Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Ousted In Impeachment Vote

Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Rousseff

Brazil’s Senate ousted Dilma Rousseff as president Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to impeach the leftist leader in the culmination of a protracted process that has divided the country.

The vote to impeach Rousseff was 61 to 20. Two-thirds of senators — 54 out of 81 — were needed for impeachment to pass.

Brazilian senators celebrate after voting in Brasilia to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office.
Brazilian senators celebrate after voting in Brasilia to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office.

Senators broke into cheering and applause after the electronic voting was announced and sang the national anthem, concluding a process that was given the go-ahead in December.

But a second vote to strip Rousseff of her political rights for eight years fell well short of the required two-thirds supermajority, as 42 senators voted in favor of the penalty, with 36 opposed and three abstentions. However, a “clean slate” law could preclude her from running for office, though not from taking up a government position.

“Coup-mongers! History won’t forgive you!” Rousseff’s supporters in the Senate chanted after the second vote.

The long-awaited Senate proceedings went ahead Wednesday, senators and Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who was presiding, debated points of order.

Emotions ran high as senators for and against Rousseff’s removal made emotional speeches.

“Scoundrels!” roared Lindbergh Farias, from her left-wing Workers’ Party. Conservative Sen. Ronaldo Caiado retorted that the Workers’ Party was the real scandal for bringing Brazil to a “critical political and social moment.”

Rousseff was suspended in May after the Senate confirmed a lower-house vote to send her to trial on charges that she broke budget laws. Her former vice president, Michel Temer, took over as interim president.

Michel Temer
Michel Temer

Temer now is scheduled to be confirmed as president in a Wednesday afternoon ceremony for the rest of Rousseff’s term, which ends in December 2018. In the evening, he plans to fly to China to take part in a summit of the Group of 20 major economies.

Rousseff declared her innocence. She and her supporters denounced her impeachment as illegal and undemocratic.

Rousseff was elected to a second term in 2014, but her ratings tumbled amid a severe economic recession and a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state-controlled oil company Petrobras that has tarred much of Brazil’s political class. Over the past year, huge street protests erupted calling for her impeachment. Tens of thousands also demonstrated in her favor, but support has dwindled in recent days as Brazilians have resigned themselves to her fate.

Rousseff was charged with financial irregularities — using government banks to temporarily fund social programs and issuing spending decrees without congressional approval. But many Brazilians saw the proceedings as a ploy by conservatives to oust an unpopular leader.

Under Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, the economy sharply contracted while unemployment, inflation and public spending rose. The country lost its precious investment grade rating. During her spirited defense in the Senate on Monday, Rousseff blamed global economic conditions and the end of the commodities boom for Brazil’s troubles.

Temer, who belongs to the more conservative Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, is trying to introduce austerity measures such as a lid on public spending and changes to Brazil’s generous pension system.

 

Five ISIS Children Execute Kurdish Prisoners

Children prepare to execute Kurdish prisoners
Children prepare to execute Kurdish prisoners

ISIS recently released a chilling new nine-minute video showing a number of rounds of executions.  Particularly gruesome was the part that involved five child executers, most likely close to the ages of 12-13. In the video, the children can be seen with handguns poised to shoot Kurdish prisoners point-blank in their heads.

While one reads off threats to the Kurdish people, sneering that their Western allies are incapable of helping them, the others stand ready to pull the triggers, which each eventually they do.

Beheadings of four men of the Syrian opposition
Beheadings of four men of the Syrian opposition

The executions, which most likely took place in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto headquarter, were preceded and followed by other executions. The first set, carried out by masked men in brown uniforms, shows the beheadings of four men of the Syrian opposition (and one shooting).

Executions carried out by elderly people on Syrian government officials, who are killed by gunshot
Executions carried out by elderly people on Syrian government officials, who are killed by gunshot

The last set of executions are carried out by elderly people on Syrian government officials, who are killed by gunshot.

Children prepare to execute Kurdish prisonersThe child executioners are each thought to be from a different country:  the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia and Uzbekistan.

 

Polish soccer fans torch ‘Jewish’ effigies, fly banner calling for burning of Jews

Polish soccer fans of the Widzew Lodz club escorted by police
Polish soccer fans of the Widzew Lodz club escorted by police

A group of soccer hooligans in Poland torched effigies representing Jews and displayed banners calling for Jews to be burned in a shocking display during a match last Friday, according to local media reports and a global anti-Semitism watchdog. The incident occurred when dozens of fans supporting the Widzew Łódź side rallied against the town rival ŁKS Łódź, which is often derided as “Jewish” by opposing teams’ fans, in a similar fashion that the British team Tottenham Hotspur is regarded.

The rally took place ahead of the derby match at a local train station in the central Polish city that used to boast a large Jewish population prior to WWII.

According to a weekend report by the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, the demonstrators at the rally unfurled a banner printed with the slogan  “19.08, today the Jews were named,” in reference to the year ŁKS Łódź was established.

“Let them burn, motherf***ers,” continued the banner’s illicit message.  The report noted that images taken at the event showed the ruffians igniting strung-up effigies donned in attire apparently representative of Orthodox Jews. Debates over Poland’s attitude toward anti-Semitism have previously erupted over the contentious practices of some of the country’s soccer fans.

However, in 2014, a Polish municipal prosecutor in Poznań ruled that chants by soccer fans are not deemed criminal offenses. Following the decision, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor condemned the reaction of authorities in the face of the offensive, prejudicial actions of soccer fans. “Unfortunately, extreme anti-Semitic chants like those in Poznan are regularly heard in many European stadiums, including in England and Holland, and the reaction of the authorities is minimal,” CNN quoted him as saying.

50,000 Children May Starve to Death Due to Boko Haram

Nigerian childClose to 50,000 children are in danger of starving to death in Nigeria due to a scorched-earth policy by the brutal Islamist group Boko Haram, according to UNICEF, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

In addition, close to 250,000 people are severely malnourished in Borno state. In total, 4.4 million people are affected by the terror inflicted on the population by the group, an affiliate of the Islamic State in West Africa. Half of those people live in areas inaccessible to relief agencies.

Northeastern Nigeria was once the breadbasket of the entire country, with its fertile ground, abundant water and climate suitable for growing crops all year long.  The region produced rice, maize, wheat, millet, sorghum, cowpeas, fruits, peppers, chilies and vegetables. Fish from Lake Chad was sold throughout the country’s marketplaces.

Now, Boko Haram, whose militants kidnapped entire swaths of the population, burned villages and massacred tens of thousands, has left a wasteland behind. Crops that were growing were abandoned as the populations able to flee left the area to save themselves.

“We lost our farmlands and produce to Boko Haram and [were] reduced to a life of begging. We left our produce on the farm, in silos and stores in the market. But all that is gone, we have nothing left,” said Umar Bate, the head of the farmer’s union in Doron Baga on Lake Chad.

Boko Haram’s assault on Dorn Baga, Baga and two towns close by left at least 2,000 dead, including 250 farmers in the union, with satellite pictures showing 3,700 houses destroyed. All markets are closed. Crops left behind were looted by the terror group

ISIS Stages Jailbreak in the Philippines

ISIS in the Philippines
ISIS in the Philippines

Around 20 armed fighters the Islamic-State linked Maute Islamist militia group attacked a jail in the southern Philippines and sprung eight of their comrades, according to the Independent. In order to create confusion they also released 15 ordinary criminals imprisoned for drug offences and murder.

In the raid they captured two rifles from the guards, whom they disarmed.

The eight jihadists were arrested last week when they were caught with a homemade bomb in a van.

Maute is a relatively recent formation that beheaded a soldier and two kidnapped workers earlier this year. They use logos affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), to whom they have pledged allegiance.

Philippines mapOther Islamist jihadist groups in the Philippines have also pledged allegiance to ISIS. The most notorious of these is Abu Sayyaf, which beheaded two Canadian hostages this year after ransom demands were not met.

Abu Sayyaf pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in February 2016.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the army to eradicate Abu Sayyaf and other jihadist groups.

“Let us vigorously pursue this terrorist-bandit Abu Sayyaf group with no let-up and destroy them,” military chief of staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said. “We have this one chance to annihilate this menace to society that claims links with ISIS.”

A massive military operation to destroy the jihadist groups is underway.

Iran’s New, Domestically Built Missile Defense System

The Iranian Bavar 373 missile defense system
The Iranian Bavar 373 missile defense system

Last Sunday, Iran released the first pictures of its independently built missile defense system, according to a French news outlet. The defense system was developed when the international sanctions were imposed on the country. According to the Iranian news outlet that first published the photos, President Hassan Rouhani and Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan unveiled the new Bavar 373 missile defense system.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

The defense system is designed to intercept cruise missiles, drones, fighter aircraft and ballistic missiles. According to the news report, the Bavar 373 is equivalent to the missile defense system that Iran is in the process of receiving from Russia, the S-300 system. The Iranian system was developed when the international community halted the delivery of the Russian missiles to Iran in 2010.

“We didn’t intend to manufacture an Iranian version of the S-300, we intended to create an Iranian missile defense system and this is what we built,” said Dehghan to an Iranian news agency. According to Rouhani, the defense budget this year is double that of the previous year. “If we can now meet with the world powers at the negotiations table, it is only because of the strength of our nation and our unity,” stated the Iranian President.

State Dept Warns That Iran Is Seeking to Capture U.S. Citizens

US Department of State SealThe State Department issued a warning urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Iran, which has made the detention of Americans a priority.

The latest travel advisory, which emphasizes Iran’s desire to capture U.S. citizens, comes on the heels of a growing scandal over the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $400 million in cash on the same day that it freed several U.S. hostages.

The payment has been cast by lawmakers and others as a ransom payment and prompted concern among U.S. officials that Iran is making arresting Americans a priority.

The travel warning is meant to “highlight the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans,” according to a State Department announcement. “Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran.”

Map-of-Iran-in-Iranian-flag-colors“U.S. citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel,” the warning adds. “U.S. citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country.”

“Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin,” the travel warning states. “Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.”

The Obama administration expressed particular concern about commercial airlines doing business with Iran. This warning comes as American companies such as Boeing continue to pursue million-dollar business deals with the Islamic Republic.

“The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria,” the warning states. “The FAA has advised U.S. civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the airspace over Iran.”

The warning emphasizes that “the U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.”