‘Theresa May today conceded that Britain would have to accept EU free movement and stay in the single market for at least two years after Brexit to stop businesses facing a cliff-edge departure from the union.
In a major speech in Florence, the Prime Minister committed to a full-blooded transition period after Article 50 negotiations finish in March 2019 – rejecting counsel from hard Brexiteers who want an immediate clean break.
In a victory for less Eurosceptic figures in her Cabinet such as Chancellor Philip Hammond, Ms May said free movement would continue under EU rules for the duration of the period – though immigrants would have to sign up to a new Belgian-style migration register, which is permitted by existing EU rules.
The PM reiterated her intention to secure a bespoke long-term deal for the UK, rejecting a claim by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier that Britain would have to choose between a looser Canada-style negotiation agreement or tightly integrated Norway-style deal.’
‘With stunningly unintended precision, about a third of the way into his UN speech, President Trump encapsulated the current brutal reality of the United States in late 2017, where the righteous many do not confront the wicked few and evil oozes its slow and merciless triumph through the body politic. Or perhaps the “righteous many” is another myth and the “wicked few” are the true majority. Wherever one looks, the news is not reassuring, whether it’s climate change, civil rights, police state treatment of minorities, rewarding the rich for their wealth, punishing the poor for their poverty, attacking voter rights, or bloating a military that specializes in killing civilians. Trump’s next sentence drove home the crucifying irony of the American moment:
“When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.”
Yes, they do. Yes, we do. We live now in a time of literal perpetual war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and many of the other 100-plus sovereign states that have US boots on the ground. Before 9/11, the US was at war only most of the time, more spectacularly, but with no better results since 1945. This is not good; surely most UN members appreciate that, without having the nerve to say so.’
‘The situation in Syria is reaching another critical point. There is an increased possibility of a large scale clash between U.S. and Russian forces. We had warned of such a clash over control of the rich fields east of Deir Ezzor. At least three incidents over the last days point to more significant escalations.
On the 17th the U.S. accused Russia of a light air attack on its proxy forces north of Deir Ezzor. Russia denied that it had attacked those forces.
On the 18th and 19th large contingents of Russian and Syrian troops crossed the Euphrates at Deir Ezzor in east-Syria. The U.S. Kurdish/Arab proxy force in the area actively tried to hinder that movement.
In parallel a large al-Qaeda attack was launched in west-Syria. The Russian forces accuse U.S. intelligence services of having initiated that campaign. (The Syrian-Russian forces defeated the attack.)
Today the Russian military accused the U.S. Kurdish proxies near Deir Ezzor of firing artillery on its forces. It threatened massive retaliation. The most dramatic incident was the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb.’
‘US-led coalition airstrikes on Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, have claimed many civilian lives and forced tens of thousands to flee. RT’s Ruptly agency spoke to the displaced locals who described how the city was leveled in front of their eyes.
The ancient city of Raqqa, which has recently become known as the de-facto capital of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria, is currently under siege by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia backed by the US-led coalition. The besieged city has come under heavy air bombardment while civilians have been trapped in IS-occupied neighborhoods, unable to escape…
…“The coalition launched heavy airstrikes over the residential areas and the nearby towns in the western and northern sectors, especially northward, where they targeted ISIS headquarters, and also locations where civilians were killed,” Ahmad Ibrahim told Ruptly.
“Schools, where students were studying, have been targeted as well. There was nothing there, and they have just been hit and destroyed,” he said.
Entire swathes of the city have been reduced to rubble by the bombing, which the UN estimates kills an average of 27 civilians each day.’
‘U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hinted at using a kinetic weapon on Tuesday while discussing tensions with North Korea when he made a Freudian slip.
Mattis was asked whether there was “any military option the US can take with North Korea that would not put Seoul at grave risk,” Mattis responded, “Yes, there are, but I will not go into details.”
Later during the press conference, another reporter questioned Mattis and caught him off-guard:
“Just to clarify, you said that there were possible military options that would not create a grave risk to Seoul,” a reporter asked. “Are we talking kinetic options as well?”
“Yes, I don’t want to go into that,” Mattis responded.
Previously, Mattis stated that a war with North Korea would “involve the massive shelling of an ally’s capital, (South Korea) which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth.”’
‘After this week’s UN General Assembly, it’s pretty clear that the Iran nuclear deal may be in jeopardy. Not from a European perspective, but from Washington’s end of things.
As I pointed out at the time, from the beginning of the agreement in 2015, the main resistance in Washington was coming from only two places – the Republican Congress and Senate and the Israeli Lobby. In the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” In reality, any deal was a bad deal for Israel, and what’s bad for Israel is meant to be bad for the United States of America, or so we’re told constantly by FOX News.
Despite Israel’s vehement opposition and Bibi’s grandstanding in front of the US Congress, the P5+1 nations successfully ratified a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program that summer. In US terms, this was generally hailed as a success at the time and a major foreign policy success benchmark for the Obama Administration.’