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17 Nov

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.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

Le Monde>>

View All>>

Biodiversity experts say mass extinction of wildlife is as big a danger as climate change

Sumatran orangutans

The Sumatran orangutan is one of thousands of critically endangered species. Photograph: Anup Shah/Nature PL

As a UN conference convenes to work out a new deal for protecting the planet’s biodiversity, the focus falls on the nations that are not attending.

Amid the worst loss of life on Earth since the demise of the dinosaurs, the agenda at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh could hardly be more important, but the spirit of international collaboration appears to be as much at risk of extinction as the world’s endangered wildlife. The United States has never signed up and Brazil is among a growing group of countries where new nationalist leaders are shifting away from global cooperation.

The two-week meeting of the CBD is its first in two years. It has always been the neglected sibling of its twin, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two organisations were conceived amid great hope at the Rio Earth summit in 1992 but while the energy transition has attracted heads of state interested in billion-dollar renewable projects, the effort to save the natural world has been left to weak environment ministries, conservation NGOs and underfunded scientists.

Media research suggests there is only one news story about UN biodiversity talks for every 20 about UN climate negotiations. Coverage tends to focus on a few totemic species, such as lions, chimpanzees and pandas, rather than the collapsing ecosystems on which we depend. Yet there is growing evidence that the crisis of the natural world has become as much of a threat to humankind and is amplifying the chaos in the world’s weather systems.

Since 1970 humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, according to the latest Living Planet report by WWF, which warned that the loss of wildlife was now an emergency that is threatening our civilisation. This followed a report earlier this year that one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction. Recent studies have also tracked calamitous declines of pollinating insects in the US, Costa Rica and Germany, promoting warnings of ecological Armageddon.

Cristiana Pa?ca Palmer, the head of the CBD, says we must stem the loss of biodiversity or face the prospect of our own extinction. But the global mechanics to do that are missing.

Part of the reason for the low level of interest is that the last two major biodiversity agreements – in 2002 and 2010 – have been ineffectual. At Nagoya in Japan eight years ago, the 196 signatory nations to the CBD signed up to the Aichi biodiversity targets: to at least halve the loss of natural habitats, ensure sustainable fishing in all waters, and expand nature reserves from 10% to 17% of the world’s land by 2020.

David Attenborough backs ‘last chance’ push to study Australian biodiversity – video

With two years left in the Aichi plan, the conference this year will show that many of the 20 targets have been missed. And even apparent progress in the creation of new protected areas is misleading because governments from Brazil to China have done little to police these “paper reserves”.

Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF, said the starting point should be a recognition that the international response until now has been a failure. Instead of the old approach of vague targets and a reliance on weak environment ministries to designate more protected areas, he stressed the need for more ambitious efforts across all levels from companies and individuals to farms and finance ministries.

More important still, he said, was to consider trade and investment because it is no use wealthy countries donating a few hundred million dollars for conservation programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America if they continue to promote trillion-dollar trades in commodities that accelerate the loss of habitats. As an example, he said the UK contributes money to efforts to protect the Cerrado savannah in Brazil yet at the same time imports vast quantities of the ssoya beans that are the biggest cause of deforestation in that region.

“It’s completely incoherent,” said Barrett, who was a delegate for the UK at the Nagoya conference. “We must tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss or we will be in same place in 10 years’ time.”

He wants a pledge by countries, companies and consumers to reduce their global footprints. Following the approach of the Paris climate talks, these bottom-up commitments would be tallied together in a registry and revisited every few years to measure whether the world is on track or in need of a further ratcheting up of ambition.

Izabella Teixeira, who led the Brazilian negotiating time in Nagoya, blamed the failure of the 2010 goals on the inability of conservationists to build ties with other sectors of government and business.

“There is no comprehensive political and economic constituency for this agenda as there is with the climate and now water,” she said. “We have to build a new policy bringing together science, environment and innovation. Industry is important for this. We need clearer rules for investing in biotechnology, and use of protected areas and infrastructure and logistics to enable business and research.”

Over the next two weeks, delegates will start work on a framework for new targets, which they hope will be finalised by state leaders in China in 2020. The objective is to have an accord with the same level of political commitment as the Paris climate treaty and to recognise that the two issues are linked.

In the current political climate, that will be difficult. Even climate talks have struggled to make sufficient progress. Conservationists say an intermeshing of the two threats is essential if they are to get global attention.

“Many of the things we need to do to address biodiversity loss are exactly what we need to solve the climate problem,” said Matt Walpole of Flora and Fauna International. “We haven’t succeeded in getting across how important biodiversity is. It’s not just about a few endangered species. It is absolutely clear that what is happening to our ecosystems has an impact on humanity.”

More On The Environment:

 

We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN

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World Politics

United States

John Kerry, the former US presidential candidate and secretary of state for the Obama administration, discusses his life and career with the Observer’s chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley. Kerry reflects on his early memories, his role in the Vietnam war and what action needs to be taken to address the issues presented by climate change. Kerry told the live audience: ‘We face several life-threatening challenges … if we don’t respond very quickly, we’re inviting catastrophe to this planet’ John Kerry:

Ben Jennings on Donald Trump marking the armistice – cartoon

 

Donald Trump Guardian Opinion cartoon  Armistice centenary  Angela Merkel

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17 Nov

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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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.

Damn The War Criminals,Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England.

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.

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!

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The McGlynn

War News

Afghanistan War Children Photos

 

AP: Judge allows class-action lawsuit by mentally ill veterans

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Thousands of Navy and Marine Corps veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who developed post-traumatic stress disorder but were denied Veterans Affairs health benefits have been given a green light to sue the military, under a ruling by a federal judge in Connecticut.

Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. in New Haven on Thursday certified a class-action lawsuit against Navy Secretary Richard Spencer by veterans who say they were unfairly given less-than-honorable discharges for minor infractions linked to their untreated mental health problems.

The discharge designation prevents them from getting VA benefits including mental health treatment.

“This decision is a victory for the tens of thousands of military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury),” lead plaintiff and Marine veteran Tyson Manker, of Jacksonville, Illinois, said in a statement Friday. “The fact that the Court has now recognized this class of veterans is further evidence of the Department of Defense’s disgraceful violation of the legal rights of the men and women who have served their country.”

Manker developed PTSD after serving in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and received an other-than-honorable discharge for a single incident of self-medicating himself with an illegal drug, according to the lawsuit. The Naval Discharge Review Board rejected his request for a discharge upgrade, as it has done with similar applications by thousands of other veterans.

Navy officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment Friday. The Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is defending the Navy against the lawsuit, declined to comment.

In a court filing, a federal prosecutor listed several reasons why a class-action lawsuit should be rejected, including that the plaintiffs could reapply for discharge upgrades under new rules put in place last year that call for more leniency for veterans with mental health problems.

Read full story »

REU: Trying to make Yemen child smile ‘like tickling a ghost’: U.N. food chief

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – United Nations food chief David Beasley spotted a tiny foot sticking out from under a blanket in a hospital in Yemen that has been overwhelmed with malnourished children, so he tried to bring a smile to the face of the small patient.

FILE PHOTO: David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) attends a news conference on the updated response plan for South Sudanese refugees at the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland, May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

“It was just like tickling a ghost,” Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, told reporters in New York on Friday after returning from a three-day visit to the war-torn, impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

Beasley recounted a conversation he had with a doctor at the hospital in the country’s capital Sanaa: “He said ‘every day about 50 children are brought to us. We have to send 30 home to die. We can only accommodate 20.’”

Beasley will brief the U.N. Security Council on Friday with U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock and U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths, who is trying to broker peace in the more than three-year conflict seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting the Iran-allied Houthi group. The Houthis now rule most of Yemen’s population, while the exiled government controls a section of the south.

The country’s economy is in crisis and three-quarters of Yemen’s population, or 22 million people, require aid. Some 8.4 million are on the brink of starvation, though Lowcock has warned that will likely rise to 14 million.

“This is not on the brink of a catastrophe. This is a catastrophe,” Beasley said.

“You cannot solve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen today with humanitarian response alone. It’s now going to require an economic infusion of substantial liquidity. Both are going to be required to avert a famine,” he said.

Yemen’s riyal has lost more than half its value against the U.S. dollar since the start of the war. Soaring prices have put some basic commodities out of reach for many Yemenis and the central bank has struggled to pay public-sector salaries on which many depend as foreign exchange reserves dwindle.

Beasley also visited Yemen’s main port city Hodeidah, which handles 80 percent of the country’s food imports and aid supplies. The Saudi-led coalition has ordered a halt in a log-running offensive against the Houthis in Hodeidah, sources said on Thursday…………….

Beasley also spoke about seeing an eight-month-old baby boy at the hospital in Sanaa who weighed a third of what he should. His mother had driven hundreds of miles through military checkpoints to get him medical help.

“The little boy died yesterday,” he said.

Read full story »

REU: Britain to push U.N. Security Council to back humanitarian truce in Yemen

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it will push the United Nations Security Council to back a humanitarian truce in Yemen as the U.N. Yemen envoy said the warring parties had given “firm assurances” they were committed to attending peace talks shortly in Sweden.

British U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce said she would give the 15-member council a draft resolution on Monday that would enshrine five requests made by U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock, one of which was for a truce around infrastructure and facilities on which the aid operation and commercial importers rely.

Pierce said the aim of the resolution would be to put Lowcock’s call “into practice.” She gave no timeline for when the draft resolution could be put to a vote.

The remaining four requests were for protection of the supply of food and essential goods, a larger, faster injection of foreign exchange into the economy through the central bank, increased humanitarian funding and support, and for the warring parties to engage in peace talks……………U.N. food chief David Beasley said the situation in Yemen was “a catastrophe.”

The Houthis now rule most of Yemen’s population, while the exiled government controls a section of the south. An attempt to hold peace talks in Geneva in September was abandoned after three days of waiting for the Houthi delegation.

“I will go to Sanaa next week … I will also be happy to travel myself, if necessary, with the delegation to the consultations,” Griffiths said. He is aiming to convene talks before the end of the year.

The Houthis had said in September that they wanted U.N. guarantees their plane would not have to stop in Djibouti for inspection by the Saudi-led coalition. They also wanted the plane to evacuate some of their wounded to Oman or Europe.

Read full story »

NYT: U.S. Peace Envoy Seeks to Reassure Kabul It Won’t Be Blocked From Talks

KABUL — The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan is trying to reassure the U.S.-backed government in Kabul that it will not be shut out of a peace process with the Taliban, after it complained of being side-lined from talks, officials said on Friday.

The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, wants representatives of Afghan society to join talks aimed at ending the 17-year war between the Western-backed government and the Islamist Taliban, who were ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born U.S. diplomat, met Taliban leaders in Qatar last month to try to push talks forward but the Taliban have long rejected direct talks with the elected government, led by President Ashraf Ghani.

“Ghani and many Afghan politicians felt that the U.S. was shutting them out of the peace talks,” said a close aide to Ghani.

“Khalilzad cleared the differences by meeting top Afghan politicians, civil society members and women to prove that U.S. will not isolate Afghans during next round of peace talks,” he said.

Ghani’s office declined to comment.

The Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces and defeat the Western-backed government.

The United States has for years resisted getting involved in direct talks with the militants, saying the process must be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”.

Read full story »

Taliban militants suffer casualties in an explosion in Kapisa

At least two Taliban militants were killed and another militant was wounded in an explosion in northeastern Kapisa province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said the incident took place in Tagab district of the province.

The statement further added that the incident took place while three Taliban militants who were attempting to plant an Improvised Explosive Device on a roadside.

The Taliban militants and other militants including ISIS often use improvised explosive device as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials.

However, in majority of such attacks the ordinary civilians are killed while in some cases the Taliban militants are themselves blown up in premature explosions.

Anti-government elements must immediately end the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of all improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in areas frequented by civilians, said UNAMA in a special human rights report released few weeks earlier.

Read full story »

NDS Special Forces conduct raids on 5 ISIS-K compounds in Nangarhar

The Special Forces of the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), conducted raids on five compounds of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-k) in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the raids were conducted in Achin district late on Thursday night.

The statement further added at least 20 ISIS militants were killed during the raids and all five compounds of the terror group were destroyed.

According to Nangarhar governor’s office, a commander of the terror group and orchestrator of ISIS attacks was also among those killed.

The militants were involved in planning and coordinating attacks in Jalalabad city and other parts of Nangarhar province using the five compounds which were destroyed during the operation.

Read full story »

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16 Nov

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.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

Le Monde>>

View All>>

Ranking of countries’ goals shows even EU on course for more than double safe level of warming

Vendors near a state-owned coal-fired power plant in China.

Vendors near a state-owned coal-fired power plant in China. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China, Russia and Canada’s current climate policies would drive the world above a catastrophic 5C of warming by the end of the century, according to a study that ranks the climate goals of different countries.

The US and Australia are only slightly behind with both pushing the global temperature rise dangerously over 4C above pre-industrial levels says the paper, while even the EU, which is usually seen as a climate leader, is on course to more than double the 1.5C that scientists say is a moderately safe level of heating.

The study, published on Friday in the journal Nature Communications, assesses the relationship between each nation’s ambition to cut emissions and the temperature rise that would result if the world followed their example.

The aim of the paper is to inform climate negotiators as they begin a two-year process of ratcheting up climate commitments, which currently fall far short of the 1.5-to-2C goal set in France three years ago.

Guardian graphic | Source: Nature Communications

The related website also serves as a guide to how nations are sharing the burden of responding to the greatest environmental threat humankind has ever faced.

Among the major economies, the study shows India is leading the way with a target that is only slightly off course for 2C. Less developed countries are generally more ambitious, in part because they have fewer factories, power plants and cars, which means they have lower emissions to rein in.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are the industrial powerhouse China and major energy exporters who are doing almost nothing to limit carbon dioxide emissions. These include Saudi Arabia (oil), Russia (gas) and Canada, which is drawing vast quantities of dirty oil from tar sands. Fossil fuel lobbies in these countries are so powerful that government climate pledges are very weak, setting the world on course for more than 5C of heating by the end of the century.

Only slightly better are the group of countries that are pushing the planet beyond 4C. Among them are the US, which has huge emissions from energy, industry and agriculture somewhat offset by promises of modest cuts and more renewables. Australia, which remains heavily dependent on coal exports, is also in this category.

The wealthy shopping societies of Europe fare slightly better – largely because emissions on products are calculated at the source of manufacture rather than the point of consumption – but the authors of the paper say their actions lag behind their promises to set a positive example.

“It is interesting is to see how far out some countries are, even those that are considered leaders in the climate mitigation narrative,” said the study’s author, Yann Robiou du Pont of Melbourne University.

The study is likely to be controversial. Under the Paris agreement, there is no top-down consensus on what is a fair share of responsibility. Instead each nation sets its own bottom-up targets according to a number of different factors, including political will, level of industrialisation, ability to pay, population size, historical responsibility for emissions. Almost every government, the authors say, selects an interpretation of equity that serves their own interests and allows them to achieve a relative gain on other nations.

To get around these differing concepts of fairness, the paper assesses each nation by the least stringent standards they set themselves and then extrapolates this to the world. In doing so, the authors say they can “operationalise disagreements”.

Taking account of the different interpretations, they say the world needs to commit to a virtual 1.4C target in order to achieve a 2C goal. They hope their equity metric can be used in next month’s UN climate talks in Katowice and in climate litigation cases.

The authors said the study could in future be extended to the subnational level, such as individual US states. They also note that a few key sectors are currently omitted, including land-use change (which is fundamental in rapidly deforesting nations such as Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia), international shipping and aviation.

Although the study highlights the huge gap between political will and scientific alarm, Robiou du Pont said it should inspire rather than dispirit people.

“The positive outcome of this study is that we have a metric to assess the ratcheting up of ambition. Civil society, experts and decision-makers can use this to hold their governments accountable, and possibly undertake climate litigation cases as happened recently in the Netherlands,” he said. “This metric translates the lack of ambition on a global scale to a national scale. If we look at the goal of trying to avoid damage to the Earth, then I am pessimistic as this is already happening. But this should be a motivation to ratchet up ambition and avoid global warming as much and as rapidly as possible. Every fraction of a degree will have a big impact.”

Commenting on the study, other academics said it could be used by anyone to show how climate action can be navigated in a world in which each country ranks itself based on what they consider to be fair.

“This paper provides a means for countries to check how their contribution might be perceived by other countries and thus judge whether they are perceived as a climate leader or laggard,” said Joeri Rogelj of Imperial College London.

Read Full Article>>

More On Climate Change:

World Politics

Israel

Elections to be brought forward from November 2019 after talks among coalition fail

Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with Naftali Bennett.

Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with Naftali Bennett. Photograph: Abir Sultan/AFP/Getty Images

Israel is due to hold elections early next year after the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, lost his defence minister and talks broke down in his coalition government on Friday, a source close to the cabinet told the Guardian.

Netanyahu had met the education minister, Naftali Bennett, who wanted the defence ministry post in the rightwing government, but the meeting ended with a decision by cabinet members to hold national polls, which were previously due in November 2019.

During a frantic few hours, ministers rushed to make media statements before the country shut down for the Friday night sabbath.

A source close to Bennett said that at the end of the cabinet discussion it became clear that “there was a need to go to elections as soon as possible with no possibility of continuing the current government”.

Netanyahu’s office said he would attempt to preserve the administration, but that looked unlikely after he lost support from Bennett’s Jewish Home party.

A statement released by the prime minister’s office said “the rumours that a decision to go to elections had been made were incorrect”. It added that Netanyahu had “stressed the importance of making every effort to preserve the rightwing government”.

However, if Bennett’s Jewish Home party leaves the coalition, as it suggested it would, it has the ability to force a new election. Netanyahu’s coalition has 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset so the withdrawal of Jewish Home, which has eight seats, could bring down the government if a no-confidence motion is called.

Another party could be brought into the coalition, but opposition figures have already declared their intention to run against Netanyahu, whose 11 years in office make him Israel’s longest-serving prime minister after founding father David Ben-Gurion. If he can hang on until 17 July he will beat the record.

Government figures would agree on a date on Sunday, the Bennett source added. The minimum election campaigning period is 90 days, meaning polls will not take place until next year. Observers expect the vote to be held between March and May, while Netanyahu might push for a later date.

Bennett had given Netanyahu an ultimatum to give him the defence ministry portfolio after the resignation on Wednesday of Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman said a ceasefire agreed this week with Hamas militants in Gaza had been “a capitulation to terror”.

In the most intense round of fighting since the war in 2014, militants fired more than 400 rockets and mortar bombs into Israel, which responded with close to 200 strikes in a two-day fight that raised fears of another full-blown conflict.

Violence erupted after Israeli special forces appeared to have been compromised during a covert mission deep inside Gaza, and then engaged in a deadly firefight with gunmen, killing seven and losing a lieutenant colonel, before being airlifted out on a helicopter.

The unofficial ceasefire deal infuriated the more hawkish members of Netanyahu’s cabinet, including Bennett, a hardline Jewish nationalist who rejects any future peace plan that might give Palestinians their own state.

Hamas portrayed the truce as a victory, while a few hundred Israelis living in the country’s south blocked roads and burned tyres this week in protest at the agreement, putting Netanyahu under pressure.

Netanyahu’s Likud party has remained popular in local polls, even as the premier has been linked to several corruption cases, two in which Israeli police have recommended he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust.

Read Full Article>>

United States

John Kerry: ‘People are going to die because of the decision Trump made’

The former US secretary of state has looked on as Donald Trump has dismantled the Paris climate agreement. Now, 14 years after losing his presidential bid, he is considering another.

by

To look back at the moment John Kerry entered US public life, addressing the Senate foreign relations committee on 22 April 1971, is to be struck by many things. There are the famous words, of course: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” There is the shock of dark, Beatles-inspired hair, the distinctly British-tinged accent. Above all, there is the self-possession. Even though, as he describes it in his new book, Every Day Is Extra, he had not realised he would be the only witness until he had walked in the door, breathless and young and late; even though he was describing a situation about which he was deeply angry, he did not hurry his delivery.

Perhaps – after the vivid pointlessness of months spent in Vietnam, captaining vulnerable “swift boats” up muddy rivers; after being shot at and experiencing the deaths of friends; after watching a wounded Vietnamese soldier bleed to death in a US medical tent, surrounded by well-meaning soldiers who could not give him the most basic words of comfort in his own language, in his own country – the committee held little fear. Perhaps it was his upbringing, as the son of a state department lawyer and a mother whose extended family owned estates in Brittany, France, and an island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts; as a boy who attended elite boarding schools in Switzerland and the US; as a young man who, while a competitive debater and athlete at Yale, once went to visit a girlfriend (Jackie Kennedy’s half-sister) and found himself sailing with JFK for an afternoon. Or perhaps, as he puts it in his publisher’s offices in London, eyes watchful, tired from jetlag and an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, it comes from “being a little kid on the train to Berlin, travelling home alone from school”, a kid who by eighth grade had attended seven schools. “It was just – survival. I am confident. I have a confidence about things.”

The accent is all American now, but the ease is still there, a kind of centred stillness that coexists with mercurial attention: one minute he is leaning back, genial, possibly bored; the next minute he is sitting forwards, engaged, answering questions with a thoughtfulness that, in this age of tweeted ignorance and bile, elicits pangs of regret for what used to be and still could be. He is far from immune to regrets himself and is upfront about what they are: voting for the second Iraq war, for one, and not going all-out to scotch what he argues was the first major irruption of fake news into presidential politics – the airing of ads, during his 2004 presidential campaign, that questioned his war record.

John Kerry testifies about the Vietnam war before the Senate foreign relations committee in 1971

‘It was just survival. I am confident’ … John Kerry testifies about the Vietnam war before the Senate foreign relations committee in 1971. Photograph: Henry Griffin/AP

He is clearly still hurt – and furious at himself for not airing his own ads in response. They had been prepared: “We have records on film; [my swift boat crew are] all on film” – he leans forward, jabbing at the air with his index finger – “at LENGTH, telling the TRUTH.” He lost the race narrowly to George W Bush.

Kerry has a touching faith in truth, in answering falsehood with evidence and with testimony: “You have to expose a lie!” But with someone such as Donald Trump – who has racked up, as Kerry has noted, more than 6,000 documented lies – one would have no time to do anything else, not to mention that responding forces one on to Trump’s agenda. “Well, inevitably, in the mass of back and forth, there’s always something you have to respond to. But how you choose to respond is critical. You don’t have to get down into the dirty-mud name-calling that he gets into – I’d ignore that; that’s stupid stuff.”

But no one seems to have managed it effectively so far – not the media and certainly not the Democrats – although Kerry disagrees on the latter point. “I think we just had an election which shows a lot is working. We just elected more members of Congress as Democrats than in any election since Watergate in 1974. Seven governors flipped from Republican to Democrat. Six legislatures flipped. We had huge additional turnout of young people – a 55% increase. One hundred and thirteen million Americans voted – we’ve never hit 100 before. So, it’s happening. That’s called accountability. And I think you keep organising and building the grassroots movement around the truth.”

Vietnam made Kerry an activist; it also made him a diplomat, a believer in talking, listening, doing whatever it takes to avoid war and to come to an agreement that might be constructive for the country. Kerry, who was elected to the US Senate in 1984 and served there for 28 years, talks fascinatingly and depressingly about how the institution changed in that time. When he arrived, “I had as many daughters as there were women in the US Senate” – two, from his first marriage, to Julia Thorne. The cigar- and alcohol-fuelled banter was locker-room salty, but there were characters such as Ted Kennedy, who provided wise advice. “Never explain,” for one thing – if you explain, you have already lost. (When he became secretary of state, Kerry was assiduous about collecting advice from previous incumbents. Condoleezza Rice told him to remember the big picture; Colin Powell implored him to sort out the ancient email system.)………………..

But who will lead them? Surely an obvious leader is what the Democratic party, going into the presidential election in 2020, needs desperately? “It’s part of the current cynicism,” says Kerry. “I think people want to know that they’re choosing someone with winability, with electability. [But] there is no clarity …” What does he think of Beto O’Rourke? The young former punk rocker did not win his Senate race against Cruz in Texas, but he came close. “I don’t … think so,” says Kerry. “But who knows. I mean, anyone can decide to run. He did energise people. He did a terrific job. But whether that translates into a presidential race – I don’t know.” (Kerry has his own history as a bassist, in a band called John Kerry and the Electras; the clips of his performance in the band, available on YouTube, are the only things he tells me to check out.)

John Kerry, then the US secretary of state, holds his granddaughter while signing the Paris climate accord

‘My kids and my grandkids are going to face a difficult world because of what Donald Trump has done’ … Kerry, then the US secretary of state, holds his granddaughter while signing the Paris climate agreement in 2016. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Perhaps the dubiousness comes from the fact that Kerry himself is considering another presidential run. “I haven’t ruled it out – I’m just going to think quietly about whether I think it’s … necessary. Whether I feel I can bring something to the table that’s essential, that somebody else can’t. I’ve got to see what my friend Joe Biden does, I’ve got to see what Mike Bloomberg does. There’s only so much space for genuine, capable candidates. Do I think I’m capable? Sure – I thought I was very capable and ready to be president 14 years ago, and came within one state of being it [he lost Ohio by 2 percentage points].” But wasn’t one of the problems with Hillary Clinton that she had been around for a long time, that she was part of the old guard? “Well, my own opinion is that people want somebody who knows what they’re doing. I don’t think we have time for a learning curve – Donald Trump has proved that.”

Read Full Article>>

Florida: Senate race stays on knife edge as hand recount ordered>>

Blow to Trump as judge restores White House access for CNN’s Jim Acosta>>

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16 Nov

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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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.

Damn The War Criminals,Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England.

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.

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!

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The McGlynn

War News

Photo

People are evacuated by the Iraqi military as mortars land in their proximity in Gogjali, on the eastern edges of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Iraq’s special forces worked Sunday to fully clear neighborhoods on Mosul’s eastern edge of Islamic State militants as IS claimed bombings killed at least 20 people elsewhere around the country. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

REU: Yemeni father mourns baby girl who died of starvation

SANAA (Reuters) – Saleh al-Faqeh held the wasted arm of his baby daughter as she took her last breath on Thursday at the malnutrition ward of the main hospital in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.

Saleh Hassan al-Faqeh holds the hand of his four-month-old daughter, Hajar, who died at the malnutrition ward of al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Four-month-old Hajar al-Faqeh reached the al-Sabeen hospital last week from Saada province, one of thousands of Yemeni children suffering from malnutrition in a country that has been pushed to the brink of famine by more than three years of war.

Her body lies in the same ward where another baby boy, Mohammed Hashem, died from severe hunger on the same day. His passing was witnessed by a Reuters photographer. Doctors confirmed both babies had died of malnutrition.

“She has spent two months in a hospital in Saada, but we had to bring her to Sanaa,” Hajar’s father said.

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Guard: Opinion When will America stop participating in Yemen’s genocidal war?

Sooner or later, the Trump administration will be forced to withdraw from this war. But how many people will die before it happens?

‘Most Americans have heard nothing of this ongoing clash in Congress, which has lasted for more than a year.’

‘Most Americans have heard nothing of this ongoing clash in Congress, which has lasted for more than a year.’ Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

On Wednesday the Republican leadership briefly transformed the US House of Representatives into a theater of the absurd in order to block a debate and vote on US military participation in a genocidal war.

In an odd spectacle, representatives went back and forth between speaking about wolves, who kill other animals, to the Saudi monarchy, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people – mostly civilians including children – and pushed 14 million people to the brink of starvation.

The Republicans had hijacked the “Manage our Wolves Act” – a bad but unrelated piece of legislation – to pass a rule that would prohibit the House from debating H Res 138, introduced by Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative from California. The latter resolution would give the president 30 days to get the US military out of the war in Yemen.

The Republicans won by a vote of 201-187. But the Democrats could have easily defeated this surprise attack with some of the 17 members of their party who didn’t vote and the 6 who voted with the Republicans.

Most Americans have heard nothing of this ongoing clash in Congress, which has lasted for more than a year, and is probably the most important foreign policy action that Congress has launched since it cut off funding for the Vietnam war.

What the Republicans did on Wednesday was illegal and unconstitutional. Under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, Khanna’s resolution must be allowed a debate and vote.

The War Powers Resolution was a response to the prolonged tragedy of the Vietnam war. It reaffirms that under the constitution the president does not have authority to use offensive military force without specific authorization from Congress. And it establishes procedures to help Congress prevent and end unauthorized wars. One of these procedures is that when the president introduces US armed forces into hostilities without authorization, any member of Congress can demand a debate and vote on that military intervention, and it cannot be blocked procedurally.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution is still the law of the land, and the courts have not overturned any part of it. There are officials in the “national security state” who believe that the president can decide without Congress to participate in a war. But that is not the law, or is it consistent with the US Constitution – even if some prior presidents have claimed this power.

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REU: U.S. senators seek clampdown on Saudis over Yemen, journalist’s murder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican and Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday seeking to strike back at Saudi Arabia over the death of a Saudi journalist at a consulate in Turkey and for its role in Yemen’s devastating civil war.

If it were to become law, the bill would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit U.S. refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen against the Houthis, Shi’ite Muslim fighters that Yemen’s neighbors view as agents of Iran, the lawmakers said.

It also would impose sanctions on anyone blocking humanitarian access in Yemen and anyone supporting the Houthis in Yemen.

Sponsored by three Republican and three Democratic senators, the legislation reflects continued dissatisfaction in the U.S. Congress over the Yemen war, which has killed more than 10,000 people and created the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis.

That frustration was exacerbated by the killing in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote for the Washington Post.

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said sanctions on 17 Saudis announced earlier on Thursday by President Donald Trump’s administration were not enough to ensure a credible investigation of Khashoggi’s death and an end to hostilities in Yemen.

“We are putting teeth behind these demands with regular oversight, sanctions and suspension of weapons sales and refueling support,” he said in a statement……………The bill’s other sponsors include Republican Senators Todd Young and Susan Collins and Democrats Jack Reed and Jeanne Shaheen.

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Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, seen during his 2017 deployment, may face a military trial on murder and other charges.

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Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, seen during his 2017 deployment, may face a military trial on murder and other charges.

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — Edward Gallagher was something special, even by the punishing standards of the Navy SEALs. Both a lifesaving medic and a crack sniper, he was repeatedly decorated for valor and for coolheaded leadership during 19 years of combat deployments. After his latest tour, fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq, he was named the top platoon leader in SEAL Team 7 and nominated for the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest honor.

But now, less than a year later, Special Operations Chief Gallagher, 39, is locked in the brig, facing charges that during that same deployment — his eighth — he shot indiscriminately at civilians, killed a teenage Islamic State fighter with a handmade custom blade, and then performed his re-enlistment ceremony posing with the teenager’s bloody corpse in front of an American flag.

The Navy has charged Chief Gallagher with premeditated murder, attempted murder and nearly a dozen other offenses, including obstruction of justice and bringing “discredit upon the armed forces.” If he is convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Chief Gallagher denies all the charges.

The case has sent waves through the secretive world of the SEALs, who prefer to operate behind the headlines in an atmosphere of silent professionalism. And the case may widen as the investigation implicates other SEALs who did not report what they knew. A lieutenant has already been charged……………….Navy investigators said that one SEAL medic was kneeling over the fighter’s head, treating him, when Chief Gallagher walked up and, without saying a word, took out a handmade knife and stabbed the teenager several times in the neck and side.

Investigators said two other SEALs gave similar accounts.

Members of the platoon then posed for photos with Chief Gallagher as he held the teenager’s head up by the hair with one hand, and held his knife in the other. Photos show Chief Gallagher then raising his right hand to perform a re-enlistment ceremony over the dead body, while another SEAL member holds an American flag.

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NYT: Afghan War Casualty Report: Nov. 9-15

The bodies of 20 commandos were lined up outside the governor’s office in Sang-e-Masha, Afghanistan, on Sunday. Their company was almost entirely destroyed fighting the Taliban.CreditCreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The following reports compile all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information.

This week President Ashraf Ghani revealed that 28,529 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in the past four years, since 2015. That tally, which he gave during a video address Nov. 12 to Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, was the highest to come from his government yet. While he gave no breakdown of that number, previous government estimates put security force death tolls at 5,000 in 2015 and nearly 7,000 in 2016; after that, the Afghan government began classifying casualty totals. That means a total of about 16,500 this year and last year, about 25 a day or 175 a week — far more than Afghan government officials are usually willing to confirm.

[Read Afghan Military Deaths Since 2015: More Than 28,000]

That average rate was exceeded last week, despite the onset of cold weather in most of the country. The Times confirmed that at least 242 members of the security forces were killed, once again a significant increase over the previous week. Historically, fighting has greatly declined by this time in past years.

During the week, an entire company of Afghan commandos was wiped out only days after they were sent to rescue Jaghori District in Ghazni, an anti-insurgent stronghold. Although Times photographers took photos and video of the bodies of 20 commandos brought to the governor’s office, the Ghazni police chief, Dawood Tarakhel, publicly denied any serious casualty toll in Jaghori.

Nov. 15 Farah Province: 42 security forces and government employees killed

The Taliban carried out a coordinated attack on Khurma Base, a joint installation in Bala Bolok District. Due to security problems in Khak-e-Safid District, the district governor’s office had been previously forced to move there. The attack started when Taliban infiltrators inside the base started firing, then additional insurgents attacked the base from the outside, killing all 42 soldiers, police officers and government employees inside. Officials did not provide a breakdown of casualties.

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