Category Archives: World

“Staggering” civilian deaths from U.S.-led air strikes in Raqqa – U.N.

Intensified coalition air strikes supporting an assault by U.S.-backed forces on Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa in Syria are causing a “staggering loss of civilian life”, United Nations war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a U.S.-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa a week ago to take it from the jihadists. The SDF, supported by heavy coalition air strikes, have taken territory to the west, east and north of the city.

“We note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry told the Human Rights Council.

Pinheiro provided no figure for civilian casualties in Raqqa, where rival forces are racing to capture ground from Islamic State. The Syrian army is also advancing on the desert area west of the city.

Separately, Human Rights Watch expressed concern in a statement about the use of incendiary white phosphorous weapons by the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, saying it endangered civilians when used in populated areas.

In its speech to the 47-member forum in Geneva, the U.S. delegation made no reference to Raqqa or the air strikes. U.S. diplomat Jason Mack called the Syrian government “the primary perpetrator” of egregious human rights violations in the country.

Pinheiro said that if the international coalition’s offensive is successful, it could liberate Raqqa’s civilian population, including Yazidi women and girls, “whom the group has kept sexually enslaved for almost three years as part of an ongoing and unaddressed genocide”.

“The imperative to fight terrorism must not, however, be undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where ISIL is present,” he added.

Pinheiro also said that 10 agreements between the Syrian government and armed groups to evacuate fighters and civilians from besieged areas, including eastern Aleppo last December, “in some cases amount to war crimes” as civilians had “no choice”.

Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Hussam Edin Aaala, denounced violations “committed by the unlawful U.S.-led coalition which targets infrastructure, killing hundreds of civilians including the deaths of 30 civilians in Deir al-Zor.”

By Stephanie Nebehay/Reuters

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Palestinian Rights Not a Topic of Discussion During Trump’s Visit

Palestinians See Trump’s Talk of Peace as Empty Promises

President Donald Trump’s visits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas come with a lot of expectations, at least from Trump’s perspective, that he can make some progress in advancing the peace process between the two sides.

There are a lot of topics that are off limit, however, and perhaps none more glaringly so, at least on this leg of the visit, than the subject of basic Palestinian rights, which Trump is eager to avoid bringing up, knowing the implications that even a tacit recognition of such rights would have for Israel’s far-right government.

Trump styles himself the greatest deal-maker in the world, and has embraced the idea of making a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians since taking office, but also remains determined to protect his status as a “pro-Israel” president, with a collection of aides to match.

That has done much to temper Palestinian excitement about Trump’s talk of peace, as they see the talk of peace, with no plan, and a US Ambassador to Israel that is openly supporting settlements in occupied Palestine, and conclude the talk of peace is as empty as ever.

As Israel celebrates 50 years of military occupation of the Palestinians, it’s impossible not to figure that the moment the peace process becomes inconvenient to US-Israeli relations, it will again be cast off, to wait for another administration’s half-hearted efforts.

by Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Rachel Maddow talks about Russia more than all other topics combined

Image: american news x

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow spends most of her nightly show talking about one topic: Russia, Russia, Russia.

In fact, according to a new analysis from The Intercept, which reviewed six weeks of the liberal anchor’s show, Maddow talks about Russia — and President Donald Trump’s potential ties to the Kremlin — more than every other topic combined.

The study found that Maddow’s Russia reporting (53 percent of coverage) “dwarfed” the time devoted to other headline news, such as Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration (1.3 percent), Obamacare repeal and replace (3.8 percent), the legal battle over Trump’s travel freeze (5.6 percent), progressive protests at GOP town halls (5.8 percent), and other White House news (11 percent).

“The Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare, which was in full swing during the six-week period, got less coverage (nearly 46 minutes) than six other individual Russia issues,” The Intercept’s Aaron Maté wrote…

More from The Blaze

Posted by Libergirl

Robert Scheer: MLK Has Been Repackaged as an Innocuous, Benign Figure. He Wasn’t That at All

Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer unpacks Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, an address inspired in part by a harrowing piece published in Ramparts Magazine while Scheer was editor of the publication.

From :Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

President Trump Angry about Flynn Leaks

Image: Time Magazine

After the messy and high-profile resignation of Michael Flynn, the president and at least one key congressional Republican have directed their ire at the leaks that exposed the now-former National Security Advisor’s clandestine conversations with Russian officials. “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) echoed the president’s concerns.

“I am going to be asking the FBI to do an assessment of this to tell us what’s going on here because we cannot continue to have these leaks as a government,” he told Fox News.

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

Obama’s lethal deportation machine: Trump’s anti-immigration measures are intense, but nothing new

“We have to remain vigilant of what Obama’s actual policies were, and not just pay attention to the rhetoric”

On Jan. 18, Barack Obama used his final press conference as president to pledge to the public that he will speak up if the administration of Donald Trump crosses a line, whether that’s imposing “systematic discrimination” or silencing the press. “There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” Obama told journalists assembled in the White House briefing room. “I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else.”

Yet the president’s palliative remarks that afternoon concealed a more harrowing truth: Sweeps and forced expulsions of children would not constitute a break with norms of his own administration, which oversaw more deportations than any other in U.S. history. During Obama’s tenure, mass incarceration of mothers and their children became a mainstay of the U.S. response to the violent displacement of peoples across Central America. And amid the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, Obama has greatly expanded the deportation machine, overseeing a higher number of border patrols than any previous administration. That deportation machine is now being handed to Trump, whose administration is aggressively delivering on his campaign pledges to slam the door on refugees and migrants.

More from Alternet via Salon

Posted by Libergirl

Trump: McCain ‘doesn’t know how to win anymore’

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Image: Getty via Politico

President Donald Trump revived his feud with John McCain on Thursday morning, tweeting that the Arizona senator “doesn’t know how to win anymore” and shouldn’t have called a U.S. raid in Yemen a failure.

“Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy! He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets Thursday morning. “Just look at the mess our country is in – bogged down in conflict all over the place. Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission ( according to General Mattis), not a ‘failure.’ Time for the U.S. to get smart and start winning again!”

More from Politico

Posted by Libergirl