Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

ISIL Blast Kills Dozens Celebrating Afghanistan Ceasefire

Al-Manar | June 17, 2018

The ISIL Takfiri group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.

The group’s Amaq website said the attack on Saturday targeted “a gathering of Afghan forces” in Nangarhar, but gave no details.

According to Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, the attack happened in Rodat district, some 25km from Jalalabad.

Civilians, security forces and Taliban members were among the casualties as people celebrated Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The attack came as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the government’s extension of a ceasefire with the Taliban, without giving a timeframe.

In a televised address to the nation, Ghani called for the Taliban to also extend the truce, which is due to expire on Sunday after both sides agreed to halt hostilities for Eid.

Ghani also said that in the spirit of Eid and the ceasefire, the attorney general’s office had released 46 Taliban prisoners.

The Taliban had announced a ceasefire for the first three days of Eid, which started on Friday, promising not to attack Afghan security forces for the first time since the 2001 US invasion.

That came after Ghani said that security forces would temporarily cease operations against the Taliban for eight days, starting last Tuesday – though he warned that operations against other fighters, including ISIL group, would continue.

Governors in Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul said both sides had adhered to the ceasefire.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

3 Shia Bahraini clerics sentenced to death, 8 others to life imprisonment

Press TV – June 17, 2018

Bahraini regime officials have handed down death sentences to three Shia clergymen and condemned eight others to life imprisonment as the ruling Al Khalifah regime continues with its repressive measures and heavy-handed crackdown on members of the religious community.

Bahrain’s dissolved main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, announced in a statement that Shia religious figures are being systematically subjected to arbitrary arrests, torture, trials, revocation of citizenship as well as forced deportation.

The statement added that al-Wefaq has recorded more than 347 cases of arrests, summons and various security prosecutions of Shia clerics in Bahrain.

It added that Bahraini security authorities have summoned more than 156 Shia clergymen over their speeches, ideological tendencies or political views. They have also arrested 99 religious scholars arbitrarily.

Al-Wefaq further pointed out that “harsh and unfair verdicts” have targeted more than 50 clerics, ranging from hefty fines and abolition nationality to life imprisonment and death penalty.

The statement went on to say that three Shia scholars have been sentenced to death, eight to life imprisonment and a number of others been stripped of their citizenship. Among those whose nationality has been revoked are prominent Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim and Sheikh Hussein Najati.

Al-Wefaq then dismissed the Al Khalifah regime’s policy of persecution and discrimination, stressing that authorities have no meaningful reform initiatives at the level of human rights, especially concerning freedom of religion and belief.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide. Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Nuclear Power Won’t Survive Without A Government Handout

By Maggie Koerth-Baker | FiveThirtyEight | June 14, 2018

Once upon a time, if you were an American who didn’t like nuclear energy, you had to stage sit-ins and marches and chain yourself to various inanimate objects in hopes of closing the nation’s nuclear power plants. Today … all you have to do is sit back and wait.

There are 99 nuclear reactors producing electricity in the United States today. Collectively, they’re responsible for producing about 20 percent of the electricity we use each year. But those reactors are, to put it delicately, of a certain age. The average age of a nuclear power plant in this country is 38 years old (compared with 24 years old for a natural gas power plant). Some are shutting down. New ones aren’t being built. And the ones still operational can’t compete with other sources of power on price. Just last week, several outlets reported on a leaked memo detailing a proposed Trump administration plan directing electric utilities to buy more from nuclear generators and coal plants in an effort to prop up the two struggling industries. The proposal is likely to butt up against political and legal opposition, even from within the electrical industry, in part because it would involve invoking Cold War-era emergency powers that constitute an unprecedented level of federal intervention in electricity markets. But without some type of public assistance, the nuclear industry is likely headed toward oblivion.

“Is [nuclear power] dying under its own weight? Yeah, probably,” said Granger Morgan, professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Morgan isn’t pleased by this situation. He sees nuclear energy as a crucial part of our ability to reduce the risks of climate change because it is our single largest source of carbon emissions-free electricity. Morgan has researched what the U.S. could do to get nuclear energy back on track, but all he’s come up with is bad news (or good news, depending on your point of view).

The age of the nuclear fleet is partly to blame. That’s not because America’s nuclear reactors are falling apart — they’re regularly inspected, and almost all of them have now gone through the process of renewing their original 40-year operating licenses for 20 more years, said David McIntyre, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A few, including the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Florida, have even put in for a second round of renewals that could give them the ability to operate through their 80th birthdays.

Instead, it’s the cost of upkeep that’s prohibitive. Things do fall apart — especially things exposed to radiation on a daily basis. Maintenance and repair, upgrades and rejuvenation all take a lot of capital investment. And right now, that means spending lots of money on power plants that aren’t especially profitable. Historically, nuclear power plants were expensive to build but could produce electricity more cheaply than fossil fuels, making them a favored source of low-cost electricity. That changed with the fracking boom, Morgan told me. “Natural gas from fracking has gotten so cheap, [nuclear plants] aren’t as high up in the dispatch stack,” he said, referring to the order of resources utilities choose to buy electricity from. “So many of them are now not very attractive economically.”

Meanwhile, new nuclear power plants are looking even less fetching. Since 1996, only one plant has opened in the U.S. — Tennessee’s Watts Bar Unit 2 in 2016. At least 10 other reactor projects have been canceled in the past decade. Morgan and other researchers are studying the economic feasibility of investment in newer kinds of nuclear power plants — including different ways of designing the mechanical systems of a reactor and building reactors that are smaller and could be put together on an assembly line. Currently, reactors must be custom-built to each site. Their research showed that new designs are unlikely to be commercially viable in time to seriously address climate change. And in a new study that has not yet been published, they found that the domestic U.S. market for nuclear power isn’t robust enough to justify the investments necessary to build a modular reactor industry.

Combine age and economic misfortune, and you get shuttered power plants. Twelve nuclear reactors have closed in the past 22 years. Another dozen have formally announced plans to close by 2025. Those closures aren’t set in stone, however. While President Trump’s plan to tell utilities that they must buy nuclear power has received criticism as being an overreach of federal powers, states have offered subsidies to keep some nuclear power plants in business — and companies like Exelon, which owns 22 nuclear reactors across the country, have been happy to accept them. “Exelon informed us that they were going to close a couple plants in Illinois,” McIntyre said. “And then the legislature gave them subsidies and they said, ‘Never mind, we’ll stay open.’”

So intervention can work to keep nuclear afloat. But as long as natural gas is cheap, the industry can’t do without the handouts.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Seoul Proposes Pyongyang to Move DPRK Artillery Away From Border – Reports

Sputnik – 17.06.2018

Seoul has proposed Pyongyang to move North Korean long-range artillery away from the border between the two states in order to reduce tensions between them, South Korean media reported Sunday.

The Yonhap news agency reported citing government sources that on Thursday the two states held talks between high-ranking military officials within the framework of the agreements reached on April 27 between the leaders of the two Koreas.

According to the media outlet, during the meeting the South Korean side made a number of proposals including the relocation of the North Korean artillery to the positions located up to 40 kilometers (some 25 miles) from the line dividing the two Korean states.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has been significantly improving within the last several months with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in having held their first meeting on April 27.

During the meeting, the sides signed the Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula. The document committed the two countries to a nuclear-free peninsula and talks to bring a formal end to the Korean War.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | | 2 Comments

Houthis say Saudi-led forces bogged down outside Hudaydah

Press TV – June 17, 2018

Yemen’s Houthi fighters have dismissed reports that Saudi-led forces have seized the airport in the port city of Hudaydah, saying the aggressors are on the retreat on all front lines.

Militants and foreign mercenaries armed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are attempting to capture the well-defended city and push the Houthis out of their sole Red Sea port in the biggest battle of the war.

“A battle of attrition awaits the Saudi alliance which it cannot withstand. The Saudi coalition will not win the battle in Hudaydah,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday conducted airstrikes on the airport, to support forces attempting to seize it. The official SABA news agency said warplanes carried out five strikes on Hudaydah – a lifeline to millions of Yemenis.

Ground troops including Emiratis, Sudanese and Yemenis have surrounded the main airport compound.

Mohammed al-Sharif, deputy head of Yemen’s civil aviation, said images circulated online about the airport had been taken in October 2016.

A fence shown as proof of the airport’s capture is actually situated near the al-Durayhimi district, on a piece of land belonging to a Yemeni lawmaker, the official SABA news agency quoted him as saying.

Ahmed Taresh, the head of Hudaydah airport, also denied news of the airport’s capture, but said that it has been completely destroyed in airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition.

Abdulsalam warned that the Saudi-UAE offensive against the port city would undermine chances for a peaceful settlement of the Yemen crisis.

The rebuttals came after the media office of the Saudi-backed Yemeni forces loyal to ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi said on Twitter that they had “freed Hudaydah international airport from the grip of” the Houthis.

Reports on Sunday said Saudi-backed forces had been surrounded in the al-Durayhimi Bayt al-Faqih district and at least 40 Saudi mercenaries killed by Yemeni sniper fire over the past two days.

Al-Mayadeen, meanwhile, cited informed sources as saying that the invading forces had retreated from all fronts in Hudaydah’s west.

A Yemeni military source said clashes had left 50 Saudi-backed forces dead and destroyed 13 of their armored vehicles in southern Hudaydah.

Yemeni forces have also managed to confiscate a French or American ship off Hudaydah’s coast, president of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi tweeted.

The UAE, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition waging the war on Yemen, launched the Hudaydah assault on Wednesday despite warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.

Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday reported that French special forces were present on the ground in Yemen supporting the operation.

According to the Houthis, British and French warships were also on standby on Yemen’s western coast to launch missile and aerial attacks on Hudaydah.

Fighting on Saturday closed off the city’s northern exit, blocking a key route east to Sana’a and making it harder to transport goods from Yemen’s biggest port to mountainous regions.

The UN World Food Program and the World Health Organization have both expressed concern over the situation.

More than 70 percent of Yemeni imports pass through Hudaydah’s docks and the fighting has raised fears of a humanitarian catastrophe in a country already teetering on the brink of famine.

On Saturday, the UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sana’a to hold emergency talks on Hudaydah. He was believed to be pushing a deal for the Houthi fighters to cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment