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Focus: Clinton and Sanders on climate change - Nov 30, 2015

According to BBC, today hundreds of thousands of people have marched worldwide to demand action to stop climate change. On the eve of the Paris international conference on climate change it is necessary to point out the differences between Clinton and Sanders on this issue. 


Hillary Clinton has recently stated her opposition to the Keystone pipeline and Arctic offshore oil and gas drilling. Also she released a plan promoting renewable energy resorces, especially solar energy. But this is not enough. Climate expert John H. Cushman Jr says: "To be transformational, Clinton's policy would have to: aim to end the uncontrolled emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, crack down on methane (another greenhouse gas) whether it comes from fracking natural gas or from agriculture, leave most existing reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, and put a price on carbon, either through a tax or a cap-and-trade system.” Climatologist James Hansen says that a president committed to halting climate change would implement a gradually rising fee for fossil fuel extraction, collected from the fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port of entry. To incentivize other countries to do the same the US would have to impose equivalent tariffs on imports from countries without a carbon fee. “You have to recognize that as long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest energy, we’ll just keep burning them,” Hansen says. So far Clinton has failed to endorse a tax on carbon emissions, which Sanders supports and many experts believe is essential if the world is to avoid a climate calamity. 

Sanders has introduced a bill which would block new leases and end non-producing leases for fossil fuels -- such as coal, oil, gas, oil shale and oil sands -- on federal land and for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. It would also completely prohibit offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. Recently Clinton said she wouldn’t stop federal energy development if elected president. Her campaign manager Podesta added the government should expect to receive more royalties and tax revenue from those operations rather than stopping them altogether.

Is Clinton Still a Carbon Candidate? I think the answer to the above question, in all fairness, has to be “Yes” until she proves otherwise. I’m open to being shown otherwise — as are we all who care about our children’s and grandchildren’s future. But the weight of evidence so far is this — under a President Clinton, no halt to carbon emissions, and no commitment to one, will be forthcoming. Does that mean she doesn’t care about climate change. No, but it does mean she won’t act effectively to prevent it." Gaius Publius: Is Clinton Still a Carbon Candidate? The Data to Date

A Waroholic Wishes You Peace on Earth

Imagine an alcoholic who managed every night to get ahold of and consume huge quantities of whiskey and who every morning swore that drinking whiskey had been his very last resort, he’d had no choice at all.

Easy to imagine, no doubt. An addict will always justify himself, how ever nonsensically it has to be done.

But imagine a world in which everyone believed him and solemnly said to each other “He really had no other choice. He truly had tried everything else.”

Not so plausible, is it? Almost unimaginable, in fact. And yet:

Everyone says the United States is at war in Syria as a last resort, even though:

  • The United States spent years sabotaging UN attempts at peace in Syria.
  • The United States dismissed out of hand a Russian peace proposal for Syria in 2012.
  • And when the United States claimed a bombing campaign was needed immediately as a “last resort” in 2013 but the U.S. public was wildly opposed, other options were pursued.

Numerous U.S. Congress Members said this year that the nuclear deal with Iran needed to be rejected and Iran attacked as a last resort, until the deal wasn’t rejected. No mention was made in 2015 of Iran’s 2003 offer to negotiate away its nuclear program, an offer that had been quickly scorned by the United States.

Everyone says the United States is killing people with drones as a last resort, even though in that minority of cases in which the United States knows the names of the people it is aiming for, many (if not all) of them indisputably could have been easily arrested.

Everyone said the United States killed Osama bin Laden as a last resort, until those involved admitted that the “kill or capture” policy didn’t actually include any capture option and that bin Laden had been unarmed when he was killed.

Everyone says the United States attacked Libya in 2011, overthrew its government, and fueled regional violence as a last resort, even though in March 2011 the African Union had a plan for peace in Libya but was prevented by NATO, through the creation of a “no fly zone” and the initiation of bombing, to travel to Libya to discuss it. In April, the African Union was able to discuss its plan with Ghadafi, and he expressed his agreement. NATO, which had obtained UN authorization to protect Libyans alleged to be in danger but no authorization to continue bombing the country or to overthrow the government, continued bombing the country and overthrowing the government.

Everyone who works for, and wishes to continue working for, a major U.S. media outlet says the United States attacked Iraq in 2003 as a last resort or sort of meant to, or something, even though:

  • The U.S. president had been concocting cockamamie schemes to get a war started.
  • The Iraqi government had approached the CIA’s Vincent Cannistrato to offer to let U.S. troops search the entire country.
  • The Iraqi government had offered to hold internationally monitored elections within two years.
  • The Iraqi government offered Bush official Richard Perle to open the whole country to inspections, to turn over a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, to help fight terrorism, and to favor U.S. oil companies.
  • The Iraqi president offered, in the account that the president of Spain was given by the U.S. president, to simply leave Iraq if he could keep $1 billion.

Everyone supposes that the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and has stayed there ever since as a series of “last resorts,” even though the Taliban repeatedly offered to turn bin Laden over to a third country to stand trial, al Qaeda has had no significant presence in Afghanistan for most of the duration of the war, and withdrawal has been an option at any time.

Everyone maintains that the United States went to war with Iraq in 1990-1991 as a “last resort,” even though the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate withdrawal from Kuwait without war and ultimately offered to simply withdraw from Kuwait within three weeks without conditions. The King of Jordan, the Pope, the President of France, the President of the Soviet Union, and many others urged such a peaceful settlement, but the White House insisted upon its “last resort.”

Even setting aside general practices that increase hostility, provide weaponry, and empower militaristic governments, as well as fake negotiations intended to facilitate rather than avoid war, the history of U.S. war-making can be traced back through the centuries as a story of an endless series of opportunities for peace carefully avoided at all costs.

Mexico was willing to negotiate the sale of its northern half, but the United States wanted to take it through an act of mass killing. Spain wanted the matter of the Maine to go to international arbitration, but the U.S. wanted war and empire. The Soviet Union proposed peace negotiations before the Korean War. The United States sabotaged peace proposals for Vietnam from the Vietnamese, the Soviets, and the French, relentlessly insisting on its “last resort” over any other option, from the day the Gulf of Tonkin incident mandated war despite never having occurred.

Hidden in the mystery of the ludicrous “last resort” claims, taken oh so seriously by commentators on war, may lie an explanation of current bigotry toward Muslims in the United States. Should Muslims in your neighborhood turn out to be decent people, perhaps Muslims far away are decent people with whom one might speak instead of dropping bombs on their children. Muslims must be hated here so as to justify killing them there as an unavoidable “last resort.”

Russia News - Nov 28, 2015

Russia deploys cutting-edge S-400 air defense system on combat duty to Syrian base after Su-24 downing (VIDEOS) - RT News

VIDEO: See the moment the Russian S-400s arrived in Latakia, Syria - YouTube

Experts opinions: S-400 antiaircraft missile system to defend Russia’s air group, will keep most of Syrian airspace under control - TASS

Reports: Russia launches electronic warfare in Syria as tensions rise - Fox News

Ankara Suspends Air Force Flights Over Syria After Attack on Su-24: Media - sputniknews.com

Erdogan warns against use of S-400 against Turkish fighter jets over Syria - News.Az

VIDEO: Erdogan interview: We won't apologize for downing Russian plane - CNN

U.S. officials say Russia didn't give downed jet's flight plan to them, Putin hinted that U.S. might have given detailed Russian operational plans to Turkey ahead of time - Yahoo News

US Hopes Russia Respects Safety Memorandum After S-400s Deployed in Syria - armscom.net

US special forces begin training Kurdish and Arab fighters to take on Isis - ibtimes.co.uk

Israeli Air Force says direct line to Moscow prevents possible air incidents - RT News

Chinese media: Russian S-400 undermines Turkey's plan to impose safe zone in Syria - Xinhua

Russia retaliates with air strikes near Turkey border - World Tribune

Russia ready to coordinate steps to block Turkish-Syrian border: FM Lavrov - TASS

U.S. urges Turkey to seal Syria border, says a bigger Turkish border deployment would close off key transit routes for ISIS fighters in Syria - WSJ

Turkey Masses Tanks on Syria Border Amid Rising Russia Tensions - Antiwar.com

Putin: 'Commercial scale’ oil smuggling into Turkey by ISIS becomes priority target of air strikes - RT News

Erdogan denies Turkey buys oil from ISIL - Al Jazeera English

Protests erupt in Turkey after journalists arrested for a report suggesting Ankara shipped arms to Islamist rebels in Syria - AFP

VIDEO: Turkish police pepper spray supporters of 2 prominent journalists arrested for ‘treason’ over publishing photos of weapons allegedly brought to Syrian rebels by Turkish intelligence - RT News

Russian PM Pushes For Economic Sanctions Against Turkey - huffingtonpost.com

Russia scraps visa-free regime for Turks amid bitter dispute - France 24 

France, Russia agree to exchange intelligence in Syria campaigns, but difference remain on the fate of Assad - AP


Russia plays down idea of grand coalition with West to strike Islamic State in Syria, it seeks cooperation on its terms - Washington Post



Coal cutoff escalates Russia-Ukraine tensions, Yatsenyuk says not enough coal for winter - POLITICO

Ukraine seeks imports of anthracite coal from South Africa as shortages loom - Platts News

Ukraine Energy Minister Backs Compromise on Energy Supplies With Russia - sputniknews.com

Crimea starts receiving electricity from Russia: RIA - Reuters

Russia cuts gas flow, Ukraine closes airspace as trade war expands - The Washington Post

Moscow will impose a food embargo on Ukraine starting from 1 January 2016, when the economic part of Kiev’s European Association Agreement comes into force - RT

Yatsenyuk: Ukraine to Respond Likewise to Russia's Upcoming Food Embargo - sputniknews.com

Ukraine's agricultural exports to Russia down 72.9 pct in first 10 months of 2015 - GlobalPost

Ukraine’s export to decrease 30.8% in 2015: ministry - TASS

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

Defeating Terrorism - Theirs and Ours

"...at the very moment the number one nation has perfected the science of killing, it has become an impractical instrument of political domination." - Richard Barnet, Roots of War, 1972

A half century of US hospital bombings: Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar

By Dave Lindorff


“US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital.”

       -- US Commander of NATO Forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell


Global Warming's Unacknowledged Threat—The Pentagon

By Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War

During the November 15 Democratic Presidential Debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sounded an alarm that "climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism." Citing a CIA study, Sanders warned that countries around the world are "going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops and you're going to see all kinds of international conflict."

On November 8, the World Bank predicted that climate change is on track to drive 100 million people into poverty by 2030. And, in March, a National Geographic study linked climate change to the conflict in Syria: "A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people."

The sobering insight that climate change can accelerate violence should weigh heavily on the minds of delegates to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change set to begin November 30 in Paris—a city that, on November 13, suffered grievously from the blowback of the Syrian conflict. But there is another looming threat that needs to be addressed.

Put simply: War and militarism also fuel climate change.

From November 30 to December 11, delegates from more than 190 nations will convene in Paris to address the increasingly visible threats of climate disruption. The 21st Conference of the Parties (aka COP21) is expected to draw 25,000 official delegates intent on crafting a legally binding pact to keep global warming below 2°C.

But it is difficult to imagine the delegates reaching this goal when one of the largest contributors to global-warming has no intention of agreeing to reduce its pollution. The problem in this case is neither China nor the United States. Instead, the culprit is the Pentagon.

The Pentagon's Carbon Bootprint

The Pentagon occupies 6,000 bases in the US and more than 1,000 bases (the exact number is disputed) in 60-plus foreign countries. According to its FY 2010 Base Structure Report, the Pentagon's global empire includes more than 539,000 facilities at 5,000 sites covering more than 28 million acres.

The Pentagon has admitted to burning 350,000 barrels of oil a day (only 35 countries in the world consume more) but that doesn't include oil burned by contractors and weapons suppliers. It does, however, include providing fuel for more than 28,000 armored vehicles, thousands of helicopters, hundreds of jet fighters and bombers and vast fleets of Navy vessels. The Air Force accounts for about half of the Pentagon’s operational energy consumption, followed by the Navy (33%) and Army (15%). In 2012, oil accounted for nearly 80% of the Pentagon's energy consumption, followed by electricity, natural gas and coal.

Ironically, most of the Pentagon's oil is consumed in operations directed at protecting America's access to foreign oil and maritime shipping lanes. In short, the consumption of oil relies on consuming more oil. This is not a sustainable energy model.

The amount of oil burned—and the burden of smoke released—increases whenever the Pentagon goes to war. (Indeed, human history's most combustible mix may well prove to be oil and testosterone.) Oil Change International estimates the Pentagon's 2003-2007 $2 trillion Iraq War generated more than three million metric tons of CO2 pollution per month.

The Pentagon: A Privileged Polluter

Yet, despite being the planet's single greatest institutional consumer of fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been granted a unique exemption from reducing—or even reporting—its pollution. The US won this prize during the 1998 Kyoto Protocol negotiations (COP4) after the Pentagon insisted on a "national security provision" that would place its operations beyond global scrutiny or control. As Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat recalled: "Every requirement the Defense Department and uniformed military who were at Kyoto by my side said they wanted, they got." (Also exempted from pollution regulation: all Pentagon weapons testing, military exercises, NATO operations and "peacekeeping" missions.)

After winning this concession, however, the US Senate refused to ratify the Kyoto Accord, the House amended the Pentagon budget to ban any "restriction of armed forces under the Kyoto Protocol," and George W. Bush rejected the entire climate treaty because it "would cause serious harm to the US economy" (by which he clearly meant the U.S. oil and gas industries).

Today, the Pentagon consumes one percent of all the country's oil and around 80 percent of all the oil burned by federal government. President Barack Obama recently received praise for his Executive Order requiring federal agencies to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but Obama's EO specifically exempted the Pentagon from having to report its contribution to climate chaos. (As a practical matter, the Pentagon has been forced to act. With battlefield gas costing $400 a gallon and naval bases at risk of flooding from rising seas, the Pentagon managed to trim its domestic greenhouse-gas emissions by 9 percent between 2008-2012 and hopes to achieve a 34 percent reduction by 2020.)

Climate Chaos: Deception and Denial

According to recent exposés, Exxon executives knew the company's products were stoking global temperatures but they opted to put "profits before planet" and conspired to secretly finance three decades of deception. Similarly, the Pentagon has been well aware that its operations were wrecking our planetary habitat. In 2014, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel identified climate change as a "threat multiplier" that will endanger national security by increasing "global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict." As far back as 2001, Pentagon strategists have been preparing to capitalize on the problem by planning for "ice-free" operations in the Arctic—in anticipation of US-Russian conflicts over access to polar oil.

In 2014, Tom Ridge, George W. Bush's Homeland Security chief, stated flat-out that climate change posed "a real serious problem" that "would bring destruction and economic damage." But climate deniers in Congress continue to prevail. Ignoring Ridge's warnings, a majority of House Republicans hammered an amendment onto the National Defense Authorization bill that banned the Pentagon from spending any funds on researching climate change or sustainable development. "The climate . . . has always been changing," Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va) said dismissively. "[W]hy should Congress divert funds from the mission of our military and national security to support a political ideology?"

Since 1980, the US has experienced 178 "billion dollar" weather events that have caused more than $1 trillion in damages. In 2014 alone, there were eight "billion dollar" weather calamities.

In September 2015, the World Health Organization warned climate change would claim 250,000 million lives between 2030 and 2050 at a cost of $2-4 billion a year and a study in Nature Climate Change estimated the economic damage from greenhouse emissions could top $326 trillion. (If the global warming causes the permafrost to melt and release its trapped carbon dioxide and methane gases, the economic damage could exceed $492 trillion.)

In October 2015 (the hottest October in recorded weather history), BloombergBusiness expressed alarm over a joint study by scientists at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley that predicted global warning "could cause 10 times as much damage to the global economy as previously estimated, slashing output as much as 23 percent by the end of the century."

This is more than a matter of "political ideology."

The Pentagon's role in weather disruption needs to become part of the climate discussion. Oil barrels and gun barrels both pose a threat to our survival. If we hope to stabilize our climate, we will need to start spending less money on war.

Gar Smith is co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal. He is the author of Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth (Chelsea Green). Email: gar-smith@earthlink.net

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Corruption U.S.A.

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

An invisible US hand leading to war?: Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet at the Turkish/Syrian Border was an Act of Madness

By Dave Lindorff

In considering the terrifying but also sadly predictable news of a Russian fighter jet being downed by two Turkish fighters, let’s start with one almost certain assumption -- an assumption that no doubt is also being made by the Russian government: Turkey’s action, using US-supplied F-16 planes, was taken with the full knowledge and advance support of the US. In fact, given Turkey’s vassal status as a member of US-dominated NATO, it could well be that Ankara was put up to this act of brinksmanship by the US.

Limits of Liberal War Opposition

Robert Reich's website is full of proposals for how to oppose plutocracy, raise the minimum wage, reverse the trend toward greater inequality of wealth, etc. His focus on domestic economic policy is done in the traditional bizarre manner of U.S. liberals in which virtually no mention is ever made of the 54% of the federal discretionary budget that gets dumped into militarism.

When such a commentator notices the problem of war, it's worth paying attention to exactly how far they're willing to go. Of course, they'll object to the financial cost of a potential war, while continuing to ignore the ten-times-greater cost of routine military spending. But where else does their rare war opposition fall short?

Well, here, to begin with: Reich's new post begins thus: "We appear to be moving ever closer toward a world war against the Islamic State." That helpless fatalism doesn't show up in his other commentary. We're not doomed to plutocracy, poverty, or corporate trade. But we're doomed to war. It's coming upon us like the weather, and we'll need to handle it as well as we can. And it will be a "world" affair even if it's principally the 4% of humanity in the United States with a military engaged in it.

"No sane person welcomes war," says Reich. "Yet if we do go to war against ISIS we must keep a watchful eye on 5 things." Nobody, inlcuding Reich as far as I know, ever says this about plutocracy, fascism, slavery, child abuse, rape, de-unionization. Imagine reading this: "No sane person welcomes massive gun violence and school shootings, yet if we're going to let all these children die for the gun makers' profits we must keep a watchful eye on 5 things." Who would say that? What could the 5 things possibly be? The only people who talk this way about climate destruction are those who believe it's already past the point of no return, beyond any possible human control. Why do U.S. liberals "oppose" war by pretending it's inevitable and then keeping an eye on certain aspects of its damage?

Reich must be aware that most of Europe is very reluctant to engage in another U.S. war, that proxies in the Middle East are almost impossible to come by, and that President Obama still insists on a limited war slowly worsening the situation. But I suspect that Reich, like many people, has seen so much "election" coverage that he thinks the United States is about to have a new president, and that it will be either a war-mad Republican or a war-mad Hillary Clinton. Yet, such a development is over a year away, making Reich's fatalism all the more outrageous.

Let's look at the five things we're suppose to keep an eye on.

"1. The burden of fighting the war must be widely shared among Americans. America’s current 'all-volunteer' army is comprised largely of lower-income men and women for whom army pay is the best option. 'We’re staring at the painful story of young people with fewer options bearing the greatest burden,' says Greg Speeter, executive director of the National Priorities Project, whose study found low- and middle-income families supply far more Army recruits than families with incomes greater than $60,000 a year. That’s not fair. Moreover, when the vast majority of Americans depend on a small number of people to fight wars for us, the public stops feeling the toll such wars take. From World War II until the final days of the Vietnam War, in July 1973, nearly every young man in America faced the prospect of being drafted into the Army. Sure, many children of the rich found means to stay out of harm’s way. But the draft at least spread responsibility and heightened the public’s sensitivity to the human costs of war. If we go into a ground war against ISIS, we should seriously consider reinstating the draft."

This is madness. As a bank shot aimed at indirectly preventing war it's incredibly risky and uncertain. As a means of ameliorating war by making it more "fair," it grotesquely ignores the vast majority of victims, who will of course be the people living in the areas where the war is fought.

"2. We must not sacrifice our civil liberties. U.S. spy agencies no longer have authority they had in the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act to collect Americans’ phone and other records. The NSA must now gain court approval for such access. But in light of the Paris attacks, the FBI director and other leading U.S. law enforcement officials now say they need access to encrypted information on smartphones, personal and business records of suspected terrorists, and 'roving wiretaps' of suspects using multiple disposable cell phones. War can also lead to internment of suspects and suspensions of constitutional rights, as we’ve painfully witnessed. Donald Trump says he’d require American Muslims to register in a federal data base, and he refuses to rule out requiring all Muslims to carry special religious identification. "We’re going to have to do things that we never did before….we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago,” he adds. We must be vigilant that we maintain the freedoms we are fighting for."

This is delusional. The FBI needs to break through encryption but is kindly refraining from spying on anything unencrypted? The wars strip away civil liberties but are fought "for" them? There has not in fact been a war fought that did not remove liberties, and it seems highly unlikely that there could be. This has been clearly and accurately understood for centuries now.

"3. We must minimize the deaths of innocent civilians abroad. The bombing raids have already claimed a terrible civilian toll, contributing to a mass exodus of refugees. Last month the independent monitoring group Airwars said at least 459 civilians have died from coalition airstrikes in Syria over the past year. Other monitoring groups, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also claim significant civilian deaths. Some civilian casualties are unavoidable. But we must ensure they are minimized – and not just out of humanitarian concern. Every civilian death creates more enemies. And we must do our part to take in a fair portion of Syrian refugees."

Minimize inevitable murders? Assist inevitably displaced families turned into refugees by the destruction of their homes? This is kinder gentler imperialism.

"4. We must not tolerate anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States. Already, leading Republican candidates are fanning the flames. Ben Carson says no Muslim should be president. Trump says 'thousands' of Arab-Americans cheered when the Twin Towers went down on 9/11 – a boldface lie. Ted Cruz wants to accept Christians refugees from Syrian [sic] but not Muslims. Jeb Bush says American assistance for refugees should focus on Christians. Marco Rubio wants to close down 'any place where radicals are being inspired,' including American mosques. It's outrageous that leading Republican candidates for president of the United States are fueling such hate. Such bigotry is not only morally odious. It also plays into the hands of ISIS."

Hmm. Can you name the last war that did not include the promotion of bigotry or xenophobia? By now xenophobia is so engrained that no U.S. columnist would propose a project that would kill U.S. citizens while "minimizing" such deaths, yet proposing such a fate for foreigners is deemed liberal and progressive.

"5. The war must be paid for with higher taxes on the rich. A week before the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Senate passed a $607 billion defense spending bill, with 93 senators in favor and 3 opposed (including Bernie Sanders). The House has already passed it, 370 to 58. Obama has said he’ll sign it. That defense appropriation is larded with pork for military contractors – including Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons system in history. Now Republicans are pushing for even more military spending.  We cannot let them use the war as a pretext to cut Social Security and Medicare, or programs for the poor. The war should be paid for the way we used to pay for wars – with higher taxes, especially on the wealthy. As we move toward war against ISIS, we must be vigilant – to fairly allocate the burdens of who’s called on to fight the war, to protect civil liberties, to protect innocent civilians abroad, to avoid hate and bigotry, and to fairly distribute the cost of paying for war. These aren’t just worthy aims. They are also the foundations of our nation’s strength."

Of course the wealthy should pay more taxes and everyone else less. That's true for taxes for parks or taxes for schools. It would also be true for taxes to pay for a project of blowing up coral reefs or a new initiative to drown kittens, but who would justify such things by properly funding them?

War, in fact, is worse than virtually anything else imaginable, including many things we absolutely reject in moral horror. War is mass murder, it brings with it brutality and a total degradation of morality, it is our top destroyer of the environment including the climate, it endangers rather than protecting -- just as bigotry plays into ISIS's hands, so does bombing ISIS. War -- and much more so, routine military spending -- kills primarily through the diversion of resources. A fraction of what is wasted could end starvation. I mean 3% of U.S. military spending could end starvation worldwide. Diseases could be wiped out. Energy systems could be made sustainable. The resources are that massive. Housing, education, and other rights could be guaranteed, in the United States and abroad.

Sure it's good for liberal commentators to point out some of war's downsides. But depicting them as acceptable and inevitable doesn't help.

So what should be done? Do I love ISIS, then? Is it my wish for us to all die? Et cetera.

I've been blogging my answers to that question for many months. I just asked Johan Galtung for his answer, and you can listen to him here.

Syria News - Nov 24, 2015


A new ABC/Washington Post poll shows that Hillary Clinton is the most trusted 2016 candidate on terrorism. Quoting the Washington Post: "Clinton’s position of strength in the new Post-ABC poll is perhaps more striking given it also found... 57 percent disapproved of his [Obama] handling of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”


I think is urgent to respond to the recent Clinton national security and Islamic State speech and clarify to the public the dangerous implications of her foreign policy which will furtherly destabilize the Middle East and fuel more war. 

On top I would put her anti-Russia and anti-Iran stance: by condemning continuously their actions and by refusing to recognize their legitimate interests and concerns, she makes the prospect of a political and diplomatic solution of the crisis difficult if not impossible to pursue. 

Second, I would mention her plan to train and arm the so called “moderate” Syrian rebels who are fighting Assad. This policy has been a total failure with the result that US weapons ended up in the hand of Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and Islamic state; also many CIA-trainees were fought and defeated or recruited by those terrorist groups. Right now remaining “moderate” Syrian rebels are allied with Nusra Front and other hardline Islamist groups in a coalition known as Army of Conquest.

Third, Clinton no-fly zone in northern Syria may cause a direct military confrontation with Russia, Iran and the Syrian army. The Pentagon assessed the no-fly zone as risky, costly and difficult to implement. Also the local populations, like the Syrian Kurds, oppose it.

Forth, Clinton says: "There is not going to be a successful military effort at this point to overturn Assad. That can only happen through the political process.” By setting the goal of overturning Assad, even if by a political process, she imperils the future peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition. Russia and Iran have repeatedly said that they will not accept Assad ouster as a precondition for the negotiations ending the war.

Fifth, Clinton plans a deployment in Syria of more U.S Special Operations troops "who can contribute to the fight on the ground” and military personnel advising the Iraqis "including embedding in local units.” This will put at risk more lives of American soldiers. The U.S. military shows sign of fatigue after so many wars; soldiers suffer from exhaustion, sleep disorders and mental health problems. No surprise that few Americans in the military have a good impression of Hillary Clinton: in a poll she is seen unfavorably by 81% by active and retired military personnel, including 69% who share a very unfavorable impression of her. 

Below is my today’s news research on Syria.


Putin, Khamenei pledge to oppose 'external attempts' to overthrow Assad regime - UPI

VIDEO: Russia’s complex anti-ISIS campaign in Syria would be impossible without Iran: Putin - RT News

Jordan's King Abdullah to discuss war on Syria militants with Putin - Reuters

Сhina considers Russia’s actions important part of international fight against terrorism - TASS

UN Chief Says Russia and U.S. Must Unite to Destroy Islamic State - Breitbart

Former defense chief Hagel: Russia, Iran must join fight against ISIS - Washington Examiner

Russian TV: Russian airstrikes destroy 472 terrorist targets in Syria in 48 hours, 1,000 oil tankers in 5 days (VIDEO) - RT News

Pentagon skeptical of claims Russia hit 1,000 ISIS tankers - Fox News

Backed by Russian airstrikes Syria troops advance in Homs province and Latakia - Daily Mail Online

Syrian army making advances since Russian airstrikes began: Assad - RT News

TRANSCRIPT: Assad interview to Chinese PHOENIX TV Channel - Syrian Arab News Agency

U.S. Congresswoman introduces bill to stop "illegal" war on Assad; says CIA ops must stop (VIDEO) - Intellihub

Inside Russia's war room where Vladimir Putin masterminds Syria airstrikes (PHOTOS, VIDEO) - Daily Mail Online

Russia said to deploy advanced missile system in Syria - The Times of Israel

Report: Russia Sends Ground Forces into Syria - Washington Free Beacon

VIDEO: Syrians take to the streets to praise Russian military support - BBC News



Presidential envoy McGurk: US Special Forces going Into Syria very soon, 'to organize those forces on the ground to push down on Raqqa' - VOA

VIDEO: Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk discusses the U.S. strategy in Syria against ISIS - CBS

France, Russia poised to pummel Islamic State ‘capital' Raqqa - THE DAILY STAR

Exclusive: Kurdish forces with new alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces dig in just outside ISIS headquarters in Raqqa (VIDEO) - CNN

Isis fortifies Raqqa as it braces for an international assault on its Syrian stronghold - The Independent

With air support from a US-led coalition Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic forces have captured nearly 200 villages from Islamic State - ekurd.net

15 opposition brigades in Idlib, Aleppo join the Syrian Democratic Forces - Syria Direct

Assyrian Christian Militia Joins Kurds against ISIS in Syria - National Review Online

Officials say US warplanes destroy 283 IS fuel trucks in Syria - Yahoo News

President Obama Returns to DC Amid ISIS Intelligence Report Investigation - ABC News

Syria oil map: the journey of a barrel of Isis oil - FT

Turkey buying oil from Isis? Syrian army releases photos of captured tanker - IBTimes

Financing Terror: Where Does the Islamic State Group Get Its Money? - US News

How the Islamic State makes its money - The Washington Post

US Envoy: Chemical Attacks 'Becoming Routine' in Syria - ABC News

Syria opposition chief urges Al-Nusra to break with Al-Qaeda - Yahoo News

Al-Qaeda's affiliate Nusra Front releases a grateful video where they openly thank the Free Syrian Army for supplying them with US-made anti-tank TOW missiles - Sputnik


VIDEO: Revealing Interviews of ISIS fighters captured by the Kurds - LiveLeak.com

Talk Nation Radio: Johan Galtung on ISIS and Alternative to War


Johan Galtung is the founder of the discipline of peace studies. He founded the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo in 1959 and the Journal of Peace Research in 1964, and has helped found dozens of peace centers. He has taught peace studies at universities all over the world, and mediated hundreds of conflicts. He is author or coauthor of over 160 books, and is cited and discussed in many thousands. He is the founder of Transcend Peace University and Transcend International. See http://transcend.org

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Academic’s Research Shows NY Times, Wash. Post Don’t Do Follow-up Reporting to See if Civilians Killed in U.S. Drone Strikes

predator firing hellfire missileBy John Hanrahan

By now you know the drill: The CIA or U.S. military forces unleash a drone strike or other aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia or any other country that the United States claims the right to attack.

A U.S. government spokesperson reports 5 or 7 or 17 or 25 or whatever number of “militants” killed — Taliban, or al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State fighters — according to its fill-in-the-blanks press release. Wire services, mainstream newspapers, television newscasters dutifully report in brief fashion on another successful drone or missile strike, fulfilling minimal journalistic standards by attributing it to the Pentagon, or intelligence or U.S. government sources — sometimes even naming the spokesperson who issued the news release.

And then — usually nothing. Yes, sometimes someone with a little clout raises a stink — say the Afghan president, or some prominent local official who was an eyewitness to the attack, or Doctors without Borders after the U.S. attack on their Afghanistan hospital in October. (* See footnote.) In such challenges to the Americans’ claims of killing only “militants,” these pesky eyewitnesses contend that many of those killed were actually noncombatants, even women and children.

But on those occasions when U.S. officials are confronted with too-strong evidence of civilian casualties, they typically issue an apology (while not usually admitting civilians were actually killed), promise an investigation — and then that’s the last we ever seem to hear of it in the mainstream press.

Now, an American University (A.U.) academic, Jeff Bachman, has documented what some readers may have surmised in reading drone news coverage over the years, but didn’t have the data to back it up. In examining articles by The New York Times and Washington Post in the immediate aftermath of U.S. drone strikes between 2009 and 2014, Bachman concluded:

“Both papers have substantially underrepresented the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, failed to correct the public record when evidence emerged that their reporting was wrong and ignored the importance of international law.”

Bachman’s research dovetails with The Intercept’s recently published “Drone Papers” articles, which among other things document the U.S. government’s lying to the press and public about the number of noncombatants killed in drone strikes.

Bachman, professional lecturer in human rights and the co-director of Global Affairs M.A. Program at A.U.’s School of International Service, examined a sample of 81 Times articles and 26 Post articles published within two days of particular drone strikes between 2009 and 2014. He then compared the two papers’ reporting to the research and tracking of drone strikes by the London-based The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ). He said he considered TBIJ’s data authoritative “because they used a methodology that has been endorsed by the Center for Civilians in Conflict and Human Rights” at Columbia University’s Law School.

In the drone attacks reported on by The Times, TBIJ found civilians killed in 26 of the 81 attacks. The Times, though, reported civilians killed in only two of those attacks, Bachman wrote.

Looking at The Post’s coverage of drone attacks, Bachman found that TBIJ reported civilians killed in 7 of the 26 attacks, while The Post reported civilians killed in only one attack.

In the 33 strikes that produced civilian casualties, TBIJ found that between 180 and 302 civilians were killed — yet Times and Post articles reported on the deaths of only nine civilians in the three stories in which they noted that there were civilian casualties.

“This trend of underreporting of civilian casualties means readers are not being informed of the real consequences of drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan,” Bachman wrote. “It represents a failure by journalists at these papers to view critical government claims regarding who is killed in particular strikes.”

Even worse, Bachman reports what happened when he contacted both newspapers to question them “about the inaccuracies in their reporting on civilian casualties, and to see whether either newspaper published corrections” about civilian deaths from drone strikes. “The answer from both was that they had not,” he wrote.

Read Bachman’s article to see the full summary of his findings and the exact comments he reports receiving from Times and Post representatives. But for one sample of mainstream media indifference to this issue, consider what Bachman reported he was told by Sylvester Monroe, The Post’s assistant managing editor.

Monroe, wrote Bachman, “stated that when using ‘official sources’ it is impossible to ‘independently verify which of the dead were members of militant groups and which might have been innocent civilians.’”

According to Bachman, Monroe added this amazing disclosure: “Even if the CIA were to acknowledge that its count was inaccurate, it would not be up to us to run a correction.” Let that sink in: The Post will apparently not make corrections of a spy agency’s lies and misrepresentations even in the unlikely event the agency itself admits them.

Bachman also noted that the term “human rights” — and various equivalents — showed up in only 5 of The Times’s 81 drone attack stories, and in only one of the 26 Post articles. The term “laws of war” or “laws of armed conflict” — needed to “place the drone strikes in their international legal context” — were not mentioned in any of the articles.

“Without government transparency and accurate reporting, whistleblowers, like the source of The Intercept’s ‘Drone Papers,’ are the only source for information that will allow us to understand the real consequences of the drone strikes,” Bachman concluded.


  • The recent October 2 multiple U.S. bombings on the Doctor Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where at least 30 staff, patients and others were killed, might prove to be that unique case that events will force to be seriously investigated. But don’t count on it. In the Kunduz hospital case, eyewitnesses — Westerners/doctors from a highly respected international humanitarian medical organization making allegations that the bombings were deliberate — could not be so easily written off by the Pentagon and our usually incurious mainstream media. Doctors without Borders has called the multiple bombardments on the hospital a possible war crime and wants the attack investigated by an international inquiry under the Geneva Conventions. Instead, General John F. Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, has appointed a two-star general from another command to head what Campbell termed an independent investigation — a far cry from what Doctors Without Borders has called for. Keeping the investigation within the military’s own house makes it much more likely that we may be heading for one of those mistakes-were-made Pentagon reports, rather than a war-crimes-were-committed report. Even this inadequate, conflicted investigative step, though, is far more than usually happens when ordinary civilians are killed by U.S. attacks and there are no Westerners or credentialed people to witness them.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


About John Hanrahan

John Hanrahan, currently on the editorial board of ExposeFacts, is a former executive director of The Fund for Investigative Journalism and reporter for  The Washington Post,  The Washington Star, UPI and other news organizations. He also has extensive experience as a legal investigator. Hanrahan is the author of  Government by Contract  and co-author of Lost Frontier: The Marketing of Alaska. He wrote extensively for NiemanWatchdog.org, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Originally published by ExposeFacts.org

Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, The New Great Game Between China and the U.S.

In Washington, voices are rising fast and furiously. “Freedom fries” are a thing of the past and everyone agrees on the need to support France (and on more or less nothing else). Now, disagreements are sharpening over whether to only incrementally “intensify” the use of U.S. military power in Syria and Iraq or go to “war” big time and send in the troops.

The Climate Talks in Paris will Fail: Why?

As expectations build for a global consensus to emerge from the United Nations climate conference in Paris, starting on 30 November 2015, that could agree to taking action to limit any rise in global temperature to 2 degrees celsius, I would like to explain why these expectations are misplaced. And what we can do about it.

Almost a Century Ago, another Democratic Socialist Ran for President of the United States—from His Prison Cell

In the early twentieth century, roughly a century before Bernie Sanders’s long-shot run for the White House, another prominent democratic socialist, Eugene V. Debs, waged his own campaigns for the presidency.

Where’s the truth, and how can you find it?: The US Corporate Media are Essentially Propaganda Organs of the US Government

By Dave Lindorff


            Are the American corporate media largely propaganda organs, or news organizations?


Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Leads Delegation to Syria

Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and 14 delegates from Australia, Belgium, Canada, India, Ireland, Poland, The Russian Federation, The United Kingdom and the United States, will begin a 6-day visit to Syria to promote peace and to express support for all Syrians who have been victims of war and terror since 20ll.

This will be Mairead Maguire’s third visit to Syria as head of a peace delegation. Maguire said: ‘People across the world are rightly expressing solidarity with the people of France after the recent terror attack. However, while there is talk of a war on terror and the focus of that war will be Syria, there is little awareness of how a war will impact on the lives of millions of people in Syria”.

In Syria, Christmas, Easter and the Eid festivals are all national holidays. So the group will acknowledge the unity of Syrians by taking part in an ecumenical service in the Grand Mosque in Damascus.

It will meet displaced Syrians and orphans, and will investigate the reconciliation initiative in Syria.

The group hopes to travel to Homs, a city that has been ravaged by fighting.   It will report on how people are rebuilding their lives.

Ms. Maguire said, ‘Syrians are custodians of the two oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The members of the International peace group come from different political and religious backgrounds, but what unites us is a belief that the people of Syria have to be acknowledged and supported, and this is not just for their survival and their country’s survival, but for humankind’s’.

Ms.Maguire noted that when there is talk of war in the world, it seems appropriate that the international peace delegation will travel to Damascus, to listen to the voices of countless Syrians who call for peace, and to bear witness to the true reality of conflict in that country.

Focus: Hillary Clinton Plan to Combat Islamic State - Nov 20, 2015


Here is a summary of the Hillary Clinton plan to combat Islamic State and my suggestions for a Sanders counterproposal. This is the full transcript and video of Clinton National Security Address.

Hillary Clinton proposes:

Deployment in Syria of more U.S Special Operations troops "who can contribute to the fight on the ground” and military personnel advising and training the Iraqis "including embedding in local units and helping target airstrikes.” 

Establishing no-fly zones together with the coalition and the neighbors to "stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air.”

Support and arming Syrian opposition units hand in hand with Arab and European partners.

A political transition to end Assad’s rule which has "killed many more Syrians than the terrorists have…There is not going to be a successful military effort at this point to overturn Assad. That can only happen through the political process.”

"Counter Iranian influence across the region and its support for terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah….Raising the confidence of our Arab partners and raising the costs to Iran for bad behavior will contribute to a more effective fight against ISIS.”

Following are my suggested points for Sanders counterproposal:

No to U.S. troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq. Let’s spare the lives and limbs of the American soldiers! According to a Reuters poll, Americans want more action against ISIS, but oppose ground troops.

Oppose no-fly zone. This is a dangerous idea. A no-fly zone will fuel the civil war, antagonize Russia and Iran and may cause a direct military confrontation with them. The Pentagon opposes the no-fly zone as risky, costly and difficult to implement. Also the local populations, like the Syrian Kurds, oppose it.

No arming of the Syrian so called “moderate” rebels who are allied with Nusra Front and other hardline Islamist groups in a coalition known as Army of Conquest. As it has happened in the past they have been a conduit, either willing or unwilling, of U.S. weapons to terrorist groups.

Support the call of France President Hollande for a global coalition to defeat Islamic State, a truly international cooperation with the participation of Russia and all the Muslim nations including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. Hollande will meet separately with Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin next week to "unite the forces”.

Support the Vienna Statement of the International Syria Support Group which set a plan for Syrian government and opposition talks, new constitution and UN supervised elections within 18 months. "The ISSG expressed willingness to take immediate steps... to pave the way for the nationwide ceasefire."  

No mentioning of Assad which remains a sticking point in the diplomatic negotiations to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis. The Syrian government/opposition talks and the constitutional reform process can begin without addressing the fate and political future of Assad which can be discussed at a later stage when both the Syrian government and opposition have been given political and security guarantees.

It  is important that Sen. Sanders address in a comprehensive manner the anti-terrorism campaign. The audience of the Iowa Democratic debate thought that Clinton was stronger than Sanders in national security, and the media noticed that he was too short addressing this issue.

It is Time to Choose Peace and Compassion in Middle East

The world is wracked with shock, anger, and a deep sadness following the attacks in Paris last week.  No one should go through that kind of horror and have their lives destroyed.  We grieve with France over the loss of life and over the terror that has gripped the nation. 

However, living with that kind of fear is the constant reality for many people in the Middle East with drones flying overhead and with soldiers and mercenaries occupying the land.  I think about the mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, people living in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen whose lives are no more than “collateral damage” to the US government, people who are being murdered with total disregard for their humanity.  We must also grieve for them and not let them be forgotten.

We have known for a long time that our government’s drone warfare program in the Middle East is both immoral and illegal, but the release of the Drone Papers several weeks ago confirms what we already knew.  This was a ground-breaking months-long investigation using U.S. government intelligence documents leaked by an anonymous whistleblower from the intelligence community.  The report provided chilling insight into the US drone program that is responsible for death and destruction.  The report gives us details that support the dismantling of this program that is the best recruitment tool ever for Al-Queda and ISIS.

The Drone Papers provide documentation showing that, through the use of unreliable data using cell phones and other electronic devices to provide target location, nearly 90% of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended victims.  However the Obama administration masks the true number of civilians killed in drone strikes by categorizing unidentified people killed in a strike as enemies, even if they were not the targets.  The people who are being murdered by our government have names and people who love them and miss them, and almost all of them are peacefully living their lives when they are struck down by a missile from a drone.

How many innocent people must die in France, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in the US, and other places around the world before we learn that violence only creates more violence, before we realize that the US government’s “War on Terror” is failing miserably, before we understand that we are all in this together, and the only way we will survive is by working together to create peace?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was so clear when he declared:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Arming some groups and bombing others in the Middle East is doing nothing but creating more organizations that become radicalized and want to strike out against us because we are killing their people.  We must call for an immediate stop to all U.S./NATO air attacks in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and stop all U.S./NATO support for Saudi air attacks in Yemen.

We must also call for an immediate stop to all U.S. "targeted killing" actions globally, including drone surveillance and drone assassinations.

We must provide entry and refuge for those fleeing the wars in the Middle East.  The people who are fleeing the Middle East are mothers and fathers who want their children to have a chance at a good life.  They are running away from the same people who organized the attacks in Paris.  Governor Walker is so wrong in saying that he will not let refugees into the state.  His comments are racist, hateful, prejudicial, and are not based in kind of reality.

Our voices must spring up across the world demanding an end to violence, hatred, and killing.  We must call for new solutions, working together, providing support to those who need it, and creating a lasting peace to this world where we are all connected, where we are one human family.

Joy First, PhD,  Mount Horeb, WI, is a long-time peace activist and a member of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.  She engages in nonviolent civil resistance to call attention to and bring an end to the crimes of the government. 

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The National Security State's Incestuous Relationship with the Islamic State

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Chicago Restricts Drones: Who's Next?

Chicago media outlets are reporting that drones have been banned from most of Chicago's skies and cannot fly over you or your property without your permission. The text of the ordinance, however, makes exceptions for police that will require eternal vigilance.

Local legislative action around drones began in U.S. cities in early 2013 with the public demand for resolutions opposing foreign drone murders by the military and CIA (and related training in U.S. skies), combined with public concern about domestic U.S. police departments that had begun acquiring weaponized and surveillance drones. This quickly expanded to include concerns about private drones -- among other reasons, because surveillance footage from private drones could be acquired by governments. As near misses between drones and passenger aircraft began piling up, those issues of safety were added to the mix.

Chicago has now passed a modified version of an ordinance that forbids any drone "that is equipped with a firearm or other weapon" and any drone flown "with intent to use such small unmanned aircraft or anything attached to it to cause harm to persons or property." The new law also bans any drone flight "for the purpose of conducting surveillance, unless expressly permitted by law."

Then come the exceptions: "nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person who is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration . . . ." And: "nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of a drone by a law enforcement agency in accordance with Section 15 of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act, codified at 725 ILCS 167/1 et seq., or its successor provision."

That Illinois law allows police to use drones whenever they claim there is "a high risk of a terrorist attack" or they obtain a 45-day warrant from a court, or they decide they don't have time to bother obtaining a warrant and must act swiftly "to prevent imminent harm to life or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence," or they're attempting to locate a missing person but not undertaking a criminal investigation, or they're solely doing crime scene or traffic crash scene photography (with a warrant if on private property), or there is a disaster or public health emergency (which need not have been formally declared).

None of that explicitly allows weaponized drones for police, except in so far as the word "terrorist" is generally taken to allow just about anything. So, does Chicago's ban on weaponized drones remain intact for police? I'm pessimistic. I don't think the ban on entering the sky over private property or flying at night or flying drunk or any of the other bans survive for police. The law says "nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of a drone by a law enforcement agency. . . ."

How police drone use works out, I think, depends entirely on how the state law is interpreted and enforced. Who will monitor police drone use? Who will punish violations? The new Chicago ordinance includes penalties: "Any person who violates this section or any rule promulgated thereunder shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $5,000.00 for each offense, or may be incarcerated for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense." But that sounds like a penalty for an individual, not a government agency.

I'm afraid what has been created is a policy of restricting drone use by individuals in Chicago, without effectively restricting it by the entities most likely to violate rights, intimidate, restrict ability to exercise free speech or assemble or petition the government for redress of grievances, and to use unjustifiable force.

This question is far from settled. Chicago is only one city. Other cities and states could choose to clearly ban weaponized drones, and to ban police surveillance drones under a clear system of supervision, oversight, and accountability.

5 Things to Do About ISIS, or Can an American Without a Gun "Do Something"?

Toward the end of altering our idea of what counts as "doing something," I offer this composite representation of numerous media interviews I've done.  

Interviewer: So you'd stop the planes and the drones and the bombs and the special forces. You've said lots about what you wouldn't do, but can you say what you would do?

Me: Sure, I believe the United States government should propose and attempt to negotiate and at the same time unilaterally begin a ceasefire. When President Kennedy asked the Soviet Union to agree to a ban on nuclear tests, he announced that the United States was itself going ahead and halting them. Negotiating is helped through leadership by example. For the United States to stop engaging or assisting in live fire would give huge momentum to a ceasefire negotiation.

Interviewer: So, again, you would stop firing, but what would you do instead?

Me: The United States ought to propose and work to negotiate and unilaterally begin an arms embargo. I say the United States because I live there and because the majority of the weapons in the Middle East originate in the United States. U.S. participation alone in an arms embargo would end the majority of arms provision to Western Asia. Ceasing to rush Saudi Arabia more weapons would do more good than writing a report on that kingdom's atrocities, for example. An arms embargo should be developed to include every nation in the region and be expanded into disarmament -- first and foremost of all nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (yes, including Israel's). The United States has the leverage to accomplish this, but not while working against it -- as it now vigorously does.

Interviewer: Yet again, here's something you don't want to do: provide arms. But is there something that you do want to do?

Me: Other than creating peace and a WMD-free Middle East? Yes, I'm glad you asked. I'd like to see the U.S. government launch a massive program of reparations and aid to the people of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Pakistan, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, and the entire rest of the region. (Please, please, please take my word for it that I am not listing every single nation purely in order to save time, and not because I hate some of them or any such insanity.) This no-strings-attached program should include food aid, medical aid, infrastructure, green energy, peace workers, human shields, communications technology for popular use of social media, environmental cleanup, and cultural and educational exchanges. And it should be paid for (note that it does have to be paid for and therefore should count as the very essence of a capitalist "doing something") through a modest reduction in U.S. militarism -- in fact, converting U.S. military facilities in the Middle East into green energy and cultural institutions, and handing them over to the residents.

Interviewer: I hate to have to keep asking the same question, but, again, what is it that you would do about ISIS? If you oppose war, do you support police action? What is something, anything at all for goodness sake, that you would dooooooooo?

Me: Well, in addition to halting violence, negotiating disarmament, and investing on a scale and with a level of respectful generosity to bump the Marshall Plan right out of the history books, I would begin efforts to deprive ISIS of funding and weaponry. A general halt to arms shipments would, of course, already help. Ending the air strikes that are ISIS's biggest recruitment tool would help. But Saudi Arabia and other regional powers have to be brought around to cutting off the funding to ISIS. That would not be nearly as difficult to do if the U.S. government ceased thinking of Saudi Arabia as a valued weapons customer and stopped bowing down to its every demand.

Interviewer: Stop the funding. Stop the arming. This all sounds nice. And you keep saying it over and over again. But I'm going to ask you one last time to say what you would do instead, and what weaponry you would use exactly to do it.

Me: I would use the weapon that eliminates enemies by turning them into something other than enemies. I would embrace the ideology that ISIS works against. It doesn't oppose U.S. militarism. It feeds off it. ISIS opposes humanism. I would welcome refugees without limit. I would make the United States a part of the global community on an equal and cooperative basis, joining without reservations the International Criminal Court, and existing treaties on the rights of the child, land mines, cluster bombs, racial discrimination, discrimination against women, weapons in space, rights of migrant workers, arms trade, protection from disappearances, rights of people with disabilities, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I would work to reform the United Nations beginning by unilaterally foreswearing use of the veto. I would announce a policy of ceasing to prop up or to overthrow foreign dictators. I would announce plans to support nonviolence, democracy, and sustainability at home and abroad, leading by example -- including in the area of disarmament. Reforming U.S. democracy by removing the system of legalized bribery and the whole list of needed reforms would set an example and also allow more democratic policies. I would shift our officially propogated sympathies from We Are All France to We Are All the World. To imagine that any of these steps is unrelated to ISIS is to misunderstand the power of propaganda, image, and the communication of respectful goodwill or arrogant disdain.

Interviewer: Well, we've run out of time, and yet you still won't tell me anything you would do. Sadly, that leaves us obliged to support an assault on ISIS, as much as we dislike war.

Warmongers & Peacemongers: Learning How Not to Rule the World

By John Grant


[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.

Boat chase on the seas of Okinawa

By Dr Hakim

The sea shells

I picked some sea shells at Henoko in Okinawa. Henoko is where the U.S. is relocating their military base against the wishes of 76.1% of Okinawans.

I gave the sea shells as gifts to some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers to help them remember Okinawa’s story.

“Hold the sea shells just next to your ears. It is said that you can hear the waves and the stories from the shores of Okinawa,” I began, as I recounted my witness of the nonviolent efforts of ordinary Japanese to end the more than 70 years of U.S. military bases in their midst, including of Ohata being hurt by the Japanese police when he had locked arms with other Japanese in a peaceful sit-in protestat the gates of Henoko base.

Kitsu, an elder monk who organized the Okinawa Peace Walk I was participating in, remarked during a dinner of sticky rice, pickled radishes and seaweed, “Hakim, you remind me of the ‘dugong’!”

I was amused to think that I resembled the somewhat strange-looking, endangered manatee that lives on a certain species of seaweed found in the seas of Henoko.

Perhaps, it’s only when we realize the similarities we share with creatures like the ‘dugong’ that we can care more about their possible extinction. The dugong’s survival may now hinge on the U.S. government’s ‘full-spectrum dominance’ designs on Asia, as the dugong’s natural habitat is being usurped by the construction of a U.S. military base.

I had the privilege of joining a team of scientists and activists who take their ‘Peace Boats’ out daily to the area of sea cordoned off by the U.S./Japanese authorities with orange buoys.

The Peace Boats had flags which read, “سلام”, meaning “Peace” is Arabic, a word also used by Afghans in greeting one another. I was reminded that the U.S. military bases in Okinawa and Afghanistan serve as launching pads for the same Great Game being played out in Asia.

Two elderly Japanese ladies were regulars on the boat, holding signs which said, “Stop Illegal Work”.

I thought, “Who made the U.S. military the ‘legal’ masters over the seas of Okinawa, over the ‘dugong’ whose survival they are threatening?” The U.S. already has 32 military bases on the island, taking up almost 20% of the entire land area of Okinawa.

The cold spray of the waves refreshed me. The soft beat of the drum played by Kamoshita, another organizer of the Okinawa Peace Walk, gave a prayerful rhythm.

In the horizon were Japanese canoeists who were also doing their daily protests.

The canoe activists at the orange-buoy cordon.

The U.S. military base’s site at Henoko can be seen in the background

The captain of our boat drove the boat across and over the cordon.

Boats of the Japanese Coast Guard and the Okinawa Defense Bureau approached and surrounded us.

They were everywhere.

They filmed us as we filmed them. They issued warnings on their loudhailers.Suddenly, as our boat picked up speed, a Japanese Coast Guard boat gave chase.

I felt as if I was in a Hollywood movie. I couldn’t believe that they were so intensely averse to a couple of old Japanese ladies, a few scientists and reporters and some peace builders!

What didn’t they want us to see? Hidden nuclear warheads? What orders were they given by the Japanese and U.S. authorities?

The Japanese Coast Guard ‘chasing’ us

I held my camera steady as their boat seemed to ‘nosedive’ towards us.

Bang! Swoosh!

Their boat hit the side of ours. Water showered over us. I covered my camera with my Borderfree Blue Scarf, and wondered for an instant if the coast guard would soon be boarding our boat.

I sensed what my Japanese friends felt, that instead of being in Okinawa to protect the people, they are chasing the people off from their own land and seas. I saw a global military machine coming at us on a normalized, business-as-usual excuse of ‘defense’, and I understood the roots of my grandfather’s killingby the Japanese military in World War II.

This was merely one of many infringements by the U.S./Japan military on the open seas, oblivious to the ‘dugongs’ and natural life within and around the waters.

Using a magnifier viewing goggle which I placed over the side of our boat, I could see a little of the beautiful coral and its ecosystem. Unfortunately, these may be destroyed by the U.S. military with Japanese tax-payer money, unless the people of the world join Okinawans to say ‘No base! No War!”

This is what war, war bases and war preparations do.

They hurt the people.

They ignore the seas.

The people of Okinawa and Japan will keep resisting nonviolently. Their struggle for peace is ours.

A full photo essay can be seen at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com/wordpress/boat-chase-on-the-seas-of-okinawa/

Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

Tomgram: Nick Turse, America's Empire of African Bases

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Talk Nation Radio: Husain Abdulla on Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain


Husain Abdulla, originally from Bahrain, is the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. As Executive Director, Husain leads the organization’s efforts to ensure that U.S. policies support the democracy and human rights movement in Bahrain. Husain also works closely with members of the Bahraini-American community to ensure that their voices are heard by U.S. government officials and the broader American public. In 2012, the Government of Bahrain revoked Husain's Bahraini citizenship in retaliation for his peaceful advocacy for the respect for human rights in his home country. Husain holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of West Florida and a BA in Political Science and Mathematics from the University of South Alabama. See http://adhrb.org

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