Archive | November 27th, 2018

Hariri supporters block roads in Beirut after Wahhab says PM is not qualified to be building janitor

NOVANEWS
Saad Hariri at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon on October 24, 2017 (Photo by Reuters)

A number of roads have been blocked by the supporters of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut, today, after recent comments made by former minister Wiam Wahhab on the Future Movement leader’s qualifications.

The Future Movement supporters blocked the roads between Qasqas, the Sports City, Cola Roundabout, Corniche-Al-Mazra Highway, and Tariq Jdideh.

The coastal highway linking Beirut to Saida (var. Sidon) was previously blocked last night; it has since been reopened after protesters dispersed.

The protesters are demonstrating in response to Wahhab’s comments regarding Hariri’s qualifications to be Lebanon’s Prime Minister.

“Had his father not been the martyr premier (Rafik Hariri), no one would have even appointed him as a building janitor,” Wahhab tweeted.

Wahhab, who has been one of Hariri’s biggest critics, has received backlash from several March 14th bloc politicians, including much of the Future Movement.

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Who, Us? Corporate Media Ignore Their Role in Trump’s Refugee ‘Invasion’ Panic

NOVANEWS

Trump might as well have been the front-page assignment editor for elite newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times, which simply couldn’t resist the siren song of his manufactured crisis

If the last month is any indication, establishment news organizations like the Post and the Times still haven’t learned the key lessons about their flawed 2016 election coverage. (Photo: Screenshot)

If the last month is any indication, establishment news organizations like the Post and the Times still haven’t learned the key lessons about their flawed 2016 election coverage. (Photo: Screenshot)

If the establishment media’s coverage in the home stretch of the 2018 midterm elections is any kind of prologue to 2020, be prepared for an avalanche of right-wing xenophobic propaganda during our next presidential election. That’s because, once again, the political press dutifully chased Trump’s rhetorical tail as Election Day neared, and repeatedly ceded its editorial judgment and newshole to the nativist fearmongering he used to stoke the Republican Party’s base. And nowhere was this fecklessness more apparent than media’s breathless “migrant caravan” coverage.

Left-wing media critics documented these failures almost in real time. Joshua Holland at The Nation (10/25/18) noted in late October how Trump was all but acting as the de facto segment producer for all those ubiquitous cable news panel shows that were spending all their time discussing a few thousand asylum seekers that were more than a thousand miles from the US southern border.

Nation: The Political Press Is Failing Us Again at the Worst Possible TimeJoshua Holland (The Nation, 10/26/18): “Trump floods the zone with bullshit, they dutifully convey it, and we end up swimming in it.”If the establishment media’s coverage in the home stretch of the 2018 midterm elections is any kind of prologue to 2020, be prepared for an avalanche of right-wing xenophobic propaganda during our next presidential election. That’s because, once again, the political press dutifully chased Trump’s rhetorical tail as Election Day neared, and repeatedly ceded its editorial judgment and newshole to the nativist fearmongering he used to stoke the Republican Party’s base. And nowhere was this fecklessness more apparent than media’s breathless “migrant caravan” coverage.

Likewise, a study by the liberal media research site Media Matters (11/2/18) found that Trump might as well have been the front-page assignment editor for elite newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times, which simply couldn’t resist the siren song of his manufactured crisis. In all, those two papers published nearly 30 different stories about the migrant caravan on their respective A1 pages in the two weeks before Election Day. And on three different days, the Times devoted two front-page stories to what Trump had not-so-subtly began calling an “invasion.”

What is most striking, however, is the Post and Times’ unmistakable cognitive dissonance and institutional blindspot about this coverage. Throughout the weeks leading up to Election Day, these two news organizations dedicated analysis, blogs and opinion pieces—mostly online—to detailing the naked gamesmanship and misinformation behind Trump using the migrant caravan as a campaign bogeyman. But then the papers’ front pages and their “straight” political coverage routinely used Trump’s assumptions as the premises for framing their stories.

Case in point: On October 25, the Washington Post ran a business section analysis (10/25/18)—“Why False Narratives About the Migrant Caravan and Mail Bombs Won’t Go Away on Social Media—and an online factcheck (10/25/18)—“A Caravan of Phony Claims From the Trump Administration”—that sought to debunk the many lies and conspiracy theories fueling the migrant caravan narrative. But neither of these pieces bothered to look at how the Post’s own flood-the-zone coverage was exacerbating the story and giving it the oxygen to make the conspiracy theories more relevant.

WaPo: Trump promises to stop the migrant caravan. But his administration struggles with how to do it.
A Washington Post headline (10/25/18) treats stopping the migrant caravan as a question of “how,” not “whether.”

In fact, on that same day, the Post’s front-page story (10/25/18) offered a much more friendly framing, one that subtly bought into Trump’s something-must-be-done hysterics: “White House Grapples With Caravan Strategy: President Urges Aides to Craft a More Forceful Plan Than Pressuring Mexico.” The online version’s headline (10/25/18) was no better, positioning the issue as being one of tactics (i.e., how to stop the caravan). Instead of whether or not it should be (i.e., one of policy)“Trump Promises to Stop the Migrant Caravan. But His Administration Struggles With How to Do It.”

The next day’s top headline at the Post (10/26/18) kept this theme alive with its focus squarely on Trump taking action: “Trump Weighs Border Closing; Central American Migrants Targeted; Deploying 1,000 More Troops Also Considered.”

NYT: A Week After the Midterms, Trump Seems to Forget the Caravan
The New York Times (11/13/18) also seems to have forgotten its own intense interest in the caravan story.

This lack of self-awareness wasn’t confined to the Post. This week, New York Times White House correspondents Maggie Haberman and Mark Landler wrote a similarly obtuse analysis piece (11/13/18) about the migrant caravan as campaign issue. Leading off with a damp-bread headline—“A Week After the Midterms, Trump Seems to Forget the Caravan”—Haberman and Landler proceed to offer a workable review of the president’s sudden amnesia about an issue that up until a week ago was tantamount to a national crisis.

However, this Times story also doesn’t bother to look in the mirror. In fact, it fails to mention the words “press” or “media” even a single time, although it does take what could be construed as an oblique potshot at cable news with a brief mention that the “caravan having faded from television screens.” Nowhere is there any mention of the 14 front page stories—averaging one a day—that their own newspaper ran on the migrant caravan in the two weeks before Election Day. Nor was there any acknowledgement that the Times, too, “seems” to have mostly forgotten the caravan, having only run one photo (11/10/18) on the caravan and one full story (11/11/18) on the military deployment to stop it on A1 since Election Day. What’s more, a search of the Times archives found stories mentioning “migrant, caravan” fell by more than half between 10/25/18–11/5/18 (an average of 19 a day) and 11/7/13–11/13/13 (an average of 9 day).

Even more galling, Haberman and Landler included this sentence in their introduction: “There was little dispute, even before Election Day, that Mr. Trump was exploiting the caravan for political purposes.” That sentiment, that the president was merely ginning up outrage to boost Republican voter turnout, though undoubtedly true, was hardly a fixture of all the Times’ staid reporting on the caravan in the previous weeks. For example, an October 26 story on Trump’s decision to deploy more than 5,000 US troops to the border only offered one brief aside—a quote from Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi—that suggested the move was anything close to a brazen political ploy. One could read other Times articles about the caravan as well without encountering this now breezily made conclusion.

NYT: Why the Times Is Covering the Caravan
A New York Times editor (10/26/18) argues that Donald Trump’s use of refugees as a campaign prop makes them even more newsworthy.

The Times lack of introspection was also on display in a blog post (10/26/18) by the paper’s deputy international editor, Greg Winter, who archly pushed back against reader questions about the Times’ editorial calculus for so heavily covering the migrant caravan:

And, yes, President Trump is a big part of the equation. But that does not make the caravan any less of a story. It simply adds yet another powerful dynamic to an already newsworthy phenomenon. After all, Mr. Trump’s immigration policies determine the fate of these migrants, and his repeated return to immigration as a campaign theme shapes the election debate.

It’s not our job to pretend that the caravan and the president’s response are not happening. To the contrary, it’s our mission to explain, with clarity and fairness, what is real, what is not and why it matters.

This defensiveness is not unexpected. After the Times unceremoniously killed off its public editor position 17 months ago, I warned (FAIR.org6/1/17) that the move would make it much easier for the paper to shrug off—or completely ignore—criticism of its coverage:

Despite the public editor’s uneven history, the Times and its readers were still unquestionably better served by its presence and its potential. To lose this position means both the paper and the public will suffer in the long run. Corporate media, now more than ever, can only recapture the public’s trust by bringing more transparency and accountability to those people and institutions in power. And yet these news organizations are increasingly uninterested in applying those same principles to themselves.

Just as with the corporate media’s obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election—at the expense of robust policy coverage—what’s really at issue here is the broader framing and messaging the press sends through its disproportionate focus. If the last month is any indication, establishment news organizations like the Post and the Times still haven’t learned the key lessons about their flawed 2016 election coverage. And so they continue to fall for the feints of a president who leverages their deference for authority to mainline hate and bigotry in the service of his and his party’s political fortunes.

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Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Criticize Debt Plans and Negotiations

Jubilee USA

For Immediate Release

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202.783.3566 ex. 106

WASHINGTON – Puerto Rico’s Catholic Archbishop and an Evangelical leader who heads the island’s bible society criticized a debt agreement and ongoing debt negotiations. “We are strongly opposed to the COFINA debt deal,” wrote the religious leaders in a statement referencing a recently approved plan on a type of debt backed by sales taxes. The plan was approved by Puerto Rico’s government and oversight board and covers about $17 billion of the total $72 billion debt of the US Territory. A year ago, Puerto Rico was decimated by two hurricanes.

“Before the hurricanes, we wrestled with the fact that nearly 60% of our children lived in poverty. After the hurricanes great suffering persists across Puerto Rico. Yet, now we see debt deals that are worse than what was proposed before the hurricanes,” wrote Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez and Puerto Rico Bible Society General Secretary, Reverend Heriberto Martinez. “If the government of Puerto Rico and the oversight board cannot reach debt deals with a high enough debt cut to put Puerto Rico on a sustainable path for growth, they should immediately step aside and allow the bankruptcy process approved by Congress in 2016 to arbitrate this immoral debt burden that weighs upon our people, especially on our children.”

The leaders also took aim at negotiations around the General Obligation debt and expressed concern if a similar deal was reached, Puerto Rico would be restructuring their “debt in a few years time.” The leaders also raised concerns about a fiscal plan approved by the oversight board.

“The current fiscal plan and ongoing debt negotiations are not doing enough to address child poverty, limit austerity and promote sustainable economic growth,” stated Eric LeCompte, who advises the religious leaders and is the director of the religious development group Jubilee USA.

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Release of Top Secret CIA Document Reveals Deeper Medical Complicity in Torture Program

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Jonathan Hutson
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jhutson [at] phrusa [dot] org
Tel: (617) 301-4210
Cell: (857) 919-5130

WASHINGTON – With the release of a previously top secret document – made public thanks to a legal victory by the ACLU – disclosing the role of the Office of Medical Services (OMS) in the CIA’s torture program, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) reminds health professionals that torture, in all its forms, is one of the most serious human rights violations and is absolutely prohibited under U.S. and international law, and that any collusion in its implementation – from planning through monitoring – is a gross violation of professional ethics.

The 90-page document provides a chilling account of how CIA health professionals willingly participated in torture. The “Summary and Reflections” of an unnamed chief of CIA Medical Services narrates the decision-making process that led to health professionals signing off on, and participating in, interrogation and detention practices that clearly constituted torture. The document provides a cascade of self-justification and minimization of the risks and harm to detainees.

“While much of the information in this document was already known, the step-by-step internal process it details shows how health professionals continually acceded to the demands of those running the interrogation regime, relied on flawed legal interpretations of torture definitions,  and failed to live up to their duty to ‘do no harm,’” said Scott Allen, MD, FACP, professor emeritus at University of California Riverside School of Medicine and PHR medical advisor.

The document further describes how certain techniques, such as confinement in a coffin-sized box, forced nakedness, near-hypothermia, prolonged sleep deprivation, and waterboarding were not considered to be torture because they were deemed not to cause “prolonged (mental) harm lasting months or years.”  It is now clear that these determinations were based on the Office of Legal Counsel’s faulty interpretation of torture that elevated physical and mental pain thresholds and the condition of specific intent to cause such pain.

“The document makes the claim that OMS personnel served to protect detainees and ensure safe, legal, and effective interrogations, but provides no evidence that detainees were evaluated appropriately. In fact, it states that psychological assessments did not include the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder, the most common psychological condition following torture. The document also fails to mention the OMS practice of forced rectal feeding, for which there is no medical indication and which represents a form of sexual assault” said PHR Senior Medical Advisor Vincent Iacopino, MD, PhD.

In addition, the document’s conclusion that the interrogation techniques did not cause long-lasting harm has been proven wrong. Some detainees subjected to these torture techniques who are still held in the Guantánamo Bay detention facility remain severely traumatized, according to PHR medical experts who have examined them. Detainees who have been evaluated after their release from Guantánamo, and elsewhere, also continue to show long-lasting harm, as described in reports such as PHR’s Broken Laws, Broken Lives.

The document refers to OMS practices being in compliance with American Psychological Association (APA) policies, but fails to acknowledge collusion between the APA, the CIA, and the Department of Defense in establishing those policies. These policies have since been abandoned. The document also attempts to defend against criticism of breaches of medical ethics by indicating that OMS participation was voluntary, that its practices were considered “legal” by the U.S. Department of Justice at the time, and that actionable intelligence was obtained and lives were saved. The author of the document rejects international medical ethical principles of “do no harm” as well as legal prohibitions against participation in torture by asserting that “saving lives” takes priority over respect for human dignity. We have learned since, from a 2014 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, that no actionable intelligence was ever obtained using “enhanced interrogation” techniques that could not otherwise have been gathered.

This document is a revealing self-indictment of U.S. torture practices and the critical role of CIA OMS personnel in participating in and concealing torture. It shows health professionals’ disregard for core ethical principles, including the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Tokyo, requiring that they remove themselves from all forms of participation in torture or ill-treatment.

“This document shows that within the CIA OMS culture in the post-9/11 years, there was a lack of understanding of the moral and ethical issues involved in the presence and cooperation of health professionals in interrogations and their willingness to preside over the deliberate infliction of pain on detainees,” Iacopino said. “The author of the document expresses continual concern for the physical safety of detainees, but he shows no qualms about OMS personnel participating in the interrogations that caused great pain and suffering to the detainees. This was an improper role for health professionals and OMS shows that it was blind or indifferent to ethical concerns raised by their participation,” he added.

Based on the new details in this document, PHR renews its call on the U.S. government, especially all CIA medical professionals, to take immediate action to make structural and procedural reforms to ensure that such human rights abuses – including the collusion and cover up of health professionals, in violation of their professional ethics – never happen again. As an organization of health professionals, PHR looks forward to those in positions of authority recognizing the important role played by doctors, psychologists, therapists, and others who practice medicine to ensure that torture tactics are never enabled by professionals whose primary obligation is to their patients, and that all agency operations respect the right to dignity and care for the individual.

Torture is absolutely prohibited under U.S. and international law at all times, and preventing the torture of those in custody is integral to the ethical duties and culture of health professionals. Torture violates everything that health professionals stand for and PHR will continue to advocate to ensure the U.S. government never engages in torture again.

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Trump Said Considering Extradition of Turkish Cleric to Quiet Erdogan on Khashoggi Murder

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A stronger phrase than abject shamelessness needs to be coined in order fully to characterize the cheapness of what the White House is apparently considering

Trump’s desperate ploy, finally to shut Erdogan up about the crown prince and let the whole controversy die down if possible, so as to preserve Bin Salman as quarterback of the White House Middle East game. (Photo: Screenshot)

Trump’s desperate ploy, finally to shut Erdogan up about the crown prince and let the whole controversy die down if possible, so as to preserve Bin Salman as quarterback of the White House Middle East game. (Photo: Screenshot)

NBC News maintains that four sources in US government agencies (probably the FBI and the State Department) told its reporters that the Trump White House is seeking ways to expel Turkish religious leader Fethullah Gulen. But the kicker is that Trump apparently is exploring the extradition as a bribe to shut Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan up about the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the orders of crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The Saudis are now trying to pin the blame on lower-level operatives, whom they have sentenced to death. But Erdogan has been like a bulldog, insisting that Bin Salman ordered the hit (which is the only logical).

NBC says that career officials were absolutely furious when they figured out what was behind the White House requests. It is of course the ultimate in shamelessness for Trump to have a US green card holder sent to the gallows in Turkey in order to cover up the murder of another US green card holder murdered in the Saudi consulate.

Turkey maintains that Gulen’s Hizmet Movement is a front for terrorist activities and was behind the failed 2016 military coup attempt against Tayyip Erdogan. I think there is evidence that the group is a cult and that it did attempt to infiltrate key Turkish government institutions, in the way of the old Stalinist covert cells. But that all Gulenists are terrorists is pretty hard to believe; the group runs schools and universities and those institutions haven’t been violent (they have been shut down in Turkey proper). That the upper echelons of the leadership have been involved in shady goings-on is plausible (just as it is possible with regard to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is being treated by the al-Sisi government the way Ankara is now treating the Gulenists).

The US government has repeatedly denied such Turkish requests, and disputes that the evidence the Turkish government has provided to the FBI is sufficient to warrant Gulen’s extradition. (This datum in the NBC reporting is itself significant, since it means that Turkey has not been able to provide convincing documentation on the origins of the 2016 coup to US authorities.)

Erdogan’s campaign to unseat the crown prince has been extremely inconvenient for Trump. Trump has said that Saudi purchases of billions in US weaponry cannot be put in jeopardy over Khashoggi’s murder. Bin Salman is also the linchpin of the Trump administration’s anti-Iran coalition, and to the extent that he is permanently weakened by the fallout over Khashoggi, Iran is strengthened. Bin Salman only had part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates) with him on boycotting Iran. Oman and Qatar have refused to join in, and even Kuwait is soft on this issue. Egypt, Jordan and Morocco were aboard, but offered little practical support, and both Egypt and Jordan want improved relations with the pro-Iran government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. With Bin Salman being ridiculed as “The Sawman” (Abu Minshar), like a cartoon villain, it is hard to see how he can lead a charge against Iran.

In fact, the strategy of flooding the market with extra oil has already backfired, harming the Saudi and other Arab producers’ bottom line, and Saudi Arabia has announced cutbacks for next month (cutbacks that will help Iran withstand the boycott, since it may sell less oil but get more per barrel).

Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are pro-Iran and Qatar has correct relations with Tehran, plus Russia and China are with Iran. The European Union is trying to protect Iran and keep the 2015 nuclear deal. The US-backed Bin Salman’s success in the anti-Iran push was already in doubt before the murder of Khashoggi. Now it is in severe doubt.

Hence Trump’s desperate ploy, finally to shut Erdogan up about the crown prince and let the whole controversy die down if possible, so as to preserve Bin Salman as quarterback of the White House Middle East game.

A stronger phrase than abject shamelessness needs to be coined in order fully to characterize the cheapness of what the White House is apparently considering. (Note that the White House denies the NBC story; but four sources are pretty damning).

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When Will America Stop Participating in Yemen’s Genocidal War?

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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.’ (Photo: Hani Mohammed/AP)

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

Two Republican representatives who supported H Res 138 cited James Madison in a letter to their colleagues on Wednesday: “In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.”

In the 20th century the most important checks on US military overreach came from Congress. In addition to the historic 1973 War Powers Resolution, the Congress cut off funds for US military intervention in Angola in 1976. In the mid-1980s the Congress cut US aid to the Contras who were waging a war to topple the government of Nicaragua; this led to the Iran-Contra scandal, after the Reagan White House decided to continue funding the war through illegal weapons sales to Iran.

Following the Saudi murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, more people have begun to see that ending US military participation in this war and complicity in war crimes – which include using mass starvation as weapon – is the most urgent priority in the “re-evalutation of our relationship with the Saudis.”

Fortunately, this battle in Congress is far from over, and the proponents of war are losing. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee, are re-introducing a similar resolution that got 44 votes in February. If that vote were held today, it would likely pass.

The Trump administration knows this, and so the White House announced last Friday that it would stop refueling the Saudi and UAE bombers in mid-air. It hasn’t happened yet, and of course any suspension of re-fueling not ordered by Congress could simply be resumed. Congressional sources believe that Trump may do something just before the Senate vote in order to try to pull a few Senators away from voting to end the war.

In addition, even if mid-air refueling is suspended, without congressional prohibition on all offensive US military activities, the US can continue its engagement in logistics, special operations, and targeting assistance – all of it concealed from view of American public.

The new House in January, with a Democratic majority and solid support from the leadership, should have no trouble passing the resolution. But the human costs of delay are enormous. Experts have pointed out that once a famine breaks out it will be too late to save many of the victims.

Sooner or later, the Trump administration will be forced to withdraw from this genocidal war. The only question is how many people will die before it happens.

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Posted in USA, Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on When Will America Stop Participating in Yemen’s Genocidal War?

As WaPo Accuses Trump of ‘Abetting Saudi Coverup,’

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As WaPo Accuses Trump of ‘Abetting Saudi Coverup,’ Crown Prince Shielded While Khashoggi ‘Murder Team’ Members Face Execution

“It’s not surprising at all, but there is something extra evil about ordering the death of a bunch of people who tortured and murdered a dissident on your orders while you pretend you had nothing to do with it.”

A protester dressed as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and another dressed as U.S. President Donald Trump stand outside the White House in the wake of the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 19. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“It’s not surprising at all, but there is something extra evil about ordering the death of a bunch of people who tortured and murdered a dissident on your orders while you pretend you had nothing to do with it.”

That was the sharp reaction from MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes after news emerged Thursday that while Saudi Arabia would continue to shield Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman from responsiblity, the nation’s top court prosecutor would seek the death penaltyagainst five members of the “murder team” that assassinated, and then dismembered, journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey last month.

While a full and transparent investigation has yet to be conducted—and the video and audio evidence the Turkish government possesses yet to be made public—reports have strongly suggested the likelihood that the crown prince was directly responsible for ordering the mission and knew the murder of Khashoggi was its goal or a likely outcome:

Chris Hayes

@chrislhayes

It’s not surprising at all, but there is something extra evil about ordering the death of a bunch of people who tortured and murdered a dissident on your orders while you pretend you had nothing to do with it.

Responding to the latest statement by the Saudis on Thursday, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, called it completely insufficient in terms of admitting guilt and said it betrayed the facts and earlier statements acknowledging the murder had been premeditated. “The necessary equipment and people were previously brought in to kill and later dismember him,” he said.

Speaking with The Independent, a Turkish source familiar with the thinking in Ankara described the statement by the Saudi prosecutor as “a great work of fiction” that nobody in the Turkish government is buying. The Saudis, the source said, “wants the world to believe that a group of goons just felt like killing the most prominent non-royal Saudi in the world.”

Meanwhile, in an editorial published late in the day Thursday, the Washington Post, where Khashoggi was employed as a contributor, the newspaper condemned the Saudis’ latest story about the murder as well as the Trump administration’s continued willingness to play along with it:

By offering up this incredible account, the Saudi regime is baldly defying all those, including leading members of Congress, who called for full disclosure and accountability. Yet the Trump administration appears ready to accept its stonewalling. On Thursday, it announced sanctions against 17 people implicated by the Saudis — leaving untouched both the crown prince and top intelligence officials in Riyadh.

Accepting the Saudi story means ignoring a number of well-established facts. An audio recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s last moments, which Turkish officials shared with CIA Director Gina Haspel, indicates he was attacked and strangled immediately after entering the consulate. The Saudi version claims he died only after a quarrel and a struggle that prompted the head of the “negotiation team” to decide to murder him by injecting him with drugs.

The Post continued by saying the Saudi’s “all-too-transparent tissue of lies only underlines the need for a genuinely independent international investigation led by the United Nations” and castigating the Trump administration for “abetting the Saudi coverup” with the toothless sanctions annnounced by the Treasury Department on Thursday.

“Congress should not allow this travesty to continue. It should suspend all military sales and cooperation with Saudi Arabia until a credible international investigation of the Khashoggi killing is completed,” the editorial concluded. “The Saudi cover story is just one more instance of Mohammed bin Salman’s arrogant and reckless behavior. The true murderers of Jamal Khashoggi must be named and punished.”

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I Stand With Ilhan: Supporters Reject Smear Campaign After Newly-Elected Omar Declares Support of BDS

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“The rising support for #BDS has finally reached Congress”

Minnesota Democratic Congressional Candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar won the race for Minnesota's 5th congressional district seat against Republican candidate Jennifer Zielinski to become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Minnesota Democratic Congressional Candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar won the race for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district seat against Republican candidate Jennifer Zielinski to become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Free speech and human rights supporters are rallying behind Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar after a pro-Israeli government group attacked the representative-elect for announcing her support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Omar—who along with Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Michigan became the first Muslim women elected to Congress—expressed her support for the movement to several websites this week prompting many to declare also #IStandWithIlhan on social media.

That’s not the outcome likely hoped for by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The group, which states that is mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but is accused of promoting Islamophobia, said the support was “alarming.” It said in its tweet that “BDS doesn’t just criticize Israel’s gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State.”

That claim is not true, as journalist Mehdi Hansan responded:

Mehdi Hasan

@mehdirhasan

This is a lie. “The BDS movement… steers away from the one-state-versus-two-states debate, focusing instead on universal rights and international law”. Most member orgs “still advocate a two-state solution outside the realm of the BDS movement” – BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti

@ADL_National

This is alarming. BDS doesn’t just criticize Israel’s gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State. @IlhanMN also said she supports a two-state solution. Rep-Elect Omar, you owe it to your new constituents to clarify your views http://j.mp/2ThxXx5 

 Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, shot back at the ADL’s tweet as well, calling it an “irresponsible use of @ADL_National’s status as a civil rights org.,” and praised Omar for being the first member of Congress to declare her support for BDS.

Jewish Voice for Peace also applauded Omar for “helping usher in a new era when standing for justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine—and thus for Palestinian rights and freedom—will be the norm and not exception.”For her part, Tlaib, whose family is from Palestine, offered her support for her fellow freshly-elected representative, and urged others to speak out in support of “protected freedom of speech.”

Other individuals and groups joined the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan, including anti-Israeli- occupation group IfNotNow, which pointed to a letter of support to let Omar know: “We stand with you in the face of Islamophobic organizations attempting to attack you and undermine your leadership.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, shot back at the ADL’s tweet as well, calling it an “irresponsible use of @ADL_National’s status as a civil rights org.,” and praised Omar for being the first member of Congress to declare her support for BDS.

Rebecca Vilkomerson

@RVilkomerson

This is irresponsible use of @ADL_National’s status as a civil rights org. @IlhanMN supports human rights of Palestinians by supporting the nonviolent movement, an increasingly popular position in the Democratic base. It’s completely legit, so the ADL better get used to it!

@ADL_National

This is alarming. BDS doesn’t just criticize Israel’s gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State. @IlhanMN also said she supports a two-state solution. Rep-Elect Omar, you owe it to your new constituents to clarify your views http://j.mp/2ThxXx5 

Jewish Voice for Peace also applauded Omar for “helping usher in a new era when standing for justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine—and thus for Palestinian rights and freedom—will be the norm and not exception.”For her part, Tlaib, whose family is from Palestine, offered her support for her fellow freshly-elected representative, and urged others to speak out in support of “protected freedom of speech.”

Other individuals and groups joined the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan, including anti-Israeli- occupation group IfNotNow, which pointed to a letter of support to let Omar know: “We stand with you in the face of Islamophobic organizations attempting to attack you and undermine your leadership.”

 

 

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Yemen: Entirely Preventable Deaths of 85,000

NOVANEWS

‘Entirely Preventable’ Deaths of 85,000 Yemeni Children Is Part of What Trump Has Embraced With ‘America First’ Allegiance to Saudis

“For children under the age of five this situation is proving a death sentence.”

yemeni child
The London-based NGO Save the Children estimates some 85,000 children under the age of five have died in Yemen due to starvation over the past three years. (Photo: Fuad/UNICEF)

As President Donald Trump faces criticism for issuing a “dangerous” and “imbecilic” statement in which he vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a London-based organization is estimating that some 85,000 children under age five have starved to death in Yemen since the U.S.-backed, Saudi- and UAE-led coalition launched military action there three years ago.

“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable.”
—Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children

Drawn from United Nations data, Save the Children’s new figure is, as the Guardian put it, “a conservative estimate.”

“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” declared Tamer Kirolos, the group’s country director in Yemen. “Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry.”

A mother whose 13-month-old Nusair is being treated by Save the Children for severe acute malnutrition, or SAM, told the Guardian, “I am scared of the war and worried we won’t have food. It is distressing.” She added: “I can’t go to sleep, it is torturing, and I am worried about my children. I couldn’t live if any harm came to them.”

View image on Twitter

Save the Children US

@SavetheChildren

85,000 children may have died from starvation since start of war in http://ow.ly/vm3J30mHwQd 

The Saudi blockades and bombing campaign have produce the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, killing tens of thousands of Yemenis and putting 14 million more—half the country’s population—at risk of famine. That number, Save the Children noted, “has increased dramatically” since a blockade last year that reduced the commercial imports of food through the Hodeidah port.

“For children under the age of five this situation is proving a death sentence,” concluded Bhanu Bhatnagar, a Save the Children spokesman. “What is shocking about Yemen is that these 85,000 deaths are not a result of drought or climate change, they are entirely the result of a manmade conflict that is fueled by countries who have the power to stop it.”

As World Food Program (WFP) executive director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council last week: “What I have seen in Yemen this week is the stuff of nightmares, of horror, of deprivation, of misery. And we—all of humanity—have only ourselves to blame.”

However, instead of halting the violence and subsequent suffering, the coalition has ramped up the bombing campaign. Calling for “an immediate end to the fighting so no more lives are lost,” Kirolos pointed out that “in the past few weeks there have been hundreds of airstrikes in and around Hodeidah, endangering the lives of an estimated 150,000 children still trapped in the city.”

Khashoggi’s assassination has put a spotlight on the Trump administration’s support for Saudi Arabia—particularly considering that the CIA has reportedly concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, personally ordered the killing. Although the U.S. recently stopped refueling Saudi aircraft, human rights advocates, aid agencies, and members of Congress have called for a full withdrawal of U.S. support for the war in Yemen.

Trump, meanwhile, seems to have made up his mind to continue backing the Saudis. “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event—maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! That being said, we may never know all of the facts,” the president said Tuesday. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Speaking outside the White House on Tuesday, Trump said the murder of Khashoggi “is what it is.” And referencing his decision to stand with Saudi Arabia, he added, “It’s America first to me.”

Khaled Beydoun

@KhaledBeydoun

The current regime in Saudia Arabia:

– Killed a Washington Post journalist, Jamal
– Bombed a schoolbus in Yemen that killed 40 children
– Leading a war in that has left 500,000 children facing famine

Trump’s reply: “They’re a great economic partner”

 

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Turkish-backed rebels form new special forces unit to fight Syrian Army ‘video’

NOVANEWS

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 A.M.) – The Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) released a video on Wednesday that showed a newly formed special forces unit training in northern Syria.

The new NLF special forces unit was reportedly trained in urban warfare and hit-an-run scenarios.

This new rebel unit will be immediately deployed to the front-lines against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies in the Idlib and Hama provinces, opposition activists claimed.

Below is the video that was released by the National Liberation Front this week:

Turkish-backed rebels form new special forces unit to fight Syrian Army (video)
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