(TMU) — The Trump administration heralded in the 2020 New Year by delivering a strike to kill Iran’s top military official, Qasem Soleimani, on January 2. The significance of this event were monumental and far-reaching. Soleimani was widely credited as being crucial in the degradation of the terror group ISIS. He was also reportedly the second-most influential official in Iran, falling only behind the Iranian Supreme Leader.
While the world appears to have weathered the storm so far caused by the U.S. decision to assassinate a man of Soleimani’s prominence, there are some indications that this may be only the beginning of something far greater. As is typical, we cannot rely on the corporate media to highlight these dangers for us.
Last month, the Trump administration quietly submitted a notice to Congress in which it described the legal and policy basis for the airstrike that killed Soleimani. The notice was required under the recent provision found in section 1264 of the National Defense Authorization Act, given the U.S. is changing the application of the existing legal and policy frameworks since the last update on March 12, 2018.
Initially, the U.S. claimed that Soleimani had posed an “imminent” threat to U.S. forces in the region. Under this recent notice, that allegation no longer appears. Instead, the Notice on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations reads:
“The President directed this action in response to an escalating serious of attacks in preceding months by Iran and Iran-backed militias on United States forces and interests in the Middle East region. The purposes of this action were to protect United States personnel, to deter Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks against United States forces and interests, to deter Iran’s and Qods Force-backed militias’ ability to conduct attacks, and to end Iran’s strategic escalation of attacks on, and threats to United States interests.”
The U.S. has stretched its previous interpretation of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 AUMF) to include the use of force not just to “address threats from the Iraqi Government apparatus only, but may address threats to the United States posed by militias, terrorist groups, or other armed groups in Iraq.”
Apparently, this is the case, even where the U.S. relied on those militias to defeat the terror group ISIS.
In its notice, the Trump administration is also claiming that the strike was delivered in self-defense. Given that the U.S. has presented no evidence that Soleimani had in fact attacked the U.S., the U.S. is essentially claiming a right to “pre-emptive self-defense“, though that is a long-winded topic for a separate discussion.
What should be clear from all of this is that the U.S. has created a legal justification out of thin air for the assassination of a high-level political figure and is paving the way for justification of these attacks in future. The omission of the words imminent threat further suggest that the U.S. can continue to strike Iranian targets in future, without even needing to consider whether they posed an imminent threat or not. If the U.S. Congress and the world do not challenge this legal basis, then the U.S. can rely on the January 2 strike as providing them with a legal precedent.
At the end of the day, the world would not sit idly by if Iran assassinated Mike Pence on a tour of Iraq, and rightfully so. These attacks are a gross violation of international law which create a heightened risk of the U.S.-Iran conflict escalating to the point of no return.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.