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Hope is in short supply in Brazil. The country is struggling to recover from the worst recession in its history and more than 12 million Brazilians are unemployed. Violent crime is on the rise. A slew of scandals is sending an endless parade of politicians to prison for corruption. The latest major figure to fall in the ongoing anti-corruption purge is Brazil’s beloved former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, an economic populist who helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Today, three judges at one of Brazil’s Federal Regional Tribunals in the city of Porto Alegre, ruled on whether Lula is guilty of crimes of corruption and money laundering, after he received a beachfront apartment plus $1.1 million-worth of improvements from a construction company in exchange for helping the company obtain contracts from the state-owned oil company Petrobras. Lula’s lawyers tried to convince the judges that there wasn't enough evidence to send him to prison for 12 years. But that wasn’t enough, and the court unanimously upheld the conviction. Lula’s conviction signals that no one, not even Brazil’s most popular president, is above the law. (more)

Today’s news is also likely to further erode whatever remaining trust Brazilians feel for their country’s political elite. In a recent survey by Ipsos, 94 percent of Brazilians said they don’t feel represented by their politicians. José Maria de Souza Junior, an international relations professor at Rio Branco University in Sao Paulo, said Brazilians are facing a moral crisis. “When the economy is doing badly, when there are no jobs, we respond to that … We are very sensitive,” he said.

In recent years, as crisis has consumed Brazil, there has been a notable shift in political, social, and religious attitudes. According to a 2016 survey, 54 percent of the Brazilian population held a high number of traditionally-conservative opinions, up from 49 percent in 2010. The shift is particularly evident on matters of law and order: Today, more Brazilians are in favor of legalizing capital punishment, lowering the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults, and life without parole for individuals who commit heinous crimes. Observers have ascribed this phenomenon to Brazilians’ increasing fear of violence over the last few years. This rightward shift has been accompanied by a massive growth in the country’s Evangelical Protestant and Pentecostal churches, which constitute the greater part of Brazilian Protestantism. The percentage of those who identified as evangelicals in Brazil has grown from 6.6 percent in 1980, to 22.2 percent in 2010.

Perhaps the clearest articulation of this shift has been the rise of 62-year old military officer-turned-congressman Jair Messias Bolsonaro. In a time when corruption has tarnished Brazil’s political class, his blunt charisma, zeal for law and order, and rapport with Brazil’s evangelicals, have turned what would ordinarily be glaring weaknesses into strengths. He has defended the legalization of capital punishment, and argued that the “politics” of “human rights, and of the politically correct, give space to those who are against the law and on the side of criminals.” He has said he’d rather have “a dead son over a gay son” and that he would not rape a particular female deputy in congress because “she wasn’t worthy of it.” Political parties, congressmen, and even the Brazilian Bar Association,  have filed a total of 30 requests to have him removed from his position as federal deputy for the city of Rio de Janeiro, a position he’s occupied for nearly three decades, for actions that broke congressional decorum, like sending death threats to another member of Congress and saying the military regime that ruled Brazil for 30 years “should have killed more people.” He has shown no particular grasp of policy: When questioned about how he was planning on ensuring a fiscal surplus, keeping inflation low, and maintaining a floating exchange rate (known as Brazil’s macroeconomic tripod, which has been the basis of economy policy in the country since 1999), he said that the person who needed to understand such things would be his finance minister, who he’d appoint if elected.

Despite Bolsonaro’s considerable baggage, as of last December, 21 percent of Brazilians said they would vote for him for president in this year’s election should he choose to run. While that’s not enough to get him through the primaries, his rising popularity suggests a transformation in Brazilian society that may be picking up speed.
Turkish domestically developed HÜRKUŞ-C armored close air support aircraft's self-protection feature was successfully tested in capital Ankara's Kahramankazan district, announced Saturday.

HÜRKUŞ- C is the armored version of HÜRKUŞ-B training aircraft, both of which were designed and upgraded by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the country's pioneering institution in aviation engines.

"Besides being a training aircraft, HÜRKUŞ is preparing for its close air support duties with its weapons and protection systems," Defense Industry Chairman Ismail Demir wrote on his Twitter account.

The HÜRKUŞ series are being developed to provide close air support to the Turkish Land Forces Command and Gendarmerie General Command in operation areas in addition to meeting the training needs of the Turkish Air Forces.

The first shooting experience of HÜRKUŞ-C was carried out with the national defense contractor Roketsan's LUMTAS missile in Turkey's central Konya province and since then, the tests for new features and different ammunitions are being carried out.

The latest version of the HÜRKUŞ-C series will have a weight of approximately 5 tons and be able to carry 1.5 tons of payload. The domestic aircraft will be able to perform day and night surveillance with the infrared metering multi-band camera with laser pointing capability and will be able to perform missiles and bombs when necessary. It will be able to stay in the air for up to six hours with an elevation of 35,000 feet.

Based in Ankara, the TAI is serving the aerospace and defense industries by manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft, helicopters and satellites, and their components.

TAI was established in June 1973 under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Technology in order to reduce foreign dependency in the country's defense industry. (source)
Pro-Russia forces have reportedly agreed to abide by a ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Kiev, which is aimed at stopping violence in eastern Ukraine ahead of the Christmas and New York holidays.

The “indefinite truce” went into effect at midnight Saturday (Friday 2200 GMT), according to Denis Pushilin, who heads the Council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine.

The deal between Kiev and pro-Russia forces was reached with the help of Moscow and European monitors and is expected to last through at least the holiday season.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed the move as an important step towards a lasting peace.

“I expect that thanks to these measures, which come on the eve of the New Year and Christmas holidays, this ceasefire in eastern Ukraine will be a lasting one,” Poroshenko said in a statement.

Iran has proposed the formation of a bloc of Muslim countries to fight terrorism and boost economic cooperation that would include its regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told a security conference on Sunday that the two countries, along with Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, should join together to promote "regional peace based on Islam, defending the Palestinian people, fighting terrorism and economic interests."

Shiite-majority Iran and mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia are bitterly divided, and support opposite sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in January after Iranian demonstrators stormed Saudi diplomatic facilities to protest the execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric.

Larijani said Saudi Arabia and other nations should know that Iran is not "their enemy." He said Iran is opposed to "warmongering in Syria and Yemen" and wants to resolve regional conflicts through "national solidarity governments resorting to democratic methods."

"Iran is not after creating an empire and hegemony in the region," he said. "Our viewpoint is aimed at improving unity."

Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and sponsors the Hezbollah armed group in Lebanon as well as state-sanctioned Iraqi Shiite militias. At a two-day security summit in Bahrain last week, the leaders of Western-allied Arab Gulf countries agreed on the need to counter Iran's "destabilizing activities" in the region.

Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a 34-member "Islamic military alliance" against terrorism nearly a year ago, which excluded Iran.

General (r) Raheel Sharif has accepted to take the command of Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) on certain terms.

Gen (r) Raheel has gained worldwide popularity due to his remarkable counterinsurgency tactics that helped reduce violence in the country to its lowest level since 2006 with an overall decline of 70% in terrorist attacks under his tenure.

Sources have confirmed to Daily Pakistan that the former army chief has expressed his willingness to take the charge of the 39-nation military alliance, IMAFT, only if he is also empowered to play the role of an arbitrator between the belligerent groups in the Middle East. Gen Raheel has clearly refused to command a force which fights for a single country.

Meanwhile, Iran has also assured to accept Pakistan’s role in mediating Yemen crisis if the general takes IMAFT’s command with an authority of arbitrator.

Iran, through its consulate in Pakistan, sent a letter to the ex-COAS and assured that it will not only cooperate with Pakistan in controlling the Yemen crisis but will also bring the Houthi rebels on negotiating terms if he takes the command of this Islamic military alliance.

Sources add that General Raheel Sharif had expressed his willingness for the arbitration during his meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, while Turkish leadership has also been conveyed the development in this regard.

The proposal was first presented to Gen Raheel by Saudi Arabia and then similar requests were made by Iran to Pakistan’s foreign ministry as well. However, the general will only accept the offer if he is also allowed to mediate between the warring groups.

Founded by Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud on December 15, 2015, Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) is based at a joint command centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The creation of this 34-nation alliance was first announced by Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Miner of Defense, on December 15, 2015. By March 2016, this had risen to 39.

It is an inter-governmental military alliance of Muslim countries in the world united for military intervention against ISIL and other anti-terrorist activities across the Middle East and other countries.

Besides Pakistan, the members of this Muslim military alliance include: with Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Turkey, Bahrain, Bangladesh, UAE, Libya, Malaysia, Egypt and Jordan.

Despite its reputation as our less war-inclined neighbor to the north, Canada has become second only to the United States in weapons exports to the Middle East.

The increase in military equipment and weapons sales was noted by IHS Jane’s in its annual “Global Defence Trade Report,” published June 13 by IHS, Inc., a corporate data analysis think tank.

“Canada is the second-largest exporter of defence equipment to the Middle East with $2.7 billion in sales, moving the UK down the table to fourth place, just behind France,” IHS reported in a press release.

Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade told Sputnik News on June 16 that the report suggests Canada is undeSserving of its nonviolent reputation:

“The Canadian Government is regarded as a more peaceful one than the US. It’s regarded as a more liberal one than the US, everybody knows that there is rank hypocrisy right at the core of US foreign policy but I don’t think everybody knows that about Canada.”

Against the objections of some members of Parliament, Canadian-made arms have ended up in the hands of the Saudi-led coalition that’s waging a brutal war in Yemen which has killed thousands of civilians, many of them children, and left thousands more at risk of starvation.


The Jungle Commando (formally known as the Suriname National Liberation Army) was a guerrilla commando group in Suriname. It was founded by Ronnie Brunswijk in 1986 to ensure equal rights for Suriname's minority Maroon population. The group was formed after the Suriname troops committed mass murder against 35 people in Moiwana Village, near Moengo, after the Suriname national army failed to capture Ronnie Brunswijk.

The commando fought against Dési Bouterse and the Surinamese army in the Suriname Guerrilla War. In the war against the military regime of Desi Bouterse, Jungle Commando got a supply of money, weapons from a group of people who live in the Netherlands Suriname as organisasi buruh Motherbond, Paul Somohardjo, and the Suriname National Liberation League (Henk Chin A Sen)

The Jungle Commando fought a guerrilla war against the Surinamese government of Dési Bouterse in the 1980s, before a truce was negotiated in March 1991.

At one time the Jungle Commando controlled a large area in East Suriname.

In 2005, Brunswijk warned that the Jungle Commando could resume fighting if the 1992 Kourou peace accord's conditions were not met.
Russia’s former Surgeon General said that one of the possible causes for the spread of the deadly Zika virus outbreak could be the use of biological warfare.

One of the possible causes for the spread of the deadly Zika virus outbreak could be the use of biological warfare, Russia’s former Chief State Sanitary Physician Gennady Onishchenko said Tuesday.

On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern," after previously warning that the virus would likely infect up to 4 million people.


Iraqi security forces say they have taken control of the city of Fallujah from Islamic State militants after nearly five weeks of intense fighting.

The militant group has controlled the city for the past 2 ½ years, as NPR's Alice Fordham tells our Newscast unit. Iraqi officials pronounced the fight over after pushing ISIS fighters out of Fallujah's Jolan district.

The commander of the operation, Lt. Gen. Abdel Wahab al-Saadi, appeared on state television and "hailed what he called the victory of the security forces and their allies, although he said clearing operations were still ongoing," as Alice reports.

Al-Saadi said at least 1,800 Islamic State militants were killed during the recent fighting and others fled the city, according to Reuters.

The Houthis (Arabic: الحوثيون‎‎ al-Ḥūthiyyūn), officially called Ansar Allah (anṣār allāh أنصار الله "Supporters of God"), is a Zaidi Shia-led movement from Sa'dah, northern Yemen.

The group was founded by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi who started a rebellion in 2004 which led to a Houthi insurgency in Yemen against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The group has been led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi since Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi was reportedly killed by Yemeni army forces in 2004.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP and FARC) is a guerrilla movement involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict since 1964.

A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable attached to D-191 battalion sustained splinter injuries in the face during an exchange of fire with Naxalites in the forests of Hedri near Reknar village in Etapalli division of South Gadchiroli on Sunday. Constable Mulchand Tondre, who was airlifted to Nagpur, is now out of danger.

A large number of CRPF personnel had been shifted to south Gadchiroli earlier this year. Tondre was part of the joint operation of CRPF and Hedri police post personnel, who tried to engage an outfit of Naxalites camping on the hillock of Hedri. The combined security force, which had left Hedri in the wee hours, had to trudge uphill through thick vegetation for around 10km before reaching ground zero. Sources said that sentries posted by Naxalites opened fire on spotting the advancing troops and the security forces retaliated.

Reliable sources said senior cadre Sainath was camping at the site with a bunch of armed cadres, who are likely to be part of Perimilli Local guerrilla squad (LGS) or area committee members. The Naxalites were at the higher elevation, and found the dim light of the early hours and forested cover an advantage in escaping from the place. The security forces were also hampered by large boulders on the hill. In the meantime, the injury to Tondre forced the security forces to rush him to medical assistance.

Sources from Gadchiroli said Tondre, a native of Bhandara, had joined the force in 2005. He is considered one of the best scouts of CRPF, and is well acquainted with the terrain. Tondre has been posted at Gadchiroli for the last three years.

Security forces later conducted a search operation in the region to collect more information regarding the camping Naxalites, but returned empty-handed. Gadchiroli police are increasing pressure on the Naxalites in the southern part of the district under the supervision of Additional SP, Aheri, Mahesh Reddy.

Superintendent of police, Gadchiroli, Abhinav Deshmukh said the encounter was an intelligence based operation. "We had specific information regarding the presence of Naxalites. We are now trying to ascertain how the Naxalites reached the place and what was their further plan," said Deshmukh.

Punjab's intelligence agencies have reportedly alerted the Canadian government on pro-Khalistan terrorists running a camp near Mission city in British Columbia to carry out strikes in Punjab, The Times of India reported.

According to the report, Canadian Sikh Hardeep Nijjar has taken over as the operational head of Khalistan Terror Force (KTF) and formed a module comprising Sikh youths to carry out the attacks.

Making a reference to the recent Pathankot airbase attack, the report to Justin Trudeau's government said that Nijjar "was to arrange weapons from Pakistan but due to high alert on the border in the wake of Pathankot incident, it could not materialise", according to The Times of India.

Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh accused of being involved in the 2007 Shingaar cinema blast is a wanted terrorist in Punjab, International Business Times. He has been staying in Surrey since 1995 on a Canadian passport.

In April, according to a Hindustan Times report, the Indian government had intelligence inputs indicating that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was "attempting to whip up support for Khalistan" in Canada.

The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency is an ongoing conflict between Maoist groups, known as Naxalites or Naxals, and the Indian government. The conflict in its present form began after the 2004 formation of the CPI (Maoist), a rebel group composed of the PWG (People's War Group) and the MCC (Maoist Communist Centre).

In January 2005 talks between the Andhra Pradesh state government and the CPI-Maoists broke down and the rebels accused authorities of not addressing their demands for a written truce, release of prisoners and redistribution of land. The ongoing conflict has taken place over a vast territory (around half of India's 28 states) with hundreds of people being killed annually in clashes between the CPI-Maoists and the government every year since 2005.

The Punjabi Suba civil movement was started to address the language issue and restore Punjabi as the official language of Punjab. The Punjabi Suba movement was banned by the government on April 14, 1955.

During this time the Sikhs were faced with much humiliation and difficulties including peaceful protesters and innocent pilgrims being beaten, hit with bricks, arrested, and temple raids.

Following the Indo-Pak war of 1965 Punjabi was finally recognized as the official language of Punjab in 1966 when the Punjab land was further split into the states of Himachal Pradesh, the new state Haryana and current day Punjab.

The Karen National Liberation Army (Burmese: ကရင်အမျိုးသား လွတ်မြောက်ရေး တပ်မတော်; abbreviated KNLA) is the military branch of the Karen National Union (KNU), which campaigns for the self-determination of the Karen people of Myanmar (Burma). The KNLA has been fighting the Burmese government since 1949.

The KNLA was reported to have had a strength of roughly 5,000 soldiers in 2006, and 6,000 in 2012. The army is divided into seven brigades and a 'Special Force' reserved for special operations.