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Yemen facing catastrophic hunger as food supplies quickly running out

Men, women and children in Yemen are at risk of "catastrophic hunger" as the conflict between a Saudi Arabian led coalition and the Yemeni government continues.

Mass unemployment, rising food prices and a drop in exports means people in Yemen could run out of food fast, international charity Oxfam has warned.

"Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East with high rates of malnutrition before the conflict between with Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government on one side and the Houthis on the other began 20 months ago," Maya Mailer, head of humanitarian policy at Oxfam told Sputnik.

Comment: Not content to completely destroy the country and starve the population, these barbaric UN 'human rights champions' are now threatening humanitarian aid workers:
Intelligence services of Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda terrorist group are planning to kidnap foreign nationals who work for humanitarian aid agencies in Yemen, Yemeni media reported Wednesday.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry has reportedly urged both local residents and foreigners working with humanitarian aid organizations to be especially vigilant and to cooperate with security agencies.

"Liaison officers working with the Saudi intelligence met leaders from al-Qaeda in the border Al-Waidah crossing point on Saturday, 29 October, to coordinate the kidnapping operations," an unnamed Yemeni official said, as quoted by the local SABA news agency.



Network

Iowa governor Terry Branstad, longtime friend of Xi Jinping, accepts Trump nomination as US ambassador to China

© AFP 2016/ MARK RALSTON
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has accepted the offer from President-elect Donald Trump to serve as US ambassador to China, Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said.

When asked if Branstad had accepted the nomination, Miller said, "Yes, he has accepted."

"It is very clear that Governor Branstad is someone who will represent our country well on the world stage and we couldn't be prouder of this selection," he added.

According to Trump's team, the governor was chosen as an ambassador to China because of an "tremendous understanding of China and Chinese people."

According to media reports, Branstad has known Chinese President Xi Jinping since 1985. The Iowa governor has since visited China several times.

Branstad "very much impressed the president-elect," Miller said.

Light Sabers

US and UN criticize Israel over West Bank settlement bill - "First step in annexing parts of West Bank"

© Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
The UN has voiced strong concerns after Israeli lawmakers gave the green light to a bill which would legalize West Bank settlements. While Washington voiced "deep concern" over the move, Palestinians called on the US to recognize the state of Palestine.

On Monday in a preliminary reading, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) voted 60-49, to pass a revised version of the Regulation Bill. The bill aims to legalize 55 settlements situated on privately-owned Palestinian land, according to Peace Now.

While the draft specifies that landowners are to be offered compensation, the passage of the bill was condemned at home and abroad.

The bill still needs to pass another three times in the Knesset and get the green light from the Supreme Court to retroactively legalize 4,000 settler homes in Area C of the West Bank, which has been under Israeli military rule since 1967.

The UN warned of "legal consequences" if the draft legislation becomes law.

Comment: The US and UN have consistently criticized Israel over its actions against Palestine, yet their mild protestations do nothing to stifle Israel's illegal behavior. Their statements against Israel seem to be merely PR with no practical action taken to back up their words.


Star of David

Israel fires rockets at Syrian military airport

© [email protected]
A Syrian military source has said Israeli rockets hit an air base near Damascus. No casualties have been reported, however.

Reuters reports the Israeli rockets hit the Mezzeh military airport at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Syrian state media Syrian Arab News Agency also confirmed the report.

A source said the attack caused a fire but there were no casualties. Israel "launched a number of surface-to-surface missiles from inside the Occupied Territories," it said.

Mezzeh is close to Syrian President Bashar Assad's palace.

A number of social media users tweeted footage and images reportedly taken of the attack, and reported hearing a loud explosion.

Caesar

Duterte, fighting for his country and his life, enjoys outpouring of support from Filipinos

© AFLO / Global Look Press
There is a sense of change in those narrow and desperate alleys of the Baseco slum in the Philippines' capital Manila. For the first time in many years a beautiful, noble lady visited; against all odds she decided to stay. Her name is Hope.

Baseco is a tough, crime-ridden region built from cartons and metal sheets, even rusty containers; everything is thrown together in startling fashion, right near the shipyard.

Here, the lips of the people used to be sealed, expressions on their faces incessantly desperate. Now everyone speaks, some even smile shyly, adults and children, women who look sixty at the age of thirty, as well as tough looking men.

"I support Duterte!" declares Ms. Imelda Rodriguez, who works as a physiotherapist here, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development. "Now children get free education and 'medical missions' provide basic medical care. We also receive allowances, and the government provides jobs. We are still lacking electricity, but at least the municipality is providing free drinking water."

Chess

China asks Washington to deny Taiwanese president entry into US

© Jorge Adorno / Reuters
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen
In the latest escalation after President-elect Donald Trump broke protocol with Taiwan, China is now asking Washington to deny Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen entry into the US prior to her upcoming Latin America tour.

Taiwan's new leader is scheduled to visit three countries in January - Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. There is speculation, however, that she will make a stopover in New York.

Although this has been denied by several Trump advisers, as well as Taiwan itself, news of the visit has become the latest lever China has tried to use to show its disappointment at what it believes to be warming relations between Taiwan and the US.

In a Tuesday statement to Reuters, Beijing says it has called on Washington to deny Tsai entry into the US en route to Latin America next month. The US visit is expected just ahead of Trump's inauguration on January 20, when he replaces outgoing President Barack Obama.

The US State Department appeared to reject the notion that China can dictate terms, and said Tsai's transit - if it is to take place - is based on "long-standing US practice, consistent with the unofficial nature of (US) relations with Taiwan."

Network

Turkish PM Yildirim visits Kremlin for talks with Putin over gas pipelines and nuclear plants

© Sergey Karpukhin / Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin shows a way to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 6, 2016
Gas pipelines and nuclear power stations were among the highlights of recent talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish PM Binali Yildirim. The two countries are mending their relationship in the aftermath of a Russian bomber being downed in 2015.

Turkish Prime Minister met Putin late on Tuesday in the Kremlin after holding talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev earlier in the day. The officials discussed various aspects of cooperation between the two countries and held a joint press conference afterwards.

Russia and Turkey are looking forward to further mending their relationship, which took a major hit after Turkey downed a Russian bomber jet near the Syrian border last year. The official visit became Yildirim's first to Russia since he entered office in May, and one of his first international visits in general.

"I am pleased to note that we are restoring our relations practically in all areas of our cooperation. However, due to certain circumstances - let us not mention them now - our trade has substantially dropped. I would like to hope that during your visit we will be able to make concerted efforts to overcome this negative trend," Putin told Yildirim.

Bulb

Trump lays out military policy: End interventions and chaos overseas, build up depleted military

© Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
Donald Trump has laid out a military policy which he says is aimed at ending "intervention and chaos" overseas. He promised to build up the "depleted" military, but said it would be done with prevention in mind, rather than aggression.

Speaking at the latest stop on his "thank you" tour of swing states, President-elect Donald Trump told a crowd in Fayetteville, North Carolina that he wants to "strengthen old friendships and seek out new friendships," stressing that the US will "stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with."

"We don't want to have a depleted military because we're all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn't be fighting in. It's not going to be depleted any longer," he said during the Tuesday event.

He spoke of the need to spend money "on ourselves" rather than continuing to run up an extremely costly tab in the Middle East.

"We've spent, at last count, $6 trillion in the Middle East, and our roads have potholes all over, our highways are falling apart, our bridges are falling, our tunnels are no good, our airports are horrible like third world countries," Trump said. "We're going to start spending on ourselves, but we've got to be so strong militarily like we've never ever been before."

Megaphone

News accuracy site claims US blamed the wrong side for 2013 chemical attack in Syria

© Sputnik/ Andrei Stenin
A news-accuracy site launched Tuesday is claiming that the White House may have attempted to bomb the Syrian government in retaliation for an attack Damascus did not cause.

The site, Rootclaim, uses a mathematics-based fraud-detection system often used by small business to remove human bias and discern the veracity of news. According to their study, there is a 92.3 percent chance that the chemical-weapons attack attributed to the administration of President Bashar Al-Assad was actually conducted by rebels opposing the Syrian president.

After graphic footage surfaced of the aftermath of a 2013 sarin gas attack in Damascus that left hundreds dead, US President Barack Obama attempted unsuccessfully to authorize an airstrike without Congressional approval, saying at the time, "I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization."

Obama had warned Assad that using chemical weapons would trigger a military response from Washington, saying at a 2012 press conference, "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized."

Comment: See also:


Attention

Swedish islanders ready to strike pipeline deal with Russians in spite of 'security threats'

© Sputnik/Sergey Guneev
​"Making security assessments is not our cup of tea, it is the government's thing," Björn Jansson said.

Despite Sweden's chronic fear of Russia, which is being constantly hyped up by various politicians and security experts, local politicians on the Swedish island of Gotland are ready to rent the port of Slite to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction project in the Baltic Sea.

The preliminary decision on renting Slite is to be taken by the Gotland Technical Committee on December 15. The Regional Board will then make its decision in January, and the final judgment will be passed by of the Regional Council on February 19.
"We proceed from the assumption that the contract will be endorsed, as there is a majority in favor of it," president of the Gotland Regional Council Björn Jansson said, as quoted by the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet.
For Gotland Municipality, the deal may create extra jobs and imply a profit of up to 60 million SEK (roughly $6.5mln), which is deemed to be a "welcome contribution that makes life easier." Jansson admitted, however, that a government clearance is yet pending.