Why you should visit Russia, by David Swanson, May 16, 2017
Just back from a week in Moscow, I feel obliged to point out a few things about it…
Ex-rebel leaders detail role played by Putin aide in east Ukraine, by Anton Zverev, Reuters, May 11, 2017
[In this report heavily biased against Russia, the Reuters writer informs us of the less-than-surprising news that the Russian government is treading carefully and cautiously in its relations with the people’s republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. These are former regions of Ukraine. The NATO powers and the right-wing government in Kyiv created a political crisis and humanitarian emergency beginning in 2014 by launching a civil war against the populations of Lugansk and Donetsk, who sought political autonomy from Ukraine’s highly centralized constitutional setup following the Maidan coup of February 2014. But much of the humanitarian consequences as well as the difficult political fallout of that war are borne not by the West but by Russia.]
Turkey-Syria-Middle East and Caucasus:
U.S.-led coalition strike on Syrian Army military point near Syria-Iraq border town of al-Tanf, Sputnik News, May 19, 2017
[On May 18, the U.S.-led coalition struck Syria military and allied forces near the town of al-Tanf, located on the border with Iraq and in one of the de-escalation zones agreed earlier this month by Russia, Iran and Turkey.]
The nature of the Syrian convoy hit by U.S.-led coalition warplanes, Sputnik News, May 19, 2017
Local sources have released details of the military convoy pro-Syrian government forces that was attacked by US-led coalition warplanes in the vicinity of al-Tanf on May 18. Syrian sources have told Sputnik that the convoy bombed by US-led coalition aircraft did, indeed, belong to the Syrian pro-government forces. The convoy itself was comprised of 5 T-62 main battle tanks, a ZSU-23-4 Shilka anti-aircraft weapon system and several four-wheel drive vehicles, crewed by a total of 50 troops.
The coalition aircraft, flying at very low altitude, entered Syrian airspace from the direction of Jordan and after firing several warning shots launched a missile attack against the convoy, damaging two tanks and several vehicles.
The return fire from Shilka’s four 23mm autocannons forced the attacking aircraft to rapidly gain altitude, thus becoming visible to the radars of the S-200 surface-to-air weapon systems of the 16th regiment based in al Damir. Having detected the retaliatory S-200 missile launches, the invading coalition aircraft quickly fled the Syrian airspace.
A total of six men were killed and three were injured during this attack. The airstrike was apparently launched in response to the Syrian pro-government forces’ offensive against the U.S.-backed elements, according to Reuters citing an American official.
Details of U.S. attack on Syrian military in southern Syria, Al-Masdar News, May 18, 2017
U.S. strikes Syria militia threatening U.S.-backed forces: officials, Reuters, May 18, 2017
‘You might get shot any time’: Saudi forces raid Shia town in eastern Saudi Arabia as Riyadh welcomes Trump, RT exclusive, May 19, 2017
The Saudi town of Awamiyah with historically Shia population has been effectively besieged by the government forces for over a week following deadly clashes, with roadblocks blocking exits from the city and bulldozers razing homes, local eyewitnesses told RT.
While the visit of Donald Trump on Saturday to Saudi Arabia, which would be his first foreign visit as the 45th US president, gripped the attention of the international media, little has been reported about the plight of civilians in Awamiyah, a town in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province…
Turkey will ‘not beg’ for German troops to stay at Incirlik air base, Germany seeks U.S. support in spat, Deutsche Welle, May 18, 2017
Germany flies missions from the Turkish/NATO air base of Incirlik, but Ankara’s latest snub in denying German politicians access to the base has Germany looking for alternative locations in Jordan or Kuwait.
Turkey’s Incirlik air base, background on Deutsche Welle
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy says inmates subjected to inhuman treatment, torture in Turkey’s prisons, Turkish Minute, May 18, 2017
Trump is poised to plunge deeper into the Afghan quagmire, by Michael T. Klare, The Nation, May 17, 2017
More U.S. troops cannot stabilize the corrupt and despised government in Kabul.
How Western sanctions, not war, almost entirely destroyed Syria’s medical industry, Sputnik News, May 15, 2017
Republican immigration bill threatens to turn millions of people into criminals overnight, by Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, May 18, 2017
… Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation that would bring sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration enforcement apparatus, adding thousands of new deportation officers and, among other things, equipping each of them with body armor and an assault rifle.
The little noticed bills, marked up in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, would bring additional legal force to the Trump administration’s hardline immigration agenda, which has already seen the pool of individuals prioritized for deportation broadened to include virtually all the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants…
Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia was behind 9/11. Now he’s going there on his first foreign trip, by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, May 18, 2017
Did Trump commit a crime in sharing intelligence with Moscow?, by James Carden, The Nation, May 17, 2017
The idea that these leaks to the Post by “current and former U.S. officials” are in the service of US national security interests strains credulity. They manifestly are not.
The real roots of the worldwide Ransomware outbreak: Militarism and greed, by Sam Biddle, The Intercept, Tuesday, May 16, 2017
A runaway strain of malware hit Windows computers last Friday and spread through the weekend, rendering hundreds of thousands of computers around the world more or less useless. The big twist: The virus was made possible by U.S. government hackers at the National Security Agency. But the finger-pointing won’t stop there, and it probably shouldn’t.
Chelsea Manning leaves U.S. prison seven years after giving secrets to WikiLeaks, by Karen Dillon, Sydney Morning Herald, May 18, 2017
LEAVENWORTH, Kansas: Chelsea Manning walked out of a U.S. military prison on May 17, seven years after being arrested for passing secrets to WikiLeaks in the largest breach of classified information in U.S. history.
Manning, 29, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, about 2am, according to a brief statement released by the U.S. Army…
Trump nominates actual fascist David Clarke for Department of Homeland Security, by Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, May 17, 2017
Labour slashes Tory lead by five points to hit new campaign high, latest poll shows, by Jon Shaman, The Independent, May 18, 2017
Labour has cut the Conservatives’ poll lead again as support for Jeremy Corbyn’s party reached its highest point of the general election campaign so far. The Tories are on 45 per cent, down four points since last week, while Labour was on 32, up one point – leaving Theresa May’s party with a 13-point lead. The YouGov poll, conducted for The Times, was taken on 16 and 17 May, when Labour’s manifesto was making news…
Jeremy Corbyn’s party has now made up a total of 10 points on the Conservatives since the election was announced…
Venezuela’s political violence claims five more lives, by Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, May 16, 2017
Constitutional changes to be put to referendum; Maduro confirms 2018 elections, by Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, May 16, 2017
Venezuelan constitutional lawyer Hermann Escarra has confirmed that any changes made to the country’s Magna Carta by the national constituent assembly (ANC) will have to be approved by referendum…
The decision to convene the ANC was announced by the Venezuelan president on May Day in a bid to bring about a political solution to an ongoing stand-off between the national government and the opposition, which has led to violent protests over the past six weeks and forty-nine deaths.
“The fundamental objective of the constituent process is the search for peace, because all dialogue scenarios have been exhausted. Here what it’s about are intermediaries who are not decided by the government nor the opposition, but rather the people of Venezuela, through a universal, direct and secret vote who are going…to debate,” he added…
Why are there not riots in the barrios of Venezuela?, by Gustavo Borges, translated to English by TeleSur, May 11, 2017
The only ones who have both the number and fury to set fire to Venezuela are working, organizing, discussing the call to a Constituent Assembly.
Closing streets, paralyzing the subway system, burning urban transport units, attacking public institutions, even some private ones, the looting of shops, schools and hospitals, terrorizing popular neighborhoods with hired gangs, mercenary style.–in eastern areas of Caracas, a minority sector goes to the opposition demonstrations where all of this takes place. Daily life is chaos in the midst of battles where a privileged little world rebels against the poor…
Russia to export 60,000 tons of wheat to Venezuela per month, by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, Venezuela Analysis, Friday, May 19, 2017
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday his government had secured a major wheat deal with Russia. “We are ready, all … trade agreements have been already signed and very soon Russia will supply Venezuela with 60,000 tonnes of wheat per month on a stable basis starting from this year,” Maduro said, according to state media outlet AVN.
The import agreement could be a major lifeline for Venezuela, which for years has struggled with food scarcity. Venezuela imports the overwhelming majority of its basic foods…
The Chávez hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a strategic project, by Chris Gilbert, published in CounterPunch, May 19, 2017 (Chris Gilbert is a professor of political science in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela)
How China is building the post-Western world, by Patrick Lawrence, The Nation, May 16, 2017
Beijing’s Belt and Road project may be the largest single infrastructure program in human history.
Global warming and climate change:
Coral reefs could all die off by 2050, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Monday, May 15, 2017
A remote paradise island is now a plastic junkyard, by Ed Yong, The Atlantic, May 15, 2017
Henderson Island is isolated and uninhabited—but its beaches are still covered in garbage.
Henderson Island is about the most remote place you can visit without leaving the planet. Uninhabited, it sits squarely in the middle of the South Pacific, 3,500 miles from New Zealand in one direction and another 3,500 miles from South America in the other. To get there, Jennifer Lavers had to fly from Tasmania to Tahiti, catch a small, once-a-week plane to the Gambier Islands, join a freight ship that had already sailed for 10 days from New Zealand, and ask it to change course for Henderson. No ship travels there unless you specifically ask it to. And yet, somehow, Google Street View has been there. Lavers took virtual strolls along two of the island’s beaches before she made her epic journey. That’s when she realized just how much plastic there is…
Garbage island in the South Pacific, interview with scientist Alexander Bond, on CBC.ca‘s ‘AS It Happens’, May 16, 2017
Henderson Island is one of the most isolated places on this earth – a tiny dot in the South Pacific.
And Alexander Bond’s team went there to study how local birds are coping with an invasion of rats. But what the scientists found was an invasion of a different order – what they estimate to be 38 million pieces of garbage, piled onto the island’s sandy shore. Alexander Bond is a Senior Conservation Scientist with the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. We reached him in Sandy, which is in Bedfordshire, England…
Warming could exceed 1.5°C limit by 2026, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, May 18, 2017
The planet is on course to breach the internationally agreed warming limit of 1.5°C within 10 years, according to new research from Australia.
Sea level rise will double coastal flood risk worldwide, by Damian Carrington Environment editor, The Guardian, May 18, 2017
Sharp rise in flooding ahead for world’s poorest, by John Upton, Climate Central, May 18, 2017
Coastal residents of poor and fast-growing tropical countries face rapid increases in the numbers of once-rare floods they may face as seas rise, with a new statistical analysis offering troubling projections for regions where sea level data is sparse. Stark increases in instances of flooding are projected for Pacific islands, parts of Southeast Asia and coastlines along India, Africa and South America in the years and decades ahead — before spreading to engulf nearly the entire tropical region, according to a study led by Sean Vitousek, a researcher at the University of Illinois, Chicago…
Explosion of deadly ticks in North America is fueled by climate change and is ravaging moose, infecting people and pets, Enviro News, May 16, 2017
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