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U.S. WAR ON THE WORLD IS WRONG

American Sniper portrays Navy Seal Chris Kyle as a hero for killing a huge number of people, one by one, in Iraq. Right now, as the U.S. government is bombing Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and again — Iraq, and preparing to send additional troops to Iraq, this film is distorting many people’s memory of recent history and damaging heir understanding of basic morality.

No Weapons to Ukraine

No Weapons to Ukraine

An Open Letter to the U.S. Senate

No Weapons to Ukraine

Reject S. 452, "A bill to provide lethal weapons to the Government of Ukraine."

Sign here: http://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/no-weapons-to-ukraine

Why is this important?

The United States is the leading provider of weapons to the world, and the practice of providing weapons to countries in crisis has proven disastrous, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Expanding NATO to Russia's border and arming Russia's neighbors threatens something worse than disaster. The United States is toying with nuclear war.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt played significant roles in orchestrating the political crisis that led to a violent coup overthrowing Ukraine's elected President. Nuland not only exclaimed "Fuck the EU!" on that recorded phone call, but she also seemed to decide on the new prime minister: "Yats is the guy."

The Maidan protests were violently escalated by neo-Nazis and by snipers who opened fire on police. When Poland, Germany, and France negotiated a deal for the Maidan demands and an early election, neo-Nazis instead attacked the government and took over. The U.S. State Department immediately recognized the coup government, and Yatsenyuk was indeed installed as Prime Minister.

The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede, and that -- rather than the coup -- has been labeled "aggression." Ethnic Russians have been massacred by constant shelling from Kiev's U.S.-NATO backed Army, while Russia has been denounced for "aggression" in the form of various unsubstantiated accusations, including the downing of Flight 17.

It's important to recognize Western interests at work here other than peace and generosity. GMO outfits want the excellent farming soil in Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO want a "missile defense" base in Ukraine. Oil corporations want to drill for fracked gas in Ukraine. The U.S. and EU want to get their hands on Russia's "largest supply of natural gas" on the planet.

We routinely recognize the financial corruption of the U.S. government in domestic policy making. We shouldn't blind ourselves to it in matters of foreign policy. There may be a flag waving, but there is nuclear war looming, and that's a bit more important.

Initial signers (organizations for identification):
David Swanson, World Beyond War.
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
Nick Mottern, KnowDrones.com.
Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace.
Carolyn McCrady, Peace and Justice Can Win.
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink.
Gareth Porter.
Malachy Kilbride, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.
Buzz Davis, WI Impeachment/Bring Our Troops Home Coalition.
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Doug Rawlings, Veterans For Peace.
Diane Turco, Cape Codders for Peace and Justice.
Rich Greve, Peace Action Staten Island.
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance.
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance.
Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin.
Dud Hendrick.
Ellen Barfield, Veterans For Peace and War Resisters League.
Herbert Hoffman, Veterans For Peace.
Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery.
Kent Shifferd.
Matthew Hoh.
Bob Cushing, Pax Christi.
Bill Gilson, Veterans For Peace.
Michael Brenner, University of Pittsburgh.
Cindy Sheehan: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.
Jodie Evans, Code Pink.
Judith Deutsch.
Jim Haber.
Elliott Adams.
Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin, UNAC co-coordinators.
David Hartsough, World Beyond War.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate, Co founder peace people.
Koohan Paik, International Forum on Globalization.
Ellen Judd, University of Manitoba.
Nicolas Davies.
Rosalie Tyler Paul, PeaceWorks, Brunswick Maine.

Sign here: http://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/no-weapons-to-ukraine

U.S. Army Claims to Be Full of Liars

"Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession" is the title of a new paper by Leonard Wong and Stephen Gerras of the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute. Its thesis: the U.S. Army is full of liars who habitually lie as part of a lying culture that has internalized and normalized lying to the point of unrecognizability.

Finally a claim from the Army I'm prepared to take seriously!

But the authors aren't interested in the Army's lying press releases or lying Congressional testimony or lying sound bytes promoting each new war, predicting imminent success, and identifying each dead adult or child as an evildoer. In fact, it seems pretty clear that the authors are in fact lying to themselves about the nature of the Army's lying.

To hear them tell it, the Army's lying problem could be the same as in any other institution. They don't compare the Army to any other institutions, except to say that their analysis applies to the whole U.S. military, and the implication is that other institutions do not have it so bad. But the root of the problem, as they see it, is impossible demands placed on members of the military. To meet the impossible demands, people lie. And this -- not the mission of mass murder -- makes them "ethically numb."

Members of the Army, we're told, engage in "ethical fading," using euphemisms and obscure phrases to disguise the immorality of what they are doing -- namely overstating the supplies shipped or understating their own weight or some other "ethical" matter, not burning families to death in their homes with million-dollar missiles.

 All of this unethicalness, the authors maintain, can create hypocritical leaders who hide billions in the "Overseas Contingency Operations" slush fund or cover up sex scandals. Really? Immorality enters an institution of mass murder that routinely deceives the public and much of the government from the bottom up? Excessive demands on troops creates a culture of lying than infects the good generals at the top? Are you kidding me? No, of course you aren't. You're lying to yourselves.

Soldiers realize pretty quickly that they're not benefitting the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or whatever country they're terrorizing. They understand that the entire mission is a lie. They learn to lie about their own actions, to plant "drop weapons," to invent justifications, to provide support for their commanders' efforts to believe their own lies.

Matthew Hoh, a State Department whistleblower, said today: "The culture of lying that is endemic and systemic in the Army, as found by researchers with the Army War College, finds its expression in America's pointless wars, a one trillion dollar-a-year, pork-filled and inauditable national security budget, chronic veteran suicides, an expanded and more globally robust international terrorist movement, and untold suffering of millions of people and political chaos throughout the Greater Middle East perpetuated by our war policies.

"However, listening to our military leaders, and the politicians who adore and deify them rather than oversee them, America's wars and its military have been a great patriotic success. This report is not a surprise for those of us who have worn the uniform, nor should it be surprising to those who have watched and paid attention with a modicum of critical and independent thought to our wars these past thirteen plus years. The wars are failures, but careers must prosper, budgets must increase and popular narratives and myths of American military success must endure, so the culture of lying becomes a necessity for our Army at a great physical, mental and moral cost to our Nation."

In other words, War Is A Lie.

Not Very Funny

By David Swanson

Remarks prepared for event with comedian Lee Camp, Charlottesville, Va., February 21, 2015, event postponed by snow storm. When it's rescheduled I'll say something completely unrelated.

This is the serious part of tonight's event, except that Lee often deals with very serious topics. So what I mean is: this is the unfunny part of tonight's event, except that I'm going to talk about the United States government. One of my favorite things that Mark Twain didn't really say but definitely should have said was "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." He left out the possibility of imbeciles who are putting us on.

On Thursday Comcast internet was not working at my house, just as Comcast's hired Congress members were introducing a bill to create a closed internet with fast lanes for the corporate crap we didn't need the internet for. And a good internet media outlet called TheRealNews.com wanted to do a video interview with me, which I didn't want to do in Java Java because I try not to be quite that rude. So I sat out on the Downtown Mall and did the interview. It was about 12 degrees out, and I think you can see me shaking. And what did they want to talk about? War? Peace? The climate?

They wanted to talk about Jeb Bush. Clearly he is an imbecile who is putting us on. He'd been talking on foreign policy, and of course he agreed with Obama on most everything but claimed not to. On NSA spying, for example, he disagreed basically with the fact that there has been public criticism of Obama's abuses. How he would eliminate criticism he didn't say. He didn't bring up Ukraine or Afghanistan or drone wars, because what would he disagree with? He did bring up the Korean War in order to claim it was a success and not the stupid pointless draw that everyone called it for decades, but of course the innovator in popularizing that ridiculous claim was ... President Obama.

Mostly Jeb focused on Iran, pushing the false claim that Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and is threatening nuclear attack. Obama pushes all the same lines but then nonsensically and uniquely in this case arrives at the antiwar view that diplomacy is preferable to bombing. Jeb approves of Netanyahu stepping in on March 3rd to give Congress its war orders on the one war Obama doesn't want. I recommend going to SkipTheSpeech.organd urging Congress Members to skip it, as many have committed to doing -- even with Sheldon Adelson promising to pay for the unelection of each of them.

More broadly, Jeb pushed the idea that the Middle East is a disaster because it hasn't been bombed enough, and that the U.S. is disliked because it hasn't attacked enough countries. There are two problems with this. One, it's a disgusting and ridiculous lie that has been getting people killed for many years. A Gallup poll early last year of 65 countries found the U.S. to be considered far and away the biggest threat to peace in the world. The nations in the worst shape are the ones the U.S. has bombed. U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers has actually argued that we should stop paying attention to what bombing Libya did to Libya in order to be sufficiently willing to bomb Iraq and Syria. ISIS actually produced a 60-minute movie begging the United States to go to war against it because recruitment would soar. The U.S. obliged. Recruitment soared. This is how disliked the United States has made itself: organizations are willing to be bombed if it will show them to be the leading opponents of the United States -- a country that, by the way, puts over a trillion dollars a year into war when tens of billions could address world hunger, clean water, and other basic needs. For a fraction of war spending, the U.S. could address climate chaos, agriculture, education, etc., and become the most loved government on earth. But would that feel as good as screaming threats at ISIS?

ISIS, after all, kills people, cuts their throats like Saudi Arabia but on a smaller scale so it's more evil, and burns people to death, like U.S. drone strikes, but on a smaller scale so it must be stopped by using the larger scale killing to stop it.

It's amazing how Americans manage to think about violence. Why, we ask ourselves, don't cops need guns in London? Well, because the criminals don't have guns, but over here they do. So we have to fight guns with guns, and just to be safe spread some more guns around. But why, we ask ourselves, is the Middle East so violent? Well, that's easy: it's the result of millennia-old ethnic and religious hatreds that lie dormant for millennia and then burst into the open when we mistakenly provide freedom they're not ready for in the form of incendiary bombs and depleted uranium. And of course they have guns over there, it's part of their religion. Really? Because the U.S. State Department says that 79% of the weapons shipped to the Middle East are from the United States. That doesn't count the U.S. weapons, the weapons the CIA gives the moderate neck slitters, or the weapons the Iraqi Army abandons. In other words, the same geniuses who are selling drones to the world now have long been arming the global hotspots where they periodically seek to create peace by escalating war. I have a new theory: they are imbeciles who are putting themselves on.

The second problem with Jeb's prescription of more militarism is that President Obama has just proposed the biggest military budget ever and asked Congress for a free pass to launch new wars -- as he's doing anyway and says he'll do regardless -- and the American people are convinced that it's their duty to form opinions about Jeb and his brother and his father and Hillary Clinton and various other imbeciles or putter-oners or both. We're supposed to think that caring about such jack asses makes us good citizens. This is a disastrous distraction. It is actually our duty to engage in policy-driven activism, including activism aimed at fixing a broken election system, and to stop imagining that we're going to vote our way out of apocalypse by cheerleading the candidate for militarized corporate capitalism over the other candidate for militarized corporate capitalism.

Oh, but it's so much more fun to mock Jeb, isn't it? If we criticize Obama we have something in common with icky racists. Seriously? Which is more childish, the racism or the moronic notion that one must obey authority without question or become a racist? You don't have to "Approve" or "Disapprove" of Obama in some simplistic overall sense. There is no requirement in life or politics to be as stupid as a pollster's questions. You can encourage Obama's diplomacy on Iran and resist his warmaking in Iraq and Afghanistan. Promote the good, resist the bad. And avoid the desire to make it personal.

Jeb did try to find one other place to disagree with Obama, namely Cuba. As it happens, I just got back from Cuba last week and have a different perspective. The Republican line parroted by Jeb is that Obama did something for Cuba with nothing in return. Well, Obama is considering taking Cuba off the absurd terrorist list, since Cuba doesn't fund terrorism. But Cuba hasn't put the United States on a terrorist list to take it off of. There has been talk of ending the economic blockade, but Cuba has no blockade against the U.S. to lift. What is it Jeb wants of Cuba? Well, he wants it to stop supporting the popularly elected government of Venezuela and allow its overthrow. See, to get to Obama's right you have to go to overthrowing governments -- and then you'll discover that Obama pretty much agrees with you.

The U.S. is actually proposing to allow importing from Cuba limited items produced by private enterprise. This is an effort to privatize Cuba, to radically change or overthrow its government. By "opening" to Cuba, Obama has given himself new tools. The mission is unchanged. A few of us met with the staff of the soon-to-be U.S. embassy down there, and asked about the $20 million the U.S. spends propagandizing Cubans each year. I asked how they'd feel if Cuba funded activists in the United States. One of them told me there was no need, because the United States has freedom of speech and Cuba doesn't. OK, I said, but the United States has troops in 175 countries and more wars than it can keep track of, and Cuba doesn't. What if Cuba funded a movement against militarism in the United States? The U.S. diplomats said they'd have no problem with that at all. But of course the U.S. government would -- in fact working with Cuba on anything would constitute aiding "terrorists."

I suppose it's not very funny but it should be that if Cuba ever actually attacked the United States we would hear about it 24/7, but the United States and its terrorists living openly in Florida have for over 50 years blown up buildings and planes in Cuba, murdered in Cuba, and introduced human and animal diseases to Cuba, and the Cubans have museums full of the gear they've seized from the hapless CIA, but the Cuban people are delighted to meet Americans and don't blame us one bit for our government just as they'd no doubt like not to be blamed for their own.

Their government and many observers have a theory about why the U.S. government hates Cuba so much: it doesn't want us to see that even a poor country can provide universal healthcare, education, and a guaranteed income.

I'm thrilled with the victory of Jeff Fogel and others in the ruling this week that found a ban on panhandling unconstitutional here. But what if a nation with the resources of the U.S. were to start dreaming bigger? What if we were to do away with the need for panhandling? What if everyone had a full stomach, a good education, no debt, and some free time to pay attention to things?

I sat in a trial a few weeks ago in Alexandria of Jeffrey Sterling who had gone to Congress with the news that the CIA was giving plans for a nuclear bomb to Iran -- plans in which they'd introduced some obvious mistakes on the theory that the dumb Iranians would never notice and build their bomb wrong. Their Russian operative who took the plans to the Iranians was also not supposed to notice the flaws, but he did, immediately. The display of recklessness, stupidity, and imbecility putting itself on in this courtroom was beyond belief, and nobody was there, and the young all white jury found Sterling guilty.

One of the pieces of evidence in the trial discussed the next country the CIA was, in 2000, working on giving flawed nuclear bomb plans to after Iran. They blanked out the name of the country but showed how many letters had been blanked out. They also left it clear that the country's name began with a vowel. Only Iraq fit. These clowns were planning to give nuclear bomb plans to Iraq just before publicly making the case for invading Iraq before it nuked us.

But what else were they supposed to do? You can't do nothing, right? We must either love ISIS and do nothing or drop more bombs and create even more enemies. It's a tough counterproductive path to Armageddon but somebody's got to follow it. And somebody else has got to invent a bunch of lies to make it more palatable. When General Sherman raged through the South burning stuff he told himself that from here on out the South would know war so well that it would never want another one. And 150 years later, I dare you to just hint at taking down the statues of Southern war losers in Charlottesville. The South is the leading supporter of U.S. wars. Without the politics of the South, the U.S. might find its way clear all the way to respecting the rights of some other country. During World War II, the main newspaper in Atlanta, where Sherman had begun his march, editorialized in favor of burning every house in Japan. So, when Jeb-Obama-Hillary-McCain tell you that bombing Iraq will turn Iraqis against war, you can believe them or your own lying eyes. Have the past decades made Iraq more peaceful? Might ending slavery the way most nations did -- that is to say, without a war -- have produced something less than 150 years of resentment and displaced blowback?

If you'd like to get involved in advancing alternatives to war, please check out http://WorldBeyondWar.org

And please join in the planning for a bigger, better peace movement with the series of events planned for Washington, D.C., on March 18-21. See http://SpringRising.org

Civilization and barbarism: It Takes a Life Cult to Beat a Death Cult

By John Grant


We have to address the political grievances terrorists exploit.
                                                                          -- Barack Obama
 

Sued by Chesapeake Energy for Stealing Trade Secrets, Aubrey McClendon Hires PR Giant Edelman

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Chesapeake Energy has sued its former CEO, Aubrey McClendon, for allegedly stealing its trade secrets in the months between his resignation and the formation of his new company, American Energy Partners. To defend itself outside of the courtroom, American Energy Partners has hired Edelmanthe 'world's largest' and often controversial public relations firm.

Photo Credit: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Filed on February 17 at the District Court of Oklahoma County, Chesapeake's legal complaint alleges McClendon covertly took map-based data owned by the company in the time between resigning from the company and then officially leaving the company in early 2013. Chesapeake also alleges that he then utilized that same confidential data for business and investment decisions at his new startup in deciding which land to purchase for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and gas.

"AEP used confidential information and trade secrets stolen by McClendon from Chesapeake as a basis for their decision to acquire certain acreage in the Utica Shale Play," alleges the lawsuit. "Further, in acquiring this acreage...AEP interfered with Chesapeake's business plans and its negotiations for its own acquisition of acreage in the Utica Shale play."

Chesapeake Energy alleges that, before taking the data with him, McClendon asked a former company vice president of land, whose name is redacted in the complaint, to optimize and update the data.

Chesapeake Energy v. American Energy Partners Complaint
Image Credit: District Court of Oklahoma County

Where Do U.S. War Dead Come From

Evan Knappenberger, veteran turned peace activist, put together the following data and map.

Needless to say, most of the dead in recent U.S. wars are on the non-U.S. side -- about 97% in fact. These are one-sided slaughters. But that doesn't mean there aren't deaths on the side of the aggressor. And beyond the deaths, far more injuries, and far more suffering PTSD and moral injury.

Needless to say, as well, both Republican and Democratic party leaders in Washington have supported these wars and continue to do so.

Still, it may be interesting to see which states -- with party labels on them -- are sending the most U.S. troops to their untimely and unjustifiable deaths. From Maryland up to Massachusetts states are dispropotionately spared war deaths. The same is true for West Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida -- plus Illinois and Minnesota.  Four more states: California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado are also disproportionately spared.  A lot of the biggest urban areas are in those states: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego, San Jose, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Raleigh, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis.

All the other states are disproportionately impacted by deaths in action in U.S. wars. See the data. These states are hardest hit:

Oklahoma
Texas
Ohio
Virginia
Arkansas
Louisiana
Oregon
Nebraska
Kentucky
Michigan

These states are hit most lightly:

Utah
Massachusetts
Minnesota
North Carolina
Connecticut
Illinois
New Jersey
Florida
California
New York

I suspect these numbers roughly correspond to participation in the military.

The lesson should not of course be that we should get more people killed from the states that are participating less. The lesson should be that the states participating the least should be congratulated and the others criticized.

Nor should the lesson be that flying robots should do the killing. Mass murder is as immoral and self-defeating regardless of the immediate danger to the murderers.

The lesson should be that counter-recruitment efforts are needed in rural areas.

The lesson should be that imperial death-dealing is a bipartisan criminal enterprise that must be rejected by the U.S. nation as a whole.

End Endless War

No New Authorization for the Use of Military Force

The U.S. Congress is considering another "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" -- a broad approval for more war.

This is the last thing we need. These wars are not making us safer but generating enemies. They are not surgical operations, but mass killings, as well as assaults on the natural environment and the public budget -- not to mention excuses for curtailing civil liberties.

Please sign this statement for delivery to the media and Congress:

We oppose any new authorization for the use of military force and call for the immediate repeal of the authorizations passed by Congress in 2001 and 2002.

By taking action you agree that you may be contacted by one or more of the participating organizations. This petition is a joint project of: Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Iraq Veterans Against the War, KnowDrones.com, Military Families Speak Out, Peace Action, Peace Action Montgomery, RootsAction.org, United National Antiwar Coalition, Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones, U.S. Labor Against the War, World Beyond War.

SIGN HERE.

Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 19, 2015


Russia-backed rebels capture key city Debaltseve in devastating blow to Ukraine - mashable.com


VIDEO: Rebel flag of Novorossia has been hoisted above Debaltseve - YouTube


Poroshenko says the withdrawal was "planned and organised" but soldiers say “we didn't hear anything about an order to pull out” - AFP


Soldiers share Debaltseve horrors, pull back made by commanders on the ground when they saw the situation catastrophic - Guardian


VIDEO (English ubs): Ukrainian soldiers talk about their flight from Debaltseve Cauldron - LiveLeak.com


Reports Of At Least 38 Dead And 167 Wounded Arriving In Artyomovsk - Interpreter_Mag


VIDEO: Body bags bear witness to Ukrainian deaths near Debaltseve - YouTube


Statement by the President Poroshenko on the situation in Debaltseve (VIDEO) - Official web-site of President of Ukraine


VIDEO: Footage shows Ukrainian troops withdrawing from Debaltseve - BBC


VIDEO: Footage of Ukrainian troops surrender in Debaltseve - YouTube


Ukraine rebel leader Zakharchenko 'recovering from injury’ in Debaltseve - Yahoo News


VIDEO (English subs): Interview with Zaharchenko in hospital alongside Igor Plotnitsky - lifenews.ru


Militants in Donbas use advanced weapons to attack troops in Debaltseve: NATO - interfax.com


Russian Surface-To-Air Missile System Near Debaltseve (PHOTOS) - Interpreter_Mag


Buzzfeed Displays Russian Tanks at Debaltsevo - Interpreter_Mag


Ukraine NSDC calls for UN-mandated peacekeepers after rebels take key town - Yahoo News


VIDEO (Ukrainian): Poroshenko at the NSDC meeting on Debaltsevo - YouTube


The Draft Dodgers of Ukraine - Foreign Policy


Ukraine Bonds Slide Most on Record on Troop Withdrawal Concern - Bloomberg Business


VIDEO: Ukrainian Economy on Verge of Collapse Amid Troop Moves - Bloomberg Business


Ukraine GDP tanks 15% as fighting drags on - cnbc.com


Ukraine's hryvnia weakens 3 pct on fraying ceasefire deal - Reuters


Ukraine seen pushing back debt repayments amid economic struggles - Reuters


Dollar mortgage crisis in Ukraine (VIDEO) - euronews, economy


Gas price for consumers will rise by 280%, heat supply by 66%: Bank of Ukraine Head - Censor.NET


Russia remains Ukraine’s major trading partner in 2014: Ukrainian statistics service - TASS

 

Ukraine's Economy Needs Russia - Stratfor


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

White House Claims Eastern Ukraine separatists, Russia Fail to Live up to Minsk Deal - Sputnik International


Pentagon: Defeat of Debaltseve doesn't tip scale to arm Ukraine, "a U.S. military solution is not going to be had here” - WashingtonExaminer.com


EU accuses Ukraine separatists of violating ceasefire, threatens action - Yahoo News


Statement by EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the violation of the ceasefire in Debaltseve - European Union - EEAS


Merkel: Europe committed to partnership with Russia, "We want to shape European peace order together with Russia, not against Russia” - UNIAN


POLL: Germans strongly back Merkel's handling of Ukraine crisis - dpa news


Russian draft resolution on Ukraine passed by UN Security Council - RT News


Putin says some countries supplying weapons to Ukraine - UNIAN news


Ukrainian government created Black Book of Kremlin's crimes against Ukraine - Euromaidan Press


REPORT: Full Text of the “Kremlin Black Book” Detailing Russia's Crimes Against Ukraine - Government of Ukraine


Russia shelled Ukrainians from within its own territory, says study - The Guardian


'We saw a glow, they were burned alive’, Ukrainian soldiers recall attacks by Grad launchers and heavy artillery which they are convinced came from within Russia - The Guardian


REPORT: Origin of Artillery Attacks on Ukrainian Military Positions in Eastern Ukraine Between 14 July 2014 and 8 August 2014 - bellingcat


Russian Top Military Commander Lentsov Allegedly Leading Ukraine’s Separatists in Debaltseve - Global Voices


VIDEO (Russian): Russian Military Commander Lentsov denies he was in Debaltseve - YouTube


Amnesty International finds 'deplorable lack of progress' in Ukraine into probe of Euromaidan deaths (VIDEO) - uatoday.tv

 

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

 

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

Talk Nation Radio: Barry Spector on the Myth of American Innocence

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-barry-spector-on-the-myth-of-american-innocence

This week we speak with Barry Spector. He is the author of Madness At The Gates Of The City: The Myth Of American Innocence (winner of the 2011 PEN/Oakland Literary Award). Barry has lectured at several Bay Area graduate schools and Osher Lifelong Learning courses. This winter he will be teaching at Sonoma State University and Osher / U.C. Berkeley. His book’s website is www.madnessatthegates.com and he blogs regularly at www.madnessatthegates.wordpress.com.  His writing looks at contemporary cultural and political events from the perspectives of mythology, archetypal psychology and indigenous wisdom traditions. He serves on the planning committee of the Redwood Men’s Center.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

No more AUMFs! No more ‘unitary executives’!: We’re Already Losing Our Democracy and All Our Freedoms to the 2001 AUMF

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Critics of President Obama’s proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force AUMF) against ISIS have been focused upon its deliberately obfuscatory and ambiguous language, which they rightly note would make it essentially a carte blanche from Congress allowing the president to go to war almost anywhere some would-be terrorist or terrorist copycat could be found who claims affinity with ISIS.

Washington Post Erases History With Cuba

The Washington Post says:

"'We walked freely around the streets and talked with anyone we wanted,' Klobuchar said. 'I did not know what to expect. . . . The people were really positive about Americans — I didn’t expect them to be that positive and that excited.' (Well, most Cubans weren’t alive the last time we invaded.)"

Really? Havana is full of very visible celebrations of the return of the Cuban Five, who every Cuban knows were imprisoned in the United States for attempting to halt U.S. attacks on Cuba, which have never ceased. In the lifetime of many Cubans now alive, the U.S. or terrorists it harbors have blown up buildings and airplanes, introduced human and animal diseases into Cuba, and murdered people while hijacking boats.

Do not assume that Cubans do not know this history. It is in their museums, their news, and their studies.

Cubans of course also know Hollywood. They watch the people of the United States as idealized individuals in movies and TV shows all the time.

Cubans do something that the people of the United States have never truly mastered, and the Washington Post seems not to consider. They distinguish between a government and its people. They even distinguish between individual members of the U.S. government and its worse inclinations. They accept as a positive step an opening up by a government that wants to control and harm them. They believe they can control the process enough to make the result a good one.

But they remember things that happened long before the latest revolution, much less before they were born. And they are not ignorant of the U.S. attacks they have lived through.

Terrorism: Ultimate Weapon of the Global Elite

The usual definition of a ‘terrorist’ is simple: a person who uses violence in the pursuit of a political objective.

Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 17, 2015

 

Battle Rages for Debaltseve Town Where Ukraine Rebels Reject Cease-Fire - Reuters


Ukrainian military rejects rebel offer of corridor out of Debaltseve - Reuters


OSCE says Ukraine rebels turn back monitors from Debaltseve - Reuters


Ukraine army and Russian-backed separatists refuse to withdraw heavy weapons - Telegraph


VIDEO (Eng subs): Separatist PM Alexandr Zakharchenko's interview on the streets of Debaltesve - YouTube


VIDEO (Eng subs): Separatist PM Zakharchenko talks to Ukrainian POWs in Debaltseve - YouTube


VIDEO: Ukraine separatists shell Debaltseve - Conflict Reporter on Twitter


Escape from Debaltseve: How One Convoy Made It Out of Ukraine's Besieged City  - VICE News

 

Fighting In Shirokino, Near Mariupol - Interpreter_Mag

 

VIDEO: Ukraine’s Azov Battalion Releases Footage Of Fighting In Mariupol - sky.com

 

The Ukraine army confirms 5 KIA,25 WIA for day 1 of the ceasefire. Actual numbers are much higher. 8 KIA,27 WIA among Azov/Donbas battalions ONLY! - Conflict Reporter on Twitter

 

The untold story of the Maidan massacre. How did the shooting begin? Protest organisers have always denied any involvement - but one man told the BBC a different story (VIDEO) - BBC

 

Ukraine Bonds Drop on Debt Restructuring, Strains in Cease-Fire - Bloomberg Business

 

New Ukraine Bailout Deal May Mean MultiBillion-Dollar Pain for Creditors - WSJ

 

As IMF Extends $17.5 Billion Credit To Kiev, Gazprom Demands Debt Repayment - oilprice.com

 

Ukraine to spend $1 billion on strategic gas reserve to counter Russia - Business Insider

 

Is a New Russia-Ukraine “Gas War” Coming? - CIS 

 

Multibillionaire Kolomoisky files claim worth $180 mln against Ukraine over oil and gas deals - LiveLeak.com

 

While Ukraine's Economy Crashes, It's Sweet Business for Poroshenko - Sputnik International

 

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EU gets tough with Russian military leaders – and Soviet-era 'Sinatra', Sanctions slapped on 9 organisations and 19 individuals - Guardian


U.S. Blames Russia And Separatists, Urges Them To 'Immediately' Halt Ukraine Attacks - rferl.org


Press Statement of State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki: Cease-fire Violations in Ukraine - state.gov


POLL: Americans See Islamic State, Terrorism as Graver Threats Than Russia, Ukraine - gallup.com


Putin meets Security Council to discuss Ukraine - uatoday.tv


Russia carries out snap check of paratroopers in western Russia - Reuters

 

Russian Navy Holds Live Fire Exercise in Mediterranean - Sputnik International

 

East Ukrainian Republics Demand Non-Alliance Status for Ukraine, should Kiev join NATO they will consider the Minsk agreement null and void - Sputnik International

 

Ukraine crisis: What is Novorossiya role? - BBC News

 

Georgia calls in Ukraine envoy over ex-president Saakashvili's role in Kiev - Yahoo News

 

Poroshenko says Saakashvili to become a Ukraine’s representative abroad, Ex-Georgian president says will coordinate Ukraine arms supplies issue - focus-fen.net

 

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People? Hire Saakashvili (VIDEO) - Sputnik International

 

Agenda.ge - Georgian MP nominated for top prosecution role in Ukraine - agenda.ge

 

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Blocking executions was long overdue: Pennsylvania’s New Governor Wolf Issues Surprise Execution Moratorium

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Although Pennsylvania's new Governor Tom Wolf, who last November unseated Republican incumbent Tom Corbett, cited more than 315 million solid reasons to back his surprise order putting an immediate moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania, law enforcement organizations in the state still castigated his action, calling it an outrageous assault on a criminal justice system that they contend works well.

Libya News - Feb 16, 2015

 

Video released by the Islamic State shows 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded in Libya - The Long War Journal


VIDEO: Official IS Video Showing The Beheading Of  21 Christians In Libya: 'A Message Signed With Blood To The Nation Of The Cross’ - Vimeo


Latest Islamic State's Dabiq magazine includes article on the 21 Egyptians Christians, incl screenshots of today's video - Pieter Nanninga on Twitter


Full text of Dabiq 7, latest issue of the Islamic State magazine - justpaste.it


Coptic Christian Woman Unwittingly Becomes Focal Point of Islamic Clash With Christianity - aina.org

 

Sisi warns of response after Islamic State kills 21 Egyptians in Libya - Reuters

 

VIDEO: Egypt President Sisi condemns 'inhuman criminal killers’ - BBC News

 

Last week Islamic 'State of Sinai’ claimed 8 decapitations of alleged Egyptians and Israeli agents in North Sinai - Daily News Egypt

 

Egyptian Police Prevent Two Islamic State Suicide Attacks in Sinai - Sputnik International

 

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New UN rights report depicts ‘turmoil, lawlessness’ in Libya (full report included) - United Nations News Centre


Libya official warns on spread of Islamic State militant threat - Reuters


Islamic State 'province' in Libya claims capture of town, seizes buildings including radio and television stations in Sirte - The Long War Journal


Libya's El Sarir oil pipeline remains halted after sabotage: official - Reuters


VIDEO: Explosion at Libya's El-Sarir Oil Field - Yahoo Yahoo UK


Libyan army says retook 2 oilfields from Islamic State - Worldbulletin News


Libya Warns of Oil Shutdown as Attacks Escalate - Bloomberg Business


The Battle for Libya’s Oil - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

 

With Oil Fields Under Attack, Libya's Economic Future Looks Bleak - NPR

 

Italy suspends Libya embassy operations and evacuates citizens, says it is ready to lead a coalition to battle against the advance of jihadi groups in Libya - THE DAILY STAR

 

Italy seeks military help as Islamic State seizes Gadaffi home town Sirte - The Times

 

Italy attempting rescue of 1,000 migrants in Mediterranean - UPI.com

 

VIDEO: Italy: Coastguard moves to rescue at least 1,000 boat migrants - euronews

 

Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Its Base - NYTimes.com

 

U.S. officials: Islamic State’s expanding network of affiliates raises fears of new global war on terror - Dallas Morning News

 

VIDEO: Is Islamic State in control of affiliates in Libya and other countries ? - CNN Video

 

White House says Congress shouldn't sidestep Islamic State measure, saying lawmakers must not "take a pass” - Reuters

 

Sunday show wrap-up: Islamic State dominates - TheHill

 

Benghazi Committee ‘Confirmed’ Forthcoming Testimony From Hillary Clinton, Will Interview White House Officials - TheBlaze.com

 

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This is what corporatocracy looks like!: Trading US Democracy for Corporate Profits with TPP

By Dave Lindorff

 

            If you want to get a good understanding of how thoroughly corrupted and sold-out our government in Washington is, you need only look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the latest in a series of trade “deals” that is heading towards passage right now, and that, like its predecessors, NAFTA and CAFTA, as well as the World Trade Organization, will be sucking jobs out of the US for years.

This is what corporatocracy looks like!: Trading US Democracy for Corporate Profits with TPP

By Dave Lindorff

 

            If you want to get a good understanding of how thoroughly corrupted and sold-out our government in Washington is, you need only look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the latest in a series of trade “deals” that is heading towards passage right now, and that, like its predecessors, NAFTA and CAFTA, as well as the World Trade Organization, will be sucking jobs out of the US for years.

Cuba: Land of Opportunity

What can I be sure of after only one week in Havana? Very little. There are exceptions to every pattern, and sometimes more exceptions than patterns. But a few claims, I think, are possible:

1. The sea and this island in it are stupendously beautiful even to someone longing for people and places up north.

2. The people of Cuba are sincerely warm and friendly. And, although they know the history of U.S. aggression, they sharply distinguish the U.S. government from the U.S. people. They are surprised and delighted to encounter the latter. (Americans might do well, likewise, not to identify the Cuban people with their government.)

3. The poverty here does not approach that in much of Latin America and the Caribbean -- despite the blockade (what Cubans call the embargo since the U.S. effectively prevents other countries trading with Cuba too).

4. The safety, security, life expectancy and in many ways the quality of life are high by any standard. Key West has worse food, more alcoholism, more militarism, and more money.

5. U.S. tourists will love Cuba. For the left, Cuba has socialized education, healthcare, and a basic income guarantee. For the right, Cuba has meat, machismo, meat, the war on drugs, cigarette smoke at the next table, and more meat. Welcome here are atheism, Catholicism, Santeria, and whatever else you've got. For everyone, Cuba has the beauty, culture, and adventures to match any destination in this part of the globe.

Could I live in Cuba and write in Cuba? Possibly not. The rebels in Cuba rebel against the failures of their government, and that runs up against two problems. (1) People read. (2) The government fears dissent as U.S.-funded propaganda for regime change (which a lot of it is, to the tune of $20 million U.S. tax dollars per year). In the United States I can write because no one reads and the government trusts everyone to go shopping and watch TV -- which is full of commercials, unlike Cuban TV, thus producing more shopping.

The opening between the U.S. and Cuban governments is very, very strange, because the United States does indeed want to radically change or overthrow the Cuban government, and the United States allows terrorists who have repeatedly and openly attacked Cuba to live free in the U.S. For over a half-century the U.S. has used Cuba as a lab for testing military techniques, propaganda, infiltration, sabotage, and bio-warfare -- with the result being complete failure. But without recognizing the absoluteness of that failure, much less regretting the immorality of the crimes, the U.S. wants to "normalize" relations with a government it hates and wants to put an end to.

Will this normalization become a series of embarrassing new attempts to change Cuba in ways not tried before? Or will it lead to actual normalization in the sense of mutual respect and cooperation? One way in which I think a more positive result can be advanced is with an emphasis on education. This is more important than raising the flag at the embassy or allowing the importation of fancy Cuban soap. We need student exchanges, academic exchanges, and educational tourism.

Cubans shouldn't believe that U.S. roads have no potholes. They should come to the United States to see homelessness. And extravagance. They should see people walk by without saying hello on streets with no music under skies with no sun. They should add the flaws to the positives that they've learned from Hollywood's version of perfection. And if, when they start respecting copyrights, they ingest a little less Hollywood, so much the better.

Americans shouldn't believe the vast emptiness that fills the part of their brains where history is supposed to go. They should come to the Museum of the Revolution to learn Cuba's modern history. They should come to the Museum of the Ministry of the Interior to see the collection of weapons and gadgets captured from the hapless CIA. They should learn that their own government has for decades blown up buildings and airplanes, poisoned crops and livestock, spread diseases, and generally engaged in low-scale one-sided warfare (aka terrorism) against Cuba. Tours of Hemingway sites should include information on how he died.

American tourists should get free rum and cigars if they pass a quiz upon leaving a museum:

  1. What did Cubans want in 1898? (Hint, the United States is currently bombing [fill in current nation] in its name.)
  2. What did they get instead?
  3. What nation has killed 3,000 Cubans in terrorist attacks?
  4. Why has Cuba not invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in response?
  5. Has Cuba ever organized any attack on the United States?
  6. Why does the United States want to overthrow the Cuban government?

Five correct answers should be sufficient to pass the test. As answers to #6 "To fend off the Communist takeover of the world" should get the tourist a sympathetic kiss and a gentle kick in the ass. "To spread inequality" or "to increase poverty and insecurity" or "to maximize environmental destruction" should get the tourist a free pass to visit a Cuban psychiatric clinic. Anything along the lines of "The plutocrats who control Washington want to get their claws on Cuba too" or "Those wronged in the revolution are still in a rage" or "The mob wants its casinos and brothels back" should be considered close enough to win a free song by a live band on the steps of the museum.

And what if those who lost property in the revolution are compensated to their satisfaction, while the Cubans who have suffered under the blockade and the terrorist attacks are compensated to their satisfaction? This is, after all, part of the negotiations underway.

And what if the mob is shut out and the plutocrats partially restrained?

And what if U.S. public opinion evolves along with the acquisition of relevant information? What if the U.S. public were to insist on normal relations with Cuba that are actually normal?

If Cuba comes off the ridiculous terrorist list, the educational exchange opportunities could really open up. I hope Cuba knows how incredibly little Americans know, and how much difference it makes when they know something. Cuba has produced good movies. It should produce a new one, in English, with the Cuban Five played by five previous Oscar winners. That would be worth more than another pig farm.

And while I'm giving unsolicited advice: Here is the second priority: Build that wall higher along the sea, because it's rising and we want this beautiful city to stay right where it is.

Another TSA agent charged with child sex abuse

 

Today we have news of yet another TSA agent arrested for child sexual abuse. 


Well, why not? So many of his colleagues are in the same boat, at least the ones who have been caught.


Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 13, 2015


Ukraine cease-fire deal announced by Putin after marathon Minsk talks - Fox News


Key points of new Ukraine peace plan - Yahoo News


Full text of the Minsk agreement on Ukraine crisis - Telegraph


Ukraine ceasefire: Putin and Poroshenko disagree over autonomy of separatist regions - ibtimes.co.uk


VIDEO: Putin briefs press after marathon Minsk talks on Ukraine peace deal - YouTube


Poroshenko: Ukraine did not agreed to federalization or even autonomy to the Eastern region in Minsk talks - Fox News


Full text: Poroshenko on the ceasefire agreement - PRAGUE POST


Ukraine is to define Donbas territories with special status by mid-March: document - TASS


Ukraine’s new constitution to come into force by end of 2015 - TASS


New Ukraine agreement envisages restoring Kiev’s economic ties with Donbas - TASS


Court cancels the decision of Kiev concerning refuse of payments of pensions in the Eastern regions - Novorossia Today


Ukraine crisis: Donetsk rebels tout deal as path towards recognition - FT.com


Leaders of Ukraine's self-proclaimed republics sign documents on Donbas settlement, "All points need additional attention. The negotiations still continue” - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Separatist community in Donetsk downbeat on Ukraine ceasefire deal - euronews


VIDEO: More reactions in east Ukraine after Minsk deal announcement - Federal Times


Moscow will continue providing Donbas citizens with political support: Russia’s EU envoy - TASS


VIDEO: Russia’s EU envoy: a Ukrainian law should establish autonomous status of Donbass - CNN Video


Close Friend of Russian Leader Takes Role as a Negotiator for Ukraine - NYTimes.com


Ukraine's Poroshenko Puts Detained Pilot Savchenko on Center Stage in Minsk - The Moscow Times


Russian State Duma says no automatic release for Savchenko - UNIAN news


Russia to Send 14th Humanitarian Aid Convoy to Southeastern Ukraine - Sputnik International


Russia Holds Largest-Ever Strategic-Missile Manuevers - rferl.org


France May Now Sell Warships to Russia As Early As Next Week - Interpreter_Mag

 

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Ukraine says rebels strengthened by tanks, missiles from Russia while marathon four-nation talks were taking place - Yahoo News


Putin says rebels want encircled Ukraine troops in Debaltseve to surrender - Yahoo!7


Vladimir Putin's statement on Debaltseve - President of Russia


US sending around 600 paratroopers to Ukraine to train troops - Fox News


Even if Obama decides to send U.S. weaponry to Ukraine delivery could take months, officials say - WSJ


Lethal Arms Are Not What Ukraine Needs - NYTimes.com


Latest News from the Battles for Debaltseve - Censor.NET


Militants attack village of Shyrokyne near Mariupol: defense headquarters - UNIAN news


2 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 21 got wounded in the last 24 hours - NSDC of Ukraine on Twitter

 

Ukraine Offers Battlefield Bonuses to Rally Troops - Bloomberg Business

 

Ukrainians Evading Draft May Face Five Years in Prison - Sputnik International


Amnesty International declares arrested anti-war journalist in Ukraine prisoner of conscience - TASS


NYT whites out Ukraine’s brown shirts: a story from Mariupol hailing the Azov battalion without noting its neo-Nazi fighters - Consortiumnews


VIDEO: Ukraine’s Azov Battalion Is Not Neo-Nazi, But Some People In Battalion Are - Hromadske on Twitter


Croatian volunteers ‘fighting for Ukrainian army in Donbas’ - UNIAN news


Moscow urges Croatia, other countries to stop mercenaries’ involvement in Ukraine - TASS


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

IMF, Ukraine Agree To $17.5 Billion Deal, part of an larger four-year, $40 billion funding package - rferl.org


Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Ukraine - imf.org


Transcript of a Press Conference on Ukraine by Managing Director Christine Lagarde - imf.org


VIDEO: Lagarde: IMF reached an agreement with the Ukraine government - rthk.hk


World Bank to provide up to USD 2 bn in aid to Ukraine - NewsHub


Ukraine's new bail-out: The austerity to come - The Economist


With IMF loan in hand, Gazprom calls on Kiev to settle debt - UPI.com


Ukraine is heading for a total economic collapse - Quartz

 

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

Cuba Through the Looking Glass

Today in Havana, Mariela Castro Espin, director of the national center for sexual education and daughter of the president of Cuba, gave us a truly enlightened talk and question-and-answer session on LGBT rights, sex education, pornography (and why young people should avoid it if they want to have good sex) -- plus her view of what the Cuban government is doing and should be doing on these issues. She advocates equal rights for same-sex couples and a ban on discrimination, for example.

In other unusual Cuban phenomena, the U.S. government is allowing tourists to bring home $100 worth of rum and cigars. And the U.S. State Department is working on a forthcoming list of products that Cubans can export to the United States. The list will not include numerous life-saving medicines currently unavailable in the United States, and not apparently because the U.S. government believes rum and cigars are better for its people than life-saving medicines. No, the reason is bizarre yet predictable. Stop and guess for a minute before reading on.

Are you guessing?

Good.

The list of products that can be exported from Cuba for sale in the United States (from the point of view of the U.S. government) will include only products from private enterprise, nothing created by state-owned enterprises in Cuba.

In other words, this "opening" is a new tool intended to advance Cuban privatization whether Cubans want it or not -- a tool that may have some beneficial side effects, but not a tool designed to advance any relationship of friendship or respect. If U.S. Cuban relations are improved by this move (assuming the Cuban government agrees to it) it will be by accident.

Falling further down the Cuban rabbit hole, I've been thinking, talking, and reading about the status of Guantanamo. The United States took the Guantanamo site, and the Isle of Pines (now called Isle of Youth) by force. The 1903 Treaty of Relations was imposed at gun-point and in some ways superseded by the 1934 Treaty of Relations. That 1934 treaty, in important regard, simply reaffirmed the 1903 treaty:

"Until the two contracting parties agree to the modification or abrogation of the stipulations of the agreement in regard to the lease to the United States of America of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations signed by the President of the Republic of Cuba on February 16, 1903, and by the President of the United States of America on the 23d day of the same month and year, the stipulations of that agreement with regard to the naval station of Guantanamo shall continue in effect. The supplementary agreement in regard to naval or coaling stations signed between the two Governments on July 2, 1903, also shall continue in effect in the same form and on the same conditions with respect to the naval station at Guantanamo. So long as the United States of America shall not abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall continue to have the territorial area that it now has, with the limits that it has on the date of the signature of the present Treaty."

The 1934 treaty fails to legitimate the 1903 documents or the Platt Amendment of the same period, which was imposed on Cuba by force and remained in the Cuban Constitution until 1940. That amendment gave the United States the right "to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty." This, by 1929, had been rendered illegal by the Kellogg-Briand Pact in which the United States, Cuba, and many other nations committed to settling their disputes without the use of force -- force, of course, being what "intervene" referred to and meant in practice. In the decades between 1903 and 1934 the United States did in fact intervene by force repeatedly in Cuba. The Cuban government of 1934 was no more legitimate than the government of 1903.

Interestingly, the Platt Amendment denied Cuba the Isle of Pines without claiming it decisively for the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that there was no legal claim to the island for the United States, that the matter was purely "political." The U.S. Congress gave the island back to Cuba in 1925.

The argument of the U.S. government for its claim to Guantanamo really does not amount to anything. It amounts to the existence of an illegitimate treaty with an illegitimate government that no longer exists. The current government has refused to cash the rent checks the U.S. sends it. Sometimes the U.S. case is prettied up by claims that the "lease" is due to expire some day. It isn't. Not in anything written. The crime of stealing Guantanamo, like the Isle of Pines or Vieques or the Panama Canal or the closed bases in Ecuador or the Philippines is what is due to expire some day.

Seeking to change Cuba is openly the policy of the U.S. government, and from the Cuban point of view it amounts to an effort to overthrow the Cuban government. The United States spends $20 million a year through USAID and other agencies to fund activism and "education" or "communications" in Cuba aimed at reshaping Cuba in the image the United States desires. Much of this is done subversively, such as the recently exposed effort to create a Twitter-like tool that would propagandize Cubans without revealing its source.

The U.S. justification for this behavior is that Cuba falls short in the area of human rights. Of course, Cuba says the same of the U.S. based on a broader understanding of human rights. But were Cuba to fund activist groups in the United States those groups would be violating U.S. law due to Cuba's ridiculous presence on the U.S. government's terrorist list. And if the U.S. government were to try to honestly justify punishment of Cuba as a human rights violator alongside the absence of punishment of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and so many other human rights violators, the argument would have to be spoken by Alice's Queen of Hearts.

Victory in an eight-year battle: Philadelphia Passes Paid Sick-Leave Law

By Dave Lindorff


Finally some good news for a change!

At a packed session of the Philadelphia City Council Thursday morning, council members voted 14-2 to approve a bill mandating that all companies with 10 or more employees in this city of 1.5 million allow their workers to earn up to five days’ paid sick leave for themselves or to care for a sick or injured person at home.

Cuba Is Our Family

Cuba and the Estados Unidos have been family for so long that relationships have been reversed, forgotten, turned inside out, and repeated.

In the 19th century, the Cuban community in the United States and their supporters there were the base for revolutionary democracy and the ousting of Spanish colonial rule. Americanism and Protestantism and capitalism were seen as progressive democratic challenges to colonial control -- and I mean by more than just the equivalent of Fox viewers.

Of course that's wildly different now. The United States is now willing to smack itself in the face repeatedly in hopes of occasionally landing a blow on Cuba. Here in the land of our Caribbean cousins it is commonly discussed that the United States is hurting its health, not just by eating crap food and denying people healthcare, but also by denying the U.S. people Cuban medical advances. There are 13 vaccines, the saying goes, for such things as meningitis, that Cuba has and the U.S. does not. Other medical advances are also part of this argument, including prominently a treatment of diabetes that saves people from amputations. There are also U.S. medical advances -- in particular expensive equipment -- that Cuba cannot have as long as the embargo rages on.

I remember Robin Williams telling Canada it was a nice friendly apartment over a meth lab. Unfortunately for Cuba it lives in the basement. The madness of its upstairs relatives is epitomized by the manner in which the militarism that lies at the root of the embargo directly impacts U.S. health. I mean beyond all the killing and injuries and pollution and environmental destruction, there's something more grotesque. I picture mad naked Nazis in boots -- and in the path of the hurricanes -- on Plum Island who almost certainly gave us Lyme disease and spread the West Nile virus and the Dutch duck plague and others -- all of them still spreading -- as part of the same program that weaponized Anthrax and just possibly spread Ebola.

The ongoing U.S. bio-warfare program may have caused more damage through testing and accidents than by intention, but it has intentionally brought hunger and death to Cuba as it was designed to do, introducing swine fever to the island as well as tobacco mold, and creating "an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized, this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died."

Families will fight. The United States has behaved better at other times. In 1904, the U.S. signed, and in 1925 it ratified the returning of the Isle of Pine (now the Isle of Youth) to Cuba. The deep scar that deed left on the United States of America and the danger it placed all Americans in are of course ludicrous fantasies, and the same would be the case if the United States were to return Guantanamo to Cuba. Very few in the U.S. would even know about Guantanamo if it weren't being used as a human experimentation, torture, and death camp for illegal prisoners. Both Guantanamo and the Isle of Youth were stolen during what Cuba calls the Cuban-American War and the U.S. calls the Spanish-American War. If one can be given back, why not the other?

Cuba and the United States have been exchanging cultures and ideas and identities for so long that one cannot keep them straight. I'm delighted to have found Facebook and Twitter working in Cuba and to be able to get on the internet and see how handily the University of Virginia just beat N.C. State at basketball, but doing so with a live Cuban band jamming five feet away is a vast improvement. The live music and dancing at 10 in the morning, with rum drinks, that I have begun getting used to is arguably an improvement on quality of life that no quantity of home appliances or gated communities can match. I'd like to get my cell phone working but can't spare the hours to wait in the line at the Cuban phone office. But let that come later, for better or worse, along with the U.S. investors and the rising waters crashing over the wall along the Maracón.

I've seen poverty in Cuba, but not conspicuously extravagant wealth. I've seen begging for money but not hostility. I've seen genuine friendliness and what comes across as immediate intimacy. I've heard complaints of homophobia and police harassment and lack of same-sex marriage rights. I've heard complaints of racism. But these are points in common throughout our family.

I've met a woman who says she had an idyllic childhood growing up on the U.S. base at Guantanamo, which she believes should not exist. I've petted the loose dogs in the streets of Havana, which bear no resemblance to the U.S. breed known as Havanese.

Filmmaker Gloria Rolando told us at her house tonight that the 1898 war and the U.S. control of Cuba increased existing racism. In 1908, as one of her films recounts, the Independent Party of Color was founded. In 1912 a massacre killed 3,000 blacks. Similar incidents were happening in the North at the same time, incidents that the U.S. is struggling to remember.

Rolando's films tell a story of a Caribbean family, of people moving from island to island. In the 1920s and 1930s poor people in the pre-banking haven Cayman Islands came to work on the Isle of Pine. The complex history of immigrants moving to the United States and back, and to other islands and back, is a history of racial complexity as well. Cuba today has racial problems, Rolando says, but now it is possible to debate the topic, unlike 15 years ago. Some black people still favor light skin, she says, and very few blacks have family in Miami sending them money. "You have seen the ugly black dolls with cigars for sale to tourists," she says, and I have. I have also seen more mixed-race couples and groups here than ever up north.

Assata Shakur is the topic of one of Rolando's films, The Eyes of the Rainbow. In it, she remarks on Cubans' unnerving friendliness, something she grew used to after moving here.

Earlier today we traveled out of Havana to Las Terrazas, a sustainable model community in a reforested area of the mountains that used to be a French coffee plantation. This ideal model for tourists and visitors only turned to tourism recently. The 1,000 people who live there, and the gourmet vegetarian restaurant where we dined there (El Romero with chef Tito Nuñez Gudas), and the incredible beauty of the place are not representative of all of Cuba; but they are indications of what is possible.

I picked up a bottle of honey made at Las Terrazas and packaged in a re-used rum bottle. I wanted to bring it home until I realized something. Honey is a liquid. On an airplane it would be a terrorist threat or a reason to spend $50 on checking a suitcase.

We looked at the stone cells people slept in under guard when forced to work on the coffee plantation under the system of slavery. They were about the size of the slave cabins at Thomas Jefferson's house, a bit larger than the cages at Guantanamo.

Cuba and the United States have a great deal in common, but of course it all means nothing because their president is always a Castro and ours is changed every 4 or 8 years from one advocate of crazy militarism, consumption, and wealth concentration, to a nearly identical advocate of crazy militarism, consumption, and wealth concentration. When will Cuba catch up?

Cuba Is Good for Your Health

"It's behind us," Fernando Gonzales of the Cuban Five said with a smile when I told him just a few moments ago that I was sorry for the U.S. government having locked him in a cage for 15 years. It was nice of the New York Times to editorialize in favor of negotiations to release the remaining three, he said, especially since that paper had never reported on the story at all.

Gonzales said there is no ground for the United States keeping Cuba on its terrorist list. That there are Basques in Cuba is through an agreement with Spain, he said. The idea that Cuba is fighting wars in Central America is false, he added, noting that Colombian peace talks are underway here in Havana. "The President of the United States knows this," Gonzales said, "which is why he asked for the list to be reviewed."

Medea Benjamin recalled coming to Cuba back in an age when the United States was apparently trying to kill not only Cubans but also tourists who dared to come to Cuba. This, she said, is what the Cuban Five were trying to stop. So we're glad, she told Gonzales, that we can come here now without worrying about Obama putting a bomb in the lobby. A crazy worry? It wasn't always.

Earlier today we visited the Latin American School of Medicine, which is now misnamed as it educates doctors from all over the world, not just Latin America. It began in 1998 by converting a former navy school into a medical school at which to give free education to students from Central America. From 2005 to 2014, the school has seen 24,486 students graduate.

Their education is totally free and begins with a 20-week course in the Spanish language. This is a world-standard medical school surrounded by palm trees and sports fields on the very edge of the Caribbean, and students who are qualified for pre-med school -- which means two years of U.S. college -- can come here and become doctors without paying a dime, and without going hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt. The students do not then have to practice medicine in Cuba or do anything for Cuba, but rather are expected to return to their own countries and practice medicine where it is most needed.

Thus far 112 U.S. students have graduated, and 99 are currently enrolled. Some of them went with an aid "brigade" to Haiti. All of them, after graduating, have passed their U.S. exams back home. I spoke with Olive Albanese, a medical student from Madison, Wisconsin. I asked what she would do upon graduation. "We have a moral obligation," she replied, "to work where it's most needed." She said she would go to a rural or Native American area that has no doctors and work there. She said that the U.S. government should be offering this same service to anyone who wants it, and that people who graduate with student debt will not serve those most in need.

This morning we visited a still healthier place than the medical school: Alamar.

This organic farming cooperative on 25 acres east of Havana didn't choose to go organic. Back in the 1990s, during the "special period" (meaning catastrophically bad period) nobody had fertilizer or other poisons. They couldn't use them if they wanted to. Cuba lost 85% of its international trade when the Soviet Union broke up. So, Cubans learned to grow their own food, and learned to do so without chemicals, and learned to eat the things they grew. A meat-heavy diet began to incorporate a lot more vegetables.

Miguel Salcines, a founder of Alamar, gave us a tour, with camera crews from German television and the Associated Press following. The farm has been featured in a U.S. documentary called The Power of Community, and Salcines has given a TED talk. To Cuba's tradition of monocropping sugar, the USSR added chemicals and machinery, he said. The chemicals did damage. And the population was moving to cities. Big agriculture collapsed, and farming was transformed: smaller, more urban, and organic before anyone knew that name. People who resent the history of slavery and dislike the work of monocropping, he said, are now finding a better way of life working at organic farming coops. That includes 150 workers at Alamar, many of whom we observed and spoke with. Farm workers now include more women and more elderly Cubans.

There are more elderly Cubans working on organic farms because Cubans are living longer (life expectancy of 79.9 years) and they are living longer, according to Salcines, at least in part because of organic food. Eliminating beef has improved Cubans' health, he said. Biodiversity and beneficial insects and proper care for the soil replace fertilizers and pesticides, to everyone's benefit. Thousands of minerals must be replaced in farmed soil, he said, and replacing just a few of them results in illnesses, diabetes, heart problems, and much else, including a lack of libido -- not to mention more pests on the farm, which could be reduced by giving the plants proper nutrition. Even Cuba's bees are reportedly alive and well.

Salcines says Cuba produces 1,020,000 tons of organic vegetables per year, 400 tons of them at Alamar in great variety and at a rate of five crops per year. Alamar also produces 40 tons of worm compost per year, using 80 tons of organic matter to do so.

Salcines pointed to Cuba's healthy diet as something good that's come of the U.S. embargo. On top of that scandalous remark he declared his disagreement with Karl Marx. Population growth is exponential and food production linear, he said. Marx believed science would solve this problem, and he was wrong, declared Salcines. When women are in power, said Salcines, the population doesn't grow. So, put women in power, he concluded. The only way to feed the world, Salcines said, with an apology to Monsanto, is to reject the agriculture of killing in favor of an agriculture of life.

 

Cuba Uncensored

This evening, February 9, 2015, a handful of visitors from the land to the north asked an assistant (or "instructional" which I take to be a step below "assistant") professor of philosophy about his studies and his teaching experiences here in Cuba. One of our group made the mistake of asking whether this philosopher thought of Fidel as a philosopher. The result was an almost Fidel-length response that had little to do with philosophy and everything to do with criticizing the president.

Fidel Castro, according to this young man, had good intentions over a half century ago, but he grew stubborn and willing only to listen to advisers who said what he wanted to hear. Examples offered included a decision in the 1990s to solve a teacher shortage by making unqualified teenagers into professors.

When I asked about authors favored by Cuban philosophy students, and Slavoj Zizek's name came up, I asked if this was at all based on videos of him, given the lack of internet. "Oh, but they pirate and share everything," was the response.

This led to a discussion of the local internet people have set up in Cuba. According to this professor, people are relaying wireless signals on from house to house and running wires along telephone lines, and they are self-policing by cutting out anyone sharing pornography or other undesirable materials. In this man's view, the Cuban government could easily provide internet to many more people but chooses not to out of a desire to better control it. He himself, he said, has internet access through his job, but doesn't use email because if he did then he'd have no excuse for missing meetings announced by email.

This morning we had met with Ricardo Alarcon (Cuba's Permanent Representative to the United Nations for nearly 30 years and later Minister of Foreign Affairs before becoming President of the National Assembly of People's Power) and Kenia Serrano Puig (a member of Parliament and the President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples or ICAP, which has already published this article).

Why so little internet? someone asked. Kenia replied that the main obstacle was the U.S. blockade, explaining that Cuba has to connect to the internet through Canada and that it is very expensive. "We'd like to have internet for everyone," she said, but the priority is to provide it to social institutions.

USAID, she noted, has spent $20 million per year to propagandize for regime change in Cuba, and USAID doesn't connect everyone to the internet, but only those whom they choose.

Cubans can speak against the Cuban government, she said, but many who do are paid by USAID, including widely read bloggers -- not dissidents, in her view, but mercenaries. Alarcon added that the Helms-Burton Act banned sharing of U.S. technology, but Obama has just changed that.

The philosophy professor acknowledged some truth to these claims, but thought it was fairly slight. I suspect there's as much a variation in perspective at work here as intentional deception. The citizen sees shortcomings. The government sees foreign dangers and price tags.

Still, it is wonderful to hear about people managing to create independent communications media in any country, including one long abused by the United States, and one that gets a great many things right.

An American who's been in Cuba for many years told me that often the government announces policies and services on television and in newspapers, but people don't watch or read, and because there's no way to find things out on a website, they never find out. This strikes me as a good reason for the Cuban government to want everyone to have the internet, and for the internet to be used to show the world what the Cuban government is doing when it is doing something creative or moral.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective. I haven't heard yet of any corruption to match the tales that Bob Fitrakis, one of our group, relates of Columbus, Ohio, politics. I haven't seen any neighborhood in as terrible shape as Detroit.

As we learn about the highs and lows of Cuban life, and their possible causes, one fact becomes clear: the excuse offered by the Cuban government for any failure is the U.S. embargo. Were the embargo to end, the excuse would certainly vanish -- and to some degree the actual problem would almost certainly be improved. By continuing the embargo, the United States provides an excuse for what it claims to be opposing, in its often hypocritical way: restrictions on freedom of the press and speech -- or what the U.S. thinks of as "human rights."

Cuba, of course, sees the rights to housing, food, education, healthcare, peace, etc., as human rights as well.

Not far from the Capitol building, modeled on the U.S. Capitol building and -- like it -- undergoing repairs, I bought a copy of the Cuban Constitution. Try putting the two preambles side by side. Try comparing the content of the Cuban and U.S. Constitutions. One is radically more democratic, and it's not the one belonging to the nation that bombs in Democracy's name.

In the U.S. the Capitol dome is one of few things that anyone bothers to repair. Havana, in contrast, is packed with repair shops for everything imaginable. The walkable streets with relatively few cars display beautiful cars that have been repaired and repaired and repaired for decades. The country's laws are reworked through very public processes. Cars tend to be much older than laws, unlike the U.S. situation in which basic laws tend to predate modern machinery.

Alarcon was very positive about recent developments in U.S.-Cuban relations but warned that a new U.S. embassy cannot work for the overthrow of the Cuban government. "We may denounce the U.S. police killing unarmed African-American boys," he said, "but we have no right to organize Americans to oppose that. To do so would be an imperialist approach."

Asked about restoring property to those who had it seized during the revolution, Alarcon said that the agrarian reform law of 1959 allows for that, but the United States refused to allow it. But, he said, Cubans have their own much larger claims due to damage from the illegal embargo. So all of that will need to be worked out between the two countries.

Is Alarcon worried about U.S. investment and culture? No, he said, Canadians have long been the top visitors to Cuba, so North Americans are familiar. Cuba has always pirated U.S. films and shown them in theaters at the same times they were showing in the United States. With normal relations, copyright laws will take effect, he said.

Why has the U.S. not sought out Cuba's market before? Because, he thinks, some visitors will inevitably find things of value in Cuba's way of running a country. Now, U.S. investors can come to Cuba but will need approval of the government for any projects, just as is the case in other Latin American countries.

I asked Kenia why Cuba needs a military, and she pointed to a history of U.S. aggression, but she said that Cuba's military is defensive rather than offensive. The Cuban Constitution is also dedicated to peace. Last year in Havana, 31 nations dedicated themselves to peace.

Medea Benjamin proposes a way in which Cuba could make a huge statement for peace, namely by turning the Guantanamo prison camp into an international center for nonviolent conflict resolution and experimentation in sustainable living. Of course, first the United States has to close the prison and give the land back.

Cuba Is Hot

We arrived in Havana tonight, February 8, 2015, or year 56 of the revolution, 150 of us filling an entire airplane, a group of U.S. peace and justice activists organized by CODEPINK. The place is hot and beautiful despite the rain.

The buildings, the cars, the sidewalks look as if time stopped in 1959. The tour guide on the bus from the airport to the hotel brags that the municipality around the airport has a psychiatric hospital and a spaghetti factory. Both the billboards and the tour guide fit Fidel into most every topic.

Back home en el Norte we often note that they don't build things like they used to. My own house predates the Cuban revolution. Prioritizing human needs over "growth" and gentrification is certainly something I would retroactively choose if I could.

But did Cuba choose to stop time on purpose? Or to stop it in certain ways? Or is it something one is not supposed to say or think? We'll be meeting with many Cubans in the coming week, those the government perhaps wants us to meet and those it perhaps doesn't.

Who's to blame and credit for the bad and good in Cuba? I don't yet know and am not sure how much I care. By one argument the U.S. sanctions have been disastrous. By another they've had no effect. By no argument does there seem to be any reason to continue them. Or course those claiming they've done no harm often suggest that Cuba should not be rewarded by lifting them. But incoherent nonsense is hard to respond to.

The United States waged a long terrorist war against Cuba but keeps Cuba on its terrorist list. That has to end regardless of whether Cuba has found the way to a sustainable democratic future.

An American in a hotel elevator said to me: "Shouldn't the people whose property was seized in the revolution have it restored to them?" I happen to know that at least some of them don't want it restored, but I replied, "Sure, that's worth considering, as is the United States giving Guantanamo back to Cuba." Without missing a beat, this Good American came back at me with a line he'd clearly used before: "Will you give me your car, then?" Once I'd figure out what he was saying, I pointed out that I hadn't stolen his car at gunpoint as the United States stole Guantanamo. He walked away.

I realize that carried to an extreme I'd have to ask the United States to give back the entire United States, but I'm not carrying it to that extreme. Why can't the U.S. give back Cuba's land and Cuba reform its worst political practices? Every government in the world needs to be reformed, and urging changes on one hardly endorses every action of the other 199.  

The streets of Havana are dark at night, lit just enough to see and no more, but with no sense of danger, no sense of racial segregation, no threat of violence, no homeless people as one inevitably encounters in the land of capitalistic success. The bands play Guantanamera for what must be the gazillionth time, and play it like they mean it.

Taken all in all, and having just arrived, it's not a bad place to be cut off from the world. I have yet to find a SIM card or a phone. My hotel has no internet, at least not until mañana. The Hotel Nacional -- that of the Godfather movie -- tells me they have internet only in the day time. But the Havana Libre, formerly Havana Hilton, has live music, electric outlets with three holes, and slow but functioning internet (superior to Amtrak's) for 10 pesos an hour, not to mention mojitos.

Here's to Cuba!

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