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Trump administration to take tough stance against International Criminal Court

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The United States on Monday will adopt an aggressive posture against the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, threatening sanctions against its judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is to make the announcement in a midday speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, in Washington. It will be his first major address since joining the Trump White House.

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“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say, according to a draft of his speech seen by Reuters.

Bolton will also say that the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington out of concern about Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.

“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” says Bolton’s draft text.

The Palestinians said they were undeterred from going to the ICC, and described the planned PLO mission closure as the latest pressure tactic by a Trump administration that has slashed funding to a U.N. agency for their refugees and to hospitals in East Jerusalem, which they want as capital of a future state.

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“We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying,” Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

“Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.”

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There was no immediate response from Israel, where government offices were closed for the Jewish new year.

Bolton’s draft speech says the Trump administration “will fight back” if the International Criminal Court formally proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.

If such a probe proceeds, the Trump administration will consider banning judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, put sanctions on any funds they have in the U.S. financial system and prosecute them in the American court system.

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“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” says Bolton’s draft text.

In addition, the United States may negotiate more binding, bilateral agreements to prohibit nations from surrendering Americans to the Hague court, says the text.

The court’s aim is to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

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The United States did not ratify the Rome treaty that established the International Criminal Court in 2002, with then-President George W. Bush opposed to the court. President Barack Obama took some steps to cooperate with it.

“We will consider taking steps in the U.N. Security Council to constrain the court’s sweeping powers, including to ensure that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome Statute,” says Bolton’s draft text.

Palestinians have reacted with dismay to the U.S. funding cuts, warning that they could lead to more poverty and anger – among factors stoking their decades of conflict with Israel.

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Trump last week ordered that $25 million earmarked for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem be directed elsewhere.

“This decision will create a serious cash-flow problem at the hospitals and will necessarily create delays in life-saving and urgent treatments,” Walid Nammour, head of the network of six hospitals affected, told reporters on Monday. “Overall, the decision puts the health of 5 million Palestinians at risk.”

Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Peter Graff

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro takes on Norway for whaling, but bungles it

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday responded to Norway's decision to halt its forest protection subsidies, taking to Twitter to criticise the Scandinavian country for its whaling practice and post spectacular -- albeit misleading -- images.

"Look at the killing of whales sponsored by Norway," Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.

The post includes a video and photographs of a spectacular whale hunt, where mammals in the shallow waters of a bay are slaughtered by people wading on shore, armed with hooked knives. The whales' blood turns the waters red.

However, the images, reportedly taken on May 29 in Norway, illustrate a "grind", a type of pilot whale hunt practised exclusively in the Faroe Islands -- a Danish territory in the North Atlantic.

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Orange County teens busted for singing obscure Nazi song while giving Hitler salutes

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Nearly a dozen high school students from Southern California delivered Nazi salutes and sang a Nazi marching song in a video posted on social media.

The video was uploaded to Instagram by one member of the boys’ water polo team at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, along with lyrics to the song played for German troops during World War II, reported The Daily Beast.

A spokesperson for the Garden Grove Unified School District told the website administrators learned of the incident in March, four months after the video was posted, but declined to say whether any of the students were disciplined.

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History provides us with no shortage of clowns and buffoons who were in politics

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“The problem with political jokes,” Groucho Marx once said, “is that they keep getting elected.” Never has that been more true than today.  We live in a world ruled by clowns.  I mean that both literally and figuratively.  Our century has ushered in the Age of the Clown Politician.

In Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, who played a Ukrainian president on the popular television comedy SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE, was elected to be the real president with over 70 percent of the vote. Zelensky is literally a clown.  In Great Britain, Boris Johnson, who will replace Theresa May as prime minister, is a buffoon who elicits laughter –usually unintended- wherever he goes.  Mr. Johnson is figuratively a clown.

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