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Showing posts from August, 2016

Last Islamic State forces in Libyan stronghold of Sirte being cleared out

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The media office of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure or BAM) said that its forces are advancing into residential areas one and five, the last areas in which Islamic State(IS) forces are still hiding out in Sirte — their last stronghold in Libya.
BAM forces are mainly brigades from the city of Misrata and are loyal to the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). TheLibya Observerreports that BAM had occupied key positions including the Al-Ribatt Mosque, Sahara Bank and headquarters of Al-Hisbah, and the building of the former security agency used as a jail by IS. They also took over many housing units, the Sirte polyclinic and the insurance building. A number of tweets confirm the advances. One tweet claims: "Misrata-led forces retake #Sirte Polyclinic from #ISIS". Another tweet notes that an IS leader was captured while trying to flee Sirte: ‏"@alwasatengnews #ISIS leader Mohamed Raheel Werfali captured east of #Sirte while attempting to flee. #Libya "

US Army makes improper accounting adjustments adding up to trillions of dollars

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While one can imagine a corporation making accounting errors amounting to millions or in the case of very large corporations even a billion dollars, according to a Reuters report, the U.S. Army made improper accounting adjustments of trillions of dollars.
 1 of 3 The Defense Department's Inspector General, issued a report in June that claims the Army's finances are in such disarray that it made improper accounting adjustments of trillions of dollars to make it look as if the books were in balance. In a June report the Inspector General found that the Army made a whopping $2.8 trillion in incorrect adjustments in just one quarter alone in 2015. For the entire year there were $6.5 trillion in improper adjustments. The Army either lacked receipts and invoices for the adjustments or simply made them up. The report pointed out that as a result, the financial statements for the year 2015 were "materially misstated" making the statements useless because "DoD and Army m…

In contrast to most developed countries maternal mortality rates are rising in the U.S.

The rate of women dying from complications resulting from pregnancy or childbirth rose by 27 percent from 2000 to 2014. This increase is in contrast to other developed countries.
A study to be published this September in Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that 157 other countries reported a decrease in their maternal mortality rates. Maternal mortality is defined as a death while pregnant or within 42 days afterward due to causes related to the pregnancy. The study covered 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The study encountered difficulties gathering data as the United States stopped publishing official data on maternal mortality rates in 2007. The researchers described the lack of comprehensive data on maternal mortality as an "international embarrassment". The lead researcher, pointed to a lack of funding as a reason for delays in compiling the data but the report was clear: "There is a need to redouble efforts to prevent maternal deaths and improve maternity care…

Philippine president releases communist rebels prior to Norway peace talks

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Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte came to power not only on a promise to wage a war against drug trafficking but also to negotiate an end to five decades of conflict with the Maoist New Peoples Army (NPA) that has killed more than 40,000.
The NPA has been operating in the Philippines since 1969, as described by Wikipedia: "The New People's Army (NPA) (Filipino: " Bagong Hukbong Bayan) is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It was formed and founded by Bernabe Buscayno A.K.A. "Commander Dante" on March 29, 1969. " The Philippine Army estimates that at the end of 2015 it had about 60,000 fighters. They are spread throughout rural areas of the Philippines. The U.S. State Department designates the NPA as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and it is also branded as a terrorist organization by EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. However, the Philippine government delisted the NPA as a terrorist group in 2011 making negotiations so…

Libyan militia group demands new intelligence head before giving up seized buildings

Even though the Libyan Government of National Accord's(GNA) intelligence headquarters was seized back on August 14th, the GNA and the UN are silent on the issue.
 1 of 2 The raids by the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigades (TRB) headed by Haitham Tajouri were reported by several sources includingDigital Journal.A recent tweet indicates that the TRB are still in control of their headquarters: "‏@SamiBerriwen #Libya | Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade says won't hand over Intelligence agency HQs unless new chief appointed." The GNA intelligence headquarters has been occupied for four days but the government seems not to have noticed. The UN's Special Representative of the Secretary General, Martin Kobler, has said nothing about the issue though he had time to tweetcondolences to the families of those killed in an Islamic State suicide attack today. Mohammed Nuh was thought to be visiting Turkey when the attack happened. A member of the State Council of the GNA, Belgasim I…

US contractors in Afghanistan outnumber troops by more than three to one

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Data compiled by the Congressional Research Service shows that private contractors outnumber U.S. troops in Afghanistan by more than a three to one margin.
A detailed 12-page report called "Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2016" can be found at theCongressional Research Service website. During the 2007-2016 period, the U.S. Defense Department spent more than $220 billion on contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan for a large variety of services and support. Even as early as the middle of 2011, when there were still many U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they were outnumbered by private contractors. The number of private contractors peaked in 2012 at more than 117,000 while there were around 88,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Almost 23 percent of contractors worked as supplementary security personnel. A whopping 70 percent were actually foreign nationals that received money from U.S. companies and agencies. The latest numbers covering …

Unlilely any third-party candidate will make it into US presidential debates

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The threshold of support for being included in national presidential debates has been set by the Commission on Presidential Debates at 15 percent.
 1 of 2 Beyond the two major U.S. parties, the contenders for president are Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. Stein is far below the threshold level and appears to have almost no chance of joining the debates. Thehighest Steinhas polled so far is seven percent in a June 2016 poll. A CNN poll on August 1st showed that 13 percent of Bernie Sanders' supporters would vote for Stein, but 10 percent would vote for Gary Johnson the Libertarian candidate. Bernie Sanders has thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton the Democratic candidate for president. Between the periods of June and August of 2016, in a four way race between Trump, Clinton, Johnson and Stein, Stein's support has ranged from just 2.5 percent to 4.8 percent. As an election draws closer support for third party candidates tends to decli…

Islamic State controls just one main remaining area in Sirte Libya

Of the two remaining residential districts still occupied by the Islamic State in Libya, one has been taken today (Aug. 16) by the forces of the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous (Solid Structure or BAM) loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The BAM forces are now three months into a campaign to drive the Islamic State (IS) out of their last stronghold in Libya. Earlier this year they were driven out of the city of Derna by rival jihadists. The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar also claims it was involved. The LNA is now engaged in Operation Volcano to drive the jihadists of the Shura Council of Derna from the city. Haftar announced ages ago that he was going to free Sirte but has not been involved in the offensive at all. Arecent tweetsays : "Joke of #ALbunyan Last house in sirt will be left to Gn hafter to liberate it him self..^" Since August 1st, the BAM forces have been helped by US air strikes. There are also special forces from several …

Libyan National Army and Petroleum Facitilies Guard may clash at oil port

There are conflicting reports about the intentions of the Libyan National Army forces which the other day entered the town of Zuetina just 10 kilometers or six miles from the oil port.
A headline in the Libya Herald claims that Major General Abdul Al-Nazhuri of the Libyan National Army (LNA) predicts that the LNA will take over terminals at Zuetina, El Sidra, and Ras Lanuf. A battalion of the LNAentered the town of Zuetina yesterday. General Khalifa Haftar is commander in chief of the LNA, the armed forces of the House of Representatives (HoR)) government. The three ports are under the control of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) headed by Ibrahim Jadhran a foe of Haftar. Jadhran supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and recently signed a deal with them to reopen the ports for export. However, Haftar does not recognize the GNA. He will no doubt not allow the export of oil until there is an agreement satisfactory to him. There is supposed to be an agreement betw…

Japan's economy stalls in 2nd quarter in spite of stimulus

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In the second April-June quarter, Japan's economic growth ground to a halt. There were weak exports and shaky demand domestically.
Japan's economy failed to grow on a quarterly basis during the April-June period, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth coming in at zero and missing already subdued forecasts.There will be even greater pressure for Premier Shinzo Abe to come up with policies that produce more sustainable growth. The economic stimulus is provided based on the premier'sAbenomics:  Abenomics is based upon "three arrows" of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. The Economist characterized the program as a "mix of reflation, government spending and a growth strategy designed to jolt the economy out of suspended animation that has gripped it for more than two decades." While the program produced an initial boost its effects appear to be fading rapidly. In January-March the economy had expanded by two percent. Senior Economist…

Militia group takes over Libyan unity government's intelligence headquarters

Two different sources report that Haitham Tajouri's militia, the Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigade(TRB) attacked predominantly Misratan intelligence personnel associated with the UN-backed Government of National Accord.
 1 of 2 TheLibya Heraldreports that in early morning raids armoured cars and members of the TRB took over the intelligence headquarters in Fornaj, a building in Salahedding, a site in Ain Zara and intelligence offices at Mitiga Airport as well. It is thought the group want to arrest Sheikh Sadek Ghariani, Grand Mufti. Mohamed Nuh, the head of intelligence, from Mistrata is thought to be visiting Turkey. There are unconfirmed reports that one person was killed in the attack on Fornaj. In Ain Zara three portable cabins used by intelligence officers came under heavy fire and all three were burned down. The militia also stormed apartments nearby seeking certain individuals. Although there are no precise figures, many intelligence personnel are said to have been seiz…

Tension grows in Libya over control of oil crescent oil export ports

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The 153 Infantry brigade of General Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) entered into the town of Zuetina on August 14th but stopped short of entering the oil terminal controlled by the rival militia of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG)
The PFG is headed by Ibrahim Jadhran an opponent of Haftar. Jadhran supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and has reached a deal with the government to open several oil ports including Zuetina. Haftar does not recognize the GNA nor its armed forces. According to a Libya Herald report there was a long four-lane-wide convoy with associated military and civilian vehicles that moved slowly into town. Photos are shown with the report. There were no reported clashes with the PFG. Recently, the French, Italian, Spanish, UK, German and U.S. governments all issued a statement warning that they were worried about increasing tensions at Zuetina. The NOC in Tripoli told Reuters that the GNA will need to allocate funds to repair damage to…

Russian President Putin replaces long-time chief of staff

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Anton Vaino, a former diplomat, has replaced long time member of Putin's inner circle Sergei Ivanov, as chief of staff. A statement from the Kremlin said that Putin had "decreed to relieve Ivanov of his duties" but gave no reason.
However, at a meeting both Putin and Ivanov claim that he was stepping down at his own request. This does not prevent headlines appearing suchas the BBC that says " Russia's Putin sacks chief of staff Sergei Ivanov". Ivanov was appointed Putin's special representative for the environment and transportation. He will also retain his seat on the Security Council a consultative group of military and intelligence chiefs that provides advice to president Putin. A meeting between Putin and Ivanov showed no disagreements between the two. Putin said: “We have worked for many years together with great success. I understand your wish to take on work in other areas. I very much hope that you use your knowledge and experience for effective…

Iceland's radical Pirate Party top polls as election approaches

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The radical Pirate Party which favors legalizing drugs and offering asylum to Edward Snowden looks set to win the most seats in the national election to be held in October.
In April this year, the prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stepped down after demonstrations against him. The Panama Papers revealed that his family had millions in offshore tax havens. He and his family were accused of hiding millions in the offshore accounts. Iceland's ruling coalition and the opposition agreed to hold early elections probably on October 29. AlthoughGunnlaugsson no longer owned any offshore investments his wife still did. The Pirate Party's platform also includes direct democracy, greater government transparency, and a new national constitution. The Party has been at or near the top of the polls for over a year now. The party also want to persuade the company developing Pokemon Go in Iceland to turn polling stations into Pokestops! Birgitta Jonsdottir, who leads the Pirate parliamentary…