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Longwood Gardens. (Photo by joanneleon. October 16, 2012)
“War is over ... If you want it.”
― John Lennon
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News and Opinion
Hurricane Sandy drenches the Bahamas, leaves 21 dead in Caribbeana
(Reuters) - Hurricane Sandy pounded the Bahamas with battering winds and rain on Friday, sweeping over the island chain after killing 21 people across the Caribbean and posing a menacing threat to the U.S. East Coast.
UN Official: Aspects of US Drone Program Clearly 'War Crimes'
UN special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights announces investigation of civilians killed by US drone attacks
“The Obama administration continues to formally adopt the position that it will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the drone program. . . . In reality, the administration is holding its finger in the dam of public accountability,” he said according to a prepared copy of the speech.
“I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [U.N.] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks, and other forms of targeted killings conducted in counterterrorism operations, in which it has been alleged that civilian casualties have been inflicted,” he added.
His position was created in 2005, following concern at the UN that the role of counter-terrorism and reports of torture being used by the Bush administration exposed a blind spot in how human rights abuses were being institutionalized in the name of fighting terrorism.
“It is only by adherence to human rights regulations that counter-terrorism can survive,” Emerson said before he crowd of about 50, reports Harvard's student paper, The Crimson. He called into question not only the human rights obligations of governments to protect civilians, but also the important responsibility to uphold the rights of individuals "suspected of terrorism."
“Victims demand the accountability of public officials and the rule of law, not more human rights violations,” Emmerson said.
Emmerson specifically addressed the failed logic of what is widely called 'the global war on terror,' arguing the construct of a 'global war paradigm' has been repeatedly used to justify acts that severe long-held notions of international law.
Suicide bomber kills 40 at Afghan mosque during Eid
(Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 40 people in a mosque in Afghanistan's relatively peaceful north on Friday as worshippers gathered for prayers marking the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, police officials said.
The attack in Maimana, capital of Faryab province, also wounded 40, regional police chief General Abdul Khaliq Aqsai said, pinning the blame on the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman said they were investigating to find out who was responsible.
The Taliban, in a statement released to media on Friday, said two Afghan soldiers were behind the attack in western Farah province on Thursday that killed one Italian soldier.
One of them later joined the Taliban, the statement said, along with the policeman who killed two U.S. soldiers in southern Uruzgan province on Thursday.
Afghanistan Insider Attack: Two U.S. Troops Killed In Uruzgan ProvinceCan you even imagine the
KABUL, Afghanistan — A man in an Afghan police uniform shot and killed two American service members in what appeared to be the latest attack on international forces this year by their Afghan partners.
It was the second suspected insider attack in two days. On Wednesday, two British service members and an Afghan police officer were killed in an "exchange of gunfire" in Helmand province, the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement. The Afghan officer was not wearing his uniform and the statement said it was not clear who started shooting first.
The Victims of Fallujah's Health Crisis Are Stifled by Western Silence
To research a possible link between US bombardment and rates of birth defects and pediatric cancer in Iraq is a moral imperative
Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives no attention in the United States.
Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, Fallujans have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city. Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".
America's Failed Formula for Worldwide WarSigning the repeal of Glass-Steagall during his own term, paving the way for the crash of 2008 wasn't enough, apparently. Clinton wants to help Obama wreck the New Deal too. The two of them are the antithesis of FDR and should call themselves the Anti-New Dealers or the New Robber Barons. Anyway, this Social Security wrecking team is begging for a nickname.
How the Empire Changed Its Face, But Not Its Nature
Since 2001, the U.S. military has thrown everything in its arsenal, short of nuclear weapons, including untold billions of dollars in weaponry, technology, bribes, you name it, at a remarkably weak set of enemies -- relatively small groups of poorly-armed fighters in impoverished nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen -- while decisively defeating none of them. With its deep pockets and long reach, its technology and training acumen, as well as the devastatingly destructive power at its command, the U.S. military should have the planet on lockdown. It should, by all rights, dominate the world just as the neoconservative dreamers of the early Bush years assumed it would.
Yet after more than a decade of war, it has failed to eliminate a rag-tag Afghan insurgency with limited popular support. It trained an indigenous Afghan force that was long known for its poor performance -- before it became better known for killing its American trainers. It has spent years and untold tens of millions of tax dollars chasing down assorted firebrand clerics, various terrorist “lieutenants,” and a host of no-name militants belonging to al-Qaeda, mostly in the backlands of the planet. Instead of wiping out that organization and its wannabes, however, it seems mainly to have facilitated its franchising around the world.
At the same time, it has managed to paint weak regional forces like Somalia’s al-Shabaab as transnational threats, then focus its resources on eradicating them, only to fail at the task. It has thrown millions of dollars in personnel, equipment, aid, and recently even troops into the task of eradicating low-level drug runners (as well as the major drug cartels), without putting a dent in the northward flow of narcotics to America’s cities and suburbs.
It spends billions on intelligence only to routinely find itself in the dark. It destroyed the regime of an Iraqi dictator and occupied his country, only to be fought to a standstill by ill-armed, ill-organized insurgencies there, then out-maneuvered by the allies it had helped put in power, and unceremoniously bounced from the country (even if it is now beginning to claw its way back in). It spends untold millions of dollars to train and equip elite Navy SEALs to take on poor, untrained, lightly-armed adversaries, like gun-toting Somali pirates.
Howard Fineman: If Obama Wins, Clinton Will Stay At His Side
Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are turning into the most watchable buddy-buddy road show since "Starsky and Hutch." All they're missing are platform shoes and a Gran Torino. Next week they will travel together to Florida, Ohio and Virginia, as Clinton tries to infuse his explanatory magic into Obama's campaign-trail pitch in the final days of a grueling 2012 race. But as attention turns -- even before Election Day -- to the dreaded "fiscal cliff" looming at year's end, it's becoming clear that Clinton's sidekick duties will not be over on November 6 if Obama wins. If the current president gets the chance to try to fashion a post-election deal, he'll need Clinton's help in selling it to fellow Democrats.
China blocks New York Times Web site after report on leader’s wealthNYT story that China is blocking.
BEIJING — An explosive story about the massive wealth accumulated by the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao prompted the Chinese government to block the Web site of the New York Times early Friday morning, just days before a sensitive, once-in-a-
decade transition of power from Wen and others to a new generation of leaders.
The article says that assets controlled by Wen’s family are worth at least $2.7 billion, a shocking figure even in a country where government corruption is rampant and popular resentment against the elite has increased in recent years. The scandal also complicates the apparent intention of Chinese leaders to tackle corruption as a main issue at the Nov. 8 party congress, a move they have been signaling in the wake of other scandals that have dramatically shaken the party’s core leadership.
Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader
BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.
But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind — she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.
Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives, some of whom have a knack for aggressive deal-making, including his wife, have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.
In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.
Transcript of 1944 Bretton Woods Conference Found at Treasury
WASHINGTON — A Treasury economist rummaging in the department’s library has stumbled on a historical treasure hiding in plain sight: a transcript of the Bretton Woods conference in 1944 that cast the foundations of the modern international monetary system.
Historians had never known that a transcript existed for the event held in the heat of World War II, when delegates from 44 allied nations fighting Hitler gathered in the mountains of New Hampshire to create the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But there were three copies in archives and libraries around Washington that had never been made public, until now.
Egypt seizes Libyan weapons, suspects in further sign of spreading terrorist influence
CAIRO — Egyptian police have arrested five Libyans who allegedly are members of al Qaida, intercepted two truckloads of arms from Libya and killed a Libyan who police said is suspected of involvement in the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, adding new evidence that arms and extremists are leaching out of Libya into the wider region.
The flow of men and material across Libya’s borders highlights the growing chaos and weak central authority afflicting the North African nation more than a year after dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and killed in what was at the time the bloodiest of the Arab Spring uprisings.
The presence of alleged Libyan Islamists and smuggled weapons in Egypt underscored how the insecurity in Libya could be enflaming violence, political instability and extremism elsewhere in the region as the toppling of long-standing governments ended decades of harsh authoritarian rule.
Libyan fighters and arms reportedly are bolstering rebel forces battling the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad. Arms looted from Gadhafi’s warehouses are believed to have played a major role in the takeover of northern Mali by al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
Israeli operations in Sudan aimed at disrupting Gaza arms trade, officials sayFrom 2007. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran.
JERUSALEM — Israeli intelligence officials said Thursday that their military has been conducting operations inside Sudan for several years in an effort to disrupt weapons supplies and training for militants in the Gaza Strip – tacit acknowledgement that Israel was responsible for the bombing Wednesday of a weapons factory in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
“It would be in Israel’s interest to hit a factory that was a major source of weapons for the Gaza Strip, no?” said one official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss Israel’s operations in Sudan. “Sudan has long been a playground for militants, and for Israel it would be important to send the message that they cannot use Sudan as a way station for their arms and training camps.”
Publicly, Israeli officials have declined to comment on Sudanese government accusations that Israel had bombed the Yarmouk industrial complex. Amos Gilad, a top Israeli Defense Ministry official, in an interview with Israeli army radio Thursday would say only that Sudan is a “dangerous terrorist state” and that it would take time to understand what had happened in Khartoum.
But speaking to McClatchy on condition of anonymity, several Israeli intelligence sources confirmed that Israel “had an interest” in targeting the factory and that Israel had been active in Sudan for years.
“Seven countries in five years”
Wesley Clark's new memoir casts more light on the Bush administration's secret strategies for regime change in Iran and elsewhere.
While the Bush White House promotes the possibility of armed conflict with Iran, a tantalizing passage in Wesley Clark’s new memoir suggests that another war is part of a long-planned Department of Defense strategy that anticipated “regime change” by force in no fewer than seven Mideast states.
“‘Oh, it’s worse than that,’ he said, holding up a memo on his desk. ‘Here’s the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We’re going to take out seven countries in five years.’ And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.”
While Clark doesn’t name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Stand By Me (Japan) | Playing For Change
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky