Syria signs Paris climate agreement, only Trump against


This video from the USA says about itself:

Top Climate Scientist, Journalist & Activists Blast Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Accord

We host a roundtable discussion on President Trump’s announcement Thursday that he will withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015 and heralded as a rare moment of international collaboration to avert imminent climate disaster.

We are joined by Michael Mann, distinguished professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University; Kumi Naidoo, South African activist, former head of Greenpeace, now chairperson of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity; Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want; and Antonia Juhasz, oil and energy journalist, author of several books, including “The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry—and What We Must Do to Stop It.”

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Syria signs Paris Agreement – leaving US only country in the world to refuse climate change deal

The Paris accord was first signed by nearly 200 countries in December 2015

Mythili Sampathkumar, Harry Cockburn, New York

Tuesday 7 November 2017 14:54 GMT

Syria has become a signatory of the Paris climate agreement, leaving the US as the only country in the world not to support the framework deal to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

When President Donald Trump announced he intended to pull the US out of the agreement, it initially meant America would join Nicaragua and Syria on a small list of countries who were not part of the deal.

The war-torn Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Syria is facing the sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, which started with rebel groups fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad and expanded to include a battle against Isis.

Global warming is a major cause of that war, as a Dutch general and many others have admitted.

Until recently Nicaragua was also a holdout nation, but only because the Central American country felt the agreement did not go far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping poorer countries adapt to an already-changed planet with solid financial commitments by wealthier nations.

Scientists had confirmed the emissions levels agreed upon by top polluters like the US, EU, China, and India were not low enough to keep sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, let alone the recommended and more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.

However, parties to the deal agreed, it was far superior to having no global climate change agreement at all.

Nicaragua has been a haven for renewable energy – more than half of the nation’s energy comes from geothermic, wind, solar, and wave energy. They plan on increasing that to a 90 per cent share by 2020.

The World Bank called it a “a renewable energy paradise” in 2013.

… Domestically [for Trump‘s USA], the Paris withdrawal appears to be part of a larger scheme to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan which was supposed to be one of the main vehicles for the US to meet Paris targets.

If left in place, the CPP would have reduced US power plants’ carbon emissions by 2030 to a level 32 per cent lower than they were in 2005.

Paula Caballero, Global Director of the Climate Program at Washington DC-based think tank the World Resources Institute said that “with Syria on board, now the entire world is resolutely committed to advancing climate action – all save one country. This should make the Trump administration pause and reflect on their ill-advised announcement about withdrawing.”

It remains to be seen whether or not this will impact the actions of the US delegation over the next fortnight of talks at COP23. The White House has said it “will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change.”

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Pentagon escalates war in Syria


This video from the USA says about itself:

“Mistake” US Air Strike Kills Nearly 60 Civilians In Syria

20 July 2016

During the bombing campaign against ISIS, the US military “mistook” a large group of civilians for enemy combatants and bombed them. Almost sixty civilians were killed in the attack. Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewicz (What The Flick?), John Iadarola (ThinkTank), and Michael Shure, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“US air strike killed nearly 60 civilians, including children, in Syria on Tuesday after the coalition mistook them for Islamic State [ISIS] fighters.

Some eight families were hit as they tried to flee fighting in their area, in one of the single deadliest strikes on civilians by the alliance since the start of its operations in the war-torn country.

Pictures of the aftermath of the dawn strikes on the Isil-controlled village of Tokhar near Manbij in northern Syria showed the bodies of children as young as three under piles of rubble.

It is thought Tuesday’s bombing was among the first by jets taking off from Incirlik air base in Turkey since it reopened after the failed coup.”

Read more here.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

General lets slip US escalation in Syria

2 November 2017

Asked at televised briefing Tuesday for the number of US troops presently deployed in Syria, US Army Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, the commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force deployed in both Syria and Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that the number was “a little over 4,000.”

The figure took the assembled members of the media aback. It had recently been reported that over 1,000 troops were on the ground in the illegal US intervention in the Middle Eastern nation, twice the official ceiling set by the Obama administration and ostensibly maintained under President Donald Trump.

In April, however, the Trump administration announced that it was turning over to the military brass the authority to set troop limits as it sees fit, allowing for rapid and unannounced escalations of the US interventions in the Middle East. Similar authority has been given to the generals in relation to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

When the reporter repeated the general’s figure of 4,000 US troops in Syria and pointed out that previous reports had indicated closer to 1,000, the general stumbled briefly and, apparently receiving a rapid correction over his earpiece, said, “I’m sorry, I misspoke there; there are approximately 500 troops in Syria.”

What remains unanswered is whether the general “just made a mistake,” as the Pentagon later claimed, or inadvertently revealed that the actual number of US soldiers and Marines intervening in Syria has quadrupled in recent months. Previously there were credible estimates by military analysts that the number of troops had grown to 2,000.

The additions to the official ceiling of 503 troops have been hard to conceal. US Marine artillery units have been deployed in Syria to aid in the decimation of Raqqa and other population centers. Army Rangers have been photographed storming across the north of the country in Stryker combat vehicles, while attack helicopters and their crews have been heavily involved in combat.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon revealed that the real number of US troops in Afghanistan exceeded 11,000, rather than the 8,400 previously reported to the public in a deliberate undercount maintained with the complicity of the US media. The revelation came as the Trump administration gave the military brass free rein to escalate Washington’s longest war. While another 4,000 US troops are reportedly being sent, Trump and his defense secretary, former Marine Gen. James Mattis, have insisted that the exact number be kept secret so as not to “tip off the enemy.”

The wall of secrecy surrounding the Afghanistan intervention grew higher this week, with the US military’s censoring of a quarterly report issued for the last nine years by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to monitor the efficacy of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in the subjugation of the South Asian nation. This has coincided with the report that the CIA has been authorized for the first time to carry out drone strikes and organize “hunt and kill” militias, a shift of what had been military functions to the US intelligence agency.

Frequently, the CIA carries out such operations using not only its own covert forces, but also military personnel. The sole motive for placing them under CIA control is to throw a mantle of secrecy over some of the most murderous actions being carried out against the Afghan people.

Then there is Niger, where the deaths of four Green Berets in a fire fight early last month cast a bright light on what had previously been a war fought in the shadows, with some 1,000 US troops deployed in the central West African country and on its borders, an intervention that leading members of the US Senate claimed to have known nothing about. Whatever the sincerity of these claims, the politicians clearly understood that the war in Niger and the spreading tentacles of AFRICOM, the US military’s continental command, overseeing some 6,000 US troops spread across 24 African nations, were well-kept secrets as far as the American people are concerned.

The Pentagon has made it clear that the military intervention in Africa’s Sahel region will only intensify. This was underscored by the statement of Niger’s prime minister, Brigi Rafini, that his government is prepared to allow US drones to carry out armed attacks on the country’s territory.

Behind the lies and secrecy about troop deployments from West Africa, through the Middle East and into South Asia there is the bigger lie as to the purpose of these interventions, all of which are justified in the name of a never-ending “war on terror”.

The Syrian intervention exposes the utter duplicity of this claim. The fact is that Washington has been a chief sponsor of terrorism against the Syrian people, funneling over $1 billion in arms and money to Islamist militias linked to Al Qaeda in a bloody war for regime change. Its key regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, poured in billions more to ignite a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and turned millions into refugees.

The expansion of US deployments in Syria is directed not against ISIS, which has collapsed, but at seizing territory, particularly the oil fields of eastern Deir Ezzor province, in order to undermine the Assad government and combat the regional influence of its main allies, Iran and Russia.

Similar considerations underlie the US intervention in Afghanistan, where American imperialism seeks to maintain its military hold over a strategic region bordering the oil-rich Caspian Basin, as well as the US presence in Niger. The latter is part of a broader attempt to counter China’s rise as the African continent’s chief trading partner through the use of US military force.

All of these regional conflicts have the potential of metastasizing into a full-blown world war pitting US imperialism against nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Despite the feigned shock of American senators over American military operations in Niger, there is no appetite within Congress to assert that body’s constitutional power to declare war, something it long ago surrendered to the White House and the Pentagon.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Monday, the US defense secretary, Gen. “Mad Dog” Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it clear that while Congress is welcome to pass a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to provide a legal fig leaf for Washington’s global wars and interventions, they have no problem continuing the fiction that the 2001 AUMF passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks justifies all of these actions as well as any future acts of aggression.

In the midst of a growing war danger, with the power to order military escalation placed firmly in the hands of a cabal of right-wing former and current generals, the Democratic Party has mounted no opposition to the Trump administration on the question of war. On the contrary, it has worked in tandem with the Pentagon and the CIA to wage a campaign of anti-Russia hysteria aimed at paving the way for a new and far more terrible conflagration.

There exists within the US ruling establishment no constituency whatsoever for either reining in the US military or upholding fundamental democratic rights. The struggle against war and the threat of dictatorship requires the building of a new mass antiwar movement based on a socialist program to mobilize the working class internationally against the capitalist system.

German Luftwaffe war crimes in Syria


This video from Britain says about itself:

Blitz – The Bombing of Coventry – November 1940

That bombing was by Adolf Hitler’s Luftwaffe, air force.

Now, 77 years later …

By Philipp Frisch in Germany:

German Air Force involved in war crimes in Syria

21 October 2017

German Air Force (Luftwaffe) planes have resumed operations in Syria and Iraq as part of the US-led coalition against ISIS. According to official reports of the armed forces (Bundeswehr), German air force Tornadoes have been conducting reconnaissance flights daily from their new base in Jordan. Military sources told the German press, “Full operational readiness was achieved following the transfer of the contingent from Turkey to Jordan.”

In June, the German parliament (Bundestag) decided to withdraw the Luftwaffe from Incirlik Air Base and move closer to the war zone, following a series of foreign policy conflicts with Turkey. The Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in northern Jordan is around 50 kilometres from the Syrian border and is a base for Jordan’s air force. Within the framework of Operation Inherent Resolve, US and Dutch military units are already stationed at the base alongside the German Tornadoes.

“Full operational readiness” means that the Luftwaffe is again providing targets for the air raids carried out by the US-led coalition. The number of aerial attacks has increased considerably since the start of the offensive against Raqqa, the last stronghold of the IS [ISIS] in Syria. The coalition has been supporting the siege of the city, which is being carried out primarily by forces under the leadership of the Kurdish YPG.

The air raids and the shelling of the city by artillery have led to a massive increase in civilian casualties in the Syrian war. According to the United Nations more civilians died in Syria in September than in any other month this year. In light of this bloodbath, the UN called for an armistice at the end of August to allow more than 20,000 trapped civilians to flee Raqqa.

The UN special adviser for Syria, Jan Egeland, said he could “imagine no worse place” in the world than the neighbourhoods under attack by the coalition. According to media reports, civilian facilities, including schools and the al-Mawasah Hospital, have been repeatedly bombed and hundreds of people killed or injured. Those who did not die through the bullets of the coalition have been forced to eat grass and leaves to survive.

The US government has rejected a truce. The longer the “liberation” of Raqqa took, the more civilians would be killed by IS [ISIS]—this was the reasoning of the American side.

A report in the German TV magazine Monitor last week underlined the cynicism of this argument. After three months of siege, Raqqa is in ruins. Only shells remain of the city’s houses; ruins are everywhere and house-to-house fighting and air raids continue incessantly.

Coalition forces have dropped nearly 30,000 rockets, bombs and other projectiles on the densely populated city since June. According to the absurd figures given by the coalition, only five civilians were killed and a few others were injured during this period.

Such figures fly in the face of numerous reports from the inhabitants of Raqqa. One of them, Abu Ahmad, told Monitor how his relatives were killed by coalition forces while fleeing from ISIS. He reported 21 deaths alone in the house of one relative. In total, six houses were razed to the ground.

Based on such reports, the non-governmental organisation, Airwars, assumes that, according to the most conservative estimates, at least 1,100 civilians have died in the siege of Raqqa. According to Airwars, these are cases which were not only reported, but could also be proved. The actual number of victims is undoubtedly much higher. In view of the massive destruction in Raqqa, one must also assume that thousands are still buried under the rubble.

The German military has been directly involved in these crimes. The coalition attacked a school in the village of al-Mansoura near Raqqa, with German Luftwaffe Tornadoes providing air reconnaissance and target coordinates. In the bombing of the school, dozens, possibly hundreds of people were killed. According to Airwars there were up to 100 refugee families in the school building, which was completely destroyed.

Despite their shared responsibility for war crimes, tensions between the major actors in the anti-ISIS coalition, in particular Germany and the US, have risen sharply in recent months. The tensions erupted most recently over the Iranian nuclear agreement. US President Donald Trump’s aggressive attempt to sabotage the deal has been strongly criticised by the German government, which fears for its major business contracts with Iran. It also fears that a further conflagration in the Middle East could endanger the interests of German imperialism in the region.

Against this background of growing transatlantic tensions, the Bundeswehr is preparing to intervene militarily independently from the US. Behind the backs of the population, the German Defence Ministry is working on a rearmament plan, based on the so-called “provisional conceptual guidelines for the future capability profile of the Bundeswehr,” presented by the responsible department head in the defence ministry, Lieutenant General Erhard Bühler.

According to the guidelines, the German air force is to be “put in position to lead a multinational coalition” in the next few years, capable of flying up to 350 reconnaissance and combat missions daily. The German air force must “be able to maintain aerial dominance over Germany and, together with its allies, establish superiority over an operational area.”

Facebook censors Syrian Kurds, helping Erdogan, ISIS


This video from the USA says about itself:

How Facebook Decides If You See Nudity or Death (HBO)

Facebook employs 4,500 content moderators around the world. Moderators get two weeks of training and a stack of manuals to help them police the site for racism,

No racism? So, why is, eg, the racist, openly neonazi Dutch Nederlandse Volks-Unie party welcome and unmolested at Facebook?

misogyny,

No misogyny? Then, why Facebook censorship about women’s reproductive rights?

violence,

Then why the Facebook pages of the armed forces of the USA, Britain and many other countries; eg, of the army of Myanmar, busily killing Rohingya minority civilians?

and pornography.

Meaning in practice: censorship of famous works of art and of famous photos documenting Vietnam war crimes.

VICE’s partners at The Guardian obtained more than a hundred of these manuals and they offer the first-ever look at the sometimes logical, sometimes inexplicable ways Facebook asks a few thousand people to help patrol its close to 2 billion users. This segment is part of the May 23rd [2017] VICE News Tonight episode.

After Facebook censored this and that, helped the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, etc. etc., now this.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Facebook ‘politically censoring’ Kurdish solidarity

Wednesday 18th October 2017

PRO-KURDISH activists accused Facebook of political censorship yesterday after it closed down a page expressing solidarity with Kurds in Syria.

The Leeds Friends of Rojava page was suspended after the site said it didn’t comply with Facebook’s “community standards.”

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (KSC) co-secretary Rosa Gilbert accused the social media giant of going out of its way to censor posts criticising Turkey and offering support for Kurds.

“Thanks to a leak a few years ago by one of Facebook’s ‘content moderators,’ we know that there is an internationally applied Facebook policy to censor maps of Kurdistan, criticisms of Turkey and Ataturk, and anything relating to the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.”

She said the policy had broadened to include censoring posts supporting the [Syrian Kurdish] YPG which is not listed as a terrorist organisation in Britain although it is in Turkey.

“This should concern anyone with an interest in freedom of speech — why should someone writing a Facebook post in England face censorship because the Turkish government doesn’t like what you’re writing?”

So Facebook is not only helping the genocidal regime in Myanmar. They are censoring the Syrian Kurds, the main force effectively fighting the ISIS terrorists. They are doing that on behalf of Turkish autocrat Erdogan, often accused of helping ISIS. Erdogan, voted ‘dictator of the year’ jointly with the ISIS boss.

The political representatives of the American ruling class are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress free speech. Under the guise of combating “trolls” and “fake news” supposedly controlled by Russia, the most basic constitutional rights enumerated in the First Amendment are under direct attack: here.

Turkish government violating Syrian refugees’ rights


This video says about itself:

Stop shooting! Turkish border guards continue to shoot, beat and kill Syrian refugees – HRW

10 May 2016

Turkish border guards are continuing to shoot and abuse Syrian refugees who are crossing into the country, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The rights group, citing the deaths of several asylum seekers, has called on Ankara to investigate. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Gerry Simpson.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Human rights violations in refugee camps in Turkey’

Today, 06:33

The situation for Syrian refugees in Turkish camps has not improved. According to researchers from the Free University [Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in the Netherlands], human rights are still violated. The researchers wonder if returning refugees to Turkey [by the European Union] is legitimate. Amnesty International came to that conclusion before.

The researchers of the Vrije Universiteit investigated the circumstances in the camps, commissioned to do so by [refugee aid organisation] VluchtelingenWerk in the Netherlands. They spoke with lawyers representing the refugees.

According to the researchers, refugees often are not allowed to leave the camps, they are locked up in cells and hardly have any opportunities for contact with the outside world. Some camps are disguised detention centers, investigators say. …

Shocking

VluchtelingenWerk in The Netherlands responds alarmedly to the investigation. “I think it’s shocking to read that refugees in Turkey are barely getting access to asylum procedures and are locked into prisons“, said director Dorine Manson.

“Refugees are even forced to sign documents in a language they do not understand, declaring they ‘voluntarily’ want to return to their country of origin. It is therefore incomprehensible that the deal between the European Union and Turkey is depicted by the EU and its member states as a big success and is even seen as a blueprint for future deals with other countries.”

3 billion

In 2016, the European Union and Turkey concluded a treaty on the reception of mainly Syrian refugees. The agreement says that all refugees who enter Greece, and thus the EU, through Turkey will be returned.

… Turkey receives in return the 3 billion euros previously promised for the refugees’ reception sooner than planned.

War in Syria, Carla Del Ponte resigns


Syria war

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Former chief prosecutor of the Yugoslavia tribunal Carla Del Ponte no longer wants to work for a United Nations commission investigating human rights violations in Syria. She will resign within a few days. …

The former prosecutor at the start of the war six years ago favoured support for the opposition in Syria which wanted to overthrow President Assad’s government. But now, according to Del Ponte, the Syrian opposition consists mainly of extremists and terrorists.

According to the original text of Ms Del Ponte’s interview with Swiss Blick magazine, the Syrian opposition does not consist ‘mainly’, but ‘exclusively of extremists and terrorists‘.

Ignored By Western Media, Syrians Describe the Nightmare the Armed Opposition Brought Them. Trapped between a police state and Al Qaeda, average Syrians explain why they fear regime change. By Rania Khalek / AlterNet. May 15, 2017, 12:25 PM GMT