In U.N. speech, Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

In U.N. speech, Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ and calls Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’

 September 19 at 12:36 PM
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Trump attacks ‘depraved’ North Korean regime
President Trump harshly criticized North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un at the U.N. on Sept. 19, calling him “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” if need be. (The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — President Trump warned the United Nations in a speech Tuesday that the world faces “great peril” from rogue regimes with powerful weapons and terrorists with expanding reach across the globe, and called on fellow leaders to join the United States in the fight to defeat what he called failed or murderous ideologies and “loser terrorists.”

“We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril,” Trump said in his maiden addressto more than 150 international delegations at the annual U.N. General Assembly. “It is up to us whether we will lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”

The president’s address was highly anticipated around the world for signs of how his administration would engage with the United Nations after he had criticized the organization during his campaign as being bloated and ineffective, and threatened to slash U.S. funding.

Trump offered a hand to fellow leaders but also called on them to embrace “national sovereignty” and to do more to ensure the prosperity and security of their own countries. Over and over, he stressed the rights and roles of “strong, sovereign nations” even as they band together at the United Nations.

“I will always put America first just like you, the leaders of your countries, should put your countries first,” Trump said, returning to a campaign theme and the “America First” phrase that has been criticized as isolationist and nationalistic.

The president warned of growing threats from North Korea and Iran, and he said, “The scourge of our planet is a group of rogue regimes.”

The North Korean delegation was seated, by chance, in the front row, mere feet from the U.N. podium.

Trump praised the United Nations for enacting economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he emphasized that if Kim Jong Un’s regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country and its allies.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

Trump added, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”

Trump is scheduled to have a trilateral meeting Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the situation. He spoke separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is not attending this year’s General Assembly.

Following the speech, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to temper the idea that Trump’s remarks about North Korea were a break from past U.S. policy.

Presidents have always been clear to deter threats: “We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals” –@BarackObama last year

Trump also called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal “one of the worst and most one-sided” agreements ever, and “an embarrassment” to the United States. His voice rising, Trump strongly hinted that his administration could soon declare Tehran out of compliance. That could potentially unravel the accord. Trump and his top aides have been critical of Iran for its support of terrorism in the Middle East.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the end of it,” Trump said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beamed as he and his wife, Sara, listened to Trump speak. The Israeli leader, an opponent of the international nuclear deal with Iran, was also addressing the world body later Tuesday, a day earlier than usual because he is leaving the gathering in time to spend the Jewish holy days in Israel.

“In more than 30 years of my acquaintance with the U.N., I have not heard a more courageous and sharp speech,” Netanyahu, a former Israeli ambassador to the body, said after Trump’s remarks. “President Trump told the truth about the dangers lurking in the world, and called to face them forcefully to ensure the future of mankind.”

In a meeting with media executives Tuesday shortly before Trump’s address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has complied fully with its commitments under the nuclear deal and predicted the United States will be the loser if it “tramples upon” the 2015 agreement.

“Everyone will clearly see that Iran has lived up to its agreements and that the United States is therefore a country that cannot be trusted,” Rouhani said.

“We will be the winners,” he added, while the United States “will certainly sustain losses.”

Rouhani also seemed to suggest a U.S. withdrawal would free Iran from its obligations under the deal, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

“It will mean that this agreement has seen a foundational problem, and under those conditions, Iran will be freed to choose another set of conditions,” he said.

In his speech, Trump pledged that his administration would support the United Nations in its goals of pursuing peace, but he was sharply critical of the organization, and its member nations, for not living up to the promise of its founding in 1945.

“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, values or systems of government,” he said. “But we do expect all nations to uphold their core sovereignty and respect the interests of their own people and rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution and the foundation for cooperation and success.”

The president also focused on the growing threats of “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he had left out of other recent speeches, including a prime time address to the nation on his Afghanistan strategy. He declared that his administration would not allow “loser terrorists” to “tear up our nation or tear up the entire world.”

But Trump also cautioned that areas of the world “are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.” He spent a portion of the speech decrying the “disastrous rule” of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, whose authoritarian regime has sent the country into political and economic crisis.

“It is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch,” Trump said, calling on the United Nations to help the Venezuelan people “regain their freedom and recover their country and restore their democracy.”

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He did not address some aspects of his foreign policy that have alarmed foreign leaders, including the proposed temporary ban on immigration for several Muslim-majority nations, a border wall with Mexico or the planned U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

He appeared to answer international criticism of sweeping new restrictions on refugee resettlement by saying that the United States is helping refugees in other ways. Washington can help 10 people displaced in their home regions for the cost of moving one to the United States, Trump said.

Near the end of his remarks, Trump asked rhetorically: “Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and take ownership of their futures?”

Martin Baron contributed to this report. 

Read more:
U.S. warns that time is running out for peaceful solution with North Korea

For Trump and his team, a ‘time to be serious’ at United Nations debut

U.S. and Iran accuse each other of backsliding on nuclear deal

Trump Once Again Tweets Article Showing His Sick Sense Of Humor And His Cowardliness

(MY IDEA FOR THIS ARTICLE CAME FROM A CNN ARTICLE THEY POSTED ABOUT 1300 EST TODAY) (September 16th 2017)

 

The article that CNN posted about one hour ago was of a Tweet that our glorious ‘Golfer in Chief’ posted early this morning. Now do not get me wrong, I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton at all nor am I even a Democrat but I do try to be a decent human being which is something that Mr. Trump relishes in not being. The first basic building block for believing and feeling that Mr. Trump is a coward is from the deferments his KKK Daddy got for him while he was in college. If I remember correctly I believe it was 6 deferments from going into the military during the Vietnam War. Supposedly he got the deferments because of a bad heal or a bad foot, I don’t remember exactly. Yet this coward was able to play in several sports programs while in college. If he could do these things he damn sure could have worn our Nations Uniform. It is amazing what a Daddy (as you probably know Trump likes that term, Daddy instead of just Dad) with hundreds of millions of dollars can arrange for their children, even when they are of adult age.

 

Now, onto the issue of Mr. Trumps Tweet this morning. He thought that this was funny I guess, maybe I am just to much of a moralist but to me it wasn’t humorist, it was pathetic. In the Tweet Mr. Trump is playing golf and when he strikes the ball the doctored clip shows Hillary getting on a plane when at the top of the steps the ball hits her in the middle of the back, knocking her down. Even if you are a person that can not stand this woman she is still a human and she is still a woman. Since when has our society turned so cold that we think that anyone especially someone who is supposed to be an adult man striking a woman with anything especially in the back so hard that it knocks her down, is funny? Only a sick coward would even think of doing such a thing to a woman, any woman. But then again, our society seems to have always been filled with women beaters, I have to wonder, is this ‘playing to his base’? Our President who has many times proven to the whole world that he is an habitual liar and a total idiot is hosting almost all of the worlds leaders at the UN this week. Yet instead of using his time wisely like learning about the world issues that will be being discussed this week, he spends his time playing, showing his total lack of moral character on Twitter, once again. I believe that if the NSA does not brush up on their President killing skills (both Kennedy’s, my belief/opinion) first, I believe that the Senate will absolutely Impeach him before the 2018 Elections are held. I do not condone any violence upon anyone so hopefully the Republicans will get rid of him first. There is the other option in getting this Moron out of ‘Our’ Oval Office, and that option is Mr. Mueller. That is my best wish of all of the above choices, Donald and all of the Trump’s along with Mr. Kushner spending the rest of their lives in a maximum security Federal Prison. That result would really be putting Mr. Trump in touch with ‘his base’.

U.N. Criticizes India Over Journalist Murder And Handling Of Rohingya Refugees

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

UN rights commissioner criticises India over Gauri Lankesh murder, handling of Rohingya refugees

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said rights defenders working for India’s most vulnerable groups were being harassed or denied protection by the state instead of being seen as allies in building a more inclusive society.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2017 00:43 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh.
Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh.(REUTERS)

The UN high commissioner for human rights on Monday criticised India for the rise of religious intolerance and attacks on freedom of expression, including the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, as well as its handling of Rohingya refugees.

In unusually frank remarks made while addressing the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said rights defenders working for India’s most vulnerable groups were being harassed or denied protection by the state instead of being seen as allies in building a more inclusive society.

Al Hussein also criticised India and Pakistan for not cooperating with his office to assess the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

There was no official reaction from the Indian government to Al Hussein’s comments.

Al Hussein said he was “dismayed” by the rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India. “The current wave of violent, and often lethal, mob attacks against people under the pretext of protecting the lives of cows is alarming,” he said.

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Referring to attacks on people who speak out for fundamental human rights, he pointed to the murder last week of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who, he said, “tirelessly addressed the corrosive effect of sectarianism and hatred”.

Though Al Hussein said he was “heartened” by protests against Lankesh’s killing and other lynchings, he noted that rights defenders working for the most vulnerable groups, including people threatened with displacement by infrastructure projects such as the Sardar Sarovar Dam, were being subjected to harassment and criminal proceedings, or denied protection. Such groups, he added, should be considered allies in creating a more inclusive society.

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Al Hussein, who described the Myanmar government’s handling of the Rohingya issue as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, specifically targeted minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju for his stance on deporting Rohingya refugees.

“I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country,” he said.

“The minister of state for home affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion,” he said, noting that 40,000 Rohingyas had settled in India.

On Saturday, India asked Myanmar to handle the situation in Rakhine state with restraint while focussing on the welfare of both civilians and security forces. It also called for violence in the region to be ended expeditiously.

Al Hussein also regretted what he described as the “reluctance” of India and Pakistan to cooperate with his office on “human rights concerns”, including a failure to grant access to Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the LoC.

He said his office is remotely monitoring the rights situation in Kashmir in order to make the findings public in the near future.

China’s War on Dissent: Detained activists have two choices: vanish or confess

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DIPLOMAT NEWS AGENCY)

 

China’s War on Dissent

Phil Lynch, director of ISHR, said in his opening remarks that ISHR is deeply concerned by the widespread crackdown against human rights defenders in China. “Over the last several years, we worked hard to support Chinese human rights activists to elevate their voices using UN human rights mechanisms, especially the Human Rights Council, to pressure China for change and call for accountability.

Lynch discussed the case of Gui Minhai, disappeared since 2015. “He has missed his daughter’s graduation and her acceptance to a PhD program,” said Lynch. “She keeps on fighting for her father’s release.”

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.Lynch then gave the floor to three Chinese human rights activists. Yaxue Cao, the founder and editor of ChinaChange.org, said that detentions in China are increasingly arbitrary. “Recent charges against defenders and human rights lawyers are increasingly absurd; and the use of nonlegal methods of detention are increasingly frequent. The international community and UN mechanisms should, therefore, be increasingly alarmed and respond accordingly,” said Yaxue Cao.

Cao also raised the question of security of human rights activists who cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. “Just to come to Geneva has become very dangerous. Human rights activists are being subject to reprisals for their cooperation with international organizations in Geneva. It is unacceptable and we demand from the UN and international community more active efforts to ensure our security,” said Yaxue Cao.

Sarah Brooks, Asia program manager at the ISHR, said that in the last two years more than 300 activists have been harassed, threatened, detained and disappeared. “This crackdown marked by arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, torture and ill-treatment and this is part of the policy of the Chinese government to close the space for civil society. The death of Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and enforced disappearance of his wife Liu Xia expose with painful clarity the costs of detention for defenders in China, and reminds us that this cost is also borne by friends and family. For all those at risk for their work to protect and promote human rights, we urge the Human Rights Council to press China for justice and accountability” said Brooks.

During the press-conference Zhang Qing, wife of the Guo Feixiong joined the discussion remotely to speak about her husband’s health conditions. Guo Feixiong has spent over a decade in detention for his human rights activities. She described the deplorable conditions her husband faced: “They locked my husband more than two years in a very small and confined space, where he hasn’t been able to move around. He hasn’t been allowed outside for exercise, or to see sunlight, and this has done huge damage to his health. It was a deliberate harm and a slow form of torture.”

Zhang told the member governments of the Human Rights Council that they could no longer ignore China’s willful mistreatment of activists in detention. “I express my gratitude to international groups and UN experts who raised the case of my husband at the UN. After international pressure he was transferred to another jail, where he recovered and his health is better now. His sister was allowed recently to visit him in the jail,” she said.

Yibee Huang, chief executive officer of Covenant Watch, spoke about reprisals against activists in Taiwan. She discussed the case of Li Ming-che, a manager at Taipei’s Wenshan Community College and a longtime democracy activist, who was detained in March 2017 and has been held incommunicado since. “We are deeply concerned about his health conditions. And the Chinese government shut down all communication means and we cannot receive any information about him” she said.

The activists also spoke about the case of the Chinese lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who disappeared on November 21, 2016. His whereabouts remained unknown for several months, and only at the end of 2016 did Chinese authorities admit that Jiang was held “under residential surveillance at designated location.” Kit Chan, president of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group told The Diplomat about his recently concluded trial.

“After detention incommunicado of 274 days, Jiang’s trial took place on 22 August at the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court. The trial was manipulated and the public were deliberately barred from attending it, and the areas around the Court were roadblocked with police officers. We demand the court give Jiang a non-guilty verdict and immediately release him. We also call on the international community not to be deceived by the illustrations and rhetoric of the rule according to law, but follow closely and speak up on the case of Jiang Tianyong and that of lawyer Wang Quanzhang, ” said Chan.

Incommunicado detentions have become routine and families struggle to hear any news about vanished activists. Wang, who Chan reference, was detained by the Chinese authorities in August 2015. His wife, Li Wenzu, told the BBC that she hasn’t heard from him and does not know if he is alive or not. “I had no information at all. He has simply disappeared from the face of the Earth.”

Law enforcement authorities in China are notorious for their use of torture against human rights defenders and political dissidents. It seems that incommunicado detainees have only two choices: make confessions that are then broadcast by state-run TV or refuse and remain vanished.

Li told the BBC that Wang’s continued incarceration might be because he is holding out. “I think it might be because my husband hasn’t compromised at all,” Li said. “That’s why his case remains unsolved.”

When they do confess, lawyers admit guilt and say that they were brainwashed by Western media and activists. For example, Chinese lawyer Xie Yang made a confession on state television in May. He had been charged with “inciting subversion of state power and disrupting court order.”

“My actions go against my role as a lawyer,” he said in the video released by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court, “we should give up using contact with foreign media and independent media to hype sensitive news events, attack judicial institutions and smear the image of the nation’s party organs while handling cases.”

Liu Xiaobo, a symbol of Chinese pro-democratic movements, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2010 “for his long and nonviolent struggle for human rights in China.” He could not attend the ceremony in Stockholm and was represented by an empty chair because he was still in custody. Liu died of liver cancer in July, under guard at the hospital to which he had been released the month before — his cancer beyond treatment.

The international community has been worried about the destiny of his wife Liu Xia, whose location is still unknown. She has lived under constant police watch, and international organizations have been calling on Beijing to allow her to leave China if she wishes.

The main concerns of those gathered in Genea last week are that there are more and more activists being arbitrary detained and vanished, and cooperation with UN mechanisms and international organization have become more dangerous for Chinese defenders.

Cholpon Orozobekova is a researcher at the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations.

UN chief in Jerusalem: Calls for Israel’s destruction Are ‘Modern Anti-Semitism’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UN chief in Jerusalem: Calls for Israel’s destruction are ‘modern anti-Semitism’

In meeting with President Rivlin, Antonio Guterres says international body will treat Jewish state with ‘impartiality’

 August 28, 2017, 12:33 pm 9

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that calling for Israel’s destruction is a “form of modern anti-Semitism” and said he would treat Israel with “impartiality” amid vocal complaints by Israeli officials that the world body is biased against the Jewish state.

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“I do believe that in particular when you mention those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism,” Guterres told President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

“But you also understand that I sometimes disagree with positions of the Government of Israel or any other government, and that is absolutely normal in a society where many of your citizens have exactly the same expressions of opinions,” he added.

“We will always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region, but we will always be very committed to make sure anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Guterres, who was greeted upon his arrival Sunday with complaints from Israeli officials of the UN’s “anti-Israel bias,” said under his leadership the international body will treat Israel with “impartiality,” as he said it does with every country.

“I want to express to you, Mr. President, that you can be fully confident that in my role as Secretary General, and in relation to the functions of the secretariat that I am supposed to meet, I am very keen in stressing the values of the Charter, and the very important value of the Charter, impartiality,” he told Rivlin.

“And impartiality means treating all states equally, and I am totally committed to that in my action and in everything I can do for the organization I lead.”

The secretary general also mentioned his trip to the Yad Vashem Memorial Holocaust museum earlier Monday and mentioned his home country Portugal’s own history of anti-Semitism in the 16th century.

“Yad Vashem is there to remind us that we need to be in the first line in fighting against antisemitism, but first of all fighting against all other forms of bigotry, be it racism, xenophobia, even anti-Muslim hatred, to promote understanding and to promote dialogue,” he said.

In his remarks at Yad Vashem, Guterres said he was “shocked” by the anti-Semitic and Nazi chants at the violent white supremacist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also warned that anti-Semitism is “alive and well.”

“I was shocked a few [days] ago to listen to the chant of a group of neo Nazis in developed country in the world chanting ‘blood and soil’ – [a] slogan of the Nazis. That is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible and as Secretary General of the United Nations I fully assume that commitment to do everything possible to fight anti-Semitism in all its expressions,” he said.

“As I said I’m truly committed to fight anti-Semitism, as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and all other forms of bigotry that unfortunately we are not yet able to make our world free of.”

In his remarks, Rivlin called on Guterres “to work to end the discrimination against Israel” at the UN, while also thanking him for “brave leadership” on the issue.

“This targeting of Israel, this singling out of the world’s only Jewish state, and even actions and statements that threaten to destroy Israel are unacceptable, and should come at a price. No member state in the UN should be allowed to behave like that,” the president said.

“We appreciate your brave leadership regarding the discrimination against Israel. We hope that working together, we can create a more productive partnership between Israel and the UN, for the sake of our region, and for the sake of all humanity.”

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak to the press prior to their meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak to the press prior to their meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

Guterres arrived in Israel Sunday evening for a three-day visit that will include meetings with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in the West Bank, as well as a stop in the Gaza Strip, where the UN runs a major Palestinian aid program.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN chief, said that the purpose of his trip was “to engage directly with Israeli and Palestinian people and their leaders” about “finding a long overdue peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Guterres is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Monday.

On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that Israel will discuss two key issues with the UN head during the visit: ending “anti-Israel bias” at the 193-nation organization, and changing the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.

“We are seeking a dramatic change in the way the UN treats Israel. It’s time to place the issue squarely on the table and address it head-on,” Hotovely said, threatening funding cuts for the body if changes were not implemented.

The trip came as the UN Security Council is debating renewing the mandate of UNIFIL’s peacekeepers for another year, with a vote expected on August 30.

UN envoy Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Lebanese border, June 8, 2017. (David Azagury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

UN envoy Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Lebanese border, June 8, 2017. (David Azagury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has blasted the commander of UNIFIL, Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

Pointing to Haley’s comments, Hotovely said that “if the UN does not drastically change its behavior it will lose both support and funding” from Israel and other countries.

“It’s no longer just us threatening this,” she said. “The US position has changed. Led by Nikki Haley, they have made clear that they will not tolerate bias against us and will no longer be giving an open check.”

Guterres’s spokesman Dujarric has said in the past that the UN secretary general has “full confidence in (UNIFIL’s commander’s) work.”

Raoul Wootliff and agencies contributed to this report.

Two Chemical Weapons Shipments North Korea To Syria Intercepted By U.N. Forces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Two shipments of North Korean chemical weapons bound for Syria have reportedly been intercepted by United Nations member states in the past six months.

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The shipments bound for the Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program were detailed in a confidential UN report on North Korean sanctions violations submitted to the Security Council earlier this month, Reuters reported Monday.

“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” a panel of independent UN experts wrote in their 37-page report.

“Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria,” the experts said, adding that another member state had since informed the panel they believed the weapons were part of an arms contract between Damascus and North Korea’s primary arms dealer, which has been subject to international sanctions since 2009.

“The consignees were Syrian entities designated by the European Union and the United States as front companies for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a Syrian entity identified by the Panel as cooperating with KOMID in previous prohibited item transfers,” the experts wrote in their report to the Security Council.

Syrian children receive treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, on April 4, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour)

Syrian children receive treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, on April 4, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour)

Western analysts and intelligence services believe the SSRC is responsible for Syria’s research and development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, including its missile technology.

Neither Pyongyang or Damascus responded to a request for comment by Reuters.

Tuesday marks the four-year anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack on opposition-held neighborhoods in Damascus that killed hundreds of people. The West and the UN roundly blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad for attack, which prompted an agreement brokered by the US and Russia to disarm Syria’s chemical stockpile.

However, chemical attacks have continued to target civilians and rebel fighters, according to opposition groups and others.

In April, a suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held Idlib province left over 90 people dead, including many children, with the West accusing Assad of being responsible.

That attack prompted the US to impose “sweeping” new sanctions on Syrian officials, and President Donald Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at the airbase where the attack was launched.

The new sanctions ordered by the Treasury included freezing all assets in the US belonging to 271 employees of the SSRC, and blocked any American person or business from dealing with them.

Washington said at the time the SSRC was responsible for the producing the chemical weapons used in the April 4 attack.

The report on ties between Syria and North Korea comes as tensions between Pyongyang and the West have soared in recent months over North Korea’s weapons ambitions, which have seen it subjected to a seventh round of Security Council sanctions.

Army soldiers walk by a TV news program showing a file image of a missile being test-launched by North Korea at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, July 4, 2017 (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Army soldiers walk by a TV news program showing a file image of a missile being test-launched by North Korea at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, July 4, 2017 (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Earlier this month, Pyongyang threatened to send a salvo of missiles toward the US territory of Guam — although it appears to have backed off for now.

Trump has promised “fire and fury” and said that Washington’s weapons were “locked and loaded.”

The intense rhetoric on both sides has raised fears of a miscalculation leading to catastrophic consequences — North Korea has vast artillery forces deployed within range of Seoul, where millions of people live.

UAE: Al-Jazeera Has Gone Beyond Incitement to Hostility, Violence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

UAE: Al-Jazeera Has Gone Beyond Incitement to Hostility, Violence

UAE

Abu Dhabi- UAE has accused al-Jazeera TV station of spreading sectarianism and promoting violence and anti-Semitism in response to UN’s refusal to call on the Arab countries that have boycotted Doha to shut the channel.

UAE Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, addressing his country’s concerns that the Doha-based network promotes extremist ideologies.

The letter highlighted how al-Jazeera has promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf al-Qaradawi in which he praised Hitler, described the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and called on Allah to “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people and kill them, down to the very last one.”

“While the protection of the right of freedom of expression is of fundamental importance, this protection is not absolute, and restrictions on the right are permitted under the international law to protect national security and public order,” said Gargash in his letter sent.

“Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives,” the letter notes.

The minister recalled UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005), a historic resolution that focused on messages that often precede acts of terrorism and called on states to prohibit and prevent incitement to commit terrorist acts.

The letter referred to the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism adopted by the special rapporteur and several regional and human rights bodies.

It recognized that states may restrict reporting that is intended to incite imminent violence, and there is a direct and immediate connection between the reporting and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence.

In this regard, the letter makes clear that al-Jazeera’s reporting has repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination, and lists several examples of such content.

For instance, on February 18, 2008, following the re-publication of a blasphemous cartoon, al-Jazeera TV broadcast a speech by the spokesman of the Salah al-Din brigades in Gaza that called on Muslims to “burn down the offices of the newspapers that affronted our Prophet, and bomb them so that body parts go flying.”

Also included in the letter are numerous examples of the ongoing editorial support for terrorist groups and on-air promotion of sectarianism by the Qatari channel’s journalists.

The letter mentioned that, over the years, “the Qatari-owned and controlled al-Jazeera Arabic has provided a platform to Osama bin Laden (al-Qaeda), Abu Mohammed al-Jolani (al-Nusra), Khaled Mashal (Hamas), Mohammed Deif (Hamas), Anwar al-Awlaki (al-Qaeda), Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah), Ramadan Shallah (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Abdel Hakim Belhadj (Libyan ISIS Group), among others.

The letter explained that these interviews gave terrorist groups opportunities to threaten, recruit and incite, without challenge or restraint.

The minister reiterated that the UAE’s strong objections to al-Jazeera are not a matter of disagreement on its editorial standpoints but are a direct and necessary response to its persistent and dangerous incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination.

In light of the alarming examples quoted in the letter, these objections are legitimate, well founded and reasonable.

The letter concluded with an invitation to the High Commissioner to discuss additional cases of al-Jazeera’s promotion of extremist ideologies and ways to protect the right of freedom of expression in the face of such egregious abuses.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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China Needs To Eliminate N Korea’s Crazy Little Fat Boy Before He Gets Thousands Of His People Killed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

North Korea claims to have conducted its first successful test of a long-range missile that it says can “reach anywhere in the world.”

Tuesday morning’s missile test, which was conducted on the orders of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, reached a height of 2,802 kilometers (1,741 miles), according to state broadcaster Korea Central Television (KCTV).
That’s the highest altitude ever reached by a North Korean missile, and puts the US on notice that Pyongyang could potentially hit the US mainland.
The regime appears to have timed the launch for maximum political effect, giving the order to fire on the eve of the July 4 holiday, just days after US President Donald Trump spoke with Japanese and Chinese leaders about the North Korea threat and before this week’s G20 meeting.
The fear is that North Korea may one day develop the technology to mount a miniature nuclear warhead on a long-range missile, something analysts say it may have already achieved.

How true is claim?

Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, said that one apparently successful test doesn’t necessarily mean that North Korea has the global capability it claimed.
“If the North Koreans are claiming they can launch an ICBM (to) anywhere in the world, that needs to be looked at through a technical lens,” he said, using the acronym for intercontinental ballistic missile.
“One successful test doesn’t get them over the bar; they’re claiming more than they can deliver at the moment.”

Most successful test yet

The missile, referred to as Hwasong-14 on state TV, flew into waters east of the Korean Peninsula and may have landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline, according to a Japanese defense official.
The US Pacific Command said it tracked the missile for 37 minutes and described it as a “land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile.” Japan reported that its flight time was 40 minutes.
It was launched from Panghyon, in North Pyongan province, and traveled more than 930 kilometers (578 miles), according to South Korea’s military — further than a May 14 missile launch that analysts described as its most successful test ever. That launch reached a then-record altitude of around 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles).
South Korea’s evaluation found the missile had an “improved range” compared to the May missile, said Cho Han-gyu, the director of operations for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A photo from the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) purports to show the missile launch.

Bruce Bennett, senior international/defense researcher at RAND Corp., said North Korea had aimed high to limit the distance traveled and avoid a major international incident.
“You can’t hardly fire a missile from North Korea that’s got a thousand-kilometer range without it going into somebody’s exclusive economic zone. The bottom line is, they’ve flown it very high so that they can test the range of the missile. If they were to shoot it on a normal trajectory, it’s probably going to go out 6,000 or so kilometers. By definition, anything over 5,500 kilometers is an ICBM,” he said.
Russia, which shares a small border with North Korea, cast doubt on Pyongyang’s claim that an ICBM was fired.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement it believes the missile reached an altitude of only 535 kilometers (332 miles) and traveled 510 kilometers (317 miles), according to state-run Sputnik news.
“The parametric data of the ballistic target’s trajectory matches the performance characteristics of a medium-range ballistic missile,” the statement said.

How much damage can North Korea's weapons do?

How much damage can North Korea’s weapons do?

Trump responds to launch

It’s North Korea’s 11th missile test this year and comes amid increasing frustration from Trump about the lack of progress in curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Soon after the launch, but before North Korea announced its unprecedented height, the US President responded on Twitter.
“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” Trump asked, referring to Kim.
“Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the ICBM test puts the US in a difficult negotiating position.
“I think there’s room for negotiation, but it’s not the kind of negotiations we want,” she said.
The US can now only work toward limiting, not eliminating, the North Korean missile threat to the US mainland, she added.

Why does North Korea hate the US?

Why does North Korea hate the US?

Asian powers condemn action

China, North Korea’s northern neighbor and one of the only countries in the region with diplomatic ties to Pyongyang, urged restraint after the launch.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is sensitive and complex,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang. “We hope all relevant parties will exercise restraint and avoid taking actions that may escalate tensions.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Neither has commented on the launch.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in warned North Korea not to cross the “bridge of no return” and called on China to play a stronger role in resolving the situation.
Language from the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Cho was much more dire in tone.
“If North Korea ignores South Korean military’s warning and carries on reckless provocations, we warn that the Kim Jong Un regime will face its destruction,” Cho said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch “ignores repeated warnings from the international community,” and shows the threat had “further increased.”

North Korea's Hwasong-14 missile in a photo handed out by North Korean state media.

‘Out of control’?

Trump has repeatedly urged China to bring its influence to bear on the issue. He recently tweeted that Chinese efforts on North Korea, while appreciated, had “not worked out.”
On Monday Liu Jieyi, China’s ambassador to the UN, warned of the risk of escalating tensions on the peninsula.
“Certainly we would like to see a de-escalation of tension,” he said in remarks to the media as China assumed the United Nations Security Council presidency for July.
“Certainly if tension goes up and goes up only then sooner or later it will get out of control and the consequences will be disastrous,” Liu said.

Iran is using the Star of David as target practice for missile tests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT)

Iran is using the Star of David as target practice for missile tests

Israel’s envoy to the United Nations called practice ‘hateful and unacceptable’ in formal complaint to Security Council

33

The Iranian military has used a Star of David, the symbol of the Jewish faith, as target practice for missile tests, the Israeli envoy to the UN has claimed.

“This use of the Star of David as target practice is hateful and unacceptable,” Danny Danon told the international body’s Security Council on Wednesday, while handing out satellite imagery allegedly showing the Iranian site.

The photographs showed the six pointed star which represents both Judaism and the Israeli state in what Mr Danon said was a ballistics missile testing ground. An impact crater could clearly be seen.

Iran unveils clock counting down the days until Israel’s ‘destruction’

The holy star was used as a target for a mid-range Qiam ballistic missile test in December 2016, Mr Danon said in a formal complaint to the UN from the Mission of Israel.

“The missile launch is not only a direct violation of UNSCR 2231, but is also a clear evidence of Iran’s continued intention to harm the State of Israel,” Mr Danon told delegates, referencing the 2015 resolution which paved the way for lifting international sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear programme.

“It is the Iranians who prop up the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime as hundreds of thousands are killed, finance the terrorists of Hezbollah as they threaten the citizens of Israel, and support extremists and tyrants throughout the Middle East and around the world,” he added.

The incident is not the first time there has been an anti-Semitic flavor to Iranian test strikes: in March 2016, two ballistic missiles were test fired, reportedly carrying the message ‘Israel must be wiped out’ written on the sides of the weapons in Hebrew.

The Islamic Republic has sworn the destruction of the Jewish state.

Iran conducted its first missile strike outside its own territory in 30 years earlier this month, hitting Isis positions in northern Syria as revenge for the 7 June suicide attacks in Tehran which killed 17 people.

The incidents at parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini were the first attacks on Iranian soil claimed by the Sunni group, which believes the Shia Islam mostly practiced in Iran is heretical.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned at the time that any further attacks on Iran would result in more strikes.

Tehran is known to have carried out two ballistic missile tests so far this year. It claims the non-nuclear weapons not violate the landmark nuclear deal reached with world powers in 2015.

Yemen Now Faces ‘The Worst Cholera Outbreak In The World,’ U.N. Says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

Yemen Now Faces ‘The Worst Cholera Outbreak In The World,’ U.N. Says

A Yemeni child suspected of having cholera sits outside a makeshift hospital in the capital, Sanaa, earlier this month. World health authorities say that of the more than 1,300 people who have died of the disease, a quarter have been children.

Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

Seized by violence and teetering on the edge of famine, Yemen is grappling with another danger that threatens to outpace them both: cholera.

“We are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” international health authorities said in a statement Saturday.

Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, and Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, say that “more than 1,300 people have died — one quarter of them children — and the death toll is expected to rise.”

They suspect that is because Yemen now has upwards of 200,000 cases to grapple with, and that number is growing quickly — by a rate of roughly 5,000 cases a day.

“And geographically, it is expanding,” Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, Yemen director for the International Rescue Committee, told NPR’s Jason Beaubien earlier this month. “It’s not a small area. It’s almost the whole country.”

Hussein added:

“There is nowhere in the country you can say, ‘This place is better than another’,” says Hussein. “Every family is suffering from something whether it’s cholera or lack of food, having child soldiers in the family or having someone go join the rebels or the military. There’s been a whole collapse of the social life.”

After more than two years of civil war, Yemen’s health care system is at risk of “complete collapse,” a UNICEF spokesman told Jason.

The country has been roiled by violence since Houthi rebels seized power and ousted the president, who fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia. Since then, a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S. has waged a protracted campaign against the rebels — and some worry that support makes the U.S. complicit in Yemen’s deepening humanitarian crisis.

“There’s a U.S. imprint on every civilian death inside Yemen that’s caused by the Saudi bombing campaign,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told NPR’s Michele Kelemen last month after the U.S. signed a new arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudis simply could not operate this bombing campaign without us,” he continued. “Their planes can’t fly without U.S. refueling capacity. They are dropping munitions that we’ve sold them. We are standing side by side with them often when they are reviewing intelligence about targets.”

Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman — who, as NPR’s Deborah Amos reports, is said to have been “the prime mover in the kingdom’s decision to go to war in Yemen” — recently authorized a $66 million donation to support UNICEF and WHO’s anti-cholera efforts there.

“We look forward to discussing this contribution with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre,” UNICEF responded in a statement Friday. “Such generosity will make a great difference to thousands of children at risk of contracting this rapidly spreading disease.”

Lake and Chan made clear in Saturday’s statement just how rapid it’s spreading — and, in turn, just how rapid the response needs to be.

“We are working around the clock to detect and track the spread of disease and to reach people with clean water, adequate sanitation and medical treatment. Rapid response teams are going house-to-house to reach families with information about how to protect themselves by cleaning and storing drinking water,” they said.

“We call on authorities in Yemen to strengthen their internal efforts to stop the outbreak from spreading further.”

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