Jeremy Corbyn: The more they attack him, the stronger he becomes

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

[…] The sad thing is that many in the Labour Party don’t seem to have learned any lessons whatever from their defeat. In fact Tony Blair even repeated Miliband’s absurd stance when he said he’d prefer the Tories to win in 2020 than see a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Another thing that so many Labour Party politicians have utterly failed to understand is that offering a watered down version of Tory ideological austerity cost them dear too. I mean how many people other than die-hard Labour Party tribalists could have been enthused by the policy of promoting exactly the same failing pseudo-economic ideology as the Tories, just not quite as nasty about it?

The fact that so many Labour Party politicians are incapable of understanding where they went wrong is abundantly clear from the way that so many of them have queued up to slag off Jeremy Corbyn, and provide the Tories and the right-wing press with a huge supply of ammunition should he actually win the contest (which seems likely given that he’s the only one who isn’t bitterly slagging off his opponents and sticking instead to clearly explaining his policies and offering a message of party unity).

It’s absolutely clear from the terrified rambling of so many right-wing Labour Party politicians that they really rather would see the Tories win in 2020 than be part of a government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

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Report: Hundreds of Civilians Killed by U.S.-Led Bombing of ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

new report from a group of journalists and researchers says that hundreds of civilians have died during airstrikes by the U.S. and other nations fighting the Islamic State, a marked contrast to the Pentagon’s official admission of just two civilian deaths.

The report, from the nonprofit group Airwars, which tracks coalition airstrikes on Iraq and Syria, says that it has documented between 459 and 591 civilian deaths in 52 credible incidents. In one of the worst cases, in Al Bab, Syria, a U.S. strike on a local Islamic State headquarters being used as a jail killed up to 58 non-combatants, including women and teenagers.

Next Saturday marks the first anniversary of the United States’ bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Over the past year, a U.S.-led coalition including Canada, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and other European and Gulf states has carried out over 5,800 airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria.

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US Intel Agencies: ISIS No Weaker After Year of US Bombings

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

According to officials familiar with the situation, US intelligence agencies have offered a new assessment of ISIS, cautioning that a solid year of US airstrikes against them in Iraq and Syria hasn’t left ISIS any weaker than they were when the strikes began.

Surprisingly, even though the military has been bragging about how great the war is going throughout the year, military commanders aren’t disputing the assessment, and are simply saying that they believe progress will come at some point in the future, when Iraq retakes Ramadi.

Of course, ISIS didn’t have Ramadi a year ago, and only captured it two months ago. At the time, Pentagon officials dismissed the major city as of no strategic importance, so it is surprising they are now presenting its future recapture as a metric for success.

Either way, the assessment is damning to Pentagon claims that the strategy is sound, but at the same time, there is no indication that anyone in the administration is even going to consider revising the war strategy, as officials continue to insist it is a winning recipe.

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Obama’s deal with Turkey is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken ISIS

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

US aircraft have yet to start using Incirlik airbase, and the reason is that Turkey does not want US aircraft using it to launch air strikes (AP)The deal between the US and Turkey which will allow American bombers to use Incirlik airbase while Turkey takes action against Islamic State (Isis) looks stranger and stranger. When first announced over a week ago, US officials spoke triumphantly of the agreement being “a game-changer” in the war against Isis. In fact, the war waged by Turkey in the days since this great American diplomatic success has been almost entirely against the Kurds, at home and abroad.

Turkish jets are pounding sites occupied by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) guerrillas in the Qandil Mountains and other parts of northern Iraq. Inside Turkey, the majority of those detained by the security forces turn out to be Kurdish or left-wing activists and not suspected Isis sympathisers. Prosecutions are threatened against MPs of the largely Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which has tirelessly advocated peace between the PKK and the Turkish government. Evidently, the HDP’s offence was to win 13 per cent of the votes in Turkey’s general election on 7 June, thereby depriving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002.

It is now becoming clear that two crucial parts of the accord were not agreed at the time of the historic announcement. The US Air Force was desperate to get the use of Incirlik, 60 miles from the Syrian border, in order to intensify its bombardment of Isis. American planes currently have to fly long distances from Bahrain, Jordan and an aircraft carrier in the Gulf. The failure of the US air campaign to prevent Isis fighters capturing Ramadi and Palmyra in May intensified the sense of urgency.

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Fighting Both Sides of the Same War: Is Turkey Using Attacks On Islamic State As Cover for Assault on Kurds?

‘Turkish jets have reportedly launched their heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq since airstrikes began last week, effectively ending a two-year truce. Over the past week, the Turkish military has launched combat operations on two fronts: one against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria, and another against Kurds inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, where Kurdish groups have been fighting against the Islamic State. This means Turkey is now essentially bombing both sides of the same war. During an emergency session of NATO in Brussels Tuesday, the body offered support for Turkey’s military campaigns, although some member states expressed unease over the crackdown against the Kurds. Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds come just a month after the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party won 13 percent of the vote, helping to deprive President Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP Party of a majority in the parliament for the first time since 2002. Over the past week, Turkey has detained more than 1,000 people in a series of raids, many targeting members of Kurdish groups. We speak to Kani Xulam, Director of the American Kurdish Information Network.’ (Democracy Now!)

Pentagon Influences TV Shows Like ‘American Idol’? New Documents Show Scary Collaboration

Zaid Jilani reports for AlterNet:

It’s a little-known fact that the Pentagon has for years directly influenced the production of a wide variety of television programming. In fact, in instances where the producing companies are accessing military hardware, the Department of Defense requires approval of the scripts, a process which can result in line-by-line edits by the government of film and television plots and dialogue.

SpyCulture.com’s Tom Secker filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests with various branches of the military, seeking information about how often and to what extent the Department of Defense coordinates with programming. The results are revealing. Secker’s FOIA produced over 1,400 pages of documents from the Army’s Entertainment Liason Office and another 100 pages from the US Air Force’s office.

The documents reveal coordination not only on the type of programming we’ve come to expect—e.g. military war films— but also well-watched programs from numerous genres. For example, this entry on “American Idol,” where a contestant with a military background is referred to as a PSYOP specialist (meaning psychological operations) who was “unfortunately voted off of the show”.

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At Least 4,693 Killed across Iraq in July

Margaret Griffis reports for Antiwar:

During July, Antiwar.com found that 1,286 civilians and security personnel were killed across Iraq. Another 1,508 were wounded. Of those killed, 860 were civilians. Antiwar.com also counted 3,361 militant deaths. Another 102 militants were reported wounded. The figures were compiled from media sources.

The United Nations also released its monthly casualty report on Saturday. Their sources, on the ground in Iraq, reported 1,332 Iraqi dead and 2,108 wounded. These figures include casualties issued by the Health Department in Anbar province. They are considered the absolute minimum numbers. Of those killed, 844 were civilians. They do not tally militant deaths.

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Who is to blame for the rise of the Islamic State? Interview with former DIA head Michael T. Flynn

Editor’s Note: The discussion regarding the 2012 DIA document begins around the 9:00 mark.

Fascinating interview with Michael T. Flynn, the former head of the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and a commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). (Al Jazeera)

U.S. Institute of Peace’s Hawkish Chairman Wants Ukraine to Send Russians Back in Body Bags

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

The United States Institute of Peace is a publicly funded national institution chartered by the U.S. government to promote international peace through nonviolent conflict resolution.

But its chairman, Stephen Hadley, is a relentless hawk whose advocacy for greater military intervention often dovetails closely with the interests of Raytheon, a major defense contractor that pays him handsomely as a member of its board of directors.

Hadley, the former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, was an advocate for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and more recently appeared in the media to call for massive airstrikes in Syria. Over the last year, he has called for escalating the conflict in Ukraine.

In a speech at Poland’s Wroclaw Global Forum in June, Hadley argued in favor of arming the Ukrainian government in part because that would “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine.” Specifically, he said, “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags — it sounds coarse to say, but it’s true — but body bags of Russian soldiers who have been killed.”

Hadley also called for European governments to broadly boost military spending, ideally doubling it. “You know, let’s show that Europe is going to have real commitment to military forces,” he said.

The call to flood Ukraine with weapons not only contrasts sharply with the stated mission of the Institute of Peace, but many scholars believe doing so would provoke more conflict.

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Putin Hurts a Think Tank by Not Banning It

Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg View:

[…] The Kirchick piece offended the staff at Moscow Carnegie Center. “The world of American Kirchick, like the world of a bad Russian TV presenter, is divided into those who work for the State Department and those who work for Putin,” Carnegie.ru editor Alexander Baunov, a polyglot ex-diplomat (also my former colleague at two Moscow publications, and assuredly no fan of Putin), posted on Facebook. “His piece is written as a complaint to the U.S. authorities: Pay attention, these guys are deviating from the party line. There’s only one excuse for the author: Americans have never lived in a totalitarian state and they haven’t developed an immunity to the urge to write such complaints.”

The emotion is familiar to me. I have written many times that while Putin’s policies, both domestic and foreign, are not just illiberal and backward but also criminal, that doesn’t make compromise for the sake of peace impossible. Here I agree with Carnegie’s Trenin, who notes that such compromises were repeatedly made with much nastier Soviet rulers, which in the long run helped topple the Communist regime as Russians realized that the rest of the world didn’t seek to isolate them, only their own leaders did. The debate about how to handle Putin’s Russia, however, is defined by radicals on both sides, and to them I — like Baunov and his colleagues — am either Putin’s stooge at a Western media outlet or an anti-Russian Washington drone.

That falsehood benefits Putin more than anyone. He hates all foreign NGOs as State Department outposts and hotbeds of potential insurgency.

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Tokyo Electric executives to be charged over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Kentaro Hamada and Osamu Tsukimori report for Reuters:

A Japanese civilian judiciary panel on Friday forced prosecutors to indict three former Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) executives for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The decision is unlikely to lead to a conviction of the former executives, after prosecutors twice said they would not bring charges, but means they will be summoned to appear in court to give evidence.

Tokyo prosecutors in January rejected the panel’s judgment that the three should be charged, citing insufficient evidence. But the 11 unidentified citizens on the panel forced the indictment after a second vote, which makes an indictment mandatory.

The three are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and former executives Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

Citizens’ panels, made up of residents selected by lottery, are a rarely used but high-profile feature of Japan’s legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach.

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Free football streaming: How illegal sites keep outpacing broadcasters

Howard Swains reports for The Guardian:

[…] On any game day in any sports league across the world, thousands of people do precisely what I have flown to Scandinavia to witness, and broadcast untold numbers of sporting events online. Meanwhile, in living rooms across the world, people are watching more live sport than ever, whether or not they have paid for it. The audience of unauthorised streams is estimated in the millions. As Sunday’s Community Shield heralds the start of another Premier League season, it’s a safe bet that more people than ever will be watching it illicitly. And as the idealists who first took on football’s behemoths find themselves increasingly hijacked by commercial operations with their eye on a quick buck, football’s black market will grow.

On 1 January, a site named Wiziwig – by far the most popular aggregation platform through which users could access thousands of streams – closed under the threat of legal action in Spain, where it was based. But other sites quickly stepped in to fill its role. Moreover, a senior Wiziwig moderator told me that they have no intention of remaining in the wilderness.

“All the Wiziwig moderators are still dedicated to our mission of a free and open internet, with free-to-air-programming for all,” the moderator said. He spoke on condition of anonymity – no one associated with Wiziwig has agreed to a mainstream press interview before – and used the language of the renegade that is familiar among internet libertarians: “All we have done and will do in the future is for sports fans anywhere in the world.”

The contention is that broadcasters are holding sport fans to ransom, and it means that this season, football stadiums will again host more than just the on-pitch duels between the nation’s top teams. The Premier League, among numerous other sports organisations the world over, will once again be forced to war against the online streamers. But if recent history offers much indication, they can hope to secure a score draw at best.

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George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four top teachers’ list of books that “every student should read before leaving secondary school”

Robert Kellaway reports for the Daily Express:

Pile of books George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is at the top of teachers’ list of books “every student should read before leaving secondary school”.

The 100 novels have been chosen by 500 teachers for the National Association for the Teaching of English and the TES magazine.

Second place goes to Harper Lee’s class To Kill A Mocking Bird, while Orwell again takes third spot with Animal Farm.

The Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling was ranked in sixth place.

Orwell’s son Richard Blair, patron of the Orwell Society, said his father’s novels were “as fresh today as when they were written all those years ago”.

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Jimmy Carter: The United States is an “Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery”

Thom Hartmann: “Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. … Your thoughts on that?”

Jimmy Carter: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.”

Deep State America

Philip Giraldi writes for The American Conservative:

Michael Bentley / Flickr[…] As all governments—sometimes for good reasons—engage in concealment of their more questionable activities, or even resort to out and out deception, one must ask how the deep state differs. While an elected government might sometimes engage in activity that is legally questionable, there is normally some plausible pretext employed to cover up or explain the act.

But for players in the deep state, there is no accountability and no legal limit. Everything is based on self-interest, justified through an assertion of patriotism and the national interest. In Turkey, there is a belief amongst senior officials who consider themselves to be parts of the status in statu that they are guardians of the constitution and the true interests of the nation. In their own minds, they are thereby not bound by the normal rules. Engagement in criminal activity is fine as long as it is done to protect the Turkish people and to covertly address errors made by the citizenry, which can easily be led astray by political fads and charismatic leaders. When things go too far in a certain direction, the deep state steps in to correct course.

And deep state players are to be rewarded for their patriotism. They benefit materially from the criminal activity that they engage in, including protecting Turkey’s role as a conduit for drugs heading to Europe from Central Asia, but more recently involving the movement of weapons and people to and from Syria. This has meant collaborating with groups like ISIS, enabling militants to ignore borders and sell their stolen archeological artifacts while also negotiating deals for the oil from the fields in the areas that they occupy. All the transactions include a large cut for the deep state.

If all this sounds familiar to an American reader, it should, and given some local idiosyncrasies, it invites the question whether the United States of America has its own deep state.

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July Playlist

Julian Assange: The untold story of an epic struggle for justice

John Pilger writes:

The siege of Knightsbridge is both an emblem of gross injustice and a gruelling farce. For three years, a police cordon around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. It has cost £12 million. The quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His “crime” is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange is about to flare again as it enters a dangerous stage. From August 20, three quarters of the Swedish prosecutor’s case against Assange regarding sexual misconduct in 2010 will disappear as the statute of limitations expires. At the same time Washington’s obsession with Assange and WikiLeaks has intensified. Indeed, it is vindictive American power that offers the greatest threat – as Chelsea Manning and those still held in Guantanamo can attest.

The Americans are pursuing Assange because WikiLeaks exposed their epic crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of tens of thousands of civilians, which they covered up, and their contempt for sovereignty and international law, as demonstrated vividly in their leaked diplomatic cables. WikiLeaks continues to expose criminal activity by the US, having just published top secret US intercepts – US spies’ reports detailing private phone calls of the presidents of France and Germany, and other senior officials, relating to internal European political and economic affairs.

None of this is illegal under the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistleblowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”. In 2012, the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama boasted on its website that he had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined. Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had pronounced the whistleblower guilty. He was subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison, having been tortured during his long pre-trial detention.

Few doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. Threats of the capture and assassination of Assange became the currency of the political extremes in the US following Vice-President Joe Biden’s preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a “cyber-terrorist”. Those doubting the degree of ruthlessness Assange can expect should remember the forcing down of the Bolivian president’s plane in 2013 – wrongly believed to be carrying Edward Snowden.

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Target Tokyo: WikiLeaks reveals NSA spied on Japanese PM Shinzō Abe and companies like Mitsubishi

Anthony Cuthbertson reports for International Business Times:

CartoonThe US National Security Agency (NSA) undertook systematic mass surveillance of Japanese politicians, ministries and corporations over a number of years, according to recently published documents. The revelations come from whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks, which released a list of 35 top secret targets in Japan on Friday morning (31 July).

The most high-profile target listed in the “Target Tokyo” documents is the current Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe, while corporations named include car-manufacturing giant Mitsubishi. The documents also reveal that the US bugged Japan’s confidential G8 proposals on climate change, as well as spying on Japan’s secret World Trade Organisation (WTO) plan.

The period of spying on Abe dates from the Prime Minister’s first term in office, lasting from September 2006 until September 2007. Abe has since returned to office and the latest leaks will come as a major embarrassment for the US and in particular President Barack Obama who just months ago described Japan as “one of America’s closest allies in the world” during a meeting with Abe in Washington. They also follow similar leaks revealing intimate surveillance on other allies that include Brazil, France and Germany.

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Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead…. for the fourth time

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

Mullah Omar, pictured on the front of an Algerian newspaper in 2001How many times do you have to kill a man before he dies? Not for the first time Mullah Mohammad Omar, Emir of the Faithful, friend and protector of Osama bin Laden, creator of the Taliban, destroyer of graven images, has died.

In fact, he has died three times before, most spectacularly at the hands of Pakistan’s notoriously vicious – and notoriously slipshod – Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) in 2011. Untrue on that occasion, of course. Bin Laden himself died at least twice before the Americans assassinated him in 2011. Even George W wrote him off in 2002. Then he was dying of cancer. Then he was dying of kidney failure. The Top People’s Paper even killed off Ayatollah Khomeini – of cancer – long before the old boy expired.

If all the stories were true, these folk would have outdone the most important Resurrection of all, several times over. It is an intelligence officer’s dream and a journalist’s nightmare.’

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We Have Failed Afghanistan Again and Again

Sonali Kolhatkar writes for TruthDig:

The 2013 death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, confirmed this week, should have marked the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. But the fates of the two main leaders identified as responsible for the 9/11 attacks—Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar—are only milestones. Thanks to the destructive nature of the U.S. war, many newer and more formidable enemies have emerged.

America’s first post-9/11 war, launched in Afghanistan in October 2001, is a grand symbol of our foreign policy failure. Fourteen years ago, Afghans were caught between two brutal and fundamentalist factions: the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. Today they are caught between four: the Taliban, government warlords who morphed from the Northern Alliance, U.S. forces and Islamic State.

But just a few months ago, Afghanistan’s first transition of power within an ostensibly democratic system took place, offering the promise of a better future under the U.S.-educated President Ashraf Ghani. The U.S. was to withdraw its forces and NATO nations had already begun doing so. Government-sponsored peace talks with the Taliban were meant to herald a stable future for the war-weary nation. But that future never came and what appeared as progress was only a facade.

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The private firms tracking terror targets at heart of US drone wars

Abigail Fielding-Smith and Crofton Black report for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

screenersDCGSThe overstretched US military has hired hundreds of private sector contractors in the heart of its drone operations to analyse top secret video feeds and help track high value terror targets, an investigation has found.

Contracts unearthed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveal a secretive industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars, placing a corporate workforce alongside uniformed personnel, analysing battlefield intelligence.

While it has long been known that US defence firms supply billions of dollars’ worth of equipment for drone operations, the role of the private sector in providing analysts to comb through military surveillance video has remained almost entirely unknown until now.

Approximately one in 10 people involved in the effort to process data captured by drones and spy planes is estimated to be non-military. And as the rise of Islamic State fuels what military commanders describe as an “insatiable demand” for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), the Air Force is considering a further expansion of its contractor workforce, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Companies that stand to reap the benefits include BAE Systems and Edward Snowden’s former employer Booz Allen Hamilton.

Some individual analysts even publicly advertise their skills on sites such as LinkedIn, with one boasting of helping with the “kill/capture of high-value targets”.

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Ebola: ‘Isn’t that over yet?’

Tulip Mazumdar reports for BBC News:

When I told people earlier this month that I was off to West Africa again to cover the Ebola outbreak, the resounding response was, “Isn’t that over yet?”

The short answer is no, but there is a lot more to it than that.

The outbreak has been “nearly over” for months. So while “Ebola fatigue” is understandable, it’s also potentially extremely dangerous.

There are still around 20-30 new cases a week in the three worst-affected countries.

Before this outbreak, those numbers would have constituted a major epidemic, but we live in very changed times.

At the height of the outbreak, West Africa was seeing hundreds of new infections a week.

But it only takes one new infection to spark a massive epidemic.’

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UN: Expect 11.2 billion population by the end of the century

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

Move over: The world’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, a new United Nations report says. And there should be 11.2 billion people on Earth by the end of this century.

Meanwhile, India’s population is set to pass China’s in size around 2022, according to the report released Wednesday.

The population estimates play a huge role as the international community tries to figure out how to slow the danger of global warming, while pursuing the ambitious goals of eliminating both poverty and hunger.

The current world population is 7.3 billion. China and India each have more than one billion people.’

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U.S. Secret Service seeks sarcasm-spotting software

Gemma Karstens-Smith reports for the Toronto Star:

Of course Secret Service agents need a hand separating wisecracks from security threats.

Instead of searching for their sense of humour, however, the U.S. agency is looking for software to help them understand sarcastic remarks on social media.

It’s no secret that governments keep track of what’s happening on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but Canadian experts are wary about whether or not sarcasm-detecting software will help security agencies keep citizens safe.

“I’m skeptical,” said Tamir Israel, a lawyer for Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa. “There’s a limit to what an algorithm can do, I think, is really what it comes down to.”

A tender document posted Monday shows the Secret Service wants to buy software that has the ability to “detect sarcasm.”’

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Clinton and the Coup: Amid Protests in Honduras, Ex-President on Hillary’s Role in His 2009 Ouster

‘In Honduras, as many as 25,000 people marched Friday demanding the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. The protests come six years after a coup ousted Honduras’s democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. In an exclusive interview, Zelaya talks about the new protest movement, the fallout from the 2009 coup, and Hillary Clinton’s role in his ouster. “On the one hand, the Obama administration condemned the coup, but on the other hand, they were negotiating with the leaders of the coup,” Zelaya said. “And Secretary Clinton lent herself to that, maintaining that ambiguity of U.S. policy to Honduras, which has resulted in a process of distrust and instability of Latin American governments in relation to U.S. foreign policies.” While the United States publicly supported Zelaya’s return to power, newly released emails show Clinton was attempting to set up a back channel of communication with Roberto Micheletti, who was installed as Honduran president after the coup. In one email, Clinton referenced lobbyist and former President Clinton adviser Lanny Davis. She wrote, “Can he help me talk w Micheletti?” At the time, Davis was working for the Honduran chapter of the Business Council of Latin America, which supported the coup. In another email, Thomas Shannon, the State Department’s lead negotiator for the Honduras talks, refers to Manuel Zelaya as a “failed” leader.’ (Democracy Now!)

Obama In Africa: Interview with Horace Campbell

Democracy Now! recently spoke with Horace Campbell, professor of African-American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He has written extensively on African politics. His new piece for CounterPunch is called “Obama in Kenya.” He is also the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya. (Democracy Now!)

Obama in Kenya: Why the Horn of Africa Matters to Geopolitics

Juan Cole writes for Informed Comment:

EastAfricaMapPresident Obama’s visit to Kenya is of course personal, though he has been there before both as a civilian and as a senator. But it does also have a geopolitical and economic dimension.

Kenya is a country of roughly 46 million people, about the same as Spain. But its nominal gross domestic product is only $70 billion a year (Spain’s is 1.4 trillion). But its economy has been growing impressively, with 6% growth expected this year despite a downturn in coastal tourism because of terrorist incidents and a drought that has hurt agriculture.

[…] Kenya’s strategic position derives in part from its abutting the Horn of Africa to the north, off the coast of which is one of the world’s most important trade routes, linking the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and thence the Mediterranean and Europe through the Suez Canal.

[…] Africa is also increasingly an arena of competition between the United States and China. China invested $5 billion in infrastructure projects in Kenya, and has twice the volume of trade with Africa as the United States does.

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In Ethiopia, Obama and the United States stand in China’s long shadow

Omar Mohammed and Lily Kuo report for Quartz:

China’s_investment_flow_to_Africa_Investment_Value_%_of_it's_global_share_chartbuilderWhen US president Barack Obama speaks in front of the African Union in Ethiopia today (July 28), he will address the delegation at the organization’s new, shiny headquarters—built by the Chinese.

The symbolism aptly demonstrates the challenge that America faces in Africa. While the president is beloved on the continent, he and the US are increasingly competing with China for influence. Delegates listening to Obama may be reminded of another speech given at the African Union last year. Then, Chinese premier Li Keqiang told leaders that he expects his country’s trade with the continent to double by 2020, with investment quadrupling t0 $100 billion.

China has paid special attention to Ethiopia, the fastest growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa, which has expected GDP growth of over 10% this year alone. Much of this growth is being driven by China, whose total investment in the country has reached almost $17 billion, according to data from the Heritage Foundation.’

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Foreign Office to face inquiry into role played by UK in Libya’s collapse

Matthew Weaver reports for The Guardian:

‘The Foreign Office is to face questions over Libya’s descent into a failed state, following the launch of an inquiry by an influential committee of MPs into Britain’s role in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and the troubled aftermath.

Launching the inquiry, the Tory chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, Crispin Blunt, told the Guardian that the intervention and subsequent breakdown of the state had proved disastrous for Libya and posed a global security threat.

He said: “It has turned out to be a catastrophe for the people of Libya. And now it is a growing problem for us, with our undoubted enemy Isis beginning to establish control of areas of Libya. Plus the migration crisis – any area where state authority collapses obviously poses problems for us all over the world.”

Blunt, a former government minister, said the inquiry will investigate Britain’s capacity to conduct the necessary post-intervention planning.’

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Documents Published by WikiLeaks Reveal the NSA’s Corporate Priorities

Bill Blunden reports for Truthout:

Cyber espionage“We are under pressure from the Treasury to justify our budget, and commercial espionage is one way of making a direct contribution to the nation’s balance of payments.” – Sir Colin McColl, MI6 Chief

For years public figures have condemned cyber espionage committed against the United States by intruders launching their attacks out of China. These same officials then turn around and justify the United States’ far-reaching surveillance apparatus in terms of preventing terrorist attacks. Yet classified documents published by WikiLeaks reveal just how empty these talking points are. Specifically, top-secret intercepts prove that economic spying by the United States is pervasive, that not even allies are safe and that it’s wielded to benefit powerful corporate interests.

At a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton accused China of “trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.” Clinton’s hyperbole is redolent of similar claims from the US deep state. For example, who could forget the statement made by former NSA director Keith Alexander that Chinese cyber espionage represents the greatest transfer of wealth in history? Alexander has obviously never heard of quantitative easing (QE) or the self-perpetuating “global war on terror,” which has likewise eaten through trillions of dollars. Losses due to cyber espionage are a rounding error compared to the tidal wave of money channeled through QE and the war on terror.’

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