North America

Turkish troops shell Afrin to oust US-backed Kurdish militia

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Photo shows a portrait of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from Afrin, along Syria’s northern border with Turkey (AFP) Al Arabiya AFP Turkey on Friday started shelling the Syrian town of Afrin held by a US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers “terrorists” in a move to oust them, the defense minister said. The Turkish government has repeatedly warned that a full-scale operation against Syrian towns controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, including Afrin, is imminent after the ... Read More »

Russia, Iran open their arms as Turkey loses patience with U.S.

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LONDON — Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have hit a new low over Washington’s support of militias battling the Islamic State, according to analysts. F. Brinley Bruton NBC News The government in Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists. Experts warn that the crisis is resulting in Turkey — a longtime American ally with NATO’s second-largest standing army — turning away from the West and toward Russia and Iran. U.S. military support for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are ... Read More »

Rex Tillerson signals an open-ended US military presence in Syria

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled for an open-ended US military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy. Tillerson also called for “patience” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. David Brunnstrom, Reuters  Business Insider The United States on Wednesday signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s influence. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a speech at Stanford ... Read More »

Democracy has a future, if we rethink and remake it

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Consider Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s referendum, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of state-sanctioned murder and Hungary’s drift towards a new authoritarianism. Authors The Conversation “Democracy is dead,” say the disheartened. “It’s time to bury democracy,” pounds one Tunisian pro-Sharia party. “Democracy has fallen, we need a new game in town,” argue Vladimir Putin’s populist and Xi Jinping’s neo-authoritarian allies. These mantras, circulated widely through social media, have ricocheted around the world ... Read More »

The Iran Nuclear Deal at Two: A Status Report

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The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is working, but is at risk from longstanding U.S.-Iran rivalry, Trump administration policies and Tehran’s upsurge of activism in the Middle East. ICG The deal’s other signatories should encourage the U.S. not to withdraw and consider ways to sustain the deal, regardless of U.S. actions and as long as Iran remains committed to it. What’s the issue? The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is as successful as it remains fragile. President Trump has warned he will ... Read More »

Trump Administration’s Fuzzy Math on Terrorist Origins is More than Misleading – It’s Dishonest

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Just as the Senate Judiciary Committee was getting ready to conduct an oversight hearing today with newly appointed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, her department, along with the Justice Department (DOJ) released a misleading report aimed at stoking anti-immigrant sentiment. Faiza Patel Just Security The headline of a press release trumpeting the report stated: “Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign Born.” The obvious goal of the report, which was issued pursuant ... Read More »

‘Just like show business’: why celebrities are taking over politics

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Whatever one thinks about Donald Trump, it’s hard to deny that his presidency – or what purports to be a presidency – is entertaining in the extreme. Norman Abjorensen Brisbane Times In fact, so pervasively entertaining is the 24-hour non-stop Trump show – a heady mix of feeble script, hilarious ad lib and the utterly gobsmacking tweet – that you have to wonder when he gets the time to govern (if he does it at all). Suddenly, reality TV, where ... Read More »

Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo

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The Canadian author’s defence of due process for those accused of sexual misconduct sparked online ire Ashifa Kassam in Toronto The Guardian Canadian author Margaret Atwood is facing a social media backlash after voicing concerns about the #MeToo movement and calling for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct. Writing in the Globe and Mail, Atwood described the #MeToo movement, which emerged in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, as a “massive ... Read More »

Turkey, Russia blast U.S.-backed Syria force as “terrorist army”

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BEIRUT – Russia, Turkey and the Syrian government on Monday denounced the U.S.-led coalition plans to form a Kurdish-led border force to secure the areas along Syria’s international border to the north with Turkey and to the east, with Iraq. CBS News AP The coalition told The Associated Press Monday that 230 new cadets have already been recruited to the force, which is anticipated to reach 30,000 troops in the next several years. According to the coalition, the core of ... Read More »

America is spiritually bankrupt

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We must fight back together The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled racial hatred and contempt Cornel West The Guardian We live in one of the darkest moments in American history – a bleak time of spiritual blackout and imperial meltdown. Exactly 25 years ago, in my book Race Matters, I tried to lay bare the realities and challenges to American democracy in light of the doings and sufferings of black ... Read More »

Chelsea Manning: Ex-army leaker to run for US senate

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Chelsea Manning, the former US intelligence analyst who was jailed for leaking classified documents, is seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for the US senate in Maryland. BBC In 2013 Manning was sentenced to 35 years after being found guilty of 20 charges, including espionage. But former US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. The 30-year-old, who was born Bradley Manning, will challenge Democratic Senator Ben Cardin for the nomination. The former US soldier moved to Maryland after being ... Read More »

From Siberia to Crimea: The Revenge of History in U.S.-Russian Relations

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One is tempted to conclude that the Washington foreign-policy establishment has learned little over the past century Lyle J. Goldstein The National Interest Strolling the cavernous and well-appointed halls of Russia’s carefully renovated Central Naval Museum [Центральный Военно-морской Музей] near the Neva River in St. Petersburg, one can find an assortment of interesting artifacts, not least the small skiff in which Peter the Great learned to sail more than three centuries ago now. Among the many captured battle standards from Sweden, Turkey ... Read More »

A New American Leader Rises in ISIS

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A two-year investigation identifies one of the very few Americans in the Islamic State’s upper ranks—and sheds light on the dynamics of radicalization Seamus Hughes, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, and Bennett Clifford The Atlantic The clues are out there, if you know where to look. Scattered across far-flung corners of the internet, there is evidence that Zulfi Hoxha, the son of an Albanian-American pizza-shop owner from New Jersey, had sinister plans. First there’s the defunct Twitter profile, which at one point engaged ... Read More »

African states demand Trump apologise for racist remark

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The African group of ambassadors to the United Nations has demanded an apology from Donald Trump, after the US president reportedly aimed a racist remark at some Caribbean nations and Africa. AlJazeera Trump criticised immigration to his country from El Salvador, Haiti and the African continent, by calling the group “shithole countries” at a meeting with Congress members at the White House on Thursday, according to US media. “The African Union mission to the UN is extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist ... Read More »

China’s record US trade surplus leaves Trump trumped

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The US president will hate the figures after saying he is getting ‘much tougher’ on the world’s second largest economy Gordon Watts Asia Times Whichever way you look at it, the latest trade figures from China will make uncomfortable bedtime reading for Donald Trump. In yuan or dollar terms, the numbers are dripping with red ink, which will fail to amuse the US President. Official data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday showed that China’s trade surplus ... Read More »

Meet the theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence

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After this last tumultuous year of political rancor and racial animus, many people could well be asking what can sustain them over the next coming days: How do they make the space for self-care alongside a constant call to activism? Paul Harvey The Conversation Or, how do they turn off their phones, when there are more calls to be made and focus instead on inward cultivation? As a historian of American race and religion, I have studied how figures in ... Read More »