Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Platts confirmed CSX Corporation's train that exploded in Lynchburg, Virginia was carrying sweet crude obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin. CSX CEO Michael Ward has also confirmed this to Bloomberg.
‘Karma’s a bitch’: Supreme Court Upholds Disbarment of Former Kansas Attorney General and Anti-Abortion Fanatic Phill Kline
By Dave Lindorff
Disgraced former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who while in office as AG and later as a county prosecutor conducted a draconian inquisition against abortion doctors and the state’s Planned Parenthood organization, may still be a visiting assistant professor of law at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty “University” in Lynchburg, Virginia, but he isn’t allowed to practice law anymore.
Kerry’s Propaganda War on Russia’s RT
April 30, 2014
Editor Note:Secretary of State Kerry, who has bumbled through a string of propaganda fiascos on Ukraine, decries Russia’s RT network as a “propaganda bullhorn” that Americans should ignore – just trust what the U.S. government tells you. Right!
By Ray McGovern
When specialists with a good sense of history insist that war with Russia is “not unthinkable” precipitated by events in Ukraine, one should take careful note. The “not unthinkable” quote is from pre-eminent American historian of Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, who recently appeared with John J. Mearsheimer, historian of U.S. foreign policy, on RT’s Crosstalk.
The author of Brazil's Dance With the Devil, Dave Zirin, must love sports, as I do, as billions of us do, or he wouldn't keep writing about where sports have gone wrong. But, wow, have they gone wrong!
Brazil is set to host the World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016. In preparation Brazil is evicting 200,000 people from their homes, eliminating poor neighborhoods, defunding public services, investing in a militarized police and surveillance state, using slave and prison labor to build outrageous stadiums unlikely to be filled more than once, and "improving" a famous old stadium (the world's largest for 50 years) by removing over half the capacity in favor of luxury seats. Meanwhile, popular protests and graffiti carry the message: "We want 'FIFA standard' hospitals and schools!" not to mention this one:
(FIFA = Fédération Internationale de Football Association, aka Soccer Profiteers International)
Brazil is just the latest in a string of nations that have chosen the glory of hosting mega sports events like the Olympics and World Cup despite the drawbacks. And Zirin makes a case that nations' governments don't see the drawbacks as drawbacks at all, that in fact they are the actual motivation. "Countries don't want these mega-events in spite of the threats to public welfare, addled construction projects, and repression they bring, but because of them." Just as a storm or a war can be used as an excuse to strip away rights and concentrate wealth, so can the storm of sporting events that, coincidentally or not, have their origins in the preparation of nations for warmaking.
Zirin notes that the modern Olympics were launched by a group of European aristocrats and generals who favored nationalism and war -- led by Pierre de Coubertin who believed sport was "an indirect preparation for war." "In sports," he said, "all the same qualities flourish which serve for warfare: indifference toward one's well being, courage, readiness for the unforeseen." The trappings of the Olympic celebration as we know it, however -- the opening ceremonies, marching athletes, Olympic torch run, etc., -- were created by the Nazis' propaganda office for the 1936 games. The World Cup, on the other hand, began in 1934 in Mussolini's Italy with a tournament rigged to guarantee an Italian win.
More worrisome than what sports prepare athletes for is what they may prepare fans for. There are great similarities between rooting for a sports team, especially a national sports team, and rooting for a national military. "As soon as the question of prestige arises," wrote George Orwell, whom Zirin quotes, "as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused." And there is prestige not just in "your" team winning, but in "your" nation hosting the grand event. Zirin spoke with people in Brazil who were of mixed minds, opposing the injustices the Olympics bring but still glad the Olympics was coming to Brazil. Zirin also quotes Brazilian politicians who seem to share the goal of national prestige.
At some point the prestige and the profits and the corruption and the commercialism seem to take over the athletics. "[T]he Olympics aren't about sport any more than the Iraq war was about democracy," Zirin writes. "The Olympics are not about athletes. And they're definitely not about bringing together the 'community of nations.' They are a neoliberal Trojan horse aimed at bringing in business and rolling back the most basic civil liberties."
And yet ... And yet ... the damn thing still is about sports, no matter what else it's about, no matter what alternative venues for sports are possible or imaginable. The fact remains that there are great athletes engaged in great sporting activities in the Olympics and the World Cup. The attraction of the circus is still real, even when we know it's at the expense of bread, rather than accompanying bread. And dangerous as the circus may be for the patriotic and militarist minded -- just as a sip of beer might be dangerous to an alcoholic -- one has the darndest time trying to find anything wrong with one's own appreciation for sports; at least I do.
The Olympics are also decidedly less militaristic -- or at least overtly militaristic -- than U.S. sports like football, baseball, and basketball, with their endless glorification of the U.S. military. "Thank you to our service men and women watching in 175 countries and keeping us safe." The Olympics is also one of the few times that people in the U.S. see people from other countries on their televisions without wars being involved.
Zirin's portrait of Brazil leaves me with similarly mixed sentiments. His research is impressive. He describes a rich and complex history. Despite all the corruption and cruelty, I can't help being attracted to a nation that won its independence without a war, abolished slavery without a war, reduces poverty by giving poor people money, denounces U.S. drone murders at the U.N., joins with Turkey to propose an agreement between the United States and Iran, joins with Russia, India, and China to resist U.S. imperialism; and on the same day this year that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed ending the open internet, Brazil created the world's first internet bill of rights. For a deeply flawed place, there's a lot to like.
It's also hard to resist a group of people that pushes back against the outrages being imposed on it. When a bunch of houses in a poor Brazilian neighborhood were slated for demolition, an artist took photos of the residents, blew them up, and pasted them on the walls of the houses, finally shaming the government into letting the houses stand. That approach to injustice, much like the Pakistani artists' recent placement of an enormous photo of a drone victim in a field for U.S. drone pilots to see, has huge potential.
Now, the question is how to display the Olympics' victims to enough Olympics fans around the world so that no new nation will be able to accept this monster on the terms it has been imposing.
Kerry: U.S. Taped Moscow’s Calls to Its Ukraine Spies, however State Dept spokesperson says Kerry was referring to Ukrainian intelligence adding The Daily Beast's story was a "mischaracterization" - The Daily Beast
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Fight for our Future has launched a "Reset The Net Campaign" for June 5th, 2014.
The problem, as outlined at Reset the Net, is:
"The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be: a panopticon." It defines a solution as "We can't stop targeted hacking, but we *can* stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet." Finally, the plan is to "First, get hundreds of sites & apps to add proven security (like SSL). Then on June 5, we'll run a splash screen *everywhere* to spread NSA-resistant privacy tools."
Drone attacks bring Yemeni government to brink of no confidence vote
Yemeni parliamentarians are today challenging the legitimacy of President Hadi's government, following the administration's failure to stop repeated US drone attacks.
MPs are planning a vote of no confidence if President Hadi's ministers do not attend parliament to answer questions on the drone program; some are calling for an immediate dissolution of the government.
The parliament’s attack on the Hadi administration follows a particularly deadly drone strike on Al Bayda on April 19, in which Reprieve has discovered that four builders were killed on their way to work, leaving 20 children without fathers. The Yemeni government has admitted that their killing was a mistake.
The strike violated last December's parliamentary resolution banning the use of drones on Yemeni territory. Yemeni lawmakers are furious that the administration has repeatedly failed to enforce the ban, and that President Hadi's Minister of Defence, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Oil have refused to attend several parliamentary meetings on the subject.
Shawki al-Qadhi, an MP in the Yemeni parliament and a member of the parliament’s Committee on Freedoms and Human Rights said: “How can we talk about the rule of law when another country kills our citizens without charge or trial? How can we talk about governance when Parliament's resolutions are ignored by the both the US and Yemeni administrations? We Yemenis are the people who suffer most from the unrest in our country, and as we have heard recently, the majority of people causing the unrest are foreigners who come from outside Yemen. We would obviously welcome external help in dealing with the problem, but only if Yemen has clear agreements and control over what takes place. As MPs we have a responsibility to protect our constituents and to uphold the values of our country. Drones undermine both. Our citizens are less safe with drones in the air-- not only are they vulnerable to mistaken targeting but we have seen time and time again that when civilians are killed, it immediately swells the ranks of the armed groups. We even lack a clear law about compensating the families of the victims, which is something we urgently need. Drones are undermining our nascent democratic institutions.”
From World Can't Wait Honolulu A small crew got out more than 1300 anti-drone brochures and leaflets at two recent events. On Tuesday we went to the talk by Al Gore; on Friday to the Bruno Mars Concert. While we got rained on during leafleting at both events, we felt each was a big success.
From Fire John Yoo! Friday April 18 about a dozen activists challenged the appointment of "Torture Professor" John Yoo to head a new imperialist think-tank at UC Berkeley.
The Korea Law Center launch comes on the heels of the U.S. - Korea Free Trade Agreement, which opens up the republic's legal market to U.S. law firms a press release informs, and will enable students to learn about issues vital to Korea's emergence as an economic powerhouse.
On Sunday, April 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on U.S. television, denouncing progress made in reconciliation talks between Fatah, which ostensibly controls the West Bank, and Hamas, the democratically-elected government in the Gaza Strip.
According to CNN: “Netanyahu said he and Secretary of State John Kerry recently applauded that some progress was being made toward a peace agreement. ‘And then the next day, we were both shocked, there's no other word, we were absolutely stupefied that President Abbas embraced the terrorist organization Hamas that seeks Israel's destruction,’ he said on ‘Face the Nation.’”
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Yemeni lawmakers angered by Easter violation of parliamentary drone ban, as US pledges to maintain secrecy
Yemeni MPs have voted to summon the Yemeni Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense over drone strikes which occurred over the Easter weekend killing at least four civilians. These strikes contravened a parliamentary resolution passed in December 2013 banning the use of drones on Yemeni territory.
In a parliamentary session on Sunday, MPs described the ongoing drone program as illegal, beyond the pale of international norms, and a violation of Yemeni sovereignty.
A Yemeni news source reported that the MP for Al-Bayda, the region in which four civilians were killed in a strike on April 19, stated that ongoing drone strikes are a primary motivation for locals to join Al-Qaeda.
Yemen's parliamentary vote came only days before it was revealed that the US Senate has axed a legal provision which would have required the Administration to report on drone casualties.
The Yemeni government has admitted that the Easter weekend killings mistakenly killed civilians. The US has made no comment, either to Yemeni lawmakers or the Yemeni people.
Yemeni MP Zaid Alshami said: “The US and Yemeni governments bear the responsibility for these utterly counterproductive killings which only increase sympathy for Al-Qaeda and revenge. These attacks continue to take place without warning, information or parliamentary approval. All we see is killing outside of the rule-of-law, which has increased the retaliatory violence, explosions and instability which are destroying Yemen and its people and destabilizing its economy. At the same time, Yemenis are only getting angrier at their government and the United States. These two governments must compensate bereaved Yemeni families, and end their drone attacks.”
Reprieve's Strategic Director Cori Crider said: “We’re still largely in the dark about who died in the massive strikes over Easter, but Reprieve’s initial findings about al-Bayda are worrying. Meanwhile, drones are driving a dangerous wedge between the US and Yemen. The Obama administration claims to support democracy in Yemen; it’s time for the US put its money where its mouth is, and bring its counter-terrorism policies within the rule of law.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact katherine.oshea@
2. The two ministers summoned by Yemeni parliamentarians were the Minister of Defence, Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and the Minister of Interior, Major General Abdo Hussein Al-Tareb.
3. Reprieve US opened in New York City in February 2014. A partner organization to Reprieve UK, Reprieve US provides advocacy and litigation aimed at stopping abuses in the death penalty and in counter-terrorism. For information about the work of Reprieve US please visit reprieve.org or contact Katherine O’Shea on firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 917 855 8064.
The brutal monarchy in Bahrain hires Western public relations firms (not to mention a lawyer now in the news for marrying U.S. actor George Clooney) to clean up its public image. We speak with Fahad Desmukh, a founding member of Bahrain Watch and a freelance journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. He grew up in Bahrain and was among the first generation of bloggers in the country, writing under the pseudonym of "Chanad Bahraini". Bahrain Watch is an independent research and advocacy organization that seeks to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in Bahrain. See https://bahrainwatch.org
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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Tim Carpenter seemed unstoppable. He was part of this website from day 1, when its name was AfterDowningStreet. He was part of activism in this country from long before that. He was an organizer, a lobbyist, a rabble rouser, and a talker. The cell phone never left his ear, but that didn't prevent him talking to you in person, and getting in more words per minute -- and all of them right to the point -- than an auctioneer. His emails were shorter, often a few words, or a single word. Often that word was "Teamwork!" But they made up for brevity in the sheer number of them. If anyone could make the current U.S.
Drone Strikes and Transparency
The craven U.S. Senate has stripped from a bill a requirement that the president disclose casualties resulting from his murderous, almost indiscriminant drone strikes. The original wording of the bill, authorizing intelligence operations for fiscal year 2014, required an annual report stating the number of ‘combatants’ and ‘non-combatant civilians’ that were either killed or injured by drone strikes.
By Catie O'Toole | email@example.com
DeWitt, NY -- A DeWitt town judge Monday night acquitted a U.S. Marine veteran who wore a Grim reaper costume during a permitted protest last year outside Hancock air base.
John Amidon, 66, president of the Albany chapter of Veterans for Peace, was charged April 28, 2013 with attempted criminal trespass and loitering, both violations.
Amidon was among 31 people arrested that day. He was the first of the group to be tried.
DeWitt Town Judge David Gideon found Amidon not guilty of both charges after watching a video of the arrest and hearing from six witnesses, said defense lawyer Kathy Manley.
During his trial Monday night, Amidon testified he was standing on top of a barrier within the free-speech zone in front of Hancock Field during a permitted protest. He was wearing a Grim Reaper mask and long black robe at the time. The protest, he said, was organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and the Syracuse Peace Council.
"I was doing street theater," Amidon said. "I was arrested in a free-speech zone and dragged out of it."
Assistant District Attorney Jordan McNamara argued Amidon was trying to climb over the barricade, Manley said. One of the prosecutor's two witnesses was the arresting police officer who testified he thought Amidon was going to climb over the barrier, Manley said after the trial. McNamara could not be reached for comment.
Amidon and three witnesses at the protest also testified.
"I did not trespass," Amidon said. "I had a Constitutional right to wear the mask."
The defense argued there was a reason for why Amidon chose the Grim Reaper costume: "The Grim Reaper is a symbol of the drone program," said Manley, a lawyer from Albany. The New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing operates unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drones from Hancock Air Base and the Navy drone program's logo is that of a Grim Reaper, she said.
"The Reaper drone is killing indiscriminately and the Grim Reaper collects the souls of the innocent and guilty alike," Amidon said.
The judge found Amidon not guilty of loitering because his Grim Reaper mask and costume were props and props were included in the permit, Manley said. Gideon found Amidon not guilty of attempted criminal trespass because "the evidence showed he was not trying to climb over the barrier," Manley said.
"They ran in and grabbed him from behind," she said. "He was surrounded by other officers and handcuffed, and his mask was pulled off."
After court, Amidon said he was happy with the verdict.
"It was an absolute splendid victory," he said. "Freedom of speech was protected."
Gaza City - Gaza
At 3:45 AM Gaza time on April 29th, the night guard on board Gaza's Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked.
The guard left, but when nothing happened, he returned after 5 minutes. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat causing extensive damage.
The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to hospital for tests.
Mahfouz Kabariti, Gaza’s Ark Project Manager, says: “The extent and nature of the damage are currently being investigated. We will provide an update when available.”
"Gaza’s Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism, but our position remains clear: Neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends," adds David Heap of Gaza's Ark Steering Committee.
"Freedom Flotilla boats have been sabotaged before. This attack comes as we were almost ready to sail. You can sink a boat but you can't sink a movement," concludes Ehab Lotayef, another member of the Steering Committee.
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Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
In this episode clip (watch the full show here) Shahid Buttar outlines why he thinks the biggest enemy to the U.S. Constitution is a domestic enemy. Also, Kevin Zeese makes the point that the U.S. government is illegitimate.
“Every member of congress swears an oath of office to protect the constitution from enemies, foreign and domestic,” explains Buttar “and the principle enemy to the U.S. Constitution is a domestic one with three letters. The only debate in my mind is whether it is the NSA or the FBI.”
Killing Putin-Obama ‘Trust’
By Ray McGovern
April 28, 2014
Editor Note: Last year, Russian President Putin and U.S. President Obama became a geopolitical odd couple as they worked to cool off hotspots such as Syria and Iran. But U.S. hawks succeeded in killing that collaboration via the crisis in Ukraine, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.
* * *
“Putin will not talk to Obama under pressure,” American journalist Josh Rogin was told late last week by a close associate of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. If Russia’s President will no longer call or accept calls from the President Obama, this strikes me as the most important casualty so far from U.S.-provoked “regime change” in Ukraine. Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin apparently had conversations on Ukraine almost every week in March; their last talk took place on April 14.
The following is the statement issued by former senators Guingona, Saguisag and Tañada plus several lawyers and concerned citizens regarding the military agreement to be signed between PH and US officials this morning.
We express our grave concern over news that a new military agreement called the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) will be signed between the Philippines and the United States during next week’s visit of US President Barack Obama.
The agreement apparently aims to increase and prolong the presence US troops in the country, and as government has already announced, allow the US access to Philippine bases, the prepositioning of US arms, military supplies and equipment as well as the construction and maintenance of US military facilities inside these Philippine bases.
Given these apparently new features, there is valid concern that the new pact may be going beyond the scope of previous military agreements. That contrary to the negotiators’ claims, this is not a mere implementing agreement of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement nor the periodic arrangements on mutual logistics and support. The AEDC as reported by media threatens to reverse the historic Senate vote that removed the US bases in 1991.
We are apprehensive that until now, no copy of the agreement has been provided to the public. Even Congress, particularly the Senate, has been kept in the dark. Only general statements and blanket assurances from Philippine and US officials that the AEDC will adhere to the Philippine Constitution have been issued. There is no official venue for public discussion and debate.
Just as we decry the lack of transparency in the crafting of the AEDC, so do we oppose the rush to have the deal signed in time for the Obama visit. We insist that such an agreement should undergo thorough and extensive deliberations by the Senate as well as wide-ranging public discussion
We call on our people to be vigilant, defend and uphold Philippine sovereignty, whether against China’s incursions or the United States of America’s increased military presence in Philippine territory.#
Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr.
Senator Rene Saguisag (MABINI)
Mother Mary John Mananzan, OSB
Dean Pacifico Agabin
Atty. Ricardo N. Fernandez
Atty. Hesiquio Mallilin
Atty. Fulgencio Factoran
Atty. Nelson Loyola
Atty. Harry Roque
Atty. Carlos Montemayor, Jr.
Prof. Roland Simbulan
Ms. Maria Socorro I. Diokno
Dr. Carol Araullo
Renato Constantino Jr.
By Alfredo Lopez
When a federal court trashed its "net neutrality" compromise policy in January, the Federal Communications Commission assured us that the Internet we knew and depended on was safe. Most activists didn't believe federal officials and this past week the FCC demonstrated how realistic our cynicism was.
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By Michael Uhl
At approximately four o’clock this past Thursday afternoon, Paulo Malhaes, a retired officer who served in the ‘70s during the years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, was murdered at his small farm outside of Rio de Janeiro.
By John Grant
I met Janet Burroway when I was a Vietnam veteran on the GI Bill at Florida State University and I signed up for a creative writing workshop she was just hired to teach. She was a worldly, published novelist seven years older than me. She had just left an oppressive husband, a Belgian, who was an important theater director in London where she’d been to parties with the likes of Samuel Beckett. I graduate in 1973, and in a turn of events that still amazes me, I asked her out and ended up living with her for a couple years. She had two beautiful boys, Tim, 9, and Toby, 6, who I grew to love.