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Protests of National Anthem Restore My Faith in Humanity

Speaking out against racism is one thing -- and a wonderful and admirable thing it is -- but choosing to do so by sitting out the U.S. national anthem, and then having others join in, or "come out" as routine national anthem sitters: this is fantastic!

A self-governing republic of thinking people (whose first thought should be "My god, what are we doing to the rest of the planet with all this pollution and all these wars?") ought to have no use for mandatory flag worship, required hand positions, or enforced recitations of pledges of allegiance to colored bits of cloth. Or if only some people outgrow such practices, others ought to leave them alone about it.

The protest thus far is severely limited, of course. The primary reason that it is useful to break down required patriotism rituals is their intimate connection to militarism. Yet many are claiming other motives and swearing their steadfast allegiance to militarism. That's OK. It's still an enormous step, and one that thousands are thanking Colin Kaepernick for taking.

How can you know when you run? (inspired by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: ‘How can you run when you know?)

What are we running from?

Where are we going?

 

My feet hurt, but I don’t have time to rub them

Talk Nation Radio: Maurice Carney and Harvey Wasserman on Racism, Environmentalism, and Ending War

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-maurice-carney-and-harvey-wasserman-on-racism-environmentalism-and-ending-war

Maurice Carney is co-founder and executive director of Friends of the Congo. He has worked with Congolese for two decades in their struggle for peace, justice, and human dignity. Carney served as the interim Africa Working Group coordinator for Jesse Jackson while Jackson was Special Envoy to Africa. Carney has worked as a research analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and as a research consultant for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. He worked with civic associations in West Africa where he trained local leaders in research methodology and survey techniques.

Harvey Wasserman is a life-long activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, history, the drug war, election protection, and grassroots politics. He teaches (since 2004) history and cultural & ethnic diversity at two central Ohio colleges. He works for the permanent shutdown of the nuclear power industry and the birth of Solartopia, a democratic and socially just green-powered Earth free of all fossil and nuclear fuels. He writes for Ecowatch, solartopia.org, freepress.org and nukefree.org, which he edits. He helped found the anti-war Liberation News Service. In 1972 his History of the U.S., introduced by Howard Zinn, helped pave the way for a new generation of people’s histories. In 1973 Harvey coined the phrase “No Nukes” and helped found the global grassroots movement against atomic energy. In 1990 he became Senior Advisor to Greenpeace USA. Harvey’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of U.S. History, which dissects our national story in terms of six cycles, will be published soon at www.solartopia.org.

Carney and Wasserman will be speaking at No War 2016. See http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Hard believe people can write such crap: The Dumbed-Down NY Times Columnist

By Dave Lindorff

 

I was reading the latest smug piece by New York Timescolumnist Timothy Egan, when I came across the most amusing example of being what you're criticizing.

Egan, in a piece titled "The Dumbed Down Democracy," bemoaned the spreading ignorance of the American electorate.

Dakota Access Pipeline Tribal Liaison Formerly Worked For Agency Issuing Permit To Cross Tribal Land

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Standing Rock tribe has filed a lawsuit against the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for using the controversial Nationwide Permit 12 to fast-track authorization of the hotly contested Dakota Access pipeline.

Focus: Turkey Military Intervention in Syria - Aug 29, 2016


Dozens of civilians killed in Syria as Turkey bombs Kurds - Independent.ie


Turkey warns of more strikes if Syrian Kurds don’t withdraw east of the Euphrates River 'immediately' - AP


Turkey says aims to prevent Kurdish militia corridor in Syria - almasdarnews.com


SDF forces won’t withdraw from western Euphrates: official - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Turkey-backed Syrian rebels gain control of 21 villages - Latin American Herald Tribune


ISIS launch offensive against SDF south of Manbij capturing al-Kadro and Tell Hawthan - Map of Syrian Civil war


ISIS targets YPG with suicide bomb near Manbij, Syria - almasdarnews.com


PHOTO: ISIS commander has joined Turkish backed Jihadis/FSA to attack on SDF in Jarablus - curdistani on Twitter


SDF retreated from all this locations: Red - EupheratesShield vs SDF, Black - ISIS vs SDF - Aleppo24 on Twitter

 

50 Turkish tanks in Syrian city of Jarablus: Head of Kurdish group - AhlulBayt News Agency


Turkish-backed 'Syrian Interim Government' moving to Jarabulus: Reports - southfront.org


Turkey-backed Syrian rebels aim for Manbij city, commander says - Reuters


Syrian Kurdish spokesman says Manbij reinforced, but not by YPG - Reuters


VIDEO: FSA abusing and beating YPG fighters, including child soldiers - Rudaw

 

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US urges halt to Turkish, Kurdish clashes in northern Syria - The New York Times


Turkish push complicates front against Islamic State: White House - Reuters


France, Germany warn Turkey against attacks on Syrian Kurds - NRT English


Turkish leader Erdogan vows to pursue Syria offensive, ignoring US rebuke - Sky News


No one has right to tell us who we can fight: Turkey’s minister for European Union affairs - Reuters


US should force PYD to step back in Syria: Turkey gov’t - hurriyetdailynews.com


Erdogan calls Putin as Russia seethes at Turkey’s Syrian incursion - The Vineyard of the Saker


Damascus armed PYD to prevent foreign incursion, claims Syrian MP - Rudaw


Turkish intervention in Syria may complicate Raqqa operation: US analysts - KurdishQuestion.com

 

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

 

Tomgram: Arlie Hochschild, Trumping Environmentalism

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Arms Dealing Is Subject of Hollywood Comedy



I recall five years ago listening to an arms dealer on NPR respond to a question of what he would do if the war on Afghanistan were actually ended. He said he hoped there could be a big long war in Libya. And he laughed. And the "journalist" laughed. It was arms dealing as comedy.

The new Hollywood movie War Dogs is a comic biopic or a biographical crime war comedy-drama film but always described as some sort of comedy. The image above is of an ad for the film that one hopes is intended as funny, because otherwise it would be even worse than it is. The website it points you to purports to be an introduction to how you, too, can get stinking rich as a war profiteer. Then it shows youtube trailers of the movie, which appears to be all about sex, music, violence, punchlines, and arms dealing.

If you watch the movie itself, it starts out denouncing war as having nothing to do with what the propaganda suggests, as being all about weapons profiteering. But the rest of the movie shows almost nothing of war. Never is a single victim of all the weaponry that is bought and sold shown or even mentioned. Instead, we're given a version of The Big Short or The Wolf of Wall Street where the particular financial scam is selling weapons rather than repackaging mortgages.

Perhaps the early scenes of the movie touch momentarily on the hypocrisy of profiteering on war while denying even to oneself that one supports the wars. But these scenes also depict a society in which the only way a young person can earn a decent living is by selling weapons. It's a familiar tale from stories of drug dealing as the only route to significant wealth. But here the drug is weaponry, and the addict is the U.S. government.

And it's true that the (based on a true) story depicted in the film ends up in disaster. But we never see the slightest hint at how arming people to commit mass murder might harm anyone, any more than Wall Street crime movies introduce you to people made homeless by Wall Street scams. The moral lesson of War Dogs seems to be: Abide by proper bureaucratic procedures, buy the instruments of death from approved nations, maintain propriety and transparency in death dealing, and you'll get only slightly less stinking rich than these clowns did.

The cultural lesson, especially of the advertising, seems to be that joking about war profiteering is funny, cool, and edgy. Joking about cruelty to non-human animals would not be so acceptable in movie promotions. The industry of mass murder for human beings has become background noise in the era of permawar. All jokes about it will be labeled ironic, but the fact that it is an acceptable topic for joking says something very troubling about our culture.

Focus: Clinton Foundation and Trump's Tax Returns - Aug 28, 2016


Clinton Foundation official requests State Dept lunch invitation, special seating for foundation donors, emails show - ABC News


VIDEO: New emails show coordination between Clinton Foundation and State Department - ABC News


Clinton allies play defense over Foundation accusations - CNNPolitics.com


DNC chair Donna Brazile defends Hillary Clinton's meetings with Clinton Foundation donors - CBS News


VIDEO: DNC chair Brazile totally dodges questions about links between State Department, Clinton Foundation - ABC News


VIDEO: 'She sold out our country': Giuliani rips Hillary for alleged ‘pay-to-play' - Fox News


VIDEO: Trump campaign manager Conway hits Clinton over 'revolving door' at State Department - Fox News


US: Clinton calendars won't be released until after election - AP


Trump, GOP calls on Clinton to have full State Dept schedule released before Election Day - Fox News


Statement: Rigged: State Department hides Clinton's schedule - Donald J Trump for President


Seven ways the Clinton Foundation failed to meet its transparency promises - The Hill


New Yorker writer slams ‘creepy vibe' at Clinton Foundation events (PODCAST) - newsbusters.org


VIDEO: Sidney Blumenthal's role at the Clinton Foundation - Fox News


Look to the Netherlands for Clinton Foundation’s ongoing source of cash - canadafreepress.com


The Dutch government, the Clinton Foundation and the postcode lottery - Mathijs Koenraadt

 

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POLL: Republican and Democratic politicians, office holders, lobbyists and activists say Trump should release his tax returns - utahpolicy.com


CPAs Calling for Trump to Release tax returns and financial history: 'It's critical to uncover Trump's potential conflicts of interest' - NBC Bay Area


Plouffe: Potential conflicts of interest posed by Trump’s refusal to release tax returns are more worrisome than Clinton Foundation - The Hill


VIDEO: Full Interview: David Plouffe talks Clinton Foundation, Donald Trump - NBC News


VIDEO: White House spokesman Josh Earnest suggests Clinton Campaign more transparent than Donald Trump, mentions tax returns - YouTube


MSNBC host Reid: Trump's tax returns are worse than Clinton scandals - The Daily Caller


Silicon Valley investor: IRS should drop audit of Donald Trump - Business Insider


Michael Moore, Bill Maher joke about Trump tax returns - TheHill


This website's now calling for Donald Trump to release his tax returns - Metro News


Lawyers say decision not to release tax returns make sense under normal circumstances, but these aren't normal circumstances: 'Trump is no ordinary client: he is a candidate for president' - TheStreet


Opinion: Put tax returns of all citizens on public view - The Philadelphia Inquirer


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

 

Nonviolent Revolt in the Twenty-First Century

I sometimes wonder whether one of the ways in which 'Amercian exceptionalism' manifests is that many US scholars and others are unable to consider the contributions of those who are not from the USA. For example, I routinely read about studies of Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates (such as strategist James Lawson) in relation to nonviolence while the much more insightful and vastly greater contributions of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the same subject are largely ignored by US scholars (although not, for example, by Professor Mary E. King, one of the best in the field).

Fredric Jameson's War Machine

The total acceptability of militarism extends well beyond the neoconservatives, the racists, the Republicans, the liberal humanitarian warriors, the Democrats, and the masses of political "independents" who find any talk of dismantling the U.S. military scandalous. Fredric Jameson is an otherwise leftist intellectual who's put out a book, edited by Slavoj Zizek, in which he proposes universal conscription into the military for every U.S. resident. In subsequent chapters, other purportedly leftist intellectuals critique Jameson's proposal with hardly a hint of concern at such an expansion of a machine of mass murder. Jameson adds an Epilogue in which he mentions the problem not at all.

What Jameson wants is a vision of Utopia. His book is called An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army. He wants to nationalize banks and insurance companies, seize and presumably shut down fossil fuel operations, impose draconian taxes on large corporations, abolish inheritance, create a guaranteed basic income, abolish NATO, create popular control of the media, ban rightwing propaganda, create universal Wi-Fi, make college free, pay teachers well, make healthcare free, etc.

Sounds great! Where do I sign up?

Jameson's answer is: at the Army recruiting station. To which I reply: go get yourself a different subservient order-taker willing to participate in mass murder.

Ah, but Jameson says his military won't fight any wars. Except for the wars it fights. Or something.

Utopianism is seriously much needed. But this is pathetic desperation. This is a thousand times more desperate than Ralph Nader asking the billionaires to save us. This is Clinton voters. This is Trump voters.

And this is U.S. blindness to the merits of the rest of the world. Few other countries in any way approach the militarized environmental destruction and death generated by the United States. This country lags very far behind in sustainability, peace, education, health, security, and happiness. The first step toward Utopia need not be such a harebrained scheme as a total takeover by the military. The first step should be catching up with places like Scandinavia in the realm of economics, or Costa Rica in the realm of demilitarization -- or indeed realizing full compliance with Japan's Article Nine, as mentioned in Zizek's book. (For how Scandinavia got where it is, read Viking Economics by George Lakey. It had nothing to do with forcing kids, grandparents, and peace advocates into an out of control imperial military.)

In the United States, it is the liberals in Congress who want to impose selective service on women, and who celebrate every new demographic admitted into greater status in the military. The "progressive" vision is now of slightly or radically leftist economics, side by side with a heaping platter of militarized nationalism (to the tune of $1 trillion per year) -- with the very idea of internationalism banished from consideration. The reformist view of the ever expanding American Dream is of the gradual democratization of mass murder. Bombing victims across the world may soon be able to look forward to being bombed by the first female U.S. president. Jameson's proposal is a radical advance in this same direction.

I hesitate to call attention to Jameson's book because it is so bad and this trend so insidious. But, in fact, the bits of his essay and of those critiquing it that address universal conscription, despite its centrality to Jameson's project, are few and far between. They could be contained in a small brochure. The rest of the book is a rambling assortment of observations on everything from psychoanalysis to Marxism to whatever cultural abomination Zizek just stumbled across. Much of this other material is useful or entertaining, but it stands in contrast to the apparently dim-witted acceptance of the inevitability of militarism.

Jameson is adamant that we can reject the inevitability of capitalism, and of just about anything else we see fit. "Human nature" he points out, quite rightly, does not exist. And yet, the notion that the only place where a U.S. government could ever put any serious money is the military is silently accepted for many pages and then explicitly stated as fact: "[A] civilian population -- or its government -- is unlikely to spend the tax money warfare demands on purely abstract and theoretical peacetime research."

That sounds like a description of the current U.S. government, not all governments past and future. A civilian population is unlikely as hell to accept universal permanent conscription into a military. That, not investment in peaceful industries, would be unprecedented.

Jameson, you'll notice, relies on "warfare" to motivate the power of his idea of using the military for social and political change. That makes sense, as a military is, by definition, an institution used for waging war. And yet, Jameson imagines that his military won't wage wars -- sort of -- but will for some reason go on being funded anyway -- and with a dramatic increase.

A military, Jameson maintains, is a way to compel people to mix with each other and form a community across all the usual lines of division. It's also a way to compel people to do exactly what they are ordered to do at every hour of the day and night, from what to eat to when to defecate, and to condition them to commit atrocities on command without stopping to think. That's not incidental to what a military is. Jameson hardly addresses the question of why he wants a universal military rather than, say, a universal civilian conservation corps. He describes his proposal as "the conscription of the entire population into some glorified National Guard." Could the existing National Guard be more glorified than its advertisements now depict it? It's so misleadingly glorified already that Jameson mistakenly suggests that the Guard answers only to state governments, even as Washington has sent it off to foreign wars with virtually no resistance from the states.

The United States has troops in 175 nations. Would it dramatically add to them? Expand into the remaining holdouts? Bring all the troops home? Jameson doesn't say. The United States is bombing seven nations that we know of. Would that increase or decrease? Here's all that Jameson says:

"[T]he body of eligible draftees would be increased by including everyone from sixteen to fifty, or if you prefer, sixty years of age: that is, virtually the entire adult population. [I can hear the cries of discrimination against 61 year-olds coming, can't you?] Such an unmanageable body would henceforth be incapable of waging foreign wars, let alone carrying out successful coups. In order to emphasize the universality of the process, let's add that the handicapped would all be found appropriate positions in the system, and that pacifists and conscientious objectors would be places in control of arms development, arms storage, and the like."

And that's it. Because the military would have more troops, it would be "incapable" of fighting wars. Can you imagine presenting that idea to the Pentagon? I would expect a response of "Yeeeeeeaaaah, sure, that's exactly what it would take to shut us down. Just give us a couple hundred million more troops and all will be well. We'll just do a bit of global tidying up, first, but there'll be peace in no time. Guaranteed."

And the "pacifists" and people with consciences would be assigned to work on weaponry? And they'd accept that? Millions of them? And the weaponry would be needed for the wars that wouldn't be happening any more?

Jameson, like many a well-meaning peace activist, would like the military to do the sort of stuff you see in National Guard ads: disaster relief, humanitarian aid. But the military does that only when and only as far as it's useful to its campaign to violently dominate the Earth. And doing disaster relief does not require total abject subservience. Participants in that kind of work don't have to be conditioned to kill and face death. They can be treated with the sort of respect that helps make them participants in a democratic-socialist utopia, rather than the sort of contempt that helps lead them to committing suicide outside a VA hospital admissions office.

Jameson praises the idea of "an essentially defensive war" which he attributes to Jaurès, and the importance of "discipline" which he attributes to Trotsky. Jameson likes the military, and he stresses that in his utopia the "universal military" would be the end-state, not a transition period. In that end-state, the military would take over everything else from education to healthcare.

Jameson comes close to acknowledging that there might be some people who would object to this on the grounds that the military industrial complex generates mass murder. He says that he is up against two fears: fear of the military and fear of any utopia. He then addresses the latter, dragging in Freud, Trotsky, Kant, and others to help him. He doesn't spare one word for the former. He later claims that the real reason people are resistant to the idea of using the military is because within the military people are compelled to associate with those from other social classes. (Oh the horror!)

But, fifty-six pages in, Jameson "reminds" the reader of something he hadn't previously touched on: "It is worth reminding the reader that the universal army here proposed is no longer the professional army responsible for any number of bloody and reactionary coups d'etat in recent times, whose ruthlessness and authoritarian or dictatorial mentality cannot but inspire horror and whose still vivid memory will certainly astonish anyone at the prospect of entrusting a state or an entire society to its control." But why is the new military nothing like the old one? What makes it different? How, for that matter, is it controlled at all, as it takes over power from the civilian government? Is it imagined as a direct democracy?

Then why don't we just imagine a direct democracy without the military, and work to achieve it, which seems far more likely to be done in a civilian context?

In Jameson's militarized future, he mentions -- again, as if we should have already known it -- that "everyone is trained in the use of weapons and nobody is allowed to possess them except in limited and carefully specified situations." Such as in wars? Check out this passage from Zizek's "critique" of Jameson:

"Jameson's army is, of course, a 'barred army,' an army with no wars . . . (And how would this army operate in an actual war, which is becoming more and more likely in today's multicentric world?)"

Did you catch that? Zizek claims this army will fight no wars. Then he wonders exactly how it will fight its wars. And while the U.S. military has troops and bombing campaigns underway in seven countries, and "special" forces fighting in dozens more, Zizek is worried that there might be a war someday.

And would that war be driven by weapons sales? By military provocation? By militarized culture? By hostile "diplomacy" grounded in imperialistic militarism? No, it couldn't possibly be. For one thing, none of the words involved are as fancy as "multicentric." Surely the problem -- albeit a minor and tangential one -- is that the multicentric nature of the world may start a war soon. Zizek goes on to state that, at a public event, Jameson has envisioned the means of creating his universal army in strictly Shock Doctrine terms, as an opportunistic response to a disaster or upheaval.

I agree with Jameson only on the premise with which he begins his hunt for a utopia, namely that the usual strategies are sterile or dead. But that's no reason to invent a guaranteed catastrophe and seek to impose it by the most antidemocratic means, especially when numerous other nations are already pointing the way toward a better world. The way to a progressive economic future in which the rich are taxed and the poor can prosper can only come through redirecting the unfathomable funds that are being dumped into war preparations. That Republicans and Democrats universally ignore that is no reason for Jameson to join them.

Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform--and Does it Matter?

Shortly after the Democratic Party’s platform committee concluded its deliberations this July, Bernie Sanders announced:  “Thanks to the millions of people across the country who got involved in the political process . . . we now have the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”

Unethical antics: Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Even in politics, where alarming perversions too often parade as acceptable standards, it is pretty astounding for a politician to assert that inadvertent error is the reason for his failure to report receipt of gifts and other free items valued at $160,050 over a five-year period.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Aug 26, 2016


Ethicists scoff at Clinton Foundation transition plan, question Chelsea's continued involvement and the group's slow wind down - POLITICO


Watchdogs warn of 'serious' conflicts of interest for Clinton Foundation with Hillary in the White House - TheHill


Chaffetz probes link between Clinton Foundation and State Department - Washington Examiner


Oversight Committee letter to Kerry: Explain why the State Department was used to find Clinton Foundation employees - townhall.com


The U.S. Department of Clinton, The latest emails show that State and the foundation were one seamless entity - WSJ


Watchdog: Clinton finance director was 'middle' man between foundation, State - Fox News


11 calls to shut down Clinton Foundation from left-wing media - Breitbart


It’s time to take the ‘Clinton’ out of the Clinton Foundation - LA Times


Hillary Clinton's Clinton Foundation scandal can't be defended - NY Daily News


Hillary Clinton’s reaction to her Foundation scandal is disastrous - TIME


Trump demands special prosecutor to investigate Clinton's State Department tenure - NBC News


Giuliani: Clinton Foundation scandal ‘bigger than Watergate’ - WND


Feingold concerned about Clinton charity - WSAU


Obama to skip Clinton Global Initiative - POLITICO


Clinton camp dismisses questions over Bill's $17M 'honorary chancellor’ job with firm invited to State Dept. dinner - Fox News


Hillary State Dept. helped jailed Clinton Foundation donor get $10 Mil from U.S. for failed Haiti project - Judicial Watch


Recently leaked documents confirm Clinton Haitian gold scheme - OpEdNews


The Clinton Foundation's private equity puzzle - fortune.com


Warning signs for Australia that Bill Clinton was way off the straight and narrow in Papua New Guinea - Michael Smith News


Flemish PM Flanders donated hundreds of thousands to Clinton Foundation: report - POLITICO


Company that price gouged EpiPen is Clinton Foundation donor - New York Post


Clinton criminals: Bill and Hillary’s friends keep being investigated, convicted, jailed - Heat Street


Top Clinton campaign donors frequently backed foundation, undermining the argument that the work of her family's charity is wholly unrelated to her political ambitions  - Washington Examiner

 

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Clinton defends foundation, calls for Trump to release tax returns - Business Insider


VIDEO: Clinton: 'You know more about the Foundation than you know about anything concerning Donald Trump's wealth' - YouTube


Statement: Trump should stop hiding behind fake excuses and release his tax returns disclosing the full extent of his business interests - HFA


GOP committee chairman Chaffetz calls on Donald Trump to release tax returns - CBS News


GOP Rep. Mark Sanford: I support you, Donald Trump. Now release your tax returns - The New York Times


Former IRS commissioner Goldberg op-ed: Trump has no excuse to not release his tax returns - CNBC


Roger Stone: Trump should release tax returns 'immediately’ - TheHill


VIDEO: Watch Trump's campaign manager dodge questions about his tax returns - mediamatters.org


POLL: 74 percent of likely voters say Donald Trump should release his tax returns, among them 62 percent of Republicans - POLITICO

 

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Judge orders State Dept. to begin releasing additional Clinton emails by Sept. 13 - Fox News


Clinton team used special program BleachBit to delete her emails and prevent their recovery, Gowdy says 'even God can't read them' - Fox News


Tech firm BleachBit brags about blocking FBI from recovering Clinton emails - Washington Examiner


1/3 of Abedin emails 100% redacted because of highly sensitive material - WND


Assange vows Clinton email release, as storm clouds gather for candidate - Fox News


Newly released emails reveal then Secretary of State Clinton tried to avoid the commercial shuttle by taking an Air Force plane - freebeacon.com


Clinton’s State Department blew $6 Billion in contracts, and we’re about to learn why - Tea Party News


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

ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders

ABC Television's 20/20 will air a program on Friday called "The Girl Left Behind," the main thrust of which is already apparent on ABC's website.

The horribly tragic story is that of Kayla Mueller, an American held hostage and reportedly raped and tortured by ISIS before dying -- it's unclear how, possibly at the hands of ISIS, possibly killed by bombs dropped by U.S. ally Jordan.

Another hostage who was freed reported that ISIS blamed Kayla Mueller for U.S. actions in the Middle East. Among those actions, we learned this week, was imprisoning future ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Abu Ghraib, not just at Camp Bucca as previously reported.

Mueller, like fellow ISIS victim James Foley, meant well and was in Syria to try to help people nonviolently. But U.S. policy has made it unsafe for Americans to travel to many places.

ABC will seek to pin blame for what happened to Mueller on Doctors Without Borders. She was kidnapped out of a Doctors Without Borders car, and that organization negotiated the freedom of its employees while refusing to help Mueller or even to trust her family enough to share with them information intended for them from ISIS.

But Doctors Without Borders was in Syria to help people and appears to have meant well. Blaming the doctors is easy to overdo here, and not just because the United States has been bombing its hospitals -- acts that may not involve rape or torture, but do involve murder and maiming. The U.S. government could have helped Mueller by never having destroyed Iraq in the first place, never having sought to overthrow Syria, never having overthrown Libya, or never having flooded the region with weapons. Or the U.S. government could have negotiated with ISIS or allowed victims' families to do so -- something it now allows, too late for Kayla Mueller. Or the U.S. government could have announced new policies that ISIS would likely have accepted as ransom.

ISIS asked, in exchange for Mueller's freedom, for the freedom of Aafia Siddiqui or $5 million Euros. If the U.S. government had, instead, offered an apology to the victims of its wars and prison camps, and massive reparations to the region, ISIS might very well have responded in kind. Instead, the U.S. government proceeded to bomb people, including many civilians, for a cost many times greater than $5 million Euros.

The telling of Mueller's story is, in itself, worthwhile. But the focus on an American victim of a war that is victimizing all kinds of people fuels dangerous attitudes. Focusing on the crimes of ISIS, but not of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or, for that matter, the United States, looks like propaganda for more war. When a New Yorker like Jeffrey Epstein rapes, nobody proposes to bomb New York, but when Baghdadi allegedly rapes, the appropriate response is widely understood to be bombing people.

I don't think the suffering of Kayla Mueller or James Foley should be used to justify the infliction of more suffering. As 9/11 victims have been used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9/11, some of the victims' relatives have pushed back. James Foley is pushing back from the grave. Posted online is a video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley's killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.

The video shows Foley in Chicago helping the late Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago -- a film about a protest of NATO. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO. And I met Wexler who tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie.

In the video you can watch Foley discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage -- watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.

When Foley's mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley's mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we're going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.

Tomgram: Ann Jones, "I Didn't Serve, I Was Used"

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Focus: Turkey Military Intervention in Syria - Aug 24, 2016


Turkish forces cross into Syria to wrestle control of Jarablus from Islamic State and thereby prevent Kurdish forces from taking the city - DW.COM


With U.S. backing, Turkey pushes into Syria to hold the line against Kurds - FT.com


PM says Turkish operation in Syria to go on until YPG moves east of Euphrates - Reuters


Turkey will not accept new Kurdish entity in Syria: Prime Minister - Reuters


YPG: We will not withdraw from west of the Euphrates - Rudaw


Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of 'blatant aggression' in Syria and and warn that Ankara is entering a 'quagmire' - Reuters


'Or we'll force them out': Kurdish PYD demands Turkey's withdrawal from Syria - Sputnik


Jarablus Military Council is claiming that Turkey is "deliberately" targeting Kurdish neighbourhoods in Jarablus - liveuamap.com


Clashes between Turkey-FSA and SDF Manbij Military Council in the south of Jarablus - KurdishQuestion.com


Kurds accuse Turkish intelligence of assassinating military leader in Syria's Jarabulus, say two MIT agents captured and interrogated - ARA News


Turkey-FSA take Jarablus from IS without fight - KurdishQuestion.com


Surprise! Washington Post: "rebels had reached the center of Jarabulus after encountering almost no resistance from IS fighters” - Peto Lucem on Twitter


Int community, Peshmerga &Iraqi army near Mosul should ask Turkish army/FSA 2hand over manual "how-to-defeat-IS-in-hours-without-casualties" - Harald Doornbos on Twitter

 

IS members online say the quick loss of Jarablus was because IS had pulled out its fighters from the city a week ago & regrouped elsewhere - Hassan Hassan on Twitter

 

Jihadists left Azaz and Aleppo province to assist Turkish Army in capture of Jarabulus - Joshua Landis on Twitter


Zenki brigades, which have been so active in Aleppo, spearhead push with Turks to take Jarablus - Joshua Landis on Twitter 


ARCHIVE: Zenki Brigades, Syria Islamist group accused of war crimes - Wikipedia


Ahrar al-Sham is also involved (confirmed by source) in the Jarablus offensive, though more quietly than other FSA/vetted groups - Charles Lister on Twitter


Key Syria [rebel] units involved [in Jarablus]: Faylaq al-Sham Jabhat al-Shamiya Nour al-Din al-Zinki Sultan Murad 13th Division Suqor al-Jebel (1/2) - Charles Lister on Twitter

 

Key Syria [rebel] units involved [in Jarablus]: Jaish al-Tahrir Hamza Division Jaish al-Nasr Mutassim Brigade Ahrar Tel Rifaat Liwa al-Fateh (2/2) - Charles Lister on Twitter

 

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

U.S. backs Turkey call for Kurds to retreat East of Euphrates, says aid for the YPG would be stopped if it doesn’t comply - Bloomberg Politics


Turkish op in Syria indicate progress in closing border to Daesh: White House - Sputnik


Russia says 'deeply concerned' at Turkish operation in Syria, warning of rising tension over Ankara's targeting of Kurdish militia fighters - AFP

 

‘Blatant violation of sovereignty’: Damascus condemns Turkish operation in Jarablus - RT News


Syrian opposition group welcomes Turkish military operation near Jarablus - Sputnik


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


Tomgram: Todd Miller, The Great Mexican Wall Deception

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Aug 22, 2016


Newly released emails from Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin show favors for Clinton Foundation donors - New York Post


Judicial Watch: Abedin was a conduit between Clinton Foundation donors and Hillary while she served as Secretary of State - Judicial Watch


State Dept: New emails not evidence of Clinton Foundation pay-to-play - Breibart


Clinton Foundation executive left 148 phone messages for Hillary Clinton's top aide Cheryl Mills - Fox News


State Department defends call logs showing close contact between Clinton aides, foundation - Washington Examiner


Pro-Clinton center: Media continue to fall for Clinton Foundation pseudo-scandals promoted by Judicial Watch - mediamatters.org


Huma Abedin worked at a radical Muslim journal for a dozen years - New York Post


Huma Abedin denies active role at radical Muslim journal, Clinton spokesman says ‘she did not play a role in editing at the publication' - New York Post


Spokesman: Huma Abedin was ‘fully vetted’ for State Dept job (VIDEO) - freebeacon.com


ARCHIVE: Roger Stone: It's time America got some answers about Huma Abedin - Breitbart


ARCHIVE: The Truth about Huma Abedin that Media Matters doesn't want America to see - Breitbart


ARCHIVE: The Atlantic whitewashes Islamist groups in Abedin controversy - Breitbart

 

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

Donald J. Trump statement on Clinton Foundation: Shut it down - Donald J Trump for President


Tim Kaine: Trump tax returns more important than Clinton Foundation donations - Washington Times


Some of Trump’s toughest media critics agree: The Clinton Foundation should close - The Washington Post


Peter Schweizer: Media went from ‘defending the Clinton Foundation’ to ‘pretending it wasn’t there’ to ‘saying shut it down’ - Breitbart


Clinton Foundation charity grade: D-, Close all branches now - Medium


Giuliani: I would indict Clinton Foundation as 'racketeering enterprise' - Fox News


Bill Clinton: Foundation will continue work, change plans - WPMT FOX43


Clinton Foundation prepares to hand off programs, scale back operations - BuzzFeed News


Clinton Foundation ban would not apply to some related charities - The Boston Globe


More than half of Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be barred under new rule - The Washington Post


Clinton Foundation on backfoot after intense scrutiny; India operations may be affected - Times of India


The illegal incorporation of the Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative in Papua New Guinea - Michael Smith News


AUDIO: Twisted philanthropy: How the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation made billions mining the world’s misery index - Leid Stories

 

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

Judge orders expedited release of new 15,000 Hillary Clinton documents found by FBI - CBS News


GOP demands all Hillary Clinton emails before election day - Washington Times


Judicial Watch: State Department stonewalling release of 15K newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails (VIDEO) - Breitbart


Clinton campaign 'not sure' what emails FBI found on server - Washington Examiner

 

Chaffetz claims FBI gave Congress conflicting documents on Clinton email probe - POLITICO


GOP subpoenas firms that ran Clinton's private email server - AP


Now will Hillary hold a press conference on the newly found emails? (Spoiler: Probably not) - National Republican Congressional Committee


Apparent Army Opsec Brief lists Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus as examples of insider security threats - The Daily Caller


Navy sailor argued his crime was same as Hillary’s. Here’s how long he’ll be spending in jail - ijr.com


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

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Making Sense of Trump and His National Security State Critics

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Belted by Trump: Gotcha!

By Ed Adelman

 

A Lawless Plan for More Carnage and Wider War in Syria

 

 


A Lawless Plan to Widen War in Syria

 

 

 

Editor's Note: Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when its doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell reiterating plans for murdering Iranians and Syrians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

By Ray McGovern

On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a “mulligan” for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.

The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military

Unrepentant, always wrong, U.S. warmongers Michael O'Hanlon and David Petraeus have authored "America’s Awesome Military: And How to Make It Even Better," to explain to the rest of us that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the greatest American frack-yeah military ever AND that it is in such a pitiably weak state that if trillions more aren't wasted on it we're all going to die.

Remember, this is the same military of which a single branch has just recently misplaced $6.5 trillion. And it needs more money. Why? Because it's soooooooooo damn awesome!

In fact it's about to win the wars it's embroiled in in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, but if you don't fork over trillions more it will lose badly and it'll be all your fault and the ghosts of the betrayed and sacred troops will haunt you instead of haunting the admissions offices of broken down VA hospitals.

Meanwhile Bill McKibben wants, as we've all long wanted, a "war" against the danger of climate destruction, only without taking the money out of the only place it can come from, the preparations for actual wars, and while hyping the awesomeness of the military to make sure the money stays there.

But, back to our favorite war mongers. Petraeus and O'Hanlon fill us in on the following secrets (and we didn't even have to have sex with them!):

"The United States has the best military in the world today, by far. U.S. forces have few, if any, weaknesses, and in many areas—from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations—they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners."

This understates U.S. spending while overstating the idea that it serves some purpose other than ginning up terrorism and suffering, but you get the idea. Here comes the "nevertheless":

"Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed. But the trend of budget cuts should stop and indeed be modestly reversed, and defense appropriations should be handled more rationally and professionally than has been the case in recent years."

This is based on the lie that U.S. military spending has been decreasing. It has not. It's also based on denial of the existence of arms races and reverse arms races. Global spending follows U.S. spending up and could as easily follow it down. This is also based on denial of the U.S. role as not just far and away top spending on weaponry but also far and away top dealer of weaponry to the rest of the world, arming the hatred its own wars fuel, generating opportunities for more wars.

"Most major elements of U.S. defense policy are on reasonably solid ground, despite innumerable squabbles among experts over many of the details. Through­out the post–Cold War era, some variant of a two-war planning framework (with caveats) has enjoyed bipartisan support and should continue to do so for many years to come."

Good thing the U.S. is only in seven wars!

"Those who worry about an American military supposedly in decline should relax. The current U.S. defense budget of just over $600 billion a year exceeds the Cold War average of about $525 billion (in 2016 dollars) and greatly exceeds the pre-9/11 defense budget of some $400 billion. It is true that defense spending from 2011 through 2020 has been cut by a cumulative total of about $1 trillion (not counting reductions in war-related costs). But there were legitimate reasons for most of those reductions, and the cuts were made to a budget at a historically very high level."

Note that $1 trillion over 10 years is, in plain English, $100 billion, and in plainer English, false. Note also that the $600 billion leaves out the Department of so-called Homeland so-called Security, the Department of Energy, the State Department, the Veterans Administration, etc., etc. But why are we back to not worrying again? Can we just stop with that half of the propaganda and not switch back to fear mongering?

How Presidential “Non-Opinion” Polls Drive Down Third Party Numbers and Facilitate Debate Exclusion

This week, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced what polls it will utilize in excluding candidates from its debates.

The CPD says candidates like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein must get 15 percent in polls conducted by “five national public opinion polling organizations” — ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC/Wall Street Journal.

Not only — as several have correctly argued — is the 15 percent threshold arbitrary and exclusionary, but these polls don’t actually ask voter preferences at all.

They all ask “If the presidential election were being held today for whom would you vote?” or some minor variation of that.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Aug 18, 2016


FBI 'improperly' restricting access to Clinton probe files, senator Grassley says - Fox News


Text of Sen. Grassley's letter on access to Clinton probe docs - Washington Post


FBI's Clinton documents viewed in secure areas of the U.S. Capitol, they are collected in large binders labeled 'secret'- Reuters


Chaffetz: Clinton material is so highly classified that even I, as Oversight Committee Chair, don't have security clearance - Washington Examiner


VIDEO: Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Chaffetz talks heavily redacted Clinton documents from FBI - YouTube


Clinton campaign: FBI document release a partisan witch-hunt - Washington Examiner


Clinton aides perk up with prospect of ‘classified’ FBI leak - New York Post


Unclassified documents from the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation might be made public - The Washington Post


House panel to probe FBI about whether Clinton perjured herself to Congress - usatoday.com


State Department to turn over all Clinton emails uncovered by FBI which were not provided to State by Clinton in December 2014, including deleted ones - Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch: Court hearing Monday, August 22, in FBI Clinton email records case - Judicial Watch


State Dept won’t say when new Clinton emails will be released - freebeacon.com


VIDEO: State Department can't say if Clinton emails provided to Judicial Watch will be made public - YouTube


Priebus to State: Release Clinton emails before election - TheHill


Six batches of Clinton-related documents we're still waiting to see - Washington Examiner


After Hillary walks, Navy sailor wants same leniency over his ‘classified’ incident - ijr.com

 

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

Clinton Foundation will stop accepting foreign and corporate donations if Clinton is elected - CBS News


State Department records fail to show if Hillary Clinton, aides took mandatory ethics training - McClatchy DC


Trump campaign blasts Clinton over ethics training report - POLITICO


POLL: Majority thinks Clinton Foundation donors influenced Clinton when she was secretary of state - newsmax.com


Citizens United fights for records on major Clinton Foundation donor who served on intel panel - freebeacon.com


Clinton Foundation advised World Bank on contracts that netted donors millions - freebeacon.com


Clinton Foundation pushed State Dept. on Bill Clinton speech in North Korea - Washington Examiner


Bill Clinton’s pay at for-profit education company topped $17.5 million for his five-year role as an 'honorary chancellor' - POLITICO


The sordid history of Australia's deals to 'facilitate' the Clinton Foundation's access to Asia - Michael Smith News


Former Australia PM Julia Gillard lavished an unprecedented $292 million in taxpayer dollars on the Clinton-dominated Global Partnership for Education, where she was later appointed chair - Quadrant


Abu Dhabi offered to contribute to the Clinton Foundation while lobbying State Department over airline deal - Daily Mail Online


Did the Clinton Foundation received a $175,000 donation from the mining conglomerate BHP Billiton in return for State Department ensuring the firm’s mining contracts in Gabon and Guinea? - Infowars


State Department sought land deal with Nigerian firm tied to Clinton Foundation - Fox News


The Clinton-Kremlin Connection - The Weekly Standard


Peter Schweizer op-ed: The Clinton Foundation, State and Kremlin connections - WSJ


Clinton Foundation profited from Clintons' personal charity, returns show - Washington Times


Clinton Foundation gave $5,000 to veterans charities last year - Breibart


A massive hack of Clinton donor George Soros' Open Society Foundations suggests that his various nonprofit organizations are little more than fronts for his many political activities - IBD


Manafort Accuses Never Trumpers of being tied to Clinton Foundation - Cortney O’Brien


The crusading prosecutor who is on Clinton Foundation case - newsmax.com


Modest to Majestic: A look at Hillary and Bill Clinton’s homes over the years - The New York Times

 

'Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel' to debut #1 on the New York Times graphic novel bestsellers list - Breibart


Review: 'Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel' - Military Press


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

New York Times shames itself: Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange for Doing What Journalists are Supposed to Do

By Dave Lindorff

 

While I periodically have written commentaries dissecting and pillorying news articles in the New York Times to expose their bias, hypocrisy half-truths and lies, I generally ignore their editorials since these are overtly opinions of the management, and one expects them to display the elitist and neo-liberal perspective of the paper’s publisher and senior editors.

Best of TomDispatch: Andrew Bacevich, Pentagon, Inc.

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Worst Human Being Alive: Tony Blair?

I realize that, living here in the United States, the nation doing the most in the world to create wars, proliferate nukes, and destroy the habitability of the earth's climate, I really have a duty to pick someone in the United States as the worst individual human being alive.

But the United States operates by incestuous swarm. We have another Cheney running for Congress and another Clinton running for president. We have Trump's campaign manager in trouble for taking money from Russians, much of which he funneled to Hillary Clinton's campaign chair's brother. Meanwhile, Trump's daughter has been hauled before a virtual Un-American Activities Committee for vacationing with the supposed girlfriend of Vladimir Putin who may or may not have cheated on Rupert Murdoch with Tony Blair -- Yes, the same Rupert Murdoch who raises funds for Hillary Clinton, and yes, that Tony Blair -- the one whose corrupt deal with Murdoch put him in power in the first place.

These characters, including Blair, are at least honorary Americans. But Blair is something even worse than the worst of the worst of them. Blair did to the Labour Party what Bill Clinton did to the Democratic Party -- what Jeremy Corbin is trying to undo and Hillary Clinton trying to permanently entomb. Blair did to Kosovo and Afghanistan and Iraq what Clinton, Bush, and Obama did to those places. But while Bush went home to paint pictures of himself in the bathtub, Blair went on a Clintonite mission to get rich and evangelize for war and corruption.

I don't know if it's fair to hold this against him, but Blair took into wars on Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, a nation with far greater resistance to such lawless mass killing than the United States had. That is, he had people telling him openly that his actions would be criminal and reprehensible. He may now be the least popular person in Britain. He can't go outside without being protested. George W. Bush, like his daddy, in contrast, is just another respectable old retired emperor.

I do think, however, that it is perfectly fair to hold against Blair the fact that he shifted from mass killing straight into mass money making while promoting more death and destruction. Money grubbing British prime ministers from now on will know that they can become stinking rich upon retirement if they do the bidding of their corporate and foreign overlords while in office.

If you think I'm exaggerating, go watch George Galloway's new film, The Killing$ Of Tony Blair. This film tells the story of Blair's whole career, and it's ugly. He cuts a deal with Murdoch to allow media monopolies in exchange for press support. He takes money from a car racing plutocrat in exchange for allowing tobacco ads at car races. He sells out to corporations left and right. He peddles BAE jets to Indonesia for killing people in East Timor. He sells BAE air traffic control systems to Tanzania which has no air force. He simply shuts down a prosecutorial investigation of BAE's Saudi corruption in the deal that saw Bandar Bush pocket $2 billion. He privatizes schools and hospitals, anything that can make a buck for anybody who knows how to kick some back.

Blair joins with Clinton the First and then Obama in the killing in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and then shifts into former-prime-minister-now-"consultant" mode, taking millions from JP Morgan Chase, Petro Saudi, and other companies for providing his connections to other corrupt people around the world. He takes obscene speaking fees. He hires himself out to dictators in Kazakhstan, Egypt, Kuwait, and Libya. The film juxtaposes their atrocities with Blair's purchased praise of their many merits. Blair persuaded Bush to protect Gadaffi from lawsuits by alleged victims, but apparently forgot to tell Hillary not to bomb Gadaffi or get him killed.

What really wins Blair the prize of worst person on earth, though, is his acceptance of an appointment as Middle East Peace Envoy to Israel and Palestine, a job he apparently held right up until enough people realized it wasn't a fake report meant to be funny but an actual no-kidding job that he was actually engaged in.

The Saudi 203 Pages

For years and years, activists demanded that the U.S. government make public 28 (turned out to be 29) pages it had censored from a report, because it was suspected they would show a Saudi Arabian role in funding and facilitating the crimes of September 11, 2001. When the pages were finally made public, they showed a great deal of evidence of exactly that. But the U.S. government and its pet media outlets buried the story on a Friday evening, declared that verily this is that, and moved on.

If you happen to have caught wind of this and smelled a rat, you'll be interested in another 203 pages, those making up Medea Benjamin's new book, Kingdom of the Unjust. If you live in the United States, you should be aware of how much effort your government puts into facilitating and defending the crimes of Saudi Arabia in the United States, in Saudi Arabia, and in places like Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, etc. If you pay U.S. taxes, you should know what you're buying. If you work for a U.S. weapons maker, you should know who's buying what you make, and what they're using it for. If you drive a car, you may be helping to destroy the earth's climate while funding the Saudi royalty.

The Saudi royals keep millions poor while blowing fortunes. They send religion police around to beat the hell out of people, while they themselves party with alcohol, cocaine, prostitutes, and gambling. Like many a televangelist closer to home, they don't believe their own bull, but they use it to abuse the people of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The religious police don't just want you to be religious. In fact most religions are banned and you can be imprisoned, tortured, mutilated, or beheaded for being a follower of them. And they don't just want you to be a fundamentalist Muslim of the proper variety. They want puritanical misogynist conformity -- or death. They beat a man to death for possessing alcohol, locked up a woman for riding alone in a taxi, and killed 15 girls by refusing to allow them to flee a burning building because they were not wearing their abayas, garments to completely hide their bodies.

With U.S. support, Saudi Arabia manages to be both the only nation that bans all churches and any non-Muslim religious building, and the leading proponent of global terrorism. Saudi Arabia actually bans Jews from entering the country, perhaps inspiring Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, while still creating at least an inconvenience for U.S. humanitarian warriors who are constantly wanting to bomb new countries in order to supposedly avoid a repeat of the holocaust -- even while urging Saudi Arabia to spend more on wars (as Trump and Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama have done most prominently). In fact, Saudi Arabia spends three times as much per person as the U.S. does on its military, and it spends the biggest chunk of it buying weapons from U.S. profiteers.

An "indefinite waiver" upheld by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama lets Saudi Arabia off the hook in the U.S. State Department for its religious cruelty. Waivers by Bush and Obama also allow the U.S. military to go on training the Saudi military. A waiver created by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allows U.S. weapons sales. Clinton made that her personal mission after Saudi Arabia put at least $10 million into the Clinton Foundation. As the U.S. State Department was and is well aware, there are no civil liberties in Saudi Arabia. People are jailed, whipped, and killed for speech, and speech is tightly censored. Saudi Arabia didn't even ban slavery until 1962 and maintains a labor system referred to as "a culture of slavery." The "sharia law" that U.S. bigots are constantly fearing will appear in their town actually takes a truly nasty form in Saudi Arabia under a brutal government propped up by U.S. funds and arms.


MEDEA BENJAMIN AT A RALLY

Saudi Arabia doesn't put its own atrocities on Youtube the way ISIS does, and doing so is a tremendous risk for ordinary people in Saudi Arabia. Nonetheless it is starting, and there are outrages you can watch if you are so inclined.

Saudi Arabia has yet to become a target of the Clintonite cabal of philanthropic warriors claiming to overthrow governments for women's rights, yet Saudi Arabia practices gender apartheid, with women forbidden most of the rights of men, women controlled by men utterly, women's testimony in court sometimes valued at half the worth of men's, and a woman's reporting of an attack by a man is considered to be a crime by the woman. You don't see Saudi women at the Olympics because they are forbidden to wear the attire required for the competitions. Saudi restaurants have front and back sections, with the front for men only.  Saudi Arabia lives off fueling cars, yet is the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive.

Are Saudi's made happy by their sadistic society? There are many indications otherwise, including emigration, travel, courageous protest, and including this: men who practice polygamy in Saudi Arabia are four times more likely to have heart disease.

Happy or not, Saudis have been proficient at exporting their madness. Hollywood could take lessons (and has helped out). Saudi schools have helped to create branches of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups across Western Asia and Northern Africa at least since the joint U.S.-Saudi operation in Afghanistan that created the Taliban, not to mention the Saudi role in Iran-Contra, but also including Boko Haram in Nigeria, and including in Europe. The terrorists who attacked in Paris last year and in Belgium this year came from an area in Belgium with strong Saudi influence. In 2014 the Saudi Interior Ministry conservatively estimated 1,200 Saudis had gone to Syria to join ISIS. A 2014 study by the Washington Institute found that private Saudi donations were critical to the growth of ISIS.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a 2009 cable (thank you, WikiLeaks), "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. . . . More needs to be done. . . ." So, what did Clinton do? Sold Saudi Arabia more weapons, of course! Saudi Arabia is now the biggest weapons customer for the United States, and therefore for anyone. That includes about $100 billion in U.S. weapons sales under the Obama regime, with more pending. Benjamin quotes Obama officials who have praised these sales as a means of creating jobs. This is of course despite the fact that peaceful spending creates more jobs, and the fact that the weapons create something else as well: death.

The United States keeps rushing more weapons to Saudi Arabia as it uses them -- with help from the U.S. military -- to bomb houses, hospitals, and schools in Yemen, killing civilians by the thousands and non-civilians by the thousands, including with the use of cluster bombs.

When Tunisia overthrew a dictatorship without a war in 2011, Saudi's royal thugs got excited. They offered refuge to the Tunisian ruler. They sent funds to Jordan and Morocco to prop up their brutal governments. They backed a military coup in Egypt. They smashed a nonviolent popular uprising in Bahrain with murder, torture, and imprisonment -- still underway. And, of course, they started bombing Yemen, once U.S. drone killings had done their damage and helped to distabilize that country. In fact, U.S. drones flying over Yemen take off from a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia, something Obama created after Bush pulled U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia and closed the bases -- a move motivated by the crimes of 9/11 and the explicit and widely available answer to the stupid lament "Why do they hate us?" They said what they hated: the U.S. bases that Bush The First had put in Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia had refused to kick them out when bin Laden demanded it because the Saudi government depends on the United States to maintain its unjust existence.

Obama, who recreated this fuel for violence, and who claims to be outraged by Saudi Arabia's atrocities, claims to back Saudi Arabia for the cause of "stability." "Sometimes," says Obama, "we have to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns that we have in terms of countering terrorism or dealing with regional stability." Yet Saudi Arabia is possibly the biggest cause (outside of the United States itself) of instability in its region, al Qaeda and ISIS are wreaking havoc within Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government itself is about as stable as a cork in a volcano. To Obama's credit, he hardly ever means anything he says, and in fact he has backed down on holding Saudi Arabia to account when the Saudis have threatened to pull investments out of the United States, not when they have somehow appeared to be a source of stability and safety.

Still, some would take offense when a foreign government and its elites backed terrorism in your country (on 9/11) and then threatened to hurt you financially if you even said anything about it. But why doesn't anyone say anything about it? In 2015, according to The Hill, the Saudis employed eight DC lobbying firms including the Podesta Group, run by top Hillary Clinton fundraiser Tony Podesta, and cofounded by Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Saudi Arabia dumps money into U.S. "think tanks" that would be forbidden to exist in Saudi Arabia, and other institutions including the Middle East Institute, Harvard, Yale, the Clinton Foundation, the Carter Center, etc.

For a further 275 Saudi Pages try Robert Vitalis's America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. But start with Medea Benjamin's 203, which even includes some thoughts on what can be done moving forward. Saudi Arabia's oil, plus all the fossil fuels from everywhere else, is going to make Saudi Arabia uninhabitable long before much of the United States becomes so. Really looking forward, I think, means looking at the future of over 30 million refugees and our capacity to understand the society they are fleeing, our own role in creating it, and our responsibility to welcome them.

Photo by Thomas Good.

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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