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Syria News - Feb 15, 2016


In phone call Obama urges Putin to end air strikes against Syrian opposition: White House - ndtv.com


US and Russia to chair a meeting with military officials next week to seek agreement on which areas of Syria can be bombed - Bloomberg


Medvedev warns against any foreign ground troops in Syria, says it will cause 'a full-fledged, long war' - ITV


VIDEO: Interview: Medvedev warns against foreign ground troops in Syria, says there would be chaos if Assad ousted -Euronews

 

TRANSCRIPT: Interview with Medvedev - euronews


Speech by Dmitry Medvedev at Munich Security Conference 2016 - voltairenet.org


At Munich Security Conference Senator McCain blasts Syria truce deal, says serves Putin's purposes - rferl.org


McCain favors U.S. and Turkish troops take Syria's Raqqa from ISIS, establishing a no-fly zone - New York News


Syrian rebels say a ceasefire is ‘not realistic, objective, or logical' - VICE News


Assad's army setting its sights on Isis stronghold of Raqqa - The Independent


Syrian Army reaches important crossroad in southern Raqqa - almasdarnews.com


TRANSCRIPT: President al-Assad speaks to AFP on Syrian and regional developments - Syrian Arab News Agency

 

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Turkey vows not to be in ‘defensive position’ over Syria - hurriyetdailynews.com


Ankara: Turkey, Saudi Arabia ′could send ground troops to Syria′ - DW.COM


Main opposition Republican People’s Party ‘against all decisions to plunge Turkey into war’ - hurriyetdailynews.com


Turkey opposition Nationalist Movement Party warns of catastrophe in event of Syria incursion - todayszaman.com


Turkey shells Kurdish positions in Syria for second day, demands YPG militia withdraw from areas that it had captured - euronews


PYD rejects Turkish demands, warns against intervention - todayszaman.com


Turkish authorities allow 350 fighters to cross the Syria border and oversee their transition to the northern countryside of Aleppo - Syrian Observatory For Human Rights


Damascus says believes some Turkish forces entered Syria - Ynetnews


Saudi Arabia confirms sending jets to Turkey - Al Arabiya English


Saudi troop deployment in Syria up to U.S.-led coalition: foreign minister - Reuters


Saudi Arabia FM: If needed, remove Syria's Assad by force - CNN.com


Qatar ready to send troops to Syria - aa.com


20 nations join major military manoeuvre in Saudi Arabia - Zee News


Pundits rule out Jordan’s participation in possible ground intervention in Syria - Jordan Times


Iran warns against Saudi intervention in Syria: general - Business Standard News


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

Supreme Court Junket King Scalia Dies While Vacationing with Wealthy Patrons at Private West Texas Getaway

By Dave Lindorff

 

            It’s appropriate that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at a luxury resort while freeloading as the guest of thus far unidentified wealthy sponsors as one of  40 guests at a private quail-hunting vacation party.

 

Get Well, Michael Moore

Your new movie, Where to Invade Next, is very powerful, your best so far for certain.

Get well.

Fast.

We need you.

You've packed a great many issues into this film, with visuals, with personalities, with entertainment. If people will watch this, they'll learn what many of us have struggled to tell them and more, as there was plenty that I learned as well.

I must assume that when U.S. audiences watch scenes that dramatically clash with their world yet seem humane and reasonable they'll be brought to the point of thinking.

You show us political candidates, not screeching for more prisons, but holding a televised election debate in a prison in an effort to win the votes of the prisoners, who are permitted to vote. What are we to make of that? You also show us scenes from U.S. prisons of grotesque brutality. Then you show us the effective rehabilitation achieved by Norwegian prisons (25% of U.S. recidivism rate). That doesn't just clash with what's familiar in the United States, but it also clashes with what the United States teaches about "human nature," namely that criminals cannot be rehabilitated. And you expose the driving force of vengeance that lies behind that pseudo-belief by showing the collective response of forgiveness and sanity with which Norway responded to a major terrorist incident. We all know how the U.S. has responded to those.

If we've read Steven Hills' book Europe's Promise or others like it, or lived in Europe and visited Europe or other parts of the world, we have some notion of much of what you show us: Italians and others with many weeks of paid vacation and parental leave plus 2-hour lunch breaks, Germans with paid weeks at a spa if they feel stress, Finland with soaring educational achievement reached by shunning standardized tests and homework while shrinking the school day, France with nutritious gourmet school lunches, Slovenia and dozens of other countries with free college, workers making up 50% of corporate boards in Germany, Portugal legalizing drugs (best line of the movie: "So does Facebook."). By bringing all of this together in a concise and intelligent and entertaining way, you've done us all a favor.

I was worried, I will confess. I apologize. I've been watching Bernie Sanders propose these sorts of changes without a real vision behind them and without daring to mention that the money is all being dumped into the U.S. military. And I've watched you, Michael, make some oddly supportive comments about Hillary Clinton who has spent decades working against everything this movie is about. So, I was worried, but I was wrong. Not only were you willing to point out that the United States pays nearly as much as these other countries in taxes, and much more when adding in the additional things paid for outside of taxes (college, healthcare, etc.), but you also included the elephant in the room, the 59% (in the figure you used) of U.S. income tax that goes to militarism. This movie, because you included that fundamental difference between the United States and other nations, is a terrific boost for the cause of ending war. That you point out the contrast between what Germans know and feel about the holocaust and what U.S. Americans know and feel about past U.S. wars, genocides, and slavery only adds to the value.

You included in a single 2-hour movie, in a clear and unrushed manner, not only all of the above, but also explanation of the popular resistance needed to create it, plus a critique of the racist U.S. drug war, mass incarceration, prison labor, and the death penalty. You showed us Muslim leaders in a largely Muslim nation more advanced on women's rights than is the United States. You showed us the openness of numerous nations to women sharing in power. I do, by the way, recognize the good intentions that may lie behind your interest in electing a female president, but I ask you if Margaret Thatcher advanced or impeded the cause. Does electing women create humane societies, or is it at least as much the case that humane societies elect women?

The other story you bring us from Iceland, in addition to women in power, is bankers prosecuted for their crimes. Odd, isn't it? Americans thirst for such revenge that they imprison small-time criminals for decades and brutalize them, but big-time criminals are rewarded. A shift to a more civilized system of justice would reduce the nastiness in one case but impose penalties that have been lacking in the other.

You allowed some powerful voices to speak in this movie. One of them suggested that Americans try taking an interest in the rest of the world. I've noticed, living abroad, that not only do other people want to know about the United States (and everywhere else), but they also want to know what Americans think of them. And I always have to reply with shame that Americans don't, in fact, think anything of them at all. Not only should we start to be curious about others, but we should start to be curious about what others think of us.

Peace,
David Swanson

P.S. -- I'm old enough to remember your film about Bush's Iraq lies, Michael. The leading Republican presidential candidate now says Bush lied. The trailing Democratic candidate doesn't, and told the same lies at the time herself. You helped make U.S. culture, not yet good enough to end homelessness, but good enough to get that question right. Thank you.

Duplicitous diplomacy: Ambassador Reflects on American Respect for Real Democracy

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, an ambassador for the Western Sahara, knew he faced a serious uphill struggle when began his position in Washington, D.C. years ago as the representative for his country that is located on the northwest coast of Africa.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 13, 2016

 

POLL: Who won the Democratic debate? Hundreds of thousands voted online and declared overwhelmingly Sanders the winner - Huffington Post


POLL: Bernie Sanders closing the gap, pulls within 7 points of Hillary Clinton in national poll - morningconsult.com


POLL: Clinton, Sanders deadlocked in Nevada - Washington Examiner


Is the Clinton campaign panicking over Nevada? - slate.com


POLL: Sanders gaining on frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Illinois - The Daily Caller


Spearheading a $4.5 million effort Super PAC makes big play to lift Hillary Clinton in primary states - The Washington Post


DNC rolls back Obama ban on contributions from federal lobbyists, some suggested it could provide an advantage to Hillary Clinton’s fundraising efforts - The Washington Post


Hillary Clinton’s Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsement approved by board awash in lobbyists - theintercept.com


VIDEO: Who endorsed Hillary Clinton? The Congressional Black Caucus or its PAC filled with lobbyists? - Democracy Now!


VIDEO: At Democratic debate Clinton and Sanders spar over super-PACs and megadonors - realclearpolitics.com


Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to large Wall Street banks reportedly bordered on 'gushy’ - Business Insider


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FBI, foundation controversies missing from Clinton questioning at debate - Fox News


VIDEO: Fox News panel excoriates PBS moderators, Sanders for ignoring Hillary Clinton’s scandals - newsbusters.org


Clinton Foundation received subpoena from State Department investigators - The Washington Post


Clinton campaign accuses State Dept. IG of Targeting Hillary - newsmax.com


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton FBI investigation has 2 tracks: classified email & public corruption - YouTube


Judge orders Clinton’s last emails public before Super Tues. - KSN-TV


State Dept. won't rule out more 'top secret' Clinton emails - Washington Examiner


Official: Clinton aides also handled ‘top secret’ intel on server - Fox News


Emails appear to show how key Clinton aide manipulated media coverage - Fox News


Benghazi panel nears final report examining Clinton's response - Bloomberg Politics


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

Bernie Sanders: The 2016 Peace Candidate

On February 10, 2016, Peace Action—the largest peace organization in the United States—announced its endorsement of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for President.

Is This An Uprising?

The new book This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler is a terrific survey of direct action strategies, bringing out many of the strengths and weaknesses of activist efforts to effect major change in the United States and around the world since well before the twenty-first century. It should be taught in every level of our schools.

This book makes the case that disruptive mass movements are responsible for more positive social change than is the ordinary legislative "endgame" that follows. The authors examine the problem of well-meaning activist institutions becoming too well established and shying away from the most effective tools available. Picking apart an ideological dispute between institution-building campaigns of slow progress and unpredictable, immeasurable mass protest, the Englers find value in both and advocate for a hybrid approach exemplified by Otpor, the movement that overthrew Milosevic.

When I worked for ACORN, I saw our members achieve numerous substantive victories, but I also saw the tide moving against them. City legislation was overturned at the state level. Federal legislation was blocked by war madness, financial corruption, and a broken communications system. Leaving ACORN, as I did, to work for the doomed presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich might look like a reckless, non-strategic choice -- and maybe it was. But bringing prominence to one of the very few voices in Congress saying what was needed on numerous issues has a value that may be impossible to measure with precision, yet some have been able to quantify.

This Is An Uprising looks at a number of activist efforts that may at first have appeared defeats and were not. I've listed previously some examples of efforts that people thought were failures for many years. The Englers' examples involve more rapid revelation of success, for those willing and able to see it. Gandhi's salt march produced little in the way of solid commitments from the British. Martin Luther King's campaign in Birmingham failed to win its demands from the city. But the salt march had an international impact, and the Birmingham campaign a national impact far greater than the immediate results. Both inspired widespread activism, changed many minds, and won concrete policy changes well beyond the immediate demands. The Occupy movement didn't last in the spaces occupied, but it altered public discourse, inspired huge amounts of activism, and won many concrete changes. Dramatic mass action has a power that legislation or one-on-one communication does not. I made a similar case recently in arguing against the idea that peace rallies fail where counter-recruitment succeeds.

The authors point to disruption, sacrifice, and escalation as key components of a successful momentum-building action, while readily admitting that not everything can be predicted. A plan of escalated disruption that involves sympathetic sacrifice by nonviolent actors, if adjusted as circumstances call for, has a chance. Occupy could have been Athens, instead of Birmingham or Selma, if the New York police had known how to control themselves. Or perhaps it was the skill of the Occupy organizers that provoked the police. In any case, it was the brutality of the police, and the willingness of the media to cover it, that produced Occupy. The authors note Occupy's many ongoing victories but also that it shrank when its public places were taken away. In fact, even as Occupiers continued to hold public space in numerous towns, its announced death in the media was accepted by those still engaged in it, and they gave up their occupations quite obediently. The momentum was gone.

An action that gains momentum, as Occupy did, taps into the energy of many people who, as the Englers write, are newly outraged by what they learn about injustice. It also, I think, taps into the energy of many people long outraged and waiting for a chance to act. When I helped organize "Camp Democracy" in Washington, D.C., in 2006, we were a bunch of radicals ready to occupy D.C. for peace and justice, but we were thinking like organizations with major resources. We were thinking about rallies with crowds bussed in by labor unions. So, we planned a wonderful lineup of speakers, arranged permits and tents, and brought together a tiny crowd of those already in agreement. We did a few disruptive actions, but that wasn't the focus. It should have been. We should have disrupted business as usual in a way carefully designed to make the cause sympathetic rather than resented or feared.

When many of us planned an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., in 2011 we had somewhat bigger plans for disruption, sacrifice, and escalation, but in the days just before we set up camp, those New York police put Occupy in the news at a 1,000-year flood level. An occupy camp appeared nearby us in D.C., and when we marched through the streets, people joined us, because of what they'd seen from New York on their televisions. I'd never witnessed that before. A lot of the actions we engaged in were disruptive, but we may have had too much of a focus on the occupation. We celebrated the police backing down on efforts to remove us. But we needed a way to escalate.

We also, I think, refused to accept that where the public sympathy had been created was for victims of Wall Street. Our original plan had involved what we saw as an appropriately large focus on war, in fact on the interlocking evils that King identified as militarism, racism, and extreme materialism. The dumbest action I was part of was probably our attempt to protest a pro-war exhibit at the Air and Space Museum. It was dumb because I sent people straight into pepper spray and should have scouted ahead to avoid that. But it was also dumb because even relatively progressive people were, in that moment, unable to hear the idea of opposing war, much less opposing the glorification of militarism by museums. They couldn't even hear the idea of opposing the "puppets" in Congress. One had to take on the puppet masters to be understood at all, and the puppet masters were the banks. "You switched from banks to the Smithsonian!?" In fact, we'd never focused on banks, but explanations weren't going to work. What was needed was to accept the moment.

What made that moment still looks, in large part, like luck. But unless smart strategic efforts are made to create such moments, they don't happen on their own. I'm not sure we can announce on day 1 of anything "This is an uprising!" but we can at least continually ask ourselves "Is this an uprising?" and keep ourselves aimed toward that goal.

This book's subtitle is "How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century." But nonviolent revolt as opposed to what? Virtually nobody is proposing violent revolt in the United States. Mostly this book is proposing nonviolent revolt rather than nonviolent compliance with the existing system, nonviolent tweaking of it within its own rules. But cases are also examined of nonviolent overthrows of dictators in various countries. The principles of success seem to be identical regardless of the type of government a group is up against.

But there is, of course, advocacy for violence in the United States -- advocacy so enormous that no one can see it. I've been teaching a course on war abolition, and the most intractable argument for the massive U.S. investment in violence is "What if we have to defend ourselves from a genocidal invasion?"

So it would have been nice had the authors of This Is An Uprising addressed the question of violent invasions. If we were to remove from our culture the fear of the "genocidal invasion," we could remove from our society trillion-dollar-a-year militarism, and with it the primary promotion of the idea that violence can succeed. The Englers note the damage that straying into violence does to nonviolent movements. Such straying would end in a culture that ceased believing violence can succeed.

I have a hard time getting students to go into much detail about their feared "genocidal invasion," or to name examples of such invasions. In part this may be because I preemptively go into great length about how World War II might have been avoided, what a radically different world from today's it occurred in, and how successful nonviolent actions were against the Nazis when attempted. Because, of course, "genocidal invasion" is mostly just a fancy phrase for "Hitler." I asked one student to name some genocidal invasions not engaged in or contributed to by either the U.S. military or Hitler. I reasoned that genocidal invasions produced by the U.S. military couldn't fairly be used to justify the U.S. military's existence.

I tried to produce my own list. Erica Chenoweth cites the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, where armed resistance failed for years but nonviolent resistance succeeded. A Syrian invasion of Lebanon was ended by nonviolence in 2005. Israel's genocidal invasions of Palestinian lands, while fueled by U.S. weapons, have been resisted more successfully thus far by nonviolence than violence. Going back in time, we could look at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968 or the German invasion of the Ruhr in 1923. But most of these, I was told, are not proper genocidal invasions. Well, what are?

My student gave me this list: "The Great Sioux War of 1868, The Holocaust, Israel's genocidal invasions of Palestinian lands." I objected that one was U.S.-armed in recent years, one was Hitler, and one was many many years ago. He then produced the alleged example of Bosnia. Why not the even more common case of Rwanda, I don't know. But neither was an invasion exactly. Both were completely avoidable horrors, one used as an excuse for war, one allowed to continue for the purpose of a desired regime change.

This is the book that I think we still need, the book that asks what works best when your nation is invaded. How can the people of Okinawa remove the U.S. bases? Why couldn't the people of the Philippines keep them out after they did remove them? What would it take for the people of the United States to remove from their minds the fear of "genocidal invasion" that dumps their resources into war preparations that produce war after war, risking nuclear apocalypse?

Do we dare tell the Iraqis they must not fight back while our bombs are falling? Well, no, because we ought to be engaged 24-7 in trying to stop the bombing. But the supposed impossibility of advising Iraqis of a more strategic response than fighting back, oddly enough, constitutes a central defense of the policy of building more and more bombs with which to bomb the Iraqis. That has to be ended.

For that we'll need a This Is An Uprising that objects to U.S. empire.

Syria News - Feb 12, 2016


U.S. and Russia Announce Plan for Humanitarian Aid and a Cease-Fire in Syria - The New York Times


Statement of the International Syria Support Group - state.gov


VIDEO: Kerry, Lavrov and de Mistura holding a news conference on Syrian crisis (full) - YouTube


Syrian opposition says must see peace plan in action before political talks - Yahoo News


NATO 'exploring possibility' of joining anti-IS coalition: US - Yahoo News


NATO to backfill AWACS freeing up nations to use their own against the Islamic State, assist Europe with Syrian migrants - Defense News


Erdoğan says patience running out in Syria, Turkey could take action - todayszaman.com


Can Erdogan bully Turkey's armed forces into invading Syria? - Al-Monitor


Turkey threatens to open the gates and send refugees to Europe - Telegraph


US ignores Erdoğan’s call, insists on partnership with Syrian Kurds - todayszaman.com


Kurdish fighters surround rebel stronghold of Azaz in northern Aleppo (Map update) - almasdarnews.com


Saudi Arabia says it has made a 'final' decision to send troops into Syria - Business Insider


VIDEO (English): Saudi military spokesman: Decision to send troops in Syria ‘final’ - Al Arabiya English


New Saudi-led coalition against ‘terrorism’ to meet - nation.com.pk


Iraq PM says sending ground troops to Syria would be 'dangerous escalation’, comments aimed at Sunni Arab countries that have said they are prepared to enter the fray - Yahoo News


Iraq appreciates Russia’s support in freeing its territory from terrorists: minister - TASS


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

What Obama Did While You Were Watching Elections

Pass the popcorn! Wait till I tweet this! Did you see the look on his face?

Ain't elections exciting? We just can't get enough of them, which could be why we've stretched them out to a couple of years each, even though a small crowd of Super Delegates and a couple of state officials with computer skills could quite conceivably decide the whole thing anyway.

Through the course of this marvelous election thus far I've been trying to get any human being to ask any candidate to provide just the most very basic outline of the sort of budget they would propose if president, or at least some hint at the single item in the budget that takes up more than half of it. Do they think military spending should go up, go down, or stay right where it is?

Who knows! Aren't elections wonderful?

I'd even settle for the stupid "gotcha" question in which we find out if any of the candidates knows, even roughly, what percentage of the budget military spending is now.

Why is this topic, although seemingly central, scrupulously avoided?

  • The candidates all, more or less, agree.
  • None of the candidates brings it up.
  • Nobody in Congress, not even the "progressive" caucus, brings it up.
  • Nobody in the corporate media brings it up.
  • The corporate media outlets see war profiteers as customers who buy ads.
  • The corporate media outlets see war profiteers in the mirror as parts of their corporate families.
  • The fact that the military costs money conflicts with the basic premise of U.S. politics which is that one party wants to spend money on socialistic nonsense while the other party wants to stop spending money and build a bigger military.

Those seem like the obvious answers, but here's another. While you're being entertained by the election, President Obama is proposing a bigger military than ever. Not only is U.S. military spending extremely high by historical standards, but looking at the biggest piece of military spending, which is the budget of the Department of so-called Defense, that department's annual "Green Book" makes clear that it has seen higher spending under President Barack Obama than ever before in history.

Check out the new budget proposal from the President who distracted millions of people from horrendous Bush-Cheney actions with his "peace" talk as a candidate eight years ago. He wants to increase the base Do"D" budget, both the discretionary and the mandatory parts. He wants to increase the extra slush fund of unaccountable money for the Do"D" on top of that. This pot used to be named for wars, but wars have gotten so numerous and embarrassing that it's now called "Overseas Contingency Operations."

When it comes to nuclear weapons, Obama wants to increase spending, but when it comes to other miscellaneous extras for the military, he also wants to increase that. Military retirement spending, on the other hand, he'd like to see go up, while the Veterans Administration spending he proposes to raise. Money for fueling ISIS by fighting it, Obama wants raised by 50%. On increasing hostility with Russia through a military buildup on its border, Obama wants a 400% spending boost. In one analysis, military spending would jump from $997.2 billion this year to $1.04 trillion next year under this proposal.

That's a bit awkward, considering the shade it throws on any piddly little project that does make it into election debates and reporting. The smallest fraction of military spending could pay for the major projects that Senator Bernie Sanders will be endlessly attacked for proposing to raise taxes for.

It's also awkward for the whole Republican/Hillary discussion of how to become more militarized, unlike that pacifist in the White House.

And, of course, it's always awkward to point out that events just go on happening in the world rather than pausing out of respect for some inanity just uttered by Marco Rubio.

Tomgram: William Astore, Spoiling The Pentagon

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

Here's my little joke of the month: How do you spell Pentagon? M-O-R-E.

Focus: Syria News - Feb 11, 2016


Syrian government forces 25 kilometers from Turkey's border - VOA


Damascus aims to secure Syria's border with Turkey and recapture Aleppo with its latest military offensive: Assad adviser - Reuters


Wounded Syrian rebels say Russia crippling their insurgency - Yahoo News


Nusra Front jihadists reinforce other rebels during key battle in Aleppo province - The Long War Journal


Russia, pressed to end Syria bombing, proposes March truce - Reuters


Backed by Russian airstrikes Syrian Kurds seize air base held by insurgents - Telegraph


Kurdish YPG recaptures towns from Islamic group in the northern countryside of Aleppo - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Syrian Kurds to continue working with Russia to halt illegal oil to Turkey - sputniknews.com


Syrian Kurdistan mission opens in Moscow - RT News


PYD chief Salih Muslim meets Russian deputy FM, Moscow stresses on Kurdish participation in peace talks - Kurdpress News Aganecy

 

Syrian Kurds plan opening missions in US, EU - TASS


Opposition group attacks funeral of Syrian President’s mother - Al Bawaba

 

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US Won't Intervene in Syrian-Russian Assault on Aleppo: Pentagon - Military.com


Pentagon Spy Chief: Russia’s Airstrikes ‘Change Syria Calculus Completely’ - Antiwar.com


United States has no desire to confront Russian air power in the skies above Syria - Stratfor


Syrian Opposition Groups Sense U.S. Support Fading - The New York Times


French Foreign Minister Quits, Lashes Out at Obama on Syria - VICE News


Turkey's Erdogan chastises U.S. over support for Syrian Kurds, says failure to understand the essence of the PYD and YPG caused a 'sea of blood' - Reuters


Turkey summons US envoy over comments on Kurdish PYD in Syria - todayszaman.com


Turkey's Syria strategy in ruins as Aleppo teeters - CNN.com


Syria invasion plan? Turkey will defend its ‘Aleppo brothers,’ says PM Davutoglu - RT News


Turkey Sees Russia's Syria Tactics as 'Ethnic Cleansing' - VOA


Turkish President Erdoğan hosts urgent security summit with top officials - hurriyetdailynews.com


Turkey, Saudi Arabia to hold joint drills, military sources deny such a planning - hurriyetdailynews.com


Lavrov: US-led coalition will not allow Turkey’s invasion of Syria - todayszaman.com


Lavrov: ISIL, Turkey discussing new smuggling ways across Syrian-Turkish borders - almanar.com


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

How to Counter Recruitment and De-Militarize Schools

U.S. military recruiters are teaching in public school classrooms, making presentations at school career days, coordinating with JROTC units in high schools and middle schools, volunteering as sports coaches and tutors and lunch buddies in high, middle, and elementary schools, showing up in humvees with $9,000 stereos, bringing fifth-graders to military bases for hands-on science instruction, and generally pursuing what they call "total market penetration" and "school ownership."

But counter-recruiters all over the United States are making their own presentations in schools, distributing their own information, picketing recruiting stations, and working through courts and legislatures to reduce military access to students and to prevent military testing or the sharing of test results with the military without students' permission. This struggle for hearts and minds has had major successes and could spread if more follow the counter-recruiters' example.

A new book by Scott Harding and Seth Kershner called Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools surveys the current counter-recruitment movement, its history, and its possible future. Included is a fairly wide range of tactics. Many involve one-on-one communication with potential recruits.

"Do you like fireworks?" a veteran of the latest war on Iraq may ask a student in a high school cafeteria. "Yes!" Well, replies Hart Viges, "you won't when you get back from war."

"I talked to this one kid," recalls veteran of the war on Vietnam John Henry, "and I said, 'Has anybody in your family been in the military?' And he said, 'My grandfather.'

"And we talked about him, about how he was short and he was a tunnel rat in Vietnam, and I said, 'Oh, what does he tell you about war?'

"'That he still has nightmares.'

"And I said, 'And you are going in what branch of the service?'

"'Army.'

"'And you're going to pick what skill?'

"'Oh, I'm just going to go infantry.'

"You know ... your grandfather is telling you he's still got nightmares and that was 40 years ago. He's had nightmares for 40 years. Do you want to have nightmares for 40 years?"

Minds are changed. Young lives are saved -- those of the kids who do not sign up, or who back out before it's too late, and perhaps also the lives they would have contributed to ending had they entered the "service."

This sort of counter-recruitment work can have a quick payoff. Says Barbara Harris, who also organized the protests at NBC that supported this petition and got a pro-war program off the air, "The feedback I receive from [parents] is just incredibly heartwarming because [when] I speak to a parent and I see how I've helped them in some way, I feel so rewarded."

Other counter-recruitment work can take a bit longer and be a bit less personal but impact a larger number of lives. Some 10% to 15% of recruits get to the military via the ASVAB tests, which are administered in certain school districts, sometimes required, sometimes without informing students or parents that they are for the military, sometimes with the full results going to the military without any permission from students or parents. The number of states and school districts using and abusing the ASVAB is on the decline because of the work of counter-recruiters in passing legislation and changing policy.

U.S. culture is so heavily militarized, though, that in the absence of recruiters or counter-recruiters well-meaning teachers and guidance counselors will thoughtlessly promote the military to students. Some schools automatically enroll all students in JROTC. Some guidance counselors encourage students to substitute JROTC for gym class. Even Kindergarten teachers will invite in uniformed members of the military or promote the military unprompted in their school assignments. History teachers will show footage of Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor Day and talk in glorifying terms of the military without any need for direct contact from recruitment offices. I'm reminded of what Starbucks said when asked why it had a coffee shop at the torture / death camp in Guantanamo. Starbucks said that choosing not to would amount to making a political statement. Choosing to do so was just standard behavior.

Part of what keeps the military presence in the schools is the billion dollar budget of the military recruiters and other unfair powers of incumbency. For example, if a JROTC program is threatened, the instructors can order the students (or the children formerly known as students) to show up and testify at a school board meeting in favor of maintaining the program.

Much of what keeps recruitment working in our schools, however, is a different sort of power -- the power to lie and get away with it unchallenged. As Harding and Kershner document, recruiters routinely deceive students about the amount of time they're committing to be in the military, the possibility of changing their minds, the potential for free college as a reward, the availability of vocational training in the military, and the risks involved in joining the military.

Our society has become very serious about warning young people about safety in sex, driving, drinking, drugs, sports, and other activities. When it comes to joining the military, however, a survey of students found that none of them were told anything about the risks to themselves -- first and foremost suicide. They are also, as Harding and Kershner point out, told much about heroism, nothing about drudgery. I would add that they are not told about alternative forms of heroism outside of the military. I would further add that they are told nothing about the primarily non-U.S. victims of wars that are largely one-sided slaughters of civilians, nor about the moral injury and PTSD that can follow. And of course, they are told nothing about alternative career paths.

That is, they are told none of these things by recruiters. They are told some of them by counter-recruiters. Harding and Kershner mention AmeriCorps and City Year as alternatives to the military that counter-recruiters sometimes let students know about. An early start on an alternative career path is found by some students who sign on as counter-recruiters working to help guide their peers away from the military. Studies find that youth who engage in school activism suffer less alienation, set more ambitious goals, and improve academically.

Military recruitment climbs when the economy declines, and drops off when news of current wars increases. Those recruited tend to have lower family income, less-educated parents, and larger family size. It seems entirely possible to me that a legislative victory for counter-recruitment greater than any reform of ASVAB testing or access to school cafeterias would be for the United States to join those nations that make college free. Ironically, the most prominent politician promoting that idea, Senator Bernie Sanders, refuses to say he would pay for any of his plans by cutting the military, meaning that he must struggle uphill against passionate shouts of "Don't raise my taxes!" (even when 99% of people would not see their wallets shrink at all under his plans).

Free college would absolutely crush military recruitment. To what extent does this fact explain political opposition to free college? I don't know. But I can picture among the possible responses of the military a greater push to make citizenship a reward for immigrants who join the military, higher and higher signing bonuses, greater use of mercenaries both foreign and domestic, greater reliance on drones and other robots, and ever more arming of foreign proxy forces, but also quite likely a greater reluctance to launch and escalate and continue wars.

And that's the prize we're after, right? A family blown up in the Middle East is just as dead, injured, traumatized, and homeless whether the perpetrators are near or far, in the air or at a computer terminal, born in the United States or on a Pacific island, right? Most counter-recruiters I know would agree with that 100%. But they believe, and with good reason, that the work of counter-recruitment scales back the war-making.

However, other concerns enter in as well, including the desire to protect particular students, and the desire to halt the racial or class disparity of recruitment that sometimes focuses disproportionately on poor or predominately racial minority schools. Legislatures that have been reluctant to restrict recruitment have done so when it was addressed as an issue of racial or class fairness.

Many counter-recruiters, Harding and Kershner report, "were careful to suggest the military serves a legitimate purpose in society and is an honorable vocation." In part, I think such talk is a strategy -- whether or not it's a wise one -- that believes direct opposition to war will close doors and empower adversaries, whereas talking about "student privacy" will allow people who oppose war to reach students with their information. But, of course, claiming that the military is a good thing while discouraging local kids from joining it rather stinks of NIMBYism: Get your cannon fodder, just Not In My Back Yard.

Some, though by no means all, and I suspect it's a small minority of counter-recruiters actually make a case against other types of peace activism. They describe what they do as "actually doing something," in contrast to marching at rallies or sitting in at Congressional offices, etc. I will grant them that my experience is atypical. I do media interviews. I mostly go to rallies that have invited me to speak. I get paid to do online antiwar organizing. I plan conferences. I write articles and op-eds and books. I have a sense of "doing something" that perhaps most people who attend an event or ask questions from an audience or sign an online petition just don't. I suspect a great many people find talking students away from the edge much more satisfying than getting arrested in front of a drone base, although plenty of wonderful people do both.

But there is, in my opinion, a pretty misguided analysis in the view of certain counter-recruiters who hold that getting tests out of schools is real, concrete, and meaningful, while filling the National Mall with antiwar banners is useless. In 2013 a proposal to bomb Syria looked very likely, but Congress members started worrying about being the guy who voted for another Iraq. (How's that working out for Hillary Clinton?) It was not primarily counter-recruiters who made the Iraq vote a badge of shame and political doom. Nor was it outreach to students that upheld the Iran nuclear agreement last year.

The division between types of peace activism is somewhat silly. People have been brought into counter-recruitment work at massive rallies, and students reached by counter-recruiters have later organized big protests. Recruitment includes hard to measure things like Super Bowl fly-overs and video games. So can counter-recruitment. Both counter-recruitment and other types of peace activism ebb and flow with wars, news reports, and partisanship. I'd like to see the two merged into massive rallies at recruiting stations. Harding and Kershner cite one example of a counter-recruiter suggesting that one such rally created new opposition to his work, but I would be surprised if it didn't also hurt recruitment. The authors cite other examples of well-publicized protests at recruitment offices having had a lasting effect of reducing recruitment there.

The fact is that no form of opposition to militarism is what it used to be. Harding and Kershner cite stunning examples of the mainstream nature of counter-recruitment in the 1970s, when it had the support of the National Organization for Women and the Congressional Black Caucus, and when prominent academics publicly urged guidance counselors to counter-recruit.

The strongest antiwar movement, I believe, would combine the strengths of counter-recruitment with those of lobbying, protesting, resisting, educating, divesting, publicizing, etc. It would be careful to build resistance to recruitment while educating the public about the one-sided nature of U.S. wars, countering the notion that a large percentage of the damage is done to the aggressor. When Harding and Kershner use the phrase in their book "In the absence of a hot war" to describe the current day, what should the people being killed by U.S. weaponry in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, etc., make of it?

We need a strategy that employs the skills of every kind of activist and targets the military machine at every possible weak point, but the strategy has to be to stop the killing, no matter who does it, and no matter if every person doing it survives.

Are you looking for a way to help? I recommend the examples in Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools. Go forth and do likewise.

Talk Nation Radio: Elliott Adams on third party non-violent intervention in the West Bank

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-elliott-adams-on-third-party-non-violent-intervention-in-the-west-bank

Elliott Adams is a former Army paratrooper in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Alaska; and former National President of Veterans For Peace. He has conducted nonviolence and social movement trainings for organizations such as Fellowship Of Reconciliation, School Of Americas Watch, Peacemakers of Schoharie, Student Environmental Action Coalition, War Resisters League. He currently works with the Meta Peace Team and is co-chair of Creating a Culture of Peace. In 2014 and again in 2015 he spent several months as a member of Meta Peace Team using third party non-violent intervention in the West Bank, Palestine.

See http://metapeaceteam.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Tomgram: Engelhardt, "The Finest Fighting Force in the History of the World"

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

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda 
The U.S. Military Bombs in the Twenty-First Century 
By Tom Engelhardt

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 8, 2016


VIDEO: Clinton says she’ll release speech transcripts if opponents do the same - ABC News


VIDEO: Clinton: Sanders putting artful smear on my Wall Street donations…I’m not going to sit and take it anymore - CBS News


Hillary Clinton has made millions from her Wall Street speeches... but what did she say? - Daily Mail Online


GOP: Hillary, Release the Transcripts - GOP


Contracts indicate Clinton owns transcripts, controls their release - The Wichita Eagle


Hillary's Goldman Sachs speech fee set by her agent, not 'what they offered' - Washington Examiner


Here’s What Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speaking Contract Looks Like - theintercept.com


Hillary won't release her speaking transcripts, but LOOK what we found! - Allen B. West


Sign the petition: Hillary, release the transcripts of your paid speeches to Wall Street banks - Vets For Bernie


Wall Street Distrust Fuels Millennial Opposition to Clinton - valuewalk.com


VIDEO: Donna Brazile: Wall Street issue is playing same role for Clinton that Iraq war vote did in 2008 - RealClearPolitics


$153 million in Bill and Hillary Clinton speaking fees, documented - CNNPolitics.com


Meet the lobbyists, donors and bundlers behind Hillary’s $157 million campaign juggernaut - Yahoo News


Fund-raising alliances with 33 state Democratic parties fuel Clinton with cash - philly.com


The vote for bankruptcy reform that haunts Hillary Clinton - The New York Times


VIDEO: George Stephanopoulos presses Clinton on Elizabeth Warren’s criticism on bankruptcy bill - YouTube


VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren on Hillary Clinton and bankruptcy bill (2004) - YouTube


Time for Chelsea Clinton's easy ride to end, she’s a board member at Barry Diller’s IAC (paid a reported $300,000 a year, plus stock awards) and charges $65,000 per speech - politico.com


Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein: Sanders candidacy a 'dangerous moment' - politico.com


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

The Super Bowl Promotes War

By David Swanson, teleSUR

The military routinely endorses and promotes the NFL.

Super Bowl 50 will be the first National Football League championship to happen since it was reported that much of the pro-military hoopla at football games, the honoring of troops and glorifying of wars that most people had assumed was voluntary or part of a marketing scheme for the NFL, has actually been a money-making scheme for the NFL. The U.S. military has been dumping millions of our dollars, part of a recruitment and advertising budget that's in the billions, into paying the NFL to publicly display love for soldiers and weaponry.

Of course, the NFL may in fact really truly love the military, just as it may love the singers it permits to sing at the Super Bowl halftime show, but it makes them pay for the privilege too. And why shouldn't the military pay the football league to hype its heroism? It pays damn near everybody else. At $2.8 billion a year on recruiting some 240,000 "volunteers," that's roughly $11,600 per recruit. That's not, of course, the trillion with a T kind of spending it takes to run the military for a year; that's just the spending to gently persuade each "volunteer" to join up. The biggest military "service" ad buyer in the sports world is the National Guard. The ads often depict humanitarian rescue missions. Recruiters often tell tall tales of "non-deployment" positions followed by free college. But it seems to me that the $11,600 would have gone a long way toward paying for a year in college! And, in fact, people who have that money for college are far less likely to be recruited.

Despite showing zero interest in signing up for wars, and despite the permanent presence of wars to sign up for, 44 percent of U.S. Americans tell the Gallup polling company that they "would" fight in a war, yet don't. That's at least 100 million new recruits. Luckily for them and the world, telling a pollster something doesn't require follow through, but it might suggest why football fans tolerate and even celebrate military national anthems and troop-hyping hoopla at every turn. They think of themselves as willing warriors who just happen to be too busy at the moment. As they identify with their NFL team, making remarks such as "We just scored," while firmly seated on their most precious assets, football fans also identify with their team on the imagined battlefield of war.

The NFL website says: "For decades the NFL and the military have had a close relationship at the Super Bowl, the most watched program year-to-year throughout the United States. In front of more than 160 million viewers, the NFL salutes the military with a unique array of in-game celebrations including the presentation of colors, on-field guests, pre-game ceremonies and stadium flyovers. During Super Bowl XLIX week [last year], the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project invited veterans to attend the Salute to Service: Officiating 101 Clinic at NFL Experience Engineered by GMC [double payment? ka-ching!] in Arizona. ..."

Pat Tillman, still promoted on the NFL website, and eponym of the Pat Tillman Foundation, is of course the one NFL player who gave up a giant football contract to join the military. What the Foundation won't tell you is that Tillman, as is quite common, ceased believing what the ads and recruiters had told 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." Clearly the military wants a connection to football and is willing to lie as well as to pay for it. The Pat Tillman Foundation mis-uses a dead man's name to play on and prey on the mutual interest of football and the military in being connected to each other.

Those on whom the military's advertising succeeds will not typically die from friendly fire. Nor will they die from enemy fire. The number one killer of members of the U.S. military, reported yet again for another year this week, is suicide. And that's not even counting later suicides by veterans. Every TV pundit and presidential debate moderator, and perhaps even a Super Bowl 50 announcer or two, tends to talk about the military's answer for ISIS. What is its answer for people being stupidly ordered into such horrific hell that they won't want to live anymore?

It's in the ads

At least as big a focus of the Super Bowl as the game itself is the advertising. One particularly disturbing ad planned for Super Bowl 50 is an ad for a war video game. The U.S. military has long funded war video games and viewed them as recruiting tools. In this ad Arnold Schwarzenegger shows what fun it is to shoot people and blow up buildings on the game, while outside of the game people are tackling him more or less as in a football game. Nothing here is remotely warlike in a realistic sense. For that I recommend playing with PTSD Action Man instead. But it does advance the equation of sport with war -- something both the NFL and the military clearly desire.

An ad last year from Northrop Grumman, which has its own "Military Bowl," was no less disturbing. Two years ago an ad that appeared to be for the military until the final seconds turned out to be for Jeeps. There was another ad that year for Budweiser beer with which one commentator found legal concerns:

"First, there's a violation of the military's ethics regulations, which explicitly state that Department of Defense personnel cannot 'suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment' of any 'non-Federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise. ... Under this regulation, the Army cannot legally endorse Budweiser, nor allow its active-duty personnel to participate in their ads (let alone wear their uniforms), any more than the Army can endorse Gatorade or Nike."

Two serious issues with this. One: the military routinely endorses and promotes the NFL. Two: despite my deep-seated opposition to the very existence of an institution of mass murder, and my clear understanding of what it wants out of advertisements (whether by itself or by a car or beer company), I can't help getting sucked into the emotion. The technique of this sort of propaganda (here's another ad) is very high level. The rising music. The facial expressions. The gestures. The build up of tension. The outpouring of simulated love. You'd have to be a monster not to fall for this poison. And it permeates the world of millions of wonderful young people who deserve better.

It's in the stadium

If you get past the commercials, there's the problem of the stadium for Super Bowl 50, unlike most stadiums for most sports events, being conspicuously "protected" by the military and militarized police, including with military helicopters and jets that will shoot down any drones and "intercept" any planes. Ruining the pretense that this is actually for the purpose of protecting anyone, military jets will show off by flying over the stadium, as in past years, when they have even done it over stadiums covered by domes.

The idea that there is anything questionable about coating a sporting event in military promotion is the furthest thing from the minds of most viewers of the Super Bowl. That the military's purpose is to kill and destroy, that it's recent major wars have eventually been opposed as bad decisions from the start by a majority of Americans, just doesn't enter into it. On the contrary, the military publicly questions whether it should be associating with a sports league whose players hit their wives and girlfriends too much.

My point is not that assault is acceptable, but that murder isn't. The progressive view of the Super Bowl in the United States will question the racism directed at a black quarterback, the concussions of a violent sport that damages the brains of too many of its players (and perhaps even the recruitment of new players from the far reaches of the empire to take their place), sexist treatment of cheerleaders or women in commercials, and perhaps even the disgusting materialism of some of the commercials. But not the militarism. The announcers will thank "the troops" for watching from "over 175 countries" and nobody will pause, set down their beer and dead animal flesh and ask whether 174 countries might not be enough to have U.S. troops in right now.

The idea that the Super Bowl promotes is that war is more or less like football, only better. I was happy to help get a TV show canceled that turned war into a reality game. There is still some resistance to that idea that can be tapped in the U.S. public. But I suspect it is eroding.

The NFL doesn't just want the military's (our) money. It wants the patriotism, the nationalism, the fervent blind loyalty, the unthinking passion, the personal identification, a love for the players to match love of troops -- and with similar willingness to throw them under a bus.

The military doesn't just want the sheer numbers of viewers attracted to the Super Bowl. It wants wars imagined as sporting events between teams, rather than horrific crimes perpetrated on people in their homes and villages. It wants us thinking of Afghanistan not as a 15-year disaster, murder-spree, and counter-productive SNAFU, but as a competition gone into double quadruple overtime despite the visiting team being down 84 points and attempting an impossible comeback. The military wants chants of "USA!" that fill a stadium. It wants role models and heroes and local connections to potential recruits. It wants kids who can't make it to the pros in football or another sport to think they've got the inside track to something even better and more meaningful.

I really wish they did.

Focus: U.S., NATO and Russia - Feb 6, 2016


Note: We are witnessing the making of a strategic military blunder by the Pentagon. Treating Russia as a top threat to U.S. national security is wrong and dangerous.


Armed with new U.S. money, NATO is planning its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to counter Russia - Reuters


NATO chief meets EU defense ministers to beef up their responses to Russia and the Islamic State - Financial Express


Russia ramping up military drills to Cold War levels, NATO says - Fox News


US admiral: Russia's submarine activity in the North Atlantic is at Cold War levels, but we don't know why - Business Insider


Russia simulated nuclear attack on Sweden, says NATO - The Week UK


RAND Report: Russia Defeats NATO in Baltic War Game - Military.com


RAND Report (Full): Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank - scribd.com


NATO's top 5 weapons of war pointed at Russia - The National Interest Blog

 

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

Carter: Pentagon seeks to boost defense in Europe to counter Russia as a top threat to US interests - Tribune Washington Bureau


US Defense Secretary: Our most stressing competitors China and Russia developing weapons for use in rapid war  - theepochtimes.com


TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by Secretary Carter on the budget at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. - defense.gov


U.S. army budget boosts European presence, sacrifices modernization - defensenews.com


The big budget crunch awaiting America's spies: U.S. intelligence community overall budget may rise but spending on information technology will not, a new report says - Defense One


Robot Boats, Smart Guns & Super B-52s: Carter’s Strategic Capabilities Office - Breaking Defense


How America's New Invisible Flying Gas Stations Could Keep Russia in Check - VICE News


The Pentagon nuclear modernization plan is on the table - defensenews.com


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton: We have to send Putin a clear message that [Russian] belligerence... will have to be responded to - MSNBC


Russians Slam Clinton For Calling Russia A Threat - Vocativ


Jeffrey Sachs op-ed: Hillary is the candidate of the war machine - huffingtonpost.com

 

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

Russia to add new army divisions in the Western military district as a direct response to recent NATO exercises - Telegraph


The West fears qualitative improvement in Russian military - larouchepub.com


Russia considers principles of conventional arms control In Europe treaty outdated - rferl.org


Russia explores asymmetrical response to U.S. military budget hike - TRUNEWS


US rejected Russia’s proposal on Syria consultation center in Amman to coordinate operations: defense ministry - TASS


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

Bankers, Preachers, and Fear of President Sanders

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new war in Libya, more war in Syria, permanent war in Afghanistan, climate change crashing over the cliff -- these and other immediate disasters are pursued with one hand, while the magician's other hand distracts us with caucuses, primaries, and super bowls. Remember when insiders said the TPP would die the moment it was made public? Well, what if it was made public during an election season? Bread and circuses, even in Rome, weren't designed to make the people happy but to keep them pacified while all the real energy and treasure went into destroying Carthage and filling the vomitoria of the oligarchs. And it's easier for a good team to make it into the super bowl than for a truly good candidate to make it into corporate election reporting. I deny none of that. And yet ...

The 2015-2016 presidential election has, by some measures, already accomplished more than all the previous elections in my lifetime put together. And it's scaring some of the right people.

If you had claimed in 1969 that it would be possible for presidential candidates in the United States to reject religion before they could reject permanent worldwide military empire, you'd have been laughed right out of the Age of Aquarius.

If you'd prognosticated in 1999 that an independent socialist focused like a laser beam on taxing billionaires and busting up some of their most profitable scams (not to mention taxing many of the rest of us) could grab the lead in a Democratic primary campaign against a Clinton with no intern scandals, you'd have been triangulated right out of your career as you knew it.

And if you'd predicted in 2014 that a candidate virtually ignored by the consolidated corporate media, as consolidated under the Clinton Telecom Act, would surge in the polls, you'd have garnered as much respect as those guys in The Big Short did when they claimed to know more than the high priests of Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders, for all of his dramatic shortcomings, is a phenomenon created by a perfect storm of institutional failure -- by Hillary Clinton's coronation constructed of cards just waiting for someone to suggest that millions of outraged winds breathe on it. Sanders is 6 years older and generations more advanced than his Democratic Party rival.

 

God Is Dead

"What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?" --Friedrich Nietzsche

Sanders' website calls him "secular" and "not particularly religious." His answers to a religion question during a CNN "town hall" this week were typical. A member of the audience asked about religion and race, and Sanders answered only about race. Then the moderator asked again about religion. And this was Sanders' answer, I swear to ... -- well, I just swear:

"It's a guiding principle in my life. Absolutely it is. You know, everybody practices religion in a different way. To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings. I believe that, as a human being, the pain that one person feels, if we have children that are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can't afford their prescription drugs, you know what? That impacts you, that impacts me, and I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, 'It doesn't matter to me. I got it. I don't care about other people.' So, my spirituality is that we are all in this together, and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me. That is my very strong spiritual feeling."

It's also my very strong non-spiritual feeling. But that was a typical Bernie answer, one he's given many times, typical even in its focus on only 4% of humanity and on only a particular type of homeless people. Some states, by the way, are making huge strides toward ending the shame of homelessness for veterans, so that soon all homeless people in the United States may be people who have never been part of a mass-murder operation. I point this out not to oppose it. Better more people with homes, no matter how it's done! And I point it out not to quibble with Sanders' statement of generosity and humanism, but to suggest that part of how Sanders slipped a completely irreligious answer past an audience that asked a religious question is that Sanders identified himself with the true U.S. religion, the religion that will be front and center and in the jet noise overhead at the super bowl -- the religion of war, the religion of national exceptionalism. Who can forget Ron Paul being booed in a primary debate for applying the golden rule to non-Americans?

When Sanders is asked explicitly if he "believes in God," he also answers, "What my spirituality is about is that we're all in this together." Exactly what my non-spirituality is about. I think it's safe to assume he'll never be asked if he believes in death (which television sponsors would be pleased by that topic?), so "God" is the question he'll get, and he won't be required to answer it. New Hampshire is the least religious state in the country, but the country as a whole has also moved against religion and even more so against "organized religion." Some of us always preferred the organized part (the community, the music, etc.) to the religion, but the larger trend here is a rejection of elite institutions telling us how to run our lives while demonstrably running the world into the ground. And who has more to answer for in that regard than God?

Rejecting organized religion while proclaiming an individual "spirituality" may be all that is needed, and that is tremendous news. That Sanders has done this while professing an ideology of generosity and solidarity, and winning applause for that, is even better news. Studies find that lack of religion can correlate with greater generosity, as certainly seems to be the case with the Scandinavian societies Sanders points to as models. (Seventeen percent of Swedes, as compared to 65% of U.S. Americans, say religion is "important".)

A majority in the United States say they wouldn't vote for an atheist, but for many atheism, like gender, race, sexual preference, and other identifiers is now a matter of self-identification. Someone must choose to call themselves an atheist. Just having no use for theism doesn't qualify them. The media also seems to have no direct interest in attacking candidates on religion. Nobody pays them to do that. And it doesn't show a lot of potential as a weapon. Donald Trump is seen as the least religious candidate in the field, and some of the most religious voters say they support him and just don't care. In addition, Sanders is a supporter of religious freedom, tolerance, and even tax exemptions. He doesn't fit the mold of the bigoted atheist who finds Islam dangerously more religious than Christianity. The media is also no big fan of Ted Cruz, who's on a Dubya-like mission from God. All of these factors seem to have made it possible to run for president of the United States on a platform of pure enlightenment humanism. I didn't think I'd live to see that.

 

Most Dangerous Man on Wall Street

Hillary Clinton friend and funder and CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein seems to view Bernie Sanders as President Richard Nixon characterized Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and as President Barack Obama seems to view WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, as the most dangerous person in the United States. Sanders' sin, in Blankfein's view, is failure to worship the almighty dollar.

Blankfein is fully aware that his endorsing a candidate would hurt that candidate, but seems not to have thought through the possibility that opposing a candidate might help them. Reportedly, Blankfein suggested this week that "Sanders' attacks on the 'billionaire class' and bankers could be dangerous. 'It has the potential to personalize it, it has the potential to be a dangerous moment. Not just for Wall Street not just for the people who are particularly targeted but for anybody who is a little bit out of line,' Blankfein said."

It sounds like the 1% has a case of 99% envy. Misery loves company, but fear demands it. Think about what Blankfein is claiming. One of the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, who has long said explicitly that the Democratic Party should represent banks, has taken $675,000 (or about $5,000 per minute) to give three speeches to Blankfein's company, in which she reportedly reassured them they had nothing to worry about (despite widely known crimes that wrecked the economy of the United States and other nations). Public demands to even see what Clinton told Goldman Sachs have thus far gone unanswered and unechoed in the media, except by Ralph Nader. On Clinton Blankfein has no comment and sees nothing unusual. This is normal, standard, and unquestionable behavior.

But Bernie Sanders proposes to enforce laws, laws against financial trickery, laws against cheating on taxes, laws against monopolization, laws against market manipulation, and new taxes on unearned wealth. Well, this is unacceptable and in fact "dangerous"! It's extreme madness is what it is, according to Blankfein, who depicts Sanders' position as fanatical: "It's a liability to say I'm going to compromise, I'm going to get one millimeter off the extreme position I have and if you do you have to back track and swear to people that you'll never compromise. It's just incredible. It's a moment in history." That it is.

Here's how Bill Clinton reportedly viewed popular resentment of bankers in 2014: "You could take Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days. Then the blood lust would rise again." Of course, nobody had proposed killing bankers. Many had proposed enforcing laws. But that's how bankers view such a proposal, through the lens of fear. They are probably not alone. Sanders is proposing to end fracking and various other disastrous industries, while investing in new ones. He promises to block the TPP, which Clinton -- long a big supporter of it -- merely claims to "oppose" without committing to actually prevent. Sanders wants to tax the very wealthiest, including the 20 individuals who own as much as half the country. He wants to break up monopolies, including on Wall Street, and perhaps in the media -- which is already clearly shaken by the fact that he's advanced in the polls without them.

Health insurance executives can't be feeling too much better than banksters, unless they're wise enough to see the bigger picture. I waited on hold for 30 minutes this week to try to fix the latest SNAFU with my Obamacare, and then a really helpful woman answered who promised she'd fix it. I asked her if she could also back Bernie Sanders to put an end to the industry she worked for. She said yes, indeed.

The wiser minds in the plutocracy should follow that example. Nobody's out to hurt you, only to help you share your hoarded loot with those who worked for it. Your life will be different, but not necessarily worse. It might even be happier.

The more hopelessly greedy minds in much of the U.S. plutocracy, right about now, will start wishing they'd been prescient enough to go into weapons making and war profiteering, that sacred realm that Sanders' spirituality dares not threaten.

Focus: Russia, Turkey and Syria - Feb 5, 2016


Backed by Russian jets Syrian Army closes in on Aleppo, peace talks in Geneva put on hold because of the offensive - huffingtonpost.com


UN Security Council to meet Friday with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura on the breakdown in Syria peace talks - Yahoo News


Kerry demands Russia halt Syria bombing after talks suspended - Yahoo News


Lavrov: Russia won’t stop strikes until terrorists defeated, shutting off arms smuggling through Turkey border key condition for ceasefire - RT


The military and political significance of Aleppo: the insurgency and its backers who are stuck in a morass - atlanticcouncil.org


VIDEO: Syrian Army breaks 3-year siege of 2 Shiite villages in Aleppo - RT


VIDEO (Raw): Shiite villages Nubul and Al-Zahraa welcome Syrian army troops after 3 years in siege  - alalam.ir


VIDEO: Streams of Syrian refugees from Aleppo try to reach Turkey - LiveLeak.com


Iranian Colonel, 12 elite Guards killed in battle for Aleppo - THE DAILY STAR


Russian aviation attacks almost 900 targets in Syria since February 1: Defense Ministry - TASS


Russia’s advanced Su-35S fighter jet deployed to Syria sends a message to Turkey - TASS


Russia content with cooperation with Israel over military operation in Syria - TASS


Putin meets ‘old friend’ Kissinger visiting Russia - RT News


Kissinger op-ed: Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium - The National Interest

 

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

Russia Accuses Turkey of Preparing to Invade Syria - The New York Times


VIDEO (English subs): Russian spokesman: Turkey preparing armed forces for military intervention in Syria (Starts at 2:20 min) - YouTube


Russia and Assad may have just delivered a decisive blow to Turkey by cutting off its supply line to Syrian opposition groups - Business Insider


Turkey’s problems in Aleppo: The loss of this territory directly impacts Ankara interests in northern Syria - atlanticcouncil.org


Kurdish YPG advances in N. Syria, Ankara’s red lines crossed - todayzaman.com


Confirmed: At the urging of an American contingent, Syrian Kurds are expanding an airbase in northeast Syria - VOA


US envoy meets with allied Syrian Kurds to step up fight against IS - VOA


Number of ISIS Fighters in Iraq and Syria Drops, Increases in Libya: US Official - ABC News


How the Islamic State is still seeping through Syria-Turkey border - Al-Monitor


Turkey says Syria peace talks pointless while Russian attacks continue - todayszaman.com


Russia won't forget Turkey ‘aiding terrorists’: Lavrov - The Moscow Times


Turkey, Saudi deepen defense relations during Davutoğlu visit - todayszaman.com


Military spokesman: Saudi ready to join ground operation in Syria provided U.S.led coalition agrees - Al Arabiya English


VIDEO (English Subs): Saudi military spokesman Asiri discusses stance on Yemen, Syria wars - Al Arabiya English


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

Trying to make art support the Zionist cause: Israel Moves to Check Its Artists

By John Grant

 

“A new thought occurred to Rami. It soothed him like a gentle caress. Not all men are born to be heroes. Maybe I wasn’t born to be a hero. But in every man there’s something special, something that isn’t in other men. In my nature, for instance, there’s a certain sensitivity. A capacity to suffer and feel pain. Perhaps I was born to be an artist.”

He’s the best, but is he all we need?: The ‘Bern’ and the Internet

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Bernie Sanders' stunning success in the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, highlighted by what is effectively a victory in the Iowa caucuses this past Monday, provokes serious thinking about what a Sanders presidency would look like.

Focus: Flint Water Crisis - Feb 4, 2016


Democrats call for Gov. Snyder to testify on Flint water, claim Oversight Committee Chair Chaffetz declined to invite him - Washington Examiner


Letter of Oversight Committee Democrats demanding testimony from Governor Snyder and aides on Flint water crisis - democrats.oversight


VIDEO: Rep. Cummings blasts Oversight Chair Chaffetz for not calling Gov. Snyder to testify at Flint hearing - Crooks and Liars


Congress grills EPA and Michigan State officials over Flint water - Business Insider


VIDEO: House Oversight Committee's Flint water crisis hearing (full) - YouTube


POLL: Poll finds Snyder approval plummets in Flint water wake (VIDEO) - WLNS


Protesters: 'Arrest Rick Snyder! Make him drink the water!’ (VIDEO) - MLive.com


How Rick Snyder doomed Flint from the start: Tax cuts for the ultra-rich, poison for the poor - Salon.com


Lawsuit seeks $150 million in damages for Flint residents related to the water crisis - detroitnews.com


Flint rebukes Michigan Governor Rick Snyder with federal lawsuit over water pipes, wants a federal judge to order the prompt replacement of all lead pipes - CBS News


MAP: See where the highest lead levels are being found in Flint water, more than 300 addresses in the city show results larger than the federal action limit of 15 parts per billion - MLive.com


Water crisis brings Democratic presidential debate to Flint - MLive.com


Who approved switch to Flint River? Decision to use Flint River water in the interim was made by governor-appointed emergency managers, not democratically elected city officials - MLive.com


Here's the June 2013 document signed by emergency manager Kurtz authorizing an engineering contract to figure out how to draw water from the Flint river - publicbroadcasting.net


Former Flint mayor on water crisis: 'This is the worst aspect of the emergency managers...resolutions weren’t going before the public…I didn’t find out about it until after the fact' - Michigan Radio


Emergency management laws and the political coup behind the Flint water crisis - LA Times


Anger in Michigan over appointing emergency managers - The New York Times


Flint whistleblowers who exposed their poisoned water: we’re just getting started - YES! Magazine


Michael Moore op-ed: 10 things they won't tell you about the Flint water tragedy. But I will - huffingtonpost.com


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


Dispossessed in the Name of 'Security'

A new book, edited by Nick Buxton and Ben Hayes, both involved with The Transnational Institute, brings together a thoughtful collection of scholars, journalists and activists to explain the pre-eminence of the military and corporations in shaping the global response to the climate catastrophe as an 'opportunity'. See The Secure and the Dispossessed: How the Military and Corporations are Shaping a Climate-Changed World. Do you think that this catastrophe is an 'opportunity'?

 

Talk Nation Radio: Patrick Hiller on Discoveries Made by Peace Science

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-patrick-hiller-on-discoveries-made-by-peace-science

Patrick Hiller is the Executive Director of the War Prevention Initiative by the Jubitz Family Foundation and teaches in the Conflict Resolution Program at Portland State University. As a Peace Scientist, his writings and research are almost exclusively related to the analysis of war and peace and social injustice.  Among other involvements, Patrick serves on the Executive Committee of the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association and on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War where he works with me at http://worldbeyondwar.org. We discuss the remarkable discoveries of peace researchers reported in the newly created Peace Science Digest.

See http://communication.warpreventioninitiative.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, The Peace Movement's War Story

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

Not Another U.S./NATO War on Libya

libyaFB

SIGN HERE

To: The U.S. Congress

Uphold your Constitutional responsibility and your duty under the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, basic human decency, and a minimal ability to learn from past mistakes by blocking all funding for another war on Libya.

SIGN HERE

Why is this important?

The illegal 2011 overthrow of the Libyan government subjected the people of that nation and surrounding nations to violence, weapons proliferation, chaos, and desperate insecurity. In no way will compounding the problem with the same approach again improve matters in this case or establish good precedents.

How it will be delivered

In Washington, D.C.

SIGN HERE

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 1, 2016

 

Email Issue dogs Hillary Clinton on eve of Iowa caucuses, she calls for release of those deemed 'top secret’ by the State Dept  - New York Times


VIDEO: Clinton: There is no classified marked information on those e-mails...I think they can and should be disclosed - YouTube


Clinton campaign statement calling for release of ‘top secret’ emails: “This appears to be over-classification run amok” - hillaryclinton.com


Clinton is confronted with her non-disclosure agreement which says information is classified either marked or unmarked (VIDEO) - Hot Air


POLL: 64% of U.S. voters now think Clinton broke the law on emails, but serious charges are not likely to be brought against her - Rasmussen


VIDEO: State Department briefing on Hillary Clinton Emails - C-SPAN

 

FBI, Justice Department ‘super pissed off’ at White House for ‘weighing in’ on Hillary Clinton email investigation, Fox News reporter says (VIDEO) - TheBlaze.com

 

John Kerry sent Hillary Clinton a 'SECRET' email when he was Massachusetts Senator - The Daily Caller

 

Bernie Sanders Calls Hillary Clinton's Emails 'A Very Serious Issue' - huffingtonpost.com

 

VIDEO: Sanders: Clinton emails are 'a serious issue' - YouTube

 

Former House Oversight chairman: 'FBI director would like to indict Clinton and Abedin' - Washington Examiner

 

‘This was all planned’: Former IG says Hillary, State Dept. are lying - New York Post

 

Hillary’s email defense is laughable, I should know—I ran FOIA for the U.S. government - politico.com

 

NSA whistleblower: Clinton email server was ‘open to being hacked by anybody’ - Breitbart

 

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

90% of money raised by Clinton super PAC came from donors giving at least $1 million, 98% giving $100,000 or more - Huffington Post


George Soros gives $6 million pro-Clinton super-PAC - TheHill


Pro-Clinton super PAC brings in more than $50 million, and donors have committed to give another $42 million - The Washington Post


A pro-Sanders super PAC raises $2.3 million - usatoday.com


New York Times Gets it Wrong: Bernie Sanders Not “Top Beneficiary of Outside Money” - The Intercept

 

Here's a List of All the Hillary Clinton Wall Street Fundraisers - freebeacon.com

 

Clinton's big ticket fundraiser with investment firm facing federal scrutiny - dailykos.com

 

Goldman Sachs is in the eye of the campaign storm, it’s being singled out for its ties to the political establishment because of two top contenders for the presidency - nationalmemo.com

 

Clinton laughs when asked to release transcripts from Goldman Sachs speeches (VIDEO) - freebeacon.com

 

Clintons's $200,000 an hour pay from Goldman Sachs is nothing to laugh at - huffingtonpost.com

 

Reporters Barred From Hillary's Wall Street Speeches - The Daily Caller

 

I worked on Wall Street. I am skeptical Hillary Clinton will rein it in - The Guardian

 

Hillary Clinton whiffs on reforming Wall Street’s ratings agencies - The Intercept

 

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

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