Other Sources

Trump threatens additional $200bn in tariffs on China

BBC News - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:58pm
The threat escalates a tit-for-tat trade row with Beijing over US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.

Japan Earthquake Kills at Least 3 Near Osaka, Injuring Hundreds More

World News (NY Times) - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:55pm
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the 6.1-magnitude quake was recorded Monday morning north of Osaka.

The Papers: NHS tax 'headache' and Captain Marvel

BBC News - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:44pm
England's Harry Kane is pictured after his World Cup heroics and there is more focus on tax rises to pay for an NHS spending boost.

What do the Warring Parties in Yemen Want, now that the Conflict is Heating Up?

Informed Comment - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:32pm

The military conflict now escalating in Yemen threatens the lives of more than 250,000 people in the port city Hodeidah while 8 million more people across Yemen already risk starvation. The country is also facing the “worst cholera outbreak in modern history.”

I am a scholar who has studied Yemen and worked as an Arabian Peninsula foreign affairs analyst for the State Department between 2011 and 2016.

Here is what is happening in Yemen, now in the fourth year of a civil war.

Origins of the conflict

Yemen lies on the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, buffered by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman. About 29 million people call Yemen home, and they are the poorest in the Middle East. Portions of the nation have a history of British and Ottoman colonial rule, it was divided into two separate countries and two civil wars – on top of the current one – have been waged since the early 1960s.

To understand the current conflict, which began in January 2014, it’s necessary to know something about the Huthis.

The Huthis are a Zaydi Shiite political movement. Zaydi Shiite Muslims are around a quarter of Yemen’s population. Zaydis led much of Yemen until the 1962 overthrow of the Yemeni ruler. The government has since repressed their home region economically and culturally. More recently, the government has charged that the Zaydis are proxies for Iran and an existential threat.

U.S. Department of State

As a result of the popular uprisings unleashed by the Arab Spring, an internationally backed transition removed Yemen’s autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. The transition consisted of what was called a “National Dialogue,” inclusive of all parties, that would provide recommendations for reforms, elections and the eventual writing of a new constitution. The Huthis initially participated, but became disillusioned.

So in 2014, disappointed that the transition had forced out Yemen’s president but failed to enact meaningful change, Huthi rebels began moving southward from their northern Yemen stronghold of Saada.

They captured the capital of Sanaa in September 2014. This wasn’t the first Huthi-government clash. Between 2004 and 2010, there were six rounds of fighting, the last of which briefly saw Saudi intervention.

The Huthis, allied for convenience with former President Saleh, quickly overran the capital and moved as far south as Aden in spring 2015. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Manour Hadi fled to Riyadh.

Outside forces intervene

Iran has provided aid to the Huthis for some time and has increased its equipping and training of the group since 2011.

The Saudis, viewing the Huthis as an Iranian proxy and fearful of an Iranian stronghold on its southern border, began an allied campaign against the group in March 2015. A coalition formed by the Saudis includes major United Arab Emirates participation and American intelligence, refueling and munitions.

Washington’s main interest in Yemen stems from its goal of halting terrorism. Yemen is home to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), so Washington seeks stability there in order to counter the AQAP threat.

After pushing the Huthis out of Aden in 2015, the war stalled. Former President Saleh’s attempt to switch to the Saudi side ended in his late 2017 killing by the Huthis. The international community has voiced anger at continued Saudi bombing of civilian targets, leading to a failed bipartisan U.S. Senate attempt in 2018 to halt American military support.

Corruption, high unemployment, water shortages and a high reliance on imported food had made Yemen an impoverished country even before the war. The war and subsequent Saudi blockade have only made things worse, crippling infrastructure and disrupting many basic services. The lack of sanitation services and clean water led to a recent cholera outbreak, with over a million infected and more than 2,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, south Yemen, where some groups seek southern independence, is a jumbled political mess. U.N. peace efforts seeking a government return and Huthi disarmament have so far not succeeded and fighting has killed over 10,000 civilians.

Yemeni government forces, with support from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, recently began an assault on Hodeidah, the Red Sea port city, which the Iranian-backed Huthi movement controls. The assault marks an important point in the over four-year old civil war. Hodeidah, a city of 400,000, is the only entry point for international aid due to a Saudi-imposed blockade.

Things may get worse. The war has created a major humanitarian disaster with no foreseeable end.

Kelly McFarland, Director of programs and research, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Battle for Hudaida could make Yemen’s humanitarian crisis worse | Al Jazeera English

Plot Thickens: Israeli Airstrike blamed for Killing 22 Iraqi Shiite Militiamen in Syria

Informed Comment - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:32pm

Baghdad (AFP) – More than 20 fighters from an Iraqi paramilitary force key to the battle against the Islamic State group were killed in an eastern Syria air raid the United States linked to Israel.

The bombing raid hit Al-Hari, a town controlled by regional militias fighting in Syria’s complex seven-year war alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

AFP / AFP. Syria.

Both Syrian authorities and Iraqi forces pointed the finger at the US-led coalition, which denied it was involved in Sunday night’s attack.

“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity on Monday.

The raid slammed into a regime-controlled position in the border town and left at least 52 fighters dead, according to a Britain-based monitor.

Among them were fighters from Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi military alliance, some of whom have crossed into Syria to fight against IS.

The Iran-backed Hashed claimed that “US planes fired two guided missiles at a fixed position of Hashed al-Shaabi units on the border with Syria, killing 22 fighters and wounding 12.”

The bodies of three Iraqi fighters killed in the raid were returned to their hometowns for burial, said AFP’s correspondent in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a total of 30 Iraqi forces were among the dead in Al-Hari, as well as 16 Syrian forces and six unidentified fighters.

– ‘No strikes’ –

The attack was first reported by Syrian state media, which cited a military source accusing the coalition of bombing one of its positions in Al-Hari.

It said several people were killed and wounded but did not give a specific number or their nationalities.

A military source in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province where the targeted area lies later said coalition warplanes hit “joint Iraqi-Syrian positions in Al-Hari”.

The coalition’s press office said it had received reports of a strike in the area that had killed and wounded Iraqi fighters, but denied it was involved.

“There have been no strikes by US or coalition forces in that area,” it said in an email.

Hashed said its fighters had been deployed along the porous frontier with Syria on the orders of the Iraqi authorities.

However, late Monday the Iraqi military command denied it had positioned forces in Syrian territory, implying the dead fighters had acted without its consent.

Regretting the deaths, the command said it had been assured by the coalition that it was not responsible for the strikes.

Hashed is vital to the fight against IS in Iraq, but has also battled the jihadists across the border in their eastern Syria bastions.

Al-Hari is in oil-rich Deir Ezzor province where a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters and Russia-supported Syrian regime forces are carrying out separate operations against IS.

The jihadists have lost most of the territory they controlled in Syria and Iraq but remain in pockets of the eastern desert area including Deir Ezzor.

The US and Russian-backed forces have mostly avoided each other thanks to a de-confliction line that runs across the province along the winding Euphrates River.

– ‘Highest toll’ –

Syrian troops are battling IS on the western river bank, while the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fight on the east. Iraqi warplanes also have occasionally bombed IS positions in eastern Syria.

Al-Hari lies on the western side, close to the river and the de-confliction line.

The buffer has largely been successful in keeping the two offensives apart, but there have been exceptions.

The deadliest incident was in February, when US-led coalition air strikes killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters in Deir Ezzor province, including Russians.

“The strike on Al-Hari produced the highest death toll for regime forces since the February incident,” Observatory head Abdel Rahman said.

Syria’s conflict began in 2011 with protests against Assad, but then spiralled into a full-blown war that has drawn in world powers and given rise to jihadists like IS.

The strike on Al-Hari came a day after the US-backed SDF announced it had ousted IS from Dashisha, a village to the north in Syria’s Hasakeh province.

The village had been one of the last IS-controlled areas in a corridor linking Syria with Iraq.

“For the first time in four years, Dashisha, a notorious transit town for weapons, fighters and suicide bombers between Iraq and Syria, is no longer controlled by ISIS (IS) terrorists,” said Brett McGurk, the US president’s special envoy for the war against IS.


Featured Photo: File: The “Adir” jets first flight in Israel. Pictured: “Adir” jet and F-16I “Sufa”. Photo by: Maj. Ofer h/t WikiMedia Commons.

Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated from their Parents at the Border

Informed Comment - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:13pm

ProPublica has obtained audio from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, in which children can be heard wailing as an agent jokes, “We have an orchestra here.”

New York (ProPublica) – The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”

Then a distraught but determined 6-year-old Salvadoran girl pleads repeatedly for someone to call her aunt. Just one call, she begs anyone who will listen. She says she’s memorized the phone number, and at one point, rattles it off to a consular representative. “My mommy says that I’ll go with my aunt,” she whimpers, “and that she’ll come to pick me up there as quickly as possible.”

ProPublica: “Listen to children who’ve just been separated from their parents at the border”

An audio recording obtained by ProPublica adds real-life sounds of suffering to a contentious policy debate that has so far been short on input from those with the most at stake: immigrant children. More than 2,300 of them have been separated from their parents since April, when the Trump administration launched its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which calls for prosecuting all people who attempt to illegally enter the country and taking away the children they brought with them. More than 100 of those children are under the age of 4. The children are initially held in warehouses, tents or big box stores that have been converted into Border Patrol detention facilities.

Condemnations of the policy have been swift and sharp, including from some of the administration’s most reliable supporters. It has united religious conservatives and immigrant rights activists, who have said that “zero tolerance” amounts to “zero humanity.” Democratic and Republican members of Congress spoke out against the administration’s enforcement efforts over the weekend. Former first lady Laura Bush called the administration’s practices “cruel” and “immoral,” and likened images of immigrant children being held in kennels to those that came out of Japanese internment camps during World War II. And the American Association of Pediatricians has said the practice of separating children from their parents can cause the children “irreparable harm.”

Still, the administration had stood by it. President Donald Trump blames Democrats and says his administration is only enforcing laws already on the books, although that’s not true. There are no laws that require children to be separated from their parents, or that call for criminal prosecutions of all undocumented border crossers. Those practices were established by the Trump administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has cited passages from the Bible in an attempt to establish religious justification. On Monday, he defended it again saying it was a matter of rule of law, “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.” A Border Patrol spokesman echoed that thought in a written statement.

In recent days, authorities on the border have begun allowing tightly controlled tours of the facilities that are meant to put a humane face on the policy. But cameras are heavily restricted. And the children being held are not allowed to speak to journalists.

The audio obtained by ProPublica breaks that silence. It was recorded last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The person who made the recording asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. That person gave the audio to Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has lived and worked for four decades in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border with Mexico. Harbury provided it to ProPublica. She said the person who recorded it was a client who “heard the children’s weeping and crying, and was devastated by it.”

The person estimated that the children on the recording are between 4 and 10 years old. It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw. Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable.

The child who stood out the most was the 6-year-old Salvadoran girl with a phone number stuck in her head. At the end of the audio, a consular official offers to call the girl’s aunt. ProPublica dialed the number she recited in the audio, and spoke with the aunt about the call.

“It was the hardest moment in my life,” she said. “Imagine getting a call from your 6-year-old niece. She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone.’”

The aunt said what made the call even more painful was that there was nothing she could do. She and her 9-year-old daughter are seeking asylum in the United States after immigrating here two years ago for the exact same reasons and on the exact same route as her sister and her niece. They are from a small town called Armenia, about an hour’s drive northwest of the Salvadoran capital, but well within reach of its crippling crime waves. She said gangs were everywhere in El Salvador: “They’re on the buses. They’re in the banks. They’re in schools. They’re in the police. There’s nowhere for normal people to feel safe.”

She said her niece and sister set out for the United States over a month ago. They paid a smuggler $7,000 to guide them through Guatemala, and Mexico and across the border into the United States. Now, she said, all the risk and investment seem lost.

The aunt said she worried that any attempt to intervene in her niece’s situation would put hers and her daughter’s asylum case at risk, particularly since the Trump administration overturned asylum protections for victims of gang and domestic violence. She said she’s managed to speak to her sister, who has been moved to an immigration detention facility near Port Isabel, Texas. And she keeps in touch with her niece, Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid, by telephone. Mother and daughter, however, have not been able to speak to one another.

The aunt said that Alison has been moved out of the Border Patrol facility to a shelter where she has a real bed. But she said that authorities at the shelter have warned the girl that her mother, 29-year-old Cindy Madrid, might be deported without her.

“I know she’s not an American citizen,” the aunt said of her niece. “But she’s a human being. She’s a child. How can they treat her this way?”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

Via ProPublica

‘You better watch it, Scott’: CNN’s Angela Rye schools conservative who tried to mansplain how Congress works

The Raw Story - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 11:10pm

During a panel discussion between CNN’s Angela Rye and Scott Jennings, the conservative commentator seemed to take a tone of condescension at his fellow panelist, which sparked a passionate response from her. Rye began by challenging Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who seemed to laugh off comp...

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CNN’s Rick Wilson and Ana Navarro tag team on Trump’s ‘horrible’ immigration policy

The Raw Story - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 10:48pm

Republican strategists, Rick Wilson and Ana Navarro were left speechless after news broke that President Donald Trump was ripping immigrant children away from their parent’s at the Southwest border. During an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday, Wilson said President Trump has the p...

The post CNN’s Rick Wilson and Ana Navarro tag team on Trump’s ‘horrible’ immigration policy appeared first on Raw Story.

Arizona Republican senate candidate can’t seem to escape white supremacist support

The Raw Story - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 10:27pm

Arizona senate candidate Dr. Kelli Ward can’t ward off white supremacists from flocking to her campaign, according to The Arizona Republic. An op-ed Monday pointed out that once again the candidate is being forced to back away from one of her supporters. Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul ...

The post Arizona Republican senate candidate can’t seem to escape white supremacist support appeared first on Raw Story.

China’s Official News Media Sharply Criticize Trump

World News (NY Times) - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 10:24pm
The newspaper that serves as the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, and other state-controlled outlets, had harsh words for the president’s tariff move.

Kim Jong-un Visiting China for Third Time Since March

World News (NY Times) - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 10:16pm
The North Korean leader’s trip, announced on Tuesday by Chinese state media, comes a week after his landmark summit meeting with President Trump in Singapore.

As Europe’s Liberal Order Splinters, Trump Wields an Ax

World News (NY Times) - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 9:39pm
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany struggled Monday to hold her coalition together. President Trump seemed to take glee in his ally’s troubles.

Seth Meyers blasts White House aide Stephen Miller for being ‘evil’: He actually wants ‘credit for a policy so cruel’

The Raw Story - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 9:37pm

Late Night show host Seth Meyers said that President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” immigration rule is “monstrous and inhumane.” He slammed the White House for continuously claiming that they are simply enforcing the law. There is no law that requires children to be separa...

The post Seth Meyers blasts White House aide Stephen Miller for being ‘evil’: He actually wants ‘credit for a policy so cruel’ appeared first on Raw Story.

Apple fined for misleading customers in Australia

BBC News - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 9:33pm
The company breached consumer law by refusing to fix devices once serviced by third parties.

Israel Charges a Former Minister With Spying for Iran

World News (NY Times) - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 9:14pm
Iranian intelligence recruited the former minister in Africa, the Israeli authorities said. He already had a shady past as a convicted drug dealer.

Cannabis war 'comprehensively lost', says William Hague

BBC News - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 8:41pm
The former Conservative leader urges his party to consider legalising recreational use of the drug.

XXXTentacion: Rapper's volatile life made compelling music

BBC News - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 8:39pm
A controversial rapper who was shot dead in Florida had a troubled life that inspired his work.

Kellyanne Conway erupts after CNN’s Chris Cuomo plays gut-wrenching audio of immigrant kids taken from parents

The Raw Story - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 8:37pm

Counselor to President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, defended his immigration policy on Monday. It didn’t go well. Children are currently being ripped apart from their parents at the Southwest border. An audio file was secretly recorded and released to the media that reveals children crying ...

The post Kellyanne Conway erupts after CNN’s Chris Cuomo plays gut-wrenching audio of immigrant kids taken from parents appeared first on Raw Story.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes gets angry and unloads on White House’s Stephen Miller

The Raw Story - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 8:13pm

On Monday, the normally stoic (for cable news) MSNBC host Chris Hayes went off on Stephen Miller, the Trump administration advisor widely credited with pushing the administration to assert a “zero-tolerance” policy against migrants crossing the border. “White house adviser Stephen ...

The post MSNBC’s Chris Hayes gets angry and unloads on White House’s Stephen Miller appeared first on Raw Story.

Napoleon’s Hat, Dropped at Waterloo, Is Picked Up at Auction for $400,000

World News (NY Times) - Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 7:38pm
One of the French emperor’s iconic two-cornered military hats, said to have been left on the battlefield, soared past its presale price estimate.
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