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26 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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PM authorises preliminary €50m in emergency funding for stricken zone as Amatrice hit by 4.7-magnitude aftershock

Emergency workers search the rubble of a destroyed building in Amatrice.

Emergency workers search the rubble of a destroyed building in Amatrice. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

A 4.7-magnitude aftershock has hit the Italian town of Amatrice as rescuers and emergency teams continue their search of three flattened hilltop towns and Italy declares a state of emergency in the region.

With the provisional death toll from Wednesday’s 6.2-magnitude quake standing at 267, including several foreigners, the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, authorised a preliminary €50m (£43m) in emergency funding for the stricken zone.

The powerful aftershock, the latest of more than 500 since the initial quake, hit the area shortly after dawn on Friday, sending up plumes of thick grey dust, shaking buildings that were still standing and fuelling fears of fresh collapses which could hamper the rescue operation.

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Presidential candidate takes hard line, positioning himself as defender of French values and tough on immigration

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during his first presidential campaign rally in Châteaurenard, Provence, on Thursday. Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

Nicolas Sarkozy says he will impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if re-elected to the presidency in 2017, positioning himself as a strong defender of French values and tough on immigration.

Hundreds of supporters waving French flags chanted “Nicolas! Nicolas!” and applauded as Sarkozy, a conservative president from 2007 to 2012 before losing an election to Socialist François Hollande, promised to protect the French people in his first rally for the 2017 election.

“I will be the president that re-establishes the authority of the state,” Sarkozy told a crowd of more than 2,000 in a sports hall in Châteaurenard in Provence, a town where his Les Républicains beat the far-right Front National (FN) in regional elections last year.

“I want to be the president who guarantees the safety of France and of every French person,” the 61-year-old said.

Taking a hard line on the burkini debate that has agitated France over recent weeks, Sarkozy said that the full-body swimwear should be banned from beaches across the country.

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One year ago, a tweet made Germany the promised land for refugees entering Europe – and changed the course of history

Syrian refugees marching through Budapest, heading towards Austria and then Germany, in September 2015.

Syrian refugees marching through Budapest, heading towards Austria and then Germany, in September 2015. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer

The tweet was sent by Germany’s federal agency for migration and refugees a year ago today. “The #Dublin procedure for Syrian citizens is at this point in time effectively no longer being adhered to,” the message read. With 175 retweets and 165 likes, it doesn’t look like classic viral content. But in Germany it is being spoken of as the first post on social media to change the course of European history.

Referring to an EU law determined at a convention in Dublin in 1990, the tweet was widely interpreted as a de facto suspension of the rule that the country in Europe where a refugee first arrives is responsible for handling his or her asylum application.

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US politics

Election 2016

Latest Election Minute

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Activists fear the Dakota Access oil pipeline will pollute water and disturb sacred sites. A court is to decide next month if approval violated indigenous rights

Protesters hold a rally with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in support of a lawsuit against the army Corps of Engineers and plans for the Dakota Access Pipeline outside the US district court in Washington DC on Wednesday.

Protesters hold a rally with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in support of a lawsuit against plans for the Dakota Access pipeline in Washington DC on Wednesday. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Native American activists have said they are still hopeful they can halt the construction of a controversial oil pipeline that will run from North Dakota to Illinois, after a federal judge said he needed more time to decide whether indigenous rights were violated when the project was approved.

Judge James Boasberg of the US district court said he will make a decision by 9 September on whether to stop work on the pipeline during tribal leaders’ lawsuit against the US army Corps of Engineers for approving the Dakota Access project.

The pipeline will run close to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation in North Dakota and across several rivers, including the Missouri and the Mississippi, that supply drinking water for millions of people.

“Whatever the final outcome in court, I believe we have already established an important principle – that is, tribes will be heard on important matters that affect our vital interests,” said Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault, who has previously said the project would “knowingly poison water”.

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Vintage films show risky (and hilarious) behavior in US national parks – video

The rules of acceptable behavior in the national parks have changed drastically over the past 100 years. It was once legal to drive through trees, ride waterfalls, and boil an egg in the Yellowstone hot springs – but now such actions are generally frowned upon

 

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26 Aug

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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What Happened in the Afghanistan War Julian Assange on WikiLeaks Classified War Documents 2016

GUARD: Syria talks: Kerry and Lavrov to thrash out deal on defeating Isis

US and Russia meet in Geneva hoping for agreement on how to end the civil war and pave the way for a political solution

US secretary of state John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, will try to hammer out final details of a cooperation agreement on fighting Islamic State in Syria during talks in Geneva on Friday.

As fighting between Isis, the Syrian government and anti-regime rebels continued to rage across the country, diplomats hope that a deal will lead to a cessation of hostilities and relaunch talks on a political transition in the country.

While Kerry said this week that technical teams from both sides were close to the end of their discussions, US officials indicated it was too early to say whether a deal was likely.

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WP: How this Iraq War veteran lied his way to a Purple Heart and $750,000 in disability benefits

The rocket exploded under the Army Humvee and launched the vehicle into the air.

It was August 2005, two years into Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Darryl Lee Wright was on patrol with the Idaho National Guard in Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq.

Wright recalled later that he was “violently thrown and knocked unconscious from the percussion of the rocket’s impact.”………………..Following an investigation that involved no fewer than 10 federal and state agencies, Wright was indicted in what the Justice Department described as an “extensive benefits fraud scheme.” Federal prosecutors initially said Wright bilked the government out of $250,000; thegovernment now says the figure is more than $750,000……

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ALJ: Iraqi forces seize strategic town near Mosul from ISIL

Victory over group in Qayyarah seen as key step towards reclaiming Mosul, ISIL’s de facto capital in the country.

Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air strikes and tribal fighters, have pushed the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant from Qayyarah, a northern town considered strategic for any future offensive against the group’s last stronghold of Mosul.

“We control all parts of the town and managed, in very limited time, to root out Daesh [ISIL],” Lieutenant General Riyadh Jalal Tawfik, who commands Iraq’s ground forces, told reporters in Qayyarah on Thursday.

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ALJ: Fallujah fallout: More than 700 Sunni men ‘missing’

Probe highlights US failure to control armed groups who detained and tortured Sunni men after routing ISIL from city.

Reports say Shia militias in Iraq detained, tortured and abused far more Sunni civilians during the American-backed capture of the town of Fallujah in June than US officials have publicly acknowledged.

More than 700 Sunni men and boys are still missing more than two months after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group stronghold fell, says Reuters news agency.

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ISW: ISW TRACKING OF IRAQ’S 2016 POLITICAL CRISIS

 Iraq faces a major political crisis that threatens to collapse the current government and exacerbate political unrest. Political stability in Iraq is critical to the ability of the U.S. to continue anti-ISIS operations, not only to defeat ISIS but also to prevent its reconstitution. This page provides a comprehensive collection of ISW reporting and analysis of this political crisis, which ISW has covered since it began. As the crisis continues, ISW’s analysis and reporting will continue. This page will be updated accordingly with the most recent posts appearing at the top.

This reporting has been led by ISW’s Iraq Analyst Patrick Martin with the constant and never-ending help of Emily Anagnostos, Rachel Bessette, Hannah Werman, and Tori Keller, along with Caitlin Forrest, Counter-terrorism Research Assistant.  The ISW Counterterrorism Team, lead by Harleen Gambhir with invaluable support from Claire Coyne, was responsible for the comprehensive timeline below.

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Iraqi Air Force destroys ISIS convoy in Sharqat

(IraqiNews.com) Salahuddin – A security source in Salahuddin province on Thursday informed that an ISIS convoy was destroyed in Sharqat district. Sharing details the source said, “Iraqi…

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Iraq receives 2nd batch of Czech L159 aircraft

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – Iraq has received the second batch of Czech L159 aircraft that arrived in Balad air base north of Baghdad. A military source…

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 WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2016 — Afghan forces are performing better this year than last year, and are generally on track with their offensive campaign plan and are on a positive trajectory, the NATO Resolute Support Mission deputy chief of staff for communications said today.

Army Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, briefing the Pentagon press corps live via video conference from Kabul, began by offering the deepest sympathies of the command to the families of Army Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, who died Aug. 23 in Helmand province, and to the families of 12 people — seven of them students — who died yesterday in an attack on American University of Afghanistan in Kabul.

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MSFDWB: Afghanistan: “Empty Beds are the Face of War”

Over the last few weeks, fighting in Helmand province has intensified, coming closer to Lashkar Gah than usual. As the conflict has encircled the city—and even though fighting has decreased in recent days—we’ve seen a significant drop in patient admissions at Boost hospital, a 300-bed facility we run in partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Health. The hospital is normally overwhelmed with patients, but lately, we’re seeing fewer people than normal coming to the Emergency Room (ER).

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US vows support in Kabul attack probe as Kabul says culprits based in Pakistan

The US Embassy in Kabul has vowed support to Afghanistan in investigating and bringing the culprits of the deadly attack on the American University in Kabul. “The U.S. Embassy stands ready to assist Afghan authorities with their continuing investigation in bringing those responsible to justice,” a statement by the Embassy said Condemning the attack on

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Ghani asks Raheel Sharif to act against culprits of Kabul attack

The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has asked the Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to act against the culprits of Kabul attack based in Pakistan. The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said President Ghani called Gen. Sharif during the National Security Council meeting and asked him to take actions against the culprits who

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Afghanistan Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

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Recent Casualties

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Iraq Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

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Recent Casualties:

Christopher A. Wilbur, 36, of Granite City, Illinois, died Aug. 12 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from a non-combat-related injury. The incident is under investigation. Wilbur was assigned to 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in Fort Carson, Colorado.

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25 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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August 25, 2016

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24 Aug

National Group to Launch to Promote Progressives

Bernie’s Next Revolution: New National Group to Launch to Promote Progressives

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet

Bernie’s Next Revolution: New National Group to Launch to Promote Progressives | Alternet

Photo Credit: berniesanders.com

Bernie Sanders returns to the political stage on Wednesday to try to do what no progressive has successfully done in decades—keep alive national grassroots momentum that led millions to support him and his agenda in 2016’s presidential nominating contests.

At 9 PM Eastern, Sanders will address 2,600-plus meetings across the country to lay out the next steps in pushing the nation’s politics toward the progressive left. He will kick off a new group called Our Revolution, which will support like-minded candidates running for office and hold pro-corporate officeholders accountable on key issues.

Pressuring Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact is perhaps the foremost immediate example.

“At this meeting, I and others will lay out some of the next steps we can take as a movement to empower a wave of progressive candidates this November and win the major upcoming fights for the values we share,” Sanders said in an e-mail to participants. “We’ll also talk about how you can be a key movement builder in your community for Our Revolution.”

Those 2016 candidates include House primary winners Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Zephyr Teachout (New York) and Tim Canova (Florida) who faces ex-DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a primary next week, and others seeking statewide office.

Sanders also will start campaigning for Hillary Clinton after Labor Day, The Washington Post reported. “I look forward to it. I feel very strongly that Donald Trump would be a disaster for the country. I want to do everything I can to see that Secretary Clinton wins.”

He is likely to hold rallies in swing states where he won caucuses or primaries, such as New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin, and in others where he did well among voters who will be pivotal this fall—in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

While his next steps might more accurately be called evolutionary rather than revolutionary, Sanders has been anticipating building a national organization to train and field candidates for many weeks now, as well as planning to campaign in the fall for Clinton.

“If we are successful, what it will mean is that the progressive message and the issues that I campaigned on will be increasingly spread throughout this country,” he told USA Today before the Democratic Convention. “The goal here is to do what I think the Democratic establishment has not been very effective in doing. And that is—at the grassroots level—encourage people to get involved, give them the tools they need to win, help them financially.”

This past week, Sanders thanked supporters in an e-mail and reminded them what they had accomplished during his more than yearlong presidential campaign.

“We have transformed American politics,” he said. “On issue after issue—making college affordable, progressive taxation, climate change, trade and many others—more and more Americans are agreeing with us. People are ready to take on the 1 percent. During our campaign we assembled a movement of millions of people ready to fight for the country we know we can become. Election days come and go, but the struggle for economic, social, racial and environmental justice must continue. We have the guts and the energy to take on the special interests, win critical battles on the most important issues of our time, and redefine what’s possible in this country. Now it’s time for all of us to get to work. Please be part of our new organization, Our Revolution.”

The campaign did more than that. They also convinced the Democratic Party to adopt a series of ideological and electoral reforms to make it more welcoming for progressives. On the ideological front, Sanders’ team prompted substantive reforms of the Democratic Party platform, pushing the party’s political goals to the left. Procedurally, they convinced it to eliminate most super-delegates, making future presidential contests more receptive to grassroots insurgencies. And they won a commitment to review and reform how states holding presidential caucuses run those contests and award delegates.

While many Sanders supporters have been awaiting the campaign’s future plans, others have been busy creating new efforts to elect a more progressive Congress. One cadre of former staffers created a group called Brand New Congress, which hopes to recruit and support like-minded candidates running for every congressional seat in 2018. They are not looking for elected officials who want to climb the political ladder, but rather leaders in their communities and fields.

In their nationwide conference call last week, they reported having 30,000 supporters nationwide, 8,000 small donors raising $40,000, 35,000 likes on social media and 1.1 million people visiting their Facebook page in the past month. They are hoping to have a presidential-style campaign, where candidates challenge incumbents in what has traditionally been low-turnout primary elections in non-presidential years. They are also holding meetings and organizing themselves based on congressional district. During their call, organizers said they were hoping their efforts would be complimentary to what Sanders will be rolling out in Our Revolution.

In the meantime, there have been a series of behind-the-scenes news reports that Our Revolution has faced a series of bumps and staff disputes. Last week, ABC-TV raised questions about its 501(c)4 non-profit tax category, suggesting that was positioning to raise large anonymous donations. Politico.com reported Tuesday that four of 15 staffers abruptly left in a split pitting longtime top Sanders aides against the campaign’s younger organizing and online fundraising talent. NBC News reported that eight staffers left, frustrated they would have to work with Jeff Weaver, his presidential campaign manager and longtime aide.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

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