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

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

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

Total run time: 29:00

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

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

By Dave Lindorff

 

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

Washington Post Erases History With Cuba

The Washington Post says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrorism: Ultimate Weapon of the Global Elite

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

Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 17, 2015

 

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


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


OSCE says Ukraine rebels turn back monitors from Debaltseve - Reuters


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


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


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


VIDEO: Ukraine separatists shell Debaltseve - Conflict Reporter on Twitter


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

 

Fighting In Shirokino, Near Mariupol - Interpreter_Mag

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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


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


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


Putin meets Security Council to discuss Ukraine - uatoday.tv


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

 

Russian Navy Holds Live Fire Exercise in Mediterranean - Sputnik International

 

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

 

Ukraine crisis: What is Novorossiya role? - BBC News

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

By Linn Washington, Jr.


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

Libya News - Feb 16, 2015

 

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


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


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


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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


Libya Warns of Oil Shutdown as Attacks Escalate - Bloomberg Business


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Its Base - NYTimes.com

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sunday show wrap-up: Islamic State dominates - TheHill

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

By Dave Lindorff

 

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

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

By Dave Lindorff

 

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

Cuba: Land of Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another TSA agent charged with child sex abuse

 

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


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


Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 13, 2015


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


Key points of new Ukraine peace plan - Yahoo News


Full text of the Minsk agreement on Ukraine crisis - Telegraph


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


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


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


Full text: Poroshenko on the ceasefire agreement - PRAGUE POST


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

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


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


Vladimir Putin's statement on Debaltseve - President of Russia


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


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


Lethal Arms Are Not What Ukraine Needs - NYTimes.com


Latest News from the Battles for Debaltseve - Censor.NET


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


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

 

Ukraine Offers Battlefield Bonuses to Rally Troops - Bloomberg Business

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Ukraine is heading for a total economic collapse - Quartz

 

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

Cuba Through the Looking Glass

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

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

Are you guessing?

Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Dave Lindorff


Finally some good news for a change!

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

Cuba Is Our Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cuba Is Good for Your Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cuba Uncensored

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cuba Is Hot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's to Cuba!

Ukraine/Russia News - Feb 10, 2015

 

Obama says arming Ukraine on the table if diplomacy with Russia fails, he has not yet decided whether to approve such a plan  - Fox News


Democrats Are Now Pushing Obama to Give Guns to Ukraine - The Daily Beast


Kerry Tells Lawmakers He's for Arming Ukraine - Bloomberg View


Senators launch Ukraine Caucus - TheHill


Senator John McCain statement on remarks by President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Ukraine - mccain.senate.gov


VIDEO: Obama, Merkel hint at disagreements on Ukraine - usatoday.com


VIDEO: President Obama and Chancellor Merkel Full Press Conference - whitehouse.gov


TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel in Joint Press Conference - The White House

 

German Defense Minister Says Giving Arms To Ukraine Would Be 'Catalyst' For War - ibtimes.com

 

UK not to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine: foreign secretary - TASS

 

Spanish foreign minister warns against weapons for Ukraine - TASS

 

Le Pen Denounces Ukraine's 'War Crimes,' Calls for Dialogue With Russia - Sputnik International

 

Poland ready to back a US move to arm Ukraine - FT.com

 

Arming Ukraine is a ''Logical Move,'' Says Lithuania Minister - NASDAQ.com

 

Fico: Slovakia ready to supply more gas to Ukraine, but no arms - The Slovak Spectator

 

China opposes US plans to supply arms to Ukraine: Foreign Ministry - TASS

 

Why Arming Kiev Is a Really, Really Bad Idea - Foreign Policy

 

Don't arm Ukraine, Russia is seeking to defend a vital strategic interest - NYTimes.com

 

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Russia's Putin says Kiev on 'dead-end track fraught with catastrophe' in east Ukraine - Reuters


Putin says Ukrainians have to agree among selves to end crisis, Kiev must hold dialogue with Donbas separatists to end conflict - Yahoo News


Putin will not accept ultimatums over Ukraine, Renews blame on West - AFP


Excerpts of Putin Interview to Al-Ahram daily - TASS


Putin Full Interview to Al-Ahram daily - kremlin.ru


POLL: Anti-American Attitude of Russians 'Worst It Has Been in 25 Years': Levada Center - Interpreter_Mag


CHART: Anti-Americanism is exploding in Russia - Vox


EU delays sanctions by a week to support Ukraine peace talks - Reuters


Donetsk militia assume full control over the village of Logvinovo, block strategic highway near embattled Debaltseve - TASS

 

City of Debaltseve emerges as a tipping point in Ukraine’s war - FT.com

 

Desperation and Destruction in Contested Ukraine City Debaltseve - NYTimes.com

 

VIDEO (short version): Bloody aftermath of DPR’s battle for Logvinovo town on vital road to Debaltseve - LiveLeak.com

 

VIDEO (Eng subs, long version): Combat footage: separatists take Logvinovo locking the Debaltseve "cauldron” - LiveLeak.com

 

VIDEO: Rebels send more heavy weapons to front line in Debaltseve - LiveLeak.com

 

The worst case – The pocket of Debaltseve closes, trapping thousands of Ukrainian troops - Conflict Report

 

Separatists: Kiev Orders to Mine Entire Rail Infrastructure in Debaltseve - Sputnik

 

Ukraine releases names of Russian soldiers killed in Debaltseve - EUROMAIDAN PRESS

 

Soldiers' Mother Head in Prikumya Charged with Fraud; Raised Cases of Russian Soldiers Killed in Ukraine - Interpreter_Mag

 

VIDEO: Absolutely MASSIVE explosion rocking a Donetsk chemical plant, mistaken by locals for NUCLEAR blast - YouTube

 

The Claim Donbass Rebels Are after Crimea Land Bridge Is Absurd - Russia Insider

 

Ukraine Passes Law Allowing Military to Shoot Deserters - Newsweek

 

Newsweek article on Ukrainian deserters falls prey to Russian propaganda - Examiner.com

 

Ukrainian reporter Ruslan Kotsaba ‘charged with high treason’ after calls to dodge draft (VIDEO) - RT News

 

Transcript of Court Ruling against Ruslan Kotsaba, Ukraine Anti War Journo - mondbasis.com

 

VIDEO: Another local protest against mobilization in Ukraine. This time in Velikaya Znamenka, Zaporozhie Oblast - Military Studies on Twitter

 

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Donors plan Ukraine conference in April to raise $15 billion - Yahoo News


Ukraine calls parliament to discuss budget changes for IMF deal - Reuters


Ukraine Bailout: What Will It Take to Dodge Default in Wartime? - Bloomberg Business

 

Ukraine's Economy Is Collapsing And The West Doesn't Seem To Care - forbes.com

 

Hryvnia official rate again hits new historic low - almost UAH 25 to dollar - UNIAN news

 

Gas transit via Ukraine in 2014 down 27.8%, import by 30.4% - TASS

 

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

Will the U.S. Government Stand Alone in Rejecting Children's Rights?

Within a matter of months, the U.S. government seems likely to become the only nation in the world still rejecting the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Sometimes called “the most ratified human rights treaty in history,” the Convention has been ratified by 195 nations, leaving the United States and South Sudan as the only holdouts.  South Sudan is expected to move forward with ratification later this year.  But there is no indication that the United States will approve this children’s defense treaty.

Facing Felony Charges, Rick Perry Joins Board of Pipeline Company Proposing Pipeline Across Iowa

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Additional Reporting by David Goodner

Former Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry has joined the board of directors at Energy Transfer Partners, a natural gas and propane company headquartered in Dallas, Texas that has proposed to build a controversial Bakken crude oil pipeline across Iowa.

Obama the war president -- War: Where 69¢ of Each Tax Dollar Goes

By Dave Lindorff

 

         The Nobel Peace Laureate President Barack Obama, the guy who once campaigned claiming one US war -- the one against Iraq -- was a “bad” one, and the other -- against Afghanistan -- was a “good” one, turns out to be a man who, once anointed commander-in-chief, can’t seem to find a war he doesn’t consider to be a “good” idea.

The Key That Is the Saudi Kingdom

Was the United States compelled to attack Afghanistan and Iraq by the events of September 11, 2001?

A key to answering that rather enormous question may lie in the secrets that the U.S. government is keeping about Saudi Arabia.

Some have long claimed that what looked like a crime on 9/11 was actually an act of war necessitating the response that has brought violence to an entire region and to this day has U.S. troops killing and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Could diplomacy and the rule of law have been used instead? Could suspects have been brought to trial? Could terrorism have been reduced rather than increased? The argument for those possibilities is strengthened by the fact that the United States has not chosen to attack Saudi Arabia, whose government is probably the region's leading beheader and leading funder of violence.

But what does Saudi Arabia have to do with 9/11? Well, every account of the hijackers has most of them as Saudi. And there are 28 pages of a 9/11 Commission report that President George W. Bush ordered classified 13 years ago.

Senate Intelligence Committee former chair Bob Graham calls Saudi Arabia "a co-conspirator in 911," and insists that the 28 pages back up that claim and should be made public.

Philip Zelikow, chair of the 9/11 Commission, has noted the "likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda."

Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al Qaeda member, has claimed that prominent members of Saudi Arabia's royal family were major donors to al Qaeda in the late 1990s and that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One using a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Al Qaeda donors, according to Moussaoui, included Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many of the country's leading clerics.

Bombing and invading Iraq has been a horrible policy. Supporting and arming Saudi Arabia is a horrible policy. Confirming Saudi Arabia's role in funding al Qaeda should not become an excuse to bomb Saudi Arabia (of which there's no danger) or for bigotry against Americans of Saudi origin (for which there's no justification).

Rather, confirming that the Saudi government allowed and quite possibly participated in funneling money to al Qaeda should wake everyone up to the fact that wars are optional, not necessary. It might also help us question Saudi pressure on the U.S. government to attack new places: Syria and Iran. And it might increase support for cutting off the flow of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia -- a government that takes no second place to ISIS in brutality.

I've often heard that if we could prove that there weren't really any hijackers on 9/11 all support for wars would vanish. One of many hurdles I'm unable to leap to arrive at that position is this one: Why would you invent hijackers to justify a war on Iraq but make the hijackers almost all be Saudi?

However, I think there's a variation that works. If you could prove that Saudi Arabia had more to do with 9/11 than Afghanistan (which had very little to do with it) or Iraq (which had nothing to do with it), then you could point out the U.S. government's incredible but very real restraint as it chooses peace with Saudi Arabia. Then a fundamental point would become obvious: War is not something the U.S. government is forced into, but something it chooses.

That's the key, because if it can choose war with Iran or Syria or Russia, it can also choose peace.

FCC Chair Proposes Net Neutrality Protection: Wheeler's Moment of Clarity

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed Wednesday new FCC rules that would protect and preserve the Internet's Net Neutrality.

Ukraine News - Feb 5, 2015

 

Obama Pentagon nominee Carter says he would “very much incline" toward arming Ukraine - Yahoo News


White House may disagree with Carter on arms to Ukraine - Washington Times


White House: Supplying Ukraine to rival Russia’s weapons ‘unrealistic’ - Worldbulletin News


Lawmakers push Obama to send military aid to Ukraine - The Columbus Dispatch


Text of the Letter to President Obama by Senators Urging Military Assistance To Ukraine - BuzzFeed News


France not planning to deliver lethal weapons to Ukraine: defence minister - Reuters


Poland cool on Ukraine military aid (VIDEO) - euronews


Critics say sending arms to Kiev would be big gamble for U.S. - Reuters

 

Opinion: What the Flournoy and Friends' Plan To Arm Ukraine's Army Fails To Take Into Account - Defense One

 

Opinion: Why Arming the Ukrainians is a Bad Idea - Brookings Institution

 

Russians present in Ukraine in specialist roles: U.S. envoy - Reuters

 

NATO: Russia has deployed modern missiles in Donbas - Censor.NET

 

Kremlin pursues military modernization despite economic woes - AP

 

Tracking the Weapons Used to Fight Ukraine's War - NYTimes.com

 

US State Department: Russia and militants to blame for conflict in Donbas - UNIAN news

 

Volunteer Now! Russia Makes It Easy To Fight In Ukraine - rferl.org

 

Russia frees woman accused of treason over Ukraine: husband - Reuters

 

POLL: 82% of Crimeans support annexation - UNIAN news

 

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Advancing Ukraine rebels appear to capture frontline town - Reuters


Ukraine crisis: Deadly shelling hits rebel stronghold of Donetsk - CBS News


VIDEO: Aftermath of shelling of Donetsk hospital. Casualties - Military Studies on Twitter


Ukraine says lost five more soldiers in the east in past 24 hours - Reuters


Here is the updated Ukraine army death toll list - marqs on Twitter


OSCE confirms Luhansk was shelled with cluster munitions - TASS

 

Ukrainian Military Claims Destruction Of Enemy Tanks Outside Debaltsevo - Interpreter_Mag

 

VIDEO: Tank battle between Russian backed forces & Ukraine caught on film near Debaltseve - Military Studies on Twitter

 

Luhansk Carries Out First Air Attack Against Kiev-Led Forces - Sputnik International

 

Ukraine to Call Up Women Over 20 for Armed Forces - newsweek.com

 

Hacked Documents Reveal Ukrainian Military in Dire Conditions - Global Research

 

Ukraine will not be a federation but will remain a unitary state: Poroshenko - TASS

 

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Ukraine calls for further military and financial support - The Guardian


IMF Said to Seek Limit to Ukraine Bailout Share as War Escalates - Bloomberg Business


Ukraine's new bail-out: Nothing yet - The Economist


Collapsing economy is second front in Ukraine's war - usatoday.com


Chinese rating agency Dagong doubts Ukraine can repay debt using internal resources - TASS

 

Hryvnia official rate again hits new historic low of UAH 16.72 to dollar - UNIAN news

 

Putin says Ukraine needs to repay a $3 billion loan because Russia needs the money to fight its financial crisis - Business Insider India

 

Bread prices in Ukraine to go up by 14% in February - TASS

 

Welcome to the most corrupt nation in Europe - The Guardian

 

EU Pressured Kiev to Sign Association Deal, Ukrainian Ex-PM Says - Sputnik International

 

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

Addiction Is Not Addictive

Whether someone becomes addicted to drugs has much more to do with their childhood and their quality of life than with the drug they use or with anything in their genes. This is one of the more startling of the many revelations in the best book I've read yet this year: Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari.

We've all been handed a myth. The myth goes like this: Certain drugs are so powerful that if you use them enough they will take over. They will drive you to continue using them. It turns out this is mostly false. Only 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers can stop smoking using a nicotine patch that provides the same drug. Of people who have tried crack in their lives, only 3 percent have used it in the past month and only 20 percent were ever addicted. U.S. hospitals prescribe extremely powerful opiates for pain every day, and often for long periods of time, without producing addiction. When Vancouver blocked all heroin from entering the city so successfully that the "heroin" being sold had zero actual heroin in it, the addicts' behavior didn't change. Some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were addicted to heroin, leading to terror among those anticipating their return home; but when they got home 95 percent of them within a year simply stopped. (So did the Vietnamese water buffalo population, which had started eating opium during the war.) The others soldiers had been addicts before they went and/or shared the trait most common to all addicts, including gambling addicts: an unstable or traumatic childhood.

Most people (90 percent according to the U.N.) who use drugs never get addicted, no matter what the drug, and most who do get addicted can lead normal lives if the drug is available to them; and if the drug is available to them, they will gradually stop using it.

But, wait just a minute. Scientists have proven that drugs are addictive, haven't they?

Well, a rat in a cage with absolutely nothing else in its life will choose to consume huge quantities of drugs. So if you can make your life resemble that of a rat in a cage, the scientists will be vindicated. But if you give a rat a natural place to live with other rats to do happy things with, the rat will ignore a tempting pile of "addictive" drugs.

And so will you. And so will most people. Or you'll use it in moderation. Before the War on Drugs began in 1914 (a U.S. substitute for World War I?), people bought bottles of morphine syrup, and wine and soft drinks laced with cocaine. Most never got addicted, and three-quarters of addicts held steady respectable jobs.

Is there a lesson here about not trusting scientists? Should we throw out all evidence of climate chaos? Should we dump all our vaccines into Boston Harbor? Actually, no. There's a lesson here as old as history: follow the money. Drug research is funded by a federal government that censors its own reports when they come to the same conclusions as Chasing the Scream, a government that funds only research that leaves its myths in place. Climate deniers and vaccine deniers should be listened to. We should always have open minds. But thus far they don't seem to be pushing better science that can't find funding. Rather, they're trying to replace current beliefs with beliefs that have less basis behind them. Reforming our thinking on addiction actually requires looking at the evidence being produced by dissident scientists and reformist governments, and it's pretty overwhelming.

So where does this leave our attitudes toward addicts? First we were supposed to condemn them. Then we were supposed to excuse them for having a bad gene. Now we're supposed to feel sorry for them because they have horrors they cannot face, and in most cases have had them since childhood? There's a tendency to view the "gene" explanation as the solider excuse. If 100 people drink alcohol and one of them has a gene that makes him unable to ever stop, it's hard to blame him for that. How could he have known? But what about this situation: Of 100 people, one of them has been suffering in agony for years, in part as a result of never having experienced love as a baby. That one person later becomes addicted to a drug, but that addiction is only a symptom of the real problem. Now, of course, it is utterly perverse to be inquiring into someone's brain chemistry or background before we determine whether or not to show them compassion. But I have a bit of compassion even for people who cannot resist such nonsense, and so I appeal to them now: Shouldn't we be kind to people who suffer from childhood trauma? Especially when prison makes their problem worse?

But what if we were to carry this beyond addiction to other undesirable behaviors? There are other books presenting similarly strong cases that violence, including sexual violence, and including suicide, have in very large part similar origins to those Hari finds for addiction. Of course violence must be prevented, not indulged. But it can best be reduced by improving people's lives, especially their young lives but importantly also their current lives. Bit by bit, as we have stopped discarding people of various races, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities as worthless, as we begin to accept that addiction is a temporary and non-threatening behavior rather than the permanent state of a lesser creature known as "the addict," we may move on to discarding other theories of permanence and genetic determination, including those related to violent criminals. Someday we may even outgrow the idea that war or greed or the automobile is the inevitable outcome of our genes.

Somehow blaming everything on drugs, just like taking drugs, seems much easier.

Watch Johann Hari on Democracy Now.

He'll soon be on Talk Nation Radio, so send me questions I should ask him, but read the book first.

Syria/Iraq News - Feb 4, 2015

 

Jordanian Pilot Al-Kaseasbeh Purportedly Burned Alive In New Islamic State Video - ibtimes.com


PHOTOS: Jordanian pilot al-Kaseasbeh burning live in a cage - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Full 22 Minute Islamic State Video of Jordanian Pilot Al-Kaseasbeh Burned Alive - vidme


A rush summary of the 22-minute IS video titled "Healing the Believers’ Chests” - insidethejihad.com


New issue of IS magazine Dabiq includes interview with Jordanian pilot at page 34, (link to the full magazine) - Harald Doornbos on Twitter


Jordan confirms grisly death of pilot held by Islamic State - Toronto Star


Jordan to execute Iraqi after Islamic State claims to have killed pilot - The Globe and Mail


VIDEO: Obama comment on the death of the Jordanian pilot held by Islamic State - YouTube


US special forces 'deployed from helicopters' into IS capital in vain attempt to rescue Jordanian pilot: Report - 9news.com.au

 

After death of Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, U.S. announces $1B plan for aid increase to Jordan - Washington Times

 

Muath al-Kaseasbeh: Live updates after Jordanian pilot 'burned alive by Islamic State' - Mirror Online

 

VIDEO: Islamic State Beheads Japanese Journalist Kenji Goto - LeakSource

 

ISIS throws man off tower block for 'being gay' then stone him when he SURVIVED the fall - Daily Mail Online

 

VIDEO: ISIS throw man off building for being gay, crowd stones him to death - YouTube

 

Syria 'adultress' survives jihadist stoning: monitor - Yahoo News

 

Islamic State distributing video game that allows players to play role of an Islamist and kill Westerners - Daily Mail Online

 

Islamic State fighters ransack Mosul’s historic libraries, burn books - THE DAILY STAR

 

UNESCO deplores ‘cultural cleansing’ of Iraq as armed extremists ransack Mosul libraries - United Nations News Centre

 

WFP alarmed by pictures of Islamic State logos on its Syria food parcels - Reuters

 

PHOTOS: IS Rebranding Stolen UN Food Rations with Its Own Logo - MUNCHIES

 

IS Opens Market for Spoils Stolen from Christians in Mosul - Breitbart

 

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

Islamic State in disarray, retreating from Kobane villages without resistance - Rudaw


VIDEO: Kurdish fighters celebrate victory over Isis in Kobani with traditional dance through streets - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk


Obama team: Success against Islamic State in Kobani, The battle seen as a test of whether the airstrikes could halt the terrorists - usatoday.com


Allied airstrikes continue to target Islamic State near Kobani: statement - Reuters


Islamic State admits defeat in Kobani; blames airstrikes - usatoday.com


VIDEO: Islamic State fighters: Airstrikes behind Kobani withdrawal - CNN Video


VIDEO: Kobane: Islamic State 'apocalypse' - BBC


ISIS Raqqa 'Governor' Allegedly Executed, Prompting Wave Of Arrests For Defection - ibtimes.com

 

ISIS al-Hisba Head Flees Raqqa After Failed Coup; Islamic State Executes Co-Conspirators - ibtimes.co.in

 

Islamic State Egyptian treasurer 'steals Zakat funds' and flees to Turkey - ibtimes.co.uk

 

ISIS getting 'desperate,' struggling to replenish fighters - CBC News

 

Disillusioned Islamic State recruits discover that it is a lot harder to leave than to join, The Syrian Observatory says the group has killed 120 of its own members in the past six months - Yahoo News

 

Hackers posing as beautiful women sent 'selfies' to Syrian rebels on Skype... and stole battle plans with hidden viruses - Daily Mail Online

 

Kurdish fighters in Iraq struggle to hold gains against IS - Yahoo News

 

Peshmerga forces report more gains against ISIS in Kirkuk and Mosul - ARA News

 

Islamic State chemical weapons expert trained under Saddam killed in airstrike near Mosul - Daily Mail Online

 

VIDEO: Kurdish peshmerga take on Islamic State near Kirkuk - usatoday.com

 

Kurdish forces free oil workers at Kirkuk crude station: officials - Reuters

 

Another Yazidi mass grave allegedly found near Sinjar, The bodies of 20 Kurdish Yazidi children, youths and seniors discovered - BasNews

 

The Hague to investigate Kurdish Yazidi genocide, International Criminal Court (ICC) expected to announce a decision soon - BasNews

 

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

Dear, Dear: Dave Petraeus

A Pointed Letter to Gen. Petraeus

February 3, 2015

Editor Note:  As retired Gen. and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus was about to speak in New York City last Oct. 30, someone decided to spare the “great man” from impertinent questions, so ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern was barred, arrested and brought to trial, prompting McGovern to ask some questions now in an open letter.

Dear Gen. David Petraeus,

As I prepare to appear in New York City Criminal Court on Wednesday facing chargesof “criminal trespass” and “resisting arrest,” it struck me that we have something in common besides being former Army officers – and the fact that the charges against me resulted from my trying to attend a speech that you were giving, from which I was barred. As I understand it, you, too, may have to defend yourself in Court someday in the future.

You might call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one who believes there may be some substance to reports last month that Justice Department prosecutors are pressing to indict you for mishandlingclassified information by giving it to Paula Broadwell, your mistress/biographer.

https://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/petraeus-broadwell.jpg?628527

Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. (U.S. government photo)

No doubt, whatever indiscretions were involved there seemed minor at the time, but unauthorized leaks of this sort — to casual acquaintances — were strongly discouraged in the Army in which I served five decades ago. Remember the old saying: “Loose lips sink ships.” There were also rules in the Universal Code of Military Justice for punishing a married soldier who took up with a mistress, an offense for which many a trooper spent time in the brig.

Yet, I don’t imagine there is much sweat on your brow regarding legal consequences for either offense. And you may be correct in assuming that, just as the Army looked the other way about the mistress indiscretion, our timorous Attorney General Eric Holder or his successor will likely do the same on any disclosure of classified information. Some influential members of Congress and various Washington talking heads have already opined that you have suffered enough.

Still, I find myself wondering if it does not bother you to be assigned to the comfortable, “don’t-look-back” compartment for excusing one class of violators, including CIA torturers and reckless investment bankers who were “too big (or well-connected) to jail.” I still want to hold out hope for even-handed, blind justice rather than give up completely on the system of justice in our country.

You may not be surprised to know that, try as I might to feel some empathy for you, Schadenfreude at your misfortune is winning out, since I am convinced that you had a lot to do with other far-more-serious offenses, including aiding and abetting illegal “aggressive war.” And, I suspect you also many have aided and abetted the circumstances that gave rise to the bizarre charges against me.

I refer, of course, to my violent arrest, causing pain of my fractured shoulder, and my jailing in The Tombs, simply because I wanted to hear you speak last fall at New York’s 92nd Street Y and possibly pose a question from the audience.

Why the Police Alert?

No doubt, your acolytes/adjutants have told you how, despite my ticket for admittance, I was denied entry, brutally arrested by the NYPD, handcuffed behind my back, jailed overnight and arraigned the following day. I’m still trying to figure it all out – including the enigma as to how it became known that I was coming.

“You’re not welcome here, Ray,” was the greeting I got from Y security as I came in the outer door. The NYPD was prepositioned and ready to pounce.

Were you, your entourage and the Y authorities afraid that during the Q & A I might ask an “impertinent” question of the kind I posedto your patron, promoter and protector, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, during a Q & A after he spoke in Atlanta six-plus years ago?

Speaking of Rumsfeld, you and I know him as your partner in some very serious crimes, relating to the illegal invasion of Iraq and the horrific violence that followed as well as the slaughter of so many innocent people in Afghanistan. For over a decade, I have closely observed your behavior and consider it nothing short of a media miracle that most Americans believe your worst sin to be that of adultery.

Since denial can be a very strong motivation, let me refresh your memory and remind you of the bad companions you fell in with. I am reminded of the egregious ways in which you did Rumsfeld’s bidding – winning promotions and richly undeserved fame by condoning the unspeakable – torture, for example.

Your third star came when you were dispatched to Iraq in June 2004, committed to carrying out Rumsfeld’s instructions to encourage Shia-on-Sunni torture and other human rights crimes. The all-too-predictable chickens are now coming home to roost from that unconscionably stupid attempt to defeat Sunni opponents of the U.S. occupation through such ignoble means – those chickens being what we now call ISIL or ISIS or simply the Islamic State.

What amazes me is that the Teflon is still clinging to you and Rumsfeld, given the bedlam in that entire area today. You’re not even held to account for the performance of the tens of thousands of the Iraqi troops that you crowed about having trained and equipped so well. They dropped their weapons and ran away early last year when the ragtag militants of ISIL attacked.

Back in April 2004 when the graphic photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq were revealed, Rumsfeld claimed he was shocked, even though the International Red Cross had been complaining about abuses there for more than a year before the revelations.

The Senate Armed Services Committee eventually concluded without dissent, in a major investigative report on Dec. 11, 2008, that Rumsfeld bore direct responsibility for the abuses committed by interrogators at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other military prisons.

The Committee added that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib “was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own” but grew out of interrogation policies approved by Mr. Rumsfeld and other top officials, who “conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees.”

Four years before the Senate report, in May 2004, Gen. Antonio Taguba came close to revealing precisely that, when he led the Pentagon’s first (and only honest) investigation of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Rumsfeld promptly fired him. Yet, throughout all this scandal and mayhem, you were maneuvering your way up the high-command ladder without any indication that you were objecting to any of this.

Dangerous Orders

Mid-2004 was a significant watershed for torture in another way. Official messages given to WikiLeaks by Pvt. Chelsea (Bradley) Manning show that FRAGO (Fragmentary Order) 242 of June 2004 went into effect the month you arrived in Iraq to oversee its implementation.

The WikiLeaks documents indicate that you followed Rumsfeld’s order to encourage Shiite and Kurdish commandos to torture suspected Sunni militants. Examining those documents as well as your actions at the time, investigative reporter Gareth Porter saw that as the deeper significanceof FRAGO 242 – significance somehow missed by your ardent admirers in the “mainstream media.”

Porter, too, believes it was part of the larger Rumsfeld/Petraeus strategy to exploit Shia sectarian hatred of Sunnis in order to suppress the Sunni attacks on U.S. forces. But that strategy had some very negative long-term consequences that we are still encountering.

It inflamed Sunni opposition to the U.S. and its puppet government in Baghdad, and gave rise to the massive sectarian warfare of 2006 in which tens of thousands of civilians – mainly Sunnis but many Shiites as well – were killed. The violence was so widespread that U.S. field generals, such as Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, and sensible experts on the region, such as former Secretary of State James Baker, urged a new strategy late that year, essentially minimizing the American footprint in Iraq.

Instead, President George W. Bush enlisted your help in doubling down on the U.S. military presence in 2007 with the so-called “surge,” lest he be forced to concede defeat in Iraq before leaving office. You agreed and sacrificed the lives of almost 1,000 more American troops to secure what one might call an “indecent interval” that let Bush get out of Dodge without an outright loss hung around his neck.

As the growth of ISIL/ISIS and the chaos in the area today have made clear, your famous “surge” did little more than achieve a temporary lull (after a lot more killing). It failed to achieve its most significant stated purpose – to create space for a political resolution of the Sunni-Shiite civil conflict. It did, however, have one very important benefit. The “surge” got you your fourth star.

On the issue of torture, it seems clear that the straight-arrow Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, did not get the memo for how to rationalize away these disgraceful crimes. For 18 months, he was apparently unaware of FRAGO 242, which became obvious when Pace and Rumsfeld gave widely different answers to a question at a Pentagon press conference on Nov. 29, 2005.

Gen. Peter Pace: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it.

Rumsfeld: But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.

Pace: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, Sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

Needless to say, Pace did not get the usual second term as JCS Chairman.

Selective Prosecution

These grave crimes are the ones for which you should stand trial. Personally, I might even be inclined to give you a pass on your marital infidelity and possibly even on sharing classified information with your mistress, if so many true patriots weren’t being prosecuted and imprisoned for sharing evidence of U.S. government misconduct with the American people.

And there is one other sore point regarding your esteemed career. According to a Washington Post reportby Joshua Partlow, datelined Kabul, Feb. 11, 2011, you shocked aides to then Afghan President Hamid Karzai when you suggested that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their own children in order to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties from U.S. military action in Konar Province.

Partlow quoted two of Karzai’s aides who met with you in a closed-door session at the presidential palace and found your remarks “deeply offensive.” They said you had dismissed allegations by Karzai’s office and the provincial governor that many civilians had been killed and that you claimed that residents of Konar had invented stories, or even injured their children, to pin the blame on U.S. forces as a ruse to end the operation.

“I was dizzy. My head was spinning,” said one participant, referring to Petraeus’s remarks. “This was shocking. Would any father do this to his children? This is really absurd.”

You declined comment at the time. So I will add my own assessment, borrowing a famous line from another dark chapter of American history: “Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Yours truly,

Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an infantry/intelligence officer during the early Sixties, and then served as an analyst and Presidential briefer during a 27-year career with the CIA.

This article appeared first on consortiumnews.com.

 

Two Words... American Snipper

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by Debra Sweet       Well-timed to coincide with the U.S. escalation of war on Yemen (with new drone strikes) and in Iraq & Syria (with U.S. bombing runs the Pentagon now acknowledges are killing civilians) comes the film "American Sniper." Two words could not more concisely convey the hubris, arrogance and brutality of the U.S.

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