Killing Is Not a Way of Life sticky icon

December 2014 -- New Book!

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 20, 2014

 

European leaders warn against too much economic pain on Russia - LA Times


France's Hollande Floats Prospect of Sanctions Relief for Russia, Risks EU Split - Bloomberg News


VIDEO: France’s Hollande Floats Rollback of Russian Sanctions - Bloomberg


German Foreign Minister Warns Against More Russia Sanctions - Atlantic Sentinel


Italian PM urges revision of attitude to Russia, opposes new sanctions - TASS


Sanctions Now Risk Being Too Painful for Russia, Denmark Says - Businessweek


Obama waives sanctions authority despite new law, concerned that the measure is not in line with with the European Union - Yahoo News


Statement by President Obama on the Ukraine Freedom Support Act - IIP Digital

 

Corker to Obama: Convince Europe to up sanctions on Russia - TheHill

 

Obama imposes sanctions on Crimea, echoes EU - US News

 

EU bans investment in Crimea, targets oil sector, cruises - Reuters

 

Russian experts: The lastest EU summit concerned not so much about the Ukrainian crisis as economic relations with Russia - TASS

 

Fresh US sanctions could do long-term damage to relations with Russia: Lavrov - AFP

 

Russia Reserves Adequate Response to Ukraine Freedom Support Act: Official - Sputnik International

 

--------------------------------------------------------

Europeans Face Export Losses as Sanctions Bite Russian Ruble - WSJ


Sanctions against Russia hurt both sides, $40 billion annual US-Russia trade is dwarfed by EU-Russia $460 billion - dailytimes.com


Western companies scramble to cope with Russian ruble drop - Reuters


Russia crisis hurts these Western brands the most - CNN


GM, Audi, Jaguar halt Russian sales amidst ruble's collapse - autoblog.com


Renault-Nissan boss warns of 'bloodbath' for car sales in Russia - Telegraph


Apple, IKEA, McDonald's Raise Prices In Russia Due To Ruble Falls - Business Insider


BASF, Gazprom Fall Victim to Sanctions as Asset Swap Ends - Bloomberg

 

VIDEO: Sanctions Against Russia Affecting Germany - YouTube

 

Russia Warships Update: France Still Won't Deliver Mistral Helicopter Carriers, Francois Hollande Says - ibtimes.com

 

EU asks Russia to go ahead with South Stream - TASS

 

Europe and Russia After South Stream - Stratfor

 

China Offers Enhanced Cooperation as Russia Struggles - Bloomberg

 

Ruble Advances as Cash Crunch From Higher Rates Supports Demand - Bloomberg

 

POLL: Vladimir Putin's popularity soars to 81% as Russia faces economic chill - ibtimes.co.uk

 

Putin: Russia military modernization to go ahead - Boston Herald

 

Russian nuclear forces to get more than 50 new missiles in 2015: Putin - TASS

 

Shoigu: In 2015 Russian AirForce & Naval Aviation will receive 126 new aircraft  88 helicopters. Navy to receive 2 submarines & 5 warships - Missilito on Twitter

 

3rd Russian Borei-class nuclear sub raises its colors (VIDEO) - RT News

 

----------------------------------------------------

IMF, Ukraine fail to reach pact on next bailout tranche - Reuters


Ukraine’s Rating Cut by S&P to CCC as IMF Delay Raises Default Risk - Bloomberg


G7 Officials to Discuss Ukraine Funding Gap - WSJ


Russian Media: Western Nations Tired of Ukraine’s Financial Demands - Sputnik UK


POLL: Majority of EU Citizens Against Additional Financial Aid to Ukraine - Sputnik International


POLL: Ukrainians' Ratings of Their Lives, Country Hit New Low - gallup.com


Ukraine power units idled as coal reserves shrink - Reuters

 

Arms deliveries and military aid to Ukraine not discussed at EU meeting: Merkel - TASS

 

Former US Ambassador: Ukrainian claims on building one of Europe’s most powerful armies and reversing Crimea’s reunification with Russia could have dangerous consequences - Sputnik

 

Kiev, East Ukraine Republics Fail to Set Date of Next Reconciliation Talks - Sputnik International

 

Donetsk, Luhansk, Kiev Agree All-For-All Prisoner Swap as Priority - Sputnik International

 

Putin: Poroshenko Seeks Peace in Ukraine, but Many Others Want War - Sputnik International

 

Putin: Donbas Economic Blockade Futile, Counterproductive Path for Ukraine - Sputnik International

 

Lavrov: Bill renouncing Ukrainian neutral status plays into party of war hands - Russia Beyond The Headlines

 

Five Ukrainian government soldiers and five pro-Russian separatists killed in clashes - Bloomberg

 

Two Ukrainian Volunteer Fighters Killed In Ambush Near Staryi Aidar - Interpreter_Mag

 

Human Rights Watch: Ukraine Indiscriminate Rocket Attacks In Eastern Regions Require Better Investigation - Human Rights Watch

 

Ukraine's Azov Battalion Is Not Neo-Nazi, But Some Ppl In Battalion Are - Hromadske on Twitter

 

Russia transported T-64A tanks into Ukraine first half of december (PHOTOS) - Ukraine@war

 

Ukraine forms 'ministry of truth' to regulate the media - The Guardian

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Obama’s Trojan Horse: US Recognition of Cuba after 54 Years of Hostility and War Does't Mean an End to US Subversion

Obama’s Trojan Horse:

 

US Recognition of Cuba after 54 Years of Hostility and War Does't Mean an End to US  Subversion

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Not Just Public Lands: Defense Bill Also Incentivizes Fracked Gas Vehicles

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog recently revealed how Big Oil's lobbyists snuck expedited permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, which passed in the U.S. House and Senate and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

A follow-up probe reveals that the public lands giveaway was not the only sweetheart deal the industry got out of the pork barrel bill. The NDAA also included a provision that opened the floodgates for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the U.S.—cars that would largely be fueled by gas obtained via fracking.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The section of the bill titled, "Alternative Fuel Automobiles" (on page 104) lays it out:

NDAA of 2015 Natural Gas Vehicles
Image Credit: U.S. Government Publishing Office 

No More Khirbet Khizehs

"Fields that would never be harvested, plantations that would never be irrigated, paths that would become desolate. A sense of destruction and worthlessness. An image of thistles and brambles everywhere, a desolate tawniness, a braying wilderness. And already from those fields accusing eyes peered out at you, that silent accusatory look as of a reproachful animal, staring and following you so there was no refuge." -- Yizhar Smilansky, Khirbet Khizeh

On the day in 2014 that I read the new English translation of Khirbet Khizeh, Tom Engelhardt published a blog post rewriting recent news articles on the U.S. Senate's torture report as a 2019 Senate report on drone murders. The 2019 "news" media in Tom's believable account is shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- by the rampant murder discovered to have been committed using missiles from drones of all things.

The point is that most of what's been discussed as news from the recent torture report, and certainly all of the fundamental moral points -- has been known -- or, more accurately, knowable for years. For the past several years, the U.S. establishment has been repeatedly "banning" torture. It has also been repeatedly discovering the same evidence of torture, over and over again. Leading torturers have gone on television to swear they'd do it all again, while radical activist groups have demanded "investigations."

The point is that at some point "truth and reconciliation" is lies and reconciliation -- the lies of pretending that the truth needed to be unearthed, that it was hidden for a time, that the crimes weren't committed in the broad daylight of television spotlights on a sweaty old man assuring us he was about to start working on the dark side.

Illustrated at right, from the iNakba app, are villages that were destroyed in 1948 to create Israel. Generations of Israelis have grown up not knowing, not wanting to know, pretending not to know, and knowing without confronting the Catastrophe. Israelis are discovering what happened, unburying the hidden truth, filming aging participants' distorted confessions, and hunting out the outlines of disappeared villages on GoogleEarth.

But what if the truth was always marching naked down the street with trumpets sounding?

In May 1949, Yizhar Smilansky published Khirbet Khizeh, a fictional account of the destruction of a fictional village much like many real ones. Smilansky knew or hoped that he was ahead of his time, so much so that he began the tale by framing it as a recollection from the distant future. The narrator, like the reader, was known by the author to be unable to see for years to come.

What would keep the book alive until that distant day?

Poetry.

It's not a Senate report. Khirbet Khizeh is a work of masterful insight and storytelling that grips you and compels you to enter the experience of its narrator and his companions, as they do what the author had done, as they imitate Nazis before all the ashes had fallen from the skies above the ovens in Europe.

This book was planted and grew. It's been taught in Israeli schools. It was a movie on Israeli television in 1978. And now, with a sense that perhaps sleepy eyes are stretching open at long last, the book has had itself translated into the language of the imperial homeland, English.

But how could poetry keep heresy alive?

Several ways, I think. Absolute failure to pay attention, for one. Think about how literature is taught in many U.S. schools, for example. The ability of people to hear the poetry without the meaning, for another. Think about people singing John Lennon's Imagine without having the slightest idea they've just proposed to abolish religions, nations, and private property, or how people throw around the phrase "peace on earth" in December. Perverse but predictable and perhaps predicted misinterpretation, for another. Think about how viewers of the propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty read accounts of torture, for example -- as a dirty job that needed doing for a greater cause.

It's a strain, to me at least, to read Khirbet Khizeh as a celebration of genocide or mass-eviction. And the book not only suffered but also benefitted from being ahead of its time. It pre-existed the mythologies and rhetorical defenses that grew up around the Catastrophe in the decades that followed. When the narrator makes a slight resistance to what he is engaged in, no reader can find anything but humanitarian motivation in his resistance. The idea that this soldier, questioning his fellow soldiers, is engaged in anti-Semitism would literally make no sense. He's revolted by the cruelty, no more no less -- cruelty that every adult and child has to have always known was part of any mass settlement of ancient lands in 1948.

When I was a child, in elementary school, I wrote a story about an eviction of a family from its house, complete with plenty of tear-jerking details. As a good American I wrote about British redcoats evicting patriotic U.S. revolutionaries. My teacher suggested to me that I had a talent for writing. But that wasn't writing. Had I written of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, of Diego Garcia or Vieques or the Marshall Islands or Thule or Okinawa or any of the many places about which silence was expected, that might have been writing.

Let us wish no more Khirbet Khizehs on the people of Palestine and many more Khirbet Khizehs on the world.

The Senate Drone Report of 2019: Looking Back on Washington’s War on Terror

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com

It was December 6, 2019, three years into a sagging Clinton presidency and a bitterly divided Congress. That day, the 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s long fought-over, much-delayed, heavily redacted report on the secret CIA drone wars and other American air campaigns in the 18-year-long war on terror was finally released.  That day, committee chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) took to the Senate floor, amid the warnings of his Republican colleagues that its release might “inflame” America’s enemies leading to violence across the Greater Middle East, and said:

“Over the past couple of weeks, I have gone through a great deal of introspection about whether to delay the release of this report to a later time. We are clearly in a period of turmoil and instability in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, that's going to continue for the foreseeable future, whether this report is released or not. There may never be the 'right' time to release it. The instability we see today will not be resolved in months or years. But this report is too important to shelve indefinitely.  The simple fact is that the drone and air campaigns we have launched and pursued these last 18 years have proven to be a stain on our values and on our history.”

Though it was a Friday afternoon, normally a dead zone for media attention, the response was instant and stunning.  As had happened five years earlier with the committee’s similarly fought-over report on torture, it became a 24/7 media event.  The “revelations” from the report poured out to a stunned nation.  There were the CIA’s own figures on the hundreds of children in the backlands of Pakistan and Yemen killed by drone strikes against “terrorists” and “militants.”  There were the “double-tap strikes” in which drones returned after initial attacks to go after rescuers of those buried in rubble or to take out the funerals of those previously slain.  There were the CIA’s own statistics on the stunning numbers of unknown villagers killed for every significant and known figure targeted and finally taken out (1,147 dead in Pakistan for 41 men specifically targeted).  There were the unexpected internal Agency discussions of the imprecision of the robotic weapons always publicly hailed as “surgically precise” (and also of the weakness of much of the intelligence that led them to their targets).  There was the joking and commonplace use of dehumanizing language (“bug splat” for those killed) by the teams directing the drones.  There were the “signature strikes,” or the targeting of groups of young men of military age about whom nothing specifically was known, and of course there was the raging argument that ensued in the media over the “effectiveness” of it all (including various emails from CIA officials admitting that drone campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen had proven to be mechanisms not so much for destroying terrorists as for creating new ones).

There were the new tidbits of information on the workings of the president’s “kill list” and the convening of “terror Tuesday” briefings to target specific individuals around the world.  There were the insider discussions of ongoing decisions to target American citizens abroad for assassination by drone without due process of law and the revealing emails in which participants up to presidential advisers discussed how exactly to craft the exculpatory “legal” documents for those acts at the Department of Justice. 

Above all, to an unsuspecting nation, there was the shocking revelation that American air power had, in the course of those years, destroyed in whole or in part at least nine wedding parties, including brides, grooms, family members, and revelers, involving the deaths of hundreds of wedding goers in at least three countries of the Greater Middle East.  This revelation shocked the nation, resulting in headlines ranging from the Washington Post’s sober “Wedding Tally Revealed” to the New York Post’s “Bride and Boom!

But while all of that created headlines, the main debate was over the “effectiveness” of the White House’s and CIA’s drone campaigns.  As Senator Wyden insisted that day in his speech:

“If you read the many case studies in the executive summary of our report, it will be unmistakable not only how ineffective American air power has been over these years, but how, for every ‘bad guy’ taken out, the air strikes were, in the end, a mechanism for the mass creation of terrorists and a continuing, powerful recruitment tool for jihadist and al-Qaeda-linked organizations across the Greater Middle East and Africa.  If you doubt me, just count the jihadis in our world on September 10, 2001, and today in the areas of Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia where our major drone campaigns have taken place, as well, of course, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Then tell me with a straight face that they ‘worked.’”

As with the 2014 torture report, so the responses of those deeply implicated in the drone assassination campaigns and the loosing of American air power more generally in the backlands of the planet put on display the full strength of the American national security state.  It was no surprise, of course, when CIA Director David Petraeus (on his second tour of duty at the Agency) held the usual Langley, Virginia, news conference -- an unknown event until then-Director John Brennan first held one in December 2014 to dispute the Senate torture report.  There, as the New York Times described it, Petraeus criticized the latest report for being “‘flawed,’ ‘partisan,’ and ‘frustrating,’ and pointed out numerous disagreements that he had with its damning conclusions about the CIA’s drone program.”

The real brunt of the attack, however, came from prominent former CIA officials, including former directors George Tenet (“You know, the image that’s been portrayed is we sat around the campfire and said, ‘Oh boy, now we go get to assassinate people.’  We don’t assassinate people.  Let me say that again to you, we don’t assassinate people. O.K.?”); Mike Hayden (“If the world had acted as American air power has done in these years, many people who shouldn’t have gotten married wouldn’t have gotten married and the world would be a saner place for marriage.”); and Brennan himself (“Whatever your views are on our drone program, our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right during a difficult time to keep this country strong and secure and you should be thanking them, not undermining them.”).  Hayden, Brennan, and national security, intelligence, and Pentagon officials also blanketed the news and the Sunday morning talk shows.  Former CIA Director of Public Affairs Bill Harlow, who had set up the website ciasavedlives.com to defend the patriotic honor of the Agency at the time of the release of the Senate torture report, repeated the process five years later with the website dontdronethecia.com.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta repeated his classic statement of 2009, insisting to a range of media interviewers that the drone campaign was not just “effective,” but still “the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al-Qaeda leadership.”  Former President Barack Obama did an interview with NBC News from his new presidential library, still under construction in Chicago, saying in part, “We assassinated some folks, but those who did so were American patriots working in a time of great stress and fear.  Assassination may have been necessary and understandable in the moment, but it is not who we are.”  And 78-year-old former Vice President Dick Cheney, who appeared on Fox News from his Wyoming ranch, insisted that the new Senate report, like the old one, was a “gob of unpatriotic hooey.”  President Hillary Clinton, interviewed by BuzzFeed, said of the report, "One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them."  She did not, however, go on to admit that the still ongoing drone program or even the wedding air strikes were “mistakes.”

On December 11th, as everyone knows, the mass junior high school shootings in Wisconsin occurred and media attention quite understandably shifted there, 24/7.  On December 13th, Reuters reported that a drone attack in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, which was “suspected” of killing seven “militants,” including possibly an al-Qaeda sub-commander -- local residents reported that two children and a 70-year-old elder had been among the dead -- was the thousandth drone strike in the CIA’s secret wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Running a Criminal Enterprise in Washington

It’s not 2019, of course.  We don’t know whether Hillary Clinton will be elected president or Ron Wyden reelected to the Senate, no less whether he’ll become the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a body once again controlled by Democrats, or whether there will ever be a torture-report-style investigation of the “secret” drone assassination campaigns the White House, the CIA, and the U.S. military have been running across the backlands of the planet. 

Still, count me among the surprised if, in 2019, some part or parts of the U.S. national security state and the White House aren’t still running drone campaigns that cross national borders with impunity, kill whomever those in Washington choose in “terror Tuesday” meetings or target in “signature strikes,” take out American citizens if it pleases the White House to do so, and generally continue to run what has proven to be a global war for (not on) terror.

When it comes to all of this “secret” but remarkably well-publicized behavior, as with the CIA’s torture program, the U.S. has been making up the future rules of the road for the rest of the world.  It has created a gold standard for assassination and torture by green-lighting “rectal rehydration” (a euphemism for anal rape) and other grim acts.  In the process, it has cooked up self-serving explanations and justifications for actions that would outrage official Washington and the public generally if any other country committed them.

This piece, of course, is not really about the future, but the past and what we should already know about it.  What’s most remarkable about the Senate torture report is that -- except for the odd, grim detail like “rectal rehydration” -- we should never have needed it.  Black sites, torture techniques, the abusing of innocents -- the essential information about the nightmarish Bermuda Triangle of injustice the Bush administration set up after 9/11 has been publicly available, in many instances for years.

Those “2019” revelations about drone assassination campaigns and other grim aspects of the loosing of American air power in the Greater Middle East have been on the public record for years, too.  In truth, we shouldn’t be in any doubt about much of what’s billed as “secret” in our American world.  And the lessons to be drawn from those secret acts should be obvious enough without spending another $40 million and studying yet more millions of classified documents for years.

Here are three conclusions that should now be obvious enough when it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror and the growth of the national security state.

1. Whatever grim actions are the focus of debate at the moment, take it for granted that they don’t “work” because nothing connected to the war on terror has worked: The coverage of the Senate torture report has been focused on arguments over whether those “enhanced interrogation techniques,” or EITs, “worked” in the years after 9/11 (as in 2019, the coverage would undoubtedly focus on whether drone assassination campaigns had worked).  The executive summary of the Senate report has already offered numerous cases where information gained through torture practices did not produce actionable intelligence or stop terror plots or save lives, though misinformation from them might have helped embolden the Bush administration in its invasion of Iraq.

Bush administration officials, former CIA directors, and the intelligence “community” in general have vociferously insisted on the opposite.  Six former top CIA officials, including three former directors, publicly claimed that those torture techniques “saved thousands of lives.”  The truth, however, is that we shouldn’t even be having a serious discussion of this issue.  We know the answer.  We knew it long before the redacted executive summary of the Senate report was released.  Torture didn’t work, because 13 years of the war on terror has offered a simple enough lesson: nothing worked.

You name it and it failed.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about invasions, occupations, interventions, small conflicts, raids, bombing runs, secret operations, offshore “black sites,” or god knows what else -- none of it came close to succeeding by even the most minimal standards set in Washington.  In this period, many grim things were done and most of them blew back, creating more enemies, new Islamic extremist movements, and even a jihadist mini-state in the heart of the Middle East that, fittingly enough, was essentially founded at Camp Bucca, an American military prison in Iraq.  Let me repeat that: if Washington did it any time in the last 13 years, whatever it was, it didn’t work. Period.

2. In national security and war terms, only one thing has “worked” in these years and that’s the national security state itself: Every blunder, every disaster, every extreme act that proved a horror in the world also perversely strengthened the national security state.  In other words, the crew that couldn’t shoot straight could do no wrong when it came to their own agencies and careers.

No matter how poorly or badly or stupidly or immorally or criminally agents, operatives, war fighters, private contractors, and high officials acted or what they ordered done, each disaster in this period was like a dose of further career enhancement, like manna from heaven, for a structure that ate taxpayer dollars for lunch and grew in unprecedented ways, despite a world that lacked all significant enemies.  In these years, the national security state entrenched itself and its methods in Washington for the long run. The Department of Homeland Security expanded; the 17 interlocked intelligence agencies that made up the U.S. intelligence community exploded; the Pentagon grew endlessly; the corporate “complexes” that surrounded and meshed with an increasingly privatized national security apparatus had a field day.  And the various officials who oversaw every botched operation and sally into the world, including the torture regime the Bush administration created, were almost to a man promoted, as well as honored in various ways and, in retirement, found themselves further honored and enriched.  The single lesson from all of this for any official was: whatever you do, however rash, extreme, or dumb beyond imagining, whatever you don’t accomplish, whomever you hurt, you are enriching the national security state -- and that’s a good thing.

3. Nothing Washington did could ever qualify as a “war crime” or even a straightforward crime because, in national security terms, our wartime capital has become a crime-free zoneAgain, this is an obvious fact of our era.  There can be no accountability (hence all the promotions) and especially no criminal accountability inside the national security state.  While the rest of us are still in legal America, its officials are in what I’ve long called “post-legal” America and in that state, neither torture (to the point of death), nor kidnapping and assassination, nor destroying evidence of criminal activity, perjury, or the setting up of an extralegal prison system are crimes.  The only possible crime in national security Washington is whistleblowing.  On this, too, the evidence is in and the results speak for themselves.  The post-9/11 moment has proven to be an eternal “get out of jail free card” for the officials of two administrations and the national security state. 

Unfortunately, the obvious points, the simple conclusions that might be drawn from the last 13 years go unnoticed in a Washington where nothing, it seems, can be learned.  As a result, for all the sound and fury of this torture moment, the national security state will only grow stronger, more organized, more aggressively ready to defend itself, while ridding itself of the last vestiges of democratic oversight and control.

There is only one winner in the war on terror and it’s the national security state itself.  So let’s be clear, despite its supporters who regularly hail the "patriotism" of such officials, and despite an increasingly grim world filled with bad guys, they are not the good guys and they are running what, by any normal standards, should be considered a criminal enterprise.

See you in 2019.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His new book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).

[Note on weddings: On the issue of wedding parties obliterated by American air power, a subject TomDispatch has been covering for years, I had counted news reports on seven of them by the time an eighth, a Yemeni wedding party, was blown away in December 2013.  Since then, a correspondent has pointed out to me a report that a ninth wedding party, the second in Iraq, may have been hit by U.S. air power on October 8, 2004, in the city of Fallujah, with the groom dying and the bride wounded.]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2014 Tom Engelhardt

Putin Shot Down a Plane! Putin Shot Down a ... What? Never Mind

Search for "Malaysian Airlines Flight 17" on the New York Times website and you'll find a page promoting three articles from July, two hyping the idea that Russia did it and one just focused on the horror of it.

Below that you'll find 109 articles arranged from newest to oldest. The newest is from December 10th and consists of 4 sentences that convey little. The next is from November and all about an inappropriate tweet. The next half dozen take us back through September and we're little the wiser for it.

Yet the world outside of the U.S. media is full of evidence suggesting that Russia did not do it.

The silence is deafening. Dutch plans to produce a dubious report by next summer are being outpaced by steps toward war.

Here's a petition that concerned people are signing:

Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath

To: All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council

With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.  While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment.   Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO. 

For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath.  The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts.  It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.

The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident.   One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”  Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past.  Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention. 

Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions.  We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions.   The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.

Why is this important?

It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.

Initial Signatories for petition:
(Organizations for Identification Only)

Hon. Douglas Roche, OC, Canada
David Swanson, co-founder, World Beyond War
Bruce Gagnon,  Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space
Alice Slater, JD, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
Natasha Mayers, Union of Maine Visual Artists
David Hartsough, co-founder, World Beyond War
Larry Dansinger, Resources for Organizing and Social Change
Ellen Judd, Project Peacemakers
Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div.
Anni Cooper, Peaceworks
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Veterans for Peace
Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst, VA
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Gloria McMillan, Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group
Ellen E. Barfield, Veterans for Peace
Cecile Pineda, author. Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step
Jill McManus
Steve Leeper, Visiting professor, Hiroshima Jogakuin University,Nagasaki University
Kyoto University of Art and Design
William H. Slavick, Pax Christi Maine
Helen Caldicott, Helen Caldicott Foundation
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Brigadier Vijai K Nair, VSM [Retd] Ph.D. , Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd
Kevin Martin,  Peace Action
Carol Reilly Urner, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Kay Cumbow
Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Tiffany Tool,  Peaceworkers
Sukla Sen, Committee for Communal Amnity, Mumbai India
Joan Russow, PhD, Coordinator, Global Compliance Research Project
Rob Mulford, Veterans for Peace, North Star Chapter, Alaska
Jacqueline Cabasso,  Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace and Justice
Ingeborg Breines, Co-president International Peace Bureau
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Felicity Ruby
Jerry  Stein,  The Peace Farm, Amarillo , Texas
Michael Andregg, professor, St. Paul, Minnesota
Elizabeth Murray,  Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, ret.: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Washington
Robert Shetterly, artist,  “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” Maine
Katharine Gun, United Kingdom
Dave Webb, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
Amber Garland, St. Paul, Minnesota
John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus
Beverly Bailey, Richfield, Minnesota
Joseph Gerson,  Convener, Working Group for Peace & Demiitarization in Asia and the Pacific
Stephen McKeown, Richfield, Minnesota
Dominique Lalanne,  France
Bill Rood, Rochester, Minnesota
Tom Klammer, radio host, Kansas City, Missouri
Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mali Lightfoot, Helen Caldicott Foundation
Tony Henderson, spokesperson for universal humanism, Hong Kong
Darlene M. Coffman, Rochester, Minnesota
Sister Gladys Schmitz, Mankato, Minnesota
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA Senior Analyst (ret.), MD
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Jill Stein, Green Party 2012 Presidential nominee
Cheri Honkala, Green Shadow Cabinet
Ed Asner
Norman Solomon, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Agneta Norberg, Sweden
Rick Rosoff, Stop NATO
Kathleen Sullivan, Hibakusha Stories
Michael Eisenscher, US Labor Against the War
Clare Coss, playwright
Jean-Marie Matagne, President, Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (France)
Carolyn Rusti Eisenberg, United for Peace and Justice

Add your name.

America claims black lives matter, but police killings suggest they don’t

by Stephanie Tang             Black lives matter! To carry this message, hundreds of thousands of protesters have flooded into America’s streets, outraged by the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and the non-indictment of his killer. We shut down freeways and bridges coast to coast, stopping traffic, holiday shopping, Grand Central Station and other business as usual.

6 Guantanamo Prisoners Released, Not Sent Home, but to Uruguay

After up to 12 years, some of the prisoners just released are off hunger strike, and in “freedom.” This deal was put together last March, reportedly because of the huge pressure the Guantanamo prisoners' hunger strike put on Obama. But it took another nine months, during which the prisoners could have died, before their release.

One of those released is Abu Wa'el Dhiab, who has been suing the U.S. over forced-feeding he's endured for years, and suing to get the government to release videotape of the feedings.  Reprieve said, about him:

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 18, 2014

 

Russian Ruble Gains Back Some Of Its Lost Value From The Previous Day Dubbed "Black Tuesday” - rferl.org


Russia spends billions to prop up ruble and stem the worst financial crisis of President Putin's 15 years in power - GlobalPost


Russia has resources, market instruments to rectify economic situation: Medvedev - TASS


VIDEO: Russia will never suffer economic meltdown, but Ukraine can: Lavrov - Reuters.com


Russia has cash to prevent economic collapse (VIDEO) - CNN


Russian central bank preparing measures to pump money into banks in 2015 - cnbc.com


Russia's Latest Torment: Higher Prices for Everything - Bloomberg


Russians Flock to Stores to Pre-empt Price Rises - NYTimes.com


Ruble Chaos Forces Retailers to Suspend Sales in Russia - The Moscow Times

 

Apple Halts Online Sales In Russia As The Ruble Collapses - Forbes

 

Russia Government Pressures Exporters not to Hoard Foreign-Currency Earnings - The Moscow Times

 

Bank of Russia Bolsters Lenders as FX Debt Payments Loom - Bloomberg

 

Russia’s 20 richest people lost US$10B in two days due to the ruble’s collapse - Financial Post

 

Russian Economy to Rebound in 2015 if Ukraine Crisis De-Escalates:Saxo Bank - Sputnik International

 

Economist Katusa: Low Oil Prices Aren't the End of Russia (VIDEO) - newsmax.com

 

Russian Arms Exports Hit $13 Billion in 2014 - The Moscow Times

 

Russia crisis leaves banks around the world exposed by the billions - RT Business

 

Anxiety Over European Banks Amid Ruble Crisis - NYTimes.com

 

Banks Most Exposed Russia's Looming Debt Crisis - Business Insider

 

Russian turmoil knocks back European equities - Reuters

 

It’s Not Just Russia’s Companies Feeling the Pain - WSJ

 

German business group warns the recent drop in the ruble will negatively affect Germany’s exports to Russia - presstv.ir

 

Asian Markets Down on Ruble Crisis - Sputnik International

 

Russia-Ukraine border situation affects global economy: Kremlin spokesman - TASS

 

-------------------------------------------------------

EU says Ukraine needs $15 bln, has limited ability to help - Reuters


Finance ministry hopes Ukraine to receive IMF $3 bln loan installment early Jan 2015 - interfax.com.ua


Ukraine's Currency Hits Record Lows on 'Black Tuesday' - Interpreter_Mag


Chevron Shale Exit Shreds Ukraine’s Hope of Energy Independence - Bloomberg


Poroshenko sets course for 'Euro-Atlantic' security integration, aims to EU membership by 2020 and to abandon the "nonbloc” status - rferl.org


VIDEO: Ukraine to Pursue Euro-Atlantic Security Integration: Poroshenko is for canceling non-aligned status - YouTube


Putin Orders Snap Military Drills on NATO Border - newsweek.com

 

Top US Diplomat Warns Russia: Don't Put Nukes in Crimea - newsmax.com

 

Ukraine, pro-Russia rebels agree to resume peace talks on Sunday - The West Australian

 

Donetsk separatist leadership ready to hold on-line Skype-conference with Kiev tomorrow - TASS

 

Lavrov: Moscow Supports Ukraine’s Integrity, E Ukraine Not 'Another Crimea’ - Sputnik International

 

POLL: Few Ukrainians approve of allowing Donetsk and Luhansk to leave Ukraine, Forty-three percent approve of decentralizing power - gallup.com

 

Pushilin: DNR 'Prepared To Exchange 152 Captured Ukrainian Soldiers' - Interpreter_Mag

 

Ukrainian Military Report 26 Attacks From Russian-Backed Forces Over Last 24 Hours - Interpreter_Mag

 

SBU Says Airports Closed Due To SAM Threat - Interpreter_Mag

 

Evidence that Russia is transporting back its destroyed tanks (PHOTOS) - Ukraine@war

 

Tenth Russian convoy to deliver humanitarian aid to east Ukraine: Emergencies Ministry - TASS

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

The Unspeakable in Afghanistan

By Patrick Kennelly

2014 marks the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, fighters, and foreigners. The situation has reached a new low as the myth of the Afghan state continues. Thirteen years into America’s longest war, the international community argues that Afghanistan is growing stronger, despite nearly all indicators suggesting otherwise. Most recently, the central government failed (again) to conduct fair and organized elections or demonstrate their sovereignty. Instead, John Kerry flew into the country and arranged new national leadership. The cameras rolled and a unity government was declared.  Foreign leaders meeting in London decided on new aid packages and financing for the nascent 'unity government.' Within days, the United Nations helped broker a deal to keep foreign forces in the country, while simultaneously President Obama declared the war was ending—even as he increased the number of troops on the ground. In Afghanistan, President Ghani dissolved the cabinet and many people are speculating the 2015 parliamentary elections will be postponed.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups continue to gain traction and have pulled increasing parts of the country under their control. Throughout the provinces, and even in some of the major cities, the Taliban have begun collecting taxes and are working to secure key roadways. Kabul—a city that has been called the most fortified city on earth—has been on edge due to multiple suicide bombings. The attacks on various targets, ranging from high schools to houses for foreign workers, the military, and even the office of Kabul’s police chief have clearly communicated the ability of anti-government forces to strike at will. In response to the growing crisis, the Emergency Hospital in Kabul has been forced to stop treating non-trauma patients in order continue to treat the growing number of people harmed by guns, bombs, suicide explosions, and mines.

After four years of traveling to Afghanistan to conduct interviews, I have heard ordinary Afghans whisper about Afghanistan as a failing state, even as the media has touted growth, development, and democracy. Using dark humor to comment on current conditions Afghans joke that everything is working as it should; they acknowledge an unspeakable reality. They point out that more than 101,000 foreign forces trained to fight and use violence who have used their training well—by using violence; that arms merchants have ensured that all parties can continue fighting for years to come by supplying weapons to all sides; that foreign funders backing resistance groups and mercenaries can complete their missions—resulting in both increased violence and an absence of accountability; that the international NGO community implements programs and has profited from over $100 billion in aid; and that the majority of those investments ended up deposited  in foreign bank accounts, primarily benefiting  foreigners and a few elite Afghans. Further, many of the supposedly “impartial” international bodies, as well as some of the major NGOs, have aligned themselves with various fighting forces. Thus even basic humanitarian aid has become militarized and politicized. For the ordinary Afghan the reality is clear. Thirteen years of investing in militarization and liberalization has left the country in the hands of foreign powers, ineffective NGOs, and infighting between many of the same warlords and Taliban. The result is the current unstable, deteriorating situation rather than a sovereign state.

Yet, during my trips to Afghanistan, I have also heard another unspeakable whispered, in contrast to the narrative told by mainstream media. That is, that there is another possibility, that the old way has not worked, and it is time for change; that nonviolence may  resolve some of the challenges facing the country. In Kabul, the Border Free Center—a community center in which young people can explore their role in improving society,--is exploring the use of nonviolence to engage in serious attempts at peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. These young adults are engaging in demonstration projects to show how different ethnic groups can work and live together. They are creating alternative economies that do not rely on violence in order to provide livelihoods for all Afghans, especially vulnerable widows and children. They are educating street children and developing plans to decrease weapons in the country. They are working to preserve the environment and to create model organic farms to show how to heal the land. Their work is demonstrating the unspeakable in Afghanistan—that when people engage in the work of peace, real progress can be achieved.

Perhaps if the last 13 years had been less focused on foreign political motives and military aid and more focused on initiatives like the Border Free Center, the situation in Afghanistan might be different. If energies were focused on peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding, perhaps people could acknowledge the reality of the situation and create a true transformation of the Afghan state.

Pat Kennelly is the Director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and works with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He writes from Kabul, Afghanistan and can be contacted at kennellyp@gmail.com

A Hollywood Hack Holiday: Ending Torture One Dick At a Time

By John Grant


CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.
 

The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogan and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.


Shooting Down MH 17 - BUK 312 Story False Says Ukraine Crew Member


buk312

(Image: BUK 312 in Kiev junta terrotiry - Anatoly Sharij)

The shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 came into greater focus with the December 15 YouTube video featuring a former crew member of BUK self-propelled fire installation, number 312 (BUK 312). Ukraine's government and others maintained that the BUK 312 unit shot down MH17 while manned by a resistance crew.   The Obama administration championed that narrative holding both the resistance and Russia responsible for the 298 deaths on July 17. The interview was conducted by investigative journalist Anatoly Sharij and translated by Marina Stewart (see full test in English at end of this article).  

The 23-year-old former BUK 312 crewmember revealed that the missile unit was in fact manned by the Ukraine military. He outlines the missile system's location and how it operated.   The former sergeant also offered analysis and research indicating the very low probability that the 312 crew shot down MH17.

Talk Nation Radio: Taif Jany on #SoccerSalam

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-taif-jany-on-soccersalam

Taif Jany, director of #SoccerSalam, discusses the need for humanitarian aid in Iraq this winter and how people can help. See http://soccersalam.org

In addition, 12-year-old Hallie Turner explains how she became a climate activist with http://imatteryouth.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Exposing the FBI

Review of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, by Betty Medsger (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 596 pages. Notes, Index. Hardcover $29.95; paperback $16.95).

The Case Against Re-Banning Torture Yet Again

Senator Ron Wyden has a petition up at MoveOn.org that reads "Right now, torture is banned because of President Obama's executive order. It's time for Congress to pass a law banning torture, by all agencies, so that a future president can never revoke the ban." It goes on to explain:

"We live in a dangerous world. But when CIA operatives and contractors torture terrorist suspects, it doesn't make us safer -- and it doesn't work. The recent CIA torture report made that abundantly clear. Right now, the federal law that bans torture only applies to the U.S. military -- not our intelligence agencies. President Obama's executive order barring all agencies from using torture could be reversed, even in secret, by a future president. That's why it's critical that Congress act swiftly to pass a law barring all agencies of the U.S. government, and contractors acting on our behalf, from engaging in torture. Without legislation, the door on torture is still open. It's time for Congress to slam that door shut once and for all."

Why in the world would anybody object to this unless they supported torture? Well, let me explain.

Torture and complicity in torture were felonies under U.S. law before George W. Bush moved into the White House, under both the torture statute and the war crimes statute. Nothing has fundamentally changed about that, other than the blatant lack of enforcement for several years running. Nothing in those two sections of the U.S. code limits the law to members of the U.S. military or excludes employees or contractors or subcontractors of so-called intelligence agencies. I emailed a dozen legal experts about that claim in the above petition. Michael Ratner replied "I don’t see where they get that from." Kevin Zeese said simply "They're wrong." If anyone replies to me with any explanation, I'll post it as an update at the top of this article on davidswanson.org -- where I can be contacted if you have an explanation.

For the past several years, the U.S. Congress, White House, Justice Department, and media have gone out of their way to ignore the existence of U.S. laws banning torture. When silence hasn't worked, the primary technique has been proposing over and over and over again to ban torture, as if it were not already banned. In fact, Congress has followed through and banned it a number of times, and done so with new exceptions that by some interpretations have in fact weakened the war crimes statute. This is my best guess where the nonsense about applying only to "intelligence agencies" comes from: laws like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that claimed to pick and choose which types of torture to ban for whom.

When President Obama took President Bush's place he produced an executive order purporting to ban torture (again), even while publicly telling the Justice Department not to enforce any existing laws. But an executive order, as Wyden seems to recognize, is not a law. Neither can it ban torture, nor can it give legal weight to the pretense that torture wasn't already banned. In fact the order itself states: "Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441 . . . ."

Senator Wyden says he will introduce yet another bill to "ban torture." Here's how the Washington Post is spinning, and explaining, that:

"Torture is already illegal, but Wyden notes that protections can be strengthened. To oversimplify, the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, in which participating states agreed to outlaw intentionally inflicting severe pain for specific purposes. The Bush administration obviously found a (supposedly) legal route around that."

In other words, because it was done by a president, it was legal -- the worldview of the Post's old buddy Richard Nixon.

"After the Abu Graib revelations, John McCain helped pass a 2005 amendment that would restrict the military from using specific brutal interrogation tactics — those not in the Army Field Manual. (This didn’t preclude intel services from using these techniques, which might explain why CIA director John Brennan felt free to say the other day that future policymakers might revert to using them). In 2008, Congress passed a measure specifically applying those restrictions to intelligence services, too, but then-President Bush vetoed it. Senator Wyden would revive a version of that 2008 bill as a starting point, with the goal of codifying in law President Obama's executive order banning the use of those specific techniques for all government employees, those in intelligence services included."

But let's back up a minute. When a president violates a law, that president -- at least once out of office -- should be prosecuted for violating the law. The law can't be declared void because it was violated. Loopholes can't be created for the CIA. Reliance on the Army Field Manual can't sneak into law the loopholes built into that document. Presidents can't order and un-order things illegal. Here's how the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson responded to the release of the Senate's report summary:

"The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the U.S. Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability. International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the U.S. Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes. As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes."

Now, one could try to spin the endless re-banning of torture as part of the process of enforcing an international treaty that under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But banning a practice going forward, even when you ban it better, or ban it more emphatically for the 8th time, does absolutely nothing to fulfill the legal obligation to prosecute those crimes already committed. And here we are dealing with crimes openly confessed to by past officials who assert that they would "do it again" -- crimes that resulted in deaths, thus eliminating any attempt at an argument that statutes of limitations have run out.

Here's a different sort of petition that we've set up at RootsAction.org along with Witness Against Torture and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee: " We call on President Obama to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce our laws, and to immediately appoint a special prosecutor. As torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, we call on any willing court system in the world to enforce our laws if our own courts will not do so."

The purpose of such a petition is not vengeance or partisanship or a fetish with history. The purpose is to end torture, which is not done by looking forward or even by pardoning the crimes, as the ACLU has proposed -- to its credit recognizing that the crimes exist. That should be a first step for anyone confused by the endless drumbeat to "ban torture."

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'I Can't Breathe'

I’m white.
But I can’t breathe.
I’m suffocating.
Maybe I’m dying.
 

I tried to run
But I got caught
Thinking terrible thoughts about my twisted country.
Dangerous and dark thoughts,
Like a German might have thought
When the Nazi’s were beating up Jews.
And the zeitgeist was shouting at me to stop.
Don’t shoot! I shouted,...


Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 16, 2014

 

Medvedev: EU not willing to treat Ukraine as equal partner, “The association agreement does not contain any mention of Ukraine’s membership” - Sputnik


Medvedev: EU, US Reluctant to Give Ukraine Money, Even for Immediate Needs - Sputnik


Medvedev: Kiev may lose $15Bln after association with EU, should Customs Union member-states take steps to protect their markets - Sputnik


Medvedev: Ukrainian citizens will not be able to work in Russia without labor patent, Ukraine will lose up to $13bn in remittances - APA


Medvedev: Ukrainian economy built thanks to Russia, looming threat of social and economic collapse of the country - interfax.com


Medvedev: 'Russia has experienced tragic events in Ukraine as our own pain', given the two countries’ shared culture, values, and historical identity - Sputnik


Russia says it wants east Ukraine to stay with Kiev under reformed constitution to allow autonomy to Russian-speaking regions - Reuters


Medvedev: Kiev's Blockade of East Ukraine Shows Lack of Responsibility - Sputnik International


Medvedev: Issue With Gas Transit Through Ukraine Settled Only Temporarily - Sputnik International


Medvedev: Russia concerned about Kyiv's attempts to upset atomic energy cooperation - interfax.com


Russia announces a three-day exercise near the Ukrainian border. On previous occasions it meant a surge of the intervention corps - Leonid Ragozin on Twitter


Russian top brass (200 generals and other commanders) meeting and strategizing somewhere in Rostov region - Maria Antonova on Twitter


Geolocating Russia moves of more T-64s and GRADs towards Ukraine (PHOTO) - Ukraine@war


Russians film their own large columns on the move in Ukraine (VIDEO, PHOTO) - Ukraine@war


FM Lavrov says Russian nukes could be stationed in Crimea - Andrew Roth on Twitter


Russia Blamed by Nordic Nations for Endangering Airliner - Bloomberg


Russia denies another near collision in Baltics - The Sacramento Bee


US, Europe arms sales decline for third year in a row, Russia sees spike in sales largely thanks to a Kremlin push to modernise its military - ibtimes.com


The Top 25 Weapons Companies In The World (Excluding China): Report - Business Insider


Plans to Create Russian National Orbital Station Confirmed - Sputnik International


---------------------------------------------------------

Dems, GOP press Obama to back Russian sanctions, The bill also would provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine - ABC News


White House has not yet decided on Russia sanctions bill - Reuters


Lavrov: U.S. Ukraine support bill hostile move, "a maniac desire to punish Russia for all imaginable and unimaginable transgressions" - interfax.com


Russia Issues Stern Warning To U.S. Against Fresh Economic Sanctions, Vows To Strike Back Because Of Ukraine Support Act - ibtimes.com


Russia Press Digest: U.S. bill on Ukraine is ‘time bomb under bilateral relations’ - Russia Beyond The Headlines


‘If US sends weapons to Ukraine, Russia should send troops’: lawmaker - RT


How Many Enemies Does America Want? Congress Sacrifices U.S. Security With New Sanctions Against Russia - Forbes


Russian Ruble Crashes to World's Worst-Performing Currency - The Moscow Times


Russian ADRS Drop Most in Five Years as Ruble Plunges - Bloomberg


Russia Boosts Interest Rates To 17 Percent Amid Currency's Slide - NPR


Russia cuts spending as recession looms: Report - Worldbulletin News


Moscow Authorities Threaten Merchants with Fines for Showing Prices in Foreign Currency; Urges Consumers to Inform on Businesses - Interpreter_Mag


Russia’s Debt Problem May Not Be as Bad as It Seems - WSJ


Ukraine's frozen war is bringing dramatic changes to world economy - Reuters


---------------------------------------------------------

Ukraine Seeking $10 Billion in Aid Amid Talks With U.S., EU to stave off a default as its economy shrinks - Bloomberg


Ukraine Prime Minister Asks NATO, EU for More Help - ABC News


Ukraine needs national referendum on NATO membership: PM - TASS


NATO Secretary General tells Ukrainian Prime Minister ''NATO stands with you’’ - NATO


VIDEO: Joint press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk - YouTube


Joint Press Release following the first Association Council meeting between the European Union and Ukraine - Council of the European Union


Ukrainian Bonds Tumble Amid Talks on Aid to Avert Default - Bloomberg


Gas volume in Ukraine’s underground storage sites falls as heating season begins - TASS


Ukraine says Chevron plans to pull out of $10 bln shale gas deal - Reuters


Press Release: UN report details dire plight of people in eastern Ukraine amid ongoing rights violations - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


REPORT: Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


Separatist Military Leader: "We must take the borders of the Donetsk region. If Ukraine does not agree to solve this issue by political means, we will settle it militarily - Interpreter_Mag


Convoy with Russian Tank Labeled 'To Mariupol' Has Been Geolocated in Ukraine (PHOTO, VIDEO) - Interpreter_Mag


Numerous Attacks On Ukrainian Positions, Including Grad Use Reported - Interpreter_Mag


Official says 917 Ukrainian army servicemen killed in Donbas military operation - TASS


Ukraine's three major airports closed indefinitely: state aviation service - TASS


Ukrainian female pilot Nadezhda Savchenko detained in Russia on hunger strike - Interpreter_Mag


Poroshenko grants alleged Belarusian Neo-Nazi Ukrainian citizenship - khpg.org

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

US sides with a colonizer: Africa's Forgotten (And Festering) Freedom Struggle in Western Africa

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Algiers -- The Western Sahara is not just a section of the famous desert that dominates North Africa.


Intersection of Mistakes With Misdeeds

On a pleasant spring day in December it's nice to drive past the endlessly under-construction intersection of Route 250 and McIntire Road in Charlottesville, Va., and realize that the darn thing must nearly be completed. It looks sturdy and attractive. There's a nice new bicycle path heading north from it. All must be right with the world.

This intersection has its own official website stating that it won't really be done until next summer -- a website that is otherwise about as helpful as healthcare.gov.

Here are my concerns.

This intersection was only required by the construction of a 2-mile-long unnecessary road leading out of it, a road aimed at taking traffic off other roads that will certainly fail in that quixotic mission. Construction of new houses along those other roads has outpaced the construction of the new road that will produce the traffic needed to fill it, as they always do.

The intersection is supposed to cost $33 million, and together with the 2-mile-long road a total of $67 million.

The increased traffic is predictably driving discussion of additional new intersections to receive it. Price tags for improving four intersections on nearby Route 29 have been discussed as ranging from $250 million to $350 million. An intersection many miles up Route 29 in Gainesville is under construction for a cost of $216 million. A ridiculous proposal for a whole new road to the west of Charlottesville has been stopped by public pressure but left $200 million lying around for people to find something to spend it on. The Virginia Department of Transportation has a six-year plan to spend $13 billion on transportation projects.

To put this madness into perspective, the World Food Program needs $413 million for Syrian refugees for the next six months and doesn't have it. That's the cost of a couple of pointless and counterproductive intersections.

About $11 billion per year would provide clean drinking water to every part of the world that lacks it. That's less than a certain collection of road construction projects in just one U.S. state.

About $30 billion per year would end starvation and hunger around the world. In the United States alone we spend about $80 billion per month on highway and road construction projects.

The problem is not just that we're paving the planet rather than saving lives. And it's not just that paving one's way out of traffic predictably generates more traffic. It's also that we're destroying the planet's climate in the process.

Oh, and we're also creating a motivation for endless wars over oil.

Speaking of wars, no intersection would be complete without a war memorial. As part of the construction of the $33 million intersection in Charlottesville, big improvements are being made to the Dogwood Veterans Memorial, a monument to the war on Vietnam that was built during that war in 1966.

That war killed some 4 million Vietnamese, and the people whose government killed them have absolutely no shame. In fact, they don't even know about it. Ask a German or a Japanese about their nations' greatest sins, and they'll cite you chapter and verse with grave remorse. Ask a U.S.-American how many people died in Vietnam and you'll get at best a blank stare.

So, as you speed through the new intersection admiring the blacktop and the war monument -- I'm sure there's something similar in your part of the country too --  give some thought to the general priorities they represent.

Time to Ban the Bomb

By Alice Slater

Global Momentum is building for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons! While the world has banned chemical and biological weapons, there is no explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, although the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously that there is an obligation to bring to a conclusion negotiations for their total elimination.   The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), negotiated in 1970 required the five existing nuclear weapons states, the US, Russia, UK, France and China (P-5) to make “good faith efforts” to eliminate their nuclear weapons, while the rest of the world promised not to acquire them (except for India, Pakistan, Israel, who never signed the NPT).  North Korea relied on the NPT Faustian bargain for “peaceful” nuclear power to build its own bomb, and then walked out of the treaty. 

More than 600 members of civil society, from every corner of the globe, with more than half of them under the age of 30 attended a fact-filled two day conference in Vienna organized by the International Coalition to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), to learn of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons from the bomb and from testing as well, and of the frightening risks from possible accidents or sabotage of the nine nuclear arsenals around the world.  The meeting was a follow up to two prior meetings in Oslo, Norway and Nayarit, Mexico.   ICAN members, working for a treaty to ban the bomb, then joined a meeting hosted by Austria for 160 governments in the historic Hofburg Palace, which has served as the residence of Austrian leaders since before the founding of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

In Vienna, the US delegate, delivered a tone-deaf statement on the heels of heart-wrenching testimony of catastrophic illness and death in her community from Michelle Thomas, a down winder from Utah, and other devastating testimony of the effects of nuclear bomb testing from the Marshall Islands and Australia.  The US rejected any need for a ban treaty and extolled the step by step approach (to nuclear weapons forever) but changed its tone in the wrap-up and appeared to be more respectful of the process.   There were 44 countries who explicitly spoke of their support for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, with the Holy See delegate reading out Pope Francis’ statement also calling for a ban on nuclear weapons and their elimination in which he said, “I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home.”.  This was a shift in Vatican policy which had never explicitly condemned deterrence policies of the nuclear weapons states although they had called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in prior statements. [i]

Significantly, and to help move the work forward, the Austrian Foreign Minister added to the Chair’s report by announcing a pledge by Austria to work for a nuclear weapons ban, described as “taking effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.!   [ii]The NGO strategy now as presented at the ICAN[iii] debriefing meeting right after the conference closed, is to get as many nations as we can to support the Austrian pledge coming into the CD and the NPT review and then come out of the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a concrete plan for negotiations on a ban treaty.   One thought about the 70th Anniversary of the bomb, is that not only should we get a huge turnout in Japan, but we should acknowledge all the victims of the bomb, illustrated so agonizingly during the conference by Hibakusha and down winders at test sites.   We should also think about the uranium miners, the polluted sites from mining as well as manufacturing and use of the bomb and try to do something all over the world at those sites on August 6th and 9th as we call for negotiations to begin to ban nuclear weapons and eliminate them.   

Only a few days after the Vienna conference, there was a meeting of the Nobel Laureates in Rome, who after meeting with Nobel Prize winning IPPNW members Dr. Tilman Ruff and hearing the testimony of Dr. Ira Helfand, both ICAN founders, continued the momentum created in Vienna and issued a statement which not only called for a ban on nuclear weapons, but asked that negotiations be concluded within two years! [iv]

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice.  Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

One way to slow down this process to negotiate a legal ban on nuclear weapons would be for the NPT nuclear weapons states to promise at this five year NPT review conference to set a reasonable date to bring to a conclusion time-bound negotiations and effective and verifiable measures to implement the total elimination of nuclear weapons.   Otherwise the rest of the world will start without them to create an explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons which will be a powerful taboo to be used for pressuring the countries cowering under the nuclear umbrella of the nuclear weapons states, in NATO and in the Pacific, to take a stand for Mother Earth, and urge that negotiations begin for the total abolition of nuclear weapons!

Alice Slater is NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000.

US Attends, then Defies Conference on Nuclear Weapons Effects & Abolition

By John LaForge

VIENNA, Austria—A pair of conferences here Dec. 6-9 have tried to raise public and government awareness of nuclear weapons.

The first, a Civil Society Forum put on by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, brought together NGOs, parliamentarians, and activists of all stripes to try and boost morale and renew enthusiasm in efforts to ban the bomb.

About 700 participants spent two days delving into the ghastly health and environmental effects of nuclear war, the hair-raising frequency of H-bomb accidents and near detonations, the horrifying impacts of bomb testing—and other human radiation experiments conducted without informed consent upon our own unwitting civilians and soldiers.

This is ground that’s been plowed for decades, but it’s nevertheless staggering to the uninitiated and is never repeated too often—especially in view of the destabilization and skyrocketing death toll of what the Pope has called today’s “World War Three.”

ICAN’s infusion of youthful encouragement and high-energy mobilization is a welcome relief for the doddering anti-nuclear movement that’s seen a generation of activists lost to campaigns against corporate globalization and the perpetrators of climate collapse. Mary Olson, of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, who presented expert testimony on the misogynistic gender bias in radiation effects, said she had gotten a “surprisingly big jolt of hope from the youngness of the gathering.”

A second conference -- the “Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” (HINW) -- brought together government representatives and hundreds of others, and was the third in a series. Austria, which has neither nuclear weapons nor nuclear reactors, sponsored the gathering.

After decades of negotiations over the strategic and numerical size of nuclear arsenals, the HINW meetings have faced the harsh ugliness and catastrophic health and environmental effects of nuclear testing and warfare.

Expert witnesses spoke directly to 180 government representatives about the ethical, legal, medical and ecological consequences of H-bomb detonations which are—in the language of diplomatic nicety—“foreseeable.” Then, scores of nation-state delegates called on nuclear-armed states to pursue abolition. Dozens of speakers noted that landmines, cluster munitions, gas, chemical and biological weapons have all been banned, but the worst of all¾thermonuclear WMD—have not.

But the emperor can’t see his own nakedness

It turns out that a gathering of elites like the HINW is like a prison population: there is a strict, arcane etiquette; a rigorous separation of classes; and a blatant violation of all the rules by privileged, rich and pampered chieftains.

The most blatant violation came at the start of the first question-&-answer session, and it was my own government—which skipped previous HINW meetings in Norway and Mexico—that put a radioactive foot in its bomb-cratered mouth. Immediately following harrowing personal testimonies from downwind bomb test victims, and a review by Ms. Olson of the science showing women and children to be far more vulnerable to radiation than men, the U.S. interrupted. Everyone noticed.

Although facilitators twice directed participants to ask questions only the U.S. delegate, Adam Scheinman, was first at the mic, and he declared flatly, “I will not ask a question but make a statement.” The bully then ignored the panel’s hour-long discussion of the brutal, gruesome, and long-term effects of nuclear weapons testing. Instead, in ringing non sequitur, Scheinman’s prepared statement declared U.S. opposition to a nuclear weapons ban and noted support for negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Mr. Scheinman also lauded the U.S. embrace of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty¾code language for decades of winking at open US violations of the treaty’s requirements.

(Principle among U.S. NPT violations are Pres. Obama’s planned $1 trillion, 30-year budget for new nuclear weapons; “nuclear sharing” agreements that keep 180 U.S. H-bombs at US bases in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Turkey; and sales of Trident nuclear missiles to the British submarine fleet.)

Mr. Scheinman’s rude defiance of conference protocol was a microcosm of the country’s global militarism: oblivious, contemptuous, imperious, and defiant of law. Conducted at 1:20 in the afternoon, the scene-stealing disruption was well-timed to be the lead headline on nightly TV news. U.S. refusal to support and dismissal of the movement for a nuclear weapons ban/treaty should be the story of the conference, but corporate media can be counted on to note only Obama’s public agenda and his finger-pointing at non-nuclear Iran.

The desired result of Scheinman’s outburst is that the U.S. momentarily diverted attention from the indiscriminate, uncontrollable, widespread, persistent, radiological and genetically destabilizing, scofflaw impact of its nuclear weapons—and got television to pat it on the back merely for showing up and “listening.”

Indeed, after its usurpation of center-stage here—and after having temporarily recast the subject of the conference—the U.S. may now get back to its real agenda, the massively expensive “upgrade” of machinery for producing 80 new H-bombs a year by 2020.

-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Revealed: How Big Oil Got Expedited Permitting for Fracking on Public Lands Into the Defense Bill

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The U.S. Senate has voted 89-11 to approve the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, following the December 4 U.S. House of Representatives' 300-119 up-vote and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

 Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot

The 1,648-page piece of pork barrel legislation contains a provision — among other controversial measures — to streamline permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Buried on page 2,179 of the bill as Section 3021 and subtitled "Bureau of Land Management Permit Processing," the bill's passage has won praise from both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and comes on the heels of countries from around the world coming to a preliminary deal at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

"We applaud the Senate...and are hopeful the president signs this measure in a timely fashion," said Dan Naatz, IPAA lobbyist and former congressional staffer, in a press release

Alluding to the bottoming out of the global price of oil, Naatz further stated, "In these uncertain times of price volatility, it’s encouraging for America’s job creators to have regulatory certainty through a streamlined permitting process.”

Streamlined permitting means faster turn-around times for the industry's application process to drill on public lands, bringing with it all of the air, groundwater and climate change issues that encompass the shale production process. 

At the bottom of the same press release, IPAA boasted of its ability to get the legislative proposal introduced initially by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) as the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 after holding an "educational meeting" with Udall's staffers. Endorsed by some major U.S. environmental groups, Udall took more than $191,000 from the oil and gas industry during his successful 2014 re-election campaign.

IPAA's publicly admitted influence-peddling efforts are but the tip of the iceberg for how Big Oil managed to stuff expedited permitting for fracking on U.S. public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.

Facing Down a Key Torture Enabler

Clashing Face-to-Face on Torture

Editor Note: It’s rare on TV when you see two former senior U.S. officials clashing angrily over something as significant as torture. Usually decorum prevails. But ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern wasn’t going to let the ex-House intelligence oversight chief get away with a bland defense of torture.

By Ray McGovern

When you get an opportunity like this, don’t fall back – I heard my Irish grandmother telling me last Thursday as I took my place at the table to discuss torture with a former congressional committee chairman whose job it was to prevent such abuse.

We're Not Exceptional, We're Isolated

This weekend I participated in an interesting exercise. A group of activists staged a debate in which some of us argued that peace and environmental and economic justice are possible, while another group argued against us.

The latter group professed to not believe its own statements, to be dirtying itself with bad arguments for the sake of the exercise — in order to help us refine our arguments. But the case they made for the impossibility of peace or justice was one I hear often from people who at least partially believe it.

A core of the U.S. argument for the inevitability of war and injustice is a mysterious substance called “human nature.” I take belief in this substance to be an example of how thoroughly U.S. exceptionalism pervades the thinking of even those who oppose it. And I take exceptionalism to mean not superiority over but ignorance of everybody else.

Let me explain. In the United States we have 5 percent of humanity living in a society dedicated to war in an unprecedented manner, putting over $1 trillion every year into war and preparations for war. Going to the other extreme you have a country like Costa Rica that abolished its military and thus spends $0 on war. Most nations of the world are much closer to Costa Rica than to the United States. Most nations of the world spend a small fraction of what the United States spends on militarism (in real numbers or per capita). If the United States were to reduce its military spending to the global average or mean of all other countries, suddenly it would become difficult for people in the United States to talk about war as “human nature,” and going that last little bit to complete abolition wouldn’t look so hard.

But isn’t the other 95 percent of humanity human now?

In the United States we live a lifestyle that destroys the environment at a far greater pace than do most human beings. We flinch at the idea of radically reducing our destruction of the earth’s climate — or, in other words, living like Europeans. But we don’t think of it as living like Europeans. We don’t think of it as living like South Americans or Africans. We don’t think about the other 95 percent. We propagandize them through Hollywood and promote our destructive lifestyle through our financial institutions, but we don’t think about people who aren’t imitating us as humans.

In the United States we have a society with greater inequality of wealth and greater poverty than in any other wealthy nation. And activists who oppose this injustice can sit in a room and describe particular aspects of it as part of human nature. I’ve heard many do this who were not faking their beliefs.

But imagine if the people of Iceland or some other corner of the earth got together and discussed the pros and cons of their society as “human nature” while ignoring the rest of the world. We’d laugh at them, of course. We might also envy them if we listened long enough to catch on to what they supposed “human nature” to be.

The $7 Million University President

In a recent article about Shirley Jackson, the president since 1999 of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)―a private university located in Troy, New York―the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed that, in 2012 (the latest year for which statistics are available), she received over $7 million from that institution.  Like many modern campus administrators, President Jackson was also given a large mansion, first class air travel, and a chauffeured luxury car to transport her around the campus.

Thanks to the fact that Jackson also serves on at least five corporate boards, including those of IBM and Marathon Oil, she supplements this income with more than a million dollars a year from these sources.

Making a joke of the Supreme Court: Justice Antonin Scalia is a Publicity-Seeking Intellectual Midget

By Dave Lindorff


Sometimes you really don't need to write much to do an article on something. Writing about the inanity of Justice Antonin Scalia, the ethics-challenged, lard-bottomed, right-wing anchor of the Supreme Court, is one of those times.

Support WarIsACrime



Donate.








Tweet your Congress critters here.


Advertise on this site!




Facebook      Twitter





Our Store:



















Movie Memorabilia.



The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.