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Rick Clark
Peace is child's play صلح بازی کودکان است השלום הוא משחק ילדים
Peace is child's play صلح بازی کودکان است השלום הוא משחק ילדים

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Trump ally Roger Stone tweets — then deletes — he had "back channel" to WikiLeaks' Assange

Amid a bizarre string of angry, misogynistic tweets on Saturday, President Donald Trump's longtime friend and confidant #RogerStone claimed he had back-channel access to #WikiLeaks founder Julian #Assange, whose role in leaking embarrassing materials about Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign has been under fire.

WikiLeaks, which debuted as an internet clearinghouse for leaked intelligence and government documents in 2006, has drawn suspicion both for its defenses of #Trump and its possible use by #Russian intelligence assets as a way to leak #hacked emails from Hillary #Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Stone, who has admitted his previous contact with #Assange, replied to a #Twitter user with, "you stupid stupid bitch — never denied perfectly legal back channel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary."

He has since deleted the #tweet

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Toddler Trump

Make no mistake Daddy's home. And he's not happy. PERIOD!

In a short video created by Vanity Fair, a suited toddler bearing resemblance to Donald #Trump can be seen trashing a miniature Oval Office, fondling a Barbie doll and building a Lego wall.

“When they go low, we get high.”

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New US Strategy against ISIS and War in Syria. What to Expect?

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis presented a preliminary version of the new plan to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said on February 28th. The plan is aimed at making a “devastating impact” on the terrorist group. While the plan is reportedly transregional and aimed at defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda around the globe, the United States has little space to maneuver. In any case, the Syrian cities of Raqqah and Deir Ezzor, and the Iraqi city of Mosul will be the main targets of the US-led military efforts against ISIS.

There is no doubt that Iraqi security forces, actively backed by the US Air Force and the US Special Forces, will retake western Mosul from ISIS. This is just a matter of time. This move will not finish the war on ISIS in Iraq but will mark a transformation of the ISIS strategy. The group will focus on guerrilla warfare in the areas formally controlled by Iraqi security forces and its western allies.

The situations in Raqqah and Deir Ezzor are more complex and involve a wide range of regional and global powers. In this case, the problem is that, if the US involves Turkey in the Raqqah operation, such a decision will dramatically worsen US relations with Syrian Kurds who are the core and the only real fighting force in the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces”. Thus, the US would lose its only loyal, or at least semi-loyal, force on the ground and would be pushed to rely upon the Turkish Armed Forces, Qatari, and Saudi Arabian special forces which are likely already involved.

At the same time, this would allow Damascus and Moscow to argue that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are now officially parties to the conflict. Presently, #Doha and #Riyadh deny their de-facto involvement in the war -despite their constant support of terrorist groups in Syria. In turn, the mainstream media and think tanks, which receive funding from the Gulf Monarchies, blame Tehran for involvement in the conflict.

If the US decides to decline the Turkish request to participate in the Raqqah offensive, it will lead to a #Turkish-Kurdish escalation in Syria and will push the Pentagon to use its troops actively in operations on the ground. Clashes between Ankara-led forces and the US-backed SDF erupted west of #Manbij in March. The formal presence of US Special Forces did not help #Kurdish allies. The tense situation also pushed the SDF to intensify its contacts with the legitimate Syrian government.

The plan submitted by #Mattis also includes a proposal to increase the size of the US military contingent to ISIS in Syria, a move repeatedly forecasted by SouthFront. Without significant US presence on the ground, the SDF will hardly be able to retake #Raqqah from ISIS without incurring unacceptable losses.

The third option, widely denied by mainstream US politicians, is to cooperate with Moscow and Damascus. Such cooperation will lead to the rapid defeat of ISIS in Syria and liberation of Raqqah and Deir Ezzor. Furthermore, the successful attacks of the Syrian army and its allies against ISIS in eastern #Aleppo and #Palmyra clearly show that #Tehran, #Damascus, and #Moscow have enough resources to contribute to the war on ISIS. Yet, hardcore Russophobia of the US deep state remains. This is why US-Russian cooperation will likely be constrained or even roughly sabotaged.

As to #DeirEzzor, the US can try to use militants trained in Jordan to launch an attack on Deir Ezzor from the southern direction. However, the total failure of this US-backed group in 2016 leaves little chance that it’s able to combat ISIS successfully in 2017. So, the #US and its allies will be pushed to deploy special forces units or even ground troops to support the advance there.

The #Polish Special Forces have already deployed to #Jordan where they will operate alongside their #French and #British counterparts.

According to reports, the US-led block created a joint command center to coordinate efforts of all sides, which will support the advance against ISIS in the area.

Thus, the fate of ISIS as a semi-state entity in Syria and Iraq is predestined. Stiff pressure in central Syria from the Iranian-Syrian-Russian alliance and the intensification of the US-led operations in eastern #Syria and in western #Iraq are rapidly leading to a collapse of the self-proclaimed caliphate.

The question now is: How will the spheres of influence be divided following the defeat of :ISIS?

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Palestinians Living in Caves as Homes are Destroyed by Israeli Forces

In this story, the writer describes the misery of the life of the Palestinians whose homes were razed by the Israeli occupation, and turned to live in caves.

Majid Hanani, a 64-year-old Palestinian, has been forced to live the life of a caveman after his home in the West Bank was leveled by bulldozers.

Located in the village of #Tana east of the West Bank city of #Nablus, Hanani’s home — along with 300 other modest Palestinian homes — was taken by Israeli bulldozers early this year, prompting displaced residents to seek refuge inside nearby caves.

The Israeli authorities, for their part, attempted to justify the demolitions by saying that the homes had been built without state permission.

“Life is difficult in the caves,” Hanani told Anadolu Agency, according to Days of #Palestine. “We lack most basic requirements.”

“But, we have no alternative,” he said bitterly. “We build our homes out of corrugated iron and Israeli bulldozers eventually come and demolish them.”

“I’ve seen it happen more than 20 times,” he added.

While watching an old television set powered by solar energy, Hanani said: “I fear difficult days ahead; harassment by the Israeli army — and the Jewish settlers — will continue.”

He pointed to an outpost on a nearby hilltop, saying: “That’s a [Jewish] settler who came several years ago with his caravan. Today, he runs a farm for breeding cattle.”

“He established a settlement outpost there,” he explained. “Now he wants to extend the boundaries of his property to include land on which we were living before the 1967 occupation.”

‘Modest kingdom’

Last month, the the Israeli parliament #Knesset passed a law retroactively legalizing Israeli outposts built on #Palestinian West Bank land, which are considered illegal under international law.

Since the beginning of 2017, Israeli authorities approved the construction of more than 7,250 new Jewish-only housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to official figures.

Hanani owns some 200 sheep and lives off the money he makes selling the milk they produce and the cheese his wife makes.

Describing the cave in which he and his wife now live as “our modest kingdom”, Hanani said: “It’s a simple life. We only want to live in safety and security.”

Their cave contains two small beds, a television set perched on a rickety table, and a simple cooking oven.

“Due to the frequency of Israel’s home demolitions, we expect to spend most of our lives here,” he said.

In another cave located nearby, Fursan Hasan, 59, lives with his family under similar conditions.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Hasan explained: “We’ve lived in Tana village all of our lives; just as our parents and grandparents did.”

“But, Israel wants to expel us from the area, take control of the land and hand it over to settlers,” he said.

“We don’t pose a threat to anyone here,” Hasan said. “We live a simple life, breeding our sheep and living off the milk and cheese that we make.”

“But, from time to time, the bulldozers come and destroy everything, forcing us to intermittently to seek refuge in the caves,” he lamented.

Outside Hasan’s cave, his children play with the sheep.

One of them, seven-year-old Sabrin, explains: “The Israeli army tore down our school, as they did our home.”

The village’s only school has been demolished three times — most recently, last year — by Israeli bulldozers.

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The Walled Off Hotel: Bansky Does Bethlehem

The hotel will accept bookings from 11 March, nine days before its opening. Its doors directly face a stretch of the wall which Banksy has previously painted. "Walls are hot right now," the press statement quoted Banksy saying, "but I was into them long before #Trump made it cool."

"However, the refined ambience has been brought right up to date - the oil painted seascapes are awash with refugees' life jackets, statues choke on tear gas fumes and cherubs fall to earth starved of breath."

Most cities in the West Bank are off-limits for Israeli visitors. But the Walled Off Hotel sits along a part which remains under #Israel's control - meaning Israeli visitors can visit the Walled Off Hotel and see #Banksy's latest creations.

3 Photos - View album

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#March4Trump: Oklahoma City

Serenity Jackson, 21, right, challenges and taunts supporters of President Trump at the event. Jackson, of Oklahoma City, was part of a small group who showed up to speak against President #Trump. Many waving American flags and holding hand-made signs expressing pleasure with the new president, supporters of Donald Trump attended a rally Saturday, March 4, 2017, on the south plaza of the state Capitol in #Oklahoma City to express their solidarity with him, his administration and his policies. (Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman via AP)(Associated Press)

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Homonationalism: The Man Who Turned Gay Rights Into “A Weapon” In A War Against Muslims

Geert Wilders spent years arguing that Islam threatened gay rights in the country that gave marriage equality to the world. His party now leads polls in upcoming Dutch elections, and his battle cry is being copied by Donald Trump and France's Marine Le Pen.

The Dutch government literally tests potential Dutch citizens on their attitudes toward homosexuality today. About 4% of questions on Dutch naturalization exams concern gay rights, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Social Affairs.

AMSTERDAM — On a chilly evening in late February, a small group of queer and immigrant activists gathered on the west side of #Amsterdam to prepare, as one attendee put it, “for the apocalypse.”

For months they had endured an increasingly strident debate about immigration ahead of elections on March 15, and they were tired of being caught in the crossfire. The race has been dominated by #GeertWilders, the bleached-blonde leader of the Party for Freedom who polls show could win the largest bloc of votes in parliament. His candidacy is being watched as the next test of the nationalist wave that drove Britain out of the #EU and put Donald Trump in the White House.

But the race is also uniquely focused on #gay rights, because Wilders has framed his crusade against Islam in part as a defense of national values in the country proud to have adopted the world’s first marriage equality law and has remained a leader on #LGBT rights in the years since. And several more moderate politicians have echoed the message that #Muslim immigrants threaten gay people.

“If you’re looking for a dramatic shift, I think it’s already happening,” said Manju Reijmer, a 27-year-old born in Sri Lanka who was adopted by a family from a small Dutch town. A 29-year-old named Abdi, who was born in Somalia and fled the country’s war in 1991, said this focus on gay rights is just one of the constantly changing “rules of integration” into Dutch society, which makes it feel “impossible to integrate into a society that does not accept your humanity as a person of color.” (Abdi asked to withhold his last name because he hasn’t come out to his entire family.)

Wilders’ professed support of gay rights once put him out of step with other nationalist politicians in the West, who generally have also been social conservatives. But today Wilders seems like he was just ahead of his time, with politicians from Donald #Trump to France’s Marine #LePen following his lead and saying they are defending LGBT rights by opposing Muslim immigration.

For many in the room, this is just racism dressed up in liberal drag, helping make nationalism respectable again in the West.

Immigrants are constantly being subjected to a “pink test,” said Dino Suhonic, founder of the queer Muslim organization Maruf and organizer of the evening’s gathering. Politicians are “using gay rights, as almost a [trait of] national identity,” Suhonic said, but only when debating the place of “asylum-seekers and the immigrants.” It’s an attitude Suhonic calls “homonationalism.”

“The freedom that gay people should have — to kiss each other, to marry, to have children — is exactly what Islam is fighting against,” Wilders told BuzzFeed News last June in the wake of the attack on a gay club in Orlando, adding that the shooting should force a reckoning with the fact “that we’ve imported so much Islam to the Western free countries." The next month, he brought this message to the #Republican National Convention, where he told a Gays for Trump party, “Anywhere in the West, if you allow Islam to be planted on your soil, don't be [surprised] that you will harvest Sharia law, because Islam and Sharia law [are] exactly the same."

“LGBT rights are being used as a weapon.”

Wilders stands almost no chance of becoming prime minister even if he makes a strong showing, and polls suggest his support is declining as election day approaches. He now stands to win about 15% of seats in parliament, but all six other major parties have declared they will not join his Freedom Party in a governing coalition. But he has already won a major victory regardless of the election outcome: setting the terms of the debate about immigration in the Netherlands so fundamentally that other Dutch politicians are picking up his message.

This includes the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, of the right-leaning VVD party, who framed his re-election bid with a letter published in January declaring, “We are feeling a growing unease when people abuse our freedom … [People who] harass gays, howl at women in short skirts or accuse ordinary Dutch of being racists ... If you reject our country in such a fundamental manner, I’d rather see you leave.” He ended with an ultimatum to immigrants that has become a VVD campaign slogan: “Act normal or leave.”

Tofik Dibi, a gay man who is the son of Moroccan immigrants who was a member of the Dutch parliament from 2006 to 2012, often went toe to toe with Wilders on the floor of parliament. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Dibi said #anti-LGBT attitudes are a real problem in some #immigrant communities, and the issue needs to be confronted. But many of the politicians who are using it to sound the alarm over immigration, he said, “don’t give a fuck about gay rights.”

As Dibi sees it, immigration opponents use the issue as just another reason to suggest immigrants can’t ever be fully Dutch. Dibi said they are also suspicious of immigrant attitudes toward Jews and women, but homosexuality was usually their go-to issue.

“Of all of these tests, the gay rights is the one that is used the most because they know that that’s the most difficult thing within these communities,” Dibi said. In the battle over immigration, “LGBT rights are being used as a weapon.”

An activist from the anti-immigrant group #PEGIDA, which started in Germany, shows her support for Wilders at the official launch of his campaign.

Geert Wilders formally kicked off his campaign on Feb. 18 beneath a mottled-gray sky in Spijkenisse, a town of around 75,000 outside the southern port city of #Rotterdam.

Wilders, 54, dates his concerns about Islam to the time he spent living in Israel and traveling through the Middle East just after college. He began his life in politics as a social security adviser to the VVD party and was elected to parliament in 1998 as a loyal backbencher. He broke with his party in 2004 over advancing Turkey’s membership in the European Union, and soon became known for lobbing hand grenades against Islam into the Netherland’s largely consensus-driven politics.

“There is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland [who] make the streets unsafe,” Wilders said in Spijkenisse, his pompadour floating above a forest of microphones as reporters shoved each other to get close to him. Wilders had been found guilty of “inciting discrimination” in December for leading a crowd in a chant calling for “fewer Moroccans,” and he has also called Muslim youths “street terrorists” and “Islamic testosterone bombs” waging “sexual jihad” on European women.

“I have one message for the Dutch people,” Wilders said, speaking in English for the benefit of the large number of foreign reporters. “Please, make the Netherlands ours again.”

Wilders generally avoids the press and only rarely appears in public, having lived under 24-hour police protection since 2004 after another high-profile #anti-Muslim polemicist was assassinated. So the man who co-founded the Party for Freedom with Wilders, MP Martin Bosma, outlined the party’s position on gay rights to BuzzFeed News.

“Our party platform has never mentioned anything concerning homosexuals except that gays are very much the victim of mass immigration right now — if gays are being beaten up, it’s basically being done by Muslims,” Bosma said as he strolled behind Wilders’ heavy security detail as the party leader attempted to wander through Spijkenisse's Saturday market. “Amsterdam used to be the gay capital of Europe, and gays are going back into the closet thanks to mass immigration.”

Many LGBT rights supporters suspect Wilders’ support of LGBT rights is driven only by political expediency.

“Please, make the Netherlands ours again.”

Tanja Ineke, president of the Dutch LGBT organization COC Netherlands, told BuzzFeed News that Wilders has generally “not been a very reliable ally,” recently breaking a campaign pledge by leading his MPs to vote against legislation to make it easier for transgender people to change their documents. And, she said, crime data proves that immigrants don’t pose a special threat to LGBT people, although she added that it’s important to “recognize and take serious that acceptance is much lower in the immigrant community, the Muslim community.”

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Leaning Tower of FISA: However strongly Trump feels that he’s right, he’d better hope he’s wrong.


Trump Tower in New York City, NY.

IT STARTED, LIKE so many eruptions these days, with a tweet.

Early Saturday morning, President Trump fired off a series of tweets accusing, without evidence, former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the month before the election. Trump compared the alleged snooping to “Nixon/Watergate,” and intimated legal action.

What makes the broader allegation so extraordinary isn’t that it is new. Quite the contrary. Various reports that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted Justice Department investigators a warrant to probe the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia surfaced in November. What makes Trump’s Twitter tirade so striking is what prompted it, and what it might imply if it’s true.

Anatomy of an Allegation

Baffling as it may be, it appears Trump’s accusation stems from a recent article published on #Breitbart, the conservative news outlet formerly run by White House senior adviser Stephen #Bannon.

“This is a somewhat stunning, in so far as the president of the United States doesn’t need to get his information about classified activity from Breitbart,” says #Cato Institute fellow Julian Sanchez.

That story, “Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ Vs. Trump,” rehashes comments the titular conservative radio host made Thursday equating the previously reported FISA warrant with a “police state,” and accuses Obama of a politically motivated, covert attempt to undermine Trump and his associates.

It’s unclear just what prompted Levin’s rant, or why Trump glommed onto it. Although no one has confirmed a FISA investigation, or wiretaps in Trump Tower, several news outlets have reported the former’s existence. The most detailed account thus far, from the #BBC in January, provided a timeline: The Justice Department sought a #FISA warrant in June to intercept communications from two #Russian banks suspected of facilitating donations to the Trump campaign. The judge reportedly rejected the warrant, as well as a narrower version sought in July. A new judge granted the order in mid-October, according to the BBC.*

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Schwarzenegger: the baggage is Trump

A line from President Trump’s speech last Tuesday to the joint session of Congress came back to haunt him on social media Saturday morning: “The time for trivial fights is behind us.”

Apparently, in Trump’s view, long-simmering feuds regarding his old reality show “The Apprentice” don’t qualify as trivial.

On Friday the show’s new host, Arnold #Schwarzenegger, released a statement saying he would not return for a second season. “I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett. Everyone — from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department — was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn’t have this baggage.”

Schwarzenegger later explained that the “baggage” to which he was referring is Trump. “With Trump being involved in the show, people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show,” he told Empire magazine.

In a series of #tweets, President #Trump accused former President Barack #Obama of wiretapping him in October during the late stages of the presidential election campaign, but offered no evidence to support the allegation.

The tweeter in chief woke up early Saturday at his Florida estate to provide his own version of events. After a stream of tweets claiming that former president Barack Obama had tapped the phones at Trump Tower, the president weighed in on #TheApprentice.

Naturally, the Terminator wasn’t going to let that stand. He fired his own shot across the bow.

Of course, these salvos are just the latest in a lengthy back-and-forth between the two. At the National Prayer Breakfast in February, the president asked his audience to “pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.” Schwarzenegger quickly responded with a video suggesting they change places: “You take over TV, because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job. And then people can finally sleep comfortably again.”

By midmorning Saturday, both men had moved on to other activities. Schwarzenegger was at a fitness expo. Trump headed to a golf course.

And sixth-graders everywhere rolled their eyes in exasperation.

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How Pro-Israel Politics and Anti-Semitism Coexist in the Alt-Right

Journalist Richard Silverstein says Trump's nativist populism has emboldened hate groups to commit anti-Semitic attacks.

An unprecedented number of bomb scares rattled Jewish centers across the country. And anti-Semitic attacks against Jews appear to be on the rise in the U.S. In his speech on Tuesday night, addressing a joint session of Congress, Donald Trump made reference to this.

DONALD TRUMP: As we mark the conclusion of our celebration of #Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation's path towards civil rights, and the work that still remains to be done. Recent threats targeting #Jewish community centers, and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.

KIM BROWN: Now, Trump's remarks here were prompted by the fact that the Trump administration itself has been accused of colluding with anti-Semitic organizations, by way of views expressed in Breitbart News, whose editor had been Stephen Bannon, until he was appointed chief strategist in the Trump administration.

Vice President Mike #Pence has also tried to correct this image in the face of such accusations. Trump himself promoted an anti-Semitic stereotype at the very start of the election campaign in 2015, when he told the Jewish Republican Coalition that, "Look, I'm a negotiator like you folks; we're negotiators."

The Anti-Defamation League was alarmed by anti-Semitic publications in #Breitbart News under the management of Steve #Bannon. It has issued a call to Trump's advisor Sebastian Gorka, to renounce his links to anti-Semitic organizations, with whom he worked with in Hungary. Gorka wore a medal to Trump's inaugural ball associated with the group, The Vitézi Rend, or Order of Heroes. Those are supporters of the former #Nazi collaborator, who used to be the ruler of Hungary.

During his first solo press conference, Donald #Trump was confronted by a #Jewish reporter, asking about his plans to deal with #anti-Semitism, :Trump refused to answer, and called it an "insulting question". Let's take a look at this here.
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