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Tue, 17 Jan 2017
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Iranian Quds Force commander in Syria to prepare major Aleppo operation, on the heels of op in Fallujah

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani is in Syria in preparation for a large-scale operation by the Syrian army and popular forces in Southern Aleppo, a resistance movement announced on Monday.

According to the media center of Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a major Iraqi Shiite resistance movement fighting against terrorism, General Soleimani has traveled to Syria after intensified clashes between the governmental forces and terrorists in Southern Aleppo province the Persian-language MNA reported.

It added that General Soleimeni was in Syria on Sunday to be briefed on events and operations of Nujaba forces in Southern Aleppo.

This is while the IRGC Quds Force commander was in Iraq in recent days to render advisory services to the Iraqi forces in operations to liberate Fallujah.

Comment: This comes just two weeks after the Syrian, Russian and Iranian defense ministers met in Tehran to discuss the future course of the war in Syria. See: Naturally, Saudi Arabia is not pleased, and the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs has summoned the Saudi ambassador, Samer al-Sabhan "to remind him of his duty not to interfere in the country's internal affairs":
On his Facebook page, the ambassador had vehemently criticized the presence of the Iranian military advisers at the side of the Iraqi forces that are fighting to liberate Fallujah, under Isis occupation.

Furthermore on 12 June, a delegation led by the first secretary of the Saudi Ambassador, Salah Abdallah Hatlani, came to visit Saudi prisoners held at al-Hout (Nasriyah). He declared that the King had done everything in his power to free them. At present, the individuals are imprisoned for crimes they committed as members of Isis.

In April, the Kingdom had proposed to send its army to fight Isis in Iraq. However, a number of political lraqi leaders consider that actually, Saudi Arabia is one of the main, secret supporters of the terrorist organization.



Radar

Southern California in power grid emergency: 'All customers should expect 14 days without power'

The entire Los Angeles metropolitan area and most of Southern California can expect blackouts this summer.

The power grid is under direct threat as a result of the unprecedented, but little reported, massive natural gas leaks at Alisco Canyon that was ongoing for four months as an intense summer heat wave sets in.

According to Reuters:
California will have its first test of plans to keep the lights on this summer...

With record-setting heat and air conditioning demand expected in Southern California, the state's power grid operator issued a so-called "flex alert," urging consumers to conserve energy to help prevent rotating power outages - which could occur regardless.

Electricity demand is expected to rise during the unseasonable heatwave on Monday and Tuesday, with forecast system-wide use expected to top 45,000 megawatts, said the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages electricity flow through the state. That compares with a peak demand of 47,358 MW last year and the all-time high of 50,270 MW set in July 2006.

That could put stress on the power grid, particularly with the shut-in of Aliso Canyon, following a massive leak at the underground storage facility in October [Editor's Note: which was not stopped fully until mid-February 2016].

Comment: A looming natural disaster such as an earthquake could compound California's problems.


Stop

Death toll rises in Oaxaca as Mexican government represses teacher protests

© EFE
Policemen clashing with dissident teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, June 19, 2016.
The Mexican government followed through on its threat to use force against striking dissident teachers.

Mexican police attacked teachers striking against neoliberal education reforms in the southern state of Oaxaca, killing at least eight people and leaving dozens more injured.

Police were attempting to evict teachers from a road blockade on the Oaxaca-Puebla highway in the municipality of Nochixtlan when gunfire erupted, leading to violent clashes that lasted approximately four hours. teleSUR Mexico correspondent Aissa Garcia reported that as many as 12 people may have been killed by the state violence.

Teachers from the dissident CNTE union, also known as Section 22, had set up the blockade as part of protests over an education reform implemented by President Enrique Peña Nieto and the arrest of several of the unions' leaders over the past week.

Info

Questionable motive: Israel mulls building offshore transport hub to ease Gaza blockade

© Suhaib Salem / Reuters
Israel is actively seeking foreign investors to construct a $5-billion artificial island with a seaport, hotels and an airport just off the coast of the Gaza Strip to ease the blockade it imposed on the Palestinian enclave a decade ago.

The island, envisioned to be eight square kilometers, will be linked to Gaza by a five-kilometer bridge, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz said on Monday.

The project would include the construction of a seaport and even an airport that would be administered by the Palestinians and the international community. Israel, however, under the proposal would supervise security of the island and maintain checkpoints on the bridge.

Comment: This looks like a ploy to divert the world's attention on Israel's Palestinian land grabbing.


Bad Guys

The European Union: A racist, imperialist & anti-democratic nightmare

Voting to leave the EU is a no-brainer for the Left. The European Union is remote, racist, imperialist, anti-worker and anti-democratic: It is run by, of, and for the super-rich and their corporations. A future outside austerity and other economic blunders rests on winning the struggle to exit the EU, removing us from its neoliberal politics and institutions. Corporate bureaucrats in Brussels working as agents of the big banks and transnationals' now exert control over every aspect of our lives. Neoliberal policies and practices dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice and a compliant media legitimises the whole conquest. This has left the EU constitution as the only one in the world that enshrines neoliberal economics into its text. Therefore the EU is not - and never can be - either socialist or a democracy.

Against the left's strategic case for exit is relentless blither and blather from the elitist liberal commentariat: the EU is a social-democratic haven that protects us from the nasty Tories is their litany and verse. This is an absurd fantasy: by design the EU is a corporatist, pro-capitalist establishment. Therefore, it strains credulity that the bulk of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a rump of the trade union movement believe in the myth of Social Europe. The late Bob Crow was bang on the money when he said: "social EU legislation, which supposedly leads to better working conditions, has not saved one job and is riddled with opt-outs for employers to largely ignore any perceived benefits they may bring to workers. But it is making zero-hour contracts and agency-working the norm while undermining collective bargaining and full-time, secure employment."

Comment: The EU is definitely tyrannical, but if anyone believes they'll find democracy in the UK they've got another thing coming. Further reading:
Britain's malign influence on the EU's development is perhaps best seen in the area of foreign policy, and in particular in its subservience towards Washington. Europe has shown itself to be nothing more than a collection of vassal states that kowtow to American demands.

Rather than pursuing an independent, critical stance on world affairs, the EU is just a pathetic branch of Washington's global reach.

UK vote to leave EU - Brexit and good riddance



Gear

The failure of Eastern European integration: Angry nations, democratic challenges and global systemic crisis

© Unknown
In 2014, our team anticipated the disintegration of the Eastern European flank following the conflict between the EU and Russia. Two years later, the damage has become visible. If Europe and Russia fail to renew any dialogue, the worst is yet to come in this part of Europe, a region where old demons are in full resurrection (Cold War, European wars, balkanization and empires...) and where the failures of the EU enlargement policy are coming to light.

People

Around 90,000 sign US petition to probe exiled Russian tycoon over 'paying' for anti-Putin bill

© Peter Nicholls / Reuters
Mikhail Khodorkovsky
A petition on "We the People" website wants the White House to investigate allegations that Russia's Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who served prison time for embezzlement and is wanted on murder charges, donated large sums to lobby the US Congress for a "relations-damaging" law.

Since it was created on June 14, the petition has gathered over 21,400 signatures. It needs a total of 100,000 by July 14 for the document to earn a response from the White House.

War Whore

US warhawk Samantha Power 2016 winner of Henry A. Kissinger prize

© Unknown
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with Kissinger in 1976
Quite revealingly, the self-proclaimed crusader against genocide, Samantha Power, was awarded the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize in Berlin. That Power would be awarded a prize named after one of the world's great génocidaires, and that she would happily accept it, proves what many of us have believed all along - that she is more the clever apologist for U.S. crimes than a bona fide human rights advocate.

The problem with Power all along has been that her refusal to acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that the U.S., as exemplified by such figures as Henry Kissinger himself, is in reality the world leader in war crimes commission, and an active facilitator of genocide. The U.S. is not, as Power has claimed throughout her career, a force for halting such evils. However, Power has done an impressive job in advancing this myth, and in the process in perpetuating the false belief that the world would be better off if only the U.S. were more active militarily throughout the world. In so doing, Power, who is lauded as some great human rights advocate, probably does more than any other public figure to harm the cause of global human rights.

Comment: See also:

It's official: Psychopaths rule our world - Israel elected to chair UNGA
United Nations Farce: Saudi Arabia to head UN Human Rights council


Jet3

US underestimates civilian death toll in Iraq and Syria by 95%

© AFP
The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria has reportedly killed over 1,300 civilians.
A new report claims a U.S.-led coalition is bombing civilians to death and covering it up.

The United States-led coalition that is bombing Iraq and Syria may be underreporting the civilian toll of that war by as much as 95 percent, according to a new report released Friday by the monitoring group Airwars.

The U.S.-led coalition, which includes nations such as Britain, France and the Netherlands, has been bombing Islamic State group targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014, carrying out more than 13,121 airstrikes, or just over 19 a day. The vast majority of the strikes are carried out by the U.S., according to Airwars—68 percent in Iraq and and 82.5 percent in Syria—with an estimated civilian death toll of at least 1,312 people.

Comment: See also: Syrian UN envoy: US-led bombing raids on Syrian civilian and industrial infrastructure costing country billions


Bad Guys

Michigan loses 'right to farm' this week: A farewell to backyard chickens and beekeepers

© www.123rf.com
Michigan residents lost their "right to farm" this week thanks to a new ruling by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. Gail Philburn of the Michigan Sierra Club told Michigan Live, the news changes "effectively remove Right to Farm Act protection for many urban and suburban backyard farmers raising small numbers of animals."

Backyard and urban farming were previously protected by Michigan's Right to Farm Act. The Commission ruled that the Right to Farm Act protections no longer apply to many homeowners who keep small numbers of livestock.

Kim White, who raises chickens and rabbits, said, "They don't want us little guys feeding ourselves. They want us to go all to the big farms. They want to do away with small farms and I believe that is what's motivating it."

The ruling will allow local governments to arbitrarily ban goats, chickens and beehives on any property where there are 13 homes within one eighth mile or a residence within 250 feet of the property, according to Michigan Public Radio.

The Right to Farm Act was created in 1981 to protect farmers from the complaints of people from the city who moved to the country and then attempted to make it more urban with anti-farming ordinances. The new changes affect residents of rural Michigan too. It is not simply an urban or suburban concern.