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Sea Change In US-Cuba Relations Makes Waves Deep In Desert

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

Tinduf, Algeria -- News about the historic change of relations between the United States and Cuba triggered cheers across the five Sahrawi refugee camps located near this Sahara Desert city located 1,100-miles southwest of Algeria’s capital of Algiers on the Mediterranean Sea.

Renaming Afghan War, Renaming Murder

The U.S.-led NATO war on Afghanistan has lasted so long they've decided to rename it, declare the old war over, and announce a brand new war they're just sure you're going to love.

The war thus far has lasted as long as U.S. participation in World War II plus U.S. participation in World War I, plus the Korean War, plus the Spanish American War, plus the full length of the U.S. war on the Philippines, combined with the whole duration of the Mexican American War.

Now, some of those other wars accomplished things, I will admit -- such as stealing half of Mexico. What has Operation Freedom's Sentinel, formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom, accomplished, other than enduring and enduring and enduring to the point where we're numb enough to completely overlook a new name as Orwellian as Freedom's Sentinel (what -- was "Liberty's Enslaver" already taken)?

Well, according to President Obama, over 13 years of bombing and occupying Afghanistan has made us safer. That seems like a claim someone should request some evidence for. The U.S. government has spent nearly a trillion dollars on this war, plus roughly 13 trillion dollars in standard military spending over 13 years, a rate of spending radically increased by using this war and related wars as the justification. Tens of billions of dollars could end starvation on earth, provide the globe with clean water, etc. We could have saved millions of lives and chose to kill thousands instead. The war has been a leading destroyer of the natural environment. We've tossed our civil liberties out the window in the name of "freedom." We've produced so many weapons they've had to be shuffled off to local police departments, with predictable results. A claim that something good has come and is coming and will continue to come for many future years from this war is worth looking into.

Don't look too closely. The CIA finds that a key component of the war (targeted drone murders -- "murders" is their word) is counterproductive. Before the great opponent of war Fred Branfman died this year he collected a long list of statements by members of the U.S. government and military stating the same thing. That murdering people with drones tends to enrage their friends and families, producing more enemies than you eliminate, may become easier to understand after reading a study that recently found that when the U.S. targets a person for murder, it kills 27 additional people along the way. General Stanley McChrystal said that when you kill an innocent person you create 10 enemies. I'm not a mathematician, but I think that comes to about 270 enemies created each time someone is put on the kill list, or 280 if the person is or is widely believed to be innocent (of what it's not exactly clear).

This war is counterproductive on its own terms. But what are those terms? Usually they are a declaration of vicious revenge and a condemnation of the rule of law -- albeit dressed up to sound like something more respectable. It's worth recalling here how this all began. The United States, for three years prior to September 11, 2001, had been asking the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden. The Taliban had asked for evidence of his guilt of any crimes and a commitment to try him in a neutral third country without the death penalty. This continued right into October, 2001. (See, for example "Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over" in the Guardian, October 14, 2001.) The Taliban also warned the United States that bin Laden was planning an attack on U.S. soil (this according to the BBC). Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik told the BBC that senior U.S. officials told him at a U.N.-sponsored summit in Berlin in July 2001 that the United States would take action against the Taliban in mid-October. He said it was doubtful that surrendering bin Laden would change those plans. When the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Taliban asked again to negotiate handing over bin Laden to a third country to be tried. The United States rejected the offer and continued a war on Afghanistan for many years, not halting it when bin Laden was believed to have left that country, and not even halting it after announcing bin Laden's death.

So, in opposition to the rule of law, the United States and its accomplices have conducted a record-long killing spree that could have been avoided with a trial in 2001 or by never having armed and trained bin Laden and his associates in the 1980s or by never having provoked the Soviet Union into invading or by never having launched the Cold War, etc.

If this war has not accomplished safety -- with polling around the globe finding the United States now viewed as the greatest threat to world peace -- has it accomplished something else? Maybe. Or maybe it still can -- especially if it is ended and prosecuted as a crime. What this war could still accomplish is the full removal of the distinction between war and what the CIA and the White House call what they're doing in their own reports and legal memos: murder.

A German newspaper has just published a NATO kill list -- a list similar to President Obama's -- of people targeted for murder. On the list are low-level fighters, and even non-fighting drug dealers. We really have replaced incarceration and the accompanying torture and law suits and moral crises and editorial hand-wringing with murder.

Why should murder be more acceptable than imprisonment and torture? Largely I think we're leaning on the vestiges of a long-dead tradition still alive as mythology. War -- which we absurdly imagine has always been and will always be -- didn't used to look like it does today. It did not used to be the case that 90 percent of the dead were non-combatants. We still talk about "battlefields," but they're used to actually be such things. Wars were arranged and planned for like sports matches. Ancient Greek armies could camp next to an enemy without fear of a surprise attack. Spaniards and Moors negotiated the dates for battles. California Indians used accurate arrows for hunting but arrows without feathers for ritual war. War's history is one of ritual and of respect for the "worthy opponent." George Washington could sneak up on the British, or Hessians, and kill them on Christmas night not because nobody had ever thought of crossing the Delaware before, but because that just wasn't what one did.

Well, now it is. Wars are fought in people's towns and villages and cities. Wars are murder on a massive scale. And the particular approach developed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the U.S. military and CIA has the potential advantage of looking like murder to most people. May that motivate us to end it. May we resolve not to let this go on another decade or another year or another month. May we not engage in the pretense of talking about a mass murder as having ended just because the mass murderer has given the crime a new name. Thus far it is only the dead who have seen an end to the war on Afghanistan.

Marketing Madness: Americans See Selves as Freedom’s Heroes as They Flock to Watch a Lousy Comedy

By Dave Lindorff


Is it just me or does anyone else think like me that this whole uproar over the supposed foreign “threat” to Americans’ freedom in the form of warnings against showing a low-brow Hollywood comedy, “The Interview” is a pathetic farce?


Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 28, 2014

 

Russia Revises Military Doctrine, Lists NATO Buildup As Major Threat - Sputnik International


NATO stronger military potential at Russian borders causes concerns: defense ministry - TASS


Complete text of the Russia's Military Doctrine (Russian) - news.kremlin.ru


NATO hits back at Kremlin assertion that it is a ′security threat′ - DW.DE


US Reviewing Russian Military Doctrine: White House - Sputnik International


Relations with EU to stay Russia's priority 'for years to come’: Moscow - RT News


Gorbachev: Putin saved Russia from disintegration - RT News


Russia’s New Military Doctrine Permits Retaliatory Nuclear Strike Only - Sputnik International


Nuclear submarines of Borei class to become guarantors of Russia’s security: deputy PM - TASS

 

Russian Missile Regiments to Receive Heavy 100-Ton Sarmat ICBMs: Source - Sputnik International

 

Russia Successfully Test Launches RS-24 Yars ICBM From Plesetsk: Ministry - Sputnik International

 

Russia’s future railway-based system Barguzin to carry 6 ballistic missiles: source - TASS

 

Russia’s new military doctrine allows creation of joint missile defense systems - TASS

 

Modern air defence missile systems S-300V4, Tor-M2U supplied to Ground Troops - TASS

 

VIDEO: $6+ Billion Dollar Russian 'Pentagon' Command and Control Centre Launched In Moscow - LiveLeak.com

 

Russia’s revised military doctrine lists foreign private military firms among threats - TASS

 

Russia's new military doctrine says use of protest moods typical for conflicts nowadays - TASS

 

Russian defense sector eyes change of focus to limit effect of sanctions - Russia Beyond The Headlines

 

Why Russian arms sales are on high octane - Russia & India Report

 

Russia Defense Ministry plans to send major expedition to Arctic in 2015 - TASS

 

Arctic Should Remain Zone Free of Military Activity: Russia’s NATO Envoy - Sputnik International

 

Russia called on to suspend arctic oil ambitions - Peak Oil News

 

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Ukraine and Rebels Exchange Hundreds of Prisoners - Reuters


VIDEO: Ukraine and Rebels Exchange Hundreds of Prisoners, New Round Of Swaps Expected - sky.com


Ukraine’s centre for POW release: аnother 490 people listed as prisoners of war in Donbass - TASS


Round of Minsk talks on Ukraine possible on Dec 28 or 29 - Russia Beyond The Headlines


POLL: Ukrainians Overwhelmingly Opposed to Giving Up Donbas - Window on Eurasia


POLL: Over 80% of Ukrainians believe that Russia and Ukraine are at war - Censor.NET


POLL: Signature of Ukraine-EU association deal seen as important event by only 8.3 percent of Ukrainians - kyivpost.com


POLL: Almost 80% of Ukrainian convinced that the level of corruption unchanged or increased - Ukrainian Crisis

 

POLL: More than 75% of Ukrainians disapprove govs austerity measures, lowering standard of living - abovetopsecret

 

POLL: More Ukrainians unhappy with quality of life - TASS

 

Self-proclaimed DPR republic nationalizes Ukrainian state companies - TASS

 

Russia to supply coal to Ukraine without prepayment - Ukrainian ministry - TASS

 

Moscow, Kiev Sign Agreement on Electricity Supply to Ukraine: Official - Sputnik International

 

Electricity Service to Crimea Cut Again - Interpreter_Mag

 

Ukraine Cuts Off Train and Bus Service to Crimea - The Moscow Times

 

Cutting Off Passenger Railway Service to Crimea Temporary Measure: Kiev - Sputnik International

 

Visa, MasterCard stop supporting bank cards in Crimea - Reuters

 

Ukraine Reports Russian Military Equipment Is In 'Aid Convoys' - Interpreter_Mag

 

Afghanistan against US plans to transfer mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles to Ukraine: Kabul official - RT News

 

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

 

Be a Part of Our Movement in 2015

Supporter,   Thank you for being part of World Can't Wait's work in 2014. We are glad to announce that a few generous donors will match your donations up to $4,500 by midnight Wednesday December 31, 2014.We are glad to announce that a few generous donors will match your donations up to $4,500 by midnight Wednesday December 31, 2014. Can we count on you to be a part of the movement in 2015. This is what your support wil make possible in 2015:

 

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 26, 2014

 

Ukraine’s NATO aspirations dangerous for Europe: Lavrov - TASS


Ukraine ascension to NATO would end Russia-NATO ties: Moscow - RT News


Russia to take retaliatory measures to NATO's eastward expansion - GlobalPost


Russia doing more than anyone else to help settle situation in Ukraine: Lavrov - TASS


Lavrov says coming back to logic of national unity is crucial for Ukrainians - TASS


Russian FM Lavrov urges major constitutional reform in Ukraine - RT 


Lavrov: Russia Recognizes Poroshenko's Commitment to Peace in Ukraine - Sputnik International


Russia Signals More Military To Belarus as Ukraine Briefly Cuts Power To Crimea - ibtimes.com

 

Russia puts new military comsat into orbit (VIDEO) - RT News

 

Russia Releases List of Russian Combatants Killed in Ukraine from Ukrainian Defense Ministry Source - Interpreter_Mag

 

Savchenko in her first interview from a Russian prison: I did not aim any mortar fire, especially at unarmed persons - UNIAN news

 

Nadiya Savchenko to continue her hunger strike indefinitely after appeal rejected - khpg.org

 

Russia's finance minister insists currency turmoil is over - Telegraph

 

Russia’s international reserves fall below $400 billion to 5-year low - TASS

 

Putin Aide Says Russian Inflation to Hit 11 Percent in 2014 - The Moscow Times

 

Putin Orders Vodka Price Cap Amid Economic Crisis - rferl.org

 

Sanctions-Struck Gazprom Sees Gas Production Hit Record Low, Sales to EU and Turkey Down 9 pct in 2014 - The Moscow Times

 

Gazprom Confirms Ukraine’s $1.65Bln Gas Debt Repayment - Sputnik International

 

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Ukraine Conflict Sides Agree to Swap Captives: Luhansk Leader - Sputnik International


Pullout of Heavy Artillery in Donbas to Begin on December 26: Kiev - Sputnik International


Contact Group for Ukraine to hold second round of talks in Minsk on Friday: media - TASS


Ukraine peace talks continue via online link, separatists say - EUROPE ONLINE


Eastern Ukraine: Humanitarian disaster looms as food aid blocked by pro-Kyiv battalions - Amnesty International


Ukraine broadens powers of top security body, NSDC secretary is entitled to declare martial law or a state of emergency - Xinhua


Maximum resources are allocated for defense. The NSDC has recently decided to allocate 5% of GDP for the purposes of defense and security - Petro Poroshenko on Twitter

 

Seven persons injured during riot near Kharkov town hall, More than 200 people demand resignation of Mayor Gennady Kernes - TASS

 

Radical protesters throw ‘old regime’ official into dumpster in Kharkov (VIDEO) - RT News

 

VIDEO: In Kharkov the Right Sector beats a guy - LiveLeak.com

 

Railway bridge near Mariupol was blown up, practically cutting railway connection btw city and rest of Ukraine - Kateryna_Kruk on Twitter

 

Ukraine Expects IMF Decision on Multi-Billion Dollar Loan by Late January - The Moscow Times

 

Ukraine's parliament backs import tax rises amid budget crisis - Reuters

 

Ukraine resumes electricity supply to Crimea after brief blackout - APA

 

Ukraine Warns of More Power Cuts if Mild Weather Fades - VOA

 

VIDEO: Power Outage Throughout Crimea - YouTube

 

Ukraine Receives $380Mln Loan From World Bank for Power Grid Rehabilitation - Sputnik International

 

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New Competing Claims On Downing Of MH17 Pointing The Finger At The Separatists Or The Ukrainian Army - rferl.org


Newly-Available Photos of MH17 Shoot-Down by Separatists, and Interview with Eyewitness by RTL Nieuws (PHOTO, VIDEO) - Interpreter_Mag


Second MH17 BUK trail photo of MH17 shoot-down by separatists from July 17th (PHOTO) - Ukraine@war

 

Interview with eyewitness who made the photo of the BUK trail - Ukraine@war

 

Buk M2 TELAR Identifying Numbers Painted Over in Sudzha Videos (VIDEO, PHOTO) - bellingcat

 

Russian popular daily publishes eyewitness report on Ukraine military's role in MH17 shootdown - TASS


Witness account of Ukraine military’s MH17 shootdown confirmed by lie detector: investigators - RT News

 

VIDEO: (English): Witness account of Ukraine military's role in MH17 shootdown - YouTube

 

TRANSCRIPT (English): Witness account of Ukraine military's role in MH17 shootdown - voltairenet.org

 

Donetsk Leader Zakharchenko Says Witnessed Downing of MH17 Plane by Ukrainian Jets - Sputnik International

 

VIDEO: (Ukrainian): 'I saw Malaysian Airlines MH17 with my own eyes’: Zakharchenko - YouTube

 

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

 

I couldn't tell you about it and couldn't tell you why: ‘Gagged’ by the Government: a Police State Story

By Alfredo Lopez


For the past three months, I and other leaders of the organization May First/People Link have been under a federal subpoena to provide information we don't have. During that time, we have also been forbidden by a federal court "gag order" to tell anyone about that subpoena, although we had already announced it and commented on it before the order was sent. Finally, we were forbidden from telling anyone about the gag order itself.

Resolved: To Stop Imagining that Anything's Been Resolved

Things that humans are probably stuck with: eating, drinking, breathing, sex, love, friendship, anger, fear, joy, death, hope and change.

Things that some humans used to commonly claim humanity was permanently and inevitably stuck with (but have stopped thinking about in those terms, even if the thing is still around): monarchy, slavery, blood feuds, dueling, human sacrifice, cannibalism, corporal punishment, second-class status for women, bigotry toward GLBT, feudalism, Eric Cantor.

Things that humans illogically, baselessly, shortsightedly, and absurdly assume must always be with us, as if nothing had ever changed before: environmental destruction, war, mass-incarceration, capital punishment, police forces, religion, carnivorianism, extreme materialism, nuclear energy and weaponry, racism, poverty, plutocracy, capitalism, nationalism, the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Senate, the CIA, guns, the NSA, Guantanamo prison, torture, Hillary Clinton.

The year 2014 will be remembered as yet another year in which we inched closer toward environmental and militarized catastrophe, but also perhaps as a year in which crisis and enlightenment combined to open a few more eyes to the full range of possibilities available.

How often have you heard things like "We can't end war, because there is evil in the world, but we can end unjust wars" or "Renewable energy is a nice idea but can't actually work (even though it works in other countries)" or "We need police -- we just need accountability when certain police officers perform badly" or "We could legalize drugs but we'd still need prisons or we'd all be raped and killed" or "If we don't kill murderers we'll have more murder (like all those countries that have abolished capital punishment and have less murder)" or "We need reforms but we can't survive without the CIA or something like it -- we can't just not spy on people" or "Ever-increasing environmental destruction is inevitable"?

That last one could be true if feedback loops have already taken the earth's climate to a point of no return. But it can't be true in terms of human behavior. Nor can any of the others. And I suspect a lot of people see my point and agree with me on it. But how many view all of the above sentences as ludicrous?

A serious argument could be made that a human utopia should be policed by a police force. But no serious argument can be made that a police force is an inevitable accompaniment of our species, a species that saw 99% of its existence unpoliced. Most people in the small number of places that are at war take no part in it. Nations go for centuries without war. Homo sapiens went most of our existence without war. Massive institutions cannot be inevitable. Hunger and love are the kind of things that are inevitable. We ought to start hearing assertions of inevitability for institutions as ridiculous nonsense. Doing so might be the most serious action we can take.

Of course reforming a criminal justice system a little bit is the proper first step whether you think another step can follow or not. But the direction of the step may vary if you have a different final destination in mind. There's a difference between ending a war in order to be better prepared for other wars, and ending a war because it kills people and exemplifies an institution that should be dismantled and eliminated. Both efforts can have the same short-term result, but only one has the potential to go further and help avoid the next war.

An argument -- I hesitate to call it serious -- could be made that pretty much everything is going well, and that nothing much should be altered. Not only can such an argument be made, but it is subtly and powerfully made by just about everything that is ever said on our televisions and in our newspapers. It does not, however, add up to any argument that everything must inevitably continue unchanged, that nothing can be slowly or rapidly made over into a different sort of world.

We need to resolve to realize that nothing has been resolved, history has not ended, questions of politics have not been settled -- and that they never will be, that the very idea is incoherent. And isn't that what makes life worth living?

Talk Nation Radio: Jonathan Newton on Ending Police Brutality

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jonathan-newton-on-ending-police-brutality

Jonathan Newton is founder of the National Association Against Police Brutality ( http://naapb.org ). He discusses steps that can be taken to address the problem, including eliminating the conflict of interest involved in police investigations of themselves.

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

Rot In the Big Apple: Bashing Critics of Brutality Betrays Efforts to Reform Police

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Last fall an apparently unbalanced survivalist steeped in anti-government paranoia murdered a Pennsylvania State Trooper and seriously wounded another Trooper during a sniper attack. Recently an apparently unbalanced man with a criminal past murdered two New York City policemen as they sat in their patrol car hours after he allegedly shot a former girl friend.

Iraq News - Dec 23, 2014

 

Kurds push offensive to retake Sinjar town from ISIS after breaking a siege of a mountain where Yazidis had been trapped for months - NPR


VIDEO: Iraq Kurd chief hails advances in Sinjar anti-jihadist battle - AFP


VIDEO: Kurds, Yazidis blast their way into Sinjar town - Reuters


VIDEO (Kurdish): Raw and longer version of the video above - YouTube


Mass grave of 70 Yazidis, including women and children corpses, found in Sinjar region - ekurd 


PKK, YPG forces play key role in freeing Sinjar - Kurdpress News Aganecy


US Coalition Destroys IS Targets Near Sinjar - VOA


Australian Super Hornets strikes helped turn back Isis fighters at Mount Sinjar - The Guardian

 

Iraqi Air Force, In Combat Debut, Assists Peshmerga, Coalition In Mission To Push ISIS Back From Mount Sinjar - ibtimes.com

 

Islamic State Once Again Blockades Iraq’s Baiji Oil Refinery - Latin American Herald Tribune

 

Iraqi army retake military airbase outside Tal Afar - Firstpost

 

Rudaw source: ISIS governor of Mosul seriously wounded, not killed - Rudaw

 

Pentagon to deploy additional 1,300 military advisers to Iraq next month - Army Technology

 

Task force denies reports U.S. engaged in ground combat with Islamic State - The Tampa Tribune

 

Senator Pat Roberts sees progress against Islamic State in Iraq - The Kansas City Star

 

Czech Sends 5000 anti-tank missiles to Peshmerga Forces - BasNews

 

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Amnesty: ISIS has forced 'thousands' of kidnapped girls into sexual slavery - Daily Mail Online


REPORT: Escape from hell – Torture, sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq - amnesty.org


VIDEO: Yazidi Women Recount Shocking Trauma of Sex-Slavery Under The Islamic State - BBC


VIDEO: Yazidi women bought and sold by ISIS - CNN


Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants - The Independent


Isis: Germany to open trauma centre for sex slave women raped by militants - ibtimes.co.uk


IS Militants Use Sex to Lure Recruits -VOA

 

Isis supporters 'offering cash to British girls as young as 14 to become jihadi brides in Syria' - The Independent

 

ARCHIVE: ISIS publishes manual telling fighters how to buy, sell and abuse captured women - Daily Mail Online

 

ARCHIVE: Text of the Islamic State (ISIS) manual entitled entitled 'Questions And Answers On Taking Captives And Slaves’ - memrijttm.org

 

ISIS reportedly ‘executes 100 deserters’ in Syria’s Raqqa - Al Arabiya News

 

ISIS arrests ‘extremists’ accused of plot against group - Al Arabiya News

 

ISIS Finds Man Guilty of Homosexuality – Executes By Hurling Off Roof (PHOTOS) - viral.buzz

 

ISIS release photos of a man having his hand amputated for theft - Daily Mail Online

 

Islamic State (ISIS) publishes penal code, releases list of “Qur’anic punishments” - jihadwatch.org

 

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

 

The predictable start of vigilantism: Reverse Course on Police Militarization or Reap the Whirlwind

By Dave Lindorff

 

Let me make it clear from the outset of this article: I’m against violence and killing, and I’m certainly no advocate of killing police officers.

Why is Near Term Human Extinction Inevitable?

If you hadn’t previously heard the expression ‘near term human extinction’, you have now. And you will get used to hearing it soon unless you insulate yourself from reality with greater effectiveness than you are doing by reading this article.

Obama Tortured by Fear

 

 


Torture’s Time for Accountability

 

 

Editor Note: America’s reputation for cognitive dissonance is being tested by the Senate report documenting the U.S. government’s torture of detainees and the fact that nothing is happening to those responsible. Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says the nation must choose between crossing the Delaware or the Rubicon.

By Ray McGovern

I trust I was not alone in seeing irony in President Barack Obama’s public chiding of Sony on Friday for caving in to hacker demands to cancel distribution of its comedy “The Interview” – about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korea’s real-life leader Kim Jong-Un – after a retaliatory cyber attack blamed on North Korea.

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 20, 2014

 

European leaders warn against too much economic pain on Russia - LA Times


France's Hollande Floats Prospect of Sanctions Relief for Russia, Risks EU Split - Bloomberg News


VIDEO: France’s Hollande Floats Rollback of Russian Sanctions - Bloomberg


German Foreign Minister Warns Against More Russia Sanctions - Atlantic Sentinel


Italian PM urges revision of attitude to Russia, opposes new sanctions - TASS


Sanctions Now Risk Being Too Painful for Russia, Denmark Says - Businessweek


Obama waives sanctions authority despite new law, concerned that the measure is not in line with with the European Union - Yahoo News


Statement by President Obama on the Ukraine Freedom Support Act - IIP Digital

 

Corker to Obama: Convince Europe to up sanctions on Russia - TheHill

 

Obama imposes sanctions on Crimea, echoes EU - US News

 

EU bans investment in Crimea, targets oil sector, cruises - Reuters

 

Russian experts: The lastest EU summit concerned not so much about the Ukrainian crisis as economic relations with Russia - TASS

 

Fresh US sanctions could do long-term damage to relations with Russia: Lavrov - AFP

 

Russia Reserves Adequate Response to Ukraine Freedom Support Act: Official - Sputnik International

 

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Europeans Face Export Losses as Sanctions Bite Russian Ruble - WSJ


Sanctions against Russia hurt both sides, $40 billion annual US-Russia trade is dwarfed by EU-Russia $460 billion - dailytimes.com


Western companies scramble to cope with Russian ruble drop - Reuters


Russia crisis hurts these Western brands the most - CNN


GM, Audi, Jaguar halt Russian sales amidst ruble's collapse - autoblog.com


Renault-Nissan boss warns of 'bloodbath' for car sales in Russia - Telegraph


Apple, IKEA, McDonald's Raise Prices In Russia Due To Ruble Falls - Business Insider


BASF, Gazprom Fall Victim to Sanctions as Asset Swap Ends - Bloomberg

 

VIDEO: Sanctions Against Russia Affecting Germany - YouTube

 

Russia Warships Update: France Still Won't Deliver Mistral Helicopter Carriers, Francois Hollande Says - ibtimes.com

 

EU asks Russia to go ahead with South Stream - TASS

 

Europe and Russia After South Stream - Stratfor

 

China Offers Enhanced Cooperation as Russia Struggles - Bloomberg

 

Ruble Advances as Cash Crunch From Higher Rates Supports Demand - Bloomberg

 

POLL: Vladimir Putin's popularity soars to 81% as Russia faces economic chill - ibtimes.co.uk

 

Putin: Russia military modernization to go ahead - Boston Herald

 

Russian nuclear forces to get more than 50 new missiles in 2015: Putin - TASS

 

Shoigu: In 2015 Russian AirForce & Naval Aviation will receive 126 new aircraft  88 helicopters. Navy to receive 2 submarines & 5 warships - Missilito on Twitter

 

3rd Russian Borei-class nuclear sub raises its colors (VIDEO) - RT News

 

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IMF, Ukraine fail to reach pact on next bailout tranche - Reuters


Ukraine’s Rating Cut by S&P to CCC as IMF Delay Raises Default Risk - Bloomberg


G7 Officials to Discuss Ukraine Funding Gap - WSJ


Russian Media: Western Nations Tired of Ukraine’s Financial Demands - Sputnik UK


POLL: Majority of EU Citizens Against Additional Financial Aid to Ukraine - Sputnik International


POLL: Ukrainians' Ratings of Their Lives, Country Hit New Low - gallup.com


Ukraine power units idled as coal reserves shrink - Reuters

 

Arms deliveries and military aid to Ukraine not discussed at EU meeting: Merkel - TASS

 

Former US Ambassador: Ukrainian claims on building one of Europe’s most powerful armies and reversing Crimea’s reunification with Russia could have dangerous consequences - Sputnik

 

Kiev, East Ukraine Republics Fail to Set Date of Next Reconciliation Talks - Sputnik International

 

Donetsk, Luhansk, Kiev Agree All-For-All Prisoner Swap as Priority - Sputnik International

 

Putin: Poroshenko Seeks Peace in Ukraine, but Many Others Want War - Sputnik International

 

Putin: Donbas Economic Blockade Futile, Counterproductive Path for Ukraine - Sputnik International

 

Lavrov: Bill renouncing Ukrainian neutral status plays into party of war hands - Russia Beyond The Headlines

 

Five Ukrainian government soldiers and five pro-Russian separatists killed in clashes - Bloomberg

 

Two Ukrainian Volunteer Fighters Killed In Ambush Near Staryi Aidar - Interpreter_Mag

 

Human Rights Watch: Ukraine Indiscriminate Rocket Attacks In Eastern Regions Require Better Investigation - Human Rights Watch

 

Ukraine's Azov Battalion Is Not Neo-Nazi, But Some Ppl In Battalion Are - Hromadske on Twitter

 

Russia transported T-64A tanks into Ukraine first half of december (PHOTOS) - Ukraine@war

 

Ukraine forms 'ministry of truth' to regulate the media - The Guardian

 

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

Obama’s Trojan Horse: US Recognition of Cuba after 54 Years of Hostility and War Does't Mean an End to US Subversion

Obama’s Trojan Horse:

 

US Recognition of Cuba after 54 Years of Hostility and War Does't Mean an End to US  Subversion

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Not Just Public Lands: Defense Bill Also Incentivizes Fracked Gas Vehicles

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog recently revealed how Big Oil's lobbyists snuck expedited permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, which passed in the U.S. House and Senate and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

A follow-up probe reveals that the public lands giveaway was not the only sweetheart deal the industry got out of the pork barrel bill. The NDAA also included a provision that opened the floodgates for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the U.S.—cars that would largely be fueled by gas obtained via fracking.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The section of the bill titled, "Alternative Fuel Automobiles" (on page 104) lays it out:

NDAA of 2015 Natural Gas Vehicles
Image Credit: U.S. Government Publishing Office 

No More Khirbet Khizehs

"Fields that would never be harvested, plantations that would never be irrigated, paths that would become desolate. A sense of destruction and worthlessness. An image of thistles and brambles everywhere, a desolate tawniness, a braying wilderness. And already from those fields accusing eyes peered out at you, that silent accusatory look as of a reproachful animal, staring and following you so there was no refuge." -- Yizhar Smilansky, Khirbet Khizeh

On the day in 2014 that I read the new English translation of Khirbet Khizeh, Tom Engelhardt published a blog post rewriting recent news articles on the U.S. Senate's torture report as a 2019 Senate report on drone murders. The 2019 "news" media in Tom's believable account is shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- by the rampant murder discovered to have been committed using missiles from drones of all things.

The point is that most of what's been discussed as news from the recent torture report, and certainly all of the fundamental moral points -- has been known -- or, more accurately, knowable for years. For the past several years, the U.S. establishment has been repeatedly "banning" torture. It has also been repeatedly discovering the same evidence of torture, over and over again. Leading torturers have gone on television to swear they'd do it all again, while radical activist groups have demanded "investigations."

The point is that at some point "truth and reconciliation" is lies and reconciliation -- the lies of pretending that the truth needed to be unearthed, that it was hidden for a time, that the crimes weren't committed in the broad daylight of television spotlights on a sweaty old man assuring us he was about to start working on the dark side.

Illustrated at right, from the iNakba app, are villages that were destroyed in 1948 to create Israel. Generations of Israelis have grown up not knowing, not wanting to know, pretending not to know, and knowing without confronting the Catastrophe. Israelis are discovering what happened, unburying the hidden truth, filming aging participants' distorted confessions, and hunting out the outlines of disappeared villages on GoogleEarth.

But what if the truth was always marching naked down the street with trumpets sounding?

In May 1949, Yizhar Smilansky published Khirbet Khizeh, a fictional account of the destruction of a fictional village much like many real ones. Smilansky knew or hoped that he was ahead of his time, so much so that he began the tale by framing it as a recollection from the distant future. The narrator, like the reader, was known by the author to be unable to see for years to come.

What would keep the book alive until that distant day?

Poetry.

It's not a Senate report. Khirbet Khizeh is a work of masterful insight and storytelling that grips you and compels you to enter the experience of its narrator and his companions, as they do what the author had done, as they imitate Nazis before all the ashes had fallen from the skies above the ovens in Europe.

This book was planted and grew. It's been taught in Israeli schools. It was a movie on Israeli television in 1978. And now, with a sense that perhaps sleepy eyes are stretching open at long last, the book has had itself translated into the language of the imperial homeland, English.

But how could poetry keep heresy alive?

Several ways, I think. Absolute failure to pay attention, for one. Think about how literature is taught in many U.S. schools, for example. The ability of people to hear the poetry without the meaning, for another. Think about people singing John Lennon's Imagine without having the slightest idea they've just proposed to abolish religions, nations, and private property, or how people throw around the phrase "peace on earth" in December. Perverse but predictable and perhaps predicted misinterpretation, for another. Think about how viewers of the propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty read accounts of torture, for example -- as a dirty job that needed doing for a greater cause.

It's a strain, to me at least, to read Khirbet Khizeh as a celebration of genocide or mass-eviction. And the book not only suffered but also benefitted from being ahead of its time. It pre-existed the mythologies and rhetorical defenses that grew up around the Catastrophe in the decades that followed. When the narrator makes a slight resistance to what he is engaged in, no reader can find anything but humanitarian motivation in his resistance. The idea that this soldier, questioning his fellow soldiers, is engaged in anti-Semitism would literally make no sense. He's revolted by the cruelty, no more no less -- cruelty that every adult and child has to have always known was part of any mass settlement of ancient lands in 1948.

When I was a child, in elementary school, I wrote a story about an eviction of a family from its house, complete with plenty of tear-jerking details. As a good American I wrote about British redcoats evicting patriotic U.S. revolutionaries. My teacher suggested to me that I had a talent for writing. But that wasn't writing. Had I written of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, of Diego Garcia or Vieques or the Marshall Islands or Thule or Okinawa or any of the many places about which silence was expected, that might have been writing.

Let us wish no more Khirbet Khizehs on the people of Palestine and many more Khirbet Khizehs on the world.

Putin Shot Down a Plane! Putin Shot Down a ... What? Never Mind

Search for "Malaysian Airlines Flight 17" on the New York Times website and you'll find a page promoting three articles from July, two hyping the idea that Russia did it and one just focused on the horror of it.

Below that you'll find 109 articles arranged from newest to oldest. The newest is from December 10th and consists of 4 sentences that convey little. The next is from November and all about an inappropriate tweet. The next half dozen take us back through September and we're little the wiser for it.

Yet the world outside of the U.S. media is full of evidence suggesting that Russia did not do it.

The silence is deafening. Dutch plans to produce a dubious report by next summer are being outpaced by steps toward war.

Here's a petition that concerned people are signing:

Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath

To: All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council

With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.  While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment.   Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO. 

For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath.  The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts.  It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.

The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident.   One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”  Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past.  Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention. 

Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions.  We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions.   The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.

Why is this important?

It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.

Initial Signatories for petition:
(Organizations for Identification Only)

Hon. Douglas Roche, OC, Canada
David Swanson, co-founder, World Beyond War
Bruce Gagnon,  Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space
Alice Slater, JD, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
Natasha Mayers, Union of Maine Visual Artists
David Hartsough, co-founder, World Beyond War
Larry Dansinger, Resources for Organizing and Social Change
Ellen Judd, Project Peacemakers
Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div.
Anni Cooper, Peaceworks
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Veterans for Peace
Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst, VA
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Gloria McMillan, Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group
Ellen E. Barfield, Veterans for Peace
Cecile Pineda, author. Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step
Jill McManus
Steve Leeper, Visiting professor, Hiroshima Jogakuin University,Nagasaki University
Kyoto University of Art and Design
William H. Slavick, Pax Christi Maine
Helen Caldicott, Helen Caldicott Foundation
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Brigadier Vijai K Nair, VSM [Retd] Ph.D. , Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd
Kevin Martin,  Peace Action
Carol Reilly Urner, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Kay Cumbow
Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Tiffany Tool,  Peaceworkers
Sukla Sen, Committee for Communal Amnity, Mumbai India
Joan Russow, PhD, Coordinator, Global Compliance Research Project
Rob Mulford, Veterans for Peace, North Star Chapter, Alaska
Jacqueline Cabasso,  Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace and Justice
Ingeborg Breines, Co-president International Peace Bureau
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Felicity Ruby
Jerry  Stein,  The Peace Farm, Amarillo , Texas
Michael Andregg, professor, St. Paul, Minnesota
Elizabeth Murray,  Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, ret.: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Washington
Robert Shetterly, artist,  “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” Maine
Katharine Gun, United Kingdom
Dave Webb, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
Amber Garland, St. Paul, Minnesota
John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus
Beverly Bailey, Richfield, Minnesota
Joseph Gerson,  Convener, Working Group for Peace & Demiitarization in Asia and the Pacific
Stephen McKeown, Richfield, Minnesota
Dominique Lalanne,  France
Bill Rood, Rochester, Minnesota
Tom Klammer, radio host, Kansas City, Missouri
Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mali Lightfoot, Helen Caldicott Foundation
Tony Henderson, spokesperson for universal humanism, Hong Kong
Darlene M. Coffman, Rochester, Minnesota
Sister Gladys Schmitz, Mankato, Minnesota
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA Senior Analyst (ret.), MD
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Jill Stein, Green Party 2012 Presidential nominee
Cheri Honkala, Green Shadow Cabinet
Ed Asner
Norman Solomon, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Agneta Norberg, Sweden
Rick Rosoff, Stop NATO
Kathleen Sullivan, Hibakusha Stories
Michael Eisenscher, US Labor Against the War
Clare Coss, playwright
Jean-Marie Matagne, President, Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (France)
Carolyn Rusti Eisenberg, United for Peace and Justice

Add your name.

America claims black lives matter, but police killings suggest they don’t

by Stephanie Tang             Black lives matter! To carry this message, hundreds of thousands of protesters have flooded into America’s streets, outraged by the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and the non-indictment of his killer. We shut down freeways and bridges coast to coast, stopping traffic, holiday shopping, Grand Central Station and other business as usual.

6 Guantanamo Prisoners Released, Not Sent Home, but to Uruguay

After up to 12 years, some of the prisoners just released are off hunger strike, and in “freedom.” This deal was put together last March, reportedly because of the huge pressure the Guantanamo prisoners' hunger strike put on Obama. But it took another nine months, during which the prisoners could have died, before their release.

One of those released is Abu Wa'el Dhiab, who has been suing the U.S. over forced-feeding he's endured for years, and suing to get the government to release videotape of the feedings.  Reprieve said, about him:

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 18, 2014

 

Russian Ruble Gains Back Some Of Its Lost Value From The Previous Day Dubbed "Black Tuesday” - rferl.org


Russia spends billions to prop up ruble and stem the worst financial crisis of President Putin's 15 years in power - GlobalPost


Russia has resources, market instruments to rectify economic situation: Medvedev - TASS


VIDEO: Russia will never suffer economic meltdown, but Ukraine can: Lavrov - Reuters.com


Russia has cash to prevent economic collapse (VIDEO) - CNN


Russian central bank preparing measures to pump money into banks in 2015 - cnbc.com


Russia's Latest Torment: Higher Prices for Everything - Bloomberg


Russians Flock to Stores to Pre-empt Price Rises - NYTimes.com


Ruble Chaos Forces Retailers to Suspend Sales in Russia - The Moscow Times

 

Apple Halts Online Sales In Russia As The Ruble Collapses - Forbes

 

Russia Government Pressures Exporters not to Hoard Foreign-Currency Earnings - The Moscow Times

 

Bank of Russia Bolsters Lenders as FX Debt Payments Loom - Bloomberg

 

Russia’s 20 richest people lost US$10B in two days due to the ruble’s collapse - Financial Post

 

Russian Economy to Rebound in 2015 if Ukraine Crisis De-Escalates:Saxo Bank - Sputnik International

 

Economist Katusa: Low Oil Prices Aren't the End of Russia (VIDEO) - newsmax.com

 

Russian Arms Exports Hit $13 Billion in 2014 - The Moscow Times

 

Russia crisis leaves banks around the world exposed by the billions - RT Business

 

Anxiety Over European Banks Amid Ruble Crisis - NYTimes.com

 

Banks Most Exposed Russia's Looming Debt Crisis - Business Insider

 

Russian turmoil knocks back European equities - Reuters

 

It’s Not Just Russia’s Companies Feeling the Pain - WSJ

 

German business group warns the recent drop in the ruble will negatively affect Germany’s exports to Russia - presstv.ir

 

Asian Markets Down on Ruble Crisis - Sputnik International

 

Russia-Ukraine border situation affects global economy: Kremlin spokesman - TASS

 

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

EU says Ukraine needs $15 bln, has limited ability to help - Reuters


Finance ministry hopes Ukraine to receive IMF $3 bln loan installment early Jan 2015 - interfax.com.ua


Ukraine's Currency Hits Record Lows on 'Black Tuesday' - Interpreter_Mag


Chevron Shale Exit Shreds Ukraine’s Hope of Energy Independence - Bloomberg


Poroshenko sets course for 'Euro-Atlantic' security integration, aims to EU membership by 2020 and to abandon the "nonbloc” status - rferl.org


VIDEO: Ukraine to Pursue Euro-Atlantic Security Integration: Poroshenko is for canceling non-aligned status - YouTube


Putin Orders Snap Military Drills on NATO Border - newsweek.com

 

Top US Diplomat Warns Russia: Don't Put Nukes in Crimea - newsmax.com

 

Ukraine, pro-Russia rebels agree to resume peace talks on Sunday - The West Australian

 

Donetsk separatist leadership ready to hold on-line Skype-conference with Kiev tomorrow - TASS

 

Lavrov: Moscow Supports Ukraine’s Integrity, E Ukraine Not 'Another Crimea’ - Sputnik International

 

POLL: Few Ukrainians approve of allowing Donetsk and Luhansk to leave Ukraine, Forty-three percent approve of decentralizing power - gallup.com

 

Pushilin: DNR 'Prepared To Exchange 152 Captured Ukrainian Soldiers' - Interpreter_Mag

 

Ukrainian Military Report 26 Attacks From Russian-Backed Forces Over Last 24 Hours - Interpreter_Mag

 

SBU Says Airports Closed Due To SAM Threat - Interpreter_Mag

 

Evidence that Russia is transporting back its destroyed tanks (PHOTOS) - Ukraine@war

 

Tenth Russian convoy to deliver humanitarian aid to east Ukraine: Emergencies Ministry - TASS

 

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

A Hollywood Hack Holiday: Ending Torture One Dick At a Time

By John Grant


CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.
 

The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogan and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.


Shooting Down MH 17 - BUK 312 Story False Says Ukraine Crew Member


buk312

(Image: BUK 312 in Kiev junta terrotiry - Anatoly Sharij)

The shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 came into greater focus with the December 15 YouTube video featuring a former crew member of BUK self-propelled fire installation, number 312 (BUK 312). Ukraine's government and others maintained that the BUK 312 unit shot down MH17 while manned by a resistance crew.   The Obama administration championed that narrative holding both the resistance and Russia responsible for the 298 deaths on July 17. The interview was conducted by investigative journalist Anatoly Sharij and translated by Marina Stewart (see full test in English at end of this article).  

The 23-year-old former BUK 312 crewmember revealed that the missile unit was in fact manned by the Ukraine military. He outlines the missile system's location and how it operated.   The former sergeant also offered analysis and research indicating the very low probability that the 312 crew shot down MH17.

Talk Nation Radio: Taif Jany on #SoccerSalam

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-taif-jany-on-soccersalam

Taif Jany, director of #SoccerSalam, discusses the need for humanitarian aid in Iraq this winter and how people can help. See http://soccersalam.org

In addition, 12-year-old Hallie Turner explains how she became a climate activist with http://imatteryouth.org

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

Exposing the FBI

Review of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, by Betty Medsger (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 596 pages. Notes, Index. Hardcover $29.95; paperback $16.95).

The Case Against Re-Banning Torture Yet Again

Senator Ron Wyden has a petition up at MoveOn.org that reads "Right now, torture is banned because of President Obama's executive order. It's time for Congress to pass a law banning torture, by all agencies, so that a future president can never revoke the ban." It goes on to explain:

"We live in a dangerous world. But when CIA operatives and contractors torture terrorist suspects, it doesn't make us safer -- and it doesn't work. The recent CIA torture report made that abundantly clear. Right now, the federal law that bans torture only applies to the U.S. military -- not our intelligence agencies. President Obama's executive order barring all agencies from using torture could be reversed, even in secret, by a future president. That's why it's critical that Congress act swiftly to pass a law barring all agencies of the U.S. government, and contractors acting on our behalf, from engaging in torture. Without legislation, the door on torture is still open. It's time for Congress to slam that door shut once and for all."

Why in the world would anybody object to this unless they supported torture? Well, let me explain.

Torture and complicity in torture were felonies under U.S. law before George W. Bush moved into the White House, under both the torture statute and the war crimes statute. Nothing has fundamentally changed about that, other than the blatant lack of enforcement for several years running. Nothing in those two sections of the U.S. code limits the law to members of the U.S. military or excludes employees or contractors or subcontractors of so-called intelligence agencies. I emailed a dozen legal experts about that claim in the above petition. Michael Ratner replied "I don’t see where they get that from." Kevin Zeese said simply "They're wrong." If anyone replies to me with any explanation, I'll post it as an update at the top of this article on davidswanson.org -- where I can be contacted if you have an explanation.

For the past several years, the U.S. Congress, White House, Justice Department, and media have gone out of their way to ignore the existence of U.S. laws banning torture. When silence hasn't worked, the primary technique has been proposing over and over and over again to ban torture, as if it were not already banned. In fact, Congress has followed through and banned it a number of times, and done so with new exceptions that by some interpretations have in fact weakened the war crimes statute. This is my best guess where the nonsense about applying only to "intelligence agencies" comes from: laws like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that claimed to pick and choose which types of torture to ban for whom.

When President Obama took President Bush's place he produced an executive order purporting to ban torture (again), even while publicly telling the Justice Department not to enforce any existing laws. But an executive order, as Wyden seems to recognize, is not a law. Neither can it ban torture, nor can it give legal weight to the pretense that torture wasn't already banned. In fact the order itself states: "Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441 . . . ."

Senator Wyden says he will introduce yet another bill to "ban torture." Here's how the Washington Post is spinning, and explaining, that:

"Torture is already illegal, but Wyden notes that protections can be strengthened. To oversimplify, the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, in which participating states agreed to outlaw intentionally inflicting severe pain for specific purposes. The Bush administration obviously found a (supposedly) legal route around that."

In other words, because it was done by a president, it was legal -- the worldview of the Post's old buddy Richard Nixon.

"After the Abu Graib revelations, John McCain helped pass a 2005 amendment that would restrict the military from using specific brutal interrogation tactics — those not in the Army Field Manual. (This didn’t preclude intel services from using these techniques, which might explain why CIA director John Brennan felt free to say the other day that future policymakers might revert to using them). In 2008, Congress passed a measure specifically applying those restrictions to intelligence services, too, but then-President Bush vetoed it. Senator Wyden would revive a version of that 2008 bill as a starting point, with the goal of codifying in law President Obama's executive order banning the use of those specific techniques for all government employees, those in intelligence services included."

But let's back up a minute. When a president violates a law, that president -- at least once out of office -- should be prosecuted for violating the law. The law can't be declared void because it was violated. Loopholes can't be created for the CIA. Reliance on the Army Field Manual can't sneak into law the loopholes built into that document. Presidents can't order and un-order things illegal. Here's how the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson responded to the release of the Senate's report summary:

"The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the U.S. Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability. International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the U.S. Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes. As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes."

Now, one could try to spin the endless re-banning of torture as part of the process of enforcing an international treaty that under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But banning a practice going forward, even when you ban it better, or ban it more emphatically for the 8th time, does absolutely nothing to fulfill the legal obligation to prosecute those crimes already committed. And here we are dealing with crimes openly confessed to by past officials who assert that they would "do it again" -- crimes that resulted in deaths, thus eliminating any attempt at an argument that statutes of limitations have run out.

Here's a different sort of petition that we've set up at RootsAction.org along with Witness Against Torture and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee: " We call on President Obama to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce our laws, and to immediately appoint a special prosecutor. As torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, we call on any willing court system in the world to enforce our laws if our own courts will not do so."

The purpose of such a petition is not vengeance or partisanship or a fetish with history. The purpose is to end torture, which is not done by looking forward or even by pardoning the crimes, as the ACLU has proposed -- to its credit recognizing that the crimes exist. That should be a first step for anyone confused by the endless drumbeat to "ban torture."

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'I Can't Breathe'

I’m white.
But I can’t breathe.
I’m suffocating.
Maybe I’m dying.
 

I tried to run
But I got caught
Thinking terrible thoughts about my twisted country.
Dangerous and dark thoughts,
Like a German might have thought
When the Nazi’s were beating up Jews.
And the zeitgeist was shouting at me to stop.
Don’t shoot! I shouted,...


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