Philippines: Fake News List Features “Everyone Who Has an Ax To Grind Against President Duterte” (Those in Favor of Rule of Law, Human Rights, things like that….)

December 13, 2018

Image result for President Duterte, photos

Easily the most laughable post to hit social media this week was a list of people supposedly behind a plot to oust President Duterte.

Posted by no less than the President’s controversial son, Paolo “Polong” Duterte, the list identified as “Anti-Administration Group, Oust Duterte Movement” the strangest of bedfellows

Opinion
Philippine Inquirer

Image result for Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, photos

Paolo “Polong” Duterte

—Vice President Leni Robredo, Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Marvic Leonen, Sen. Leila de Lima, Bishops Pablo Virgilio David and Broderick Pabillo (misspelled on the list as Pabilo), Inquirer columnist Randy David, journalists Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas and Ed Lingao, former chief justice Hilario Davide, former vice president Jejomar Binay, Cabinet members of the Arroyo administration, retired generals, business entities, “millennial students studying at Jesuit-run schools” and “mutant/cause-oriented groups.”

What set social media on fire was the inclusion of Jollibee among those cooking up a supposed ouster plot. The image of the beloved Filipino icon as a government destabilizer proved too much even for a people known for their extreme patience and deprecating humor.

Soon, many memes of the jolly coup-plotter bee were being shared online, in a hilarious takedown of the bizarre list peddled by the President’s son.

Not a few people also became instant fact-checkers. Foremost of them was Father David Reyes, parish priest of the St. Joseph Patriarch Parish in San Pedro, Laguna, who pointed out that: (1) Bishop Leo Drona was already retired and wheelchair-bound; (2) Bishop Julio Labayen died on April 26, 2016, or before Duterte became President; and (3) Bishop Arturo Santos simply does not exist.

Lingao, meanwhile, pointed out that Jim and Ducky Paredes are two different people, while Don Ramon Pedrosa is not the husband of Carmen Pedrosa, who, “last I heard… is a Duterte die-hard who was appointed to the board of Pagcor.” And so on with the list’s inanities.

But, past the laughter, Robredo and Sen. Nancy Binay asked the pertinent questions: Who drew up the document? Was this sloppy list the work of intelligence agencies? What did the President’s son hope to achieve by “sharing” the ridiculous listing?

For fun, he said in the original post that he had since deleted after the social media backlash. (In a new post, he lashed out at Robredo, Binay and Reyes and told off the rest not to be morons — or, in his formulation, “gago,” “tanga.”)

This is the latest of the Duterte lists that impute crime without evidence on perceived opponents of the President. Outside of Jollibee, the mutants and the dead bishop, those on the list are real people — people who served or are serving their country, many of them with distinction, and whom the list is recklessly branding as destabilizers — “for fun.”

The public knows all too well by now the risk to life and limb that such drug/hate lists pose to those cast as enemies, drug peddlers or destabilizers by this administration.

At the very least, the President’s son, who is running for a congressional seat next year, should know that his words and actions reflect on his father’s lofty office, and could be magnified in ways no ordinary citizen can hope to achieve with a single notorious social media post.

He does know, because he and his family never leave unchallenged similar alleged misinformation foisted on them. He and his brother-in-law have filed at least four counts of libel against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV for linking them to the P6.4-billion “shabu” shipment that slipped into the country last year, and for allegedly extorting money from ride-sharing company Uber.

Such accusations, Polong said, were “intended to malign, destroy and kill my good name and reputation, locally, nationally and internationally,” and “especially so as I am the eldest son of our sitting President.”

For her part, his sister Sara, the Davao City mayor, engineered the ouster of the Speaker, third in the line of succession to the presidency, because Pantaleon Alvarez was said to have called her part of the opposition.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the authority on destabilizers, didn’t even deign to finesse his description of the list, and called it for what it is: “The first time I saw that posting, I said it’s fake news. I still maintain that it’s fake news.”

That should be the last word on it.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/118146/fake-news-list#ixzz5ZapLf6AF
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Committee to Protect Journalists: 251 journalists have been jailed around the world in 2018

December 13, 2018

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 251 journalists have been jailed around the world in 2018.

This number, CPJ says, “[suggests] the authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more than a temporary spike. China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia imprisoned more journalists than last year, and Turkey remained the world’s worst jailer.”

“The majority of those imprisoned globally—70 percent—are facing anti-state charges such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed by authorities as terrorist organizations,” CPJ also says.

“The number imprisoned on charges of false news rose to 28 globally, compared with nine just two years ago. Egypt jailed the most journalists on false news charges with 19, followed by Cameroon with four, Rwanda with three, and one each in China and Morocco. The increase comes amid heightened global rhetoric about ‘fake news,’ of which US President Donald Trump is the leading voice.”

December 8, 2018

A Myanmar court will hear the appeal later this month of two Reuters journalists jailed for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis, a lawyer said Saturday.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty under a state secrets act in September after exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya men during a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state last year.

The pair — who have been held behind bars for nearly a year since their arrest last December — were sentenced to seven years in jail, a verdict that drew widespread condemnation, including from US Vice President Mike Pence. — AFP

Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone after their sentencing in September 2018
Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone have been in prison for one year. AFP photos
December 5, 2018

Turkey is seeking the arrest of two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who were dismissed amid the fallout from the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency says a court approved arrest warrants for former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who are believed to have overseen the team that killed and dismembered Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October. Saudi authorities say the agents who killed Khashoggi exceeded their authority. — AP

November 23, 2018

Turkey says President Donald Trump intended to turn a “blind eye” to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder after he said Washington’s ties with Riyadh would not be affected by the incident.

November 22, 2018

US President Donald Trump has doubled down on his partnership with Saudi Arabia, calling it an indispensable ally after a journalist’s grisly murder, but critics say his position ignores Washington’s enormous leverage over Riyadh.

Trump gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a pass on Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, glossing over the Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that the kingdom’s de facto ruler had authorised the killing. — AFP

November 21, 2018

President Donald Trump says a CIA report into the killing by Saudi agents of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi found “nothing definitive.”

“The CIA looked at it,” he tells journalists at the White House. “They have nothing definitive.” — AFP

November 17, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence has vowed the US would hold the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi to account, following media reports that the CIA had concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was behind the journalist’s killing.

“The United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder,” Pence says on the sidelines of an APEC summit in Papua New Guinea. — AFP

November 10, 2018

The killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi poured his remains down the drain after dissolving him in acid, a Turkish newspaper reports.

Samples taken from the drains at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showed traces of acid, pro-government daily Sabah said, without quoting sources.

This led investigators to believe the dead body of the insider-turned-critic of the Riyadh regime was disposed of through the drains as liquid, the paper says. — AFP

November 9, 2018

The fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has expressed “shock and sadness” over reports suggesting that his body may have been dissolved with chemicals. — AP

October 26, 2018

Turkish president says Saudi chief prosecutor will arrive in Turkey on Sunday for investigation of Khashoggi killing. — AP

October 24, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will be briefed Wednesday afternoon by U.S. officials looking into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian agents.

After tomorrow, Trump says, “We’ll know pretty much everything there is to know.”

He calls the killing of Khashoggi “a total fiasco” and says Saudi Arabia never should have thought about killing the dissident Washington Post contributor.

Trump says, “Once they thought about it, everything else they did was bad too.”

Trump is repeating the denials by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he knew of the plot before it was carried out. — AP

October 20, 2018

Amnesty International says the “impartiality” of a Saudi investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi would remain in question after authorities in the kingdom said the journalist died after a fight in the consulate in Istanbul.

Amnesty’s Rawya Rageh says early Saturday the rights group and other organizations have been very clear that what is needed is “an impartial and independent investigation by the U.N. to find out what happened and ensure justice” for Khashoggi.

She said rights groups have been concerned of a “whitewash” in the investigation.

Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi authorities say a fight broke out in the consulate after which Khashoggi died. — AP

October 20, 2018

US President Donald Trump says that he found credible Saudi Arabia’s assertion that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of a fight.

“I do, I do,” Trump says when asked if the Saudis’ explanation was credible, while adding: “It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation.” — AFP

October 19, 2018

President Donald Trump says he now believes journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned of “very severe” consequences should Saudi Arabia be proven responsible. – AFP

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October 18, 2018

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is asking Turkey for audio and video relating to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “if it exists.” The president on called Saudi Arabia an important ally, noting it is an important customer for U.S. military exports. Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudis’ Istanbul consulate, which Saudi officials have denied. U.S. officials say they are taking Khashoggi’s disappearance seriously, but Trump says he has not sent the FBI, stressing that he was not “American citizen.” In an intervie, Trump warned against a rush to judgment, comparing condemnation of Saudi Arabia to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. — AP

October 18, 2018

The Washington Post has published a new column by Jamal Khashoggi in which he warns that governments in the Middle East “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.” The Post published the column Wednesday, more than two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say he was killed by Saudi agents. The Saudi government has denied it. Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah says she received the column from Khashoggi’s assistant a day after he was reported missing. Khashoggi writes that actions like imprisoning journalists and seizing control of newspapers “no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community.” He says, “Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation followed by silence.” President Donald Trump has suggested that the global community has jumped to conclusions that Saudi Arabia is behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. — AP

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October 18, 2018

The Washington Post plans to publish a new column by missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi in which he discusses the importance of a free press in the Middle East. The WashPost PR Blog says Khashoggi filed the column just before he disappeared. It will be published online Wednesday night in the U.S. Khashoggi was a Post Global Opinions contributor who had written opinion pieces critical of the Saudi crown prince. He was last seen Oct. 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork he needed to get married. Turkish officials have claimed Saudi agents killed and dismembered him. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, but provided no evidence he left the consulate. The Post also plans to publish a page dedicated to Khashoggi in its opinions section Thursday.

September 22, 2018

A newspaper in southern Mexico says one of its reporters was shot to death as he left his home to work on a story.

El Heraldo de Chiapas says journalist Mario Gomez was attacked by two men Friday in Yajalon, a town in a jungle area of Chiapas state near the border with Guatemala.

Gomez is at least the 10th news worker to be killed in Mexico this year. — AP   

September 20, 2018

Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot at the house of a Talisay City-based radio broadcaster on Wednesday night, the Bacolod chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reports.

In a statement, NUJP Bacolod says men on two motorcycles strafed the house of Muews Radio’s Rey Siason in Carmela Valley Homes in Talisay City.

Siason was not in his home at the time as he had stopped along the way home to eat. His daughter, a minor, told him of the incident over the phone, NUJP-Bacolod says.

“We call on the authorities to swiftly investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice,” Marchel Espina, NUJP-Bacolod chair, says in the statement.

In February, Ranilo Azue, also with Muews Radio, was mauled outside the radio station by men believed to be associated with the government.

August 30, 2018

A Mexican television reporter was shot in the resort city of Cancun, the eighth journalist killed this year in a country notoriously dangerous for the media.

Javier Enrique Rodriguez Valladares worked as a cameraman and reporter for Canal 10.

The station says his family had confirmed his death.

News reports in Cancun say he was shot while walking with another man in the central part of the city. Local officials have not released any information about the case. — AFP

July 20, 2018

Broadcaster Joey Llana, 38, was shot dead by an unknown attacker in Daraga, Albay early Friday morning.

Llana, a blocktimer at Legaspi City’s DWZR and known for his hard-hitting commentaries, was shot while he was on the way to work, the Bicol Standard reports.

June 30, 2018

Hundreds of people have gathered in the shadow of the Maryland State House for a candlelight march in memory of five slain newspaper employees.

The mood was somber as Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis read aloud the names of his five slain co-workers before those gathers began marching through downtown Annapolis.

Some in the crowd carried signs and banners that said “#AnnapolisStrong.”

Melissa Wilson and her husband, Benjamin Wilson, brought their children to the vigil. Melissa Wilson’s employer has offices in the same building as the newspaper and has co-workers who were there when the gunman opened fire. She said many Annapolis residents have a “one degree of separation” connection with at least one of the five paper employees who were fatally shot. — AP

“It’s not something you can ignore when it’s in your backyard,” she said.

Dennis Denora, a Sun.Star reporter and publisher of the Trends and Times community paper, has been shot dead by unidentified killers, according to the Davao chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Denora was killed near the wet market of Panabo City in Davao Del Norte on Thursday afternoon, NUJP Davao says.

The Davao del Norte Press & Radio-TV Club says in a statement that is is angered and saddened by news of the killing.

“His death awakens the anger and pains of journalists who do their job and yet are being judged by the pistol,” the group also says.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/happens/399#LearEVbS0VM6cDvl.99

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Pakistan willing to use ‘little influence’ it has with Afghan Taliban to help peace talks

December 13, 2018

Pakistan is willing to use its “little influence” with the Afghan Taliban to resurrect faltering peace talks between the Kabul government and the insurgency, foreign office officials said, just days before Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is scheduled to visit Kabul to meet with top civilian and military leaders.

US officials have long pushed Pakistan to use its influence with Taliban leaders, who Washington says are based inside Pakistan, to bring them to the negotiating table and end a 17-year war. Islamabad vehemently denies it is covertly sheltering Taliban leaders.

“We can facilitate the peace process by using our little influence over the Afghan Taliban,” a foreign office official with knowledge of the talks told Arab News on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media about the issue.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is scheduled to visit Kabul to meet with top civilian and military leaders. (Reuters)

“Pakistan is willing to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table but obviously is not in a position to forge a peace agreement with them. The modalities and all other relevant things are to be decided by the US as it is the major stakeholder,” he said.

However, he said that the Taliban seemed “least interested” in engaging with the Afghan government at a time when the next presidential elections were scheduled to be held in April next year. He said the US and Afghanistan had to mutually decide if they wanted to delay the presidential elections so the present dispensation could better engage with the Taliban or if they wanted a new government with a full five-year mandate to broker a peace deal.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump asked for Pakistan’s help with Afghan peace talks in a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“The peace process has started and the good thing is that the US has finally agreed to find a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict,” foreign office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal told Arab News. “Pakistan is ready to play its role and our foreign minister will convey this to the Afghan leadership.”

Addressing a ceremony in Multan last week, Foreign Minister Qureshi said it was a testament to the robustness of Pakistan’s foreign policy that the US had asked for assistance in resolving the Afghan conflict, adding that he would visit Kabul on Dec. 15 to hold talks with the “Afghan leadership on political reconciliation and durable peace in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan is committed to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, the minister added.

During last week’s visit to Pakistan of the US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, Islamabad had expressed its willingness to host direct talks between representatives of the Afghan government and leaders of the Taliban if all stakeholders, including the US, agreed on a common agenda for the meeting.

“We have conveyed this to the US during the recent visit of Zalmay Khalilzad, but obviously nothing is final at this stage as different options for peace in Afghanistan are being explored,” the foreign office official said.

Last month, Khalilzad said that he hoped a peace deal would be reached by April 2019. But Afghan Taliban militants have repeatedly said that they have not accepted any deadline and that a three-day meeting in Qatar between their leaders and Khalilzad in October ended with no agreement.

In July 2015, Pakistan arranged the first official meeting of representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban in Murree, a hill resort near Islamabad. Observers from the US and China also attended the talks. The process was, however, scuttled after the death of Taliban chief Mullah Omar, throwing fledgling efforts to negotiate into disarray.

Last week, the Afghan president constituted a 12-member committee to hold direct talks with the Taliban, but they have yet to get a nod from the militants.

Rahimullah Yousufzai, an expert on Taliban affairs, said that Pakistan can help to arrange meetings of the Taliban with the US and the Afghan government by using its influence but “there is still a long way to go.”

“The Taliban are seeking a schedule of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and until the US agrees to that, there are little chances of moving ahead,” he told Arab News, adding that Pakistan could facilitate negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban as it had in the past but “nothing more than that.”

“Taliban’s international recognition has increased manifold in the past years and they are now least dependent on Pakistan’s help,” Yousafzai said.

A senior security official privy to talks said that no peace deal was possible without the ownership of the process by the Afghan people: “Right now, the biggest question is, do the Afghan people even accept this process?”

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1420381/world

Brazil’s Bolsonaro under pressure over suspect payments to family

December 13, 2018

Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro faced growing scrutiny Thursday as a government financial crime unit questioned payments made to his son and wife that totalled more than $300,000.

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Bolsonaro easily won Brazil’s presidential elections in October amid widespread public disenchantment over a series of mega corruption scandals that tarnished his predecessors.

At issue are 1.2 million reais ($300,000) in payments made to Bolsonaro’s son Flavio, a lawmaker for Rio de Janeiro state who will be a federal senator from next year.

Bolsonaro avoided questions on payments for days

The payments were made by Queiroz, a police officer who had served for years as Flavio Bolsonaro’s chauffeur and bodyguard. They raised suspicions because they exceed his income.

COAF is also looking into 24,000 reais ($6,200) Quieroz deposited via checks into the account of Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle Bolsonaro. The future president has said they were reimbursements for a loan he had made to his son’s aide but not declared.

Bolsonaro had been for days avoiding journalists who wanted to question him about the matter. Quieroz, who has also avoided the media, is to speak to authorities next week.

Flavio Bolsonaro

@FlavioBolsonaro

Continuo com minha consciência tranquila, pois nada fiz de errado. Não sou investigado.
Agora, cabe ao meu ex-assessor prestar os esclarecimentos que se fizerem necessários ao Ministério Público.

8 384 personnes parlent à ce sujet

(AFP)

Trump: Michael Flynn’s ‘great deal’ is because of how he was treated

December 13, 2018

President Trump defended his former national security adviser Thursday, saying Michael Flynn’s light sentence recommendation is because prosecutors are embarrassed by how Flynn was treated.

Image result for Michael Flynn, photos

“They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements,” Trump tweeted.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated – the FBI said he didn’t lie and they overrode the FBI. They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!……

Flynn pleaded guilty last year to one count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, at the time the Russian ambassador. Both Flynn’s lawyers and special counsel Robert Mueller recommended in their sentencing memos that Flynn, who also worked for Trump’s transition team, not have to serve prison time because of his cooperation with Mueller’s investigation.

Former FBI director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers last year that FBI agents didn’t see anything that indicated Flynn was lying in the interview, though McCabe said his statements were at odds with evidence.

A memo that detailed Flynn’s interview with the FBI revealed officials suggested he not have a lawyer present. The judge in the case requested Wednesday documents related to the interview ahead of Flynn’s scheduled sentencing next week.

Trump, who has frequently decried Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, reiterated his criticism of the probe Wednesday.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

WITCH HUNT!

 https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/trump-michael-flynns-great-deal-is-because-of-how-he-was-treated

US wants Africa to chip in more on anti-terror ops, John Bolton says

December 13, 2018

“Unfortunately, billions upon billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have not achieved the desired effects. They have not stopped the scourge of terrorism, radicalism, and violence.

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The Trump administration is pushing African nations to take on a greater role fighting the terrorist groups that threaten them, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Thursday.

“What we’d like to do is empower the African countries to do more of their own security, to do it in coordination with one another,” Bolton said during an address on the Africa strategy at the Heritage Foundation. “They’re the ones who know the neighborhood rather than have the deployment of American forces who are comparatively very well paid and well equipped.”

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John Bolton

The Pentagon announced last month it will draw down the roughly 7,200 U.S. military personnel in Africa by 10 percent over the next several years, even as it continues support counterterrorism operations and airstrikes in places such as Somalia.

Al-Qaeda linked al-shabab recruits walk down a street on March 5, 2012 in the Deniile district of Somalian capital, Mogadishu, following their graduation

Al-Shabab is an al-Qaeda-linked group fighting to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government. AFP photo

The U.S. has a main base in Djibouti and conducts military operations including advice and assistance to partner forces across Africa. The operations, often conducted out of the public eye, sparked controversy last year when four U.S. troops were killed in an ambush in Niger.

A Somali security officer looks toward the scene of twin car bombs that exploded within moments of each other in the Somali capital Mogadishu on November 9, 2018. (AFP)

Bolton pointed to the G5 Sahel Joint Force as a model for the continent’s new independent counterterror operations. Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad formed the joint force last year to fight terror groups and curb organized crime.

President Trump’s new Africa strategy focuses on countering growing Chinese and Russian influence and takes a hard-line approach to years of what Bolton described as failed U.S. aid and United Nations peacekeeping support.

“Unfortunately, billions upon billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have not achieved the desired effects. They have not stopped the scourge of terrorism, radicalism, and violence,” Bolton said. “They have not prevented other powers, such as China and Russia, from taking advantage of African states to increase their own power and influence.”

Boko

“From now on, the United States will not tolerate this long-standing pattern of aid without effect, assistance without accountability, and relief without reform,” he said.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/us-wants-africa-chip-in-more-on-anti-terror-ops-john-bolton-says

Related:

Image result for sahel, africa, map

© AFP/File | Burkina Faso is on the front line of the jihadist revolt in the Sahel, with gunmen launching coordinated attacks in March on the French embassy, cultural centre and the Burkinabe military headquarters in Ouagadougou

Nations ‘face extinction’ without instant climate action

December 13, 2018

Dozens of nations threatened with catastrophe from unchecked climate change warned Thursday they “face extinction” without immediate action to rein in mankind’s emissions, as UN climate talks limped towards their conclusion.

Representatives from nearly 200 nations are locked in negotiations in Poland over how to make good on the promises they made in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement aimed at limiting global temperature rises.

Talks have however hit a wall over a host of disputes ranging from adopting the newest environmental data to how the fight against climate change will be financed in future.

"We are bearing the torch for those vulnerable to climate change," Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told the COP24 in Katowice, Poland. She is shown here addressing the UN General Assembly in September

“We are bearing the torch for those vulnerable to climate change,” Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told the COP24 in Katowice, Poland. She is shown here addressing the UN General Assembly in September “We are bearing the torch for those vulnerable to climate change,” Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told the COP24 in Katowice, Poland. She is shown here addressing the UN General Assembly in September AFP

But with Earth already experiencing widespread droughts, flooding and mega-storms made worse as our planet heats up, many nations simply cannot wait for action.

“We are bearing the torch for those vulnerable to climate change,” Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, told delegates at the COP24 summit.

“We represent a number of nations, like my own, that face extinction. Species of all kinds also face existential risk.”

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Marshall Islands

A group of 48 nations representing more than one billion people urged developed countries — responsible for the lion’s share of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions — to pay up to help the worst affected.

“We are in Poland in the name of the children of tomorrow whose interests we must secure, compelled by science and duty,” said Emmanuel De Guzman, from the Philippines Climate Change Commission.

“We find the ambivalence of countries in these negotiations unacceptable. We are discussing here not trivial text or punctuation marks but our very survival.”

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Ocean levels are up in the Philippines

A major sticking point at talks scheduled to wrap up Friday remains how nations use the findings of a landmark UN report released in October.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the need for greenhouse gas emissions to be nearly halved by 2030 and for fossil fuel use to be slashed in order to achieve the Paris goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C.

Four nations — the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait — blocked a proposal for nations to “welcome” the IPCC report as a basis of future climate action.

Image result for ‎Maldives , islands, Photos

Part of the Maldives have already disappeared under water.

– ‘Talking and talking’ –

Delegates in the Polish mining city of Katowice must agree on a rulebook to implement the Paris accord and are encouraged to outline what they plan to do in practice ahead of a stock-taking in 2020.

But talks are dogged by competing interests, and even if the Paris pledges are realised Earth is on the path towards 3C warming — enough to tear at the fabric of society.

“We are not prepared to die,” said Mohamed Nasheed, former Maldives president and a veteran of UN climate summits.

“Perhaps now it’s time to tell ourselves some hard truths. Carbon emissions keep rising, and rising, and rising. And all we seem to be doing is talking and talking and talking. We are not winning the battle.”

AFP

Trump insists Mexico is paying for the border wall

December 13, 2018

President Trump insisted on Thursday that he is keeping his campaign promise to build the wall and have Mexico pay for it.

Image result for rebecca blackwell, associated press, photos, border wall

Central American migrants planning to surrender to U.S. border patrol agents climb over the U.S. border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, late Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in the Mexican city of Tijuana after undertaking a grueling, weeks-long journey to the U.S. border. (Rebecca Blackwell | The Associated Press)

In a tweet, he said the new trade agreement to replace NAFTA would save the U.S. so much money, that Mexico is effectively buying the border wall for America.

“I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!

 .

Trump recently signed the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. But despite Trump’s claim, Democrats say the U.S. is still paying for the wall, and have fought Trump’s request to appropriate another $5 billion to build more sections of it.

During an oval office meeting this week, Trump got into a spat with Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, N.Y., over funding for the border wall. Trump says he will only accept the full $5 billion, and would be “proud” to shut down the government if Democrats did not agree to the full amount.


Honduran migrant Joel Mendez, 22, feeds his eight-month-old son Daniel as his partner Yesenia Martinez, 24, crawls through a hole under the U.S. border wall, in Tijuana, Mexico, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Moments later Martinez surrendered to waiting border guards while Mendez stayed behind in Tijuana to work, saying he feared he’d be deported if he crossed. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

The Washington Post fact checker unveiled a new rank this week — the Bottomless Pinocchio— that said it was based in part on Trump’s repeated claim that Mexico would pay for the border wall.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/trump-insists-mexico-is-paying-for-the-border-wall

Donald Trump Jr. calls his father a Christmas ‘regifter’ — Donald Senior turns into Scrooge for cancelling media Christmas party (Jim Acosta is “Heartbroken”)

December 13, 2018

US president’s son says as his dad’s namesake, he ‘got regifted all the things that were monogrammed for him at time’

In this photo from November 28, 2018, Donald Trump Jr., center, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, right, depart following the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In this photo from November 28, 2018, Donald Trump Jr., center, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, right, depart following the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump’s eldest son said his father is a “regifter” who “may or may not” have once given him the same gift he presented to his dad the year before.

Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview with the entertainment program “Extra” that because he is his father’s namesake, he “got regifted all the things that were monogrammed for him at times.”

And he said that one Christmas he called his dad out on the regifting, explaining that he was the one who’d had the item monogrammed.

Trump Jr. also said he’ll be spending the holidays with his family and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle at his dad’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

He also joked that “it would be a wonderful thing” if he could tweet his father’s holiday dinner commentary.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/donald-trump-jr-calls-his-father-a-christmas-regifter/

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Donald Trump or The Grinch? White House cancels Christmas party to spite the press

The president expressed his dismay with the media by cancelling a traditional White House Christmas party for press

MATTHEW ROZSA
DECEMBER 13, 2018 1:43PM

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President Donald Trump has abandoned another venerable tradition in order to get back at the media — this time, the White House Christmas party for members of the press. The story was broken in an exclusive by — Fox News.

Image result for Donald Trump, scrooge, pictures

President Trump has canceled the White House holiday party for the media, making the decades-old tradition a victim of his increasingly contentious relationship with major news organizations.

Fox News’ media reporter Howard Kurtz noted that the White House did not announce that it was dropping the press party but that “the decision is hardly shocking, given Trump’s constant attacks on ‘fake news’ and the overwhelmingly negative coverage of him and his administration.” The report also went into detail about how the rest of Trump’s holiday parties seem to be proceeding:

While dropping the media party, the White House is in the midst of a full panoply of other parties this holiday season. Selected media people generally favorable to Trump, including a few Fox News hosts, have made those guest lists.

When Democrats have been in the White House, more liberal commentators have gotten invitations, while more conservative pundits have shown up during Republican administrations.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has refused to participate in a tradition that helped bridge the gap between the politicians in Washington and the members of the press assigned to cover them. He has also refused to participate in the White House Correspondents Association Dinners on both occasions that those events were held during his presidency, even though presidents as far back as Richard Nixon have been involved in them (and Nixon was certainly no friend of the press).

In April, when Trump refused to participate in the second event of this nature, he partially alluded as to why in a tweet, according to The New York Times.

“Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege? Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt!” Trump tweeted at the time.

There may be additional reasons why Trump wants to avoid the press this time around. Despite publicly claiming to be unconcerned about the possibility of impeachment, privately the president is deeply concerned that revelations about him potentially violating campaign finance laws to stifle stories about extramarital affairs could put him in legal jeopardy, according to NBC News. As one close Trump ally told the news outlet, “The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation.”

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

https://www.salon.com/2018/12/13/donald-trump-or-the-grinch-white-house-cancels-christmas-party-to-spite-the-press/

Israel encircles Ramallah after West Bank attack

December 13, 2018

Israeli forces encircled Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Thursday and sent in reinforcements after a gunman shot dead two Israelis at a bus stop in the area, the army said.

The military was sending “a few more infantry battalions” to conduct operations in the West Bank. (File/AFP)

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“Entrances and exits to the city are all closed. We are conducting searches,” army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.

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He said the military was sending “a few more infantry battalions” to conduct operations in the West Bank.

AFP

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A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the 'martyr' Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas's official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the ‘martyr’ Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas’s official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)