Germany rebuffs US call to send ground troops to Syria

Germany has turned down a request from Washington to deploy ground forces in Syria as the US military looks to scale back its presence in the region, describing the proposal as inconsistent with Berlin’s “well known” policy.

US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey confirmed on Sunday that he had asked the German government to provide troops to replace a portion of US forces currently stationed in Syria. He said the request was part of Washington’s preparations for an eventual US military withdrawal in the country.

Berlin didn’t wait long before issuing a curt “nein” to its transatlantic ally.

“When I say the government envisages sticking to the current measures in the anti-Islamic State (military) coalition, this includes no ground troops, as is well known,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said during a news conference on Monday.

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The response shouldn’t come as a shock to Washington. Germany has generally been wary of a direct military intervention in Syria. In May of last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel assured the public that the Bundeswehr “will not participate in possible military actions.”

While Germany has shunned the idea, Jeffrey seems confident that other US allies will commit to sending troops to Syria. The US diplomat told Defense One that he expects a “breakthrough” agreement in the coming weeks, which would include coalition forces replacing US troops as they withdraw from Syria.

Filling in for US troops in Syria will come with certain moral and legal hazards, however. US military forces have been operating in Syria without the consent of Damascus or UN authorization, what is tantamount to an illegal occupation.

Damascus insists that the Western military presence in Syria is illegitimate, pledging to liberate “every inch” of the country from uninvited foreign troops.

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USA will never bend Cuba with Helms-Burton Act, India says

The United States will never be able to destroy the Cuban Revolution by implementing the Helms-Burton Act as well as activating its title III, according to Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

The Donald Trump administration wants to further stifle the Cubans and this year activated the Title III, said Sitaram Yechury in an interview with Prensa Latina news agency in New Delhi.

Regarding this last step taken by the US government to try to break the Cuban Revolution, Yechury said that Washington has been trying since 1960, but have not succeeded and will not get their goals done, although they try to continue increasing economic pressure on the courageous Cuban people.

The Helms-Burton Act was enacted in 1996, 23 years ago. Through it, the White House has been further strengthening the criminal blockade against Cuba, and this Title III activated last March deals with properties nationalized in Cuba after the 1959 triumph of the Revolution, he said.

But those properties were nationalized according to Cuban norms. Cuba, as I remember it, negotiated with many European nations including Spain and other countries with whom it has excellent economic relations, all nationalization proceedings that were enacted, and there was no problem.

Donald Trump as president of the United States, such an aggressiveness increased considerably. And that is a part of Trump's policy of trying to establish US hegemony worldwide. They consider that Latin America is their backyard and that is why they meddle into internal affairs of Latin American nations, he added.

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This isn’t about sneakers, but about people who want ‘no USA at all’

In just a few short years, the woke crusade against “hate” in the US has gone from demanding the removal of Confederate flags and monuments to targeting George Washington, the national anthem and now even the American flag.

Seen in isolation, the decision by Nike to scrap their sneaker design featuring the original flag of the 13 colonies that declared independence from the British crown in 1776 – reportedly at the urging of ex-football player turned social justice commissar Colin Kaepernick – seems like a tempest in a teapot. Seen from another perspective, though, it’s an alarming example of a trend that threatens to unravel the few remaining threads that keep America together. 

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Kaepernick’s reported reasoning was that the flag is associated with slavery – which indeed existed in the thirteen colonies at the time of their revolt against King George III, and later in what became the United States of America. By that logic, however, any American flag is inappropriate, because even though slavery was abolished in 1865, discriminatory laws persisted until 1964 – over a decade after Hawaii’s statehood brought the number of stars on the flag to 50.

Tell that to the 54th Massachusetts, an all-Black regiment that fought in the Civil War and was memorialized in the movie ‘Glory’. For that matter, tell it to Barack Obama, who flew the original flag at his second inauguration, just six years ago!

Of course, everything is fine when Obama does it, from flying the Betsy Ross flag to running detention centers for illegal immigrants. They were magically transformed into a “symbol of hate” and “concentration camps” as soon as the Bad Orange Man – otherwise known as President Donald Trump – took over, however. 

Cue the liberal “explainer” site Vox, which ignored Kaepernick’s reported reasoning about the flag to argue that the real problem was its use “as a symbol of white supremacy” since 2008, as a “racist” reaction to Obama’s election. 

According to Vox, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross had nothing to do with that flag anyway, the whole story was apocryphal and made up. Sure, and George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree, but he’s still revered as the Founding Father of America, right?

Of course not. Earlier this week, the San Francisco, California school board decided to remove a ‘racist’ mural of Washington that showed slaves in chains and dead bodies of Native Americans. Ironically, the mural itself was a social justice statement of its time – it was painted in 1936 by George Arnautoff, a Communist artist who studied under Diego Rivera, and wanted to depict Washington without any of the patriotic romanticism. Today, however, being woke means going all Taliban on art from the past.

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The US national anthem has not been safe from scrutiny, either. Back in 2017, the statue of Francis Scott Key – who wrote the lyrics to the “Star-spangled Banner” – was defaced in Baltimore, after the liberal publication Salon denounced the anthem and Key himself as racist. 

Incidentally, Kaepernick became famous – and a “moral authority,” according to Vox – when he began to kneel during the anthem at football games, saying he was protesting police violence against African-Americans. 

Would “God Bless America” be safe? Not a chance. In April, sports teams rushed to banish any mention of Kate Smith –  for whom Irving Berlin wrote the song and who performed it for years at sporting events – because several songs she recorded in the 1930s “contain offensive lyrics.” Smith’s statue outside the Philadelphia Flyers arena was covered with a black tarp and then removed entirely, just like her recording of “God Bless America” was erased from the repertoire.

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This is the same arena, by the way, where the Democrats held their convention in 2016 and anointed Hillary Clinton as their candidate. Somehow, Smith’s songs from the 1930s didn’t bother anyone then.

Woke warriors have also targeted the Pledge of Allegiance. Written in 1892 by a socialist, Francis Bellamy, as part of a marketing ploy to sell American flags, the Pledge has since become a secular ritual, involving school children swearing (or not) to the flag “and the republic for which it stands.” 

So if the pledge is oppression, the flag is racist, George Washington is racist, Betsy Ross didn’t exist, the anthem is racist, “God Bless America” is racist by association… where does that leave the US? Is it at least the “greatest country in the world” as its politicians – of both parties – so often declare? Actually, no, according to the New York Times.

It’s a myth “at best outdated and at worst, wildly inaccurate,” says the nation’s paper of record in an opinion video released on the eve of July 4 celebrations. 

So as you see, this is about more than just sneakers – or even vapid virtue-signaling. This is about people who insist on being the arbiters of morality, and “canceling” anyone who dares to think otherwise; who hate the Bad Orange Man so much that they are willing to destroy the country he presides over; who chant “no fascist USA” and “no USA at all” – but then blame Russia for “sowing discord,” in order to cover up their tracks.

Happy birthday, America, wherever you are.

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Two Shot, 2 Others Hurt In San Francisco-Area Shopping Mall

Reuters: Two people were shot and two others hurt on Tuesday when at least one gunman opened fire at a mall in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno before apparently fleeing on a nearby train, police said.

Two people were taken to San Francisco General Hospital with gunshot wounds to their lower bodies in stable condition, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told reporters at a late-afternoon news conference.

"It was a senseless act," Barberini said, adding that opening fire in a crowded shopping mall near a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station showed a "true disregard for human life."

Two other people were treated at the scene for minor injuries they suffered in fleeing from the gunmen.

Barberini said police were searching for one or possibly two gunmen who may have fled the scene by getting on a BART train headed for Oakland.

The shopping mall in San Bruno, located south of San Francisco, was closed after the gunfire, police said on Twitter.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit authority said one of its commuter stops was shut down as a precaution after the shooting.

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John Bolton Is a Pathological Liar, Cuban FM Asserts

US National Security adviser John Bolton is a ''pathological liar'', Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has asserted in Twitter.

The head of Diplomacy rebuffed Bolton's allegations in which the US official call Cuban doctors working in Venezuela 'repressors'.

He further wrote that Bolton missed to say that 400,000 Cuban health professionals have worked in 134 countries, and that Cuban ophthalmologists have made 3.4 million free eye surgeries.

Bolton is one of Washington's hawks in the Trump administration who together with Senator Marcos Rubio have advised the President to harden the economic, financial and commercial blockade on the neighboring island.

To justify their actions they have, for instance, included Cuba in the White House black lists as it recently did by mentioning the island among nations that encourage human trafficking, just like they have done with Venezuela and Nicaragua.

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US Blockade Affects all Cuban Sectors

The rector of the University of Havana (UH), Miriam Nicado, said Friday that the US blockade against Cuba affects all sectors of society , even the academic.

'The confrontation goes beyond the ideology, it extends very strongly towards the academic side', denounced the Cuban MP in a meeting with the members of Pastors for Peace, who visited the University.

After thanking the presence of the North American group of solidarity with Cuba, Nicado recalled the continuous visits of Lucius Walker to the Caribbean nation in front of such a noble project, with which, he affirmed, he won the affection of the people of the island.

'Having her daughter here (Gail Walker) makes you feel that the story has not stopped and (...) is an example of the continuity of their work and solidarity,' she said.

Nicado praised the Pastors for Peace as patriots for their unequaled defense of collaboration and respectful relations between the Cuban and US people.

Similarly, the rector said that the new measures of the United States Government hinder academic exchange and, therefore, affect professionals at the University of Havana.

She added that every day the Cuban people feel more strongly the negative effects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington for almost 60 years, which she considered an attempt of isolation and homicide against the Cubans.

Gail Walker thanked the caravan members, who come from the United States, Mexico and Canada; and many of them are for the first time in the Caribbean nation, she said.

  • Published in Cuba

Assange lawyer reveals Pentagon behind pursuit of WikiLeaks publisher

A lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has confirmed that the Pentagon – not the White House or any other government agency whose secrets he leaked – was driving the nearly decade-long campaign to destroy the publisher.

After asking officials at the Obama administration if they “really wanted” the publisher for whistleblowers and warning that “there are dangerous precedents here,” Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said they responded:

We don’t want him, but the Pentagon does, and the Pentagon may eventually get its way.

Robertson’s “high connections” got him an audience with Obama administration insiders after he learned of the secret grand jury they had convened against Assange in 2010, he told Phillip Adams on ABC’s Radio National on Thursday. When Robertson warned them of the First Amendment implications of charging a publisher under national security laws, however, they already knew what kind of precedent it would set.

While the Obama administration charged more leakers under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined, it never attempted to wield the law against a publisher.

And the Pentagon has finally gotten its way. British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed a request for a US extradition order earlier this month, and Assange will face a full extradition hearing in February.

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He is charged with 17 violations of the Espionage Act, including obtaining and disclosing national defense information, plus an earlier count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, concerning a massive trove of classified documents given to WikiLeaks by military intelligence analyst Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. The Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, as they were titled for publication, exposed US atrocities including the torture of detainees and murder of civilians and constituted the largest leak of military secrets in US history.

If he is found guilty – and it is highly unlikely that the Eastern District of Virginia court where he will be tried and where no “national security” defendant has ever won a case, will acquit him – he faces 170 years in prison.

The grand jury investigation of Assange at its peak involved the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the FBI, the State Department, and the Diplomatic Security Service, according to WikiLeaks. But it was the Pentagon, as early as 2008, which began the quest to bring down the publisher, launching its war on WikiLeaks through its Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch.

According to award-winning anti-war journalist John Pilger, their plot involved a media war using reputational smears and “threats of exposure [and] criminal prosecution” aimed at shredding the “feeling of trust” at the core of WikiLeaks’ operations. 

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The Pentagon’s mission is all but accomplished. Assange has been so thoroughly smeared most of his supporters doubt he will ever get a fair trial. Not only has he been demonized as a rapist, traitor, fascist, and every other name in the book, but even those journalists who have profited off his work – at the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other mainstream media that published WikiLeaks disclosures years ago – have gleefully turned on him.

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We won’t sell out our allies or principles to strike Syria deal with US, says Putin

Russia will not reach any agreement with the United States on the future of Syria at the cost of Syria itself or Moscow’s interests and principles, President Vladimir Putin has said.

During his annual Q&A session on Thursday, a journalist asked Putin if there would be a “grand deal” with the US on Syria as the country begins to recover from years of hostilities and destruction.

“What do you mean ‘a grand deal’? Sounds like some commercial act. No. We don’t sell out our allies, our interests or our principles,” Putin said.

He said that Russia is willing to negotiate a political transition in Syria with various stakeholders. “Can it be done? I believe it can, provided there is goodwill of everyone involved in the conflict.”

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Putin highlighted Turkey and Iran as Russia’s immediate partners in resolving the Syrian crisis, but said countries like the US, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan have legitimate interests in what happens in Syria as do the European nations, which were hurt by mass migration triggered by it. “We have to work together on it,” he stressed.

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