The Syrian Arab Army may be on the verge of another set of victories that go far beyond those gained in the summer of 2013 when the Syrian army and Hezbollah took the rebel held city of Qusayr. The hotly contested battles rage in the major city of Aleppo and the much smaller mountain city of Yabrud. Major gains in either locale would be significant. Victories in both would raise questions about the various rebel factions and their ability to continue contesting for control of the country. (Image: Michael Swan)
Syria's commercial center and largest city, Aleppo, was divided at the start of the Syrian conflict in July 2012. The government lost control of half of the metropolitan area, key towns surrounding the city, and the international airport.
The situation has changed substantially since October 2013. The Syrian army captured key towns in the countryside surrounding Aleppo, a critical army base, the international airport, and scores of smaller villages. Government forces continue to take key locations in preparation for a final push to retake the city. The tactics on both sides are brutal. Syrian forces drop barrel bombs on Aleppo's rebel strongholds. Rebels recently executed twenty-one Syrian government sympathizers.
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Originally posted at PopularResistance.org
An Interview with Tim DeChristopher, the founder of Peaceful Uprising who is widely known known for one of the more creative acts of non violent insurrection and civil disobedience in recent memory when he disrupted a government oil and gas lease auction in order to protect fragile land in southern Utah from long term damage. That story became the subject of the documentary Bidder 70, and that act resulted in DeChrispher spending 21 months in federal custody.
Michael Hadfield is a Professor of Zoology and Principal Investigator at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii, and at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center. He discusses the need to save Pagan Island, its people and other species, from the U.S. military. See http://savepaganisland.org
Total run time: 29:00
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Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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The Pentagon’s Latest “Mission Accomplished” Moment
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch
It’s 2053 -- 20 years since you needed a computer, tablet, or smart phone to go online. At least, that’s true in the developed world: you know, China, India, Brazil, and even some parts of the United States. Cybernetic eye implants allow you to see everything with a digital overlay. And once facial recognition software was linked to high-speed records searches, you had the lowdown on every person standing around you. Of course, in polite society you still introduce yourself as if you don’t instantly know another person’s net worth, arrest record, and Amazooglebook search history. (Yes, the fading old-tech firms Amazon, Google, and Facebook merged in 2033.) You also get a tax break these days if you log into one of the government’s immersive propaganda portals. (Nope, “propaganda” doesn’t have negative connotations anymore.) So you choose the Iraq War 50th Anniversary Commemoration Experience and take a stroll through the virtual interactive timeline.
Look to your right, and you see happy Iraqis pulling down Saddam’s statue and showering U.S. Marines with flowers and candy. Was that exactly how it happened? Who really remembers? Now, you’re walking on the flight deck of what they used to call an aircraft carrier behind a flight-suit-clad President George W. Bush. He turns and shoots you a thumbs-up under a “mission accomplished” banner. A voice beamed into your head says that Bush proclaimed victory that day, but that for years afterward, valiant U.S. troops would have to re-win the war again and again. Sounds a little strange, but okay.
A few more paces down the digital road and you encounter a sullen looking woman holding a dog leash, the collar attached to a man lying nude on the floor of a prison. Your digital tour guide explains: “An unfortunate picture was taken. Luckily, the bad apple was punished and military honor was restored.” Fair enough. Soon, a digital General David Petraeus strides forward and shoots you another thumbs-up. (It looks as if they just put a new cyber-skin over the President Bush avatar to save money.) “He surged his way to victory and the mission was accomplished again,” you hear over strains of the National Anthem and a chorus of “hooahs.”
... among people who are not the president.
On Presidents Day, RootsAction.org set up a petition in response to this news:
"An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say," the Associated Press reports -- "and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year."
The petition reads:
"Mr. President, Without making any exception for the president, the Constitution requires adherence to the Fifth Amendment. 'Due process' is mandatory, not optional. Legality is a question of law, not policy. You are not allowed to kill whoever you want on your own say-so."
Within the first several hours, over 10,000 people had signed. You can sign it too.
Here are some of the comments that people have posted:
"Has the CONSTITUTION become an - OPTION ???" —S. Schwenchy, CA
"And we thought Bush was a liar!" —Richard Wilkey, TN
"And you are also not allowed to pass judgement on someone before they are judged by a jury of their peers as you did in the case of Pvt. Manning. I thought you were better than that. My bad." —John Nettleton, OR
"Please, just stop murdering suspicious people. This is like what happened to Trayvon Martin, but there's no trial afterward." —Tim Ferguson, CA
"Expedience is not an excuse. We can't be the good guys just because we say so, we have to act on it too. Killing terrorists just creates more terrorists." —Boola Lomuscio, MA
"A country which can imprison indefinitely its citizens without due process, without ever charging them with any wrongdoing is not a democracy. Period. Let alone the country which can KILL citizens without due process, without ever charging them with any wrongdoing. Obey the law. Obey the Constitution." —Jamil Said, CA
"A President is nothing more than a servant, and if he commits a crime, it is ten times the crime and should have ten times the penalty." —Ronald Denner, MI
"According to the Nuremberg Principles if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values. It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters, to speak out." —Robert Stevens
"All labels aside, ANY president who does not follow his oath needs to be impeached. It really is that simple." —Robert Horan, OH
"All presidents seem to think that the Constitution is for the people to obey, not them. The 5th Amendment provides due process for American citizens. If one suspects criminal activity against the USA, then the suspect must have his day in court. This is part of the democratic process, and NO ONE, NOT EVEN THE PRESIDENT, IS ABOVE THE LAW!" —Robert Glasner, CA
"Amendment IV -- 'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures' -- Does that include the life of the person?" —David Bean, OR
"America is supposed to have the rule of law, not of men. I don't care how well-intentioned people are; if the precedent is set, then less well-intentioned people will take advantage of it." —Deborah Goldsmith, CA
"Among other reasons, drone strikes kill innocents without exception, and you know it, Mr. President, and that's not something to accept regardless of what your military advisers believe." —Marianne Kenady, WA
"Are we back in the dark ages where the king decides to behead anyone he wants? Seems that way. I don't think that is where we want to be, none of us." —Kenneth Walton, IA
"Are you still a constitutional lawyer? - - Then, why are you acting as you are? That is, choosing and selecting American citizens for annihilation." —William See, OR
"Believe it or not, murder is murder. Murdering a murderer is still murder." —Frank C Benjamin, NY
"Don't stray from the mandates, including the Constitution, you have been sworn to uphold. People accused of crimes are supposed to be tried by a jury of their peers, not one man on a power trip." —John Davis, ME
"Execution of citizens without any due process, especially a jury of peers, is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian government -- no matter how much the tyrant pleads otherwise." —Robert Anderson, CA
"Execution without arrest and fair trial is unethical, immoral and goes against all American values." —Patricia Robinett, MO
"Extraordinary renditions and torture perpetrated by the Bush Administration was illegal and immoral. Killing without due process, especially an American citizen, is even worse." —Audrey Bomse, FL
"Following our example, I guess it is ok for foreign governments to send drones over our territory to murder dissidents from their country?" —Michael JamesLong, OR
"For a constitutional lawyer, our President does not honor, in any way, shape or form, the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th amendments to the U.S. Constitution." —Lisbeth Caccese, CA
Read thousands more, pick your favorites, add your own:
By Dave Lindorff
(This article originally ran in WhoWhatWhy News)
If you’re a small-town police chief, or perhaps the chief of a university security department, the US Department of Defense has got a deal for you!
Thanks to the ending of the Iraq War, and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has 11,000 heavily armored vehicles that it has no use for. Called MRAPs—Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected—they are designed to protect against AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs. And as pitchman Paul Richards used to say of the ’69 Pontiac Firebird, “They’re practically giving them away!”
Correction, they are giving them away.
All a local police department has to do to get itself an 18-ton MRAP—which originally cost taxpayers between $400,000-$700,000 complete with gun turret and bullet-proof windows—is send a few cops to pick it up and pay for the gas.
There are a few downsides: the things get only five miles to the gallon, can’t go over most bridges (or under them), and have a nasty habit of tipping over on rough terrain.
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Pandering to the Fraternal Order of Police: Senator Calls Winning Constitutional Case on the Death Penalty ‘Undermining Justice
By Dave Lindorff
Pennsylvania Senator Republican Pat Toomey last week went before the whole US Senate to oppose the nomination by President Obama of Debo Adegbile, former head of the litigation department of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. In his speech, Toomey tried to argue that Adegbile is unfit for the job because he supervised the Legal Defense Fund’s successful appeal in federal court of the death sentence of Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal -- an appeal that ended up vacating that sentence, and that was left standing by the US Supreme Court.
Toomey’s position -- that Adegbile had “undermined the justice system” by filing that appeal claiming that Abu-Jamal’s death sentence had been unconstitutional -- is ludicrous on its face. Given that the appeal was successful in federal court, and then upheld on appeal by a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and given that the US Supreme Court, asked to reverse that ruling by Philadelphia’s District Attorney and the Pennsylvania Attorney General, refused to hear the case, thereby affirming it -- to say that Adegbile had “undermined justice” is the same as saying that a Federal District Judge, an Appellate Court panel, and the Supreme Court all “undermined justice.”
That’s a pretty heavy indictment, even for a self-styled “Tea Party” senator!
But Pennsylvania’s junior senator didn’t stop there.
I had a heck of a time making sense of the U.S. Navy's new motto "A Global Force for Good" until I realized that it meant "We are a global force, and wherever we go we're never leaving."
For three years now people in the little island nation of Bahrain have been nonviolently protesting and demanding democratic reforms.
For three years now the king of Bahrain and his royal thugs have been shooting, kidnapping, torturing, imprisoning, and terrorizing nonviolent opponents. An opponent includes anyone speaking up for human rights or even "insulting" the king or his flag, which carries a sentence of 7 years in prison and a hefty fine.
For three years now, Saudi Arabia has been aiding the King of Bahrain in his crackdown on the people of Bahrain. A U.S. police chief named John Timoney, with a reputation for brutality earned in Miami and Philadelphia, was hired to help the Bahraini government intimidate and brutalize its population.
For three years now, the U.S. government has been tolerating the abuses committed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, continuing to sell weapons to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and continuing to dock the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. In fact, the U.S. military has recently announced big and pricey plans to expand its bases in Bahrain and add more ships.
For three years now, the U.S. government has continued to dump some $150 billion (with a 'B') each year into the U.S. Navy, a large portion of which goes for the maintenance of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Withdrawing and disbanding that fleet would save that gargantuan expense. Retraining and re-employing in peaceful activities all personnel would cost a fraction of $150 billion. Providing aid to nonviolent pro-democracy activists in Bahrain would cost a tiny fraction of a fraction. Establishing a policy in the case of this one country of supporting human rights over brutal dictatorship would be, as they say, priceless. It would create a very useful model for a transformation of U.S. policy in numerous other nations as well.
Accurate and timely information about the horrors underway for the past three years in Bahrain are available online, via Western human rights groups, and via small back-page stories in U.S. newspapers. There's little dispute over the general facts. Yet, there's little outrage. There appears to have been no polling done of the U.S. public on the topic of Bahrain whatsoever, so it's impossible to know what people think. But my impression is that most people have never heard of the place.
The U.S. government is not shouting about the need to bomb Bahrain to protect its people. Senators are not insisting on sanctions, sanctions, and more sanctions. There seems to be no crisis, no need for "intervention," only the need to end an intervention we aren't told about.
Which raises a tough question for people who give a damn. We're able to reject a war on Iran or Syria when the question is raised on our televisions. But we can't seem to stop drone strikes nobody tells us about. How do we create a question nobody is asking, about a topic nobody has heard of, and then answer it humanely and wisely? And how do we overcome the inevitable pretense that the Fifth Fleet serves some useful purpose, and that this purpose justifies a little teargas, a bit of torture, and some murders here and there?
The Fifth Fleet claims to be responsible for these nations: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. None of these nations have ships in U.S. waters claiming to be responsible for it. None of these nations' peoples have indicated majority support for having the Fifth Fleet be responsible for them. Afghanistan has suffered under U.S. occupation for over a decade, with chaos and tyranny to follow. Egypt's thugs are rising anew with steady U.S. support, money, and weaponry. Iran has threatened and attacked no other nation for centuries, has never had a nuclear weapons program, spends less than 1% what the U.S. does on its military, and moves away from democracy with every U.S. threat. Why not leave Iran alone? Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others of these nations, including Bahrain, suffer under the rule of U.S.-backed governments. One might reasonably add Israel and the lands it occupies to the list, even if the Navy cannot bring itself to mention them. Yemen and Pakistan suffer under the constant buzzing and missile launching of U.S. drones, which are creating far more enemies than they kill. In fact, not a single nation falling under the past 19 years of benevolent "responsibility" of the Fifth Fleet has clearly benefitted in any way.
At a third annual conference recently held in Lebanon, Bahraini activists laid out a plan of action. It includes building international connections with people who care and are willing to help. It includes supporting the International Day to End Impunity on November 23rd. It includes pushing Bahrain to join the ICC, although that may be of little value until the U.S. can be persuaded to do the same and until the United Nations can be democratized. The plan includes calls for an end to weapons sales and the initiation of sanctions against the Bahraini government (not its people).
Those would certainly be good steps. The first question in my mind remains: do the people in the nation that screams most loudly about "freedom" and does the most to support its repression wherever deemed useful, care?
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Philadelphia -- Back in 1978, a respected newspaper columnist in in this city blasted local black elected officials for their failure to criticize police brutality – the scourge that ravaged blacks for decades, often with the sanction of white elected officials like then Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, a former city police commissioner.
1. War is immoral.
Murder is the one crime that we're taught to excuse if it's done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.
Over the centuries and decades, death counts in wars have grown dramatically, shifted heavily onto civilians rather than combatants, and been overtaken by injury counts as even greater numbers have been injured but medicine has allowed them to survive.
Deaths are now due primarily to violence rather than to disease, formerly the biggest killer in wars.
Death and injury counts have also shifted very heavily toward one side in each war, rather than being evenly divided between two parties. Those traumatized, rendered homeless, and otherwise damaged far outnumber the injured and the dead.
The idea of a "good war" or a "just war" sounds obscene when one looks honestly at independent reporting on wars.
When we say that war goes back 10,000 years it’s not clear that we’re talking about a single thing, as opposed to two or more different things going by the same name. Picture a family in Yemen or Pakistan living under a constant buzz produced by a drone overhead. One day their home and everyone in it is shattered by a missile. Were they at war? Where was the battlefield? Where were their weapons? Who declared the war? What was contested in the war? How would it end?
Is it not perhaps the case that we have already ended war and now must end something else as well (a name for it might be: the hunting of humans)?
If we can change our manner of killing foreigners to render it almost unrecognizable, who’s to say we can’t eliminate the practice altogether?
2. War endangers us.
There are more effective tools than war for protection.
In arming, many factors must be considered: weapon-related accidents, malicious testing on human beings, theft, sales to allies who become enemies, and the distraction from efforts to reduce the causes of terrorism and war must all be taken into account. So, of course, must the tendency to use weapons once you have them. And a nation’s stockpiling of weapons for war puts pressure on other nations to do the same. Even a nation that intends to fight only in defense, may understand “defense” to be the ability to retaliate against other nations. This makes it necessary to create the weaponry and strategies for aggressive war. When you put a lot of people to work planning something, when that project is in fact your largest public investment and proudest cause, it can be difficult to keep those people from finding opportunities to execute their plans. Read more.
War making provokes danger.
While the best defense in many sports may be a good offense, an offense in war is not defensive, not when it generates hatred, resentment, and blowback, not when the alternative is no war at all. Through the course of the so-called global war on terrorism, terrorism has been on the rise. This was predictable and predicted. The wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the abuses of prisoners during them, became major recruiting tools for anti-U.S. terrorism. In 2006, U.S. intelligence agencies produced a National Intelligence Estimate that reached just that conclusion. Read More.
War's weapons risk intentional or accidental apocalypse.
We can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There's no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many. As long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still. If nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Hundreds of incidents have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo. And possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to a military's ability to deter nations from attacking, given the United States' ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. The United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes.
Oil can be leaked or burned off, as in the Gulf War, but primarily it is put to use in all kinds of machines polluting the earth’s atmosphere, placing us all at risk. Some associate the consumption of oil with the supposed glory and heroism of war, so that renewable energies that do not risk global catastrophe are viewed as cowardly and unpatriotic ways to fuel our machines.
The interplay of war with oil goes beyond that, however. The wars themselves, whether or not fought for oil, consume huge quantities of it. The world’s top consumer of oil, in fact, is the U.S. military. Not only do we fight wars in areas of the globe that happen to be rich in oil; we also burn more oil fighting those wars than we do in any other activity. Author Ted Rall writes:
“The U.S. Department of [War] is the world’s worst polluter, belching, dumping, and spilling more pesticides, defoliants, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium than the five biggest American chemical corporations combined. According to Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, 60 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions between 2003 and 2007 originated in U.S.-occupied Iraq, due to the enormous amount of oil and gas required to maintain hundreds of thousands of American military forces and private contractors, not to mention the toxins released by fighter jets, drone planes, and the missiles and other ordnance they fire at Iraqis.”
The U.S. military burns through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption.
The environment as we know it will not survive nuclear war. It also may not survive “conventional” war, understood to mean the sorts of wars now waged. Intense damage has already been done by wars and by the research, testing, and production done in preparation for wars.
Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War “rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality,” according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.
Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth, oblivious to any announcements that peace has been declared. Most of their victims are civilians, a large percentage of them children.
The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.
If militaries were made green in terms of their operations, they would lose one of their main reasons for war. (Nobody can own the sun or the wind.) And we would still have a long list of ... More reasons to end war.
We're often told that wars are fought for "freedom." But when a wealthy nation fights a war against a poor (if often resource-rich) nation halfway around the globe, among the goals is not actually to prevent that poor nation from taking over the wealthy one, after which it might restrict people's rights and liberties. The fears used to build support for the wars don't involve such an incredible scenario at all; rather the threat is depicted as one to safety, not liberty.
In close proportion to levels of military spending, liberties are restricted in the name of war -- even while wars may simultaneously be waged in the name of liberty. We try to resist the erosion of liberties, the warrantless surveillance, the drones in the skies, the lawless imprisonment, the torture, the assassinations, the denial of a lawyer, the denial of access to information on the government, etc. But these are symptoms. The disease is war and the preparation for war.
It is the idea of the enemy that allows government secrecy.
The nature of war, as fought between valued and devalued people, facilitates the erosion of liberties in another way, in addition to the fear for safety. That is, it allows liberties to first be taken away from devalued people. But the programs developed to accomplish that are later predictably expanded to include valued people as well.
Militarism erodes not just particular rights but the very basis of self-governance. It privatizes public goods, it corrupts public servants, it creates momentum for war by making people's careers dependent on it.
One way in which war erodes public trust and morals is by its predictable generation of public lies.
Also eroded, of course, is the very idea of the rule of law -- replaced with the practice of might-makes-right.
War has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what's thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government's discretionary budget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.
Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twise as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures.
The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked.
War Spending Drains an Economy:
It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs -- with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.
War Spending Increases Inequality:
Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.
War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:
While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained.
Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates' wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.
It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. Again, that sounds like a lot. Let's round up to $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do.
Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don't share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away.
But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning "college debt" can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as "human sacrifice"), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices. What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, this country were catching up and helping to lead in the other direction?
The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, and the same investment again, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and of nonviolent action?
U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion -- never mind $523 billion! -- would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added -- only if the $1 trillion came from where it really ought to come from.
Some U.S. states are setting up commissions to work on the transition from war to peace insustries.
A Pakistani man who lost his son and brother to a 2009 CIA drone strike is this week visiting Germany to hold meetings with MPs and Government officials about the impact of the US’ secret bombing campaign.
Kareem Khan will today meet with the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Committees, as well as members of Germany’s Green Party. Tomorrow he is set to meet officials from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There had been fears for Mr Khan’s safety up until last Friday, following his abduction from his Rawalpindi home by men in police uniforms on February 5. Mr Khan had not been heard from until his release on February 14, after which he revealed that, during his captivity, he had been beaten and questioned about his activities.
Mr Khan is being accompanied on his visit by Noor Behram, a journalist from North Waziristan (the region which bears the brunt of CIA strikes); his lawyer Shahzad Akbar, a fellow of human rights charity Reprieve; and Jennifer Gibson, a staff attorney at Reprieve.
The group is visiting Germany, followed by the Netherlands and the UK, in order to discuss the impact of the CIA drone programme on civilians in Pakistan.
European states have been revealed to be involved in the CIA campaign through the sharing of intelligence used to target strikes, and the provision of crucial infrastructure – notably at US air bases such as Ramstein in Germany and RAF Croughton in the UK.
Kareem Khan said: “I hope my meetings with parliamentarians in Europe will help raise awareness about the real impact of US drone strikes. It is imperative that Germany take a stand on such drones. They are making no one safer, least of all America's allies.”
Jennifer Gibson said: “Given the involvement of European countries in the CIA’s illegal and counter-productive campaign of drone strikes, it is important that politicians and public alike are aware of how this affects innocent civilians on the ground. Mr Khan lost his son and his brother to these strikes, and when he started speaking out, ended up being kidnapped. People in Germany, the UK and the US deserve to know about the abuses that are being carried out in their name – it is high time the drone campaign was brought out of the shadows.”
Further information on Mr Khan’s abduction can be found here:
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By Dave Lindorff
US Secretary of State John Kerry is a man of many convictions--many of them in open conflict with one another.
Recall that back in 2004, while trying to unseat President George W. Bush, he famously told students at Marshall University who wanted to know his stand on the US invasion of Iraq, that he “actually did vote for” a bill funding the war “before I voted against it.”
By Deb Vanpoolen
The Essential Facts:
As I sat in that room, I decided my action would be designed to send a fissure through David Petraeus’ edifice of lies with the intent to reach someone with the truth who desperately needed to hear it like I once did.
Check out the February and March 2014 War Criminals appearances/protests to see if any of them will be in your area. Join a protest or start one. On our website you will find posters and leaflets for your event. If you like, we will assist you in organizing and getting the word out for your event.
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A Pakistani drone victim who had been missing since being abducted from his home by men in police uniforms on February 5 has been released.
Kareem Khan, who had not been heard from since being taken from his Rawalpindi home, was freed earlier today (February 14).
Mr Khan lost his son and brother to a 2009 CIA drone strike, and had been set to travel to Europe to discuss his experiences with parliamentarians when he disappeared. He was also involved in legal action against the Pakistani police over their refusal to investigate the killing of his relatives.
After being abducted in the early morning hours of 5 February by 15-20 men, 8 of whom were in police uniform, Mr Khan was taken to a cell in an undisclosed location. Later in the day of 5 February, he was blindfolded and driven for approximately 2-3 hours to another undisclosed location where he remained until his release. While detained, Mr Khan was interrogated, beaten and tortured. He was placed in chains and repeatedly questioned about his investigations into drone strikes, his knowledge of drone strike victims and his work advocating on their behalf.
In the early hours of this morning (14 February), he was driven to the Tarnol area of Rawlpindi, where he was thrown from a van after being told not to speak to the media.
Mr Khan is now with his lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, a fellow of human rights charity Reprieve. Mr Akbar, who is also director of NGO the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, had filed ‘habeas’ proceedings in the courts earlier this week in an attempt to secure Mr Khan’s release. In response, a judge from the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court had ordered the Ministry of the Interior, which has oversight of the Pakistani intelligence services, to produce Mr Khan by February 20.
Mr Khan plans to go ahead with his trip to meet parliamentarians in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands later this week. Today he said: “When I was picked up I thought I would never see my family again, that I would never be free again because of all the stories I have heard about disappeared people. Now that I have been released and have seen the news, the efforts of activists, I know it is because of them that I am free, and I would like to thank them.”
Shahzad Akbar said: “What happened to Kareem Khan in last few days is nothing new in Pakistan. We are living in a state of lawlessness where the executive enjoys impunity. The lesson learned though this experience is that we must always raise our voices. We need to take this stand for each and every person who disappears, it is the only way to force those in power to listen. That is why I am so thankful to all the local and international activists who spoke out for Kareem.”
Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “It is a huge relief that Mr. Khan has finally been released, though we are deeply concerned to hear about the mistreatment he has endured. No one should have to suffer as he and his family have done for simply trying to get to the truth about the deaths of their loved ones. Serious questions remain for the Pakistani Government on how this was allowed to happen.”
This video was published on Shannonwatch.org
New weekly ThisCantBeHappening! radio show Climate change: Washington and the Oil Companies Know but Won’t Act to Stop It
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The latest martyr on the road to freedom and democracy is 50-years old Asmaa Hussain whose soul ascended to Heavens yesterday. In the early hours of Tuesday, 11th February members of Death Squads attacked several houses at Jid Al Hajj town, West of Manama, breaking doors, smashing furniture and terrorizing whole families. The victim was frozen to death when heavily-armed “security” thugs broke into her home while the family were asleep. She immediately collapsed. Attempts by her family to rush her to hospital failed because of the refusal of the attackers to allow them out. People were enraged as they were also attacked during her funeral few hours later. They remained defiant calling for regime’s downfall and calling on the world to take the killers to task and defend Bahraini native population from Alkhalifa policies of extermination.
Meanwhile the preparations for the third anniversary of the 14th February Revolution continued amid unprecedented crackdown on activists. Many young Bahrainis have been kidnapped and taken to the regime’s torture dungeons. The aim is to break the will of the people who are more enthusiastic than ever to pursue their peaceful activities until their demands are fulfilled. Three years of unprecedented repression and state terrorism have convinced most native Bahrainis that nothing short of regime change could salvage the country and the people. Yesterday two children, Ahmad Jaffar, 14, and Salman Abdullah, 15, from Abu Saiba’ town were condemned to imprisonment in torture dungeons. Many others were also detained to ensure that maximum Bahrainis are taken off the streets during the anniversary activities. On 10th February, Sayed Ahmad Salman Al Mousawi, a photographer from Duraz and his brother, Mohammad were arrested as part of the regime’s campaign to round up independent journalists and photographers. From Karranah, Hassan Ahmad was arrested by members of Death Squads operated by royal court. Sayed Ali Nazar was arrested on Monday from Qurayya Town.
The face of Mohammad Abd Ali, 13, reflects the horrific wounds sustained when he was hit by police with shotgun s. On Saturday 8th February, the boy opened the door of his house to go out when he was showered by police using lethal shotguns. These attacks happen daily in most parts of Bahrain as the regime continues to use shotguns as a weapon against peaceful protesters.
An Emirati company has decided to close down its operations in Bahrain after accumulating losses exceeding 7 million Bahraini Dinars (around $20 millions). The company had opened six branches for Waitrose in the towns of Saar, Barbar, Mahooz, Rafaa and Sitra. The Bahraini economy has been hit hard by the Revolution and all attempts by Alkhalifa crown prince to change the image of his family rule have failed. This year’s Formula 1 race, scheduled for April, has already been thrown into turmoil as Bahrainis intensify their efforts to stop the race. Last year, a Bahraini activist, Salah Abbas, was killed by regime’s Death Squads in their attempts to stop protests in the days leading to the race that is now commonly known as “blood race”. Two women are languishing at Alkhalifa torture dungeons for attempting to take the political case of Bahrainis inside the F1 race course.
Meanwhile Freedom House has issued a statement entitled: Bahrain Toughens Imprisonment, Fines for Anyone "Insulting" Monarch”. It said: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain should rescind a new law imposing prison sentences of up to seven years for anyone convicted of publicly insulting the king or national emblems, a measure that violates fundamental rights of freedom of speech, Freedom House said. It further added that the new law “went beyond existing law measures by providing for the prison sentence as well as fine of up to the equivalent of $26,500. It also applies to “whoever has insulted, in any kind of public manner, the king of Bahrain, or its national flag or its national emblem.” The measure clearly targets protesters whose calls for greater political freedom began in February 2011. The Bahraini government has increasingly used national security arguments and the threat of terrorism to enact legislation curbing basic freedoms, such as freedom of assembly and free expression online. Continuing human rights abuses have worsened tension between the Sunni-dominated government and the majority Shiite population, which is largely unrepresented in state institutions like the police and military, and has accounted for the bulk of protesters. Freedom House calls on Bahraini authorities to guarantee all citizens their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
12th February 2014
Ended the Third International Conference under the title: "Bahrain .. ongoing violations and impunity," its Thursday evening February 13, 2014.
Has kicked off the conference on Thursday morning, after opening on Wednesday evening in February 2014. The conference began two words Avctahitin Prime Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and Chairman Joseph Spring Observatory Bahrain human rights lawyer Mohammed Merchant stressed the need to focus during the conference to address the policy of impunity.
The conferees discussed, during the three sessions attended by a select group of representatives of international human rights organizations, Arab and legal personalities from different countries of the world, a large number of working papers which dealt with:
1. Artkabat government of Bahrain against the peaceful people of killings, torture and arbitrary arrests and raids, as well as the issue of deprivation of citizenship for opponents.
2. The absence of justice and accountability and the impunity of the perpetrators; where deliberately courts to exonerate the security men of crimes they commit; come down with the most severe penalties activists peaceful defenders of human rights.
3. Prejudice to the government of Bahrain to its international obligations, particularly the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the protection of the rights of children, women and others, and retreat from the recommendations of all obligations of the Human Rights Council, the Commission Bassiouni, and the need to ratify the international conventions signed by them.
4. Identify possible international mechanisms to hold accountable those responsible for abuses in Bahrain.
At the conclusion of the conference read head of Bahrain Forum for Human Rights decisions Joseph Spring Conference which concluded:
1. The establishment of an international network of organizations and human rights and political figures, media and other activists in the areas of human rights to support the Bahraini people in their struggle peacefully in order to obtain their legitimate rights.
2. Adoption of the International Day to End Impunity November 23 days to end impunity in Bahrain so that different events are held in the framework of demand the trial of those involved.
He also presented the recommendations of the conference which is the following:
1. Invite the international community to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to join the International Criminal Court, and the signing of additional protocols, especially for children and women.
2. Claim the government of Bahrain to ensure the impartiality and independence of the judiciary, and to ensure the right of litigants to a fair trial.
3. Accounting involved committing crimes against the Bahraini people, whatever their positions and their positions.
4. Allow all special rapporteurs of the United Nations concerned with freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of religion and belief, and freedom of association to visit Bahrain, and immediately set an appointment to visit the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Méndez.
5. It called on all states to refrain from exporting weapons to Bahrain to repress the demonstrators, and demand from countries that send their citizens to work in the Bahraini security services to stop being used in repression.
6. Invite the United Nations and the international community to approve sanctions against the Bahraini government because of its repressive practices against the people of Bahrain and appeal lawyers and jurists to coordinate among themselves in order to activate the role of international justice in the Accounting perpetrators of crimes against the people.
7. Remove inhibitions in front of the international media to play a role in the coverage of what is happening in Bahrain events freely and without restrictions.
The 3 rd International Conference on Human Rights on Bahrain organized by Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and its senior partner Bahrain Human Rights Observatory and held on Feb. 12-13, 2014 in Beirut under the title of Bahrain: Ongoing Violations and Impunity.
The event was attended by the elite of the representative of Bahrain, Arabian and international human rights organizations and lawyers from different countries in the world.
The participants discussed a number of featured papers highlighting the following:
1. Bahrain government's committing of crimes against its peaceful nation inducing crimes, torturing, home raids, arbitrary arrests and denationalization from individuals affiliated to the opposition.
The absentia of justice and holding accountability of those involved in crimes and displacing impunity as Bahrain's courts acquaint security forces from their crimes but issues the harshest sentences against peaceful activists and human rights defenders.
3. Bahrain is not abiding the international commitment and conventions it signed especially the Anti-Torture Convention and the Protection of Children and Women Conventions. Neither has it implemented any of the recommendations issued by Human Rights Council and Bassiouni's mission. Besides that it is not responding the urgency of ratifying the international conventions it signed.
4. Specifying the potential international mechanisms to hold accountability of those involved in committing crimes in Bahrain.
The attendees have decided to:
1. Establishing an international network that includes legal, political, media and human rights bodies, individuals and activists to support the Bahraini people in their struggle to meet their legal rights.
2. Adopting the international day of Impunity on November 23 campaigning to end impunity in Bahrain and bring criminals to justice.
The participants have come to the following recommendations:
1. Calling the international committee to place pressure on the government of Bahrain to be brought to The International Criminal Court and to let it ratify the additional protocols especially those related to woman and child protection
2. Appealing to the government of Bahrain to guarantee the independence and neutrality of judicial system and having fair trials to those judged.
3. Holding accountability of those involved in committing crimes against the Bahraini nation-whoever they might be and whatever ranks they may be occupying
4. Allowing UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of Religion or Belief, freedom of assembly foundation to visit Bahrain and also to set an urgent appointment to meet the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Visiting Professor Juan E Mendez
5. Calling all of the states to stop exporting arms to Bahrain for they are being used to oppress the protesters. Calling all of the countries that are sending their people to work in security in Bahrain to stop for they are deployed for oppression practices.
6. Calling the UN and International Committee to issue sanctions against Bahrain government because of its practices of oppression against the Bahraini nation. Calling all of the lawyers and human rights activists to coordinate with each other to activate the role of the international judiciary system to hold accountability of all of those involved in committing crimes against the Bahraini nations.
7. Removing all of the obstacles preventing international media from coverage in Bahrain and informing what is going on there freely and with no restrictions.
The call of the conference
By the end of the conference, the gathering calls Bahrain government to immediately release the thirteen Bahraini prominent leaders and activists on top of whom is the head of Bahrain Center for Human Rights along with the other children, women, sick and old people as well.
The gathering also calls for the stop of the house raids and cancelling trials and order of arrests, and list of wanted and forbidden from travel.
It also calls to let the exiled Bahrainis be allowed to come home back and to remove all shapes of force deployed in streets, and to let practice more freedom of expression, peaceful protests, joining associations, and freedom of religion.
The following was written by Art Laffin during his visit to the Amariyah Shelter in Iraq on Feb. 13, 1998, the 7th anniversary of the bombing.
by Art Laffin
February 13, 1991, 4:00 a.m.
Over 1,000 Iraqis, mostly women and children still sleeping, take refuge from the terror of U.S. bombs at a shelter in Amariyah, just outside Baghdad.
For several days a surveillance plane had flown over the shelter. U.S. officials say they think Saddam Hussein is there. The U.S. military knows different. A decision is made in secret by President George Bush, Defense (War) Secretary Dick Cheney and General Colin Powell — bomb the shelter, massacre the innocents!
First one “smart” bomb is dropped to make an opening in the roof, killing scores of people. Then, through the opening, another bomb falls, reaching deep into the shelter basement, killing everyone in its path. In total, nearly a thousand Iraqis are murdered, women and children burned alive. No more than 17 survive. I see flesh still seared on a wall under the basement stairway. People, reduced to mere shadows, form a human silhouette on the stone wall.
A replay of Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, El Salvador, Panama.
The crime, premeditated and barbarous.
The sin, mortal.
The perpetrators unrepentant!
Seven years later, eight peacemakers from the U.S. and the U.K. come to pay homage to the victims at this shelter,
Photos and drawings of the dead adorn the walls of the shelter.
We repent, we mourn, we witness
the ongoing nightmare of the survivors.
We eight do what we can –
to console the mourners,
offering love and solidarity to the Iraqi people, already crucified to a cross of economic sanctions.
We stand with the victims, the children, seeking to stay the death-dealing hand of the U.S. empire.
Washington, D.C. — Days before talks on a permanent agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran are set to begin in Vienna, 104 Members of the US House of Representatives sent President Obama a bipartisan letter supporting continued diplomatic engagement with Iran.
Representative David Price (D-NC) said, “I believe that we must take advantage of the opportunity before us to pursue a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, and that we must resist calls by some in Congress to prematurely enact a bill or resolution that risks inadvertently derailing or impeding our ongoing negotiations.”
“While difficult and uncertain, diplomacy represents our best hope to prevent nuclear weapons in Iran and ensure the safety of our families and others around the world. Congress should not undermine diplomacy by giving the Iranian hardliners an excuse to scuttle the negotiations. So many of our colleagues have expressed their determination for diplomacy, and so many more share the same view,” added Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee.
The text of the letter and the list of signers in alphabetical order are included below.
Dear Mr. President,
As Members of Congress—and as Americans—we are united in our unequivocal commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would threaten the security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly Israel.
The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the “P5+1” nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement. We understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions legislation. At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.
We remain wary of the Iranian regime. But we believe that robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option, and we commend you and your designees for the developments in Geneva. Should negotiations fail or falter, nothing precludes a change in strategy. But we must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.
1 CA Bass
2 OH Beatty
3 GA Bishop, Sanford
4 OR Blumenauer
5 Guam Bordallo
6 FL Brown
7 NC Butterfield, GK
8 CA Capps
9 MA Capuano
10 IN Carson
11 PA Cartwright
12 VI Christensen
13 NY Clarke, Yvette
14 MO Clay
15 MO Cleaver
16 SC Clyburn
17 TN Cohen
18 VA Connolly
19 MI Conyers
20 TN Cooper
21 CT Courtney
22 MD Cummings
23 IL Davis, Danny
24 OR DeFazio
25 CO DeGette
26 CT DeLauro
27 MI Dingell
28 TX Doggett
29 TN Duncan Jr (R)
30 MD Edwards
31 MN Ellison
32 IL Enyart
33 CA Eshoo
34 CA Farr
35 IL Foster
36 OH Fudge, Marcia
37 CA Garamendi
38 AZ Grijalva
39 IL Gutierrez
40 NY Hanna (R)
41 NJ Holt
42 CA Huffman
43 TX Jackson-Lee
44 TX Johnson, EB
45 GA Johnson, Hank
46 NC Jones, Walter (R)
47 OH Kaptur
48 MA Keating
49 IL Kelly, Robin
50 MI Kildee
51 NH Kuster
52 CT Larson
53 CA Lee, Barbara
54 GA Lewis
55 IA Loebsack
56 CA Lofgren
57 MA Lynch, Stephen
58 UT Matheson
59 KY Massie (R)
60 NY McCarthy
61 MN McCollum
62 WA McDermott
63 MA McGovern
64 CA McNerney, Jerry
65 NY Meeks
66 CA Miller, George
67 WI Moore
68 VA Moran, Jim
69 CA Negrete McLeod
70 MN Nolan
71 DC Norton
72 TX O'Rourke
73 AZ Pastor
74 NJ Payne
75 PR Pierluisi
76 ME Pingree
77 WI Pocan
78 CO Polis
79 NC Price, David
80 WV Rahall
81 NY Rangel
82 CA Roybal-Allard
83 MD Ruppersberger
84 IL Rush
85 OH Ryan, Tim
86 NMI Sablan
87 IL Schakowsky
88 VA Scott, Bobby
89 NH Shea-Porter
90 NY Slaughter
91 CA Speier
92 CA Takano
93 MI Thompson, Bennie
94 CA Thompson, Mike
95 MA Tierney
96 NY Tonko
97 MA Tsongas
98 MD Van Hollen
99 NY Velazquez
100 IN Visclosky
101 MN Walz
102 CA Waters
103 VT Welch
104 KY Yarmuth
Imprisoned peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy has reiterated her assertion that Shannon Airport’s runway is being used improperly for the purposes of war, and has called on the Minister for Defence Alan Shatter to stop defending the indefensible military use of the airport. Speaking to John Lannon and Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch this Monday, she said that the State has a responsibility to ensure the proper use of the airport and to protect it against security threats.