Top US General Says American Troops Should be Prepared to Die—for ISRAEL


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” This is the oath of enlistment that every American military service member or federal employee takes upon entry into government service (with slight variation for commissioned officers).

With the largest joint U.S.-Israeli air defense exercise ever conducted having recently concluded, which involved over 2,500 American service personnel, and in the midst of heightened Israeli involvement in the Syrian war, we find ourselves asking…

Are US troops ready to fight and to die for America’s Israel’s defense? …We think not, but there are US generals out there enthusiastically promoting the idea.

Earlier this month, in the midst of the 9th annual 12-day massive joint exercise named “Juniper Cobra” which was hailed in Israeli media as the largest of its kind, simulating a “battle on three fronts” (namely, Syria-Lebanon-Gaza Strip) US Third Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Richard Clark spelled out just such a scenario wherein US troops could be asked to fight and to die for defense of America Israel – even to the point of being placed under Israeli commanders responsible for battlefield decision making. 

While major joint military exercises involving significant troop deployments are nothing new for the US and its allies (Juniper Cobra itself has been conducted annually for nearly a decade), Lt. Gen. Clark’s words to Israeli media are truly precedent setting and shocking, especially as he is among the highest ranking military officers in the US armed forces.

It is well worth reading the alarming scenario Gen. Clark laid out while speaking to the Jerusalem Post in its entirety:

“The United States and Israel enjoy a strong and enduring military-to-military partnership built on a trust that has been developed over decades of cooperation,” said USAF Third Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Richard Clark, who also serves as the commander for the deploying Joint Task Force – Israel.

“The Juniper Cobra exercises continue to strengthen this relationship, providing us with the opportunity to bolster interoperability and develop seamless integration with our Israeli partners.”

According to Clark, the US and Israeli troops will work side-by-side under each other’s relevant chain of command.

But this is where Clark pushes far across the normative “military-to-military partnership” characteristic of joint drills with other allied nations. He says that US troops should be prepared to die for the Jewish State:

“As far as decision-making, it is a partnership,” he continued, stressing nonetheless that “at the end of the day it is about the protection of Israel – and if there is a question in regards to how we will operate, the last vote will probably go to Zvika [Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovitch, head of the IDF’s Aerial Defense Division].”

Washington and Israel have signed an agreement which would see the US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war and, according to [Israeli commander] Haimovitch, “I am sure once the order comes we will find here US troops on the ground to be part of our deployment team to defend the State of Israel.”

And those US troops who would be deployed to Israel, are prepared to die for the Jewish state, Clark said. “We are ready to commit to the defense of Israel anytime we get involved in a kinetic fight there is always the risk that there will be casualties. But we accept that – as every conflict we train for and enter, there is always that possibility,” he said.

And it appears that both military leaders are in agreement on this point – that they are ready and willing to put US troops in harm’s way in pursuit of Israeli defense policy.

Disturbingly, Clark acknowledges willingness for life-and-death battlefield decisions impacting American soldiers to be placed in the hands of the Israeli chain of command in saying: “if there is a question in regards to how we will operate, the last vote will probably go to [Israeli General] Zvika.”

While in more stable times in the Middle East, Clark’s words might possibly be dismissed as hyperbole and misplaced enthusiasm for “the mission” – his words come as Israel is already actively involved on two fronts: Gaza and Syria. And according to many analysts and reports, including one recently leaked internal Israeli defense memo, Israel is ramping up for devastating engagement along a third front as Tel Aviv continues to view Lebanese Hezbollah to its north as the prime threat to Israeli security.

Should broader war break out between Israel, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria, will US troops who find themselves working closely with the IDF be forced to obey the commands of Israeli generals, even to the point of death? We can’t find anything in the oath of enlistment or the Constitution [federal statute in 10 U.S.C. 502, and based in Article VI of the Constitution] that requires US citizens or soldiers to defend and fight for a foreign nation.

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If Trump Really Cared About the Opioid Crisis He’d Legalize Weed, Not Turn the US into Saudi Arabia


To make America great again, Donald Trump announced on Monday that he will be moving forward with his plan to execute people for selling drugs. Without any critical thought or scientific approach, the president completely ignored all the data and instead opted for the police state as a solution to the current opioid epidemic currently ravaging the nation.

“We can have all the blue-ribbon committees we want, but if we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time. Just remember that. We’re wasting our time. And that toughness includes the death penalty,” Trump exclaimed before he was met with applause.

Sadly, the Free Thought Project predicted this scenario and its subsequent support. The same people who argue for our right to self-defense somehow conduct mental gymnastics to justify killing a person for conducting a voluntary transaction.

“This is about winning a very, very tough problem. And if we don’t get very tough on these dealers, it’s not going to happen, folks. It’s not going to happen. And I want to win this battle,” said Trump. “I don’t want to leave at the end of seven years and have this problem. Okay? I don’t want that.”

This is not the first time Trump has advocated such insanity. As TFTP reported last year, Trump had a “very friendly conversation” with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly bragged about his ongoing campaign of summarily executing people who use and sell drugs in the Philippines. Following that conversation, Trump invited Duterte to the Oval Office.

When Trump approves the extrajudicial execution of drug dealers and users in the Philippines, it should come as no surprise that he calls for it domestically as well. Not surprisingly, like most of the decisions he’s made while in office, Trump’s call for the death penalty is a 180-degree flip-flop from his former position on the matter.

Trump’s new policy completely ignores all the data which shows that decriminalization of drugs—not government violence—is the solution to the drug war.

As Rachel Blevins pointed out yesterday, the idea that a ban on guns would prevent all mass shootings is the same as the idea that a ban on drugs would prevent all future drug use. Citizens are not robots, and just because the government deems something “illegal” does not ensure that every individual will comply with the new laws. In fact, the ones who do comply and give up the guns they were using to protect their homes are often the ones who experience the most harm when the ones who do not comply come to rob them.

All Trump had to do was look at the state he considers his good friends in Saudi Arabia to see how ineffective killing people over drugs is.

As notes, the sale of drugs in Saudi Arabia almost always results in the death penalty. Saudi Arabia and judicial authorities are not inclined to make exceptions. Alcohol use is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and possession or use of alcohol or drugs can be punished by public flogging, fines, lengthy imprisonment, or death.

In spite of Saudi Arabia killing countless people for ingesting and selling substances deemed illegal by the state, an ever-expanding epidemic of drug addiction and overdoses currently grips the country.

Since 2004, Saudi Arabia has reported the highest number of amphetamine seizures in the world. That number making up a staggering 30% of the global figure. In Saudi Arabia, the majority of drug-related emergency room visits are due to reported drug abuse, the main drugs reported being: sympathomimetic (used for promoting stimulation of sympathetic nerves), opiates, and psychotherapeutic drugs like Benzodiazepines.

Despite Saudi Arabia publicly executing 84 alleged drug dealers in 2015, heroin use and sales grew in 2016.

What’s more, if Trump really cared about the opioid crisis, he’d end the Afghan war which is responsible for flooding the market with heroin.

former British Territorial Army mechanic, Anthony C Heaford released a report three years ago, and a series of photos, which he says proves that British and American troops are harvesting opium in Afghanistan.

It is also no secret that Afghanistan opium production has increased by 3,500 percent, from 185 tons in 2001 to 6,400 in 2015, since the US-led invasion. Many US troops have come forward as well noting that protected and facilitated the harvest of these crops.

Instead of saving the US billions and shutting down the protection racket for the world’s supplier of heroin, however, Trump thinks that executing people like Saudi is the solution.

What’s more, one of the tools to beat the opioid epidemic exists right now. However, thanks to Jeff Sessions and the massive profit generated by police enforcing its prohibition, cannabis remains a schedule one drug.

In a recently published study in a peer-reviewed journal, Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher, and Alexander C. Wagenaar, set out to see if any association existed between Colorado’s legalization of marijuana and opioid-related deaths in the state.

The researchers looked at all of the available data from the year 2000 to the year 2015. What they discovered may come as a shock to many. While the rest of the nation struggles with a burgeoning fatal opioid and heroin overdose crisis, the State of Colorado saw opioid deaths reduced while its population exploded.

It has long been stated that cannabis is a “gateway” drug, which leads users to experiment with other drugs, leading up to the most deadly, such as heroin. But the researchers in the study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the availability of safe and legal cannabis actually reduced opiate deaths:

“Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month…reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

The researchers concluded, “Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths.”

It’s not just that study either. There were other studies showing that deaths from opioids plummet in states with legal cannabis, and that 80 percent of cannabis users give up prescription pills. A Feb. 2017 study confirmed that opioid dependence and overdoses dropped significantly in medical cannabis states.

In January 2017, the National Academies of Science published an exhaustive review of the scientific literature and found that one of the most promising areas in medical cannabis is for the treatment of chronic pain.

As TFTP reported last year, a new experimental study showed exactly how cannabis works to treat actual opioid addiction – by actually blocking the opioid reward in the brain.

“This study sought to determine whether the cannabis constituent cannabidiol attenuates the development of morphine reward in the conditioned place preference paradigm. Separate groups of mice received either saline or morphine in combination with one of four doses of cannabidiol using three sets of drug/no-drug conditioning trials. After drug-place conditioning, morphine mice displayed robust place preference that was attenuated by 10 mg/kg cannabidiol. Further, when administered alone, this dose of cannabidiol was void of rewarding and aversive properties. The finding that cannabidiol blocks opioid reward suggests that this compound may be useful in addiction treatment settings.

All these potential solutions to the opioid crisis are at our fingertips and yet the president thinks more drug war—arguably, the reason we are in the current crisis—will be the solution. Apparently, it wasn’t enough for Donald Trump to watch every president since Nixon fail at fighting the war on drugs. Now, he’s going to have to turn America into Saudi Arabia to prove how bad he can fail at it too.

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Cops Cleared in Murder of 16yo Girl and Unborn Baby, After Giving $10,000 to District Attorney


Alameda County, California – When the president of a police union shot and killed an unarmed 16-year-old girl and her unborn child, there were a number of things he did wrong leading up to her death, which included failing to turn on his Body Camera. But the one thing he did right in the eyes of law enforcement was to donate a significant amount of money to an influential campaign fund.

Sgt. Jeremy Miskella, president of the Fremont police union, donated $10,000 to the campaign of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley in November, and she returned the favor by clearing him of all wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Elena Mondragon, according to a report from the East Bay Express.

Mondragon was shot and killed by Miskella and Fremont Detective Joel Hernandez in March 2017 while she was sitting in the passenger seat of a car with her cousin and two of their friends. The officers had been stalking the group, claiming that one of its members, Rico Tiger, was a suspect in multiple armed robberies.

Tiger later said that because the officers were dressed in plainclothes and driving an unmarked car, the group did not realize they were police and they began to increase their speed when they saw that the officers were following them because they thought they were being robbed.

Miskella and Hernandez responded by opening fire and unloading their AR-15 rifles on the car. Instead of hitting their target, which was Tiger, they killed Mondragon and her unborn child. Tiger was then charged with Mondragon’s murder, and it now appears as though he will be the one who faces the punishment for the officers’ reckless actions.

In addition to conducting surveillance on the group and failing to turn on their Body Cameras even though they were planning to confront Tiger, Miskella and Hernandez were also aware that they were following a car filled with teenagers, and when they opened fire on the vehicle, they did so with the knowledge that one of the innocent teenagers would be shot.

In response to accusations that a campaign donation from the Fremont Police union made her decide to clear its president of all wrongdoing in the shooting, O’Malley told the East Bay Express that her decision was unbiased and that the officers had not broken the law.

“The police and people in the community that care about public safety, that care about stability, that care about leadership, that care about the truth and that when putting out information, that it is accurate information, those are the people who are supporting me and have given me contributions,” O’Malley said. “This is a law enforcement job and we work with the police. As I said before when police do something that is against the law, they either get fired or they get prosecuted.”

While O’Malley apparently sees nothing wrong with accepting donations from the officers she is investigating, her opponent in the race for district attorney, Pamela Price, argued that there was a serious conflict of interest.

There’s an actual conflict and then there’s the appearance of impropriety,” Price said. “And I will say to you when we have a district attorney that accepts $10,000 from the Fremont Police Officers Association and then clears the Fremont police officers of killing an unarmed 16-year-old child in a car, that’s the appearance of impropriety.”

Mondragon’s family has now filed a lawsuit against the city of Fremont and its police department. In a statement reported by NBC Bay Area, John Burris, an attorney for the family, criticized the fatal decisions made by the officers.

Shockingly, officers engaged in a series of egregious tactical errors and contravened their training and basic common sense, which resulted in an outrageous loss of innocent life,” Burris said.

He also called out the Alameda County District Attorney for charging Tiger with Mondragon’s murder—while refusing to file charges against the two officers who actually killed her and who “acted with reckless disregard for department policy, safe tactics and human life.”

Miskella and Hernandez have returned to their jobs, O’Malley now has an additional $10,000 in her campaign fund, and it appears that the only people paying for the reckless actions of the officers and the failure of the justice system are the teenager who is facing time in prison for a murder he did not commit and a family that is grieving the loss of Elena Mondragon and her unborn child.

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Women Fined $100,000, Face Potential Jail Time, Just for Braiding Hair


In the state of Tennessee, braiding hair without first paying thousands of dollars and attending hundreds of hours of courses can and will get you hit with thousands of dollars in fines. If you do not pay these fines, rest assured that you can and will be thrown in jail. What’s more, as the case below illustrates, even if you have a license, you are still not immune from the fines.

Fatou Diouf has been braiding hair for her entire life. She became so good at it that she jumped through all the legal hoops, sat through hundreds of hours of needless classes, and paid thousands of dollars so she could finally turn this passion into a career.

“I never did any other job but hair braiding my whole life,” Diouf told the Institute for Justice. “I cannot recall a time when I did not know how.”

However, because the state is dependent on revenue it generates from citizens—via taxation or extortion—the Tennessee government has begun cracking down on hair braiders.

As the IJ reports, in recent years, Tennessee has forced Fatou to pay a staggering $16,000 in fines, simply because she employed workers who did not have a government license to braid hair. Nor is she alone. After examining meeting minutes and disciplinary actions for the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, the Institute for Justice has identified nearly $100,000 in fines levied against dozens of braiders and more than 30 different natural hair shops and salons since 2009.

All of those violations were for unlicensed braiding; none were triggered by any health or sanitation violation.

Normally, the state would only target unlicensed braiders who dared to make a living out of their homes without first paying the government for permission. However, they are now targetting folks like Fatou who allow braiders to work in their establishments without first paying the government.

It’s not as easy as simply paying the government for the privilege of braiding hair either. In order not to be fined thousands of dollars by the state for braiding hair, you must attend and complete a course that is at least 300 hours long and costs anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 for tuition.

With her years of experience, completing the classes required for a state license was “mostly a waste of my time,” Fatou recalled, according to the IJ. “We don’t need 300 hours to know how to wash a clip or a comb.”

To illustrate the ridiculous nature of such a course to braid hair, consider the fact that, in some instances, less training is required to be a police officer in the state as they only need 500 hours while some of the cosmetology courses are upwards of 1,000 hours.

The extortion has become such a problem that even some lawmakers are speaking out and proposing legislation to end it. “By deregulating natural hair training people could open up their own business without a natural hairstyle license,” Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis said of TN House Bill 1809, proposed by The Department of Commerce and Insurance that deregulates the natural hair industry.

As the IJ reports:

Even more ironically, some of the bill’s loudest opponents have actually come from licensed natural hair stylists, who claim the license is necessary to protect the public.

Yet according to testimony by McCormack, there have been only two health and safety complaints against natural hair stylists since 2010. In fact, the Department has “opened more than 200 administrative complaints for unlicensed activity where we have seen no sanitation violations,” he said. “That’s actually more than we have licensees currently with the Department.”

Those findings are further borne out by a 2016 report from the Institute for Justice, which analyzed complaints filed against braiders in states that have a separate license for natural hair care. “Across seven years and 10 jurisdictions, just nine complaints with health and safety issues were received for unlicensed braiders,” the report concluded. “Further, none of the complaints alleging consumer harm were verified by licensing boards.”

Indeed, the entire premise of extorting people over hair braiding has nothing to do with actual safety and everything to do with generating revenue.

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Snowden: Facebook is a Surveillance Company Lying to the World About Being “Social Media”

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(ZH) NSA whistleblower and former CIA employee Edward Snowden slammed Facebook in a Saturday tweet following the suspension of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, over what Facebook says was improper use of collected data.

In a nutshell, in 2015 Cambridge Analytica bought data from a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, who had developed an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” that vacuumed up loads of information on users and their contacts. After making Kogan and Cambridge Analytica promise to delete the data the app had gathered, Facebook received reports (from sources they would not identify) which claimed that not all the data had been deleted – which led the social media giant to delete Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL’s accounts.

“By passing information on to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, he violated our platform policies. When we learned of this violation in 2015, we removed his app from Facebook and demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie all certified to us that they destroyed the data.” –Facebook

Of note, Cambridge Analytica worked for Ted Cruz and Ben Carson during the 2016 election before contracting with the Trump campaign. Cruz stopped using CA after their data modeling failed to identify likely supporters. 

Cambridge Analytica has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in a statement.

In response to the ban, Edward Snowden fired off two tweets on Saturday criticizing Facebook, and claimed social media companies were simply “surveillance companies” who engaged in a “successful deception” by rebranding themselves.

Snowden isn’t the first big name to call out Silicon Valley companies over their data collection and monitoring practices, or their notorious intersection with the U.S. Government.

In his 2014 book: When Google Met WikiLeaks, Julian Assange describes Google’s close relationship with the NSA and the Pentagon.

Around the same time, Google was becoming involved in a program known as the “Enduring Security Framework” (ESF), which entailed the sharing of information between Silicon Valley tech companies and Pentagon-affiliated agencies “at network speed.” Emails obtained in 2014 under Freedom of Information requests show Schmidt and his fellow Googler Sergey Brin corresponding on first-name terms with NSA chief General Keith Alexander about ESF Reportage on the emails focused on the familiarity in the correspondence: “General Keith . . . so great to see you . . . !” Schmidt wrote. But most reports overlooked a crucial detail. “Your insights as a key member of the Defense Industrial Base,” Alexander wrote to Brin, “are valuable to ensure ESF’s efforts have measurable impact.” –Julian Assange

Kim Dotcom has also opined on social media’s close ties to the government, tweeting in February “Unfortunately all big US Internet companies are in bed with the deep state. Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. are all providing backdoors to your data.”

In 2013, the Washington Post and The Guardian revealed that the NSA has backdoor access to all major Silicon Valley social media firms, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple – all through the notorious PRISM program which began in 2007 under the Protect America Act. PRISM’s existence was leaked by Edward Snowden before he entered into ongoing asylum in Moscow. Microsoft was the first company to join the PRISM program.



The NSA has the ability to pull any sort of data it likes from these companies, but it claims that it does not try to collect it all. The PRISM program goes above and beyond the existing laws that state companies must comply with government requests for data, as it gives the NSA direct access to each company’s servers — essentially letting the NSA do as it pleases. –The Verge



After PRISM’s existence was leaked by Snowden, the Director of National Intelligence issued a statment which stated that the only people targed by the programs are “outside the United States,” and that the program “does not allow” the targeting of citizens within US borders.

In 2006, Wired magazine published evidence from a retired AT&T communications technician, Mark Klein, that revealed a secret room used to “split” internet data at a San Francisco office as part of the NSA’s bulk data collection techniques used on millions of Americans.



During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabins were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, he said.

The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, Klein said. –Wired

“They are collecting everything on everybody,” Klein said.

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Syria Aid Worker: 'A Motionless World' Is Watching 'Wholesale Slaughter'

An aid worker in the besieged Syrian region of eastern Ghouta has spoken of the anguish and hopelessness felt by many trapped by airstrikes and unable to escape, saying it is a “wholesale slaughter witnessed by a motionless world.”

Ghouta, a region bordering the capital, Damascus, has been targeted by government forces since 2013 as part of the Syrian civil war in an effort to flush out rebel and opposition forces garrisoned in the area. The government launched an operation to retake rebel-held areas of Ghouta in February, ramping up a bombing campaign and blocking medical help and food from entering the region.

Children walk among the rubble after an airstrike in Douma, in the eastern Ghouta region of Syria, on Monday. The latest strikes killed at least 13 people overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  (HASAN MOHAMED/AFP via Getty Images)Children walk among the rubble after an airstrike in Douma, in the eastern Ghouta region of Syria, on Monday. The latest strikes killed at least 13 people overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  (HASAN MOHAMED/AFP via Getty Images)

Amnesty International claims more than 500 civilians have been killed in recent months in a “catastrophic humanitarian situation,” while thousands more have been injured. The Syrian Network for Human Rights, based in Britain, claimed in a February report that nearly 13,000 people had been killed in the region since 2011. Hospitals, schools and places of worship are among the buildings that have been damaged by bombings.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said last month that the 400,000 people trapped in eastern Ghouta were living “in hell on earth,” as the U.N. unanimously voted in support of a 30-day ceasefire in Syria and the lifting of the siege on Ghouta. However, calls for a cease-fire have been ignored ― indeed, reports claimed more than 100 were killed in the week following the resolution.

Abdelkarim Ibrahim, an aid worker partnered with Save the Children, is working in eastern Ghouta to distribute winter kits to civilians. Through a translator, he told HuffPost of the “hysterical panic” experienced by people trapped in the region in the face of “constant airstrikes, barrel bombs and artillery bombardment.”

“There has been a devastating deterioration in quality of life for Ghouta’s population,” he said from Syria.

“The civilians of eastern Ghouta have never witnessed such a battering campaign where … more than 4,200 airstrikes over the city of eastern Ghouta were launched. A city with a total area of 107 square kilometers [about 41 square miles] and 400,000 inhabitants has been battered by more than 4,200 airstrikes.”

Smoke rises after airstrikes on eastern Ghouta's town of Kafr Batna in Syria on Friday. (Ammar Al-Bushy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)Smoke rises after airstrikes on eastern Ghouta's town of Kafr Batna in Syria on Friday. (Ammar Al-Bushy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ibrahim says the cease-fire conditions have effectively been trimmed back to just a two-hour window each day before military action resumes. He said this was not enough time for aid workers to enter and bring medical help or food. Civilians are sheltering from bombs in inadequate, overcrowded and unsanitary basements.

“The internal refugees lack the minimal essentials of human life ― food, medicine and clothes. Currently, all the people of Ghouta live in basements unequipped with the basics needed for living,” he said.

“The basements are prisons for the masses … . Such abject lack of cleanliness and health care facilities, such as water and personal hygiene equipment, have led to the spread of epidemics and other related issues, such as lice among children. The shortage of medicine for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, has led to deaths. People with kidney disease are unable to have lifesaving dialysis sessions in Ghouta.

“There is difficulty in burying dead bodies. The city’s graveyards are among the targeted areas by the bombardment, which makes it impossible for people to bury the bodies of the dead. In Douma people had to bury the dead in public parks and in the backyards of houses because it was not possible for them to make it to the city’s graveyard.” 

Smoke rises over Kafr Batna on Friday. (Ammar Al-Bushy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)Smoke rises over Kafr Batna on Friday. (Ammar Al-Bushy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ibrahim claimed people around the world had ignored the situation in Syria, saying the aid being pledged to, and reaching, eastern Ghouta was “an embarrassment to the world.” He claimed assistance reaching those in Ghouta was enough for only 6 percent of the city’s population.

“There is a growing inability of local aid agencies to provide aid to civilians. Food and medicine stores have been bombarded, and the work locations of humanitarian organisations have been targeted by attacking forces,” he said, adding that food stores and medical facilities had been damaged.

“It is an option for people in other countries of the world to pressure their governments and the human rights organizations into taking a collaborative stand against the mass killing of civilians in Eastern Ghouta. Their success would save hundreds of thousands of people from the wholesale slaughter witnessed by a motionless world.

“They are just like any other people around the world. This is what people outside Ghouta should realize so that they can firmly use their efforts to save them and protect them against injustice and killing.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Treasure hunters and FBI search for lost Civil War gold in Pennsylvania

A story that $55 million in Union gold was lost during the Civil War has long been dismissed as a myth — but this week, a team of FBI agents joined the search in rural Pennsylvania.

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Parkland Suspect's Brother Arrested, Accused Of Trespassing At School

The younger brother of accused gunman Nikolas Cruz was arrested on Monday for allegedly trespassing on the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where his brother killed 17 people on Feb. 14.

Zachary Cruz, 18, was arrested about 4:30 p.m. after officials saw him riding his skateboard through the school campus, according to an arrest affidavit.

School officials had previously warned the younger Cruz to stay away from the campus. He reportedly told a Broward County sheriff’s deputy that he decided to visit the school anyway to “reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said Zachary Cruz currently has no current ties to Broward County. The Palm Beach Post reports that before the Feb. 14 shootings, the Cruz brothers lived with family friend Roxanne Deschamps in a mobile home near Lantana, in Palm Beach County.

Both Nikolas and Zachary were adopted by Lynda and Roger Cruz when they were infants. Roger died in 2004, and Lynda died of pneumonia in November.

Zachary is a year younger than Nikolas but has admitted to teasing his older brother mercilessly when they were growing up. After the shooting, Zachary said he regretted bullying his older brother and wished he could have prevented the deadly massacre, according to the New York Daily News.

He was also placed under a mental-health evaluation and told investigators that when he heard about the shootings, he said, “I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to deal with this stuff.” However, he denied wanting to kill or harm himself, according to the Palm Beach Post. 

Prosecutors announced last week that they will seek the death penalty against Nikolas Cruz

Zachary Cruz, younger brother of Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Zachary Cruz was arrested for allegedly trespassing at the school.Zachary Cruz, younger brother of Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Zachary Cruz was arrested for allegedly trespassing at the school.
  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Cirque du Soleil Star Plunges to Death During Performance

An experienced Cirque du Soleil performer died on Sunday after plunging onto a stage during an aerial straps routine at a Tampa, Florida show.

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Trump denounces Mueller's investigative team as 'hardened Democrats'

President Trump continued his attack on the intelligence community Sunday morning — accusing former FBI director Robert Mueller’s team of bias toward the Democrats.

After spending Saturday alleging leaks, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Trump returned to his Twitter account Sunday morning to claim the team investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and his campaign is comprised of 13 “hardened Democrats.”

While some members of special counsel Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, it’s certainly not true of them all. Mueller, the bureau’s longest-serving director since J. Edgar Hoover, for instance, is a Republican and was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

The commander-in-chief has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a witch hunt and insists there was no collusion, but, heeding legal counsel, he has largely refrained from denigrating Mueller or his team directly — until this weekend. Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, released a statement on Saturday beseeching the Justice Department to call off the Russia investigation. This marks a shift toward a more antagonistic relationship with Mueller’s team.

Also Sunday morning, Trump accused former FBI Director James Comey of lying under oath to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, about whether he had ever been an anonymous source or known someone to be an anonymous source. Trump fired Comey last May, accusing him of being unable to “effectively lead the bureau.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on Friday night — just two days before his scheduled retirement. Sessions’s decision was based on an internal assessment, which has not yet been released publicly, about McCabe’s honesty with investigators over information he shared with the media on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. McCabe disputed the allegations, arguing they were part of the Trump administration’s efforts to discredit him as well as a larger “war on the FBI.”

Just like Comey, McCabe reportedly kept personal notes about his interactions with Trump, which have been turned over to Mueller’s office. Trump claimed during his Sunday morning Twitter session to have spent very little time with McCabe. He suggested that any notes of their time together must have been made up after the fact.

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