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Military Industrial Complex
Two days after being sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States, Barack Obama signed three executive orders, banning torture, requiring the CIA to use the same methods as the military in interrogating terror suspects, shutting down the network of secret CIA prisons and shuttering the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. "What the cynics fail to understand," the president proclaimed in his inaugural address, "is that the ground has shifted beneath them."
But where exactly has the ground shifted? The places of focus--and much of the furor against Bush's terror politics over the past few years--are outside our nation's borders, in distant lands and faraway prisons. The problem of torture and other human rights violations in America's "war on terror" has been framed as a problem that happens largely beyond our shores. The underlying assumption is that if Guantánamo detainees were to be tried on United States soil and in federal courts (as many groups demand), such egregious abuses would not occur.
The Council on Foreign Relations, often described as the "real state department", has launched an initiative to promote and implement a system of effective world governance.
Henry Kissinger, a CFR member, anticipates that President Obama will, "…give new impetus to American foreign policy partly because the reception of him is so extraordinary around the world. I think his task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period when, really, a new world order can be created. It’s a great opportunity, it isn’t just a crisis."
An Arrest Warrant for al-Bashir, Could Bush Be Next?
03 April 2009
|Czech honor guard change shifts in front of Prague castle gate, where President Obama will meet with counterpart, Sunday|
Czechs opposed to U.S. plans to install part of a missile defense system in their country say they will go ahead with a protest march during President Barack Obama's visit to Prague this weekend, despite a ban on the demonstration. The protests come as opinion polls suggest many Czechs fear the missile shield could lead to tensions with Russia and more insecurity in Europe.
The Czech capital Prague saw a variety of protests in recent months against a planned U.S. missile defense system. Many oppose the plan - originally pushed by the Bush administration - to install radar dishes near Prague as part of the project. Interceptor rockets would be based in neighboring Poland.
Casualties caused by IEDs in Afghanistan on the rise
By Tom Vanden Brook | USA TODAY
Roadside bombs cause 75% of casualties to coalition forces in Afghanistan, up from 50% two years ago, prompting urgent pleas from commanders there for more armored vehicles to protect troops, according to data and interviews.
The growth in casualties caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) worries Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who meets Friday with a task force meant to speed Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to war zones, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.
"The secretary is concerned that with IED casualties in Afghanistan on the rise and tens of thousands of additional U.S. forces flowing into country that we have enough MRAPs to protect our troops from this increasing threat," Morrell said.
Homelessness, family strains and psychological problems among returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will persist in the U.S. for generations to come, the top U.S. military officer said Thursday.
"This is not a 10-year problem. It is a 50- or 60- or 70-year problem," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a lunchtime audience at the Hudson Union Society, a group that promotes nonpartisan debate.
Mullen said he was particularly disturbed by the emergence of homelessness as a problem among war veterans.
By Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell
It’s one thing to study online articles describing the MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. It’s quite another to identify these drones as they take off from runways at Nevada’s Creech Air Force base, where our “Ground the Drones…Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” campaign is holding a ten-day vigil.
This morning, during a one hour walk from Cactus Springs, Nevada, where we are housed, to the gates of Creech Air Force base, we saw the Predator and Reaper drones glide into the skies, once every two minutes. We could easily distinguish the Predator from the Reaper, - if the tailfins are up, it’s a Predator, tail fins down, a Reaper.
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the U.S. Air Force refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles.
Army medical commanders are investigating allegations that medically unfit soldiers were deployed to Iraq in recent months out of Fort Wainwright in Alaska.
The cases of three soldiers were profiled in a March 23 report in USA TODAY and highlighted in a recent petition circulated by a handful of rear-detachment soldiers at Fort Wainwright, home of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which recently went to Iraq.
Soldiers said commanders tried — sometimes successfully — to deploy them before they completed medical tests for health problems, before they were able to undergo necessary surgeries or before they were able to recuperate from operations.
National Geographic Explorer: Inside Guantanamo | Watch This Sunday, April 5th | Check site & your local listings for other dates, times
Hasswa, Iraq: Salee, a nine-year-old girl, was playing outside her home with her brother, cousin and some friends. US jets circled overhead. Suddenly the jets fired three missiles, apparently at passenger vehicles.
By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama's advisers said he "can't rule out [and] won't rule out" using mercenary forces, like Blackwater. Now, it appears that the Obama administration has decided on its hired guns of choice: Triple Canopy, a Chicago company now based in Virginia. It may not have Blackwater's thuggish reputation, but Triple Canopy has its own bloody history in Iraq and a record of hiring mercenaries from countries with atrocious human rights records. What's more, Obama is not just using the company in Iraq, but also as a U.S.-government funded private security force in Israel/Palestine, operating out of Jerusalem.
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of deaths construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds, oh lord yeah!
Black Sabbath – War Pigs
You know civilization is in danger when I find more wisdom in the words of Ozzy Osbourne than in the words of any elected U.S. official. The U.S. war machine keeps turning. As we enforce our will on foreign countries, we produce more people who hate us. Just when you think the U.S. government is beginning to make sense by withdrawing troops from Iraq, they make the terrible decision to shuttle 21,000 more troops into the Afghan calamity. At a cost of $3.2 billion per month, we will throw another $38 billion down a rat hole in a country that has no vital strategic importance to the United States. Barack Obama is doing this to prove that he is a true statesman. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and left bankrupted and defeated after ten years. Young Americans will continue to die for who? for what? Our foreign policy during the last eight years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fouled Up. These foreign interventions are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the public by creating foreign conflicts. General Douglas MacArthur understood the danger.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
File Under The Growing Police State: Marine Corps High School Coming To Our Neighborhood
By Nick Mitchell
I'LL HAVE A "DRAUGHT DODGER!"
Canadian Parliament votes again to let U.S. war resisters stay
by Mike Ferner | April 1, 2009
Two days ago, for the second time in 10 months, Canada's House of Commons told Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, including Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, to stop deporting U.S. soldiers resisting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vote united the three opposition parties, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party in a close 129-125 vote.
Last week, the War Resisters Support Campaign rallied for former Army soldier, Kimberly Rivera, the first female U.S. soldier to go to Canada. Nearly 100 people filled the chairs and lined the aisles at the Steelworkers hall in Toronto for Rivera, her husband and three children, the youngest born in Canada six months ago.
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander In Chief Obama suffered 23 combat casualties between March 17 and 31 as the official total rose to at least 71,523. The total includes 34,578 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,945 dead and medically evacuated (as of Feb. 28, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
Military recruiting advertising and media access undermine peace efforts
Brian J. Trautman
"A combination of excessive and disproportionate government funding for military recruiting advertising as well as mainstream media accessibility issues severely undermine the efforts of peace- and social/ecological justice-focused groups (including those that are government-funded) to publicly disseminate their principles and initiatives and to secure much needed donations, volunteers and staff"
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will hold its 17th annual space organizing conference in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18, 2009. The group is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the introduction of weapons and nuclear power into space. The theme for the annual conference will be Asian-Pacific Missile Defense and an End to the Arms Race in the region.
Ten Korean peace organizations, led by the Peace Network and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, will host the 2009 Global Network space conference.
151 Congressmen profit from Iraq - April 3, 2009
Legislation Aims to Improve Veterans' Mental Health Services
By Eric Newhouse | truthout
Montana's senior US senator, Max Baucus, introduced an important piece of legislation last week that would require stepped-up mental health screenings for all America's combat troops.
It would cost an estimated $220 million over five years to implement nationally, but it would ratchet up standards of mental health care for combat vets to a higher level - and one that's uniform across the board.
The purpose for the testing - to be done every six months for the first two years after a soldier returns from combat - will be to identify post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or major depression resulting from combat, Baucus said.
Whether it's $900 billion, more than one trillion dollars, or even, in the long run, several trillion dollars, the spiraling costs of George Bush's wars -- one of which is now in the grim process of becoming "Obama's War" -- are indisputable. It's hardly less disputable that those wars to "protect" America from "global terror" have contributed significantly to the country's economic meltdown, that the harder we pursued (and continue to pursue) those wars abroad, the less safe the underpinnings of our world became. Thought of another way, that famous line of the cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us," couldn't be more apt.
The "One" campaign against global poverty reports:
The Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Senator Kent Conrad, wants to cut $4 billion from the president's International Affairs Budget - the part of the budget funding almost all of our anti-poverty work.
By Jonathan Springston, Atlanta Progressive News
(APN) ATLANTA - The DeKalb County School Board is planning to open a military-style public high school in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps that would be the first of its kind in Georgia.
But veterans, peace groups, and other anti-war organizations are quickly mounting a campaign against the school, which so far has included writing letters and emails.
"I don't want to see the military taking over our high schools more than they already have," Michael Burke, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Georgia Veterans Alliance (GVA), told APN. "These kids are too young to be subjected to the seduction of the Marine Corps."
"I think this is too much military involvement in our schools," Sven Lovegren, another Vietnam veteran and member of GVA, said.
Soldiers who survive severe injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan can be at risk of developing infections in their wounds, U.S. researchers say.
I often bemoan how the media's policy of sanitizing combat images and its failure to report what the true face of war looks like have caused the public to be detached from the carnage wrought by the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
For nearly a decade, both wars have largely been reported by the media and explained to the public by lawmakers in statistical terms: thousands of U.S. soldiers killed in combat, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead, and three-quarters of a million veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.
Perhaps the media is not entirely at fault for failing to provide deeper insight into the psychological impact the wars have had on more than one million U.S. veterans and their families.
Until recently, the press has been prohibited from photographing veterans returning from combat in flag-draped coffins, and funerals for the fallen were likewise off-limits.
But by relying heavily on numbers and press releases as a way of covering both conflicts, the public has been rendered incapable of experiencing or feeling any dramatic element associated with the devastation. It's a sad truth that the average person is unable to accurately say how many U.S. soldiers have been killed and wounded since the wars began (4,257 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, more than 31,000 wounded, 320,000 diagnosed with brain injuries).
Each year War Resisters League analyzes federal funds outlays as presented in detailed tables in “Analytical Perspectives” of the Budget of the United States Government. Our analysis is based on federal funds, which do not include trust funds — such as Social Security — that are raised separately from income taxes for specific purposes. What you pay (or don’t pay) by April 15, 2009, goes to the federal funds portion of the budget.
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The United States has failed to join with the International Community in signing on to an International Treaty banning the use of Cluster Bombs in the world, although it has made laws and has pending legislation which partially protects civilians from harm but falls far short of the provisions provided by the International Treaty. Too, U.S. military policy directly
contradicts the aims of disarming cluster bomb use.