22 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Latest attack on Idlib hospital left at least 12 people dead and comes less than two weeks after a US attack on Kunduz hospital, Afghanistan

Video posted to Twitter from the Syria White Helmets purports to show alleged Russian airstrikes targeting civilian rescue workers in Sarmin in the north-western province of Idlib in Syria on Tuesday. The footage shows the moment a rocket explodes and the immediate aftermath

At least three hospitals have been bombed by fighter jets in north-western Syria since Russia’s intervention in the war began in late September, doctors and international observers claim.

The latest attack, on Tuesday, killed at least 12 people at Sarmin hospital in Idlib province. At least three of the victims were believed to be medical staff. Survivors and witnesses said the hospital was hit by two airstrikes at about 1pm.

Dr Mohamed Tennari, director of Sarmin hospital, said the facility appeared to have been directly targeted and could no longer serve patients on one of the fiercest frontlines in the war.

He said the hospital had been the target of at least 10 other airstrikes earlier in the conflict. Throughout the war, international medical organisations have repeatedly claimed that medical facilities in opposition areas have been systematically targeted.

Physicians for Human Rights said it had documented 307 attacks on medical facilities and the deaths of 670 medical personnel in Syria since protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011 until the end of August 2015. “Syrian government forces have been responsible for more than 90% of these attacks,” the organisation said. “Each of which constitutes a war crime.”

The latest attack comes less than two weeks after a US attack on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which killed at least 22 people – 12 of them medical professionals and the rest patients. That attack was widely condemned and has forced an apology from senior US officials, as well as several international investigations………………….


Publication follows the hacking of John Brennan’s email account on Monday, allegedly by high school students who call themselves Crackas With Attitude

CIA director John Brennan

Authorities have said that John Brennan’s personal email account did not contain any classified information. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

WikiLeaks has released documents it said had been collected from CIA director John Brennan’s personal AOL account, the first in what the group said would be a series of publications.

The personal email account of the US’s top spy was compromised by hackers who claimed to be high school students. Those hackers had threatened on Twitter to release the same documents.

The embarrassing leaks include a questionnaire for the official’s security clearance marked: “Review copy – Do not retain.”

Other documents included an early version of the Limitations on Interrogations Techniques Act of 2008, a bill defining the limits of interrogation methods. Also released was a letter from Missouri Republican senator Christopher Bond, then a member of the Senate select committee on intelligence.

All the documents in the WikiLeaks cache are from 2008 and before. Brennan assumed office in 2013.

The hack is an embarrassment not just for Brennan and for the CIA, but also for AOL and parent company Verizon. The sensitivity of the material in the account notwithstanding, the hackers have said that they were able to obtain a Verizon employee ID number and, with that, the last four digits of Brennan’s credit card on file, which was all that was needed to reset the email password for the US’s top intelligence official…………………….


UN special rapporteur accuses bank of leading ‘race to the bottom’ on human rights, and says organisation pays lip service to issues without tackling them

Philip Alston

‘They won’t touch human rights’ … Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has taken aim at the World Bank. Photograph: Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images

The World Bank’s approach to human rights is disingenuous, outdated and “deeply troubling”, an independent UN investigator has said.

Professor Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said that after 40 years of inconclusive internal discussions, the Washington-based organisation and its 188 member countries had to realise they could no longer separate human rights from development financing.

“The bank has for a long time played a double game where a lot of the publicity suggests that they are engaging intensively with human rights. You’ll find many references on their websites. They have conferences every year where there are lots of panels on human rights and so on,” he said.

“But the reality is the exact opposite. They can talk about these issues but when it comes to country programming and the advice and so on that they give – which is their core mission – they won’t touch human rights.”

The World Bank Group, which spent $61bn (£39bn) supporting developing countries last year, has often been criticised for failing to take into account the impact its projects can have on human rights.

In a recent and unusually scathing report, Alston described the bank’s approach to human rights as “incoherent, counterproductive and unsustainable”, adding that it was for most purposes, “a human rights free zone”, and an institution whose operational policies treat human rights “more like an infectious disease than universal values and obligations”.

The special rapporteur, a law professor at New York University, rejects the bank’s argument that a “political prohibition” clause prevents it from becoming involved in the “political affairs of any member” and that its decisions can be governed only by economic considerations.

“I see that legal analysis as bankrupt,” he said. “It is not in line with anything else the bank does. They have singled out human rights as almost the only issue that they would see as political [yet] they engage in the full range of environmental issues, which are deeply political. They engage in governance, which is entirely political, they engage in anti-corruption campaigns. None of these is characterised as political. But suddenly they draw the line at human rights and I think this is very artificial.”………………

world bank

Germany says it has no reason to change its view of history after Israel’s prime minister blames mufti of Jerusalem for inciting Holocaust

During a joint news briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said that national socialists bore full responsibility for the Holocaust.Responding to a reporter’s question about suggestions Netanyahu made a day before that a WWII-era Palestinian religious leader inspired the Holocaust, Merkel said Germany would not change its view of history

Germany has said it has no reason to change its view of history after Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said Adolf Hitler had been persuaded to carry out the Holocaust by a Palestinian leader.

Before a trip to Berlin, Netanyahu provoked incredulity and anger among many when he claimed in a speech that Hitler had only wanted to expel Europe’s Jews and that the idea to exterminate them had come from the then mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

But at a joint press conference with Netanyahu on Wednesday, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, made it clear she saw no need for a shift in interpreting history, saying: “We abide by our responsibility for the Shoah.”

Earlier, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said the Holocaust was “very much” a German crime. “Speaking on behalf of the German government, I can say that all of us Germans know very precisely the history of the murderous racial fanaticism of the National Socialists that led to the break with civilisation that was the Shoah,” Seibert told journalists in Berlin.

“This is taught in German schools for good reason. It must never be forgotten. And I don’t see any reason that we should change our view of history in any way whatsoever. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own,” he said.

In a speech at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu described a meeting between Hitler and Husseini in November 1941, and claimed: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said: ‘Burn them.’”…………………..

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, addresses the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday. He describes a purported meeting between the Palestinian grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, and Adolf Hitler in November 1941


Full-page newspaper advertisement by ex-military and foreign policy leaders is aimed at Republicans who want to block action on cutting carbon emissions

Environmental activists hold placards and banners during a march in Brussels ahead of the Paris conference on climate change to be held in December in Paris.

Environmental activists hold placards and banners during a march in Brussels ahead of the Paris conference on climate change to be held in December in Paris. Photograph: Laurent Dubrule/EPA

Nearly 50 leaders of America’s defence and foreign policy establishment are calling on political and business leaders to “think past tomorrow” and lead the fight on climate change.

In a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal the experts – 48 former secretaries of state and defense, national security advisers, diplomats and members of Congress from both parties – say it is time for America to claim global leadership on climate change.

The appeal is intended to apply pressure to Republicans in Congress who are trying to defeat Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution at home and seeking to limit US involvement in negotiations to reach a global deal on fighting climate change in Paris in December.

The letter, endorsed by Madeline Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton; Chuck Hagel, secretary of defense under Obama; George Shultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan; James Woolsey, CIA director under Clinton; and other prominent retired officials, declares that climate change is indeed a security threat.

“America’s elected leaders and private sector must think past tomorrow to focus on this growing problem, and take action at home and abroad,” the ad says.

“This issue is critically important to the world’s most experienced security planners. The impacts are real, and the costs of inaction are unacceptable.”

The ad hits back against Republicans who are trying to block a global climate deal, arguing that Obama should have to submit any agreement for approval to Congress – where it would almost certainly be defeated…………………..

US vice-president Joe Biden calls climate change ‘the most consequential issue of our time’ during a White House summit on Monday. Speaking to a group of chief executives, Biden said it was ‘a deadly serious issue’ that needed the country’s immediate attention. Earlier on Monday, Barack Obama argued that his push for an international climate deal next month in Paris was good for US businesses


U.S. Politics

Analysis Joe Biden’s optimistic speech hints at campaign that might have been

Marco Rubio accuses media of ignoring ‘sanctuary cities’ issue in favour of Cecil the lion

Paul Ryan secures enough votes to become House Speaker


Jerusalem violence: ‘I’m selling peace, but nobody’s buying’

A front line of Israeli checkpoints divides Palestinian east Jerusalem from the Jewish Israeli west: Israel on one side, occupied Palestine on the other. After a wave of attacks on Jewish Israelis, Jerusalemites on both sides tell Phoebe Greenwood they are afraid to leave their homes. Have the voices calling for peace any chance of being heard across the divide?



The Israeli prime minister’s outrageous claim that the Palestinian mufti had inspired the Holocaust comes at an extremely delicate moment

Adolf Hitler talking to mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini

‘Netanyahu’s fictitious dialogue between Husseini and Hitler has come at an extremely delicate moment.’ Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

For many years historians have tried without success to determine when and how Adolf Hitler reached the decision to exterminate Europe’s Jews. Among the many mysteries accompanying the history of the second world war this is one of the most intriguing.

But now Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has found the answer. Speaking last night at the opening of the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu stated that it was actually a Palestinian, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who gave Hitler the idea.

The mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini was appointed by the British in 1921. The title recognised his position as the major religious and political authority among the Palestinian Arabs. In accordance with the principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my ally”, the mufti sought support from Nazi Germany and in return backed Hitler’s war, including the extermination of the Jews……………….




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