News Release Archive - 2018

Yemen: “America’s Dirty War”

AP is reporting: “The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government began an assault Wednesday on the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country already teetering on the brink of famine.

“The assault on the Red Sea port aims to drive out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015, and break the civil war’s long stalemate. But it could set off a prolonged street-by-street battle that inflicts heavy casualties.

“The fear is that a protracted fight could force a shutdown of Hodeida’s port at a time when a halt in aid risks tipping millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.” See @accuracy Twitter feed on Yemen.

SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, sha980 at mail.harvard.edu, @shireen818
Originally from Yemen, Al-Adeimi just completed her doctoral studies at Harvard University and starts as an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University in August. See a profile of her in Harvard Ed. Magazine.

Al-Adeimi has written a series of pieces for In These Times magazine, including “Trump Doesn’t Care About Civilian Deaths. Just Look at Yemen,” which states: “Yemen has been under attack by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a coalition of various countries since March 26, 2015. The coalition is supported by the United Kingdom and the United States, with both countries providing hundreds of billions in weapons sales, targeting and logistical support, and in the case of the United States, mid-air refueling of jets. Yemeni civilians, on the other hand, are defenseless against this barrage of foreign attackers.

“The war has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 Yemeni civilians due to violent attacks, and has led to the deaths of at least 113,000 children who have died from hunger and preventable diseases such as cholera since 2016. …”

Most recently, she wrote “What the Deployment of Green Berets to the Saudi-Yemen Border Tells Us About America’s Dirty War,” which states: “The U.S. government has long sought to distance itself from the morally inexcusable war on Yemen — but this public relations effort is even more difficult after The New York Times reported on May 3 that, in December of last year, U.S. Special Forces (commonly known as the Green Berets) deployed to Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen. Though Saudi Arabia and the UAE are occupying parts of Yemen, the countries rely on Yemeni, Latin American, Sudanese, Blackwater and even al-Qaeda mercenaries to fight on the ground. Mercenaries also include former U.S. Military officer Stephen Toumajan, who commands the UAE’s military helicopter branch. The Saudi-Yemeni border, on the other hand, represents the only front where Yemeni and Saudi soldiers are engaged in direct on-the-ground combat. By placing American special forces at the Saudi-Yemeni border, the United States is engaged in direct combat with Yemen’s Houthis.

“Not only does this reality contradict the Pentagon’s previous statements about its involvement in Yemen, it also brings into question the U.S. government’s intended goals. Is the U.S. military so committed to achieving Saudi Arabia’s mission to regain control of Yemen that it is willing to risk American lives? Alternatively, if the U.S. is advising and training soldiers, repairing and refueling aircraft, patrolling Yemeni waters alongside Saudi Arabia and now fighting Yemenis on the ground, is it really just Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen?

“Following the latest revelations of the increased U.S. role in Yemen, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he would seek ‘further clarification on these activities,’ while Rep. Mark Pocan urged Congress to ‘stop this secret, unconstitutional war.’ Yet members of Congress ought to consider that this has always been America’s war — from the very beginning.”

Trump Doesn’t Care About Civilian Deaths. Just Look at Yemen.

What the Deployment of Green Berets to the Saudi-Yemen Border Tells Us About America’s Dirty War

* Korean Americans * Nuclear Protesters

HYUN LEE, hyunlee70 at gmail.com
CHRISTINE HONG, cjhong at ucsc.edu
Scores of Korean American and allied organizations released a “Statement of Unity on the Upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit.” Lee is managing editor of Zoom in Korea; Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

See pieces at Zoom in Korea, including the unity statement and “Congressman Ro Khanna Emphasizes Continued Diplomacy with North Korea,” which contrasts Khanna’s stance with the current hawkish Democratic Party leadership of Chuck Schumer. See action alert by Roots Action on that issue.

Their unity statement read: “The United States and North Korea should take immediate mutual steps to prevent military conflict and alleviate tensions. They should establish and maintain a military hotline and communications channel and halt all military exercises and other provocative actions. The United States should withdraw the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. And in step with North and South Korea, which have agreed to ‘carry out disarmament in a phased manner’ in the Panmunjom Declaration, U.S. Forces in Korea should take corresponding measures to reduce its troops.”

JESSICA STEWART, PAUL MAGNO, kingsbayplowshares at gmail.com
Stewart and Magno are with the Kings Bay Plowshares, seven of whom are imprisoned and being prosecuted for protesting against the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.

The group notes: “Seven Catholic plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4th, 2018. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to ‘beat swords into plowshares’.

“The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing what he called the ‘triple evils of militarism, racism and materialism.’ Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction. They hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day, by their mere existence and maintenance.”

See from America Magazine about their action: “Protesting our country’s nuclear weapons is (still) worth going to jail for.”

North Korea: * Peace? * Hypocrisy of U.S. Nuclear Policy

JAMES BRADLEY, james at jamesbradley.com
Bradley, educated in Japan, has written about Korea in two of his books, published English and translated into Korean, among other languages. His books include Flyboys, The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia and The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War. He currently is working on a book about the Vietnam War and is available from Vietnam for Skype or telephone interviews.

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater at gmail.com
Slater is the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War.

She addressed the position of Sen. Chuck Schumer and other members of the current Democratic Party senate establishment, saying they have “disgracefully argued the [National Security Advisor John] Bolton position in a letter to Trump egging him on to be tough on North Korea.” See from action alert from RootsAction.

She also said it was “hypocritical and blind to be calling for the complete denuclearization of North Korea” while the U.S. is continuing its nuclear policies. …

“This summer 122 countries negotiated a UN treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons — their manufacture, possession, use, threat of use, just as we have banned chemical and biological weapons. The grassroots campaign that worked with governments to get that result, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, received the Nobel Peace Prize for that achievement this past December. None of the nuclear weapons states or U.S. allies under the U.S. nuclear umbrella of deterrence signed the treaty.” See material from ICAN, including “Trump Kim Summit: ICAN launches roadmap to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.”

“Interestingly, when the UN General Assembly’s First Committee for Nuclear Disarmament voted last fall for the negotiations to go forward, while the five western nuclear states, the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, and Israel voted NO, three Asian states, China, India, and Pakistan, ABSTAINED, and North Korea was the ONLY nuclear weapons state to vote YES! …

“Not only should we be calling for a peace treaty with the U.S., North and South Korea, and get our 28,000 U.S. troops out of South Korea, a peace treaty which we refused to negotiate since 1953, but we should call for the states to sign and ratify the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. There are 50 ratifications required for the treaty to ‘enter into force’ and have the force of law. So far, 58 have signed and 11 countries have ratified.”

Slater wrote the piece “Democracy Breaks Out at the UN as 122 Nations Vote to Ban the Bomb” for The Nation last year.

See from the Guardian: “U.S. to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more ‘usable’ warheads.”

See IPA news releases: “U.S. Nuclear Stance Toward Russia Increasing Existential Threats” and “U.S. Breakthrough on Nuclear First Strike Threatens Stability.”

Korean Americans Weigh in on Summit

The U.S.-North Korea summit is scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12. For other upcoming events, see accuracy.org/calendar.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in “Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts” about a letter from Sens. Chuck Schumer, Sherrod Brown, Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Robert Menendez and Mark Warner. Kristof writes they “are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.”

For timely updates, see @accuracy Twitter list on Korea.

HYUN LEE, hyunlee70 at gmail.com
CHRISTINE HONG, cjhong at ucsc.edu
Scores of Korean American and allied organizations just released a “Statement of Unity on the Upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit.” Lee is managing editor of Zoom in Korea; Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

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Activist Just Back from Afghanistan as Ceasefire is Announced

CNN is reporting: “Afghanistan announces temporary ceasefire with the Taliban.”

KATHY KELLY, kathy at vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Kelly arrived back to the U.S. from Afghanistan Wednesday night. She is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. While in Kabul, she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

She said today: “It’s being reported that this ceasefire is only with the Taliban, but there are other fighting networks in Afghanistan. In 2017, Human Rights Watch reported that 42 percent of the insurgent attacks against civilians were by the Taliban, which was 65 percent of civilian deaths; 12 percent were Islamic State. But for any kind of lasting peace, you need to address the desperation people have in terms of finding work to get food to their families. This desperation is causing many to resort to joining these fighting networks.

“Part of the desperation is also because of the drought. [See piece below.]

“These efforts at lasting peace I think should be done through reparations by the U.S. for all the damage its government has caused Afghanistan. It would probably be cheaper to do that than continue to spend billions on war.

“It should be noted that this ceasefire takes place as the Taliban have been surrounding different cities and even enacting military take-overs for short periods.”

Kelly just wrote the piece “Digging Deeper” for The Progressive: “Rural families in drought-stricken areas watch their crops fail and their livestock die of dehydration. In desperation, they flee to urban areas, including Kabul, where they often must live in squalid, sprawling refugee camps. In the city, an already inadequate sewage and sanitation system, battered by years of war, cannot support the soaring population rise.

“Droughts in other countries have led to violent clashes and civil wars. It’s difficult to imagine that Afghanistan, already burdened by forty years of war, will escape eventual water wars.

“The most sophisticated and heavily armed warring party in Afghanistan is the U.S. military. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on non-military aid to Afghanistan, the United States has done little to improve Afghanistan’s infrastructure or alleviate its alarming water crisis. President Donald Trump’s interest in what’s happening under the ground in Afghanistan is focused exclusively on the U.S. capacity to extract Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.”

Conflating Anti-Semitism and Criticism of Israel

Today, the Senate is scheduled to vote for President Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, Kenneth Marcus.

The week, the ACLU released a fresh warning: “The Latest Attack on Free Speech in the Israel-Palestine Debate,” which states: “Members of Congress last month introduced the ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.’ The bill purports to address a real problem: According to the FBI, incidents of hate crimes motivated by anti-Jewish bias have significantly increased in recent years.

“But anti-Semitic harassment is already illegal under federal law. The new bill does not change that fact, but its overbreadth makes it likely that it will instead silence criticism of Israel that is protected by the First Amendment.”

The ACLU report caused Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept to comment: “You wouldn’t know it from self-described free speech crusaders, but by far the #1 threat to free speech — on U.S. campuses and in the West generally — are aimed at Israel critics.”

See also from the media watch group FAIR: “With Literal Nazis Running for Office, NYT Suggests Candidate’s Israel Criticism Is Antisemitic” about the candidacy of Democratic candidate Leslie Cockburn.

ABBA SOLOMON, abbasolomon at gmail.com, @Abba_A_Solomon
Solomon is author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech “The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.” His recent pieces include “Portman and Perlman, and the liberal Zionist awakening,” “Identity as pathology,” “ZOA Madness: Bannon Gala” and “The Occupation of the American Mind, Documented.”

He said today: “There is a shocking effort in the United States to label concern for the basic human rights of Palestinians as anti-Semitism. Various state and proposed federal legislation is based on that flawed proposition.”

“In the current administration, Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer and current U.S. ambassador to Israel just said in Jerusalem that the press should ‘keep your mouths shut’ because they are reporting Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza.”

DIMA KHALIDI, dkhalidi at palestinelegal.org, @pal_legal
Khalidi is director of Palestine Legal, which recently released the statement “Lawmakers Reintroduce Federal Bill Aimed at Censoring Palestine Advocacy on Campuses.”

The group also just released “Kenneth Marcus’ Anti-Free Speech, Anti-Civil Rights Record,” which states his appointment “would be a disaster for freedom of speech and civil rights.

“Marcus has a long record of targeting First Amendment-protected speech and scholarship of people with whom he disagrees.

“Marcus’ history also reflects a hostility towards civil rights, including making racially-charged accusations and opposing affirmative action.

“Reasons to oppose the appointment of Kenneth Marcus:

* “He has a history of attempting to dismantle policies aimed at remedying racial discrimination, including affirmative action.

* “As Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he opposed investigating violations of the rights of LGBT persons.

* “He filed baseless Title VI complaints in order to censor and chill speech supporting Palestinian rights on college campuses.

* “He lobbied Congress to defund Middle East Studies programs not sufficiently supportive of Israeli policies.

* “He lobbied for state and federal legislation that would redefine antisemitism to include criticism of Israeli policies, a move that would encourage universities to violate the First Amendment.”

Is Google Really Ending its Military Contracts?

YASHA LEVINE, [in NYC] mail at yashalevine.com, @yashalevine
Levine is an investigative journalist and author of the new book Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet. He recently wrote the piece “Know your history: Google has been a military-intel contractor from the very beginning,” which includes excerpts from the book that document specific contracts Google has with the CIA; and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

He has been commenting on the scandal surrounding Google’s military contracting work on Project Maven, a Pentagon initiative to develop AI visual recognition capability for drones and was quoted in the recent Wired piece on the story.

He said today: “The public should not fall for Google’s announcement that it will not be renewing its contract for Project Maven, which came as a result of public criticism and the resignation of dozens of Google employees. The company is still a military contractor. …

“Sure, Google might not renew this specific AI drone contract. But what about the rest of the company’s military contracting work? What about its work with predictive policing outfits?

“Head of Google’s AI (who also runs Stanford’s AI lab) doesn’t mind building weapons for the military. What she worries about is the optics.

“Co-founder Sergey Brin wants Google to be a military contractor. Says it will be better for peace if Google does this military work rather than traditional military contractors.

“It’s great that Google employees are protesting their company’s Pentagon AI drone research, but that’s hardly the only work Google does for militaries and law enforcement. Google has been building more efficient systems of surveillance and death for generals, spies and cops for 15 years and counting.”

Truth Commission to Investigate 43 Missing Mexican Students

The New York Times reports: “A federal court in Mexico ordered the government on Monday to investigate the 2014 disappearances of 43 college students again, but this time under the supervision of a truth commission to be led by the nation’s top human rights body and parents of the victims.”

JOHN GIBLER, john.gibler at gmail.com
Gibler is the author of  I Couldn’t Even Imagine That They Would Kill Us: An Oral History of the Attacks Against the Students of Ayotzinapa and Torn from the World: A Guerrilla’s Escape from a Secret Prison in Mexico. He has been published in California Sunday Magazine and featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

He said today: “Last Monday, June 4, a Mexican federal court invalidated the government’s investigation of the attacks against the students of Ayotzinapa, citing evidence that the detained made false confessions under torture. The ruling also noted the government’s failure to investigate the participation of the federal police and the Army in the attacks. The court ordered the government to form an independent truth commission and to restart the investigation within a period of ten days.

“This recent court ruling supports what the families of the disappeared students as well as independent journalists and human rights investigators have been arguing and documenting for years: That the federal government has been orchestrating a massive ‘cover-up’ operation based on torture, lies, the destruction of evidence and the planting of false evidence. …

“In addition to truly investigating the intellectual and material authors of the attacks against the students in Iguala, Guerrero on September 26-27, 2014, it remains essential to fully investigate the command structure and participants in the federal ‘cover-up’ that has been ongoing since the first moments after the violence in the streets. In cases of forced disappearance involving state actors, a ‘cover up’ is never a secondary, external operation, but instead an essential, constitutive part of the atrocity itself.”

Gibler’s past books include Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt and To Die in Mexico: Dispatches From Inside the Drug War.

Tenant Rights Ballot Measure Wins in San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: “A ballot measure to give tenants facing eviction lawsuits the right to taxpayer-funded legal representation won Tuesday.

“With 99 percent of precincts counted, Proposition F, ‘Defend SF Against Evictions,’ won with nearly 56 percent in favor, and 44 percent opposed.

“Takeaway: Tenants’ rights groups that back the measure have been fighting to keep renters in their homes during the tech boom, which since 2010 has resulted in a steady increase in evictions.”

See also from the SF Weekly: “Yippee! Prop. F Passes.”

SUSANNA BLANKLEY, susanna at righttocounselnyc.org, @RTCNYC

Last year, a similar measure was passed into law in New York City. Blankley is coalition coordinator for the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, which just released a statement: “We couldn’t be more excited that the tenants of San Francisco voted to make their city the second city in the country to recognize tenants’ right to a lawyer when defending their homes. The vote was an overwhelming referendum — where landlords use the court as a weapon of displacement, tenants are fighting back. We especially commend the amazing work of the San Francisco Tenants Union for making this happen and for getting this referendum passed with no income restrictions! We know more cities will follow suit because this new civil right should not be exclusive to the tenants of NYC and SF.”

Protests Against Austerity Force Jordanian PM Out

The New York Times reports: “Jordan’s Prime Minister Quits, as Protesters Demand an End to Austerity.”

PETE MOORE, pwm10 at case.edu
Professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University, Moore is author of Doing Business in the Middle East: Politics and Economic Crisis in Jordan and Kuwait (Cambridge University Press) and wrote the in-depth paper “The Bread Revolutions of 2011 and the Political Economies of Transition” for the Woodrow Wilson Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

LAMIS ANDONI, lamisk15 at gmail.com, @LamisAndoni
Andoni is a noted analyst independent journalist based in Amman, Jordan. She was just interviewed by the BBC and Al-Jazeera about the situation in Jordan. She writes to the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Changing prime ministers is no longer sufficient to appease widening discontent as the country is facing a deep economic and political crisis. The new designated prime minister Omar Razzaz is one of the more respected public personalities in the country but he could rapidly lose his credibility if there are no fundamental policy changes.

“Jordan is already bound by an agreement with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] to continue fuel price increases, pass a flawed income tax law and maintain high sales taxes.

“In fact, the middle class is only starting to feel the effects of the austerity measures and price hikes. There is a feeling that the consecutive governments had not sought solutions but bowed to the IMF without making cuts in unnecessary expenditures or presenting alternative plans. It’s important to note that many Jordanians lay the blame at the king’s door as governments have come to be seen as no more than rubber stamps for the palace.

“No doubt there are tremendous pressures on Jordan exercised by the Saudi and the UAE [governments] who attach well-known conditions on aid and investment to and in Jordan. Both countries want the king to totally and fully accept whatever package that Trump includes in the so-called deal of the century [with Israel].

“But this is not enough to get people to rally around the king as there has been a mounting feeling of total disregard to Jordanians as citizens by both the palace and the [successive] governments. Omar Razzaz’s background as a World Bank official is already viewed by suspicion by many activists, so even if he truly tries to make changes he will be under a lot of scrutiny.”