United States airstrike kills Afghan women, children


This video says about itself:

13 February 2017

The United Nations has concluded that US-led forces are responsible for last week’s airstrikes in Afghanistan that resulted in 18 civilian deaths-nearly all women and children.

The world body voiced its grave concern over the mounting civilian deaths in Helmand province. The airstrikes took place on Thursday and Friday targeting Sangin district. This is while Afghan officials put the number of fatalities at 22. Washington has confirmed its warplanes have conducted around 30 airstrikes in Helmand province in the past week. The UN says civilian casualties from American airstrikes in Afghanistan increased dramatically last year.

From Reuters news agency:

U.S. Airstrikes In Afghanistan Kill At Least 18 Civilians: UN Report

The U.S. military says it is investigating the allegations.

KABUL, Feb 12 – At least 18 civilians were killed last week in air strikes by international forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, an initial United Nations inquiry has concluded.

American military officials say their aircraft have conducted around 30 air strikes in Helmand in the past week. …

American aircraft and special forces have also provided combat support, with at least one U.S. soldier wounded in recent fighting.

On Thursday and Friday air strikes in Helmand’s Sangin district killed as many as 18 civilians, mostly women and children, according to a U.N. statement released on Sunday.

The U.N. said the strikes had been conducted by “international military forces,” but only U.S. aircraft have been involved in recent coalition strikes, according to military officials.

Family members of victims at the regional hospital in Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, demanded explanations.

“How could women and children be Taliban?” Majnoon, a resident of Sangin, who said 11 people were killed in his brother’s house in a strike on Thursday, told Reuters. …

Civilian casualties from both American and Afghan air strikes increased dramatically last year, according to the U.N.’s most recent report on threats to civilians.

Saudi puppets in Yemen kill each other


This 14 August 2015 video shows United Arab Emirates people crying as UAE soldiers return from the Saudi war on Yemen in coffins.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Yemen: Clashes at Aden airport kill three militia fighters

Monday 13th February 2017

INFIGHTING between Saudi-backed militias broke out yesterday at an airport in the southern port city of Aden.

Riyadh-based exiled president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s presidential guard — backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — reportedly surrounded the airport after three days of fighting.

Helicopter gunships attacked the rival militia, killing three.

The militia have controlled the airport since the invasion in late 2015. They refused to hand over the airport to Hadi loyalists last week.

The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition, and the only other nation with significant ground forces in the country.

Meanwhile in Somalia’s breakaway northern province Somaliland — which lacks international recognition — parliament voted to allow the UAE to build a military base there, across the Red Sea from Yemen.

The move, opposed by neighbouring Ethiopia and Djibouti, sparked vocal protests from nine MPs, who were removed.

Oystercatchers of Vlieland island, research


This video shows an oystercatcher in Norway.

From the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands:

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) populations in the Netherlands have dramatically declined during the last decades. CHIRP (Cumulative Human Impact on biRd Population) aims to determine which pressures in breeding and wintering areas cause the observed negative population trend. In winter, the Wadden Sea harbours large numbers of oystercatchers. Despite the vast amounts of shellfish available on the mudflats, oystercatchers encounter multiple difficulties in their wintering areas. For example, food stocks become more limited by fishery and the increase of the Pacific oyster. Furthermore, the Wadden Sea area is used for many different recreational purposes, causing disturbance of waders from the land, water and air. Walkers, cyclists, boats and airplanes are a few examples of disturbance sources present in the Wadden Sea. Disturbance might have direct energy costs for oystercatchers if the birds need to take flight or indirect costs if the foraging efficiency decreases due to a more alert state of the bird. Ultimately, this might affect body condition and survival of wintering oystercatchers.

The Vliehors is a large sandflat located at the western half of the Wadden Island Vlieland. The sandbanks serve as high tide roosts for large numbers of waders that forage on the tidal mudflats south of Vlieland. However, the area is owned by the military airforce and in use as training ground for helicopters and jet fighters which practice by shooting and throwing bombs at specific targets. During this research, we aim to study how disturbances like military air force planes affect the behaviour and time budgets of oystercatcher.

For this project, wintering oystercatchers at the Vliehors are equipped with UvA-BiTS GPS trackers during the seasons 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The GPS and accelerometer data will be linked to disturbances that take place on the Vliehors. Besides the activities of the military airforce, those disturbances include walkers and cyclists on land in the weekends and hand-raked cockle fishers on the mudflats with settled weather conditions. The frequency and effects of these disturbances will be recorded during the winter seasons. Linking field observations to GPS and accelerometer data will then yield valuable information on how different disturbances affect spatial distribution and time budgets of oystercatchers.

Iraqi refugee on Trump and Saddam


Jalal al Fartoossi, photo by Eline de Zeeuw/NOS

Today, on the site of Dutch NOS TV, there is an interview with Jalal al Fartoossi, an Iraqi refugee who owns a barbershop near Washington, D.C. in the USA.

When Jalal, now 33, was six years old, the Saddam Hussein regime killed his father. After George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the United States armed forces offered him a job as a translator. This made Jalal in the eyes of many Iraqis a traitor, a collaborator with occupation. So, in 2010, he fled Iraq to the USA. He says now about George W Bush’s war that it killed Saddam, ‘but brought hundreds of Saddams’. That is still less than the ‘1,000 Saddams’ estimate by Ali Abbas, another Iraqi refugee.

Jalal had said to his wife in Iraq that she might join him once the barbershop would make enough money. Recently, the time was right. Jalal’s wife would come, with a visa. Then, Donald Trump’s travel ban came. It devastated Jalal.

Then, Jalal heard that a court in San Francisco had decided against Trump’s travel ban. ‘Now, my wife will be able to come! I am so happy!’

More United States bloodshed in Yemen


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Administration Preparing for Deeper Involvement in Yemen

8 February 2017

The recent failed US Navy Seal raid shows that the Trump administration‘s plans for Yemen will contribute to making the horrific humanitarian crisis there worse, says CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin.

Donald Trump ‘to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain’ blocked by Barack Obama. Former president blocked deals over concerns of human rights violations: here.

Donald Trump criticized, rightly and wrongly


New York anti-Trump demonstrator Natahlie

By Steve Light in the USA:

New York City high school students walk out against Trump’s anti-immigrant measures

9 February 2017

Hundreds of students from several New York City high schools walked out of their schools Tuesday to protest against President Donald Trump. Though the marches were called against Trump’s anti-immigrant measures, they were partly spurred by the Senate’s confirmation of billionaire Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Five hundred students had gathered in the rain by 1:00 pm and more trickled into the park throughout the afternoon.

Foley Square in lower Manhattan is surrounded by court houses and government buildings and often a site of protests. The growing participation of high school students in the anti-Trump protests is a sign of the depth of the popular social anger over his right-wing policies. The presence of hundreds of high school students in the streets is a sign that a younger generation, which has grown up entirely in the shadow of the Bush, Obama and now Trump administrations, is becoming politically radicalized.

The demonstration had been announced only a week before by students on Facebook. It was originally organized by Hebh Jamal, a 17-year-old high school student from the Bronx, and fellow students, according to Seventeen magazine, whose call for a demonstration received an outpouring of support from students at other schools throughout the city. Many of the students made their own signs, with generally democratic sentiments such as “Silence=Violence,” “America is for everyone,” “Not My President,” or “Grizzlies for DeVos” (in reference to the absurd remark by DeVos that guns should be allowed in schools to protect students from grizzly bears).

Students chanted “You build the wall, we tear it down” and pro-immigrant slogans, sometimes while jumping in unison.

The World Socialist Web Site spoke with several students attending the rally.

Natahlie, who came with a group of students from Brooklyn Prospect Charter school, said, “We are learning about protests in history. Now a lot of changes need to be made. Specifically for this protest we are here looking to get the end of the ban on immigrants. Hillary won the popular vote. Some here, including me, wanted Hillary to become president. Some wanted Bernie. But practically, from the protest, we want New York State to be open to diversity.”

After the WSWS reporter explained the SEP position on how the Democrats and Republicans both acted in the interests of the ruling elite and the need for socialism internationally, Natahlie responded, “I would support socialism. Capitalism divides with racism.”

Four students from Beacon High School had arrived with a smaller group early and cheered when another group of about 50 more students from their high school marched into the rally. One of them, Eibhilin said, “We are against Donald Trump and his recent attacks on immigrants.”

Lucca, Eibhilin, Ben and Phoebe

Her friend Phoebe added, “He and his whole administration are ignorant of America and the reality of the people.” Ben, another Beacon student, agreed: “We are here to show that we are against the attack on our Constitution. It is necessary to show that not all America wants Trump.” Phoebe added, “We are especially showing we are willing to walk out of school.”

“We are risking our education,” added Lucca, another Beacon student.

Henna and Yoldooz

Henna and Yolldooz were at the demonstration from Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria. Henna described her reason for being there: “To fight for all people in America. What Trump is doing is really bad and affecting everyone’s lives. Most of the students in my school walked out. Everyone is coming together to be one.” Yolldooz commented, “Everyone here is either a Muslim who wants their rights or they are other religions that are against the new president’s racism. I don’t know if this rally will do something but it is our effort that counts.”

A college student on leave from Stanford University, Anna, stated about the political situation, “The Democrats cater to a small minority and pretend to act for a larger public. But we are in a two-party system that has no alternatives. We are screwed. If we do not have the Democrats, we end up with Trump. Obama deported more people than Bush. No president has their hands clean. The working class has been divided so long along color lines, they don’t see each other as allies.”

Anna

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

Week three of the Trump presidency: A crisis of bourgeois rule and turn toward dictatorship

9 February 2017

Three extraordinary developments over the past several days have exposed the breakdown of democratic forms of rule in the United States.

On Monday, Trump delivered a political speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida in which he attacked the press and implied that it was aiding the enemy by not reporting terrorist attacks. “They have their reasons and you understand that,” Trump told the military, appealing for its support. Defending his anti-Muslim travel ban, he said, “We need strong programs” to keep out “people that want to destroy us and destroy our country.”

Two days later, on Wednesday, Trump gave a speech before a police organization, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, bitterly attacking the judiciary. The appearance came on the eve of a decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on his travel ban.

“We need security in our country,” Trump told the police. “And we have to give you the weapons that you need. And this [the order on immigration] is a weapon that you need. And they [the courts] are trying to take it away from you, maybe because of politics or maybe because of political views. We can’t let that happen.”

This was nothing less than a call from the US president for the police to oppose or defy an unfavorable court ruling. He underscored the point by adding, “One of the reasons I was elected was because of law and order and security… And they’re taking away our weapons one by one, that’s what they’re doing.”

In between these two speeches, on Tuesday night, Republicans in the US Senate took the extraordinary step of halting a speech by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general, the nation’s chief law enforcement official.

Warren was reading from a letter sent by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 opposing the nomination of Sessions for a federal judgeship. Republican Senators interrupted Warren, invoking an obscure rule barring senators from imputing to other senators “any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.” Warren was ordered to stop talking and return to her seat.

The invocation of this gag rule recalls in its own way the pre-Civil War rule established in Congress to prevent members of either house from talking about slavery on the floor of the legislative chambers. The ban on discussion of slavery was imposed because the issue was so explosive.

Each one of these events is an indication of a violent break with the most basic forms of bourgeois democracy. The first targeted the press, which is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution; the second was an attack on the judiciary, one of the three “coequal,” according to the Constitution, branches of government; the third was an attempt to muzzle debate in Congress.

Within this context, the response of the Democratic Party is significant. When Warren was told to sit down, she complied, and no Democrat took any serious action to block the gag order. The debate continued throughout the day Wednesday, culminating in a 52–47 vote to confirm Sessions as the next attorney general.

As for Trump’s speeches before the military and police, they have been downplayed or ignored and their ominous implications covered up.

Trump’s top adviser Steve Bannon prediced war between the US and China in five to ten years over the South China Sea. Bannon, who was speaking last March on the extreme right-wing web site Breitbart, said: “There is no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those”: here.

TRUMP AIDE’S ‘AMERICA FIRST’ VIEWS UNVEILED “A senior national security official in the Trump administration wrote under a pseudonym last year that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is ‘incompatible with the modern West,’ defended the World War II-era America First Committee, which included anti-Semites, as ‘unfairly maligned,’ and called diversity ‘a source of weakness, tension and disunion.'” [HuffPost]

The New York Times indicts Trump for questioning the CIA’s moral superiority: here.

In recent months, as the Russian hacking scandal hit and Trump’s feud with the CIA gained ever more media attention, that Agency has proven another matter. Here is a real danger to avoid: in our efforts to delegitimize Donald Trump, it’s important not to inadvertently legitimize an outfit that most of us have long opposed for its vicious campaigns around the world. Just because Donald Trump all but called its operatives Nazis shouldn’t lead the rest of us to forget its long history of deceit or accept its pronouncements at face value because they happen to fit what we would like to believe: here.

IRANIAN BABY BARRED FROM ENTRY DURING TRAVEL BAN ENTERS U.S. FOR LIVE-SAVING SURGERY Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad will receive treatment at the Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. [HuffPost]