Archive | November, 2019

Gaza: Nazi Drones Don’t Wear Uniforms. They Should.

Drones Don’t Wear Uniforms. They Should.

Israel’s use of consumer drones against protesters heralds a dangerous, lawless age of conflict.

BY FAINE GREENWOODOSSAMA A. ZAQQOUT 

A drone is flown for recreational purposes in the sky above Old Bethpage, New York, on Aug. 30, 2015.  (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The video from Gaza starts with a just-visible multirotor drone juxtaposed against a remarkably blue sky. A group of TV journalists in blue helmets stand at the bottom of the frame, looking up at it. It hangs there for a second, and then tear gas canisters fall from it, issuing waving tails of white smoke. The canisters come to earth immediately in front of the cameras, and the reporters begin to run in all directions, coughing. The camera looks to the blue sky again, and the little black dot recedes, mysteriously, into the distance.

Israel may have become the first-ever nation observed using armed consumer drones in a real-world setting on March 12, when a Lebanese news network ran footage (probably dating from March 9) of one dropping tear gas on Gazan protesters. The deployment of drones against crowds of protesters — even armed ones — raises new and worrying questions about legality, identification, and purpose. Such usage may be unavoidable, but the international community at the very least needs to establish — and enforce — legal and ethical standards as soon as possible.

The origin of these tear gas-dropping drones is no secret. They are manufactured by an Israeli defense company called ISPRA, which specializes in “non-lethal devices for riot control, crowd management, anti-terror equipment and police gear.”

Its website contains an informative brochure for the Cyclone Riot Control Drone System. Beyond Israel, an ever-increasing number of armed groups and other nonstate actors are using consumer drones in war zones. The Islamic State, armed Sunni separatists, extremists in the Philippines, and others have used small drones to drop explosives and to conduct surveillance. The U.S. military was using consumer drones made by Chinese company DJI until last year, when it paused due to security concerns.

The ISPRA Cyclone is also a consumer drone, or at least, it was built on top of one. It is almost certainly an altered version of the DJI S1000+ octocopter model, which is regularly used by photographers, and looks very much like those civilian drones from the ground. The Cyclone, and the IDF’s choice to use it, highlights the blurring of lines between consumer and military drones, and their uncertain status under international humanitarian law.

The drones didn’t appear out of nowhere. Tear gas delivery via drone has been an area of active experimentation among defense contractors since at least 2001: By 2016, multiple companies offered them to defense and law enforcement buyers. ISPRA’s specialized crowd-control drone has been available since at least January 2015, and the company calls itself a “preferred supplier” of Israeli defense and police forces on its website.

The Israel Defense Forces also isn’t a stranger to consumer drone technology: It distributed foldable Mavic drones made by DJI throughout the army in 2017. While Israeli military sources told Haaretz that its new crowd control via drone method was “experimental” and not yet operational on March 12, on March 22, Border Police Deputy Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai went into more detail to “Hadashot” TV news, explaining that the “equipment neutralizes any danger to the troops.”

The drones began to pop up more and more after March 22. As the Palestinian right to return protests intensified after March 30, a self-assembly arms race began: Palestinian protesters started to send gossamer-thin kites that carried flaming material across the border barrier between Gaza and Israel (although they were often thwarted by stiff winds). On May 11, as Haaretz reported, the IDF recruited hobby drone pilots to counter the kites. The insectlike toy drones with neon-colored propellers had been equipped with sharp fishhooks to sever the kites’ strings.

Some Palestinians claim that the IDF drones are using a chemical agent more potent than even those usually deployed against crowds in Gaza. On May 14, witnesses told the Associated Press that Israeli drones have “dropped incendiary materials, setting ablaze tires that had been collected for use in a planned Gaza border protest.” A Twitter video from that day appears to depict a drone dropping a device that punches through the hole of a tent and then bursts into flames.

Mohammed Abu Mosabeh, the head of the emergency and disaster response unit at the Palestine Red Crescent Society, says that people were used to tear gas being fired from guns, but not gas dropped from the air, in unexpected places. Mosabeh says that the gas caused potent reactions, more potent than was usual for tear gas. “Some people had massive convulsions, where the whole body vibrates like electricity,” he tells us. “Others passed out for 20 or 30 minutes.” (This video from April 8 purports to show convulsions caused by this gas).

These reports are worrisome, but they have yet to be confirmed by outside researchers. An Amnesty International researcher told me the gas could simply be exceptionally potent tear gas, which is dangerous in its own right. Whatever it is, both the tear gas and the drones are a departure from the norm not just for Gaza, but for the entire world.

There are two legal frameworks that we can apply to small, weaponized drones — international humanitarian law and international human rights law — and there is fierce debate over which applies in Gaza. In April, Israeli and Palestinian rights groups brought a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court: The groups argued that Israel’s use of lethal fire against the Gazan demonstrators was not permitted in a law enforcement operation under international human rights law. (The International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International, among others, agree with this interpretation).

In response, the Israeli government disclosed its own legal position on its actions on the Gazan border. The state argued that the border protests constitute armed conflict between Israel and Hamas, which is subject to the law of armed conflict, which is also known as international humanitarian law. Controversially, the Israeli state argues that (as Eliav Lieblich describes in an excellent article on the website Just Security) its activities in Gaza fall under a separate law enforcement regime embedded in international humanitarian law, which is “inspired by” but is not actually similar to the law enforcement regime from international humanitarian rights law — thus making it lawful for Israel to use lethal force against protesters in this situation.

Israel’s use of consumer drones is problematic under both international humanitarian law and international human rights law, putting aside the country’s controversial interpretation of the rules.

Israel’s use of consumer drones is problematic under both international humanitarian law and international human rights law, putting aside the country’s controversial interpretation of the rules.

If international humanitarian law does apply to the Gaza situation, then Israel’s use of tear gas may be illegal. The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention bans the use of tear gas in warfare in most circumstances. Israel hasn’t ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, but that doesn’t protect it from criticism under international humanitarian law from the nations that have. On the other hand, if international humanitarian law doesn’t apply in this situation, then using tear gas is permitted: The Chemical Weapons Convention makes an exception for law enforcement, which is why tear gas is a regular feature at protests in the United States.

The IDF’s drones also do not appear to be marked with anything that identifies them as military aircraft or as Israeli. They also don’t seem to carry transponders or other electronic means of identification, which would permit them to self-identify as military aircraft. This presents another potential legal problem. Most interpretations of international law state that military aircraft must bear both nationality markings and markings that identify them as military aircraft.

These markings allow them to be distinguished from civilians under the principle of distinction, ensuring that both other combatants and civilians can tell them apart from civilian aircraft. Under international humanitarian law, an unmanned aerial vehicle (that is controlled by a human, not autonomously) is subject to the same rules and requirements that manned aircraft are. We could interpret this to mean that Israel is obligated to mark its drones to designate them as military, not civilian aircraft — just as Israel marks its other aircraft.

However, unlike for manned aircraft, there are no standardized or customary markings for drones — and the marking standards that suit much larger manned aircraft will need to be modified to work for them. There is still no good way to tell small drones apart in airspace by electronic or radio means; while many researchers are working on an airspace traffic management system suited to small drones, it remains some distance away.

That makes things especially tricky in contexts where military or police drones may be, in the near future, just some of those buzzing around a conflict. Journalists are making increasing use of drones to record events, while aid workers are currently using them to gain situational awareness of disasters and will likely begin using them to deliver medical supplies and other objects in the near future.

That means this organizational problem isn’t just a confusing inconvenience. It’s dangerous, and the death of a young Palestinian drone journalist named Yaser Murtaja in April highlights why. His last video, of the border demonstrations, swooped dramatically from scenes of protesters weeping from tear gas to bird’s-eye views of green fields and black-burning tire fires. One drone shot followed a group of protesters rushing an injured person on a stretcher back to a medical tent, just as Murtaja would be rushed from the field a few days later.

Murtaja wasn’t flying a drone when he was shot, but in the first days after his death, many people assumed he had been. “I don’t know who he is, a photographer, not a photographer — whoever operates drones above IDF soldiers needs to understand that he is endangering himself,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Haaretz on April 9, implying that Murtaja had put himself in danger with the device.

Lieberman inadvertently captured the central problem created by the murky and confused status of small drones and the inability of actors on all sides to gauge what a drone’s intentions are. Before civilian drones became widespread, it was easy to make the argument that everyone who flew a drone in a conflict area was likely a combatant. It was also easy to argue that civilians knew that drones were intrinsically dangerous, and that there was therefore no need to mark them as military aircraft. That’s just not true anymore, in the era of near-ubiquitous consumer drones. Technology has, once again, outpaced both the law and our culture.

Technology has, once again, outpaced both the law and our culture.

We are running out of time to firm up our collective cultural and legal response to small drones in conflict. Israel is unlikely to be the last nation to use drones against protesters — and it is also unlikely that arms manufacturers will stop at tear gas. Take Duke Robotics’ Tikad, a multirotor drone that can carry a machine gun, a grenade launcher, and other offensive weapons. According to Defense One, a consumer-drone prototype of the Tikad killed a target in 2015, and while Tikad doesn’t appear to have been used in battle yet, it is only a matter of time. In 2017, Connecticut lawmakers proposed a bill that would permit police to add lethal weapons to their drones, while North Dakota legalized the police use of nonlethal weapons on small drones in 2015.

Drones should be accessible to the civilians who benefit from them, but freedom must be balanced with safety. First, the international community should establish a standardized, international marking system, light pattern, or color to designate different kinds of drones under international humanitarian law — say blue for press, red for aid, and black for armed groups. The establishment of these markings will allow civilians like journalists and aid workers to distinguish their drones from those used by other actors in conflict, reducing the risk of a deadly case of mistaken identity.

This will be a start, but it won’t be enough. It is fiendishly hard to see a drone in flight, and all parties who operate drones in conflict and other complex environments will ultimately need standardized, reliable electronic solutions to reliably identify drones in airspace. This might take the form of small ADS-B transponders like those used by manned aircraft, or an “electronic license plate.”

There is also a place for new regulations and legal pressure. Researchers at the Omega Research Foundation called in 2015 for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to conduct a legal review on the dispersal of chemicals by drones. Lawmakers, on both the national and international level, should follow suit on clarifying the legal status of drones that are used for dispersing tear gas and for other law enforcement purposes, both lethal and less so.

We have already entered the age of the drone. Yet we still don’t know where drones fit into international customary law, or into our existing ethical and operational systems. The drones might have cameras, but everyone else is flying blind.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza: Nazi Drones Don’t Wear Uniforms. They Should.

The Coup in Bolivia Has Everything to Do With the Screen You’re Using to Read This

by VIJAY PRASHAD

Photograph Source: Senado Federal – CC BY 2.0

When you look at your computer screen, or the screen on your smartphone or the screen of your television set, it is a liquid crystal display (LCD). An important component of the LCD screen is indium, a rare metallic element that is processed out of zinc concentrate.

The two largest sources of indium can be found in eastern Canada (Mount Pleasant) and in Bolivia (Malku Khota). Canada’s deposits have the potential to produce 38.5 tons of indium per year, while Bolivia’s considerable mines would be able to produce 80 tons per year.

Canada’s South American Silver Corporation—now TriMetals Mining—had signed a concession to explore and eventually mine Malku Khota. Work began in 2003, two years before Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism (MAS) won their first presidential election in Bolivia. South American Silver conducted several studies of the region, all of which found substantial deposits that were poised to make this Canadian firm one of the major players in the mining industry.

A study done by Allan Armitage and others for South American Silver, and delivered to the company in 2011, showed that the Malku Khota mine would produce substantial amounts of silver, indium, lead, zinc, copper, and gallium. “The indium and gallium,” the study noted, “are regarded as strategic metals that give the project future upside potential.” Gallium is used for thermometers and barometers, as well as in the testing side of the pharmaceutical industry. There is Fort Knox level treasure to be made from these minerals.

Resource Nationalism

Evo Morales rode to victory in 2006 with the promise of a new day for Bolivia. Key to his agenda was to take control of the country’s resources and use them to improve the quality of life of Bolivia’s deprived populations. One of the great tragedies of Bolivia has been that since the mid-16th century, the indigenous populations have had to work to remove precious wealth from underneath their lands and send that wealth to enrich the people of Europe and later North America. They did not benefit from those riches.

Millions died in the mines of Potosí to bring the silver, and later tin, out of the ground. For the indigenous people who live near and on the hill, everything is upside down—one of the most lucrative hills is known as Cerro Rico (Rich Hill), while in Spanish there is a phrase that toys with the idea that wealth is equivalent to Potosí (vale un Potosí). Morales’ message during his campaign was framed around the concept of resource nationalism—use our resources to better the lives of those who live in deprivation and indignity.

Morales first went after the oil and gas industry. It is important to recall that his opponent in this year’s election—Carlos Mesa—was the president right before Morales won the election in December 2005. Mesa had come to power when his predecessor Sánchez de Lozada resigned in disgrace over the mass demonstrations in 2003 when Bolivians demanded more control over their gas reserves (the state repression was severe, with at least 70 people killed in the demonstrations). In May 2006—just over three months after being sworn in as president—Morales announced that the oil and gas industry had been nationalized. It is important to recall that his approval rating was well above 80 percent.

Nationalization was not easy, since the Bolivian government could not expropriate assets but only raise taxes and renegotiate contracts. Even here, the government faced problems since it lacked enough technical skills to understand the opaque energy sector. Furthermore, the problem with the energy sector is that even nationalized oil and gas must be sold to the transnational firms that then process them and market them; they remain in control of the value chain. What Morales’ government was able to do was to ensure that the State controlled 51 percent of all private energy firms that operated in Bolivia, which allowed the State’s coffers to fill rapidly. It was this money that was invested to go after poverty, hunger, and illiteracy.

Revenge of the Mining Companies

Canada’s Fraser Institute—a libertarian think tank that is heavily funded by the energy and mining sector—publishes an annual survey of mining companies. This survey is conducted by asking mining executives their opinions on a range of issues. The 2007–08 survey said that Bolivia is the second-worst country for investment; the worst was Ecuador. In 2010, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index rated Bolivia at 161 of 183 countries. Heads of mining firms—from Barrick’s Peter Munk to Repsol’s Antonio Brufau—made disparaging comments about the nationalization program. “If Bolivia keeps on this path,” a Wall Street banker told me at that time, “these companies will make sure that Bolivian natural gas remains underground.” Bolivia might be embargoed; Morales might be assassinated.

Pressure mounted daily on the MAS government, which began a process to write a new Constitution that would both protect nature and insist on resource wealth being used for the people. There was an immediate contradiction here: if the MAS government was going to undo centuries of deprivation, it would have to mine the earth to bring out the wealth. A tragic choice befell the government—it could not both conserve nature and transform the wretched conditions of everyday life at the same level of caution. At the same time, to get its minerals and energy to market, it had to continue to negotiate with these transnational firms; no immediate alternative was present.

Nationalization

Despite the constraints on it, the MAS government continued to nationalize resources, and insist on State firms being partners in resource extraction. Transnational firms immediately took Bolivia to the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a part of the World Bank system. The ICSID—formed in 1966—is based in Washington, D.C., and shares an outlook toward business that mirrors that of the U.S. Treasury Department.

On April 29, 2007, the leaders of Bolivia (Evo Morales), Cuba (Carlos Lage), Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega), and Venezuela (Hugo Chávez) signed a declaration to create an alternative to the investor-government system institutionalized in the ICSID. Bolivia and Ecuador formally withdrew from this U.S.-dominated system, while Venezuela’s Supreme Court declared that it did not have the power to intervene in Venezuelan sovereign affairs.

On July 10, 2012, Morales’ government nationalized the Malku Khota property of South American Silver. Company CEO Greg Johnson saidhe was “really shocked” at the decision. South American Silver’s shares dropped immediately; it had been trading at $1.02 on July 6, and it fell to $0.37 on July 11.

The immediate spur for the nationalization was the protest around the mine by indigenous artisanal miners who did not want this mega-project to undermine their livelihood. South American Silver had spent a great deal of money to convince 43 of the 46 neighboring communities to accept the mine; but they could not convince the artisanal miners. “Nationalization is our obligation,” said Morales.

All that indium would not make its way in significant quantities to the factories to produce LCDs for television sets, computer monitors, and cell phones.

South American Silver took the Bolivian government to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. In November last year, the Court ordered Bolivia to pay South American Silver $27.7 million rather than the $385.7 million that TriMetals (the new name for South American Silver) had demanded.

Coup

In July 2007, U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg sent a cable to Washington in which he pointed out that U.S. mining firms had approached his embassy to ask about the investment climate in Bolivia. Goldberg felt that the situation for mining firms was not good. When asked if he could organize a meeting with Vice President Álvaro García Linera, he said, “Sadly, without dynamite in the streets, it is uncertain whether the Embassy or the international mining companies will be able to attain even this minimal goal.”

“Without dynamite in the streets” is a phrase worth dwelling upon. A year later, Morales expelled Goldberg from Bolivia, accusing him of aiding the protests in the town of Santa Cruz. Just over a decade later, it was the “dynamite” that removed Morales from power.

Resource nationalism is no longer on the agenda in Bolivia. The fate of Malku Khota is unknown. The fate of your screen is guaranteed—it will be replaced with indium from the Potosí deposits. And the benefits of that sale will not go to improving the well-being of Bolivia’s indigenous population; they will enrich the transnational firms and the old oligarchy of Bolivia.

Posted in BoliviaComments Off on The Coup in Bolivia Has Everything to Do With the Screen You’re Using to Read This

Jewish settlers are the lords and the Nazi army does their bidding

In the Hebron Hills, the settlers are the lords and the IDF does their bidding

A new booklet by Breaking the Silence compiles dozens of accounts by former Israeli soldiers who served in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank.

By +972 Resources 

By Rachel Shenhav-Goldberg

Israeli soldiers violently drag Rabbi Arik Ascherman while he and a group of activists attempt to repair an access road for a cluster of Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills on May 3, 2019. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers violently drag Rabbi Arik Ascherman while he and a group of activists attempt to repair an access road for a cluster of Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills on May 3, 2019. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

In 2012, two Israeli residents of Mitzpe Yair, an unauthorized settlement in the Hebron Hills, spontaneously attacked an elderly, unarmed Palestinian man, beating him so badly that he was hospitalized. Since Israel is, according to the Oslo Accords, obligated to regulate all aspects of civilian life in the occupied territories, soldiers from a nearby army base were deployed to search for the perpetrators.

The search was desultory and unsuccessful; the soldiers were ordered back to base within a couple of hours. During a debriefing the next morning, one of the soldiers asked his commanding officer what they should do if the reverse happened — i.e., what if they saw two Palestinian residents of the same area spontaneously attacking an unarmed Jewish settler? The officer’s curt response: “Shoot to kill.”Get Our Weekly NewsletterSign up

One of the soldiers at that briefing recounted the incident, which received almost no coverage in the Israeli media, to Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli combat soldiers that works to raise awareness about the occupation. His account is one of 41 collected from former combat soldiers who served in the area; they are compiled in a new publication called The South Hebron Hills: Soldiers’ Testimonies, 2010-2016.

The purpose of the book is set out in the introduction, which presents the organization’s mandate: by collecting the data Breaking the Silence seeks to present a clear picture of the “systemic and institutionalized” discrimination between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents that defines Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank. They believe that by recording and presenting this information to the public, they will raise the awareness that is a first step toward ending the occupation.

The report shows the effect of discriminatory law enforcement, with settlers treated as privileged citizens while Palestinians have almost no rights at all. Not only does this policy perpetuate the occupation and oppress the Palestinians, it also allows settler riots like the one that occurred in mid-October, with settlers from Yitzhar attacking volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights while they harvested olives with Palestinian farmers.

Reading the testimonies is a harrowing experience; in the aggregate, alongside the data, they make it impossible find any shred of morality in the occupation.

recent poll found, again, that most Israelis identify the Israel Defense Forces as the most moral army in the world. In popular culture, the army is presented as a defensive force that carries out the critical task of protecting Israeli civilians from violent enemies. The South Hebron Hills presents a very different picture of the army. In their testimonies, the former soldiers describe a private security company that puts settler interests first, while abusing Palestinians — who, for the most part, are no threat to anyone.

According to the testimonies, the soldiers were told that their job was “deterrence,” rather than “defense.” Their orders were to make Palestinians feel that Israeli soldiers were “the boss”; this was often accomplished through gratuitous violence, which one former soldier describes as “just to drive people crazy.”

There is no democracy in the Hebron Hills. The settlers are the lords of the land, and the army does their bidding, to the point that one former soldier says he frequently could not tell the difference between orders from his own commanding officers and those from the settler “security coordinators.”

Another former soldier recounts that the army blocked the roads leading in and out of Palestinian villages in order to protect a few settlers.

The “shoot to kill” order applies only in the case of Palestinians attacking settlers. Soldiers are not permitted to use force against settlers who attack Palestinians, or even against those who attack soldiers. That is why border police were deployed, rather than regular soldiers, to deal with the October 16 incident involving Yitzhar settlers who attacked olive harvesters

The soldiers who testify to Breaking the Silence recount having witnessed settlers assaulting Palestinian children on their way to school, beating farmers in olive groves, and attacking random individuals harassed for no apparent reason. None of this is new, but in the aggregate the testimonies are powerful, as is the culture of impunity. The army does almost nothing to apprehend violent settlers, while the Israeli media covers only the most egregious incidents. The consequence of the poor media coverage is a distorted version of reality: most Israelis so rarely see reporting on settler violence that they believe it is rare, and therefore not representative.

A Palestinian boy looks on at the Israeli settlement of Carmel from the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Khair, in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, February 23, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian boy looks on at the Israeli settlement of Carmel from the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Khair, in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, February 23, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Those soldiers volunteered for combat service after high school with high hopes and idealism, and with their morality intact. By the end of their service, they carry the heavy emotional burden of having participated in immoral acts. Those who try to resist illegal orders only feel helpless. As one soldier testifies:

… You don’t know exactly where to direct your anger: I remember that even then I knew that something there wasn’t right. On the one hand not right, on the other hand it’s your company commander, so like who are you supposed to report it to?

These young soldiers are also victims of an oppressive system. Now they are trying to make amends by telling the public what they did, and why it was wrong.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights, West BankComments Off on Jewish settlers are the lords and the Nazi army does their bidding

Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded

by JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs

You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks….

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you sit back and watch
When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion
While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

— Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”

War drives the American police state.

The military-industrial complex is the world’s largest employer.

War sustains our way of life while killing us at the same time. As Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges observes:

War is like a poison. And just as a cancer patient must at times ingest a poison to fight off a disease, so there are times in a society when we must ingest the poison of war to survive. But what we must understand is that just as the disease can kill us, so can the poison. If we don’t understand what war is, how it perverts us, how it corrupts us, how it dehumanizes us, how it ultimately invites us to our own self-annihilation, then we can become the victim of war itself.

War also entertains us with its carnage, its killing fields, its thrills and chills and bloodied battles set to music and memorialized in books, on television, in video games, and in superhero films and blockbuster Hollywood movies financed in part by the military.

Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military.

Yet war is a grisly business, a horror of epic proportions.

In terms of human carnage alone, war’s devastation is staggering. For example, it is estimated that approximately 231 million people died worldwide during the wars of the 20th century. This figure does not take into account the walking wounded—both physically and psychologically—who “survive” war.

Many of those who have served in the military are among America’s walking wounded.

Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts more than 20 million veterans who have served in World War II through the present day, the plight of veterans today has become America’s badge of shame, with large numbers of veterans impoverished, unemployed, traumatized mentally and physically, struggling with depression, suicide, and marital stress, homeless, subjected to sub-par treatment at clinics and hospitals, and left to molder while their paperwork piles up within Veterans Administration offices.

According to a recent report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 60,000 veterans died by suicidebetween 2008 and 2017.

On average, 6,000 veterans kill themselves every year, and the numbers are on the rise.

As Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, observed, “For soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, coming home is more lethal than being in combat.”

Unfortunately, it’s the U.S. government that poses the greater threat to America’s military veterans, especially if they are among that portion of the population that exercises their First Amendment right to speak out against government wrongdoing.

Consider: we raise our young people on a steady diet of militarism and war, sell them on the idea that defending freedom abroad by serving in the military is their patriotic duty, then when they return home, bruised and battle-scarred and committed to defending their freedoms at home, we often treat them like criminals merely for exercising those rights they risked their lives to defend.

The government even has a name for its war on America’s veterans: Operation Vigilant Eagle.

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, this Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program tracks military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and characterizes them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”

Coupled with the DHS’ dual reports on Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism,” which broadly define extremists as individuals, military veterans and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” these tactics bode ill for anyone seen as opposing the government.

Yet the government is not merely targeting individuals who are voicing their discontent so much as it is taking aim at individuals trained in military warfare.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the DHS has gone extremely quiet about Operation Vigilant Eagle.

Where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be fire.

And the government’s efforts to target military veterans whose views may be perceived as “anti-government” make clear that something is afoot.

In recent years, military servicemen and women have found themselves increasingly targeted for surveillance, censorship, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, labeled as extremists and/or mentally ill, and stripped of their Second Amendment rights.

An important point to consider, however, is that under the guise of mental health treatment and with the complicity of government psychiatrists and law enforcement officials, these veterans are increasingly being portrayed as threats to national security.

In light of the government’s efforts to lay the groundwork to weaponize the public’s biomedical data and predict who might pose a threat to public safety based on mental health sensor data (a convenient means by which to penalize certain “unacceptable” social behaviors), encounters with the police could get even more deadly, especially if those involved have a mental illness or disability coupled with a military background.

Incredibly, as part of a proposal being considered by the Trump Administration, a new government agency HARPA (a healthcare counterpart to the Pentagon’s research and development arm DARPA) will take the lead in identifying and targeting “signs” of mental illness or violent inclinations among the populace by using artificial intelligence to collect data from Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home.

These tactics are not really new.

Many times throughout history in totalitarian regimes, such governments have declared dissidents mentally ill and unfit for society as a means of disempowering them.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum observes in Gulag: A History: “The exile of prisoners to a distant place, where they can ‘pay their debt to society,’ make themselves useful, and not contaminate others with their ideas or their criminal acts, is a practice as old as civilization itself. The rulers of ancient Rome and Greece sent their dissidents off to distant colonies. Socrates chose death over the torment of exile from Athens. The poet Ovid was exiled to a fetid port on the Black Sea.”

For example, government officials in the Cold War-era Soviet Union often used psychiatric hospitals as prisons in order to isolate political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally through the use of electric shocks, drugs and various medical procedures.

Insisting that “ideas about a struggle for truth and justice are formed by personalities with a paranoid structure,” the psychiatric community actually went so far as to provide the government with a diagnosis suitable for locking up such freedom-oriented activists.

In addition to declaring political dissidents mentally unsound, Russian officials also made use of an administrative process for dealing with individuals who were considered a bad influence on others or troublemakers.

Author George Kennan describes a process in which:

The obnoxious person may not be guilty of any crime . . . but if, in the opinion of the local authorities, his presence in a particular place is “prejudicial to public order” or “incompatible with public tranquility,” he may be arrested without warrant, may be held from two weeks to two years in prison, and may then be removed by force to any other place within the limits of the empire and there be put under police surveillance for a period of from one to ten years. Administrative exile–which required no trial and no sentencing procedure–was an ideal punishment not only for troublemakers as such, but also for political opponents of the regime.

Sound familiar?

This age-old practice by which despotic regimes eliminate their critics or potential adversaries by declaring them mentally ill and locking them up in psychiatric wards for extended periods of time is a common practice in present-day China.

What is particularly unnerving, however, is how this practice of eliminating or undermining potential critics, including military veterans, is happening with increasing frequency in the United States.

Remember, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) opened the door for the government to detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker. According to government guidelines for identifying domestic extremists—a word used interchangeably with terrorists—technically, anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in order to criticize the government qualifies.

It doesn’t take much anymore to be flagged as potentially anti-government in a government database somewhere—Main Core, for example—that identifies and tracks individuals who aren’t inclined to march in lockstep to the government’s dictates.

In fact, as the Washington Post reports, communities are being mapped and residents assigned a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—so police are forewarned about a person’s potential inclination to be a troublemaker depending on whether they’ve had a career in the military, posted a comment perceived as threatening on Facebook, suffer from a particular medical condition, or know someone who knows someone who might have committed a crime.

The case of Brandon Raub is a prime example of Operation Vigilant Eagle in action.

Raub, a 26-year-old decorated Marine, actually found himself interrogated by government agents about his views on government corruption, arrested with no warning, labeled mentally ill for subscribing to so-called “conspiratorial” views about the government, detained against his will in a psych ward for standing by his views, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys.

On August 16, 2012, a swarm of local police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s Virginia home, asking to speak with him about posts he had made on his Facebook page made up of song lyrics, political opinions and dialogue used in a political thriller virtual card game.

Among the posts cited as troublesome were lyrics to a song by a rap group and Raub’s views, shared increasingly by a number of Americans, that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.

After a brief conversation and without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, Raub was then handcuffed and transported to police headquarters, then to a medical center, where he was held against his will due to alleged concerns that his Facebook posts were “terrorist in nature.”

Outraged onlookers filmed the arrest and posted the footage to YouTube, where it quickly went viral. Meanwhile, in a kangaroo court hearing that turned a deaf ear to Raub’s explanations about the fact that his Facebook posts were being read out of context, Raub was sentenced to up to 30 days’ further confinement in a psychiatric ward.

Thankfully, The Rutherford Institute came to Raub’s assistance, which combined with heightened media attention, brought about his release and may have helped prevent Raub from being successfully “disappeared” by the government.

Even so, within days of Raub being seized and forcibly held in a VA psych ward, news reports started surfacing of other veterans having similar experiences.

“Oppositional defiance disorder” (ODD) is another diagnosis being used against veterans who challenge the status quo. As journalist Anthony Martin explains, an ODD diagnosis

“denotes that the person exhibits ‘symptoms’ such as the questioning of authority, the refusal to follow directions, stubbornness, the unwillingness to go along with the crowd, and the practice of disobeying or ignoring orders. Persons may also receive such a label if they are considered free thinkers, nonconformists, or individuals who are suspicious of large, centralized government… At one time the accepted protocol among mental health professionals was to reserve the diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder for children or adolescents who exhibited uncontrollable defiance toward their parents and teachers.”

Frankly, based on how well my personality and my military service in the U.S. Armed Forces fit with this description of “oppositional defiance disorder,” I’m sure there’s a file somewhere with my name on it.

That the government is using the charge of mental illness as the means by which to immobilize (and disarm) these veterans is diabolical. With one stroke of a magistrate’s pen, these veterans are being declared mentally ill, locked away against their will, and stripped of their constitutional rights.

If it were just being classified as “anti-government,” that would be one thing.

Unfortunately, anyone with a military background and training is also now being viewed as a heightened security threat by police who are trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

Feeding this perception of veterans as ticking time bombs in need of intervention, the Justice Department launched a pilot program in 2012 aimed at training SWAT teams to deal with confrontations involving highly trained and often heavily armed combat veterans.

The result?

Police encounters with military veterans often escalate very quickly into an explosive and deadly situation, especially when SWAT teams are involved.

For example, Jose Guerena, a Marine who served in two tours in Iraq, was killed after an Arizona SWAT team kicked open the door of his home during a mistaken drug raid and opened fire. Thinking his home was being invaded by criminals, Guerena told his wife and child to hide in a closet, grabbed a gun and waited in the hallway to confront the intruders. He never fired his weapon. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. The SWAT officers, however, not as restrained, fired 70 rounds of ammunition at Guerena—23 of those bullets made contact. Apart from his military background, Guerena had had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

John Edward Chesney, a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran, was killed by a SWAT team allegedly responding to a call that the Army veteran was standing in his San Diego apartment window waving what looked like a semi-automatic rifle. SWAT officers locked down Chesney’s street, took up positions around his home, and fired 12 rounds into Chesney’s apartment window. It turned out that the gun Chesney reportedly pointed at police from three stories up was a “realistic-looking mock assault rifle.”

Ramon Hooks’ encounter with a Houston SWAT team did not end as tragically, but it very easily could have. Hooks, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, was using an air rifle gun for target practice outside when a Homeland Security Agent, allegedly house shopping in the area, reported him as an active shooter. It wasn’t long before the quiet neighborhood was transformed into a war zone, with dozens of cop cars, an armored vehicle and heavily armed police. Hooks was arrested, his air rifle pellets and toy gun confiscated, and charges filed against him for “criminal mischief.”

Given the government’s increasing view of veterans as potential domestic terrorists, it makes one think twice about government programs encouraging veterans to include a veterans designation on their drivers’ licenses and ID cards.

Hailed by politicians as a way to “make it easier for military veterans to access discounts from retailers, restaurants, hotels and vendors across the state,” it will also make it that much easier for the government to identify and target veterans who dare to challenge the status quo.

After all, no one is spared in a police state.

Eventually, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we all suffer the same fate.

It stands to reason that if the government can’t be bothered to abide by its constitutional mandate to respect the citizenry’s rights—whether it’s the right to be free from government surveillance and censorship, the right to due process and fair hearings, the right to be free from roadside strip searches and militarized police, or the right to peacefully assemble and protest and exercise our right to free speech—then why should anyone expect the government to treat our nation’s veterans with respect and dignity?

Here’s a suggestion: if you really want to do something to show your respect and appreciation for the nation’s veterans, why not skip the parades and the flag-waving and instead go exercise your rights—the freedoms that those veterans swore to protect—by pushing back against the government’s tyranny.

It’s time the rest of the nation did its part to safeguard the freedoms we too often take for granted.

Freedom is not free.

Posted in USAComments Off on Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded

Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Abandoned dairy barn, Mulino, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Do you ever have one of those mornings when you turn on MSDNC for the impeachment hearings and start banging the TV a few of times thinking it’s stuck on the Cartoon Network? That was me at around 6:45 AM PST on Wednesday when instead of Adam Schiff’s shimmering death-skull head, the screen depicted the strange doughboy visage of George Conway, house husband of Trump’s counselor Kellyanne, pontificating about impeachment on the Democrats’ home cable network. It sure seemed like a bad cartoon, a case of Ukraine in the membrane (apologies to Cypress Hill).

+ Who has the most unfortunate hair in the Conway family, Kellyanne or new MSDNC commentator, George? Depending on windspeed, my money’s on George…

+ I don’t know why the Democrats think having lawyers ask the questions at the impeachment hearings is going to suddenly grab the public’s attention. The questioning by Howard Liman and John Nields at the Iran/Contra hearings was so inept and confusing that they buried that scandal under hours of tedium before anyone knew what it was really all about.

+ Iran/Contra boiled down to a weapons-for-weapons scandal, TOW missiles to Iran for money to buy weapons for the Contras in violation of the Boland Amendment. Ukrainegate is also a “weapons” scandal. But in this case, the weapons were being WITHHELD in alleged violation of Congressional intent, in exchange for political dirt on Democrats, which made it a slightly less lethal transgression–until Trump released the money for the Javelin missiles, which could spark a major war in eastern Europe, a war the neocons and Democrat hawks seem eager to provoke. The difference in the 2 scandals demonstrates just how completely the Democrats have adopted the policies of the War Party since the days of the honorable Edward Boland.

+ In Watergate, the question that weighed so heavily on the mind of Howard Baker (at least) was: what did the president know and when did he know it? In the Ukraine Grift, the question appears to be: what did Trump know and did he understand it?

+ Ambassador William Taylor says that after he retired from the State Department and went to work at the US Peace Institute and has spent his entire opening statement arguing for a more militant policy toward Russia in Ukraine, which tells you all you need to know about the “Peace Institute.”

+ There are days, increasingly rare, when the Pentagon isn’t bombing someone. But the US State Department never sleeps. It squeezes people around the world into compliance with US policy 24/7.

+ According to former State Department honcho George Kent, the US-funded Ukrainian paramilitaries were the equivalent of the “Minutemen” of the American Revolution. It’s always this way the State Dept, which once tried to market the murderous Contras as the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers.

+ As a rule of thumb, it’s the State Department guys in bowties, like Kent, who are the one’s you’ve really got to look out for. They tend to have the bloodiest resumés…

+ As David Hoelscher reminded me, I.F. Stone said that the State Dept.’s foreign service people “instinctively sympathize with undemocratic forces” and that, when a journalist is well informed and asks good questions, he or she is much more likely to get honest answers from Pentagon flacks than from diplomats.

+ Just noticed during the half-time break that George Conway is wearing a soft cast on his right hand. Has Kellyanne been playing rough again at home?

+ Thanks to Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, these impeachment hearings have the circus, but where’s the bread?

+ As I understood Taylor’s opening statement, the one new nugget he has disclosed is that when Gordon Sondland was asked what Trump thought of Ukraine, “Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.” Surely this comes as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Trump.

+ Taylor said that he was in part seduced into taking his post against the fierce objections of his wife, because he thought Trump might take a harder line against Russia on Ukraine than Obama had. Taylor was a Bush appointee for a reason.

+ Taylor described what he called an “Irregular Policy Channel” on Ukraine, excavated by Giuliani for secret transit to Kiev by the Three Amigos: Gordon Sondland, Karl Volker and Rick Perry.

+ Are the Giuliani Irregulars any more inept at making foreign policy than the Obama Regulars, like Nuland, Powers and Clinton?

+ The old hands at the State Department should relax. I’m sure Big Pharma is currently working on a drug to treat “Irregular Policy Channel Syndrome.”

+ For the Democrats, Taylor is the kind of grizzled, unrepentant made-for-TV Vietnam Vet they hoped Mueller would be.

+ It’s laughable that the US interest in Ukraine was in preserving what Taylor called a “Rules Based Order.” Our rules, our orders.

+ As the hearing rolled on, hour after improbable hour, we were presented with the preposterous spectacle of both the Biden camp and the Trump camps claiming they have been victimized by…Ukraine!

+ Are members of Congress subject to random drug testing? The old wrestling coach Jim Jordon is so jittery and hyper it looks like he’s taken a fistful of what baseball players used to call “greenies”…

+ It would be great if these hearings could impeach Trump and pre-impeach Biden.

+ Things I learned from the Impeachment hearing: Kiev is pronounced KEEV, at least by the Foggy Bottom Regulars. I don’t know how the Irregulars, like Giuliani, pronounce it. I guess we’ll have to wait for another butt-dialed message.

+ The Republican counsel, Steve Castor, projects a look of studious incompetence. You can see why he appealed to Nunes…

+ Val Demings is by far the most effective Democratic inquisitor. Typically, they waited 5 and half hours to call on her….

+ With so much smoke in the hearing room will it ever be possible to find the gun?

+ One of the piquant ironies of Ukrainegate is that Trump ended up adopting the belligerent Biden/Nuland strategy in Ukraine, which was to send the regime Javelin missiles to intimidate Russia, a policy Obama rejected over Biden’s strident objections.

+ Trump can always count on one distraction every month or so that will get the enemy of the people off his back for a day: some kind of mass shooting. If it takes place in a school, he might even get two days. He doesn’t even have to pick up his Android, it just happens like clockwork. Is this considered an “in-kind” contribution from the NRA?

+ Looks like Rudy can fail after all…

+ Portland hotelier turned Trump Ambassador to EU (courtesy of $1 million donation to Trump inaugural) on Giuliani, according to the intriguing deposition of David Holmes: “Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and fucks everything up.”

+ I note that Holmes graduated from Pomona College, where I lectured a couple of times in the early 2000s. I hope he didn’t attend any and then decide to take up a career in the State Department or I have failed miserably in my mission.

+ As the GOP and the Deep Staters hyperventilate about Trump being hoisted on his own (or Rudy’s) petard in Ukraine, the CIA actually pulls one off in Bolivia. Coups are one of the things the CIA is really good at. If they wanted to execute one here, Trump would have been gone two years ago (or never elected)…

+ Is Bolivia the first Lithium Coup? Over to you, Kurt…

[By the way, I recently watched an amusing documentary called Sunset Strip, which fingers Nirvana for destroying the glam scene which had taken root in West Hollywood. Way to go, Kurt! If we all blast “Lithium” loud enough, perhaps the same fate will befall the coup-plotters in Bolivia.]

+ Noam Chomsky: “The coup is promoted by the Bolivian oligarchy … and has the full support of the United States Government, which has long been eager to expel Evo Morales and his movement.”

+ A statistical analysis of Bolivia’s vote count reveals that the final results weren’t affected by fraud or irregularities.

+ Where was Elliott Abrams, when the Bolivian generals chased Evo out of Sucre? Someone should attach an electronic bracelet to that war criminal’s ankle so we can keep track of his nefarious migrations.

+ Who is Jeanine Anez to decide who can and can’t run for president in Bolivia, even if she claims the support of the Three Amigos: Trump, Putin and fellow pretender Juan Guaidó? One thing is for sure: this evangelical right-winger with a hatred of indigenous people of the Andes who now claims to be Bolivia’s “interim president” wasn’t elected by anyone. She seized power on her own, backed by generals, multinational corporations and their political hacks in the US, the OAS and, yes, Putin’s Russia.

+ There should be a contest to decide the greatest coup. We could call it the World Coup. Bolivia, of course, fields a strong side in each group…

Group A. Bolivia (2019) vs. Chile (1973)
Group B. Bolivia (1952) vs. Honduras (2009)
Group C. Bolivia (1964) vs. Brazil (1964)
Group D. Bolivia (1980) vs. Argentina (1976)

US (2019) has yet to win it’s qualifier.

+ “The temporary death of democracy in Chile will be regrettable, but the blame lies clearly with Dr. Allende… Pinochet and his fellow officers are only pawns. Their coup was homegrown, and attempts to make out that the Americans were involved are absurd.” -The Economist, 9/15/73.

+ Bolivia has had two national flags, the second is called the Wiphala, to represent Andean indigenous peoples. After the coup, rightwing groups are burning it in the streets.

+ Trump’s statement on the Bolivian coup targets Venezuela and Nicaragua…”These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail.”

+ It took Bernie two days to come up with this tame statement on the Bolivian coup, which is not nearly as forceful as Jeremy Corbyn’s or his own acolyte, AOC, and makes no mention of the US role in instigating and backing the coup.

Bernie Sanders@BernieSanders

I am very concerned about what appears to be a coup in Bolivia, where the military, after weeks of political unrest, intervened to remove President Evo Morales. The U.S. must call for an end to violence and support Bolivia’s democratic institutions.89.7K9:16 PM – Nov 11, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy26.6K people are talking about this

+ If Bernie is this cautious now in his statements on Venezuela and Bolivia, how much more timid will he become if he wins the Democratic nomination?

+ Still awaiting any word on Bolivia from Tulsi Gabbard.

+ Thanks to Jared Kushner, the White House is now live-streaming the construction of Trump’s border wall. The sequel sounds more exciting, as it follows the adventures of three Mexican teenagers who come along with blow torches and burn holes in the wall every 100 yards or so…

+ 69,550 migrant children were held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to fill a typical NFL stadium.

+ If there was a pond on the Ellipse of the White House, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Mike Pence was out there drowning women to see if they’re witches, as long as Mother was available to chaperone him……

+ The Democratic Party is once again the runaway winner at this year’s Political Darwin Awards, headlined by Pete Buttigeig, who is now leading in the Iowa polls.

+ Mayor Pete, doing his best to outflank Biden on Israel.

Keep it up, Pete, and who knows, maybe Sheldon Adelson will pitch you a few bucks…

+ Mayor Pete would be the shortest president since William McKinley (and you know how that worked out for him). Only 10 presidents have been shorter, even when you count those with shrinking reputations…

Short people got no reason
Short people got no reason to rule
They got pointy little heads
And tiny little bones
Stubby little fingers
For their push-button drones…

+ Speaking of short people, the dwarf Michael Bloomberg has only two known supporters: Tom Friedman and Bret Stephens. But, hey, that’s two more than DeBlasio was able to round-up.

+ Bloomberg is apparently trying to appeal to the Clinton (Bill) demographic. What other lane would you run in when your misogyny is so robust that you allegedly told one pregnant employee to “kill it” (her fetus), quipped that “if women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s,” and bragged that his Bloomberg computer terminal computer terminal could “do everything, including blow jobs.” “I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business,” Bloomberg blurted.

+ Bernie Gantz may soon replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister and it’s likely no one will notice the difference, certainly not the Palestinians…

Eylon Levy@EylonALevy

Gantz: “Make no mistake – on the other side there are terrorists, not Mother Teresas. They are deliberately firing rockets onto populated areas.” #IsraelUnderFire

View image on Twitter

636:25 PM – Nov 13, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy36 people are talking about this

+ Chew over the implications of this poll reported by Jefferson Morley showing that Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete are the two favorite candidates of National Security employees. (By the way, Morley, who now runs the ironically-titled Deep State blog, was the “left” editor at the Washington Post Outlook Section, who invited me to write occasional pieces for the Post back in the mid-90s…) His blog is must-read, as is his recent book on the CIA’s crazed spy hunter James Jesus Angleton.)

+ A Lancet analysis of 1,629,352 women and 2,354,041 children less than 15 yrs old, living within 50 kilometers of high-intensity war zones finds that “exposure to the highest decile conflict in terms of conflict-related deaths increased female mortality by 202% & increased orphanhood by 42%.”

+ At his Weds. press conference, Trump interrupts Erdogan as he points to a Turkish reporter and says, “Only friendly questions, from friendly reporters.” It’s worth mentioning that Turkey jails more journalists than any country in the world, including CounterPunch’s Michael Dickinson, a political cartoonist and member of the Stuckist Art Movement, who was jailed for a “seditious” cartoon of Erdogan and then evicted from Turkey.

+ In hawking her new book Darling Nikki Haley said that she found Trump to “truthful” and she “never doubted” his “fitness for office.” Watch your back, Mike Pence!

+ I just realized that when HRC said Many Many Many People want her to run for president that it referred to one person named Many Many Many People, a distant relative of Major Major Major Major, last seen in Catch-22 exploiting his resemblance to Henry Fonda in order to become Squadron Commander…

+ Democratic numbers among “white voters” in Pennsylvania, according to the most recent Muhlenberg poll.

Biden 46%
Sanders 44%
Warren 44%

In 2016, Clinton won 40% of Pennsylvania white voters. Even 42% would have delivered a clear win.

+ Someone said Deval Patrick, ex-gov,. ex-oil executive, ex-Bain capital hot shot, is running for president. Surely they mean president of the board of Citibank, where he belongs…

+ NYC’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has hired 500 new cops, most of them to harass poor people for “fare evasion.” Cost over four years: $249 million.

+ In Potter County, Texas, which surrounds the city of Amarillo, jailers regularly dispense legal advice to defendants; court-appointed attorneys rarely meet with their clients; and poor defendants are sent bills for their legal costs, which, given the poor quality of their lawyers, usually result in convictions. In Texas, the poor won’t get no justice tonight, but they will get a bill.

+ More than 13% of American adults — nearly 34 million people — report knowing of at least one friend or family member in the past five years who died because they couldn’t afford healthcare…

+ Citibank executives are warning of a “war on Wall Street and wealth” in the 2020 elections. Looks like somebody got Triggered!

+ Less than one in 10 Americans now oppose legalization of pot for either recreational or medical use….

91% back either policy
59% want both
32% want medical
8% oppose both

+ Trump is crediting his daughter Ivanka with having personally created more than 200 percent of all new jobs in the United States. Think what she could do as chair of the Fed!

+ The richest 1% of Americans are about to surpass the wealth of the entire middle class, controlling more than half of the equity in US companies. The bottom 50% of Americans have 35.7% of the US economy’s liabilities and just 6.1% of its assets.

+ How schools in Minnesota are teaching the merciless nature of capitalism to the kids: dumping hot meals in the trash instead of serving them to students with more than $15 in debt for school lunches.

+ Ursula K. Le Guin: “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”

+ There was some hardcore Blonde Bigot on Blonde Bigot action going on this week between Ann Coulter and Donald Trump over the fate of the Dreamers. Disgusted by Trump’s lack of viciousness on immigration, Coulter says Trump should go and the Dreamers say.

+ According to The Intercept: “Trump has reportedly continued to make calls on his iPhones, even after warnings from American intelligence officials that Russian and Chinese spies are regularly eavesdropping on his calls.” Maybe Jared Kushner will suggest streaming Trump’s calls live on Soundcloud and iTunes so we can all listen in, like the very exciting video feed of the Wall construction….

+ Here’s a convincing piece by Jack Shafer arguing that the press has been cowardly and derelict in not attempting to out the whistleblower: “Without a doubt, the whistleblower deserves physical protection from threat-making nuts—including the president. But journalists would be unwise to award an assassin’s veto to people who might read their stories and then decide to run amok.”

+ Betteridge’s Law of Headlines is a rule that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no“. It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist who wrote about it in 2009, although as with most adages the concept is much older. (Thanks Rudy Tucich.)

+ Speaking of the state of the press in the Land of the Free, a county resolution in Wisconsin calls for the prosecution of reporters if they don’t publish a specific press release in its entirety.

+ Q. Why is it so hard for accountants to prepare taxes for Israeli citizens?
A. Most insist that they have no occupation.

+ From Canada to the US, Brazil to India, Bolivia to Russia, indigenous people are under attack…

Never forget what happened at Acoma: “After a small battle with soldiers sent to negotiate, the conquistador Don Juan Oñate attacked the mesa and killed hundreds of men, women and children. He took 500 prisoners and sentenced those over 25 to 20 years of servitude. He ordered the right feet and hands of some two dozen captives amputated.”

+ Verna Teller of Isleta Pueblo, the first woman to lead a Pueblo in the Southwest, just became the first Native American woman to deliver an opening prayer in the US congress.

+ Nearly 400,000 coyotes are killed in the US every year, an average of 1,100 a day.

+ Monday marked the first day in recorded history when not a drop of rain fell on continental Australia. The fire danger warnings across the country were raised to “catastrophic” level.

+ Klimate Karma Strikes Venice: “The Veneto regional council, which is located on Venice’s Grand Canal, was flooded for the first time in its history on Tuesday night — just after it rejected measures to combat climate change.”

+ “‘We have no idea what four degrees of warming looks like from a public health perspective, but we know it is catastrophic,’ says Nick Watts, author of a new report on climate change and children’s health published by the Lancet.

+ “The public doesn’t fully see this as a human health crisis. Maybe polar bears were our early indicator — the proverbial canary in the coal mine. But when you talk about this crisis, the bear images should be replaced with pictures of children,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

+ According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the number of days per year when the Beaufort Sea is more than 30% open water has gone from “usually none” in 1980s to now more than 3 months. 2019 had 107 days, the third highest total.

+ It’s the middle of November and Our Little Mountain (elev. 11,245 feet) remains largely snow free…

Mt Hood from Oregon City, November 12, 2019. Photos: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Stop making sense! A group of California mayors is calling on state regulators to seize control of PG&E and turn into into a cooperative.

+ Onshore wind and solar power are now less expensive than any fossil-fuel-based energy option, even without subsidies. Don’t believe me? Well, try Forbes.

+ Air conditioning the outdoors. First Qatar, soon Antarctica?

+ Key West shatters record with 232 straight days with temps of 80 and above…

+ Got Almond Milk?

+ I was saddened to learn of the death of the Montana painter, writer, and environmentalist, Russell Chatham, who was a fixture in the Livingston scene for decades, along with Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane, Jeff Bridges, Richard Brautigan, Doug Peacock and Margie Kidder. We have a couple of Chatham prints, one of them is of the Gallatin Range at twilight. I told Margie about it one day and she said in her own tart manner: “Does it have a fucking moon in it?”

“As a matter of fact it does,” I said.

“Russell found out that if he put a moon in his paintings he could sell them for $500 more a piece. I told him it was a crock shit and that his landscapes were just gorgeous without the damned moons.”

“Well, this is only a three-quarter moon, Margie, which must be why we got a discount.”

Fall Moon Rising, Lithograph, Russell Chatham.

+ Cockburn’s former editor at the NY Press, Mugger Smith, has a point about Succession–”It’d be swell if HBO paired Succession with a series based on The New York Times or The Washington Post, but I doubt a pitch on that touchy topic would get much serious consideration.”–though excuse me if I binge watch Season 2 again this weekend…

+ CIA receptionist: “I’m sorry, Madame, Agent Penis isn’t available. He’s having a little, well, down time. I see Agent Anus has an opening. Shall, I ring him?”

+ Dick Cavett: “I heard that you were on a chain gang?”
Robert Mitchum:: “You call it a chain gang, we called it home.”

+ Kanye trashed the racism of George W. Bush for his indifference to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, now he’s going to sell his latest record at the “church” of Joel Osteen, the guy who closed his doors to the refugees of Hurricane Harvey…?

+ Werner Herzog on taking a role in the new Stars War series, The Mandalorian, despite never having seen a Star Wars movie: “You shouldn’t feel upset that I haven’t seen the Star Wars films; I hardly see any films. I read. I was raised with Latin and Ancient Greek and poetry from Greek antiquity, but sometimes, just to see the world I live in, I watch ‘WrestleMania.’”

+ Neil Young says that his application for US citizenship is being held up by Homeland Security for his marijuana use, which the agency considers a blight on his “good moral character.” This is silly. If they’re going to delay Neil’s citizenship, it ought to be over much more serious cultural misdemeanors, like the Trans and Landing on Water albums….

+ The Mekons’ Jon Langford on the Chicago pub scene in the early 90s: “We drank at Deliah’s which always had the weirdest things you could possibly want to drink and still does. They had a lot of like, Basque seal blubber lagers, all sorts of things.”

+ Chuck Jones’ rules for Road Runner…

+ Trump Koan of the Week:  “If our [Border Patrol] people speak rudely to a person coming in, it means they get the electric chair. It’s a very unfair situation.”

Lord, Have Mercy…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

One of Us: a Biologist’s Walk Among Bears
Barrie K. Gilbert
(FriesenPress)

Janis: Her Life and Music
Holly George-Warren
(Simon and Schuster)

All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator
Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy
(Hachette)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Live at Home With His Bad Self
James Brown
(Polydor)

Trophy
Kate Davis
(Solitaire Recordings)

Black Space Tapes
Jamael Dean
(Stones Throw)

Images in the Stream
What I’m streaming this week…

Fire in Paradise
Directors: Zackary Canepari & Drea Cooper
(2019) Netflix

Ghosts of Sugar Land
Director: Bassam Tariq
(2019) Netflix

A Worship of Gimmickry

Robert Stone: “The term ‘Americanization’ invokes the transformation of the landscape into unnatural mechanical shapes, of night into day, of speed for its own sake, an irrational passion for novelty at the expense of quality, a worship of gimmickry.”

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane

Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”

by MELVIN GOODMAN

Photograph Source: Rodney Foliente, U.S. Army – Public Domain

When the dust settles in a month or two, the House of Representatives will have impeached President Donald Trump with a one-sided partisan vote and then the Senate will have exonerated Donald Trump with a similarly one-sided partisan vote.  But at the end of the day, the United States will have acquired a new strategic ally in Central Europe: Ukraine. The very first day of the impeachment hearings in November has been responsible for an important national security decision that had no input from Trump’s national security team or from the congressional foreign policy committees. The implications of this decision are onerous.

The key statements on the first day of the impeachment hearing concluded that Ukraine was an “important” or “strategic” partner of the United States.  Chairman Adam Schiff opened the hearings with the view that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to “rebuild the Russian empire” by invading a “strategic U.S. ally.”  The key witnesses, William Taylor and George Kent, both senior Foreign Service Officers and seasoned diplomats, echoed the chairman’s view.  Taylor, our leading diplomat in Ukraine, referred to a “newly aggressive Russia” that invaded a “strategic partner of the United States.”   He argued that it was essential for the United States to be a “reliable strategic partner” for Ukraine.

Kent, the Department of State’s regional director for Ukraine, went even further in arguing that “U.S. national interest was at stake in Ukraine,” a country “on the path to become a full security partner of the United States within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” He believes that Ukraine occupies an “important place in U.S. national interest,” and that it is essential for Washington to “stand up to Russia.”  Kent and Taylor argued that Russian “aggression cannot stand” and that the United States must “push back.”

The strong statements from Schiff, Taylor, and Kent may well be in part a reaction to Trump’s bizarre courtship of Russia and his conspiracy-fueled antipathy toward Ukraine.  However, they point U.S. policy in a risky direction.

The decisions of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to expand the membership of NATO with former members of the Warsaw Pact and former republics of the Soviet Union have created fundamental problems for NATO decision making and weakened the cohesion of the Western alliance.  Moreover, the expansion of NATO has been the major factor in the strategic mishandling of Russian policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has divided the members of the alliance on the important issue of threat perception in Europe.

Russian anxiety regarding the fear of encirclement on its western borders is a genuine problem that has cultural and geopolitical predicates.  The beginning of NATO’s eastward expansion in the 1990s in fact marked an expansion of U.S. political and military influence into a region that had been a Russian sphere of influence throughout the Cold War.  On various occasions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Presidents Bush and Barack Obama that expressions of interest in bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO represented a “red line” to Vladimir Putin and should be avoided.

NATO expansion has proven to be not only a major irritant in Russian-American relations, but the leading cause of what appears to be the start of a new Cold War.  Thirty years after President Ronald Reagan declared that the “Cold War is over,” relations between the United States and Russia have reached an all-time low.  The major factor in the improved relations during the Cold War—the arms control and disarmament dialogue—is moribund.

It has been forgotten that the President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker assured their counterparts, Mikhail Gorbachev and Eduard Shevardnadze, that the United States would not “leap frog” over East Germany if the Soviets were to withdraw their 360,000 troops from the east.  In other words, no U.S. military forces would be stationed in East Europe, which would offer the promise of demilitarization to a Kremlin that only reluctantly withdrew its military forces and agreed to the reunification of Germany.  Gorbachev and Shevardnadze’s willingness to accept these terms is the major factor in the Russian vilification of these two men to this day.

Reinhold Niebuhr concluded that one of the greatest challenges in international relations was “finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.”  The expansion of NATO and the Russian annexation of Crimea and occupation of eastern Ukraine has certainly created one of those problems.  The current level of incompetence in the American national security team and what George Kennan called the “instinctive sense of insecurity” in Russia are barriers to a solution.

Nevertheless, a way must be found to end the toxicity in the relationship and to restore the arms control dialogue between the two sides.  Washington must stop NATO’s eastward push and rethink its sanctions policy.  Moscow must acknowledge its misuse of military power and end its interference in U.S. elections.  Both sides must put an end to the demonization of the other, and  acknowledge the primacy of diplomacy in their bilateral relations.

Posted in USA, UkraineComments Off on Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”

Bolivia: Police Pepper Spray Journalist

Police in Bolivia Pepper Spray Journalist ‘On Purpose’ During Live Coverage of Anti-Coup Protests

“I hate to be the story because we are here to report on what is happening to the people in the amazing country,” said Al-Jazeera English senior correspondent Teresa Bo. “I hope it helps denounce that such practices cannot be tolerated. Not here not anywhere.”

by: Jon Queally,

Teresa Bo, a senior correspondent for Al-Jazeera was sprayed directly in the face—clearly "on purpose," she says—while covering anti-coup demonstrators in the city of La Paz, Bolivia on Friday, November 15, 2019. (Photo: Al-Jazeera/Screenshot)

Teresa Bo, a senior correspondent for Al-Jazeera was sprayed directly in the face—clearly “on purpose,” she says—while covering anti-coup demonstrators in the city of La Paz, Bolivia on Friday, November 15, 2019. (Photo: Al-Jazeera/Screenshot)

Becoming part of the story she was seeking to cover, international news correspondent Teresa Bo was assaulted by Bolivian state security forces on Friday—shot directly in the face, while on camera, with tear gas or pepper spray.

Perpetrated while she was reporting for Al-Jazeera English in the city of La Paz—where ongoing streets protests erupted this week after a coup forced the resignation of the nation’s president Evo Morales—the attack on Bo, which occurred while she was giving an on-camera account of the protests, was caught on film.

Embedded video

“I was just thrown tear gas by the police, on purpose,” Bo reports in the segment. “This is what is happening in the middle of a plaza where people have been protesting peacefully. A police officer just threw tear gas in my eyes. It is extremely difficult to speak. Very, very sorry.”

Despite the pain, Bo continues to report the scene and explains that the nearby protesters were clashing with security forces—who can be seen firing tear gas canisters in the background—in an effort to reach the nearby presidential palace.

While Bo in the immediate aftermath of the attack calls the substance tear gas, many noted that the substance was more likely pepper spray.

The street protests in Bolivia have grown larger and more violent this week, with massive demonstrations in cities across the country on Friday. As Common Dreams reported, security forces opened fire on a large crowd of mostly indigenous protesters in the city of Cochabamba on Friday afternoon sending many hundreds of people fleeing for their lives. Numerous people were reported killed and scores more injured.

The assault on Bo, said U.S. journalist Ryan Grim of The Intercept, revealed the correspondent’s “impressive” grit—as she continued with her reporting despite the volatile chemicals burning her face and eyes—but also helped reveal “what’s going on” in Bolivia.

In response to the footage, artist and progressive activist Molly Crabapple—with a sarcastic bite at those who have argued that the overthrow of Morales was not, in fact, a coup—tweeted: “The police of the totally not a coup regime in Bolivia sprayed tear gas into a female journalist’s face because she was reporting on their violent suppression of anti-coup protests.”

“Thanks so much to those who understand we are only doing our job,” Bo tweeted after the video of the attack spread, with many thanking her online for her brave journalism.

Embedded video

“I hate to be the story because we are here to report on what is happening to the people in the amazing country,” Bo said. “I hope it helps denounce that such practices cannot be tolerated. Not here not anywhere.”

Posted in BoliviaComments Off on Bolivia: Police Pepper Spray Journalist

Reports of War Crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan Highlight the Failures of Both Wars

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Photograph Source: RAWA – CC BY 3.0

The alleged bid by the British government and army to close down investigations into torture and murder in Iraq and Afghanistan appears to be the latest aspect of a widespread desire in the UK to forget all about these failed wars. Joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 is commonly blamed on Tony Blair, but there is little interest in the desperate situation into which British troops were plunged post-invasion, first in southern Iraq and then, three years later, in Helmand province in Afghanistan.

The gravity of the miscalculations in each case is not in doubt. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul at the time, wrote in his memoirs that the worst mistake made by the Foreign Office in the previous 30 years was the invasion of Iraq, and the second worst was “its enthusiastic endorsement of Britain’s half-baked effort to occupy Helmand in 2006”.

The allegation that war crimes were committed – to be claimed in a BBC Panorama programme on Monday evening – is in keeping with Britain’s dismal record in these conflicts.

The ICC has said it is considering opening an investigation into the claims, based on leaked documents. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said the allegations are unsubstantiated.

After the capture of Baghdad, the British army stayed in the south of Iraq, mostly in and around Basra, apparently under the impression that this would be quieter than the Sunni Arab provinces that had more strongly supported Saddam Hussein.

It swiftly became clear that, while the Shia population of the south was glad to be rid of Saddam, they were not about to accept a British occupation. An ominous sign of this came on 24 June 2003 when six British Royal Military Police were shot dead in a town called Majar al-Kabir near the city of Amara.

They died because they were advising local police at the same moment as British paratroopers were carrying out an aggressive patrol in another part of the same town and had had an exchange of fire in which several locals had died. The RMPs were killed soon afterwards in a revenge attack.

The incident sums up the fatal contradiction facing the British expeditionary force in Iraq. Their numbers and dispositions were suitable for a country in which most of the population was friendly, but if the opposite were true, as it certainly was, then the soldiers were vastly outnumbered and in danger. British officers used to annoy their American counterparts by claiming prior expertise in this type of warfare, drawing on British experience in Malaya and Northern Ireland. A captain in military intelligence stationed for a year in Basra later said that “I kept trying to explain without success to my superiors that in Malaya and Northern Ireland we had local allies while in Basra we had none”.

The weakness of the British position was exposed in detail by the Chilcot Report in 2016, but its findings were masked by the media obsession with finding a “smoking gun” that would prove the culpability of Tony Blairand by the shock result of the Brexit referendum that had taken place at the same time.

The report explains that by 2007 the British forces in Basra had run out of ideas and “it was humiliating that the UK reached a position in which an agreement with a militia group [the Mahdi Army], which had been actively targeting UK forces, was considered the best option available.”

According to Chilcot, the one consistent British strategy between 2003 and complete withdrawal in 2009 was “to reduce the level of deployed forces” and to do so without offending the US. The means of doing so was to redeploy the troops to Afghanistan, which was supposedly safer, but where they arrived just as the Taliban were restarting their guerrilla war and where 405 British troops were to be killed in the coming years.

Those who may have committed war crimes in these conflicts have been investigated, even if they were not prosecuted. It would be good if those responsible for these doomed military forays should also be held responsible for their actions.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Afghanistan, IraqComments Off on Reports of War Crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan Highlight the Failures of Both Wars

‘Grand American Tradition of Immunizing Its War Criminals’ Continues as Trump Pardons US Soldiers

“A shameful use of presidential powers,” said the ACLU. “It sends a clear message of disrespect for the law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war.”

by: Jon Queally,

President Donald J. Trump alongside First Lady Melania Trump and members of the U.S. military in this file image posted to a government website to commemorate Veterans Day. (Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)

President Donald J. Trump alongside First Lady Melania Trump and members of the U.S. military in this file image posted to a government website to commemorate Veterans Day. (Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)

Continuing what critics of U.S. imperialism have long said is a pattern of refusing accountability for violations of international law and a litany of war crimes over recent decades, President Donald Trump on Friday night issued full pardons for three U.S. soldiers either accused or convicted of serious criminal abuses related to their military service.

“This is a shameful use of presidential powers. It sends a clear message of disrespect for the law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war.” —ACLU

Outrage among peace activists and opponents of the U.S. war machine was immediate.

“Utterly shameful,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

“With this use of his powers, Trump has sent a clear message of disrespect for law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war,” said Shamsi. “I would include the victims of these crimes but have no illusion he cares for them.”

Journalist and activist Glenn Greenwald, longtime critic of the so-called “global war on terror” and repeated U.S. violations of international law, tweeted: “The grand American tradition of immunizing its war criminals—while preaching morality to the world—continues with these vile pardons by Trump.”

Glenn Greenwald@ggreenwald

A President who reveres Mohammed bin Salman is obviously going to act to protect his own monsters, murderers and psychopaths.

The grand American tradition of immunizing its war criminals – while preaching morality to the world – continues with these vile pardons by Trump: https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1195490438356127748 …The New York Times@nytimesBreaking News: President Trump, overruling military leaders, cleared 3 service members accused of war crimes, including a Navy SEAL whose rank he restored https://nyti.ms/2CPxaMM

According to the Washington Post, which first reported the pardons:

The service members were notified by Trump over the phone late Friday afternoon, according to lawyers for Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn and former Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, the SEAL. Golsteyn faced a murder trial scheduled for next year, while Gallagher recently was acquitted of murder and convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq.

The third service member, former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, was expected to be released Friday night from prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013 and sentenced to 19 years for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three men in Afghanistan. 

Golsteyn and Lorance received full pardons, while the president will direct the Navy to restore Gallagher to his previous rank before he retires, the White House said. His demotion marked the only significant penalty he received following his acquittal on the murder charge.

As the Post points out, the pardons were issued against the stated desires of the Pentagon. In the case of Lorance, as the New York Times reports, it was members of the officer’s own unit that turned against him after a massacre in Afghanistan. “Mr. Lorance was a rookie Army lieutenant who had been in command of a platoon in Afghanistan for two days in July 2012 when he ordered his troops to fire on unarmed villagers who posed no threat, killing two men,” the Times reports. “He then called in false reports over the radio to cover up what had happened. He was immediately turned in by his own men.”

ACLU@ACLU

This is a shameful use of presidential powers. It sends a clear message of disrespect for the law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war. https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1195490438356127748 …The New York Times@nytimesBreaking News: President Trump, overruling military leaders, cleared 3 service members accused of war crimes, including a Navy SEAL whose rank he restored https://nyti.ms/2CPxaMM 4,5482:01 AM – Nov 16, 2019

Journalist Akmal Dawi, in a tweet, said: “The Trump admin has blocked [the International Criminal Court’s] investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan, now POTUS has pardoned individuals accused of murdering Afghans.” The U.S. government, he added, “doesn’t even record Afghan civilian casualties as if they don’t even happen.”

Posted in USAComments Off on ‘Grand American Tradition of Immunizing Its War Criminals’ Continues as Trump Pardons US Soldiers

‘This is What a Dictatorship Looks Like’: Bolivian Security Forces Open Fire on Indigenous Protesters in City of Cochabamba

“State violence in Bolivia.”

by: Eoin Higgins,

Supporters of Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales clash with riot police during a protest against the interim government in La Paz on November 15, 2019.

Supporters of Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales clash with riot police during a protest against the interim government in La Paz on November 15, 2019. (Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Warning… Graphic images follow:

Bolivian security forces opened fire on Indigenous protesters Friday in the city of Cochabamba in response to demonstrations against the right-wing regime that forced democratically-elected President Evo Morales to resign on Sunday. 

“This is what a dictatorship looks like,” said attorney and activist Eva Golinger in a tweet sharing images of police forces opening fire on protesters. 

Embedded video

As Common Dreams reported, a mass demonstration movement against the unelected government of interim acting President Jeanine Añez spread across the country Friday. Protesters are demanding Añez step down and that Morales be restored to power. 

The protesters in Cochabamba were majority Indigenous, according to reports. Many of the demonstrators in the city were coca growers

Embedded video

“Footage emerging from Cochabamba, Bolivia shows the aftermath of a massacre of indigenous protesters carried out by coup soldiers and police,” tweeted filmmaker Dan Cohen. “This will be ignored by western media.”

Images and video from the protest and attack show the violence in explicit detail. 

Warning: graphic images

Embedded video
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Posted in BoliviaComments Off on ‘This is What a Dictatorship Looks Like’: Bolivian Security Forces Open Fire on Indigenous Protesters in City of Cochabamba

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