TBR News November 27, 2015

Nov 26 2015

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. November 26, 2015: “One of the most amusing aspects of Conspiracy blogs are the constant statements: ‘Scientists have proven…

We read that Scientists have proven Bulgarian bombers actually destroyed the World Trade Center. Scientists have also proven that Planet X is about to obliterate Cleveland and now we are reading authoratataive statements that the same Scientists state that the great  Himalayan glaciers that supply China and much of India, Pakistan and South East Asian countries with fresh water are not shrinking but actually growing every year!

Who these mythical Scientists are has not been proven but the idiot fringe is highly suspect. Actually, insofar as the Himalayan glaciers are concerned, they are actually melting faster than the Antarctic ice caps.

In the former matter, China will soon be deprived of her major water source and in the latter, the rapidly melting glaciers in Antarctica will raise the world’s sea levels by a minimum of twenty feet in about ten years.

The famous mythic Scientists assure the coastal populations that there is some minor melting but this will not raise the sea levels by more than a tenth of a centemeter by the beginning of 2100.

People believing this might wish to go out into their yard and say ‘Good Morning’ to the Easter Bunny.”

Melting of Earth’s Ice Cover Reaches New High

November 25, 2015

by Lisa Mastny

Worldwatch Institute

The Earth’s ice cover is melting in more places and at higher rates than at any time since record keeping began. Reports from around the world compiled by the Worldwatch Institute (see attached data table) show that global ice melting accelerated during the 1990s-which was also the warmest decade on record.

Scientists suspect that the enhanced melting is among the first observable signs of human-induced global warming, caused by the unprecedented release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the past century. Glaciers and other ice features are particularly sensitive to temperature shifts.

The Earth’s ice cover acts as a protective mirror, reflecting a large share of the sun’s heat back into space and keeping the planet cool. Loss of the ice would not only affect the global climate, but would also raise sea levels and spark regional flooding, damaging property and endangering lives. Large-scale melting would also threaten key water supplies as well as alter the habitats of many of the world’s plant and animal species.

Some of the most dramatic reports come from the polar regions, which are warming faster than the planet as a whole and have lost large amounts of ice in recent decades. The Arctic sea ice, covering an area roughly the size of the United States, shrunk by an estimated 6 percent between 1978 and 1996, losing an average of 34,300 square kilometers-an area larger than the Netherlands-each year.

The Arctic sea ice has also thinned dramatically since the 1960s and 70s. Between this period and the mid-1990s, the average thickness dropped from 3.1 meters to 1.8 meters-a decline of nearly 40 percent in less than 30 years.

The Arctic’s Greenland Ice Sheet-the largest mass of land-based ice outside of Antarctica, with 8 percent of the world’s ice-has thinned more than a meter per year on average since 1993 along parts of its southern and eastern edges.

The massive Antarctic ice cover, which averages 2.3 kilometers in thickness and represents some 91 percent of Earth’s ice, is also melting. So far, most of the loss has occurred along the edges of the Antarctic Peninsula, on the ice shelves that form when the land-based ice sheets flow into the ocean and begin to float. Within the past
decade, three ice shelves have fully disintegrated: the Wordie, the Larsen A, and the Prince Gustav. Two more, the Larsen B and the Wilkins, are in full retreat and are expected to break up soon, having lost more than one-seventh of their combined 21,000 square kilometers since late 1998-a loss the size of Rhode Island. Icebergs as big as Delaware have also broken off Antarctica in recent years, posing threats to open-water shipping.

Antarctica’s vast land ice is also melting, although there is disagreement over how quickly. One study estimates that the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), the smaller of the continent’s two ice sheets, has retreated at an average rate of 122 meters a year for the past 7,500 years-and is in no imminent danger of collapse. But other studies suggest that the sheet may break more abruptly if melting accelerates. They point to signs of past collapse, as well as to fast-moving ice streams within the sheet that could speed ice melt, as evidence of potential instability.

Outside the poles, most ice melt has occurred in mountain and subpolar glaciers, which have responded much more rapidly to temperature changes. As a whole, the world’s glaciers are now shrinking faster than they are growing, and losses in 1997-98 were “extreme,” according to the World Glacier Monitoring Service. Scientists predict that up to a quarter of global mountain glacier mass could disappear by 2050, and up to one-half by 2100-leaving large patches only in Alaska, Patagonia, and the Himalayas. Within the next 35 years, the Himalayan glacial area alone is expected to shrink by one-fifth, to 100,000 square kilometers.

The disappearance of Earth’s ice cover would significantly alter the global climate-though the net effects remain unknown. Ice, particularly polar ice, reflects large amounts of solar energy back into space, and helps keep the planet cool. When ice melts, however, this exposes land and water surfaces that retain heat-leading to even more melt and creating a feedback loop that accelerates the overall warming process. But excessive ice melt in the Arctic could also have a cooling effect in parts of Europe and the eastern United States, as the influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic may disrupt ocean circulation patterns that enable the warm Gulf Stream to flow north.

As mountain glaciers shrink, large regions that rely on glacial runoff for water supply could experience severe shortages. The Quelccaya Ice Cap, the traditional water source for Lima, Peru, is now retreating by some 30 meters a year-up from only 3 meters a year before 1990-posing a threat to the city’s 10 million residents. And in northern India, a region already facing severe water scarcity, an estimated 500 million people depend on the tributaries of the glacier-fed Indus and Ganges rivers for irrigation and drinking water. But as the Himalayas melt, these rivers are expected to initially swell and then fall to dangerously low levels, particularly in summer. (In 1999, the Indus reached record high levels because of glacial melt.)

Rapid glacial melting can also cause serious flood damage, particularly in heavily populated regions such as the Himalayas. In Nepal, a glacial lake burst in 1985, sending a 15-meter wall of water rushing 90 kilometers down the mountains, drowning people and destroying houses. A second lake near the country’s Imja Glacier has now grown to 50 hectares, and is predicted to burst within the next five years, with similar consequences.

Large-scale ice melt would also raise sea levels and flood coastal areas, currently home to about half the world’s people. Over the past century, melting in ice caps and mountain glaciers has contributed on average about one-fifth of the estimated 10-25 centimeter (4-10 inch) global sea level rise-with the rest caused by thermal expansion of the ocean as the Earth warmed. But ice melt’s share in sea level rise is increasing, and will accelerate if the larger ice sheets crumble. Antarctica alone is home to 70 percent of the planet’s fresh water, and collapse of the WAIS, an ice mass the size of Mexico, would raise sea levels by an estimated 6 meters-while melting of both Antarctic ice sheets would raise them nearly 70 meters. (Loss of the Arctic sea ice or of the floating Antarctic ice shelves would have no effect on sea level because these already displace water.)

Wildlife is already suffering as a result of global ice melt-particularly at the poles, where marine mammals, seabirds, and other creatures depend on food found at the ice edge. In northern Canada, reports of hunger and weight loss among polar bears have been correlated with changes in the ice cover. And in Antarctica, loss of the sea ice, together with rising air temperatures and increased precipitation, is altering the habitats as well as feeding and breeding patterns of penguins and seals.


  Arctic Sea Ice Arctic Ocean

Has shrunk by 6 percent since 1978, with a 14 percent loss of thicker, year-round ice. Has thinned by 40 percent in less than 30 years.

   Greenland Ice Sheet  Greenland

Has thinned by more than a meter a year on its southern and eastern edges since 1993.

Columbia Glacier Alaska,United States

   Has retreated nearly 13 kilometers since 1982. In 1999, retreat rate increased from 25 meters per day to 35 meters per day.

   Glacier National Park Rocky Mtns., United States

Since 1850, the number of glaciers has dropped from 150 to fewer than 50. Remaining glaciers could disappear completely in 30 years.

Antarctic Sea Ice Southern Ocean

Ice to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula decreased by some 20 percent between 1973 and 1993, and continues to decline.

   Pine Island Glacier West Antarctica

Grounding line (where glacier hits ocean and floats) retreated 1.2 kilometers a year between 1992 and 1996. Ice thinned at a rate of 3.5 meters per year.

   Larsen B Ice Shelf Antarctic Peninsula

Calved a 200 km2 iceberg in early 1998. Lost an additional 1,714 km2 during the 1998-1999 season, and 300 km2 so far during the 1999-2000 season.

   Tasman Glacier New Zealand

Terminus has retreated 3 kilometers since 1971, and main front has retreated 1.5 kilometers since 1982. Has thinned by up to 200 meters on average since the 1971-82 period. Icebergs began to break off in 1991, accelerating the collapse.

   Meren, Carstenz, and Northwall Firn Glaciers Irian Jaya, Indonesia

Rate of retreat increased to 45 meters a year in 1995, up from only 30 meters a year in 1936. Glacial area shrank by some 84 percent between 1936 and 1995. Meren Glacier is now close to disappearing altogether.

Dokriani Bamak Glacier Himalayas, India

Retreated by 20 meters in 1998, compared with an average retreat of 16.5 meters over the previous 5 years.

   Duosuogang Peak Ulan Ula Mtns., China

Glaciers have shrunk by some 60 percent since the early 1970s.

Tien Shan Mountains Central Asia

   Twenty-two percent of glacial ice volume has disappeared in the past 40 years.

   Caucasus Heaps Russia

Glacial volume has declined by 50 percent in the past century.

   Alps Western Europe

Glacial area has shrunk by 35 to 40 percent and volume has declined by more than 50 percent since 1850. Glaciers could be reduced to only a small fraction of their present mass within decades.

   Mt. Kenya Kenya

Largest glacier has lost 92 percent of its mass since the late 1800s.

   Speka Glacier Uganda

Retreated by more than 150 meters between 1977 and 1990, compared with only 35-45 meters between 1958 and 1977.

   Upsala Glacier  Argentina

Has retreated 60 meters a year on average over the last 60 years, and rate is accelerating.

   Quelccaya Glacier Andes, Peru

Rate of retreat increased to 30 meters a year in the 1990s, up from only 3 meters a year between the 1970s and 1990.

Yahoo stops some users accessing emails in ad-blockers row

November 23, 2015

BBC News

Yahoo has confirmed that it is preventing some people from accessing their email if they are using ad-blocking software in their browser.

Some users in the US reported that Yahoo Mail was displaying a message asking them to disable their ad-blocker before they could access their inbox.

Yahoo said it was testing a “new product experience” in the US.

Members of one ad-blocking forum said they had already managed to circumvent the restriction.


Ad-blocking has proved to be controversial and technology companies have responded in different ways.

In September, Apple updated its mobile operating system iOS to allow third-party ad-blockers to be installed – although they do not remove Apple’s own ads which it serves up in apps.

Google meanwhile has introduced a paid subscription version of YouTube, that lets viewers remove ads on the video streaming site for a monthly fee.

Ad-blocking advocates say disabling advertisements can improve smartphone battery life and reduce mobile data usage.

It can also prevent people being tracked by advertisers online and protect devices from malware that could be served up if an advertising network is compromised.

In 2014, Yahoo admitted adverts on its homepage had been infected with malware for four days.

But the company currently relies on advertising to earn money from its Yahoo Mail service which is available to use for free.

Hackers can hijack Wi-Fi Hello Barbie to spy on your children

Security researcher warns hackers could steal personal information and turn the microphone of the doll into a surveillance device

November 26, 2015

by Samuel Gibbs

The Guardian

Mattel’s latest Wi-Fi enabled Barbie doll can easily be hacked to turn it into a surveillance device for spying on children and listening into conversations without the owner’s knowledge.

The Hello Barbie doll is billed as the world’s first “interactive doll” capable of listening to a child and responding via voice, in a similar way to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft’s Cortana.

It connects to the internet via Wi-Fi and has a microphone to record children and send that information off to third-parties for processing before responding with natural language responses.

But US security researcher Matt Jakubowski discovered that when connected to Wi-Fi the doll was vulnerable to hacking, allowing him easy access to the doll’s system information, account information, stored audio files and direct access to the microphone.

Jakubowski told NBC: “You can take that information and find out a person’s house or business. It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want.”

Once Jakubowski took control of where the data was sent the snooping possibilities were apparent. The doll only listens in on a conversation when a button is pressed and the recorded audio is encrypted before being sent over the internet, but once a hacker has control of the doll the privacy features could be overridden.

It was the ease with which the doll was compromise that was most concerning. The information stored by the doll could allow hackers to take over a home Wi-Fi network and from there gain access to other internet connected devices, steal personal information and cause other problems for the owners, potentially without their knowledge.

This isn’t the first time that Hello Barbie has been placed under the privacy spotlight. On its release in March privacy campaigners warned that a child’s intimate conversations with their doll were being recorded and analysed and that it should not go on sale.

With a Hello Barbie in the hands of a child and carried everywhere they and their parents go, it could be the ultimate in audio surveillance device for miscreant hackers.

ToyTalk and Mattel, the manufacturers of Hello Barbie, did not respond to requests for comment.

Turkey’s Stab in the Back: Downing of Russian plane by Turkey augurs World War III

November 25, 2015

by Justin Raimondo,


War is the great clarifier, and in the case of the battle against Islamist insurgents, including ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, the downing of the Russian war plane by the Turkish military has demonstrated this principle quite dramatically.

The US and its NATO allies, including Turkey, claim to be fighting ISIS, otherwise known as the “Islamic State,” but the Turks’ main fire has been directed at the Kurds and the Syrian regime itself. Turkey has been the main conduit for aid to the Islamic State, and the Turkish intelligence agency has long collaborated with Islamists in the region. The US, for its part, has attacked ISIS positions, and yet Washington’s insistence that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must go has undermined their ostensible goal of destroying the Islamic State: most of the Americans’ resources have gone into buttressing the “moderate” Islamist opposition. These “moderates” include, incredibly enough, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, who have forged an alliance with US-backed rebels in a joint effort to overthrow Assad.

On the other hand, the Russians have been unequivocal about their war aims: the elimination of the jihadists from Syrian territory. This has meant supporting the only viable alternative to jihadist rule: the Assad regime. Working in conjunction with government forces, Russian war planes have devastated jihadist positions and aided the Ba’athist regime in its effort to regain territory.

This incident has revealed what the real sides are in the Syrian civil war: who is fighting whom, and for what. The Russian plane crashed into Syrian territory and one of the pilots was shot from the skies as he parachuted: this barbaric act was captured on video by the rebels, who are being reported as affiliated with the Turkmen “10th Brigade.” This is just for public consumption, however: in reality, the area is controlled by an alliance of rebel forces dominated by the al-Nusra Front, which is the official Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda. The jihadists took control of the area in March of this year, and it has been the focal point of recent fighting between al-Qaeda and Syrian government forces backed by the Russian air offensive.

Vice is reporting:

Russia sent helicopters to search for the downed pilots. Syrian fighters later fired at a helicopter forcing it to make an emergency landing in a nearby government-held area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Syrian insurgent group, recipient of US Tow missiles, said its fighters hit the helicopter with an anti-tank missile.”

So here we have it: US-backed jihadists, including al-Qaeda, are using weapons supplied by Washington to fight the Russians and the Syrian government. A cozy arrangement, indeed.

As I’ve written here as long ago as the summer of 2012, Washington has effectively entered an alliance with al-Qaeda. And as I pointed out here more recently, our “war on terrorism” has turned into a war on Russia, a proxy war in Syria in which Washington is actively aiding its former enemies – the very same people who brought down the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Turkey is a member of NATO, and in any conflict with Russia we are pledged to come to their aid. The danger highlighted by this incident can hardly be overemphasized. As I  put it last month:

With the addition of Russia to the Middle East equation, the stakes have been raised a hundred-fold. How long before this “proxy war” turns into a direct confrontation between two nuclear-armed powers? Will I witness another version of the Cuban missile crisis in my lifetime?”

Putin’s accusation that this is “a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” is absolutely correct – but he isn’t just talking about Turkey, whose Islamist regime has been canoodling with the terrorists since the start of the Syria civil war. Washington and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar – who have been directly aiding ISIS as well as the “moderate” head-choppers – is indirectly responsible for the downing the Russian plane – including a barbaric attack on the rescue helicopter, which was downed by a US-provided TOW missile launcher.

Yes, folks, your tax dollars are going to support Islamist crazies in Syria. The same people who attacked Paris are being aided and abetted by the US – and if that isn’t a criminal act, then there is no justice in this world.

As Europe cowers before a terrorist assault, and the War Party justifies universal surveillance of the American people by citing the threat from domestic attacks by ISIS, we are allied with these barbarians in Syria. And the foreign policy wonks in Washington are taking this opportunity to demonize Russia: according to them, Putin and not ISIS is the real threat to the West. As Dan Drezner, one of the Washington Post’s resident Russia-haters, writes:

If Putin has a modus operandi, it’s to foment tensions in a new region when the situation is worsening in an ongoing area of conflict. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Putin tries to coerce or intimidate the Baltic states soon, as a way of signaling to NATO that it has leverage elsewhere.”

This would be funny if it wasn’t such a widely shared talking point. For the past year or so the Russia-haters have been confidently predicting that Putin would be marching through the streets of Kiev and gobbling up the Baltics in a single swallow. A Russian invasion, according to the Ukrainians and their US cheerleaders, has been “imminent” for the past nine months or so! According to their scenario, by this time Putin should be crossing the English Channel and laying siege to London., Naturally, nothing of the sort has happened, nor will it happen: it’s the Americans who want a repeat of the Cuban missile crisis, not Putin.

And now they have it.

Are you ready for World War III?

Turkish newspaper editor in court for ‘espionage’ after revealing weapon convoy to Syrian militants

November 26, 2015


A Turkish prosecutor asked a court to imprison the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper pending trial for espionage and treason. In May, the outlet published photos of weapons it said were then transferred to Syria by Turkey’s intelligence agency.

Besides the editor, Can Dündar, the prosecution said it is seeking the same pre-trial restrictions for Cumhuriyet’s representative in Ankara, Erdem Gül.

Dündar arrived at an Istanbul court on Thursday, saying that he and his colleague “came here to defend journalism.”

We came here to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies. We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and defend this,” Dündar was cited by Today’s Zaman.

The articles, published on Cumhuriyet’s front page in May, claimed that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is smuggling weapons in trucks into Syria and was caught doing so twice in 2014. The trucks were allegedly stopped and searched by police, with photos and videos of their contents obtained by Cumhuriyet.

According to the paper, the trucks were carrying six steel containers, with 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells. The arms were reportedly delivered to extremist groups fighting against the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, whom Ankara wants ousted from power.

The Turkish authorities denied the allegations, saying that the trucks were carrying aid to Syrian ethnic Turkmen tribespeople and labeled their interception an act of “treason” and “espionage.”

A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch warned that under Erdogan’s rule Turkey has seen the erosion of human rights via a crackdown on media freedom, dissent and a weakening of the rule of law.

Many journalists in the country are facing harsh prison terms for exposing corruption in the government and surveillance by the Turkish state.

Egdogan’s regime has also attempted to silence social media by blocking YouTube and Twitter on a number of occasions.

Mystery over who bombed Turkish convoy allegedly carrying weapons to militants in Syria

November 26, 2015


A Turkish convoy, which according to some reports was transporting weapons to terrorist organizations, has been hit by apparent airstrikes in northwestern Syria.

Footage released online by the Istanbul-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) shows plumes of smoke from the burning trucks and people running about in panic. At least 20 trucks were engulfed in flames.

The mission, however, wasn’t sponsored or organized by the IHH, the group said. No organization has as yet confirmed that the convoy belonged to them.

“Our teams helped to extinguish the fire… The trucks do not belong to us and there is no information on who bombed them,” Mustafa Özbek, an official from İHH, told Reuters.

At least seven people were killed and 10 injured in the incident, according to the Turkish Anadolu agency. The trucks were reportedly heading to the town of Azaz in northwestern Syria.

Since the news emerged, media has been furiously speculating about who was behind the attack, what the trucks were transporting, what the convoy’s humanitarian mission was, or maybe it was carrying a more sinister load.

One of the aid workers who survived the incident said the trucks had been deliberately targeted, Reuters reported.

The nature of the ‘humanitarian aid’ is also in question. Turkish media and the IHH say the trucks were transporting humanitarian aid to refugees in Azaz. However, the Turkish Cumhuriyet newspaper cited sources close to the Syrian government saying the convoy was delivering weapons to terrorist organizations. The Hawar news agency reported that Turkey repeatedly sent convoys with arms to the Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations under the guise of humanitarian aid.

Reports on Twitter went further – they identified the arms as allegedly “Docka machine guns” and “small arms with ammunitions.”

In the wake of the recent downing of a Russian Air Force bomber over Syria by Turkish fighter jets, some reports suggested the Russians were “avenging” the pilot’s death. Many media outlets thought it was the work of Vladimir Putin.

Anadolu cited ‘Syrian opposition sources,’ who claimed that Russian jets attacked the convoy.

Other sources suggested the airstrikes were carried out by Syrians, without specifying whether it was members of the Syrian Army loyal to President Bashar Assad, or one of the various Syrian rebel groups.

Neither Turkish, nor Russian authorities have yet commented on the incident. However, before the Azaz incident Tayyip Erdogan commented on an event that took place in 2013, when a Turkish security service convoy was stopped on the way to the Bayırbucak region in northwestern Syria. The Turkish president said: “If there were any weapons, then what? And if there weren’t, what would change?”

Russia seeks economic revenge against Turkey over jet

November 26, 2015  

by Humeyra Pamuk and Vladimir Soldatkin


ISTANBUL/MOSCOW -Russia threatened economic retaliation against Turkey on Thursday and said it was still awaiting a reasonable explanation for the shooting down of its warplane, but Turkey dismissed the threats as “emotional” and “unfitting”.

In an escalating war of words, President Tayyip Erdogan responded to Russian accusations that Turkey has been buying oil and gas from Islamic State in Syria by accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, which include Moscow, of being the real source of the group’s financial and military power.

The shooting down of the jet by the Turkish air force on Tuesday was one of the most serious clashes between a NATO member and Russia, and further complicated international efforts to battle Islamic State militants.

World leaders have urged both sides to avoid escalation.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered his government to draw up measures that would include freezing some joint investment projects and restricting food imports from Turkey.

Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Moscow could put limits on flights to and from Turkey, halt preparations for a joint free trade zone, and restrict high-profile projects including the TurkStream gas pipeline and a $20 billion nuclear power plant Russia is building in Turkey.

“We are strategic partners … ‘Joint projects may be halted, ties could be cut’? Are such approaches fitting for politicians?,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.

“First the politicians and our militaries should sit down and talk about where errors were made and then focus on overcoming those errors on both sides. But instead, if we make emotional statements like this, that wouldn’t be right.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was still awaiting a reasonable answer from Ankara on why it downed the fighter jet. Moscow insists it never left Syrian air space, but Ankara says it crossed the border despite repeated warnings.

Erdogan said the Russian jet was shot down as an “automatic reaction” to the violation of Turkish air space, in line with standing orders given to the military.

Those instructions were a separate issue to disagreements with Russia over Syria policy, he said, adding Ankara would continue to support moderate rebels in Syria and Turkmen fighters battling President Assad’s forces.

He told CNN that Russia, not Turkey, should be the one to apologize for the incident.


Medvedev on Wednesday alleged that Turkish officials were benefiting from Islamic State oil sales, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was no secret that “terrorists” use Turkish territory.

“Shame on you. It’s clear where Turkey buys its oil and gas … Those who claim we are buying oil from Daesh like this must prove their claims. Nobody can slander this country,” Erdogan said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

“If you are seeking the source of weaponry and financial power of Daesh, the first place to look is the Assad regime and countries that act with it,” he said.

Moscow says its military involvement in Syria is aimed at battling terrorist groups including Islamic State, casting the campaign to a supportive Russian public as a moral crusade that must be completed despite obstruction from elsewhere.

Turkey and its allies say Russia’s real aim is to prop up its ally Assad and that it has been bombing moderate opposition groups in areas of Syria like Latakia, where the jet was downed, and where there is little or no Islamic State presence.

Russian forces have shown no sign of backing down, launching a heavy bombardment against insurgent-held areas in Latakia on Wednesday, near where the jet crashed.

A Reuters correspondent on the Turkish side of the border saw rockets and tank shells being fired from government-controlled western Latakia eastwards into rebel-held territory, sending plumes of smoke rising from the wooded hillsides.


Turkey’s action infuriated Russia, but Moscow’s response has been carefully calibrated. There is little sign it wants a military escalation, or to jeopardize its main objective in the region: to rally international support for its view on how the conflict in Syria should be resolved.

But it clearly wants to punish Turkey economically.

The head of Russia’s tourism agency, Rostourism, said cooperation with Turkey would “obviously” be halted. At least two large Russian tour operators had already said they would stop selling packages to Turkey after Russian officials advised holidaymakers against traveling to its resorts.

Russians are second only to Germans in terms of the numbers visiting Turkey, bringing in an estimated $4 billion a year in tourism revenues, which Turkey needs to help fund its gaping current account deficit.

Medvedev meanwhile said Russia may impose restrictions on food imports within days, having already increased checks of Turkish agriculture products, its first public move to curb trade.

Moscow banned most Western food imports in 2014 when Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis, leading to supply disruptions as retailers had to find new suppliers and galloping inflation.

The row has also put a brake on new wheat deals between Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, and Turkey, the largest buyer of Russian wheat.

(Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul, Mehmet Emin Caliskan in Yayladagi,; Lidia Kelly, Polina Devitt, Olga Sichkar and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow, Sarah McFarlane in London; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Giles Elgood)


Hollande’s anti-Isis talks with Putin complicated by downing of Russian jet

French president meeting Russian counterpart in Moscow on Thursday evening in attempt to persuade him that Syria’s future must be without Assad

November 26, 2015

by Shaun Walker in Moscow

The Guardian

François Hollande and Vladimir Putin will talk over dinner in the Kremlin on Thursday evening, as the French president continues diplomatic efforts to form a broad coalition against Islamic State after the Paris attacks.

Hollande was in Washington meeting with US president Barack Obama on Tuesday, and met Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi in Paris earlier on Thursday. He also met British prime minister David Cameron on Monday and German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. His trip to Moscow will last just a few hours, as he is whisked to the Kremlin for one-on-one talks with Putin followed by a working dinner set to include his foreign and defence ministers.

So far, however, the pledges have been vague, and chances for a broad coalition have been further complicated by the shooting down of a Russian jet by the Turkish air force on Tuesday.

Since the start of the conflict, the main bone of contention between Russia and the west has been over whether President Bashar al-Assad is part of the problem or part of the solution to the crisis. Moscow has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria for nearly two months, but western capitals say they are aimed less at fighting Isis and more at propping up the Assad regime. Putin has said the best way to defeat Isis is to support the “legitimate government” of Assad, and not allow the institutions of state to crumble as in Iraq and Libya.

Hollande hopes to persuade Putin that Syria’s future must be without Assad, although in recent weeks he has become more amenable to the idea of a short transition period in which Assad could remain nominally in charge. Neither side expects a major breakthrough on Thursday.

The diplomatic push is complicated by the differing goals of many of the players in the supposed coalition. The Turkish attack on the Russian Su-24 has made unity even harder.

Russia has reacted furiously to the Turkish incident, though it has ruled out a military response.

Putin on Thursday accused Turkey of deliberately trying to bring relations between Moscow and Ankara to a standstill, adding that Moscow was still awaiting an apology or an offer of reimbursement for damages. He earlier called the act a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” and promed “serious consequences”.

Russia has insisted the plane never left Syrian airspace, while Turkey says it crossed into its airspace for 17 seconds. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said even if this was the case, shooting the plane down was an extreme over-reaction and the move looked like a pre-planned “provocation”.

One of the pilots and a marine sent on a rescue mission died. The surviving co-pilot claimed in an interview with Russian television he received no audio or visual warning before the plane was shot down. The Turks have released audio recordings of what they say are warnings issued to the plane over radio.

Lavrov has backed Hollande’s proposal to close off the Syria-Turkey border, considered the main crossing point for foreign fighters seeking to join Isis.

I think this is a good proposal and tomorrow President Hollande will talk to us in greater detail about it. We would be ready to seriously consider the necessary measures for this,” Lavrov said on Wednesday.

In Britain, a vote of MPs is due next week on the extension of airstrikes from Iraq to Syria, and Cameron told Hollande on Monday that France could use a British air base in Cyprus to fly missions against Isis. On Wednesday, Merkel held talks with Hollande in Paris, and said she would act “swiftly” to work out how Germany could offer more support.

Home, Sweet Kleptocracy: Kabul in America

by Rebecca Gordon


A top government official with energy industry holdings huddles in secret with oil company executives to work out the details of a potentially lucrative “national energy policy.” Later, that same official steers billions of government dollars to his former oil-field services company. Well-paid elected representatives act with impunity, routinely trading government contracts and other favors for millions of dollars. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens live in fear of venal police forces that suck them dry by charging fees for services, throwing them in jail when they can’t pay arbitrary fines or selling their court “debts” to private companies. Sometimes the police just take people’s life savings leaving them with no recourse whatsoever. Sometimes they steal and deal drugs on the side. Meanwhile, the country’s infrastructure crumbles. Bridges collapse, or take a quarter-century to fix after a natural disaster, or (despite millions spent) turn out not to be fixed at all. Many citizens regard their government at all levels with a weary combination of cynicism and contempt. Fundamentalist groups respond by calling for a return to religious values and the imposition of religious law.

What country is this? Could it be Nigeria or some other kleptocratic developing state? Or post-invasion Afghanistan where Ahmed Wali Karzai, CIA asset and brother of the U.S.-installed president Hamid Karzai, made many millions on the opium trade (which the U.S. was ostensibly trying to suppress), while his brother Mahmoud raked in millions more from the fraud-ridden Bank of Kabul? Or could it be Mexico, where the actions of both the government and drug cartels have created perhaps the world’s first narco-terrorist state?

In fact, everything in this list happened (and much of it is still happening) in the United States, the world leader — or so we like to think — in clean government. These days, however, according to the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International (TI), our country comes in only 17th in the least-corrupt sweepstakes, trailing European and Scandinavian countries as well as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In fact, TI considers us on a par with Caribbean island nations like Barbados and the Bahamas. In the U.S., TI says, “from fraud and embezzlement charges to the failure to uphold ethical standards, there are multiple cases of corruption at the federal, state and local level.”

And here’s a reasonable bet: it’s not going to get better any time soon and it could get a lot worse. When it comes to the growth of American corruption, one of TI’s key concerns is the how the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the pay-to-play floodgates of the political system, allowing Super PACs to pour billions of private and corporate money into it, sometimes in complete secrecy. Citizens United undammed the wealth of the super-rich and their enablers, allowing big donors like casino capitalist — a description that couldn’t be more literal — Sheldon Adelson to use their millions to influence government policy.

Kleptocracy USA?

Every now and then, a book changes the way you see the world. It’s like shaking a kaleidoscope and suddenly all the bits and pieces fall into a new pattern. Sarah Chayes’s Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security shook my kaleidoscope. Chayes traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 as a reporter for NPR. Moved by the land and people, she soon gave up reporting to devote herself to working with non-governmental organizations helping “Afghans rebuild their shattered but extraordinary country.”

In the process, she came to understand the central role government corruption plays in the collapse of nations and the rise of fundamentalist organizations like the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State. She also discovered just how unable (and often unwilling) American military and civilian officials were to put a stop to the thievery that characterized Afghanistan’s government at every level — from the skimming of billions in reconstruction funds at the top to the daily drumbeat of demands for bribes and “fees” from ordinary citizens seeking any kind of government service further down the chain of organized corruption. In general, writes Chayes, kleptocratic countries operate very much as pyramid schemes, with people at one level paying those at the next for the privilege of extracting money from those below.

Chayes suggests that “acute government corruption” may be a major factor “at the root” of the violent extremism now spreading across the Greater Middle East and Africa. When government robs ordinary people blind, in what she calls a “vertically integrated criminal enterprise,” the victims tend to look for justice elsewhere. When officials treat the law with criminal contempt, or when the law explicitly permits government extortion, they turn to what seem like uncorrupted systems of reprisal and redemption outside those laws. Increasingly, they look to God or God’s laws and, of course, to God’s self-proclaimed representatives. The result can be dangerously violent explosions of anger and retribution. Eruptions can take the form of the Puritan iconoclasm that rocked Catholic Europe in the sixteenth century or present-day attempts by the Taliban or the Islamic State to implement a harsh, even vindictive version of Islamic Sharia law, while attacking “unbelievers” in the territory they control.

Reading Thieves of State, it didn’t take long for my mind to wander from Kabul to Washington, from a place where American-funded corruption was an open secret to a place where few would think it applicable. Why was it, I began to wonder, that in our country “corruption” never came up in relation to bankers the government allowed to sell mortgages to people who couldn’t repay them, then slicing and dicing their debt into investment “securities” that brought on the worst recession since the 1930s? (Neil Barofsky, who took on the thankless role of inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, tells the grim tale of how the government was “captured by the banks” in his 2012 book Bailout.)

Chayes made me wander ever deeper into the recent history of Washington’s wheeling and dealing, including, for instance, the story of the National Energy Policy Development Group, which Vice President Dick Cheney convened in the first weeks of George W. Bush’s presidency. Its charge was to develop a national energy policy for the country and its deliberations — attended by top executives of all the major oil companies (some of whom then denied before Congress that they had been present) — were held in complete secrecy. Cheney even refused to surrender the list of attendees when the Government Accountability Office sued him, a suit eventually dropped after Congress cut that agency’s budget. If the goal was to create a policy that would suit the oil companies, Cheney was the perfect man to chair the enterprise.

In 2001, having suggested himself as the only reasonable running mate for Bush, Cheney left his post as CEO at oilfield services corporation Halliburton. “Big changes are coming to Washington,” he told ABC News, “and I want to be a part of them.” And so he was, including launching a disastrous war on Iraq, foreseen and planned for in those energy policy meetings. Indeed, documents shaken loose in a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club showed that in March 2001 — months before the 9/11 attacks — energy task force members were already salivating over taking possession of those Iraqi oil fields. Nor did Cheney forget his friends at Halliburton. Their spin-off company, KBR, would receive a better-than-1,000-to-1 return on their investment in the vice president (who’d gotten a $34 million severance package from them), reaping $39.5 billion in government contracts in Iraq. And yet when did anyone mention “corruption” in connection with any of this?

Chayes’s book made me think in a new way about the long-term effects of the revolving door between the Capitol — supposedly occupied by the people’s representatives — and the K Street suites of Washington’s myriad lobbyists.  It also brought to mind all those former members of Congress, generals, and national security state officials who parachute directly out of government service and onto the boards of defense-oriented companies or into cushy consultancies catering to that same security state.

It also made me think in a new way about the ever-lower turnouts for our elections. There are good reasons why so many Americans — especially those living in poverty and in communities of color — don’t vote. It’s not that they don’t know their forebears died for that right. It’s not that they don’t object when their votes are suppressed. It’s that, like many other Americans, they clearly believe their government to be so corrupt that voting is pointless.

Are We in Ferguson — or Kabul?

What surprises me most, however, isn’t the corruption at the top, but the ways in which lives at the bottom are affected by it. Reading Thieves of State set me thinking about how regularly money in this country now flows from the bottom up that pyramid. If you head down, you no longer find yourself on Main Street, U.S.A., but in a place that seems uncomfortably like Kabul; in other words, a Ponzi-scheme world of the first order.

Consider, for instance, the Justice Department’s 2015 report on the police in Ferguson, Missouri, about whom we’ve learned so much since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death on August 9, 2014.  As it happens, the dangers for Ferguson’s residents hardly ended with police misconduct. “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the city’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs,” Justice Department investigators found:

This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community.”

The report then recounted in excruciating detail the extent to which the police were a plague on the city’s largely black population. Ferguson was — make no mistake about it — distinctly Kabul, U.S.A. The police, for instance, regularly accosted residents for what might be termed “sitting in a car while Black,” and then charged them with bogus “crimes” like failing to wear a seat belt in a parked car or “making a false declaration” that, say, one’s name was “Mike,” not “Michael.” While these arrests didn’t make money directly for the police force, officers interested in promotion were told to keep in mind that their tally of “self-initiated activities” (tickets and traffic stops) would have a significant effect on their future success on the force. Meanwhile, those charged often lost their jobs and livelihoods amid a welter of court appearances.

Ferguson’s municipal court played its own grim role in this ugly scheme. As Justice Department investigators discovered, it did not “act as a neutral arbiter of the law or a check on unlawful police conduct.” Instead, it used its judicial authority “as the means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance[d] the city’s financial interests.”

By issuing repeated arrest warrants when people missed court appearances or were unable to pay fines, it managed to regularly pile one fine on top of another and then often refused to accept partial payments for the sums owed. Under Missouri state law, moving traffic violations, for instance, automatically required the temporary suspension of a driver’s license. Ferguson residents couldn’t get their licenses back until — you guessed it — they paid their fines in full, often for charges that were manufactured in the first place.

As if in Kabul, people then had to weigh the risk of driving license-less (and getting arrested) against losing their jobs or — without a car — not making it to court. With no community service option available, many found themselves spending time in jail.  From the police to the courts to city hall, what had been organized was, in short, an everyday money-raising racket of the first order.

And all of this was linked to the police department, which actually ran the municipal court.  As the Justice Department report put it, that court “operates as part of the police department… is supervised by the Ferguson chief of police, is considered part of the police department for city organizational purposes, and is physically located within the police station. Court staff report directly to the chief of police.” He, in turn, ran the show, doing everything from collecting fines to determining bail amounts.

The Harvard Law Review reported that, in 2013, Ferguson had a population of 22,000.  That same year, “its municipal court issued 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses,” or almost one-and-a-half arrests per inhabitant. The report continued:

In Ferguson, residents who fall behind on fines and don’t appear in court after a warrant is issued for their arrest (or arrive in court after the courtroom doors close, which often happens just five minutes after the session is set to start for the day) are charged an additional $120 to $130 fine, along with a $50 fee for a new arrest warrant and 56 cents for each mile that police drive to serve it. Once arrested, everyone who can’t pay their fines or post bail (which is usually set to equal the amount of their total debt) is imprisoned until the next court session (which happens three days a month). Anyone who is imprisoned is charged $30 to $60 a night by the jail.”

Whether in Kabul or Ferguson, this kind of daily oppression wears people down. It’s no surprise that long before the police shot Michael Brown, the citizens of Ferguson had little trust or respect for them.

Privatizing Official Corruption

But might Ferguson not have been an outlier, a unique Kabul-in-America case of a rogue city government bent on extracting every penny from its poorest residents? Consider, then, the town of Pagedale, Missouri, which came up with a hardly less kleptocratic way of squeezing money out of its citizens. Instead of focusing on driving and parking, Pagedale routinely hit homeowners with fines for “offenses” like failing to have blinds and “matching curtains” on their windows or having “unsightly lawns.”  Pagedale is a small town, with 3,300 residents. In 2013, the city’s general revenues totaled $2 million, 17% percent from such fines and fees.

Might such kleptocratic local revenue-extraction systems, however, be limited to just one Midwestern state? Consider then the cozy relationship that Augusta, capital of Georgia, has with Sentinel Offender Services, LLC.  That company makes electronic monitoring equipment used by state and local government agencies, ranging from the Los Angeles County Probation Department to the Massachusetts Office of the Commissioner of Probation. Its website touts the benefits to municipalities of what it calls “offender-funded programs” in which the person on probation pays the company directly for his or her own monitoring, saving the courts the cost of administering a probation system. In return, the company sets its own fees at whatever level it chooses. “By individually assessing each participant a fee based on income,” says Sentinel, “our sliding-fee scale approach has shifted the financial burden to the participant, allowing program growth and size to be a function of correctional need rather than budget availability.”

Profiting from Probation,” a 2014 Human Rights Watch report, offers a typical tale of an Augusta resident named Michael Barrett. Arrested for shoplifting a can of beer, he entered a local court system that was focused on revenue extraction via a kind of official extortion, which is the definition of corruption. Even to step into a courtroom to deal with his “case,” he had to hand over an $80 fee for a court-appointed defense lawyer. Then, convicted, he would be sentenced to a $200 fine and probation. Because the charge was “alcohol-related,” the court required Barrett to wear an electronic bracelet that would monitor his alcohol consumption, even though his sentence placed no restrictions on his drinking. For that Sentinel bracelet, there was a $50 startup fee, a $39 monthly “service” charge, and a $12 “daily usage” fee.  In total, he was forced to pay about $400 a month to monitor something he was legally allowed to do. Since Barrett couldn’t even pay the startup fee, he was promptly thrown in jail for a month until a friend lent him the money.

Such systems of privatized “justice” that bleed the poor are now spreading across the U.S., a country officially without debtor’s prisons. According to the Harvard Law Review article, some cities charge a “fee” to everyone they arrest, whether or not they’re ever convicted of an offense. In Washington, D.C., on the other hand, for “certain traffic and a number of lower level criminal offenses,” you can simply pay your arresting officer “to end a case on the spot,” avoiding lengthy and expensive court costs. Other jurisdictions charge people who are arrested for the costs of police investigations, prosecution, public defender services, a jury trial (“sometimes with different fees depending on how many jurors a defendant requests”), and incarceration.

Watch Your Ass(ets)

Even Machiavelli, who counseled princes seizing new territory to commit all their crimes at once because human beings have such short memories, warned that people will accept pretty much any kind of oppression unless “you prey on the possessions or the women of your subjects.” So many centuries later, while we women now tend to believe we belong to ourselves, civil asset forfeiture is still a part of American life. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, which permits the government to seize a person’s assets after conviction of a crime, civil forfeiture allows local, state, or federal law enforcement to seize and keep someone’s money or other property even if he or she is never charged. If, say, you are suspected of involvement with drugs or terrorism, the police can seize all the money you have on you on the spot, even if they don’t arrest you — and you have to go to court to get it back.

Federal asset forfeiture collections have risen from around $800 million in 2002 to almost $4.5 billion in 2014, according to the Institute for Justice (IJ). Governments defend the practice as a means of preventing suspected criminals — especially high-level drug dealers — from using their money to commit more crimes. But all too often, it’s poor people whose money is “forfeited,” even when they’ve committed no crime. The Pennsylvania ACLU reported that police take around a million dollars from Philadelphians each year in 6,000 separate cases — and not from drug lords either. More than half the cases involve seizures of less than $192, and in a city that’s only 43% black, 71% of those seizures from people charged with no crimes come from African Americans. If your property is seized, you can try to go to court to get it back but, says the ACLU, you should expect to make an average of four court appearances. Most people just give up.

Reading Thieves of State reminded me that we’re not living in the country many of us imagine, but in something like an American klepto-state. Corruption, it turns out, doesn’t just devour the lives of people in far-off nations. Right now, it’s busy shoving what’s left of our own democracy down our throats.

Chayes documents how such corruption can lead to violent explosions in other countries. Indeed, it was a final kleptocratic insult — a police woman’s slap in the face after he refused to pay a bribe to retrieve his confiscated vegetable cart — that led Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi to burn himself to death and touch off the Arab Spring. As Machiavelli wrote so long ago, people will put up with a lot — torture, mass surveillance, even a car full of clowns masquerading as candidates for president — but they don’t like being robbed by their own government. Sooner or later, they will rebel. Let’s hope, when that happens, that we don’t end up under the rule of our own American Taliban or some billionaire reality TV star.

U.S. General Says Kunduz Hospital Strike Was ‘Avoidable’

November 25, 2015

by Rod Nordland

New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell, said Wednesday that several service members had been suspended from duty after an internal military investigation of the American airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz last month.

Calling the airstrike a “tragic mistake,” General Campbell read a statement announcing the findings of the investigation, which he said concluded that “avoidable human error” was to blame, compounded by technical, mechanical and procedural failures. He said another contributing factor was that the Special Forces members in Kunduz had been fighting continuously for days and were fatigued.

The strike, which involved repeated attacks by a Special Operations AC-130 gunship early on Oct. 3, killed 30 people, mostly patients and Doctors Without Borders staff members, and gutted the main hospital building. The aid group said the attack continued for more than an hour despite repeated calls to the military by staff members, and despite the hospital’s coordinates having been repeatedly sent to the American command.

General Campbell and his staff did not say how many people were being disciplined, or how. But a senior United States military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said one of those punished was the Army Special Forces commander on the ground in Kunduz during the fighting. The official would not identify the commander by name but said the officer, a captain, was relieved of his command in Afghanistan on Wednesday morning.

Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, had been seized by the Taliban in the days before the airstrike. General Campbell said the gunship’s crew believed it was firing on a different building identified as a Taliban base in the city. He said that the aircraft’s targeting systems had failed to deliver accurate information and that email and other electronic systems aboard the aircraft, including a video feed that would normally have sent pictures to higher-level commanders in real time, had also failed during the operation.

American officials said that the Special Operations troops did not follow the rules of engagement and that the airstrike should not have taken place. After reading the statement, General Campbell left the briefing room, at his headquarters in Kabul, without taking questions.

Following up, the spokesman for the American command, Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, sought to deflect a reporter’s suggestion that responsibility might rest higher up the chain of command. He said the actions of the aircrew and the Special Operations forces “were not appropriate to the threat that they faced.” And he repeatedly said the service members involved had not followed correct procedures for airstrikes or choosing targets.

Asked if the military’s investigators had questioned General Campbell in the course of their inquiry, General Shoffner declined to comment. General Campbell was ultimately in charge during the attack on the hospital, but a military official in Kabul said he was in an aircraft at the time, on his way to testify before Congress on Afghanistan.

I won’t comment on General Campbell’s position, as he is reviewing some of the recommendations that have been made in his capacity as the appointing officer of the investigation,” General Shoffner said.

Many of General Campbell’s comments raised more questions than they answered.

The general confirmed that Médecins Sans Frontières, the French name of Doctors Without Borders, had succeeded in reaching the Special Forces commander to inform him of the attack about 12 minutes into the airstrike, at 2:20 a.m. But he said the strike was not called off until 2:37 a.m. — after the aircrew had already stopped firing. But that timeline does not agree with accounts by the aid group and other witnesses, who said the strike went on for more than an hour.

The aid group, which has called for an independent, nonmilitary international inquiry into the airstrike, was sharply critical of General Campbell’s remarks. “The U.S. version of events presented today leaves M.S.F. with more questions than answers,” said Christopher Stokes, the organization’s general director. “The frightening catalog of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of U.S. forces and violations of the rules of war.”

Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for a criminal investigation. “The Kunduz strike still warrants a criminal investigation into possible war crimes, but the Pentagon did not clarify whether recommendations made to senior commanders include possible criminal investigations,” said John Sifton, the Asia policy director for Human Rights Watch. “We are deeply concerned that any decision making about any possible criminal charges, if they are made, remains within the chain of command responsible for military operations in Afghanistan.”

In his account of the investigation report, which is said to be 3,000 pages long but has not been publicly released, General Campbell said that the targeting system on the AC-130 gunship that carried out the airstrike pointed to what proved to be an empty field. Realizing that was not correct, the crew on the gunship decided to target the Doctors Without Borders hospital as the building nearest to the coordinates that matched the description of the intended target.

The investigation found that the actions of the aircrew and the Special Operations commander were not appropriate to the threats that they faced,” General Shoffner said. “We did not intentionally strike the hospital, and we’re absolutely heartbroken over what happened.”

Mr. Stokes expressed outrage at that account. “It appears that 30 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people are denied lifesaving care in Kunduz simply because the M.S.F. hospital was the closest large building to an open field and ‘roughly matched’ a description of an intended target,” he said.

General Shoffner said that General Campbell had directed that American soldiers receive additional training on targeting, planning and rules of engagement.

Neither the commanding general nor his spokesman made any comment on the repeated assertions of senior Afghan officials that the hospital was being used as a base by the Taliban to attack coalition forces.

“This was a tragic but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error,” General Campbell said. “The medical facility was misidentified as a target by U.S. personnel who believed they were striking a different building several hundred meters away where there were reports of combatants.”

Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington, and David Jolly from Kabul.

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