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Colin Powell: Conned or Con-Man?
Editor Note: A decade ago, President George W. Bush was hurtling toward an aggressive war against a country not threatening the United States. Only a few people had a chance to stop the rush to war with Iraq, but one – Colin Powell – instead joined the stampede.
By Ray McGovern
Ten years ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations in a speech which routed what was left of American resistance to the Bush/Cheney push for invading Iraq. The next day, the Washington Post’s editorial pages spoke for the conventional wisdom, filled with glowing reviews of Powell’s convincing arguments.
Today, of course, we know that much of what Powell said on Feb. 5, 2003, was wrong. He himself has acknowledged that the speech was a “blot” on his record.
Obama: Jobs Destroyer
by Stephen Lendman
Phantom numbers conceal dire conditions. Reports are manipulated to distort reality. Last year's data overstated about half a million jobs.
Seasonal adjustments turn reality on its head. So does the so-called "birth-death model." It estimates net non-reported jobs from new businesses minus losses from others no longer operating.
I was having a hard time falling asleep
When I heard a loud noise coming from the kitchen.
Probably the cat after a mouse
Knocked something off the counter.
I made my way downstairs
Glad to have an excuse to get vertical.
Where I live in Virginia a member of the county board of supervisors was recently charged with the crime of "forcible sodomy," which carried a sentence of five years to life in prison. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery and was sentenced to 30 days in jail plus probation, etc. He professed his innocence of the original charge.
But what is sexual battery if not forcible sex? The fine line drawn between 30 days and life may have less to do with the action being alleged than with the persuasiveness of the allegation, the prosecutor's confidence of winning a conviction, the schedule and budget of the court, the desire of the accuser or victim to participate in a trial, etc.
If the man was guilty, his penalty seems too light, the lack of a trial seems wrong, and some creative restorative justice seems in order. Little has been done to aid the victim or heal the community.
It is entirely possible that he was entirely innocent. People plead to 30-day sentences in our legal system to avoid a risk of life in prison (including the possibility of becoming a serial rape victim while in prison) all the time. Had the threat been five years rather than "five-years-to-life," an innocent man might have been more likely to risk a trial to declare his innocence.
If this man was innocent, his penalty is of course too great. Any penalty would be too great. And the lack of any charges against his false accuser would be a miscarriage of justice.
I have no way of knowing which direction our justice system misfired in this case. I know only that it compromised, choosing to lessen the harm done, but aware of necessarily doing harm. And I can think of many ways the system might be improved.
At the same time, I'm aware that there are systems in the world immeasurably worse. There is no system that imprisons people at the rate the United States does, including largely for nonviolent and victimless crimes. But there are epidemics of rape, of gang rape, of rape and torture, of rape and murder. There are epidemics of rape in societies in which no man can be punished in any way, but in which a woman known to have been raped is herself punished, along with her family, along with her children -- children who grow up seeing only one path to an existence of reduced shame and humiliation: the path of becoming a soldier in the war that produced the epidemic of rape. And there are echoes of all of this in our own society.
Such horrific situations are described in Ann Jones' book, War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War. They lead her to an interesting conclusion:
"One stronghold of the battered women's movement -- in Maryland, if I remember rightly -- distributed T-shirts bearing the words WORLD PEACE BEGINS AT HOME. I believed it. Raise up children in peaceful homes free of violence, I thought, and they will make peace. But now, having spent the last many years in and around wars, I think the motto is painfully idealistic. The relationship it describes is reciprocal, but not fair. World peace may begin at home, but violence just as surely begins in war; and war does not end."
Jones documents the use of rape in war and its continuation after the announced end of wars, including its adoption by civilian men who did not participate in the war. The rapes that Jones describes are often viciously brutal and sometimes deadly. The physical injuries are severe and lasting, including the inability to sit or to walk, internal bleeding, miscarriages, and sexually transmitted diseases. And then there is the mental damage, the societal damage, and the economic damage.
Jones takes her readers to Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burmese refugees in Thailand, and Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Liberia was founded by former U.S. slaves who, Jones writes, brought to Africa "a few of America's worst features: elitism, discrimination, forced labor, religiosity, and a penchant for violence."* Liberia's modern history has been no happier. The World Health Organization in 2005 estimated that 90 percent of Liberian women had suffered physical or sexual violence and 75 percent had been raped.
Following war in the DRC, teachers, pastors, and fathers took up the practice of rape. The same pattern was found in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where horrors unknown or rare before war (civilian rape, child rape, gang rape) became normal. In the DRC, Jones observed a vicious cycle. Husbands abandon raped wives, sometimes departing the village out of shame; so raped wives without visible injuries try to conceal the rape from their husbands. Women are afraid to go outside for wood or water or to work in their fields (much as female U.S. soldiers in Iraq were so afraid of male U.S. soldiers that they would not venture outside to the bathrooms at night). With no crops to sell, women have no money, and their children cannot go to school without money to pay for it. Girls are also afraid to go to school where they may be raped. With nothing left, women and girls turn to prostitution while men turn to the military. A local famine develops, and women are afraid to make the trip to a hospital when ill; so people begin to die from diarrhea, pneumonia, or malaria. A study found 5.4 million "excess deaths" in the DRC between 1998 and 2007, 2.1 million of them after the war "ended."
Good news in war reporting is not always accurate. In 2007 (and right up to this moment with no let-up in sight) USians heard of a successful "surge" in Iraq. Iraqis saw increased civilian death and displacement, increased sectarian segregation, and a surging population of refugees. That war created what the United Nations High Commission for Refugees calls "the most significant displacement in the Middle East" since the Nakba. Iraq now confronts a situation in which millions of its citizens have fled and a million of its women are widows:
"There is more than one way to lose a husband. Illness, accident, assassination, murder, warfare. Rape is another. Many women lose their husbands to rape. How many thousands of Iraqi women and girls have been raped is impossible to know; but rape is commonplace. Of 4,516 cases of sexual violence in Iraq reported to UNHCR in Jordan, women were the victims in 4,233 cases; and for each reported case, there are countless others."
Iraqi men lost their houses, their land, their status, and their self respect. As refugee families in neighboring nations, Iraqis rely on women to make a living. One way in which men try to reassert their authority is domestic violence.
Jones didn't just visit war-torn areas. She brought there something that the U.S. and other western governments would never think to send. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail; and when all you spend money on is soldiers and missiles, you imagine those tools capable of things they are not suited to. Jones brought with her a different tool: photography lessons.
Jones gave women who had never seen a camera or a photograph, cameras and memory chips and lessons in using them. The women did not recoil in superstitious horror. They became artists, activists, and empowered members of communities that until that moment had treated women as objects to be owned.
"Prudence in Zokoguhe photographed a man beating his wife with a broom. Martine in Zokoguhe photographed a woman landing in the dirt face-first and the man who had thrown her to the ground. Jeanette in Koupela-Tenkodoko photographed a man beating his wife with a stick."
Change began swiftly.
"One woman reported that her husband, who had never before shared the proceeds from the family field, now proposed to give a little something to his photographer wife. Another reported that her husband, who had never before provided money for a sick child's medicine, rode his bike all the way to the health center to make sure that his photographer wife and child, who had gone ahead on foot, were being served by the pharmacy. Another told of her neighbor, an habitual wife beater, never deterred by others who tried to intervene. When she threatened to fetch her camera, he stopped hitting his wife and ran away."
Women showed their photographs in a public meeting. Never having spoken in public before, women took over the meeting. The village chief took their side and followed their lead. They began participating in writing laws to stop the violence in their village.
Jones collected her cameras to take them to another country, and by that time the women no longer needed them. But wouldn't it be nice if they could keep them? With a $1.3 trillion military budget in the United States alone, you'd think we could afford a few cameras that actually accomplish things that missiles and soldiers are falsely advertised as accomplishing. In fact, I don't just want to give women cameras. I want to give them websites.
Jones is an advocate for making women part of peace negotiations, part of government. Give women power and rights, and things will improve, Jones believes. And she's right, of course, up to a point. But the notion of "no justice, no peace" has to be reversed. Without peace we cannot build justice. We must end the wars. HOME VIOLENCE BEGINS IN WAR.
We must keep our priorities straight as critics soften their complaints with the pro-torture and pro-murder movie Zero Dark Thirty in part because it was made by a woman, and as a pro-war woman named Hillary Clinton positions herself to run for a presidential office that has been given single-handed power of life and death over great masses of human beings.
* Jones is wrong, I believe, that the first African-American settlers arrived in Africa in 1822, since a group sailed from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone in 1792 including slaves who had escaped to fight for the British, including a man formerly owned by George Washington.
Personally, I love dogs. I think they’re everything fans claim and more. I think they do amazing things for their human companions, up to and including saving lives. But when it comes to “security,” they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.
For years people have been claiming that bomb-sniffing dogs will solve all our problems at the airport. And for years I've been gainsaying that claim.
Hillary Clinton: Profile of Imperial Arrogance and Lawlessness
by Stephen Lendman
She was Washington's 67th Secretary of State. She served from January 21, 2009 - February 1, 2013. She's arguably America's worst.
From 2001 - 2009, she was US Senator from New York. In 2008, she challenged Obama for the Democrat party's presidential nomination.
Moscow to West: Hands Off Middle East/Africa
by Stephen Lendman
Munich's Security Conference is held annually. This year marks the 49th session. Dozens of countries participated. Hundreds of world leaders attended.
They included heads of state, foreign affairs and defense ministers, as well as other senior figures. Active engagement was prioritized. Current and future security challenges were discussed.
Iran War Weekly
February 3, 2013
Washington OK's Israeli Aggression on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
It shouldn't surprise. Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. Significant regional operations are jointly planned.
It's done well in advance. It's for strategic advantage. Operations are part of a greater regional agenda.
Iran's Legal Right to Enrich Uranium Challenged
by Stephen Lendman
It's been that way for years. Iran fully complies with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions. Its nuclear program is peaceful. US intelligence says so. Annually it repeats earlier assessments.
Washington, other Western countries, and Israel know what they won't admit publicly. So do media scoundrels. They target Iran unfairly.
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DRONES & PEACE IN THE AGE OF OBAMA with the great David Swanson at 3-4pm (eastern) Monday on HarveyW's Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show. David is one our most persistent, effective and unstoppable activists on issues of war, the environment and our Constitution. Our action-packed hour will feature some serous strategizing about ending the empire and getting to Solartopia as we celebrate an age when activists like David really do make a difference. Join us at 888-874-4888. http://prn.fm/shows/
By Dave Lindorff
For a masterpiece in cognitive dissonance, just look to the foreign editors and the managing editor of the New York Times, who ran two stories in Saturday’s paper without referencing each other at all.
In War Is A Lie I looked at pretended and real reasons for wars and found some of the real reasons to be quite irrational. It should not shock us then to discover that the primary goal in fighting a war is not always to win it. Some wars are fought without a desire to win, others without winning being the top priority, either for the top war makers or for the ordinary soldiers.
In Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them, David Keen looks at wars around the world and discovers many in which winning is not an object. Many of the examples are civil wars, many of them in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, some of them dragging on for decades. Wars become sources of power, wealth, and prestige. Exploiting civilians can take precedence for both sides over combatting each other. So can exploiting international "aid" that flows as long as wars are raging, not to mention the international permission to commit crimes that is bestowed upon those fighting the communists or, more recently, the terrorists. Of course a "war on terror" is itself blatantly chosen as an unwinnable goal around which to design a permanent emergency. President Obama has just waived, again, sanctions on nations using child soldiers. Those child soldiers are on our side.
"The weak (or nonexistent) criticism by aid agencies of human rights abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq in the context of a 'war on terror' -- for example, the massacres of prisoners of war in Afghanistan in November 2001 and the torture at Abu Ghraib -- was used by the government in Sri Lanka (as well as by governments in Russia, Colombia, Algeria and Pakistan) as evidence of 'double standards' on the part of aid agencies that tried to criticise them."
Keen treats Western wars with the same analytical eye as any other wars, and with similar results. The wars to combat "terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq have actually increased terrorism. If the overriding goal were to reduce terrorism, we wouldn't continue making war on Muslim nations. Killing Afghan farmers for supporting the Taliban turns more of them to the Taliban. And so, more of them are killed. Paying for safe passage for U.S. materiel funds the Taliban. Humanitarian aid is tied to the military occupation and resisted as such, fueling corruption and resentment rather than good will. It also fuels an interest in prolonging a war without end on the part of locals profiting from it.
Is winning the objective? Sometimes appearing to be winning in the short term overrides and actually impedes the work of winning in the long term. One reason this goes unnoticed, I think, is that there is no coherent concept of what winning would look like. We're less aware, therefore, of not having reached it. Rather than winning or losing, we think of wars as merely "ending." And if they end following a "surge" by our side, we imagine they've ended well, even while averting our eyes from the results.
Do U.S. war makers want their wars to end? Perhaps if they can end without slowing the flow of war spending, and if they can end violently -- that is, in a manner seeming to justify war. Leading up to the recent NATO war on Libya, a U.S. weapons executive was asked by NPR what would happen if the occupation of Afghanistan ended. His reply was that he hoped we could invade Libya. During President Clinton's second term, this ad was posted on a wall in the Pentagon:
"ENEMY WANTED: Mature North American Superpower seeks hostile partner for arms-racing, Third World conflicts, and general antagonism. Must be sufficiently menacing to convince Congress of military financial requirements. Nuclear capability is preferred; however, non-nuclear candidates possessing significant bio chemical warfare resources will be considered. . . ."
Jokes? No doubt. But not funny ones and not meaningless ones.
Drastic increases in U.S. military spending in the early 1950s, early 1980s, and early 2000s all followed economic recessions. Money could have been spent on schools or solar panels or trains, and the economy would have benefited significantly more, but that would have been Socialism.
One reason for the U.S. bombing of Laos: the halting of the bombing of North Vietnam left a lot of planes and bombs without targets. One reason that Keen offers for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait: Iraq had an oversized military in desperate need of a war. And when the U.S. occupation recklessly disbanded that military, fuelling the resistance, the goal may not have been to fuel the resistance, but clearly an irrational drive to de-Baathify took precedence over achieving peace.
Beyond profits, wars create support for rightwing politics, and excuses to eliminate civil rights. This is true at home, but also abroad. Sanctions on Iran are moving the Iranian government away from where liberal reformers claim to want it. Providing limited aid to a hopeless opposition in Syria that does not aim for democracy won't produce democracy, but it will produce war. And not just immediately, but lastingly. U.S. backing of jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s fueled war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, and the attacks of 911, just as the recent war in Libya is fueling war in Mali.
What lessons can be drawn? Aid should go first and foremost to places free of war. Rather than prioritizing the militarization and bombing of areas suffering human rights abuses (militarizing Bahrain when it backs the Pentagon, bombing Libya when it doesn't), our top priority should be disarmament and demilitarization, that is to say: conversion of economies and societies to peaceful sustainable production. One part of this work should be the enforcement of laws against war. This week we can look to Guatemala and Italy for signs of hope, and to Washington for evidence that plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Ban Ki-moon Fails to Condemn Israeli Aggression
by Stephen Lendman
Since last weekend, Israel attacked Syria multiple times. Doing so was premeditated, unprovoked aggression.
Fundamental UN Charter provisions were violated. Israeli officials refused comment. For days, America was silent.
UN Mission Condemns Israeli Settlements
by Stephen Lendman
On January 31, the UN International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory published damning findings.
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Social Inequality in America
by Stephen Lendman
Islamic Awakening requested an article on this topic. Later publication will follow. Specific questions were raised.
Related issues include imperial priorities, permanent wars, political injustice, wealth and privilege at the expense of popular needs, and deepening hardships affecting millions of Americans.
Premeditated Aggression: Official Israeli Policy
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed Israel's Wednesday attack on Lebanon. Reports suggested Syrian weapons and munitions heading cross border were struck.
It asked why would Assad send vitally needed weapons and munitions to Lebanon? He needs all he can get.
US Economy: Troubled or All's Well?
by Stephen Lendman
Headlines flashed warning signs. Commentaries downplayed them. A Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "As Contractions Go…."
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by Debra Sweet
World Can't Wait's focus on stopping the use of armed and surveillance drones by the U.S. is principally based on our opposition to the immorality of attacking vast populations, and linked to our mission to bring people to see that U.S. occupations are not legitimate.
Poisonous gas in the first "world war;" nukes in the second; napalm against the Vietnamese people; and white phosphorous in the Gulf War are technologies so heinous that at least millions of people recoiled, and removed their support from the imperialist belligerents.
The Congressional Research Service has released two new reports on drones. The first is called
Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, P.L. 112-95, Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), sometimes referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, into the national airspace system by September 2015. Although the text of this act places safety as a predominant concern, it fails to establish how the FAA should resolve significant, and up to this point, largely unanswered legal questions....
... Perhaps the most contentious issue concerning the introduction of drones into U.S. airspace is the threat that this technology will be used to spy on American citizens. With the ability to house high-powered cameras, infrared sensors, facial recognition technology, and license plate readers, some argue that drones present a substantial privacy risk.66 Undoubtedly, the government’s use of drones for domestic surveillance operations implicates the Fourth Amendment and other applicable laws.67 In like manner, privacy advocates have warned that private actors might use drones in a way that could infringe upon fundamental privacy rights.6 ...
...If Congress chooses to act, it could create privacy protections to protect individuals from intrusive drone surveillance conducted by private actors. Such proposals would be considered in the context of the First Amendment rights to gather and receive news. Several bills were introduced in the 112th Congress that would regulate the private use of drones. Additionally, there are other measures Congress could adopt. ...
... Additionally, Congress could create a cause of action for surveillance conducted by drones similar to the intrusion upon seclusion tort provided under Restatement § 652B.151 ...
... Congress could also create a privacy statute tailored to drone use similar to the anti-voyeurism statutes, or “Peeping Tom” laws, enacted in many states.154 These laws prohibit persons from surreptitiously filming others in various circumstances and places.155 ...
...There may be instances where a landowner is entitled to protect his property from intrusion by a drone. ...
... The legal issues discussed in this report will likely remain unresolved until the civilian use of drones becomes more widespread. ...
OR, OF COURSE, until people and localities and states speak up.
The other report is
Summary: There's gold in them thar drones.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Many millions around the world are convinced they know imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from closely examining the ‘whodunit’ contentions surrounding his contentious conviction for the December 9, 1981 slaying of a Philadelphia policeman.
No city is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.
I write from Charlottesville, Va., but am hopeful that this message applies to your city, town, or county as well.
In the absence of state or federal laws, localities around the United States are proceeding to put unmanned aerial vehicles in our skies as they see fit. The federal government has authorized the flight of 30,000 drones, and the use of drones up to 400 feet by police departments, at least 300 of which already have surveillance drones in operation.
States and localities can ban or regulate such actions. Or they can proceed to endanger our health and our civil rights.
In Montgomery County, Texas, the Sheriff showed off a drone to the media but crashed it into his armored vehicle (thereby, I guess, proving that he needed an armored vehicle).
When the Dept. of Homeland Security challenged the University of Texas-Austin to hack into a drone and take control of it, the response was "No problem," and it was quickly done.
Drones are not safe. Surveillance by drones cannot comply with the Fourth Amendment. And the arming of drones with tear gas and rubber bullets, already underway in many U.S. localities, is an outrageous threat to our First Amendment right to assemble and petition our governments for a redress of grievances.
If Charlottesville were to remain silent while (how shall I put this delicately?) crack-pot cities continue setting de facto law, we would all be worse off.
Charlottesville City Council routinely informs the state general assembly of its wishes. That state assembly has already been considering legislation on drones. Charlottesville has a responsibility to speak up, as well as to act locally on its own behalf.
Moreover, Charlottesville's influence spreads. Its past resolutions on Iraq, military spending, uranium, and other matters have inspired other localities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to raise their voices as well. Some of these resolutions have been directed to the federal government, to which the residents of Charlottesville pay taxes and whose laws the residents of Charlottesville are subject to.
This is how our republic is supposed to work. City council members in Virginia take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rule book for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate.
In 1967 a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey , 67 Cal.2d 325) that "one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known."
Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, etc.
We are not an island. If we become environmentally sustainable, others will ruin our climate. If we ban assault weapons, they'll arrive at our borders. And if the skies of the United States are filled with drones, it will become ever more difficult for Charlottesville to keep them out.
Just over a year ago, the Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution calling for an end to "foreign ground and drone wars." U.S. drone wars are now under investigation by the United Nations as possible crimes. We now know that individuals are targeted without so much as identifying their names. We now know that hundreds of children have been killed. We now know that at least three Americans have been targeted and killed. The view of our city should be restated in the context of local and state actions on drones. This is an action desired by local people, affecting local people, and costing the local budget exactly nothing.
Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. Subscribe or unsubscribe from David's email lists here.
When Truth Tried to Stop War
Editor Note: The year 2013 is the one-decade anniversary of the U.S. political/media system’s failure to stop a criminal President from launching a war of aggression on Iraq. It was a shameful time when only a few brave individuals, like the U.K.’s Katharine Gun, did the right thing.
By Ray McGovern
Ten years ago, Katharine Gun, then a 28-year-old British intelligence officer, saw an e-mailed memo from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that confirmed for her in black and white the already widespread suspicion that the U.S. and U.K. were about to launch war against Iraq on false pretenses.
By John Grant
Waging War on Immigrants
by Stephen Lendman
Earlier articles discussed Washington's racist war on immigrants. It's longstanding. It mocks notions of welcoming tired, poor, wretched masses yearning to breathe free.
White supremacist Judeo/Christian extremism prevents it. Poor and desperate people aren't welcome. People of color are scorned. Exploiting unwanted masses is policy. Helping them is verboten.