Big Oil Group Plots to Exclude Public from Public Lands Bidding, Calls for "eBay"-Style Auctions

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s 2016 meeting in Denver, Colorado this week, a representative from a prominent oil and gas lobbying group advocated that auctions of federal lands should happen online "eBay"-style — a clear attempt to shut the public out of the bidding process for fossil fuel leases on public lands. 

Focus: Donald Trump - May 18, 2016


POLL (NBC News): Trump closing gap with Clinton nationally - Newsmax


POLL (NBC News, Full results): Clinton leads Trump nationally 48 to 45% while Sanders beats Trump by 53 to 41% - NBC News


POLL (Morning Consult): Trump almost pulls even with Clinton leading him by 42 to 40% while Sanders beats Trump 50 to 37% - Morning Consult


POLL: Trump, Clinton tied in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Sanders performs better against Trump than Clinton in all three states - POLITICO


POLL: Trump beats Clinton by 4%, loses to Sanders by 5%, in Georgia — Atlanta Constitution Journal


POLL: Trump tops Clinton and Sanders in Utah, beats Clinton 43-30% and Sanders 43-37% - utahpolicy.com


POLL: Trump leading Hillary with Hispanic voters - The Daily Caller


POLL (Reuters): Top reason Americans will vote for Trump: 'To stop Clinton' - Reuters


POLL (Military Times): Troops prefer Trump to Clinton by a huge margin - Military Times


POLL (NBC): Eighty-three percent of U.S. CFOs believe Hillary Clinton will become the next president of the United States - NBC


POLL: Majority supports Sanders-like health care plan - POLITICO


Conservative women: Donald Trump unpredictable, but Hillary Clinton ‘completely predictable,’ 'what a bad candidate' - Breitbart


Unions lean Democratic, but Donald Trump gets members’ attention - The New York Times


Donald Trump borrows from Bernie Sanders’s playbook to woo Democrats - The New York Times


Roger Stone: Trump will win one-third of Bernie Sanders supporters - Breitbart


Trump keeps telling Bernie Sanders to run as an Independent - Business Insider


Trump, Clinton and Sanders face most diverse demographic electorate in history - TheHill


Trump doesn't like his vote totals being compared to Clinton’s, 'I had 17 people to beat—she had one!' - Washington Examiner


Trump rips Hillary for Bill Clinton's 'role' in charge of revitalizing the economy, says he was responsible for NAFTA as the worst economic deal in U.S. history - Business Insider

 

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POLL (NBC News): Majority of Republican voters trust Trump over Ryan to lead party - MSNBC


VIDEO: Ryan says he wants 'real unification over our common principles and policies' with Donald Trump - Reuters


GOP ‘establishment' may get on Trump train - CNN


Trump is forcing the GOP reconsider what is 'conservative', he has crayoned far outside the lines of party orthodoxy - CSMonitor.com


Rabid right winger? Not so fast. Turns out it's not that easy to pigeonhole Donald Trump - theage.com


VIDEO: Scarborough: 'This is not Paul Ryan's party anymore - this is Donald Trump's party' - Breitbart


Why Rupert Murdoch decided to support Trump - NYMag


Sheldon Adelson op-ed: Why I'm endorsing Donald Trump - Chicago Tribune


How Donald Trump made a Wall Street executive kiss his... ring - Vanity Fair


The powerless brokers: Trump’s got the Koch Brothers running away from the general election and leaving their billions at home - Salon.com


How Donald Trump hypnotized America: while talking he uses repetitions to create a stimulus-response effect and to make his simple ideas, labels and attitudes stick - theweek.com


Donald Trump criticizes Washington’s foreign policy elite—with cause - Cato @ Liberty


Donald Trump calls Hillary Clinton ‘trigger happy' as she courts neocons - theintercept.com


Donald Trump condemns Tony Blair for Iraq war ‘disaster' - newsweek.com


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

Talk Nation Radio: Meike Capps-Schubert on U.S. Military Resistance in Germany

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-meike-capps-schubert-on-us-military-resistance-in-germany

Meike Capps-Schubert is the co-founder and current manager of The Clearing Barrel GI-Coffeehouse in Kaiserslautern next to Ramstein Airbase, Germany, the only GI-coffeehouse outside the United States. A long-time peace and justice activist in Germany, Meike is a counselor with the Military Counseling Network e.V. -- the German branch of the GI-rights-hotline, which provides free, confidential, and accurate information on U.S. military regulations and practices to members of the U.S. military, veterans, and their families. She has also helped build critical support for U.S. war resisters in Germany since 2003. Learn more:
http://theclearingbarrel.blogspot.de
http://www.mc-network.de
https://www.betterplace.org/en/projects/5543-the-clearing-barrel-gi-cafe-germany
http://gicoffeehousetour.blogspot.de

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

Voting for Empire is the Sole Option for Democrats and Republicans

By Peter Phillips

The presidential primaries offer a single choice for both Democrats and Republicans to vote for empire and permanent war. This year’s entertainment spectacle, what we call democratic elections, is a particularly gross circus of meaninglessness, misinformation, sound bites, and lies. Both parties are in support in the continuation of the US/NATO global empire of permanent war and the protection of the capital of the global 1%. Even Bernie Sanders calls for drone strikes and continued war on Isis and other evil terrorists.

Neo-fascists, racists, and misogynistic people are finding new voice with Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Neo-conservatives and fundamentalists found hope with Ted Cruz. Moderates, liberals and women see Hillary Clinton as a chance for Supreme Court balance and gender equality, and left-leaning liberals are cheering for democratic socialist Sanders to save our economy by breaking up big banks and restoring trust in government.

Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, The Snapchat Version of American Victory

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

Why Set Up a Shell Company in Panama? The Psychology Driving Illicit Financial Flows

A previously little-known law firm called Mossack Fonseca, based in Panama, has recently been exposed as one of the world's major creators of 'shell companies', that is, corporate structures that can be used to hide the ownership of assets. This can be done legally but shell companies of this nature are widely used for illegal purposes such as tax evasion and money laundering of proceeds from criminal activity. See 'Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption: The Panama Papers'.

North Korea, Following China and India, Pledges No-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons. So Could Obama

By John LaForge

North Korea’s May 7 declaration that it would not be first to use nuclear weapons was met with official derision instead of relief and applause. Not one report of the announcement I could find noted that the United States has never made such a no-first-use pledge. None of three dozen news accounts even mentioned that North Korea hasn’t got one usable nuclear warhead. The New York Times did admit, “US and South Korean officials doubted that North Korea has developed a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile that would deliver a nuclear payload to the continental United States.” 

Nuclear “first use” means either a nuclear sneak attack or the escalation from conventional mass destruction to the use of nuclear warheads, and presidents have threatened it as many as 15 times. In the build-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf bombing, US officials including then Def. Sec. Dick Cheney and Sec. of State James Baker publicly and repeatedly hinted that the US might use nuclear weapons. In the midst of the bombardment, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas both explicitly promoted nuclear war on Iraq.

5 Refugee Camps in Mud on the Greek-Macedonia Border

By Ann Wright

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"If you don't like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them."  Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border:  As we well know, either the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away.

The Obama administration which inherited the chaos from the 2003 Iraq war from the Bush administration but that has been bombing ISIS in urban areas in Iraq and Syria has resettled only 1,736 Syrian refugees over the last seven months—despite President Obama’s pledge to resettle at least 10,000 Syrians by September 2016. In contrast, Canada has resettled more than 26,000 Syrian refugees since late 2015, while Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have together taken in millions of Syrian refugees since the conflict began five years ago.

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/5/12/headlines/us_has_resettled_only_1_736_syrian_refugees_in_last_7_months

In early May, we had flown from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and then had driven one hour north to the Greek border with Macedonia.  The name of the tiny hamlet of Idomeni has become synonymous with the largest refugee camp in Greece.

 As we arrived, a tremendous thunder, lightning and hailstorm hit the area ripping down tents, making mud pools and deluging tents and the clothing and bedding inside. We saw the worst conditions (except cold and snow) that the 13,000 refugees must endure in five camps within 4 miles of the Macedonian border. All five are “informal, unofficial” camps and refugees can come and go at will.  They have refused any attempt to put them into the formal “detention” camps that place them in isolated areas and restrict their movement within Greece. As a result, the services provided are not particularly well organized although all have limited porta-potties, showers and faucets for washing clothes.  All have basic food provided primarily by volunteers, non-governmental organizations and the Greek military (in only one camp).

The first camp one comes upon on Highway 75 heading north from Thessaloniki is at the gasoline station and rest stop called EKO.  Over 2,000 persons are camping in the large parking lot, grocery store and car wash.  Save the Children provides rice porridge and oranges daily for children under 11 years of age and estimates there are over 1,000 children.   We helped hand out the porridge by going tent by tent and asking how many children of that age group were in the household (tenthold).  Save the Children coordinators told us that they liked having the daily contact with people in their living space rather than having people stand in another long line.  We were greeted with a warm smile and a thank you by every mother to whom we delivered the porridge.  The Boat Refugee Foundation of the Netherlands has a number of volunteers that help with the porridge delivery-young women and men from the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and the UK.

Virus blinds public to health issues that really matter: Zika Hysteria Spreads Faster than Zika Itself

By Jess Guh, MD


Zika has been described as extraordinary in so many ways. But the only thing that’s really extraordinary about the whole thing is how incredibly dispassionate I am about it.

Just War Lies

With the Catholic Church, of all things, turning against the doctrine that maintains there can be a "just war," it's worth taking a serious look at the thinking behind this medieval doctrine, originally based in the divine powers of kings, concocted by a saint who actually opposed self-defense but supported slavery and believed killing pagans was good for the pagans -- an anachronistic doctrine that to this day still outlines its key terms in Latin.

Laurie Calhoun's book, War and Delusion: A Critical Examination, casts an honest philosopher's eye on the arguments of the "just war" defenders, taking seriously their every bizarre claim, and carefully explaining how they fall short. Having just found this book, here is my updated list of required reading on war abolition:

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War by World Beyond War, 2015.
War: A Crime Against Humanity by Roberto Vivo, 2014.
War and Delusion: A Critical Examination by Laurie Calhoun, 2013.
Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War by Judith Hand, 2013.
The End of War by John Horgan, 2012.
Transition to Peace by Russell Faure-Brac, 2012.
Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace by Douglas Fry, 2009.
Living Beyond War by Winslow Myers, 2009.

These are the criteria Calhoun lists for jus ad bellum:

  • be publicly declared
  • have a reasonable prospect for success
  • be waged only as a last resort
  • be waged by a legitimate authority with right intention, and
  • have a cause both just and proportional (sufficiently grave to warrant the extreme measure of war)

I would add one more as a logical necessity:

  • have a reasonable prospect of being conducted with jus in bello.

These are the criteria Calhoun lists for jus in bello:

  • only proportional means to sound military objectives may be deployed
  • noncombatants are immune from attack
  • enemy soldiers must be respected as human beings, and
  • prisoners of war are to be treated as noncombatants.

There are two problems with these lists. The first is that even if every item were actually met, which has never happened and can never happen, that would not make the mass killing of human beings moral or legal. Imagine if someone created criteria for just slavery or just lynching and then met the criteria; would that satisfy you? The second problem is that the criteria are, as I've mentioned -- just as with President Obama's similar, extra-legal, self-imposed criteria for drone murders -- never actually met.

"Publicly declared" seems like the one item that might actually be met by current and recent wars, but is it? Wars used to be announced before they began, even to be scheduled by mutual agreement of the parties in some cases. Now wars are, at best, announced after the bombs have begun falling and the news become known. Other times, wars are never announced. Enough foreign reporting piles up for diligent news consumers in the United States to discover that their nation is at war, via unmanned drones, with yet another nation. Or a humanitarian rescue operation, such as in Libya, is described as something other than a war, but in a manner that makes clear to the critical observer that yet another governmental overthrow is underway with chaos and human tragedy and ground troops to follow. Or the serious citizen researcher may discover that the U.S. military is helping Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen, and later discover that the U.S. has introduced ground troops -- but no war is publicly declared. I've asked crowds of peace activists if even they can name the seven nations that the current U.S. president has bombed, and usually nobody can do it. (But ask them if some unspecified wars are just, and lots of hands will shoot upward.)

Focus: Clinton Foundation - May 14, 2016

 

Clinton charity aided Clinton friends, a $2 million commitment arranged by the CGI in 2010 went to a for-profit company - WSJ

 

Clinton charity gives $2M to company owned by Bill’s ‘friend’, a wealthy blond woman rumored to have been his mistress - New York Post


Clinton Foundation rejects allegations it aided Clinton friends - CNN


Donald Trump steps into row over Bill Clinton’s charity helping woman 'dubbed the Energizer' to get cash for her company - Daily Mail


VIDEO: Trump reacts to ‘bombshell' report that Bill Clinton charity gave $2 million to friend's company - Inside Edition


Hit Job: A closer look at the WSJ’s clueless attack on the Clinton Foundation - Inside Philanthropy


Pro Clinton Media Matters: NY Post’s “blond bombshell” story is ripped from pages of National Enquirer - mediamatters.org


VIDEO: Foundation scandal more damaging to Clinton than emails? - Yahoo Finance


Clinton received more than $100 million from Middle East leaders, in addition to another $30 million by two Mideast-based foundations and four billionaires from Saudi Arabia - Examiner.com


More on the Clintons and the Persian Gulf Sheikhs donations - The Daily Caller


Wall Street whistleblower says money missing from the Clinton Foundation - Breitbart


Hillary gave a special State Department post to an ex-fundraiser — even as he was laying the groundwork for a global consulting firm with ties to the Clinton Foundation - POLITICO


Blumenthal: I had a real job at the Clinton Foundation working on educational projects - Washington Examiner


Clinton Foundation takes steps to be rated by charity watchdog, in 2014 Charity Navigator said the foundation was operating with an 'atypical business model' - CNN

 

VIDEO: Charity Navigator CEO Michael Thatcher talks about the Clinton Foundation's rating - CNN

 

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MSNBC look at 'Clinton Cash' doc as it debuts at Cannes on May 16, opens in U.S. on July 24 just before the Democratic National Convention - MSNBC


Clinton Cash: Review after the advance screening of the documentary - TIME


Clinton Cash film aims to cause likely Democratic nominee maximum damage - The Guardian


Donald Trump: ‘Clinton Cash’ Proves Hillary Is ‘Crooked As Hell’ - Breitbart


VIDEO: Trailer: 'Clinton Cash' - Washington Post


Pro-Clinton Media Matters: TIME calls error-ridden book Clinton Cash “heavily researched” - mediamatters.org


A talk with Schweizer, the man behind Clinton Cash documentary - The Daily Caller


RADIO: Schweizer discusses the new “Clinton Cash” documentary - Breitbart News Daily


Schweizer: Uranium deal was ‘win-win-win’ for Clintons, Canadian financiers, Vladimir Putin; ‘losers are the American people’ - Breitbart


VIDEO: Schweizer talks about AP report which identified at least 60 firms and organizations that sponsored Clinton's speeches and lobbied the U.S. government - Fox News


AP Report: Firms that paid for Clinton speeches have US gov't interests - AP


VIDEO: Peter Schweizer speech on ’money and politics' - Government Accountability Institute


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

Student Privacy and the Military

By Pat Elder

Over the last two years, more than half of the states have enacted legislation aimed at protecting the privacy of high school students. A Student Privacy Pledge has attracted the support of 200 companies in the business of providing online services to students in America’s classrooms. The White House, too, has proposed a Student Digital Privacy Act, modeled after California’s stringent Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, (SOPIPA), that was passed in 2014 and went into effect in 2016.

Meanwhile, the military, the nation’s most egregious violator of student privacy rights, gets a pass.

Several elements are common to most of these laws, according to Jules Polonetsky and Brenda Leong of the Future of Privacy Forum. They summarize the new laws regulating school-based digital data collectors:

[Data collectors] are barred from selling student information, delivering targeted advertising to students, or changing privacy policies without notice and choice. They must use data for authorized educational uses only, support requirements for parental access to data, and delete data when required.

If a school promotes an online product and requires or encourages students to use it, then it has responsibility for making sure the tool complies with many of these new privacy laws. 

Like yearbook and ring companies that sell student information to the highest bidder, DOD recruiters and civilian employees routinely pass sensitive information about underage students to the Joint Advertising and Marketing Research Systems (JAMRS), a DOD program. JAMRS subcontracts the massive, Orwellian database of approximately 30 million youth, ages 16-25, to the data goliath Equifax.

On a scale that dwarfs corporate competitors, the DOD delivers targeted advertising to students. It changes privacy policies without notice or choice to consumers. (The recent changes to USMEPCOM Regulation 601-4 concerning the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, ASVAB, provide an example.) The military does not use the data it collects for educational purposes, and it works against providing for parental consent or access to data. Furthermore, the military retains data collected on students long after laws demand their destruction.

While proposing the Student Digital Privacy Act last year, President Obama forcefully declared, “data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes — to teach our children, not to market to our children.” However, the president’s proposal leaves the DOD alone. 

The framework of the President’s proposal is taken from the California law:

Operators may not collect information that is descriptive of a student or otherwise identifies a student, including, but not limited to, information in the student’s educational record or email, first and last name, home address, telephone number, email address, or other information that allows physical or online contact. discipline records, test results, special education data, juvenile dependency records, grades, evaluations, criminal records, medical records, health records, social security number, biometric information, disabilities, socioeconomic information, food purchases, political affiliations, religious information, text messages, documents, student identifiers, search activity, photos, voice recordings, or geolocation information.

The DOD collects most of this through the ASVAB enlistment test alone. More than a thousand schools require students to take the test. Overall, 650,000 high school kids take the test in 12,000 schools.

MinnesotaNew Jersey, ColoradoNew Mexico,and  Mississippi, allow students to take the ASVAB as an alternative end-of-year assessment. Kentucky and Missouri encourage students to take the ASVAB to be considered “Career Ready.”  These policies provide a treasure trove of unregulated data for the Pentagon, all without parental consent. On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii, Maryland, and New Hampshire do not allow results from the ASVAB to be used for recruiting purposes.

Federal law says military recruiters may request the names, addresses, and numbers of students for direct marketing purposes, an act prohibited in all the new privacy laws. The law, however, allows parents to request that their child’s name not be forwarded to the Pentagon. Maryland is the only state that has a law requiring an “opt-out” form to be placed on the mandatory emergency contact card, leading most parents to remove their child’s information from lists being sent to recruiters.  The new data privacy laws fail to address this obvious invasion of privacy in the 49 states that are reluctant to check this military overreach.

The military has multiple avenues of data flowing into its databases. High school guidance offices and career centers encourage students to visit the websites of each of the military branches, reserves, and Guard units. They all collect volumes of personally identifiable data. Schools also promote the following websites, and they often provide instruction in navigating a host of military or military-supported sites like: www.todaysmilitary.com, www.ecybermission.com,www.march2success.com, www.armystrongstories.com,www.military.com,www.asvabprogram.com,www.march2success.com, and www.myfuture.com.

Unwary students are prompted to click on military links to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter where newly formed units of recruiters in recruiting companies across the country spend countless hours trolling these sources to assemble a virtual portrait of children before first contact.

The DOD also works in state houses to loosen privacy protections. Kentucky is the worst. Their law says, “All student academic records are made available upon request to any agency of the federal or state government for the purpose of determining a student's eligibility for military service.” 

When President Obama endorsed the Student Privacy Pledge, he called for companies to make a firm commitment to using student data only for educational purposes. The Student Privacy Pledge asks data collectors to abide voluntarily by the same standards taken from many the new state laws

“We pioneered the Internet,” Obama said at the Federal Trade Commission. “But we also pioneered the Bill of Rights and a sense each of us as individuals have a sphere of privacy around us that should not be breached by our government but also by commercial interests.” The DoD has not signed the pledge and is not likely to do so on anytime soon because so much of the Pentagon’s strategy for recruiting the nation’s youth depends on deception.

The Pledge applies to all personal student information whether or not it is part of an “educational record” as defined by federal law.  It is an important distinction because the DOD has claimed for years that the administration of the ASVAB in the schools is not subject to the Buckley Amendment, so results do not need parental consent to be released to recruiters. The Buckley Amendment says schools may not release educational records to third parties without seeking parental consent. The DOD claims ASVAB results are not educational records. Instead, they say test results are military records. The DOD has a long and despicable history of dodging privacy mandates.

Meanwhile, other giants in the student testing industry, like the College Board and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, have signed on.

When the ACLU settled their lawsuit with the DOD over the illegal JAMRS database in 2007, the DOD agreed to the following:

·        limit to three years the length of time that DoD retains student information;

·        stop collecting student Social Security Numbers; and,

·        establish and clarify procedures by which students can block the military from entering information about them in the database and have their information removed.

The DOD has fallen short on all three accounts. Student information is retained indefinitely, although JAMRS data is placed in a “suppression file” after three years. The Recruiting Command routinely collects social security numbers through the ASVAB program and the DOD has failed to make anything clear to students or their parents regarding the JAMRS database or ways to have information removed.

This is not what democracy looks like. The DOD defends its actions arguing that this heavy-handed arrangement is preferable to the return of the draft, although the problem is much deeper.

Relatively few want to enlist and those that do increasingly come from a shrinking number of deep red states in the south. The realities of a vicious and unresponsive command structure after 15 years of unnecessary warfare have filtered down to potential recruits and their families.  The Pentagon feels it must violate our 1st Amendment rights while operating a highly deceptive recruiting apparatus to achieve its yearly quotas. What’s needed is a sincere national discussion on the size, cost, and mission of the Department of Defense, particularly as it relates to the inability of this nation to address the overwhelming needs of its citizenry. We may discover we don’t need all of these troops and that reduced recruiting quotas will engender a more democratic and transparent defense establishment.

========

Pat Elder pelder@studentprivacy.org is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy.  The organization works to expose the military’s unconstitutional and deceptive recruiting practices in the nation’s high schools. www.studentprivacy.org

Fanning fears during London’s mayoral election: Islamophobia on the Rise in England

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

During a casual conversation inside a store on a swanky shopping street located a short distance from London’s fabled Kensington Palace a twenty-something retail clerk said she feels a strange sense of discomfort that she’s never felt before in London, the city where this native of Algeria has lived most of her life.

Focus: NATO and Russia - May 13, 2016


New US missile defense system Aegis Ashore goes live in Russia's back yard - CBS News


NATO press release: Key missile defence site declared operational - NATO


VIDEO: NATO Secretary General at inaugural ceremony of Aegis Ashore, Romania - NATO


VIDEO: Joint press Conference following the Aegis Ashore ceremony - NATO


New NATO supreme commander vows tough line on Russia, says alliance should arm Ukraine - AFP


Commander: NATO needs to be ready to fight Russia ‘tonight' - The Daily Caller


Permanent US armored force in Europe would better deter Russia: NATO commander - Reuters


The U.S. Army’s war over Russia, group of dissenters say they’re overreacting to get a bigger share of the defense budget - POLITICO


Chuck Hagel to next US President: Talk to Putin, Former Defense Secretary warns against ‘cold war buildup’ as NATO deploys in Europe’s eastern flank - atlanticcouncil.org


Poll shows Americans say the U.S. 'should deal with its own problems and let other countries deal with their own', but Washington wants to intervene... everywhere - The Daily Caller


POLL: Key findings on how Americans view the U.S. role in the world - Pew Research Center

 

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

Russia calls new U.S. missile shield in Romania a ‘direct threat' - NBC News


Russia rejects US claims about ‘threat’ of Iran’s missiles - Tasnim News Agency


Russia is taking countermeasures against US missile defense in Europe: Kremlin - TASS

 

Russian media: 5 reasons why US antimissiles in Europe threaten Russia - RT News


Putin: Russia to encourage defense industry enterprises - TASS

 

Putin to hold third meeting on development of Russian defense sector - TASS

 

Putin ally accuses new NATO general of stoking ‘war hysteria' - newsweek.com


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

Tomgram: Engelhardt, They Just Can't Stop Themselves

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

Focus: Democratic National Convention - May 12, 2016

 

Democratic convention hosted by Republican donors, anti-Obamacare lobbyists and Net Neutrality opponents - theintercept.com


NY Democrats selling national convention access to big donors - New York Post


DNC joins arms with Comcast, America's most hated Internet provider, to host Democratic national convention - usuncut.com


After conventions a debt to donors, part and parcel of the creeping corporate buyout of America’s political system - The New York Times


DNC head denies Sanders’s claim of convention favoritism, 'I do not think that Sen. Sanders’s concerns are valid or warranted' - TheHill


Sanders accuses DNC of tipping convention toward Clinton - POLITICO


Sanders’ letter: DNC has forwarded only three of 40 names the Sanders campaign recommended for the key committees while installing Clinton loyalists in leading roles - berniesanders.com


Wall street money: Barney Frank to oversee Democratic platform while running big bank - ibtimes.com


Financial Sector Gives Hillary Clinton a Boost - WSJ


VIDEO: Wall Street donors give Clinton a boost - WSJ


Wall Street befuddled, alarmed by Donald Trump and may turn to Democratic ticket - The Boston Globe


Wealthy Cruz donor pours millions into Clinton campaign - Observer


Hillary forces target Bush donors, Their message to moderate Republicans: She represents your values better than Trump - POLITICO


VIDEO: Trump agrees with Sanders: Clinton 'is totally controlled by Wall Street' - Washington Post


Clinton and Goldman Sachs: Why it matters - The New York Review of Books


Clinton son-in-law’s firm is said to close Greece hedge fund tied to Goldman Sachs after losing nearly 90 percent of its value - NYTimes.com


Hillary Clinton has a lot of donors in the Justice Department, twelve of the 228 contributions were for $2,700 with some in high places - Hot Air


Offshore tax haven leak implicates seven-figure pro-Clinton donor - freebeacon.com


Whose ‘dark money’ flows from offshore accounts into Maine campaigns? - State & Capitol


Hillary Clinton's campaign taps aide tied to 2008 fundraising schemes: Report - Washington Times


Clinton fundraising leaves little for state parties, they've gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised - POLITICO


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

How to Oppose the Draft for Women and Not Be Sexist

For the majority of people in the United States who have no idea, yes, draft registration still exists, but only for males. However, the U.S. House of Representatives is interested in adding young women to the rolls. In fact the House Armed "Services" Committee passed such a measure in April, and it is now part of the National "Defense" Authorization Act pending review, amendment, debate, and passage.

An amendment proposed by Congressman Pete Sessions would undo this "progressive" development. Some rightwing groups that consult the Bible for their standards of women's rights also want to stop the extension of "selective service" to all 18 year olds. Some peace activists believe that the key to ending warmaking is actually activating the draft in as big a way as possible. And liberal humanitarian warriors want equal war rights for women. Much of the rest of the world, meanwhile, believes the United States has overdosed on military madness.

Bush-Obama Powers Will Pass to Next President

Remember when coups and assassinations were secretive, when presidents were obliged to go to Congress and tell lies and ask permission for wars, when torture, spying, and lawless imprisonment were illicit, when re-writing laws with signing statements and shutting down legal cases by yelling "state secrets!" was abusive, and when the idea of a president going through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays to pick whom to have murdered would have been deemed an outrage?

All such resistance and outrage is in the past by mutual consent of those in power in Washington, D.C. Whoever becomes the next president of the United States could only unfairly and in violation of established bipartisan precedent be denied the powers of unlimited spying, imprisoning, and killing. That this is little known is largely a symptom of partisanship. Most Democrats still haven't allowed themselves to hear of the kill list. But the widespread ignorance is also a function of media, of what's reported, what's editorialized, what's asked about in campaign debates, and what isn't.

The new book, Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program, from Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, is terrific to see even more for what it represents than for what it actually teaches us. We've already learned the details it includes from the website of the Intercept, and they fit with similar details that have trickled out through numerous sources for years. But the fact that a media outlet is reporting on this topic and framing its concerns in a serious way around the dangerous expansion of presidential and governmental power is encouraging.

The United States is now working on putting into action drone ships and ships of drone planes, but has never worked out how in the world it is legal or moral or helpful to blow people up with missiles all over the earth. Drone wars once declared successful and preferable alternatives to ground wars are predictably evolving into small-scale ground wars, with great potential for escalation, and nobody in any place of power has considered what candidate Obama might have called ending the mindset that starts wars, perhaps by using the rule of law, aid, disarmament, and diplomacy.

I recommend starting The Assassination Complex with the afterword by Glenn Greenwald, because he reminds us of some of Senator and candidate Obama's statements in favor of restoring the rule of law and rejecting President George W. Bush's abuses. What Obama called unacceptable at Guantanamo, he has continued at Guantanamo and elsewhere, but expanded into a program that focuses on murder without "due process" rather than imprisonment without "due process."

"Somehow," writes Greenwald, "it was hideously wrong for George W. Bush to eavesdrop on and imprison suspected terrorists without judicial approval, yet it was perfectly permissible for Obama to assassinate them without due process of any kind." That is in fact a very generous depiction of the drone murder program, as The Assassination Complex also documents that, at least during one time period examined, "nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets." We should think of drones more as random killing machines than as machines killing particular people who are denied the right to a trail by jury but are suspected of something by somebody.

"It is hard," writes Greenwald, "to overstate the conflict between Obama's statements before he became president and his presidential actions." Yes, I suppose so, but it's also hard to overstate the conflict between some of his campaign statements and others of his campaign statements. If he was going to give people a fair hearing before abusing their rights, what are we to make of his campaign promises to start a drone war in Pakistan and escalate the war in Afghanistan? Greenwald is assuming that the right not to be murdered ranks somewhere fairly high alongside the right not to be spied on or imprisoned or tortured. But, in fact, a war-supporting society must understand all rights to have particular protection except the right to stay alive.

The advantage that comes from viewing small-scale drone murders as an escalation of small-scale imprisonment -- that is, as a violation of rights -- really comes when you carry logic one step further and view large-scale killing in war as also a violation of rights, as indeed murder on a larger scale. In fact, among the top areas in which I would add to Greenwald's summary of Obama's expansions of Bush powers are: torture, signing statements, and the creation of new wars of various types.

Obama has made torture a question of policy, not a crime to be prosecuted. Frowning on it and outsourcing it and hushing it up does not deny it to the next president in the way that prosecuting it in court would.

Obama campaigned against rewriting laws with signing statements. Then he proceeded to do just as Bush had done. That Obama has used fewer signing statements is largely due, I think, to the fact that fewer laws have been passed, combined with his creation of the silent signing statement. Remember that Obama announced that he would review Bush's signing statements and decide which to reject and which to keep. That is itself a remarkable power that now passes to the next president, who can keep or reject any of Bush's or Obama's signing statements. But as far as I know, Obama never did actually tell us which of Bush's he was keeping. In fact, Obama announced that he would silently assume any past signing statement to apply to a new and relevant law without restating the signing statement. Obama has also developed the practice of instructing the Office of Legal Counsel to write a memo in place of a law. And he's developed the additional technique of creating self-imposed restrictions, which have the benefit of not being laws at all when he violates them. A key example of this is his standards for whom to kill with drones.

On the question of starting wars, Obama has radically altered what is acceptable. He began a war on Libya without Congress. He told Congress in his last state of the union speech that he would wage a war in Syria with or without them (which statement they applauded). That power, further normalized by all the drone wars, will pass to the next president.

Lawyers have testified to Congress that drone killing is murder and illegal if not part of a war, but perfectly fine if part of a war, and that whether it's part of a war or not depends on secret presidential memos the public hasn't seen. The power to render murder possibly legal, and therefore effectively legal, by declaring the existence of a secret memo, is also a power that passes to the next president.

In reality, there is no way to even remotely begin to legalize drone murders, whether or not part of a war. The seven current U.S. wars that we know of are all illegal under the UN Charter and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact. So, any element of them is also illegal. This is a simple point but a very difficult one for U.S. liberals to grasp, in the context of human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch taking a principled stand against recognizing the illegality of any war.

If, on the other hand, the drone murders are not part of an illegal war, they are still illegal, as murder is illegal everywhere under universal jurisdiction. The defense that a foreign dictator, exiled or otherwise, has granted permission to murder people in his country, so that sovereignty is not violated, misses the basic illegality of murder, not to mention the irony that helping dictators kill their people conflicts rather stunningly with the common U.S. excuse for launching wars of overthrow, namely punishment of a dictator for the ultimate sin of "killing his own people." Sovereignty is also an idea very selectively respected; just ask Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Syria.

Reporter Cora Currier, in The Assassination Complex, looks at Obama's self-imposed, but never met, restrictions on drone murders. Under these non-legal limitations it is required that drone missiles target only people who are "continuing, imminent threats to the American people," and who cannot be captured, and only when there is "near certainty" that no civilians will be killed or injured. Currier points out that Obama approves people for murder for months at a time, rendering dubious the already incoherent idea of a "continuing imminent threat." It's not clear that "capture" is ever a serious option, and it is clear that in many cases it is not. The "near certainty" about not killing civilians is thrown into doubt by the constant killing of civilians and, as Currier points out, by the White House claiming to have had that "near certainty" in a case in which it killed civilians who happened to be American and European, thus requiring some accountability.

Scahill and Greenwald also document in this book that sometimes what is targeting is a cell phone believed to belong to a particular person. That of course provides no "near certainty" that the targeted person is there or that anyone else isn't.

What might begin to restrain this madness? Will those who opposed Bush lawlessness but turned a blind eye to its expansion under Obama find themselves opposing it again? That seems highly unlikely under the best of the three remaining big-party presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders. I can't imagine ever getting a significant number of his supporters to even become aware of his foreign policy, so good is he on domestic issures. With Hillary Clinton the task would be extremely difficult as well, aided only by the likelihood that she would launch truly big-scale wars. With a President Trump, it does seem much more conceivable that millions of people would suddenly find themselves opposing what has been firmly put into place the past 16 years. Whether it would then be too late is a different question.

Hillary's Email Bombshell: Saudi's Financed the Benghazi Attack

By Gar Smith

Bernie Sanders may have been chivalrous when he told a beleaguered Hillary Clinton, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” But when it comes to actually reading some of Clinton’s confidential exchanges, that’s another matter.

In December 2014, Hillary Rodham Clinton began providing the State Department with personal emails sent or received during her tenure as Secretary of State. The final batch was released on February 29, 2016. The entire collection is now posted on the State Department’s Public Reading Room and is searchable via this link.

But the collection is not complete. Clinton admits to having deleted 32,000 emails “deemed private.” Among the missing are a number of politically charged emails sent to Secretary Clinton by a trusted colleague named Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal’s emails were allegedly captured and copied by Marcel Lazar Lehel, an unemployed Romanian taxi driver better known as “Guccifer” and “Small Fume.” In April of this year, Lehel became an instant celebrity after he was identified as the cyber-savvy interloper who had hacked into Clinton’s official email account during her time as Secretary of State. (Lehel was recently awarded an all-expenses-paid trip from a Romanian prison to the US where he will spend his days in an American jail cell under 18-month extradition order.)

Talk Nation Radio: Jean Trounstine and Karter Reed on Murder, Juvenile Injustice, and Redemption

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jean-trounstine-and-karter-reed-on-murder-juvenile-injustice-and-redemption

Jean Trounstine is the author of Boy With a Knife: A Story of Murder, Remorse, and a Prisoner's Fight for Justice.

Karter Reed is the subject of and the author of the Epilogue to the book. He was convicted of murder as a child in an adult court, and was sent to adult prison.

Trounstine and Reed discuss Reed's story and U.S. policies on juvenile crime.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
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and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, What Principles Rule the World?

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

Seymour Hersh Erases Public's Role on Syria

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Seymour Hersh 8891d

We once again owe the great reporter Seymour Hersh a serious debt for his reporting, in this case for his London Review of Books articles on President Barack Obama's war making, now published as a book called The Killing of Osama bin Laden. Despite the title, three of the four articles are about Syria.

But there is a shortcoming in how Hersh tells history, as in how many reporters do. I've watched Hersh do interviews about the topic on Democracy Now and never once heard him mention the U.S. public. In his book, the public gets one mention: "The proposed American missile attack on Syria never won public support, and Obama turned quickly to the UN and the Russian proposal for dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare complex." Taken in isolation, that sentence suggests what I think is an important causal relationship. Taken in the context of a book that spends many pages offering other explanations for Obama's decision, that one sentence seems to be simply stating two unrelated incidents in chronological order.

A few sentences later, Hersh writes that Obama had claimed to have evidence of Bashar al Assad's guilt in a chemical weapons attack, but then turned to Congress for a vote and accepted Assad's offer to give up chemical weapons. From this, Hersh concludes that Obama must have been made aware of evidence contradicting his claim. (In fact, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper supposedly rather pointedly told Obama that his claim was "not a slam dunk.") Elsewhere Hersh credits Obama's decision not to bomb Syria to "military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially dangerous." Hersh writes that a report contradicting Obama's chemical weapons claims led the joint chiefs of staff to warn Obama that attacking Syria could be "an unjustified act of aggression."

You may be wondering which of the seven wars Obama is now engaged in isn't an unjustified act of aggression, or how a chemical weapons attack would make a war into a justified act of aggression, but Hersh also cites a DIA assessment in 2013 that overthrowing Syria could create a Libya-like disaster -- something that a 2012 DIA assessment also warned was in the making. But, one might ask, where is the public uproar or any other sort of consequence for the White House from the fact that Obama blatantly lied about a Libyan threat to massacre civilians in Benghazi and used that lie to create the current disaster in Libya? What has been the downside to the president of having lied about a mountaintop rescue in order to get into more warmaking in Iraq and Syria? How have endless lies about Ukraine or drone strikes come back to bite the prevaricator in chief? What would have been different about getting caught lying about a chemical weapons attack in Syria? And with those lies having in fact been told and being now well-exposed by Hersh and others, is it possible to find a dozen Americans and a dog who give a damn?

The difference was this. Public pressure had made the 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq illegal and shameful, powerful enough to toss out Congressional majorities in 2006 and to deny Hillary Clinton a nomination in 2008. Syria 2013 resembled Iraq 2003 in too many ways. WMD lies were still unstable ground. Other types of lies were much preferred. Secretive wars and slow buildups would be better tolerated. A new shock and awe over WMD lies, entering a new war on the side of al Qaeda, with the strongest supporters of such madness actually opposed in this case because the president was a Democrat -- all of this was just too weak a proposal for the public. Once the question was made a public debate, with true war mongers screaming for Obama to uphold his "red line," the public made more phone calls, sent more emails, and challenged more Congress members at public meetings over this question than over any other question ever before in history. And Congress members were heard saying they didn't want to go on record as having voted for "another Iraq."

Now, that may explain why Congress made clear it would vote No if forced to vote. But what determined the emperor's decision to tell Congress to take a vote (a role not actually assigned to presidents in the U.S. Constitution)? Here's where it helps to read Chapter 1 of Hersh's bin Laden book, the chapter on the killing of bin Laden. This is a chapter largely dedicated to President Obama's mad and reckless rush to violate various policies, outrage various bureaucrats, burn Pakistani relations, endanger sources, and generate various falsehoods that would have to be corrected, in order to as quickly as possible announce to the public that he had slain the terrible dragon. Obama falsely claimed that bin Laden was engaged in running a major terrorist organization and had been armed and killed in a shoot out. In fact, bin Laden was an irrelevant old invalid, unarmed, unguarded, and murdered in cold blood. Obama also lied about how bin Laden had been found, which facilitated lies to the effect that torture had accomplished something, a lie put into the movie Zero Dark Thirty by the CIA. Never directly mentioned in this saga is the looming presence of the U.S. public, the entity to which Obama went running head over heels to blurt out his news and plead for a triumphal arch to be built in his honor.

U.S. politicians have a very odd and corrupt relationship with the public, as has that public with itself. Numerous actions are taken on behalf of donors in stark opposition to the public will. But public opinion remains a major focus for politicians. Perhaps Hersh considers the point too obvious to mention, or perhaps he considers it false. He doesn't say. But he should be aware that much of the public considers it false, that even peace activists who try to pressure politicians for peace often believe they have no impact. Hersh must also be aware that politicians go out of their way to pretend that the public has no impact.

Hersh is clear that the decision to proceed with eliminating Syria's chemical weapons came after the decision not to bomb. But he paints the decision not to bomb as an internal decision focused on picking the policy that would have the best results and be based on accurate information. He cannot be unaware that most U.S. government policies are not shaped around those criteria.

The general view of the U.S. public is that "democracy" should be spread around the globe and that any politician who changes their position in response to public demand is shameful and disreputable. Politicians in the United States are applauded for claiming to ignore opinion polls and to act on principle, which they universally claim. "There is probably a perverse pride in my administration," said President Obama, "and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular." The identical sentiment has been articulated by nearly every U.S. politician for many years.

In the late 1990s, Lawrence Wittner was researching the anti-nuclear movement of decades past. He interviewed Robert "Bud" McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security advisor: "Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement. But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze -- one that he had directed. . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration's response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official's face, and I knew that I had caught him. 'If Bud says that,' he remarked tactfully, 'it must be true.'"

Admitting to public influence is usually the last thing an elected official wants to do. It's viewed by them and by the public alike as the exact equivalent of admitting to the influence of campaign bribery, . . . er, I mean, contributions. Even well-meaning activists see elections as exactly as corrupting a factor of pure principled politics as lobbyist meetings, proposing as a result such "reforms" as longer terms in office and term limits. And yet, when it comes to the decision not to bomb Syria in 2013 (and instead merely to keep arming and training proxies and searching for other means of more slowly making a bad situation worse), the White House admits to public influence.

This was not merely reading polls, in which the U.S. public opposed arming proxies even more than dropping bombs. But neither was it "doing the right" wonky thing, and the public be damned. Remember, Obama asked the CIA for a report on whether arming proxies had ever "worked," and the report said no it hadn't -- except for that time in Afghanistan (blowback not included). Obama was intent on doing what both the public and the military warned against. But he wouldn't do it in too big and dramatic a manner under a public spotlight with the words "Iraq Part II" flashing on the marquee. Here's a bit of Obama's self-portrait as Saint Francis in The Atlantic:

"But the president had grown queasy. In the days after the gassing of Ghouta, Obama would later tell me, he found himself recoiling from the idea of an attack unsanctioned by international law or by Congress. The American people seemed unenthusiastic about a Syria intervention; so too did one of the few foreign leaders Obama respects, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. She told him that her country would not participate in a Syria campaign. And in a stunning development, on Thursday, August 29, the British Parliament denied David Cameron its blessing for an attack. John Kerry later told me that when he heard that, 'internally, I went, Oops.'"

Obama is also quoted as listing the House of Commons vote as one of the major factors in his own decision. And then there's Joe blurt-it-out Biden, in the same article:

"When I spoke with Biden recently about the red-line decision, he made special note of this fact. 'It matters to have Congress with you, in terms of your ability to sustain what you set out to do,' he said. Obama 'didn't go to Congress to get himself off the hook. He had his doubts at that point, but he knew that if he was going to do anything, he better damn well have the public with him, or it would be a very short ride.' Congress's clear ambivalence convinced Biden that Obama was correct to fear the slippery slope. 'What happens when we get a plane shot down? Do we not go in and rescue?,' Biden asked. 'You need the support of the American people.'"

Do you? Do these characters care about or want that support on corporate trade agreements or healthcare or climate destruction, on banker bailouts or super delegates or military spending? No, they're happy to ignore minor levels of public activism disempowered by a belief in its own impotence, by the pretense of politicians that it is ignored, and by the partisanship that usually provides cover for roughly half of office holders on any given topic. But when the public is united and energized, when it feels empowered to hold somebody accountable, politicians do still sit up and pay attention.

The influence of the public on the 2013 Syria decision began with the 2003 public uprising that made the United Nations refuse legal cover to attacking Iraq. After Russia and China went along with the pretense of UN cover for attacking Libya in 2011, they refused to do the same on Syria in 2013. This was going to have to be an Iraq-like war without any UN fig leaf.

Public pressure came through the governments of the UK and Germany, and it came principally through Congress. It also poured into the White House directly. It also came through the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others in the military machinery of Washington who knew what the public response to Iraq had been. None of these people operate in a vacuum. None of them even aspire to be good representatives of majority opinion, either. But it shapes their actions nonetheless, and we should be aware of how it does so. And good reporting, reporting so good that it can no longer even be published in the United States and must find an outlet in London, should not neglect to include mention of the U.S. public -- even if the public's actions are secrets that are by definition sitting right out in the open.

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, The Challenges of 2016

 [Note to TomDispatch Readers: The remarkable Noam Chomsky has a new book out: Who Rules the World? It's almost too obvious to say, but it's a must-read!

Getting the Story Wrong: The Distortion of American Politics by the Press

Ever since the foundation of the American Republic, there has been both praise for and suspicion of the role the press plays in U.S. political life.  Thomas Jefferson famously remarked that, if it were left to him “to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I would not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”  And yet, Jefferson was also profoundly disturbed by the politically biased and inaccurate articles that he saw published in the press.  As he told James Monroe:  “My skepticism as to everything I see in a newspaper makes me indifferent whether I ever see one.” 

Jefferson’s ambivalence about the press becomes understandable when one considers the distorted reporting that has characterized the current campaign for the U.S. Presidency. 

Dan Berrigan Made Me Do It

 

 


Price for Witnessing Against War

 

 

 

Editor Note: The funeral for anti-war priest Daniel Berrigan was a reminder of humanity’s need to challenge immoral government actions and the price that one pays for doing so.

By Ray McGovern

Fr. Daniel Berrigan’s funeral was being live-streamed Friday, as I started to write this, which seems only fitting. Dan’s witness and writing have been a constantly re-chargeable battery for my moral compass.

Corruption in the Time of Cholera

In 2004, the United States, which had previously occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, kidnapped the president of Haiti, overthrew his government, and sent in United Nations "peace keepers." In 2010, an outbreak of cholera hit Haiti for the first time ever. The disease had previously been unknown in the country.

The UN had sent in soldiers from Nepal where cholera had just broken out. It hadn't tested the soldiers for the disease. At the soldiers' camp in Haiti, a truck picked up their fecal waste on October 17, 2010, and drove it to a hilltop septic pit overlooking a river. The pit was already full and overflowing. The driver's boss told him to dump his load anywhere. So he dumped it into the river.

Downriver, people started dying of cholera. An outbreak would spread rapidly. Thousands (and still rising) would perish. The "international community," with its benevolent military takeovers, had literally shat on the health of the Haitian people.

Next it proceeded to make matters worse. The United Nations, international diplomats, hired scientists, the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Lancet, and the respectable humanitarian NGO complex in general spent years covering up and lying about what had happened.

Because the armed occupying army of "peace keepers" was widely resented as an armed occupying army, many were concerned, or professed to be concerned, that honestly stating what had begun the cholera outbreak would lead to an outbreak of violence. In fact, the refusal to state what had happened led to the lynching of dozens of practitioners of voodoo who were scapegoated. And false claims about what had caused the outbreak led to misdirected resources in the struggle to eliminate the disease -- and in fact to the false belief that the disease could not be eliminated as it supposedly lay lurking in the environment ready to emerge in any natural disaster.

Avoiding the blame it deserved, the United Nations was happy to blame Haiti and to suggest that poor countries lacking in modern services simply must deal with disease outbreaks eternally. Meanwhile, smaller, better targeted steps, at relatively limited cost, could have eliminated cholera from Haiti as this nasty, deadly disease has been eliminated from other places -- and those steps still could eliminate cholera from Haiti this year.

Ralph Frerichs' new book is called Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti. The author cites a $2.2 billion ten-year plan that could eliminate cholera and improve water and sanitation. That's 0.00002% or so of U.S. military spending. Can it possibly be spared? Dare we cancel half a weapons system, tax a few corporations, or divert some of Hillary Clinton's speaking fees? Apparently not.

Frerichs' book is largely the story of French doctor Renaud Piarroux's efforts to uncover the truth of what happened in Haiti. It's a story of bureaucratic coverup and deception undone by science and journalism. It's a story of supposedly benevolent Western agencies and authorities declaring it unimportant how a disease outbreak began, in a manner that they never would have attempted in the United States or Europe. The New York Times actually denounced "the feverish urge to blame," even though finding the source of a disease is generally considered essential to halting its spread.  

Western NGOs proved better in this case and others at helping out during a crisis than at ending it. They began pushing the idea that Haiti would simply have to control cholera as well as it could from here to eternity, a claim that Piarroux had heard before in Comoros, Madagascar, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Guinea. Even years later, NPR was airing a folksy liberal newsy-ish story on the views of a discredited scientist exonerating the UN of all blame for cholera in Haiti. And with years gone by, attention and available funding had moved on to other disasters around the globe.

Past cholera pandemics have often followed armies. The UN sends more armies to more places than anyone other than the United States. That has to stop. Not because the cholera contamination was intentional, not because a secret world government run by black helicopters is planning to destroy apple pie or Christianity, but because countries are better off without their governments overthrown, doctors are better assistance than soldiers, unaccountable bureaucracies often do more harm than good, and peace is not going to be found at the end of a thousand guns.

Here's Chelsea Clinton in early 2010 as Haiti dealt with an earthquake and had yet to be hit with cholera: "The incompetence is mind numbing. The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst. There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.” But the focus of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to her emails, was on public relations, specifically on countering all negative accounts of U.S. involvement in Haiti. She had just supported another coup in Honduras, and later that year U.S. diplomats would clamp down on efforts to honestly report what had brought cholera to Haitian shores.

If Haiti had the same vote at the United Nations that the United States does, this would not have happened. If democracy were a serious worldview rather than a fund-generating slogan, this would not have happened. The Catholic Church of all ancient bloated bureaucracies is considering dropping "just war" sophistry after 1,700 years. How many years will it be before the United Nations tries nonviolence, democracy, independence from the five war powers, and respect for human life?

Focus: Hillary Clinton - May 6, 2016


FBI interviewing Clinton aides about private server and Hillary is next, CNN claims that as of now there is no prosecutable offense - Hot Air


Officials: Scant evidence that Clinton had malicious intent in handling of emails - The Washington Post


Judge orders top Hillary Clinton aides to answer questions about secret emails - Washington Times


Federal judge opens the door to Clinton deposition in email case - TheHill


Judicial Watch: Federal court allows discovery to begin in Clinton email case - Judicial Watch


VIDEO: Judicial Watch president on the latest in the Clinton email investigation - YouTube


New documents suggest Clinton withheld emails from State Department - Washington Examiner


State Dept: Clinton’s email security procedures won’t be released until after the election - Motherboard


The linchpin of the FBI's Hillary Clinton investigation - Washington Times


Hacker Guccifer claims he got into Hillary Clinton's server - NBC News


#DropOutHillary: Twitter just unleashed on Hillary Clinton and it is savage - usuncut.com


More than 500.000 #DropOutHillary tweets and now #1 trending topic on Facebook - Brendan4Bernie on Twitter

 

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

Trump calls Clinton Foundation ‘a scam’ - WSJ


Whistleblower Ortel turns scrutiny on the Clinton Foundation, says unclear what they got from the donors and what they did with it - freebeacon.com


It's time to press for an Investigation of the Clinton Foundation - Charles Ortel


Clinton Foundation: The in-depth process begins - Charles Ortel

 

Charity watchdog: Clinton Foundation a ‘slush fund’ - New York Post


Is the Clinton Foundation really a charity? How much of the money raised is actually spent on the causes they are supposed to be aiding? - commentarymagazine.com


Fact-checking Hillary: No, the Clinton Foundation hasn't operated with ‘complete transparency' - townhall.com


‘Clinton Cash’ has been made into a movie, will be screened in Cannes and have its U.S. premiere the week of the Democratic convention (TRAILER) - Bloomberg


Firms that paid for Clinton speeches have US gov't interests - AP


Why did Congo offer Bill Clinton $650,000 for two pics and a speech? - Forbes


Disgraced Clinton Foundation donor got $13M in State Dept grants under Hillary - The Daily Caller


Clinton Foundation received $40 million since 2001 from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, other charities collected no money from those same countries - InvestmentWatch


Environmental, health, and faith leaders call on Clinton Foundation to return ExxonMobil money - Common Dreams


The Clinton Foundation timeline (Part 1) - thompsontimeline.com


The Clinton Foundation timeline (Part 2) - thompsontimeline.com


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


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