After six weeks of negotiating, the UN Security Council was close to agreeing on a resolution for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic. Seems fair, right? Let's agree to stop killing each other for a while, so we can focus on the virus that's killing us instead?
China proposed that the text explicitly mention a commitment by member nations to support the efforts of the World Health Organization — who Donald Trump has blamed (without evidence) for withholding information on the coronavirus outbreak.
So the US looked at the resolution and said "LOL no," despite last minute efforts to reach a compromise. As The Guardian reports:
On Thursday night, French diplomats thought they had engineered a compromise in which the resolution would mention UN “specialized health agencies” (an indirect, if clear, reference to the WHO).
The Russian mission signaled that it wanted a clause calling for the lifting of sanctions that affected the delivery of medical supplies, a reference to US punitive measures imposed on Iran and Venezuela. However, most security council diplomats believed Moscow would withdraw the objection or abstain in a vote rather than risk isolation as the sole veto on the ceasefire resolution.
While everyone else seemed game to go along with these compromises, the US insisted it was one big Chinese trick. As one diplomat told CNN: "This discussion has been taken hostage by issues that do not have to do with the real issues at stake. Instead it has been transformed into a fight between the US and China. Read the rest
Fifty years ago today at Kent State University, the Ohio National Guard gunned down four students and wounded nine more during a demonstration against the invasion of Cambodia. The tragedy inspired Neil Young to write the epic social commentary "Ohio" for his band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. (Video below.)
Above is the Isley Brothers's masterful and moving medley of "Ohio" and Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun" from their 1971 album Givin' It Back.
If you don't know, now you know.
From John Lombardi's coverage of the Kent State Massacre in Rolling Stone's June 11th, 1970 issue:
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“A lot of the Guards were young and they looked scared,” [24-year-old Howard] Ruffner remembers, and then some kid with a black flag was down in front of them trying to get the students to charge. “Kill the pigs! The pigggs!!” he was screaming and the gas blew in clouds. But this time the students were picking up the canisters and throwing them back, and it didn’t even matter that the gas wasn’t having much effect, was in fact blowing up and over the heads of the combatants in the strong wind and back toward the football field where it managed to burn the eyes and lungs of some people who wanted nothing to do with any of this, including a blind student and his girlfriend who were crawling along the Spring grass in panic, digging at their tearing eyes and vomiting. A lot of kids who had just been standing around watching began to yell then, and everything got louder.
The Guards had run out of tear gas and were retreating up the hill, to the left of Taylor Hall, when some of the students began to throw rocks.
As predicted, via the Trump White House — the Pentagon is relaxing its policy on the use of landmines by U.S, forces, so that landmines can be used on the Korean peninsula. Read the rest
The Trump administration is planning to make landmines great again. Read the rest
A rocket is reported to have fallen in Iraq's northern Salahuddin province, reports Reuters reports, citing police sources. The strike is close to the Balad air base which houses US troops. Read the rest
By various reports, multiple (two or three) Katyusha rockets hit targets inside Baghdad's Green Zone in the past hour. Read the rest
Chevron said Monday it has evacuated all expatriate oil workers from Iraq, following last week's Trump airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Read the rest
In remarks to reporters about the U.S.-led assassination of top Iran general Qasem Soleimani, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff [D-CA] said that the United States must now “expect retaliation” by Iran, which today vowed a “crushing response” against the United States and its allies. Read the rest
PHOTO - In this 2016 photo released by the office of Iran's supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Soleimani was killed yesterday in U.S. airstrike on the Baghdad airport in Iraq.
As the U.S. sends some 3,500 additional troops to the mideast, Washington Post reporter Mustafa Salim [@Mustafa_salimb on Twitter] describes the mood in Baghdad as grim. Read the rest
Ellen DeGeneres's friendship with ex-President George W. Bush became controversial this week, in light of the progressive values she claims and the 600,000 corpses left by his occupation of Iraq. She delivered a monologue on her show in response, casting their friendship as an example of civility, overcoming political differences, and having "faith in America". So Rafael Shimunov added a simple backdrop of Iraq war scenes to her monolog, in the hopes DeGeneres might better understand the complaints. In response, copyright takedown notices flew and it was removed from the 'net, so it is at least getting under her skin.
Here's a copy, which I'll update if and when it disappears. Read the rest
Trump gave Erdogan green light, Putin nods in approval from Moscow. Read the rest
In a late-night press release, the White House announced that Turkey "will soon be moving forward" with an invasion of northern Syria—areas currently occupied by Kurds.
Mr. Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia. Administration officials said that Mr. Trump spoke directly with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the issue on Sunday. And the officials indicated that the 100 to 150 United States military personnel deployed to that area would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation but that they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria.
The Kurds were key allies in the war on ISIS, and Trump is fully aware that withdrawing U.S. support for them could mean ethnic cleansing by the Turks, because he's boasted of stopping it in the past by not withdrawing.
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On Monday a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - who occupy former IS territory in north-eastern Syria - strongly condemned the US move.
"There were assurances from the United States of America that it would not allow any Turkish military operations against the region," Kino Gabriel told Arabic TV station al-Hadath.
He added: "The (US) statement was a surprise and we can say that it is a stab in the back for the SDF."
If you take him at his word, Trump just said he wants to nuke Iran. The man is nuts, the man is also President. Are we going to start another war? No one knows. Read the rest
Gil Barndollar -- a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, the Republic of Georgia, Guantanamo Bay and Bahrain, who also holds a PhD in History from Cambridge -- writes in USA Today about what a US regime change effort in Iran would mean, logistically speaking.
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Regular readers will know Richard Kadrey (previously) from his bestselling Sandman Slim series, but as much as I love those books, I think I love his latest, "The Grand Dark" -- a noir/dieselpunk novel set in a fictionalized weimar city in a brief, hectic interwar period -- even more.
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Anyone else getting Iraq déjà vu?