China Now Building Refugee Camps, Prepping for Nuclear War

Revealing the extreme direness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, a state-run Chinese media outlet based in a province bordering North Korea and Russia — the Jilin Daily — published a “common sense” guide for surviving a nuclear war, according to Reuters.

Although the full-page article of guidelines doesn’t specifically mention North Korea, the warning was clearly a result of the increasing tensions between a nuclear-armed DPRK, and the United States.

The influential Chinese state-run Global Times described the article as a public service announcement due to the situation on the Korean peninsula.

“If war breaks out, it is not possible to rule out the Korean peninsula producing nuclear contaminants, and countermeasures must be seriously researched and spoken openly about to let the common folk know. But at the same time, there is absolutely no reason to be alarmed,” the Global Times said.

Tensions with the U.S. have increased dramatically since North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September. Just weeks ago, the DPRK launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which demonstrated a theoretical capability to conduct a nuclear strike anywhere across the whole of the U.S. mainland.

Citizens in Jilin have reported feeling tremors when the North tested a nuclear device, according to The Daily Caller.

“It’s natural that Jilin province is more sensitive to the situation on the Korean peninsula, given its special geographic location. It’s necessary for the provincial paper to publish information on nuclear weapons,”the Global Times wrote in a Chinese-language editorial.

The published guidelines note that nuclear weapons utilize five means of causing destruction: light radiation, blast waves, early-stage nuclear radiation, nuclear electromagnetic pulses, and radioactive pollution. The article goes on to explain that the first four kill instantaneously.

The Jilin Daily encouraged people caught outside when the bomb goes off to dive into a ditch, river, or lake and cover any exposed skin.

According to a report by Reuters, the Jilin Daily guidelines noted that:

People who find themselves outside during a nuclear attack should try to lie in a ditch, cover exposed skin in light colored clothing or dive into a river or lake to try and minimize the possibility of instantaneous death, it said.

Cartoon illustrations of ways to dispel radioactive contamination were also provided, such as using water to wash off shoes and using cotton buds to clean ears, as well as a picture of a vomiting child to show how medical help can be sought to speed the expulsion of radiation through stomach pumping and induced urination.

For those who can get to shelter, the paper urges people to close their doors and windows and seek cover under beds and tables, according to the Daily Caller.

Revealing the quasi-official nature of the warning, the guidelines were published at the request of Jilin Provincial People’s Air Defense Office to strengthen “national defense education,” according to The Washington Post.

China is not the only state in Southeast Asia to issue guidelines for surviving a nuclear attack, as both Japan and South Korea have carried out emergency exercises and issued similar guidelines.

Adding credibility to the increasing likelihood of a nuclear exchange, leaked documents from a Chinese telecommunications company hint that Beijing is anticipating an influx of war refugees, according to Defense One.

The leaked documents reveal the Chinese government is preparing for a flood of refugees from North Korea if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, according to a document obtained by Radio Free Asia.

According to a report from Defense One:

The document, dated July 7, was produced by China Mobile, the giant state-owned telecommunications company — specifically, by the branch that serves Changbai County on the North Korean border. It says the company was conducting “pre-communications security work for North Korean refugee camps” in the region — specifically, testing signal strength at five potential “refugee settlements,” Radio Free Asia’s Huang Xiaoshan and Lin Guoli write in their Dec. 7 report.

When Huang and Lin asked officials with China Mobile and the local government about the document, they denied that the work was related to the construction of refugee camps. But the RFAreporters wrote in a subsequent Dec. 7 report that they had confirmed the plan’s existence.

Four days later, a China Mobile spokesman appeared to confirm the reports. Contacted by The Express, a UK-based newspaper, the spokesman said, “The government has ordered these settlement points. But don’t worry, no one is panicking here.”

And there you have it.

Although officially — “no one is panicking” — simultaneously preparing for a nuclear attack and flood of refugees says otherwise.

The Chinese government has previously said that they reject military intervention, but in the event that the U.S. launches a preemptive strike on North Korea – the Chinese military WILL intervene in defense of the North.

Make no mistake that the world is teetering on the brink of an extreme nuclear catastrophe.

It’s definitely time to pay attention!

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Supermarket chain to sell food up to a month past its best-before date in attempt to slash waste

A supermarket chain is to start selling food that is up to a month beyond its ‘best-before’ date in an attempt to slash waste.

From today, shoppers at the Co-op’s 125 East of England stores will be able to buy a range of out of date products for just 10p.

It will include a large range of items including tinned goods, such as fruit and beans, dried food such as pasta and rice and packet goods including crisps, confectionery and cereal.

The scheme does not include any products with a ‘Use By’ date, including meat, fish and dairy.

It is the first time a major UK food retailer has begun selling food outside its best before date and it is thought others might follow.

It is also hoped the scheme might help educate consumers as to the different definitions of the confusing food safety labels.

Food waste has become a major issuewith the government estimating that around £16 billion worth of produce – equivalent to £700 for every UK household – is thrown away each year.

While a large amount of waste includes perishable items that are no longer safe for human consumption, it is thought the confusing labelling system means a huge amount of perfectly edible food goes in the bin.

The Food Standards Agency advises that products past their best before date are safe to consume but may not be of the optimum quality.

Unfortunately the current rules mean charities are not allowed to accept food after its best before date has expired and so much of it had to be thrown away.

Putin Orders Withdrawal of Russian Troops From Syria

Putin has stated that the Russian troops return from Syria “with victory” as he has visited the Hmeymim base in Latakia for the first time since the launch of the anti-terrorist operation at the request of President Bashar Assad.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria after over 2 years of an anti-terrorist aerial campaign conducted in the Arab Republic.

“I instruct the Defense Minister, the head of the General Staff to begin the withdrawal of the Russian troop contingents back to the places of their permanent location,” Putin said, when speaking to servicemen in Syria, saying that they have demonstrated “courage, heroism, coordination, determination, brilliant training and high professionalism”.

According to Putin, the work of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ units in Syria has been performed brilliantly and they are “returning home with victory.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday that the Russian military contingent had already begun to pullout from Syria, but the timetable of the withdrawal would be determined by the situation on the ground.

“It will depend on the situation,” Shoigu told reporters in response to a question on how long it would take for the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Venezuela opposition banned from running in 2018 election

Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, says the country’s main opposition parties are banned from taking part in next year’s presidential election.

He said only parties which took part in Sunday’s mayoral polls would be able to contest the presidency.

Leaders from the Justice First, Popular Will and Democratic Action parties boycotted the vote and said the electoral system is biased.

President Maduro insists the Venezuelan system is entirely trustworthy.

In a speech on Sunday, he said the opposition parties had “disappeared from the political map”.

“A party that has not participated today and has called for the boycott of the elections can’t participate anymore”, he said.

In October, the three main opposition parties announced they would be boycotting Sunday’s vote to elect mayors in more than 300 towns and cities.

They said the vote served what they called President Maduro’s dictatorship.

President Maduro’s governing Socialist Party is expected to win the largest number of votes in the mayoral elections, despite a worsening economic crisis characterised by shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation.

Report: Child dying every 10 minutes in Yemen

A report has said that one child is dying every 10 minutes from “preventable causes”, including malnutrition, cholera, diphtheria and – of course – the war itself in Yemen.

Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to the dire conditions caused by the Saudi-backed war and blockade. These children, according to the United Nations, are being abandoned to “stare death in the face”. The report said that 80% of children are now “in desperate need of aid”.

A child’s brain is 90% developed by the time they are five. For their brains to develop to the full potential, they need to have the proper care, protection, safety, stimulation and nourishment. Stunting occurs when a child has not had access to these in the formative years.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for an end to air and ground assaults in Yemen.

CANADA WILL SELL MARIJUANA IN LIQUOR STORES

One province in Canada has decided to sell its marijuana in liquor stores.

Nova Scotia, a province on Canada’s eastern shore, announced on Thursday that the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, its sole alcohol distributor, would sell the drug in its stores and on its website once Canada legalizes weed in July of next year.

“The NSLC has the experience and expertise to distribute and sell restricted products like alcohol and now cannabis in a socially responsible way,” Justice Minister Mark Furey said at a press conference. “We believe the NSLC is best positioned to sell cannabis, keeping it out of the hands of young people and making it legally available in a safe, regulated way.”

How Monsanto’s GM Cotton Sowed Trouble in Africa

In 2000, farmers in Burkina Faso, Africa’s top cotton grower, were desperate. Their cotton fetched top prices because its high-quality fiber lent a luxurious sheen to clothing and bedsheets. But pests—bollworms—were threatening the crop.

Even when you dropped the bollworm larvae into a bucket of poison, farmers said, they kept swimming.

U.S. seeds and pesticide company Monsanto proposed an answer: a genetically modified strain of cotton called Bollgard II, which it had already introduced in America and was marketing worldwide. GM was established in large-scale farming in South Africa, but not among the smallholders who produce most African cotton. The Burkina farmers agreed to a trial and the country introduced seeds with the gene in 2008.

The resulting cotton was pest-free, and the harvest more abundant. By 2015, three-quarters of all Burkina Faso’s production was GM, and it became a showcase for the technology among smallholders in Africa. From 2007 to 2015, delegations from at least 17 different African nations visited Burkina to see it.

But there was a problem. While the bug-resistant genes produced more volume, the quality fell. Last season, the cotton farmers of Burkina Faso abandoned the GM varieties.

“Genetically modified cotton, it’s not good today. It’s not good tomorrow,” said farmer Paul Badoun, picking apart a lumpy handful of raw cotton in his field near Kongolekan, a village of small mud brick houses in the southwestern cotton heartland.

The country’s GM experience, told by more than three dozen Monsanto insiders, farmers, scientists and cotton company officials as well as in confidential documents reviewed by Reuters, highlights a little-known quandary faced by genetic engineering. For Burkina Faso’s cotton growers, GM ended up as a trade-off between quantity and quality. For Monsanto, whose $13.5 billion in revenues in 2016 were more than Burkina Faso’s GDP, it proved uneconomical to tailor the product closely to a market niche.

Honduras in Flames

Ten days after Honduras’ presidential elections, results have not been announced and Honduras is in flames. Thousands of demonstrators have been battling gas bombs and bullets in the streets of Tegucigalpa, leaving at least 11 dead. After initially taking the streets, the country’s U.S.-trained and financed armed forces have refused to follow the president’s orders to enforce a hastily imposed curfew. Despite the government’s violence, students and members of various social movements continue to risk their lives demanding democracy, jeopardized by the current regime of president Juan Orlando Hernández of the right-wing National Party. The National Party has been in power since a coup removed former President Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

Zelaya’s ouster—eventually accepted by the Obama administration despite widespread regional condemnation—hinged on his plans to consult the electorate about the possibility of running for a Constitutionally prohibited second term. It is painfully ironic, then, that Honduras’ current president Hernández upended the constitution by appealing to a Supreme Court he had packed to grant him the right to run for reelection, four years after his first election in 2014 was tainted by a scandal that revealed his campaign had stolen funding from national social security accounts.

And yet, against all odds for the firmly entrenched regime, initial electoral returns indicated a seemingly insurmountable advantage for the opposition candidate and political novice Salvador Nasralla, whose political coalition is backed by Zelaya. The Electoral Courts (TSE) were then suspended for 72 hours, and when they resumed releasing results, Hernández was in the lead with a 1% margin. The clear lack of transparency and evidence of vote tampering was too much even for a country with a much weaker Left than most of its regional neighbors. People took to the streets. At this point, a peaceful solution seems less and less likely.

The government has indicated a plan to recount about 1% of votes, the EU and the OAS have called for a recount of all disputed votes, and the opposition is increasingly calling for new elections or at least to review all ballot boxes opened since the TSE’s blackout during the original count.

The events over the last ten days symptomize a growing consolidation of power by a new kind of right-wing alliance in Honduras and across Latin America: an alliance that brings together the power of the traditional landed elites and that of the financial elites who have benefited more recently from globalized neoliberalism. This alliance emerged amid the ashes of the Cold War and the dawn of the Washington Consensus—and can help explain some of the dynamics of the current electoral crisis in Honduras as well as recent events across the region.

At the end of the 1980s, three political and economic shifts opened the path for the rise of a neoliberal elite in Latin America. First, a decade of Central American revolutions and regional debt crises delegitimized both oligarchies and economic nationalism, as political actors seemed incapable of resolving the multiple crises they faced. At the same time, the fall of the Soviet Union removed the ideological threats that had animated the Cold War. This coincided with a new era of U.S. international influence as it turned toward neoliberal globalization policies exemplified by the bipartisan Washington Consensus. In Honduras and across the region, such policies took shape in the removal of trade barriers, privatization of state-owned enterprises, liberalization of banking and services, austere fiscal policies that slashed public programs, and a general removal of the state from economic planning.

‘We won’t welcome Mike Pence’ – Snr Palestinian official

The US vice president is unwelcome in Palestine, a senior official of the Palestinian Fatah Party has declared in response to Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pence had been scheduled to visit the region later this month.

“In the name of Fatah I say that we will not welcome Trump’s deputy in the Palestinian Territories. He asked to meet [Mahmoud Abbas] on the 19th of this month in Bethlehem, such a meeting will not take place,” Jibril Rajou, the secretary-general of Fatah, said. The party is headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Mike Pence’s visit had been scheduled for December 17-19, the Jerusalem Post reports, citing the Foreign Ministry.

Speaking to the Christian Broadcast Network on Saturday, Pence said his planned visit means Washington would “reaffirm [its] commitment to peace in the region. The president has made it clear that we want peace but people should know that President Donald Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel in the midst of that process.”

Tensions are running high in the region after Trump officially announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, where he plans to relocate the US Embassy. The president admitted the move would cause dissent, but said, without elaborating, that it could help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Abbas was among the first to condemn Washington’s decision, saying that Jerusalem remains the “eternal capital” of Palestine. “These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts, and proclaim that the US are abandoning the role of sponsor of [the] peace process that they have played over the past decade,” Abbas said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

A number of world powers, including Russia, Germany, France and Turkey have expressed grave concern over Washington’s decision.

Copyright Information: This article was reprinted with permission from RT.com. Please contact the author directly for republishing information.

One in five ATMs now charge customers to withdraw cash, Which? says as it calls for urgent review

One in five ATMs now charge customers to withdraw cash, consumer watchdog Which? says and is calling for an urgent review.

It comes as thousands of machines are being shutdown.

Which? said it has “significant concerns” has written to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR),calling for it to conduct an urgent market review on the potential impact on consumers.

The UK’s biggest ATM network Link is seeking to reduce its £1bn annual running costs, which could see the loss of thousands of free-to-use cashpoints.

The industry lobby group, the ATM Industry Association, has estimated one in five cash points will disappear from Britain’s high streets within four years as a result of Links’s proposed cuts.

Which? said the concerns about the future of free-to-use ATM access come alongside bank branch closures, which have seen more than 700 shut this year.

The call by Which? follows a consultation recently launched by Link, into the fees paid by card issuers such as banks and building societies to ATM operators.

The interchange fee funds the free-to-use ATM network. Link has decided that these fees should be cut by 20 per cent over the next four years.

Two Palestinians shot dead and one critical in riots after Trump speech

Two Palestinians have been shot dead in Gaza by the Israeli army, the first people killed in clashes that began after Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank as worshippers throughout the Muslim world took to the streets after the weekly Friday midday prayers to vent their fury at Trump’s decision. A third man was in a critical condition after being shot in the head during the clashes.

Despite calls for a day of rage, Palestinian protesters turned out in smaller numbers than they had on Thursday in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s controversial speech, allowing reinforced Israeli troops, who had been anticipating clashes, to manage the confrontations with ease.

Late on Friday, Israeli planes bombed militant targets in Gaza in response to a rocket fired at nearby Israeli towns. The Palestinian health ministry said at least 25 people were wounded in the strikes, including six children.

The main focus remained on the diplomatic front, as UN security council members met to reaffirm their support for a two-state solution and demonstrate the diplomatic isolation of the US.

Addressing members via videolink from Jerusalem, Nikolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East special envoy, said Trump’s remarks had undermined a decades-old consensus.

Francois Delattre, the UN’s French representative, said Trump’s unilateral decision was in breach of international law and “carried the risk of taking a political conflict and seeing it morph into an insurmountable religious conflict”.

Assassins killed Panama Papers journalist with text message bomb

The assassins who killed Panama Papers journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia used a fatal text message sent from a boat out at sea, according to a report.

Authorities on the Mediterranean island of Malta arrested ten people for the explosion last month that killed the lauded 53-year-old blogger known for her criticism of the government.

Three have now been charged, with a report in Malta Today on Wednesday revealing details of the investigation, including how they allegedly set off the powerful bomb on her car.

Brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, 54 and 52, were joined by Vincent Muscat, 55, in the reported scheme, which involved an electronic device attached the explosive that was put on the vehicle the morning of the blast.

George Digeorgio, stationed on a boat out at sea, is alleged to have sent the text message to the device that triggered the killing after receiving a signal from his brother, Malta Today reported.

Seven other men, all of them Maltese, were released on bail as authorities continue the investigation into those already charged, who all have previous criminal records.

Israel Declares ‘Air Superiority’ for the Next 40 Years in Middle East

The Israel Air Force (IAF) has become the second air force in the world to declare the F-35 stealth fighter jet an operational aircraft – which IAF leaders claim has given Israel air superiority in the Middle East for the next 40 years.

“The announcement of the operationalization of the [F-35] Adir aircraft comes at a time in which the IAF is operating on a large scale on a number of fronts in a dynamic Middle East,” said IAF commander Brig-Gen. Amikam Norkin. He added that the F-35s will equip Israel to handle “constantly evolving and complex challenges” in the region.

A bold claim, but while the Lockheed Martin F-35 has been railed as a pricey, unwieldy excuse for a plane, its combat effectiveness — when it works properly — is impressive. During the February 2017 Red Flag exercises, a single F-35 proved itself a match for as many as 15 F-16’s, the industry standard for many years.

The F-35 is equipped with a revolutionary low-radar signature that makes it extremely difficult for most modern radars to detect. It can evade missile defense systems such as the Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air batteries currently in use by the likes of Egypt and Iran.

Israel purchased 19 F-35 in 2011 at a price of $145 million per unit, or $2.75 billion. They followed that up with a second purchase of 14 more in 2015 at a unit cost of $110 million. They will acquire 17 more in the future to bring the total up to 50 F-35s, likely after a drop price to $80 million.

The Jewish State has introduced their own customized version of the F-35A known as the F-35I Adir, a Hebrew word meaning “Mighty One”. The F-35 I comes with a custom electronic warfare suite produced by Israeli Elbit Systems, a modified weapons bay that is meant to specifically carry indigenously-produced guided bombs and air-to-air missiles, and a slightly different wing shape manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.

They received their first two F-35s back in December 2016, and in the year since then the IAF has been training pilots to fly them and ground crews to maintain them. Israel presently has nine planes operational.

All nine planes and the next ten to be delivered are traditional F-35A’s, while the next 31 will be F-35I’s. The entire 50-plane fleet will be fully operational by 2024.

The IAF may also purchase F-35Bs at some point. Unlike the F-35A, the B has short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities, at a sacrifice of about a third of its fuel volume. Lockheed Martin describes the F-35B as being “designed to operate from austere bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones. It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways on major bases.”

The F-35 has attracted tremendous controversy as its complicated design has made it the most expensive military weapons system in history. The program began in 1992 and was first tested in 2006, but has yet to fly a single combat mission.

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Australian stock exchange to move to blockchain

Australia’s main stock exchange has said it will become the first global market to use the technology behind Bitcoin to clear and settle trades.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) will replace its current clearing system with blockchain technology.

The new system has been in development and testing for more than two years and aims to cut the cost of transactions, and make them faster and more secure.

A timeline for the transition to the technology will be given by March.

ASX chief executive Dominic Stevens said the move to distributed ledger technology – also known as blockchain – will “put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets”.

Blockchain is a method of recording data via a digital ledger of transactions, agreements, contracts or anything that needs to be independently recorded and verified as having happened.

The big difference is that this ledger is not stored in one place, it is distributed across several, hundreds or even thousands of computers around the world.

The ASX has been working with the US-based blockchain start-up Digital Asset Holdings to develop the new system since January 2016.

“After so much hype surrounding distributed ledger technology, today’s announcement delivers the first meaningful proof that the technology can live up to its potential,” the chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters, said.

U.S. Says 2,000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

About 2,000 American troops are in Syria fighting the Islamic State, a Pentagon spokesman said on Wednesday, almost four times the total previously disclosed as the Trump administration changes how troop numbers are publicly counted.

The new total, ordered disclosed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, counts service members on temporary duty of six months or less who were not included in Obama-era totals. The 1,500 or so previously undisclosed troops in Syria include traditional combat forces like infantry, artillery and forward air controllers trained to call in airstrikes, as well as support personnel, said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.

He called the previous public total of 503 an “artificial construct” that became increasingly inaccurate as the campaign against the Islamic State progressed.

Military officials said that the 2,000 personnel in Syria represented something of a high-water mark as the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria winds down. The American-led coalition has retaken 97 percent of the territory once held by the militants, and the military is working to stabilize recently liberated areas, including the restoration of basic essential services, the removal of explosive materials and the distribution of humanitarian aid.

“The campaign to defeat ISIS is now in a new phase in Iraq and Syria,” Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Fukushima to scale down radiation tests on rice

Fukushima

Authorities in Fukushima plan to scale down radiation tests on rice harvested in the prefecture.

Since the nuclear accident in March 2011, the local government has spent 6 billion yen – or about 53 million dollars – every year to check radiation levels of all rice produced in Fukushima.

The tests require farmers to transport their harvest to a testing facility. Samples with radiation levels higher than the government-set limit have not been detected since 2015.

An expert panel convened in July to review the testing system and survey the opinions of consumers.

Based on the panel’s recommendations, local authorities have decided to replace full-scale testing with sample inspections in 47 of the Fukushima’s 59 municipalities.

US Congress passed a bill reducing aid to Palestinians

The US Congress passed a bill that cuts about $300 million aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it takes steps to curb payments that reward violent crimes.

On Tuesday, the Congress endorsed the Taylor Force Act, named after a 29-year-old US soldier, who was stabbed by a Palestinian during his visit to Israel last year.

The legislation aims to prevent the Palestinian Authority from paying pensions, which could amount to 3,500 dollars a month, to the families of Palestinians killed by the Israeli authorities or thrown into their prisons.

In order for the legislation to become a law, it must also be approved by the US Senate before it is signed by President Donald Trump.

Two Senate committees passed similar legislation, but there is no news on the exact time the Senate, with all of its committees, will consider the bill.

Palestinian officials say that they intend to continue paying these pensions, which they consider as a form of support for relatives of Palestinian detainees who were imprisoned by Israel or those who were killed in connection with the case.

The legislation that was passed by the Congress was amended to allow exceptions, such as continuing funding water projects and child vaccines.

The decision came at a time when senior US officials said that on Wednesday 6 December 2017, President Donald Trump would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and would move the US embassy to the historic city in a resolution which would revoke a decades-old US policy and threaten to provoke new troubles in the Middle East.

Copyright Information: This article was reprinted with permission from MEMO.com. Please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Electoral Crisis in Honduras as Riots Continue, Police Go on Strike

PHOTO CREDIT: PANAM POST

Tensions have continued in Honduras since the country’s general elections on November 26, with scandal and controversy over who will be the next President drawing people to the streets for violent protests and riots.

After the Electoral Count Roundtables (MER) counted 100 percent of submitted ballots, President Juan Orlando Hernández — who was seeking reelection — came out 1.6 points ahead of his opponent, TV announcer Salvador Nasralla Salum.

Yet Nasralla has broken an agreement with the Organization of American States to respect that outcome. The looting and vandalism that has taken place as a result since Friday, December 1 has affected at least 200 businesses and US $110 million in daily damage, according to Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Cortés, Pedro Barquero.

Supporters of the Opposition Alliance have looted plazas, shopping centers, supermarkets, banks and pharmacies. The Alliance is led by former President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, who was removed from office on June 28, 2009 after he tried to establish a National Constituent Assembly that would have kept him in power indefinitely.

Barquero said the Opposition Alliance is considering different ways to support the effected businessmen, most of whom have remained closed during the crisis. Mario Canahuati, President of the Honduran Association of Makeup Artists, said his industry has delivery commitments with the United States that aren’t being met due to a loss of working hours.

“There is no doubt that we are highly concerned,” he said. “This political element is bringing very serious consequences, even though we have been able to operate so far without any problem.”

Canahuati also said interruptions on highways caused by protests have prevented many workers from accessing manufacturing zones, especially those located in the municipalities of El Progreso and Villanueva.

Police groups declare a sit-down strike

This Monday, December 4, the National Police, as well as specialized anti-riot units called cobras and tigers, announced a sit-down strike, and refuse to obey their superiors’ orders to intervene on opposition protests.

The Honduran government said it is a salary issue, based on an intercepted letter stating the Treasury doesn’t have the resources to pay officers’ Christmas bonuses, but police and military leaders — as well as the Secretary of Finance, Wilfredo Cerrato — have denied salary issues as the motivation for the protest.

Police forces cited a lack of interest in “fighting the people” as the rationale for their strike. “We want peace, that this problem be resolved and to see an end to killing and bloodshed,” they said in a statement made on television, during which they had their faces and mouths covered.

This morning, one police force sent a message reiterating its desire for peace, and for the government to find the “best possible outcome” to this moment of uncertainty now entering its eleventh days.

On Tuesday, December 5, former President Zelaya called on his supporters to demonstrate at police stations in various cities in support of their strike.

Also on Monday, the European Union and United States called for peace in Honduras, and expressed support for the request made by the Opposition Alliance regarding the revision of 5,200 acts. According to Nasralla, they have significant inconsistencies. However, the agencies said that this procedure should be carried out based on Honduran law, which gives them until next Friday, December 8 to submit complaints.

“We are pleased that the electoral authorities of Honduras have completed the process of special scrutiny in a manner that maximizes citizen participation and transparency,” the US Embassy said through its ChargéD’Affaires Heide Fulton. “We regret the violence, which is unacceptable and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”

Graphic artist and journalist Jihan Hafiz tweeted her disapproval after having been detained and deported from the country with her partner Reed Lindsay while reporting on the crisis that the nation is facing. She insisted that they are not the first journalists to be punished for reporting on these issues since the crisis has begun.

Copyright Information: This article was reprinted with permission from Panampost.com. Please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Maduro: No Elections Will Be Held unless Sanctions Are Removed

Negotiations between Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela and the country’s political opposition have reportedly fallen into a “vicious cycle” of threats that isn’t productive for either side. Maduro’s side has expressed an unwillingness to negotiate, even trying to blackmail its way out of international sanctions with threats of eliminating elections altogether.

Minister of Communication and regime spokesman Jorge Rodríguez said there will be no elections in Venezuela if the United States does not lift its sanctions against the country. The elections, which are laid out in the Venezuelan constitution, are scheduled for 2018.

“Venezuela will not have an election, nor will we sign any agreement with the Venezuelan opposition until the gross sanctions that the Venezuelan right-wing leadership requested from the Treasury Department of Donald Trump, from Spanish and Canadian authorities, and from any and all foreign and international entities, are lifted,” Rodriguez said.

It’s an ironic threat given that Maduro originally called the US sanctions a victory and an honor for Venezuela. In fact, Maduro’s new attempt at blackmail shows the sanctions — which were handed down by  the United States, Canada and now the European Union — are starting to work as intended.

The opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (or MUD, by its Spanish acronym) called for “patience and confidence” with negotiations despite having fallen victim to the regime’s disingenuous interest in advancing discussions about transparent elections and humanitarian aid.

“I understand that there people are anxious to know what is going to happen with each of these issues, but I would recommend patience and confidence in the negotiation team,” Deputy Luis Florido, a MUD spokesmen, said. “Let’s wait until December 15. We hope to have good news by then.”

Julio Borges, President of the disbanded National Assembly, insisted that the opening of a humanitarian food and medicine channel is his primary concern. However, the regime has been clear that there will be no humanitarian aid, let alone free elections.

The regime blames the US for the financial sanctions that prohibit Americans from working the Venezuelan government or with the state-owned oil company PDVSA. These governments have made it clear that sanctions will only be lifted when the rule of law and constitutional democracy are restored.

President Trump has already announced there is no way to reverse the sanctions. Meanwhile, the rest of the international community has the ability to pressure Maduro’s regime further, and ultimately drown it through the seizing of its foreign resources goods as well as by eliminating the visas of top government officials.

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The Forgotten War: Conflict in Congo Worse than ‘Syria, Yemen and Iraq’

PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTUBE SCREEN GRAB

For the second year in a row, the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the epicenter of the worst conflict displacement crisis in the world – a crisis that outpaces the likes of the civil wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen according to human rights groups. And almost nobody is talking about it.

According to the United Nations, 1.7 million Congo residents have been forced to flee their homes in 2017 — a rate of about 5,500 a day. This brings the number of displaced up to 4.1 million in total, with another 7 million at risk of famine.

“It’s a mega-crisis. The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts, outpacing Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” said Ulrika Blom, the Congo director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. “For the second year running, DR Congo is the country worst affected by conflict displacement in the world. Communities in DR Congo are being double pounded — by brutal conflict and a worsening political crisis.”

Congo was the site of the Great African War, the bloodiest armed conflict since World War II. The war ended after five years of fighting between 1998 and 2003 that left an estimated 5.4 million dead, but Congo has remained unstable ever since.

Insurgent and rebel groups continue to resist the Kinshasa government. Arguably the most visible insurrection is the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion, which resulted from Kinshasa’s refusal to formally recognize their chief. The Catholic Church has estimated that 3,300 have been killed and over a million people displaced in the battles between the tribal mavericks and the Congolese military since August 2016.

The situation has been further worsened by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to cede power at the end of his second term as stipulated by the Congolese constitution. Kabila has led the country since 2001, but his government has met with limited success in defeating the numerous militant groups that continue to battle Kinshasa.

In the meantime, the suffering of the citizenry continues. “What we’ve seen firsthand in Tanganyika province is beyond horrifying,” said Blom. “Last week we found a church sheltering over 80 people who’d fled attacks in September — families piled together in absolute squalor. Children sleeping on wet soil, thinly covered by empty sugar sacks. Four people have died since this community arrived, including two children.”

But international aid has come in only a trickle due to the lack of visibility for the conflict. The country is not seen as an intersection of geopolitical interests in the same way that similarly beleaguered Middle Eastern nations are, and while the nation has immense natural resources it also has low infrastructure development and a population that lives almost entirely in poverty.

“Donor fatigue, geopolitical disinterest and competing crises have pushed DR Congo far down the list of priorities for the international community. This deadly trend is at the expense of millions of Congolese. If we fail to step up now, mass hunger will spread and people will die. We are in a race against time,” said Blom.

Government ministers have disputed the NRC’s claim. Minister of Information Lambert Mende says that the number of displaced people is lower, “less than 1 million.” Furthermore, the displaced people were not fleeing conflict but rather attempting to return home from neighboring countries.

It isn’t just the Congo, although the country is the site of the worst displacement. In the first half of 2017, 2.7 million Africans were displaced, the NRC says, about 1 million of whom come from Congo. The rest mostly came from the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan. There are 12.6 million displaced people in the whole of Africa.

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Donald Trump’s Recognition Of Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel Will Shake The Middle East To The Core

This is one of the most historic things to happen in the Middle East in decades.  Just a few days ago I reported that Donald Trump would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “in December”, and now we are being told that Trump will make this announcement at 1 PM eastern time on Wednesday.  Administration officials are stressing that this move is a “recognition of reality”, because of course the seat of the Israeli government has been in the holy city for a very long time.  But without a doubt this announcement will shake the Middle East to the core, because Israel’s neighbors are extremely displeased that Trump is doing this.

According to the Jerusalem Post, President Trump phoned leaders all over the Middle East on Tuesday to inform them about what would happen on Wednesday…

US President Donald Trump called the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt on Tuesday to inform them of his intention to move the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, 22 years after the US Congress called on the White House to do just that.

What Trump didn’t say, however, was when the move would take place, something that could provide some maneuvering room for him to try to tamp down Arab anger over the highly contentious step.

The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will be immediate, but the U.S. embassy will probably not be moved for six months.  The following comes from CNN

The President is expected to make a public announcement Wednesday declaring his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his intent to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, diplomatic officials and a person familiar with the plans tell CNN. Trump is also expected to sign a waiver delaying the embassy move for six months, citing the logistical challenges of moving US personnel.

By not moving the embassy immediately, administration officials are hoping that this will pacify Israel’s neighbors a little bit.

Unfortunately, that may not work.  One prominent Arab leader has already statedthat he believes that Trump is “a pyromaniac who could set the entire region on fire with his madness”, and the Saudis are calling this “a flagrant provocation of Muslims”

In Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency said that King Salman bin Abdul Aziz had received a call from Trump, as well, and that the two discussed the potential moves. Using the Arabic name for Jerusalem, the king “reiterated that such a dangerous step of relocation or recognition of Al-Quds as the capital of Israel would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world,” the agency said.

Once Trump’s announcement is made, all eyes will be on the Palestinians, and Palestinian leaders have already planned for protests to begin on Wednesday

The Palestinian factions said protests will start on Wednesday and last until Friday at the very least. According to Palestinian leaders, marches against the decision are being backed by the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Mahisan told Haaretz that Trump’s decision was an inflammatory material that will inspire Palestinians to take to the streets in rage. “The Palestinian people know how to protect their rights and we are in consultations regarding [our moves] in the coming days.”

The three days stretching from Wednesday to Friday are being called “three days of rage”, and it is very likely that we will see widespread violence.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

In a joint statement, the Palestinian “national and Islamic forces” announced three days of rage that would begin Wednesday and end on Friday. “We call on all our people in Israel and around the world to gather in city centers and Israeli embassies and consulates, with the aim of bringing about general popular anger,” the statement said.

The statement added that “a huge protest should be launched in order to reject out of hand the attempts of the US administration to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. The right of the people and the nation to act in all legal and diplomatic ways within the international community, the international law in the Hague, in order to torpedo this attempt,” the statement said, calling for an emergency meeting of the leaders of the Islamic countries and the Jerusalem Committee to emphasize their rejection of the American moves in Jerusalem.

Some U.S. officials had urged Trump not to make this sort of a move, but it is the right thing to do.  U.S. policy should never be dictated by threats of violence, and I greatly applaud President Trump for refusing to be intimidated.

Hopefully things will not get too crazy over the next few days, but without a doubt U.S. facilities around the world will need to be on very high alert.  In fact, one anonymous State Department official is concerned that U.S. embassies all over the globe could be targeted by violence

“The impending Jerusalem announcement has me very worried about the possibility of violent responses that could affect embassies,” one State Department official told Politico. “I hope I’m wrong.”

And according to CBS News, U.S. government officials are being ordered to stay away from the Old City and the West Bank for now…

U.S. government employees and their families are being banned by the U.S. from personal visits to Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank, including Bethlehem and Jericho, amid the potential for demonstrations. The demonstrations are being planned as President Trump indicated that he intends to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He’s also expected to announce that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that’s inflaming Arab sentiment against the U.S.

It takes a lot of courage to do the right thing even though you know that the other side may resort to violence.

Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is going to tremendously shake the entire Middle East, and nobody is quite sure what will happen next.

Let us pray that peace will prevail, but even if it doesn’t, Donald Trump has made the right choice and for that he should be greatly commended.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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Melinda Gates Foundation Heavily Promoting Controversial HPV Vaccine in India

Vaccine

Along with Japan, Ireland and Denmark, India is also divided over the introduction of the HPV vaccine that is being promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with right-wing outfits warning that the vaccine could cause an “unmitigated tragedy.”

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Ahead of the introduction of a controversial vaccine in India by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the country’s right-wing groups have expressed serious concern over the efficacy of the product. Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), affiliated to the ruling BJP’s parent organization RSS, has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modito stop any such attempt to introduce the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in India.

“This will be an unmitigated tragedy,” Ashwini Mahajan, Co-convener of SJM told to Sputnik.

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer and also causes genital warts, as well as oropharyngeal and other cancers in men.

“This is a vaccine that was used in unethical trials by PATH of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR) funded by Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)-the vaccine manufacturers, that have been blamed for the deaths of many tribal children Andhra Pradesh,” Mahajan wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Last month, India’s northern state of Punjab introduced the HPV vaccine in Mansa district after the Chandigarh based medical research institute PGIMER published a research paper in May this year after evaluating the impact. But, the controversial part is that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the country’s apex body that approves the introduction of any vaccine, did not endorse the report and the vaccine.

“They have managed to introduce the vaccine in Punjab although it does not have the approval of the NTAGI. Given the reach and clout of vested interests and how they have influenced PGI Chandigarh, we believe that NTAGI is also likely to be influenced easily,” Mahajan warned the Indian Prime Minister.

The right-wing group, which has a major influence over policy-making, requested Narendra Modi to take strong action against groups that pervert science, which bring ignominy to the scientific community in the country and sell out the country to vested interests.

SJM pointed out that the report prepared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of India castigated the Indian Council Medical Research, Drug Controller General of India, Ethics Committee members, and PATH for the unethical manner in which this clinical trial was done after calling it a demonstration project.Mahajan also quoted a report of The World Health Organization which shows that the HPV is the vaccine with the highest rate of adverse effects among all vaccines in use. Some of these are seriously debilitating.

 “It has come to the attention of the College that one of the HPV vaccines could possibly be associated with the very rare but serious condition of premature ovarian failure (POF), also known as premature menopause,” American College of Pediatricians was quoted as saying in various media reports.

The HPV vaccine has faced stiff resistance in countries like Japan, Ireland, and Denmark in recent months. In Japan, some parents have posted videos of their children suffering adverse effects of the vaccine which is given to the teenage girls to protect them from cervical cancer.

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Venezuela Running Out of Fuel for Air Travel, Leaked PDVSA Memo Reveals

A newly released memo from Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, reveals the country lacks enough fuel to meet the demands of all aircrafts currently in operation.

A memo sent by a PDVSA official to the Bolivariana de Aeropuertos and National Institute of Civil Aeronautics on December 3 mentions a “critical inventory level of gasoline” for airplanes.

Tweet: The amount of oil reserves at a national level is almost nothing across the board… PDVSA sent an internal memo revealing a critical shortage of gasoline for airplanes. Robo-revolution! #Dec4 

A supervisor for the Aviation Fuel Supply Plant in the eastern city of Barcelona asked that all aircrafts fill-up their tanks at the time of departure. “We suggest that all aircraft that use this product … fill their tanks at the airports with sufficient AV-GAS upon their departures, since we will not be able to maintain a supply in the future,” he said in the memo said. He also said the remaining AV-GAS fuel has been set aside as a reserve.

Though Venezuela is an oil-producing country with 18 refineries worldwide and six in-country, PDVSA’s financial difficulties and inability to import fuel have jeopardized the supply of gasoline going to its domestic market. The country’s refineries operate at around 40-percent capacity.

This isn’t the first time the country has encountered air travel-related difficulties due to a gasoline shortage. Last July, Avianca Airlines terminated their relationship with Venezuela, citing sparse fuel availability. Avianca also mentioned concerns about poor quality control and a lack of protocol for fuel supplied to airlines in Venezuela.

Local newspapers, including El Impulso, warned of the impact the country’s current gasoline shortage might have on private air travel in mid-November, noting the potential for an imminent suspension of supply.

The current supply of gasoline for private aviation — specifically, for piston planes — will last through December, according to the memo, which was received by the authorities in airports housing Venezuelan “aero-clubs.”

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Trump tells Abbas: Embassy moving to Jerusalem

PHOTO CREDIT: DONKEY HOTEY

US President Donald Trump informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today that he intends to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Abbas’ spokesman said.

The statement did not say whether Trump elaborated on the timing of such a move.

“President Mahmoud Abbas received a telephone call from US President Donald Trump in which he notified the President of his intention to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said in a statement.

“President Abbas warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” Abu Rdainah said.

Palestinian movement Fatah, which Abbas heads, yesterday called on Palestinians to start a new intifada in support of Jerusalem as news circulated that the US is to announce it is to move its embassy.

Numerous international players have warned the US against moving the embassy as it would change the status quo in the conflict and lead to further unrest. May have also warned that this would further hinder negotiations to end the 70-year-old conflict.

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Trump misses deadline over moving US embassy to Jerusalem

Netanyahu

Donald Trump appears to have missed a deadline for signing a waiver on a US law requiring its embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, in an act of brinkmanship over one of the Middle East’s most fraught issues.

According to diplomats and Palestinians officials, the original deadline was expected to have fallen on Friday at midnight and was pushed to Monday. That deadline passed without an announcement after a White House official said no action would be taken on Monday.

Amid mounting anxiety over Trump’s intentions, the US president was facing a growing chorus of warnings over potential repercussions over a unilateral US decision regarding Jerusalem’s status.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, described the status of Jerusalem as a “red line” for Muslims that could lead to a severing of relations with Israel, while the European Union warned of possible “serious repercussions”.

Saudi Arabia – which has been enjoying a discreet warming of relations with Israel – cautioned against taking any step that would “obstruct the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process”.

Some reports suggest Trump may reluctantly announce the signing of the waiver in the coming days, others that he may also announce that he plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The latter would result in the Palestinian leadership “stopping contacts” with the US, a diplomatic adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas said .

In June, Trump issued a waiver to comply with the 1995 law, which insists the president must relocate the embassy to Jerusalem or explain at six-monthly intervals why doing so is not in the national security interests of the US.

The failure to announce the signing of the newest waiver does not indicate whether or not the US president has approved it. However, it feeds into a growing tension in the region.

Turkey issues warrant for ex-CIA officer over alleged role in 2016 coup

The Turkish government has issued a warrant for the arrest of a former officer in the United States Central Intelligence Agency, which Ankara claims was instrumental in the failed July 2016 attempt to topple the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The move comes amidst heightened tensions in relations between Ankara and Washington. The two NATO allies have partially revoked entry visas for each other’s citizens, while it is alleged that Michael Flynn, US President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, had an illegal agreement with Turkey to help abduct a Turkish dissident cleric living in Pennsylvania and help transport him to Turkey.

The warrant was issued on December 1 by the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor in Istanbul. It seeks the arrest of Graham Fuller, an 80-year-old former analyst in the CIA, who lives in Canada. The warrant identifies Fuller as a “former CIA official” and claims that he attempted to “overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey” and obstruct “the missions” of the Turkish government. The reference here is to the July 2016 coup, which the Turkish government claims was carried out by the so-called Gülen movement. The Gülen movement consists of supporters of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who runs a global network of schools, charities and businesses from his home in the United States. The government of Turkey has designated Gülen’s group a terrorist organization and claims that its members have stealthily infiltrated Turkish state institutions since the 1980s. Ever since the failed coup, Ankara has engaged in a controversial campaign to remove so-called Gülenists from prominent posts in government and the private sector. More than 50,000 people have been arrested on terrorism charges and are awaiting trial. Another 150,000 public and private sector employees have been summarily fired from their job.