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Photos by: joanneleon. August, 2013.



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News & Opinion


Good morning!  Here are some photos from the No Attack on Syria rally at White House & march to the Capitol that happened Saturday.

The march gets started:

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Stragglers with good signs:

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Medea Benjamin was there on a bicycle:

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Alternative housing on Capitol Hill, a couple of blocks from the White House:

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Police presence was heavy:

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Question for the new Colin Powell:

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Approaching the site of an ongoing Peace Insurrection:

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If you missed the march and want to participate, Codepink is sponsoring an ongoing occupation across the street from the Cannon Office Building (next to the Capitol) from which it will launch lobbying efforts and be a visible presence at the Capitol as your representatives consider bombing Syria (like good humanitarians do).

Andrew Bacevich on Taking Action in Syria

DONAHUE: In your book, your commentary about a loss of the citizen's army is especially germane to what's happening now with Syria. It's easier now to go to war is one of the points you make. And as now we think about Syria, how do those two come together?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I’d back up from Syria a little bit. And I think I'd want to tell a story that begins really back at the end of the Vietnam War. A war that divided the country, a war that in many respects shattered the United States military. And part of the response to that war was that the American people decided to jettison the longstanding tradition of the citizen soldier.

Richard Nixon endorsed that when he ended the draft and declared the creation of an all-volunteer force. And for some considerable period of time, this seemed like a smart move, a good thing for the country. It let citizens off the hook, also gave us highly capable and well-trained and well-disciplined soldiers. What only became evident after the Cold War ended, however was that this new professional army really was no longer America's army. It was Washington's army. And Washington began to--

PHIL DONAHUE: As in Washington DC?

ANDREW BACEVICH: As in Washington DC. And Washington began to do with that army whatever they wanted, regardless of whether the people had signed up to the enterprise. And this greater penchant for war I think really reached its zenith after 9/11 with President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, as so many people have said, a country totally uninvolved in 9/11.

Alan Grayson's NYT Oped, it's relatively short and worth reading in full:
On Syria Vote, Trust, but Verify

Over the last week the administration has run a full-court press on Capitol Hill, lobbying members from both parties in both houses to vote in support of its plan to attack Syria. And yet we members are supposed to accept, without question, that the proponents of a strike on Syria have accurately depicted the underlying evidence, even though the proponents refuse to show any of it to us or to the American public. ...

It is my understanding that the House Intelligence Committee made a formal request for the underlying intelligence reports several days ago. I haven’t heard an answer yet. And frankly, I don’t expect one. ...  The danger of the administration’s approach was illustrated by a widely read report last week in The Daily Caller, which claimed that the Obama administration had selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes in Syria, with one report “doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion reached by the original report.”

The allegedly doctored report attributes the attack to the Syrian general staff. But according to The Daily Caller, “it was clear that ‘the Syrian general staff were out of their minds with panic that an unauthorized strike had been launched by the 155th Brigade in express defiance of their instructions.’ ”

I don’t know who is right, the administration or The Daily Caller. But for me to make the correct decision on whether to allow an attack, I need to know. And so does the American public.

Congress Denied Syrian Facts, Too

A U.S. congressman who has read the Obama administration’s classified version of intelligence on the alleged Syrian poison gas attack says the report is only 12 pages – just three times longer than the sketchy unclassified public version – and is supported by no additional hard evidence.

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also said the House Intelligence Committee had to make a formal request to the administration for “the underlying intelligence reports” and he is unaware if those details have been forthcoming, suggesting that the classified report – like the unclassified version – is more a set of assertions than a presentation of evidence. ...

As I wrote a week ago, after examining the four-page unclassified summary, there was not a single fact that could be checked independently. It was a “dodgy dossier” similar to the ones in 2002-2003 that led the United States into the Iraq War. The only difference was that the Bush administration actually provided more checkable information than the Obama administration did, although much of the Bush data ultimately didn’t check out.

It appears that the chief lesson learned by the Obama administration was to release even less information about Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 than the Bush administration did about Iraq’s alleged WMD. The case against Syria has relied almost exclusively on assertions, such as the bellowing from Secretary of State John Kerry that the Syrian government sure did commit the crime, just trust us.

U.S. plans for ’3 days of attack’ on Syria, military tells LA Times

The Pentagon is readying more intense and longer attacks on Syria than originally planned, set to last three days, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.

War planners now aim to unleash a heavy barrage of missile strikes to be followed swiftly by additional attacks on targets that may have been missed or remain standing after the initial launch, the Times cited officials as saying.

Two US officers told the newspaper that the White House has asked for an expanded target list to include “many more” than the initial list of around 50 targets.

The move is part of an effort to obtain additional firepower to damage Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s dispersed forces.

Pentagon planners are now considering using Air Force bombers, as well as five US missile destroyers currently patrolling the eastern Mediterranean Sea, to launch cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles from far out of range of Syrian air defenses, according to the report.

US Lacks Justification for Strike on Syria

EU Demands UN Report as White House Continues Push for War

As the push for war with Syria from the White House carried over through the weekend, European Union officials made official statements on Saturday arguing that a UN report on the alleged chemical weapons attack is still necessary before any further action is taken—hard evidence the White House has failed to provide to the international community and lawmakers back home.

While the senior foreign policy official for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, seemed to be leaning more towards Washington's argument that Syrian president Assad is to blame for the alleged chemical weapons attack, she continued to urge the international community to wait for United Nations inspectors to submit a preliminary report on the incident before any action is taken. A UN report can be expected within the next week or two, according to the New York Times.

Ashton also underscored "the need to move forward with addressing the Syrian crisis through the U.N. process," a step the U.S. has snubbed, which could include possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, rather than all out war. The EU ministers said they hope a "preliminary report of this first (U.N.) investigation can be released as soon as possible."

Such evidence, or any semblance of a detailed report, has not been provided to the public nor to lawmakers in Washington from the Obama administration.

So Obama claims that there is sufficient oversight by his administration of NSA, but he has to learn about what the NSA does in the newspapers?  
Obama says he learns what NSA is doing from the press, then goes to NSA for details

Ewan MacAskill calls out a rather astounding statement by President Obama during his most recent press conference in St. Petersburg at the G20 summit. The very last question, which I believe is asked by AFP reporter Tangi Quemener, asks President Obama to respond to some of the recent NSA leaks, in particular the spying on Brazilian and Mexican officials. The President gives the usual long and winding answer about doing what intelligence agencies do, and various costs and benefits, but then there's this:

Now, just more specifically, then, on Brazil and Mexico. I said that I would look into the allegations. I mean, part of the problem here is we get these through the press and then I've got to go back and find out what’s going on with respect to these particular allegations -- I don’t subscribe to all these newspapers, although I think the NSA does -- now at least. (Laughter.)
It looks like Obama has sacrificed one obsolete pipeline plan, at least temporarily, and quietly given the oil and gas industries what they want.  Obama's press memo, quoted in the article looks like it was written by the oil and gas concerns that Obama is supposed to be regulating.
The Flip Side Of Obama’s Keystone XL Delay

Even as President Obama cast a veneer of caution over the Keystone pipeline’s northern half, he quietly expedited dozens of similar projects

The subject of a large amount of grassroots resistance from groups such as Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and the Tar Sands Blockade, the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project – when push comes to shove – is only the tip of the iceberg.

That’s because Obama’s order also called for expedited permitting and review of all domestic infrastructure projects – including but not limited to pipelines – as a reaction to the Keystone XL resistance.

A months-long Mint Press News investigation reveals the executive order wasn’t merely a symbolic gesture.

Rather, many key pipeline and oil and gas industry marketing projects are currently up for expedited review, making up for — and by far eclipsing — the capacity of Keystone XL’s northern half. The original TransCanada Keystone pipeline – as is – already directly connects to Cushing from Alberta, making XL (short for “extension line”) essentially obsolete.



Peace Insurrection



Oppose The War: Where To Be For the Next Two Weeks

Codepink is starting a Peace Insurrection encampment on the Hill to say NO to War on Syria till the vote goes through sometime next week.

Codepink says:

We will be spending all day and all night for the next week at Congress, and invite you to join us for this urgent cause. We will be drafting a People’s Resolution as an alternative to war, visiting our elected representatives every single day, painting and chalking and creating visuals, building a dialogue booth for folks to talk about long-lasting solutions to this impending invasion, and anything YOU want to do. Bring your chairs, sleeping bags, pots and pans, art supplies, spirit and positive energy! Camp Peace Insurrection, starting tonight at the corner of Independence and New Jersey Ave. at 5 pm (across from Cannon Building). Let’s do this, and stay tuned for updates!



From the Imgur Public Gallery



"Goal Celebration'"



Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest


The Evening Blues

14 Principled Anti-War Celebrities We Fear May Have Been Kidnapped





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