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A lesson here for Sanders?: 72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
By Dave Lindorff
A 72-year-old college professor named Alexander van der Bellen, running for president as the candidate of the leftist Austrian Green Party, a fringe party that had never been considered a serious contender in post-war Austrian politics, just won a narrow victory over Norbert Hofer, a right-wing candidate of the neo-fascist Freedom Party who had been favored to win.
Meike Capps-Schubert is the co-founder and current manager of The Clearing Barrel GI-Coffeehouse in Kaiserslautern next to Ramstein Airbase, Germany, the only GI-coffeehouse outside the United States. A long-time peace and justice activist in Germany, Meike is a counselor with the Military Counseling Network e.V. -- the German branch of the GI-rights-hotline, which provides free, confidential, and accurate information on U.S. military regulations and practices to members of the U.S. military, veterans, and their families. She has also helped build critical support for U.S. war resisters in Germany since 2003. Learn more:
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By Ann Wright
"If you don't like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them." Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border: As we well know, either the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away.
The Obama administration which inherited the chaos from the 2003 Iraq war from the Bush administration but that has been bombing ISIS in urban areas in Iraq and Syria has resettled only 1,736 Syrian refugees over the last seven months—despite President Obama’s pledge to resettle at least 10,000 Syrians by September 2016. In contrast, Canada has resettled more than 26,000 Syrian refugees since late 2015, while Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have together taken in millions of Syrian refugees since the conflict began five years ago.
In early May, we had flown from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and then had driven one hour north to the Greek border with Macedonia. The name of the tiny hamlet of Idomeni has become synonymous with the largest refugee camp in Greece.
As we arrived, a tremendous thunder, lightning and hailstorm hit the area ripping down tents, making mud pools and deluging tents and the clothing and bedding inside. We saw the worst conditions (except cold and snow) that the 13,000 refugees must endure in five camps within 4 miles of the Macedonian border. All five are “informal, unofficial” camps and refugees can come and go at will. They have refused any attempt to put them into the formal “detention” camps that place them in isolated areas and restrict their movement within Greece. As a result, the services provided are not particularly well organized although all have limited porta-potties, showers and faucets for washing clothes. All have basic food provided primarily by volunteers, non-governmental organizations and the Greek military (in only one camp).
The first camp one comes upon on Highway 75 heading north from Thessaloniki is at the gasoline station and rest stop called EKO. Over 2,000 persons are camping in the large parking lot, grocery store and car wash. Save the Children provides rice porridge and oranges daily for children under 11 years of age and estimates there are over 1,000 children. We helped hand out the porridge by going tent by tent and asking how many children of that age group were in the household (tenthold). Save the Children coordinators told us that they liked having the daily contact with people in their living space rather than having people stand in another long line. We were greeted with a warm smile and a thank you by every mother to whom we delivered the porridge. The Boat Refugee Foundation of the Netherlands has a number of volunteers that help with the porridge delivery-young women and men from the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and the UK.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
During a casual conversation inside a store on a swanky shopping street located a short distance from London’s fabled Kensington Palace a twenty-something retail clerk said she feels a strange sense of discomfort that she’s never felt before in London, the city where this native of Algeria has lived most of her life.
If the bombing occurs when the bombs that have been dropped from U.S. airplanes explode, then the United States just bombed Germany and has been bombing Germany every year for over 70 years.
There are still over 100,000 yet-to-explode U.S. and British bombs from World War II lying hidden in the ground in Germany. Notes the Smithsonian Magazine:
"Before any construction project begins in Germany, from the extension of a home to track-laying by the national railroad authority, the ground must be certified as cleared of unexploded ordnance. Still, last May, some 20,000 people were cleared from an area of Cologne while authorities removed a one-ton bomb that had been discovered during construction work. In November 2013, another 20,000 people in Dortmund were evacuated while experts defused a 4,000-pound 'Blockbuster' bomb that could destroy most of a city block. In 2011, 45,000 people—the largest evacuation in Germany since World War II—were forced to leave their homes when a drought revealed a similar device lying on the bed of the Rhine in the middle of Koblenz. Although the country has been at peace for three generations, German bomb-disposal squads are among the busiest in the world. Eleven bomb technicians have been killed in Germany since 2000, including three who died in a single explosion while trying to defuse a 1,000-pound bomb on the site of a popular flea market in Göttingen in 2010."
A new film called The Bomb Hunters focuses on the town of Oranienburg, where a huge concentration of bombs keeps up a constant menace. In particular the film focuses on one man whose house blew up in 2013. He lost everything. Oranienburg, now known as the city of bombs, was a center of nuclear research that the U.S. government did not want the advancing Soviets to acquire. At least that's one reason offered for the massive bombing of Oranienburg. Rather than possibly speed up the Soviet acquisition of nukes by a handful of years, Oranienburg had to be rained on with blankets of enormous bombs -- to explode for decades to come.
They weren't just bombs. They were delayed-fuse bombs, all of them. Delayed-fuse bombs were usually included along with non-delaying bombs in order to terrorize a population further and hinder humanitarian rescue operations after a bombing, similar to how cluster bombs have been used in recent U.S. wars to extend the terrorizing of a population by blowing up children for months to come, and similar to "double taps" in the business of drone murder -- the first missile or "tap" to kill, the second to kill any rescuer bringing aid. Delayed-fuse bombs go off some hours or days after landing, but only if they land the right way up. Otherwise they can go off some hours or days or weeks or months or years or decades or god-knows-when later. Presumably this was understood at the time and intended. So, that intention perhaps adds to the logic of my headline above. Perhaps the United States didn't just intend to bomb Germany, but it intended 70 years ago to bomb Germany this year.
A bomb or two goes off every year, but the greatest concentration is in Oranienburg where thousands and thousands of bombs were dropped. The town has been making a concerted effort to find and eliminate the bombs. Hundreds may remain. When bombs are found, neighborhoods are evacuated. The bomb is disabled, or it is detonated. Even during the search for bombs, the government must damage houses as it drills test holes into the ground at evenly spaced intervals. Sometimes the government even tears down a house in order to conduct the search for bombs beneath it.
A U.S. pilot involved in this madness way back when says in the film that he thought about those under the bombs, but believed the war to be for the salvation of humanity, thus justifying anything. Now, he says, he can see no justification for war.
Also in the film, a U.S. veteran writes to the Mayor of Oranienburg and sends $100 to apologize. But the Mayor says there's nothing to be sorry for, that the United States was only doing what it had to. Well, thanks for the codependency, Mr. Mayor. I'd love to get you on a talk show with Kurt Vonnegut's ghost. Seriously, Germany's guilt is immensely admirable and worthy of emulation in the guilt-free United States, which grotesquely imagines itself forever sinless. But these two extremes build on each other in a toxic relationship.
When imagining that you've justified a war involves imagining that you've thereby justified any and every atrocity in that war, the results are things like nuclear bombings and bombings so intense that a country remains covered with unexploded bombs at a time when almost nobody involved in the war is alive anymore. Germany should strengthen its peace-identity by shaking off its guilt-ridden subservience to the United States and putting an end to U.S. warmaking from bases on German soil. It should ask the U.S. military to get out and to take all of its bombs with it.
By Ann Wright
Our small three person delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace (Leslie Harris of Dallas, TX, Barbara Briggs-Letson of Sebastopol, CA and Ann Wright of Honolulu, HI) travelled to Greece to volunteer in refugee camps. We spent our first day in Athens at the refugee camp on the piers of Piraeus harbor known as E1 and E1.5 for the piers on which they are located-away from the busiest piers from which the ferry boats take travelers out to the Greek islands. Camp E2 that held 500 people was closed over the weekend and the 500 person in that location moved to Camp E1.5.
The camp has been on the piers of Piraeus for several months when ferryboats began moving refugees from the islands off the coast of Turkey to Athens. Many of the boats arrived at the piers at night and the travelers had no place to go so they just camped out on the piers. Gradually, the Greek authorities designated piers E1 and E2 for refugee camps. But, with the tourist season arriving, the authorities want the space for the increased tourist business.
Rumors are that both of the remaining camps of about 2500 will be closed over this weekend and everyone moved to a camp at Scaramonga being built about 15 minutes outside of Athens.
Some of the refugees left the Piraeus piers to check out other refugee facilities, but have returned to the piers as the concrete rather than dirt floors, fresh ocean breezes and easy access to the city of Athens by public transport are seen as better than being in a formal camp in an isolated location with more stringent entry and exit rules.
We were at Piraeus yesterday all day helping in the clothing warehouse and talking to refugees as they wait in lines—for the toilets, showers, food, clothing—lines for anything and everything—and being invited to sit inside the family tents to chat. We met Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians and Pakistanis.
The pier camps are informal, not official refugee camps operated by any one group. But the Greek government is helping with some of the logistics such as toilets and food. There seems to be no camp administrator or central coordinator but everyone seems to know the daily drill of food, water, tiolets. Refugee registration for their future is a process we have not figured out, but many we have spoken with have been in Athens for over 2 months and do not want to be moved to a formal facility where they will have less freedom and access to the local communities.
The toilets are a mess, long lines for showers with a 10 minute max for moms to shower the kids. Most live in small tents with large families connecting several tents to form a “sitting room” and bedrooms. Kids race around the area with small toys. The Norwegian NGO “A drop In the Ocean” has a space under a tent for providing a space for art, coloring and drawing for kids. A Spanish NGO has hot tea and water available 24 hours a day. The clothing warehouse is stacked with boxes of used clothes that must be sorted into logical piles for distribution. As there are no clothes washing machines, some women attempt to wash out clothes in buckets and hang clothes on lines, while others have found that throwing away dirty clothes and getting “new” ones from the warehouse is the most efficient way to stay clean. UNHCR provides blankets that are used as carpets in tents.
We met international volunteers from Spain, the Netherlands, the U.S., France and many Greek volunteers. The volunteers who have been there the longest pass on the routine to the newcomers. The previous system of a daily orientation for the new volunteers has not been reestablished since camp E2 was closed.
The tent living areas are remarkably clean considering how long people have been there. The hospitality of the refugees toward those who have come to the camp in solidarity is heartwarming. We were invited into the three tent home of a family from Iraq. They have five children, 4 girls and one boy. They had just brought to their tents the lunch provided at 3pm, a lunch of hot stew, bread, cheese and an orange. They had all the family seated for a formal meal no doubt to remind the children of home.
In the typical Middle Eastern courtesy to strangers, they asked us to come into the tent and offered to share their meal with us. We sat and talked as they ate. The father who appeared to be about 40 years old is a pharmacist and the mother is a teacher of Arabic. The father said he had to bring his family out of Iraq because if he were killed, as many of his friends have been, how would his wife take care of the family?
In a refugee facility we visited in Munich, Germany, we found the same hospitality. The facility is a building left vacant by the Siemens corporation. 800 persons live in the 5 story building. 21,000 refugees are in various facilities in Munich. A family from Syria with six children came into the hallway to offer us pieces of raw vegetables and another family from Armenia offered us pieces of candy. The hospitality of the Middle East continues with the families as they travel under extraordinarily difficult conditions to other parts of the world.
In Berlin, we went to a refugee facility at Templehof Airport in which the hangers have been turned into accommodations for 4,000. The refugee facilities in Berlin and Munich are operated by private companies rather directly by the German government. Each German region has been given quotas for the numbers of refugees they must accommodate and each region has made its own standards for assistance.
While the United States has closed its borders to person fleeing the chaos caused in great measure by its war on Iraq, the countries of Europe deal with the human crisis as best they can---not perfectly, but certainly with more humanity than the government of the United States.
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and 16 years as a U.S. diplomat. She resigned in 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
Irish VFP Member Edward Horgan to Appear in Ennis Court for Attempting to Inspect US Military Planes at Shannon
On April 18th 2015, Dr Horgan was on his way to a peace conference in London when he saw four US Hercules C-130 jets lined up just beyond the Aer Lingus plane he was about to board. Knowing that the Gardaí were almost certainly not going to search them or to inform the public of the nature of these plane's reasons for being at Shannon, he felt compelled to search them.
In relation to the charges faced by Dr Horgan, John Lannon of Shannonwatch said:
"There are many unanswered questions about the US military and CIA use of Shannon, and about the type of operations they are engaged in. We have provided the Gardaí with information indicating complicity in torture, weapons transportation and war crimes but they have done nothing. Placing the onus on civil society organisations and individuals to produce concrete evidence, and then arresting and charging them when they try to get it, is not how the law should be enforced. But that is what has happened in Edward Horgan's case."
Despite government claims that US military planes at Shannon are all completely unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives and are not part of military exercises or operations, Shannonwatch have evidence to the contrary. In September 2013, for example, a similar plane to the ones Edward Horgan was attempting to inspect was photographed at Shannon with a 30mm cannon mounted on the side.
"On that basis alone Dr Horgan was perfectly justified in inspecting the 4 Hercules jets he saw parked on the tarmac at Shannon" said John Lannon.
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Hysterical Cold-War Style US Reporting as 2 Unarmed Russian Jets Buzz US Destroyer Sailing Near Russian Port
By Dave Lindorff
US news reports on an incident Tuesday in which two Russian jet fighters buzzed very close to a US destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, in the Baltic Sea, make it sound like a serious threat in which the US might have been justified in defending itself against a simulated attack on the high seas.
Nowhere in the reports in the US was it mentioned that the Cook was itself engaging in provocative behavior.
This month, French authorities (supported and funded by the UK government to the current balance of £62 million)  have been demolishing the 'Jungle,’ a toxic wasteland on the edge of Calais. Formerly a landfill site, 4 km² it is now populated by approximately 5,000 refugees who have been pushed there over the past year. A remarkable community of 15 nationalities adhering to various faiths comprises the Jungle. Residents have formed a network of shops and restaurants which, along with hamams and barber shops contribute to a micro-economy within the encampment. Community infrastructure now includes schools, mosques, churches and clinics.
Afghans, numbering approximately 1,000, constitute the largest national group. Among this group are people from each of the main ethnicities in Afghanistan: Pashtoons, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks. The Jungle is an impressive example of how people from different nationalities and ethnicities can live together in relative harmony, despite oppressive hardship and infringement of universal rights and civil liberties. Arguments and scuffles sometimes break out, but they're normally catalysed by French authorities or traffickers.
Earlier this month Teresa May won a significant battle to restart flights deporting Afghans back to Kabul, on the grounds that it is now safe to return to the capital city. 
Just 3 months ago I sat in the Kabul office of 'Stop Deportation to Afghanistan.’  Sunlight poured through the window like golden syrup on a top floor apartment, the city of Kabul shrouded in dust splayed out like a postcard. The organisation is a support group run by Abdul Ghafoor, a Pakistan-born Afghan who spent 5 years in Norway, only to be deported to Afghanistan, a country he had previously never visited. Ghafoor told me about a meeting he had recently attended with Afghan government ministers and NGOs - he laughed as he described how the non-Afghan NGO workers arrived at the armed compound wearing bullet proof vests and helmets, and yet Kabul has been deemed a safe space for returning refugees. The hypocrisy and double standards would be a joke if the upshot was not so unfair. On one hand you have foreign embassy staff being airlifted (for security reasons)  by helicopter within the city of Kabul, and on the other you have various European governments saying it’s safe for thousands of refugees to return to Kabul.
In 2015, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 11,002 civilian casualties (3,545 deaths and, 7,457 injured) exceeding the previous record in 2014 .
Having visited Kabul 8 times in the last 5 years, I’ve been acutely aware that security within the city has drastically declined. As a foreigner I no longer take walks longer than 5 minutes, day trips to the beautiful Panjshir Valley or the Qarga lake are now considered too risky. Word on the Kabul streets is that the Taliban are strong enough to take the city but can't be bothered with the hassle of running it; meanwhile independent ISIS cells have established a foothold . I regularly hear that Afghan life today is less secure than it was under the Taliban, 14 years of US/NATO-backed war has been a disaster.
Back in the Jungle, north France, 21 miles from the British isles, around 1,000 Afghans dream of a safe life in Britain. Some have previously lived in Britain, others have family in the UK, many have worked with the British military or NGOs. Emotions are manipulated by traffickers who describe the streets of Britain as paved with gold. Many refugees are discouraged by the treatment they've received in France where they’ve been subjected to police brutality and attacks by far-right thugs. For various reasons they feel the best chance of a peaceful life is in Britain. Deliberate exclusion from the UK just makes the prospect even more desirable. Certainly the fact that Britain has agreed to take only 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next 5 years , and overall the UK is taking 60 refugees per 1,000 of the local population who claimed asylum in 2015, compared to Germany which is taking 587 , has played into the dream that Britain is the land of exclusive opportunity.
I spoke with Afghan community leader Sohail, who said: "I love my country, I want to go back and live there, but it's just not safe and we have no opportunity to live. Look at all the businesses in the Jungle, we have talents, we just need the opportunity to use them". This conversation happened in the Kabul Café, one of the social hotspots in the Jungle, just one day before the area was set ablaze, the whole south high street of shops and restaurants razed to the ground. After the fire, I spoke with the same Afghan community leader. We stood amid the demolished ruins where we had drunk tea in the Kabul café. He feels deeply saddened by the destruction. "Why did the authorities put us here, let us build a life and then destroy it?"
Two weeks ago the south part of the Jungle was demolished: hundreds of shelters were burnt or bulldozed leaving some 3,500 refugees with nowhere to go . The French authorise now want to move onto the north part of the camp with the aim of rehousing most refugees within white fishing crate containers, many of which are already set up in the Jungle, and currently accommodate 1,900 refugees. Each container houses 12 people, there's little privacy, and sleeping times are determined by your 'crate mates' and their mobile phone habits. More alarmingly, a refugee is required to register with French authorities. This includes having your finger prints digitally recorded; in effect, it's the first step into forced French asylum.
The British government has consistently used the Dublin Regulations  as legal grounds for not taking its equal quota of refugees. These regulations prescribe that refugees should seek asylum in the first safe country they land in. However, that regulation is now simply impractical. If it was properly enforced, Turkey, Italy and Greece would be left to accommodate the millions of refugees.
Many refugees are requesting for a UK asylum centre within the Jungle, giving them the ability to start the process for asylum in Britain. The reality of the situation is that refugee camps like the Jungle are not stopping people from actually entering the UK. In fact these blights on human rights are reinforcing illegal and harmful industries such as trafficking, prostitution and drug smuggling. European refugee camps are playing into the hands of human traffickers; one Afghan told me that , the current going rate to be smuggled into the UK is now around €10,000 , the price having doubled over the last few months. Setting up a UK asylum centre would also remove the violence which often occurs between truck drivers and refugees, as well as tragic and fatal accidents which come about during transit into the UK. It's perfectly possible to have the same number of refugees entering the UK via legal means as there are by the ones which exist today.
The south part of the camp now stands desolate, burnt to the ground other than for a few social amenities. An icy wind whips across the expanse of littered wasteland. Debris flaps in the breeze, a sad combination of rubbish and charred personal belongings. French riot police used tear gas, water canons and rubber bullets to aid the demolition. Currently there's a stalemate situation wherein some NGOs and volunteers are reluctant to rebuild homes and constructions which might quickly be demolished by French authorities.
The Jungle represents incredible human ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy exhibited by refugees and the volunteers who have poured their lives into making a community to be proud of; simultaneously it's a shocking and shameful reflection of the decline in European human rights and infrastructure, where people who flee for their lives are forced to inhabit communal crate containers, a form of indefinite detention. Unofficial comments made by a representative of the French authorities indicates a possible future policy whereby refugees who choose to remain outside of the system, opting either to be homeless or not to register, could potentially face imprisonment for up to 2 years.
France and Britain are currently shaping their immigration policy. It is especially disastrous for France, with a constitution founded on "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite", to base that policy on demolishing temporary homes, excluding and incarcerating refugees, and forcing refugees into unwanted asylum. By giving people the right to choose their country of asylum, assisting with basic needs such as accommodation and food, responding with humanity rather than suppression, the State will be enabling the best possible practical solution, as well as complying with international human rights, laws set down to protect the safety and rights of everyone in the world today.