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The #1 Killer In The US: The Heart Disease Rates of Meat-Eaters Versus Vegetarians

By Arjun Walia of Collective Evolution

Please be advised that there are multiple, heavily soured articles at the bottom of this one with a wealth of information about vegetarian/vegan diets. Please check them out if you’re interested and want to further your research.

Proper nutrition is essential for good health, and it’s disturbing how little doctors learn about it in medical school. As a result, they are unable to educate their patients on how to use nutrition to improve their health, or they offer advice based on science paid for by food corporations. The studies in this area are also not as strong as they could be, and that’s simply because they modern day medical industry is very invested in chemical medication.

The scientific literature these corporations use to indoctrinate us from an early age has been exposed as fraudulent, as countless studies have emerged showing the many problems with the modern day diet, which is the generally accepted diet. The problems with mass marketing and the manipulation of science require serious attention. After all, what exactly are we supposed to think when multiple editors-in-chief of peer-reviewed journals come out and blatantly say most of the research published these days is completely false? What are we supposed to think when new publications constantly offer a different narrative than the ones presented by major food corporations?

A recent FOIA investigation actually uncovered documents that show how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manipulates media and science press. This is hardly a surprise, as government agencies have long been involved with media manipulation, and several mainstream media journalists and news anchors have revealed this fact time and time again.

So, have we been completely misguided about nutrition and human nutritional requirements, which is why it’s so great to see more and more people becoming aware of this fact and taking their health into their own hands. It’s not a mystery why disease rates keep rising. While there are multiple factors at play here, the evidence points to mass meat consumption as a major one.

A Healthy Heart and How It Relates to Diet

Studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.” (source)

From a scientific/biological perspective, the benefits of a meatless diet are inarguable. It makes one wonder why there is such a harsh resistance to this lifestyle. Skeptics will often point to the theory that we’ve been doing it this way for thousands of years, but that’s not true. Many experts in that field have repeatedly argued that our ancestral diets were mostly plant-based, that meat was a ‘rare treat,’ and that our digestive systems aren’t really built for digesting meat on a daily basis.  Some of our ancestors had, as anthropologist Katherine Milton describes them, “different yet successful diets.” She says  some hunter-gatherer societies obtained almost all of their dietary energy from plants, and others obtained it from “wild animal fat and protein,” but that “does not imply that this is the ideal diet for modern humans, nor does it imply that modern humans have genetic adaptations to such diets.” (source)

An article by Rob Dunn written for Scientific American titled “Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians” explores this issue from an evolutionary perspective, revealing how our guts might be evolved to perform best on a vegetarian diet, with perhaps the occasional piece of meat here and there as a rare treat.

The point is, it’s not all cut and dry like we’ve been made to believe.

There are many aspects to good health, and a vegan/vegetarian diet has proven to have benefits in several different areas. It’s particularly notable when we look at heart health. The number one cause for death in the United States, it is directly impacted by diet.

Our standard American diet, also known as SAD, has put our country at the top of the list in the world for obesity, which increases the risk for serious health problems. Overwhelming scientific evidence links the consumption of meat and meat products to numerous diseases. . . . The World Health Organization (WHO) now places red and processed meat at the same danger level as cigarettes and asbestos. Meat is the new tobacco.” – Dr. Joanne Kong (source)

Take a look at the graphic below regarding heart disease, the number one killer of Americans today. The risk of death from heart disease is significantly lower in vegetarians, and even lower in vegans.

Even the American Dietetic Association has weighed in with a position paper, concluding that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

These diseases include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and more.

There is a lot of science to back this up now, so much so that even the President of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim A. Williams, has adopted a vegan diet. Talk about heart health…

He often sees patients who are overweight and struggling with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. One of the things he advises them to do specifically is to go vegan. He is also the Chairman of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. His enthusiasm for a planet-based diet comes from his interpretation of medical literature, having cited several studies proving that people who pursue vegetarian diets live longer than meat eaters and have lower rates of death from heart disease, diabetes, and kidney problems. (source)

It’s great to see more and more professionals realize this, as the science shows that a vegan/vegetarian diet can halt and even reverse multiple diseases.

Research carried out by Dr. Dean Ornish, who found that patients who were put on a program that included a vegetarian diet had less coronary plaque and fewer cardiac events, is also commonly cited.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

Another heart surgeon who has done a lot for awareness, Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, explains:

Veganism is a very fine form of nutrition. It’s a little extreme to tell a person who is using flesh foods that you’re going to take everything entirely away from them. When I was in practice in medicine, I would tell the patients that the vegetable-based diet was the healthy way to go, and to keep away from the animal products as much as possible. People are very sensitive about what they eat. You can talk to people about exercising  relaxation, good mental attitude and they will accept that. But you talk to them about what they are eating and people are very sensitive about that. If an individual is willing to listen, I will try to explain to them on a scientific basis of how I think it’s better for them.”  (source)

This trend is inciting further scientific inquiry as its popularity grows. At least 542,000 people in Britain now follow a vegan diet — up from 150,000 in 2006 —  and another 521,000 vegetarians hope to reduce their consumption of animal products. It is evident that veganism has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle choices.

One of the most comprehensive studies ever performed on this subject is “The China Study,” conducted by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell. Their findings showed direct correlations between nutrition and heart-disease, diabetes, and cancer, proving that cultures that eat primarily plant-based diets have lower to no instances of these diseases and that switching to a plant-based diet can successfully reverse diseases already established in the body.

The Common Criticisms of This Type of Lifestyle Change

[…] The problem with many of the truths we hold as universal, not just about nutrition, but all aspects of our world, is that we’ve been bombarded with beliefs from biased sources for years and then accepted those believes as truth. And when someone believes something for a long enough time, if they encounter information that conflicts with that belief system, they do everything in their power to defend it. It’s called cognitive dissonance, and it’s why it can be extremely difficult to talk to a meat-eater about the benefits of veganism/vegetarianism.

The bottom line is, humans do not require meat, and a vegan/vegetarian diet, or a diet severely restricted in meat consumption, is a far healthier option.

This growing awareness is part of a shift in human consciousness that’s taking place on several different levels. Transparency is emerging within not only the food industry, but our health industry, the financial industry, our political systems, and more. We are finally learning that the truth truth regarding so many different topics has been skewed.

Please check out the articles below:

Plant Based Protein vs. Protein From Meat, Which One Is Better For Your Body?

9 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat

What Would Native American Wisdom Say About Going Vegan or Vegetarian: Would It Agree or Disagree

Scientists Say You’ll Get Your Protein From Plants Not meat, If You Want To Be Healthier

Meet Dr. Heather Skenkman, The Ironman Triathlete Vegan Cardiologist

This article originally appeared on Collective Evolution.



Video surfaced on Friday morning of an Iranian revolutionary guard representative claiming that the United States is secretly supporting ISIS.

“The primary goal behind the recent announcement that Iran fired missiles into Syria, both accurately detecting and striking Daesh [ISIS] positions, was to show our weapons capabilities,” Revolutionary Guard Media Adviser Hamidreza Moqaddamfar says in the video, referring to the missiles Iran fired into eastern Syria Sunday, aiming at the bases of militant groups it holds responsible for attacks in Tehran which left 18 dead last week.
“There are plans to release documents revealing United States support for Daesh,” he continued. “However, they are not documents like formal contracts or written texts, but they cover activities in the field, including locations where they provided help to Daesh. They show evidence of arms, logistical and medical assistance, which are all clues of American support for Daesh.”

Verizon Has the Fastest U.S. Network—But Not in Every Region


Amid the fierce competition of the 2017 mobile market, subscribers still need to consider network quality when they choose a carrier, according a new survey out on Monday. The results also shows that Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone, one of the first capable of gigabit-per-second downloading, far outshone Apple’s iPhone 7.

Among the carriers, Verizon came out best overall in the nation, but the results varied widely by region and city. People living in the northeast and northwest would do better with T-Mobile. And AT&T topped the competition in the south central region of Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana, according to the annual study by PC Magazine.

The survey results come as the big four wireless carriers are competing like never before. Verizon and AT&T introduced broad, low-cost unlimited data plans this year, following moves by T-Mobile and Sprint last summer to dump plans with annoying, monthly data limits. Price cutting came next and, lately, Sprint is offering a year of free service for people who switch from a competitor by June 30.

But the price and terms of a mobile plan don’t matter much if there is poor coverage or slow downloading. Verizon also came out first nationally in similar tests done by Rootmetrics at the end of last year. Like Rootmetrics and other wireless network studies, PC Magazine had testers drive around the country and measure the quality of wireless network connections. Testing in 36 cities and rural areas, the magazine found almost all spots were seeing improving quality.

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“This was the tightest contest ever,” the magazine wrote. “T-Mobile has largely closed its coverage gap with Verizon within metro areas, making it an excellent lower-cost choice. And AT&T sprinted ahead this year, especially in the Southeast and Midwest. Sprint seems to have hit a speed bump, mostly in terms of consistency, but it’s also much more competitive than it was two years ago.”

Nationally, AT&T (T, -0.13%) had the highest average download speed of 32.6 megabits per second, fast enough to grab a typical digital high-definition movie file in about 17 minutes. Verizon (VZ, -0.13%) was next at 31.1 Mbps, then T-Mobile (TMUS, +1.39%) at 29.3 and Sprint at 20.5.

Verizon touted its overall performance. “We continue to lead the industry in network reliability and performance,” a spokesman said. “This is one of many independent third party examples that continue to rank us best. Despite their claims, the competition continues to play catch up.”

Fortune asked the other three carriers for comment and will update this story with any responses.

Looking at data reports by phone, PC Magazine found that the Samsung S8—using Qualcomm’s latest and greatest wireless modem—far outperformed the iPhone 7, which was introduced last year with older modem chips made by Qualcomm, or in some models, Intel. Further hampering the iPhone, Apple didn’t want its phones with last year’s Qualcomm chips to outpace models with Intel’s even less capable modems. So Apple purposely limited the performanceof the Qualcomm models, a point Qualcomm brought up in lawsuits between the companies this year over royalties.

Bottom line? The Galaxy S8 had considerably higher performance on all networks except Sprint (S, +1.67%) in average download and upload speeds.

Apple (AAPL, +2.83%) and Samsung are on different upgrade cycles, however. While Samsung issued new phones in April, Apple isn’t expected to update last year’s models until September. The new iPhones could catch up by including the newer Qualcomm (QCOM, +1.39%) modem chips.

Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane

WASHINGTON — Long-running tensions between the United States and Russia erupted publicly on Monday as Moscow condemned the American military’s downing of a Syrian warplane and threatened to target aircraft flown by the United States and its allies west of the Euphrates.

The Russians also said they had suspended their use of a hotline that the American and Russian militaries used to avoid collisions of their aircraft in Syrian airspace.

The episode was the first time the United States downed a Syrian plane since the civil war began there in 2011 and came after the SU-22 jet dropped bombs on Sunday near American-backed fighters combating the Islamic State. It followed another major American military action against the Syrian government: a cruise missile strike to punish a nerve gas attack that killed civilians in April.

The latest escalation comes as competing forces converge on ungoverned swaths of Syria amid the country’s six-year civil war. Syrian forces and Iranian-backed militias that support them are extending their reach east closer to American-backed fighters, including forces that the Pentagon hopes will pursue the militants into the Euphrates River valley after they take the Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa. The collision of the disparate forces has, in effect, created a war within a war.

“The escalation of hostilities among the many factions that are operating in this region doesn’t help anybody,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday. President Trump has allowed military commanders more say in conducting operations against the Islamic State, urging them to surround the militants in their strongholds and “annihilate” them.

Russia’s warnings could turn out to be posturing. The Russian military has threatened to halt its use of the hotline in the past — notably after Mr. Trump ordered April’s missile launch — only to continue and even expand its contacts with the United States military. But in the complicated and quickly unfolding situation in Syria, even bluster can risk an unintended showdown.

“Anytime we have multiple armed forces working in the same battle space without de-confliction, there is a dangerous risk of things spinning out of control,” said Douglas E. Lute, a retired three-star Army general who was the United States representative to NATO until January. “Tactical incidents on the ground or in the air over Syria can be misunderstood and lead to miscalculation.”

American military officials rushed to de-escalate the situation, saying they hoped Russia could be persuaded to keep using the hotline.

“This is a delicate couple of hours,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday afternoon. He added that the United States would work both diplomatically and militarily “to re-establish de-confliction.”

But the latest statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry was particularly stark. “All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets,” said the Defense Ministry statement, which stopped short of declaring that the targets would be shot down.

The Pentagon also vowed to continue airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria.

The downing of the Syrian SU-22 on Sunday, the first time the American military had shot down an enemy plane since an F-16 took down a Soviet-era MIG-29 during the 1999 conflict over Kosovo, was the latest in a series of confrontations between the United States and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

One previously undisclosed confrontation followed a drone attack on June 8 on American-supported Syrians patrolling alongside their coalition advisers. The weapon was a Shahed 129 drone made by Iran, though American officials said they do not know who directed it.

An American F-15E shot down the drone, which had dropped a bomb that missed its target. But a Syrian warplane appeared hours later and began maneuvering to bomb the American-backed fighters, only to be intercepted by an American F/A-18 jet.

“When the airplane got close to where he wanted to deliver his bombs, he realized he had an F/A-18 behind it,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who runs the coalition’s air war and described the episode.

Instead of attacking, the Syrian SU-22 zoomed away, and the Americans did not attack.

“We didn’t shoot it because he dumped his bombs off in the middle of the desert,” General Harrigian added in a telephone interview from his command center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

American officials have repeatedly urged Russians to advise their Syrian allies to keep their distance from the American-supported fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

But after a Syrian SU-22 dropped bombs on Sunday near fighters south of Tabqa whom the United States is supporting and advising, an American F/A-18 shot the plane down.

The Russian threat to target American aircraft west of the Euphrates poses complications, particularly because Raqqa, which sits on the river in northern Syria, is well within range of Syrian and Russian air defenses. General Harrigian said there have been “occasional illuminations” or instances when ground-based targeting radars have been directed at coalition planes.

General Harrigan indicated that while the American-led coalition would continue to strike the Islamic State and provide air support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, he had made some adjustments to air operations.

“We have positioned ourselves such that we are able to manage and mitigate threats to our folks to a reasonable level,” he said.

General Harrigian declined to provide details. After the United States cruise missile attack in April, the American-led air war command initially used armed drones in and around Raqqa instead of piloted aircraft, and stealthy F-22s flew around the clock in northeast Syria. This was done to guard against the risk of retaliation by Syrian and Russian air defenses as part of a step-by-step process that eventually saw the United States and its allies return to normal operations.

Weeks after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ordered his country’s military forces to Syria in September 2015 to prop up the government of Mr. Assad, Russia and the United States signed a memorandum on preventing air clashes between the two countries.

The hotline has been a crucial link that has allowed Moscow and Washington to notify each other about its air operations over Syria, where Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Turkey and the United States with its allies have carried out attacks in pursuit of often-competing aims.

But Moscow has tried to use the agreement as leverage each time the situation has threatened to escalate.

The increasing defiance of American warnings by Iranian-backed Syrian military forces to control eastern Syria comes despite the tough talk from Mr. Trump about pushing back on Iran, Syria specialists said.

“There’s a big strategic game going on,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The Iranians are making a play for the Euphrates River valley, and the Russians are going along with it.”

Syrian forces and their partners, for their part, are aiming to take oil-rich Deir al-Zour Province; rescue a Syrian military garrison that is surrounded there; and, many analysts believe, establish a supply corridor that runs from Syria to Iraq and, eventually, to Iran.

Speaking in Beijing on Monday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, seemed to be unaware of the Defense Ministry’s stance that the American attack against Syrian forces was “military aggression.” He called on the United States and all other countries involved in the Syria conflict to “coordinate their actions.”

“We urge everyone to avoid acting unilaterally, to respect the sovereignty of Syria,” Mr. Lavrov said.

“Escalation can never be ruled out,” said Frederic C. Hof, who worked on Syria policy at the State Department under President Obama before leaving and becoming a sharp critic of the administration’s limited support of Syrian rebels. “I doubt, however, that the Russians will permit themselves to be taken hostage by a regime it knows to be both murderous and incompetent.

“But who knows?” Mr. Hof continued. “Common sense and the rational actor model don’t always prevail. One hopes there is a sharp distinction between Russian rhetoric and action.”

White Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States

Neo-Nazi protesters demonstrate near where the grand opening ceremonies were held for the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center on April 19, 2009 in Skokie, Illinois.

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White Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States, according to a study by the New America Foundation. The Washington-based research organization did a review of “terror” attacks on US soil since Sept. 11, 2001 and found that most of them were carried out by radical anti-government groups or white supremacists.

Almost twice as many people have died in attacks by right-wing groups in America than have died in attacks by Muslim extremists. Of the 26 attacks since 9/11 that the group defined as terror, 19 were carried out by non-Muslims. Yet there are no white Americans languishing inside the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. And there are no drones dropping bombs on gatherings of military-age males in the country’s lawless border regions.

Attacks by right-wing groups get comparatively little coverage in the news media. Most people will struggle to remember the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six people in 2012. A man who associated with neo-Nazi groups carried out that shooting. There was also the married couple in Las Vegas who walked into a pizza shop and murdered two police officers. They left a swastika on one of the bodies before killing a third person in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Such attacks are not limited to one part of the country. In 2011, two white supremacists went on a shooting spree in the Pacific Northwest, killing four people.

More from GlobalPost: Turns out people get angry when you say white Americans are terrorists, too

Terrorism is hard to define. But here is its basic meaning: ideological violence. In its study, the New America Foundation took a narrow view of what could be considered a terror attack. Most mass shootings, for instance, like Sandy Hook or the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting — both in 2012 — weren’t included. Also not included was the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina earlier this year. The shooter was a neighbor and had strong opinions about religion. But he also had strong opinions about parking spaces and a history of anger issues. So that shooting was left off the list.

The killing of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina last week was included. The shooter made it clear that his motivation was an ideological belief that white people are superior to black people. The shooting has cast new light on the issue of right-wing terrorism in the United States. But since it can’t really use Special Forces or Predator drones on US soil, it remains unclear how the government will respond.


If your ship is going to get boarded by pirates, it’s best that it happens in the waters off Indonesia. Unlike their Somali counterparts, Indonesian pirates have shown little interest in kidnapping for ransom. And, writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Patrick Winn, a review of Southeast Asian piracy incidents in recent years reveals a theme: the pirates are seldom brutal and like to get in and get out as quickly as possible.

That’s good because piracy in the waters off of Indonesia is growing more common, and the pirates themselves are getting bolder. They regularly board giant oil tankers, subdue crews with surprisingly little violence, shut down their communications, disguise the ships in creative ways, and siphon off millions of dollars’ worth of gas. Once their pirate ships are laden, they are gone.

While Somali pirates are increasingly a thing of the past, Indonesian piracy is up an incredible 700 percent in the last five years. Indonesia is a good place to be a pirate: A third of the world’s shipping traffic passes by the country. There are tens of thousands of little islands and endless small coastal communities among which to hide.

As long as the violence stays to a minimum, the increased piracy is unlikely to raise that many eyebrows. For the oil and gas industry, the lost product amounts to little more than “a rounding error,” according to experts.


Poland is one of the world’s most religiously conservative countries. It’s as Catholic as Catholic gets. So it’s pretty unsurprising that its abortion laws are some of the strictest in Europe. Basically, you can’t get an abortion in Poland unless you were raped or are near death. And even then a doctor can refuse to help you.

So desperate activists are trying something new. In a few days, a consortium of women’s rights groups will convene in Germany, load a drone full of pills that can be used to safely induce abortions, fly it over the border to Poland and drop the pills to activists on the other side. Some would call that smuggling.

It’s been dubbed the “Abortion Drone,” which is a truly disturbing pairing of words. But the goal is noble: to deliver a much-needed service to Polish women, to raise awareness in Poland that safe abortion medication exists, and to pressure the Polish government to change its draconian laws.

U.S. and Japan launch air-and-sea search for 7 missing U.S. sailors



 U.S. and Japanese forces joined in air-and-sea search missions Saturday for seven American sailors missing after their Navy destroyer and a much-larger container ship collided off the coast of Japan.

The damaged USS Fitzgerald reached its home port at Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo, after emergency efforts at sea to control flooding.

The operators of the merchant ship, ACX Crystal, reported all of the 20-member Filipino crew were safe.

Civilian and military investigators, meanwhile, began trying to piece together the cause of the nighttime collision.

The Philippine-flagged Crystal is nearly four times as large as the Fitzgerald, an Aegis guided-missile destroyer. Japanese and U.S. vessels and aircraft fanned out across the scene of the collision, about 12 miles off Japan’s Izu peninsula. The Japanese coast guard led the search teams.

Three of the Fitzgerald’s crew, including the destroyer’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, were evacuated from the damaged vessel and are being treated at the U.S. naval hospital at Yokosuka, the home of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet.

Benson was reported to be in stable condition, while the other two were still having their injuries assessed. The Seventh Fleet had set up an information center for families of sailors serving on the ship.

“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The USS Dewey, another Navy destroyer and two naval tugboats were at the scene, about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka. Two Japanese coast guard cutters with helicopters were helping with the search.

The Crystal, which is fully loaded with cargo, is bound for Tokyo, according to a website that tracks maritime traffic. Nippon Yusen K.K., the Japanese shipping company that operates the container ship.

The Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer commissioned in 1995, is part of the Yokosuka-based group that includes the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, but it was operating independently of the carrier when the collision occurred, Flanders said.

The Fitzgerald was operating under its own power after the collision, but was making only about 3 knots (1 to 3 mph). When its crew is at full strength, the Fitzgerald usually has more than 250 personnel aboard and can reach speeds in excess of 30 knots.

It is unclear how the ships collided.

Local broadcaster NHK showed helicopter footage of the container ship with minor damage to its bow, while the Fitzgerald appeared to have significant damage above and below the waterline.

Photos show extensive damage to the Fitzgerald midship on its right, or starboard, side, just below its bridge. It was listing slightly, with water visibly being pumped, as it was towed into harbor.

“Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families,” President Trump wrote in a Twitter message Saturday. “Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance.”

There are extensive international guidelines for accident avoidance at sea known as the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or Colregs. The rules require that ships must have a watch posted at all times and follow a number of collision-avoidance steps when crossing paths with or overtaking other vessels.

Gibbons-Neff reported from Washington. Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.

Pentagon: US has ‘no information’ to support Russia reports of IS leader’s death

The Pentagon said on Friday that it had no supporting information to confirm reports from Moscow that its forces may have killed the leader of the Islamic State group in an airstrike last month.

“We have no information to corroborate those reports,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told Reuters on Friday, after Russia said it was verifying whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in the raid targeting a meeting of IS leaders just outside the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, in Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry said other senior group commanders may have also been killed, adding that the information about his death was still “being verified through various channels.”

Asked about that claim at a news conference in Moscow, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “I don’t have a 100-percent confirmation of the information.”

The Defense Ministry said the air raid on May 28 that targeted the meeting may have also killed about 30 mid-level militant leaders and about 300 other fighters.

This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)

The ministry said the IS leaders were gathered to discuss the group’s withdrawal from Raqqa. It said the military began planning the hit after getting word that the group’s leadership was to meet in order to plan IS’s exit to the south.

The Russian military sent drones to monitor the area and then dispatched a group of Su-34 bombers and Su-35 fighter jets to hit the IS gathering.

“According to the information that is being verified through various channels, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also attended the meeting and was killed in the airstrike,” the military said in a statement.

The Defense Ministry added that it had warned the US of the coming strike.

Syrian opposition activists reported airstrikes on May 28 south of Raqqa that killed more than a dozen people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s war, said airstrikes on the road linked the villages of Ratla and Kasrat killed 18 people while the activist-operated Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said 17 civilians were killed in the airstrike on buses carrying civilians.

Members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, stand under an Islamic State (IS) group banner in the recently recaptured Syrian town of Al-Karamah, as they advance to encircle the jihadists' stronghold on Raqqa, on March 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Delil Souleiman)

The Observatory said the dead included 10 Islamic State group members. It did not elaborate at the time.

The Russian ministry said that among other militant leaders killed in the raid were IS leaders Abu al-Khadji al-Mysri, Ibrahim al-Naef al-Khadj and Suleiman al-Shauah.

Al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in June 2014 days after his fighters captured Mosul, the largest city they ever held. The group has since horrified the world with its atrocities in areas they held as well as attacks they claimed around the world that killed hundreds.

Al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre for a man identified as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai. The US is offering a $25 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.

There had been previous reports of al-Baghdadi being killed but they did not turn out to be true. The IS leader last released an audio on Nov. 3, urging his followers to keep up the fight for Mosul as they defend the Iraqi city against a major offensive that began weeks earlier.

The spokesman for the US-led anti-IS coalition said in a statement Friday he could not confirm the Russian claim.

The report of al-Baghdadi’s death comes as IS suffers major setbacks in which they have lost wide areas of territory and both of their strongholds — Mosul in Iraq and Syria’s Raqqa. Both are under attack by various groups who are fighting under the cover of airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

As the militants take a pounding in their eroding strongholds, US officials and Syrian activists say many commanders have fled Mosul and Raqqa in recent months for Mayadeen, a remote town in the heart of Syria’s IS-controlled, Euphrates River valley near the Iraqi border. Their relocation could extend the group’s ability to wreak havoc in the region and beyond for months to come.

Most recently, the group claimed responsibility for attacks in Iran’s parliament and a shrine to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than 50. It also claimed responsibility for the June 3 London attack that killed eight people. Both attacks would have taken place after al-Baghdadi’s alleged killing.

Lavrov, at the press conference, added on a cautious note that if al-Baghdadi’s death is confirmed, its importance mustn’t be overestimated. Lavrov said that “past examples of similar actions to strike the leadership of terrorist groups were presented with much enthusiasm and pomp, but the experience shows that those structures later regained their capability.”

The claim of al-Baghdadi’s possible demise also comes nearly three years to the day after he declared himself the leader of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria, from a historic mosque in Mosul.

If confirmed, al-Baghdadi’s death would mark a major military success for Russia, which has conducted a military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad since September 2015.

Oliver Stone: “Israel Had Far More Involvement In The US Election Than Russia.”



Last night, Oliver Stone was interviewed by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Stone’s new Vladimir Putin Showtime series where he spent 20 hours interviewing one of the most reviled figures in geopolitics. Colbert begins with a clip from Stone’s interview where he seems ecstatic to merely be in Putin’s presence after offering up a giant softball question.

Stone praises Putin for managing to stay on the world stage for 16 years and his work ethic — pretty standard pro-Putin legacy doled out by the Kremlin every day. It is naked propaganda there is no other way to describe what Stone is doing in this interview and something Stone visibly becomes frustrated with trying to explain and justify. At the 4:10 mark, Stone delivers the Russians’ message for them: “He really wanted–wants, still–still wants a partnership” with the US.

At the 4:50 mark, Stone talks about how Putin has been abused, to which the crowd groans and Stone amends his statement adding, “In the media.” Of course, that just makes the crowd laugh and jeer even louder. That’s what aired, but not all that happened.

Page Six reported

“Why don’t you ask me about that?” — but we’re told that the host shot back, “I’ll ask you about that when you make a documentary about Israel!”

(The source described Stone’s Israeli argument as “a classic anti-Semitic canard.”)

It will be interesting if that footage is released and hits social media.

‘Dreamers’ to Stay in U.S. for Now, but Long-Term Fate Is Unclear

WASHINGTON — President Trump will not immediately eliminate protections for the so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as small children, according to new memorandums issued by the administration on Thursday night.

But White House officials said on Friday morning that Mr. Trump had not made a decision about the long-term fate of the program and might yet follow through on a campaign pledge to take away work permits from the immigrants or deport them.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would continue the Obama-era program intended to protect those immigrants from deportation and provide them with work permits so they can find legal employment.

A fact sheet posted on the department’s website says that immigrants enrolled in the 2012 program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “will continue to be eligible” to renew every two years, and notes that “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.”

A news release from the department said flatly that “the June 15, 2012, memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect.”

But officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday morning that those statements were intended only to clarify that immigrants enrolled in the DACA program would not immediately be affected by a separate action officially ending a similar program for undocumented immigrants whose children are citizens or legal permanent residents.

“There has been no final determination made about the DACA program, which the president has stressed needs to be handled with compassion and with heart,” said Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department. He added that John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, “has noted that Congress is the only entity that can provide a long-term solution to this issue.”

Immigration rights activists, who have fiercely battled Mr. Trump’s travel ban and increased enforcement of other immigration laws, initially hailed the announcement, calling it a surprising turn of events from Mr. Trump.

“This is a big victory for Dreamers amid months of draconian and meanspirited immigration enforcement policy,” said David Leopold, an immigration lawyer. “The preservation of DACA is a tribute to the strength of the Dreamer movement.”

But after the White House clarified its intent, activists expressed regret. Mr. Leopold said in a second statement that “it’s no surprise that Trump would quickly walk back the preservation of DACA.” He added that the administration was trying to “cynically pit 800,000 Dreamers against the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants.”

Cecilia Muñoz, who led President Barack Obama’s domestic policy council and oversaw immigration policy for the White House, said, “It is unfortunate that their status is still temporary, and their peace of mind not complete.”

A decision to maintain the DACA program would be a reversal from Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant language during the campaign and would disappoint some of the president’s most ardent supporters, who view the program started by Mr. Obama as an illegal grant of amnesty.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly agreed with that sentiment. At one rally last summer, Mr. Trump vowed to “immediately terminate” the program, saying that Mr. Obama had “defied federal law and the Constitution.”

But once in office, Mr. Trump faced a new reality: the political risks of targeting for deportation a group of people who are viewed sympathetically by many Americans. In some cases, the immigrants did not know they were in the country illegally. Many attended American schools from the time they were in kindergarten.

Asked repeatedly about his intentions for the program since he took office, the president has hinted that he would not try to deport the Dreamers. But immigration activists had remained worried that the administration might still eliminate the program.

On Friday, young immigrants who have gained legal status through the program were eager for clarity.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Well, what’s the catch?’” said Carlos Robles-Shanahan, 27, a business consultant in Chicago who is waiting for his deferred action status to be renewed. “It felt like it sounds too good to be true. If they gave us that, what did they take away?”

Born in Mexico, Mr. Robles-Shanahan and his two siblings followed their parents to the Chicago area in 2004, when they were children. He and his brother were arrested and detained by immigration officials while traveling to Boston by train in 2010, but were given a temporary reprieve from deportation. Joining the deferred action program two years later, he said, allowed him to obtain financial aid from his college, teach for a year through a fellowship, earn a master’s degree in public policy, get a white-collar job and buy a house for his mother.

“DACA changed a ton of stuff for me and my brother, exponentially,” he said. “It was like a switch.”

Mr. Robles-Shanahan recently married a United States citizen and has begun the process of applying for a green card, but fears that his ability to work and live in the country will be jeopardized if his deferred action status is not renewed.

Confirmation that the Trump administration planned to preserve the program would have given young immigrants some certainty that they could apply for deferred action or renew their status, said Rigo Rivera, 27, who crossed the Mexican border when he was 9 to join his parents in Alpharetta, Ga. Many have been afraid to apply for fear of putting their information in the hands of federal authorities.

“With Trump, we can expect anything. Tomorrow he can say that he wants to deport us,” he said. “I don’t know what to make of this, or what to believe.”

Mr. Rivera, a prep worker in a restaurant kitchen who also leads a group of young undocumented activists, received protected status in 2013, allowing him to obtain a driver’s license, a Social Security number and permission to work legally.

But he said he worried that he and other young immigrants in the program would not be protected from deportation even if Mr. Trump does not formally end DACA, because of several recent episodes in which people like him have been detained despite their participation in the program.

The announcement that the DACA program will continue for the time being, a decision that affects about 800,000 people in the United States, came as the administration formally ended Mr. Obama’s attempt to expand it to also cover the parents of Dreamers.

In 2015, Mr. Obama proposed an expansion of the program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which could have shielded as many as five million people from deportation and provided work permits to them as well.

That program was never put in place because a Texas court blocked it at the request of a coalition of 26 state attorneys general. The Supreme Court deadlocked, 4 to 4, on a challenge to that ruling, but the decision by the Trump administration officially ends the litigation.

US shifts to reassure Qatar with arms sale, joint exercise

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) — The United States agreed a $12-billion warplane sale to Qatar and began maneuvers with its military Thursday, re-affirming support for the emirate in the throes of a diplomatic crisis with its neighbors.

A deal for the “state-of-the-art” F-15 fighters was signed by Qatar in Washington, which has sent conflicting signals to its longtime ally in the crisis that has seen Saudi Arabia and its allies impose sweeping sanctions on the emirate.

Last week, US President Donald Trump expressed support for the Saudi-led allegations against Qatar, charging it had “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

Pentagon and State Department officials have since scrambled to reassure Qatar, which hosts the largest US airbase in the Middle East and the command headquarters for operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis welcomed his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah to Washington on Wednesday for the F-15 sale.

“The $12-billion sale will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and inter-operability between the United States and Qatar,” the Pentagon said. It did not provide additional details on the sale but Bloomberg reported it could involve as many as 36 warplanes.

A pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles flying over northern Iraq early in the morning of September 23, 2014 after conducting airstrikes in Syria (Photo credit: AFP / US Air Forces Central Command via DVIDS / Senior Airman Matthew Bruch)

Attiyah said the agreement would boost Qatar’s defences and create 60,000 jobs in the United States.

“We believe that this agreement will propel Qatar’s ability to provide for its own security, while also reducing the burden placed upon the United States military in conducting operations against violent extremism,” he said.

The Pentagon meanwhile deployed two warships to carry out joint manoeuvres with the Qatari navy in the Gulf.

The vessels docked in Hamad Port, south Doha, on Wednesday, the Qatari defense ministry said.

‘Strong signal’

One Western diplomat in Qatar said this would send a message to Doha and other Gulf states.

“The deal and the naval exercise is a strong signal for Qatar and I am sure that reassures the government in Doha that their relationship is strong,” said the source.

Mattis and Attiyah also discussed the US-led military campaign against the Islamic State group and “the importance of de-escalating tensions” in the Gulf.

Washington has voiced concern about the impact of the crisis on its fight against IS, just as it climaxes in the jihadists’ Iraq and Syria bastions, Mosul and Raqa.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week the rift was “hindering” the campaign and urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their “blockade.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies during a State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing on the State Department's FY2018 Budget on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)

At a Washington news conference with Tillerson on Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir denied the sanctions amounted to a blockade, insisting it was the kingdom’s sovereign right to close its airspace to Qatari aircraft and seal the emirate’s sole land border.

Saudi Arabia and its allies — led by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain — have said there can be no mending of ties until Qatar ends its support for “terrorist” groups.

But Qatar and its allies — led by Turkey — say the emirate has every right to conduct an independent foreign policy and have branded the sanctions imposed as “inhumane and un-Islamic.”

Turkey courts ‘wise’ Saudi

Turkey has thrown its support behind a UN-backed mediation effort by Kuwait, one of the Gulf states which did not join the Saudi-led sanctions.

Its foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, was in Kuwait on Thursday, and said he would travel to Saudi Arabia for more talks on Friday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (C) attends a press conference in Kuwait City on June 15, 2017. (AFP Photo/Yasser Al-Zayyat)

“Tomorrow all being well we will continue the talks with Saudi Arabia in Mecca,” Cavusoglu said after returning to Turkey. “We are working hard as brothers to solve this problem and get over this process.”

While standing squarely behind its ally, Turkey has been anxious not to antagonize Saudi Arabia, which it has called a “wise state and big brother of the region.”

Qatar continued its diplomatic push outside the region, with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani holding a telephone call with the Angela Merkel.

“The German chancellor stressed during the call the need to solve the crisis through dialogue,” said a statement posted on the Qatar News Agency.