December 28, 2018

Kurdish leftists in northern Syria, fearing Turkish attack, seek new allies after announcement of U.S. withdrawal. “We have made contact with Russia, France and European Union countries to help,” said Badran Jia Kurd, a senior Kurdish official who went to Moscow last week for talks with Russian foreign ministry officials. “It is the responsibility of the Syrian government to protect the borders of this region and this is under discussion.”

Chinese police reportedly detain student leader over leftist activism. “Qiu Zhanxuan, head of the Peking University Marxist Society, said he was approached on Wednesday morning at a subway station by plainclothes police who said they wanted him to answer questions about an event he was organizing to celebrate Mao’s birthday.”

Man in charge of George Bush inauguration says Trump inauguration numbers don’t add up. “They actually raised more than twice the amount that we raised…. We had three times as many staff and four times as many events. So where that money went, I couldn’t tell you.”

HSBC ends its financial relationship with Israeli military contractor. “Human rights campaigners have declared a victory as global banking giant HSBC confirmed that it has divested completely from Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems after a year of campaign pressure.”

Mongolians turn out in bitter cold to protest against political corruption. “Organisers estimated nearly 25,000 people turned out for the protest on Thursday.”

Saudi dissent in Canada recalls invitation to visit embassy. “(Saudi security agents) told him (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) liked him and wanted him back in Saudi Arabia, he told (Middle East Eye). “I said, ‘OK thank you’, but I didn’t buy it.” When he refused their offer, he said they tried to get him to visit the Saudi embassy in Ottawa to pick up a new passport instead.”

Light that lit up New York City night sky was reportedly from an exploding electrical transformer. “The New York fire department confirmed they had received multiple reports of explosions in the Long Island City and Astoria area, to which they had responded. At 10:15pm they reported the incident was under control and there were no reported injuries and no fire.”

Sunken Gulf of Mexico oil platform still leaking oil after 14 years. “To date, the Taylor spill has released as much as 140m gallons of oil into the Gulf…. federal officials estimate the uncapped wells could continue polluting the Gulf for decades, perhaps even a century.”

NFL player suspects he is being harassed for anthem protests. “Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid has been drug tested seven times in 11 weeks since his return to the NFL. And he has been on the receiving end of a number of what we will politely describe as questionable penalties.”

Only 19% of those polled say they would choose to spend $5 billion on a border wall. “The best-polling use of funds was paying healthcare expenses for a half-million people, backed by 36% of respondents. A further 30% thought infrastructure would most benefit from the funding, while 15% would fund pre-K programs.”

Companies running immigrant detention centers reportedly raked in an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018. “According to the Daily Beast‘s Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget records show that for-profit immigrant detention centers run by corporate giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group raked in over $800 million in taxpayer money in 2018 alone, thanks to generous government contracts that are largely kept secret from the public.”

Federal judge expresses dismay over asylum seeker’s lengthy detention. “Petitioner has a clean record, never having been arrested or convicted,” (U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein) wrote. “There is little risk of flight, since he seeks asylum within the United States, and little risk of danger to the community, judging from his lack of a prior criminal history. Yet, petitioner has suffered 34 months of detention without an opportunity for a bond hearing while waiting for a final decision on his petition for asylum.”

Former Chinese intelligence official sentenced to life in prison. “The court said in a statement online that (Ma Jian) used his political power to aid the business operations of Guo Wengui, a real estate billionaire wanted by Chinese authorities. The New York-based Guo has published a slew of online videos in which he makes sensational allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of China’s ruling Communist Party.”


December 28, 2018

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