Refugee Protection an Obligation Under International Law

By Secretary-General António Guterres*

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 21 2017 (IPS) – It is impossible to be ten years as High Commissioner for Refugees, doing my best to try to help the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, without changing your life. And, indeed, not only witnessing the suffering of people but also learning [about] the extraordinary courage, resilience and capacity to permanently generate hope of refugees is something that has changed my perspective of the world and, to a large extent, changed my life.

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The US seems keener to strike at Syria’s Assad than it does to destroy Isis

Robert Fisk* – The Independent

It is instructive that the West now expresses more outrage at the use of gas – it blames the Assad regime for this, of course – than at the continued cruelty of Isis

The extraordinary destruction of a Syrian fighter jet by a US aircraft on Sunday has precious little to do with the Syrian plane’s target in the desert near Rasafa – but much to do with the advance of the Syrian army close to the American-backed Kurdish forces along the Euphrates. The Syrians have grown increasingly suspicious in recent months that most Kurdish forces in the north of Syria – many of them in alliance with the Assad government until recently – have thrown in their lot with the Americans.

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New Inhumane Record: One Person Displaced Every Three Second

By IPS World Desk

ROME/GENEVA, Jun 20 2017 (IPS) – Nearly 66 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes last year, the United Nation refugee agency has reported.

The figure equates to “one person displaced every three seconds – less than the time it takes to read this sentence, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports, stressing the “very high” pace at which conflict and persecution is forcing people to flee their homes.

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The Qatar crisis has global implications

Gideon Rachman – The Irish Times

A security crisis in the Gulf state would be felt in boardrooms and finance ministries all over the world.

For the past six years, there have been two Arab worlds. The world of violence and tragedy; and the world of glitz and globalisation. Syria, Iraq, Libya and, to a lesser extent, Egypt – have been engulfed by conflict. But Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have prospered as global hubs for travel, leisure, business and finance. The booming Gulf metropolises seemed untouched by the violence in the rest of the Middle East. They even profited indirectly, as safe havens in a region in turmoil.

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It’s not just the UK that will benefit from Brexit. The EU will too

John Redwood – The Guardian

In two years’ time the EU will be able to pursue its aims without having to drag a reluctant UK along with it

Tuesday 20 June 2017

The commencement of Brexit negotiations this week is good news for the UK and the EU. It is in the interests of both parties to agree a great new relationship. After all those years of the UK dragging its heels, refusing to join in, seeking to delay progress to political union and declining to be part of the euro, we can at last sort out a strong and positive relationship that works for us both.

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Rural Poverty? Cooperatives!

Johan Galtung* – EDITORIAL, TRANSCEND Media Service

Humanity has had and has big projects.  Mastery of nature is one, still going on.  Middle range phenomena have been mastered, but not the micro level of viri–HIV is a current case–nor the macro level of climate–to the contrary, humanity is making it worse.

Another huge project can be called Material-somatic comfort, including health.  Well-ness not ill-ness.  Amazingly successful, look at an average day in what can be called the bourgeois way of life. As is well known, this second project may contradict the first project.

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The Siege of Doha

by Gary Sick* –

There are several things that I find confounding about the current conflict within the GCC:

First, as a member of the US policy team that first applied sanctions against Iran when our diplomats were being held hostage in Tehran, we drew the line at food and medicine. That has remained true in the succeeding 37 years. Despite all the onerous sanctions that the US has imposed against Iran over the years, which verge on economic warfare, there has never been a formal restriction on sales of food or medicine, including by US companies. The Saudi-UAE boycott, however, closed off food and medicine shipments to Qatar wherever possible, in the middle of Ramadan.

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Russia: Hacking Away at US Power

The Hill*

Moscow wants to sow seeds of domestic political turmoil in the United States.

Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election has been making headlines for months now, as new revelations seem to come out every week. Two more surfaced in the past couple of weeks. On June 5, the Intercept published a leaked document from the National Security Agency that revealed that Russia’s General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate engaged in cyberespionage and a spear-phishing campaign against a U.S. company that produces elections-related software.

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How should world leaders punish Trump for pulling out of Paris accord?

Wael Hmaidan – The Guardian

The international community must show Trump, and any other leaders that may follow suit, that other core diplomatic goals – such as Nato funding – will depend on honouring their climate commitments

World leaders’ response to Donald Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the US from the Paris agreement was strong and unified. But did it sting the president and his administration? To deter other potential backsliders and maintain the integrity of the Paris agreement, the perpetrator of a defection of this magnitude should be made to feel the pain. But how?

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Donald Trump is a victim of Washington’s anti-Russia bias

Mary Dejevesky – The Independent

It is not clear whether Trump’s enemies really believe that his Russia policy is a risk to US national security or whether Russia – because it can still inspire such fear in American minds – is being used as an emotive stick to beat him with

There are times, and this is one of them, where the world seems quite simply back to front. During his annual phone-in marathon on Thursday, Russia’s President was asked about US moves to impose more sanctions on Russia. After insisting that Russia had not done anything to warrant new sanctions (true), Vladimir Putin said that it was all part of a power struggle in Washington.

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US Attorney-General testimony – 3 New York Times opinions

Jeff Sessions Clams Up in Congress


How many ways are there to fail to answer a question under oath?

Ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The last time Mr. Sessions appeared before a Senate committee, during his confirmation hearing in January, he gave false testimony.

“I did not have communications with the Russians,” Mr. Sessions said in response to a question no one asked — and despite the fact that he had, in fact, met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, at least twice during the 2016 presidential campaign. The omission raised questions not only about his honesty, but also about why he would not disclose those meetings in the first place.

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Britain and the US once ran the world. Now they’re all at sea

Opinion, Linda Colley – The Guardian

The parallels are striking. Both were global and political giants. Now both must adjust to their loss of influence

Events last Thursday on the two sides of the Atlantic were at once momentous and in some ways connected. In Washington the former FBI director James Comey used his open hearing before the Senate intelligence committee to call the president of the United States a liar – an astonishing act of lese-majesty. Meanwhile, at Westminster, Theresa May squandered her majority.

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Daring to Dream in the Age of Trump

By Naomi Klein – The Nation

Resistance is necessary, but it’s not enough to win the world we need.

The hour calls for optimism; we’ll save pessimism for better times.Jean-Claude Servais

This essay is adapted from Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (, published in the United States by Haymarket Books.

A great many people, myself included, have understandably used the word “shock” to describe Donald Trump’s election and the first months of his presidency. Though he breaks the mold in some ways, Trump’s tactics do follow a script, one familiar from other countries that have had rapid changes imposed under the cover of crisis. In his first week in office, for example, Trump signed a tsunami of executive orders that had people reeling, madly trying to keep up. Since then, he’s never allowed the atmosphere of chaos and crisis to let up.

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Don’t ignore young people – we’re key to fighting climate change

Daisy Kendrick* – The Guardian

Young people are consumers, employees, employers and future leaders but few NGOs take full advantage of the best space to reach us – social media

For the world leaders, negotiators and advisers who gathered in Paris in November 2015, the news that the US is withdrawing from the COP 21 climate accord must have felt like a body blow.

For my generation? There’s a chance the story got scrolled past, filtered out, buried on a newsfeed, or missed altogether.

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There’s no precedent for what happens when an American president is forced out of office, but here’s what we do know.

Whether you’re for or against impeaching President Donald Trump, you’re probably curious how it would work. What happens if he’s convicted? When does he have to leave the White House? How does Vice President Mike Pence take over?

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This Is the Nation of 170 Million Enslaved Children

By IPS World Desk

ROME, Jun 12 2017 (IPS) – Globally over 1.5 billion people live in countries that are affected by conflict, violence and fragility. Meantime, around 200 million people are affected by disasters every year—a third of them are children. And a significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster. These are the facts. Up to you to reflect on the immediate future of humankind.

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Donald Trump has become Saudi Arabia’s puppet in the Qatar crisis

Andrew MacLeod*

The Saudis offered to Sword Dance to Trump, and in one tweet he has more or less ignored the role that Saudi played in 9/11, pointed the finger at Iran and said to the Saudis, ‘If you want Qatar, go for it’

Donald Trump issued a triumphal tweet, declaring that his Saudi Arabia trip has already paid off with a Saudi crackdown on Qatar. This single tweet shows just how out of depth US policy has become in the six months since Obama left office.

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There’s no indication Comey violated the law. Trump may be about to.

Analysis  By Philip Bump  – The Washington Post

President Trump’s declaration that the Thursday testimony of former FBI director James B. Comey was a “total and complete vindication” despite “so many false statements and lies” was the sort of brashly triumphant and loosely-grounded-in-reality statement we’ve come to expect from the commander in chief. It was news that came out a bit later, news about plans to file a complaint against Comey for a revelation he made during that Senate Intelligence Committee hearing meeting, that may end up being more damaging to the president.

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