Archive | November 13th, 2018

Cruel European Migration Policies Leave Refugees Trapped in Libya With No Way Out

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Image result for Refugees Trapped in Libya CARTOON

WASHINGTON – A year after shocking images purporting to show human beings being bought and sold in Libya caused a global outcry, the situation for migrants and refugees in the country remains bleak and in some respects has worsened, said Amnesty International.

Findings published by the organization today highlight how EU member states’ policies to curb migration, as well as their failure to provide sufficient resettlement places for refugees, continue to fuel a cycle of abuse by trapping thousands of migrants and refugees in appalling conditions in Libyan detention centres.

“One year after video footage showing human beings being bought and sold like merchandise shocked the world, the situation for refugees and migrants in Libya remains bleak,” said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.

“Cruel policies by EU states to stop people arriving on European shores, coupled with their woefully insufficient support to help refugees reach safety through regular routes, means that thousands of men, women and children are trapped in Libya facing horrific abuses with no way out.”

Migrants and refugees in Libyan detention centres are routinely exposed to torture, extortion and rape.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has registered 56,442 refugees and asylum seekers in Libya and has repeatedly called on European and other governments to offer resettlement to refugees stranded in Libya, including through evacuation to Niger. However, only 3,886 resettlement places have been pledged by 12 countries and in total just 1,096 refugees have been resettled from Libya and Niger so far. Italy separately evacuated 312 asylum seekers from Libya directly to Italy between December 2017 and February 2018, but no further evacuations have taken place since.

Over the past two years EU member states have put in place a series of measures to block migration across the central Mediterranean, boosting the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept sea crossings, striking deals with militias in Libya and hampering the work of NGOs carrying out search and rescue operations.

These policies have contributed to a nearly 80% drop in the numbers crossing the central Mediterranean and arriving in Italy, from 114,415 between January and November 2017 to just 22,232 so far in 2018. There are currently around 8,000 refugees and migrants being held in detention centres in Libya.

With the central Mediterranean sea route almost completely shut off, and the Libyan authorities keeping refugees in unlawful detention and refusing to release them to UNHCR’s care, the only way out of Libyan detention centres is through evacuation to another country via programmes run by the UN. For refugees, who cannot return to their home country, the lack of international resettlement places on offer has left thousands stranded in Libyan detention centres.

The opening of a long promised UNHCR processing centre in Libya that would offer safety for up to 1,000 refugees by allowing them to relocate from the abusive detention centres has been repeatedly delayed. Its opening would undoubtedly be a positive step, but it would only assist a small proportion of refugees in detention and does not offer a sustainable solution.

“At the same time as doing their utmost to stop sea crossings and helping the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea and send them back to notorious detention centres, European governments have catastrophically failed to offer other routes out of the country for those most in need,” said Heba Morayef.

“While Europe fails to extend the desperately needed lifeline to save those stuck in Libya and at risk of abuse, it is time that the Libyan authorities take responsibility for their atrocious policies of unlawful detention and protect the human rights of all people in their territory.”

Armed clashes in Tripoli between August and September this year have also made the situation for refugees and migrants more dangerous. Some of those held in detention centres have been wounded by stray bullets. There have also been instances where detention centre guards have fled to escape rocket attacks leaving thousands of inmates locked up without food or water.

The publication of Amnesty’s findings is timed to coincide with a meeting of Libyan and other world leaders in the Italian city of Palermo on November 12 and 13. This international conference is intended to find solutions to break the political stalemate in Libya. Amnesty International is calling on all those taking part in the conference to ensure that human rights of all people in the country, including refugees and migrants, are placed at the centre of their negotiations.

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World War I Centenary: “War Is a Racket”. Unlimited Imperialism

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Image result for world war i cartoons

By Prof. Francis Boyle

Ten Million People died for nothing. Smedley D. Butler had it right. War is a Racket. And Woodrow Wilson murdered 116,000+ Americans in that war. The American People and Congress did not want to fight in that God-forsaken war. Wilson lied, tricked, deceived, maneuvered and finagled us into that war. Read more…

Bitter US-European Tensions Mark Centenary of World War I Armistice in Paris

By Alex Lantier

This weekend, heads of state from 70 countries met in Paris to mark the centenary of the end of World War I, amid rising conflicts between the great powers and growing popular anger. Despite the ritualistic criticisms of nationalism and calls for peace, it is clear that none of the “world leaders” in Paris had any plan to halt the accelerating collapse of international relations between the major powers. Read more…

 

As We Honour the 15 Million Dead of 1914-1918, a Demented US President Flies into Paris with Plans to Attack Iran

By Hans Stehling

As the leaders of Europe and the world gather in Paris to honour the millions of war dead of WW1, 100 years ago, the current US President together with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Israel, are even now finalising plans to attack and bankrupt Iran in a precursor to a devastating war in the Middle East that would escalate into Europe and beyond. Read more…

War Criminals in High Office Commemorate the End of World War I

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

In a bitter irony, several of the World’s leaders who were “peacefully” commemorating the end of World War I in Paris including Trump, Netanyahu, Macron and May are the protagonists of war in Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Read more…

The 100th Anniversary of The Tragic End of World War I .“Those Who don’t Know History are Doomed to Repeat It”

By Stephen Lendman

November 11 marked the 100th anniversary of WW I’s end – officially at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The so-called war to end all wars was prelude for much worse to come. In 1928, Kellogg-Briand policy renounced aggressive wars. Read more…

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The Palestinians must put their political act together if their cause is to be kept alive

Palestinian children

By Alan Hart

For several years I have been wondering, sometimes on public platforms and in writing, if Palestine is a lost cause. I have now come to the conclusion that, as things are, it is and will remain so unless the Palestinians, the occupied and oppressed and the diaspora, put their political act together in order to give their cause new life with some real hope of justice eventually.

In my view the most telling indicator of the political bankruptcy and irrelevance of the leadership provided by the Palestinian Authority (PA) was the recent statement by its president, Mahmoud Abbas, that it’s up to the international community to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Unpleasant realities

The reality Abbas chooses to ignore is that as things are there is absolutely no reason to believe that the American-led Western powers (or any others) will ever use the leverage they have to try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians.

Western (and other) governments and their diplomats continue to pay lip-service to the two-state solution but they know it’s dead, killed by Israel’s on-going colonisation of the occupied West Bank which, as I have previously noted, is a process best described as ethnic cleansing slowly and by stealth. They also know that implementing a two-state solution would provoke a Jewish civil war and – as Shimon Peres said to me in 1980 – no Israeli leadership is ever going to do that.

There is also no reason to believe that the regimes of a deeply divided, corrupt, authoritarian and repressive Arab order will ever use the leverage they have to press the US and other Western powers to do whatever is necessary to oblige Israel to be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.

A truth of history is that when Israel closed the Palestine file with its victory on the battlefield in 1948, the Arab regimes, behind closed doors, shared the same unspeakable hope as Zionism and all the major powers – that the file would remain closed. In other words, the Arab regimes hoped the Palestinians would accept their lot as the sacrificial lamb on the altar of political expediency. If there had been no Yasser Arafat to oversee the relighting of the fire of Palestinian resistance to Zionism’s fait accompli, the file might well have remained closed for ever.

Self-help

In my analysis, the realities summarised above invite only one conclusion. It is only the Palestinians who can change the dynamics of the conflict in a way that could generate real pressure for action by the governments of the international community.

What action? Putting Israel on notice that if it doesn’t end its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians, it will be isolated and sanctioned. (Yes, I know that governments won’t go down this road unless they are pushed by public opinion, but changing the dynamics of the conflict could provide the understanding necessary to motivate more and more citizens to do the pushing.)

Changing the dynamics requires for starters the dissolution of the PA and handing back to Israel complete responsibility and full accountability for occupation.

This would impose significant security, financial and other burdens on Israel. Its response would undoubtedly be more and more brutal repression of all kinds, but this could (I think would) benefit the Palestinians because the true face of Zionism would be exposed, fully naked, like never before for all the world to see. And that in turn could lead to mounting public pressure on the American-led Western powers, perhaps at some point enough pressure to cause them to say to Israel ”Enough is enough” and put it on notice that it will be isolated and have sanctions imposed on it if it does not end its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians.

The dissolution of the PA would open the door to rebuilding the institutions of the Palestinian national movement on the basis of unity which, by definition, would mean an end to factionalism and political tribalism. At top level, and to enable the Palestinians to determine policy and speak to power with one credible voice, this in my view would require bringing the Palestine National Council (PNC) back to life refreshed and reinvigorated by elections to it in every country where Palestinians live.

Even if there are enough Palestinians in the diaspora who would be prepared to become engaged to make it happen, elections to refresh and reinvigorate the PNC would take time. So after the dissolution of the PA and handing back to Israel complete responsibility and full accountability for occupation, what would be the most effective resistance strategy for the occupied and oppressed Palestinians to adopt?

Peaceful resistance

Their incredible almost superhuman steadfastness in staying put is proof that Zionism’s policy of making life hell for them in the hope that they will leave to make new lives elsewhere has failed to date and is unlikely ever to succeed. But that’s not enough. The steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians needs to be reinforced by peaceful, absolutely non-violent, demonstrations,  preferably on a daily basis, across the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, calling for peace with security and equal political, civil and human rights of every kind for all. This would be in effect a campaign for one state for all.

Demonstrations of resistance would have to be peaceful, absolutely non-violent, because escalating Palestinian violence would play into the hands of those Israeli Jews, leaders and others, who would welcome a pretext for a final round of ethnic cleansing.

In theory, equal political, civil and human rights for all in one state would lead in time to the de-Zionization of Palestine; but it’s not unreasonable to assume that Israel’s leaders will never allow that to happen,

In that light, and despite what I have written above, the question that has to be asked is this.

Even if the Palestinians do put their political act together in the way I have suggested, is there any reason to entertain real hope that there can be a future in which they enjoy an acceptable amount of justice?

Decision time for Israeli Jews

In my view, that’s a question only the Jews of Israel can answer.

If the Palestinians remain steadfast and do put their political act together to keep their cause alive, they will bring about the day when the Jews of Israel will have to address the question of what kind of future they want.

…there is not and never has been a Palestine problem. There is only a Jewish problem. And only the Jews can solve it. Or not.

Do they want to live in an obnoxious, apartheid state which has to resort to ever more brutal measures to maintain its domination of the Palestinians, with the very real danger that the ever more brutal measures will transform the rising global tide of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism, setting the stage at some point for another holocaust  (that is, another great turning against Jews everywhere); or, do they want peace and security in one state with equal political, civil and human rights for all – even though that that would mean the end of Zionism’s colonial-like enterprise?

If by putting their political act together in the way I have suggested the Palestinians can cause the Jews of Israel to make that choice, there will be some hope (perhaps not a lot but some) for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

I once said, and I think it bears repeating, that there is not and never has been a Palestine problem. There is only a Jewish problem. And only the Jews can solve it. Or not.

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Divide and conquer: Nationalism, identity politics and Western political morbidity

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US political map Nov 2018

Gilad Atzmon writes:

I am not even remotely a Trump supporter, but I do think that he has managed to expose the spectrum of Western political morbidity, both left and right. Trump is the ultimate post-political icon – the symptom as well as the disease.

For the last four decades, the West has been subjected to an intense cultural and social revolution. The cause of “social justice” has made some fundamental changes in Western society. Elementary rights, such as the freedom to think openly, have been eradicated and replaced by a strict regime of correctness. In retrospect, it was reasonable to believe that there was little significant resistance to these social justice heroes. During that time it seemed that their agenda had prevailed. Just five years ago it looked as if the tyranny of correctness was here to stay. But then, unexpectedly, the tide changed.

First the Scottish referendum told us know that every other Scot wanted to separate from the United Kingdom. Soon afterwards, half of the British people voted to split from the European Union, and then, totally unexpectedly, Trump won the presidential election.

It was Trump’s victory that really brought the identity war to the fore. For whatever reason, it was Trump and his combative rhetoric that most clearly exposed the demarcation line that divides the West.

America, like the rest of the West, is split into identitarians and nationalists. Identitarians identify politically with their symptoms. These symptoms may be ethnic or cultural but most often are biological (skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, race, etc.). Nationalists, on the other hand, are people who identify politically with a piece of geography that is defined by their national borders.

Nationalists are not necessarily right-wing. As I explore in my recent book, Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, Trump’s nationalist populism shares some characteristics with left icons such as Bernie Sanders and the populism of British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. These politicians resist divisive Identitarian ideologies. Steve Bannon, the bete noir of liberal America, explored this idea in a recent televised debate: “It is not a question whether populism is on the rise… the only question before us is whether it is going to be populist nationalism or populist socialism…”

Populism is back everywhere, which raises the question of whether Trump is, in fact, a populist. Does he actually care for the people or about the people? I do not see any clear evidence of that. Trump behaves as an oligarch, bonded with international oligarchy. Trump is popular, but popularity and populism are distinct concepts. The former refers to being loved by the people, the latter is someone who cares for the people. Liberals and progressives who castigate Trump as a fascist should understand that while fascism is defined as a national socialist endeavour, Trump is more a national capitalist. He is popular because he successfully delivers a populist message.

After the mid-term congressional elections morning there is a new political situation. Trump is not going to “save America”. Even if he once believed that he could do so, the window for such a manoeuvre has closed. It is unlikely that Trump will be able to make significant changes. The Democratic House of Representatives will likely reject his initiatives. Despite this, Trump’s presence in the White House has revealed the conflict that shatters the West. The old political battle between left and right has been replaced by post-political identitarian wars. World War III is not going to be fought between countries or across borders. It will be a war that splits states, societies and even families apart.

While Trump’s promise to “make America great” carried little substance, the red portion of the map of America shows a clear divide. As you move away from America’s coasts, a lot of people do not want what the liberals are offering. They want work, secure borders, education and health services. They want America to be great for real. They want justice and equality. They may or may not be bothered by uncertain or unconventional genders; they are far more concerned with being able to get a decent job.

Whether anyone within the Democratic or the Republican Party truly understands this longing is an open question. But I have no doubt that the thirst for a radical change is going to bring more populist politics to America and beyond.

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Secret CIA Document Shows Plan to Test Drugs on Prisoners

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Documents long hidden by the agency reveal that CIA doctors were hunting for a “truth serum” to use on prisoners as part of a previously secret effort called Project Medication.

The ACLU has won the release of a 90-page account of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services role in the the agency’s clandestine torture program — a secret history written by the top CIA medical official, whose identity remains classified. (Image: Getty Images)

Thanks to an ACLU victory in federal court, we know much more about how CIA doctors violated the medical oath to “do no harm.”

One of the most important lessons of the CIA’s torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners.

Now we’ve won the release of a 90-page account of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services role in the CIA torture program — a secret history written by the top CIA medical official, whose identity remains classified.

The history reveals that CIA doctors were hunting for a “truth serum” to use on prisoners as part of a previously secret effort called Project Medication. The CIA studied records of old Soviet drug experiments as well as the CIA’s notorious and discredited MK-Ultra program, which involved human experimentation with LSD and other drugs on unwitting subjects. The CIA doctors involved in Project Medication wanted to use Versed, a psychoactive drug similar to some of those used in MK-Ultra, on prisoners.

Image of declassified document

The CIA ignored lessons from its own history. After MK-Ultra was shut down, the CIA director testified in 1977, “It is totally abhorrent to me to think of using humans as guinea pigs.” But decades later, the agency decided to experiment on humans again, testing pseudoscientific theories of “learned helplessness” on its prisoners.

While Project Medication never got off the ground, CIA medical professionals remained critical participants in experimenting with torture. Just like the government lawyers who tried to give unlawful torture a veneer of legality, the secret history reveals that CIA doctors were “indispensable” to the effort of “legitimizing the program.”

Image of declassified document

Perhaps the most striking element of the document is the CIA doctors’ willful blindness to the truth of what they were doing. CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to a prisoner because it was a break from days of standing sleep deprivation. Similarly, CIA doctors decided that when a different prisoner was stuffed into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. CIA doctors described yet another prisoner — who cried, begged, pleaded, vomited, and required medical resuscitation after being waterboarded — as “amazingly resistant to the waterboard.” Incredibly, CIA doctors concluded that the torture program was “reassuringly free of enduring physical or psychological effects.”

The truth is that CIA torture left a legacy of broken bodies and traumatized minds. Today, with a president who has vocally supported torture and a new CIA director who was deeply complicit in torturing prisoners, it’s more important than ever to expose the crimes of the past. Recognizing the roles played by the lawyers, doctors, and psychologists who enabled torture is critical to making sure it never happens again.

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7 Economic Terms That Are Often Used to Trick People Out of Their Money

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If it sounds too good to be true, take a closer look beyond the buzzwords

“America’s leading industry is still the manufacture, distribution, packaging and marketing of bullshit." (Photo: Screenshot)

“America’s leading industry is still the manufacture, distribution, packaging and marketing of bullshit.” (Photo: Screenshot)

There are so many plans these days to “transform” an area via a “public-private partnership” that will “restore” and “fix” the local economy and lead to an economic “recovery” for the “brave” group of “stakeholders” who’ve come together to make it happen. The business leader drumming up support is often a “good friend” of the politicians in charge. To entertain another plan, the people in power warn, will “hurt” the economy.

Have you heard that story in your own backyard recently?

It’s a story that might as well be contemporary Shakespeare, except it could be written by the auto-correct text on a developer’s iPhone.

It is a story told repeatedly, with different players: It’s the tale of Little Caesar’s Arenain Detroit. It’s the story of the big box stores including Wal-Mart and Home Depot. And it’s the story of Amazon’s HQ2.

No matter the project, the end result is the corporation pays little to no tax, and gives little to nothing to the community—not even the promised jobs. It is guaranteed to extract everything from captured tax dollars to fire and police resources, also paid for with tax dollars. It will likely capture education dollars and even take away employment from locals as small businesses close, and then it leaves the taxpayer with the clean-up bill. Empty, toxic real estate and a growing lower class are left behind.

In other words, these “transformational” projects drive locals into worse-off conditions while lining the pockets of the already wealthy.

It’s a tale as old as capitalism itself, and it’s being told over and over again with different players but using the same popular words.

Here are the economic development words to watch out for, and what they really mean.

1. Public-Private Partnership

Meaning: A massive tax dollar giveaway to a private company at taxpayer expense.

Taxpayers lose money on everything from schools to fire departments. Taxpayers end up footing the bill for the private company’s land, clean-up, and more. Taxpayers receive comparatively nothing in return.

Instead, communities are healthier and more sustainable when they are more economically vibrant and diverse with co-ops, small businesses, and collectives.

2. Restore

Meaning: We’ve destroyed something irreplaceable—a neighborhood, wetlands, a forest—and see a way to make even more money on what’s been destroyed.

This happens over and over again—it’s one of the cycles of capitalism. The truth is once the neighborhood is gone and its inhabitants displaced—once the habitat that took 1,000 years to create is destroyed—it cannot be restored. You cannot restore Detroit’s vibrant African American neighborhood of Black Bottom by putting in a B.B. King supper club any more than you can restore wetlands that took thousands of years to establish and flourish. What you’re doing is making money on destruction—not restoration.

Preservation is more powerful than the destroy-restore cycle.

3. Good Friend

Meaning: A favorite phrase thrown around in the Democratic Party and political circles nationwide; when someone says they are a “good friend,” what they really mean is they are stabbing that person or group in the back.

Be wary whenever someone tells you—especially in politics or development—that someone else important is a “good friend.”

Be honest about who people are, and listen for honesty when someone is trying to sell your community a development.

4. Stakeholders

Meaning: The modern-day equivalent of a dog-and-pony show, “stakeholders” is regularly used as a catch-all phrase by those who want to appear inclusive and cover their own asses.

The chosen “stakeholders” are often those with strong social media followings and the local LGBTQIA/POC community members likely to be the most friendly to the development plan. They are often offered a seat at the table because they are often those who are least likely to rock the boat. Pictures will be taken, Instagram posts made, tweets sent—inclusion looks like it feels so good.

Such stakeholder meetings are often exclusionary of those most marginalized, disenfranchised, and impacted by development plans.

5. Brave

Meaning: This one can be used for a “stakeholder” folding for the developer, or for a developer going into a depressed community.

It’s also used for a long list of virtue signaling. Brave used to be a word reserved for firemen running into burning buildings to save children and pets; self-sacrificing soldiers saving their brothers-in-arms and helpless civilians; non-violent protesters standing strong in the face of weapons, violence, and hate.

Bravery is not a self-righteous action—and definitely not meant for those selling out their community to a developer, or for a developer taking tax dollars to develop a community.

6. Fix

Meaning: Something is broken beyond repair—for example, the vast majority of public school systems. But there is a new way to make money on the broken-beyond-repair things by “fixing” them: For-profit charter schools and intensive testing, done by private corporations with state or local school system contracts paid for with tax dollars—all of which tend to break the system even more.

Developing new and locally tailored solutions to a broken system is possible—but it can mean leaving behind the broken system entirely.

7. Hurt

“We can’t do that; it’ll hurt the economy,” warns almost every politician when faced with an economically sound solution to ecological crises our society and planet are facing.

Meaning: What they mean is, it’ll hurt their own investments, their own power, and their own bottom line.

The fact is, few things hurt the economy and our environment more than the public-private partnerships, their schemes and scams, and development deals that let events like the Flint Water Crisis continue.

When someone says, “We can’t do that; it’ll hurt the economy,” ask yourself whose pocketbook it will really hurt, and chances are it’s not yours—it’s the people in power.

As George Carlin used to say, “America’s leading industry is still the manufacture, distribution, packaging and marketing of bullshit. High-quality bullshit; world-class, designer bullshit, to be sure.” These words of decades ago are still used, and they are still bullshit, just like these seven phrases are today.

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As George W. Bush Gets “Liberty Medal,” Afghan People Suffer 17th Year in Nation “Made a Hell” by US Invasion

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“After the Taliban we were expecting something good, but instead, day by day, it is getting worse.”

“The foreigners are not making things better,” Hajji Akram, a day laborer in Kabul’s Old City who struggles to feed his family on around $4 a day, told AP. “They should go.” (Photo: Veronique de Viguerie/Edit by Getty Images)

Seventeen years after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and just a day after former president and “war criminal” George W. Bush was granted the National Constitution Center’s “Liberty Medal” at a ceremony in Philadelphia, the Associated Press reports Tuesday on the anger and sorrow of the Afghan people who say that the Americans—despite early and repeated promises to liberate and modernize the country—”have made a hell, not a paradise” of their war-torn nation.

“All the money that has come to this country has gone to the people in power. The poor people didn’t get anything,” Hajji Akram, a day laborer in Kabul’s Old City who struggles to feed his family on around $4 a day, toldAP. “The foreigners are not making things better. They should go.”

Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan who was installed by the U.S. during the early part of the occupation and later re-elelected, said that early vows to bring harmony to the region were broken and that, ultimately, U.S. officials “simply neglected the views of the Afghan people and the conditions of the Afghans.” As the reporting notes, Karzai now blames the lingering war on broken promises and endless U.S. failures.

The comments and despair out of Afghanistan come less than a week after the Cost of War project at Brown University published its latest estimate (pdf) of the number of people killed in America’s so-called “Global War on Terror” since it began in the fall of 2001:

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Watson Institute

@WatsonInstitute

New @CostsOfWar Report Tallies the Human Cost of the “War on Terror” – Since the war began with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, it has directly killed between 480,000 and 507,000 people. Read the full paper: https://bit.ly/2qBje2T 

Hamidullah Nasrat, who sells imported fabrics in Kabul’s main bazaar, said he was happy to see the Taliban defeated in 2001, but said now life is even more terrible than before.

“After the Taliban we were expecting something good, but instead, day by day, it is getting worse,” Nasrat said. “How is it that a superpower like the United States cannot stop the Taliban? It is a question every Afghan is asking.”

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Half Million Killed by America’s Global War on Terror ‘Just Scratches the Surface’ of Human Destruction

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“This new body count signals that, far from diminishing, the war is only intensifying.”

A new study from Brown University's Costs of War Project found that the U.S. "War on Terror" has killed half a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. (Photo: Spc. Phillip McTaggart/Flickr/cc)

A new study from Brown University’s Costs of War Project found that the U.S. “War on Terror” has killed half a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. (Photo: Spc. Phillip McTaggart/Flickr/cc)The United States’ so-called War on Terror has killed about half a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to a new estimate from the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute.

“This update just scratches the surface of the human consequences of 17 years of war.”
—Neta C. Crawford, The Costs of War Project

“This new body count signals that, far from diminishing, the war is only intensifying,” Stephanie Savell, co-director of the project, pointed out in a piece for Axios. The overall death toll “is an increase of 113,000 over the last count, issued just two years ago.”

The new report (pdf) estimates that since 2001, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed because of war violence in those three nations—a tally that does not include “the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the U.S. joined in August 2014,” and “indirect deaths,” or those killed by war’s impact on public health, such as limiting access to food, water, hospitals, and electricity.

The Costs of War@CostsOfWar

Over 480,000 have died due to direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but the number of indirect deaths – because, for example, of war-related disease — is several times larger. See our paper at https://bit.ly/2qBje2T 

The “direct deaths” accounted for in the estimate include U.S. military, contractors, and Defense Department employees; national military and police as well as other allied troops; opposition fighters; civilians; journalists; and aid workers. About half of those killed were civilians—between 244,000 and 266,000 across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Up to 204,000 of them were Iraqis.

While the U.S. government has repeatedly underestimated the costs of waging war, since the project launched in 2011, its team has aimed to provide a full account of the “human, economic, and political costs” of post-9/11 U.S. military action in the Middle East, “and to foster better informed public policies.”

This latest report comes on the heels of the U.S. midterm elections in which Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Looking forward, Savell suggested that “House Democrats will try to advance a national security strategy emphasizing restraint and accountability for the costs of the War on Terror.”

Outlining some expressed goals from a handful of House Democrats, Savell wrote for Axios:

Research shows that governments become more careful when civilian deaths from “collateral damage” are reported on. A wave of Democrats now in control of the House plan to push for just that. Representative Ro Khannasays he wants to hold as many as three days of hearings with Trump’s national security team to “justify, for the American people, what our mission is, what the costs are, what the risks are, and why we’re there.” Representative Adam Smith, poised to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to increase oversight of the military, and others led by Representative Barbara Lee hope to end the war in Afghanistan.

Regardless of how Democrats in the House proceed, Neta C. Crawford, a Boston University political science professor who co-directs the Costs of War Project, argued in the report’s conclusion that there is a need to keep the public more informed about the consequences of the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East in order to drive demands for improving U.S. foreign policy.

“This update just scratches the surface of the human consequences of 17 years of war,” Crawford wrote. “Too often, legislators, NGOs, and the news media that try to track the consequences of the wars are inhibited by governments determined to paint a rosy picture of perfect execution and progress.”

“The U.S. has made some effort to increase transparency,” she acknowledged, “but there are a number of areas—the number of civilians killed and injured, and the number of U.S. military and veteran suicides, for instance—where greater transparency would lead to greater accountability and could lead to better policy.”

Responding to the report’s findings, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif drew attention to the human and financial consequences, tweeting: “Cost to U.S. taxpayers: 7K dead Americans + $5.6 trillion. Cost to MidEast: Unfathomable.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Half Million Killed by America’s Global War on Terror ‘Just Scratches the Surface’ of Human Destruction

Latest US-Led Air Strikes Kill At Least 80 Syrian Civilians

NOVANEWS

In the wider US-led war against terrorism, at least hundreds of thousands and likely more than a million men, women and children have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria since October 2001

Siblings Zaid, Ziyad and Aisha I’mad Mahmoud Al-Haj Al-Hussein were killed in a November 3 US-led air strike on their family home in Hajin, Deir Ezzor, Syria. (Photo: Syrian Network for Human Rights)

Siblings Zaid, Ziyad and Aisha I’mad Mahmoud Al-Haj Al-Hussein were killed in a November 3 US-led air strike on their family home in Hajin, Deir Ezzor, Syria. (Photo: Syrian Network for Human Rights)

The US-led coalition against Islamic State has carried out more than 100 new air strikes targeting the militant group’s remaining strongholds in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, killing at least 80 civilians — including dozens of women and children — in recent weeks.

US-led bombing resumed on October 24 following a particularly deadly period in which scores of Syrian men, women and children were killed in strikes on homes and mosques in and around the village of al-Sousa. On October 24, the UK-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 16 civilians died in an air strike on the Al-Zawiya mosque in Hajin, the fourth coalition bombing of a mosque in less than a week. Local media and monitor groups said dozens more were wounded in the attack. Hajin magazine reported IS was using the mosque as a “headquarters.”

On October 27, SOHR and local media reported that a family of five civilians — a man, his wife and their three children — were killed when their home in Al Boubadran village was bombed. The following day, Baladi News reported 20 civilians, mostly women and children, died in a US-led strike on the town of Al Shaafa. As many as 24 others were wounded in the attack.

Several sources including Baladi News and Free Deir Ezzor Radio reported a total of 17 civilians, including four women and three children, died in an October 30 strike on al-Kushma. Step News Agency reported the victims were the families of IS members. That same day, local media and monitor groups said another four civilians, all from the same family, were killed by a US-led strike on Al Shafaa. A woman and a child were reportedly rescued from beneath the rubble.

On November 3, Smart News Agency and other media and monitors reported that between 14 and 21 civilians, mostly women and children, died when US-led warplanes bombed a house near Khalid bin Walid mosque in Hajin. That same day, Al Shaafa was bombed again, with Al Jazeera and other media and monitors reporting that three young children — identified as siblings Zaid, Ziyad and Aisha I’mad Mahmoud Al-Haj Al-Hussein — died when their home was hit. Another five to 10 civilians were reportedly wounded in the attack.

The US-led anti-IS coalition acknowledged carrying out over 100 air strikes in Syria between October 28 and November 3.

The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars estimates at least 6,716 and perhaps as many as more than 10,000 civilians have likely died in more than 30,000 air strikes in Syria and Iraq since former president Barack Obama launched the anti-IS campaign in 2014. Civilian casualties have soared during the administration of President Donald Trump, who promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS and kill their families. Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians and in May 2017 Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis announced that the US was shifting from a war of attrition to one of “annihilation” in Syria and Iraq. Mattis raised eyebrows and ire by adding that “civilian casualties are a fact of life” that cannot be avoided in such a war.

In the wider US-led war against terrorism, at least hundreds of thousands and likely more than a million men, women and children have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria since October 2001. Since the nuclear war waged against Japan in August 1945, US forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Latest US-Led Air Strikes Kill At Least 80 Syrian Civilians

Why Women’s March leaders are being accused of anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS

The movement has been embroiled in controversy after a member of its leadership team attended a speech by the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan.

Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory.
 Chirag Wakaskar/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Several of the original organizers of the Women’s March have found themselves at the center of a controversy revolving around Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Last week it was revealed that Women’s March organizer and co-president Tamika Mallory was present at a speech Farrakhan gave before the Nation of Islam in February. During the speech, Farrakhan made several anti-Semitic comments, including saying that “the powerful Jews are my enemy,” according to CNN. The Anti-Defamation League notes that Farrakhan also argued that Jewish people control the media and use that influence to increase the number of gay and transgender individuals in the US, said Jewish people control the US government, and claimed the FBI — under Jewish influence — pushed marijuana onto black men to “feminize” them, in addition to a number of other comments.

“White folks are going down,” Farrakhan said during the speech. “And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.” At one point in the speech, Farrakhan gave Mallory a personal shoutout, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In the days since her attendance was first noted, Mallory has sought to defend herself from accusations of anti-Semitism and pushed back on calls for her resignation.

Criticism has also spread to the broader Women’s March organization, prompting the group to issue a statement on Tuesday. “Minister Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity principles,” the group said. “The world Women’s March seeks to build is one free from anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, and all forms of social violence.” BuzzFeed reports that Women’s March leaders will meet with Jewish groups on Thursday to discuss the matter further.

View image on Twitter

Women’s March

@womensmarch

Anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism and white supremacy are and always will be indefensible.

Please read our statement:

4:13 PM – Mar 6, 2018

Mallory’s attendance at the Chicago speech, as well as previous statements from Mallory and other members of the Women’s March leadership in support of Farrakhan, has spurred renewed attention on the Nation of Islam leader. But to some critics, the controversy also speaks to the broader challenge the Women’s March faces in building a truly intersectional feminist movement.

“The cohesiveness of the Women’s March has been tried before — it’s come under fire from women of color, anti-abortion activists, the NRA, anti-Muslim forces, and many other critics,” BuzzFeed’s Hannah Allam writes. “But the latest controversy seems serious even by the standards of its battle-tested leadership.”

Louis Farrakhan is no stranger to controversial statements

The Nation of Islam is a group rooted in what could be defined most easily as a form of religious black nationalism that has been combined with some tenets of Islam. The group strongly believes in black self-reliance and separatism from power structures dominated by whites, one of the factors that facilitated its higher profile during the civil rights era. Farrakhan has served as the leader of the Nation of Islam since the 1970s, spearheading a reforming of the organization after the death of its former leader Elijah Muhammad. While there are splinter groups of the organization, and many of its former members transitioned to a more mainstream practice of Islam, Farrakhan continues to lead many of the remaining members.

The Nation of Islam is perhaps best known by the general public for its historic connections to civil rights figure Malcolm X, who left the group prior to his 1965 assassination. Under Farrakhan, the group was a driving force behind the 1995 Million Man March, which brought thousands of black men to Washington, DC, in an effort to combat racial stereotypes and show black solidarity.

In addition to the aforementioned comments, Farrakhan used his most recent speech to praise comments made by recently deceased evangelist Billy Graham and President Richard Nixon. He specifically referred to a 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham in which the evangelist said that the “stranglehold” that American Jews had in society “has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” to the president’s agreement. The remarks, which Graham later apologized for, have come to be seen as a stain on Graham’s career.

These aren’t new arguments for Farrakhan, who over the years has also claimed that Jewish people were behind the 9/11 attacks, in addition to making anti-LGBTQ remarks.

Farrakhan’s comments have kept the NOI a source of controversy and political debate. It has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its support of black supremacy and the “deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric of its leaders.” Farrakhan has long contended with the group’s designation, arguing that his comments do not stem from anti-Semitism but are instead a rebuke of white supremacy.

“I know I have never hated Jews. I’m critical of aspects of Jewish behavior in relationship to Black people,” Farrakhan said during a 2001 press conference.

Still, his inflammatory comments — particularly about Judaism and Jewish people — continue to spark controversy and create trouble for other public figures who are in his orbit or have made supportive statements in reference to his work in the black community.

The most recent controversy points to some of the difficulties Women’s March organizers face in building a truly intersectional feminist movement

The controversy around Mallory’s appearance picked up shortly after CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted several clips from Farrakhan’s recent speech, also noting that Mallory was present after she posted from the event on Instagram.

Since her attendance was first noted, Mallory has faced calls to publicly disavow Farrakhan, whom she has previously posted about on social media. In response, she has maintained that she is not anti-Semitic and that she is being misjudged. Several prominent activists and political figures, including Women’s March co-president Bob Bland and political strategist Symone Sanders, have come to Mallory’s defense, arguing that Mallory is facing criticism that should be reserved for Farrakhan.

Tamika D. Mallory

@TamikaDMallory

Family…thank you for loving me and for knowing the truth about who I am. My work speaks for itself…my words have been clear…my love for people is deep. Whatever else they say about me is a LIE. Thank you for continuing to hold me up. I stand on my reputation!

Tamika D. Mallory

@TamikaDMallory

This is a thread. It seems I am not being clear. I am and always have been against all forms of racism. I am committed to ending anti-black racism, antisemitism, homophobia & transphobia. This is why I helped create an intersectional movement to bring groups together.

Tamika D. Mallory

@TamikaDMallory

Contrary to others, I listen. I have been in deep reflection and trying to be as thoughtful as possible. I want my own work to speak for itself but I will reiterate my commitment to building this movement. I won’t go back, I won’t redraw the lines of division. I want a new way.

Mallory wrote about the matter in a column for NewsOne on Wednesday. She said she did not expect her attendance at Saviours’ Day to cause problems because she has attended the annual event for decades.

She also says that her work requires her to “go into difficult spaces” and work with figures from across the ideological spectrum, and argues that this should not be used to discount her work or the Women’s March. “I do not think it is fair to question anyone who works with me, who supports my work and who is a member of this movement because of the ways that I may have fallen short here or in any other instance,” she says.

This isn’t the first time that some of the Women’s March organizers have been confronted with questions about their connections to Farrakhan. In addition to Mallory, Women’s March organizersCarmen Perez and Linda Sarsour have also been linked to Farrakhan.

“In regards to Minister Farrakhan, I think that is a distraction,” Perez told Refinery29 when asked about the association earlier this year. “People need to understand the significant contributions that these individuals have made to Black and Brown people. There are no perfect leaders.” She urged critics to examine the issue with nuance, explaining that the Women’s March is focused on a nonviolent approach to social justice.

Sophie Ellman-Golan, the deputy head of communications for the Women’s March, told Refinery29 that she continues to engage in discussions about anti-Semitism with other members of the organization. “These are the gaps in understanding,” Ellman-Golan, who is Jewish, said. “As a white person, I have to unlearn anti-Blackness, and they have to understand where they have biases. I’m here doing that work, and so are they.”

It’s worth noting that the criticism of the organizers linked to Farrakhan has come from a number of directions. Some progressives have used the incidents to start a fuller conversation about anti-Semitism in progressive spaces and how that bias intersects with other forms of discrimination and racism, with some critics arguing that the controversy weakens the Women’s March’s efforts to be an intersectional movement. The Women’s March organizers counter that the controversy reflects the difficulties inherent in mobilizing and uniting different groups.

“It was just the beginning of a learning process we all had to go through,” Bland told BuzzFeed on Wednesday. “Women are not a monolith and a lot of the issues we’re dealing with are longstanding issues between communities that will not get solved today or tomorrow.”

It seems to be a balance that Mallory is also trying to strike. “I continue to grow and learn as both an activist and as a woman, I will continue to grapple with the complicated nature of working across ideological lines and the question of how to do so without causing harm to vulnerable people,” she wrote in the NewsOne column.

For the supporters of the march who want a complete disavowal of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, these remarks have been frustrating and threaten the movement’s cohesion. Farrakhan may be a fringe figure, they say, but his comments come shortly after a report from the ADL released last month said the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported to the organization has increased some 57 percent in the past year.

But supporters of Mallory argue that the controversy is a sign of growing pains, cautioning that how Mallory is handled could alienate the women of color who already feel ignored and marginalized within the feminist movement, with many of her defenders arguing that attacks on black and brown communities do not cause the same outcry that Mallory’s attendance at the Farrakhan speech caused.

As a result, the controversy has also served as a starting point for larger discussions about the relationships between, and at times opposing ideologies of, anti-racist and anti-Semitic movements.

As of now, the effect of the controversy on future events organized by the Women’s March is unclear. But in highlighting the controversy, some right-wing media outlets have argued that the dustup undermines future Women’s March activities, including the March 14 National School Walkout being organized in collaboration with students across the country after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

March leaders say they are pressing forward. “We never stop organizing. We never stop keeping our eye on the prize,” Bland told BuzzFeed. “This learning has to happen the same way it has been happening: on the go.”

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Why Women’s March leaders are being accused of anti-Semitism


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