In Digest

New Cold War.org Information Bulletin, Vol 2 #63, April 23, 2017

Ukraine-Russia-Europe:

Putin calls for setting apart real anti-corruption crusaders from political show-offs, TASS, April 24, 2017

… Putin recalled that participants in the Ukrainian coup of 2014 clamored for a fight against corruption among their main slogans. However, corruption in the country has skyrocketed since then. “Everyone who arrives from Ukraine complains about exactly the same thing – earlier, kickbacks used to be 50%, while now it is at 75%. “This is what the fight against corruption has resulted in,” he said…

Germany’s AfD party heads further right after co-leader’s proposal to go ‘mainstream’ suffers defeat, Reuters, April 23, 2017

… Support for the party, which attacks the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, for having allowed more than a million migrants into Germany in the last two years, has tumbled in recent months after reaching the mid-teens in opinion polls last year.

Originally founded as an anti-euro party in 2013, the AfD is expected to enter the national parliament for the first time after September’s election, but is treated as a pariah by established political parties, which refuse to work with it. Its congress drew thousands of protesters to Cologne on Saturday

Right-wing AfD party in Germany appoints ‘liberal’ to front election, The Irish Times, April 23, 2017

Despite frenzied applause, the appointment of Alice Weidel-Gauland as leader of the AfD marks a ceasefire rather than a resolution of an underlying identity crisis within the party. After a riot on Saturday outside the Cologne conference hall with 10,000 protesters and two police injured, some 600 delegates backed a programme positioning the AfD to the right of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

50,000 protesters disrupt rightwing German AfD party congress, The Guardian, April 22, 2017

A Tory gov’t in the UK would launch preemptive nuclear strike, defense secretary says, RT.com, April 24, 2017

HMS Vengeance, a British Royal Navy Vanguard class submarine equipped with nuclear-armed Trident ballistic missiles (David Moir, Reuters)

Prime Minister Theresa May would be prepared to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against any enemies, even if Britain was not under attack, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has claimed. “In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” Fallon told the BBC’s ‘Today’ program. When asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible…

Labour Party repeats backing for Trident missiles after Jeremy Corbyn casts doubt on it, The Guardian, April 23, 2017

… In an interview on the BBC1’s the Andrew Marr Show, Corbyn, who has been a longstanding campaigner against nuclear proliferation, said he did not believe it necessarily made the UK safer. “I want us to achieve a nuclear-free world, to adhere to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and take part in negotiations surrounding that,” he said, stressing an immediate need to take part in talks de-escalate nuclear tensions involving North Korea

Crazy Corbyn doesn’t want to start a nuclear war?, UK election briefing #1 published on the left-wing website Counterfire, April 24, 2017

Theresa May: The enigmatic prime minister, book review by David Runciman, in London Review of Books, March 16, 2017. Reviewing: Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister, by Rosa Prince Biteback, 402 pp, £20.00, Feb 2017, ISBN 978 1 78590 145

Turkey-Syria-Middle East and Caucasus:
Trump regime weighs troop escalation in Afghanistan following April 21 deadly attack on Afghan military base and resignation of army minister, RT.com, April 24, 2017

UN doesn’t send experts to Idlib ‘chemical incident’ site as West and U.S. are blocking it, claims Syrian president Assad, RT.com, April 20, 2017

The Syrian government has asked the UN to send experts to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Idlib province, but the request remains unanswered due to pressure from U.S. and other Western countries, Syrian president Bashar Assad has told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

Bashar Assad believes that Washington is hampering the probe because if the experts arrive in Idlib, “they will find that all their (the U.S.) narratives about what happened in Khan Shaykhun and then the attack on Shayrat airport was a false flag, was a lie.”…

UN Syria commission can’t say which chemical or who attacked in alleged April 4 chemical attack, report on RT.com, April 22, 2017

Civilian casualties from airstrikes in Iraq appear on the rise. Is it a sign of a scorched-earth policy under Trump?, LA Times, April 21, 2017

A recent airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is believed to have caused more than 270 civilian deaths, a tragedy that provoked an international outpouring of grief and outrage. But the uproar over the March 17 deaths in the Jadidahneighborhood of Mosul masks a grim reality: Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of other civilians have died in hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during the war against Islamic State, and it appears likely that the vast majority of those deaths were never investigated by the U.S. military or its coalition partners.

It also appears that the number of civilian casualties has risen in recent months as combat has shifted to densely populated west Mosul and the coalition has undertaken the heaviest bombing since the war began almost three years ago…

Turkey’s AKP claims Kurdish support for referendum, Kurds say otherwise,

In the heated debate over Turkey’s fraud-stained referendum, one particular narrative stands out: that the country’s 16 million or so Kurds played a considerable part in swinging the outcome, albeit narrowly, toward a yes. This, in turn, has prompted hopeful murmurs of a thaw in the frozen peace talks between the government and the Kurds. But Kurdish leaders dispute this version, saying it overlooks the fact that much of the alleged cheating took part in the mainly Kurdish provinces…

The government embarked on a relentless campaign against the country’s largest pro-Kurdish bloc, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and its sister party, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP). At least 10,000 Kurdish lawmakers, officials and supporters remain behind bars over thinly supported terror links. They include the HDP’s co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, and 12 fellow HDP parliamentarians…

Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish areas of northern Iraq for third day, Rudaw, April 23, 2017

Turkish government bans May Day celebrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, Turkish Minute, April 24, 2017

Turkey releases jailed Italian journalist Gabriel Del Grande, Turkish Minute, April 24, 2017

Kurdish hopefuls to run for provincial offices as Iran prepares for general elections, Rudaw, April 24, 2017

Russia prepared to deploy ground forces to Syria: Sources, Press TV, April 24, 2017

Campaigning begins for May 19 Iran presidential election, Press TV, April 21, 2017

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/21/518886/Iran-presidential-election-campaigning-Rouhani-

Citing Vietnam, U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis ‘won’t do’ ISIS body counts, by Richard Sisk, DoDD Buzz, Thursday, April 20, 2017

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis showed distaste Thursday for using body counts to gauge progress and declined to give an estimate on the number of ISIS fighters killed in the MOAB bombing in Afghanistan.

In a brief news conference during his Mideast trip, Mattis said his reluctance to use body counts in a public relations attempt to show success dates back to Vietnam. “For many years, we have not been calculating the results of warfare by simply quantifying the number of enemy killed,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him. “You all know of the corrosive effect of that sort of metric back in the Vietnam War. It’s something that has stayed with us all these years.”

Several U.S. generals have on occasion estimated that 50,000-60,000 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants have been killed since 2014, but Mattis said, “You don’t want to start calculating things, as far as what matters, in the crude terms of battle casualties.” …

Netanyahu meets Mattis, lauds ‘change in U.S. leadership and Mideast policy’, by Barak Ravid and Gili Cohen, Haaretz,  April 21, 2017

United States:
Maxine Waters loses her mind to ‘anti-Russia dementia’, like the rest of the Democratic Black Caucus
, by Glen Ford, Executive Director, Black Agenda Report, April 17, 2017

Not one Black member of Congress seems prepared to challenge the fraudulent U.S. pretext for bombing Syria – or the war, itself. Maxine Waters is the saddest case. “Who knows how Maxine Waters would vote on Trump’s air strike on Syria, since she is under the crazed delusion that Trump and Putin are in cahoots on the gassing and the retaliation?” Those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad — with Anti-Russia Dementia.

MIT Professor Theodore Postol says top U.S. officials fabricated intelligence to justify attacking Syria, by Ann Garrison, published on Black Agenda Report, April 18, 2017

Bold, unpredictable foreign policy lifts Trump but has risks, by Glenn Thrush and Mark Lander, New York Times, April 20, 2017

Bill O’Reilly ousted from Fox News, report on Truthdig on April 19, 2017

Arkansas executions: first prisoner killed after legal challenge fails, by Ed Pilkington in New York and Jacob Rosenberg in Arkansas, The Guardian, April 21, 2017

Arkansas has executed Ledell Lee, the first of eight condemned prisoners the Republican-controlled state had hoped to kill in the space of just 11 days. Lee was pronounced dead at 11.46pm local time on April 20, just four minutes before his death warrant had been due to run out. The department of corrections had sprung into action shortly after 11.30pm on Thursday, after the U.S. supreme court gave its leave for the killing to go ahead..

Nina Morrison, a senior staff attorney with the Innocence Project, said after the execution that Arkansas’s rush to execute so many prisoners in such a short timeframe had deprived Lee of the right to DNA testing. “While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent” …

The Carrier jobs in Indiana that Trump and Pence didn’t save, New York Times, April 23, 2017

World:
Venezuelans flood Caracas in pro and anti-Maduro marches amid deadly opposition violence
, by Lucas Koerner, Venezuela Analysis, April 19, 2017, with additional reporting by Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas

CARACAS – Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of the capital on April 19 in massive pro and anti-government rallies marking the country’s independence day.

Thousands of red-clad supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mobilized in four separate marches that culminated in a mass rally along Bolivar Avenue in downtown Caracas…

Venezuela celebrates 100% health coverage under Barrio Adentro, Telesur, April 20, 2017

Venezuela’s poorest communities now all have health care services via the Barrio Adentro Mission, with 100 percent coverage, according to President Nicolas Maduro, who announced the achievement during a live broadcast. Barrio Adentro incorporates the talents of Cuban and Venezuelan doctors, as well as the economic and social will of both nations…

In aftermath of U.S. vice-president Pence’s belligerent visit, North Korea warns Australia of possible nuclear strike if it ‘blindly toes U.S. line’, report on ABC.net.au, April 23, 2017

North Korea has bluntly warned Australia of a possible nuclear strike if Canberra persists in “blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line”. The state news agency KCNA quoted a foreign ministry spokesman castigating Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop after she said the rogue nation would be subject to further Australian sanctions and spouted “a string of rubbish against the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea over its entirely just steps for self-defence.”

“If Australia persists in following the U.S. moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the U.S. master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK,” the report said…

Pope Francis likens migrant holding centres to ‘concentration camps’, ABC.net.au, April 23, 2017

Trump blasts Canada on trade, calls its actions a ‘disgrace’, CBC News, April 20, 2017

Trump is ‘Coming after Canada’, by Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star, April 20, 2017

The president’s comments came only hours after Prime Minister Trudeau praised Trump’s willingness to listen to reason.

U.S. President Donald Trump unloaded on Canada from the Oval Office Thursday, suggesting that the country was “taking advantage” of U.S. workers and demanding trade renegotiations begin “very quickly.” Trump denounced the North American Free Trade Agreement as a “disaster” and said he wants Canada to move on three industries in particular: dairy farming, lumber and energy…

[Since the election of Donald Trump, the Canadian government has been scrambling to prove that Washington has no greater friend and ally than Canada. Cabinet ministers have flocked to Washington to meet with their counterparts. Prime Minister Trudeau quickly supported the April 7 missile strikes against Syria while continuing his bellicose rhetoric against Russia. When asked for proof that a chemical attack took place in Syria on April 4, Trudeau replied ‘because the U.S. government told us so.’ Trudeau told reporters on April 20 that Trump is a ‘reasonable man’ and will surely listen to Canada’s concerns over trade policy. But President #45 seems unimpressed and is beginning to give Canada the ‘Mexico’ treatment.

[How will Canadians react as the government in Ottawa pleads for special treatment? Here is how an April 21 news article in the Globe and Mail daily pleaded the case for Canada:

… But his hard line will run up against economic and legal realities, as well as opposition from business. The U.S., for instance, is heavily dependent on Canadian oil and gas imports and does not have the capacity to replace them with domestic production. The same goes for lumber.

A Buy American clampdown, meanwhile, could break international trade rules, provoke retaliation from other countries and frustrate U.S. attempts to get better access to public procurement in Canada and Mexico.

Mr. Trump’s complaint on energy is a mystery. The President has promised to reduce the U.S.’s trade deficit and oil and gas is one area in which America has a hefty deficit with Canada.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “not going to overreact” to Mr. Trump’s provocations, but warned that taking a hard line on NAFTA would hurt Americans as much as Canadians.

[The tough talk puts Canada’s anti-Russia foreign minister Chrystia Freeland in the spotlight. How will the anti-Russia crusade of the United States and Canada withstand possible trade wars between the two countries?]

As millions face famine in northern Nigeria, corruption probes into Shell Oil and head of the country’s spy agency is implicated in stolen aid money revelations, by Geoffrey York, Globe and Mail, April 20, 2017

How a chance message on Twitter revealed plight of young First Nations man being held for more than four years in solitary confinement in a Canadian prison, The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2017

If not for a mundane tweet, two forthcoming investigations into solitary confinement would likely never have been launched – and a young Indigenous man named Adam Capay might still be languishing in a prison cell surrounded by acrylic glass.

… [When a prison inspector found the man,] he had difficulty speaking because of a lack of human contact, and the presence of continuous artificial lighting made it hard for him to discern night from day. He had been in a cell surrounded by acrylic glass for more than four years. All while he was still awaiting trial on a murder charge…

In an application to have the charges against Mr. Capay dismissed, lawyers peg his total time in continuous solitary confinement at 1,636 days. During most of that stretch, he had minimal access to showers, reading materials, writing tools, cell radio, Indigenous services or canteen food…

Global warming and climate change:
The nightmare scenario for Florida’s coastal homeowners
, by Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg News, April 19, 2017

On a predictably gorgeous South Florida afternoon, Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason sat in his office overlooking the white-linen restaurants of this affluent seaside community and wondered when climate change would bring it all to an end. He figured it would involve a boat.

When Cason first started worrying about sea-level rise, he asked his staff to count not just how much coastline the city had (47 miles) or value of the property along that coast ($3.5 billion). He also told them to find out how many boats dock inland from the bridges that span the city’s canals (302). What matters, he guessed, will be the first time a mast fails to clear the bottom of one of those bridges because the water level had risen too far.

“These boats are going to be the canary in the mine,” said Cason, who became mayor in 2011 after retiring from the U.S. foreign service. “When the boats can’t go out, the property values go down.” Jim Cason, mayor of Coral Gables, in his office. He worries that rising insurance costs, reluctant lenders or skittish foreign buyers could hurt home prices well before sea-level rise gets worse. Photographer: Rose Marie Cromwell for Bloomberg

If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still. Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide the services that make it such a desirable place to live, causing more sales and another drop in revenue. And all of that could happen before the rising sea consumes a single home…

Trudeau government in Canada delays climate action after oil patch lobbying, by Carl Meyer, National Observer, April 21, 2017

Surface of Antarctica swimming with water, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 22, 2017

Scientists have scanned aerial and satellite photos from 1947 and 1973 and confirmed that water flows in Antarctica are large. They don’t yet know if or to what extent the flows are increasing.


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