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Syria News - Nov 12, 2015

Russia outlines plan for steering Syria out of conflict, a constitutional reform lasting up to 18 months followed by presidential elections - CBC

Text of Russia's draft proposals on Syrian crisis - Daily Mail Online

Syrian opposition rejects Russian proposal to end conflict - The National

Syria talks to focus on which opposition groups should negotiate with Assad's regime and which should be designated as terrorists - Daily Mail

UN Syria envoy:'momentum' of Vienna talks must not be squandered - Yahoo News

VIDEO: Staffan de Mistura (UN Special Envoy on Syria) on a political solution to the Syrian crisis - United Nations Web TV


Erdoğan once again floats the idea of a safe zone in Syria amid talk of Turkish involvement in a ground operation in its southern neighbor -

The Reckless Proposal to Impose a No-Fly Zone in Syria - Cato @ Liberty

Syria solution should not only be about Assad: Rouhani - Yahoo News

Syria Christian archbishop calls on West to back President Bashar al-Assad in war against Islamist rebels - Telegraph

Syria: Pro-Assad Christian Militia to the Rescue as 1000s of Christians flee ISIL approach - Informed Comment

U.S. fighter jets sent to Turkey to protect slow-flying attack planes hitting Islamic State targets in Syria and to deter Russian aggression in the region: Defense official -

U.S. to continue its support to Kurdish YPG forces in Syria: spokesman -

VIDEO: Watch Live Secretary of State John Kerry Delivering Remarks on U.S. Strategy in Syria at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday -



In a major breakthrough, Syrian army frees Aleppo's Kweires air base from ISIL siege - The National

Assad’s men claim control over 'tens of villages and strategic hills' in the Aleppo countryside surrounding the Kweires air base - Long War Journal

Strategic Implications of Assad’s Victory at Kweires - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

VIDEO: Syrian opposition provided intel to target terrorists around besieged Kweires airbase: Russia - YouTube

VIDEO: Fighting erupts as Syrian govt. forces break siege of Kweires airbase - YouTube

VIDEO: Pro-Assad TV channel reports on Syrian forces recapturing Kweires key airbase - YouTube

VIDEO: Drone Footage of Kweires Airbase Taken After Lifting The Siege -

Palmyra will be flattened by ISIS within six months, warns antiquities director - The Independent

Hope for Palmyra? Syrian Army Comes Closer to Strategically Important City -


Russian aviation group in Syria has made 85 sorties against 277 terrorist facilities over the past 2 days, bomber destroys IS tanks and infantry vehicles in Homs: Defense Ministry - TASS

Russia in Syria: 50 journalists from 12 countries visit Russian base in Latakia -

VIDEO: BBC inside airbase where Russia carries out Syria airstrikes - BBC News

Russia's Syria force grows to 4,000, U.S. officials say - Reuters

Free Syrian Army decimated by desertions - Al Jazeera English

VIDEO: Inside the Battle: Al Nusra-Al Qaeda in Syria - VICE News

The riddle of Haji Bakr: a former colonel in an elite intelligence unit of the Saddam Hussein regime as an “architect” of I.S.’s expansion into Syria - The Syrian Intifada

Hezbollah Expands Military Presence in Syrian War - VOA

Syria says Israeli airstrikes hit near Damascus airport, According to unconfirmed reports by opposition groups target was a weapons shipment intended for Hezbollah - The Times of Israel

Netanyahu ‘not sure’ how to intervene in Syria - The Times of Israel

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

TransCanada's Next Move After Keystone XL: Flood Mexico with Fracked Gas with State Department Help

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

TransCanada, the owner of the recently-nixed northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, has won a bid from Mexico's government to build a 155-mile pipeline carrying gas from hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the United States to Mexico's electricity grid. 

Peace Advocate Climbs U.S. Navy Satellite Dish in Sicily

Credit to Fabio d'Alessandro for the photo and alerting me to the story, reported in Italian at Vice and Meridionews.

On the morning of Armistice Day, November 11, 2015, longtime peace activist Turi Vaccaro climbed to where you see him in the photo above. He brought a hammer and made this a Plowshares action by hammering on the enormous satellite dish, an instrument of U.S. warfare communications.

Here's a video:

There's a popular movement in Sicily called No MUOS. MUOS means Mobile User Objective System. It's a satellite communications system created by the U.S. Navy. It has equipment in Australia, Hawaii, Chesapeake Virginia, and Sicily.

The primary contractor and profiteer building the satellite equipment at the U.S. Navy base in the desert in Sicily is Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Each of the four MUOS ground stations is intended to include three swivelling very-high-frequency satellite dishes with a diameter of 18.4 meters and two Ultra High Frequency (UHF) helical antennas.

Protests have been growing in the nearby town of Niscemi since 2012. In October 2012, construction was suspended for a few weeks. In early 2013 the President of the Region of Sicily revoked the authorization for the MUOS construction. The Italian government conducted a dubious study of health impacts and concluded the project was safe. Work recommenced. The town of Niscemi appealed, and in April 2014 the Regional Administrative Tribunal requested a new study. Construction goes on, as does resistance.


In April 2015 I spoke with Fabio D'Alessandro, a giornalist and law school graduate living in Niscemi. "I'm part of the No MUOS movement," he told me, "a movement that works to prevent the installation of the U.S. satellite system called MUOS. To be specific, I'm part of the No MUOS committee of Niscemi, which is part of the coalition of No MUOS committees, a network of committees spread around Sicily and in the major Italian cities."

"It is very sad," said D'Alessandro,"to realize that in the United States people know little about MUOS. MUOS is a system for high-frequency and narrowband satellite communications, composed of five satellites and four stations on earth, one of which is planned for Niscemi. MUOS was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. The purpose of the program is the creation of a global communications network that allows communication in real time with any soldier in any part of the world. In addition it will be possible to send encrypted messages. One of the principal functions of MUOS, apart from the speed of communications, is the ability to remotely pilot drones. Recent tests have demonstrated how MUOS can be used at the North Pole. In short, MUOS will serve to support any U.S. conflict in the Mediterranean or the Middle East or Asia. It's all part of the effort to automate war, entrusting the choice of targets to machines."


"There are many reasons to oppose MUOS," D'Alessandro told me, "first of all the local community has not been advised of the installation. The MUOS satellite dishes and antennas are built within a non-NATO U.S. military base that has existed in Niscemi since 1991. The base was constructed within a nature preserve, destroying thousands of cork oaks and devestating the landscape by means of bulldozers that leveled a hill. The base is larger than the town of Niscemi itself. The presence of the satellite dishes and antennas puts at serious risk a fragile habitat including flora and fauna that exist only in this place. And no study has been conducted of the dangers of the electromagnetic waves emitted, neither for the animal population nor for the human inhabitants and the civilian flights from the Comiso Airport approximately 20 kilometers away.

"Within the base there are already present 46 satellite dishes, surpassing the limit set by Italian law. Moreover, as determined anti-militarists, we oppose further militarizing this area, which already has the base at Sigonella and other U.S. bases in Sicily. We don't want to be complicit in the next wars. And we don't want to become a target for whoever attempts to attack the U.S. military."

What have you done thus far, I asked.


"We've engaged in lots of different actions against the base: more than once we've cut through the fences; three times we've invaded the base en masse; twice we've entered the base with thousands demonstrating. We've blocked the roads to prevent access for the workers and the American military personnel. There has been sabotage of the optical communication wires, and many other actions."

The No Dal Molin movement against the new base at Vicenza, Italy, has not stopped that base. Have you learned anything from their efforts? Are you in touch with them?

"We are in constant contact with No Dal Molin, and we know their history well. The company that is building MUOS, Gemmo SPA, is the same that did the work on Dal Molin and is currently under investigation subsequent to the seizure of the MUOS building site by the courts in Caltagirone. Anyone attempting to bring into doubt the legitimacy of U.S. military bases in Italy is obliged to work with political groups on the right and left that have always been pro-NATO. And in this case the first supporters of MUOS were the politicians just as happened at Dal Molin. We often meet with delegations of activists from Vicenza and three times have been their guests."


I went with representatives of No Dal Molin to meet with Congress Members and Senators and their staffs in Washington, and they simply asked us where the base should go if not Vicenza. We replied "Nowhere." Have you met with anyone in the U.S. government or communicated with them in any way?

"Many times the U.S. consuls have come to Niscemi but we have never been permitted to speak with them. We have never in any way communicated with U.S. senators/representatives, and none have ever asked to meet with us."

Where are the other three MOUS sites? Are you in touch with resisters there? Or with the resistance to bases on Jeju Island or Okinawa or the Philippines or elsewhere around the world? The Chagossians seeking to return might make good allies, right? What about the groups studying the military damage to Sardinia? Environmental groups are concerned about Jeju and about Pagan Island Are they helpful in Sicily?


"We are in direct contact with the No Radar group in Sardinia. One of the planners of that struggle has worked (for free) for us. We know the other anti-U.S.-base movements around the world, and thanks to No Dal Molin and to David Vine, we have been able to hold some virtual meetings. Also thanks to the support of Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space we are trying to get in touch with those in Hawaii and Okinawa."

What would you most like people in the United States to know?

"The imperialism that the United States is imposing on the countries that lost the Second World War is shameful. We are tired of having to be slaves to a foreign politics that to us is crazy and that obliges us to make enormous sacrifices and that makes Sicily and Italy no longer lands of welcome and peace, but lands of war, deserts in use by the U.S. Navy."


Read also "The Tiny Italian Town Killing the U.S. Navy’s Surveillance Plans" by Daily Beast.

And watch this:

U.S. and Russian Militaries Compete for Darwin Award

Which world power can damage its own interests with the dumbest move? The contest will have you on the edge of your seats.

Here's the latest U.S. entry:

Last month, a raid by Kurdish forces supposedly freed ISIS prisoners, and those Kurdish forces posted a video of prisoners rushing out of a prison while gunfire sounded in the background. One U.S. troop was killed in the raid. U.S. media rushed to cover the story as a heroic act of benevolence. Non-U.S. media rushed to cover the fact that the "non-combat" troops, the so-called "advisors" whom the U.S. has in Iraq by the thousands were in fact engaged in combat.

It escaped my attention and perhaps most people's that the "advisors" may also have been providing extraordinarily bad advice. NPR -- which often functions no differently than an official Pentagon news service -- reported an interesting contradiction to the central claim of the prisoner-rescue story.

NPRer Kelly McEvers said, "The province of Kirkuk is the crossroads of Iraq. To the north are the majority of the country's Kurds, to the south - Arabs. And now Kirkuk is on the frontlines of the battle with ISIS. Last month, Kirkuk province was the site of a prison raid by U.S. and Kurdish forces. One American soldier was killed. Earlier today, I spoke with the governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, from our studios in Washington. And he said the raid was meant to rescue Kurds who'd been captured by ISIS. And instead, it freed ISIS fighters who'd been imprisoned by their own leaders."

Instead of freeing Kurds captured by ISIS, the U.S.-advised Kurds (together with U.S. "non-combat" troops doing their "advising") actually freed ISIS fighters?

The governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, replied, "Among these were two who are considered somewhat senior locally in the region. One of them was the prison administrator, and the other one was some guy who used the last name of Shishani. And Shishani is a village in that area, so he's probably from - they were local."

Senior ISIS fighters were freed? Including a prison administrator who was locked up in prison? This is very unclear and may be nonsense or only part of the story, but this is an account via a U.S.-military friendly outlet from a U.S.-educated, U.S.-citizen colonial governor visiting Washington, D.C., to ask for more weapons and "trainers" and "advisors" on behalf of multicultural Kurdish heroes who he says are willing to do U.S. dirty work. The interviewer is blatantly and openly on his side, asking oh-so-"objective" questions like this one: "You make a very compelling case, and it sounds like it's a case you've made many times. Give me your honest answer. Are you getting a sense in Washington that more help is on the way?"

Freeing ISIS prisoners would be in line with other steps the U.S. has taken in support of ISIS, from overthrowing secular governments and arming Muslim radicals in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and much of Syria, to brutalizing prisoners, to throwing Iraq into utter chaos, to providing arms to the Iraqi government that are used on civilians and taken by ISIS, providing arms to "moderates" in Syria that are given to ISIS, and providing arms directly to ISIS. But the biggest boost for ISIS has come from what it asked the U.S. to do in its propaganda films: attack it. By becoming the leading opponent of the distant foreign nation that has made itself so hated for so many years, ISIS was able to make its recruitment soar. The U.S. response is always the same: declare that there is no military solution, and attempt another larger military solution.

Don't look now, but here comes Russia:

The December 2013 Gallup poll in which most of the 65 nations surveyed named the United States as the greatest threat to peace on earth, the flourishing of anti-U.S. terrorist groups around the world, the bitter hatred of the flyers of killer drones, the resentment of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib -- all of this seems to have infected the Russian government with the seeds of jealousy.

How can Russia make itself properly hated, put its people in proper jeopardy, show itself a vicious world power worthy of equal or greater scorn?

Brilliant 12-dimensional chessman Vladimir Putin found an answer, beloved even on the left in the United States as a means of finally more-efficiently murdering just the right terrorists and only the right terrorists, so help me Tolstoy. Russia began bombing Syria.

Before long, Russia had generated its very own anti-Russian terrorist attack, with a plane blown up over Egypt and 224 people killed. Vladimir couldn't have been prouder. According to the New York Times,

"analysts and other experts expect that it will only strengthen Mr. Putin's resolve to become more deeply involved in the Middle East. . . . and might cause Russia to begin targeting the Islamic State more aggressively. . . . 'The Kremlin will have to reverse cause and effect here so that its strategy is not seen as leading to civilian deaths,' said Maxim Trudolyubov, an editor at large for the newspaper Vedomosti. . . . 'A terrorist attack against Russian citizens means a declaration of war against all Russians,' wrote Tatiana Stanovaya, an analyst, on, a current events website. 'The Syria campaign will thus become not a matter of Putin's ambitions, but of national revenge.'

Despite the Russian quotes, this could be just the New York Times reflexively promoting more violence as what anyone would do because it's what friends of the New York Times would do. If Russia were truly following the U.S. course, it would have occupied Egypt by now. But the Russian TV network RT has posted speculation that "the West" was behind the bomb on the plane and that supposedly the West, in a departure from its every past understanding of how a government responds to violence, intends to thereby drive Russia out of Syria rather than sucking it further in, as was done so many years ago in Afghanistan. Meanwhile Sputnik News warns that the United States has launched a proxy war on Russia in Syria, and celebrates the increased sales abroad of Russian weapons that it says has resulted from the Russian bombing of Syria.

These don't sound like the noises of a society coming to its senses. They sound like hunger pangs of a political class in the chase for a Darwin award.


Thanks to Evan Knappenberger for pointing the NPR story out to me.

Talk Nation Radio: Dave Chaddock on U.S. Germ Warfare in North Korea 

Dave Chaddock is the author of This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since.

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Tomgram: John Feffer, On the Verge of the Great Unraveling

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TPP: Americans and Vietnamese lose. Big corporations win.


HANOI – Now that the United States, Vietnam, and ten other nations have signed the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) – and the text, finally, has been released to the public – the U.S. Congress and the other countries' legislative bodies must decide whether to ratify the agreement. Negotiations were secret, until the document was signed. Before the release of the text a few days ago, even members of Congress were not allowed to see the agreement, except for certain members who were shown only a few pages of certain sections, alone, in a locked room.

HÀ NỘI – Nay Hoa Kỳ, Việt Nam và 9 quốc gia khác vừa ký TPP (Hiệp định đối tác xuyên Thái Bình Dương) và nội dung của văn kiện này cuối cùng cũng được công bố trước dư luận – Quốc hội Mỹ và các cơ quan lập pháp của các nước thành viên khác của TPP sẽ phải quyết định có thông qua Hiệp định này. Các cuộc hội đàm tiến hành trong vòng kín, cho tới khi văn kiện Hiệp định được ký kết. Trước khi toàn văn của Hiệp định được công bố vài ngảy trước, ngay cả các nghị viên Mỹ cũng không được xem nội dung của nó, chỉ có có vài nghị sĩ được cho xem vài tờ của một số chương nhất định, xem một mình, trong một phòng đóng kín.

Now that the text has been released, the early reviews are in. It seems quite certain that ordinary Americans will not benefit from the TPP. Most will lose.

Nay khi văn bản đã được công bố, những chỉnh sửa trước đó đã nằm trong nội dung. Nó cho thấy rằng người dân Mỹ bình thường không được lợi từ TPP. Đa số họ sẽ thất thiệt.

That also appears to be the case for the people of Vietnam. Người dân Việt cũng rơi vào tình thế tương tự.
Why should citizens of both countries be concerned?
Vì sao người dân của hai đất nước chúng ta phải lo lắng?

This year is the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments. The anniversary is being touted by both sides as a sort of milestone, and for good reason. Forty years since the end of the war that devastated Vietnam, a legacy of unexploded ordnance and Agent Orange remains, along with poverty and other reminders of the costs and consequences of the war. People of good will on both sides of course

are looking for opportunities to cooperate and ways to work together that will benefit the people of both our countries.

Năm nay là dịp kỷ niệm lần thứ 20 ngày bình thường hóa quan hệ ngoại giao giữa hai chính phủ Hoa Kỳ và Việt Nam. Ngày kỷ niệm này được tưng bừng quảng bá bởi cả hai bên như một cột mốc, do những nguyên cớ tốt đẹp. Bốn mươi năm kể từ khi kết thúc cuộc chiến tranh đã tàn phá Việt Nam, di sản của bom mìn chưa nổ và của chất độc da cam vẫn còn đó, cùng với nghèo khổ và những ký ức về cái giá phải trả và những hậu quả của cuộc chiến tranh. Người dân của cả hai bên dĩ nhiên tìm kiếm cơ hội để hợp tác và các cách thức làm việc với nhau sao cho đem lại lợi ích cho nhân dân cả hai nước.

But the TPP will not bring cooperation or benefits to American or Vietnamese citizens. It is a carefully contrived and very complicated expansion of corporate power over both governments. In the case of Vietnam, this corporate influence may actually threaten the country's sovereign rights as an independent nation with its own laws and regulations.

Nhưng TPP sẽ không mang lại cả sự hợp tác lẫn lợi ích cho các công dân Việt Nam và Mỹ. Đó là một sự khuyếch trương quyền lực của các Tập đoàn thương mại phủ bóng lên hai chính phủ, được tính toán kỹ càng. Trong trường hợp của Việt Nam, ảnh hưởng này của các tập đoàn thương mại có thể là mối đe dọa chủ quyền của đất nước, chủ quyền của một quốc gia độc lập, với những luật lệ và quy tắc của mình.

During this ratification period – which may take up to two years in the case of Vietnam, according to Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade – representatives of the National Assembly will certainly seek to understand the costs and benefits to Vietnam. Members of the U.S. Congress will do the same, although Congress will only be allowed a yes or no vote. The U.S. Congress will not be allowed to alter or improve any of the text of the agreement.

Trong quá trình thông qua Hiệp định TPP – được dự kiến tiến hành trong hai năm cho trường hợp Việt Nam, theo ông Trần Quốc Khánh, thứ trưởng Bộ Công thương Việt Nam – đại diện của Quốc hội sẽ tìm hiểu giá phải trả và lợi ích mà Việt Nam sẽ có được. Các thành viên của Quốc hội Mỹ sẽ làm đúng như vậy, cho dù tại Nghị viện Mỹ, chỉ cho phép trả lời Có hay Không. Quốc hội Mỹ sẽ không cho phép sửa đổi hay cải thiện bất cứ điều gì trong nội dung của Hiệp định,

Nonetheless, this will be a critical time. Now that the full text of the agreement has becomes public, Americans and Vietnamese should engage in dialogue and carefully scrutinize the entire TTP Agreement. Key, substantive questions have already been identified in recent months by the experts who assembled the pieces of the TPP puzzle that were leaked. That process is now going forward apace, as new details have emerged with release of the text. Some concerns include:

Tuy nhiên, đây sẽ là một thời kỳ hệ trọng. Nay khi nội dung đấy đủ của Hiệp định đã được công bố, người Mỹ và người Việt Nam cần phải tham dự vào các cuộc đối thoại và soát xét kỹ lưỡng toàn văn của bản hiệp định TTP. Các câu hỏi then chốt, thiết yếu đã được xác lập trong những tháng vừa qua bới các chuyên gia, những người đã tập hợp những đoạn của những chỗ rắc rối của TPP từng rò rỉ (trong quá trình đàm phán). Quá trình này hiện đang tiến triển mau lẹ, và những chi tiết mới sẽ còn nhô lên một khi nội dung của TPP được công bố. Dưới đây là một số quan ngại:

Vietnam will begin to lose important elements of national sovereignty, most within a five-year deadline, if the TPP goes into effect.

Việt Nam sẽ bắt đầu mất đi những thành tố quan trọng của chủ quyền, chủ yếu là trong 5 năm trước hạn chót, nếu TPP bắt đầu đi vào thực hiện.

public-interest policies and any laws that threaten a U.S. corporation's profits. U.S. corporations will be above the government of Vietnam and above Vietnamese law.

Những văn bản được công bố gần đây đề xuất TPP sẽ mở rộng1 quyền hợp pháp của các tập đoàn thương mại và các nhà đầu tư, và cho phép các tập đoàn thương mại được kiện các nước (thành viên) ra tòa án quốc tế để bồi thường những tốn hại gây bởi các chính sách vì lợi ích cộng đồng và bất kỳ luật nào (chẳng hạn như các quy chế về tài chính và bảo hộ cho công nhân và cho môi trường) đe dọa lợi nhuận của các tập đoàn thương mại Mỹ. Các tập đoàn thương mại Mỹ sẽ đứng trên chính phủ Việt Nam và đứng trên cả luật pháp Việt Nam.

Disagreements would not be settled in Vietnamese courts or international courts, but by a panel of lawyers picked by corporations.

Những bất hòa sẽ không được dàn xếp ở Việt Nam hay tòa án quốc tế, mà bởi một ban gồm các luật sư mà tập đoàn thương mại sẽ triệu tập.

The agreement includes ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions, by which a panel of lawyers picked by the corporations – not judges in Vietnamese or international courts – will rule on the lawsuits. Section 28.9(2)(a) of the Agreement says that one panel member each is chosen by each party, and under (2)(d), the chair (and third panel member) is chosen together by the parties, or, if necessary, chosen randomly from a list of qualified people on a roster. It seems likely that the drafters of the agreement sought a legal procedure that would fit all signatory nations, but now there are unintended consequences. Only a small number of lawyers are deemed qualified to serve on these panels. That group is potentially incestuous, since the corporations will have a strong say in suggesting names for the roster.

Hiệp định bao gồm các điều khoản ISDS (Dàn xếp bất hòa giữa Nhà đầu tư – Nhà nước), theo đó một ban gồm các luật sư sẽ được các tập đoàn triệu tập – chứ không phải các quan tòa Việt Nam hay quốc tế - sẽ phán quyết các vụ kiện. Mục 28.9(2)(a) của Hiệp định nói rằng mỗi bên sẽ chọn một thành viên của ban luật sư, và theo khoản (2)(d), người đứng đầu ban (cũng là thành viên thứ ba của ban) được các bên chọn ra, hoặc, nều thấy cần sẽ chọn ngẫu nhiên từ một danh sách

1 Accessed November 7, 2015.


Recently published texts suggest the TPP agreement will expand1 and investors and allow the corporations to sue countries in international tribunals for damages the legal rights of corporations caused by such as financial regulations and protections for workers and the environment)

những ứng viên đủ năng lực để đưa vào ban. Có vẻ như những người soạn thào hiệp định đã tìm kiếm một trình tự pháp lý sẽ hợp ý những quốc gia sẽ ký, nhưng đang xuất hiện những hệ quả không dự kiến trước. Chỉ một số nhỏ luật sư có thể đáp ứng được về mặt năng lực để tham gia vào các ban như thế. Một ban như thế dễ có thể xuất hiện những “tay trong”, vì các tập đoàn thương mại có một tiếng nói mạnh trong việc nêu tên những luật sư nào được đưa vào ban.

These secretive2 tribunals – three lawyers – would likely have a vested interest in the corporations that suggested or picked them. They are apt to impose huge, punitive fines against Vietnam. ISDS will constrain the scope of legitimate regulation, making it harder for Vietnam and other nations to achieve improved labor and environmental standards. In short, ISDS will constrain Vietnam's policy space to manage its own economic development. The government of Vietnam will no longer be beholden to its citizens but, instead, will be beholden to foreign corporations.

Những tòa án2 kiểu giấu diếm như thế - gồm ba luật sư – hẳn sẽ có quyền có được lợi tức trong các tập đoàn nào đề xuất hoặc chọn họ. Họ sẽ có khuynh hướng áp đặt những khoản phạt nặng cho Việt Nam. ISDS sẽ thu hẹp phạm vi của các quy chế hợp pháp, làm cho Việt Nam và các quốc gia khác khó đạt được sự cải thiện các tiêu chuẩn về người lao động và về môi trường. Nói tóm lại ISDS sẽ khắc chế không gian chính sách của Việt Nam, mà Việt Nam đang dùng để quản trị sự phát triển kinh tế của mình. Chính phủ Việt Nam sẽ không còn đóng vai trò thực thi nghĩa vụ trước các công dân của mình, mà lại đóng vai trò thực thi nghĩa vụ trước các tập đoàn kinh tế nước ngoài.

Ngay cả khả năng trả được khoản phạt nặng theo phán quyết của tòa án cộng với phí tố tụng cũng có thể đẩy các chính phủ (thành viên TPP) phải nhượng bộ các chủ quyền của họ: phải giảm bớt hiệu lực của các quy chế về người lao động, về môi trường, và các quy định khác; phải tránh không thông qua các quy chế, nghị định như thế. Tổ chức phi lợi nhuận Public Citizen của Mỹ đã dẫn những ví dụ3 ở Canada, nơi mà mối đe dọa của tố quyền ISDS có thể dẫn những nhà hoạch định chính sách phải cân nhắc kỹ về việc ban hành các quy chế bảo hộ liệu có đẩy chính phủ lâm vào một bất đồng đắt giả giữa nhà đầu tư và nhà nước.

This is not speculation. Similar cases have already been filed.
Đây không phải là sự suy diễn (cực đoan). Các trường hợp tương tự đã xảy ra.

2 foreign-investors-arbitration. November 7, 2015.
3 Accessed November 7, 2015.


Even the possibility of paying a tribunal's huge fines plus legal costs can push governments to surrender their rights of sovereignty; dilute labor, environmental, or other regulations; and avoid passing such regulations altogether. The U.S. non-profit, Public Citizen, cited examples3 in Canada, where just the threat of ISDS action may have led policymakers "to think twice about enacting protections that could expose the government to a costly investor-state dispute."

Philip Morris, a U.S. cigarette company, has filed suits against Australia4

and Uruguay,5 arguing

those nations' laws mandating health warnings on tobacco products are an expropriation of the company's property and have cut into profits for Philip Morris. A Swedish energy firm has sued the government of Germany for restrictions on coal-fired6 and nuclear7 power plants. Veolia, a French waste-management company, is suing Egypt to overturn that nation's minimum-wage law. Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company is fighting8 Canada's efforts to reduce the price of medicine through limited drug patents in order to protect its citizens. Eli Lilly is accusing Canada of not letting the company make the profit the corporation wants.

Philip Morris, một hãng thuốc lá của Mỹ, đã khởi kiện chống lại Australia4 và Uruguay5, cáo buộc các quốc gia này ra luật buộc phải đề những cảnh báo sức khỏe trên các sản phẩm thuốc lá – là xâm phạm tải sản của công ty này, và đã làm co hẹp lợi nhuận của Philip Morris. Một hãng của Thụy Điển kiện chính phủ Đức là đã hạn chế các nhà máy điện chạy bằng than và bằng hạt nhân. Veolia, một công ty xử lý chất thải của Pháp đang kiện Ai Cập, buộc nước này phải hủy bỏ đạo luật về lương tối thiểu. Hãng dược Eli Lilly đang chống lại Canada về việc nước này đang nỗ lực làm giảm giá thuộc thông qua (việc cấp) các giấy phép kinh doanh thuốc hạn chế, để bảo hộ cho các công dân của mình. Eli Lily cáo buộc Canada đang không cho hãng này kiếm lời như nó muốn.

The number of companies that could sue Vietnam is growing. Số lượng những công ty có thể kiện Việt Nam đang tăng

As of the end of May 2015, U.S. companies in Vietnam had 742 projects worth over $11 billion. Major American firms – including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, IBM, Cargill, Microsoft, Citigroup, Chevron, Ford, General Electric, AES (formerly, Applied Energy Services), and UPS – have moved into the Vietnamese market. Some Americans who established these companies in Vietnam did so out of empathy and the wish to address post-war poverty; they may not realize that, under the TPP, the company they introduced could impinge on Vietnam's sovereignty.

Tính đến cuối tháng 5/2015, các doanh nghiệp Hoa Kỳ ở Việt Nam thực hiện 742 dự án, có tổng giá trị lên tới 11 tỉ USD. Các hãng chính của Mỹ ở đây, bao gồm Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, IBM, Cargill, Microsoft, Citigroup, Chevron, Ford, General Electric, AES (trước đây gọi là Applied Energy Services), và UPS – đã thâm nhập vào thị trường Việt Nam. Một số người Mỹ lập những công ty ở Việt Nam đã làm ăn mà không đếm xỉa đến sự thông cảm và mong muốn (các công ty này) lưu tâm đến sự nghèo khó sau chiến tranh; họ đã không nhận thấy, khi TPP được áp vào, các công ty mà họ đại diện cho có thể làm phương hại đến chủ quyền của Việt Nam.

4 Accessed November 7, 2015.
5 tobacco-marketing-up-in-smoke/. Accessed November 7, 2015.
6 Accessed November 7, 2015.
7 a-795466.html Accessed, November 7, 2015.
8 over-loss-of-patents/article13223813/. Accessed November 7, 2015.


Sectors important to Vietnam's economic security would fall under the TPP.

Những lĩnh vực quan trọng đối với an ninh kinh tế ở Việt Nam có thể bị suy sụp dưới tác động của TPP.

Some in the government of Vietnam may already be worried about such legal suits, which could dismantle its laws and regulations protecting the environment, citizens' health, children's education, and national sovereignty. Vietnam's 2005 Investment Law lists four sectors:

Một số người trong chính phủ Việt Nam có thể đã quan ngại về những vụ kiện tụng như vậy, điều sẽ làm yếu những luật lệ và quy chế bảo hộ môi trường, sức khỏe công dân, giáo dục thanh thiếu nhi, và chủ quyền quốc gia của Việt Nam. Luật đầu tư năm 2005 của Việt Nam đưa ra năm loại lĩnh vực:

  1. prohibited sectors – lĩnh vực cấm

  2. encouraged sectors – lĩnh vực khuyến khích

  3. conditional sectors applicable to both foreign and domestic investors – những ngành nghề

    kinh doanh có điều kiện áp dụng cho các nhà đầu tư nước ngoài và trong nước

  4. conditional sectors applicable only to foreign investors. - những ngành nghề kinh doanh

    có điều kiện áp dụng cho các nhà đầu tư nước ngoài

If a U.S. company claims Vietnam is prohibiting the company from investing in Sector 1 (activities seen as "detrimental to national defense, security and public interest, health, or historical and cultural values"), under the TPP, can that foreign company sue Vietnam? The leaked texts of the TPP make it very doubtful that Vietnam's negotiators secured any written guarantees that Vietnam's sovereignty will be respected. If sued under the TPP, Vietnam's national sovereignty would not be protected.

Nếu một doanh nghiệp Mỹ tuyên bố rằng Việt Nam đang cấm công ty này được đầu tư vào lĩnh vực 1 nói trên (các ngành nghề được xem là “bất lợi đối với quốc phòng, an ninh và lợi ích công cộng, sức khỏe, hoặc các giá trị lịch sử và văn hóa) khi TPP đã có hiệu lực, liệu công ty này có khởi kiện Việt Nam? Nội dung thẩm thấu ra ngoài của TPP gây một nghi ngại liệu các nhà đàm phán Việt Nam đã có quán triệt rằng chủ quyền của Việt Nam sẽ được tôn trọng. Nếu bị kiện khi TPP có hiệu lực, chủ quyền của Việt Nam sẽ không được bảo toàn.

The same question applies to Sector 3, (activities "having an impact on national defense, security, social order and safety; culture, information, press and publishing; finance and banking; public health; entertainment services; real estate; survey, prospecting, exploration and exploitation of natural resources; ecology and the environment; and education and training.") Under the TPP, can foreign companies sue Vietnam for restricting their involvement in that sector? Can foreign-owned banks licensed to operate in Vietnam demand the same high-profit incentives they enjoy in the United States or in other countries? Must Vietnam stop its anti- smoking campaign?

Một câu hỏi nữa dành cho Lĩnh vực 3 (các hoạt động “có ảnh hưởng tới quốc phòng, an ninh, trật tự và an toàn xã hội; văn hóa, thông tin, báo chí và xuất bản, tài chính và ngân hàng, sức khỏe cộng đồng, dịch vụ giải trí, bất động sản, thăm dò, tìm kiếm, thăm dò và khai thác các tài nguyên thiên nhiên, sinh thái môi trường, giáo dục và đào tạo”). Khi TPP có hiệu lực, liệu các công ty nước ngoài có kiện Việt Nam đã hạn chế sự dính líu của họ vào các lĩnh vực này? Liệu các nhà băng do người nước ngoài là chủ sở hữu có giấy phép hoạt động ở Việt Nam đòi họ phải có được mức lợi nhuận cao mà họ được hưởng ở Mỹ hoặc ở các nước khác? Liệu Việt Nam có phải dừng chiến dịch chống hút thuốc là lại?

In June 2015, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council said the TPP will make Vietnam increasingly attractive to U.S. investors. Why? Because the TPP will allow companies to operate with impunity, overriding Vietnam's national sovereignty.

Vào tháng 6/2015, Hội đồng kinh doanh Hoa Kỳ - ASEAN cho rằng TPP sẽ làm cho Việt Nam trở nên đặc biệt hấp dẫn với nhà đầu tư Mỹ. Vì sao? Vì TPP sẽ cho phép các doanh nghiệp được hoạt động không sợ bị trừng phạt khi không coi trọng chủ quyền của Việt Nam.

The U.S. Business Coalition for TPP spent $118 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, $126 million in the first quarter of 2015, and $135 million in the second quarter of 2015, for a total of $379 million in three quarters.

The TPP could skew regulations worldwide in favor of the banks, manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies that aggressively lobbiedfor the TPP. Further, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing U.S. corporations to engage in unlimited campaign expenditures to support or oppose candidates, we can be sure U.S. corporations will engage in heavy, financial lobbying to pressure for TPP passage during the upcoming election.

Liên minh Doanh nghiệp Mỹ ủng hộ TPP đã bỏ ra 118 triệu USD trong quý bốn của năm 2014, 216 triệu USD trong quý một năm 2015, và 135 triệu vào quý 2 năm 2015, tổng cộng là 379 triệu USD.

Questions ordinary citizens should be asking:

Những câu hỏi mà các công dân bình thường nên đặt ra:

The TPP includes patents on new pharmaceutical products. These patents prevent development of the cheaper generic drugs that have made medicines affordable for Vietnamese. The people of Vietnam should be asking, "Will our families be forced to replace cheaper generic medicines with multi-national brand names protected by the TPP?" Americans should be asking, "Do we want to force the people of Vietnam to pay the same high prices that we pay for drugs?"

Hiệp định TPP bao gồm giấy phép kinh doah các dược phẩm mới. Những giấy phép này ngăn sự phát triển của các dược phẩm rẻ hơn đang làm cho giá thuốc men là phải chăng đối với người Việt Nam. Người Việt Nam nên đặt ra câu hỏi: ‘Liệu gia đình của chúng ta có buộc phải thay những dược phẩm rẻ hơn với các chế phẩm thuốc có thương hiệu đa quốc gia được TPP bảo hộ?”

9 Accessed November 7, 2015.


Những người Mỹ cần đặt câu hỏi: “Liệu chúng ta có nên buộc người Việt phải mua thuốc men với giá đắt như người Mỹ vẫn đang trả không?

Vietnam is the world's second largest rice exporter, yet the TPP will lead to a decrease in

agricultural sales in domestic and export markets. Unfortunately, Vietnam is one of the top five nations most threatened by rising seas due to climate change. The nation's two large deltas – the "Red River and Mekong Rice Baskets" – are already in danger, yet the TPP will allow U.S. corporations to sue Vietnam because of the environmental policies and regulations designed to protect those fragile deltas, the citizens, and Vietnam's food sovereignty. In particular, U.S. pesticide companies are apt to sue Vietnam for implementing so successfully the FAO-initiated IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program, which protects the environment and improves yields by teaching pest-control techniques other than pesticides and uses chemical pesticides only when absolutely needed.

Việt Nam là nước xuất khẩu gạo lớn thứ hai của thé giới, nhưng TPP đang đưa đến một sự giảm giá nông phẩm trên cả thị trường nội địa lẫn xuất khẩu. Không may là Việt Nam là một trong năm nước đứng hàng đầu danh sách bị đe dọa bởi mực nước biển dâng cao do biến đổi khí hậu. Hai đồng bằng lớn của Việt Nam là Vựa lúa châu thổ sông Mekong và đồng bằng sông Hồng đang bị đe dọa, tuy nhiên TPP cho phép các công ty Mỹ được kiện Việt Nam về các chính sách và quy chế bảo vệ một trường được lập ra để bảo vệ hai vùng đồng bằng dễ bị tổn thương này, dân cư ở đó, và chủ quyền về lương thực của Việt Nam. Đặc biệt, các công ty kinh doanh thuốc trừ sâu của Mỹ đang có xu hướng muốn kiện Việt Nam vì đã áp dụng có kết quả chương trình Quản trị dịch hại tổng hợp do FAO đề xướng, một chương trình bảo vệ môi trường và cải thiện lợi tức từ hoa màu nhờ các kỹ thuật kiểm soát sinh vật gây hại, chứ không dùng thuốc trừ sâu, và chỉ dùng các hóa chất trừ sâu bọ ở nơi nào tuyệt đối cần thiết.

Decisions about controversial introduction of GMO seeds and crops will be made outside of Vietnam. The Vietnamese government will no longer have sovereignty in such matters.

Quyết định về việc đưa hạt giống biến đổi gen và thu hoạch loại sản phẩm này sẽ được quyết định ở ngoài Việt Nam. Chính phủ Việt Nam sẽ không có chủ quyền trong những việc này nữa.

Vietnamese farmers and agricultural producers should be asking, "How will TPP affect our ability to compete in world markets, against huge corporations?"

Những người nông dân và các nhà sản xuất nông phẩm nên đặt câu hỏi, “Liệu TPP có ảnh hưởng đến năng lực cạnh tranh của chúng tôi trên trường quốc tế, chống lại những doanh nghiệp lớn?”

A major effort has gone into lobbying in Vietnam for the TTP, with highly paid American consultants, an orchestrated international and domestic press, and the U.S. Embassy's year-long, 20-year-anniversary celebration pushing the TTP while the contents of the agreement were cloaked in secrecy. As noted above, corporations have undertaken an even bigger lobbying effort in the United States.

Một nỗ lực chủ yếu đã được bỏ ra để vận động hành lang ở Việt Nam cho TTP, với những nhà tư vấn được trả lương cao, một dàn đồng ca trên báo chí trong ngoài nước, và cuộc kỷ niệm 20 năm thiết lập quan hệ ngoại giao kéo tới một năm ròng của sứ quán Mỹ cũng nhằm thúc đẩy TPP khi

nội dung của Hiệp định này còn đang được gói trong bức màn bí mật. Như đã nói trên, các tập đoàn thương mại cũng dấy lên một nỗ lực lobby còn lớn hơn ở Mỹ.

Some of the very rich in Vietnam will probably benefit. A small percent of wealthy Americans and major corporate shareholders will make more money. Ordinary people and the poor will lose. That is always the case when agreements are written in secret.

Một số người rất giàu ở Việt Nam chắc sẽ được lợi. Một phần trăm nhỏ của những người Mỹ giàu có và các cổ đông chính của các tập đoàn thương mại sẽ kiếm ra nhiều tiền hơn. Những người dân thường và người nghèo sẽ chịu tổn thất. Điều này thường xảy ra khi các hiệp định được viết trong vòng bí mật.

The ratification period is critical. The "people's representatives" – legislative bodies in the United States, Vietnam and other signatory nations – will be debating the full text of the TPP recently disclosed. During this time of legislative approval or disapproval of such a sweeping agreement, ordinary citizens in Vietnam, the United States, and other nations must raise their voices.

Giai đoạn thông qua (TPP) sẽ là then chốt. Những dân biểu – các nhà lập pháp ở Mỹ và Việt Nam và ở các quốc gia đã ký hiệp định này – sẽ thảo luận nội dung đầy đủ của TPP vừa được công bố. Trong khoảng thời gian cần để thông qua hay bác bỏ một hiệp định có ảnh hưởng rộng lớn như thế, công dân bình thường ở Việt Nam, Mỹ và các nước khác cần cất cao tiếng nói của mình.

Chuck Searcy is a Vietnam veteran; Lady Borton worked with all sides during the war. Both have worked in Vietnam since before normalization of US-Vietnam diplomatic relations 20 years ago.

Chuck Searcy là một cựu chiến binh chiến tranh Việt Nam. Lady Borton từng làm việc với tất cả các phía của cuộc chiến tranh đó. Cả hai đã sang Việt Nam làm việc trước khi bình thường hóa quan hệ ngoại giao Mỹ - Việt, 20 năm về trước.

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The sham Syrian peace conference


Gareth Porter's picture

I have always been enthusiastic in my support for peace negotiations, which have been neglected all too often in internal and international conflicts. But it is clear that the international conference on Syria that held its first meeting in Vienna on October 30 is a sham conference that is not capable of delivering any peace negotiations, and that the Obama administration knew that perfectly well from the start.

UVA is 19th Most Militarized University in the U.S.

According to a new analysis by Vice News, the University of Virginia is the 19th most militarized university in the United States. Vice News lists the top 100 in order, based on "the greatest number of students who are employed by the Intelligence Community (IC), have the closest relationships with the national security state, and profit the most from American war-waging." Vice provides a detailed account of its data sources and methodology, which itself reads like a damning critique of academia in a society maintaining an alleged preference for peace over war. An additional report looks at trends and patterns in the results.

According to William M. Arkin and Alexa O’Brien of Vice News:

"The prestigious University of Virginia is a lawyer's paradise, feeding counsels to government agencies from the military to the CIA. The school has a National Criminal Justice Command College program, and graduates a fair share of Top Secret special agents, half of them working for the FBI. The largest portion of its graduates with Top Secret clearances, however, come from its school of continuing and professional studies, which teaches cybersecurity, human resources, "procurement," and project management. If UVA's Top Secret graduates aren't working in the federal government, then they're working for a large [military] contractor. UVA faculty have also participated in the IARPA STONESOUP program to develop a technology that securely executes software of uncertain provenance."

UVA makes rank #17, in fact, for "Top Secret Employment," while it's only #30 for "National Security Funding." It receives a whopping $27,426,000 in "DOD Research and Development Funding." UVA conducts classified research inside its campus with its Jefferson quotes about free speech and flow of information.

"This institution [University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."

Hard to tolerate or reason your way out of plans and justifications for killing that are kept secret.

UVA works with "National Intelligence," the NSA, and the Homeland "Security" Department. It also has a military ROTC program, as one can observe by visiting the campus around which killers-in-training jog chanting military chants.

UVA finds itself in the area of the country whose academia (and many other things) are most militarized. Nearby schools on the list include:

#1 University of Maryland
#2 American Military University
#4 George Washington University
#5 George Mason University
#7 Johns Hopkins University
#8 Strayer University
#10 Georgetown University
#16 Northern Virginia Community College
#17 Virginia Tech
#19 University of Virginia
#20 American University

In third place is the online "University of Phoenix." That may change. This came out last month:

"The Department of Defense said today that it would suspend the University of Phoenix from its tuition assistance programs and bar school officials from recruiting at military facilities, including job fairs, after revelations of improper recruiting and marketing practices by the for-profit school."

The above list of shame should trouble every UVA alumnus and every resident of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Rarely does this atheist quote the Pope, but here's one from his speech to Congress in September:

"Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."

Tomgram: Ann Jones, The Never-Ending War

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Why do War Veterans Commit Suicide or Murder?

In two recent articles in the Los Angeles Times and the academic studies that inspired them, the authors investigate the question of which war veterans are most likely to commit suicide or violent crimes. Remarkably, the subject of war, their role in war, their thoughts about the supposed justifications (or lack thereof) of a war, never come up.

The factors that take the blame are -- apart from the unbearably obvious "prior suicidality," "prior crime," "weapons possession," and "mental disorder treatment" -- the following breakthrough discoveries: maleness, poverty, and "late age of enlistment." In other words, the very same factors that would be found in the (less-suicidal and less-murderous) population at large. That is, men are more violent than women, both among veterans and non-veterans; the poor are more violent (or at least more likely to get busted for it) among veterans and non-veterans; and the same goes for "unemployed" or "dissatisfied with career" or other near-equivalents of "joined the military at a relatively old age."

In other words, these reports tell us virtually nothing. Perhaps their goal isn't to tell us something factual so much as to shift the conversation away from why war causes murder and suicide, to the question of what was wrong with these soldiers before they enlisted.

The reason for studying the violence of veterans, after all, is that violence, as well as PTSD, are higher than among non-veterans, and the two (PTSD and violence) are linked. They are higher (or at least most studies over many years have said so; there are exceptions) for those who've been in combat than for those who've been in the military without combat. They are even higher for those who've been in even more combat. They are higher for ground troops than for pilots. There are mixed reports on whether they are higher for drone pilots or traditional pilots.

The fact that war participation, which itself consists of committing murder in a manner sanctioned by authorities, increases criminal violence afterwards, in a setting where it is no longer sanctioned, ought of course to direct our attention to the problem of war, not the problem of which fraction of returning warriors to offer some modicum of reorientation into nonviolent life. But if you accept that war is necessary, and that most of the funding for it must go into profitable weaponry, then you're going to want to both identify which troops to help and shift the blame to those troops.

The same reporter of the above linked articles also wrote one that documents what war participation does to suicide. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that out of 100,000 male veterans 32.1 commit suicide in a year, compared to 28.7 female veterans. But out of 100,000 male non-veterans, 20.9 commit suicide, compared to only 5.2 female non-veterans. And "for women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans." Here's how the article begins:

"New government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women, a startling finding that experts say poses disturbing questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the armed forces."

Does it really? Is their background really the problem? It's not a totally crazy idea. It could be that men and women inclined toward violence are more likely to join the military as well as more likely to engage in violence afterward, and more likely to be armed when they do so. But these reports don't focus primarily on that question. They try to distinguish which of the men and women are the (unacceptable, back home-) violence-prone ones. Yet something causes the figure for male suicides to jump from 20.9 to 32.1. Whatever it is gets absolutely disregarded, as differences between male and female military experiences are examined (specifically, the increased frequency of female troops being raped).

Suppose for a moment that what is at work in the leap in the male statistic has something to do with war. Sexism and sexual violence may indeed be an enormous factor for female (and some male) troops, and it may be far more widespread than the military says or knows. But those women who do not suffer it, probably have experiences much more like men's in the military, than the two groups' experiences out of the military are alike. And the word for their shared experience is war.

Looking at the youngest age group, "among men 18 to 29 years old, the annual number of suicides per 100,000 people were 83.3 for veterans and 17.6 for nonveterans. The numbers for women in that age group: 39.6 and 3.4." Women who've been in the military are, in that age group, 12 times more likely to kill themselves, while men are five times more likely. But that can also be looked at this way: among non-veterans, men are 5 times as likely to kill themselves as women, while among veterans men are only 2 times as likely to kill themselves as women. When their experience is the same one -- organized approved violence -- men's and women's rates of suicide are more similar.

The same LA Times reporter also has an article simply on the fact that veteran suicides are higher than non-veteran. But he manages to brush aside the idea that war has anything to do with this:

"'People's natural instinct is to explain military suicide by the war-is-hell theory of the world,' said Michael Schoenbaum, an epidemiologist and military suicide expert at the National Institute of Mental Health who was not involved in the study. 'But it's more complicated.'"

Judging by that article it's not more complicated, it's entirely something else. The impact of war on mental state is never discussed. Instead, we get this sort of enlightening finding:

"Veterans who had been enlisted in the rank-and-file committed suicide at nearly twice the rate of former officers. Keeping with patterns in the general population, being white, unmarried and male were also risk factors."

Yes, but among veterans the rates are higher than in the general population. Why?

The answer is, I think, the same as the answer to the question of why the topic is so studiously avoided. The answer is summed up in the recent term: moral injury. You can't kill and face death and return unchanged to a world in which you are expected to refrain from all violence and relax.

And returning to a world kept carefully oblivious to what you're going through, and eager to blame your demographic characteristics, must make it all the more difficult.

Syria News - Nov 4, 2015

Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed alliance of Arabs, Kurds and Christian Assyrians, make gains against Islamic State in al-Hasakah - UPI

Last Week Joint Kurd-Arab force announced U.S.-backed offensive in al-Hasakah-

VIDEO ARCHIVE (English): Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs and Turkmens announce the formation of the 'The Syrian Democratic Forces' - YouTube

Syrian Democratic Forces - Wikipedia

Syrian Kurdish forces fight to halt IS advance near Raqqa, fighters are supported by the US-led coalition airstrikes - VOA

Obama says Syria deployment doesn't break no 'boots on ground' pledge - Reuters

How 50 US troops in Syria could actually make a difference, their goal is to support the anti-ISIS Kurdish-Arab alliance that has demonstrated concrete success (VIDEO) -

New MacDill Commander of the Special Operations ForcesTakes Over on Eve of Syria Mission -

US 'Advisors' to Fight Islamic State in Syria Frustrates Anti-Assad Rebels - VOA

U.S. and Turkey on a Collision Course over the alliance with Syrian Kurdish Forces -

As Kurds advance against ISIS, Turkey intensifies 'provocative attacks' on Kurdish headquarters north Syria - ARA News

Opinion: The Kurds Could Bring Russia and the US Together in Syria -

Details revealed in chilling plot to kill anti-ISIS activists in Turkey, they were members of a citizen-journalist group called 'Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently' (VIDEO) - NBC News

Inside Tal Abyad: A block of wood for beheadings and a torture chamber — what ISIS left behind in a town it used to control - Business Insider



Russia says keeping Assad in power not crucial, but the preservation of the government in the Syrian state is central to ending civil war - VOA

Russia plans to restore Assad regime's economy -

Russia warplanes bomb IS positions in Palmyra - BBC News

DoD: Russia has opened a new base near Palmyra, bringing the number of Russian bases in Syria to four - NBC News

Russia: Coordinates of 24 terrorist targets in Syria provided by opposition and field commanders of a number of armed rebel groups - TASS

Russia supports Free Syrian Army participating in political settlement in Syria: diplomat - TASS

Transported by the Russian aircraft Christian Assyrians Mobilize More Fighters to Confront ISIS in East Homs - AINA

Men and women locked by Syrian rebels in cages to act as human shields against Assad’s air-strikes (VIDEO) - Daily Mail Online

Pentagon: US, Russian fighters communicate over Syria in test, but no military cooperation - Yahoo News

US is moving jets intended for air-to-air combat to Syria — and Russia might be why - Business Insider

Iran is threatening to pull out of peace talks on Syria, citing the 'negative role' of its main regional adversary Saudi Arabia, - Business Insider

Iranian commander killed in Syria: state media - Yahoo News UK

Israel is no longer taking a public position on Syrian President Assad's prospects of staying in power: defense minister - Yahoo News

Al Qaeda Chief Hints Joining Hands With ISIS In War Against Russia, US -


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

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Are Resource Wars Our Future?

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Catholic Senator Says Pope Dead Wrong on Arms Trade

"Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?" the Pope asked the United States Congress during his speech there in September. "Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."

At least a large section of the U.S. House and Senate rose and cheered, giving the above words a standing ovation.

Thousands of people, I among them, emailed their misrepresentatives to urge follow through.

In November, one of my senators finally replied. And this is what he had to say:

"Dear Mr. Swanson:

"Thank you for contacting me about the call by Pope Francis to end the arms trade.  I appreciate hearing from you.

"As a Catholic, I was delighted to have Pope Francis address a joint meeting of Congress in September. The Pope spoke eloquently about great American leaders in our history, setting high expectations for what we can do when we work together. He challenged us to heal divisions and unite against the global challenges that we face.

"During his address, Pope Francis called for an end to the international arms trade, highlighting the untold suffering that deadly weapons often have on individuals and society. While I agree that that the United States has a responsibility to ensure arms exports do not exacerbate violence, I believe that security assistance plays an important role in our national security interests and international stability. As the world's primary superpower, the United States should support the security of friends and allies and ensure that they have the means to overcome threats from violent belligerents.

"The Arms Export Control Act, International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Export Administration Act, and other legal vehicles authorize the export of arms but also place significant restrictions to keep such items from falling into the wrong hands. These restrictions include serious scrutiny of American arms exports to prevent their use in human rights violations, as well as efforts to ensure against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weaponry. We use those restrictions often to block or delay sales of arms.

"As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, I will continue to support efforts that advance our national interests and global security. Thank you again for contacting me.


"Tim Kaine"

I have never received a single such reply letter from any Congress member that didn't offend me and annoy me. But this one is a doozy. Let's start with "a responsibility to ensure arms exports do not exacerbate violence." I'm sorry, Senator, I may be even more fallible than your Pope, but if you'll forgive my Latin, what the fuck do you think arms are? They are tools of violence, purely and by definition and beyond dispute. If they aren't going to exacerbate violence, what are they going to do?

What about this: "security assistance plays an important role in our national security interests and international stability." Does it, now? Some 80% of the weapons imported to the Middle East, not counting the weapons of the U.S. military or the weapons bestowed on "moderate" killers, are imported from the United States. The stability this has been bringing to that region is staggering. A bit more such stability, and the whole population will move to Europe.

"As the world's primary superpower, the United States should support the security of friends and allies." Yeah? Who asked it to be a superpower? I'm asking it to cease and desist. As for friends and allies, I imagine you mean Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, "moderates" in Syria, Al Qaeda in Syria, etc. With friends and allies like these in the cause of peace, who needs enemies?

"These restrictions include serious scrutiny of American arms exports to prevent their use in human rights violations, as well as efforts to ensure against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weaponry." How'd that work out during Hillary Clinton's stewardship of the Department of State during which she waived legal restrictions to send weapons, including chemical and biological, to numerous nations of exactly the sort that you claim, accurately enough, U.S. law forbids supplying.

If I had to choose which was crazier, your humanitarian pretensions on behalf of the world's greatest purveyor of violence, or your Catholicism (with its infallible Leader in the funny hat, life after death, etc.), I'd have to go with the former. And I'm not feeling very religious.

Talk Nation Radio: Celine Nahory on Keeping Peace in Japan's Constitution and the World 

Céline Nahory is International Coordinator for Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign. She also serves as Regional/International Representative in the International Peace Bureau's Council. She has worked for fifteen years with NGOs in the US, Japan and India, carrying out research and running advocacy campaigns on issues of peace, security, disarmament, economic justice and sustainable development.

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Are Americans too passive?: Ben Carson and the Cult of First Responders

By John Grant

Dr. Ben Carson rocked the presidential campaign TV circus by suggesting the victims of the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting were too passive in responding to the lunatic gunman who shot and killed his writing professor and eight classmates. Carson received derision from the left and from liberals like Chris Matthews; on the right, he was defended by Bill O’Reilly and others.

Armistice Day 97 Years On

By David Swanson

November 11 is Armistice Day / Remembrance Day. Events are being organized everywhere by Veterans For Peace, World Beyond War, Campaign Nonviolence, Stop the War Coalition, and others.

Ninety-seven years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, fighting ceased in the “war to end all wars.” People went on killing and dying right up until the pre-designated moment, impacting nothing other than our understanding of the stupidity of war.

Thirty million soldiers had been killed or wounded and another seven million had been taken captive during World War I. Never before had people witnessed such industrialized slaughter, with tens of thousands falling in a day to machine guns and poison gas. After the war, more and more truth began to overtake the lies, but whether people still believed or now resented the pro-war propaganda, virtually every person in the United States wanted to see no more of war ever again. Posters of Jesus shooting at Germans were left behind as the churches along with everyone else now said that war was wrong. Al Jolson wrote in 1920 to President Harding:

“The weary world is waiting for
Peace forevermore
So take away the gun
From every mother’s son
And put an end to war.”

Believe it or not, November 11th was not made a holiday in order to celebrate war, support troops, or cheer the 15th year of occupying Afghanistan. This day was made a holiday in order to celebrate an armistice that ended what was up until that point, in 1918, one of the worst things our species had thus far done to itself, namely World War I.

World War I, then known simply as the world war or the great war, had been marketed as a war to end war. Celebrating its end was also understood as celebrating the end of all wars. A ten-year campaign was launched in 1918 that in 1928 created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, legally banning all wars. That treaty is still on the books, which is why war making is a criminal act and how Nazis came to be prosecuted for it.

“[O]n November 11, 1918, there ended the most unnecessary, the most financially exhausting, and the most terribly fatal of all the wars that the world has ever known. Twenty millions of men and women, in that war, were killed outright, or died later from wounds. The Spanish influenza, admittedly caused by the War and nothing else, killed, in various lands, one hundred million persons more.” — Thomas Hall Shastid, 1927.

According to pre-Bernie U.S. Socialist Victor Berger, all the United States had gained from participation in World War I was the flu and prohibition. It was not an uncommon view. Millions of Americans who had supported World War I came, during the years following its completion on November 11, 1918, to reject the idea that anything could ever be gained through warfare.

Don't Put Killers on Cereal Boxes

Online petition campaigns were launched this week to stop Wal-Mart from selling Israeli soldier Halloween costumes and to get Wheaties cereal to start putting U.S. soldiers on its cereal boxes -- boxes known for featuring photos of outstanding athletes.

The two campaigns have no relation to each other. Wheaties has not, to my knowledge, indicated the slightest interest in doing what the petition asks it to do.

I'd like Wal-Mart and every other store to stop selling all (not just Israeli) military and every other sort of armed, killer costume, including science-fiction futuristic Star Wars and any other. Sure, it's a particular problem that the U.S. government gives Israel billions of dollars in free weapons every year with which to attack civilians, and that presidential candidates in the United States behave as if they're campaigning to represent Israel. But if you oppose celebrating murder, including organized state-sanctioned uniformed murder, then you oppose everything that normalizes and encourages it.

So, of course, I also oppose glorifying "our troops" on cereal boxes. For one thing, it conflates the idea of an athlete with the idea of a soldier (which I use here as shorthand for sailor, Marine, airman, drone pilot, mercenary, special force, etc., etc.). An athlete doesn't kill anyone, maim anyone, turn anyone's house to rubble, traumatize any children, overthrow anyone's government, throw any regions of the world into chaos, produce radical violent groups that hate my country, drain the public treasury of $1,000,000,000,000 a year, justify the stripping away of civil liberties in the name of wars for freedom, devastate the natural environment, drop napalm or white phosphorus, use DU, imprison people without charge, torture, or send missiles into weddings and hospitals killing one vaguely-identified victim for every 10 people murdered. An athlete plays sports.

Note that I'm also not proposing that we put troops on cereal boxes with devil horns inked onto their heads, blaming them for the faults of the whole society into which they were born. Sure, I blame them. Sure, I'd rather celebrate conscientious objectors. But there is an almost universal delusion in our culture which holds that when you blame someone for something, you exonerate everyone else. So, although it makes not the slightest sense, people interpret blaming a soldier for participating in a war as un-blaming the presidents, Congress members, propagandists, profiteers, and everyone else who helped make that war happen. In reality, blame is a limitless quantity, and everyone gets some, including me. But in the fantasyland we live in, you can't go around blaming anyone for something done by many people, unless you are allowed a paragraph of explanation. And, besides, I'd start with all the presidents, Congress members, etc., as war criminals before reaching any rank-and-file in the list of candidates for cereal box condemnation.

Also, "our troops," are simply not our troops, not collectively. Many of us vote against, petition against, demonstrate against, write against, and organize against the use and the expansion and the existence of the military. One wishes it were needless to say, but this does not suggest some sort of hatred for the individuals who are soldiers, the majority of whom say that economic option limitations was one big factor in their joining up, and many of whom believe what they are told about doing good for the places they invade. Nor of course does opposition to militarism imply some sort of twisted support for the militarism of some other nation or group. Imagine disliking soccer and consequently being denounced for supporting some other soccer team. Opposing war is the same way -- it actually means opposing war, not routing for the "team" opposed by someone else.

"Team" is a horrible metaphor for a military. The military can involve lots of teamwork, but it has been a century now since a war involved two teams competing on a battlefield. In World War II and ever since, wars have been fought in people's towns, and the majority of the victims have been civilians not signed up on any team. When groups like Veterans For Peace speak out against further participation in war, on the grounds that war is the unjustifiable, counter-productive slaughter of men, women, and children, they do so out of love for soldiers and potential future soldiers. Of course, many other veterans do not share that belief, or do not voice it aloud or publicly if they do. Perhaps not unrelated is the fact that the leading cause of death of U.S. soldiers sent into recent and current wars is suicide. What more profound statement that something is amiss could be made than that? What could I possibly say to even approach it?

Here's the text of the petition in favor of putting troops on cereal boxes:

"The Wheaties Box is an iconic image in America. It celebrates our best, our brightest, and those achieving high honors on the athletic field. Isn't it time to honor another set of American heroes? Our troops who served their country and gave their all, deserve the same honor as our great athletes."

In fact our brightest and most creative intellects are not honored at all on Wheaties. Neither are our firemen and women, our emergency crews, our environmentalists, our teachers, our children, our poets, our diplomats, our farmers, our artists, our actors and actresses. No. It's just athletes. If you think troops deserve an honor, clearly it is not, in fact, the same as athletes. And what of those of us who agree with President Kennedy ("War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today") -- Should we get our heroes on cereal boxes, too?

"Imagine the national pride of seeing a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor on the Wheaties box. General Mills, proud maker of Wheaties, can make this a new tradition. Next to the sacrifice these heroes and their families have made, it's a small honor. But in our celebrity-obsessed culture, it can be a new tradition we all can be proud to share."

It's just not true that we would all be proud. Some of us would deem it fascistic. Of course, we could just choose not to buy that cereal, while Anderson Cooper and anyone else who despises conscientious objectors could just not buy any cereal box honoring that tradition. But this petition is not proposing to force Wheaties to honor soldiers, just recommending it. Well, I'm just recommending against it.

"General Mills, we are asking you to please add servicemembers [sic] who have been honored for their distinct service and heroism, to your rotation of those recognized on the Wheaties Box. We don't do enough to honor those who served, especially those people who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield. And while an image on a box of cereal may not seem like much, it's a gesture that says so much about what we value. It's the type of gesture we need to see happen more often. We hope General Mills will show us that these men and women are worth recognizing on their iconic brand. Please sign and share the petition telling General Mills to place our honored heroes from the military on their Wheaties box."

The U.S. military spends a fortune in public tax dollars advertising itself on race cars and in ceremonies at football games, and so on. Were Wheaties to pick up on this idea and profit from it by making the military pay, that would be bad enough. Doing it for free would be worse. But I don't think the military would pay for it. The military advertises the generic faceless troop, not an actual specific soldier. Many veterans are essentially abandoned by the military, denied healthcare, left homeless, and -- again -- in many cases doomed to suicide.

During the war on Vietnam, recipients of medals of honor, angrily threw them back, rejecting what they had been part of. Any actual specific war hero could do that. And then where would Wheaties be?

Once in recent years the military tried to honor a particular flesh-and-blood soldier, and at the same time to merge its image with that of athletes. The soldier's name was Pat Tillman. He had been a football star and had famously given up a multi-million dollar football contract in order to join the military and do his patriotic duty to protect the country from evil terrorists. He was the most famous actual troop in the U.S. military, and television pundit Ann Coulter called him "an American original virtuous, pure, and masculine like only an American male can be."

Except that he came to no longer believe the stories that had led him to enlist, and Ann Coulter stopped praising him. On September 25, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Tillman had become critical of the Iraq war and had scheduled a meeting with the prominent war critic Noam Chomsky to take place when he returned from Afghanistan, all information that Tillman's mother and Chomsky later confirmed. Tillman couldn't confirm it because he had died in Afghanistan in 2004 from three bullets to the forehead at short range, bullets shot by an American.

The White House and the military knew Tillman had died from so-called friendly fire, but they falsely told the media he'd died in a hostile exchange. Senior Army commanders knew the facts and yet approved awarding Tillman a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a posthumous promotion, all based on his having died fighting the enemy. They would no doubt have also approved his photo for a Wheaties box.

And then where would the Wheaties thank-a-warrior campaign have been when the truth about Tillman's death and the truth about Tillman's views came out? I say: Wheaties, do not risk it. The Pentagon has not risked it since Tillman. Its generals (McChrystal, Petraeus) inevitably attract the spotlights and inevitably disgrace themselves. No rank-and-file troops are put forward as "icons." They're just used to justify massive spending "for the troops" that goes to weapons profiteers and not to one single troop.

The thought of blood just doesn't go with breakfast cereal, Wheaties, and even the thought that this proposal came from somewhere in this country is enough to make me slightly nauseated.

* Thanks to D Nunns for calling the Wheaties thing to my attention.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Campaign 2016 as a Demobilizing Spectacle

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Domestic surveillance blimp goes AWOL: The Spy That Quit and Ran

By Dave Lindorff


Most Americans living in the northeastern and Midatlantic region of the country probably didn't realize that for the last year or so they've been being spied on from the sky by a sophisticated 'eye-in-the-sky' blimp tethered to the ground in Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Why Tuition-Free College Makes Sense

The issue of making college tuition-free has recently come to the fore in American politics, largely because the two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have each championed it.  Sanders has called for free undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, to be financed by a tax on Wall Street speculation, while Clinton has done the same, although with some qualifications and a different funding mechanism.

A "President's Daily Brief" for President Putin -- on Syria



Seeing Syrian Crisis Through Russian Eyes



Editor Note: While there is a glimmer of hope that international negotiations may finally find a way to resolve the Syrian war, there is also growing pressure on President Obama to escalate U.S. military involvement even if that risks a wider war with Russia, a danger that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern assesses.

By Ray McGovern

“To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war,” as Sir Winston Churchill put it at a White House luncheon on June 1954. The aphorism applies in spades today as the U.S., Russia and other key countries involved in troubles in Syria decide whether to jaw or to war.

Speaking Events


War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Published April 5, 2016
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