Ukraine/Russia News - Mar 4, 2015


In Bid To Halt Devaluation, Inflation Ukraine Raises Key Rate to World’s Highest Amid Hryvnia Rout - Bloomberg Business


Analyst: Ukraine unofficially has 272 percent inflation - The Washington Post


Ukraine central bank declares fourth-largest lender insolvent, it closed thirty banks last year and declared ten bankrupt since 2015 - Reuters


Ukraine agrees tough austerity package to gain $17.5bn IMF bailout, budget sees drastic pension cuts and energy bills tripling (VIDEO) - RT


VIDEO: 'Budget of genocide'? Ukraine makes amendments to meet IMF demands - RT


Ukrainian Economic Reforms are Humiliation for Populace: Putin - Sputnik International


Ukraine ranked fourth among world’s most miserable economies - irishtimes.com


Ukraine's economy is starting to disintegrate: Polish Deputy PM - Reuters


Ukrainians are seeing signs the economy is cracking under the weight of war and the risk of default - Bloomberg


Ukraine Economy Crisis: Rebels Reportedly Open Donetsk Banks Amid Economic Collapse, Growing Black Market For Cash - ibtimes.com


The Other Ukrainian Crisis: While most of the West focuses on Russia's next moves, it may be Ukraine's internal politics that determine the future of the region - Stratfor


Russia, Ukraine Reach Gas Deal For The Month Of March - rferl.org


Russia and Ukraine Agree to Discuss Summer Gas Package - The Moscow Times


Ukraine is trying to end its dependence on Russian gas at the worst possible time - Business Insider


Russia Bans Crop Imports From Ukraine - Financial Tribune Daily


Russia, EU officials to discuss Ukraine-EU association agreement implementation - TASS


Ukraine: Ukraine Imposed Additional 5-10 Percent Duties on Import - USDA Foreign Agricultural Service


More on Ukraine additional import charge - Lexology


VIDEO: Watch Ukrainian Rada erupt in mass brawl - YouTube


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

Three servicemen dead as Kiev accuses Ukraine rebels of shelling - Reuters


EU, U.S. ready to step up sanctions if Ukraine ceasefire violated - Yahoo News


Obama extends for one year some sanctions against Russia, related to crisis in Ukraine - TASS


White House Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Ukraine - The White House


Top US military officer Dempsey backs arming Ukraine against separatists 'in the context of NATO allies’ - Yahoo News


Director of National Intelligence Clapper: Give Ukraine ‘Lethal Defensive Weapons’ - foreignpolicy.com


US Soldiers Readying for Deployment to Train Ukrainian Forces - defensenews.com


Russia Warns NATO: Any Threat in Ukraine Could Warrant Military Response - Russia Insider


NATO Says Russia Moving Its Weapons Systems In Crimea - ibtimes.com


Russia stepping up nuclear exercises amid events in Ukraine: NATO deputy chief - interfax.com


Ukraine to take part in the NATO crisis management exercise CMX15 - MFA of Ukraine


Ukraine's neighbor Romania to host Portuguese troops for NATO policing mission in May - Star Tribune


Passenger planes dodged Russian bombers in Irish-controlled airspace - BreakingNews.ie


Some 12,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine supporting rebels: U.S. commander Hodges - Reuters


Nemtsov's 'Evidence of Russian Troops in Ukraine' Taken by Police - newsweek.com


The story of a Russian soldier's war in Ukraine: "We all knew what we had to do and what could happen” - Euromaidan Press |


'It Is a Government Crime': The Coffins of Russia's Ghost Soldiers In Ukraine Are Coming Home - VICE News


VIDEO: Killed in "Unknown Circumstances": Russia's Ghost Army in Ukraine (Part 1) - VICE News


VIDEO: Russia’s Ghost Army in Ukraine (Part 2) - VICE News


Russia’s 17th Humanitarian Aid Convoy Leaves for Ukraine’s Donbas: EMERCOM - Sputnik International


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Dear Drone Commander, We Know You're Human

To: James Cluff, Commander, Creech AFB

Dear Commander Cluff,

It is our intention to reach out to you and appeal to your humanity to stop the drone killing. Your first responsibility is to uphold laws, regardless of your orders. Aerial bombardment of innocent civilians is in violation of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions and the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal.   Drones are not making us any safer. More and more young men in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are joining groups that are retaliating against the US for the murder of their loved ones.

I'm sure you can see at the base that there is low morale among the drone pilots, because it is impossible to sustain any level of enthusiasm for intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance. Although the Airforce throws incentive dollars to your pilots they are still resigning in great numbers, and those that stay turn to drugs and alcohol to numb and detach emotionally to perform this dehumanizing work. While sitting in a cockpit, gazing at their screens, don't your pilots see mothers and fathers with children, kids playing soccer? Consider the effect of drone strikes on these mothers and children. Children suffer intense trauma when they witness the death of their parents or are themselves victims of airstrikes. How can you justify fighting a telewar? Do the pilots really reap joy with their joysticks from killing unarmed civilians?

DSC07207

Do you really believe that you're protecting Americans from terrorists? You can see that dropping missiles on suspected terrorists isn't working, isn't reducing the number of terrorist cells, instead it is taking precious resources and diverting them from the very programs that could truly keep Americans safe. Can't you see that you are caught up in a system of domination that maintains that our survival depends on our threat and domination of others? And that it is this system that objectifies and separates you from people of other nations.

Commander Cluff, you have sadly forgotten who you are and are living in denial of your humanity. You can try but never succeed at legitimizing the violence of drone airstrikes. This job has dehumanized you and caused your indifference to the suffering of the people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

It is still possible to stop the killing, to change and take the risk of another way of life.

STOP THE KILLING, END DRONE WARFARE!

Jackie Barshak
CODEPINK
Women for Peace

Talk Nation Radio: Spring Rising - An Antiwar Intervention March 21 in DC

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-spring-rising-an-antiwar-intervention-march-21-in-dc

This show is a call to action to become part of Spring Rising: An Antiwar Intervention in Washington, D.C., March 18-21, 2015, with the big rally and march on Saturday March 21. See http://SpringRising.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive[not working at moment] 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

Is it imminent? It’s everpresent: Venezuela’s Continuous Coup

By Alfredo Lopez

 

When Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma was arrested last week, charged with organizing and leading a coup, the U.S. State Department's spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "The allegations made by the Venezuelan government that the United States is involved in coup plotting and destabilization are baseless and false. The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means."

Admit that torture does not work

To: Keifer Sutherland and Kathryn Bigelow

Admit awareness of the fact that torture does not work in real life. Sign the petition.

Admit that torture does not work

Why is this important?

The popularity and acceptability of torture have soared in the United States and around the world. This is not simply because the United States has tortured. The U.S. government, many of its policies, its wars, and key torture supporters have not seen similar boosts in popularity.

A major contributor to torture's improved image has been Hollywood, led by two productions that have popularized the false belief that torture can produce life-saving information. The U.S. Senate report's summary makes clear that torture has not worked in the real world. In fact, torture has generally not been used to stop an imminent attack, and has been used in some cases to compel agreement with lies about Iraqi links to al Qaeda -- lies aimed at starting a war.

The fantasy situation in which a torturer knows his victim has life-saving information that cannot be obtained elsewhere, and that his victim won't lie, and that torture will work better than legal interrogation exists only in fiction. But belief in it creates acceptance of torture.

Experts agree on this, but people need to hear it from the fictional experts they've heard of for it to seem real to them. People need to hear Keifer Sutherland, star of "24," and Kathryn Bigelow, director of "Zero Dark Thirty," admit that torture does not work in real life.

Sutherland and Bigelow don't need to criticize or apologize for their art. They don't need to begin self-censoring. They just need to admit that they are aware of the facts, that torture did not help find Osama bin Laden, that torture has not prevented deaths or destruction -- quite the contrary.

U.S. torture has been a recruiting bonanza for anti-U.S. terrorist groups. This fact is trumpted most loudly by defenders of torture and opponents of releasing reports, photos, or videos of what was done. The open secret that we need key public figures to acknowledge is that there's no up-side to weigh against the harm done.

On March 1, 2015, the Independent claimed to change everything with this headline: "Revealed: How torture was used to foil al-Qaeda 2010 plot to bomb two airliners 17 minutes before explosion." The claims in the article are not well documented and quite possibly entirely false. There is no evidence that questioning without torture wouldn't have worked as well or better than torturing. The bomb in the story may have been planted in the first place as retaliation for torture. And the serious argument against torture is not "It's just wrong" but that allowing it creates its widespread use and contributes to other brutal policies including war that kill and injure countless people driving forward vicious cycles of violence.

Torture creates enemies, causes horrific suffering, and dehumanizes the torturers including those who passively allow it. A torturer cannot know that someone has lifesaving information and is most likely to reveal it under torture. And once we pretend that a torturer might know that, we cannot stop the torturers from torturing large numbers of people.

Sign the petition.

Learn more with:

Gareth Porter: How the CIA Covered Up Its Lie on Torture and bin Laden

Patrick Cockburn: CIA Torture Report: It Didn't Work Then, It Doesn't Work Now

Donald Canestraro: Experienced Interrogator: Torture Doesn't Work

The Nuclear Nine

By Richard Greve © -- February 2015
They are the Nuclear Nine – the ones with the Bomb.
They can trigger The End
at any time.
A mad leader, a mistake, miscalculation
buttons are pushed, and, well,
there it isn't. Gone.

Fast death for some,
slow for others.
Those with money might go underground
or maybe New Zealand if the wind
hasn't shifted. Hoping against hope.

Those in the cities have a few minutes to panic
and melt.
In the hinterlands long struggles
with a slower demise,
poisoned milk, nuclear winters
where crops will not grow.
Oh what a deed these mushrooms will do.

 Kids under desks won't be saved
 in their schools,
 nor will they be saved by
fast running moms.

Why Do We Fear Challenging Authority?

Have you ever noticed your own inclination, or that of other people, to believe what you/they are told by someone seen to be in authority?

For example, did you know that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the 911 destruction of the World Trade Center buildings 1, 2 and 7 was a false flag operation? That is, 911 was organised by the US and/or Israeli elite(s) and their agents in order to enable them to manipulate public opinion to support their subsequently initiated perpetual war in the Middle East and elsewhere.

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three seem to grasp that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was necessary for the creation of ISIS, all three seem to understand that fighting ISIS is counterproductive, and yet all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate. The question is not whether to make the disaster worse, but exactly how to do it.

What, after all, makes the region a global tinderbox? Israel's nukes? Certainly not, those are not supposed to be mentioned or even thought about. Well then, all the other weapons? But over 80% of those are supplied by the United States, so that can't be it. Perhaps the violent overthrows and devastation of so many governments and countries? But it was the U.S. and friends who destroyed Iraq and made Libya what it is and who have done what they're still doing to Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that has ruined Yemen. It is the U.S. that arms and supports Israel's wars. It is the U.S. that props up the terrorist states in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt. Surely what makes the region a tinderbox (rather than a region rich in oil about which greedy earth-destroying interests might be concerned) is something unthinkable or nonsensical or inscrutable, something ethnic or religious or unworthy of consideration.

Because otherwise we might have to consider cease fires and arms embargoes and diplomacy and humanitarian aid as possible alternatives to the usual choices of (1) do nothing, or (2) make it all worse with more of what caused much of the problem in the first place. We might have to consider that it isn't ISIS that's posing the greatest threat in the form of "the effort to eradicate the group."

Skipping The Speech for All the Wrong Reasons

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to hear that Congress members will skip Netanyahu's speech no matter what reason they offer. Here are some of them:

It's too close to Netanyahu's election. (That doesn't persuade me. If we had fair, open, publicly funded, un-gerrymandered, verifiably counted elections, then "politics" wouldn't be a dirty word and we would want politicians to show themselves doing things to try to please us before, during, and after elections. I want them acting that way now, even with our broken system. I don't want the U.S. interfering in Israeli elections, but allowing a speech is hardly the same as backing coups in Ukraine and Venezuela or giving Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons every year.)

The Speaker didn't ask the President. (This is likely the big reason that Democrats are promising to skip the speech. I'm actually amazed more of them haven't made that promise. Netanyahu seemed to me to miss the extent to which the United States has become a term-limited monarchy. Congress typically wants to pass the buck on wars to the President. The President typically controls one of the two parties quite tightly. But do I actually care that Congress didn't consult the President? Hell no! Imagine if, during the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, Congress had offered a joint-session microphone to El Baradei or Sarkozy or Putin or, indeed, Hussein to denounce all the bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq? Would you have been outraged by the impoliteness toward President Bush or delighted that a million people might not get killed for no damn reason?)

These kinds of reasons do have a practical weakness: they lead to calls for postponing the speech, rather than canceling it. Some other reasons have more serious flaws.

The speech damages bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. (Really? A slim minority of the President's party skips the speech for a laundry list of lame excuses and suddenly the United States is going to stop providing all the free weapons and vetoing every attempt at legal accountability for the crimes of the Israeli government? And that would be a bad thing if it actually happened?)

The speech hurts the critical effort of negotiations to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. (This is the worst of the bad reasons. It pushes the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. It plays right into Netanyahu's fantasies of poor helpless nuclear Israel the victim of Iranian aggression. In reality, Iran has not attacked another nation in modern history. If only Israel or the United States could say as much!)

As I said, I'm glad anyone's skipping the speech for any reason. But I find it deeply disturbing that an enormously important and deeply moral reason to skip the speech is obvious and known to every member of Congress, and while most are acting against it, those acting in accordance with it refuse to articulate it. The reason is this: Netanyahu is coming to spread war propaganda. He told Congress lies about Iraq in 2002 and pushed for a U.S. war. He has been lying, according to leaks this week of his own spies' information and according to the understanding of the U.S. "intelligence" services, about Iran. It is illegal to spread war propaganda under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. Congress is struggling to keep up with the wars President Obama is continuing, launching, and risking. Here's one war Obama seems not to want, and Congress is bringing in a foreign leader with a record of war lies to give them their marching orders. Meanwhile, an agency of that same foreign government, AIPAC, is holding its big lobby meeting in Washington.

Now, it is true that nuclear energy facilities create dangerous targets. Those drones flying around French nuclear plants scare the hell out of me. And it is true that nuclear energy places its possessor a short step away from nuclear weaponry. Which is why the U.S. should stop spreading nuclear energy to countries that have no need of it, and why the U.S. should never have given nuclear bomb plans to Iran or sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to prison for allegedly revealing that act. But you can't accomplish good by using horrific mass murder to avoid horrific mass murder -- and that's what Israeli-U.S. aggression toward Iran means. Stirring up a new cold war with Russia in Syria and Ukraine is dangerous enough without throwing Iran into the mix. But even a war that confined itself to Iran would be horrifying.

Imagine if we had one Congress member who would say, "I'm skipping the speech because I'm opposed to killing Iranians." I know we have lots of constituents who like to think that their progressive Congress member secretly thinks that. But I'll believe it when I hear it said.

The True Nobel Candidates for the true Nobel Peace Prize 2015

Source: http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7

The Norwegian Nobel Committee ignores the testament of Nobel. They claim that the “champions of peace” Nobel described in his will no longer exist. To end this charade we have seen no alternative to lifting the curtain of secrecy they hide their waywardness behind.

The Nobel Committee has pursued its own ideas and failed to see how the expressions Nobel used and the promise he gave to Bertha von Suttner to “do something big for the movement” (italics added) leave no room for doubt what “champions of peace” Nobel intended to support. Expressed in modern language:

When Nobel wished to support the “champions of peace,” he meant the movement and the persons who work for a demilitarized world, for law to replace power in international politics, and for all nations to commit to cooperating on the elimination of all weapons instead of competing for military superiority.

This is the content of the prize and as the legally binding scope of all selections it was presented to the Nobel Committee 7 years ago. The committee has never contested this description of the purpose of Nobel, just used their power to ignore it. We think the peace idea of Nobel is of imperative urgency in the world today, and that everyone should know these ideas and be able to see and discuss them. That is why we have decided to publish the following list of qualified candidates.

Below is the list of those we know who are nominated AND qualified, under a wide understanding of the purpose of Nobel, either
1) by direct work for the global disarmament plan Nobel had in mind, or
2) by peace work with high utility and relevance to realizing the Nobel “uniting of disarmed nations,” particularly the work to abolish nuclear weapons, and to promote non-violence, conflict resolution and prevention, develop international law and institutions, etc.
3) by contributing new ideas and research, develop new methods for civilized, non-violent interrelation between peoples that enables a demilitarization of international relations.

The list is not final. We welcome information of nominations we are not aware of or of candidates that we – based on the Nobel purpose – should have included in our list. If you miss certain “champions of peace” in the list this year, please take steps to have them included among the nominations for 2016 – deadline: Feb 1, 2016. The Nobel Peace Prize is happy to give advice and guidance in the hope of realizing Nobel´s true purpose and idea. Contact us


LIST – VALID CANDIDATES FOR THE TRUE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015

Abolition 2000, Global network organization

Article 9, Japan

Bolkovac, Kathryn, USA

Bryn, Steinar, Norway

Ellsberg, Daniel, USA

Falk, Richard, USA

International Assosiation of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, IALANA, (NY, Geneva, Colombo)

Juristen und Juristinnen gegen atomare, biologische und chemische Waffen , Germany

Krieger, David , USA

Lindner, Evelin, main basis Norway

Mayor, Federico, Spain

Nansen Dialogue Network

Nihon Hidankyo, Japan

Oberg, Jan, Sweden

Snowden, Edward, USA

Swanson, David, USA

Mr. Taniguchi, Sumiteru, Japan

Ms. Thurlow, Setsuko, Canada

UNESCO culture of peace program (Paris)

Ware, Alyn, New Zealand

Weiss, Peter, USA

Women´s international League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF (Geneva)
 

Waiting list - Insufficient information

The following appear to be nominated, but we have not been able to get
the actual nomination. The list of valid candidates will be supplemented
as soon as we get additional valid nominations.

The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear arms, ICAN

Manning, Chelsea, USA

Sharp, Gene, USA

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 27, 2015


Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept. - The Washington Post


Green groups divided on Hillary Clinton's oil interest ties - Reuters


Hillary Clinton Won’t Talk About Keystone. And Greens Are OK With That. - NationalJournal.com


Hillary Clinton’s Complex Corporate Ties - WSJ


Clinton foundation received up to $81m from clients of controversial HSBC bank - The Guardian


Hillary Clinton paid $300,000 for her Silicon Valley speech to explain what ails the middle class (VIDEO) - Yahoo Finance


No Crudités, but Hillary Clinton Still Has a Long List of Demands for Speeches - NYTimes.com


Hillary’s State Department OK’d Bill Clinton’s big-money speeches - POLITICO


U.S. State Department spokeswoman Psaki defends Clinton Foundation donation - The Washington Post


VIDEO: Psaki: Ethics Deal Broken By The Clinton Foundation? No problem - whitehousedossier


White House dodges questions on Clinton Foundation donations - Washington Times


VIDEO: White House spokesman dodges questions on Clinton Foundation donations - YouTube


Carly Fiorina criticizes Clinton over foundation money - Yahoo News


VIDEO: Carly Fiorina Ramps Up Hillary Clinton Attacks - YouTube


Clinton Foundation: 2010 donation broke Obama administration agreement - CNN.com


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

POLL: Clinton leads big in Iowa, new poll finds - Bradenton Herald


POLL: Hillary Clinton leading all of her potential Republican candidates - Public Policy Polling


Hillary Clinton Will Run 'As a Female Candidate' in 2016 - Reason.com


The maps that show why Hillary Clinton is likely to continue talking about gender - The Washington Post


Hillary Clinton calls Silicon Valley out for gender inequality, says women still can’t seem to access equal pay as men - The Michigan Chronicle


As senator, Clinton paid women 72 cents for each dollar paid to men - Washington Free Beacon


VIDEO: Fox News Covers Free Beacon Report on Hillary's Equal Pay Hypocrisy - YouTube


Hillary Clinton dinged for 'All Madam President's Men,' her near all-male staff - Washington Times


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

Officials: Hillary Clinton's war on Libya damaged U.S. intelligence, Gadhafi helped U.S. target Qaeda figures and thwart attacks - Washington Times


Hillary Clinton takes fire from Democrats as Libya chaos creates terrorist safe haven - Washington Times


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: Libya a 'magnet' for terrorism - Washington Times


Libya: Hold Policymakers Accountable For Another Washington War Gone Bad - forbes.com


State Dept Documents Reveal Top Hillary Clinton Advisers Knew Immediately That Assault on Benghazi Was Armed Attack - Judicial Watch


Full Text of the State Department Benghazi Documents Obtained by Judicial Watch - Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch Forces Obama Administration to Release Pentagon Benghazi Attack Documents - Judicial Watch


Full Text of the Pentagon Benghazi Attack Docs - Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch: Pentagon knew truth on Benghazi at start and tied attack to Qaeda affiliate, Clinton did not take any steps to coordinate with the military and protect the killed Americans (VIDEO) - newsmax


VIDEO: Judicial Watch president talks ‘smoking gun’ emails on Benghazi - TheBlaze.com


Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton Won't Be 'Considered For The Higher Office' Because Of Benghazi (VIDEO) - Huffington Post


London mayor: Hillary Clinton thinks Europe is being ‘wimpy’ against Putin - The Washington Post


Hillary Clinton: Can 'never condone' what Edward Snowden did - Washington Times


Dissident lawyer flatly contradicts Hillary Clinton’s account of rescuing him from house arrest in China - National Post

 

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Did Berkeley Just Save Us From Drones or Target Us With Drones?

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."

Here's what they asked for:

Establishing a Two Year Moratorium on Drones in Berkeley
From: Peace and Justice Commission
Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution adopting a two year moratorium on drones in Berkeley.
Financial Implications: Unknown

And what they got:

Action: 11 speakers.  M/S/C (Bates/Maio) to: 1) adopt a one-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft systems, or “drones” by the Berkeley Police Department, 2) ask the Council to develop a policy for police use of drones, and 3) to authorize the use of drones by the Berkeley Fire Department for disaster response purposes. Vote: Ayes – Maio, Moore, Anderson, Arreguin, Capitelli, Wengraf, Bates; Noes – Droste; Abstain – Worthington.

Meola responds:

"They adopted a ONE year moratorium on POLICE use of drones.  The police have not been interested in getting a drone, according to the last official word from the chief.  But they AUTHORIZED use by the Fire Department, who also has not asked to have a drone.  And if they get one, will it ONLY be used by the Fire Dept. for disaster response purposes??--Maybe.     And they say they will develop a policy for Police USE of drones.  How nice of them.  We have asked for NO DRONES, NO POLICE USE OF DRONES, and their moratorium entails coming up with a policy for POLICE USE OF DRONES while they still haven't tackled the issues around a comprehensive drone policy for Berkeley.  I spoke.  Others spoke. The ACLU spoke.   The Mayor is slick.  He started out saying two years and ended up with one.  They had a whole list of exceptions that got exchanged for this crappy policy. 

"So, if no one is paying attention to the details, the propaganda sounds good:  BERKELEY PASSES ONE YEAR MORATORIUM ON DRONES  Wow! Groovy!   Better maybe not to have done anything!  Kriss Worthington abstained because this doesn't sound better than doing nothing once you read the details of what they actually passed.  

"They ignored all the good stuff in our recommendation re not using info obtained by a drone in  state and federal criminal investigations without a valid warrant based on probable cause.   They ignored asking the state to establish a two year moratorium.  

"My time would be better spent organizing for Nonviolent Anarchist Revolution, don't you think?  Instead I am asking for them to make a law!  And this is the result!  HELP!

"No faith n the system, not even in Berkeley.

"LONG LIVE ANARCHY!"

Hey, Berkeley, your people sure seem to love you. I've received several emails today from random people in Berkeley on the theme of how useless your Police Review Commission is. And I live nowhere near Berkeley and hadn't inquired.

Wouldn't keeping killer spy robots out of the skies have been an easy way to do something positive?

Republicans and Many Democrats are on the attack: If We’re Going to Defend Social Security We Need to Understand It

By Dave Lindorff


The Republican-dominated Congress, with the help of a cadre of sell-out conservative Democrats in both chambers, are gearing up to attack Social Security again, under the guise of “saving” the program.


CIA Evidence from Whistleblower Trial Could Tilt Iran Nuclear Talks

By Norman Solomon

A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences -- casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program.

With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

In its zeal to prosecute Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information about Operation Merlin -- which provided flawed nuclear weapon design information to Iran in 2000 -- the U.S. government has damaged its own standing with the IAEA. The trial made public a treasure trove of information about the Merlin operation.

Last week Bloomberg News reported from Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, that the agency “will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential.”

The Bloomberg dispatch, which matter-of-factly referred to Merlin as a “sting” operation, quoted a former British envoy to the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, saying: “This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find. That looks like a big problem.”

After sitting through the seven-day Sterling trial, I don’t recall that the government or any of its witnesses -- including 23 from the CIA as well as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- ever referred to Operation Merlin as a “sting.” Instead, it was consistently portrayed as an effort to send Iran down the wrong technical path. In fact, over the years, Operation Merlin may have been both.

Near the end of the Clinton administration, CIA documents released at the trial show, Merlin was a botched effort to screw up Iran’s nuclear program. (There is no evidence that Iran’s government took the bait.) But documents also show that Merlin continued for years, with the CIA considering plans to widen the operation beyond Iran.

As a matter of fact, one CIA document was not redacted sufficiently to hide evident interest in also trying a similar tactic against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. History certainly tells us that the Bush-Cheney administration would be capable of seeking to cite fabricated evidence in a push to justify military action against a targeted country.

Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler, my colleague at ExposeFacts, has written an extensive analysis of the latest developments. The article on her EmptyWheel blog raises key questions beginning with the headline “What Was the CIA Really Doing with Merlin by 2003?

An emerging big irony of United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is that the government has harmed itself in the process of gunning for the defendant. While the prosecution used innuendos and weak circumstantial evidence to obtain guilty verdicts on multiple felonies, the trial produced no actual evidence that Sterling leaked classified information. But the trial did provide abundant evidence that the U.S. government’s nuclear-related claims about Iran should not be trusted.

In the courtroom, one CIA witness after another described Operation Merlin as a vitally important program requiring strict secrecy. Yet the government revealed a great deal of information about Operation Merlin during the trial -- including CIA documents that showed the U.S. government to be committed to deception about the Iranian nuclear program. If, as a result, the International Atomic Energy Agency concludes that U.S. assertions about an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program lack credibility, top officials in Washington will have themselves to blame.

______________________________

Norman Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Not a Bug Splat, Not Chattel

U.S. drone "pilots" refer to people they burn to death in places like Pakistan as "bug splat" because they look like bugs being squished to death on the pilots' video monitors and because it's easier to murder bugs than humans.

Hence the need for the brilliant artwork made visible to a drone (http://notabugsplat.com):

JR_KPK_full

The human brain is a funny thing. Numerous human brains know that every human is a human, yet insist that various types of humans must be "humanized" before they can be recognized as humans. That is, even though you know someone must have a name and loved ones and favorite games and certain weaknesses and a couple of quirks that friends find endearing -- because each and every Homo sapiens does have such things -- you insist on being told what the details are, and only then readily admit that in fact this particular human is a human (and millions of others remain in doubt).

A drone killer must know that children have eyes and noses and mouths, hair and fingers. But this artwork presents it to the troubled brain of the humanization dependent observer.

And what if you want to know more about the humans inhabiting Pakistan? More than just a face in a photograph?

I recommend reading The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria. Rafia grew up in Pakistan and moved to the United States. She can tell you intimate details about life in Pakistan from a perspective you recognize.

Central to her story of migration and cultural change and political transformation is the life of her aunt whose husband chose to marry a second wife and move his first wife to the upstairs of the house. The status of women and of religion is put into sharp relief by this sorrowful account of deep personal injury and humiliation.

Yes, this is another case of religion serving to worsen people's lives in ways that possibly used to make sense but have been dragged forward into the present only by the resistance of religion to rational change.

No, this is not a revelation that Pakistanis hate Americans because their religion tells them to. People who hate the U.S. government tend to object to the destruction and killing of the U.S. military.

And no, your religion, whatever it is, is not better than someone else's. The problem is not the flavor of the religion, but the utilization of magical rules in guiding people's lives -- that is to say, adherence to rules that on their merits would be abandoned but that are maintained because the great Whatchamacallit decreed so in the Holy Days of Whichamawhoochee.

At least that's one of many impressions I take away from the book. You may have others. It's not a sad or contemptuous story but an enjoyable and educational one. And it's complex enough to render useless any generalization about what "the Pakistanis" do or think at all. The people of Pakistan have many backgrounds and all sorts of unique outlooks and circumstances. They are, in fact, a lot like you, me, your neighbor, your uncle, and the woman who works in the grocery store -- just with a smaller military than ours killing people in their names.

Talk Nation Radio: Richard Heinberg on Our Renewable Future

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-richard-heinberg-on-our-renewable-future/

Richard Heinberg discusses our renewable future and how to get there. He is the author of ten books including:
- Snake Oil (July 2013)
- The End of Growth (August 2011)
- Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2007)
- The Party's Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies (2003)
Heinberg is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute at http://PostCarbon.org He has appeared in many film and television documentaries, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour, and is a recipient of the M. King Hubbert Award for Excellence in Energy Education.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive[not working at moment] 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

Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 25, 2015


Moscow threatens to cut off gas to Ukraine - Reuters


Russia demands Ukraine pay for natural gas shipped directly to rebel-held areas of the country - Bloomberg Business


Medvedev warns Kiev to pay for “separatist” gas - protothemanews.com


Naftogaz CEO: Kiev plans to increase reverse gas supplies from Europe - TASS


No Time for Laughter: Gas Prices in Ukraine to Increase Fourfold on April 1 - Sputnik International


European Gas Prices Rise as Russia Limits Supplies to Ukraine - Bloomberg Business


Ambitious EU blueprint for energy union to loosen Russian grip on gas - The Guardian


EU courts Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan gas as Russian links sour - FT.com


Russia Lays Groundwork for New Gas Pipeline in Europe - VOA


Pipeline politics: new gas route revives Russian rivalry with West - Reuters


Hungary’s Viktator says Europe needs Russia - Georgia Straight


EU concerned about Hungary-Russia nuclear deal - Vatican Radio


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

Ukraine's hryvnia closes 11.1 percent lower on Tuesday,  It has halved in value since the start of this year after tumbling by 50% in 2014 - Reuters


Ukraine Tightens Capital Controls as Hryvnia Drop Fuels Risk - Bloomberg Business


Ukraine Signals It Needs Cash Fast as Capital Controls Tightened - Bloomberg Business


Ukraine Creditors Face Harsher Terms as Hryvnia Dives, BofA Says - Bloomberg Business


Ukraine company bonds slide as currency controls tightened - Reuters


Conflict clouds Ukraine’s debt distress - FT.com


Russia Not Considering Restructuring Ukraine's Debt - Sputnik International


VIDEO: Ukraine conflict: economic consequences - DW.DE


VIDEO: Ukraine economy in free fall - inflation, energy tariffs soar - RT


VIDEO: Ukraine crisis: Food prices soar in Donetsk as currency collapses and supply falls - Telegraph


Yatseniuk suspends management of State Fiscal Service and orders corruption investigation - UNIAN news


Ukraine's Tarnished Poster Child for Reform - Bloomberg View


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

Ukraine Says Russian-Backed Rebels Still Attacking - rferl.org


Rebels’ claim of weapons withdrawal ‘empty words’, Ukraine says - Reuters


Ukraine Signs Defense Deal With UAE, To Buy Weapons - defensenews.com


Ukraine concludes 20 contracts on arms supply at IDEX-2015 show: Poroshenko - TASS


VIDEO: Poroshenko purchasing new weapons - LiveLeak.com


Poroshenko pledges to return Crimea to Ukraine - interfax.com


VIDEO: Most Crimeans backs Mother Russia's tough love, one year on - AFP


Ukrainian Separatists Take Two Towns in Push on Key Port Mariupol - newsweek.com


VIDEO: Militants move tanks towards Mariupol amid fears of major offensive - uatoday.tv


Amnesty report: Cluster bombs have been used in Ukraine conflict by both sides - AP


Putin says "apocalyptic" war unlikely with Ukraine - GlobalPost


Russia rejects beefed up OSCE Ukraine border monitoring - GlobalPost


Four Russian Drones Violate Ukrainian Airspace in One Day - newsweek.com


Russia Sends 16th Humanitarian Aid Convoy to Donbas: Emergencies Ministry - Sputnik International


POLL: More Americans still oppose (53%) than favor (41%) the U.S. sending arms and military supplies to the Ukrainian government - Pew Research Center


US arming Kiev would ‘explode’ situation in E. Ukraine: Russian Foreign Ministry - RT News


Britain to send military advisers to Ukraine, announces Cameron - The Guardian


Pentagon chief Ash Carter warns Russia on nukes - POLITICO

 

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

 

To unsubscribe reply with “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

U.S. WAR ON THE WORLD IS WRONG

American Sniper portrays Navy Seal Chris Kyle as a hero for killing a huge number of people, one by one, in Iraq. Right now, as the U.S. government is bombing Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and again — Iraq, and preparing to send additional troops to Iraq, this film is distorting many people’s memory of recent history and damaging heir understanding of basic morality.

American Imperialism and Islamic Extremism: Partners in Crime

By Brett S. Morris

What is the source of Islamic extremism? Critics point to the religion itself: As Sam Harris claimed on Real Time With Bill Maher in October, Islam is “the mother load of bad ideas.” “That’s just a fact,” Maher responded.

This view of Islam, as a fundamentally backward religion, is woefully simplistic and ignorant, and affords those making the criticism the opportunity to ignore the responsibility they have for their own governments’ foreign policies and roles in, ironically, strengthening Islamic extremism.

A brief history lesson and a hard look at inconvenient facts would seem to be in order. The simple truth is that, were it not for Western intervention and Western support for Islamic extremists in the Middle East over the last several decades, the region would be much more secular today.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower noted in internal discussions that “we have a campaign of hatred against us, not by the governments but by the people” in the Middle East. The reason, explained a National Security Council report issued that same year, is because Arabs believe “the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress” and “desires to keep the Arab world disunited and is committed to work with ‘reactionary’ elements to that end.”

The “reactionary” elements the report refers to are dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, a US ally. After the death of King Abdullah, he was mourned the world over by supposedly democratic-loving governments. Barack Obama issued a statement explaining that he “always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship.” The United Kingdom ordered flags to be flown at half-mast.

Abdullah, of course, presided over a horrible human rights record. And according to Hillary Clinton, as revealed in cables released by WikiLeaks, “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” More recently, donors in Saudi Arabia funded ISIS in Syria, to which the government turned a blind eye.

The relationship (which is sustained through huge arms sales) dates back several decades. First backed by Britain, the Saudi government became the center of and inspiration for the reactionary Wahhabist strain of Sunni Islam. One of the purposes of the US-Saudi relationship was to serve as a counterweight to the secular nationalist Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, “an extremely dangerous fanatic,” in the words of the secretary of state at the time, John Foster Dulles. Nasser was pursuing an independent course who sought to maintain control of Egypt’s oil resources, an intolerable outcome for Western powers.

Later, the United States would prop up the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt for several decades. Though ousted in the 2011 Arab Spring, the United States is now supporting the new military government, which overthrew Egypt’s democratically elected president in 2013.

According to a report issued in 2004 from the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.” The report notes that “there is one overarching goal” Islamists share; namely, “the overthrow of what Islamists call the ‘apostate’ regimes: the tyrannies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Gulf states. … The United States finds itself in the strategically awkward–and potentially dangerous–situation of being the longstanding prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes.”

By supporting these governments, the United States is helping sustain Islamic extremist movements, both directly and indirectly. Directly, because propping up these governments allows them to spread their dangerous ideologies. Indirectly, because supporting them breeds resentment in the region.

Another government that received the ire of the West for taking control of its own resources was Iran. The democratically elected and secular prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company there. So, the United States and United Kingdom decided to orchestrate a coup against him in 1953. The shah (“king”) was installed as dictator and presided over a secret police unit known as SAVAK, which engaged in widespread torture. This set the stage for the takeover of Iran by Shiite fundamentalists in 1979.

Also in 1979, the Carter administration began funneling aid to the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Contrary to popular belief, this was not done to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet rule. In fact, aid was first ordered to the mujahideen six months before the Soviet invasion. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, “we knowingly increased the probability that they [the Soviets] would” intervene. Brzezinski believed that “this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

Aid was funneled to the most extremist factions possible. One warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, received more aid than any other, despite his known penchant for throwing acid in women’s faces.

In any case, after the Soviets withdrew, aid continued to the mujahideen, for the purpose of overthrowing the Afghan government, the most progressive in Afghanistan’s history. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), in power from 1978 to 1992, instituted widespread reforms, including the emancipation of women, land reform, the cancellation of peasant debts, and the building of schools and clinics.

After the PDPA collapsed in 1992, Afghanistan fell into chaos, setting the stage for the takeover of the Taliban in 1996.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, where the aid program (known as Operation Cyclone) was organized, the Reagan administration was supporting a brutal dictator known as Zia-ul-Haq, an Islamic extremist who had come to a power in a coup in 1978, overthrowing a secular government. Zia carried out an Islamization project in Pakistan, with the building of hundreds of madrassas that preached intolerant variants of Islam and declaring judicial decisions must be based on Sharia law. The Reagan administration funded Zia’s government with $5 billion ($2 billion of which was military aid), as well as a further $3 billion to fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan. The stalwart US ally, Saudi Arabia, agreed to fund the mujahideen dollar for dollar for whatever the United States spent.

After Saddam Hussein (a US-backed dictator in the 1980s) invaded Kuwait in 1990, Osama bin Laden tried convincing the Saudi government to allow him and his mujahideen forces to defend Saudi Arabia. He was rebuffed, and the Saudis instead decided to allow American troops to be stationed on their soil. This incensed bin Laden, who was exiled from Saudi Arabia after speaking out against them.

In 1998, bin Laden issued a fatwa, explaining his reasons for wanting to attack the United States: First, the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia and US support for that government, which uses its oil wealth to enrich the ruling class there by exporting it to the West. Second, US aggression against Iraq. The United States ignored any potential diplomatic settlements of the conflict that led to the Gulf War. During the war itself, civilian infrastructure was deliberately targeted. Harsh sanctions were placed on Iraq after the war, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. And third, support for Israel’s colonization program of Palestine.

Israel is an interesting case. It maintains a brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, including an illegal settlement expansion program. The United States bankrolls these activities, and continues to block a diplomatic settlement of the conflict. Hamas, the fundamentalist group that Israel now complains about, was actually founded with the help of the Israelis for the purpose of undermining secular Palestinian factions.

The US is virtually alone in the world in its support for Israel, and earns much contempt for it. As Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer and Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station, explains, “our relationship with the Israelis … cause[s] us to have dead Americans and extraordinary expenses in fighting the Muslim world.”

More generally, Scheuer argues that the reasons Islamic terrorists attack the United States have nothing “to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world.”

After the 9/11 attacks, (which bin Laden explained happened because “you attacked us and continue to attack us”), the Bush administration launched its disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, falling right into Al-Qaeda’s trap. Bin Laden’s strategy was to provoke the United States into invading Muslim countries, arousing Muslim anger and forcing the United States into a long war of attrition, which, eventually, bin Laden hoped, would bankrupt the United States and force it to leave the Mideast forever.

According to the Chicago Project on Security & Terrorism’s Suicide Attack Database, before the United States invaded Afghanistan, there had only been one suicide attack in its history. Since 2001, there have been over 1,000 such attacks. Tens of thousands of civilians have died in the war. Opium production is now at an all-time high, a reversal from the late 1990s when the Taliban had eradicated cultivation.

The invasion of Iraq precipitated a huge increase in worldwide terrorism, as could have been predicted. Before the US invasion in 2003, there had never been a single suicide bombing in Iraq’s history. Since that time, there have been over 1,700 such attacks. In fact, the invasion resulted in a 607 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide. A survey conducted by PLOS Medicine found that the war killed approximately half a million Iraqis. Another survey put the number killed at over one million.

From of the ashes of Iraq arose ISIS, which is now spreading its destruction across Iraq and Syria. Graham E. Fuller, a former senior CIA analyst, explains that “the United States is one of the key creators of this organization. The United States did not plan the formation of ISIS, but its destructive interventions in the Middle East and the war in Iraq were the basic causes of the birth of ISIS.”

After all of this–the millions dead, the destabilization of multiple countries, the invasions and bombings, the overthrow of governments, the inevitable rise of Islamic extremists as a reaction to Western interventions–you would think the West would have finally learned its lesson.

But you would be wrong.

In 2011, NATO bombed Libya to oust the secular government of Muammar Gaddafi, using the Arab Spring movement there as a fig leaf (meanwhile, the Obama administration ignored Arab Spring movements in allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which were crushed by force). According to a study from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, “NATO’s action magnified the conflict’s duration about sixfold and its death toll at least sevenfold, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors.”

The conflict in Libya soon spread to Mali. According to the Belfer study, “After Qaddafi’s defeat, his ethnic Tuareg soldiers of Malian descent fled home and launched a rebellion in their country’s north,” a rebellion soon hijacked by Islamic extremists. Weapons from the destabilized Libyan state found their way into extremists’ hands in Mali. Indeed, the weapons may have tipped the balance in favor of the Islamic extremists. In 2013, France began bombing Mali, apparently under the strange impression that yet more violence would solve the problem.

After the uprisings in Syria in 2011, the Obama administration dedicated itself to undermining the secular government of Bashar al-Assad, putting itself on the same side as jihadists. Military aid was funneled to the “moderate” rebels (who are actually not so moderate). Although the Obama administration has now publicly backed off from demanding Assad’s ouster, it is now training a “moderate” rebel force for the purpose of going after ISIS–even though the rebels would rather fight Assad.

When ISIS invaded Iraq, it gained a huge stockpile of weapons. The weapons came from none other than the United States, which had armed the Iraqi government with said weapons.

This insane cycle of violence seems set to continue. The US and its coalition are bombing Iraq and Syria on a regular basis. Drone strikes have recently targeted Pakistan and Yemen. Yet more reactions on the part of Islamic extremists are inevitable. When will enough be enough?

The Greek Tragedy: Some things not to forget, which the new Greek leaders have not.

By William Blum

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup.

Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail.

Will the United States, Germany, the rest of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – collectively constituting the International Mafia – allow the new Greek leaders of the Syriza party to dictate the conditions of Greece’s rescue and salvation? The answer at the moment is a decided “No”. The fact that Syriza leaders, for some time, have made no secret of their affinity for Russia is reason enough to seal their fate. They should have known how the Cold War works.

I believe Syriza is sincere, and I’m rooting for them, but they may have overestimated their own strength, while forgetting how the Mafia came to occupy its position; it didn’t derive from a lot of compromise with left-wing upstarts. Greece may have no choice, eventually, but to default on its debts and leave the Eurozone. The hunger and unemployment of the Greek people may leave them no alternative.

The Twilight Zone of the US State Department

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop … the Twilight Zone.” (American Television series, 1959-1965)

State Department Daily Press Briefing, February 13, 2015. Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, questioned by Matthew Lee of The Associated Press.

Lee: President Maduro [of Venezuela] last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response?

Psaki: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal. We have seen many times that the Venezuelan Government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan Government to deal with the grave situation it faces.

Lee: Sorry. The US has – whoa, whoa, whoa – the US has a longstanding practice of not promoting – What did you say? How longstanding is that? I would – in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a longstanding practice.

Psaki: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history –

Lee: Not in this case.

Psaki: – is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations.

Lee: In this specific case.

Psaki: Correct.

Lee: But if you go back not that long ago, during your lifetime, even – (laughter)

Psaki: The last 21 years. (Laughter.)

Lee: Well done. Touché. But I mean, does “longstanding” mean 10 years in this case? I mean, what is –

Psaki: Matt, my intention was to speak to the specific reports.

Lee: I understand, but you said it’s a longstanding US practice, and I’m not so sure – it depends on what your definition of “longstanding” is.

Psaki: We will – okay.

Lee: Recently in Kyiv, whatever we say about Ukraine, whatever, the change of government at the beginning of last year was unconstitutional, and you supported it. The constitution was –

Psaki: That is also ludicrous, I would say.

Lee: – not observed.

Psaki: That is not accurate, nor is it with the history of the facts that happened at the time.

Lee: The history of the facts. How was it constitutional?

Psaki: Well, I don’t think I need to go through the history here, but since you gave me the opportunity –- as you know, the former leader of Ukraine left of his own accord.

………………..

Leaving the Twilight Zone … The former Ukrainian leader ran for his life from those who had staged the coup, including a mob of vicious US-supported neo-Nazis.

If you know how to contact Ms. Psaki, tell her to have a look at my list of more than 50 governments the United States has attempted to overthrow since the end of the Second World War. None of the attempts were democratic, constitutional, peaceful, or legal; well, a few were non-violent.

The ideology of the American media is that it believes that it doesn’t have any ideology

So NBC’s evening news anchor, Brian Williams, has been caught telling untruths about various events in recent years. What could be worse for a reporter? How about not knowing what’s going on in the world? In your own country? At your own employer? As a case in point I give you Williams’ rival, Scott Pelley, evening news anchor at CBS.

In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: “We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.”

In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.”

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein himself told CBS’s Rather in February 2003: “These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there.”

Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq’s secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world, before the 2003 American invasion, that the WMD were non-existent.

Enter Scott Pelley. In January 2008, as a CBS reporter, Pelley interviewed FBI agent George Piro, who had interviewed Saddam Hussein before he was executed:

PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?

PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?

PIRO: Yes.

PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?

For a journalist there might actually be something as bad as not knowing what’s going on in his area of news coverage, even on his own station. After Brian Williams’ fall from grace, his former boss at NBC, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying: “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.”

I think it’s safe to say that members of the American mainstream media are not embarrassed by such a “compliment”.

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter made the following observation:

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Cuba made simple

“The trade embargo can be fully lifted only through legislation – unless Cuba forms a democracy, in which case the president can lift it.”

Aha! So that’s the problem, according to a Washington Post columnist – Cuba is not a democracy! That would explain why the United States does not maintain an embargo against Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt and other distinguished pillars of freedom. The mainstream media routinely refer to Cuba as a dictatorship. Why is it not uncommon even for people on the left to do the same? I think that many of the latter do so in the belief that to say otherwise runs the risk of not being taken seriously, largely a vestige of the Cold War when Communists all over the world were ridiculed for blindly following Moscow’s party line. But what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?

No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is, if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?

Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. (They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries). Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have the Koch Brothers to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.

Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?

Is Cuba not a democracy because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement two years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.

Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.

The Ministry of Propaganda has a new Commissar

Last month Andrew Lack became chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees US government-supported international news media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Asia. In a New York Times interview, Mr. Lack was moved to allow the following to escape his mouth: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram.”

So … this former president of NBC News conflates Russia Today (RT) with the two most despicable groups of “human beings” on the planet. Do mainstream media executives sometimes wonder why so many of their audience has drifted to alternative media, like, for example, RT?

Those of you who have not yet discovered RT, I suggest you go to RT.com to see whether it’s available in your city. And there are no commercials.

It should be noted that the Times interviewer, Ron Nixon, expressed no surprise at Lack’s remark.

Cuba's Position on Palestine from the Start

On the occasion of the 69th Period of Sessions of its General Assembly

By Ernesto Gómez Abascal, collaborator of the Cuban Peace Movement

Sixty-seven years ago, during the 2nd General Assembly of the then newly-born United Nations Organization, the Cuban delegate, Dr. Ernesto Dihigo, opposed with conclusive and indisputable arguments the Partition Plan for Palestine, which was going to come into effect later on with the approval of Resolution 181 (II). Cuba was among the 13 countries that voted against and was one of the two non-Islamic countries that maintained that position.

That event led to the first Arab-Israeli war and caused the emergence of the conflict in the Middle East that has existed up to our days. The Palestinian State was not created and still today, its acceptance as member of the Organization with full rights is still rejected by a small group of countries, particularly by the United States of America and Great Britain, which originally caused a conflict that has existed already more than half a century and which at this very moment is undergoing a dangerous terrorist warlike expansion, encouraged precisely by these imperialist powers that persist in their insistence to dominate the entire                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         region, control its huge energy resources and support the Zionist entity they sponsor in its criminal expansionist and genocidal policy, as recently occurred in Gaza.

Because of its relevance and full topicality, we reproduce the most important aspects of the speech and the arguments of the Cuban delegate:

Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates:

“We wish to explain very briefly the reasons why the Cuban delegation is compelled to vote against the partition plan for Palestine by the ad hoc Commission.

“We have followed the debates with interest, analyzing the arguments of one and the other in order to reach the conclusion that would seem more just to us. Cuba has evidenced its sympathy toward the Hebrews and appreciation for their qualities, since it has admitted thousands of them in its territory, who today live among us freely and peacefully, without discriminations or prejudices, but we cannot vote here according to their wishes because in our opinion the partition of Palestine is contrary to law and justice. In the first place, the initial basis for any claim is the Balfour Declaration, cause of the entire problem we face today; and the Balfour Declaration, in our opinion, totally lacks legal value, because the British government offered in it one thing it had  no right to make use of, because it was not his. However, to accept its validity, what is now intended goes far beyond its terms, because it promised the Hebrews a “National Home” in Palestine, safeguarding the civil rights of the Arab population, but it did not offer a Free State, whose creation will necessarily affect those rights it was intending to safeguard.

“The partition is also contrary to law if we abide by the mandate conferred by the League of Nations. One could ask if the League of Nations could, justly, do what it did, that is, order the establishment of a National Jewish Home, with the severe demographic and political consequences they have had in a foreign land even without the consent of its inhabitants.

“But even accepting what has been done, the partition we are considering goes against the terms of that mandate, since its 6th Article ordered that the rights and position of the non-Hebrew population of Palestine should not be impaired, and it can poorly be argued that those rights are not being impaired when more than half of their territory was to be snatched away from the natives and several hundred thousand Arabs were to remain submitted to the Hebrew government and placed in a subordinated situation there where they had formerly been owners.

“In the third place, the project is also contrary to law, in our opinion, because it goes against the free determination of the peoples, which was an essential principle of the Pact of the League; the destiny of a nation is being made use of here, depriving it of its national soil, of the soil it has had for many centuries, without having consulted it in order to know its opinion.

And if we turn over from the Pact of the League to the Charter of the United Nations, we will find that an identical violation is going to be committed, because the principle of the free determination of the peoples is recognized in general in the 2nd paragraph of Art. 1, and reiterated in paragraph (b) of Art.76 in the case of non-autonomous peoples, when stating that the fiduciary administration (equivalent to the League’s mandate) must take into consideration “the freely-expressed wishes of the peoples concerned”.

“We are not convinced by the argument posed by someone that Palestine is not a State and therefore does not have the condition of subject of International Law, because in any case those precepts do not speak of States but of peoples, and there is no doubt that the Palestinian is one.

“We have solemnly proclaimed the principle of the free determination of the peoples, but with great concern we see that when the time has come to enforce it we forget it.

“Such a system, in our opinion, is disastrous. The Cuban Delegation is firmly convinced that the true peace and the world of justice so much spoken of by the Second World War leaders does not depend of putting down certain essential principles in the conventions and treaties and having them remain there as dead letter, but that, at the right moment they be fulfilled by all and for all, big and small, weak or strong.

“Why wasn’t a democratic procedure followed in this case, consulting the will of the entire people of Palestine? Was there fear that the result of the consult would be contrary to what there was a will to carry out anyway? And if that is the case, where are the principles and where is the democracy we constantly invoke?

Our legal doubts do not end there. In the course of the debate the powers of the Assembly to agree on the partition have been contested. It has been answered that, according to Charter Arts. 10 and 1, the Assembly may make recommendations on any issue within the limits of that document or related with the maintenance of peace and international security.

Without discussing right now if the Palestinian issue is within those limits or if it is a threat to international peace, we cannot fail to notice that one thing is to make a recommendation and another, very different one, is to adopt a plan impairing the territorial integrity of a people and its legal and political position, and entrust the implementation of the project to a Commission from the Assembly itself.

 “Neither does it seem possible to us to uphold that that project is a mere recommendation, since any recommendation implies the possibility of not being accepted, and the approved plan undoubtedly has coercive character, as evidenced by the fact that, according to one of its provisions, “any attempt to alter by force the arrangement foreseen in the resolution” will be considered a threat or violation of peace or act of aggression, according to Charter Art. 39. It is therefore something that is imposed by force, not a mere recommendation, and since, in our opinion, it infringes the Charter we cannot vote in favor of the project.

“Because we had all those legal doubts we voted in the Commission in favor of previously consulting the International Court of Justice, so that we could continue forward on firm ground. The consultation was rejected by the majority, which we regard as error that is not justified by the delay it might have originated, since it would have been better to wait a few months than to undertake an action that presents so many doubts, in addition to the fact that the negative to appeal to the Court might give the impression that the Assembly rejected the possibility of finding solutions according to law. On the other hand, we consider that the project is also unfair.

“Throughout many centuries the Arab people has uninterruptedly had the territory of Palestine, and according to the official data presented to us, at the end of the First World War it made up for almost 90% of the country’s total population.

Through the United Kingdom as mandatory power and in fulfillment of the decisions of the League, it opened its doors to a foreign immigration, offering it a place to live and develop its existence according to its wishes, with religious freedom and without humiliating discriminations, and now those individuals are paying the generous hospitality of those who received them by taking away by force half of their native soil.

“We have said foreign immigration consistently, because with all respect to the opinion of the Hebrews, they are, in our opinion, foreigners in the territory of Palestine. Indeed, during the Commission debates information was provided to prove that the forefathers of a large number of the Hebrews that have already gone to Palestine or still want to go there were never in that region, but even in the case that the remote ancestors of all of them would have been born there, it is undoubtable that they abandoned that land such a long time ago to establish themselves in other countries, that their descendants have ceased to belong to Palestine, in the same way that we, men of America, born of immigrants who came from all corners of the Earth, cannot consider ourselves entitled to any right to the fatherland of our fathers in the old continent.

“The intimate and fervent desire of the Hebrews to return to Palestine, perhaps for tradition, perhaps for mystical reasons or religious obsession, is something that may have our entire consideration and sentimental sympathy, but, in our opinion, it is not a title for them to receive what does not belong to them, much less if in order to do it others with better right have to be dispossessed by force.

“We likewise consider the project unjust because it is the imposition of the standpoint of a minority over a huge majority, against a cardinal principle of democracy. In the present case, that minority, not wanting to submit itself to the opinion of the more, pretends to settle elsewhere, but taking with it a portion of the territory of the people that admitted it in its bosom.

(….)

“Let us not be told that sometimes one has to accept a political solution even though it may be unjust, because it will never be possible to establish peace and cordiality among the peoples on the basis of injustice.

“As regards the refugees, Jewish or non-Jewish, that today are in concentration camps, a problem that has been insisted upon by the supporters of the project, Cuba stated that it should be solved with an approach of good will by all the United Nations, accepting them proportionally in accordance with the particular conditions of each country; but Cuba understands that it cannot be imposed to Palestine to solve it all by itself, particularly if one takes into consideration that Palestine is totally strange to the causes that have determined the displacement of all those persons.

“For those reasons we will have to vote against the partition plan, as we already did in the Commission, and once our criterion has been reached we consider ourselves in the duty to express it through the vote, maintaining it firmly, despite the actions and pressures that have been made around us.”

No Weapons to Ukraine

No Weapons to Ukraine

An Open Letter to the U.S. Senate

No Weapons to Ukraine

Reject S. 452, "A bill to provide lethal weapons to the Government of Ukraine."

Sign here: http://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/no-weapons-to-ukraine

Why is this important?

The United States is the leading provider of weapons to the world, and the practice of providing weapons to countries in crisis has proven disastrous, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Expanding NATO to Russia's border and arming Russia's neighbors threatens something worse than disaster. The United States is toying with nuclear war.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt played significant roles in orchestrating the political crisis that led to a violent coup overthrowing Ukraine's elected President. Nuland not only exclaimed "Fuck the EU!" on that recorded phone call, but she also seemed to decide on the new prime minister: "Yats is the guy."

The Maidan protests were violently escalated by neo-Nazis and by snipers who opened fire on police. When Poland, Germany, and France negotiated a deal for the Maidan demands and an early election, neo-Nazis instead attacked the government and took over. The U.S. State Department immediately recognized the coup government, and Yatsenyuk was indeed installed as Prime Minister.

The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede, and that -- rather than the coup -- has been labeled "aggression." Ethnic Russians have been massacred by constant shelling from Kiev's U.S.-NATO backed Army, while Russia has been denounced for "aggression" in the form of various unsubstantiated accusations, including the downing of Flight 17.

It's important to recognize Western interests at work here other than peace and generosity. GMO outfits want the excellent farming soil in Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO want a "missile defense" base in Ukraine. Oil corporations want to drill for fracked gas in Ukraine. The U.S. and EU want to get their hands on Russia's "largest supply of natural gas" on the planet.

We routinely recognize the financial corruption of the U.S. government in domestic policy making. We shouldn't blind ourselves to it in matters of foreign policy. There may be a flag waving, but there is nuclear war looming, and that's a bit more important.

Initial signers (organizations for identification):
David Swanson, World Beyond War.
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
Nick Mottern, KnowDrones.com.
Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace.
Carolyn McCrady, Peace and Justice Can Win.
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink.
Gareth Porter.
Malachy Kilbride, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.
Buzz Davis, WI Impeachment/Bring Our Troops Home Coalition.
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Doug Rawlings, Veterans For Peace.
Diane Turco, Cape Codders for Peace and Justice.
Rich Greve, Peace Action Staten Island.
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance.
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance.
Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin.
Dud Hendrick.
Ellen Barfield, Veterans For Peace and War Resisters League.
Herbert Hoffman, Veterans For Peace.
Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery.
Kent Shifferd.
Matthew Hoh.
Bob Cushing, Pax Christi.
Bill Gilson, Veterans For Peace.
Michael Brenner, University of Pittsburgh.
Cindy Sheehan: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.
Jodie Evans, Code Pink.
Judith Deutsch.
Jim Haber.
Elliott Adams.
Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin, UNAC co-coordinators.
David Hartsough, World Beyond War.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate, Co founder peace people.
Koohan Paik, International Forum on Globalization.
Ellen Judd, University of Manitoba.
Nicolas Davies.
Rosalie Tyler Paul, PeaceWorks, Brunswick Maine.

Sign here: http://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/no-weapons-to-ukraine

U.S. Army Claims to Be Full of Liars

"Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession" is the title of a new paper by Leonard Wong and Stephen Gerras of the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute. Its thesis: the U.S. Army is full of liars who habitually lie as part of a lying culture that has internalized and normalized lying to the point of unrecognizability.

Finally a claim from the Army I'm prepared to take seriously!

But the authors aren't interested in the Army's lying press releases or lying Congressional testimony or lying sound bytes promoting each new war, predicting imminent success, and identifying each dead adult or child as an evildoer. In fact, it seems pretty clear that the authors are in fact lying to themselves about the nature of the Army's lying.

To hear them tell it, the Army's lying problem could be the same as in any other institution. They don't compare the Army to any other institutions, except to say that their analysis applies to the whole U.S. military, and the implication is that other institutions do not have it so bad. But the root of the problem, as they see it, is impossible demands placed on members of the military. To meet the impossible demands, people lie. And this -- not the mission of mass murder -- makes them "ethically numb."

Members of the Army, we're told, engage in "ethical fading," using euphemisms and obscure phrases to disguise the immorality of what they are doing -- namely overstating the supplies shipped or understating their own weight or some other "ethical" matter, not burning families to death in their homes with million-dollar missiles.

 All of this unethicalness, the authors maintain, can create hypocritical leaders who hide billions in the "Overseas Contingency Operations" slush fund or cover up sex scandals. Really? Immorality enters an institution of mass murder that routinely deceives the public and much of the government from the bottom up? Excessive demands on troops creates a culture of lying than infects the good generals at the top? Are you kidding me? No, of course you aren't. You're lying to yourselves.

Soldiers realize pretty quickly that they're not benefitting the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or whatever country they're terrorizing. They understand that the entire mission is a lie. They learn to lie about their own actions, to plant "drop weapons," to invent justifications, to provide support for their commanders' efforts to believe their own lies.

Matthew Hoh, a State Department whistleblower, said today: "The culture of lying that is endemic and systemic in the Army, as found by researchers with the Army War College, finds its expression in America's pointless wars, a one trillion dollar-a-year, pork-filled and inauditable national security budget, chronic veteran suicides, an expanded and more globally robust international terrorist movement, and untold suffering of millions of people and political chaos throughout the Greater Middle East perpetuated by our war policies.

"However, listening to our military leaders, and the politicians who adore and deify them rather than oversee them, America's wars and its military have been a great patriotic success. This report is not a surprise for those of us who have worn the uniform, nor should it be surprising to those who have watched and paid attention with a modicum of critical and independent thought to our wars these past thirteen plus years. The wars are failures, but careers must prosper, budgets must increase and popular narratives and myths of American military success must endure, so the culture of lying becomes a necessity for our Army at a great physical, mental and moral cost to our Nation."

In other words, War Is A Lie.

Not Very Funny

By David Swanson

Remarks prepared for event with comedian Lee Camp, Charlottesville, Va., February 21, 2015, event postponed by snow storm. When it's rescheduled I'll say something completely unrelated.

This is the serious part of tonight's event, except that Lee often deals with very serious topics. So what I mean is: this is the unfunny part of tonight's event, except that I'm going to talk about the United States government. One of my favorite things that Mark Twain didn't really say but definitely should have said was "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." He left out the possibility of imbeciles who are putting us on.

On Thursday Comcast internet was not working at my house, just as Comcast's hired Congress members were introducing a bill to create a closed internet with fast lanes for the corporate crap we didn't need the internet for. And a good internet media outlet called TheRealNews.com wanted to do a video interview with me, which I didn't want to do in Java Java because I try not to be quite that rude. So I sat out on the Downtown Mall and did the interview. It was about 12 degrees out, and I think you can see me shaking. And what did they want to talk about? War? Peace? The climate?

They wanted to talk about Jeb Bush. Clearly he is an imbecile who is putting us on. He'd been talking on foreign policy, and of course he agreed with Obama on most everything but claimed not to. On NSA spying, for example, he disagreed basically with the fact that there has been public criticism of Obama's abuses. How he would eliminate criticism he didn't say. He didn't bring up Ukraine or Afghanistan or drone wars, because what would he disagree with? He did bring up the Korean War in order to claim it was a success and not the stupid pointless draw that everyone called it for decades, but of course the innovator in popularizing that ridiculous claim was ... President Obama.

Mostly Jeb focused on Iran, pushing the false claim that Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and is threatening nuclear attack. Obama pushes all the same lines but then nonsensically and uniquely in this case arrives at the antiwar view that diplomacy is preferable to bombing. Jeb approves of Netanyahu stepping in on March 3rd to give Congress its war orders on the one war Obama doesn't want. I recommend going to SkipTheSpeech.organd urging Congress Members to skip it, as many have committed to doing -- even with Sheldon Adelson promising to pay for the unelection of each of them.

More broadly, Jeb pushed the idea that the Middle East is a disaster because it hasn't been bombed enough, and that the U.S. is disliked because it hasn't attacked enough countries. There are two problems with this. One, it's a disgusting and ridiculous lie that has been getting people killed for many years. A Gallup poll early last year of 65 countries found the U.S. to be considered far and away the biggest threat to peace in the world. The nations in the worst shape are the ones the U.S. has bombed. U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers has actually argued that we should stop paying attention to what bombing Libya did to Libya in order to be sufficiently willing to bomb Iraq and Syria. ISIS actually produced a 60-minute movie begging the United States to go to war against it because recruitment would soar. The U.S. obliged. Recruitment soared. This is how disliked the United States has made itself: organizations are willing to be bombed if it will show them to be the leading opponents of the United States -- a country that, by the way, puts over a trillion dollars a year into war when tens of billions could address world hunger, clean water, and other basic needs. For a fraction of war spending, the U.S. could address climate chaos, agriculture, education, etc., and become the most loved government on earth. But would that feel as good as screaming threats at ISIS?

ISIS, after all, kills people, cuts their throats like Saudi Arabia but on a smaller scale so it's more evil, and burns people to death, like U.S. drone strikes, but on a smaller scale so it must be stopped by using the larger scale killing to stop it.

It's amazing how Americans manage to think about violence. Why, we ask ourselves, don't cops need guns in London? Well, because the criminals don't have guns, but over here they do. So we have to fight guns with guns, and just to be safe spread some more guns around. But why, we ask ourselves, is the Middle East so violent? Well, that's easy: it's the result of millennia-old ethnic and religious hatreds that lie dormant for millennia and then burst into the open when we mistakenly provide freedom they're not ready for in the form of incendiary bombs and depleted uranium. And of course they have guns over there, it's part of their religion. Really? Because the U.S. State Department says that 79% of the weapons shipped to the Middle East are from the United States. That doesn't count the U.S. weapons, the weapons the CIA gives the moderate neck slitters, or the weapons the Iraqi Army abandons. In other words, the same geniuses who are selling drones to the world now have long been arming the global hotspots where they periodically seek to create peace by escalating war. I have a new theory: they are imbeciles who are putting themselves on.

The second problem with Jeb's prescription of more militarism is that President Obama has just proposed the biggest military budget ever and asked Congress for a free pass to launch new wars -- as he's doing anyway and says he'll do regardless -- and the American people are convinced that it's their duty to form opinions about Jeb and his brother and his father and Hillary Clinton and various other imbeciles or putter-oners or both. We're supposed to think that caring about such jack asses makes us good citizens. This is a disastrous distraction. It is actually our duty to engage in policy-driven activism, including activism aimed at fixing a broken election system, and to stop imagining that we're going to vote our way out of apocalypse by cheerleading the candidate for militarized corporate capitalism over the other candidate for militarized corporate capitalism.

Oh, but it's so much more fun to mock Jeb, isn't it? If we criticize Obama we have something in common with icky racists. Seriously? Which is more childish, the racism or the moronic notion that one must obey authority without question or become a racist? You don't have to "Approve" or "Disapprove" of Obama in some simplistic overall sense. There is no requirement in life or politics to be as stupid as a pollster's questions. You can encourage Obama's diplomacy on Iran and resist his warmaking in Iraq and Afghanistan. Promote the good, resist the bad. And avoid the desire to make it personal.

Jeb did try to find one other place to disagree with Obama, namely Cuba. As it happens, I just got back from Cuba last week and have a different perspective. The Republican line parroted by Jeb is that Obama did something for Cuba with nothing in return. Well, Obama is considering taking Cuba off the absurd terrorist list, since Cuba doesn't fund terrorism. But Cuba hasn't put the United States on a terrorist list to take it off of. There has been talk of ending the economic blockade, but Cuba has no blockade against the U.S. to lift. What is it Jeb wants of Cuba? Well, he wants it to stop supporting the popularly elected government of Venezuela and allow its overthrow. See, to get to Obama's right you have to go to overthrowing governments -- and then you'll discover that Obama pretty much agrees with you.

The U.S. is actually proposing to allow importing from Cuba limited items produced by private enterprise. This is an effort to privatize Cuba, to radically change or overthrow its government. By "opening" to Cuba, Obama has given himself new tools. The mission is unchanged. A few of us met with the staff of the soon-to-be U.S. embassy down there, and asked about the $20 million the U.S. spends propagandizing Cubans each year. I asked how they'd feel if Cuba funded activists in the United States. One of them told me there was no need, because the United States has freedom of speech and Cuba doesn't. OK, I said, but the United States has troops in 175 countries and more wars than it can keep track of, and Cuba doesn't. What if Cuba funded a movement against militarism in the United States? The U.S. diplomats said they'd have no problem with that at all. But of course the U.S. government would -- in fact working with Cuba on anything would constitute aiding "terrorists."

I suppose it's not very funny but it should be that if Cuba ever actually attacked the United States we would hear about it 24/7, but the United States and its terrorists living openly in Florida have for over 50 years blown up buildings and planes in Cuba, murdered in Cuba, and introduced human and animal diseases to Cuba, and the Cubans have museums full of the gear they've seized from the hapless CIA, but the Cuban people are delighted to meet Americans and don't blame us one bit for our government just as they'd no doubt like not to be blamed for their own.

Their government and many observers have a theory about why the U.S. government hates Cuba so much: it doesn't want us to see that even a poor country can provide universal healthcare, education, and a guaranteed income.

I'm thrilled with the victory of Jeff Fogel and others in the ruling this week that found a ban on panhandling unconstitutional here. But what if a nation with the resources of the U.S. were to start dreaming bigger? What if we were to do away with the need for panhandling? What if everyone had a full stomach, a good education, no debt, and some free time to pay attention to things?

I sat in a trial a few weeks ago in Alexandria of Jeffrey Sterling who had gone to Congress with the news that the CIA was giving plans for a nuclear bomb to Iran -- plans in which they'd introduced some obvious mistakes on the theory that the dumb Iranians would never notice and build their bomb wrong. Their Russian operative who took the plans to the Iranians was also not supposed to notice the flaws, but he did, immediately. The display of recklessness, stupidity, and imbecility putting itself on in this courtroom was beyond belief, and nobody was there, and the young all white jury found Sterling guilty.

One of the pieces of evidence in the trial discussed the next country the CIA was, in 2000, working on giving flawed nuclear bomb plans to after Iran. They blanked out the name of the country but showed how many letters had been blanked out. They also left it clear that the country's name began with a vowel. Only Iraq fit. These clowns were planning to give nuclear bomb plans to Iraq just before publicly making the case for invading Iraq before it nuked us.

But what else were they supposed to do? You can't do nothing, right? We must either love ISIS and do nothing or drop more bombs and create even more enemies. It's a tough counterproductive path to Armageddon but somebody's got to follow it. And somebody else has got to invent a bunch of lies to make it more palatable. When General Sherman raged through the South burning stuff he told himself that from here on out the South would know war so well that it would never want another one. And 150 years later, I dare you to just hint at taking down the statues of Southern war losers in Charlottesville. The South is the leading supporter of U.S. wars. Without the politics of the South, the U.S. might find its way clear all the way to respecting the rights of some other country. During World War II, the main newspaper in Atlanta, where Sherman had begun his march, editorialized in favor of burning every house in Japan. So, when Jeb-Obama-Hillary-McCain tell you that bombing Iraq will turn Iraqis against war, you can believe them or your own lying eyes. Have the past decades made Iraq more peaceful? Might ending slavery the way most nations did -- that is to say, without a war -- have produced something less than 150 years of resentment and displaced blowback?

If you'd like to get involved in advancing alternatives to war, please check out http://WorldBeyondWar.org

And please join in the planning for a bigger, better peace movement with the series of events planned for Washington, D.C., on March 18-21. See http://SpringRising.org

Civilization and barbarism: It Takes a Life Cult to Beat a Death Cult

By John Grant


We have to address the political grievances terrorists exploit.
                                                                          -- Barack Obama
 

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