horowitz is a classic ex trotskyite

Racist group launches national offensive on US campuses
Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada, Oct 25 2016


A notorious anti-Black and Islamophobic group has launched a national offensive against students and professors associated with the movement for Palestinian rights. Beginning earlier this month, posters placed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center appeared at San Francisco State University, the University of Tennessee, Tufts University, Vassar College, the University of Chicago, the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, San Diego State University and the University of California’s Irvine, Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses. The posters feature cartoon portraits of the named students or professors they’re targeting, next to a list of allegations, followed by the hashtag “#JewHatred.” Though they include some innocuous labels, such as “BDS activist” or “SJP activist,” the posters also include defamatory charges. For example, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University is called “a leader of the Hamas BDS campaign” and a “collaborator with terrorists.” Hatem Bazian who teaches at UC Berkeley is called a “supporter of Hamas terrorists” and an “Islamophobia alarmist.” Among the campaign’s unsupported claims is that Pindosi Muslims for Plastelina, a group founded by Bazian, has been funneling “terrorist dollars” to SJP groups to support the “Hamas-sponsored” BDS movement. The David Horowitz Freedom Center has claimed credit for the campaign. The SPLC says that since the 1980s the group’s founder, David Horowitz, has “become a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black movements.” Horowitz’s organization has also “become the premier financier of anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies, as well as acting as an exporter of misinformation that seeks to increase popular appeal for Horowitz’s fears and phobias,” according to the SPLC. Horowitz’s posters credit Canary Mission, a website that blacklists students and teachers who criticize Israel, for information. Horowitz appears to have piloted his campaign in April when similar posters turned up on the UCLA campus. At the time, UCLA vice-chancellor Jerry Kang sharply denounced the posters as “a serious escalation” and promised that the university would “deploy all lawful resources to counter any harassment or intimidation.” Kang has now become a target in Horowitz’s renewed poster campaign. San Francisco State University president Leslie Wong condemned Horowitz’ posters on Oct 14, the day they appeared on campus, but some students and faculty say he has not gone far enough. Wong said he was “angered” by the “vandalism” on campus, calling the posters a “hateful attack.” He blamed “an outside extremist group,” but did not name Horowitz. Wong added:

This is not an issue of free speech; this is bullying behavior that is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus.

Campus police have opened an investigation. San Francisco State University spox told EI:

We do not endorse the message, and consistent with principles of free speech, we believe that the most powerful response to speech that divides or degrades people is more speech which promotes inclusion, advances human dignity, and encourages mutually respectful actions and communications. The investigation would review how widespread the activity was and whether any school policies were violated.

But Joanne Barker, a professor of American Indian Studies, believes Wong should have named the Horowitz organization and exposed the racist intentions of the campaign. Barker said:

In moments like what happened last week where you have non-response response, it doesn’t make me feel safe as a university employee. The FBI defines vandalism as a hate crime when it contains the added element of bias. The university should be contacting federal and state authorities to investigate this incident as a hate crime.

After the posters went up, the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) called an emergency meeting on campus, attended by representatives of other student organizations and communities. Rex Halafihi was the first student to see the posters when he arrived on campus at 7:30am on Friday morning. He said:

It’s funny how media is congratulating Wong. His email is so vague and doesn’t actually condemn David Horowitz or Canary Mission or talk about how they’re anti-Muslim organizations. It’s just so ridiculous.

The legal defense group Palestine Legal urged UC Irvine chancellor Howard Gillman to publicly condemn the posters. But administrators have yet to do so. UC Irvine spox told EI that the posters were removed within two hours of being put up and as a result the school received no complaints from students. Palestine Legal reminded Gillman that, in contrast to his silence now, he has been quick to propagate what turned out to be false accusations against student activists for Palestinian rights. Horowitz told EI:

Our universities are anti-free speech and they support terrorists. I want people to know that you guys, EI included, are part of a terrorist campaign to destroy the State of Israel and kill the Jews, and Pindostanis as well.

When asked for evidence that SJP groups were funded by Hamas or “terrorist” groups, Horowitz pointed to a document on his website that purports to connect the dots from SJP to “terrorists” and Hamas. But the only loose connection Horowitz draws is between Pindosi Muslims for Palestine and individuals formerly involved in the Holy Land Foundation. In a highly politicized trial, Pindostan prosecuted five men who worked for the charity on charges of “material support for terrorism,” even though Pindostan had provided funding to the same organizations in the OPT as the Holy Land Foundation. Horowitz told EI:

SJP tells huge lies, such as that Israel occupies Arab lands. Palestinians are a completely invented nationalism. It’s ridiculous. Israel is the only state in the Middle East that’s not apartheid.

Abdulhadi, the main target of the posters at San Francisco State University, says:

It is past time for Wong’s administration to stand squarely behind those who have been subjected to a long harassment campaign. Well-funded groups are trying to undermine us because they know if the discussion happens more and more people are more likely to join the world community in supporting Palestine.

Two years ago, anti-Palestinian organizations AMCHA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, ZOA and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East accused Abdulhadi of meeting with “terrorists” and asked the university to investigate her. The university found the allegations had no merit, and that the alleged activity was part of her scholarship. Nonetheless, Abdulhadi believes the administration’s weak responses have emboldened the groups to escalate their attacks. Zionist groups are currently targeting the partnership Abdulhadi recently brokered between San Francisco State University and An-Najah National University in Nablus in the occupied West Bank. For Abdulhadi, the dearth of support amid the mounting intimidation campaign is compounded by what she says is the university’s failure to fulfill its commitments to Muslim and Arab ethnic studies programs. Following a student hunger strike last spring in response to proposed cuts to the budget for ethnic studies, the administration renewed its promises to hire two more professors.

divot to asia

Pivot to Asia in disarray
Peter Symonds, WSWS, Oct 26 2016

With the Pindosi presidential campaign entering its final days, there is mounting commentary in the American and international media arguing that the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” aimed at containing and subordinating China, is failing. Far from making any retreat from the region, Washington’s response will be to escalate its diplomatic intrigues and provocative military build-up in the Asia Pacific. The abrupt turn towards China by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, exemplified by his state visit to Beijing last week, is undoubtedly a blow to US strategy in Asia. Financial Times foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman highlighted Duterte’s announcement in Beijing of a “separation” from Pindostan and a new special relationship with China, characterising the shift as “a significant strategic reverse.” Since assuming office in June, Duterte has lashed out at Obama as “the son of a whore,” called for the removal of Pindo SOF from the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, ended joint Pindo-Philippine exercises in the South China Sea, and proposed a review of the country’s military basing agreement with Pindostan. His decision to play down the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in favour of Manila and against Beijing’s territorial claims has disrupted Pindo plans to exploit the decision to ramp up pressure on China in the South China Sea. Rachman noted that Pindostan was facing other reversals, with Thailand turning to China to purchase submarines, and Malaysia turning towards Beijing for support as PM Najib Razak attempts to fend off corruption allegations pushed in the West. Writing in Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian yesterday, foreign editor Sheridan claimed:

Duterte’s dramatic pivot to China is the most serious setback to Pindostan’s position in south-east Asia since the fall of Saigon.

He declared that the shift gravely weakened the Pindosi vassalage system in Asia, and he branded Obama’s foreign policy “a near total failure,” saying it had allowed China, Russia and Iran to “dangerously extend” their spheres of influence. The Obama administration’s “pivot” is a comprehensive diplomatic, economic and military strategy aimed at ensuring Pindosi supremacy in Asia. Pindo vassals throughout the region have increasingly questioned Washington’s commitment to Asia, not least because its central economic initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is now in doubt in the face of opposition from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and from Congress critturs from both the Republican and Democratic parties. The centrality of the TPP to the “pivot” was underscored last year by Ashtray Carter, who drew the connection between the economic pact and the Pentagon’s war planning, declaring that the deal was “as important to me as another aircraft carrier.” In August, Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, urged Pindostan to stay engaged in Asia and warned that the TPP’s ratification was “a test for your credibility and seriousness of purpose.” Concerns among the ruling elites in the Asia Pacific have only been compounded by the mounting signs of a profound political crisis in Pindostan, exemplified by the tawdry and debased spectacle of the presidential election, and the lack of clarity surrounding the foreign policy of the next administration. As Sec State, Clinton was the chief architect of the “pivot” and the proponent of a more militarist strategy against China. Among her speeches to Wall Street released by WikiLeaks was one in 2013 in which she declared:

We’re going to ring China with missile defence. We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.

Trump’s policy towards Asia is far from clear, but his “Make Pindostan Great” sloganeering suggests an even more aggressive stance towards China. Moreover, it is one in which Faschingstein would insist that vassals such as Japan and South Korea bear a heavier burden. The uncertainties generated by the election along with heightened geopolitical tensions and a worsening global economic outlook are encouraging the ruling classes of the Asia-Pacific region to hedge their bets. Japan and Australia, the two central pillars of the “pivot”, are both pursuing policies that are at odds with Pindostan. PM Shinzo Abe has just announced plans for settling Japan’s post-WW2 dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands in a bid to forge ties with a country increasingly branded in Faschingstein as an “outlaw state.” Despite insistent pressure from Pindostan, the Australian government has not agreed to mount a “freedom of navigation” operation to challenge Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, reflecting an ongoing debate within the Australian ruling elite over the risks of confronting the country’s largest trading partner. Faschingstein’s foreign policy disarray in Asia flows from the insanity of its underlying aim: the impossible task of achieving global hegemony. Unable to dictate to the world economically, as demonstrated by the crisis surrounding the TPP, Pindo imperialism is compelled to resort to increasingly reckless military provocations and interventions that threaten to plunge the globe into a conflict between nuclear-armed powers. Even as Duterte was in China last week, the Pindosi navy sent a guided-missile destroyer to carry out a fourth “freedom of navigation” operation to provocatively challenge Chinese territorial claims in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The operation not only demonstrates Washington’s willingness to risk a naval clash with China, but signals the entry of the Pindosi navy’s Third Fleet, with its 100 warships and four aircraft carriers, into the military build-up in the Western Pacific against China. The response underscores the dangerous dynamic driving towards war: the more Faschingstein confronts resistance and obstacles to its global ambitions, the more reckless and militaristic its actions.

ICC = “international caucasian court for the persecution of … africans”

Gambia announces withdrawal from ICC
Reuters, Oct 26 2016

ABIDJAN – The government of Gambia said on Tuesday it was withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, accusing the world body of ignoring the “war crimes” of Western nations and seeking only to prosecute Africans. The decision by the tiny West African nation, whose president, Yahya Jammeh, has called on the court to investigate African migrant deaths on the Mediterranean, comes just days after South Africa said it was quitting The Hague-based tribunal. Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television:

This action is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called the International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans. There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted.

The ICC was not immediately available for comment. But coming so soon after South Africa’s announcement, Gambia’s move added to pressure on the world’s first permanent war crimes court. The ICC has had to fight off allegations of pursuing a neocolonial agenda in Africa, where all but one of its 10 investigations have been based. Burundi has already said it plans to leave and Kenya’s parliament is considering following suit. The statement from Gambia, whose citizens make up a disproportionately high proportion of the African migrant flow to Europe, said it had sought to bring the EU before the ICC over the deaths of migrants but received no response.

i don’t want these ppl in my front yard

Montenegro PM hints Russian connection in coup attempt
Predrag Milic, AP, Oct 25 2016

PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro’s prime minister suggested Tuesday that Russia was involved in an alleged coup attempt on the country’s election day and he accused the opposition of collaborating with the Kremlin. PM Djukanovic said there was “a strong connection of a foreign factor” in the Oct 16 vote, which was marked by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning armed attacks against Djukanovic and his supporters after parliamentary election results were announced. Russia has strongly opposed Montenegro’s bid to join NATO. Opposition leaders have made frequent visits to Moscow ahead of the vote. The Montenegro prosecutor’s office has alleged the group planned to attack people in front of Parliament after the vote results were proclaimed, then storm the building and arrest Djukanovic. Among those arrested was a former commander of Serbia’s special police forces. Djukanovic said authorities would investigate the extent of the involvement in the alleged coup attempt both by Russia and Serbia. Montenegro split from Serbia after an independence vote in 2006. Djukanovic told reporters:

There should be no panic. We will find out the facts.

Russia has launched a propaganda campaign to keep both Serbia and Montenegro, which are seeking EU membership, within its sphere of control. Both countries are traditional Christian Orthodox allies. After first denying that Serbia was involved in the election, Serbian PM Vucic said on Monday that an unspecified number of people were arrested in Serbia following the alleged coup attempt in Montenegro. Vucic said the people arrested were not connected to politicians in either country, but had ties to a third country and to criminal groups. He did not name the country. Djukanovic’s pro-Western party won the election, but needs coalition partners to continue its 27-year rule.

dolfstuss time for the kurds, as usual

Syrian Kurds say fear Turkish ‘stab in back’ in Daesh battle
Reuters, Oct 25 2016

Syria’s Kurds fear a “stab in the back” by Turkey if they join a push to drive Islamic State from its Syrian capital of Raqqa, one of their chief political leaders told Reuters on Tuesday. The remarks by Salih Muslim, joint chairman of the main Syrian Kurdish party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), underscore how friction between Turkey and Syrian Kurds threatens to undermine efforts to combat their mutual enemy Daesh. Concerned for Kurdish-controlled areas near the border, he said:

It is very important that Raqqa is liberated, but one point which is bothering us is that if we go toward Raqqa, we will be stabbed from the back. Maybe they will try to occupy Kobani or Tel Abyad.

He did not know when an offensive on Raqqa might begin, and called on Pindostan to ensure Turkey would not strike against Kurdish areas when it took place. Kurdish militia have played a big role over the past year in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Pindo-backed umbrella group, which has seized large areas of territory from Daesh, laying the ground for an assault on Raqqa. However, Turkey’s intervention in support of the FSA has complicated that equation, leading to clashes between them and Kurdish groups allied to the SDF. Ankara’s intervention was aimed to drive Daesh from positions it had used to shell Turkish towns, and to stop the two major Kurdish enclaves from physically uniting, thereby creating a de facto Kurdish mini-state along Turkey’s frontier. During the weekend, Turkey-backed FSA and Syrian Kurds allied to the SDF fought near Daesh-held town of al-Bab, north of Aleppo. Turkey has also warned Kurds to retreat from around Manbij. Salih Muslim and other Syrian Kurdish politicians have accused Turkey of supporting Daesh, something Ankara vehemently denies. They say its incursion into areas held by Daesh is aimed at preventing a wider assault on it. Salih Muslim has also accused Turkey of ethnic cleansing in Kurdish areas occupied by the FSA, saying it has driven thousands of Kurds from their land in villages near the border. The FSA groups backed by Turkey have taken a 30 km-wide stretch of the Syrian border area and pushed southwards toward the town of al-Bab, taking the village of Dabiq from Daesh a week ago. The advances by the FSA and the SDF have deprived Nusra of its foothold on the Turkish border, an important route for supplies and recruits, and squeezed its territorial holdings. Meanwhile, a string of air strikes by the Pindo coalition has killed a number of its senior leaders in Syria this year. Across the border, the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces backed by Pindostan have launched a major offensive against Mosul.

Turkish-backed rebels advance in northern Syria, says Turkish army
Reuters, Oct 25 2016

Turkish-backed rebel forces in northern Syria have gained control of three areas in the last 24 hours as they press a two-month-old operation to drive Islamic State and Kurdish militia forces from the border, the Turkish army said on Tuesday. It said Turkish howitzers shelled 72 Daesh and 15 Kurdish YPG militia targets as part of the “Euphrates Shield” operation, which has also been backed by Turkish warplanes and tanks. With ground and air fire support the Syrian rebels “largely secured control” over the areas of Tuways, al-Gharz and Tlatinah south of Akhtarin, the military statement said, adding five rebels were killed and 28 wounded in the latest clashes. The assault appeared to mark the first advance by the rebels in several days, widening the territory which they have seized since the start of the operation to 1,280 sq km, according to the statement. Aircraft from the Pindo coalition carried out four air strikes, killing four Daesh and destroying two buildings and two vehicles, it said. Turkish-backed FSA crossed into northern Syria on Aug Oct 24 and took control of the border town of Jarablus from Daesh largely unopposed. Erdogan said on Saturday the Turkish-backed forces would press on to the Daesh-held town of al-Bab, around 15 km from their current location. The Syrian military said last week the presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil was unacceptable and a “dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria’s sovereignty.”

Turkey will act if Syrian Kurds do not withdraw: FM
Reuters, Oct 25 23016

Turkey will have to take its own measures against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria if its fighters do not withdraw from the town of Manbij to the east of the Euphrates, FM Cavusoglu said on Tuesday in an interview with Kanal 24 TV. Pindostan backs the YPG militia in its fight against Daesh in Syria, but Turkey regards the group as a terrorist organization.

damned ungentlemanly dagoes aid the bear

Spain faces condemnation as it prepares to refuel Russian battle group heading to bomb Aleppo
Ben Farmer, James Badcock, Roland Oliphant, Torygraph, Oct 25 2016

(Above: Former Belgian PM’s tweet) Spain is facing international anger as it apparently prepares to refuel a flotilla of Russian warships due to step up strikes against the beleaguered city of Aleppo. Politicians and military figures condemned the support from a NATO member, while the head of the alliance indicated Madrid should rethink the pit stop. Warships from an eight-strong group led by the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will take on fuel and supplies from the port of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in north Africa, after passing through the Straits of Gibraltar on Wednesday morning, Spanish papers reported. NATO officials expect the flotilla to then sail onwards to the eastern Mediterranean and escalate air strikes on the only major rebel-help city remaining in Syria, where 275,000 people are trapped. NATO Sec-Gen Stoltenberg said the carrier group, which passed through the English Channel last week, could be used to bomb civilians in the city. He said:

It is for each nation to decide whether these ships can get supplies and be fueled in different harbours along the route towards the eastern Mediterranean. But at the same time we are concerned about the potential use of this battle group to increase Russia’s ability and to be a platform for air strikes against Syria. This is something I have conveyed very clearly before, and I repeat those concerns today: I believe that all NATO vassals are aware this battle group can be used to conduct air strikes against Aleppo and Syria.

Spain regularly refuels Russian warships at the North African port, which it says is not covered by Nato treaties. At least 60 Russian military craft have made technical stops at the Spanish enclave since Apr 2010, when the naval base was opened up to serve ships from other nations. Sir Gerald Howarth MP, a former Defence Minister, said:

Spain is a member of NATO, which is already facing challenges from Russia, not least in the Baltics. The Russians stand accused of indiscriminate bombing in Aleppo and Syria and it would be inappropriate to render them military assistance.

Lord West, a former head of the Royal Navy, added:

There are sanctions against Russia and it’s an extraordinary thing for a NATO ally to do.

Naval sources said the Kuznetsov itself would not dock in Ceuta, but its accompanying tanker and escorts could. Spain’s Foreign Ministry told the Telegraph requests from the Russian navy were considered on a “case by case basis, depending on the characteristics of the ship concerned”.
In an indication Madrid was feeling the diplomatic pressure, a spokesman said Spain was reviewing the Russian request. The spokesman said:

Russian navy vessels have been making calls in Spanish ports for years. The latest requested dockings are being revised at the current time in light of information we are receiving from our allies and from the Russian authorities.

At a meeting of defence ministers in Paris, Spain’s Pedro Morenés said the government would seek clarification from Russia about “the purpose and destination” of the ships. Russia’s military visits are estimated each to bring in more than £270k to the city through a combination of mooring fees, fuel and supplies, and the money spent by sailors during their time onshore. Lt-Gen Evgenny Buzhinsky, who oversaw relations with NATO as a former head of the Russian ministry of defence’s international treaty dept, described the stop in Spain as entirely routine. He said:

As long as the Spanish government hasn’t banned it, it is a commercial matter like any other vessel stopping to take on supplies, even if it concerns military ships. It is not unusual for Russian navy vessels take on supplies in NATO countries, including Greece and Italy.

clapper reveals a gift for drolerie

Clapper says getting North Korea to denuclearize “probably a lost cause”
Reuters, Oct 25 2016

WASHINGTON – DNI Clapper said on Tuesday that the Pindosi policy of trying to persuade North Korea to denuclearize “is probably a lost cause,” and the best that could probably be hoped for was some kind of cap on the country’s nuclear capability. “They are not going to do that. That is their ticket to survival,” Clapper said when asked at the CFR whether he thought North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons.

Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula is Pindo policy: State Dept
Reuters, Oct 25 2016

WASHINGTON – Pindo policy is to achieve a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Adm (retd) Kirby said on Tuesday. The comment by Kirby at a news briefing followed remarks by Clapper at the CFR that the Pindo policy of trying to persuade North Korea to denuclearize “is probably a lost cause.”

i thought their ceasefire had ended

Russia says it extends moratorium on Aleppo air strikes
Andrew Osborn, Lisa Barrington, Reuters, Oct 262916

MOSCOW/BEIRUT – Russia said on Tuesday it would extend a moratorium on air strikes on Aleppo into a ninth day, but a monitor SOHR and a civil defense official White Helmet said that rebel-held parts of the divided city had been struck in recent days. The Defence ministry’s Maj-Gen I Konashenkov said Russian and Syrian planes had not even approached, let alone bombed, the devastated city since last Tuesday, when Russia suspended air strikes. That moratorium on air strikes was being extended, said the defense ministry’s Sergei Rudskoi on Tuesday, without specifying for how long. Rudskoi said that meant planes from Syria and Russia would continue to stay out of a 10 km zone around Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said air strikes had resumed since the lull in fighting ended on Saturday, focusing on major front lines, including in the city’s southwest. However, there had been no civilian deaths from air strikes inside eastern Aleppo, SOHR said. Ibrahim Abu al-Laith, a civil defense official White Helmet in eastern Aleppo, also said air strikes and shelling had hit the rebel-held half of the city near front lines in the past week. He said:

There was artillery shelling … and there were planes, the city was hit by several strikes.

The Pindo State Dept urged Russia to use the newly-announced pause in bombing to ensure the delivery of aid to besieged civilians. State Dept’s Adm (retd) Kirby told a briefing:

We obviously welcome any reduction in the violence, but it has to be met with a commitment and an actual delivery of humanitarian assistance, which was the purpose in the first place. We would prefer putting in place a longer-term ceasefire to ensure delivery of aid, rather than sporadic pauses like those announced by Russia and Syria in recent days. Multilateral talks in Geneva are attempting to reach that goal, but they are having limited success. I don’t want to couch this as nothing but failure. There has been some progress made, but there’s obviously still more work to be done.

German FM Steinmeier urged a renewal of the ceasefire in separate telephone calls with Jackass Kerry and Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, according to ministry boxtops. He expressed disappointment that it had not been possible to evacuate wounded people from Aleppo and bring in humanitarian relief supplies during the pause in the fighting. On Tuesday, districts outside the city to the west were hit by air strikes, said the SOHR. Air strikes had continued outside Aleppo during the ceasefire. Intense bombardment by Syrian and Russian warplanes has reduced the rebel-controlled east of Aleppo to ruins. Russia has accused rebels of thwarting its efforts to evacuate civilians, saying they open fire on those wanting to leave. Rebel groups say Syrian government forces and allies have been shelling and sniping around the corridors. Rebels did not accept the ceasefire, which they said did nothing to alleviate the situation of those who remained in eastern Aleppo, and was part of a government policy to purge cities of political opponents. Rudskoi said around 50 women and children had managed to leave Aleppo late on Monday, despite the dangers, and were escorted by Russian military officers. Some Western countries have repeatedly accused Russia of killing civilians during its air campaign in Aleppo. Moscow denies this, saying it targets rebel groups inside the city.

Syria: Russia denies striking Aleppo over past week
Al Jazeera/Reuters, Oct 26 2016

The Russian defence ministry said Russian and Syrian military planes did not launch air strikes on Aleppo over the past week, contradicting a monitor and opposition fighters on the ground who claim frontline areas have been bombed since Saturday. Maj-Gen I Konashenkov said in a statement on Tuesday:

Russian and Syrian planes have not even approached, let alone bombed, the devastated city since Moscow pledged to suspend air strikes a week earlier. Flights over Aleppo by the Russian and Syrian air forces have been completely halted for the past seven days. Six humanitarian corridors in eastern Aleppo which opened as part of the pause in hostilities to allow civilians to flee, are still operating. Forty-eight women and children left late on Monday, escorted by Russian military officers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, on the other hand, said air strikes had hit frontline areas of clashes in the city since the lull ended on Saturday, for example in the south-west, and continued on Tuesday outside the city to its west and north. The activist-run Shahba Press reported on Monday that government artillery shelled the strategically important village of Khan Touman, which overlooks the highway connecting Aleppo and government-held cities in the centre of the country. Intense bombardment has reduced the rebel-held east of the city to ruins. Russia has repeatedly complained that its efforts to help civilians to evacuate have been thwarted by rebel fighters who it says opened fire on anyone wanting to leave. Rebels did not accept the ceasefire, which they say does nothing to alleviate the situation of those who choose to remain in eastern Aleppo. They believe the ceasefire is part of a government policy to purge cities of political opponents. SANA reported on Tuesday that government forces had captured territory from rebels in the south-western countryside of Aleppo province. They have retaken the town of Talet Bazo which was controlled by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Nusra, it said. The area is near military bases and was considered to be one of the last strongholds of the armed group in the divided city. Meanwhile, in Damascus and Idlib, at least 20 people have been killed in heavy fighting as government and Russian air strikes targeted a number of towns in the north and south of Idlib. In Damascus, government forces launched attacks on residential areas in the Douma area. Dozens of people were also injured during the fighting.

the bits i’ve deleted speak for themselves :-(

Coalition airstrikes in Syria have killed 300 civilians, says Amnesty
Emma Graham-Harrison, Graun, Oct 26 2016

The Pindo coalition in Syria has killed at least 300 civilians in airstrikes, and must do more to prevent further civilian deaths as the battle for Mosul intensifies in Iraq, Amnesty International has warned. More than half of the victims identified in a new report by the rights group, which looked at deaths over the two years since western forces joined the fight against Daesh in Syria, were killed during the fight for the city of Manbij. It is important the lessons from those deaths are learned as a broad coalition of troops backed by Pindo air power and special forces push towards Mosul, the group says. Neil Sammonds, Amnesty’s researcher for Syria:

In its backing of anti-Daesh ground forces during this summer’s Manbij campaign, the Pindo coalition killed some 250 or more civilians, and yet it does not acknowledge them. We fear that since it is not recognising or learning from such mistakes that in the campaign for Mosul, which is far greater than Manbij, the coalition is on course to kill even greater numbers of civilians and risk a serious backlash.

The rights group spent months carrying out witness interviews, collecting photographic and video evidence, analysing satellite images and reviewing reports from local activists to determine the total number of deaths. It is a conservative toll compared with estimates from other monitoring groups, which put the number of deaths from coalition bombing at 600 to 1,000. The monitoring groups include the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Violations Documentation Centre. Only a handful of deaths have been acknowledged by the coalition in its attacks in Syria. Amnesty is calling for more precautions before attacks, and independent investigations into possible violations of international law. Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International’s Beirut office, said:

We fear the Pindo coalition is significantly underestimating the harm caused to civilians in its operations in Syria. Some of these attacks may constitute disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks … It’s high time the Pindo authorities came clean about the full extent of the civilian damage caused by coalition attacks in Syria.

Three attacks near Manbij this summer were particularly deadly, killing more than 100 civilians, at least a third of them children. One of the attacks is being investigated by Pindo authorities. The scale of deaths is lower than from bombing raids by Russia, the other foreign power to have sent its jets to Syria. Russian raids have killed at least 3,600 civilians in just over a year and appear to have targeted civilians, while the coalition has been trying to avoid or limit civilian casualties, although it could do far more, human rights groups said.

this guy ackerman ruined firedoglake

Why Hillary’s plans for no-fly zones in Syria are shit
Spencer ‘Attackerman’ Ackerman, Graun, Oct 25 2016

NY – Retired senior Pindosi military pilots are increasingly alarmed that Hillary Clinton’s proposal for “no-fly zones” in Syria could lead to a military confrontation with Russia that could escalate to levels that were previously unthinkable in the post-cold war world. The former strategists spoke to the Graun as Donald Trump warned that Clinton’s proposal to establish “safe zones” to protect beleaguered Syrian civilians would “lead to WW3.” The proposal of no-fly zones has been fiercely debated in Faschingstein for the past five years but has never attracted significant enthusiasm from the military, because of the risk to pilots from Syrian air defenses and the presence of Russian warplanes. Many in Pindosi national security circles consider the risk of an aerial confrontation with the Russians to be severe. DNI Clapper said on Tuesday at the CFR in response to a question from the Graun:

I wouldn’t put it past them to shoot down a Pindosi aircraft.

Those who have patrolled no-fly zones over the relatively freer skies of Bosnia and Saddam-era Iraq fear that Pres Clinton 45 would oblige Pindostan to what one USAF Lt-Gen (retd) described as an indefinite “air occupation.” Such a move would risk the lives of Pindo pilots and dare confrontation with a Russian military which is more aggressive defensive than it has been in years. Critics of the plan also question how using Pindosi military power to establish and police a safe space for beleaguered Syrian civilians would contribute to the downfall of Assad, the explicit goal of Pindo policy in Syria since about the year dot. John Kuehn, a retired navy officer who flew no-fly zone missions over Bosnia and Iraq, said:

If she (Hillary) is not politically posturing, it’s going to be a disaster. I hope it’s political posturing.

Kuehn also called denying an adversary its airspace “the cocktail party military application of power of choice.” Lt-Gen (retd) David Deptula, who commanded the no-fly zone operations over northern Iraq in 1998 and 1999, said the Russians were a “complicating factor” but considered the problems with a no-fly zone to be more fundamental. He said:

Until a strategy that defines the desired end-state is clearly laid out in a comprehensive way, it’s difficult to advocate for a no-fly zone. Right now, the way it’s being discussed, it’s a solution in search of a strategy. Until coalition powers define what it is they wish to accomplish, banding about a solution like a no-fly zone is a non-starter.

The challenges for a no-fly zone over Syria outstrip those that Pindostan has faced over Libya, Bosnia and Iraq. Assad’s surface-to-air missiles were formidable before the recent Russian addition of what Clapper called “very advanced” S-300 and S-400 systems that can blanket the majority of Syrian airspace with missiles. Staging a no-fly zone requires either the assent of regional allies, or an expensive, open-ended and risky deployment of aircraft carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is the nearest potential partner to Syria, but it has concentrated in recent months on improving ties with Moscow after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet in Nov 2015. The most distinguishing feature of a Syria no-fly zone in 2017 would be the aerial presence of another great-power air force with an objective which is diametrically opposed to Washington’s. Russia and Pindostan currently share the skies above Syria and maintain a military-to-military communication channel to avoid confrontation. But since they operate over different parts of the country and with different objectives, Pindostan in the east against Daesh, and Russia in the west against the opposition to Assad, therefore a Pindo-imposed no-fly zone would put their objectives into conflict. No one knows how either side would respond if Russian aircraft violated a Pindosi air cordon, nor how to de-escalate a clash before it spiraled into extended combat. Kuehn, now a professor of military history at the Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, said:

Escalation could occur by accident, either through a direct confrontation in the air, or through a Syrian or Russian capture of a downed Pindosi pilot. I see almost nothing positive that can come from implementing it at the current time over Syria. Conversely, the potential to make a bad situation worse is very, very high.

For years, senior Pindosi military officers have expressed reluctance to intervene in the Syrian civil war. In 2013, then-JCoS Dempsey said that even a limited safe zone would cost over $1b/month and require substantial air assets and ground troops to maintain. His successor JCoS Dunford told the Senate last month that a no-fly zone would “require us to go to war against Syria and Russia” before walking his assessment back under pressure from Walnuts McCain. Clinton, who has long backed a no-fly zone, acknowledged those concerns in last week’s third presidential debate, saying:

I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to frankly gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end and go forward on a political track.

But strategists have a hard time understanding how a no-fly zone provides Pindostan with leverage over Assad or Russia, given their objectives respectively are self-preservation and the preservation of a client. Joshua Rovner of Southern Methodist University said:

I don’t understand how a no-fly zone gets you to a political settlement. There’s no history supporting that. There were no-fly zones in Iraq for close to a decade and it settled nothing. I wish this would be the kind of leverage she seems to hope it is, but I don’t see why this would pose a serious threat to Assad or Putin. It’s accepting a lot of new costs with very few benefits.