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CENTCOM Chief Denies Loosening Civilian Targeting Rules, Deflects Blame For Mosul Deaths

A top US military commander is denying reports that that the Pentagon has relaxed its targeting protocols, despite rapidly increasing civilian casualty rates in Syria and Iraq. The head of US Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Joseph Votel, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, providing details on the military’s probe of a series of airstrikes in Mosul in recent weeks that have reportedly killed upwards of 300 civilians. Votel noted he agreed with an analysis made Tuesday, by Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, that concluded there… Keep Reading

Congress Seeks to Penalize Peaceful Pro-Palestine Movement, Amid Annual AIPAC Lobbying Blitz

The influential pro-Israel group AIPAC is asking supporters to back recently-drafted legislation that seeks to punish a peaceful movement in solidarity with Palestinians. The organization, which is in Washington this week for an annual policy conference, is dispatching members to lobby lawmakers to pass the bill. One Washington-based group decrying Israel’s occupation of Palestine has said the proposal is unconstitutional. “This dangerous bill seeks to impose fines on corporations that boycott business dealings with illegal Israeli settlements,” said Josh Ruebner, the policy director of the US… Keep Reading

April Treasury Report Gives Trump Way Out of China Campaign Promise

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday that the Trump administration will wait until April before deciding if China should be considered a currency manipulator. A decision over the move, which would pave the way for tariffs on Chinese imports, will come in a biannual report on foreign exchange markets, Mnuchin told Bloomberg. The report could give President Trump an off-ramp to walk back one of his first campaign promises. Early during the Republican Primary, Trump said he would declare China a currency manipulator on his… Keep Reading

General John W. Nicholson, Jr., USA

Reverse Deja-Vu: Pentagon Accuses Russia of Undermining U.S. Military in Afghanistan

The United States and Russia are on the precipice of a proxy conflict in Afghanistan, three decades after the Soviet military was defeated in the country, by CIA-backed militants. The commander of US Forces in Afghanistan referenced intelligence outlining possible Russian support for the Taliban, when appearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gen. John Nicholson, however, said he couldn’t openly discuss reports of Moscow giving the Taliban “money, materiel or fighters,” when asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). “There is some classified reporting… Keep Reading

Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Label Could Come Next Week, Despite Career Officials’ Objections

The Trump administration on Monday was on the verge of naming the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), but held off in the face of concerns from within the US government. President Trump and the White House strongly back the proposal, according to The New York Times, but “career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council” are delaying the designation. “Former officials said that they had been told the order would be signed on Monday, but that it had now been… Keep Reading

Michael Flynn

Signs of Chill: Trump White House Puts Iran “On Notice”

Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn condemned Iran on Wednesday, in a drastic escalation of rhetoric. “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn told reporters at the top of a daily White House press briefing, prying up diplomatic tracks to Tehran laid by the Obama administration. Flynn claimed that an Iranian missile test earlier this week breached a 2015 UN Security Council resolution and represented “destabilizing behavior.” He also referenced recent attacks in Yemen by Houthi rebels, alleged to be supported… Keep Reading

Chinese Flag

Trump Aide Claims U.S .Would Win Trade War with China, as Beijing Eyes Europe

The stage is being set for a global trade war after the inauguration of Donald Trump; one centered around–but not limited to–China and the United States. Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci said Tuesday that Washington would best Beijing, in any kind of battle. Scaramucci made the remarks, in a bid to assuage elite investors’ concerns about the President-elect, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “What are they going to do, [are] they going to move against our move for fairness?” he asked rhetorically, according… Keep Reading

Rex Tillerson

Trump Secretary of State Pick Compares Muslim Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda

Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State hit out at the Muslim Brotherhood in the opening statement that he delivered on Wednesday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At the onset of his confirmation hearing, Rex Tillerson called the group “an agent for radical Islam like al-Qaeda…and certain elements within Iran.” The assessment raises the possibility that the Trump administration will not eschew the sort of Islamophobia and authoritarianism that Trump himself promoted during the presidential campaign. Republican advisers and lawmakers have, in recent years,… Keep Reading

Trump Deepens Hostile Stance with Beijing, Questions “One China”

President-elect Donald Trump looks determined to put the United States on a collision course with China, after deepening criticism of a long-standing principle underpinning Sino-US relations. Trump said Sunday, in a Fox News interview, that he understood the “One China” policy, after breaking decades of protocol by accepting a post-election congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen. He then went on to question the utility of the policy, telling Fox News anchor Chris Wallace that it could be used as leverage. “I don’t know why we… Keep Reading

mitch mcconnell

McConnell Won’t Say if Tillerson can be Confirmed as Sec. of State

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson will reportedly be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, but tea leaves in the Senate suggest it could be an uphill battle to get the oil baron confirmed. During a briefing with reporters on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was upbeat about the prospect of Trump’s nominees thus far being approved, but dodged a question on the likelihood of a Tillerson confirmation. “I don’t want to comment on a phantom nominee today,” he stated. Tillerson’s ties… Keep Reading

GAO: Political Interference Baked into State Department’s Annual Human Trafficking Report

Those who followed the life and death of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are well aware that the State Department’s annual assessment of human trafficking can be highly politicized. In 2015, the department upgraded Malaysia to “Tier 2” from “Tier 3,” shortly after Congress forbade the President from negotiating the TPP with countries given the latter designation, in the Trafficking in Persons report (TIP). Not long after, Reuters revealed that officials appointed by President Obama had fought with career TIP bureaucrats on tier rankings–with an… Keep Reading

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