Looking for enemies: Venezuela, the Latest ‘National Security Threat’

By Dave Lindorff

Seriously? Venezuela is a “national security threat”?

That is what President Obama has reportedly declared today in a new executive order. 

And how exactly is poor Venezuela, a nation of 29 million, with a small military upon which it spends just 1% of GDP, one of the lowest rates in the world (the US spends 4.5% of GDP on its own bloated military), a threat to the US?  

Ukraine/Russia News - Mar 10, 2015


Chairman and top Democrat on Senate Foreign Relations Committee press Obama on military aid for Ukraine - WashingtonExaminer.com


Corker, Menendez Send Letter to Obama Seeking Report on Defensive Lethal Assistance for Ukraine - US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations


Schedule of Hearings On U.S. Policy In Ukraine: Countering Russia and Driving Reform, Tue Mar 10 - US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations


VIDEO: Sheduled Video of Victoria Nuland Testimony on US Policy Toward Ukraine, Tue Mar 10 - C-SPAN.org


Amid Looming Federal Corruption Charges, Sen.Menendez Pushes White House for Military Aid to Ukraine - dailysignal.com


McCain joins Murphy in Connecticut to call for military support to Ukraine - nhregister.com


VIDEO: Murphy, McCain speak to Hartford’s Ukrainian community - FOX CT


German Ambassador: Last Month Obama Agreed With Merkel Not to Send Arms to Ukraine - ABC News


Germany Concerned about Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine - SPIEGEL ONLINE


Germany downplays report of rift with NATO over Breedlove comments - Reuters


VIDEO: Exclusive Interview: NATO Commander in Europe Philip Breedlove on Ukraine - watch on - uatoday.tv


European commission president Juncker calls for EU army, says this military development would persuade Russia the bloc is serious about defending its values - The Guardian


Ukraine Crisis: US Sending 3,000 Troops, Heavy Armor To Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania For NATO Military Exercises - ibtimes.com


NATO holds exercises in Black Sea (VIDEO) - uatoday.tv


Russian Navy Spotted In Black Sea Ahead Of NATO Exercise - rferl.org


Russian Jets Run ‘Attack Scenarios’ on NATO Ships - Washington Free Beacon


REPORT: Russia's Military Options in Ukraine: Gaming a Russian Offensive - Stratfor


VIDEO: A narrated animation outlining six offensive military options Russia could conduct in Ukraine - Stratfor


VIDEO: Stratfor's George Friedman discusses the concept of wargaming with an eye toward the Russia-Ukraine conflict - Stratfor


Putin Says He Decided To Take Crimea Just Hours After Yanukovych's Ouster - rferl.org


VIDEO (Eng subs): Putin on Crimea: The Road to Motherland (documentary teaser) - YouTube


POLL: Surveys showing Crimeans content with secession from Ukraine - rabble.ca


Russia massing sophisticated weapons in Crimea: NATO - Business Standard News


Putin appeals to Southern European countries for EU sanctions relief - LA Times


POLL: Russia’s Anti-American Sentiment At Its Worst Since 1988 - valuewalk.com


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

POLL: Ukrainians support neutrality between Europe and Russia, disagree on war - usatoday.com


Ukraine Says Rebels Violating Cease-Fire - rferl.org


Ukraine accuses rebels of using heavy weapons near Mariupol - Yahoo News


Ukraine president says 64 soldiers killed since Feb 15 ceasefire - Yahoo News


Separatists say Kiev considering Donbass republics' proposals - Russia Beyond The Headlines


VIDEO: Female rebel fighters take part in Donetsk beauty pageant - RT


Poroshenko: Quarter of Ukraine’s industry stopped because of war - UNIAN news


Ukraine hopes to get its industry connected with global market, but faces isolation and crisis - AP


Ukraine's Economy Is Worse Than It Looks - Bloomberg View


Exclusive: IMF assumes Ukraine to get $15.4 billion from creditor talks - Reuters


Separatist leader Zakharchenko announces nationalization of Zasyadko mine where 34 miners have died this week -EN.Censor.net


VIDEO: Ukrainian miners protest against Ukraine's government intentions to close down 12 state mines - uatoday.tv


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Possibility of Escape

By Kathy Kelly

That is also us, the possibility of us, if the wonderful accident of our birth had taken place elsewhere: you could be the refugee, I could be the torturer. To face that truth is also our burden. After all, each of us has been the bystander, the reasonable person who just happens not to hear, not to speak, not to see those people, the invisible ones, those who live on the other side of the border.

- Karen Connelly, The Lizard Cage

It was a little over two weeks ago that Marlo entered Atwood Hall, here in Lexington federal prison. Nearly all the women here are nonviolent offenders. When I first saw Marlo, her eyes seemed glued to the tiled floors as she shuffled along hallways. I guessed her age to be 25 or so. A few days later, she came to a choir rehearsal. She was still shy, but she looked up and offered a quiet smile when she joined the soprano section. The next time our choir gathered, Marlo raised her hand before we ended our rehearsal. "I got something to say," she said, as she stood. "When I first came here, I can tell all of you now, I was terrified. Just plain terrified. I have 70 months, and I felt so scared." The intake process for this, her introduction to the prison system, had badly frightened her, but before sundown that same day, a second intake process had occurred, with several inmates finding her, reassuring her, and getting her beyond that first panic. 

During my four stints in U.S. federal prisons, I've witnessed long-term inmates' unconquerably humane response when a newcomer arrives. An unscripted choreography occurs and the new prisoner finds that other women will help her through the trauma of adjustment to being locked up for many months or years. Halfway through a three-month sentence myself, I'm saddened to realize that I'll very likely adapt to an outside world for which these women, and prisoners throughout the U.S. prison system, are often completely invisible. 

U.S. state and federal prison populations have risen, since 1988, from 600,000 to an estimated 1,600,000 in 2012. This trend shows inhumane behavior on the part of lawmakers and myriads of employees who benefit from the so-called "criminal justice" system. But our entire society bears responsibility for what now can aptly be labeled a "prison-industrial complex." Constructing prisons and filling prisons with people who posed little or no threat to our security didn't happen secretively, without our consent. We watched, mesmerized perhaps, and allowed ourselves to become a country with the world's largest prison system. 

A friend from home recently sent me encouraging news of Illinois Governor Rauner's initiative to address the problems in some of the United States' most brutally overcrowded prisons. A Chicago Tribune article from several weeks ago notes that Rauner plans to reduce the state's prison population by 25% over the next ten years, establishing the reduction as a goal through executive order.  The article, by columnist Eric Zorn, cites a widely-cited recent report by the Vera Institute of Justice that "nearly 75% of the population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees are in jail for nonviolent offenses like traffic, property, drugs or public order violations." 

Skyrocketing costs of incarceration have finally convinced some lawmakers to work toward "reducing prison populations." Yesterday, I read a long report about how the California Department of Corrections has responded to a court-ordered demand that the state reduce the numbers of people locked up in California state prisons. The order was first issued in 2009 by a three-judge panel. The state appealed the order, but in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it, ordering the state of California to comply by 2013. The California government sought and was granted two extensions. As of now, the order insists that California must reduce its prison population, by 2016, to "no more than 137.5 percent of the design capacity" of its state prisons.

Whatever plans Gov. Rauner's committee proposes for Illinois, the notoriously incarceration-minded Illinois state legislature is likely to put up just as vigorous a fight. Meanwhile the California report discusses "cost-effective measures," "recidivism reduction results," "rehabilitative programming" and "programming slots" at "in-state contract facilities." The language, highly impersonal, suggests warehousing. I wonder if zookeepers might be more attentive to the individuality of the beings they cage. 

Trapped in a cruel and uncaring system, women here in Atwood Hall reliably find humane ways to cope. Among many signs of daily generosity, one of my favorites is the practice of "window shopping." Women place extra items they can spare in the window sills nearest the stairwells. A new prisoner can find new fresh socks, a warm knit cap, books, magazines, pitchers – items that quickly disappear and are soon replenished.

Perhaps we'll begin to see a trend toward finding humane ways to cope with seemingly intractable problems in today's criminal justice system. The U.S. Supreme Court's insistence that the State of California must release many thousands of prisoners signals a trend in which, as Gov. Rauner's order recognizes, "States across the country have enacted bi-partisan, data driven and evidence based reforms that have reduced the use of incarceration and its costs while protecting and improving public safety." Zorn notes that the Mac Arthur Foundation recently granted $75 million for a 5 year "Safety and Justice Challenge" meant "to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about its prisons and jails."

I can't imagine a figure too high to pay, in dollars or in human work hours, to effectively challenge the way U.S. people think about safety and justice. In describing a class that he taught in a New Jersey maximum-security prison, Chris Hedges wrote:

The mass incarceration of primarily poor people of color, people who seldom have access to adequate legal defense and who are often kept behind bars for years for nonviolent crimes or for crimes they did not commit, is one of the most shameful mass injustices committed in the United States. The 28 men in my class have cumulatively spent 515 years in prison. Some of their sentences are utterly disproportionate to the crimes of which they are accused. Most are not even close to finishing their sentences or coming before a parole board, which rarely grants first-time applicants their liberty. Many of them are in for life. One of my students was arrested at the age of 14 for a crime that strong evidence suggests he did not commit. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 70. He never had a chance in court and because he cannot afford a private attorney he has no chance now of challenging the grotesque sentence handed to him as a child.

Here in Atwood Hall, guards and administrators know that they imprison humane, caring, generous and talented women, people not very different from their own relatives, friends and co-workers. Where are the "bad sisters" that could ever justify the punishment of isolating women like Marlo from their children and other loved ones for long and wearying years? I imagine that many BOP guards admire, as I do, the courage and fortitude of the women facing long sentences here. Do they wonder, sometimes, what courage would be required, in their own lives, to stop working as enforcers of the prison system?  Or do they perhaps wish, sometimes, that the general public could muster up the will to stop voting for the prison system?

There is a cynical quote which a cynical friend of mine likes to quote to me, from the philosopher David Hume: "A prisoner who has neither money nor interest, discovers the impossibility of his escape, as well when he considers the obstinacy of the gaoler, as the walls and bars with which he is surrounded; and, in all attempts for his freedom, chooses rather to work upon the stone and iron of the one, than upon the inflexible nature of the other." It's the cliché of the prisoner attempting escape: the prisoner sees more hope tunneling out through bricks than appealing to the stone-faced jailer. 

But who are the jailers? These prisons were built, and filled, in our name - in the name of making us "safer". More guards, more lawyers, judges, wardens, marshals, probation officers and court personnel would be hired even if the present ones resigned. Meanwhile the creative work to create real security, real community in the face of social dislocation and crime, would still need to be done. We, the broader public, must be the jailers. Sometimes we seem to be a stone rolling down the path of least resistance. But we're not stone. We can choose not to be jailers, and choose, instead, to be ever more inflexible in our resistance to injustice and to hatred born of fear. 

I'm here among women, some of whom, I've been told, are supposed to be "hardened criminals." Fellow activists incarcerated in men's prisons likewise concur that the system is futile, merciless and wrongheaded. Our jailers, I'm convinced, can see this. Men like Governor Rauner, it seems, can see it, or his advisers can. Where are the inflexible ones keeping women like Marlo isolated from and lost to the world, trembling for their future for the next five years? I would like to make an appeal to you, and to myself two months from now when I've left here and once more rejoined the polite society of these women's "inflexible jailers." I choose to believe that we can be moved and these women can escape. I am writing this, as many have written and will write, to see if we're easier to move than iron and stone.

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (info@vcnv.org), is in federal prison for participation in an anti-drone protest. She can receive mail at: KATHY KELLY 04971-045; FMC LEXINGTON; FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER; SATELLITE CAMP; P.O. BOX 14525; LEXINGTON, KY 40512.

34 Arrested while Protesting Drone Killing at Creech AFB

Organizers pledge to return twice yearly until Drone Killing Operations are Shut Down.
 
A 5 day anti-drone protest at Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada, last week culminated in a massive blockade on Friday of the 2 gates leading into the base, repeatedly blocking traffic for an extended time during the early morning commute.  Over 150 activists from at least 18 states participated.   34 were arrested and charged with trespassing or blocking the roadway into Creech AFB, the most critical U.S. armed drone base in the country. 
 
Among those arrested included Col. Ann Wright, a 29 year army veteran and former U.S. diplomat, whose inspiration last November led to the massive anti-drone protest at the base, after months of grassroots organizing.  Wright said, "it is our duty as citizens to challenge government actions that not only are illegal, but also jeopardize national security-and the U.S. assassin drone policies do both."
 
Following the event, organizers and participants pledged to turn their effort into a twice a year campaign to put a halt to the illegal drone program.  "We're going to keep coming back until we SHUT DOWN CREECH!," chanted the protesters as they were being hand-cuffed and detained.
 
Creech drone base is the site of control for CIA and Pentagon targeted drone killings that terrorize communities and remotely kill civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere. A recent independent study indicated that the identity of  28 out of 29 people executed by U.S. drone missiles are unknown, thus providing strong evidence that drone killings are primarily indiscriminate assassinations.  

 
After being arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan police, arrestees were driven in a bus 150 feet across Highway 95 and released at "Camp Justice," a three day, 24/7 encampment where many protesters had stayed in below freezing night time temperatures.  On Thursday, when protesters were making final plans and preparations for Friday's resistance action,  the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird precision jet team flew six jets at extremely low altitudes over Camp Justice, making it nearly impossible to have discussions because of the noise of the jets. In spite of the purposeful interruption, creative plans were made and organizers were extremely pleased with the overall success of interrupting business as usual at the drone base;.  
 
Traffic was backed up the highway and on frontage roads to the base multiple times in the morning, as waves of "affinity groups" staged independently planned actions at the gates to fulfill the intent to have a sustained interruption of base activities.  These separate actions included a 40 person Veterans For Peace contingent that delivered a letter addressed to drone operators calling on them to not participate in war crimes related to targeted killing and to refuse to obey illegal orders.  Another contingent blocked one gate with yellow crime scene tape, temporarily impeding traffic. 
 
A third group marched in a long procession along the highway holding large colored photographs of drone victims, many of them children, passing along the backed up cars trying to enter the base, and ultimately laying down on the roadway in a "die-in" while doing a mass wailing to dramatize the grief and suffering experienced by victims.  A fourth group carrie larged hand painted panels that depicted children, representing the young victims killed in Pakistan and Yemen, and created another wave of resistance to stop traffic.  
 
These coordinated multi-wave efforts took the local law enforcement off guard, and plugged up traffic into both gates for some time.
 
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, in a completely independently sponsored effort, national anti-drone activists privately paid for an anti-drone ad to be aired on regional Nevada television, that criticized drone attacks and showed graphic images of mutilated children killed by drone attacks.  The ad, (http://youtu.be/dP4vYOUDjQ8), was aired on CNN, MSNBC and other networks and was sponsored by KnowDrones.com.    

 
The U.S.A.F. is having great difficulty keeping pilots in the drone program, as outlined in this article:
http://www.thenation.com/article/200337/american-drone-operators-are-quitting-record-numbers#                                                        

Nonetheless, U.S. government officials are ignoring the many signs that illustrate the failure of the very nature of  drone assassinations and refuse to listen to the will of the people. Killler Drones make enemies.  

During the protests, highway US-95 leading from Las Vegas to the base, renamed the Drone Victims Memorial Highway, was lined with nearly 100 tombstones,  with the names and ages of children killed by U.S. drones.  The Drone Victims Memorial Highway underscores the dark side of drone warfare and highlights Creech Drone Base as the criminal site where these unlawful killings are executed and from where drone pilots, following illegal orders, have caused the deaths of over 200 Pakistani children alone. 
 
Activists will return to Creech Drone Base twice annually as a national mobilization until the last armed drone is grounded for good.
 

 

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

World Beyond War has just published a short book titled A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.

This act constitutes an intervention into the debate over whether to create a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. In fact, this document should help stimulate a debate over whether to continue with the war approach to global conflicts, authorized or not.

It has become routine to acknowledge that "there is no military solution" even while pursuing military actions as preferable to doing nothing. A Global Security System builds a case for alternative actions, both in a moment of crisis, and on the long-term path toward preventing conflict and developing nonviolent means of resolving conflict.

This book describes the "hardware" of creating a peace system, and the "software" — the values and concepts — necessary to operate a peace system, and the means to spread these globally. This report is based on the work of many experts in international relations and peace studies and on the experience of many activists. A quotation from the first section reads:

"In On Violence, Hannah Arendt wrote that the reason warfare is still with us is not a death wish of our species nor some instinct of aggression, '. . . but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.' The Alternative Global Security System we describe here is the substitute. The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security."

The book is available free online at WorldBeyondWar.org, including the Executive Summary and full Table of Contents. Here is the full PDF version. The paperback is available at your local bookstore or any online bookseller. The distributor is Ingram. The ISBN is 978-0983083085. Buy online at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. The audio book can be purchased here. The eBook editions (978-1495147159) are coming soon.

Comments can be posted under each section of the book on the WorldBeyondWar.org website. Some of the top experts in various fields will be engaging in conversation in these comment sections. Each book section is posted along with graphics, an audio version, and related actions that can be taken. Check it out!

A teach-in on this topic is planned for 5:00-6:30 p.m. March 20, 2015, at University of the District of Columbia Law School at 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC, as part of four days of events planned by Spring Rising. Speaking will be David Swanson, author and director of World Beyond War; Matthew Hoh, a former State Department official who resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan; and Robert Fantina, author and journalist whose most recent book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.

"New York's 200-Year Conspiracy for Peace"

As a scholarly specialist on the American peace movement, I am sometimes telephoned for background information by journalists writing articles about current demonstrations against war or against nuclear weapons.  Almost invariably, they have no idea that the American peace movement has a rich history.  Or, if they realize that it does have such a history, they have no idea that that history goes back further than the Vietnam War.  This is a very big and unfortunate gap in their knowledge.  Actually, the American peace movement dates back two centuries and has involved millions of people (among them prominent figures like John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Jane Addams, Robert La Follette, John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr.).  Another relatively unknown fact is the importance of New York State―and particularly New York City―in that movement’s history.

Putin Wants to Eat Your Children

If U.S. television and politicians started saying that Saudi Arabia should be bombed because it kills and tortures innocent people, within a week many millions of Americans would demand just that. And because those voices do say that about ISIS, many millions of Americans do favor a war on ISIS.

My point is not that bombs would be worse than the problem addressed and would make the problem itself worse as well, although that's all true. Rather, my point is that most people who favor wars do so in order to blindly support a nation, and in blindly supporting that nation they allow it to dictate which wars they will favor. Although war supporters will give you reasons for the wars they favor, they actually favor whichever wars they are told to favor, and no others. And they'll give you the reasons they are told to believe in as well.

More often than not, the U.S. public is advised to favor a war on a single individual of demonic nature, even though a war against an individual is completely nonsensical. According to nonsensical propaganda, you don't bomb Iraqis; you bomb former-U.S.-ally Saddam Hussein. You don't bomb Afghans; you bomb former-U.S.-ally Osama bin Laden. You don't drone kill Pakistani and Yemeni and Somali children and women and men; you drone kill Al Qaeda Terrorist Number Three, over and over again. You don't liberate Libya from what stability it had; you kill former-U.S.-ally Muammar Gadaffi. You don't attack Panama; you attack former-U.S.-ally Manuel Noriega. Et cetera et cetera.

Well, it's Vladimir Putin's turn, which means Russia is at risk, which means the world is at risk, and yet the rough beast stumbling toward Bethlehem to be born is as oblivious to its conception as any unborn thing or television viewer.

The Washington Post has a criticism of the U.S. television show "House of Cards" as being unrealistic in its portrayal of a Putin character because the actor is too tall, the White House would never invite the Russian band Pussy Riot (jailed by Putin) to dinner with Putin, etc. If you actually watch the episode it gets a lot more unrealistic than that.

First the Putin character is made so obnoxious that you're supposed to take the sociopathic (hands-on) murderer who's the U.S. president for a nice reasonable guy. Then you're supposed to accept the whole pretense that the United States wants to and can create "peace" between Israel and its victims despite giving Israel billions of dollars of weapons every year and blocking all global accountability for its crimes. Then you're supposed to imagine that Russia and the United States can and should join forces and use those forces to violently bring about a state of nonviolence without ever even considering any of the grievances or injustices at the root of the problem.

Then comes a pretense that is central to the formulaic but muddy thinking that takes the U.S. into wars. When Pussy Riot protests Putin's domestic abuses, the U.S. president declares that he will follow their example and "stand up" to Putin. This equation between protesting domestic crimes and threatening military hostility from abroad is absolutely insane but absolutely standard in war propaganda.

And why does the President feel obliged to "stand up" to Putin? Because of how the negotiations had gone earlier in the program. The U.S. asked for Putin's help in "bringing peace" to the Middle East, and Putin said OK but I'd like you to take your missiles that are directed at Russia out of Eastern Europe. The President said he would pull out a small unspecified number but his doing so would have to be kept secret. Putin replied that such a bargain should not be secret and there would be no accountability if it were. And the U.S. President at that point freaked out, determined that Putin was an obnoxious jerk who ruined parties, imposed himself on the First Lady, and generally made everyone hate him as much as humanly possible, and therefore Russia deserved nothing and the world would be condemned to a greater likelihood of nuclear war.

You won't find that account in the Washington Post but you will see it if you watch the program. Or if you read U.S. magazines you'll find something similar. If you read U.S. books you'll find the same themes. If you listen to your Congress members you'll get the same general line. A war went from unpopular in 2013 to popular in 2014 because of some ugly videos of murders and the redirection of the war toward the murderers. Vladimir Putin is being set up as the reason for a popular war even as hostility is being provoked in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe.

This could be the last such set-up if we quickly learn our lesson and pull it back, or if we don't.

 

UPDATE:

Lee Camp points out to me that the song Pussy Riot sings at the end of the show has some interesting words:

prlyrics

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Mar 7, 2015


Clinton created multiple email addresses on private server, data show (VIDEO) - Fox News


VIDEO: Hacker exposes Hillary Clinton had multiple private emails - Fox News


Source: Top Aides Used Clinton Secret Email Accounts at State Dept. - gawker.com


Hillary's State Department used personal email widely, cited nine times by its own inspector general for improperly use - The Daily Caller


Clinton Wants You to See Her E-Mails, Except the Ones She Didn't Hand Over - Bloomberg Business


A Hillary Clinton Email That the State Department Could Not Find - The Atlantic


Clinton e-mail review could find security issues - The Washington Post


Experts tell Gawker: Hillary’s shoddy private e-mail security is a potential national security disaster - Hot Air


Clinton Email Domain Hosted by a Company That Was Hacked in 2010 and Had Data Redirected to Ukraine,  IP Address Reveals Link to British Virgin Islands - TheBlaze.com


6 questions that still need answers in the Hillary email controversy - The Washington Post


Hacker "Guccifer" first discovered Clinton's backchannel path - The Smoking Gun


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

It could be very long time before Hillary Clinton’s State Department e-mails see the light of day - The Washington Post


Exclusive: Internal cable from Clinton State Department office barred use of personal email - Fox News


Hillary’s State Dept. Forced The Resignation Of An Ambassador For Using Private E-Mail - TheHill


VIDEO: State Department Briefing: Hillary Clinton Emails - C-SPAN.org


White House was not aware that personal account was Clinton sole method of email and that she wasn’t keeping a record of her emails at the State Department - AP


White House alerted to potential Clinton email problem in August - POLITICO


VIDEO: Press Secretary Josh Earnest Asked About Hillary Email Scandal - ijreview.com

 

Associated Press Threatens Legal Action Over Request for Hillary Clinton Information - NYTimes.com


Benghazi investigation gets boost with Clinton email revelations - Bloomberg


Dems denounce subpoena for Hillary Clinton emails - POLITICO


Emails show Clinton aides running interference during Benghazi attack - Fox News


Dad of SEAL Killed in Benghazi Blasts Hillary Over Records Exposed By JW - Judicial Watch


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

POLL: Clinton loses ground against GOP in hypothetical 2016 matchups - McClatchy DC


Former HHS secretary Donna Shalala to run Clinton Foundation as Hillary prepares possible 2016 run - Fox News


Men Make Up Top 8 Most Highly Compensated Clinton Foundation Employees, Key women earned 63 cents for every dollar key men made - The Weekly Standard


Gold Mine: Hillary Clinton’s Brother Granted Super-Rare Mining Permit from Haiti After State Dept. Sent Country Billions - Breitbart


Clinton Can’t Shake Her Ties to Bob Menendez’s & His Pending Corruption Charges - ammoland.com


Clinton And Menendez’s Deep Ties - GOP

 

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U.S. Standing Alone Against Children

Lawrence Wittner points out that the United States will soon be the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And why not? Wittner focuses on general backward stupidness: the treaty would "override" the Constitution or the importance of families or the rights of parents. He points out the treaty's support for parents and families and the impossibility of overriding the Constitution -- which we might note in any case says nothing on the subject.

Then Wittner mentions some more substantive reasons for opposition:

"... in fairness to the critics, it must be acknowledged that some current American laws do clash with the Convention’s child protection features. For example, in the United States, children under the age of 18 can be jailed for life, with no possibility of parole. Also, as Human Rights Watch notes, “exemptions in U.S. child labor laws allow children as young as 12 to be put to work in agriculture for long hours and under dangerous conditions.” Moreover, the treaty prohibits cruel and degrading punishment of children―a possible source of challenge to the one-third of U.S. states that still allow corporal punishment in their schools."

That's actually a pretty major in-fairness-to-the-critics point. The United States wants to maintain the ability to lock children in cages for the rest of their lives or to work them in the fields or to physically abuse them in school. In fact, the child prison industry is a major presence in the United States.

And there's another industry that has a dog in this fight. The U.S. military openly recruits children.

And let's not forget that there are children on the drone kill list and children who have been killed with drone strikes.

There are other nations that engage in some of these same abuses. Is it better to ratify a basic human rights treaty and violate it or to refuse to ratify it because you intend to act against it as a matter of principle?

I'm inclined to think the latter suggests the further remove from decent tendencies.

"SHUT DOWN CREECH!" - MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY FROM THE GERMAN DRONE CAMPAIGN

The German Drone Campaign (Drohnen-Kampagne) sends greetings of solidarity for your courageous actions on March 4th-6th in Nevada to "Shut Down Creech!"

The German Drone Campaign was founded in March 2013. Since then nearly 150 organizations and tens of thousands of individuals in Germany have endorsed our call against the use of drone technology for war, surveillance and oppression.

We in Germany have been inspired by the strong efforts and the many sacrifices made by U.S. citizens to stop murder by drone, beginning with actions of civil disobedience in Creech in 2009.  We were honored to work together with you on mounting the successful Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing on October 4, 2014, with more than 60 local actions worldwide (see http://globaldayofaction.nationbuilder.com/view_all_events_oct_1st_12th).  In Berlin, we flew kites at the historic Reichstag, which is now the seat of the GermanParliament:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uwehiksch/sets/72157647956651900/with/15253158070/

Under German law, extra-judicial "targeted" drone killings are murders that must be prosecuted.  Each of the U.S. drone murders begins with a phone call from the drone pilot at Creech or another base in the U.S. to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, according to the testimony of former drone pilots in the U.S.A.  If the German government were to prohibit the use of Ramstein Air Base for the illegal U.S. drone strikes, which by law it must, this would immediately put a stop these drone murders. 


The Drone Campaign and other concerned German citizens, as well as leading German media, NGOs, and Members of the German Parliament,  have taken first steps to end the complicity of the German government in allowing the use of U.S. military  bases in Germany, such as Ramstein and AFRICOM, for the illegal U.S. drone wars.  
 
And in February 2014 European Parliament  passed by an overwhelming majority (534 to 49) a Joint Resolution demanding that the European Council and the European states "ensure that the Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states." 

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+MOTION+P7-RC-2014-0201+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

We see it as our special responsibility to build a movement in Germany which will bring sufficient pressure on the German government so as to end the illegal U.S. drone wars that are killing and terrorizing so many innocent people.

Let us work together hand in hand going forward to end the use of drones for surveillance and killing.

Thank you for your courageous efforts!

German Drone Campaign (Drohnen-Kampagne)

Review of 'Confessions of a Terrorist – A Novel'

Guest post: Anita McKone

If you have ever asked ‘Why?... How could they do this?’ in response to the latest report of terrorism, then Confessions of a Terrorist is the novel for you. But only if you genuinely want to find out the answers.

Yon Petraeus Has a Lean and Hungry Look

Gen. Petraeus: Too Big to Jail



Editor Note:  While lesser Americans face years in jail for leaking secrets – even to inform fellow citizens of government abuses – retired Gen. David Petraeus gets a misdemeanor wrist-slap for exposing covert officers and lying about it, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was jailed just for trying to ask Petraeus a question.

By Ray McGovern

Veterans to Drone Operators: “We will help you if you decide you cannot kill.”

Veterans groups are offering support to Drone Operators and Support Personnel who decide they no longer want to participate in drone assassinations.

Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War have joined with peace activists from around the U.S. who are camped outside of Creech AFB this week, just north of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Civil disobedience actions are being planned at Creech AFB for early Friday morning, March 6.

It is not normal or healthy for human beings to kill other human beings,” said Gerry Condon, Vice President of Veterans For Peace. “Many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and 'moral injury' for the rest of their lives. The suicide rate for active duty GI's and veterans is extremely high.

We are here to offer a helping hand to our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who cannot in good conscience continue to participate in killing human beings, many of them innocent civilians, half way around the globe,” continued Gerry Condon.

The message to Creech airmen says, in part:

We encourage you to think carefully about your place in the scheme of things. Can you, in good conscience, continue to participate in killing other human beings, no matter how remotely? If, after serious soul-searching, you come to believe you are against all wars, you can apply for a discharge from the Air Force as a Conscientious Objector. If you need advice, there are conscientious objector organizations that can help you.

Military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes, according to international law, U.S. law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And then there are the higher moral laws.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you decide to refuse illegal orders or to resist illegal wars, we are here to support you.”

In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones. In 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal. Last year, in 2014, it was leaked that the CIA's drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force's, has been piloted all along by Creech's super-secret Squadron 17.

According to recent independent research, the identity of only one out of 28 victims of drone strikes is known beforehand. Though officials deny it, the majority of those killed by drones are civilians.

Entire Message from Veterans to Drone Operators and Support Personnel
is below:

 

Message from Veterans to Drone Operators

and Support Personnel at Creech Air Force Base

 

To our Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters at Creech Air Force Base,

This week, veterans of the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are arriving in Nevada to join protests outside Creech Air Force Base against Drone Warfare. We are not protesting against you, the airmen (and women) who are drone operators and support personnel.

We are reaching out to you because we understand the position you that you are in. We were once in that position ourselves, some of us quite recently. We know what it feels like to be caught up in strange and brutal wars not of our own making, and not clearly in the interests of our nation. We want to share some of our hard won truths, and to offer you our support.

We know that drone operators and support personnel have a tough job. We understand that you are not playing video games, but rather engaging in life and death situations on a daily basis. You are not targeted and don't have to worry about being killed and wounded. But you are human beings with feelings who suffer nonetheless. You have a conscience too.

It is not normal or healthy for human beings to kill other human beings. Many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and “moral injury” for the rest of their lives. The suicide rate for active duty GI's and veterans is extremely high.

No matter how you spin it, your job involves killing other human beings, thousands of miles away, who are not threatening you. No doubt you want to know who these people are. According to recent independent research, the identity of only one out of 28 victims of drone strikes is known beforehand. Though officials deny it, the majority of those killed by drones are civilians.

As veterans who have served in many wars and on many military bases, we have been educating ourselves about what goes on at Creech AFB. In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones. In 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal. Last year, in 2014, it was leaked that the CIA's drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force's, has been piloted all along by Creech's super-secret Squadron 17.

The U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been disasters
for the people of those countries. These wars have also been a disaster for the soldiers, marines, airmen (and women) who were forced to fight them, as well as their families.

The ISIS terrorist threat of today would not exist if the U.S. had not invaded and occupied Iraq. Likewise, the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia is creating more terrorism, not eliminating it. And, as many veterans have painfully discovered, these wars have been based on lies, and have more to do with rich men's dreams of empire than they do with the defense of our country and the well being of the common people.

So what can you do about it? You are in the military now. There are serious consequences for those who dare to question the mission. That is true. But there are also serious consequences for those who do not. We have to be able to live with ourselves.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

We encourage you to think carefully about your place in the scheme of things. Can you, in good conscience, continue to participate in killing other human beings, no matter how remotely?

If, after serious soul-searching, you come to believe you are against all wars, you can apply for a discharge from the Air Force as a Conscientious Objector.

If you need advice, there are conscientious objector organizations that can help you.

Military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes, according to international law, U.S. law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And then there are the higher moral laws.

If you decide to refuse illegal orders or to resist illegal wars, we are here to support you.

Please also consider joining us to make common cause with fellow veterans who are working for peace at home and peace abroad. We welcome active duty members.

You can find out more at the websites listed below.

Veterans For Peace

www.veteransforpeace.org

Iraq Veterans Against War

www.ivaw.org

To Know Your Rights, Call the GI Rights Hotline

http://girightshotline.org/

Courage To Resist

www.couragetoresist.org

Are Pilots Deserting Washington's Remote-Control War?

A New Form of War May Be Producing a New Form of Mental Disturbance 
By Pratap Chatterjee, TomDispatch

The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known U.S. Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress -- significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.

They typically “fly” missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over U.S. soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen where they are ordered to kill “high value targets” from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conducting deadly strikes on militants of ISIL.

Each of these combat air patrols involves three to four drones, usually Hellfire-missile-armed Predators and Reapers built by southern California’s General Atomics, and each takes as many as 180 staff members to fly them. In addition to pilots, there are camera operators, intelligence and communications experts, and maintenance workers. (The newer Global Hawk surveillance patrols need as many as 400 support staff.)

The Air Force is currently under orders to staff 65 of these regular “combat air patrols” around the clock as well as to support a Global Response Force on call for emergency military and humanitarian missions. For all of this, there should ideally be 1,700 trained pilots. Instead, facing an accelerating dropout rate that recently drove this figure below 1,000, the Air Force has had to press regular cargo and jet pilots as well as reservists into becoming instant drone pilots in order to keep up with the Pentagon’s enormous appetite for real-time video feeds from around the world.

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war -- by remote control -- is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward's war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Killing Up Close and Personal From Afar

There can be no question that drone pilots resent the way other Air Force pilots see them as second-class citizens. "It's tough working night shifts watching your buddies do great things in the field while you're turning circles in the sky," a drone instructor named Ryan told Mother Jones magazine. His colleagues, he says, call themselves the “lost generation.”

“Everyone else thinks that the whole program or the people behind it are a joke, that we are video-game warriors, that we're Nintendo warriors,” Brandon Bryant, a former drone camera operator who worked at Nellis Air Force Base, toldDemocracy Now.

Certainly, there is nothing second-class about the work tempo of drone life. Pilots log 900-1,800 hours a year compared to a maximum of 300 hours annually for regular Air Force pilots. And the pace is unrelenting. “A typical person doing this mission over the last seven or eight years has worked either six or seven days a week, twelve hours a day,” General Welsh told NPR recently. “And that one- or two-day break at the end of it is really not enough time to take care of that family and the rest of your life.”

The pilots wholeheartedly agree. "It's like when your engine temperature gauge is running just below the red area on your car’s dashboard, but instead of slowing down and relieving the stress on the engine, you put the pedal to the floor," one drone pilot told Air Force Times. "You are sacrificing the engine to get a short burst of speed with no real consideration to the damage being caused."

The Air Force has come up with a pallid interim “solution.” It is planning to offer experienced drone pilots a daily raise of about $50. There's one problem, though: since so many pilots leave the service early, only a handful have enough years of experience to qualify for this bonus. Indeed, the Air Force concedes that just 10 of them will be able to claim the extra bounty this year, striking testimony to the startling levels of job turnover among such pilots.

Most 18Xs say that their jobs are tougher and significantly more upfront and personal than those of the far more glamorous jet pilots. “[A] Predator operator is so much more involved in what is going on than your average fast-moving jetfighter pilot, or your B-52, B-1, B-2 pilots, who will never even see their target,” Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Black, a former Air Force drone pilot says. “A Predator pilot has been watching his target[s], knows them intimately, knows where they are, and knows what’s around them."

Some say that the drone war has driven them over the edge. "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile? How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, wrote in the Guardian. "When you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience."

"It was horrifying to know how easy it was. I felt like a coward because I was halfway across the world and the guy never even knew I was there,” Bryant told KNPR Radio in Nevada. "I felt like I was haunted by a legion of the dead. My physical health was gone, my mental health was crumbled. I was in so much pain I was ready to eat a bullet myself."

Many drone pilots, however, defend their role in targeted killings. “We’re not killing people for the fun of it. It would be the same if we were the guys on the ground,” mission controller Janet Atkins told Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. “You have to get to [the enemy] somehow or all of you will die.”

Others like Bruce Black are proud of their work. “I was shooting two weeks after I got there and saved hundreds of people, including Iraqis and Afghanis," he told his hometown newspaper in New Mexico. "We'd go down to Buffalo Wild Wings, drink beer and debrief. It was surreal. It didn't take long for you to realize how important the work is. The value that the weapon system brings to the fight is not apparent till you're there. People have a hard time sometimes seeing that."

Measuring Pilot Stress

So whom does one believe? Janet Atkins and Bruce Black, who claim that drone pilots are overworked heroes? Or Brandon Bryant and Heather Linebaugh, who claim that remotely directed targeted killings caused them mental health crises?

Military psychologists have been asked to investigate the phenomenon. A team of psychologists at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio has published a series of studies on drone pilot stress. One 2011 study concluded that nearly half of them had "high operational stress." A number also exhibited "clinical distress" -- that is, anxiety, depression, or stress severe enough to affect them in their personal lives.

Wayne Chappelle, a lead author in a number of these studies, nonetheless concludes that the problem is mostly a matter of overwork caused by the chronic shortage of pilots. His studies appear to show that post-traumatic stress levels are actually lower among drone pilots than in the general population. Others, however, question these numbers. Jean Otto and Bryant Webber of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, caution that the lack of stress reports may only “reflect artificial underreporting of the concerns of pilots due to the career-threatening effects of [mental health] diagnoses, [which] include removal from flying status, loss of flight pay, and diminished competitiveness for promotion.”

Seeing Everything, Missing the Obvious

One thing is clear: the pilots are not just killing “bad guys” and they know it because, as Black points out, they see everything that happens before, during, and after a drone strike.

Indeed, the only detailed transcript of an actual Air Force drone surveillance mission and targeted killing to be publicly released illustrates this all too well. The logs recorded idle chatter on February 21, 2010, between drone operators at Creech Air Force base in Nevada coordinating with video analysts at Air Force special operations headquarters in Okaloosa, Florida, and with Air Force pilots in a rural part of Daikondi province in central Afghanistan. On that day, three vehicles were seen traveling in a pre-dawn convoy carrying about a dozen people each. Laboring under the mistaken belief that the group were “insurgents” out to kill some nearby U.S. soldiers on a mission, the drone team decided to attack.

Controller: “We believe we may have a high-level Taliban commander.”

Camera operator: “Yeah, they called a possible weapon on the military-age male mounted in the back of the truck.”

Intelligence coordinator: “Screener said at least one child near SUV.”

Controller: “Bullshit! Where? I don’t think they have kids out this hour. I know they’re shady, but come on!”

Camera operator “A sweet [expletive]! Geez! Lead vehicle on the run and bring the helos in!”

Moments later, Kiowa helicopter pilots descended and fired Hellfire missiles at the vehicle.

Controller: “Take a look at this one. It was hit pretty good. It’s a little toasty! That truck is so dead!”

Within 20 minutes, after the survivors of the attack had surrendered, the transcript recorded the sinking feelings of the drone pilots as they spotted women and children in the convoy and could not find any visual evidence of weapons.

A subsequent on-the-ground investigation established that not one of the people killed was anything other than an ordinary villager. "Technology can occasionally give you a false sense of security that you can see everything, that you can hear everything, that you know everything," Air Force Major General James Poss, who oversaw an investigation into the incident, later told the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, Obama administration officials claim that such incidents are rare. In June 2011, when CIA Director John Brennan was still the White House counterterrorism adviser, he addressed the issue of civilian deaths in drone strikes and made this bold claim: “Nearly for the past year, there hasn’t been a single collateral death, because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”

His claim and similar official ones like it are, politely put, hyperbolic. “You Never Die Twice,” a new report by Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve, a British-based human rights organization, settles the question quickly by showing that some men on the White House “kill list” of terror suspects to be taken out have “'died' as many as seven times."

Gibson adds, “We found 41 names of men who seemed to have achieved the impossible. This raises a stark question. With each failed attempt to assassinate a man on the kill list, who filled the body bag in his place?” In fact, Reprieve discovered that, in going after those 41 “targets” numerous times, an estimated 1,147 people were killed in Pakistan by drones. Typical was the present leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In two strikes against “him” over the years, according to Reprieve, 76 children and 29 adults have died, but not al-Zawahiri.

Deserting the Cubicle

Back in the United States, a combination of lower-class status in the military, overwork, and psychological trauma appears to be taking its mental toll on drone pilots. During the Vietnam War, soldiers would desert, flee to Canada, or even “frag” -- kill -- their officers. But what do you do when you’ve had it with your war, but your battle station is a cubicle in Nevada and your weapon is a keyboard?

Is it possible that, like their victims in Pakistan and Yemen who say that they are going mad from the constant buzz of drones overhead and the fear of sudden death without warning, drone pilots, too, are fleeing into the night as soon as they can? Since the Civil War in the U.S., war of every modern sort has produced mental disturbances that have been given a variety of labels, including what we today call PTSD. In a way, it would be surprising if a completely new form of warfare didn’t produce a new form of disturbance.

We don’t yet know just what this might turn out to be, but it bodes ill for the form of battle that the White House and Washington are most proud of -- the well-advertised, sleek, new, robotic, no-casualty, precision conflict that now dominates the war on terror. Indeed if the pilots themselves are dropping out of desktop killing, can this new way of war survive?

Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch. He is the author of Halliburton's Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War and Iraq, Inc. His next book, Verax, a graphic novel about whistleblowers and mass surveillance co-authored by Khalil Bendib, will be published by Metropolitan Books in 2016.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Pratap Chatterjee

How Did Syria Get Here?

Wars may be how Americans learn geography, but do they always learn the history of how the geography was shaped by wars? I've just read Syria: A History of the Last Hundred Years by John McHugo. It's very heavy on the wars, which is always a problem with how we tell history, since it convinces people that war is normal. But it also makes clear that war wasn't always normal in Syria.

Syria-mapSyria was shaped by and remains to this day outraged by the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (in which Britain and France divided up things that didn't belong to either of them), the 1917 Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised Zionists land it didn't own known as Palestine or Southern Syria), and the 1920 San Remo Conference at which Britain, France, Italy, and Japan used rather arbitrary lines to create the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, the British Mandate of Palestine (including Jordan), and the British Mandate of Iraq.

Between 1918 and 1920, Syria attempted to set up a constitutional monarchy; and McHugo considers that effort to be the closest Syria has come to self-determination. Of course, that was ended by the San Remo Conference at which a bunch of foreigners sat in a villa in Italy and decided that France must save Syria from the Syrians.

So 1920 to 1946 was a period of French misrule and oppression and brutal violence. The French strategy of divide and rule resulted in the separation of Lebanon. The French interests, as McHugo tells it, seem to have been profits and special benefits for Christians. The French legal obligation for the "mandate" was to help Syria reach the point of being able to rule itself. But, of course, the French had very little interest in letting the Syrians rule themselves, the Syrians could hardly have ruled themselves worse than the French did, and the entire pretense was without any legal controls on or supervision of the French. So, the Syrian protests appealed to the Rights of Man but were met with violence. The protests included Muslims and Christians and Jews, but the French remained to protect minorities or at least to pretend to protect them while encouraging sectarian division.

On April 8, 1925, Lord Balfour visited Damascus where 10,000 protesters greeted him shouting "Down with the Balfour agreement!" The French had to escort him out of town. In the mid 1920s the French killed 6,000 rebel fighters and destroyed the homes of 100,000 people. In the 1930s the Syrians created protests, strikes, and boycotts of French-owned businesses. In 1936 four protesters were killed, and 20,000 people attended their funeral before launching a general strike. And still the French, like the British in India and the rest of their empire, remained.

Toward the end of World War II, France proposed to "end" their occupation of Syria without ending it, something like the current U.S. occupation of Afghanistan that has "ended" while it continues. In Lebanon, the French arrested the president and prime minister but were forced to free them after strikes and demonstrations in both Lebanon and Syria. The protests in Syria grew. France shelled Damascus killing possibly 400. The British came in. But in 1946 the French and the British left Syria, a nation where the people refused to cooperate with foreign rule.

Bad times, rather than good, lay ahead. The British and the future-Israelis stole Palestine, and a flood of refugees headed for Syria and Lebanon in 1947-1949, from which they have yet to return. And the (first?) Cold War began. In 1949, with Syria the only nation not to have signed an armistice with Israel and refusing to allow a Saudi oil pipeline to cross its land, a military coup was executed in Syria with CIA involvement -- predating 1953 Iran and 1954 Guatemala.

But the United States and Syria could not form an alliance because the United States was allied with Israel and opposed to rights for Palestinians. Syria got its first Soviet weapons in 1955. And the U.S. and Britain began a long-term and ongoing project of drawing up and revising plans to attack Syria. In 1967 Israel attacked and stole the Golan Heights which it has occupied illegally ever since. In 1973 Syria and Egypt attacked Israel but failed to take back the Golan Heights. Syria's interests in negotiations for many years to come would focus on the return of Palestinians to their land and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. U.S. interests in peace negotiations during the Cold War were not in peace and stability but in winning nations to its side against the Soviet Union. The mid-1970s civil war in Lebanon added to Syria's problems. Peace talks for Syria effectively ended with the 1996 election of Netanyahu as prime minister of Israel.

From 1970 to 2000 Syria was ruled by Hafez al-Assad, from 2000 to the present by his son Bashar al-Assad. Syria supported the U.S. in Gulf War I. But in 2003 the U.S. proposed to attack Iraq and declared that all nations must be "with us or against us?" Syria could not declare itself "with the United States" while the suffering of Palestinians was on TV every night in Syria and the United States was not with Syria. In fact, the Pentagon in 2001 had Syria on a list of seven countries it planned to "take out."

The chaos, violence, destitution, sectarian division, rage, and weaponry that flooded the region with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 impacted Syria and of course led to the creation of groups like ISIS. The Arab Spring in Syria turned violent. Sectarian rivalries, the growing demand for water and resources, the arms and fighters supplied by regional and global rivalries brought Syria into a living hell. Over 200,000 have died, over 3 million have left the country, six and a half million are internally displaced, 4.6 million are living where fighting is ongoing. If this were a natural disaster, a focus on humanitarian aid would gain some interest, and at the very least the U.S. government would not be focused on adding more wind or waves. But this is not a natural disaster. It is, among other things, a proxy war in a region heavily armed by the United States, with Russia on the side of the Syrian government.

In 2013 public pressure helped prevent a massive U.S. bombing campaign on Syria, but the weapons and trainers kept flowing and no real alternative was pursued. In 2013 Israel gave a company a license to explore for gas and oil on the Golan Heights. By 2014 Western "experts" were talking about the war needing to "run its course," while the U.S. attacked certain Syrian rebels while arming others who sometimes surrendered the weapons to those the U.S. was attacking and who were also being funded by wealthy Gulf U.S. allies and fueled by fighters created out of the infernos the United States had brought to Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc., and who were also being attacked by Iran which the United States also opposes. By 2015, "experts" were talking about "partitioning" Syria, which brings us full circle.

Drawing lines on a map can teach you geography. It cannot cause people to lose attachments to people and places they love and live with. Arming and attacking regions of the globe can sell weapons and candidates. It cannot bring peace or stability. Blaming ancient hatreds and religions can win applause and provide a sense of superiority. It cannot explain the mass slaughter, the division, and the devastation that are in large part imported to a region cursed with natural resources desired by and vicinity to crusaders whose new holy grail is the so-called responsibility to protect but who'd rather not mention who they actually feel responsible to and what they're actually protecting.

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'Cape Cod 1966'

We used to have picnics on a bayside beach.

My grandmother was too frail to walk on the sand,
So we used to carry her from the car
Which made her grumble,
Which was just grandma.
We never knew how much she hated being carried
Because we were so busy feeling manly,
My brother and I.
And once we got her settled out of the breeze
She would say
“There, this is nice. . .” or something like that...


Iowa GOP Lawmaker: Rick Perry’s Involvement With Bakken Fracked Oil Pipeline “A Bad Idea”

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

By David Goodner and Steve Horn 

Everyday Iowa voters are less likely to caucus for former Texas governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry “because of his involvement” with a controversial oil pipeline proposal, according to an influential state lawmaker who has made eminent domain one of his signature issues in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Bobby Kaufmann Rick Perry

Photo Credit: Iowa House Republicans

“Politically speaking, I am not sure there is as much upside for him to be involved as there is downside,” Iowa state representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) told DeSmogBlog. “People would likely not vote for him for being involved with the pipeline.” 

Last month, DeSmogBlog broke news that Perry’s appointment to the Board of Directors of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) could cost him support in the Iowa Caucuses. Energy Transfer Partners is a Texas-based company whose subsidiary, Dakota Access, LLC, has petitioned the state of Iowa to build a pipeline to transport up to 575,000 barrels per day of oil obtained from North Dakota's Bakken Shale via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)

Kaufmann’s statement to DeSmogBlog marks the first public criticism of Perry on this issue by a sitting Republican lawmaker. It also comes on the heels of Perry’s scheduled March 7 return to Iowa to speak at the Iowa Ag Summit alongside other likely Republican presidential candidates.

Kaufmann’s remarks to DeSmogBlog also come in the aftermath of Iowa’s paper of record, The Des Moines Register, releasing a poll finding that 74 percent of Iowans are opposed to the use of eminent domain to build the pipeline.

“I think any presidential candidate’s association with eminent domain could be unhelpful” to them in the Iowa Caucuses, Kaufmann said. 

Libya News - Mar 5, 2015


Oil fields burned by Islamic State militants, Libyan authorities say - EUROPE ONLINE


Airstrikes target purported Islamic State militants after they attack central Libyan oil field - Star Tribune


Libya Declares Force Majeure on Oil Fields in Central Region - WSJ


Libya asks U.N. for arms, jets, tanks to battle Islamic State: letter - Reuters


Italian Navy sending ships towards Libya's coast, energy group ENI owns offshore oil platforms and a pipeline - breitbart.com


Why Libya is ringing alarm bells in Italy - The Local


Italy rescues 1000 refugees from Mediterranean over two days, 10 people found dead - The Guardian


US official: ISIS Has Turned Libya Into New Support Base, Safe Haven (VIDEO) - foxnews.com


Libya FM: 5,000 Foreign Fighters Flock to Libya as ISIS Call for Jihadists - newsweek.com


ISIS Sets Sights on the Mediterranean - gatestoneinstitute.org


Abdelhakim Belhadj, a U.S.-backed rebel, reportedly leads Islamic State in Libya - Washington Times


PHOTO: Would that be the same Abdelhakim Belhadj that SenJohnMcCain is so chummy with? Asking for a friend - Patrick Poole on Twitter

 

Libya: clashes between army-ISIS in central Benghazi - ANSAMed.it


Another Copt Beheaded in Libya as Patriarch Meets Families of 21 Martyrs - Breitbart


The Ancient Sites Now Under Threat From ISIS in Libya - newsweek.com


Egypt gearing up for major attack on militants in Libya - Washington Times


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

At the UN Security Council special envoy Leon warns Libya faces disintegration if political crisis is not resolved - libyaherald.com


Libya crisis ‘festering,’ UN envoy Leon warns, urging decisive action to build national unity - United Nations News Centre


Coverage of Security Council Briefing on Festering Unrest in Libya - ReliefWeb


UN announce details of Libya peace talks, will discuss the positions of prime minister and deputy prime minister in the proposed national unity government - spyghana


Anti-ISIS deal between Tripoli, Tobruk 'never closer': UN special envoy - ANSA.it


UN report paints damning picture of foreign complicity in rearming Libya - libyaherald.com


Rival forces in Libya carry out tit-for-tat strikes before UN talks - timesofmalta.com


Libya's Haftar appointed army chief for recognized government - Reuters


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

House committee subpoenas Clinton emails in Benghazi probe, she ran her own email server while in office - The Washington Post


Using Private Email, Hillary Clinton Thwarted Record Requests - NYTimes.com


Clinton’s E-Mail System Built For Privacy Though Not Security - Bloomberg Business


Why Clinton's Private Email Server Was Such a Security Fail - WIRED


Panel's head Democrat: Make Clinton's Benghazi emails public - CNN.com


Hacked emails: Money from “wealthy Sunni Islamists in Saudi Arabia” financed Benghazi attack, Intel reportedly sent to Hillary Clinton by staffer - wnd.com


State Dept. misled on Benghazi bombing three months before the Sept. 11 attack on the same compound? Declassified Pentagon documents show no response to previous terror strike - wnd.com


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Avoids Email Scandal at Emily's List Gala, Teases Presidential Run - YouTube

 

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


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General Petraeus Speaks on Afghanistan; Will be Greeted by Street Protest Over War Leadership

What: Protest & Photo Op outside speech by General David Petraeus
When: Wednesday March 4 5:30 pm - Where: New-York Historical Society, Central Park West @ 77th Street
Months ago, when the New-York Historical Society announced that General David Petraeus would speak about the U.S. war on Afghanistan, groups opposed to the U.S.

Gagged and Censored: Justice is not Served for Drone Protester in Wisconsin Court

By Joy First

In May of 2014 Bonnie Block and Jim Murphy were arrested at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard Base that trains operators to pilot Shadow drones with cameras to do surveillance and “target acquisition” so that the Predator and Reaper drones (remotely piloted from other US military bases) can drop Hellfire missiles on presumed militants in multiple countries.  Bonnie and Jim are both part of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars and have been protesting drones at Volk Field every month for more than three years.

Last May Bonnie and Jim went on a bus tour of Volk Field as part of an open house to which the public was invited.  When the bus stopped at a museum on the base, they got off and tried to hand out flyers to others who were on the tour.  They were told to stop handing out their “propaganda” and leave the base.  Since they had come by the tour bus they had no way of leaving on their own and yet they were arrested for trespassing and taken to the Juneau County Jail.  They were released on bail and the ultimate charge was an ordinance violation of “trespass to land.”

In September, Jim was found guilty in a bench trial and ordered to pay a fine.

Bonnie asked for a jury trial and, in response, the Juneau County District Attorney filed a Motion in Limine, asking that Bonnie be prohibited from making “any argument that is known to be false or irrelevant to the issues before the Court” including among other things the policies of the US Government, International laws, the Charter or certain Resolutions of the United Nations, or moral or ethical strictures believed in by the defendant.  She was also prohibited from commenting in any way “that her prosecution was a violation of any Constitutional or International Right or privilege.”  This hearing was on March 3, 2015 in Mauston, WI. 

It is common for prosecutors to file a Motion in Limine when a jury will be hearing a case against protesters, and this is something that we must continue to vociferously object to.  In this case, the prosecutor had 25 points listed in his Motion, including 19 that asked the Court to prohibit Bonnie’s possible defense in some way.  It looked like he used a boilerplate document that was more applicable to a criminal trial and he actually withdrew 8 of them when Bonnie objected.  Many of the points were simple procedural issues that Bonnie didn’t object to and the judge quickly granted. 

Of course, the important matters of the motion revolved around whether Bonnie could raise Constitutional free speech issues or provide any of the reasons she has for opposing drone warfare and handing out a leaflet raising four questions about drones.  The judge also forbade Bonnie to make any reference to jury nullification i.e. asking the jury to ignore the facts and nullify the jury instructions in reaching their verdict.  He did allow that juries have this right, but Bonnie is not allowed to raise it.

In arguing for her right to speak about drones, the US Constitution, or why she was handing out leaflets, Bonnie said that she needs to be able to tell the whole truth for there to be a fair trial.  Otherwise the jury could presume she was on the base for no good reason.  Prohibiting this in a pretrial order prevents her from presenting a defense for her action.  She argued that the prosecutor can object during the trial if something is improper and the judge can make a ruling at that point.  Bonnie said that these pretrial motions are overbroad and will have a chilling effect because she will have to wonder if something inadvertent will result in her being found in contempt.

The judge responded saying that this charge is about trespass and that is all that is going to be tried.  Political beliefs are not going to be allowed.  If Bonnie talked about drones or international law or the US Constitution, it could mislead the jury.  He went on to say that there is no way they will get through the trial without referencing the leaflet that Bonnie and Jim were attempting to distribute, but neither side, nor any witness, can say anything about the actual content of that leaflet.  If these rules are not followed the judge will grant a mistrial and impose sanctions.

Bonnie said that this trial is about a constitutional free speech issue and the jury should be the ones to decide on whether she was trespassing or had a constitutional right to be on the base sharing her literature.  The judge responded that deciding about constitutional issues is not up to the jury and Bonnie will not be allowed to bring that up.

Bonnie will now be going to trial on April 1 without being able to offer a strong defense.  Her ability to do so has been taken away by the prosecutor and the judge before the trial even begins.  This happens so many times in trials for protestors and it is outrageous.  We are gagged and then we are censored.

As we consider this grave miscarriage of justice in Wisconsin, we realize it is all part of a bigger system of illegal actions by our government.  Our hearts and minds hold the images of the children, the mothers and fathers, the grandparents who have been murdered by US drone strikes, remembering that the training for this program of targeted assassination begins at places like Volk Field, and knowing for certain that the resistance must continue.

For more information contact Bonnie at blbb24@att.net or Joy at joyfirst5@gmail.com

TV ad airing in Las Vegas asks drone pilots to refuse to fly

This advertisement does a number of things in 15 seconds that U.S. television has not done before. It presents a moral case against drone murders (the U.S. government's terminology, and strictly accurate). It opposes drone murders as illegal. It shows victims. It provides the name and website of an organization opposing drone murders. And it directly asks drone "pilots" to refuse to continue. It also makes the Nuremberg argument that an illegal order need not (in fact must not) be obeyed.

This is, as far as I know, and as far as its producers know, the first anti-drone-war commercial on U.S. television, as well as -- I believe -- the first content of any sort on U.S. corporate television to do the things listed above.

This ad is airing from February 28 to March 6 on CNN, MSNBC and other networks in the Las Vegas area, just a few miles from Creech Air Force Base, a major drone operating and training facility where a major protest is underway. It will begin airing in other cities soon.

DSC07207

"We produced this spot to make the point as powerfully as possible that drone killing is horrifying, illegal and immoral," said Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com which sponsored the ad.

In case the pilots viewing the ad fail to grasp the sincerety of its producers, they might consider reading this letter:

To: James Cluff, Commander, Creech AFB

Dear Commander Cluff,

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

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

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

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

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

STOP THE KILLING, END DRONE WARFARE!

Jackie Barshak
CODEPINK
Women for Peace

Protest at Petraeus Speech Tonight in NYC

General Petraeus Speaks Tonight on Afghanistan; Will be Greeted by Street Protest Over War Leadership

What: Protest & Photo Op outside speech by General David Petraeus
When: Wednesday March 4 5:30 pm
Where: New-York Historical Society, Central Park West @ 77th Street

Months ago, when the New-York Historical Society announced that General David Petraeus would speak about the U.S. war on Afghanistan, groups opposed to the U.S. wars in the Middle East announced they would protest outside the speech tonight.

Petraeus was head of the U.S. military's Central Command; led the "surge" in Iraq; commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan during the highest period of civilian casualties, and briefly led the CIA until resigning in scandal. These actions led War Criminals Watch to highlight Petraeus as a "war criminal in illegitimate, immoral, unjust wars, whose actions should be exposed and visibly protested, rather than commended."

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Petraeus will likely plead guilty to a misdemeanor for mishandling classified materials, receiving a fine and probation, but no felony conviction or prison time, for giving secret information to his biographer.

Upon learning of the Department of Justice’s “preferential option for the poor” regarding Petraeus, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern labeled this a classic case of “prosecutorial indiscretion” and made this statement:

            When former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sent to prison for inadvertently revealing the name of one Agency official cognizant of Agency torture, here’s what Neil MacBride, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said: "The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger."

            At which point Petraeus, then CIA director, sent a memo to Agency employees applauding Kiriakou's conviction and noting, “It marks an important victory for our agency ...  there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy."

            Consequences for Kiriakou, but now, demonstrably, NOT for Petraeus, who reportedly gave what MacBride considers "highly sensitive" information to his mistress, including the names of all the U.S. covert agents in Afghanistan – and then lied about it to FBI investigators, which I think you're also not supposed to do.

 Mr. McGovern is available for interview.

Sponsored by War Criminals Watch, World Can't Wait.  Endorsed by Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 NYC and CodePink.

VIETNAM: THE POWER OF PROTEST

Flyer PDF.

SAVE THE DATES: Friday evening, May 1 and all-day Saturday, May 2

Telling the Truth, Learning the Lessons

The Pentagon has a ten-year plan (funded by a $60 million appropriation from Congress) to use the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War as an opportunity to re-write the history of the war. Some of us have gotten together to push back, as reported in a front page article in the NY Times in October. We have to build a strong and sustained effort to tell the truth about the war, the role of the anti-
war movement in ending it, the war’s lessons for today and the war’s consequences for the Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, as well as many American veterans. May 2nd is the kick-off for this effort.

All of us who opposed the Vietnam War and more recent ones, plus speakers including major leaders from the anti-Vietnam War movement.

A full day of talks, workshops and a march on Saturday, plus cultural events on Friday and  Saturday evenings.

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
1313 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

For more information, contact Terry Provance at 202.686.7483 and terryprovance@gmail.com or Barbara Helmick at 202.462.6702 and helmick.b.a@gmail.com.

To make a contribution, please make your check out to our 501c3 fiscal sponsor, the Center for International Policy, 2000 M Street NW,  Suite 720, Washington DC 20036. Please note that the contribution is for the Vietnam Peace Commemoration project. Thank you.

Ukraine/Russia News - Mar 4, 2015


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Russia Bans Crop Imports From Ukraine - Financial Tribune Daily


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


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


More on Ukraine additional import charge - Lexology


VIDEO: Watch Ukrainian Rada erupt in mass brawl - YouTube


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

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

Dear Drone Commander, We Know You're Human

To: James Cluff, Commander, Creech AFB

Dear Commander Cluff,

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

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

DSC07207

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

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

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

STOP THE KILLING, END DRONE WARFARE!

Jackie Barshak
CODEPINK
Women for Peace

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

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

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

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive[not working at moment] or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

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

By Alfredo Lopez

 

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

Admit that torture does not work

To: Keifer Sutherland and Kathryn Bigelow

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

Admit that torture does not work

Why is this important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign the petition.

Learn more with:

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

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

Donald Canestraro: Experienced Interrogator: Torture Doesn't Work

Speaking Events

2015

April 25 Houston

May 8 New Jersey

May 30 NYC here and here

August 27, Chicago

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