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Category Archives: Yemen

The governmental responses to the Paris terrorist attacks.

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night, France has rolled out its plans, seemingly prepared in advance much like the US’ response to 9/11: France is already increasing its bombing of Syria and is imposing strict new laws on its own people at home.

Despite the fact that at least half the terrorists in this case were already known to the French law enforcement community, the intelligence services mysteriously “ceased watching” the suspects a few days before the attacks. Oddly, and also reminiscent of 9/11, the French military and police forces were conducting anti-terrorist training exercises the morning of the attacks in Paris, so Paris was packed with law enforcement, but somehow the terrorists slipped around town to multiple locations unimpeded. The police response was notably slow at each location as well.  Despite these being obvious failures of the security community in France, the first steps rolled out in response are not directed as rebuke to or reform of these agencies, but are instead measures taken against the civilian population and which are a distinct curtailing of civil rights.  

Internally, French president Hollande has ordered a 3-month State of Emergency which will be extended further “as needed”. The state of emergency law allows French authorities to impose curfews, carry out random searches of private homes at any time, collect weapons owned by private citizens, use military tribunals rather than the courts, curtail public meetings, censor the press, order the house arrest of individuals (without trial), and close public places (most public places were closed for the week-end and the law allows for future closures at any time with little or no prior notification to the public).  The French government has already begun raids of private homes searching for accomplices to the terrorists and is increasing the number of soldiers patrolling Paris and suburbs. Right now, there are 5000 French military troops in Paris; there will be another 1500 added by Wednesday and the prime minister has promised to deploy another 10,000 troops throughout the rest of the country as quickly as possible. (There were already 7000 troops deployed internally in France since the “Charlie Hebdo” thing in January of this year, in addition to the number just in Paris alone.) This pretty much puts martial law in effect.

Hollande met with leaders of all the political parties in France over the week-end and they all agree with the new “state of emergency” law and to expanding participation of war abroad.  He asked for an increase in spending on security, police, and intelligence agencies, which will breach the EU’s budget agreements, and is seeking constitutional revisions to add to the powers of the president under emergency situations.   

Marie Le Pen, who is the leader of the National Front party (they are distinctly neo-fascists) called for the complete disarming of the suburbs, and Wauquiez, the secretary of the Le Republicans party (very right-wing) said that anyone in France who has an intelligence file (i.e., people being watched for one reason or another by the authorities) should be placed in internment camps.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve stated that the state of emergency might be used for “the dissolution of mosques in which people intervene to call for or promote hatred.”   What exactly constitutes “promoting hatred” is no doubt open to debate.

On Monday, Hollande made a speech to both houses of parliament in which he suggested sweeping changes to the democratic rights inherent in the French constitution and proposed modifying the constitution itself.  His measures would give arbitrary powers to the president and transfer authority from civilian institutions to the French military; he pointed out that the several articles supporting these sweeping changes were already part of the constitution under the state of emergency he imposed, but said that they needed to be modified and strengthened.  The articles in question allow the president full and arbitrary powers “when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, its territorial integrity, or the carrying out of its international engagements are threatened in a grave and immediate way, and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authority is interrupted…”

It’s a fairly broad read of the articles to invoke them with the claim that ISIS could threaten all the institutions of France, or its independence and territorial integrity.  Nonetheless, massive changes appear to be in the works for the good people of France, who have enjoyed a free and democratic republic until now.

Joyeux Noel et bonne annee, gens. [Merry Christmas and happy new year, people.]

Other countries are calling for more bombing throughout the Middle East, as though killing more people will somehow stop blowback of the sort that the Paris attacks might have been.  It is also possible that the Paris events were a false flag designed to have the effect of solidifying the intent of the “coalition of the willing” to come together more firmly and utterly destroy Syria in particular and the Middle East in general.  We even had the requisite magic, indestructible passports and a peculiarly belated claim from ISIS that they were, in fact, behind the attacks.  It was only after Hollande claimed that he “knew” that ISIS was behind the attacks that ISIS thought to take credit.  I wonder how easy it is for someone fleeing a war-torn country to apply for a passport and how quickly that country can process the applications when it is under full military assault.  Millions of people have fled Syria; is it even likely that all, or most, of them waited for visitor’s passports before fleeing for their very lives?   It’s a moot point anyway; we are now being told the terrorists were not Syrian refugees, but French and Belgium nationals.  And why do these terrorists only target the civilian population, rather than the politicians and neocons who are responsible for the wars in their homelands?   If this is a case of false flag, it seems to be working.

At the G20 meeting taking place now, a bunch of countries (which are, well, noticeably not Syria nor territories of Syria nor colonies of Syria nor in any way, shape, or form countries going by the name of Syria) are deciding how Syria should be governed and run. The big questions seem to be: do we simply assassinate al Assad, demand he a) step down now or b) step down later, set up an [illegal] interim government without him (like we did in Libya just before we assassinated Ghaddafi), tell the people of Syria they will have early elections but al Assad cannot run for office this time, despite his winning the last election with 80% of the vote (like we did in Haiti, where we allowed Aristide to return home, but said he couldn’t run for office even if the people wanted him to – which they overwhelmingly did), and the final big question is, of course, do you suppose anyone will notice if we just fucking bomb Syria into a landfill and kill all the civilians in the meantime? Takes care of that part of the refugee problem, anyway.

The US now kind of wants Russia to take part in the bombing of Syria to get rid of our manufactured enemy ISIS (who, let’s face it, are getting a tad out of control), but don’t want Russia to bomb the “moderate” terrorists, who just happen to be aiming their sights on al Assad, whom we really want to get rid of.  I have to ask here, what the fuck is a “moderate” terrorist?  Is that a terrorist who will cut your head off but not eat your liver afterwards?  What we really want, of course, is that damn pipeline that al Assad won’t give us, and we hope Russia will ignore that losing the pipeline will hurt the Russian economy and can be convinced to not only help us get rid of ISIS, but along the way, also help us take down the only guy who is protecting Russia’s interests in that pipeline matter.  (“Real shame about your airplane there, Mr. Putin.  Shitty things happen when you don’t play by our rules.”)

Not one leader, and this is notably true in the US, which favors sanctions and other such assorted illegal actions in lieu of diplomacy, has suggested sanctions or investigations into who is buying all that black-market oil from ISIS which profits the group enormously.  Turkey and Iraq are among the known purchasers, and reports have been leaked that suggest at least two EU countries buy ISIS oil.  Somehow the US can sanction individuals and/or entire countries for any matter under the sun that affects “our interests”, but is completely nonchalant about the ISIS oil buyers or the methods of money transfers they utilize.  Remarkable.

France has placed itself in the absurd situation of seeking help from Russia against ISIS in Syria while at the very same time committed to the NATO buildup against Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe.  The US and other NATO countries are doing the same thing, although few seem to have noticed the spectacular oddness of it all.  John Kerry, while in Paris a day ago, put the burden for intelligence-sharing on Russia and Iran (“…So the faster Russia and Iran give life to this process, the faster the violence can taper down, and we can isolate [IS] and Al Nusra and begin to do what our strategy has always set out to do”), despite the fact that we have been condemning both those countries for participating in military activity in the Syria up until this very moment, and have been making threats against both countries for decades.   We can only hope these idiots don’t start bombing each other (and us) in a mad melee while they are busy “coalescing” and bombing ISIS.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced he is adding financing to the military budget and doubling the drone fleet.  Countries all over the place are suddenly stating they are under “credible terrorist threats” and have begun canceling events, adding to their internal police forces and closing borders to refugees.  Roughly half the state governors in America have said they will not accept Syrian refugees – not that very many have come here in any case – despite the fact that it is not legal for them to bar refugees from their communities.

As for the larger US, we are suddenly bombing Libya again, in addition to Syria.  (Along with the seven or so other nations we are bombing.)  No authorization for any of the bombing we are doing anywhere, of course, and particularly egregious to be bombing a country we already ruined beyond repair a couple of years ago, but no-one in the media seems disturbed. Matter of fact, it is so humdrum that I’ve only seen one or two articles on the incident.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-officials-leader-of-islamic-state-in-libya-believed-killed-in-us-airstrike/2015/11/14/b42cb714-8af0-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

The final paragraph in the above article sums up the media’s insouciance for facts and displays its ability to re-write even recent history, replacing truth with bullshit.

The Islamic State has been able to thrive in Libya in large part because of the country’s political instability four years after its revolution. Since last year, Libya has had two governments vying for resources and legitimacy. But neither is able to impose security across the vast desert nation or curb a sprawling array of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups.

It was not a revolution, those were CIA-funded, al Qaeda-affiliated “rebels” brought into the country of Libya to overthrow the then-current government.  Then an unbelievable amount of bombs were dropped under the lead of the US, ruining damn near everything, and then we assassinated the leader of this sovereign nation.  The country had been working pretty well up until that point, with Ghaddafi having over a 90% approval rating from the Libyans themselves.  And, by the way, the “sprawling array” of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups weren’t a problem until we wrecked the country.

In response to the events in Paris, I guess the PTB have decided their course of action: more of the same of what they’ve been doing.  Yeah, because that’s been working so well up to now.  We managed to create and fund al Qaeda and ISIS through our activities in the Middle East for all these long years, and we supply weapons to our “ally” Saudi Arabia, which in turn follows much the same set of Wahhabi beliefs that ISIS and the other Islamist militant groups do and which actively provides material and financial backing for terrorist groups worldwide.  The House of Saud is loathe to bomb ISIS, but has been savagely willing to use those weapons to bring hell on earth to Yemen and Pakistan.  Yesterday, it was announced that the US State Dept. has approved a new $1.3 bb sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia, which the Pentagon says will be used in the Saudis’ military campaigns in Syria and Yemen.  We consider Turkey an ally even as they purchase black-market oil from ISIS and back the “moderate terrorist” groups [al Qaeda and ISIS allies] and ignore the reports that our ally Israel is giving medical aid to ISIS wounded.  One thing that no-one will consider is to let the Arab nations figure out if they really want the kind of life ISIS is selling and let them sort it out for themselves.  

To underscore that our desire to spread weaponry, mayhem and misery is equal opportunity for the entire globe, the US Senate just cleared the revised Defense Authorization legislation for vote, legislation that will provide $715 mm to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS, $406 mm for the Syrian opposition forces (the so-called moderate terrorist groups), and $300 mm for lethal weapons for the neo-Nazis we put in power in Ukraine.

Obama has promised a quarter of a billion dollars to sponsor “maritime security” in the South China Sea.  The money will fund gunboat patrols and surveillance for Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia as the US tries to gin up the territorial disputes with China in that area.  (Wait’ll he finds out that China, Japan and South Korea are holding meetings to work out some trade questions and the sea-lane disputes without him.  See note at bottom.)  Escalation of war threats all over the globe.

Sounds like a plan, if a dismal one.

Note: Looks like China and Japan are starting to figure out they need each other more than either needs the stupid war-mongering US. and its manufactured dispute over some sand bars:

Nov 2015 – S Korea, Japan, and China agree to restore trade ties. 
Regional powers also agree to restart trilateral meetings that have not been held since 2012 due to strained relations.
 Two articles.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/korea-japan-china-agree-restore-trade-ties-151101130148174.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-01/south-korea-china-japan-vow-to-strengthen-ties-at-summit/6903686

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in China, civil rights, Iran, Iraq, Libya, MIC, Russia, security state, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen

 

News round-up.

Here are some brief notes on a few news items of the past week or two, most of which were overlooked by the mainstream press.  I’ll really try to keep it all brief (though I am not very good at that and am more known for my enthusiastic verbosity), so if you are one of those people who is wrecking the attention span and memory functions of your brain by overusing “twitter” and such shit, you can skim quickly and not have to digest too much at a time.  I won’t use hashtags, though.  One has to draw the line somewhere.

As of November this year, 164 detainees remain at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp without charge or trial; many of them have been held for more than 11 years. Since 2010, 86 detainees have been approved for release by the Administration’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, yet only 2 have been transfered in the past year.

The U.S. will no longer report to the public any hunger strikes taking place among the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  Disclosure of hunger strikes at the prison are “not in the interest” of the military.  This would be called censoring the news were it to occur in the old USSR or modern North Korea.  Here, we don’t call it anything – we just do it.

MIAMI — The U.S. military will no longer disclose to the media and public whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike, a spokesman said Wednesday, eliminating what had long been an unofficial barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost in Cuba.

Hunger strikes have been employed by men held at Guantanamo since shortly after the prison opened in January 2002, and the United States has long disclosed how many are refusing to eat and whether they meet military guidelines to be force-fed.

Officials have determined that it is no longer in their interest to publicly disclose the information, said Navy Cmdr. John Filostrat, a spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

“JTF-Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public,” Filostrat said in an e-mail. “The release of this information serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops.” […]

Human rights groups, lawyers and the media had long used the number of hunger strikers as a measure of discontent at the prison. A mass protest over conditions this year peaked in July at 106 detainees.

The Miami Herald reported that as of Monday, when the statistics were apparently released for the last time, 15 men were on hunger strike, up from 11 in mid-November.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/guantanamo-detainees-hunger-strikes-will-no-longer-be-disclosed-by-us-military/2013/12/04/f6b1aa96-5d24-11e3-bc56-c6ca94801fac_story.html

The FDA issued rules pertaining to the removal of antibiotics from animal feed; the overuse of antibiotics in feed has increased drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases amongst both animals and humans in what is being called an epidemic by the medical community.  Naturally, being the present-day FDA, run by former Monsanto employees, the new rules are voluntary, non-binding, and allow a three-year timeframe for phasing out the the use of antibiotics on healthy animals.

In response to concerns about the rise in drug-resistant superbugs worldwide, US regulators Wednesday issued voluntary guidelines to help cut back on antibiotics routinely fed to farm animals.

The plan described by the Food and Drug Administration is not mandatory, and applies only to certain pharmaceuticals that are given to healthy livestock in a bid to grow bigger animals and boost food production. […]

The FDA guidelines set out a three-year timeframe for phasing out the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine for growth uses in farm animals. […]

The World Health Organization says inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in farm animals is one the factors underlying the spread of drug-resistant infections in people, including tuberculosis, malaria and gonorrhea. […]

Consumer advocates say 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are destined for use in livestock, so leaving the responsibility in the hands of business is a mistake.

Louise Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, described the FDA’s voluntary guidance as “an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success.”

This guidance “falls woefully short of what is needed to address a public health crisis,” she added in a statement.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said there are “several loopholes” in the FDA plan that could undermine its aim.

“Unfortunately it requires the drug companies who profit from sales of their drugs to initiate the process,” said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. […]

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/11/fda-issues-non-binding-rules-for-removing-antibiotics-from-farms/

We have killed 18 people via drone-bombing in Yemen in just the past week.  In one instance, there were 15 members of a wedding party murdered (what the hell else can you call it?) and a few days before that, three people traveling in a car were assassinated by a drone missile.

(Reuters) – Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said.

Five more people were injured, the officials said. […]

On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people travelling in a car in eastern Yemen.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/12/us-yemen-strike-idUSBRE9BB10O20131212?irpc=932

We adopted the Volker so-called “rule” this week.  However, like Elizabeth Warren’s 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act and John Delaney’s infrastructure bill (see my recent articles on these subjects), the Volker rule has been watered down enough to make it essentially meaningless.  The banks have until 2015 to comply with the “rules”.  The “rules” will be overseen and enforced by the regulatory agencies now peopled largely by former Goldman, Sachs employees.  That there is what we call reform in these United States.

The so-called “Volcker rule,” adopted Tuesday by the main US bank regulatory agencies, is being hailed by the Obama administration as a major reform that will rein in Wall Street speculation and hold bankers accountable. In fact, it is a toothless measure that will do nothing to stop the speculative and fraudulent activities that triggered the financial meltdown of 2008 and have continued unabated since then.

The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman and Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, is among the most contested parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul that was signed into law by President Obama in July of 2010. The rule ostensibly bars commercial banks, which benefit from federally guaranteed retail deposits and other government backstops, from speculating with bank funds, including customers’ deposits, on their own account—a practice known as proprietary trading. […]

The document approved Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), spanning 953 pages, nominally restricts proprietary trading. But it incorporates loopholes and exemptions that will enable the banks to continue to make risky bets on stocks, bonds and other securities for their own profit.

The rule delays the date for compliance by the banks to July 2015, three years after the date laid down in the Dodd-Frank law. This is designed to give the banks and their lawyers ample time to devise ways to evade the rule’s provisions and, if they so decide, mount lawsuits to block all or part of the measure. […]

The measure requires bank CEOs to affirm annually that they have established programs to ensure that their firms are complying with the rule’s provisions. However, in another concession to Wall Street, its does not require that the executives attest that their companies are actually in compliance with the rule. […]

The Wall Street Journal in an editorial Wednesday was more blunt. The newspaper wrote: “Rest assured banks will find loopholes. And rest assured some of the Volcker rule-writers will find private job opportunities to help with that loophole search once they decide to lay down the burdens of government service.” […]

As the Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday, “Consultants wasted no time in starting to work with their banking clients on how to put in place the new rules… Law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP last year hired Donald Lamson, who had been a banking regulator at the OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] to help focus on Volcker-rule matters… ‘We’re already getting inquiries from our clients,’ said Robert Cook, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, who until earlier this year was helping write the new financial rules as a lawyer at the SEC.”

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/13/volc-d13.html

The annual Mayors’ Report has been issued and it is not pretty – in fact, the statistics on poverty and homelessness in our cities are horrible.  This will not stop Congress from stripping federal aid from the poverty-stricken, the working poor, the jobless and the homeless as quickly as possible.  And until the majority of non-military Americans is completely decimated and living on the edges of starvation, I’m pretty sure most of the country has no problem with that – I cannot recall a period in my entire lifetime where so much of the population has had so much animosity and outright hatred toward the less fortunate.  The operative theory here is that giving money to the rich makes them work harder and entices them to “provide jobs”, while giving any amount of aid to the poor makes them stop working altogether.

And the military, via Pentagon funding, will continue to receive the bulk of federal funds so that we can continue in perpetuity the “war on terror”.  (Can I hear a “USA – fuck yeah!”?  I thought so.)

A new report on hunger and homelessness paints a devastating picture of the conditions facing millions of workers and poor people in America. The new US Conference of Mayors’ Task Force annual survey highlights the extent and causes of hunger and homelessness in 25 cities for the year between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013.

The report finds that 83 percent of the cities surveyed reported an increase in requests for emergency food assistance over the past year, and 52 percent saw an increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness. Despite this growing need, mayors in the surveyed cities expect assistance for the hungry and homeless to decrease in the coming year.

This social catastrophe is unfolding as the federal government prepares deeper cuts to the food stamp program, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and Congress allows federal extended jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed to expire after Christmas. […]

All but four of the surveyed cities reported a rise in emergency food assistance requests, and across all cities this need increased by an average of 7 percent. Among those seeking assistance, 58 percent were persons in families, 21 percent were elderly, and 9 percent were homeless. The working poor made up 43 percent of those requesting food assistance.  

The surveyed cities listed unemployment as the leading driver of hunger, followed by low wages, poverty and high housing costs. With unemployment insurance claims jumping to 368,000 in the week that ended December 7, from 300,000 the week before, and the Obama administration and Congress prepared to cut jobless benefits, the need for food assistance is certain to rise even further.

While cities reported a 7 percent average increase in the amount of food distributed during the past year, budgets for emergency food purchases increased by less than 1 percent. As a result, more than one-fifth of those needing emergency food assistance—21 percent—did not receive it. 

In all of the 25 cities surveyed, food pantries were forced to reduce the quantity of food people could receive at each visit, and emergency kitchens had to cut back on the amount of food offered per meal. In two-thirds of the cities, people were turned away due to a lack of resources. […] 

Based on a single-night count in 3,000 US cities and counties, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that more than 610,000 people were homeless across the US on any given night last year. Of these, 65 percent were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing, while 35 percent were living in unsheltered locations such as under bridges, in cars, or in abandoned buildings. Individuals comprise 64 percent of those experiencing homelessness, while families make up 36 percent.

The number of homeless families increased in 64 percent of the cities included in the mayors’ report. Sixty-eight percent of cities cited poverty as the main cause of homelessness among families, followed by lack of affordable housing (60 percent), unemployment (54 percent), eviction (32 percent), family disputes (28 percent), and domestic violence and low-paying jobs (12 percent each). […]

The surveyed cities were also asked to provide information on the characteristics of their adult homeless populations. The cities reported that, on average, 30 percent of homeless adults were severely mentally ill, 19 percent were employed, 17 percent were physically disabled, 16 percent were victims of domestic violence, 13 percent were veterans, and 3 percent were HIV Positive.

Seventeen of the 25 cities surveyed reported that emergency shelters had to turn away families with children experiencing homelessness because there were no beds available, while two-thirds of the cities were forced to turn away homeless unaccompanied individuals. The unmet need for emergency shelter ranged from 25 percent to 50 percent in eight cities. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/13/conf-d13.html

The savvy Obama administration has made its usual move of killing the hostages itself before Congress has a chance to.  Immediately after working out a (bogus) interim agreement with Iran, Obama expanded the list of Iranian people and companies included in current sanctions.

In what some charge is a bid to ‘stave off congressional action,’ White House expands list of Iran-linked people and companies subject to financial blockade.

Iranian officials on Friday slammed a U.S. expansion of a sanctions blacklist of companies and people claimed to be linked to Iran’s alleged nuclear program, with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi declaring it “against the spirit of the Geneva deal.”

“We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals,” Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, told the Iranian Fars news agency on Friday.

The late November interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations required Iran to freeze its nuclear program, despite no evidence of nuclear weapons development, in exchange for a slight—and critics charge grossly insufficient—easing of sanctions in a bid to buy time for more talks.

The deal unleashed a wave of hope in Iran that an easing of US-led sanctions would alleviate severe economic hardship and shortages of medical supplies and equipment that hit Iran’s poor and working classes the hardest.

Yet, immediately following the agreement, the U.S. vowed to escalate enforcement of the sanctions that remained, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are calling for more severe sanctions on Iran—a move that critics charge could jeopardize the deal and increase the risk of a regional war with dangerous and unknown consequences. The congressional move appears to be in step with vigorous efforts by both Israel and Saudi Arabia to prevent a deal with Iran.

Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, told Common Dreams that the U.S. expansion of the black list is likely a bid on the part of the Obama administration to “stave off congressional action.”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/12/13-3

The southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, which despite not yet being officially approved, is beginning to ship oil through.  One might wonder how that is possible, given that it does not have approval yet, but such wonderment is simply the vague musings of a baffled mind.  In this nation of laws, the management is free to overlook said laws.  That’s how it works now. Still confused?  You must hate democracy.

TransCanada has begun pumping oil into the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a company spokesman announced on Tuesday. However, it remains to be seen whether President Obama will actually approve the project.

The corporation began moving oil into the stretch of pipeline that runs from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast early on Saturday. […]

The completed section of the pipeline will soon be filled with three million gallons of oil, the company said. […]

http://rt.com/usa/oil-pumped-southern-keystone-pipeline-031/

On the tentative budget agreement: it’s atrocious and keeps in place most of the sequester (except for the Pentagon part, which gets a raise).  Not surprising, though.  Once those fuckers in Congress got their cuts to the poor and the public good via the sequester, you knew they wouldn’t open their tightly clenched fists.  Yet as George W. Bush once said, “It’s clearly a budget.  It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

US House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget that will leave in place over a trillion dollars in sequester spending cuts over 10 years, while slashing the retirement benefits of federal workers and military retirees and imposing regressive consumption taxes. 

The brutal character of the bipartisan agreement is underscored by the fact that it makes no provision for the extension of federal extended jobless benefits, threatening over a million unemployed people with the loss of their only cash income the week after Christmas. […]

By the White House’s own figures, failure to extend the unemployment benefits will end cash assistance for 1.3 million people immediately after the holidays and impact an additional 3.6 million people in the first half of 2014. […]

Obama added that “this agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as ‘the sequester’ that have harmed students, seniors, and middle class families.”

In fact, the proposed two-year budget restores only a small fraction of the more than $1 trillion in cuts scheduled over the next ten years, and the reduced level of cuts is more than offset by regressive consumption taxes in the form of “user fees,” increased pension costs for federal civilian workers, cuts in retirement benefits for military employees and further reductions in Medicare spending. 

Above all, the deal leaves intact the mechanism of automatic across-the-board cuts in domestic discretionary spending known as sequestration, which took effect last March and has already resulted in $85 billion in cuts, in part through unpaid furloughs affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers. […] 

Under the proposed budget agreed to on Tuesday, $63 billion in government spending is scheduled to be cut back in 2014 and 2015, or about one third of the total in sequester cuts slated for those years, will be restored. The biggest chunk of restored funds will go to the Pentagon. 

This modest rollback in sequester cuts will be more than offset by an additional $85 billion in deficit reduction over the next ten years. One of the largest cuts, amounting to $12 billion over a decade, will be to retirement benefits for federal civilian workers and military employees.

Beginning January 1st, new federal civilian employees will increase their contributions to their pensions by 1.3 percent, slashing spending by $6 billion. This will come on top of a three-year pay freeze for federal workers and the loss of as much as 15 percent of their income as a result of sequester-related unpaid furloughs.

Military retirees between the ages of 40 and 62 will see their cost-of-living adjustments slashed, adding another $6 billion in deficit reduction.

The budget proposal also adds another $22 billion to the existing sequester cuts by extending cuts to Medicare providers through 2022 and 2023.

The budget will raise $12.6 billion by increasing security fees for airline passengers and another $8 billion by charging higher fees for insuring private-sector pensions. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/11/budg-d11.html

 

Further reading:

EU announces token fines on banks caught rigging global rates.  “Token” is accurate, and it is stunning, to say the least, that these cartoonish fines (no criminal prosecutions for this group of economic hitmen) aren’t being broadcast with screaming headlines everywhere.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/07/libo-d07.html

 

An article at vice.com describes how many major liberal news outlets (Mother Jones, Democracy Now) exploits unpaid interns while railing on about how horrible economic inequality is. Here is one nice quote:

“Meanwhile, Democracy Now!, venerable progressive broadcast hosted by journalist Amy Goodman, requires interns at its new, LEED Platinum–certified office in Manhattan to work for free for two months, for a minimum of 20 hours a week, after which ‘a $15 expense allowance is provided on days you work five or more hours.’ ”

http://www.vice.com/read/the-exploited-laborers-of-the-liberal-media

 

Very good essay on the latest re: Fukushima:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/fukushima-radiation-hits-west-coast.html

 

On Obamacare (h/t Kitt):

http://jacobinmag.com/2013/12/socialism-converting-hysterical-misery-into-ordinary-unhappiness/

 

And we are at war in Yemen.

We are at war in Yemen.  Article by Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman for wired.com:danger room.

Let’s Admit it: The US is at War in Yemen, Too.

After years of sending drones and commandos into Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week finally admitted the obvious: The US is “fighting a war” there. But American robots and special forces aren’t just targeting militants in Pakistan. They’re doing the same — with increasing frequency and increasing lethality — in Yemen. The latest drone attack happened early Wednesday in the Yemeni town of Azzan, killing nine people. It’s the 23rd strike in Yemen so far this year, according to the Long War Journal. In Pakistan, there have been only 22.

Surely, if America is at war in Pakistan, it’s at war in Yemen, too. And it’s time for the Obama administration to admit it.

For all the handwringing about the undeclared, drone-led war in Pakistan, it’s quietly been eclipsed. Yemen is the real center of the America’s shadow wars in 2012. After the US killed al-Qaida second in command Abu Yahya al-Libi earlier this month, Pakistan is actually running out of significant terrorists to strike. Yemen, by contrast, is a target-rich environment — and that’s why the drones are busier there these days.

The White House has declared al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen is to be the biggest terror threat to Americans today. The campaign to neutralize that threat is far-reaching — involving commandos, cruise missiles, and, of course, drone aircraft. It is also, according to some experts on the region, completely backfiring. Since the US ramped up its operations in Yemen in 2009, the ranks of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, have swelled from 300 fighters to more than 1,000.

The congressional foreign relations committees have had some briefings on the military and intelligence efforts in Yemen, Danger Room is told. But there’s been scant discussion in public of the campaign’s goals, or a way for measuring whether those goals have been reached. Outside of the classified arena, there’s little sense of what our Yemen operations cost, nor of what the costs would be if they were discontinued. It’s an odd situation, notes Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, since “it’s accurate to say we are ‘at war in Yemen.”

“What should be accompanied with any (even unofficial) declaration of war is a clearly articulated strategy of what America’s strategic objectives in that country are, a cogent strategy for how current US policies will lead to that outcome, how US airstrikes are coordinated with other elements of power, and how much it might cost and when we might expect that to occur,” Zenko tells Danger Room. “Unfortunately, none of that has happened.”

There is no definitive accounting of America’s operations in Yemen and the region that surrounds it. But some details of the secretive missions have been leaked to the press. Here’s what we know.

The US has two separate drone campaigns underway in Yemen — one is run by the CIA, the other by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Some of the drones’ targets are authorized by President Obama himself. Some just happen to look or act like perceived threats. According to the tally assembled by the Long War Journal, only nine of the 155 people killed in Yemen by US drones this year have been civilians; no innocents were among the 81 slain in 2011. But it’s hard to know how much to trust those statistics. One of those killed in 2011 was Abd al-Rahman al-Awlaki, a 16 year-old American citizen whose father was a notorious al-Qaida propagandist. And the White House “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants,” the New York Times reports. Perhaps Awlaki met that threshold.

The twin drone operations are only one facet of American efforts in Yemen, however. According to the Los Angeles Times, a contingent of at least 20 US special operations troops stationed inside the country are using “satellite imagery… eavesdropping systems and other technical means to help pinpoint targets” for the Yemeni military.

American-made BGM-109D Tomahawk cruise missiles and BLU97 A/B cluster bomblets have been photographed in the town of al-Majala, where 35 women and children were allegedly killed in a December 2009 strike. (The Yemeni journalist who documented the attack is now in prison, supposedly for abetting terrorists.) In neighboring Djibouti, eight American F-15Es jets are flying missions from the US outpost known as Camp Lemonnier; the Pentagon just handed out a $62 million contract to maintain the base. According to the investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has spent extensive time in the region, Djibouti is where “much of the coordination for Yemen ops” takes place.

For all of that firepower, there’s something rather obvious missing: a sense of how and why we’re fighting there. […]

In this case, however, countering terror also carries the risk of participating in a civil war. The local al-Qaida group “is joined at the hip” with an insurgency largely focused on toppling the local government, one US official told the Washington Post. Take on the wannabe terrorists, and you may be wind up fighting the area’s insurgents, as well.

“In an effort to destroy the threat coming out of Yemen, the US is getting sucked further into the quicksand of a conflict it doesn’t understand and one in which its very presence tilts the tables against the US,” Johnsen wrote.[…]

Of course, Yemen is only one part of an even larger regional conflict. The US maintains additional drone bases, not far away in the Seychelles and Ethiopia. The American Navy keeps around 30 warships in the nearby Indian Ocean, mostly to help fight local pirates. A pair of Lewis and Clark-class supply ships, possibly used as seaborne military camps for Special Forces, have been spotted in the region of late. At least one Somali terrorist was held by American commandos aboard the USS Boxer for weeks.[…]

Undeclared wars are dangerous wars. Questions about goals and resources can go unanswered, when there’s no  need to convince the people or the Congress of their merits. No one knows how undeclared wars end, or even when they’re won, because no one measures the progress of wars fought in the shadows. The only way they end is when the US decides to simply walk away — as with the 80s-era shadow war the US helped wage in Afghanistan. Looked like a great success for a decade; not so much on 9/11.

Of course, missions can drift and resources can vanish in a declared war; just look at Iraq. But when a fight is kept in the shadows by design, the chances for shenanigans and miscalculations rise. At least we have some sense of when and where resources were misspent in our open war in Afghanistan of today; in our secret campaign in Pakistan, there’s almost none.

The president doesn’t need to address a joint session of Congress every time he dispatches a warship or a handful of military advisers, naturally. But this fight in Yemen isn’t a disconnected, sporadic series of strikes. It’s wide-ranging and it’s multi-pronged. It’s costing lives while building up the ranks of our enemies. It’s war. And it’s time our Commander in Chief came out and said it.

If this war is worth waging, it’s worth waging openly. And it’s worth having a strategy with a clearly defined, achievable goal. Does anyone know what that is in Yemen? Is it the end of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula? The containment of AQAP? A functional Yemeni government that can fight AQAP without US aid? We’ve gotten so use to fighting in the shadows for so long, we barely even ask our leadership what victory looks like.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/yemen-war/all/

The following short film reveals the extent of the US covert war in Yemen, and the (obvious) results.

“People and Power – America’s Dangerous Game”.  A 25 minute film by Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill for al Jazeera English.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in drones, MIC, Yemen

 

Because you can never kill too many.

Afraid that support for the [illegal] [stupefyingly costly] war [for resources and a pipeline] in Afghanistan might be waning, our top “diplomat” to Kabul took time to warn us that al Qaeda might be – tell me if you have heard this one already – secretly building up forces in Afghanistan and could launch an attack on the US Homeland.

Ryan Crocker [the US ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan] told The Daily Telegraph that if the West was to leave Afghanistan too early, al-Qaeda would be able to increase its presence.

With the US preparing to withdraw the majority of its combat forces from Afghanistan next year, Mr Crocker warned: “If we decide we’re tired, they’ll be back.

“Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city.”

Mr Crocker, 62, who previously served as ambassador to Iraq, said that while progress had been made, Afghanistan would need Western support for years to come.

Nato officials believe that up to 100 al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan. Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change…

Mr Crocker, who took up his post in Kabul last year, said al-Qaeda remained a potent threat despite suffering setbacks. “We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated,” he said.

“We think we’ve won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that.”

http://soc.li/ivBOxHF

 

Ten years is not long enough; after all, it took us these ten years to find just the one guy, Osama bin Laden.  Okay, never mind that he was already dead, by all reliable reports, and forget about the continuing suggestions that “al Qaeda” is actually a CIA group formatted to give us an “enemy” to fight so that the Pentagon can have an excuse to suck up all the taxpayer money and the favored war profiteers can get no-bid contracts to destroy and then rebuild country after country.  Mr. Crocker wants more time to kill more people.  At the rate of one every ten years, one might begin to get a picture of just how long getting all the top al Qaeda leaders will take and some idea of how many civilians will be accidentally killed in the meantime.  By the way, his statement makes our military look really inept – 100,000 troops, ten years, a trillion or so bucks, and yet our adversaries haven’t even started to fight – but he didn’t mean it that way, I’m sure.

The “slow and stupid ones”…would that be the the ones like the little boys we killed while they were out gathering firewood?  The wedding parties?  The funeral processions?  Maybe he means the slow and stupid women and infants that were killed in the massacre just a few weeks ago – they must have been terribly stupid to try and sleep in their own homes while anywhere near a US base.  No, Mr. Crocker clearly only means al Qaeda members; he is not referring to the civilians killed as slow and/or stupid.  He doesn’t mention the accidental killing of civilians at all.  Not important enough to bring up.  Yet his statement seems so poorly worded and repugnant somehow, coming less than a month after the rampage that left 17 innocent Afghans dead.  This is our idea of “diplomacy” now.  All our diplomats sound like gung-ho military jingoists out to threaten the world.

And Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, various other African nations, Pakistan, Yemen, etc., are not enough to sate the blood-lust of our diplomats and military.  They want to be able to invade any country in search of anyone they deem worthy of death, whether they be terrorists or simply criminals.  It is simply not acceptable that other countries are sovereign and want to handle their own problems internally; we need to be unleashed to deal with their scofflaws ourselves.  And, it goes without saying, we want to kill them all, borders and sovereignty be damned.

As the Pentagon begins to wind down the war in Afghanistan, the smaller conflicts elite U.S. forces are fighting around the world are heating up.

But DoD needs more than just men and materiel to meet these challenges. It needs additional authority from Congress to do so.

“Most of the authorities that we have right now are narrowly construed to counterterrorism …  [but] I think for some countries we may need a little bit more flexibility to go in there,” Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The majority of counterterrorism missions by U.S. special forces have been focused on al Qaeda and Taliban cells in Afghanistan and the Middle East region.

But growing numbers and types of threats, particularly in Africa and South America, require a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism operations, Sheehan told members of the Senate Armed Services’ subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

If we have a broader range of authorities, we can respond with more agility to each country with a different set of programs,” Sheehan said. “I think that’s the direction we’re thinking.”   Subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and subpanel member Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) pressed Sheehan on what exactly DoD was looking for, in terms of legislative authorities.

While not going into too much detail, Sheehan said the lines between terrorism and crime have become increasingly blurry and current U.S. statutes to address either have not kept up.

Under current federal authorities, counterterrorism is strictly a military operation conducted by DoD. Pursuing transnational criminal groups falls to law enforcement and is done by the Department of Justice.

“Some of these threats are not pure terrorism,” Sheehan explained. DoD needs to be able to go after groups that straddle the line between terrorism and organized crime

“We are looking for some legislative authority … that might be able to give us some broader authorities, legislative authorities and multiyear funding for some of the types of activities that I’d like to do in terms of building coalitions to take on these complex threats,” Sheehan said.  DoD will hand over a slate of potential legislative options being drafted by Sheehan’s office to lawmakers “in the weeks and months ahead,” he added.

However, the Pentagon is already beginning to move ahead with its plans for both continents

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in February that U.S. special forces and counterinsurgency specialists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will be redeployed to a number of global hot spots, specifically those in Africa and South America. The move was included in the White House’s new national security strategy unveiled that month.

These small bands of special forces and COIN experts will lean upon “innovative methods” learned in Southwest Asia to support local militaries and expand American influence in those two continents, Panetta said at the time.

The U.S. military is pushing more troops into Colombia to assist in that country’s war with insurgent groups and narco-traffickers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Friday.

U.S. forces plan to set up a number of joint task forces inside the country to train and assist the Colombian military. The Pentagon has similar task forces in the Horn of Africa, the Trans-Sahara, Southern Philippines and elsewhere around the world…

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/219343-defense-dept-seeks-new-authorities-for-counterterrorism-fight

 

Here at home, our Dept. of Homeland Security and the Immigration Enforcement people are stocking up on bullets.  Not just any bullets – bullets that will do the maximum damage and lead to the highest “kill ratio”.  These are presumably for use here in the US, since both these departments are internal.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3#ixzz1qbWir69B

This is what we have to offer the world.  Police actions, death from bullets, bombs, and drones, all delivered via our very special military forces.  Of course, when we have a president who declares he can, and will, kill or indefinitely detain even Americans as he wishes and a Congress which finds no issue with this circumstance, it should come as no surprise that our military finds people in other lands eminently disposable.  We choose not to spend our money on human life or the sustainability of the planet or searching for paths to peace in a world of increasingly dwindling resources – we choose to spend it on human death.  This is who we have allowed ourselves to become.

 

The depraved.

17 January, 1960, Republic of Congo.  The Republic of Congo had finally gained independence from Belgium.  In the first legal election the newly formed republic held, Patrice Lumumba was elected Prime Minister.  He had a vision of a united Congo and an African continent united for the benefit of the African people.  This desire – for all of Africa to be free of colonialism – cost him his life.  The US and Belgium both attempted to assassinate him.  Ten weeks after taking office, he was deposed by a CIA/Belgian coup, arrested and killed by firing squad.  In an attempt to hide what they had done, the Belgians ordered that his body be exhumed, dismembered, and dissolved in acid.  Lumumba was replaced with the preferred Mobutu, who ran the country, which he renamed Zaire, like a kleptocracy, looting billions over his thirty-plus years of rule.
In 1975, the Church Commission found that Allen Dulles, CIA Chief under D. D. Eisenhower, had ordered Lumumba’s assassination after receiving these orders directly from Eisenhower, and several attempts were made on Lumumba’s life prior to the final successful murder.

9 October, 1967,  Bolivia.  Che Guevara is killed by the government of Bolivia after being tracked and captured with the help of CIA operatives.  Che desired a world revolution to end the inequalities and poverty resulting from colonialism and the capitalist system imposed globally by the Western countries.  He was born in Argentina, although he is most frequently associated with the Cuban Revolution.  To match the story already prepared by the Bolivian government, his executioners were told to “aim carefully” to make it appear as though he had died during a gun fight.  While the US may have preferred that he be brought to trial, the Bolivian government felt such a trial would be a “drama”, and so his murder was allowed to take place clandestinely.  His hands were cut off so as to allow fingerprint identification, and his body viewed by several official witnesses and then exhibited to the public of the small town where his body had been taken.  He was buried in an unmarked mass grave with 6 of his comrades, who had also been killed at the same time as he was, but in 1997, the grave was found and his remains interred in a mausoleum in Cuba.

It would take months to chronicle such clandestine CIA operations around the world – I will stop at these two.  How far we have come.  We no longer operate in secret.  Now, our government openly assigns killing operations to the CIA, who run our drone killing programs for us all around the globe.  Gone are the days of ignorance, when the CIA practiced its black arts behind the scenes, killing presidents, senators, civil rights leaders and citizens at home (they have been implicated in the deaths of John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X) and hundreds abroad.   It might be thought an odd thing for the CIA to be in charge of and running what are clearly military actions when they are not part of the US military and do not answer to the “commander in chief” or to Congress –  if indeed one thought about these matters.  We mere civilians do not think about much at all any more.  They no longer hide what they do and what their aims are.  They act in our names, however, so a differentiation between “them” and “we” is rather moot.  Witness the murders of Anwar al Awlaki and his son, Abdel; both killed by drone bombs ordered by President Obama, both American citizens placed on the presidential “hit list”.  We drone-bomb multiple “targets” in multiple countries every day.  Everyone knows we are doing this – it is no secret, although the particular names of the “targets” and the actual numbers of civilians thus “accidentally” killed might be.

Witness the murder of Moammar Ghaddafi yesterday.  We did not hide that our intent was to kill him.  Even more, we did not hide the fact that we intended to take over his country by force and take control of Libya’s resources and money.  Far from being a “humanitarian intervention”, the plan was very openly and plainly the forcible taking of a country and the killing of its leader almost before the ink dried on the UN resolution.  Within a few months, the US and NATO had ended the pretense of protecting civilian lives in Libya.  One by one, the depraved leaders of the various governments tested the waters, announcing little departures to the plan for Saving Libyan Civilians and Imposing a No-Fly Zone; with each new interpretation of the UN resolution, they hoped for what they in fact got: complete indifference from the global media and populations in their home countries.

They [we] stole the funds from Libya’s nationalized bank owned by the people of Libya and from the African Union Bank, set up by Ghaddafi to put an end to IMF debt for several African countries.  They put an end to the plans for Africa to own its own satellite system and be freed from onerous user fees imposed by the Europeans.  Then they [we] began bombing.  Not content with bombing the Libyan air force and other “military targets”, NATO forces began dropping depleted uranium bombs in sweeps, razing civilian homes, schools, hospitals, orphanages, television stations, power plants, food storage areas, mosques.  Town after town was demolished, tens of thousands of people killed or maimed, infrastructure destroyed completely.  The NTC, a small, motley group of CIA operatives, al Qaeda and former Ghaddafi ministers seeking power for themselves, was let loose to shoot, destroy, loot, and kill at will.  Information was leaked early on that the rebels were, in fact, CIA assets.  There was no outcry from the media at all.  It was leaked that we were arming the rebels and had forces on the ground (had had since before the war started) against the limits of the resolution.  No comment from the press.  In fact, the No-fly Zone had become an all out rout of Libya, yet required no authorization from the US Congress.  It was not a “war”, Obama said.  And, indeed, it is not.  It is simply the complete destruction of a sovereign nation, helpless in the face of the unified NATO countries determined to kill it off.

The rebels began an ethnic cleansing of the black Africans within Libya.  This was blamed on Ghaddafi.  Such a ridiculous accusation might have been scoffed at by a sane world: we are no longer sane.  NATO bombed the Great Man-made River, leaving millions of Libyans without water, a war crime.  The press passed on the chance to comment.  International aid agencies were kept from entering decimated towns to bring food, water, and medical supplies, another war crime.  No mention in the media.

In late July, the NATO countries “recognized” the NTC as the “legitimate government” of Libya, and in mid-September, the UN did the same.  This made it so clear that regime change was the goal that several former diplomats warned against the illegal, forced imposition of a new, unelected government upon the people of Libya.  Few, if any, listened to them.  Apparently we no longer abide by international law.  In August, the US announced it had put a two million dollar bounty on Ghaddafi’s head; wanted, dead or alive.  Beyond any reach of law or legal niceties now, we had simply become global mafioso.

Sarkozy, Cameron, and Obama began dividing the spoils of the country while the bombing still continued.  So much goes to the French companies (the country that bombs the most, gets the most), so much for British, Italian, and American corporations.  Sarkozy and Cameron baldly stated that the “Libyan war provides a new model” for these sorts of interventions. While several towns were (and still are) being besieged (think Dresden, think middle ages, think illegal under international law), John McCain took a few select Senators on a tour to show off the winnings.

While Libyans were being picked off one by one as they tried to escape cities under constant bombardment and black Africans were being rounded up and taken to detention camps to be tortured and killed by the NTC, as they still are, the Pentagon AFRICOM commander, Gen. Carter Ham, was giving a press conference about the methods in use.  “The question for us now is how we sustain that [the practice of dropping bombs and Tomahawks] so if we have to do this again, we’d start from a higher plateau.”

Two days ago in Tripoli, Hillary Clinton announced, in remarks that would have shocked diplomatic circles not many years ago, that this would not be over until Ghaddafi was captured or killed.  It was assumed that she needed to give no reassurance that this was not an invasion begun for the purpose of regime change.  The media no longer asks if this is all legal and above-board; they know it is not.  And they are fine with that.  They down wid it.  It appears we all are.  Upon receiving the phone call yesterday confirming Ghaddafi’s death, Clinton turned to some gathered reporters and cackled, “We came, we saw, he died.”  She laughed giddily before turning away.  [This scene was videotaped by a reporter and posted on youtube.  It will doubtless be scrubbed from the internet shortly.  See bottom of article for link to video.]

Yesterday, NATO bombed a convoy attempting to leave Sirte.  No-one will ask why we were drone-bombing cars as they tried to evacuate the city – after the civilians had been told to leave by the besieging army of NTC.  Ghaddafi was wounded in the air attack, captured alive, but quickly murdered rather than brought to trial on whatever charges the NATO countries could dream up.  His death was videotaped.  In the US and all across the internet, media outlets which had declined to show the photos of the hanging of Saddam Hussein as “too lurid”, wouldn’t show pictures of those tortured in Abu Ghraib for being “too disturbing” and lamented the release of pictures showing American soldiers playing with the remains of dead Afghans, displayed the tapes and photos of the wounded, dying, or dead Ghaddafi all day.  Obama, members of Congress, and pundits all lewdly leered at the pictures and talked about what a stunning victory this was for Libya.  A victory.  This is so bizarre as to be incomprehensible.  Ghaddafi was loved by the majority of Libyans.  His approval ratings were constantly in the high 80’s (percentile).  Born in a tent, he refused to live in a house until every Libyan had a house.  He brought water to the desert and managed finances in Libya in such a way as to offer free education and healthcare to all of his countrymen.  The living standards, literacy rate, and longevity of Libya’s people were the highest in Africa, the infant mortality rate the lowest.  Libya surpassed the US and European countries in many quality of life standards.  We thought they should no longer have these things.  It was Ghaddafi who had the vision of a modern Libya and brought universities and hospitals, roads, businesses, and houses to the country.  Yet, in words of propaganda so blatant as to make the mind reel, editorials in the US media now claim that we will “rebuild the infrastructure that Ghaddafi systemically tore down over his 46 years of rule”.  How can any newspaper editor allow the printing of such a diametric opposite to the truth?  It was Ghaddafi who built these things, and we who destroyed them.  This is what we thought was better than what they had.  This is the leader we thought we should murder.

Yesterday, Senator Lindsay Graham found a reporter with a camera to film him announcing in grave tones that Libya’s new [unelected] government has promised to “repay every dime we spent bringing them to this day”.  The IMF and World Bank have promised loans with interest to help the Libyans rebuild what we destroyed (now that they have no money because we stole it all) and we are assured that the Libyans will pay us for the bombs we used to tear down the entire infrastructure of their country.  Not content with invading and destroying Libya, and killing their president, we now warn other nations that this is the new way forward, that they are next in the Pentagon’s planned Long War.  We are not hiding this; in fact, we strut and brag like gladiators after a particularly savage kill.

The Guardian reports today:

President Barack Obama hailed the lifting of the “dark tyranny” over Libya after the new government confirmed Muammar Gaddafi had been killed, issuing a warning to other dictators in the Middle East – and particularly Syria – that they could be next.

Although Obama did not name Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, it was he Obama had in mind when he said the rule of the iron fist in the Middle East is inevitably coming to an end. Those leaders that try to deny the push for democracy will not succeed, he predicted…

The death of Gaddafi immediately raised speculation in the US that the same military model – the use of US air power combined with rebel forces on the ground and special forces from Europe – could be used again in Syria.

Vice-president Joe Biden described the military model as a “prescription” for the future, while White House spokesman Jay Carney, when asked about Syria, said Assad had lost his legitimacy to rule.

The former Nato commander, Wesley Clark, asked if the same strategy could be used in Syria, replied: “Could be.” He told CNN that every country had to be approached differently: “Syria is going to be different from Libya, but it shows Nato is capable of a sustained effort.”

Obama, facing re-election next year, chalked up Libya as another foreign policy success to place alongside the killing in May of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden..

Biden, speaking hours before Obama, adopted a clearly partisan approach to news of the dictator’s death, bluntly contrasting the approach of the Obama administration to Libya with George Bush’s in Iraq.

“In this case, America spent $2bn total and didn’t lose a single life. This is more of the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past,” he said…

This is where we let ourselves be led.  We are in a circle of Hell heretofore reserved for the rapists and child molesters and murderers.  We ogle death porn, while accepting as a given that the country we just ruined will pay us back for the very bombs we ruined it with.

Libya will descend into civil war now, the warring factions of “rebels” seeking primacy in the New Libya.  We will next turn to Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Iran, to bring the same gifts of death and destruction, debt and corporate looting.  Having gotten away with the brazen savage attack on Libya, we will not even seek a UN “resolution” for the next country we set ablaze.

In the meantime, Sirte is still under siege.  There is no electricity, food, or water.  The hospitals report at least a thousand deaths a day due to lack of medicine and supplies and a shortage of doctors – many of whom fled weeks ago.  The Red Cross and international aid groups are blocked from entering the town.  The religious leaders issued a fatwah (a religious statement) two days ago, saying that in these unusual and unexpected times, the people trapped within the town will be forgiven for eating their dogs and cats to avoid starvation – such acts usually considered sin by followers of Islam.

How far we have come.  As we Americans cheer and leer at the death we have wrought, we lose our collective humanity and become something else.  Something far short of human.  Incapable of feeling shock or shame, unburdened by law or diplomacy, gleeful in our blood lust.  We are the ones who cheer now when politicians promise to end Social Security for the elderly and we clap wildly when someone suggests that the uninsured should be allowed to die in the streets.  We laugh when protesters are maced by overzealous police and beg our leaders to take away any monetary aid, scant though it may be, for the unemployed and poor.  Depraved and indifferent, led by the insane and cruel.

 

Update:  video of H. Clinton; “We came, we saw, he died.”

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in drones, Libya, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy, Yemen

 

The death of Abdel al Awlaki.

The United States just conducted numerous drone attacks, all in one day, in both Yemen and Pakistan, killing scores of human beings.  I will focus on the massacre in Yemen for now.  We will not know most of their names, nor the reasons for which they were executed.   One name we do know, however, is that of Abdel al Awlaki, the son of Anwar al Awlaki, who was murdered two weeks ago.  Anwar was an American citizen living in Yemen and one of several Americans on Obama’s hit list.  Another American, Samir Khan, was killed at the same time Anwar was.  The US had brought no charges against Anwar, because there was no proof of anything he had done that was actually illegal.  He apparently wrote a lot of screeds against the US on the internet, but that is free speech protected by the first amendment, and therefore not a crime.  He was suspected of encouraging terrorists to act out, but there was such scant evidence of this that the US was incapable of bringing formal charges.  It doesn’t matter, in any case, since it is against the law to execute someone without a trial conducted openly after charges are brought and an arrest made.  That is the legal order in which things are done.  In the case of Anwar, an American citizen, we suspected he was a “bad dude” and simply assassinated him.

We have now killed his son, Abdel, in Yemen.  Abdel was an American by birth-right citizenship.  According to Reuters news, Abdel was 16 years old.  There were a total of five separate drone attacks in Yemen Friday night, killing a total of 24 people.  You will note a few discrepancies in the article cited below, particularly with regards to the spelling of Abdel’s name, his age, and the number killed; this was the first of the news stories available about these murders and new information is now coming out.  I have made a few notes of my own about this article, which are contained within brackets.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) – American drone strikes in southern Yemen have killed nine al-Qaeda-linked militants, including the media chief for the group’s Yemeni branch and the son of a prominent U.S.-born cleric slain in a similar attack last month, government officials and tribal elders said Saturday….

The airstrikes late Friday in the southeastern province of Shabwa pointed to Washington’s growing use of drones to target al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. The missile attacks appear to be part of a determined effort to stamp out the threat from the group, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials have said is the terror network’s most active and most dangerous branch.

The Yemeni Defense Ministry identified the slain media chief as Egyptian-born Ibrahim al-Bana. Tribal elders in the area also said the dead included Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, the 21-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim preacher and savvy Internet operator who became a powerful al-Qaeda recruiting tool in the West. He, along with another propagandist, Pakistani-American Samir Khan, were killed in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone attack….

[Note how al Awlaki is a “savvy recruiting tool and propagandist”, but no mention is made of any actual and chargeable crimes.  That is because there weren’t any.  Both al Awlaki’s and Khan’s citizenship are blurred by referring to “American-born” and “Pakistani-American” – both were American citizens.]

The tribal elders, who spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals, said four other members of the al-Awlaki clan and another local militant were also killed in the same drone attack. There was no immediate confirmation of the younger al-Awlaki’s death from Yemeni authorities.

[The word “clan” is a bit foreign to American ears.  It means Awlaki’s extended family.  We targeted his family, presumably for simply being related to the man.  We illegally and wantonly assassinated this man and now seek to rub out his family with the flimsiest of excuses – some of them might be “militants” or “suspected” al Qaeda.  In the particular case of Abdel, his child, there are absolutely no excuses even offered.  You will note there is no mention of his “suspected” activities, nor one word about his possible affiliation with any terrorist group.  Go back and re-read the third paragraph of the article: the words “Muslim preacher”, “recruiting tool”, “propagandist” all refer to the boy’s father, Anwar al Awlaki.  I assume they are used in this particular way in an attempt to obfuscate the fact that there was nothing to say about Abdel, aside from his relationship to his father.  These words are also obviously used to imply something sinister or criminal about Awlaki, but none of these colorful descriptors is in any way indicative of an actual crime.]

Security officials said the drone strike was one of five [ONE of FIVE! We are bombing the crap out of these people.]  carried out overnight by American drones on suspected al-Qaeda positions in Shabwa and the neighboring province of Abyan in Yemen’s largely lawless south. They said two more militants were killed and 12 wounded in other strikes in the two provinces.

The first strike late Friday targeted a house in the Azan district of Shabwa, but hit just after al-Qaeda militants had a meeting in the building, security officials and tribal elders said.

[I guess it was okay to hit a residence – someone’s home – because at some point earlier in the day, some al Qaeda “suspects” had been in it. Or near it.  Or in the same country as it.  Or something.]

They said a second strike then targeted two sport utility vehicles in which al-Bana and the six others were traveling, destroying the vehicles and leaving the men’s bodies charred. It was not clear whether other participants in the meeting were targeted in separate strikes…

[And trust me, nobody in the media will care enough to ask.]

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011-10-15/yemen-militants-drone-strike/50784330/1?csp=34news

Abdel was an American by birth-right.  He was a 16-year-old boy.  He was the third American abroad assassinated by the Obama administration in less than a month.  None of the three had any charges brought against them, none of the three had committed any indictable crimes.  Supposedly, you cannot be killed based on “Suspicion of Unsavory Activity”.  Maybe you do not care about the fact that all the humans we are drone-bombing are only suspected of some activity or another; that most reside in countries we are not technically at war with, meaning they are not enemy combatants; that none are wearing the uniform of an enemy army; that many of them are not even suspected of one damn thing – they are civilians caught in the bombing by mistake.  Collateral damage, as it were, and completely innocent of even the now-executable crime of being a “suspect”.  Maybe you don’t care because their names are foreign, sound Muslim, or because they are nameless altogether – humans not worth giving a name to by the disinterested media who only report the numbers of “suspected militants” or “civilian bystanders” without bothering to find out or report their names.  If you do not care who they are, I am not talking to you.  You are not a fellow human.

You should at least be concerned, however, that our government is now murdering American citizens based entirely on speculation about their activities.  If that doesn’t bother you, I am not talking to you.  You are not only not a fellow human, you are not a fellow American.

Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki.  Say his name.  16 years old.  An American boy.  Had he lived here in the US, he would not have been old enough to vote or to drink.  Say his name and think of your child and allow yourself to wonder if your American child will one day soon be blown to pieces by a drone buzzing overhead with its deadly ammunition – simply because someone (your President?  Some CIA official?) suspects your child of … something.  No charges brought, no trial, no sentencing.  Just an execution and a phone call telling you to come pick up your child’s charred body parts.

Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki.  Say his name.  Bow your head in shame that we have allowed our country to reach such a level of overt criminality and lawlessness.  It is unspeakable.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in civil rights, drones, MIC, Yemen