Wednesday, March 20, 2019

CITY POWER APOLOGISES AS JOBURG’S NORTHERN SUBURBS STILL WITHOUT POWER
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena says many residential areas are affected and traffic is also backed up as a result.

Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - It’s not yet clear when electricity will be restored to Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.

A major fault at two substations, brought on by the restoration of power by Eskom, has left many areas in the dark outside of the planned load shedding times.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena says many residential areas are affected and traffic is also backed up as a result.

“Which includes Fontainebleau, Randburg and the surrounding areas, including Strydom Park. We apologise for the inconvenience to the customers and motorists because even traffic lights are not working on most of the main roads.”

At the same time, Eskom has denied it’s preparing to implement stage 5 and 6 load shedding as it struggles to keep the country’s lights on.

Fin24 is reporting that officials have started preparations for stage 5 and 6, which would imply shedding 5,000 and 6,000 megawatts respectively.

However, Eskom's acting head of generation Andrew Etzinger says the plan is to “downgrade load shedding” over the next few days.

“Eskom is implementing stage 4 load shedding with no requirement to take that beyond stage 4, but media reports are to the contrary. There’s no requirement at this stage to escalate to stage 5 and 6.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Eskom said the country is far from a national blackout, but the power utility’s CEO, Phakamani Hadebe, has warned that load shedding is here to stay for the next six months.
11 MILITIAS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN PEACE DEAL DEMAND PM’S OUSTER
The peace deal was signed in the CAR capital Bangui on 6 February after it had been concluded in negotiations in Sudan.

 President of the Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadéra. Picture: United Nations Photo.

AFP |

BANGUI - Eleven out of 14 armed groups that signed last month’s peace deal in the Central African Republic (CAR) have demanded that Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada step down, according to a statement seen by AFP Tuesday.

“Firmin Ngrebada is no longer credible, he is therefore no longer our discussion partner for pursuing the process and must be replaced as prime minister,” they said.

Armed groups in the peace deal are attending a follow-up meeting in Addis Ababa under the aegis of the African Union.

Their statement, which was dated Monday, called for the formation of a “government of national unity” and for “direct talks” with President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

The peace deal was signed in the CAR capital Bangui on 6 February after it had been concluded in negotiations in Sudan.

The pact - the eighth since 2012 in the conflict-wracked, impoverished state - brought together the CAR government and 14 armed groups who control most of the country.

The agreement called for a series of confidence-building measures, such as establishing joint patrols and the creation of a truth and justice commission within 90 days.

‘INCLUSIVE’

Under the peace accord’s provisions, Touadera agreed to form an “inclusive” government.

But within weeks, the deal was under strain - five militia groups either pulled out of the new government or rejected its makeup.

Ministers in sensitive key posts all kept their jobs, while six of the 14 armed groups obtained no post at all.

CAR has been struggling to recover from the bloodletting that erupted when former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Former colonial ruler France intervened militarily under a UN mandate, pushing the Seleka from power, and a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA, was established to help restore stability.

Despite the elections in 2016 that brought Touadera to power, the country remains convulsed by violence.

Armed groups, typically claiming to defend an ethnic or religious group, control about 80% of the CAR, often fighting over access to the country’s mineral wealth.

The conflict has left thousands dead and forced a quarter of the population of 4.5 million from their homes.

The new statement said the Khartoum agreement was “still valid” but the government that followed it was “stillborn”.

Its 11 signatories include two out of the three biggest ex-Seleka groups - the Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) and the Patriotic Movement for Central Africa (MPC).

The other ex-Seleka major group, the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC), led by Noureddine Adam, did not sign the statement.

Two groups from the so-called anti-balaka movement, which emerged to fight the Seleka, also did not put their names to the communique.

In Addis Ababa, the UA’s commissioner for peace and security, Smail Chergui, who is also the chief mediator in the follow-up meeting, tweeted on Tuesday that he had met with Ngrebada “to exchange views on opportunities for fast-tracking implementation of the #RCA Peace Agreement”.
ETHIOPIA CRASH INVESTIGATORS 'RETURN HOME AFTER REVIEWING BLACK BOX DATA'
Data from the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder is now in Addis Ababa, one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Rescue team carry collected bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 10 March 2019. Picture: AFP

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopian air crash investigators have returned to Addis Ababa from Paris where they had reviewed the black box data from a doomed Ethiopian Airlines jet, two sources familiar with the investigation told Reuters on Tuesday.

Data from the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder is now in Addis Ababa, one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

The crash of the Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 airliner last week killed all 157 people on board and prompted regulators to ground the model pending more information from the investigation.
NILE CRISIS MUST BE SOLVED TO AVOID CONFLICT - REPORT
Egypt, which relies almost totally on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being built on the Blue Nile could reduce its water supplies.

A picture shows a part of the River Nile in the Egyptian Capital Cairo on 7 March 2019. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - A water crisis brewing between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a contentious Nile dam could escalate into a conflict with "severe humanitarian consequences", a think-tank said on Wednesday.

Egypt, which relies almost totally on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being built on the Blue Nile could reduce its water supplies.

Talks on the issues have been deadlocked for months.

"The case for cooperation among Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in resolving the Nile water dispute is unambiguous," the International Crisis Group think-tank said.

"All stand to benefit. Dangers of failing to work together are just as stark.

"The parties could blunder into conflict, with severe humanitarian consequences," it warned.

The dam project launched by Ethiopia in 2012 is designed to feed a hydroelectric project to produce 6,000 megawatts of power, equal to six nuclear-powered plants.

Egypt depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its needs for irrigation and drinking water, and says it has "historic rights" to the river guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959.

The river, which runs through 10 countries, is Africa's longest and a crucial artery for water supplies and electricity for all the countries.

The Blue Nile takes its source in Ethiopia and converges with the White Nile in Sudan's capital Khartoum to form the Nile which runs through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.

The ICG said it was "crucial that the parties resolve their dispute before the dam (whose construction is near completion) begins operating."

"The Nile basin countries could be drawn into conflict because the stakes are so high: Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric dam as a defining national development project; Sudan covets the cheap electricity and expanded agricultural production that it promises; and Egypt perceives the possible loss of water as an existential threat," it said.

The report recommends a two-step approach, beginning with confidence building measures "by agreeing upon terms for filling the dam's reservoirs that do not harm downstream countries" and "a new, transboundary framework for resource sharing to avert future conflicts".
The Country We Build, the Country We Defend
Beginning this year we must begin to reach several milestones in the construction of housing, President Diaz-Canel said, upon summarizing a meeting to analyze the work of the Ministry of Construction (Micons) in 2018 and its short-term projections.

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
March 19, 2019 09:03:48
Photo: Estudios Revolución

Beginning this year we must begin to reach several milestones in the construction of housing, President Diaz-Canel said, upon summarizing a meeting to analyze the work of the Ministry of Construction (Micons) in 2018 and its short-term projections.

The President highlighted that the construction sector is of great importance, given its relationship to the progress of all economic and social programs; and called for greater quality and efficiency in the investment process.

Regarding shortages of middle management personnel, a topic debated at the meeting, the President called for attention to the advantages of shorter university level study programs, through which the sector could develop a qualified workforce in less time, in addition to working with polytech high schools.

Given reports of violations of consumption norms for fuel and materials, Díaz-Canel expressed the concern that this opens the door to theft and other illegalities, behaviors that must be resolutely confronted, he said.

The condition of roads across the country was described as worrisome, and must be addressed with the same urgency and methods as housing construction.

The President of the Councils of State and of Ministers also participated in an expanded board of directors meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Amongst us all, he said, we must defend the legacy of Comandate en Jefe Fidel Castro in foreign affairs.

The Cuban Revolution’s foreign policy remains the same and will be, we must all contribute to that, he said.

In evaluating central aspects of the country’s foreign policy in 2018, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla addressed the many challenges facing the Ministry.

It was emphasized that in the past year Cuba continued a “foreign policy of peace, cooperation, and solidarity, in defense of international law, sustainable development, and the promotion of more just economic relations for developing countries.”

Bilateral relations with the United States were described as challenging by several participants in the discussion.

At the regional level, Cuba's solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and our commitment to the unity of progressive forces and social movements in Latin America and the Caribbean were emphasized.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Truth or a Visa: The New York Times Spreads Lies About Cuba and Venezuela
The Times is not above participating in the fake news campaign being waged against the Bolivarian Revolution by the United States

Author: Manuel Henríquez Lagarde | informacion@granmai.cu
March 19, 2019 16:03:33

After the New York Times confirmed that a truck carrying “humanitarian aid” was burned by opposition thugs - not Venezuelan security forces – someone alerted me that this unusual favor offered by the corporate press, publishing a well known fact, was a way to develop legitimacy around the issue of Venezuela and that I should be ready for the next lie that would not be long in coming.

Two weeks did not pass before this prediction was borne out. Sunday, March 17, the Times published a report accusing the Venezuelan government, with the complicity of Cuban doctors working there, of using food and medicine to pressure citizens prior to the 2018 Presidential elections, warning people that they would not receive subsidies or treatment if they did not vote for Maduro.

The news agency EFE, reported that this paradigm of the “serious” press based its article on interviews with16 former members of Cuba’s medical missions to Venezuela, who “described a system of deliberate political manipulation in which their services were wielded to secure votes for the governing Socialist Party…”

Medicine was “to be doled out closer to the election, as part of a national strategy to compel patients to vote for the government,” the Cubans were quoted as saying.

Not much intelligence is needed to find new “revelations” in the background. First of all, is the clear attempt to cast doubt on the validity of the May 2018 elections, reporting stories from Cuban doctors, whose “accounts of manipulation and fraud underscore the many challenges to Mr. Maduro’s legitimacy as President.”

Secondly, the solidarity of Cuban medical missions in the country is questioned. The Times repeats the message of Cuban interference that has been repeated for years by hawks in the U.S. in charge of defamatory campaigns against Cuba and Venezuela.

The article continues, “But the use of Cuban doctors to exert political control is not widely known, the doctors say, and the practice casts a harsh light on a sweeping exchange that supposedly benefits all Venezuelans, regardless of their politics.”

It is no surprise, then, that immediately following this report, Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, tweeted, “…Maduro and his Cuban masters have lied and killed to usurp democracy and steal the wealth of the Venezuelan people. A clear example of Maduro ignoring the needs of the people and worsening the situation for personal gain.”

Coincidentally, the New York Times latest lie was published just a few weeks after Cuba denounced the bill proposed by Senators Robert Menéndez and Marco Rubio, longtime promoters of anti-Cuban campaigns and policies, to reactivate the immigration Parole Program for Cuban medical professionals. The legislative initiative is a thinly veiled attempt to rob the island of its doctors.

It would not be uncommon for the sources cited by the New York Times to be part of the "reactivation" of a program designed to encourage the abandonment of missions by Cuban doctors working in other countries. But the editors of the "prestigious" newspaper, apparently, ignore that their testimonies have no validity, if one takes into account that their probable admission to the United States is conditioned by their good services to the campaign of lies against Cuba.It is the immigration policy of the truth or the visa. As the report by the Times points out, one of the witnesses is “one of the few doctors interviewed who has returned to medicine, with a small practice in Ecuador.”

Apparently, the New York Times is not above participating in the fake news campaign being waged against the Bolivarian Revolution by the United States.
Diaz-Canel Defends Cuban Doctors' Work in Venezuela After NYT Report
President Miguel Diaz-Canel (c) greets Cuban doctors in Caracas, Venezuela, May 30, 2018.

Published 19 March 2019 (9 hours 9 minutes ago)

The Cuban President rejected the U.S. media accusations about the Cuban doctors' activities in Venezuela.

Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, rejected Tuesday the U.S. media accusations regarding the political activities supposedly carried out by Cuban doctors, who have been working in the Venezuelan Barrio Adentro Mission since 2003.

According to an article published by the New York Times on March 17, Cuban doctors allegedly pressured their patients to vote in favor of Nicolas Maduro in exchange for medical attention, professional misconduct which allegedly was performed just a few days before the 2018 presidential elections.

"Cuban doctors can never be defamed. Their extraordinary human work carried out those lands which the Empire calls 'the world's dark corners' belies the NYT and its reporter Casey," President Diaz-Canel said on Twitter and pointed out that "feeding Marco Rubio's hatred war against Cuba and Venezuela is a crime. We are Cuba."

Concerning the U.S. media accusations, the Cuban Public Health Minister Jose Angel Portal recalled what Fidel Castro, Cuban former president and revolutionary leader, said about the Cuban doctors' work:

"The [Cuban] medical personnel, who departs to save lives anywhere, even at the risk of losing theirs, is the greatest example of solidarity that humankind can offer."

"The truth is this: we, the Cuban doctors, do not propagate ideology. Our example does it for us." The photo caption says: "Our doctors will not get involved in internal politics at all... They do not have as mission to propagate ideology."

The Barrio Adentro Mission is a social program which began to be promoted by Venezuela's former President Hugo Chavez in 1999. Its main purpose is to offer health services to the Venezuelan population living in areas which do not have permanent medical facilities or are far away from hospitals.

Since its inception, this program has sought the Cuban doctors' cooperation so as to provide quality care through ambulatory clinics, comprehensive diagnostic centers, and specialized child health care.

Currently, Cuba also has other international cooperation programs in health. One of them, Operation Miracle, is an ophthalmology-focused initiative which provides free optometry consultations, exams, surgeries and medications to low-income people in the Caribbean, Central, and South American countries.
Indigenous Protesters Injured: Police Ambush Peaceful Protest
Rapid gunfire echoed throughout the videos uploaded by Indigenous groups. | Photo: EFE

19 March 2019
Telesur

Seven were wounded and one killed during the incident, Cauca state secretary, Ricardo Cifuentes Guzman said.

At least seven people have been wounded and one killed after peaceful protesters were ambushed on the Pan-American highway, Cauca, Colombia Tuesday evening.

Members of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) were met with police violence during a demonstration against forced evacuations in Augustina. Indigenous communities continued their week of protests, erecting barricades in the road to stall police forces to no avail.

Rapid gunfire echoed throughout the videos uploaded by Indigenous groups, who turned to social media when violence broke, calling for help from the United Nations and the Colombian government to intercede.

Colombian authorities are blaming armed groups for the attack, although the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) had already denounced the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) and the National Army for several violent interventions prior to the shootings.

At least three Indigenous people and possibly four Public Force members were wounded during the incident, Cauca state secretary, Ricardo Cifuentes Guzman said.

On its personal website, ONIC reported, “In the afternoon of March 19, in the sector the Agustina the public force ESMAD fires with long-range firearms against the humanity of the mingueros, leaving 3 wounded.”

“The first Manuel Mosquera, the second Weimar Lame and the third the promoter of the medical mission, all wounded by firearms. It is worrisome how the ESMAD fires with the medical mission that provides the service to guarantee the right to life,” the organization said.

“We demand that the Colombian Government and its armed repressive agents comply with the national and international standards that regulate the fundamental right to social and peaceful protest,” they said.

Protests in Cauca have going on for more than a week with demands to talk to president Ivan Duque about the 462 murders of social leaders and human rights activists in Colombia since 2016 as well as constant threats violence, death, and displacement.

Ana Erazo, a politologist and professor of urban studies, wrote, “Disturbing situation that the (Indigenous) communities are forced to mobilize today for their rights to live. @IvanDuque and @DilianFrancisca repression should not be the answer. #MingaSocialSuroccidente.”

Human Rights Activist Moritz Tenthoff said, “Duke's response to social protest is army and bullet. #DuqueVengaAlCauca to dialogue with social organizations. Guarantees for the #MingaSocialSuroccidente2019.”

Telesur Correspondent Tatiana Portela tweeted, “More evidence of the war treatment that is giving the Government of @IvanDuque The Social And Popular Minga that is ahead in the department Of Cauca.”
Lula is Near Proving Innocence, According to His Brother
 Lula suffers "a stupid persecution (...), history will show his innocence," Frei Chico said.

19 March 2019
Telesur

According to the former president's team, "Lula is arrested by a legal device and by manipulation of the Penal Code," as was stated on the Lula official Twitter account.

The brother of Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Jose Ferreira da Silva, revealed that Lula's defense team will prove his innocence on all the accusations that the Brazilian justice has imposed on him.

Lula's brother who is also a union leader, better known as Frei Chico, stated that "I want to say to the people, believe me in one thing: Lula did not steal anything, he did not steal and he's going to prove that. The narrative that they made saying he stole, they will have to prove it."

In an interview with local media, the brother of the Brazilian leader reiterated that Lula suffers "a stupid persecution (...), history will show his innocence." Frei Chico added that "unfortunately Lula is a very important person for Brazil and he is paying the price for that."

According to the former president's team, "Lula is arrested by a legal trick and by manipulation of the Penal Code," as stated on the Lula official Twitter account.

According to his brother, when Lula attended the funeral of his grandson Arthur, the Brazilian government and other authorities imposed conditions of not using cell phones or talking to the media.

Now the "Free Lula is the flag of national sovereignty, of the rights of the working class. The sentences against Lula must be annulled," says the Lula's official Twitter account.

Lula continues to be a prisoner in the Curibita Federal Police Superintendence, serving a sentence of 12 years and one month imposed by the Federal Regional Court for alleged acts of corruption. Nonetheless, social movements and activists point out that this accusation, which lacks evidence, responds to persecution against the popular leader.
Ecuador: Judge Accepts Corruption Probe of Lenin Moreno
The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, offers a press conference in Quito.

19 March 2019
Telesur

The resolutions adopted in this process have legal significance as they can advance criminal, civil and political-administrative responsibilities, which may lead to an impeachment against Moreno.

An Ecuadorean judge has accepted a demand Tuesday for the National Assembly to start a corruption probe on President Lenin Moreno and high ranking officials who prevented the creation of an investigatory commission for the “Ina Papers” corruption case.

The protection order was requested by activist Felipe Ogaz on March 7, after a conversation leaked between National Assembly President Elizabeth Cabezas and Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo, in which Cabezas pressures Romo into helping to prevent the creation of an investigatory commission to probe corruption allegations against Moreno in regard to the “INA Papers” accusations.

The case was exposed on February 19 by the digital platform “La Fuente” (The Source), owned by Fernando Villavicencio, an outspoken critic of ex-president Rafael Correa. The investigation presented a presumed link between Moreno and the company INA Investment Corp, a Panama tax haven, from where a series of payments, gifts, and purchases of furniture and even an apartment in Spain where bought for the family of President Moreno.

Due to the National Assembly’s faltering to pursue the investigation, Ogaz argues the Ecuadorean people’s constitutional rights have been violated, consequently demanding integral reparation by requesting: the National Assembly to initiate the investigation for Moreno and the beforementioned audio, and for the sentence to be public.

The appeal was assigned to the Judicial Unit for Family, Women, Children, and Adolescents, based in Quito, whose judge, Raquel Herrera, accepted it and issued a ruling on March 19, 2019, to process it and by law hold a public hearing on April 1, 2019.

For this, 153 public officials, authorities and other defendants have been summoned. The defendants are President Moreno, all 137 National Assembly lawmakers, including its president Elizabeth Cabezas, Interior Minister Romo, all the members of the Transparency and Social Control Function. And due to the gravity of the accusation also the Attorney General, Superintendent of Banks, Companies, Market Power Control, and Territorial Ordinance will be compelled to appear on court.

The resolutions adopted in this process have legal significance as they can advance criminal, civil and political-administrative responsibilities, which may lead to an impeachment against Moreno.
Trump Renews Call on Venezuela Military to End Support for Maduro
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:08PM
presstv.ir

US President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House on March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has renewed his call on the Venezuelan military forces to end their support for the country’s President Nicolas Maduro and his government.

Trump made the call for a coup in a joint news conference at the White House with Brazil's new right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday.

The US president also praised the so-called humanitarian aid that Washington had sent to the Latin American country, whose people he described as “starving.”

Trump said the US has been "really very happy to feed thousands and thousands of  starving Venezuelans," adding that, "They have appreciated it and if the Maduro forces would step aside, it could be a truly great and successful humanitarian project.”

Maduro has repeatedly denounced the so-called humanitarian assistance as a US plot to disguise a military intervention in his country and promised that the opposition will eventually “face justice” for supporting a US-backed coup.

Maduro’s government has closed borders with Brazil and Colombia in order to block what he says is an attempt by the US to proceed with its regime change plans.

The Venezuelan military has reaffirmed its support for Maduro despite the US threats.

Trump’s remarks came after the US announced new sanctions on Venezuela on Tuesday, targeting the country’s state-owned mining company.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed that the Minerven firm’s illicit gold operations were being used to prop up the Venezuelan president and his inner circle.

The sanctions are the latest in a series of US actions against Caracas as Washington tries to choke off funding to the Venezuelan government. Caracas has slammed the sanctions as “illegal,” and an attempt to interfere in country’s internal affairs.

Moscow cautions against US military intervention

In a separate development on Tuesday, Russia warned the United States not to intervene militarily in Venezuela as Washington was considering “all options” against Caracas and said it was increasingly concerned by US sanctions on the Latin American country.

Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was opposed to any US attempt to use humanitarian aid as a pretext for interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.

Ryabkov’s comments came after the US and Russia had earlier in the day held talks over the Venezuelan crisis in the Italian capital of Rome.

The Russian official described the discussions as difficult but frank, according to Russia’s RIA news agency. Ryabkov, however, said the two countries did not manage to narrow their positions.

Washington described the talks as “positive,” and “substantive,” but said the two sides were still divided over the issue.

"We did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other's views," US special representative Elliott Abrams told reporters on Tuesday. "They were useful, they were substantive, they were serious.
We agreed very much on the depth of the crisis in Venezuela."

The Latin American country is in the midst of a political crisis, which broke out in late January after opposition politician and president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido abruptly declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, challenging the outcome of last year’s presidential election in which Maduro emerged victorious.

Guaido’s bid was quickly recognized by the US followed by dozens of its regional and European allies. Washington slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector in support of the opposition figure and went as far as threatening a military option to topple the Caracas government.

On the other camp, Iran, Russia, Turkey and China, among other states, have voiced support for the elected Venezuelan government. The UN has also said it would only work with the Maduro-led administration.

Maduro announced on Sunday plans for a “deep restructuring” of his government to protect the state against the political crisis.

The 56-year-old leader has repeatedly accused Washington of masterminding a “coup” against his government, blaming the US for the economic crisis in Venezuela.
US ‘Very Strongly’ Considering NATO Membership for Brazil
Wed Mar 20, 2019 01:51AM
presstv.ir

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump walk to a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump says he is “very strongly” considering NATO membership for Brazil or some other formal alliance with the Latin American country as he hosts his far-right counterpart in Washington.

Trump made the announcement in a joint news conference at the White House with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday.

“As I told President Bolsonaro, I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, a NATO ally. We have to talk to a lot of people, but maybe a NATO ally, which will greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries,” Trump said.

"We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it's NATO or it's something having to do with alliance. But we have a great alliance with Brazil, better than we have ever had before," he added.

Trump also stressed that Washington would be looking forward to expanding bilateral ties with Brasilia, saying the US will soon finalize an agreement with Brazil to conduct space launches from the South American Country.

Bolsonaro originally arrived in the US on Sunday, stating that the trip marked the first "pro-America Brazilian president" recently visiting the country.

Bolsonaro is an avid admirer of Trump and his policies, particularly those with regard to opposing anti-imperialist governments in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

The Brazilian president, who is also known as “Tropical Trump,” has sparked controversy by following Trump on calling for the relocation of his country’s embassy to the occupied city of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Bolsonaro personally made the promise to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu while he attended the Brazilian president's inauguration ceremony on January 1.

Trump recognized the occupied city as Israel's so-called capital and officially opened the US embassy in the city in May last year, sparking international outrage.

Jerusalem al-Quds was occupied by the Tel Aviv regime during the Six-Day War in the 1967, and is deemed the capital of a future Palestinian independent state.

In January, Bolsonaro also said that he is open to considering the establishment of a US military base in Brazil as a way to “counter Russian influence” in neighboring Venezuela.

The move was later rejected by Brazilian Defense Minister General Fernando Azevedo e Silva.
US Spending Millions on White Helmets While Preventing Aid to Syria’s Rukban Camp: Damascus, Moscow
Tue Mar 19, 2019 07:21PM
presstv.ir

Members of the the so-called civil defense group White Helmets carry a wounded person following reported shelling in the town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of Syria’s militant-held northern province of Idlib on February 26, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Russian and Syrian coordination centers on returning refugees have censured the US over its latest decision to provide millions of dollars to the Western-backed White Helmets “aid” group, while preventing aid from reaching a refugee camp in southern Syria.

The centers said in a joint statement released on Tuesday that the United States had pledged $5 million in donation to the Western-backed group, which has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false-flag gas attacks, at the third Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” in Brussels, Belgium, earlier this month.

During the conference, the EU also pledged €8 billion and the US $400 million in so-called aid to Syrian refugees.

“This aid will not reach Syrian people; but will rather end up in the hands of White Helmets terrorists to fund their acts of fabricating incidents involving toxic chemicals,” the statement read.

It further noted that the participants in the Brussels conference, who claim to be supporting Syrians, are actually those who have imposed severe economic sanctions on them.

“The money raised [during the event] will go only to displaced people in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, which seek to encourage them to remain there and hinder their return to Syria,” the statement pointed out.

The centers also renewed their calls for the US to provide access to Rukban camp and ensure the safe exit of civilians stranded there. They also asked for the withdrawal of American troops from al-Tanf area.

The United Nations says about 45,000 people, mostly women and children, are trapped inside Rukban, where conditions are desperate. This is while Geneva-based international aid agency Doctors Without Borders has put the number there at some 60,000.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 6 that the United States needs the Rukban refugee camp in order to justify its illegitimate military presence in Syria.

“The fact that people are not allowed to leave [the camp] and are held hostage makes one suggest that the US needs this camp to continue justifying its illegitimate presence there,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad Al Sabah in Kuwait City.

He added, “This is in line with the US policy aimed at creating something like a quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. It does not want these territories to get back under the control of Syria’s legitimate authorities.”
Israeli Forces Shoot, Kill Palestinian Teen Over Alleged Fatal Attack in West Bank
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:43PM
presstv.ir

Late Palestinian teenager Omar Amin Abu Lila (Photo via Twitter)

Israeli forces have shot and killed a Palestinian teenager, whom they alleged to have carried out a shooting attack in the central part of the occupied West Bank at the weekend, which killed an Israeli soldier as well as a rabbi and severely injured a settler.

Israeli media outlets reported that 19-year-old Omar Amin Abu Lila was shot dead during a shootout in the village of Abwein, located about 37 kilometers north of Ramallah, late on Tuesday night after Israeli special units surrounded the house he was in.

The development came a day after Israeli army and Shin Bet security service arrested relatives of Abu Lila, a resident of the village of Az-Zawiya, and mapped the family's house in preparation of a possible demolition. Dozens of young Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in response, with local reports saying several were wounded as Israeli troops opened fire at the protesters.

In another attack, two young Palestinian men were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Joseph's Tomb on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Witnesses told Palestinian Safa news agency that an Israeli a military bulldozer hit a car, which was carrying the Palestinians, and then Israeli soldiers engaged them with direct fire. Israeli forces reportedly prevented Palestinian paramedics and ambulances from reaching the area.

The two young Palestinian men were later identified as 21-year-old Raed Hashim Hamdan and Zaid Anad Mohammed Nuri, 20.

Tensions are high in the West Bank over ongoing Israeli aggression at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.

On Sunday, the Jerusalem al-Quds Magistrate's Court announced that it had accepted a request by Israeli officials to temporarily close Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) prayer area at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Jordan condemned the court ruling, with its Foreign Ministry saying that Israel would bear “full responsibility for the dangerous consequences” of the decision.

Prayer area of the al-Rahma Gate was closed on February 25 upon an order by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and reopened the following day.

Israel had closed the gate that leads to the prayer space in al-Aqsa Mosque since 2003 in the face of the Second Intifada (uprising) against the regime’s occupation.

On February 22, however, the Waqf Council, which oversees the holy sites at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, decided to re-open the prayer space at the Bab al-Rahma Gate in defiance of Israel’s 16-year-old ban. Hundreds of worshipers, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Quds, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, entered the area for the first time since 2003 for Friday prayers.

Angered by the move, the Tel Aviv regime launched an arrest campaign against Palestinians. The arrests drew criticisms from Palestinians and Jordan. The Islamic Waqf organization and Palestinian institutions have insisted on keeping the Bab al-Rahma prayer area open for Muslim worship.

Palestinians have repeatedly warned of Israeli attempts to change the status quo of the al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

Meanwhile, Israeli military aircraft have carried out new airstrikes against the besieged Gaza Strip, bombarding the northern and southern sectors of the enclave.

Israeli media said the aircraft struck several targets belonging to the Hamas resistance movement on Tuesday evening. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The Israeli military claimed the strikes were carried out in response to the renewed launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into occupied territory.

Palestinians have held weekly protests on the Gaza border, over the siege on the enclave and the right for refugees to return to their homes they fled during the 1948 creation of Israel.

More than 270 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 26,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

On June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mousa Mousa, 23, during his funeral in the city of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on March 12, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

It also called for “immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”
Syria’s Assad Censures Some Countries’ Double Standards in Terror Fight
Tue Mar 19, 2019 07:30PM
presstv.ir

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lambasted the policy of double standards certain countries have adopted in the fight against terrorism.

The Syrian leader made the comments in a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the capital Damascus on Tuesday.

Assad said some countries have confined the fight against terrorism to issuing official statements while "in reality" they "support terrorism and work with it" and further offer "protection" to terrorists in a number of areas.

According to a report by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Assad said by pursuing double-standard policies, these countries put themselves behind the huge civilian casualties and, moreover, help spread the persistent terrorism as we witness today.

Shoigu, who handed a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Syrian president, said for his part that Russia fully supports the Arab country in its eight-year-old battle against terrorism.

“Russia will continue offering all forms of possible support to the Syrian people to complete liberation of all Syrian territories and preserve the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Syria,” the Russian minister said.

The United States has been leading a coalition consisting of some of its allies, most notably France and the UK, in what it has termed as fighting terror in Syria since 2014. Damascus has invariably called for the coalition’s withdrawal, asserting that it rather serves to boost the terrorism that has been targeting the Arab nation.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

Daesh, which once held large swaths of land in Syria, has been completely defeated in the Arab country and has lost almost all of its occupied territories. Despite the terror group's collapse, the US-led coalition has refused to end their aerial operations in defiance of the Damascus government.

In contrast, Russia started an aerial bombardment campaign against foreign-backed militants in Syria on a formal request from the Syrian government in September 2015.

Together with Iranian advisory military assistance, the Russian campaign has helped the Syrian military liberate almost the entire country.
President al-Assad to Shoigu: Russian-Syrian Work and Coordination Were Factors of Syria’s Steadfastness Against Terrorism
19 March، 2019

Damascus, SANA-President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday received Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the accompanying delegation.

Talks during the meeting dealt with the latest developments of war on terrorism in Syria.

President al-Assad affirmed that the Russian-Syrian joint work and the high level coordination in all fields, on top, in the military and political domains, were one of the decisive factors of Syria’s steadfastness in the face of terrorism and the achievements gained against Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations.

Shoigu, for his part, stressed that his country is going ahead in combating terrorism along with the Syrian Arab army, adding “Russia will continue offering all forms of possible support to the Syrian people to complete liberation of all Syrian territories and preserve the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Syria.”

The talks also tackled the situation in Idleb and East of Euphrates regions.

Viewpoints were identical on the necessity of continuing the joint work to put suitable solutions to restore security and stability to those regions and adopt probable procedures to not allowing the hostile countries of Syrian people to achieve, through their policies and practices in the two regions, what they have failed to do during the years of crisis.

Meanwhile, President al-Assad said that some countries and powers fight terrorism through the statements of their officials only, while they support it and work with it in reality, and they go ahead in offering protection to it in a number of areas, and by these policies, they were the reason behind the big number of civilian causalities and contributed to spreading terrorism and prevailing it in other areas.

Minister of Defense, Maj.Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayoub and chief of the National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk attended the meeting.

Mazen Eyon
A Child Martyred, Woman Injured in Terrorists’ Sniper Shooting in Zahraa, Aleppo
19 March، 2019

Aleppo, SANA – A child was martyred and a woman got injured in a sniper shooting of terrorists on a bus in al-Zahraa neighborhood in Aleppo city on Tuesday.

SANA reporter in Aleppo said that terrorists fortifying at the northwestern outskirts of Aleppo city attacked with sniper shooting a kindergarten bus, leaving a five-year-old boy dead and a teacher injured.

Rasha Milhem
Army Foils Infiltration Attempt, Eliminates Terrorist Groups in Hama Countryside
19 March، 2019

Hama, SANA- The Syrian Arab army on Tuesday responded to breaches of the de-escalation zone agreement by terrorist organizations who tried to infiltrate and attack many military points in Hama northern countryside.

SANA reporter said that an army unit thwarted terrorist group’s attempt to sneak from direction of Mourek town into military points in northern Hama.

Another army unit targeted Jabhat al-Nusra-linked terrorist groups in Bab al-Taqa town in al-Ghab plain in northern Hama, the reporter added.

A number of terrorists were killed and injured as their weapons and dens were destroyed.

Idleb

Meanwhile, SANA reporter said that the army units carried out rocket and artillery strikes against dens of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Sihyan and Talmans in Idelb south-eastern countryside, killing and injuring several of them.

On Monday, army units destroyed groups and vehicles for terrorists on the outskirts of  villages of al-Hawiz, al-Hawija, Jiser al-Ras al-Tuwayneh and al-Sharia in the northern suburbs of Hama and on the eastern outskirts of Maaret  al-Nu’man, Wadi Khuwair, Khan Shaykhoun, and Talmans in southern Idleb

Gh.A.Hassoun
Al-Moallem, Maurer Discuss Cooperation Between Syria and ICRC
19 March، 2019

Damascus, SANA – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem on Tuesday met Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the accompanying delegation.

Minister al-Moallem and Maurer discussed the standing cooperation between Syria and the ICRC and means to enhance and develop them to improve the humanitarian situation, and to provide the basic needs for Syrian citizens affected from the crisis caused by the terrorist war and the crimes of terrorist groups.

Hazem Sabbagh
Authorities Find Various Ammo and High-explosive C4 Material in Homs Countryside
19 March، 2019

Homs, SANA_ The competent authorities, while securing the areas cleared of terrorism by the Syrian army, the competent authorities on Tuesday found a warehouse in the farms of Talbisseh about 13 km north of Homs.

SANA reporter said that engineering units in the competent authorities, in cooperation with residents, found a warehouse in Talbisseh farms containing a quantity of weapons and ammunition, including 300 mortars and hell cannons and 25 kg of high-explosive C4 material left behind by terrorist organizations.

On March 12, while combing and securing the areas cleared of the terrorist organizations by the Syrian army, authorities found dozens of mines and explosive devices in al-Sukhneh city and its surroundings about  80 km east of Palmyra.

Gh.A.Hassoun

Monday, March 18, 2019

Cyclone Idai May Have Killed 1,000 People in Mozambique, Says Country's President
Widespread flooding has "made whole villages disappear" and bodies are floating in the water, says Mozambique's president.

Monday 18 March 2019 18:06, UK
Sky News

Four days after Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, there are fears it may have killed more than 1,000 people in the country.

It is thought to have been the most destructive storm to have hit the southeast African nation in more than 10 years.

Widespread flooding has left whole villages submerged and bodies were floating in the water, as some areas were completely cut off by road.

Mozambique's president Filipe Nyusi said the official number of dead was 84 but added "it appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths".

He also said it was a "real disaster of great proportions".

"The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating," he said.

President Nyusi spoke after flying over the central port city of Beira and the rural provinces of Manica and Sofala, where there was severe flooding.

According to the Red Cross, 90% of Beira, which has 500,000 inhabitants, has been damaged or destroyed.

Jamie LeSueur, who led a Red Cross aerial assessment of the city, said the damage was "massive and horrifying".

"The situation is terrible," he said. "The scale of devastation is enormous."

"Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible."

Mozambique was hit last Thursday before the cyclone moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

More than 215 people have been killed by the storm in the three countries, including 89 in Zimbabwe, official figures show. And hundreds more were reported missing.

In Zimbabwe's Chimanimani district, rescuers were struggling to reach people cut off after torrential rains and winds up to 105mph swept away roads, homes and bridges and knocked out power lines.

UN agencies and the Red Cross have been helping with the rescue efforts that included delivering food and medicine by helicopter in the impoverished countries.

Mozambique is a long, narrow nation with a population of 30 million people, and has a 1,500-mile coastline along the Indian Ocean.

This time of year, it is prone to cyclones and tropical storms, and was struck by severe flooding from Cyclone Eline in February 2000.

That storm killed 350 people and made 650,000 homeless across southern Africa, including Zimbabwe.
India to Provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Support to Mozambique
Africa News

In response to a request from the Republic of Mozambique that is hit by a tropical cyclone ‘IDAI’ of Category 4, causing loss of lives and severe damage to properties in Central and Northern part of Mozambique, Government of India has decided to divert three Indian Naval Ships (INS Sujatha, INS Shardul & INS Sarathi) to the port city of Beira to provide immediate Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to the affected people. Indian Naval Ships will provide relief material in the form of food, clothes and medicine to the affected people. In addition, the ships have 3 medical practitioners and 5 nurses to provide immediate medical help.

In this hour of tragedy, Government of India stands ready to extend support to the affected people.

India has been extending humanitarian assistance to Mozambique and had provided 10 million dollars for food grains in 2017, after it suffered food shortage as a result of natural calamities.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of External Affairs - Government of India.
Theresa May's Brexit Deal Suffers New Blow
UK Speaker of Parliament John Bercow ruled that May could not put her deal to a new vote without changing it.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans were thrown into further turmoil on Monday when the speaker of Parliament ruled that she could not put her separation deal to a new vote unless it was re-submitted in a fundamentally different form.

In comments that blindsided May's office, Speaker John Bercow said the government could not bring forward proposals for a vote in Parliament that were substantially the same as had already been defeated twice before, in January and last week.

"If the government wishes to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same, nor substantially the same as that disposed of by the House ... this would be entirely in order," Bercow said.

"What the government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House [of Commons] the same proposition or substantially the same proposition as that of last week which was rejected by 149 votes."

The ruling put the UK in a difficult place - Brexiteers seeking a complete break from the European Union saw a "no-deal" exit as now more likely while others thought May might put off Brexit beyond the set March 29 departure date, if the EU approves.

One of the government's senior law officers, Solicitor General Robert Buckland, said: "We're in a major constitutional crisis here."

He told the BBC that one way to bring May's deal back for a vote in the House of Commons could be prorogation - ending the parliament session prematurely and starting a new one. But the government has rejected that.

"The Government has no plans to prorogue parliament and remains committed to delivering an orderly exit from the EU in line with its pledge to deliver on the outcome of the referendum," it said Monday.

Maddy Thimont Jack, a researcher at the Institute for Government in London, said that while Bercow's decision clearly frustrates Theresa May's initial plans to bring a third " meaningful vote" back to parliament this week, it does not prevent her doing so.

"Essentially what he is trying to say is 'Look what you have done has not got a majority, it has been roundly rejected twice, you need to try something else this time'," she told Al Jazeera.

However, Thimont Jack believes May can still secure a vote by having MPs pass a "paving motion" to get round Bercow's ruling that simply states that they now wish to vote on the deal.

"If there is will in the House, if MPs want to vote for it, I don't think Bercow is going to get in the way of that, that's not his role and that would be quite a significant issue," said Thimont Jack.

Surprise announcement

Bercow's pronouncement appeared to take May's Downing Street office by surprise.

READ MORE
Another big Brexit week begins. What's expected?
May's spokesman said her office had not been warned the statement was coming. Nor could Downing Street say anything about plans for a new Brexit vote or when it might be held.

Sterling dropped below $1.32 with investors saying it had damaged May's already sagging prospects of getting her EU withdrawal agreement ratified by parliament before March 29.

EU leaders have ruled out renegotiating the exit deal.

As it stands, Britain is due to leave the EU by default in 11 days. But Parliament voted last week for a delay and May is expected to seek an extension to that deadline when she meets EU leaders at a summit on Thursday.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Third Brexit Vote Must Be Different - Speaker
BBC World Service

Speaker John Bercow has thrown the UK's Brexit plans into further confusion by ruling out another vote on the PM's deal unless MPs are given a new motion.

In a surprise ruling, he said he would not allow a third "meaningful vote" in the coming days on "substantially the same" motion as MPs rejected last week.

With 11 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, ministers have warned of a looming "constitutional crisis".

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 29 March.

Theresa May has negotiated the withdrawal deal with the EU but it must also be agreed by MPs.

They have voted against it twice, and the government has been considering a third attempt to get it through Parliament.

Mr Bercow cited a convention dating back to 1604 that a defeated motion could not be brought back in the same form during the course of a parliamentary session.

He said the second vote on the prime minister's deal last week was "in order" as it was substantially different to the first, but any further votes must pass the "test" he had set out to be allowed.

The prime minister's official spokesman said Mr Bercow "did not warn us of the contents of the statement or indeed the fact that he was making one".

Analysis by BBC political correspondent Iain Watson

How can the government get another vote on Theresa May's deal?

Well, first of all, rules are there to be changed.

If MPs suspend or change the "standing orders" of Parliament, they could get the Brexit deal back on the agenda.

Secondly, the government could change the proposition on offer.

The former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has suggested that something "substantially" different would be to ask Parliament to vote for the deal subject to a referendum.

Or change the Parliament?

If MPs can't discuss the same thing in the same session of Parliament, why not simply start a new one?

What's the current state of play?

The prime minister had been expected to bring back a third vote on her Brexit deal this week - a week after MPs rejected the agreement for a second time by 149 votes - and ahead of the EU summit on Thursday.

Last week MPs also backed plans to rule out leaving the EU without a deal, and they voted in favour of an extension to the process.

All 27 EU member states would have to agree to an extension.

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs on Monday that Mrs May would write to European Council President Donald Tusk to ask for a delay.

If the EU agreed to the request for a new exit date, the government would ask both Houses of Parliament to approve the change, he said.

Mr Kwarteng said the length of the extension would depend on "whether the meaningful vote goes through or not".

"If we have a deal... we will ask for a short extension," he said.

"Now if for whatever reason that vote doesn't happen, or is frustrated or is voted down, we will probably ask for a long extension of the period - and that would be a matter for the EU and for our government to decide."

European leaders are expected to discuss a UK request to extend the Brexit process and delay the UK's departure at the summit on Thursday.

What's been the reaction to the Speaker's intervention?

Ministers and MPs supportive of Mrs May's deal expressed anger at the timing of Mr Bercow's intervention.

Conservative MP James Gray, who plans to vote for the deal after rejecting it twice, said he was "absolutely furious"; while fellow Tory Greg Hands suggested Mr Bercow was the only person in the country who was "accountable to nobody".

Solicitor General Robert Buckland warned there was now a "constitutional crisis" and suggested the onus was on the EU to come up with "new solutions" to enable MPs to vote on the deal again.

"Frankly we could have done without this but it is something we are going to have to deal with," he said.

He suggested "there were ways around this" - including potentially cutting short the current session of Parliament to an end, a move which would lead to calls for a general election.

Opponents of the PM's Brexit deal welcomed the Speaker's ruling.

Conservative former cabinet minister Owen Paterson said it was a "game-changer" and would "concentrate minds" ahead of Thursday's EU summit.

Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, said it seemed to make an "enormous amount of sense" given that the Brexit deal has been defeated twice and there would need to be a "substantial difference" to allow a third vote.

But the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford suggested there was now a "constitutional crisis" and he suggested the prime minister should "immediately" call a meeting of opposition leaders.

The view from the EU
By BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming

The EU's official position is that they are waiting for Theresa May to come to a summit in Brussels on Thursday with a clear statement about how she plans to proceed, and there definitely won't be any more negotiations when she gets here.

Unofficially, EU officials wonder if the government can get itself out of this situation, either with Parliamentary wizardry or by coming up with UK-only additions to the package, such as new guarantees about the role of Northern Ireland's Stormont Assembly in the future.

And could the joint UK/EU decision about an extension to the Brexit process, due to be taken on Thursday, be appended to the deal and then count as something new enough to justify another vote in the Commons?

But explain to diplomats that the solution might be the Queen closing Parliament and re-opening a new session with a speech and their reactions are priceless.
ADOS Shrinks Reparationist Politics to Fit the Cramped Horizon of Tribalism
Bruce A. Dixon, BAR managing editor 
15 Mar 2019
   
“ADOS followers throw away the internationalism of their forbears, embracing instead a sometimes polite, but always frank hostility toward immigrants of all nations on the grounds that they’re either economic competition for native-born blacks...”

Why can’t y’all just decide to be what you already are – more like us – a white co-worker named Travis asked me in the early 1980s. He was a diehard Southern Baptist, Reagan was the newly elected president, and we were working at the Chicago Pullman plant, laying on our sides all day or night, whatever shift it was, routing ducts and cabling in the tiny equipment rooms beneath Amtrak cars, talking politics and history. I’d just brought up the war in Vietnam, in which the US killed 3 million Vietnamese alone, and the murderous wars in Central America which were happening as we spoke. I probably threw in some references to the ongoing wars for liberation in southern Africa as well where the US was backing, financing and arming the wrong side as usual.

But you were born here, Travis insisted. Your parents and grandparents were born here, not over there. You’re an American, just like me. What are those people to you?

I never did get through to Travis. War crimes against black and brown people and a mountain of dead, likely communist foreigners meant nothing to him. His identity was not with humankind and certainly not with the working class. It was to his White God, his white or mostly white tribe whose flag was the stars and stripes and whom White God had deputized to rule the planet. In the decades since I have heard the same question posed a few more times. Why can’t black folks just be good Americans?Why shouldn’t we embrace empire and line up for our cut like everybody else? Well, now It looks now like Travis got his wish.

There’s an internet current of US-born black people calling themselves ADOS, the American Descendants of Slaves who seem to be trying their level best to be the kind of Good Black Americans Travis talked about.

The ADOS people claim to be relentless advocates of reparations for the crimes of slavery, Jim Crow, the prison state and more, but with an important right wing twist which sharply differentiates them from the previous generation of reparistas. ADOS followers throw away the internationalism of their forbears, embracing instead a sometimes polite, but always frank hostility toward immigrants of all nations on the grounds that they’re either economic competition for native-born blacks, that they’re stealing the contracts, the patronage, the affirmative action and similar spots which ought to go to native-born black Americans, or that they are somehow cashing in the accumulated moral and social capital which belongs to the US born descendants of slaves alone.

It’s a tribal thing, #LineageMatters, ADOSers tell anybody listening, and anyone not a US born descendant of US slaves on both sides of the family is in some other tribe. Until last summer’s wave of public revulsion at the deliberately cruel separation of refugee children from their parents at the border, the kindest sentiment you could find on ADOS Twitter feeds was the equivalent of Latinos don’t never stand up for us, why we gotta stand up for them?

Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore, originators of the #ADOS name and hashtag would like us to believe ADOS is a movement. But that claim is made so often by so many canny self-promoters that it’s hard to take seriously without some kind of proof. Carnell has been doing podcasts, internet writing and commentary, and most reccently YouTube blogging the past several years, while former LA assistant DA Antonio Mooreis a more recent entry into the world of internet propaganda. They’ve got a web site at ados101.com and plan to hold a conference this fall in Louisville.

Politically bankrupt black Democrats of the black political class just don’t know what to make of #ADOS. CNN commentator, corporate lobbyist and former general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Angela Rye, following the lead of similarly enlightened Democratic pundits, has declared that the ADOS message originates with the Russians . Rye is worse than clueless, she’s the cynical mouthpiece of corrupted politicians and the lying political police of the so-called intelligence community, a great number of whom are also Democrats. These are the government functionaries who have guaranteed their budgets and careers by painting Americans in America who disagree with the establishment as foreign-inspired traitors for a century, since the Red Scare of 1919.

It’s the RussiaGate scam, and while some of the faces are new, the tactics are pretty old. Democrats get to lead us into permanent wars while avoiding responsibility for the failure of their party to represent anybody except the lords of capital. They accuse anyone with unanswerable arguments or inconvenient facts of being mouthpieces for foreign subversion. It’s cynical BS when they level it at the Green Party, or at Wikileaks and Julian Assange. It’s baseless garbage when they throw it at Black Agenda Report, and they have, by name. It’s errant nonsense when lazy corporate Democrat hacks like Angela Rye throw it at ADOS. But then the Democrats are a party of capital, a party of the permanent government.

ADOSers may be misguided, but they don’t take money or direction and have no need to borrow bad ideas from the Russians We’ve got plenty bad ideas already. Their insular tribalism, and ADOS co-founder Yvette Carnell frequently refers to #ADOS, American Descendants of Slaves as in terms of “our tribe” is entirely home grown and very very tribal. If you look, you can find similar, and similarly backward looking ideas represented in every country on this planet. Like patriarchy and monarchy tribalism is one of those ancient backward looking but widespread human social contraptions which belong in a museum.

The reparations advocacy of ADOS departs from the previous generation of pro-reparations activists, who for convenience I’ll call the Pan-Africanists, even though some of them probably reject that label.

The historic vision and practice of the Pan Africanist movement flowed through the careers of Guinea’s Sekou Toure, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and the final years of W.E.B. DuBois’s life in Africa. Pan-Africanists had their own reparationist ideas, and by the late 70s and mid 80s significant numbers of Pan Africanists had entered the academy. They were influenced in the United States by the current that flowed through SNCC’s James Forman who called upon white synagogues and churches to hand over $500 million as black reparations to philanthropic organizations, printing and publishing enterprises and organizations that included the National Welfare Rights Organization.

These reparistas, or reparationists, whichever you prefer, kept the internationalist view of the Pan Africanists, even when they don’t identify as such. They embrace the entire human family, while holding that the political and economic unification of the African continent and the coordinated democratic uplift of the African Diaspora is a giant and indispensable step towards human liberation worldwide. Their fundamental moral and political calculus centers international solidarity, with Africans and their descendants worldwide, and with oppressed people struggling against imperialism everywhere.

ADOSers take a different road. Being tribalists rather than internationalists, ADOSers rarely mention the existence of class differences among American blacks. They usually manage to ignore the very existence of the US empire in whose heartland they and their tribe were born and raised, let alone explain how that global capitalist empire generates the influx of refugees to its center, to which they object so vehemently.

But clearly the refusal to talk about class is a kind of class politics itself, while the inability or unwillingness to examine and acknowledge the role of global capitalist empire in creating transnational refugee flows is a de facto endorsement of the same. Opposing white supremacist and capitalist empire is what an actual left would do, and whatever ADOSers are, they ain’t leftists. ADOSers are one of the home grown intellectual outcomes of what Adolph Reed calls the substitution of the neoliberal politics of antiracism for having built an actual functioning left in the United States. If you’re listening to this instead of reading it, you really should go back to the printed version at www.blackagendareport.com to check out the links in the text which flesh out this and other important pieces of timely and relevant background information.

ADOSers are in a permanent rage against Democrats, and declare that like it or not this election cycle will be the one in which the issues of #reparations2020 and #tangibles2020 will be relentlessly pressed upon every party, every candidate. ADOSers see Democrats as going out of their way to appease and pander to every other voting constiuency EXCEPT the descendants of slaves who are owed reparations.

What ADOSers miss of course is that while Democrats do rhetorically pander to women, to gays and to Latinos every election cycle, they only deliver results to the lords of capital who fund their careers. Promises to voters aside, Democrats actually deliver not to women, gays, Latinos and certainly not to African Americas but to Big Insurance, Big Real Estate, Big Media, and Big Energy. They actually deliver to Silcon Valley, to military contractors, to charter school sugar daddies and to hedge fund boyz and similar malefactors of great wealth.

ADOSers forget how candidate Barack Obama won the whopping majority of the Latino vote in 2008 and 2012 by promising them a road to citizenship. But President Obama proved to be the deporter-in-chief, with an all time record 2 million deportations, so many that even a two-term Trump administration is unlikely to match his total. There may not be enough undocumented people and green card holders to hang the necessary misdemeanor under current law which allow the feds to manufacture deportation cases against. Like his successor, President Obama separated immigrant families at the border and built hundreds of miles of border wall, leaving only the last six or seven hundred miles for Trump successor to complete. Obama opposed gay marriage in 2008 , only coming around when election to a second term seemed certain. The pandering to other voting blocs that so enrages ADOSers is pretty much fakery, but as tribal folks will do, ADOSers seem to perceive only the slights, the lies, the insults which are directed at them.

ADOS leaders Carnell and Moore have probably never participated in, probably never seen a mass movement against unjust authority. As far as most of us know, they’ve never organized a new union or tried to take over a corrupt old one, never led a rent strike, never helped found or lead a cooperative, never gotten themselves arrested for defying unjust authority. There was a time when those sorts of credentials were required for aspiring black leaders.

So where, if anyplace will ADOS go from here? Right now it’s just internet noise. A lot of noise. If ADOSers have ever managed to put fifty or a hundred people in a room or anywhere in meatspace, not cyberspace it’s news to most of us. What put #BLM on the map back in 2015 was their Cleveland conference attended by six or seven thousand people into which corporate philanthropists allied with the Democratic party sunk an estimated two million for hotel and conference rooms, for travel expenses, food, entertainment, per diems, media production and the organizing person-hours to coordinate it all and bring that six or seven thousand people in and out of town.

ADOS has nothing like that kind of money, and it’s hard to imagine where they might get it. Carnell and Moore are not about to turn ADOS into a membership supported organization. The only possible donor institutions they’re know to have public ties with are some are some broke HBCUs and sectors of the black church. But the black church’s pockets are not that deep, and the black church has no tradition of funding political initiatives. In this respect they are quite unlike the mainline US Protestant churches, which by now have probably shoveled a cool million into their New Poor Peoples Campaign and the promotion of its leader Bishop William Barber as the reincarnated voice of Dr. Martin Luther King.

I never saw Travis again after they closed the last Pullman plant and putting 3,000 of us workers, black, brown and white into the street. Travis wasn't exactly a friend and I wouldn't know his face if I met him today almost forty years later. But if I had his email today, I'd want to send Travis links to the ADOS site and their YouTube and Twitter feeds. I think once he got past the reparations stuff, he'd find a whole lot to agree with, American Descendants of slaves really DO want to be more like him.

ADOS is not a movement. It’s another hashtag. It’s a brand. It’s a shrunken, shrill, shriveled and tribal version of reparationist politics. Its tacit endorsement of US global empire and its abandonment of international solidarity spring inevitably from its backward looking tribalism. Hopefully their inability to find sponsors or internal methods to finance its growth into any kind of effective political force will doom it to haunt the margins of black twitter, YouTube celebrity, and some dusty corners of the academy.

If we’re lucky.

For Black Agenda Radio Commentaries I’m Bruce Dixon. Find our audio podcasts – there are two of them, Black Agenda Radio and Black Agenda Radio Commentaries on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Libsyn or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport. He answers email, and has also been known to answer tweets to @brucedixon.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Connecticut School Employee Resigns After Video Surfaces of Her Using Racial Slur
"Someone who will use that sort of language in any setting, whether public or private, is not someone we want anywhere near our children," the school district said in a statement.

Image: Hamden High School in Hamden, Connecticut.

Hamden High School in Hamden, Connecticut.Google Maps
March 17, 2019, 2:12 PM EDT
By Janelle Griffith

A public school clerk in Connecticut has resigned after a video surfaced of her spitting at an African-American man and repeatedly referring to him using a racial slur on Friday night, officials said.

"We have become aware of video footage that appears to show an employee in our district engaged in abhorrent conduct," Hamden Public Schools said in a statement. "Specifically, the video appears to show the employee repeatedly calling an African-American man the N-word in a supermarket in East Haven."

The incident took place at a Shop Rite in East Haven.

The video, which has been widely shared on social media, also appears to show the woman spitting at the man as he was walking away from her in the presence of her children, the school district said.

Because her children were present, the district said it filed a Department of Children and Families report.

The woman resigned shortly after an investigatory meeting was scheduled, according to the district.

"The language the employee used in the video is in conflict with the values of the Hamden Public School System," the district said. "Someone who will use that sort of language in any setting, whether public or private, is not someone we want anywhere near our children."

The district said it hopes the woman's children receive support "after witnessing such a traumatic event."