TDB Top 5 International Stories: Tuesday 29th November 2016

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5: How much longer can east Aleppo hold out?

Hamza Abduljabbar’s gnarled hands wipe the dust off the dashboard of his white Isuzu minibus.

Back hunched from decades sitting behind the wheel, Abduljabbar still wakes up each morning at 6am to check on his vehicle – the windows of which have long since been blown out by nearby air strikes – when his rounds of east Aleppo’s Fardous neighbourhood would normally have begun.

“Everything is dusty these days. The bombing never stops,” he says. “Anyway, there’s no fuel, so the car just sits here.” Five years of war and five months of siege have aged the 45-year-old father of three well beyond his years. He hasn’t worked in months.

Government forces, backed by Russian air power and allied militias, began a new push last week to take control of the whole of Syria’s second city, the latest offensive in the uprising-turned-war that has killed more than 400,000 people and forced nearly five million Syrians out of the country in search of safety.

Aljazeera

4: What Oil Pipelines Can Do to Native American Land and Life

Black, ant-like figures crown a russet hill ringed by the Cannonball River at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. Soon they come into focus: dozens of policemen in full riot gear, stationed on high ground so as to better surveil the handful of people lingering in the aftermath of what Native Americans protesting a new oil pipeline and their allies call a “direct action,” or a confrontation with the law.

On closer inspection of the hilltop from the ground across the river, at least two officers are peering through rifle scopes. Others seem jovial, laughing as they wave contemptuously to the few demonstrators lingering on the far side of the river. Most glare back, stone-faced. One girl in a flowing purple skirt raises two fingers, flashing a peace sign. A black-clad young man with a long, glossy braid and a bandanna draped over the lower half of his face gives the cops the finger.

“There were people from that shoreline to that shoreline,” an activist named Marcus says when asked about the confrontation, one of several here in recent weeks. “People were walking on the boats to get across to the other side and advancing up the hill. The cops shot two guys [with rubber bullets], and they were walking down the side of the hill—with cop boats coming around, too. [The protesters] were playing drums. Everyone was just standing their ground.”

Asked how the cops behaved toward the demonstrators, Marcus turns his head and spits before responding. “I mean, you could hear them laughing up there, you could hear them just cracking jokes,” he says, with a bitter smile. “Apparently that’s the word from other people who have been here for a while… They’re just having a good time.”

Vice News

3: OBAMA’S USE OF UNRELIABLE GANG DATABASES FOR DEPORTATIONS COULD BE A MODEL FOR TRUMP

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP’S reaffirmation of his campaign trail vow to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants has roiled communities across the country. Local leaders have attempted to calm their constituents, with authorities in California offering particularly strident opposition. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León called Trump’s plan “catastrophic” and vowed that the state would “aggressively avail ourselves of any and all tools” to protect the rights of undocumented residents.

Remarks by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck about his agency not cooperating with any new deportation push garnered the highest praise from the national press and immigrants’ rights advocates.

“We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said on November 14.

The reality of street policing in California is quite different. Police and sheriffs in California — including the LAPD — and across the country have been routinely cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for years to deport people accused of gang ties. Joint federal-local gang task forces targeting transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street were formed during George W. Bush’s presidency as part of Operation Community Shield, and they have continued to operate through Barack Obama’s two terms. Today, the deportation of people accused of gang membership or association is strongly emphasized under the Obama administration’s Priority Enforcement Program, which focuses on identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

The Intercept

2: After Surviving 600 Assassination Attempts & Outlasting 11 U.S. Presidents, Fidel Castro Dies at 90

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

We host a roundtable discussion on the life and legacy of Cuban revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90. He survived 11 U.S. presidents and more than 600 assassination attempts, many orchestrated by the CIA. Castro died 60 years to the day after he, his brother Raúl, Che Guevara and 80 others set sail from Mexico in 1956 to begin what became the Cuban revolution to oust the U.S.-backed Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The revolution would inspire revolutionary efforts across the globe and lead Castro to become one of the archenemies of the United States. Our guests are journalist and activist Bill Fletcher, a founder of the Black Radical Congress; Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project and co-author of “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana”; and Louis A. Pérez Jr., a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of several books, including “Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution.”

Democracy Now

1: Great Barrier Reef scientists confirm largest die-off of corals recorded

A new study has found that higher water temperatures have ravaged the Great Barrier Reef, causing the worst coral bleaching recorded by scientists.

In the worst-affected area, 67% of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University study found.

“Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” Prof Terry Hughes said. “This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.”

The Guardian