American Self-Deception: A List of Wars and More

❝ There is a reason that most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world, and why Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017.

But it is a reason that eludes that strain of U.S. academia that first defines war as something that nations and groups other than the United States do, and then concludes that war has nearly vanished from the earth.

❝ Since World War II, during a supposed golden age of peace, the United States military has killed or helped kill some 20 million people, overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 84 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. The United States is responsible for the deaths of 5 million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and over 1 million just since 2003 in Iraq.

For the past almost 16 years, the United States has been systematically destroying a region of the globe, bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria, not to mention the Philippines. The United States has “special forces” operating in two-thirds of the world’s countries and non-special forces in three-quarters of them.

❝ The U.S. government as of 2017 provided military aid to 73% of the world’s dictatorships.

The emperor not only has new clothes since the end of World war 2. He and his peers kindly provided the whole cloth to both of the political parties we’re allowed to have – to cut and sew matching outfits for the whole nation.

Israeli politicians attack dissident soldiers who expose crimes against Palestinians

Yehuda Shaul was an infantryman in the Israeli army in Hebron during the second intifada. But in recent weeks, he and his group of veterans have been vilified by right-wing organizations and mainstream politicians in a public campaign against Israeli groups critical of their country’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon forbade serving Israeli military personnel from cooperating or meeting with representatives of Shaul’s group, Breaking the Silence (BTS). Education Minister Naftali Bennet issued a similar order to all public schools. And right-wing advocacy group Im Tirzu published a report accusing most Israeli human rights groups of being “foreign agents” because of the funding they receive from friendly states. That report was accompanied by a video and an advertising campaign accusing specific human rights activists of “defending terrorists” and “representing foreign interests.” Those named all received death threats after the ads.

A poll conducted by Channel 10 this weekend found that 53 percent of Jewish Israelis surveyed said they support outlawing BTS, with only 22 opposing such a move. Politicians of the right are not the only ones calling for action against Israeli human rights organizations. On Sunday, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, dedicated an entire press conference to attacking BTS, which he said has “crossed the line between [legitimate] criticism and subversion against the state of Israel…”

The silence that BTS has set out to break, according to Shaul, is Israeli society’s lack of awareness of the actions taken in its name by conscript soldiers serving in the West Bank and Gaza. The group has attempted to change that by collecting and disseminating firsthand accounts from soldiers about the actions taken by their units in the occupation…

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has worked to disrupt BTS’ activities abroad. Israel’s embassy in Germany managed to force cancellation of a scheduled exhibition by the group in Cologne; Israel failed to prevent a similar event in Switzerland…

BTS follows a long-standing tradition, dating back to the aftermath of Israel’s war of independence and the Palestinian Nakba, of Israeli military personnel publicizing accounts of their actions in uniform that have challenged official narratives. That testimony has always produced backlash, but an across-the-board attempt to silence them would traditionally have been deemed contrary to Israel’s democratic traditions.

Those democratic traditions disappeared alongside assumption of apartheid policies, racist and bigoted characterization of any Palestinian resistance to Israel’s colonial policies.

RTFA for details of the harassment of dissident Israeli soldiers. This may not be a surprise to some; but, regardless, it’s worth bringing the truth of “democratic” Israel’s undemocratic policies against Israelis as well as Palestinians into the light.

Five years later, Arizona immigrants still defy SB 1070

After three months of working at Lam’s Seafood Market for $7.65 an hour as a cashier, Noemi Romero had finally saved the $465 it would take to apply for President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an initiative launched to shield from deportation young immigrants brought to the United States as children.

That was before the hard-line immigration policies of Maricopa County — made infamous in 2010 for its hostile attitude toward undocumented immigrants — torpedoed her dream of legalizing her status.

Romero, brought to the state by her parents when she was 3, did not even realize she was undocumented until she was 16, when her friends began getting driver’s licenses. Her parents told her she couldn’t. “You’re not from here,” they explained.

After graduating from high school, she found herself in limbo. She couldn’t afford to attend college in Arizona, one of a handful of states that explicitly bar undocumented students from receiving financial aid and paying in-state tuition rates. And without a Social Security number, she couldn’t work. She spent her days helping her mother babysit…

On Jan. 17, 2013, Romero was working the cash register at Lam’s Seafood Market, planning to take off from work the next week so she could meet with an immigration lawyer. She saw a man in a black collared shirt and dress pants walk in and present a badge to the manager.

Moments later, Romero and 21 others were rounded up, herded to the front of the store, searched, interrogated about their papers and handcuffed — swept up in one of Maricopa County’s trademark workplace raids, engineered by Sheriff Joe Arpaio to catch undocumented immigrants using fraudulent identities to work in the United States…

The prospects for undocumented immigrants in Maricopa County remain fragile, as Romero’s situation illustrates. But the crackdown in Arizona has not quite worked as intended. Even as the undocumented population in Arizona plummeted by 40 percent from 2009 to 2012, according to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, the efforts to drive out the immigrant community have prompted a backlash, inspiring a new attitude of defiance, according to immigrants interviewed this month in Phoenix…

Romero, now 23, is part of a class action lawsuit, led by civil rights group Puente Arizona, against the sheriff’s office, that has won an injunction to halt the workplace raids. If she and her fellow plaintiffs win their case, it’s possible that their criminal records will be expunged.

“There have been a lot of positive things that have occurred in Arizona that have pushed back against the passage of the bill,” said James Garcia, a Hispanic-American playwright and communications consultant in Phoenix.

He noted the recall of state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of the legislation, and the way in which the business and arts communities have worked to repair Arizona’s tarnished reputation.

RTFA for many individual stories of a dream deferred. Deferred by bigotry, the usual story in this land of liberty.

Business and arts communities working to repair Arizona’s tarnished reputation have decades to go. There are many reasons for Arizona being called the Mississippi of the west. Good will to all ain’t part of it.

Philippine top court defies Catholic Church – Backs birth control

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has approved a birth control law, in a defeat for the Catholic Church…The law requires government health centres to distribute free condoms and contraceptive pills.

The court had deferred implementation after the law’s passage in December 2012 after church groups questioned its constitutionality.

Supporters of the law cheered as the court found that most of the provisions were constitutional.

The government of President Benigno Aquino defied years of church pressure by passing the bill…It says the law will help the poor, who often cannot afford birth control, and combat the country’s high rates of maternal mortality.

The provisions will make virtually all forms of contraception freely available at public health clinics…Sex education will also be compulsory in schools and public health workers will be required to receive family planning training…There will also be medical care for women who have had illegal abortions.

The Philippines is about 80% Catholic, and with a population approaching 100 million, has one of the highest birth rates in Asia.

The church fought fiercely against the bill, denouncing it as evil and a threat to life. It denounced politicians who supported it, including President Aquino.

While most of the world’s candyass media keeps the focus of their attention on the nice guy with the big ring in Rome – throughout the rest of the world, especially developing nations, the Catholic Church continues with the iron fist in the velvet glove. Fully committed to the suppression of women and reproductive freedom, the church is satisfied with tying society to the ignorance of 14th Century minds.

Protests over rape in India continue — Coppers turn violent! — UPDATED!

India police democracy
Democracy as practiced by police in India – click to enlarge

Protests over a recent gang rape quickly gained force over the weekend, tapping into longstanding fury against entrenched corruption and lopsided justice, and leading to clashes with the police.

Seven days of demonstrations peaked Sunday, as thousands of people joined women’s and students’ groups despite a hastily enacted ban on protesting in New Delhi. The crowds taunted the police and attacked the car of a member of Parliament. The police, in turn, fired tear gas and water cannons, beat protesters with bamboo sticks and arrested dozens.

What corrupt, entrenched politicians and their police flunkies call “even-handed”.

“Many students who were protesting peacefully were attacked,” said Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who had joined the protest with her daughter. “These are patriotic and respectable citizens. You cannot respond to them in this ham-handed manner.”

Kulsoom Rashid, 27, rubbed her eyes and said she had been tear-gassed. “This is how they are responding,” she said, seething. “Hundreds of rapists are running scot-free, and the entire Delhi police is standing here to stop people like me?”

By late afternoon Sunday, political parties had joined the crowd, increasing the number of confrontations with the authorities…

After several recent, highly publicized rape cases, India has been struggling to come to grips with the scale of the vastly underreported problem. Even when rapes are reported, suspects are rarely found and arrested.

In the most recent case, a 23-year-old medical student who boarded what she thought was a public bus on Dec. 16 was brutally raped and beaten nearly to death by a group of men. Six suspects are in jail.

The rapid reaction has done little to stem public anger. On Sunday, protesters jostled with the police, calling them “cowardly,” “corrupt” and “inept,” as they tried to push through the cordon…

“These people have lost patience with a government that has no sense of justice, no sense of accountability and is totally corrupt at the top,” said Prem Shankar Jha, a former editor of the Hindustan Times.

You can witness the reality of what is called democracy in many countries by how police are allowed to treat peaceful demonstrations. Regular readers will know I hold no brief for anarchists and other loonies. They deserve what they get when they try to burn down London or Seattle. But, I was able to follow the course of these demonstrations quite closely over the weekend – via al Jazeera and CCTV9.

The Indian police were merciless in their attacks on peaceful demonstrators, ordinary people, mostly young people, marching because they are fed-up with institutional corruption and injustice. It reminded me of nothing more than early days in our own civil rights movement, North and South.

UPDATE: She has died in hospital in Singapore.

Twofer: Analysis of global fire risk — and Let it burn!

Climate change is widely expected to disrupt future fire patterns around the world, with some regions, such as the western United States, seeing more frequent fires within the next 30 years, according to a new analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley..

By the end of the century, almost all of North America and most of Europe is projected to see a jump in the frequency of wildfires, primarily because of increasing temperature trends. At the same time, fire activity could actually decrease around equatorial regions, particularly among the tropical rainforests, because of increased rainfall.

The study…used 16 different climate change models to generate what the researchers said is one of the most comprehensive projections to date of how climate change might affect global fire patterns.

In the long run, we found what most fear — increasing fire activity across large parts of the planet,” said study lead author Max Moritz…“But the speed and extent to which some of these changes may happen is surprising…These abrupt changes in fire patterns not only affect people’s livelihoods,” Moritz added, “but they add stress to native plants and animals that are already struggling to adapt to habitat loss.”

The projections emphasize how important it is for experts in conservation and urban development to include fire in long-term planning and risk analysis, added Moritz…based at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources.

Though the range of computer models demonstrated sufficient disagreement among models for the next few decades that conclusions about fire activity increasing or decreasing over all of the planet weren’t possible. The exception being the western United States. No surprise that there is a high level of agreement both near-term and long-term that this region should prepare for more fire.

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A lovely autumn weekend on Wall Street with the NYPD


 
Same as it ever was.

I’m glad Lawrence differentiated between most cops and the prick-bastards who get off on attacking a peaceful demonstration. Cops who act out their hatred of people who are “different” – because of color or education or that they have the gumption to dissent – are not different in the least from the cowards who join lynch mobs. Excepting their immunity from prosecution.

Though I have obvious reasons to remember a few coppers who beat and attacked demonstrators – scars 🙂 – I always smile remembering the state troopers assigned to follow the car I was in in a southern border state on the way to a sit-in in 1959 who pulled alongside to offer directions to the town while we were gazing blankly at a road map by the side of the road.

Mohamed ElBaradei returns to Egypt


The Mubarak government calls this peaceful resolution of conflict

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog turned democracy advocate, has arrived in Egypt amid escalating political unrest in the country.

ElBaradei, 68, returned to the country on Thursday from the Austrian city of Vienna, where he lives, to join a growing wave of protests against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president of 30 years, inspired by Tunisia’s overthrow of their long-time president, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Violence erupted in Cairo and in the flashpoint city of Suez, east of the Egyptian capital, while in the northern Sinai area of Sheikh Zuweid, several hundred bedouins and police exchanged live gunfire, killing a 17-year-old man…

Millions gather at mosques across the city for Friday prayers, providing organisers with a huge number of people already out on the streets to tap into.

It is a critical time in the life of Egypt. I have come to participate with the Egyptian people,” ElBaradei said as he left Cairo airport, where he was greeted by a small group of supporters.

“The desire for change must be respected. The regime must not use violence in the demonstrations…”

Associated Press reporters saw scores of protesters outside the Cairo offices of Egypt’s lawyers’ union, which has been one of the flashpoints of this week’s unrest.

There were two other small, peaceful protests by lawyers in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta town of Toukh, north of Cairo.

In the day’s other major incident, protesters in the northern Sinai – an area of land largely populated by armed Bedouin tribes – blocked the main roads in the area.

You can only hope for a gateway to democracy and civil participation to open. ElBaradei is a brave man to return and confront a government that I’m afraid wants nothing more than his sudden death.

Then, there is the freedom-loving United States government. Rote wrist-slapping has already demonstrated our usual role. If confrontation escalates – no doubt – a quick phone call to Netanyahu will provide guidance for the State Department.