his supporters to respect the recount ruling.

“I call on everyone to show restraint and deference to the law, even if they are not convinced by it,” al-Sadr said in a statement.

Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upheld a law ordering a recount passed by Parliament after the initial results showed that two-thirds of current lawmakers would lose their seats. The timing of the law’s passage led President Fuad Masum and the national elections commission to charge lawmakers with political interference.

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REU: Taliban kill 16 Afghan soldiers, kidnap engineers after ceasefire ends

KABUL (Reuters) – Taliban militants killed at least 16 Afghan police and two civilians in western Badghis province after their three-day ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday ended at the weekend, officials said on Friday.

The Taliban, fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster, resumed their campaign on Thursday after rejecting President Ashraf Ghani’s request to extend their ceasefire beyond Sunday.

On Wednesday, they killed at least 30 soldiers and captured a military base in Badghis.

A senior security official in Kabul said the Taliban were fighting to capture eight checkpoints in Badghis. On Thursday, they gained control over two checkpoints and ambushed arriving reinforcements.

Haji Saleh Bek, governor of the Abkamari district, said 16 police were killed.

Another government official, Mohammad Naser Nazari, said the Taliban had planted a bomb on the body of a soldier that exploded when people attempted to retrieve the bodies. Two civilians were killed.

Read full story »

REU: Film tracks first Afghan woman to seek justice over incest

NEW DELHI, June 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Beaten up, raped and repeatedly impregnated by her father for more than a decade – a young woman’s fight for justice in the face of threats, oppression and sexism in war-torn Afghanistan was a story filmmaker Sahra Mani had to tell.

Her documentary, “A Thousand Girls Like Me”, tells the story of Khatera and her mission to put her father on trial for raping and assaulting her for 13 years, during which she aborted a series of pregnancies.

Khatera finally gave birth to two of her father’s children – to use as proof in court.

“She stood against all odds. Everybody blamed her, everybody called her names, everybody told her she was bringing shame to the family, to the country,” Mani said of Khatera, now 26, who goes by one name in the film.

“I had to do this, to give an example to women … it does not matter who breaks the rules – father, brother, neighbour, husband, loved one – they have to speak up.”

Khatera, who now lives in France with her fiance and two children, became the first Afghan woman to bring a case of incest to court despite threats from her uncles and brothers and judges who labelled her a liar…………..Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries to be a woman or girl.

Research indicates more than eight in 10 women have been sexually, physically or psychologically abused, but only a few thousand cases are reported each year.

Campaigners say women’s complaints are rarely handled properly, and in some cases police assault or even rape women who come for help.

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Pakistani national, LeT militants among 9 killed in Kunar drone strikes

At least nine militants including a Pakistani national and militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba were killed during the separate drone strikes in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan. The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East said the US forces carried out airstrike using unmanned aerial vehicles in Watapur district, leaving at least five militants .

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman demands extension of ceasefire in Afghanistan

The King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz has demanded the extension of the ceasefire by all parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan. Welcoming the announcement of ceasefire by the Taliban and Afghan government during Eid Al-Fitr, King Salman said hoped that the truce would be renewed and built upon for a longer period .

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Current Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Color denotes today’s confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Octave Shield.

Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, died June 8, in Somalia of injuries sustained from enemy indirect fire. The incident is under investigation.

Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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 Freedom’s Sentinel.

Spc. Gabriel D. Conde, 22, of Loveland, Colorado, was killed in action April 30 as a result of enemy small arms fire in Tagab District, Afghanistan. The incident is under investign.
Conde was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

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

 

Iraq A Deadly Deception – War Documentary 2018

WAR DOCUMENTARY: IRAQ A DEADLY DECEPTION ALJAZEERA DOCUMENTARIES 2018 On the evening of 9/11, George W Bush made a vow to the American public – that he would defeat terrorism.
Unknown to those listening in shock to the presidential address, the president and his advisers had already begun planning their trajectory into an invasion of Iraq. It was packaged as “holding responsible the states who support terrorism” by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser between 2001 and 2003.
“I believe it represented a recognition that we would never succeed against the terrorists if we went after them one at a time and as long as governments were facilitating the organisation, training, equipping of, financing of terrorist organisations, we were never going to get it under control,” says Perle.
After 100 days spent fighting those who had become publicly accepted as the culprits – Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan – the US set the ball rolling for war against Iraq.
On the evening of 9/11 the president is saying: well, maybe we’ll be going after Iraq now and somebody said, well, that would be against international law. The president responded: I don’t care, we’re going to kick some ass.

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21 Jun

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.

Dozens pitch tents outside immigration office in response to thousands of migrant children split from their parents

Protesters in Portland, Oregon, pitch tents outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) office.

Protesters in Portland, Oregon, pitch tents outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) office. Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/Rex/Shutterstock

After successfully forcing Portland’s Ice office to shut down Wednesday, occupying protesters are vowing to stay until so-called “zero tolerance” immigration policies end.

The pledge by members of #OccupyICEPDX came as Donald Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents at the border with Mexico. Yet despite the order US official have said there are no immediate plans to reunite children separated from their parents under the “zero tolerance” policy, which has come under heavy criticism from Democrats, Republicans, human rights activists, international leaders and the public.

Ice announced this morning that the office would be temporarily closed as a result of “security concerns”, and would not reopen until those concerns were addressed.

Meanwhile Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, announced that the city would not attempt to clear the camps, calling Ice an agency was “on the wrong track”.

On Wednesday afternoon, in 95F (35C) degree temperatures, a core group of 50 or so protesters kept up their blockade of the federal facility. All expected that, as on the previous two days, the crowds would swell in the evening.

Luis Marquez, a local activist, when asked about the shutdown, said: “I think this occupation is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing. Every single person here is a hero.”

Like others in the camp he said he would not leave until the “zero tolerance” incarceration of refugees at the border ended.

“If I hurt your whole family separately or all together, I am still hurting you.”

At an evening press conference, the #OccupyICEPDX spokesman Jacob Bureros said that ending the occupation would depend on satisfying the protesters’ four demands: that the Ice facility and Ice operations be removed from the city of Portland, that children separated from their families be returned and receive adequate healthcare, that the US cease incarcerating asylum seekers, and that Ice be totally abolished. “The United States does not need its own gestapo,” Bureros said.

They come here seeking safety and asylum, and they get violence

Protester

Along with others, he was sitting in the shade, not far from where a live vibraphone performance had recently concluded. Occupiers were creating bespoke placards, handing out water, or sleeping through the heat of the day in their camp on a tram line at the rear of the Ice building.

By Wednesday the camp consisted of 30 tents and a number of other temporary structures. It had dedicated information and medical stations. Signs called for donations and builders. There were mounds of donated food and water, and makeshift barricades at either end of the camp. In the late afternoon, a local ice cream truck, Fifty Licks, stopped by for a second time to give out free ice cream to protesters.

A range of other cities began occupation camps Wednesday, as the tactic pioneered in Portland appeared to inspire others around the country. Plans for occupations were announced in LA, New York City, and elsewhere.

Protesters blockade the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) building in Portland, Oregon.

Protesters blockade the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) building in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock

For the most part, the occupation – promoted on social media with the hashtag #occupyICEPDX – that began on Sunday has been peaceful.

On Tuesday evening, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) vehicles blocked a facing street and moved in on the building’s western entrance. About a dozen DHS officers emerged, armed and dressed in riot gear.

Officers parted protesters and entered the building. They re-emerged with more than 20 Ice staff members who had been stuck inside. Officers escorted the staff past protesters on the sidewalk and drove north as a convoy.

Five people slept at the facility on the Sunday night, said Jacob Bureros of Direct Action Portland, which organised the initial rally. Near midnight on Tuesday there were about 100 on site, busying themselves with kitchen work, security patrols or fashioning barricades from waste wood and chunks of concrete.

On Tuesday night, people were spread around the perimeter of the Ice facility, blocking entrances to buildings and car parks . While some wore masks or tactical clothing others were dressed casually, with dogs or children in tow. Many were protesting for the first time. A young carpenter, who would only identify himself as “A”, said previous protest movements had left him cold.

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Israeli PM’s wife accused of misusing public funds to buy in food from restaurants

Sara Netanyahu’s family believes she has an undeserved reputation for haughtiness.

Sara Netanyahu’s family believes she has an undeserved reputation for haughtiness. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister, has been charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly using public funds to pay for restaurant meals to be delivered to the couple’s official residence.

The long-anticipated charges were announced by Israel’s justice ministry on Thursday. Benjamin Netanyahu is also under investigation.

According to the indictment, Sara Netanyahu spent tens of thousands of dollars on meals from expensive restaurants between 2010 and 2013 in alleged violation of rules barring the residence from ordering in meals during periods when there was a cook on its staff.

Prosecutors claim that Sara Netanyahu conspired with a senior official at the residence to hide the fact that the meals were not eligible for reimbursement.

The indictment said she acted to “fraudulently obtain state funding for various expenses for the accused and her family that were not supposed to be financed in this manner”.

She is accused of directing staff at the residence, including a former housekeeper, Meni Naftali – who later sued the Netanyahu family and the Israeli state for damages over his treatment by Sara Netanyahu – and another employee, to hide the fact that cooks were employed in the residence “so that this won’t be found out by the treasury and the office manager”.

If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of five years behind bars, though this is unlikely.

Lawyers for Sara Netanyahu’s hit back, however, denouncing the charges as “false and delusional.”

“Not only is the indictment based on false claims and distorted and mistaken data, it is based entirely on an illegitimate and illegal regulation imposed specifically for Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the lawyers claimed.

The charges are the culmination of years of investigation into Sara Netanyahu’s official expenses.

In September 2017, Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, announced he was minded to file an indictment subject to a pre-indictment hearing, which took place in January.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the charges come after the failure of a plea bargain that could have seen Sara Netanyahu return some of the money and acknowledge responsibility in exchange for no criminal conviction.

The case against Sara Netanyahu, a child psychologist, has long been used by critics of the Netanyahu family as evidence of their taste for freeloading.

Benjamin Netanyahu has called the allegations against his wife absurd and unfounded. The Israeli prime minister is himself embroiled in a series of corruption investigations but has protested his innocence and vowed to remain in power, saying he is the victim of a witch-hunt.

In one case, he and family members are suspected of receiving 1m shekels (£210,000) worth of luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery from wealthy people in exchange for financial or personal favours.

In another, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yedioth Ahronoth, a top Israeli newspaper, for more favourable coverage.

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World Politics

United States

Steve Bell on Donald Trump’s migrant family separation policy – cartoon

Republicans  Donald Trump US immigration Guardian Opinion cartoon

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NGOs say bringing parents and children back together is an enormous puzzle with no clear system from the administration

The Trump administration has backtracked on its policy but offered no immediate plan for reuniting families.

The Trump administration has backtracked on its policy but offered no immediate plan for reuniting families. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump may have signed an executive order to end the separation of families at the southern border, but his administration is not making any special efforts to immediately reunite the 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under his “zero tolerance” policy.

The lack of action has created an additional burden for groups that provide legal and social services to immigrants, flooding non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with cases.

“We would prefer the government to not separate families,” said Megan McKenna, from Kids in Need of Defense (Kind) which offers legal services to unaccompanied children. “But if that has to be the policy then they need to ensure there is a clear protocol that ensures the constant communication between the child and the parent. It’s the only humane thing to do. It’s incredible it’s not happening already.”

Connecting families presents an enormous challenge because once they are detained at the border, children and parents enter two separate systems: for parents, the US Department of Homeland Security and criminal prosecution; meanwhile, children are classified as an “unaccompanied alien child” and transferred to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“We are dealing with several agencies all trying to coordinate in a disastrous way,” said Zenén Jaimes Pérez from the Texas Civil Rights Project, which provides legal counsel to immigrant families.

Some parents have struggled to find their children, some of whom are being flown to shelters around the country. With no clear process in place, it’s possible some families will never be reunited.

“Permanent separation. It happens,” John Sandweg, who ran the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agency under Obama between 2013 and 2014, told NBC News.

Although both parents and children are allocated A-numbers – “alien” identifiers – and case files, no government body aggregates and tracks them as a family unit. A separated child is treated by the system in exactly the same way as a child who had crossed the border without their parents.

It’s left to the NGOs to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

With each new child Kind deals with, it has to try and figure out their parents’ A-number and search for them on Ice’s online detainee locator system. Some of the organisation’s attorneys have tried to guess alien numbers as they can be sequential if family members were processed at the same time.

Without these numbers – and the children rarely have them – they can also search by someone’s name, age and country of origin, but this relies on the details being entered by border patrol accurately.

“We can also check where the child was apprehended and try to guess where the parent might be detained,” said McKenna.

For parents, there is a hotline for information, but there are long wait times and it can be expensive for family members trying to call from abroad.

The Texas Civil Rights Project is taking a different approach. Every day, attorneys go to the courthouse in McAllen, Texas, to speak with adults waiting to be prosecuted for illegal entry.

They have up to 10 minutes to take down their personal information, including the names and ages of the children they were travelling with and their country of origin.

“A lot of people have fled enormous violence,” said Jaimes Pérez. “We had a mother and an 11-year-old son who fled Guatemala after her husband was brutally murdered. They were then separated by CBP [US Customs and Border Protection].”

The group sees between 30 and 40 people each day. “We don’t expect that to abate any time soon given the administration is hellbent on pursuing the zero tolerance policy,” he said.

‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing’

The executive order that purports to end family separation has not been warmly received by NGOs, particularly the part that seeks to modify a settlement agreement that ensured that children could only be detained for 20 days. The order seeks to be able to detain alien families together indefinitely.

“It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said McKenna. “It would potentially end separation by allowing the government to keep children in jail-like conditions for even longer. This will continue to ensure suffering of kids and their families in a different way.”

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Trump tells rally Outcry is a distraction by Democrats>>

Michael Cohen National Enquirer publisher subpoenaed as part of inquiry

From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet. That gives us reason to hope

‘The basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly underway.’

‘The basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly underway.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re looking for good news on the climate front, don’t look to the Antarctic. Last week’s spate of studies documenting that its melt rates had tripled is precisely the kind of data that underscores the almost impossible urgency of the moment.

And don’t look to Washington DC, where the unlikely survival of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, continues to prove the political power of the fossil fuel industry. It’s as if he’s on a reality show where the premise is to see how much petty corruption one man can get away with.

But from somewhat less likely quarters, there’s been reason this month for hope – reason, at least, to think that the basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly under way.

At the Vatican, the pope faced down a conference full of oil industry executives – the basic argument that fossil fuel reserves must be kept underground has apparently percolated to the top of the world’s biggest organization.

And from Wall Street came welcome word that market perceptions haven’t really changed: even in the age of Trump, the fossil fuel industry has gone from the world’s surest bet to an increasingly challenged enterprise. Researchers at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis minced no words: “In the past several years, oil industry financial statements have revealed significant signs of strain: Profits have dropped, cash flow is down, balance sheets are deteriorating and capital spending is falling. The stock market has recognized the sector’s overall weakness, punishing oil and gas shares over the past five years even as the market as a whole has soared.”

The IEEFA report labeled the industry “weaker than it has been in decades” and laid out its basic frailties, the first of which is paradoxical. Fracking has produced a sudden surge of gas and oil into the market, lowering prices – which means many older investments (Canada’s tar sands, for instance) no longer make economic sense. Fossil fuel has been transformed into a pure commodity business, and since the margins on fracking are narrow at best, its financial performance has been woeful. The IEEFA describes investors as “shell-shocked” by poor returns.

The second weakness is more obvious: the sudden rise of a competitor that seems able to deliver the same product – energy – with cheaper, cleaner, better technologies. Tesla, sure – but Volkswagen, having come clean about the dirtiness of diesel, is going to spend $84bn on electric drivetrains. China seems bent on converting its entire bus fleet to electric power. Every week seems to bring a new record-low price for clean energy: the most recent being a Nevada solar plant clocking in at 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, even with Trump’s tariffs on Chinese panels.

And the third problem for the fossil fuel industry? According to IEEFA, that would be the climate movement – a material financial risk to oil and gas companies. “In addition to traditional lobbying and direct-action campaigns, climate activists have joined with an increasingly diverse set of allies – particularly the indigenous-rights movement – to put financial pressure on oil and gas companies through divestment campaigns, corporate accountability efforts, and targeting of banks and financial institutions. These campaigns threaten not only to undercut financing for particular projects, but also to raise financing costs for oil and gas companies across the

 

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21 Jun

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

The War Criminals

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell who sold us the war still go on doing what they do.

 

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

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

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago Mr. Bush was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.)

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

 

War News

NYT: Appeals Court Tosses Veterans’ Lawsuits Over Burn Pits

RICHMOND, Va. — Military veterans who claim that the use of open burn pits during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused myriad health problems cannot move forward with dozens of lawsuits against a military contractor, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a federal judge in Maryland, who last year threw out the lawsuits brought against KBR, a former Halliburton Corp. subsidiary.

More than 60 lawsuits allege that KBR’s practice of dumping tires, batteries, medical waste and other materials into open burn pits created harmful smoke that caused neurological problems, cancers and other health issues in more than 800 service members. The lawsuits, which were filed in multiple districts around the country and then consolidated, also alleged that at least 12 service members died from illnesses caused by the burn pits.

Like the lower court judge, the appeals court panel found that the lawsuits are barred under a legal doctrine holding that courts are not equipped to decide political questions; only Congress and the president have the power to resolve those.

The panel found that the military had unrestricted control over KBR so that KBR’s decisions on waste management and water services were “de facto military decisions” not appropriate for judicial review.

“The facts found by the district court plainly show that KBR had little to no discretion in choosing how to manage the waste,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote for the panel in the 3-0 ruling. “The military mandated the use of burn pits as a matter of military judgment. KBR could not unilaterally choose to use landfills, recycling, or incinerators instead.”

During arguments before the 4th Circuit last month, Susan Burke, a lawyer for the service members, argued that KBR repeatedly violated the terms of its contract with the military to handle waste disposal. She said KBR also disobeyed a military directive against burning hazardous materials.

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This Is What Life Is Like Inside Assad’s Syria

VICE on HBO, Full Episode

Six years of civil war has left most of Syria, a country once known for its ancient cities, in ruins. On the battlefield, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces continue to fight a loose, and increasingly diminished collection of anti-government rebels. While in the country’s east, coalition forces have crippled a once fearsome ISIS, driving the group from its strongholds. War continues to rattle much of the country, and peace remains a notion far off in the distance, but one thing has come into focus with each passing day: Assad isn’t going anywhere. To see what life is like under Assad’s rule, VICE New sent Isobel Yeung to Syria just as the final bombs were falling over Aleppo.

GUARD: Eerie scenes in war-torn Aden, Yemen – in pictures

Current Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Color denotes today’s confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Octave Shield.

Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, died June 8, in Somalia of injuries sustained from enemy indirect fire. The incident is under investigation.

Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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 Freedom’s Sentinel.

Spc. Gabriel D. Conde, 22, of Loveland, Colorado, was killed in action April 30 as a result of enemy small arms fire in Tagab District, Afghanistan. The incident is under investign.
Conde was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

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

 

Iraq A Deadly Deception – War Documentary 2018

WAR DOCUMENTARY: IRAQ A DEADLY DECEPTION ALJAZEERA DOCUMENTARIES 2018 On the evening of 9/11, George W Bush made a vow to the American public – that he would defeat terrorism.
Unknown to those listening in shock to the presidential address, the president and his advisers had already begun planning their trajectory into an invasion of Iraq. It was packaged as “holding responsible the states who support terrorism” by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser between 2001 and 2003.
“I believe it represented a recognition that we would never succeed against the terrorists if we went after them one at a time and as long as governments were facilitating the organisation, training, equipping of, financing of terrorist organisations, we were never going to get it under control,” says Perle.
After 100 days spent fighting those who had become publicly accepted as the culprits – Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan – the US set the ball rolling for war against Iraq.
On the evening of 9/11 the president is saying: well, maybe we’ll be going after Iraq now and somebody said, well, that would be against international law. The president responded: I don’t care, we’re going to kick some ass.

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