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Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 20,582

Journal Archives

“Tomorrow’s Battlefield”

By Nick Turse, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez
Source: Democracy Now

"Tomorrow's Battlefield": As U.S. Special Ops Enter Syria, Growing Presence in Africa Goes Unnoticed"

Published on Nov 13, 2015
Democracynow.org - "The recent U.S. deployment of special operations forces to Syria expands a global U.S. battlefield that is at a historic size. This year, special ops have been sent to a record 147 countries—75 percent of the nations on the planet. It’s a 145 percent increase from the days of George W. Bush. And it means that on any given day elite U.S. forces are on the ground in 70 to 90 countries. Those shocking numbers are revealed by our guest, the journalist Nick Turse. For years, Turse has been tracking the expansion of global U.S. militarism for the website TomDispatch and other outlets. His latest book, "Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa," focuses on one particular American military battlefield that often goes unnoticed. Turse says the U.S. military is now involved in more than 90 percent of Africa’s 54 nations."


Qaddafi had to go. He was the only obstacle to this.

Puerto Rico’s Economic “Death Spiral” is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism

http://democracynow.org - The White House rejects a bailout package for Puerto Rico days after the U.S. territory failed to pay a small portion of the massive $72 billion it owes to bondholders. It was the biggest municipal bond default in U.S. history. Unlike U.S. states and municipalities, Puerto Rico cannot declare bankruptcy. Juan González discusses how the roots of the crisis are deeply tied to Puerto Rico’s colonial status.

Puerto Rico’s Economic “Death Spiral” is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism

By Juan Gonzalez
Source: Democracy Now
November 27, 2015

"Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare funding for the island. Meanwhile, Puerto Rican leaders in the United States are planning a massive lobbying day in Washington in early December to spur congressional action. In a holiday special, we feature a major speech by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González on “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: Economic Collapse in America’s Biggest Colony and What Can Be Done About It.”


A Waroholic Wishes You Peace on Earth

By David Swanson
Source: Worldbeyondwar.org
November 29, 2015

"Imagine an alcoholic who managed every night to get a hold of and consume huge quantities of whiskey and who every morning swore that drinking whiskey had been his very last resort, he’d had no choice at all.

Easy to imagine, no doubt. An addict will always justify himself, how ever nonsensically it has to be done.

But imagine a world in which everyone believed him and solemnly said to each other “He really had no other choice. He truly had tried everything else.”

Not so plausible, is it? Almost unimaginable, in fact. And yet:

Everyone says the United States is at war in Syria as a last resort, even though:

The United States spent years sabotaging UN attempts at peace in Syria.

The United States dismissed out of hand a Russian peace proposal for Syria in 2012.

And when the United States claimed a bombing campaign was needed immediately as a “last resort” in 2013 but the U.S. public was wildly opposed, other options were pursued.

Everyone says the United States is killing people with drones as a last resort, even though in that minority of cases in which the United States knows the names of the people it is aiming for, many (if not all) of them indisputably could have been easily arrested.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/a-waroholic-wishes-you-peace-on-earth/

Again, I know that other countries, including my own, have also played a large role in the mess in the ME and NA, but I can't change the titles. We've got to stop this shit.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

By Richard Falk
Source: Richardfalk.com
November 30, 2015

[Prefatory Note: Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as established by the UN General Assembly. It was on that day in 2012 that the General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, a status similar to that enjoyed by The Vatican.

It was a symbolic victory for Palestine, made sweeter by overcoming the bitter opposition of Israel, and supported of course by the United State. Despite its concerted efforts to block any Palestinian reliance on international law to put forward their case for a recognition of Palestinian rights, Israel while opposing each and every move, when and if it loses, scoffs at the result as meaningless and changes nothing.

This year the UN agreed to have the Palestinian flag flying along side other member states outside UN Headquarters in NYC, another symbolic victory opposed by Israel. How meaningful is it? True, there is no lessening of the daily ordeal of Palestinians in their various settings, especially those living under occupation or in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Yet, aside from a slap at Israel that contributes to a growing sense of international outrage about the refusal to resolve the conflict, such symbolic moves are battles in the Legitimacy War that Palestine has been waging on many fronts, and with success. The civil society front may be the most important, which centers its efforts on the BDS Campaign that moves from success to success, building a momentum that is challenging the balance of forces that has allowed Israel to ignore Palestinian grievances for decades. From an international perspective, Palestine is now at the very least an occupied state and this has potential consequences in both diplomacy and international law.

I post below a comment from Mazin Qumsiyeh, a remarkable person, who lives the reality of occupation and exemplifies the spirit of nonviolent Palestinian resistance that seeks to counterpose a heroic normalcy against the quotidian cruelties of the Israeli occupation. I have found much inspiration in the example of Mazin and many other Palestinians, reminding me that we all, especially we Americans, share a responsibility to engage in struggle on behalf of justice for the Palestinian people, which is in the end the only foundation for a sustainable peace for both peoples. With so much attention these days diverted to other regional issues, especially ISIS and Syria, we who care about Palestine must especially raise our voices of protest and join in the concrete acts of solidarity that are having an impact.]

The message of Mazin Qumsiyeh:

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/international-day-of-solidarity-with-the-palestinian-people/

Can democracy and genocide co-exist in Burma?

By Murtaza Shaikh
Source: open democracy
November 30, 2015

We have witnessed a momentous and historic event in Burma (Myanmar); the first real glimpses of democracy with the military dictatorship making way for the landslide victory of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi after over two decades of political exile at an immeasurable personal cost.

However, there is a story behind the headlines and jubilation, to a large extent sidelined and omitted, perhaps because it inconveniently complicates and even undermines the simplistic narrative of democratic triumph over dictatorship, of absolute good overcoming absolute evil. That barely visible story, rather than a minor detail, demands our full attention, especially if the purpose behind the electoral exercise was a future democratic Burma, where human rights and its diverse ethnic and religious plurality is accommodated, respected and reflected politically.

And it is this: the Rohingya Muslim minority numbering around 1 million were denied the right to vote or stand for office, following a recent census, which excluded all Rohingya. Couple this with recent in-depth reports from Queen Mary University and Fortify Rights and the Yale Law School finding that the process of genocide is under way against the Rohingya. The QMU report concludes

“the Rohingya have suffered the first four of the six stages of genocide. They have been, and continue to be, stigmatized, dehumanised and discriminated against. They have been harassed, terrorized and slaughtered. They have been isolated and segregated into detention camps and securitised villages and ghettos. They have been systematically weakened through hunger, illness, denial of civil rights and loss of livelihood.” This puts them at serious risk of stage five which is “mass annihilation”.

The report is endorsed by Tomás Ojea Quintana, former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (2008-14). Earlier in 2013, a Human Rights Watch Report titled: ‘All You Can Do is Pray’ had concluded, with the help of detailed satellite imagery, the treatment of Rohingya met the legal definition of ethnic cleansing.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/can-democracy-and-genocide-co-exist-in-burma/

Chomsky and His Critics

By Noam Chomsky
Source: Jacobin Magazine
November 30, 2015

Noam Chomsky, to rehearse a cliché, is among the world’s greatest living radical intellectuals. It is no less trite or true to add that he is also a broadly controversial figure: accused from various corners of a variety of failings ranging from “genocide denial” to rigid, “amoral quietism” in the face of mass atrocities. Most recently, critics of dissimilar political hues claim to have identified a range of follies in his statements on Syria.

In the following interview, freelance journalist Emanuel Stoakes puts some of these criticisms to Chomsky.

While reasserting his opposition to full-scale military intervention, Chomsky says he does not in principle oppose the idea of a no-fly zone established alongside a humanitarian corridor (though Putin’s recent interventions have all but killed the possibility of the former option). Chomsky also clarifies his positions on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo.

In addition to answering his critics, Chomsky gives his thoughts on a wide range of other topics: what should be done to combat ISIS, the significance of popular struggles in South America, and the future of socialism.

As always, his underlying belief in our capacity to build a better society shines through.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/chomsky-and-his-critics/

Fossil Fuel Lobby: Threat to Meaningful Progress at Paris Climate Talks

by Nick Fillmore / November 28th, 2015

In the early-1950s, when it became widely known that smoking caused cancer, giant tobacco companies formed the Tobacco Industry Research Council (TIRC). Its main goal was to deny the harmful effects of tobacco and confuse the public.

The tobacco lobby wormed its way into the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO), wreaking havoc and slowing the WHO’s efforts to reduce the growing number of cancer deaths.

Realizing that the tobacco corporations were obstructing progress, the WHO finally built a firewall between public health officials and industry lobbyists. Only then was it possible to better control tobacco.

Flash forward to Paris and the 21st annual UN Climate Conference, November 30 to December 11 . The 190 participating countries are charged with trying to hold carbon emissions to liveable limits between the years 2020 and 2030.

But – just like when the tobacco lobby was powerful – the fossil fuel lobby is strongly influencing decisions to be made in Paris.

But scientists say that the human race cannot continue to function in a near-normal way unless about 80 per cent of the remaining fossil fuels are left in the ground.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/11/fossil-fuel-lobby-threat-to-meaningful-progress-at-paris-climate-talks/

Bombing Yemen, Munitions Sales to Saudi Arabia

Britain’s Robust Arms Export Control Regime

by Felicity Arbuthnot / November 29th, 2015

As Prime Minister David Cameron attempts to persuade Parliament to back another illegal assault on a country posing no threat to the UK, Syria, it transpires that Britain may face war crimes charges anyway for arms sales to Saudi Arabia, arms being used to decimate civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen.

“Since March this year, bombing raids and a blockade of ports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Gulf states have crippled much of Yemen … thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed, with schools, hospitals and non-military infrastructure hit. Fuel and food shortages, according to the United Nations, have brought near famine to many parts of the country.” Moreover: “The UN estimates that twenty one million people are now without basic life sustaining services and over 1.5 million are displaced. Unicef estimates that as many as ten children a day are being killed.

Given that the population of Yemen is just over twenty four million, the figures demonstrate that almost the entire population is experiencing unimaginable devastation in an onslaught on which the governments of the “international community” have simply turned their backs – except those bombing with US and UK supplied missiles.

This latest issue of legal embarrassment for David Cameron’s government relates to a Report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued on November 25 alleging that: “The Saudi Arabia-led coalition used a British-made missile to destroy” Yemen’s Radfan Ceramics factory, “a civilian object, on 23 September, 2015.”

The findings were based: “on field research and interviews with eyewitnesses at the scene.”

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/11/bombing-yemen-munitions-sales-to-saudi-arabia/


“We must do something!”

by John Andrews / November 30th, 2015

“We must do something!” is often heard today in relation to the terrorist group known as ISIS. It’s very true, we should do something, but let’s think for a minute about what “we” already did.

ISIS did not exist until after the illegal war in Iraq, which “our” government supported. Al Qaeda had no significant presence in Iraq until the US/UK governments killed over a million Iraqis, destroyed their country, crushed their army and then, their oil fields safely back under “our” control, abandoned the Iraqi people. An Al Qaeda group established itself in the power vacuum, which then evolved into ISIS. So that’s what “we” already did. ISIS is “ours”; “we” created it, firstly through “our” iniquitous foreign policies, then with “our” arms sales and other material and financial support to a multitude of despicable allies in the region, and then with military training and other assistance from “our” special forces.

So the first thing “we must do” is understand that most of the gangster/terrorist groups that plague the planet today have been created by our own trusted leaders, to serve the cynical purposes of big business, and the massive military/police/”intelligence” organisations who need Permanent War so they can stay in business. ISIS is just the latest from “our” production line – that previously helped to produce monsters like al Qaeda and the Taleban. When ISIS is gone “we’ll” simply promote another monster to replace it – al Shabaab, perhaps? Or Boko Haram? That’s what “we” do: “we” help create monsters to serve “our” 1%.

The next thing we must do is very simple: obey the law. International law is very clear on the subjects of regime change and military interventions in other people’s countries. The US, our “special relationship” buddies, has illegally overthrown governments in over thirty countries since WW2, often with British assistance, and often with illegal military attacks. The US routinely ignores international law and is strongly opposed to the existence of the International Criminal Court, whose purpose is to enforce it. Britain is also building up an impressive dossier of cases that are potentially indictable war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. The latest UN Security Council resolution, 2249, does NOT specifically authorise military attacks in Syria; but it does insist we obey international law.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/11/we-must-do-something/

Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes

by Matt Peppe / November 30th, 2015

In a dramatic segment on CBS News’ 60 Minutes titled “The Last Prisoner of the Cold War,” former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) subcontractor Alan Gross tells of horrifying experiences in captivity: “They threatened to hang me, they threatened to pull out my fingernails, they said I’d never see the light of day.”

The opportunistic Gross, who earned more than $500,000 from his work for USAID, undoubtedly understands that he could cash in on the American public’s preconceptions of Cuba by dramatizing his experience there. Perhaps this occurred to Gross during his imprisonment, when he told a second cousin that “when he comes back he’s going to have a big book deal.” One might even venture to guess his 60 Minutes interview might be an audition for such a pay day.

“Since the year 1959, there has not been one single case of extra-judicial execution, enforced disappearance or torture,” stated Maria Esther Reus, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Cuba, in the Cuban government’s presentation to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “The prison system constitutes an example of Cuba’s humanism. Cuba has developed programmes that are directed towards transforming prisons into schools. The goal is to ensure that human beings who have served their sentences are fully reintegrated into society.”

Gross’s Covert Mission

In a memo to DAI, Gross wrote that the “ICTs Para la Isla pilot project” was designed to “lay a practical groundwork (emphasis in original) that will facilitate and enable the better management of larger-scale and more comprehensive transition-to-democracy initiatives.” Therefore, Gross’s mission was clearly political, rather than humanitarian. His professed mission to help Jewish groups was merely a cover for his clandestine activities on behalf of a government whose official policy for more than half a century has been the replacement of the Revolutionary government in Cuba.

Gross’s Detainment and Treatment By Cuban Authorities

Gross was held not in a regular prison but in a military hospital for the duration of his detainment. Cuban authorities not only took pains to ensure Gross was granted appropriate medical care, but were extremely accommodating to allow him time with his wife Judy.

It seems unlikely that Gross was abused or mistreated while serving his sentence. According to the Associated Press, Gross’s lawyer Jared Genser said Judy “arrived in Cuba on September 5 (2012) and was allowed to visit her husband on four days, three at the military hospital and once at a guarded home near the capital. He said there is no sign that Gross is being ill-treated.” He also told the AP “(Gross) is being treated fine.”

Gross, who suffered from arthritis, lost significant weight while held in confinement and developed a mass in his shoulder. He was treated by Cuban medical staff, and there is no evidence poor conditions contributed to his medical issues.

New York rabbi and gastroenterologist Elie Abadie was allowed to visit Gross in the military hospital, where he determined “through the exam he personally performed and also through the extensive information supplied by the team of Cuban doctors who have attended (Gross)” that Gross was in a good state of health.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/11/alan-grosss-improbable-tales-on-60-minutes/

Sick. The article does describe torture ........... but in Guantanamo Bay.
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