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How broke do we have to be to cut military budget?

Source: www.robcouteau.com 

by Lisa Savage and Janet Weil

The omnibus military spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  rolled out of the House Armed Services Committee pulling a trailer load of amendments and barreling down an increasingly potholed road. In the same week as news broke of massive school closings in Chicago and Philadelphia for lack of funding, only two members of the committee, California representatives Jackie Speier and John Garamendi, had the presence of mind to vote “no” on $637.5 billion more for drones, nukes, and missile “defense” in FY2014.

Epidemic of Birth Defects and Cancer in Iraq: America's Toxic Legacy

 

Epidemic of Birth Defects and Cancer in Iraq: America's Toxic Legacy

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

America's Gulf War, intermittent bombings in the 1990s, the 2003 war, and aftermath left a toxic legacy. 

 

Children born with two heads reflect it. Some had only one eye. Missing sockets look like the inside of an oyster. They're milky and shapeless. 

 

Assad: Winning Hearts, Minds and Battles

 

Assad: Winning Hearts, Minds and Battles in Syria

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Most Syrians support Assad. They do so for good reason. Mass crowds turn out in liberated areas. Syria's military is cheered. 

 

Polls show over two-thirds of Syrians back their government. The longer conflict continues, the greater Assad backing grows.

 

Syria News June 12

 

 

Killing of Syrian youth for 'blasphemy' fuels tension in Aleppo, Protesters call for justice and blame armed opposition groups - latimes.com

Foreign volunteers with the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria responsible for the boy's execution: source- Times Online

For Aleppo bishop, boy's brutal killing shows jihadist danger - Asia News

Suicide bombers target central Damascus, killing at least 14 - latimes.com

VIDEO: Damascus double suicide attack leaves 14 dead, dozens injured - Alarabiya.net 

Syria army launches attack on Aleppo airbase - Alarabiya.net

VIDEO: Aleppo Meng airbase clashes between the army and FSA - YouTube

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FOX NEWS POLL: Voters say US should not intervene in Syria - Fox News

NBC/WSJ POLL: Americans oppose intervention in Syria - NBC First Read

Putin Warns Against Syria Intervention - RIA Novosti

VIDEO: Russian foreign minister Lavrov denies U.S. charges on Syria - CBS News Video

France says Syrian war at 'turning point', mulls arming rebels - Reuters

Saudi Arabia, France agree Qusayr scenario can’t be repeated in Aleppo - Alarabiya.net 

Iraq Increasingly Drawn Into Syrian Battlefield - ABC News

Army: Nine rockets hit Lebanon near Syria border - Alarabiya.net 

Roadside bomb hits Lebanon road near Syria border - Alarabiya.net 

Qatar preparing for leadership transition - Telegraph

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Turkish police battle protesters after Erdogan warning - chicagotribune.com

VIDEO: Turkish police storm Taksim Square - Al Jazeera English

VIDEO: Taksim Square protesters set fire to water cannon – guardian.co.uk

Police disperse protesters with teargas in Ankara: Report - The Times of India

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

A whistleblower holding all the cards: Why did Edward Snowden go to Hong Kong?

By Dave Lindorff

A lot of people in the US media are asking why America's most famous whistleblower, 29-year old Edward Snowden, hied himself off to the city state of Hong Kong, a wholly owned subsidiary of the People's Republic of China, to seek at least temporary refuge.

Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the US, they say. And as for China, which controls the international affairs of its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, while granting it local autonomy to govern its domestic affairs, its leaders "may not want to irritate the US" at a time when the Chinese economy is stumbling.

These people don't have much understanding of either Hong Kong or of China.

Aleppo, Istanbul, and London

aleppoThe war in Syria went from a seeming quagmire to a conflict that may reach a dramatic climax with the coming battle for Aleppo, a city of nearly three million people that was once the commercial center of the nation.   Political leaders and events in two other cities, Istanbul and London, will play a central role in the outcome of the battle.  (Image)

The Syrian Army finished off final rebel resistance in the city of Qusayr last week fighting alongside the Lebanese group Hezbollah.  As a result, the rebel supply line from Lebanon is shut down and the major road from Damascus to Aleppo via Qusayr is open.  The road will serve the supply line for an attack to end rebel occupation of half of that city.

A victory by the Syrian military in Operation Northern Storm, its name for the Aleppo effort, will leave the rebels with very little in the way of major influence or meaningful territory.  From the start, the rebel strategy focused on urban warfare.  The various groups would have little chance of survival in a conventional battle with the Syrian Army.  With the shelter of cities and towns, the Syrian Army's  advantage vanished allowing the rebels to carry on the conflict and prevail in key areas.

Over 30,000 Sign Thank-You Note to Edward Snowden

Already over 30,000 people have signed a thank-you note to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at SupportEdwardSnowden.org -- a website set up by RootsAction.org.

The note reads: "We thank Edward Snowden for his principled and courageous actions as a whistleblower, informing the public about vast surveillance by the National Security Agency that undermines our civil liberties."

A few of the thousands of comments added read as follows:

"Your courage and integrity give hope to a hardened cynic. I will do what I can to raise awareness and campaign for change, and for your personal safety and liberty. Thank you."

"If only we had more people with your courage and convictions. You have helped restore my faith in humanity."

"What you've done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks."

"Your character and courage are inspirational.  I only hope that if put in the same position I would do the right thing, as you have.  Thank you for your lesson in being a human."

"'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.' --George Orwell.  Thank you."

"Thank you for your courageous actions in the defence of democracy, liberty and justice. You have demonstrated the highest form of loyalty and for that you have my respect and admiration. Good luck."

"They are trying to make a criminal out of the person who exposed the crime!"

"Just think how this world would be if everyone did the right thing!  Thank you Edward."

"Your courage is so rare -- thank you for this brave action to defend the 4th amendment.  Wishing you well."

"Thanks for calling attention to the Police State that we have become."

"Thank you, Edward.  We can no longer say, as did people in Nazi Germany, that they didn't know what was going on."

"Thank you for stepping up for freedom. I am proud to join with the people of the world in applauding your conscience."

"Thank you for your honesty, incredible sacrifice, and clarity. We will not allow the government or the media call this anything less than a courageous move and wake up call to resuscitate Democracy."

"I can't thank you enough for this act of  courage and personal sacrifice.  You give me hope that the forces of oppression can eventually be overcome."

"Your bravery and your actions are more than commendable. I stand with you. Keep your spirit up in the challenges ahead. Thank you for standing up for Democracy and your fellow citizens. Well done. You are a true hero."

"Bravery for principle is very contagious, thank you!"

"Thank You Edward. 'The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.' - -Albert Einstein"

"You and Bradley Manning are my heroes. I am proud of you."

"Thank you for stepping forward and putting your life at risk to save our precious liberties.  Thank you for believing in the bill of rights.  Thank you for doing what is right even when our government prohibits it.  Thank you for your efforts to stop the decline into the novel '1984'."

"Finally someone with guts."

"Bravo, Edward! You are an inspiration to all freedom-loving people!"

"Thank you for your courageous actions. I hope this will be contagious and result in many more stepping out to join you in exposing the terrible state of freedom here."

"Thank you for letting me know just how far towards fascism my supposedly democratic country has slid, all in the name of 'keeping me safe'. I salute your courage."

"Thank you Edward. We're with you all the way."

The note will be delivered to Snowden with all signatures and comments that anyone adds at SupportEdwardSnowden.org

Journalist Kevin Gosztola Video on Bradley Manning

firedoglake.com journalist Kevin Gosztola has been reporting on the Bradley Manning trial. On Sunday Gosztola was at World Can't Wait Left Forum panel and discussed the historical importance of the Bradley Manning case, the military’s efforts to muzzle the press, and the prosecution’s notion that Manning lacked agency — Gosztola disputed the Army’s assertion that Manning acted as an “agent” of wikileaks, hence committed espionage.

Attorney Jesselyn Radack at World Can't Wait Left Forum Panel Video

Attorney Jesselyn Radack also spoke at the Left Forum panel on whistleblowers. Radak discussed the treatment whistleblowers receive from the Government as well as her own experiences as an attorney who represented pariahs — individuals some regard as people of conscience but whom the federal government sees as enemies of the state.

Former NSA Employee Thomas Drake at World Can't Wait Left Forum Panel Video

Former NSA employee Thomas Drake spoke at the World Can't Wait Left Forum panel on Sunday. Drake discussed his attempts to report “high crimes and misdemeanors,” committed by intelligence agencies after 9/11, to the federal government. Drake recalled how his life changed after he became the subject of an FBI investigation in retaliation for his whistleblowing activities.

TSA agent pulls woman’s breast prosthesis out of her bra

I get tired of writing these posts. These abuses are so common (no, they’re not “outliers”) and the reaction of the public so apathetic, it just becomes wearying.

Read the rest at TSA News.

Healing a Culture of Torture

You’re invited to mark Torture Awareness Month.

Healing a Culture of Torture - 6/25/2013

Lutheran Church of the Reformation - 212 E. Capitol St.

Washington DC  20003

Reception: 6:30 pm Presentation: 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Featured Speaker:

Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

Panel Responders:

Snowden a Patriot Warning "Turnkey Tyranny"

Another Truth-Teller Steps Forward

June 10, 2013

Editor Note: Edward Snowden, who disclosed top-secret documents on the U.S. government’s massive surveillance programs, is reportedly seeking asylum from countries that value openness and freedom, conditions seen as slipping away at home, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

Before the U.S. government and the mainstream media engage in the customary character assassination of truth-teller Edward Snowden – a fate endured by Pfc. Bradley Manning and others – let’s get on the record the motives he gave for releasing the trove of information on intrusive eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.

Why would someone like Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of national-security contractor Booz Allen & Hamilton, jeopardize what he calls “a very comfortable life” in order to blow the whistle on the U.S. government’s abuse of power?

Whistleblowing: Exemplary Patriotism

 

Whistleblowing: Exemplary Patriotism

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Whistleblowing reflects doing the right thing. It exposes wrongdoing. It does so because it matters. 

 

Edward Joseph Snowden follows a noble tradition. Others before him established it. Daniel Ellsberg called his NSA leak the most important in US history. More on him below.

 

Police State America in Good Hands with James Comey

 

Police State America in Good Hands with James Comey

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

He's Obama's FBI director choice. He'll replace current rogue head Robert Mueller. In September, he'll step down. 

 

He's run the agency since September 4, 2001. He succeeded acting head Thomas Pickering. He assumed office days before 9/11. 

 

Syria News June 11

 

 

Aleppo: Rebels execute teenager for blasphemy in front of his parents, For saying “even if Muhammad comes down, I will not sell coffee for free” - The Independent

VIDEO - GRAPHIC: 15 year old boy executed for blasphemy by rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria - YouTube

VIDEO (Arabic): Testimonies of the family of the child Muhammad al-Qatta executed yesterday by rebels in Aleppo - YouTube

Syria opposition condemns child execution - AFP

Syrian Rebels Clash With Kurdish Militias - Al-Monitor

Syria rebels fire on Iraq border posts, one killed -  Ahram Online

Syrian rebels open fire on convoy carrying Russian journalists (VIDEO) — RT News

Syria And Iraq Al Qaeda Merger Annulment Announced By Ayman Al Zawahri - -huffingtonpost.com

Syria civil war: President Bashar al-Assad's forces plan assault on rebels in Aleppo - The Independent

Syria army clashes with militants in Aleppo suburbs - PressTV

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Obama to decide whether to approve lethal aid for the beleaguered Syrian rebels and to enforce a no-fly zone - Fox News

US and Jordan hold joint military exercises close to the Syrian border - euronews, world news

Iraqi Shiite fighters' role in Syria grows more prominent, raising sectarian tensions at home - Fox News

Takfiri militants in Syria endanger regional peace: Iraqi PM - PressTV

Lebanese protest against Hezbollah turns violent; one dead - latimes.com

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Turkish leader Erdogan to meet Istanbul protesters - Reuters

Turkish opposition leader criticizes Erdogan - Yahoo! News

Barricades bolster Turkey's Taksim Square protests -  FRANCE 24

Istanbul soccer fans united by anti-govt protests -  Boston.com

Turkey police crush protests, govt refuses to resign (PHOTOS, VIDEO) — RT News

Ankara Police Shoot Turkish Protester Ethem Sarısülük in Shock Video [VIDEO] - IBTimes UK

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Privacy Died, and People Didn’t Even Know It

  The KGB alumni portion of the following, which sounds realistic, is actually fiction;  the NSA portion, which sounds like science fiction, is actual news from the real world.

 

It’s June again, and around the globe, in the northern hemisphere, alumni groups are gathering.  In Russia, the KGBAA (KGB Alumni Association)--former officials of the Soviet Union’s “Committee for State Security”--held their annual reunion this week at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, nearly 22 years after the agency’s dissolution in 1991.  

 

Blue Steals Green: Police Corruption’s the Dark Underside of the Drug War’s Iceberg

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Drug-related corruption within the Philadelphia Police Department – once again – is the target of federal authorities.

This latest action by federal authorities involves two patrolmen charged with trafficking drugs and robbing suspected drug dealers while on-duty and in full uniform.

Another day, another abusive TSA experience


Another day, another abusive TSA experience. And why not? The government thinks it owns our thoughts, as the Big Brotheresque surveillance proves; why shouldn't it also own our bodies? These issues are all related. Yet the millions of willfully clueless out there refuse to acknoweldge it.


Mass Surveillance in America

 

Mass Surveillance in America

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It shouldn't surprise. It's longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated. Previous articles said Big Brother is real. It's no longer fiction.

 

Mass surveillance is official US policy. It's not for national security. It's not about discovering terror or other threats. None whatever exist. Claiming otherwise doesn't wash. Big Lies substitute for vital truths.

 

America's Student Loan Racket: Stiffer Debt Bondage Coming

 

America's Student Loan Racket: Stiffer Debt Bondage Coming

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

For growing numbers of American youths, higher education is increasingly out of reach. High tuition and fees make it unaffordable. So does a disturbing government/corporate partnership.

 

Millions of students need financial aid. They're exploited for profit. Providers are enriched. Higher education involves debt entrapment. 

 

Not Impeaching Bush Is Sure Paying Off!

Many loyal Republicans opposed impeaching George W. Bush.  So did most liberal and progressive activist groups, labor unions, peace organizations, churches, media outlets, journalists, pundits, organizers, and bloggers, not to mention most Democratic members of Congress, most Democrats dreaming of someday being in Congress, and -- toward the end of the Bush presidency -- most supporters of candidate Barack Obama or candidate Hillary Clinton. 

Remarkably in the face of this opposition, a large percentage and often a majority of Americans told pollsters that Bush should be impeached.  It's not clear, however, that everyone understood why impeachment was needed.  Some might have supported a successful impeachment of Bush and then turned around and tolerated identical crimes and abuses by a Democrat, assuming a Democrat managed to engage in them.  But this is the point: whoever followed Bush's impeachment would have been far less likely to repeat and expand on his tyrannical policies.  And the reason many of us wanted Bush impeached -- as we said at the time -- was to prevent that repetition and expansion, which we said was virtually inevitable if impeachment was not pursued.

Can You Hear Me Now?

"You just hate Republicans" was the most common argument against impeachment, but there were others.  "It's more important to elect someone different."  "Why do you want President Cheney?"  "Why do you want President Pelosi?"  "Why distract from good work?"  "Why put the country through trauma?"  "Why not focus on ending war?"  "Why not do investigations?"  "Why divide the Democrats?"  "Why start a process that can't succeed?"  "Why destroy the Democratic Party the way impeaching Clinton destroyed the Republican Party?"  We answered these questions as patiently as possible at great length and enormous repetition for years and years.

People pursued alternatives to impeachment, from spreading the word about how bad the crimes and abuses were, to pushing legislation to redundantly re-criminalize Bush's criminal behavior, to promoting supposedly lesser-evil candidates, to promoting truly good candidates, to constructing ways to drop out of society and wash one's hands of it.  The trouble was that when you let a president spy without warrant, imprison without charge, torture, kill, lie, make war, operate in secret, rewrite laws, and persecute whistleblowers, you can predict -- as we predicted for years -- that the next president will adopt and build on the same policies.  Nothing short of punishing the offender will deter the successor.

In fact, the new president, working with Congress and all of his other facilitators, has turned abuses into policies.  The scandal and secretiveness have been replaced with executive orders and legislation.  Crimes are now policy choices.  Checking off lists of murder victims is official open policy.  Secret laws are normal.  Secretly rewritten laws are established practice.  Spying in violation of the Fourth Amendment is openly defended and "legalized," with sporadic bursts of public outrage and establishment excusing, following new detailed revelations.  Whistleblowing is being transformed into treason.

This moment offers certain opportunities.  It is well-placed in between the election seasons that so debilitate the nation.  Also, bravery and integrity seem to be spreading like a contagion.  Intimidation is backfiring.  Resistance is growing, and so is whistleblowing.  Bradley Manning and Thomas Drake and Matthew Hoh and Coleen Rowley and John Kiriakou and Jesselyn Radack and many others are inspiring new whistleblowers like Edward Snowden (support him here!), and like the member of the Joint Special Operations Command who spoke out for the first time at our forum on the opening of the film Dirty Wars in D.C. on Saturday.

However, what failure to impeach Bush has done to legitimize his crimes is nothing compared to what it has done to delegitimize impeachment.  If a tyrannical president who liberals hated and who talked funny and who didn't even pretend to be killing for some higher benevolent purpose can't be impeached, then who can?  Surely not an intelligent, articulate African American who pretends to agree with us and gives speeches denouncing his own policies? 

But this is the same problem as before.  Making speeches against Bush's abuses was not enough.  Clapping for speeches against Obama's abuses -- even speeches by Obama -- is not enough.  There is a reason why people abuse power.  Power corrupts them.  And absolute power corrupts them absolutely.  Telling a handful of Congress members who are forbidden to speak about it, and most of whom don't really give a damn, what sort of outrages you are up to is not a system of checks and balances or the rule of law. 

Refusal to impeach pulls the foundation out from under representative government.  Congress won't impeach for violation of subpoenas, so it avoids issuing subpoenas, and it therefore can't compel production of witnesses or documents, so it doesn't take a position on an important matter, so the unofficial U.S. state media takes no position either, and people follow the media.

Would impeaching Obama invite rightwing delusional charges?  Would it send confusing signals rather than clear ones, given Bush's free pass?  Not if Obama and Bush were impeached together.  They've both committed many of the same high crimes.  Impeachment can take place after leaving office.  The time has come to restore seriousness to the serious tool the Constitution provides for checking presidential power.  The time has come to impeach Bush and Obama.

Military sexual assault — It’s the culture

Kathy GilberdBy Kathy Gilberd

This Op-Ed was written for the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild and is reprinted with permission.

The military is once again in crisis over sexual assaults. In recent weeks, it has become more apparent than ever that the military’s sexual assault policy is a failure, and that sexual assault in the services has become epidemic.

Obama, Clapper and most of Congress are full of s**t: Where’s the Bullshit Repellent When We Need It?

By Dave Lindorff

Many years ago, back in 1975 when Gerald Ford was the nation’s default president, I spent a summer living in the home of two friends, both important anti-war academics, who had two young children. One of their kids, Jacob, who was about seven at the time and smart as a whip, had been given the gift of a can of compressed air which carried a label claiming it contained a miracle product called “Bullshit Repellent.”  Whenever someone in the house -- family member, me, or some other guest -- would say something ridiculous, stupid or false, someone would inevitably yell out, “Jacob, get the Bullshit Repellent!”  Jacob would come running in enthusiastically with the can and would spray it proudly at whoever was uttering the BS.

I sure wish I had Jacob and his spray can right now. I simply cannot believe the BS being spouted by President Obama, National Security Agency Director James Clapper, or the members of Congress who should be demanding their heads for the unprecedented surveillance and spying on all Americans that has just been exposed.  


Syria's Qusair Victory Matters

 

Syria's Qusair Victory Matters

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Qusair's strategically important. Western-backed death squads controlled it for over a year. On June 5, Syrian forces triumphed. Insurgent fighters were routed. Many were killed. Others were captured. Remaining elements fled.

 

On June 8, Buwayda village was secured. It was the final area-held insurgent position. Syria's in full control. Qusair borders Lebanon. It's in central Homs province. It's part of an important insurgent supply route. 

Israeli Involvement in NSA Spying

 

Israeli Involvement in NSA Spying

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It doesn't surprise. On June 8, Haaretz headlined "What was the Israeli involvement in collecting US communications intel for NSA?" More on that below.

 

Freedom in America: Rest in Peace

 

Freedom in America: Rest in Peace

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Political philosopher Montesquieu (1989 - 1755) once said:

 

"There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice."

 

PHOTOS: Protesting the CIA's Drone Murder Program at the CIA on Saturday

LOTS MORE PHOTOS HERE.

Lots of positive honks and waves.  One angry guy in an SUV. Not bad.

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