Is Killing Peasants Protecting America’s Interests?

by RON JACOBS

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

The war drags on. There is no end in sight. Peace negotiations are thwarted again. Republicans and Democrats alike appear in the press decrying the possibility of the enemy coming to talk peace and staying at Camp David. Personally, I was surprised by the Camp David aspect of the story only because I figured Trump might try and get the Taliban negotiators a floor or two in one of his hotels or resorts. Why go to Camp David if the family Trump can make a few bucks? If Trump properties are good enough for the Chinese and the US Air Force, why not the Taliban, too?

Perhaps the real reason for the most recent failure of the peace negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan client regime and the US can be found in Secretary Pompeo’s remarks on CNN’s State of the Union show this past weekend.

“You should know in the last 10 days we’ve killed over a thousand Taliban.” Pompeo told the audience. “And while this is not a war of attrition, I want the American people to know that President Trump is taking it to the Taliban in an effort to make sure that we protect America’s interests.”

Sarcastically speaking, there’s nothing bloodthirsty in that statement. Sounds like a man seeking peace to me. As for the veracity of the quote, let’s take a look. To begin with, if the US and its client forces really did kill one thousand Afghans in the preceding ten days, how can they be certain the dead were Taliban? A more likely scenario is that the dead, whether it’s a few hundred or a thousand, included many Afghan civilians who happened to live in areas controlled by the Taliban who are, after all, Afghans too. Indeed, since the Trump administration took control of the White House and Washington’s wars in 2017, the number of civilians killed by so-called US-led forces has increased each year. This is largely due to the US change in strategy from counterinsurgency to a war primarily fought from the air. In other words, the US is bombing and otherwise attacking anti-occupation forces and the places that shelter them with less intimate targeting than previously. As any observer of modern warfare can tell you, this means that more civilians die—what warmakers call collateral damage.

As for the idea that the US occupation and war in Afghanistan is not a war of attrition. If this statement means that the US hopes to wear down the Afghan resistance to the occupation, then Pompeo’s statement could not be truer. In fact, most reports indicate the Taliban and other resistance groups are actually more aggressive now than they were before Trump’s inauguration. Truth to tell, the only war of attrition that is being won regarding the US and Afghanistan is the war to wear down the opposition to US military adventurism among the United States’ population.  The warmakers and their media have clearly won that battle. Barely a peep emanates from any quarter regarding Washington’s war on much of the world anymore.

I remember the disbelief so many US residents felt on September 11, 2001 after the bloodshed blamed on Al Qaeda. I also remember the anger and calls for revenge. It was this combination of factors that made it very easy for the US war machine to begin its global war on terror. Those events were the excuse the war machine was waiting for. Eighteen years later, the world is not safer, not freer, and not peaceful. Instead, millions of people are refugees from countries affected directly and indirectly by the US-led wars on people and places in Washington’s way. The military and homeland security establishment sucks the homeland dry while building a police and surveillance state that locks up innocents and kills them in their homes. Its stretch is broader and deeper than at any point in human history. There is no apparent end to any of this. Local wars like that in Afghanistan go on forever. The strategy for these wars is unclear to almost everyone, including those fighting it. The desire to end them—like this most recent round of peace negotiations that almost reached Camp David—cycles in and out of favor with the rulers in the White House. The grotesque amounts of money and human hours wasted in these endeavors would be better spent by giving every Afghan and resident of other nations under fire from the US a million dollars each. This would be cheaper and more likely to end the killing than any military undertaking.

So, let’s go back to Pompeo’s statement and that part about protecting America’s interests. This is where the lies told by successive administrations becomes apparent. What exactly are America’s interests? How does occupying and continuing the war on the Afghan people further American interests? The only logical conclusion to draw is that nobody in power really wants the war to end. Its continuation—and the continuation of US wars and subversion around the world—serves the interests of some Americans. They are not the majority but they are the wealthiest and most powerful. The fact that so many of the rest of those living in the US accept this definition of American interests bodes ill for us all.

9-11 occurred eighteen years ago. The state terrorism of the war on terror continues. Its justification, if it ever had one, is long past.

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Trump Sacks Bolton. Who is the Next National Security Advisor?

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research

It’s a good start, way short of what’s needed — cleaning house of all Trump regime far-right extremists, notably Pompeo and likeminded hardliners.

Chance for positive change is virtually nil. Dirty business as usual in Washington won’t miss a beat — other than perhaps somewhat less toxic rhetoric with Bolton gone, short of enough to matter.

From inception, the US has been a culture of violence. Throughout most of its history, it’s been at war at home and/or abroad.

Since attacking North Korea preemptively in June 1950, it’s been permanently at war against one or more nonthreatening states, waging them endlessly today in multiple theaters.

Democracy is its deadliest export, a notion it deplores, tolerating it nowhere, especially at home.

US post-WW II history isn’t pretty. Its record includes assassinations of foreign leaders, staging color revolutions and coups, along with meddling in elections worldwide — what imperialism is all about.

Trump announced the news on Bolton, tweeting:

“I informed (him) last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”

Trump added that he’ll name a new national security advisor next week. Bolton’s deputy Charles Kupperman replaced him on an interim basis — perhaps to remain in the post.

Hold the cheers. He’s closely tied to US military, industrial, security interests, earlier holding senior Lockheed Martin and Boeing positions.

From 2001 – 2010, he was a board member of neocon/Islamophobe Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, a far-right figure The American Conservative called an “uber-foreign policy hawk…re-ascendent in Trump’s orbit” through his connection to Kupperman.

Bolton earlier praised his deputy, saying

he “has been an advisor to me for more than thirty years, including during my tenure as National Security Advisor to President Trump,” adding:

“Charlie’s extensive expertise in defense, arms control and aerospace will help further President Trump’s national security agenda.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif accused Bolton and Netanyahu of “lur(ing) Donald Trump into killing (the) JCPOA (by) delu(ding)” him.

On Tuesday, Russia’s envoy to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov said Iran’s “full cooperation with the” agency confirms its nuclear program is peaceful.

Bolton’s announced sacking came shortly before a press conference with Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin he was scheduled to attend.

In office since April 9, 2018, he proved his raging hawk reputation time and again — one critic saying “(h)e never met a country he didn’t want to destroy.”

Another said he’s far more than “a run-of-the-mill hawk…He’s never seen a foreign policy problem that couldn’t be solved by bombing.”John Bolton’s Blueprint for War on Iran

He earlier called for military action against North Korea and Iran.

On the DPRK, he said  “the only longterm way to deal with (its) nuclear weapons program is to end (the) regime,” adding:

“It’s not enough…to impose sanctions…(North Korea) poses a threat to stability in the region that undermines security…”

“I think further discussions with North Korea, further efforts to pressure North Korea, are basically a waste of time. The way to end the North’s nuclear program is to end the North.”

He falsely said “Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident,” adding:

“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure.”

“The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.”

Iran’s legitimate nuclear program has no military component — confirmed time and again by the IAEA. The US intelligence community found no evidence of Iran seeking the bomb because none exists.

Pyongyang called Bolton a “war maniac,” adding:

“(I)t will be fit to call (him) not a security adviser striving for security but a security-destroying adviser who is wrecking peace and security” worldwide.

He earlier said

“(t)here is no United Nations. There is a international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world (the US) when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along.”

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation director Alexandra Bell said

“(b)etween Pompeo and Bolton, you’re looking at a neocon foreign policy (team) jacked up on steroids.”

They and their henchmen are militantly hostile toward Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other countries unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to US interests.

They never met a conflict resolution plan they didn’t want to undermine — notably against Trump’s announced troop pullout from Syria, rapprochement steps with North Korea, and cutting a deal with the Taliban.

They sabotaged Obama’s Cuba agenda by Trump’s imposition of new illegal sanctions on the country. They orchestrated a color revolution attempt in Nicaragua that failed — so far.

They planned and got Trump to go along with all-out war by other means on Venezuelan social democracy and nonbelligerent Iran — both countries threatening no one, seeking cooperative relations with other nations.

They got Trump to veto a congressional measure to end US involvement in Yemen. They convinced him to escalate hot wars he inherited, wage trade war on China, and helped prevent improved relations with Russia.

In Washington, names and faces change. Dirty business as usual continues under both right wings of the US war party — waging endless wars at home and abroad, serving privileged interests exclusively at the expense of ordinary people everywhere.

Bolton’s departure won’t change a thing with Pompeo at state, Abrams as White House envoy for regime change in Venezuela, Brian Hook in the same capacity against Iran, along with numerous other Trump regime hardliners in place, and a hornet’s nest of likeminded bipartisan congressional members.

Commenting on Bolton’s ouster, Iranian President Rouhani advisor Hesameddin Ashena  mistakenly said it’s a “sign of the failure of US ‘maximum pressure’ strategy.

Last week, Brian Hook said more Trump regime sanctions on Iran are coming, indicating no letup in its “maximum pressure” policy.

Through his spokesman Abbas Mousavi, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said

“(w(e) will not be issuing any statement on US internal affairs” — referring to Bolton’s sacking.

Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht-e Ravanchi stressed that

“there is no room for talks as long as the US administration’s economic terrorism and cruel sanctions against the Iranian people are in place.”

“The topic could be discussed only when they lift the sanctions,” adding: Possible future talks will only occur through the P5+1, indicating they also depend on the Trump regime returning to the JCPOA it illegally abandoned, breaching international law.

In Washington and the West, everything changes but stays the same.

Since the neoliberal 90s, it’s been for the worse with no prospect for positive change.

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Echoing Trump, Speaker at 9/11 Memorial Questions Ilhan Omar’s Patriotism

Breaking from non-partisan tone of the ceremony, bereaved son called on lawmaker to ‘show respect’ and said al-Qaida attacked the U.S.’s ‘Judeo-Christian’ values

Reuters  

Nicholas Haros wears a shirt critical of Ilhan Omar's comments while reading names at 9/11 commemorations, New York City, September 11, 2019
Nicholas Haros wears a shirt critical of Ilhan Omar’s comments while reading names at 9/11 commemorations, New York City, September 11, 2019AFP

A speaker at New York City’s September 11 commemoration ceremony on Wednesday assailed U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim member of Congress who has often been the target of false slurs by President Donald Trump and right-wing media outlets.

The speaker’s remarks were an unusual deviation into partisan politics and religious division at the somber annual ceremony held at the lower Manhattan site where Islamist al-Qaida hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center in 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Called up to read some of the names of the victims, Nicholas Haros, whose mother, Frances Haros, was killed in the attack, falsely suggested Omar was confused about the nature of the attack. Echoing Trump, Haros also questioned the Minnesota congresswoman’s patriotism.

“Madam, objectively speaking we know who and what was done,” Haros said, addressing Omar, who was not present at the ceremony. “There’s no uncertainty about that. Why your confusion? On that day 19 Islamic terrorists, members of al-Qaida, killed over 3,000 people and caused billions of dollars of damage. Is that clear?”

His criticism lasted for nearly a minute and a half, and drew a smattering of applause.

“Got that now?” he continued, saying al-Qaida had attacked the country’s “Judeo-Christian” values. “Show respect in honoring them. Please: American patriotism and your position demand it.”

Haros is a Roman Catholic from Ocean County, New Jersey, who evangelizes online through a group he founded called Facebook Apostles.

Omar fled her native Somalia as a child before her family found asylum in the United States in the 1990s. She was elected from Minnesota last November as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Fox New's Tucker Carlson criticizes Ilhan Omar, July 2019
Fox New’s Tucker Carlson criticizes Ilhan Omar, July 2019Screen shot / YouTube

Right-wing media outlets have vilified her for her outspoken criticism of Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies and of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians.

Trump has falsely said that Omar loves and supports al Qaeda, questioned her patriotism and told her to “go back” to Somalia. The insults have led to an increase in death threats against Omar, her office has said. Omar has openly condemned al Qaeda and its affiliates, calling their members “terrorists.”

Right-wing media outlets have criticized Omar for remarks she made earlier this year about the increased prejudice and state surveillance faced by Muslims in the United States after the 2001 attacks.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

She said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil-rights group, was created after the attacks “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

CAIR was founded in the 1990s, and Omar’s office later said she misspoke, meaning that the organization’s reach grew after the attacks.

Shorn of its context, the phrase “some people did something” has been wielded by Omar’s opponents, including Trump, to suggest she diminishes the attack.skip – Trump

At Monday’s ceremony, Haros wore a T-shirt saying “SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING?” and a baseball cap advertising his group, Facebook Apostles.

Asked for comment, Omar’s office shared her statement from earlier in the day: “September 11th was an attack on all of us,” her statement said. “We will never forget the thousands of Americans who lost their lives in the largest terror attack on U.S. soil.”

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The Catastrophic Tenure of John Bolton

Trump created the storm, but Bolton aimed it expertly. An aerial view of the White House post-Bolton would reveal a devastated landscape.

by: Joseph Cirincione

The National Security Council had been the principal forum for consideration of key policies for 72 years. Bolton destroyed it in 17 months. (Christopher Halloran via Shutterstock)

The National Security Council had been the principal forum for consideration of key policies for 72 years. Bolton destroyed it in 17 months. (Christopher Halloran via Shutterstock)

John Bolton’s tenure was a complete disaster. The national security architecture after Bolton looks like the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.

Seventeen months ago, before Bolton became Donald Trump’s third national security advisor, the United States still had a deal that had stopped Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks. More, it had rolled it back to a fraction of its original size and boxed it into the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated. It was a deal for the ages. All of Trump’s military, intelligence and security advisors and our closest allies urged Trump to stay in the accord. Bolton destroyed it in two months, pushing Trump to violate it and impose draconian sanctions on Iran

“Withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal should be a top Donald Trump administration priority,” Bolton tweeted in July 2017, months before his appointment. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he shouted at an MEK rally in July 2017, promising them that they would all celebrate in Tehran “before 2019.”

Today, Iran is slowly pealing away from the deal, too, taking baby steps towards restarting capabilities that someday could allow it to make the material for a bomb, should it decide to do so. No new deal. No better deal. No regime change. No celebration in Tehran. “Trump has spent years making a mess of Iran policy for no reason other than right wing politics and incompetence,” tweeted former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes as news of Bolton’s sacking spread.

Before Bolton, the United States had kept Russia from building a particularly dangerous class of missiles for over 30 years. Bolton blew apart the landmark Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement that President Ronald Reagan had painstakingly negotiated with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The treaty had broken the back of the nuclear arms race. For the first time, the two nuclear superpowers agreed to destroy, not just limit, nuclear weapons. It paved the way for other sweeping nuclear reductions treaties and big unilateral cuts—most done under Republican presidents.

Bolton could not have wreaked this destruction if he had not been chosen, empowered and tolerated by Donald Trump, who must bear ultimate responsibility for Bolton’s legacy.

Bolton hated these agreements. In 1999, he ridiculed the liberal “fascination with arms-control agreements” and blustered about “the Church of Arms Control,” insisting that America could rule the world through force of arms, not pieces of paper. In a classic Bolton move, he used the real fact of Russian violations of the INF treaty, not to insist on their compliance with the pact, but to destroy it entirely. “Violations give America the opportunity to discard obsolete, Cold War-era limits on its own arsenal and to upgrade its military capabilities to match its global responsibilities,” Bolton wrote in 2014.

The U.S. abrogation of the treaty was a gift to Vladimir Putin. It did not reverse the Russian violations; it permitted them. Today, there are no limits whatsoever on what missiles of this range Putin can deploy.

Bolton was also on course to destroy the last remaining nuclear reduction treaty, the New START agreement that limits US and Russian long-range nuclear weapons. Again using the phony right-wing tactic of blasting agreement because they do not cover all possible threats, Bolton trashed the accord as “flawed from the beginning” because it only limited long-range weapons (hence the name, “strategic arms reduction treaty”) and not short-range weapons as well.

Before Bolton, there were also fragile negotiations with the Afghanistan Taliban. Bolton “waged a last-minute campaign to stop the president from signing a peace agreement at Camp David,” reports The New York Times.

Before Bolton, there was the real possibility of a deal with North Korea that would have traded sanctions relief for serious nuclear dismantlement. Bolton killed it at the Hanoi summit by convincing Trump that Democrats would criticize him if he did not bring home Kim Jung-un’s complete surrender of all his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. “John Bolton appears to have locked the U.S. administration into a policy death spiral,” I wrote at the time. The spiral has now dragged Bolton to his political death.

Finally, and very seriously, before Bolton there was a functioning national security interagency process where leaders and experts from all agencies and departments could vet policies and build consensus. The National Security Council had been the principal forum for consideration of key policies for 72 years. Bolton destroyed it in 17 months.

“There was no process under John Bolton,” Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told Rachel Maddow the night of Bolton’s firing. Bolton halted meetings, restricted access to Trump and packed the staff with loyal Boltonites. “The national security adviser’s principal responsibility has traditionally been to oversee a disciplined policymaking process that includes the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, and to tee up big decisions for the president,” editorialized The Washington Post the same night, “Mr. Bolton didn’t do that.”

Bolton could not have wreaked this destruction if he had not been chosen, empowered and tolerated by Donald Trump, who must bear ultimate responsibility for Bolton’s legacy — what the Post summarized as “chaos, dysfunction and no meaningful accomplishments.” It was Trump who allowed Bolton to come within ten minutes of getting the war with Iran Bolton had sought for two decades, before halting the strikes. Trump created the storm, but Bolton aimed it expertly. An aerial view of the White House post-Bolton would reveal a devastated landscape.

“Any jackass can knock down a barn,” former House Speaker Sam Rayburn said, “It takes a carpenter to build one.” Bolton was the biggest jackass in the administration. There are no carpenters in sight.

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US Forces May Have Committed War Crimes in Syria: UN Report

The conflict, now in its ninth year, “continues to torment civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities”

by: Andrea Germanos

A picture taken on July 4, 2019 shows a blood-stained stretcher following a reported airstrike on a hospital in the village of Kafr Nabl, in the southern Idlib province.

A picture taken on July 4, 2019 shows a blood-stained stretcher following a reported airstrike on a hospital in the village of Kafr Nabl, in the southern Idlib province. (Photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

A new report out Wednesday from United Nations investigators says that U.S. forces may have committed war crimes in Syria.

Released by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the report catalogs how the eight-year conflict “continues to torment civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities,” as operations carried out by the U.S.-led international coalition, militants, and Russia-backed pro-government forces have left essential infrastructure obliterated, civilians killed, maimed, and uprooted, and communities in “near complete destruction.”

HRC SECRETARIAT@UN_HRC

#HRC42 COI on Syria in their latest report: Having entered its ninth year, the conflict in #Syria, characterized by intensifying levels of #violence, continues to torment #civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities. Full report & press release: https://bit.ly/2PtaqXH  @UNGeneva

View image on Twitter

The powers providing support for the warring parties, the report says, “bear a shared responsibility for the crimes committed against millions of Syrian women, men, and children.”

The commission’s findings are based on investigations conducted from January to July this year, including satellite imagery, interviews, and medical records.

Among the specific actions scrutinized in the report was the Al-Jazeera Storm operation in Hajin carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and international coalition. One strike in the operation targeted a residential building and killed 16 civilians, the majority of whom were less than 5 years old. The commission said its investigation turned up no evidence of an ISIL presence or military target in the area.

From the report:

The evidence obtained regarding this incident indicated that international coalition forces failed to employ the necessary precautions to discriminate adequately between military objectives and civilians. The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that international coalition forces may not have directed their attacks at a specific military objective, or failed to do so with the necessary precaution. Launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases in which such attacks are conducted recklessly.

Actions by terrorist groups and pro-government forces were also identified as possible war crimes.

“The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that members of the armed groups in Afrin continued to commit the war crimes of hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage,” the report states.

The document cites evidence of pro-government forces having used cluster bombs on a residential area in southern Idlib.

It also say pro-government forces launched air strikes on at least three hospitals in Idlib. The “pattern of attack strongly suggests that pro-government forces systematically targeted medical facilities,” says the report. “Such attacks may amount to the war crime of deliberately attacking protected objects and intentionally attacking medical personnel.”

The report also laid out a number of recommendations, including for the Syrian government to ensure unconditional access to medical and humanitarian aid and to ensure protection of health workers.

The U.N. body also urged the U.S.-led coalition to strengthen protections to avoid civilian casualties and to carry out transparent post-operation investigations “following allegations of civilian casualties from aerial and night search operations, with a view to identifying broader patterns of harm, improving operational practice and promoting accountability, and ensuring adequate and prompt reparations.”

Advocacy groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously pointed to the ongoing tally of Syrian civilian deaths at the hand of the U.S.-led coalition, and said the true death toll is likely far higher that what the coalition acknowledges.

In their detailed exposé on the 2017 U.S.-led bombing campaign of Raqqa, Amnesty and transparency group Airwars captured the voices of some of the Syrians living through the deadly attacks.

“The shells struck one after the other,” said Ahmad, a resident of Raqqa’s Darai’ya neighborhood. “It was indescribable, it was like the end of the world—the noise, people screaming. If I live 100 years I won’t forget this carnage.”

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9/11: A Day that Changed the World

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance.

by: César Chelala

While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other", a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other”, a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A new anniversary of a catastrophe brings back strong feelings and sad memories. Such is the case of the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, a tragedy that had long-lasting effects. New York, and the world, has not been the same since the events of September 11, 2001.      

The attacks on the Twin Towers produced the most concentrated response to an emergency in the history of the United States. It is estimated that at least 100 emergency units and dozens of private ambulances headed to the scene to pick up the wounded and take them to nearby hospitals. At the same time, more than 2,000 police officers searched the towers and rescued survivors. But the weight of the response fell to the New York Fire Department, whose response to the events was truly heroic.

The attacks on the towers led to a surge in national pride and public expressions of patriotism and a strong commitment to help those that survived and the families of those who were killed. But there was also an increase of harassment incidents and hate crimes against South Asians, Middle Easterners and even those who looked like them. Several Indian Sikhs were attacked and killed because they were erroneously believed to be Muslims. 

Health effects

The attacks were particularly disturbing to children, who saw the images of destruction replayed relentlessly on television. For years after the attack children suffered fom post-traumatic stress disorder. More than 2,500 contaminants, many of them dangerous carcinogens, were present in thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse of the towers. It is estimated that over 18,000 people have become sick as a result of the toxic dust. 

Economic consequences

There was a wide range of economic losses after the attacks. It is estimated that the city suffered economic losses estimated in more than $90 billion. They were the consequence of lost productivity, wide-ranging insurance claims against the city, loss of real state and art objects, and impaired tourism and trade, among many other effects.

Security and military actions

Security and protective services suffered significant changes due to the attacks. Congress passed Aviation and Transportation Security Act which affected air travel and security policies, as well as guidelines to be followed before getting on board. The Department of Homeland Security required pilots to carry firearms on board, and pilots were obliged to undergo training to prevent other terror attacks.

The USA Patriot Act was also passed, which broadened the powers of law enforcement agencies for the purpose of identifying terrorist activities. The government was given wide powers to search people’s records. Through the program called Total Information Awareness special technology was developed to allow the collection and analysis of information about every individual in the United States, and detect unusual behaviors that could lead to terrorist attacks.

International

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have ravaged those countries, and resulted in a permanent state of instability and destruction.

Using the attacks as an excuse, the U.S. conducted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that would have serious consequences on the U.S. economy and the world rule of law. Many people throughout the world believe that the U.S. squandered a wave of world goodwill resulting from the attacks. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have ravaged those countries, and resulted in a permanent state of instability and destruction. “The war –never the choice of the Afghan people- has done great harm to our people for all sorts of different local, national, regional and international reasons. Widespread corruption, the massive arming of militias, the fuelling of war by neighboring countries, the civilian losses and night raids and deterioration of security have all undermined our children’s education, our women’s ability to work, our ability to provide basic social services to the neediest part of the population,” said Orzala Ashraf Nemat, an Afghan human rights activist.

Lesson

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance. Unless there is a new approach to preventing terrorist acts we will continue to live under the threat of terror. Permanent confrontation is not the answer. While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other”, a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world.

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White Nationalism and Crony Capitalism Are the Sparks That Started Fires in the Amazon

The right only denies global warming because its climate ‘science’ has surrendered to capitalists.

by: Prabir Purkayastha

The loss of forest cover in the Amazon would affect not only the world’s climate, but also the local climate in Brazil and neighboring countries, leading to less rainfall, and adversely affecting its agriculture. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The loss of forest cover in the Amazon would affect not only the world’s climate, but also the local climate in Brazil and neighboring countries, leading to less rainfall, and adversely affecting its agriculture. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The man-made Amazon fires are for clearing the land of its forests and indigenous people. The benefits are for Jair Bolsonaro’s cronies, while producing a climate disaster for the world.

The Amazon fires in Brazil have become worldwide news. Explaining the fires recently, Douglas Morton, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that “August 2019 stands out” as a month with a far higher number of fires than any preceding year since 2010.

This is similar to what Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) had reported earlier. The head of INPE, Ricardo Galvao, was fired on August 2 this year after INPE came out with figures based on satellite imagery that showed that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had increased by 40 percent in two months over a similar period last year.

That it is largely man-made can be seen from looking at where the fires have started in Brazil: mostly along the major highways and spreading into the forest. Clearly, it is an attempt to clear the forests for economic exploitation—logging, cattle ranching, commercial farming and mining—that lies at the heart of President Bolsonaro’s policies.

Speaking to reporters in the last week of August, Bolsonaro said, “It is too much land for so few Indians.” While he has declared a temporary moratorium on land-clearing due to the fires, the thrust of his policies is still to dismantle all obstacles to handing over the Amazon to big corporate and landed interests in Brazil.

Amazon forests are the world’s biggest store of carbon as well as its largest global sink. If it goes up in smoke, it will produce climate change on a scale not seen before.

Amazon forests are the world’s biggest store of carbon as well as its largest global sink. If it goes up in smoke, it will produce climate change on a scale not seen before. And this change could soon become irreversible, as once a forest starts dying, after a point, it becomes almost impossible to stop its downward plunge.

Apart from acting to fix atmospheric carbon, Amazon forests also help in the hydrological cycle that produces rainfall. The loss of forest cover in the Amazon would affect not only the world’s climate, but also the local climate in Brazil and neighboring countries, leading to less rainfall, and adversely affecting its agriculture.

While Brazil has taken the lead in a direct attack on the Amazon, with Bolsonaro adding a racial element to his attack on indigenous people, the pressure to open the Amazonian forests to agriculture, logging and mining is not just limited to Brazil. Obviously, why should other countries, which have finished their forests, argue that countries with forests keep them permanently for global benefit? Who pays and who gains is very much a part of the climate change negotiations—the Paris Accord—from which Trump and the United States have walked out.

This pitch—who pays and who gains—could indeed be a nationalist pitch for Brazil. But this is not Bolsonaro’s argument. For him, the only issue is that fires lit for clearing the Amazon should not burn without control: he must be shedding tears about all those logs that could have been sold for money going up in smoke.

He is asking President Trump, a fellow climate change disbeliever and another white nationalist, for help with dousing the fires. He has no sympathy for Brazil’s indigenous people—“Indians,” he calls them—bemoaning the failure of the Brazilian cavalry in “clearing” its indigenous people, unlike the U.S. cavalry, which was so much more efficient in its “extermination of the Indians.”

Before we address the complex issue of climate justice, indigenous rights and economic development, we need to address one misunderstanding on the role of Amazon forests. Amazon forests do not produce 20 percent of the oxygen the world needs, as is commonly said. It is the largest producer of oxygen on land, producing about 6-9 percent of the total oxygen that is produced globally, including from the oceans. Still, we cannot talk of producing oxygen without also asking how much of it the Amazon consumes. So we must see the net oxygen that the Amazon produces, meaning, subtract the oxygen consumed by it from what it produces. Once we do that, we find that the Amazon’s net output of oxygen is near zero, as it is also the largest consumer of oxygen. The Amazon’s value is in fixing atmospheric carbon, and its loss will mean the release of stored carbon into the atmosphere with devastating consequences.

Is it possible to use the forest lands economically such that we do not have deforestation with both local and global consequences? The argument is yes, this can be done using scientific methods and technology, such that we can get short-term developmental benefits as well as meet long-term goals. This would be different from the colonial models promoting mono-cultures and claiming forests on behalf of the Crown, but would mean involving the forest communities in protecting forests. It would mean culling forests, but within limits of its regeneration and using a mix of trees that are natural to the Amazonian environment. It would mean, if mines and other projects are allowed in them, to minimize their impact and leave large areas as untouched natural reserves.

Of course, this would require a policy for indigenous people that respects their identity while allowing them to choose how they integrate themselves; not as living museum pieces, but as communities living in harmony with nature and the rest of Brazilian society. These are complex issues and there is no one answer to these questions. Their answer would mean a democracy that allows for dialogue and a way to reconcile the goals of development and maintains peoples’ identities and cultural diversities.

Instead of taking this complex, democratic path, the logic of capital is quite simple. It prioritizes the interest of the capitalists—not capital but capitalists—over other sections of the people. For the capitalist, there is a simple way of looking at any issue: what return can I get if I can get the state to follow a certain policy? Giving away of land, forests and mineral resources to capitalists by the state is what Marx called primary—or primitive—accumulation. In the language of the commons, it is “enclosure” of the commons, and in this case, the Amazon forests are the commons.

If Bolsonaro can hand over forest lands—its trees, its minerals and their use after clearing forests for cattle-ranching or soybean-farming—to his capitalist cronies, they make big bucks. This is the crux of Bolsonaro’s policies. This is similar to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing in India with the recent modification to the Forest Rights Act.

Both Brazil and India are expropriating the people’s rights over natural resources on a grand scale. This is what capital and their ideologues call releasing the animal spirits of capital.

Capitalism not only has the Trumps, Modis and Bolsonaros determine that what is good for capital is good for the people, but also other ideologues. One of them, American economist William Nordhaus, has built an economic model that essentially “shows” that it is better to spend money, not on preventing climate change today, but mitigating it in the future. There are two fallacies in this approach. One is that those producing climate change—either directly, through their emissions, or by consuming products that produce carbon emissions—are going to be impacted far less than those who produce much lower carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, the impact of such climate change is going to be far more adverse in tropical and equatorial regions of the world, where the bulk of the poor live. They also produce much less carbon emissions. The other flaw in Nordhaus-type models is that they privilege benefits received today over adverse effects in the future, the same way a capitalist looks at his profits: this quarter’s profits matter more than the long-term sustainability of capitalism itself.

Are other approaches and models possible? Yes, of course. A number of approaches that address both these issues exist. But climate science today has little to do with science; it is politics and the interests of capital that are deciding our climate future. Upton Sinclair, the American writer, had written in the 1930s, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

Denying global warming is not a scientific mistake that the global right makes; it is simply who is paying the bill that determines their belief.

Posted in USA, Brazil0 Comments

Progressives ‘Overjoyed’ as John Bolton Leaves White House

“Best news of this past few weeks, if not longer!!!!”

byEoin Higgins

Former national security advisor John Bolton listens to President Donald Trump talk to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on Feb. 12.

Former national security advisor John Bolton listens to President Donald Trump talk to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on Feb. 12. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This is an updating story

John Bolton, the fiery nationalist who served as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, was fired Tuesday due to disagreements over Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan. 

In a statement, the Council on Islamic American Relations celebrated the decision and said the group hoped for a more reasoned and rational replacement. 

“CAIR always welcomes the firing of notorious Islamophobic hate mongers like John Bolton, a man who has strong ties to anti-Muslim extremists and organizations,” the group said. “Let’s hope Trump’s next National Security Adviser isn’t a white supremacist or anti-Muslim bigot.”

The dismissal opens the door for peace, National Iranian American Council president Jamal Abdi said in a statement.

“The timing of this move is fortuitous given recent French efforts to facilitate dialogue between the U.S. and Iran,” said Abdi. “Bolton was a major obstacle to any resumption of diplomacy and, now that he has been dismissed, the Trump administration should take proactive steps to enable dialogue and a diplomatic resolution with Iran.”

Bolton, a notorious warhawk whose extreme views made him virtually unconfirmable in any position in the Trump administration, was appointed by the president on April 9, 2018. Before serving in the Trump administration, Bolton was then-President George W. Bush administration’s representative to the U.N.—a position he got through recess appointment as, again, he would not have been confirmed by the Senate due to his views.  

As ACLU Human Rights Project director Jamil Dakwar pointed out in a statement, Bolton’s extreme views weren’t an issue before now. 

“John Bolton threatened International Criminal Court judges and prosecutors for investigating the United States’ war crimes in Afghanistan,” said Dakwar. “He celebrated when victims of torture were denied the opportunity to hold their torturers accountable. He abdicated on our country’s responsibility to its international human rights commitments. None of this was apparently disagreeable enough to the president.”

According to The New York Times, Bolton had become increasingly sidelined in the administration:

His departure comes as Mr. Trump is pursuing diplomatic openings with two of the United States’ most intractable enemies, efforts that have troubled hard-liners in the administration, like Mr. Bolton, who view North Korea and Iran as profoundly untrustworthy.

The president made the announcement Tuesday via his Twitter account. 

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump tweeted. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the administration.”

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….102K4:58 PM – Sep 10, 2019

Yet Bolton, in a tweet, said that he offered to resign, a point the former official repeated in texts to news anchors covering the unfolding drama. 

“I offered to resign last night,” Bolton tweeted, “and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.'”

Bolton reaffirmed that version of events in a text to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade. 

Lis Power@LisPower1

BOLTON IS TEXTING FOX HOSTS WHO ARE ON AIR TO DISPUTE TRUMP’S ACCOUNT OF HIS FIRING

Kilmeade: “John Bolton just texted me, just now, he’s watching. He said, ‘let’s be clear, I resigned.'”13.5K5:20 PM – Sep 10, 2019

No matter how it happened, the news that the hawkish Bolton was out of the White House and away from the president’s ear was welcomed by anti-war advocates. 

“I’m overjoyed,” tweeted CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin. 

 Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft co-founder Trita Parsi rejoiced in the announcement, tweeting that the “chance of diplomacy went up” in the wake of Bolton’s firing. 

“Best news of this past few weeks, if not longer!!!!” said Parsi. 

Paul Kawika Martin, the senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said that the choice to fire Bolton was one of the few Trump decisions that were acceptable. 

“There’s a few decisions of Trump’s that I agree with: diplomacy with NorthKorea, end the Afghanistan War, and there’s no place for someone like John Bolton anywhere near a president,” said Martin.

Paul Kawika Martin #NoWarWithIran@PaulKawika

There’s a few decisions of @POTUS that I agree with: diplomacy with #NorthKorea, end the Afghanistan War and there’s no place for someone like @AmbJohnBolton anywhere near a President. Bolton perpetuated lies to get the US in the disastrous #Iraq War and clearly wanted more wars. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1171452880055746560 …Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpI informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….

Some Twitter users, like @UweBollocks, opined on the internal White House drama that could have precipitated Bolton’s dismissal. 

“Just keep thinking of Trump telling Bolton to shave his sideburns until he finally had to let him go,” @UweBollocks tweeted.

The Young Turks reporter Emma Vigeland imagined the scene as Bolton left 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

“John Bolton wipes tears out of his matted mustache, lovingly stroking the framed illustration of dead Iranians he kept in his office as he packs it away into a singular cardboard filing box,” Vigeland said.

While Bolton’s future is unclear, a number of cynical observers made the prediction that the longtime right-wing advocate would continue to fail upward. 

“Can’t wait for John Bolton’s transition to cable and inevitable book deal,” said journalist Walker Bragman. 

Walker Bragman@WalkerBragman

Can’t wait for John Bolton’s transition to cable and inevitable book deal…485:31 PM – Sep 10, 2019

That was a point echoed by Daily Beast editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman. In a tweet, Shachtman referred to the impulse by the country’s so-called “liberal” cable news network to feature anyone on the right who disagrees with the president. 

“Four words,” said Shachtman. “MSNBC contributor John Bolton.”

Even if he doesn’t make it on as a contributor, Splinter deputy editor Jack Mirkinson said, Bolton will likely be the subject of positive coverage at the channel going forward.

“Someone on ‘Morning Joe’ will be pushing for Bolton to primary Trump by morning,” said Mirkinson. 

Posted in USA0 Comments

“Trump’s Racism and Cruelty Knows No Bounds”: Outrage as President Smears Dorian Victims Fleeing Bahamas as Gang Members

“The survivors of Hurricane Dorian are climate change refugees fleeing disaster, and they deserve compassion and support, not isolation and exclusion,” said the Sunrise MovementbyJake Johnson, staff writer

Marsh Harbor residents wait at Leonard M. Thompson International Airport while trying to evacuate the island on September 5, 2019 in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas. (Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

Echoing the racist and dehumanizing rhetoric he has repeatedly deployed against Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and others, President Donald Trump on Monday told reporters—without offering a shred of evidence—that there may be “very bad gang members” and “drug dealers” among those fleeing the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The president’s comments sparked outrage, with the Sierra Club responding that “Donald Trump’s racism and cruelty knows no bounds.”

“He needs to do his job and respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” the group tweeted. “We rise in solidarity with the Bahamian people.”

Trump’s remarks came hours after hundreds Bahamian refugees were ordered off a ferry headed for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, purportedly because they did not have U.S. visas. Brian Entin, a reporter for WSVN 7 News in Miami who was on the vessel, said “this is not normal” and noted Bahamians can usually travel to the U.S. with just a passport and a printout of their police record.

“We have to be very careful,” Trump told reporters Monday, defending the decision to remove hurricane victims from the ferry and warning that “very bad people” could be attempting to enter the U.S. after Dorian devastated the Bahamas, killing dozens and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

Watch:

In a statement Monday night,  Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said the move to deny hurricane victims entry is “disgraceful and goes against everything we are supposed to stand for as a nation.”

“These are people whose homes and livelihoods have been totally destroyed, who have lost family members,” said Prakash. “But instead of welcoming them with open arms and offering support, we’re sending them back to an island with little shelter, no food, and no access to basic necessities.”

Prakash said Sunrise and allies are planning to rally outside Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offices in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to demand that the Trump administration “stop turning away people fleeing destruction.”

“As the climate crisis makes storms like Dorian stronger and deadlier, will we build bigger walls and keep polluting and making the crisis worse, or will we give the most vulnerable a safe haven in their time of most dire need and commit ourselves to tackling this crisis?” added Prakash. “The survivors of Hurricane Dorian are climate change refugees fleeing disaster, and they deserve compassion and support, not isolation and exclusion.”

Posted in USA0 Comments

Federal Court Reinstates Full Block on Trump Asylum Ban

WASHINGTON – A federal court has reinstated a nationwide injunction blocking a Trump administration asylum ban that denied asylum to anyone at the southern border who had transited through a third country en route to the United States.

It follows a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month that narrowed the scope of the injunction to that circuit. The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Southern Poverty Law Center, were in court on September 5 seeking reinstatement of the nationwide injunction. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued the ruling today.

The following reaction is from:

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt: “The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.”

Baher Azmy, Center for Constitutional Rights legal director: “We are gratified the court recognized the reality on the ground, which is that Trump’s asylum ban is affecting thousands of asylum-seekers all across the border — just as it was unlawfully intended to do — and not just at California ports of entry.”

Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project: “This ruling levels the playing field for all the vulnerable individuals and families seeking refuge in the United States. With this decision, regardless of where they cross the border, these people should be able to seek asylum. Sadly, while this ruling removes a major hurdle, far too many obstacles remain, as this administration’s war on asylum-seekers appears to know no bounds.”

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

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