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Russia and neighboring Central Asian nations have agreed to let supplies pass through their territory to American soldiers in Afghanistan, lessening Washington's dependence on dangerous routes through Pakistan, a top U.S. commander said Tuesday.
Securing alternative routes to landlocked Afghanistan has taken on added urgency this year as the United States prepares to double troop numbers there to 60,000 to battle a resurgent Taliban eight years after the U.S.-led invasion.
Liberal and New Democrat parliamentarians said Wednesday that U.S. war resisters would not be deported under a coalition government.
Five Americans could face deportation by the end of the month unless there’s a last-minute court reprieve or an unexpected policy change by the federal government.
Liberal Mario Silva and New Democrat Olivia Chow said their parties would protect war resisters if Stephen Harper’s government were to fall after next week’s budget.
Silva invoked the words of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who during the Vietnam War said “Canada should be a refuge from militarism.”
National Priorities Project (NPP) finds significant gap in Army's 2008 quantity and quality goals
Online Tool Allows the Public to Analyze Army Data by State, County, Zip Code, Education Level, “Quality of Recruit”
NORTHAMPTON, MA – A new NPP analysis highlights a significant gap in the Army's 2008 quantity and quality goals. Using census material, combined with data on 2008 Army enlistment obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, NPP research also uncovers a continued trend of disproportionate recruits from southern states.
This work is a result of an expanded NPP initiative, which now includes a database of 2004-2008 military recruitment numbers broken down by zip code, county and state. A snapshot analysis and overview of current military recruitment data, which includes a ranking of counties by recruits per thousand youth, charts and tables on a particular county, zip code or state is available at www.nationalpriorities.org.
U.S. General David Petraeus met Afghan President Hamid Karzai overnight, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, after the regional military chief said deals had been made on new transport routes into Afghanistan from Central Asia.
The U.S. military has had to look at new ways to help supply its troops in the landlocked country from the north after Taliban militants have attacked and torched dozens of trucks carrying supplies on the main route through Pakistan.
That need to supplement the Pakistan route is even more great now as the President Barack Obama is expected to soon approve plans to almost double the 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as part of his pledge to make the war one of his top priorities.
An Open Letter to U.S. President Barack Obama
The "Change" You Promised Should Include the Official
Dismantling of the Bush-Rumsfeld Neoconservative
President Barack Obama The White House Washington D.C.
January 16, 2009
Dear Mr. President:
First, we would like to extend our congratulations on
your election as President of the United States of
The Bush administration, by conducting wars forbidden
under international law, and by taking other
unilateralist actions during its eight years in office,
has brought immense suffering to the people of the
world. We welcome your election as President, as you
clearly promised to change what had been done by your
predecessor and his administration. We believe that
your call for change won the hearts and minds of the
American people, particularly the young, inspired them
with hope, and rekindled idealism, undoubtedly a great
I do not like Hamas. I detest religious fundamentalism and the use of suicide bombers. I find the group's anti-Semitism and ruthless silencing of internal Palestinian opponents repugnant. The rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are a war crime. But this does not negate the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance to the long Israeli siege and occupation of Gaza.
The moral scum of any society rises to the surface in war. Those who have a penchant for violence and an access to weapons dominate the landscape. It was the criminal class and gangsters who first organized the defense of Sarajevo. It was the thugs of Gaza who took control to confront the Israeli army. This is nothing new in wartime. Violence is a disease, a disease that corrupts all who use it regardless of the cause. But there are moments when a people face the terrible tragedy of resistance or obliteration. This was true in Sarajevo. It is true for the Palestinians. It does not make it pretty or good. It is what happens.
As the number of jobs across the nation dwindles, more Americans are joining the military, lured by a steady paycheck, benefits and training.
The last fiscal year was a banner one for the military, with all active-duty and reserve forces meeting or exceeding their recruitment goals for the first time since 2004, the year that violence in Iraq intensified drastically, Pentagon officials said.
And the trend seems to be accelerating. The Army exceeded its targets each month for October, November and December — the first quarter of the new fiscal year — bringing in 21,443 new soldiers on active duty and in the reserves. December figures were released last week.
An internal investigation has cleared the Pentagon of violating a ban on domestic propaganda by using retired military officers to comment positively about the war in Iraq in the US media.
In a report posted on its website, the Pentagon's inspector general said "we found the evidence insufficient to conclude that RMA (retired military analysts) outreach activities were improper".
The report said the controversy, which erupted in April following an expose in the New York Times, warranted no further investigation.
'Tungsten bombs' leave Israel's victims with mystery wounds
As it declares a unilateral ceasefire, Jerusalem faces a UN call for a war crimes investigation
By Raymond Whitaker | Independent UK
According to military databases, Dime bombs are intended for use where conventional weapons might kill or injure bystanders – to kill combatants in a house, for example, without harming people next door. Instead of being made from metal, which sprays shrapnel across a wide area, the casing is carbon fibre. Part of the motive for developing the bombs was to replace the use of depleted uranium, but Dr Fosse said the cancer risk from tungsten powde was well known. "These patients should be followed up to see if there are any carcinogenic effects," he said.
While the loudest controversy has been over accusations that white phosphorus was illegally used, other foreign doctors working in Gaza have reported injuries they cannot explain. Professor Mohammed Sayed Khalifa, a cardiac consultant from Sudan, said that two of his patients had had uncontrollable bleeding. "One had a chest operation, and continued bleeding even after having been given large quantities of plasma," he said. "The other had what seemed to be a minor leg injury, but collapsed with profuse bleeding. Something was interfering with the clotting process. I have never seen such a thing before."
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) likely will introduce his controversial legislation to reinstate the draft again this year, but he will wait until after the economic stimulus package is passed.
Asked if he plans to introduce the legislation again in 2009, Rangel last week said, “Probably … yes. I don’t want to do anything this early to distract from the issue of the economic stimulus.”
Rangel’s military draft bill did create a distraction for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) soon after Democrats won control of Congress after the 2006 election.
In the wake of that historic victory, Pelosi said publicly that she did not support the draft and that the Democratic leadership would not back Rangel’s legislation. She also said Rangel’s legislation was not about reinstating the draft but was instead “a way to make a point” about social inequality.
Just as the Bush administration is handing off a host of foreign policy debacles to Barack Obama (including seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), a woefully mismanaged economic bailout, and possibly a second Great Depression, so the outgoing president is leaving the new administration with a public education mess. There's the much maligned and underfunded No Child Left Behind Act which is up for reauthorization this year. The cost of going to college is also rapidly spiraling out of control, as evidenced in a recent report in which every state except California received an "F" for college affordability. And at the same time, student loans are drying up as lenders, fearing economic disaster, scale back their programs.
A Phrase That Launched A Thousand Bombs
By Christiane Brown
One phrase can divide an entire country, one phrase can circumvent 800 years of law, one phrase can justify the horrific, condone the illegal, and bankrupt a nation, both financially and morally. One phrase can kill.
Of the thousands of nefarious actions to emerge from the Bush administration, it is astounding to realize that at the root of the abuse of power, at the very embryo of the fires of destruction – was a deceptively simple enabler, a basic four word slogan that opened all doors before it and paved the way for the misery and misconduct that followed: The War on Terror.
This vague, and yet all encompassing phrase, was first used by President Bush on September 20th 2001, in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, and from that moment forward it became root force behind the staggering orgy of lawbreaking that followed.
Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.
The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one.
By Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Citing politics and torture, the Pentagon's chief defense counsel for war crimes issued an urgent appeal on Friday to a top Bush administration official to withdraw all charges against alleged terrorists here.
"The perception of pervasive torture now saddles the incoming Administration and its efforts to set these proceedings on a just course," Air Force Col. Peter Masciola wrote a former military appeals judge, Susan J. Crawford, known as the Convening Authority for Military Commissions.
Masciola noted that the Obama administration intends to revise the Guantanamo war court and urged Crawford to halt next week's hearings before the Pentagon put dozens of witnesses, judges, reporters, attorneys and other court personnel onto a flight from Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday.
Next week, two military judges have scheduled hearings.
Note for TomDispatch Readers:
The Pentagon pours vast sums of money into many things -- and it isn't only what you imagine. It's not just weapons and equipment, nor even technological and scientific research. Don't forget, for instance, the military money that goes into conferences to talk about carrying out more technological and scientific research to create more weapons and equipment. Just recently, Wired Magazine's Danger Room blog reported that "[l]ast August, the U.S. Army held a three-day conference in Portsmouth, Virginia, to look at new developments in military science and hardware." And what was it called? The "2008 Mad Scientist Future Technology Seminar." Seriously! You can't claim the Pentagon doesn't have a sense of humor.
Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) Seeks National Director | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) seeks an experienced, strategic-thinking national director who is passionate about ending the war in Iraq and who can help MFSO reach its next level of growth and development.
By Dave Lindorff
Congress should do now what it should have done back in the fall: kill the Wall Street bailout program.
After wasting $350 billion on a program that was misrepresented from the outset, and investing hundreds of billions of dollars in failing financial institutions that it could have bought outright for less than it was investing in them (AIG was worth only a few billion dollars in total at the time that the government bailed the company out with an initial investment of $85 billion and Citicorp today is worth less than the $45 billion the government has invested in that failing firm), the Treasury Department, now acting at the direction not of the Bush administration and outgoing Treasurer Hank Paulson, but the Obama administration, is asking for the other half of the Troubled Assets Relief Fund (TARP).
By Rita Beamish and Anne Gearn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama appointed a Raytheon Co. lobbyist Thursday to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, acknowledging that his choice appeared to break with his self-imposed rules to keep lobbyists at arm's length.
William J. Lynn III, Obama's choice for deputy defense secretary, is a former Pentagon official who now is senior vice president for government operations at Raytheon Co. Lynn hasn't been a registered lobbyist since July, meaning he can't personally lobby Congress or the White House. In the first three months of 2008, his lobbying team reported spending $1.15 million to influence issues, including missiles, sensors and radar, advanced-technology programs and intelligence funding.
US Military Casualties Exceed 70,658
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered 29 combat casualties in the week ending Jan. 13, 2009 as the official total rose to at least 70,658. The total includes 34,365 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,293 dead and medically evacuated (as of Jan 3, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
With combat duty in Vietnam under his belt, Madison County Circuit Judge Charles Romani Jr. knows veterans often have special issues when it comes to drugs and mental illness. Soon, many of them may be getting his special judicial help.
Taking a page from a similar program launched a year ago in New York, court administrators in this suburban St. Louis county plan to launch within weeks a new court designed to deal only with military veterans charged with nonviolent crimes.
The mission: Divert many of the veterans from the criminal courts to a program that, much like popular drug courts, will offer them treatment for underlying issues, perhaps sparing them a criminal conviction if they successfully complete the treatment.
By Dave Lindorff
The real cost of the Bush Administration’s trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street is becoming painfully apparent as the incoming Obama administration attempts desperately to make a case for its own $800-billion economic stimulus package, while warning about “trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.”
On its own merits, all other considerations aside, with the economy slipping into a sinkhole, President-elect Barack Obama’s call for $800 million in stimulus spending should be a slam dunk for Congress. The problem is, Congress already caved in a hurry and approved nearly that same amount--$700 billion—in a matter of days when Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and his Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke said they needed the money to prevent a collapse of the financial industry, as the nation’s biggest banks, investment banks and insurance companies teetered on the brink of insolvency last fall.
I've heard from another defense expert worried about academic freedom at the Army War College. Mark Perry, author of
several books on defense issues, wrote to say that a series of experiences two years ago at the college so concerned him that he sent a letter outlining his worries to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen.
Commenting on yesterday's item, Perry wrote (and I am quoting with his permission):
Tomgram: Body Count Nation
The Ponzi Scheme Presidency
Bush's Legacy of Destruction
By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com
It wasn't, of course, that no one had been counting. The President, as we know from Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, had long been keeping "'his own personal scorecard for the [global] war [on terror]' in the form of photographs with brief biographies and personality sketches of those judged to be the world's most dangerous terrorists -- each ready to be crossed out by the President as his forces took them down." And the military had been counting bodies as well, but as the possibility of victory disappeared into the charnel houses of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon and the president finally gave in. While this did not stoke an antiwar movement, it represented a tacit admission of policy collapse, a kind of surrender. It was as close as an administration which never owned up to error could come to admitting that two more disastrous wars had been added to a string of military failures in the truncated American Century.
The United States once again leads the world in exporting weapons
By Frida Berrigan, In These Times
A $7 billion missile-defense system for the United Arab Emirates. An estimated $15 billion potential sale of Lockheed Martin’s brand-new fighter plane to Israel. Billions of dollars in weaponry for Taiwan and Turkey. These and other recent deals helped make the United States the world’s leading arms-exporting nation.
In 2007, U.S. foreign military sales agreements totaled more than $32 billion — nearly triple the amount during President Bush’s first full year in office.
The Pentagon routinely justifies weapons sales as “promoting regional stability,” but many of these arms end up in the world’s war zones. In 2006 and 2007, the five biggest recipients of U.S. weapons were Pakistan ($3.5 billion), Iraq ($2.2 billion), Israel ($2.2 billion), Afghanistan ($1.9 billion) and Colombia ($580 million) — all countries where conflict rages.
A veteran who has been out of the military for 15 years and recently received his AARP card was stunned when he received notice he will be deployed to Iraq.
The last time Paul Bandel, 50, saw combat was in the early 1990s during the Gulf War.
"(I was) kind of shocked, not understanding what I was getting into," said Bandel, who lives in the Nashville, Tenn., area.
In 1993, Bandel took the option of leaving the Army without retirement and never thought he would be called back to action.
"Here he's 50 years old, getting his AARP card, and here he's being redeployed with all these 18-year-olds," said Paul's wife, Linda Bandel.
Obama Moves to Counter China in Space With Pentagon-NASA Link
By Demian Mclean, Bloomberg
Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.’s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China.
Obama’s transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency’s planned launch vehicle, which isn’t slated to fly until 2015, according to people who’ve discussed the idea with the Obama team.
The potential change comes as Pentagon concerns are rising over China’s space ambitions because of what is perceived as an eventual threat to U.S. defense satellites, the lofty battlefield eyes of the military.
By Deepak Chopra, AlterNet
The following is a memo to Barack Obama from Deepak Chopra
You have been elected by the first anti-war constituency since 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected after promising to end the Korean War. But ending a war isn't the same as bringing peace. America has been on a war footing since the day after Pearl Harbor, 67 years ago. We spend more on our military than the next 16 countries combined. If you have a vision of change that goes to the heart of this country's deep problems, ending our dependence on war is far more important than ending our dependency on foreign oil.
The most immediate changes are economic. Unless it can make as much money as war, peace doesn't stand a chance. Since aerospace and military technologies remain the United States' most destructive export, fostering wars around the world, what steps can we take to reverse that trend and build a peace-based economy?
By Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Marvin, US Army Special Forces (Retired), Author of "Expendable Elite - One Soldier's Journey Into Covert Warfare"
Immediately after commanding the memorial tribute at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in honor of President John F. Kennedy on the day he was assassinated, I volunteered for Special Forces. Knowing how much my best friend, Green Beret SFC Gerard V. Parmentier, admired the just slain President, inspired this action.
Here's a story in the Hill which spins the news as its opposite.
By Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times
EL PASO -- A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.
"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.
The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.