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Monday, March 31, 2014

CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says - The Washington Post

CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says - The Washington Post

Ukraine and Iraq: A Reminder

Ukraine and Iraq: A Reminder

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech at the Palais des Beaux Arts center in Brussels. His ostensible audience was the European Union chiefs. His intended audience was all the second-echelon Great Powers (minus Russia and China). Some phrases at Brussels showed the usual signs of his workmanship:
I say this as the president of a country that looked to Europe for the values that are written into our founding documents and which spilled blood to ensure that those values could endure.
Those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonists across an ocean.
Dizzying change opens the door of opportunity to the marginalized.
We've never met these people, but we know them. Their voices echo calls for human dignity that rang out in European streets and squares for generations.
Freedom will continue to triumph over tyranny, because that is what forever stirs in the human heart.
Read those sentences in order and you pretty much have the plot of it. The stately march of eloquent platitudes, with a dash of humility and an echo of Lincoln like stardust on his sleeve -- it is the pattern we have come to know in many settings. And it prompts a thought. The president might at this point consider the value of not being inspirational.

Israel's Netanyahu lashes at UN over 'march of hypocrisy'

Israel's Netanyahu lashes at UN over 'march of hypocrisy':
The Israeli PM harshly criticized the UN Human Rights Council for condemning Israel in five resolutions lately

US officials: We can't stop Palestinian UN statehood bid if talks fail

US officials: We can't stop Palestinian UN statehood bid if talks fail:
The Obama administration has been working to salvage the peace talks that have been tittering on the brink of collapse for weeks, after Israel refused to released the fourth and final group of Palestinian security prisoners on Saturday.

Jimmy Carter concerned about possible breach of international law by Washington

Jimmy Carter concerned about possible breach of international law by Washington:
Former American President Jimmy Carter has warned the US Secretary of State John Kerry of violating international law in his potential peace framework agreement between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation.

Ebola outbreak in Guinea 'unprecedented'

Ebola outbreak in Guinea 'unprecedented' - MSF:
An official with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the spread of the disease across the country made it very difficult to control.

Noam Chomsky "Spending Money Is Not Speech"

Noam Chomsky "Spending Money Is Not Speech"


'Let's Forget Any Pretense of Being a Democratic Society'

U.S. "Stock Market Is Rigged"

U.S. "Stock Market Is Rigged"


Michael Lewis reveals how a group of unlikely characters discovered how some high speed traders work the stock market to their advantage.

Syria: Grim Realities and Short Memories logo

Syria: Grim Realities and Short Memories

by Wayne White The remorseless death toll and Assad regime gains in Syria have generated intense criticism in Washington of US policy toward the country. Other observers have also taken up this meme, often claiming the regime would have fallen long ago had the US and West intervened militarily or even just armed the Syrian rebels. Robust US/NATO military action may well have overthrown the regime, but too many recent critics have forgotten the political obstacles (and flawed assumptions) that undermined such choices during the war’s first 18 months. And now, despite widespread appeals, a substantial improvement in humanitarian aid and a political solution are also elusive, at least in the near-term.
Humanitarian crisis

Sheldon Adelson Says No Republican Candidate Worth Buying

March 31, 2014

Sheldon Adelson Says No Republican Candidate Worth Buying

Posted by
LAS VEGAS (The Borowitz Report)—The casino billionaire and Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson met several 2016 G.O.P. candidates available for purchase over the weekend, but decided to buy none of them, Adelson confirmed today.

The Russian president gave his reasons for the annexation of a region of Ukraine - Full Text

Oakland Institute: World Bank Accused of Destroying Traditional Farming to Support Corporate Land Grabs

Oakland Institute: World Bank Accused of Destroying Traditional Farming to Support Corporate Land Grabs

Chris Hedges: Fighting the Militarized State

Chris Hedges: Fighting the Militarized State

Ukraine: Make Some of Russia’s Proposals Our Own by Anatol Lieven

Ukraine: Make Some of Russia’s Proposals Our Own by Anatol Lieven

Nations that Block Social Media

Nations that Block Social Media

On Thursday, the Turkish government blocked the country's access to YouTube,
after banningTwitter earlier this month, in an effort to quell anti-government
sentiment prior to local elections on March 30.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that social networks are
facilitating the spread of wiretapped recordings that have been politically
damaging. The YouTube block reportedly came about after a video surfaced of
government [...]

The Demise of Silk Road Created a Vacuum That was Quickly Filled

The Demise of Silk Road Created a Vacuum That was Quickly Filled

Silk Road was known for selling everything illegal from drugs and guns to hired

It was finally shut down in October after years of investigation by the FBI,
who arrested the website's administrator and confiscated his small fortune of

At the time it was lauded as a huge success for law enforcement.

Judge Declared Insane Seeks Job Back

Judge Declared Insane Seeks Job Back

Can a suspended Cook County judge return to the bench after being declared
legally insane at the time she shoved a sheriff’s deputy in 2012?

For the first time in Illinois, attorneys on the case say, a judicial
disciplinary panel has begun tackling the question of whether a judge whose
psychotic episodes can apparently be controlled [...]

Russia Conducts Huge Nuclear War Excercise

Russia Conducts Huge Nuclear War Excercise

Russia on Saturday ended a massive three-day nuclear war exercise involving
10,000 soldiers, as the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War continues.

The drill, which utilised over 30 military units and 1000 pieces of equipment,
was to ensure that Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are prepared to conduct
offensive operations in the event of a massive [...]

The Economist’s Crony Capitalism Index Does Not Measure Crony Capitalism

The Economist’s Crony Capitalism Index Does Not Measure Crony Capitalism

by Eden Schiffmann
The Economist’s recent cover story, introducing what it calls the "Crony-Capitalism Index", has generated a lot of buzz. The study ranks 23 countries (counting Hong Kong separately) based on the Economist’s calculation of the prevalence of politically connected business dealing. The study takes billionaires from the Forbes Billionaires List who are primarily active in certain industries (such as casinos, banking, extractive industries, real estate, utilities, etc.) that the Economist deems “rent-heavy,” and looks at these billionaires’ share of the economic pie in their country. The index has already been used as the basis for media criticism of those countries that scored poorly, such as Hong Kong (1st) and Malaysia (3rd) — indeed, the Malaysian government was so upset that it censored the Economist for the week the index came out.
Some of the results are unsurprising: Russia and India score fairly high in this measure of crony capitalism, whereas Germany bottoms out the list. But other results are more puzzling.  Not only does the index report that Hong Kong has more crony capitalism than mainland China, but also that mainland China has less crony capitalism than either the United States or Great Britain. What gives? Does the United States really have more of a crony capitalism problem than China?

FAS Roundup: March 31, 2014 Hard to access declassified satellite images, Nuclear Security Summit, Air Force scandal and more.

Federation of American Scientists

FAS Roundup: March 31, 2014

Hard to access declassified satellite images, Nuclear Security Summit, Air Force scandal and more.

From the Blogs

Intelligence Whistleblower Law Has Been Used Infrequently: Per a recently released report from the Inspector General of ODNI from 2009, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) has rarely been relied upon by intelligence agency whistleblowers. From 1999 to 2009, intelligence agency Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) said that only ten whistleblower complaints had been filed.
Security-Cleared Population Rises to 5.1 Million: The number of Americans who have been investigated and deemed eligible for access to classified information rose last year to a total of 5,150,379 as of October 2013. It was the fourth consecutive year of growth in the security-cleared population. Of the 5.1 million persons who were found eligible for access to classified information, 60% had access in fact.
US-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as current U.S. policy in Ukraine, U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and major U.S. arms sales to Pakistan since 2001. 
Did CIA Violate the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause?: The CIA may have violated the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution by performing an unauthorized search of Senate Intelligence Committee computers according to analysis by the Congressional Research Service. The Speech or Debate clause (in Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 of the Constitution) generally immunizes members of Congress from liability for actions performed in the course of their legislative duties. But it also provides privileged protection for congressional documents against compulsory or involuntary disclosure. CIA may have unconstitutionally violated that privilege.
Missing the Open Source Center/ World News Connection: At the end of 2013, the CIA decided to terminate public access to its translations of foreign news reports by the Open Source Center and available to the public by NTIS World News Connection via paid subscription since 1974. An effort to reverse the CIA move and to restore public access is beginning to take shape, but the prospects for success are uncertain.
Newly Declassified Intelligence Satellite Imagery is Hard to Access: The declassification of historical intelligence satellite imagery has helped scientists and other researchers since President Clinton signed executive order 12951. But last year’s declassification of imagery from the KH-9 HEXAGON intelligence satellite will be slower to generate any such revolutionary impact because the newly declassified images are so hard to access and to use. Steven Aftergood writes that the archival burden on the National Archives and Records Administration is growing faster than the available resources. The task of curating the nation’s documentary heritage appears to be escalating out of control.  

U.S. Air Force Nuclear Missile Investigation 

Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, participated in a press call hosted by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation on March 24 to discuss the Air Force's review of nuclear missile forces in the wake of claims of cheating and low morale among those who monitor the arsenals.
Listen to the call here. 

Presentation Slides: 2014 Nuclear Security Summit and Verification Capabilities

FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson and Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation Law and Policy Mr. Chris Bidwell spoke at the Radiological and Nuclear Detection Symposium hosted by VIP GlobalNet LLC on March 25-26, 2014 at the Mason Inn at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.
Dr. Ferguson’s presentation was on the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that was held this week in the Netherlands. Ferguson discussed progress with securing dangerous nuclear materials (such as hundreds of tons of HEU that have been downblended to LEU and research and isotope production reactors that have been shut down) and remaining international challenges to securing fissile materials.
Mr. Bidwell spoke about the recent Defense Science Board (DSB) report from January 2014 on monitoring and verification and how they will be used with Iran in the wake of the deal with the P5+1. 
Presentation slides are available here.

Conference: Faith Communities on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Soka Gakkai International-USA, the Federation of American Scientists, Abolition 2000, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA and Women’s Action for New Directions invite you to a one-day conference examining the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and means for collaboration between the faith and advocacy communities on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. The event will be held from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Leaders from faith-based organizations, advocacy groups and government will come together to examine topics such as how faith views nuclear weapons, areas for partnership and U.S. nuclear policy.
The conference is free but advanced registration is required.
To RSVP and for conference agenda, click here. 

Essay Contest: How Should Humanity Steer the Future?                             

The Foundational Questions Institute, the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation and Scientific American are holding an essay contest related to safeguarding the future from nuclear risks and climate change. The topic is how should humanity steer the future and how to make the world better while avoiding potential catastrophes. 
Possible topics or sub-questions include, but are not limited to:
  • What is the best state that humanity can realistically achieve?
  • What is your plan for getting us there? Who implements this plan?
  • What technology (construed broadly to include practices and techniques) does your plan rely on? What are the risks of those technologies? How can those risks be mitigated?
Submissions will be accepted until April 18, 2014. For more information and guidelines click here.

FAS in the News

Mar 28: Foreign Policy"Did Obama Order A New Cyber Attack?"
Mar 26: Global Security Newswire"U.S. Tactical Nuclear Arms Mission Could Shift Among NATO Jets"
Mar 26: Huffington Post"Casting Sunlight On Secret Government And Its Contractors"
Mar 22: The Boston Globe"Annexing Crimea"

Obama Meeting With King Abdullah Deepened Tensions

Middle East Briefing #20

Obama Meeting With King Abdullah Deepened Tensions

The long-anticipated meeting between President Obama and King Abdullah was contentious, according to MEB sources contacted just hours after the visit.  While no definitive answer was given during the course of the meeting, the Obama Administration had decided, in advance of the summit, to reject requests for more advanced weapons, including manpads, to be delivered to select Syrian rebel groups.  The decision was based on a CIA review of the ability of ISIL and the Al Nusra Front to obtain weapons that were in some cases destined for more secular and moderate rebel fighting forces, and on the growing role of Pakistan in providing arms to all rebel factions, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia.

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds

A family left out of Obamacare The Man in the Middle has “affordable” coverage; the ACA’s “family glitch” snags his wife and kids -

A family left out of Obamacare

The Man in the Middle has “affordable” coverage; the ACA’s “family glitch” snags his wife and kids
- See more at:

Insurers already calculating 2015 premiums as Obamacare kicks in

Insurers already calculating 2015 premiums as Obamacare kicks in

Far more Californians than expected have bought plans through the state health insurance exchange. How sick they are will factor into next year's prices.,0,5708594.story#axzz2xS7Wgaki

Was Obamacare Worth It? How Many of the Previously Uninsured Have Really Signed Up?

Was Obamacare Worth It? How Many of the Previously Uninsured Have Really Signed Up?

Health insurance reform was long overdue. But did it need to be done the way the architects of the Affordable Care Act did it?

Fatter Cows and Chickens from GM Crops

Fatter Cows and Chickens from GM Crops

Biotech turns to DNA editing technology to engineer easier-to-digest plants for farm animals.

Sanctions: War by other means

Sanctions: War by other means

America’s democracy is fit for the 1%

America’s democracy is fit for the 1%

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Geopolitics, Not Growth

Mar 31, 2014 03:00 am | Samuel Rines
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the proposed trade deal linking the US with eleven other countries ranging from Brunei to Australia and Chile, will be an economically transformative agreement—but not for the US. Estimates by Petri, Plummer and Zhai (used throughout) place US GDP gains at only 0.13 percent, $27 [billion, by 2025. At about 57 percent of TPP participant GDP and 40 percent of the population, the US is too big to benefit from the deal, and many of the other nations involved are already tied together by agreements. If the entirety of the $210 billion annual benefit to 2025 global GDP from TPP were to accrue to the US, it would only add about 1 percent to GDP.
But realizing an immediate economic benefit is not the American goal. It’s more about engaging with emerging Asia and being present while the rules of trade are set. Exports and privileged access to the US market benefit emerging Asia, as the terms of trade will favor them over trading partners not at the table. The US and Japan could also act an economic counterbalance to China in the region—helping the smaller, less-developed countries compete for export growth.
While China has said it would like to be part of the discussions, it has yet to sit at the table. China would stand to lose about 1.2 percent in exports, but only about 0.3 percent GDP—translating to only $57 billion in export losses and $47 billion lower GDP. These losses are easily surmountable, and China does not lose enough to be convinced to participate in discussions surrounding state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and governmental participation in the economy.
read more

California Obamacare exchange sent out voter ballots pre-marked as ‘Democratic

California Obamacare exchange sent out voter ballots pre-marked as ‘Democratic’

Is ObamaCare a Law? A chance for the judiciary to address executive lawlessness.

Is ObamaCare a Law?

A chance for the judiciary to address executive lawlessness.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ukraine’s Inconvenient Neo-Nazis

Ukraine’s Inconvenient Neo-Nazis

March 30, 2014

Exclusive: When Ukrainian neo-Nazis – infuriated over the killing of an ultranationalist leader – surrounded the Parliament in Kiev, the incident presented a problem for the U.S. news media which has been trying to airbrush the neo-Nazis out of the Ukraine narrative, Robert Parry reports.
By Robert Parry

Public Service Announcement: Mass Surveillance Is ALWAYS About Crushing Dissent

College Athletes Granted the Right to Unionize—Is This the End of the NCAA?

Shameful! US ranks 4th in the world for executions behind China, Iraq, and Iran

The Dilution of the Family in Human Rights

The Dilution of the Family in Human Rights

Comments on Vallianatos and Other ECHR Cases on 'Family Life': Reinforcing the State's Hold Over Society in Exchange for the Promise of Greater Freedom for Individuals.

Pope Francis' Blueprint for Republican Rebranding

Pope Francis' Blueprint for Republican Rebranding

Future economy: Jobs likely to be lost to computerization

122 World Leaders Reportedly Targeted by NSA

122 World Leaders Reportedly Targeted by NSA

New leaked NSA documents published in Der Spiegel and The Intercept appear
to reveal more details about how that agency targeted a list of world leaders
that is larger than previously thought.

The documents, leaked to the publications by Edward Snowden, contain a list of
11 world leaders that have been targeted by a system known as Nymrod — however

Houston We Have a Problem

1,892 US Veterans Are Thought To Have Committed Suicide Since January 1, 2014

Forgetting the Lessons of Deterrence

Forgetting the Lessons of Deterrence

March 29, 2014

“Tough-guy/gal-ism” is rampant again in Official Washington with many New Cold Warriors lusting for a military confrontation with Russia. But few of these hawks have a clear idea how deterrence worked during the real Cold War, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
By Paul R. Pillar

Mohammed Omer Guest Post: Some Animals Are More Caged Than Others…But Why? By Mohammed Omer

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

WRMEA, May 2014, Pages 19-20

Gaza on the Ground

Some Animals Are More Caged Than Others…But Why?

By Mohammed Omer

A young Palestinian girl waits with her family at the Rafah border to cross into Egypt. (Photo M. Omer)
I drag our suitcases, mine and my pregnant wife Lina’s, through the often impenetrable Rafah Crossing, at the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. It’s a ritual carried out by thousands whenever it is announced that the border will be open. Even so, would-be travelers wonder whether they will in fact be permitted to cross into Egypt, or if they will end up waiting all day, only to have to return home and try again tomorrow.
We’ve been trying to cross for two months. Now eight months pregnant, Lina is nearing her due date, and each day it becomes more difficult and dangerous for her and our unborn child. I am lucky: I have citizenship in another country, so we have options. Most of the 1.7 million people living in Gaza do not. Like parents the world over, we want our child born where he or she will be safe. Not under apartheid. Not under siege. Somewhere opportunities exist, where laws aren’t passed and human rights doled out based on religion, race and ethnicity. We seek somewhere where it is safe, with a future and, above all, free.
There are only two crossings through which, if allowed, Gazans can reach the outside world. Gaza does have a seaport and airport, but Israel has blockaded the seaport and bombed the airport, rendering it useless since 2000. That leaves the Rafah Crossing in the south, guarded by Egypt with Israeli overseers, and the Erez crossing to the north, into Israel. Israel requires that all Palestinians enter and leave through the same crossing. Rafah tends to be slightly easier and doesn’t require traveling through hostile and dangerous settler territory.
Today our journey began at 7 a.m. We made our way to the Rafah crossing, carrying luggage and other necessities for an extended stay abroad. We sat at the gate, surrounded by our luggage, waiting for Egyptian border patrol officers to call our names. Three hours pass. Coffee and conversation help pick up the slack. Another hour goes by. Still nothing. We wait. There are now thousands with us: men, women, children, elderly and sick milling about, all clutching tight to belongings. We all wait for a moment of empathy, for a border policeman to be in a good mood and decide that today he’ll let us through.
High noon. I smile at my wife and gently touch her swollen belly carrying a life inside, wondering if we will have to return home and wait for the border to be opened again in a few days, or weeks. No one ever knows.
Suddenly a border policeman on the Palestinian side approaches us, his walkie-talkie crackles out our names. He gestures for us to hurry onto the bus that we’ve been looking at for hours. The bus is hot and crowded, but preferable to sitting outside. In the seat in front of us I recognize the president of my university as we settle in. Our passports have already been stamped at the Palestinian side. Again we wait. The bus will take us to the gate at the border with Egypt.

The Egyptian Terminal

It’s a short drive. The lines, security checks and buses are used to control access and crowds, rather than territory or security. When we arrive at the Egyptian terminal more lines confront us. More waiting. There are hundreds of people everywhere, some sitting on suitcases, others standing looking quizzically at signs forbidding photographs. Obviously, the authorities do not want these conditions publicized. I am reminded of Animal Farm and wouldn’t be surprised to see George Orwell somewhere in the crowd taking notes. If it weren’t real life, the absurdity of the situation would be funny.
We wait for our names to be called. More hours pass. Lina is hungry and tired. Now it’s 5 o’clock. Finally Egyptian security calls out our names: “Yes sir, that’s us.” I reply quickly, rushing up to the kiosk with our belongings. “My wife is traveling with me to give birth abroad; here are our visas and papers. Thank you.”
He orders us to sit and wait a “few minutes.” I smile at him. But he is right. A few minutes later, we proceed through the border and to another 20-minute walk. We are among the last to pass through. Those behind us are sent back to Gaza due to a collapse in the computer system—a common occurrence. Sadly, they will have to start the whole procedure all over again.
Outside the bus we hear the tat-tat-tat of gunfire and the ping of bullets hitting metal. Egyptian soldiers a few kilometers away in El Arish impose a curfew, which they announce by shooting at the legs of Bedouin youths refusing to comply with orders. They continue to announce it by firing at birds, trees and moving vehicles—including buses. I glance at my wife and am reminded that bullets and babies are not compatible. I wonder if she regrets leaving our families. This must be so frightening to her—it’s her first time leaving Gaza.

The Taxi

We have to walk another few kilometers to reach the taxi stand. Our driver on the Egyptian side has been waiting patiently for our arrival—since 10 a.m. I had originally estimated that it would take us a couple of hours to reach him; I didn’t anticipate that the Egyptian regime would revamp its travel restrictions. Thankfully, he understands.
We climb into the taxi. I see an elderly man and woman walking behind us, burdened with heavy boxes. Both their daughters are studying in Cairo, and the parents are bringing supplies to replace belongings recently lost in a fire. Others struggling with luggage can be seen behind them. Around us the sound of rifle fire continues as we drive on. We’re nervous. The curfew is now in effect in Rafah and El Arish.
Our taxi driver does his best to find alternate routes to the main highway, which normally would take two minutes to reach. Under curfew, however, it takes 45. All the while curfew warning shots continue to ring about us. A few bounce off the rims of our tires as our driver pushes through.
Lina and I have three options at this point: stop where we are; keep driving through toward Cairo; or return to the crossing. But none of these choices will protect us from the bullets. Having gone this far, through so many delays, we decide to press on through the Sinai. We have two priorities: our safety and catching our flight out of Cairo.
Thankfully, the KLM customer relations director had given us flexible tickets in case of unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances, starting at the Rafah border. That’s assuming, of course, we reached the airport at all!


Traveling through the Sinai Desert requires passing through nine military checkpoints. At every stop all luggage must be opened and rechecked. If one is Palestinian, the searches take longer, with soldiers going through laptops, cameras and personal belongings. It’s humiliating—but better than dodging bullets on the street during curfew. The final checkpoint, the Al Salam Bridge over the Suez Canal, is closed when we arrive. This means we must take a boat to complete our journey.
It’s dark and cold now. Lina waits huddled in the taxi. I wonder why it is I must feel lucky to be able to travel from Rafah to Cairo in 19 hours. Normally, this is a five-hour trip. Of course, for travelers not carrying a Palestinian passport, it still is.
Palestinians are the only Arab people without a state. We are required to recognize the rights of others to live in safety, freedom and security, but no one recognizes our right to do so. Instead we’re forced to live like caged animals, contained and trapped inside reservations and bantustans, segregated, alienated from our land and heritage, treated as lesser humans, herded by armed guards through crammed, narrow, metal checkpoints. And not just by Israelis, but by Egyptians as well. Not that long ago, Gaza was under Egyptian rule. We’re still the same people—yet we’re disrespected and subjected to endless cold questions and looks of suspicion.
Why is it that some people are treated like animals, while others are deemed human beings worthy of respect? Which humans have the right to determine who is human and who a lesser mortal or animal? Did the world not learn the lessons of the 1930s and 1940s, the danger that comes when race or faith are used to determine an individual’s humanity? How do I explain this to my son or daughter?
Fortunately, my child will be born in a free country in Europe. His or her faith, skin color, ancestry, language and accent will not be used to determine whether this child is a human being, where he or she can live and travel. One day I’ll tell my child about the trip we took so he or she could begin life in freedom.
My child is a human being—as is every child. In a civilized world, no human being should ever have to go through what we go through in Gaza.

Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports on the Gaza Strip and maintains the Web site <>. He can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza.

Is American democracy headed to extinction?

The Washington Post

Is American democracy headed to extinction?

Behind dysfunctional government, is democracy itself in decay?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Michael Hudson on the Real Logic of the $14+ Billion Ukraine Rescue Package

Michael Hudson on the Real Logic of the $14+ Billion Ukraine Rescue Package

The Fall And Rise Of China [CHART]

The Fall And Rise Of China [CHART]

U.S. Security Agencies Are Out of Control by Ivan Eland Independent Institute

U.S. Security Agencies Are Out of Control
by Ivan Eland
Independent Institute

The Forgotten Principles of Deterrence

Mar 28, 2014 01:27 pm | Paul R. Pillar
An irony of how the events in Ukraine and the associated altercation with Russia have thrown many commentators and policy critics into a Cold War mode is that those same commentators and critics seem to have forgotten (or never learned) much relevant doctrine that was developed and honed during the real Cold War. The doctrine in question embraces many principles involving any attempt to exert power and to exercise influence over other states. The most relevant aspects of doctrine involve deterrence—using threats to dissuade someone from doing something we do not want done—as well as some related concepts also involving coercive methods of trying to influence an adversary's behavior.
Sophisticated treatment of these topics can become somewhat complicated, getting into such matters as multiple levels of deterrence and stability-instability paradoxes. But what much of the commentary on current issues ignores is really rather simple. It is stuff that should be apparent upon careful but straightforward thinking about the objectives, costs, and benefits that apply to the people on the other side of a conflict. Although applications of the principles have endless variations, the principles themselves are immutable. Probably what is still the clearest statement of them came during the height of the Cold War from Thomas Schelling, who received the Nobel memorial prize in economics largely for that work.
read more

How the NSA Can Use Metadata to Predict Your Personality

How the NSA Can Use Metadata to Predict Your Personality:
A group of researchers from the MIT Media Lab found that your metadata - including, but not limited to, the way in which you use your phone, how you make calls, to whom, for how long, etc. - can serve as an indicator of your personality.

How Vladimir Putin Became Evil By Tariq Ali

How Vladimir Putin Became Evil

By Tariq Ali

The US and UK condemn him for Crimea but supported him over the war in Chechnya. Why? Because now he refuses to play ball.

U.S. Sanctions Will Not Hurt Russia : Jim Rogers By Nadezhda Kulikova

U.S. Sanctions Will Not Hurt Russia : Jim Rogers

By Nadezhda Kulikova

I think Mr. Obama is making the fool of himself yet again.

War Fever in the Air By Eric Margolis

 War Fever in the Air

By Eric Margolis

The barrage of trade sanctions Washington is imposed on Russia is an act of pre-war. We should remember that US sanctions imposed on Japan in 1941 that led Tokyo to attack the Western powers.

Friday, March 28, 2014

IPS Picks of the Week 3/28

Côte d’Ivoire’s Middle Class - Growing or Disappearing?
Marc-Andre Boisvert
“I’m middle class. Definitively,” Sonia Anoh, a young and independent 30-year-old Ivorian tells IPS. Anoh has a master’s degree, earns 1,470 dollars a month working in marketing, lives alone, owns a car and is now shopping for a home. But while Anoh freely talks about her economic status, not ... MORE > >

Non-Nuclear Ukraine Haunts Security Summit in The Hague
Thalif Deen
The two-day, much-ballyhooed Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in the Netherlands, which concluded Tuesday, was politically haunted by the upheaval in Ukraine - the former Soviet republic that renounced some 1,800 of its nuclear weapons in one of the world's most successful disarmament exercises back ... MORE > >

Ethiopia’s Textile Manufacturers Benefit from Global Interest
James Jeffrey
The sign for Salem’s directs you off a busy road in Addis Ababa, down a side street to a compound where multiple pairs of feet move up and down working treadles, and wooden shuttles flit back and forth, as Ethiopian sheumanoch — weavers — ply their trade. Seated at their looms, most appear to be ... MORE > >

A Honduran Paradise that Doesn’t Want to Anger the Sea Again
Thelma Mejía
At the mouth of the Aguán river on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, a Garífuna community living in a natural paradise that was devastated 15 years ago by Hurricane Mitch has set an example of adaptation to climate change. “We don’t want to make the sea angry again, we don’t want a repeat of what ... MORE > >

Fighting a 'Losing' War With the Taliban
Ashfaq Yusufzai
Pakistan is in the midst of a heated debate on continuing military operations against the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), especially after the brutal killing of 23 army soldiers last month. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan claims that the government acknowledges ... MORE > >

Increased Instability Predicted for Egypt
Jim Lobe
International human rights groups have strongly denounced Monday’s sentencing by an Egyptian court of 529 Islamists to death for a riot in which one policeman was killed. Egypt specialists here say the sentences, which are widely seen as the latest in a series of steps taken by the authorities ... MORE > >

Anger Rises Over Racism in India
Bijoyeta Das
L. Khino, 27, vividly remembers Christmas Eve at the Indian capital’s famed Connaught Place shopping hub four years ago: the blinking lights, the buzzing crowd, the winter chill - and the salty taste of her tears. Khino had just arrived in New Delhi from her home in India’s northeastern state of ... MORE > >

Ukraine Confronts Another Split
Zack Baddorf
In Donetsk’s Lenin Square, Yuroslav Korotenko keeps a constant vigil inside a tent erected just a few feet away from a massive statue of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. “We stay here and save this monument and this place, because people in the West come this place with war,” Korotenko told IPS. ... MORE > >

Injecting HIV Into Pakistan
Ashfaq Yusufzai
Pakistan may have low prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with only about 9,000 officially confirmed cases, but the country is at high risk, particularly due to a growing number of injecting drug users (IDUs), say experts. Of the country’s 180 million people, 420,000 are IDUs according to the Drug Use in ... MORE > >

In Memoriam: James R. Schlesinger

Mar 27, 2014 07:00 pm | The Editors and Publishers
Jim Schlesinger passed away on March 26 due to complications from pneumonia. In addition to a remarkable career in government that included service in three cabinet posts—Secretary of Defense, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the first Secretary of Energy—Jim held a series of central roles at The National Interest and its parent institution, the Center for the National Interest. He was most recently Chairman of The National Interest’s Advisory Council and was earlier its Publisher for many years. The Center might not exist without him, as he was among a small group of informal advisors to former President Richard Nixon who recommended its creation in its prior incarnation as The Nixon Center. He was the first Chairman of the Center’s Executive Committee and was a member of the Board of Directors for two decades.
Schlesinger’s brand of high-minded realism—combining strategic thinking, pragmatism, and a commitment to America’s principles as a source of strength and leadership—continues as Center’s and The National Interest’s defining philosophy today. We will greatly miss him, and especially his penetrating analysis and wise counsel, which have been essential in our work. Nevertheless, Jim’s legacy will continue to shape everything that we do in trying to understand today’s uncertain world.

WPR Articles March 24, 2014 - March 28, 2014

World Politics Review

WPR Articles March 24, 2014 - March 28, 2014

Global Insider: Signs of Discontent Grow in Gaza as Hamas Finances Deteriorate

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
Recent reports have indicated that Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, is in the grip of its worst budget crisis since it took over the territory in 2007. In an email interview, Omar Shaban, the founder and director of the Gaza-based think tank Palthink for Strategic Studies, explained the origins of the crisis.

Kagame’s Rwanda Presents South Africa With Delicate Balancing Act

By: James Hamill | Briefing
Relations between South Africa and Rwanda have suffered a sharp downturn with the murder and attempted murder in South Africa of two former high-level Rwandan security officers who had fled Rwanda for South Africa. While the Rwandan regime formally denied responsibility, the attacks have poisoned bilateral relations, which had been close until South Africa began providing safe haven for Rwandan exiles.

Strategic Horizons: Planning the U.S. Military Response to Russian Revanchism

By: Steven Metz | Column
When the Cold War ended, the days of imperial expansion seemed to go with it. No one expected the revanchism of bygone empires to shape the 21st-century global security system. But that is exactly what is happening. Now that Russia seized a large chunk of Ukraine, policymakers, military strategists and security specialists are dusting off old ideas about imperial revanchism and reconsidering how to stop it.

World Citizen: Venezuela, Once an Ideological Magnet, Now Worries Region

By: Frida Ghitis | Column
The continuing turmoil in Venezuela is being watched with a view toward the national interest in Caribbean and Latin American countries, most notably Cuba, which is feeling the impact of the contest for Caracas with particular intensity. The fall of President Nicolas Maduro and the end of the policies instituted by his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, would have strong repercussions in the region.

Beijing Finds Neither ‘Iron-Fisted Rule’ Nor Development Bring Order to Xinjiang

By: Kendrick Kuo | Briefing
On March 1, a group of Uighurs from Xinjiang attacked a train station in southwest China using foot-long knives, killing 29 and injuring 143. The attack was a spillover from Xinjiang’s internal conflict, the source of which is a matter of dispute. Beijing’s attempts to bring order to the region through development, repression and regional coordination have so far failed, leaving it looking for alternatives.

Full-Spectrum Diplomacy: Crimea Crisis Shows That Norms Still Matter

By: Heather Hurlburt | Column
The Crimea crisis has given realists a field day for attacking the belief structures of rules-based internationalists. Ukraine just paid the price of giving up its nuclear weapons 20 years ago, we hear. Integrating Russia into international economic institutions proved meaningless. Human rights and the rule of law don’t matter when great power interests are at stake. The reality, however, is more complicated.

Aid Under Fire: Health Care and the Costs of Conflict

By: Hannah Vaughan-Lee | Feature
In recent years, the security threats facing humanitarian aid workers have been the subject of headlines and debates. The humanitarian advocacy community has also been filled with discussions of a perceived increase in the politicization of humanitarian aid. But the debate over violence and politicization in turn raises another important and complex question that requires greater attention: Are the costs of conflict now greater for affected populations, particularly when it comes to health?

Global Insights: Global Nuclear Security Agenda at Pivot Point

By: Richard Weitz | Column
President Barack Obama’s whirlwind visit to Europe began yesterday against the looming shadow of the Ukraine crisis. While Obama will seek to rally Western resistance to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and affirm the administration’s strong commitment to European security, the trip was initially scheduled to coincide with the third Nuclear Security Summit, which focuses on preventing nuclear terrorism.

Improving the Odds: Battlefield Medicine in Iraq and Afghanistan

By: Robert Beckhusen | Feature
During the course of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has succeeded in reducing the mortality rate of soldiers injured in combat through a radical shift in doctrine, procedures and medical technology. Early on in the conflicts, the rate of preventable deaths was little different from 30 years prior. More than a decade later, a wounded soldier is much more likely to survive. These military practices are now being adopted in civilian settings, to the benefit of civilian medical providers.

Time for U.S. to Come Off the Sidelines on Venezuela Repression

By: Christopher Sabatini | Briefing
The arrest of two mayors by the Venezuelan government last week demonstrated that repression is ramping up in the oil-producing and deeply troubled country. Sadly, Venezuela’s neighbors are unlikely to do anything about it, and this collective failure to protect democratic norms and human rights has placed the U.S. in the position of coming forward to defend what was once thought to be a hemispheric consensus.

Unsafe Spaces: Trends and Challenges in Gender-Based Violence

By: Janie Leatherman, Nadezda Griffin | Feature
There is not sufficient evidence to determine whether the use of sexual violence in conflict is increasing or decreasing. However, evidence indicates it is widespread. Despite the prevalence of sexual violence in conflict today, we are no longer living in an era of silence and impunity. Nevertheless, the risks of sexual violence are shifting along with changes in the patterns of conflict and the spaces in which it takes place, requiring new approaches to support affected members of communities.

Despite Rift, U.S. and Russia Seek to Keep Arms Control On Track

By: Eric Auner | Trend Lines
Even as the United States works with allies to isolate Russia diplomatically and deter further Russian aggression, the Obama administration hopes to maintain business as usual in efforts to restrain threats from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Russian cooperation is a prerequisite for almost any meaningful progress in tackling nuclear and WMD proliferation in Iran and elsewhere.

Despite Thaw, EU Struggles to Find Unified Policy on China

By: Famke Krumbmuller | Briefing
Following a period of difficult relations between the EU and China, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first trip to Europe this week—which will include a stopover at the EU headquarters in Brussels, the first such visit by a Chinese president—indicates that advances in ties will continue into 2014. But this year is unlikely to see a radical turning point due to EU leadership changes and national-level concerns.

Court Ruling Reinforces Thailand’s Coup Culture and Augurs More Turmoil

By: Elliot Brennan | Briefing
Thailand’s political deadlock has shifted from the streets to the courts. A March 21 ruling by the Constitutional Court invalidating the result of the country’s Feb. 2 election vividly highlighted the change of venue. When the court made a similar ruling in 2006, annulling an election result, the military installed a new, unelected government. The court’s most recent ruling has many concerned again.

EU-U.S. Summit Draws Focus Back to U.S. Engagement in Europe’s Security

By: Eric Auner | Trend Lines
With the U.S. and its allies ramping up the pressure on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, President Barack Obama spoke yesterday in Brussels at an annual summit between the United States and the European Union. In particular, Obama expressed willingness to help bolster NATO’s ability to defend those members most immediately threatened by Russia, and a joint statement highlighted trade and nonproliferation commitments.

The Realist Prism: Crimea Crisis Puts the Lie to America’s Long-Term Planning

By: Nikolas Gvosdev | Column
The Ukraine crisis has once again highlighted a fundamental weakness of the U.S. national security process: its inability to hold to long-term planning in the midst of short-term crises. At the beginning of 2014, it seemed that, Washington might finally begin to match action to rhetoric and concentrate on the Asia-Pacific region. Now, the talk in U.S. foreign policy circles is all about a “pivot” back to Europe.