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Wed, 24 Aug 2016
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Syria: Turkey shells ISIS and Kurd positions

© www.rt.com
The Turkish army has delivered artillery strikes on Kurdish positions near Manbij and on Islamic State targets in Jarablus in northern Syria, media report. The assault came after several stray shells struck inside Turkish border territory on Tuesday. Turkish howitzers fired about 20 rounds across the Syrian border on Monday, targeting Kurdish-held Manbij, Reuters reports, citing an unnamed Turkish official who also confirmed that the shelling of Jarablus, which is held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL, also Daesh), is continuing.

"The Turkish state officially supports Daesh and bombs the positions of the Manbij military council and its countryside in the northern axis of the defense positions at Sajur river," Sharvan Darwish, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said on Monday, ARA News reported. The SDF forces are backed by the US-led coalition.

Kurdish NRT TV also reported that both the positions of SDF forces north of Manbij and Manbij Military Council (MMC) fighters in the area had been shelled by the Turkish army.

Ankara also shelled IS targets in northern Syria after the Turkish border town of Karkamis in the southeastern province of Gaziantep was hit by two stray shells on Tuesday, broadcaster NTV said, citing the military. No casualties were reported.

Comment: The Turkish Empire strikes back. Is it retaliation for random far-flung shells that landed over the border into Turkey or an excuse to eliminate a few more Kurds with a few Daesh legitimizers? A secret agreement or permission granted is least likely. Turkey has not been pristine about keeping its actions limited to within its own borders over the course of this war.
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TV

Murdoch's Fox News censured by Ofcom for pro-Brexit broadcast

© www.campaignlive.com
Your World on their terms.
Fox News broke UK broadcasting rules on the day of the EU referendum when it aired pro-Brexit views, television regulator Ofcom has said. A broadcast of Your World, a business and financial news program aired at 9 pm in the UK and simulcast in the US, violated Ofcom regulations by discussing the Brexit vote. Under UK rules, broadcasters are not allowed to talk about or analyze election and referendum issues during the time polls are open for voting, from 7 am to 10 pm.

The broadcast aired on Euroskeptic Rupert Murdoch's news channel featured strongly pro-Brexit sentiment.
"I mean we are governed by a bunch of bureaucrats that don't speak English in a funny place called the Hague, which makes no sense at all, and it tells Britain what to do, it takes British money, it doesn't send much of if it back - it's a very unfair one-way street when you begin to dig into it and the biggest thing of course is that all of this is all a disguise over the immigration issue," a commentator said on air.
The Fox program, which aired 10 minutes before the polls closed, also accused the BBC of acting like a "running ad for Remain." The same news program explained there was a lot of "establishment pressure" on the public to back Remain.

Footprints

Understanding Putin's intentions, charting the right course of action with Russia

© AFP/Alexei Druzhinin
The New Czar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers

This was a deeply informing and mind-opening book for me in trying to understand President Putin's true intentions and how we in the United States and the West should deal with Russia and him to advance our own and the world's interests. Here are my perspectives:

1. It becomes even clearer to me that Putin's ascendency and with it his frame of mind changed event-by-event, yet inexorably over the course of his life and especially over the 15 years, 2000-2015 during which he has held power.

So much of his history grew from his earliest background, as it does for all of us. Having been born into a war-ravaged country, with his father at one point left for dead and two of his siblings dying during World War II, having seen a movie in his teens that led him to want to join the KGB and become a "spy," having been bullied as a kid, and later pursuing martial arts, learning that one has to fight for oneself, seeing the West as a historic potential threat (witness the Cold War), with a life driven by a pragmatic, "put your nose to the grindstone" commitment, while loyally serving those in power (e.g. Sobchak) and being ready to make the most of what comes next (I can relate to that). In that regard, nothing could have surprised him more looking back than Yeltsin's asking him in 1999 to take his place as President.

Comment: Contrary to the author of the book, and certain positions of the article's author, Putin has been and remains moves ahead of his counterparts, combining integrity and mastery of global politics with the rights and needs of people.


Ambulance

NATO reports US soldier killed in Afghanistan during operation against Taliban

© Matt Robinson / Reuters
A US soldier was killed in Afghanistan's Helmand province during an operation against the Taliban, NATO has reported. Another was injured along with 6 Afghan troops.

The US trooper was killed while training Afghan soldiers, when their patrol triggered an Improvised Explosive Device. The injured service member is said to be in hospital in stable condition.

The operation was being conducted near the provincial capital of Lashkar Gar in the south of the country. The report of the soldier's death comes shortly after the US sent 100 troops to Lashkar Gah to train and support Afghan security forces.

The Taliban has made significant advances in the Helmand province over the course of past few weeks, increasing the area under its control to roughly 80 percent, according to local officials.

Magnify

Philippines police chief denies existence of policy to kill drug addicts

© Romeo Ranoco / Reuters
Police taking part in a large-scale anti-drug operation in the Philippines which started after the president took office are "not butchers," the police chief has said, adding there is no declared policy to kill drug users and pushers.

Several weeks into the tenure of Rodrigo Duterte, the hardline president, the Philippines' anti-narcotics operation is in full swing despite pressure from human rights groups and Manila's international partners.

On Tuesday, Ronald dela Rosa, director-general of the national police, was summoned to parliament to explain the "unprecedented" rise in the body count and reported surge in vigilante killings, Reuters reported.

"We are not butchers," he told MPs.

Nearly 700,000 drug users and peddlers have turned themselves in, dela Rosa added, claiming that the overall crime rate has improved. Murders and homicides, however, increased.

Document

Emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Dept. through the Clinton Foundation

A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.

The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons' charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.

Comment: Here are examples of the Clinton Foundation emails from Judicial Watch.


Phoenix

Houthi spokesman welcomes Iranian support for Yemeni Supreme Political Council

© REUTERS/ Khaled Abdullah
Mohammad Abdul-Salam, a spokesman for Yemen's Shia Houthi rebel movement Ansar Allah, held a meeting with Iran's ambassador to Yemen and thanked Tehran for endorsing the establishment of the Council, which had been agreed by Ansar Allah movement and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress party in late July.

Mohammad Abdul-Salam, a spokesman for Yemen's Shia Houthi rebel movement Ansar Allah, has praised Iran for approval of the establishment of the Arab country's Supreme Political Council, strictly opposed by the governmental forces, Iranian media reported Tuesday.

In early August, the UN-brokered talks in Kuwait on Yemen's reconciliation ended with the government and Houthi rebels failing to come to an agreement and the rebels forming the Supreme Political Council with a prospect of ruling the country.

Gold Coins

China buys up Britain's North Sea oil industry - Western security experts freaking out

© Andy Buchanan / Reuters
A section of the BP Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) oil platform is seen in the North Sea
China's growing foothold in North Sea oil has got experts worried about the rising power's influence and intentions amid heightened tensions over who owns Britain's energy production resources.

While all the talk in geopolitical circles has been of the West's "Pivot to Asia," China's influence in the UK is causing headaches, as attention falls on the ownership of two major British oil fields by Chinese state-run companies.


Comment: What are they worried about? China has not done anything that would give reason for such concern. All they are doing is taking advantage of oil in the North Sea. Most likely the West would prefer that China would stay out of its neighborhood, but that's a wish that the West clearly does not follow themselves, so it's hard to blame the Chinese for doing exactly what they see the West doing.


According to a report from The Times, firms governed by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) are so embedded in the UK oil industry that they stand to get some £2 billion in tax breaks and now pump out as much as 200,000 barrels per day.

Comment: China is buying up key infrastructure all across the West, particularly in Europe. And there is nothing the PTB can do about it.


Bulb

Trump calls for independent special investigator for Clinton crimes after FBI and DOJ "whitewash"

© DPA
Donald Trump
Donald Trump has called for an independent special prosecutor to be assigned to investigate the Clinton Foundation, saying that neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice can be trusted after their judgment on Hillary Clinton's email controversy.

"The Clintons made the State Department into the same kind of pay-to-play operation as the Arkansas government was: Pay the Clinton Foundation huge sums of money and throw in some big-speaking fees for Bill Clinton, and you got to play with the State Department," Trump said during a speech to supporters in Akron, Ohio.

"The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant number of times it was done, require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately," Trump said.

US federal law implies that independent counsel can be appointed if the attorney general determines that an investigation by the Department of Justice "would present a conflict of interest for the department or other extraordinary circumstances" and "that under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside special counsel," Time magazine says.


Comment: Trump is a narcissistic blow-hard, but he makes a good point here. The citizens of the United States are apparently growing tired of the outrageous behavior of their corrupt officials and are turning to Trump thinking he has the answers. He clearly doesn't, but at least he's entertaining. And isn't that really what the American people want?


Footprints

Crying foul: A Turkish 'army' of 6,000 intelligence agents has invaded Germany, says anonymous security official

© Vincent Kessler / Reuters
An army of "Turkish agents" larger than East Germany's Stasi secret service threatens the German Turkish diaspora, and its alleged existence raises controversy over intelligence cooperation between the countries, a German security official said. Turkey's MIT intelligence service has a network of around 6,000 agents - supported by roughly 500 people of Turkish descent - active all across Germany, an unidentified security official told Die Welt on Sunday.

"It does no longer come to intelligence gathering, it comes to an oppression done by an intelligence agency," Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, the head of the German Research Institute of the Peace Policy (FF) and a security expert, told Die Welt, commenting on the issue. "Even the Stasi failed to build up such a large army of agents in the Federal Republic."

The report comes as some officials in Berlin say that Turkish agents not only "oppress" local supporters of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, but make German secret services' cooperation with Turkey's intelligence highly controversial. The MIT's "incredible clandestine activities" are taking place in Germany, said Hans-Christian Stroebele, a Green Party MP.

Comment: Sounds like Germany is eating sour grapes since Turkey is no longer starry-eyed about joining their club. If Germany really wanted to talk about an 'army of intelligence agents invading their ranks' they might want to address the United States sized elephant in the room.