Tag Archives: US

Russia warns US it will strike back if militia attacks in Syria don’t end

Moscow has warned the US that if militias it supports in northeast Syria again attack positions of pro-government forces backed by Russia, the Russian military will use all its force to retaliate.

The troops of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia that receives support from the US military, have twice attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Deir ez-Zor governorate with mortar and rocket fire, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed,” Konashenkov said, adding that the attacks put at risk Russian military advisers embedded with Syrian government troops.

“Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary,” he stressed.

Konashenkov said Moscow suspected the SDF of colluding with the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) in Deir ez-Zor rather than fighting it, as it claims to be. He said Russia had detected the transfer of SDF fighters from the IS stronghold of Raqqa, to join forces with the jihadists.

“SDF militants work to the same objectives as IS terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” the Russian general said.

The statement said that the siege of Raqqa by the SDF has been halted, apparently in response to the latest advances by Syrian government forces in Deir ez-Zor, which is located to the east from Raqqa along the Euphrates River.

“The central parts of the former ISIL capital, which account for roughly 25 percent of the city, remain under full control of the terrorists,” Konashenkov remarked.

According to the statement, in the last 24 hours Syrian government troops “continued their offensive operation” to destroy the last “IS bridgehead” near the city of Deir ez-Zor, the provincial capital. Troops led by Syrian Army General Suheil al-Hassan liberated around 16 sq km of territory and two settlements on the western bank of the Euphrates River.

“More than 85 percent of Deir ez-Zor’s territory is under the full control of Syrian troops. Over the next week the city will be liberated completely,” Konashenkov said.

The city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria was besieged by Islamic State in 2014. Syrian government forces lifted the blockade of the city in early September.

However, the liberation of Deir ez-Zor also triggered a confrontation between Syrian government forces and the US-backed SDF militants, the point of contention being control of Deir ez-Zor’s oil fields.

Following Damascus’s strategic victory, food, medicine and other essentials started to reach the city by convoy, where previously the inhabitants had to rely on air-drops.

The escalation of tension in eastern Syria is mirrored in the western Idlib governorate, where militant forces this week attacked Syrian positions in a designated de-escalation zone. The offensive threatened a unit of Russian military police, who were stationed in the area to monitor the ceasefire. Russia mounted an emergency rescue operation on Wednesday, in which three Russian special operations troops were injured. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the militants’ offensive had been instigated by US special services.

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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FDA approves 1st ‘living drug’ to treat cancer in the US

FDA approves 1st ‘living drug’ to treat cancer in the US

© National Cancer Institute \ Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever gene therapy to treat cancer in the US. The treatment offers a totally new approach to fighting the disease and could lead to novel treatments of other serious and life-threatening maladies.

On Wednesday, the FDA approved a new leukemia treatment from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, which the agency said is “the first gene therapy available in the United States.”

The treatment, called Kymriah, is a “genetically-modified autologous T-cell immunotherapy,” where each dose is created by using the patient’s own T-cells, a type of white blood cell known as a lymphocyte.

Each patient’s T-cells are sent to a manufacturing center where they are genetically modified to include a new gene that contains a specific protein, called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). The CAR-T cells known as “a living drug,” are then infused back into the patient, where they target and kill leukemia cells.

“We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”

 

The treatment has been approved for patients up to the age of 25 who have a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the bone marrow and blood, that is refractory or in second or later relapse.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common childhood cancer in the US, affecting approximately 3,100 patients aged 20 and younger, according to the National Cancer Institute.

With the CAR-T cell therapy, 90 percent of young patients suffering from ALL who used to be considered fatal cases are now able to recover, according to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The FDA said that Kymriah was shown to be safe and effective in the clinical trials of 63 pediatric and young adult patients with ALL.

“Kymriah is a first-of-its-kind treatment approach that fills an important unmet need for children and young adults with this serious disease,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), said in a statement. “Not only does Kymriah provide these patients with a new treatment option where very limited options existed, but a treatment option that has shown promising remission and survival rates in clinical trials.”

Try this at home: approves 1st direct-to-consumer tests for genetic risk of disease http://on.rt.com/884j 

Novartis, the company behind the treatment, said that they are working to “change the course of cancer care.”

“As a breakthrough immunocellular therapy for children and young adults who desperately need new options, Kymriah truly embodies our mission to discover new ways to improve patient outcomes and the way cancer is treated,” Bruno Strigini, CEO of Novartis Oncology, said in a statement.

Novartis also said the FDA approved a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for Kymriah. The program will inform and educate healthcare professionals about the treatment and the risks that are associated with it.

The company also states they are establishing a network of certified treatment centers across the US, which they said will be “fully trained on the use of Kymriah and appropriate patient care.”

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Fight Terrorism Or Control Resources: What’s the Real Reason for U.S.’s Increased Presence In Africa?

Although the Trump administration has not expressed much of an interest in Africa, the U.S. has an increased presence in the continent. As China has ramped up its economic presence and enlarged its footprint in Africa, the U.S. is not waging economic war but rather a shadow commando war.

Uncle Sam is building a massive presence of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as VICE news reported, with an unprecedented growth in deployment among elite units such as the Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs. While at least 116 special operations missions took place at once around the world in 2011, today these commando units are engaged in close to 100 missions in Africa alone. More specifically, 1,700 Americans are involved in 96 missions in 20 African nations at any one time, according to a declassified October 2016 document from the Special Operations Command in Africa, or SOCAFRICA. SOCAFRICA supports the United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, which is responsible for Defense Department operations on the African continent. The U.S. military has divided the world into six geographic sectors — AFRICOM, NORTHCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM and CENTCOM. As reported by HuffPost, AFRICOM now maintains 46 U.S. military bases in 24 African countries.

The Government Accountability Office report on Special Operations Forces documented a dramatic rise of U.S. commandos in Africa, from 1 percent of all special forces abroad in 2006 to 3 percent in 2010 to over 17 percent last year. Only the Middle East has more elite U.S. forces conducting operations in its region.

Terrorism on the African continent is the reason for the deployment, according to the U.S. Special Operations Command, which lists by name the terrorist groups being fought, al-Qaida In the Lands of the Islamic Magreb, ISIS, al-Murabitun, Ansar al-Sharia, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabaab. There are close to 50 terrorist organizations operating in Africa, according to The Intercept. Terror attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have increased from 100 per year in 2006 to nearly 2,000 in 2015, based on data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

Seal of the United States Africa Command (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

“Our long-term vision is to enable and support our African partners to deter violent extremist organizations, achieve effective governance, promote future socio-economic development and protect the populace to achieve peace and prosperity in Africa,” reads the SOCAFRICA report, which declared that the U.S. is not at war with Africa, but its African partners are. SOCAFRICA says terrorist, insurgent and criminal groups are exploiting fragile environments in conflict: “Their goals are to expand illicit networks, establish safe havens, subvert legitimate authority, recruit and mobilize people and resources and to fuel crises to their advantage.”

The U.S. military claims it is countering violent extremism to allow African nations time to develop good governance and self-security. The report cites destabilizing forces that contribute to internal conflict and encourage popular uprisings and violent extremism, including corruption, poor government leadership, heavy-handed autocracies and socioeconomic inequality. External pressure from terrorists and foreign fighters, drug, weapon and human trafficking and illegal immigration pose a threat not only to African countries but to southern European countries, according to the report. These external factors also “contribute to security shortfalls, human rights violations, corruption and government mismanagement producing an environment conducive to subversion, military coups and mass atrocities.”

Terrorism on the African continent is the reason for the deployment, according to the U.S. Special Operations Command, which lists by name the terrorist groups being fought, al-Qaida In the Lands of the Islamic Magreb, ISIS, al-Murabitun, Ansar al-Sharia, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabaab. There are close to 50 terrorist organizations operating in Africa, according to The Intercept. Terror attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have increased from 100 per year in 2006 to nearly 2,000 in 2015, based on data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

“Our long-term vision is to enable and support our African partners to deter violent extremist organizations, achieve effective governance, promote future socio-economic development and protect the populace to achieve peace and prosperity in Africa,” reads the SOCAFRICA report, which declared that the U.S. is not at war with Africa, but its African partners are. SOCAFRICA says terrorist, insurgent and criminal groups are exploiting fragile environments in conflict: “Their goals are to expand illicit networks, establish safe havens, subvert legitimate authority, recruit and mobilize people and resources and to fuel crises to their advantage.”

The U.S. military claims it is countering violent extremism to allow African nations time to develop good governance and self-security. The report cites destabilizing forces that contribute to internal conflict and encourage popular uprisings and violent extremism, including corruption, poor government leadership, heavy-handed autocracies and socioeconomic inequality. External pressure from terrorists and foreign fighters, drug, weapon and human trafficking and illegal immigration pose a threat not only to African countries but to southern European countries, according to the report. These external factors also “contribute to security shortfalls, human rights violations, corruption and government mismanagement producing an environment conducive to subversion, military coups and mass atrocities.”

Each region of the African continent faces its own challenges, the SOCAFRICA report notes. For example, North Africa, which is a major source of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, suffers from political instability and threats of violent extremism. Groups such as al-Qaida, ISIS and others are thriving in Libya. As The Washington Post reported in 2016, President Barack Obama secretly expanded its worldwide network of drone bases to Tunisia to conduct spying missions on Libya. In Western Africa, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and criminal organizations are gaining influence, fueled by inequality and ineffective governance. The Lord’s Resistance Army and criminal organizations operate in Central Africa, where they contribute to instability in already volatile places. In East Africa, where conflict is expected for the foreseeable future, the al-Qaida-affiliated group al-Shabaab is active in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Obama intensified a clandestine, shadow war in Somalia in his final year in office, as The New York Times reported, using special operations, airstrikes, African allies and private contractors to fight militants in the Horn of Africa. Al-Shabaab was responsible for a number of attacks, such as a 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 60 and wounded more than 175. Last year, the group nearly brought down a Somali airplane with a bomb hidden in a laptop, and killed over 100 Kenyan troops before taking their vehicles and weapons.

In his “U.S. Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa” in 2012, Obama said, “Africa’s economies are among the fastest growing in the world, with technological change sweeping across the continent and offering tremendous opportunities in banking, medicine, politics and business.” The threat of violence and disruption stemming from internal and external forces only serves to undermine that economic growth, giving the U.S. military an opportunity to wage a secret war on the continent, purportedly for stability and security in Africa, but most certainly for American geopolitical interests.

As Al Jazeera reported, AFRICOM is key to consolidating U.S. interests in Africa. North Africa has vast oil and natural gas reserves, the Sahara and the continent as a whole are rich in mineral resources and six of the 10 fastest-growing economies are located in sub-Saharan Africa. With oil and natural resources in Africa, the continent has major strategic significance that belies the official U.S. narrative that it is waging primarily a war on terror in Africa.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Confromist

US, Syrian, and Russian Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Civilians

The civilian toll of the Syrian war continues to rise, with airstrikes driving the toll today, as US, Russian, and Syrian warplanes all took to the skies, pounding targets in rebel-held parts of the country, killing at least 44 civilians across the country.

The biggest single incident was in Abu Kamal, along the Iraqi border, where US airstrikes killed at least 30 civilians, mostly women and children. The Pentagon downplayed the incident, saying they couldn’t confirm the civilian casualties, and that they’d “tried to avoid” killing any civilians.

Abu Kamal is a main border crossing between Iraq and Syria, and the Syrian side is mostly controlled by ISIS. The other strikes saw Russia killing 10 civilians in Maaret Harmeh, in Idlib Province, and four civilians were killed by Syrian government strikes in Aleppo Province.

This marks the latest in a growing number of US strikes with large civiliian tolls across Iraq and Syria, most of which never make it into official Pentagon figures, despite substantial third party evidence that they took place. The result of this is that the “official” figure is less than 10% the number killed according to NGOs.

by Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Israel approves permits for 566 settler homes

Building plan in East Jerusalem approved by local council after being held up until Donald Trump took office in the US.

Israeli authorities have approved building permits for 566 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local officials, a move that has drawn condemnation from Palestinian leaders.

The approval of the building plan on Sunday came two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump in the United States, with Israeli official saying the permits had been held up until the end of Barack Obama’s administration, which had been critical of Israeli settlement activity.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, told AFP news agency.

“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

Turgeman said that city officials approved the plans that had been previously postponed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request following a UN Security Council resolution in December against Israeli settlement building.

The new permits are for homes in the settlement neighbourhoods of Pisgat Zeev, Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, according to Turgeman, who also heads the planning committee that approved them.

Turgeman said plans for about 11,000 other homes were also in process in East Jerusalem, though he did not say when they could proceed.

‘State above law’

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law and have been major stumbling blocks in negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

Between 2009 and 2014, Israeli settlements expanded by 23 percent in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the building plans and called on the United Nations to take action, particularly given the recent Security Council resolution.

“It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said that with Trump now in the White House the Israeli government feels it can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land without facing much criticism.

“They think that this is a retooling of the relationship with the US,” Khan said. “Under President Trump the Israelis feel that they will have a lot more leeway to build on Palestinian land,” he added.

“And this is a message to the world that they can build wherever they want, including on the land of a future Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu-Trump talks

Netanyahu said on Sunday that he was to speak with Trump later in the day, their first conversation since the billionaire businessman took office.

Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital despite the city’s contested status.

READ MORE: Abbas warns Trump not to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Israel clashed frequently with Obama over construction in areas it conquered in 1967.

But Trump’s appointed ambassador to Israel has close ties to Jewish West Bank settlements, as does the foundation run by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

From Al Jazeera and news agencies

Posted by The NON-conformist

Edward Snowden’s latest leak: NSA monitored online porn habits of ‘radicalizers’ to discredit them

Edward Snowden’s latest leak: NSA monitored online porn habits of ‘radicalizers’ to discredit them (via Raw Story )

A document provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden explains the agency’s plan to discredit Islamic “radicalizers” by monitoring their online habits for indications they visited pornographic websites or used

sed “sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls,” the Huffington Post reported Tuesday night.

“Radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document states. The Post reported that the Oct. 12 missive was sent to the Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) and the Commerce, Customs, Justice and Transportation Departments.

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Christian American Patriots Militia leader: We now have authority to shoot Obama

Christian American Patriots Militia leader: We now have authority to shoot Obama (via Raw Story )

An apparent threat made against President Barack Obama’s life posted on Facebook has caught the attention of the Secret Service. Agents declined to comment on the post, which has been removed but was preserved in screen captures by Social News Daily…

Posted by The NON-Conformist