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Sep 19, 2018, 09:26 PM
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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 1281331 times)
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Darja
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« Reply #4395 on: Today at 04:45 AM »


North Korea agrees to shut down missile test sites as leaders hail 'leap forward'

Moon Jae-in says leaders have agreed to steps they say will lead to a nuclear-free peninsula, and Kim pledges to visit Seoul

Benjamin Haas in Seoul
Guardian
Wed 19 Sep 2018 04.28 BST

North Korea will shut down key missile test facilities in the presence of “international experts” and is willing to close its only known nuclear complex if the United States makes reciprocal measures, South Korean president Moon Jae-in has announced in a joint press conference with Kim Jong-un.

The two leaders also agreed during a three-day summit in Pyongyang to connect two rail lines, on the east and west side of the peninsula, across one of the most militarised borders in the world. Kim also said he would visit Seoul in the “near future”, a move that would make him the first North Korean leader to visit the South’s capital.

'Ashamed': South Koreans chilled by Kim Jong-un's cuddles..Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/19/ashamed-south-koreans-chilled-by-kim-jong-uns-cuddles

North and South Korea agreed that the Korean Peninsula should turn into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats”, Moon said. Any transport links would require the approval of the US-led United Nations Command, which oversees the border region.

“There is not only going to be a smooth road ahead, there will be challenges and trials, but the more we overcome them the stronger we will become,” Kim said. “We are not afraid of future challenges.”

The agreement signed in Pyongyang “will open a higher level for the improvement in relations” between the two Koreas, Kim added, describing it as a “leap forward” toward peace.

Donald Trump described the meeting as “Very exciting!” in a tweet, and claimed Kim had “agreed to allow nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations”.

Under the agreement signed by the men, North Korea will shut down the Dongchang-ri missile engine testing facility and missile launch pad, according to Moon. It was not immediately clear what North Korea meant by “reciprocal measures” the US could take so that it would shut its nuclear complex, but it is unlikely Washington would agree to give up any part of its own nuclear arsenal.
Handshakes and high hopes: the inter-Korean summit – in pictures

Kim did not mention denuclearisation at any point in his own remarks. The lack of steps specifically on the nuclear issue could worry officials in Washington, and talks between the US and North Korea have stalled in recent weeks.

Mintaro Oba, a former US diplomat who focused on North Korea policy, said: “I think we can expect a two-tiered response where President Trump remains enthusiastic about engaging with Kim Jong-un, but we also see continued scepticism from US officials about both the purported progress on denuclearisation.

“But if one thing is clear, it’s that North Korea continues to outmanoeuvre the United States through its willingness to take initiatives that shape the global public narrative and force Washington to choose between engaging on Pyongyang’s terms or looking like it is acting in bad faith.”

The two Koreas also agreed to establish a joint military committee to resolve any potential conflicts, and each side will withdrawal 11 guard post from the demilitarised zone by the end of the year. The two militaries agreed to a range of measured to prevent accidental clashes, including a no-fly zone near the border and suspending test firing in the area.

South Korea will allow its citizens to visit the Mount Kumgang tourist region in the North for the first time since 2008, when a North Korean soldier shot and killed a tourist from the South. The two sides will also establish a permanent venue for families divided by the 1950-53 Korean war to meet more frequently. In the past most families could see relatives for only a few hours, and usually only once.

The two sides also plan to bid to jointly host the 2032 Summer Olympics.


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« Reply #4396 on: Today at 04:47 AM »


'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen

Save the Children warns of ‘starvation on an unprecedented scale’ as conflict disrupts food supplies

Agence France-Presse
Wed 19 Sep 2018 02.33 BST

More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, charity Save the Children has warned.

Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port of Hodeida could “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale”, the British-based NGO said in a new report.

Save the Children said an extra one million children now risk falling into famine as prices of food and transportation rise, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

Any type of closure at the port “would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine”, it added.

Impoverished Yemen has been mired in deadly conflict between Shia Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi since 2014.

A Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015 in a bid to bolster the president, accusing Iran of backing the Houthis, but nearly 10,000 people have since been killed.

Deadly clashes resumed around the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida following the collapse of talks in Geneva this month.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said: “Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger.

“This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera,” she added.

The United Nations has warned that any major fighting in Hodeida could halt food distributions to eight million Yemenis dependent on them for survival.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the Houthi rebels of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida and has imposed a partial blockade on the port.

The Huthis and Iran both deny the charges.


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« Reply #4397 on: Today at 04:49 AM »

Myanmar Rohingya crisis: ICC begins inquiry into atrocities

Chief prosecutor announces investigation into forced deportations to Bangladesh

Patrick Wintour and agencies
Guardian
Wed 19 Sep 2018 10.23 BST

The chief prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) has announced she is launching a preliminary investigation into the deportations of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

Fatou Bensouda said in a written statement and video message on Tuesday that she had begun an inquiry – formally known as a preliminary examination – to establish whether there was enough evidence to merit a full investigation.

Bensouda said she would look at reports of “a number of alleged coercive acts having resulted in the forced displacement of the Rohingya people, including deprivation of fundamental rights, killing, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, destruction and looting”.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including rape, murder, torture and the burning of Rohingya villages – leading about 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh since August last year.

Bensouda’s announcement came less than two weeks after ICC judges gave her authorisation to investigate the deportations despite Myanmar not being a member state of the court.

The judges said in their landmark ruling that because part of the alleged crime of deportation happened on the territory of Bangladesh – which is a member of the court – Bensouda has jurisdiction. They urged her to conclude her preliminary examination “within a reasonable time”.

The ICC is a court of last resort, which steps in only when national authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute alleged crimes. Bensouda said prosecutors “will be engaging with the national authorities concerned with a view to discussing and assessing any relevant investigation and prosecution at the national level”.

Bensouda’s announcement came on the same day UN-backed investigators presented a report that painted a grim picture of crimes against the Rohingya. Such reports will likely be closely studied in her investigation.

It reiterated earlier findings that some senior Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya during a deadly crackdown that erupted in August 2017 following militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine state.

Myanmar’s new ambassador in Geneva lashed out at what he called a “one-sided” report.

In Washington, the US Department of State said it had “serious concerns” about the Myanmar judicial system’s ability to hold people accountable for abuses against the Rohingya, but would not be drawn on whether it supported an ICC investigation.

Last week, the hawkish US national security adviser, John Bolton, denounced the court as a threat to American sovereignty and security interests.

The UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday for talks with its leaders, promised additional aid for people in camps in Bangladesh who have experienced sexual violence.

Hunt will visit northern Rakhine state, from where thousands of Rohingya fled to escape the military, and meet Aung San Suu Kyi. The UK has taken the lead in trying to document victims of sexual violence, and the evidence that has been gathered would in theory be crucial to any ICC investigation.

More than 180 British parliamentarians have written to the foreign secretary urging the UK to support an ICC investigation. The letter, organised by the Labour MP Rushanara Ali, expressed concern that the UK Foreign Office, instead of supporting an ICC inquiry, was backing an investigation established by the Myanmar government.

It argued the government inquiry was not even “an attempt at a charade” because it will not examine any human rights violations outside Rakhine state.

The letter acknowledged an ICC referral was likely to be vetoed at the UN by China, but the threat of a veto has not prevented the UK from pressing human rights issues at the UN over Syria.

Acknowledging there are no easy solutions, the letter to Hunt insisted “a crime as serious as genocide cannot be allowed to stand without even attempting to ensure that the ICC can try to hold those responsible to account”.

Hunt has promised to hold high-level meetings on the issue at the UN general assembly in New York next week and said those responsible should be brought to justice.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

UN investigators publish report detailing evidence for accusation of genocide against Burmese military

• Warning: graphic information in this report may upset some readers

Michael Safi
19 Sep 2018 13.44 BST
Guardian

Horrific accounts of murders, rapes, torture and indiscriminate shelling allegedly committed by the Burmese army against the Rohingya people and other minority groups have been laid out by UN investigators in an extensive new report detailing evidence for their accusation of genocide.

The report from the fact-finding mission, presented to the UN human rights council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, said Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, had committed “the gravest crimes under international law”.

The full 440-page report, a summary of which was released in August, includes accounts of women tied by their hair or hands to trees then raped; young children trying to flee burning houses but forced back inside; widespread use of torture with bamboo sticks, cigarettes and hot wax; and landmines placed at the escape routes from villages, killing people as they fled army crackdowns.

“I have never been confronted by crimes as horrendous and on such a scale as these,” said Marzuki Darusman, the chair of the mission.

The three-person panel said the Tatmadaw had developed a “toxic command climate” in which widespread human rights abuses had become the norm. It called for the army to be brought under civilian oversight, stripped of its quota of parliamentary seats and, if necessary, totally dissolved and rebuilt.

It called for senior Burmese military leaders, including the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, to be prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“Any engagement in any form with the Tatmadaw, its current leadership, and its businesses is indefensible,” the report said.

The investigators and their staff spent 15 months examining the conduct of Myanmar’s military and other armed groups in the states of Rakhine, Shan and Kachin, following years of reports of human rights abuses. They were denied access to Myanmar by the government but interviewed 875 witnesses who had fled the country.

The panel was nearly six months into its mission in August 2017 when Rohingya militants attacked a series of Burmese police outposts with knives and small bombs, triggering army “clearance operations” that forced more than 700,000 members of the Muslim minority group into neighbouring Bangladesh.

More than 1,700 Rohingya are still crossing the border into the Cox’s Bazar district of southern Bangladesh each month, the report said.

It gave a “conservative” estimate that at least 10,000 Rohingya people had been killed in the two months after the army crackdown commenced in August last year, including at least 750 people in the village of Min Gyi, known to the Rohingya as Tula Toli.

Rape and sexual violence were a “particularly egregious and recurrent feature” of the Tatmadaw’s conduct, the report said. It cited eyewitness accounts of Rohingya people who claim to have seen naked women and girls running through forests “in visible distress” and villages scattered with dead bodies with “large amounts of blood … visible between their legs”.

Satellite imagery included in the report showed nearly 400 “whole villages literally wiped off the map”, investigators said.

They noted a buildup of armed forces in Rakhine state in the months leading up to the clearance operations and a sharpening of anti-Rohingya rhetoric, including by civilian leaders. “The human rights catastrophe of 2017 was planned, foreseeable and inevitable,” the report said.

It sharply criticised the UN presence in Myanmar, finding that top officials were loth to pursue a human rights agenda, preferring a “business as usual” approach that prioritised development goals and maintaining access for humanitarian groups.

Some of those who tried to push human rights issues told investigators they were “ignored, criticised, sidelined or blocked in these efforts”, the report said.

Facebook was also singled out by investigators for the ease with which its open platform allowed hate speech and misinformation to spread.

Members of the panel attempted to report a post in which a human rights activist was accused of cooperating with the fact-finding mission and labelled a “national traitor”. One comment under the post read: “If this animal is still around, find him and kill him.”

The panel was told the post did not contravene Facebook guidelines and it was only removed several weeks later with the support of a contact at the social media company.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have both agreed in principle that the Rohingya refugees sheltering in Cox’s Bazar should return, but the report said repatriation in the current circumstances was out of the question.

“The security forces who perpetrated gross human rights violations, with impunity, would be responsible for ensuring the security of returnees,” it said. “Repatriation in such condition is inconceivable.”

Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s representative to the UN in Geneva, told the council the report lacked “balance, impartiality and fairness”, criticising its reliance on refugee testimony and the reports of NGOs – though the Burmese government did not grant the mission access to the country.

“Not only is this report detrimental to social cohesion in Rakhine state, it also undermines the government’s efforts to bring peace, national reconciliation and development to the entire nation,” he said.

Bangladeshi officials said on Tuesday they were moving ahead with a controversial plan to relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal.

“Initially, 50 to 60 Rohingya families will be relocated in the first phase beginning next month,” an official, Habibul Kabir Chowdhury, told Agence France-Presse.


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« Reply #4398 on: Today at 05:06 AM »

Conservative lawyer whines Mueller’s carefully-worded Manafort deal makes it virtually impossible for Trump pardon

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
19 Sep 2018 at 11:29 ET                   

Lawyers digging deeply into ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller say they are stunned at all of the safeguards put in place by investigators that virtually assures that President Donald Trump can’t interfere by offering a pardon to shut the former aide up.

According to Politico, the Manafort deal was carefully constructed to block Trump from getting involved, with additional threats to come after Manafort on other charges if Trump tries to derail Manafort’s flipping on the president.

Legal experts looking at the plea deal tell Politico that the special counsel’s office went to extraordinary lengths to “tie Trump’s hands.”

“What is most concerning to me is that Mr. Mueller, who is a part of the executive branch and is supposed to follow all of DOJ’s policies and procedures, is specifically seeking to impede the ability of the president to exercise his constitutional pardon authority,” explained David Rivkin, a Justice Department official under conservative Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

According to the deal that Manafort agreed to, he is agreeing to not seek a pardon from his former boss, as well as not “seek another form of executive clemency that could relieve him of the obligation to turn over tens of millions of property to the government as part of the plea bargain.”

The deal also left open the door for prosecutors to go after five identified homes or apartments, three bank accounts and a life insurance policy belonging to Manafort with impunity and “without regard to the status of his criminal conviction.”

According to University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler, provisions buried in the deal show Mueller is looking at Trump’s long game and that complex deal throws up a series of roadblocks to rein Trump’s interference into the Russian influence investigation in.

“These waivers are troubling because they have to do with future events we can’t predict,” Osler explained. ““They did a pretty good job hiding what they did, but as part of these agreements, sometimes the most important things you want to bury it a little.”

According to the report, should any of Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions be wiped out for any reason, prosecutors will have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have confessed to during recent plea negotiations.

According to Osler, portions of Manafort’s deal are designed to close off “legitimate routes a defendant should be able to use to raise potential unfairness.”

“It does appear this document was created with clemency in mind,” explained Osler. “If this plays out … and later we get a pardon of some kind, we’re going to have a lot of questions of first impression, I think. Then, we’re going to be in the courts on this and it’ll be fascinating.”

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Intel officials baffled by Trump’s ‘truly damaging’ declassification order: MSNBC national security reporter

Brendan Skwire
Raw Story
19 Sep 2018 at 10:28 ET                   

National security reporter Ken Dilanian told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle that Trump’s decision to declassify FBI and FISA documents related to the surveillance of Carter Page -an investigation in which the president himself is a subject- is “truly damaging” to the United States. Trump’s motives for doing so, he added, make it all the worse.

“This president has shattered so many norms, it’s hard for people to understand when he does something that’s truly damaging,” Dilanian said. “This is one of those times.”

Dilanian went on to say that “current and former intelligence officials I’ve talked to are stunned” by the president’s decision to “overrule his own intelligence and law enforcement professionals.”

It’s bad enough that Trump is trying “to force the release of highly sensitive documents from a pending counterintelligence criminal investigation,” Dilanian said. “But the obvious motive is the real scandal: the president is the subject of this investigation.”

The president is “helping to fuel what’s essentially a conspiracy theory, which is that the Carter Page surveillance was the genesis of the Russia investigation.” he added. “We know that’s false.”

Dilanian also had harsh words for California Republican Devin Nunes, who has been criticized for trying to undermine the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“It’s one thing for the Republicans to want to have oversight of this FISA process but Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence committee, as far as we’re told, has never actually read these highly sensitive documents,” said Dilanian. “And neither has Donald Trump. So they’re not sure what sources and methods could be compromised.” He also noted Nunes made his political motivation for releasing the documents clear, in a speech earlier in the week in which the congressman “said explicitly it would help the Republicans win the fall election.”

The FBI and the Justice Department are unhappy by Trump’s release, Dilanian indicated, saying “officials have told members of Congress it would be very damaging if some of this stuff was released. Apparently Donald Trump is willing to take that risk because he thinks it’s going to help his cause.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j3yqpvG9_E

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Trump’s declassification order rewards allies’ strategy of sidestepping congressional leaders

By Karoun Demirjian
WA Post
September 19 at 11:07 PM

President Trump’s controversial order to declassify materials associated with the federal investigation into his campaign’s alleged Russia ties was validation for his closest congressional allies, who escalated their long-running feud with the Justice Department by skipping formality and going straight to the White House.

Conservative Republicans have pummeled top Justice officials for months, accusing them of failing to provide Congress with documents they say would expose the “rotten” foundations of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. Their efforts went so far as to pursue impeachment proceedings against Mueller’s overseer, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

For a while, they had the backing of party leaders on Capitol Hill. But in recent weeks, congressional GOP leaders have lost their patience with the relentlessly combative approach, arguing that Rosenstein and other Justice Department officials have been more cooperative with requests of late. Even some of the conservative Republicans most frustrated with Rosenstein now acknowledge the Justice Department’s efforts to comply with their document requests have improved. The change, one aide said, has cost Trump allies a key talking point they’re no longer able to push with their base.

But that doesn’t mean Trump’s congressional allies are satisfied. This month, leading conservatives asked the president to go around the Justice Department — a tactic, some said, that would be more efficient than trying once again to use traditional congressional channels to procure sensitive materials.

“At this point, the only way to really shake the tree and have the fruit drop off is have the executive branch help,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said last week in an interview with The Washington Post, expressing frustration that efforts to work through Congress to unearth information they believe to be damaging to the Mueller probe have been “laborious” and “without a whole lot of fruit.”

It worked: On Monday evening, Trump directed the Justice Department to hand over about 20 pages of the FBI’s application to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, the reports from related interviews plus memos written by Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who interviewed the author of a controversial dossier detailing Trump’s alleged personal and financial links to Russia.

Trump also ordered the release of all Russia-related text messages on devices used by former senior FBI and Justice Department officials, including then-FBI Director James B. Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

Trump and his allies have accused the Justice Department of intentionally withholding that information, although hundreds of thousands of documents have been made available to committees investigating how federal law enforcement officials handled probes of Trump’s campaign and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

It is not the first time Trump has enabled the declassification of information related to the Russia probe. “We went through a very similar process with the Nunes memo,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), another Trump supporter, said in an interview last week, referring to when Trump decided not to block House Intelligence Committee Republicans from releasing a memo written by Chairman Devin Nunes (Calif.), pertaining to the FBI’s application to surveil Page.

No committees voted this time to ask Trump to declassify the Justice Department documents, although House Republicans have cast other votes to force the agency to make materials available to members of Congress.

But even after subpoenas, votes and the intervention of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) with Justice Department officials, conservative Republicans said they had achieved only moderate success — and at a frustrating pace.

“In a perfect world, there would be a lot more subpoenas and a lot more aggressive position on behalf of a Republican leadership,” Meadows said. “But when all of that falls apart, I’m one that will explore every opportunity, and that means making direct appeals to the administration is certainly not off the table.”

Ryan’s office and the White House declined to comment.

Trump’s animus toward senior officials in the Justice Department for not quashing Mueller’s probe is well-established, and several lawmakers — especially Democrats — say this latest declassification order is an effort to thwart Mueller’s probe as it appears to be moving closer to the president’s inner circle.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, said Trump’s order is an attempt “to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.”

Late Tuesday, Schiff and the other Democratic in the Gang of Eight — composed of the congressional and intelligence committee leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress that receives the most sensitive intelligence briefings — sent a letter to Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats urging them not to comply with Trump’s order.

“Any decision by your offices to share this material with the president or his lawyers will violate long-standing Department of Justice policies, as well as assurances you have provided to us,” they wrote, asking for an immediate briefing to explain how the agencies intended to comply.

Although Trump’s congressional allies insist that politics played no part in their considerations, the release of these documents is likely one of the last chances they will have to make a new, public campaign against the foundations of Mueller’s probe before a high-stakes midterm election in which the House majority is on the line.

The House Judiciary and Oversight committees’ ongoing joint investigation will continue holding closed-door interviews with key witnesses in the next few weeks, including with Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, who worked with the research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier. But the joint panel is not expected to conduct any more public witness testimony until after the election.

Conservative lawmakers have not said whether they will continue to seek further information from the Justice Department after this latest batch of documents is declassified — the timeline for which is unclear. But when asked last week if, for their purposes, approaching the president would be a better long-term strategy than going through congressional channels, they remained coy.

“Maybe,” House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, smiling. “Maybe.”


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