News Releases

“Kayaktivists” Attempt to Stop Shell’s Damaged Ice Breaker from Departing for Arctic

The Portland Tribune reports: “Portland protesters will seek to block the passage of Shell Oil’s icebreaker bound for the Arctic, starting Tuesday afternoon, in what could turn out to be the start of a multiday civil disobedience action. Member groups in the Climate Action Coalition are urging supporters to show up for a ‘kayak and water vigil’ at noon Tuesday, July 28, at the Cathedral Park boat ramp in North Portland.”

The Department of the Interior has stated that there is a 75 percent chance of an oil spill in the Arctic once Shell’s drilling commences.

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne.wysham at gmail.com, @daphnewysham
Daphne Wysham is director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy. Her writings, commentary and analysis have appeared in national news publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Nation.

Said Wysham today: “Scientists tell us we can’t drill in the Arctic if we want to avoid dangerous climate change and sea level rise that threatens three-quarters of the Earth’s major cities in the next few decades. Nevertheless, Shell is putting its corporate profits ahead of the future of the planet and preparing to drill in a region where an oil spill cannot be cleaned up. Portland kayaktivists are the last phalanx of resistance to this insanity.”

MEREDITH COCKS, meredithlcocks at gmail.com, @pdxrisingtide
Cocks is an organizer with the group Portland Rising Tide, an organization working locally to “promote community-based solutions to the climate crisis and take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change.”

Cocks stated: “In Portland and across the northwest, we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to act as a chokepoint in the transport of dirty coal, oil, and gas. For years, Portland has demonstrated powerful resistance to the shipping of coal and oil by rail, as well as tar sands mining equipment by road. We view the arrival of Shell’s icebreaker in Portland as another chance to disrupt new oil development and demonstrate that any and all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction is an unacceptable risk to our climate and future.”

MAYA JARRAD, majauniv at gmail.com
Jarrad is the communications coordinator and newsletter editor for 350PDX, a group seeking to build “a diverse grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.”

Jarrad said: “Scientists are sounding the alarm, telling us we need to keep most of our known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. This makes Shell’s extreme extraction adventure in the Arctic the definition of insanity. We’re talking about putting humanity, our entire planet’s livability at extreme risk. Portland is going to be taking a stand to say, ‘Shell No!’ We’re here fighting for humanity against the most wealthy and powerful industry in human history, but we’re not afraid, because everything we love and value in life is on the line.”

To follow the Portland Kayaktivists on Twitter see #PDXvsShell#ShellNo.

Medicare’s 50 Years of Low Overhead vs. ACA’s Increasing Bureaucratic Bloat, “Merger Mania”

HEALTHCARELast week the trustees of the Medicare program, whose 50th anniversary is this Thursday (see accuracy.org/calendar), released their annual report. It showed that traditional Medicare overhead amounts are about 2 percent of the program’s expenditures. That figure sharply contrasts with the 12 percent to 14 percent overhead typical of private health insurance companies. [PDF]

A recent study published at the Health Affairs Blog shows that the private insurance-based Affordable Care Act — sometimes called “Obamacare” — will add more than a quarter of a trillion dollars to the already very high administrative costs of U.S. health care through 2022. Nearly two-thirds of this new overhead — $172.2 billion — will go for increased private insurers’ administrative costs and profits.

AP reports in “Why the 2010 Health Care Law Led to Insurance Merger Mania“: “The health care overhaul law has reshaped the health insurance business, and one consequence is more than $100 billion in mergers and acquisitions over the last few years. Anthem Inc.’s purchase of Cigna Corp. and Aetna Inc.’s acquisition of Humana Inc., both announced this month, are worth more than $80 billion combined. … Many of [these] purchases have been designed to bulk up their [private] Medicaid and Medicare Advantage businesses because both of those programs keep growing.”

Interviews are available with the following:

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., swoolhan at hunter.cuny.edu
DAVID HIMMELSTEIN, M.D., dhimmels at hunter.cuny.edu
MARK ALMBERG, mark at pnhp.org, @pnhp
Woolhandler and Himmelstein are co-authors of the recent Health Affairs Blog study titled “The Post-Launch Problem: The Affordable Care Act’s Persistently High Administrative Costs.” They are professors at the City University of New York’s School of Public Health, longtime researchers in U.S. health care, and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization that advocates for a single-payer health care system. Almberg is communications director at PNHP and can facilitate interviews with Woolhandler and Himmelstein.

In a recent interview, Himmelstein said that the latest merger plans, if approved by regulators, “will leave us with a small handful of insurance giants that are essentially monopolies. Much of their revenue comes from the government that pays hundreds of billions annually in premiums for private ‘Medicare Advantage’ plans, Medicaid managed care plans, and much of the premiums for the private plans bought on [ACA] insurance exchanges. Much of this money is wasted; Anthem and Cigna have overhead that’s nearly tenfold higher than traditional Medicare.”

What’s more, Himmelstein continued, “These monopolies are lightly regulated, and have used their enormous financial and political clout to avoid real oversight. Just this month, the insurers’ lobbying group hired as their new CEO Marilyn Tavenner, who as head of Medicare and Medicaid was responsible for regulating them until this spring.”

Woohandler said today: “Between 2014 and 2022, the ACA will add $273.6 billion in new administrative costs over and above what would have been expected had the law not been enacted. That’s equivalent to $1,375 per newly insured person per year, or 22.5 percent of total federal expenditures for the program.”

She added: “Were the 22.5 percent overhead figure associated with the ACA to drop to traditional Medicare’s level, the U.S. would save $249.3 billion by 2022. In health care, public insurance gives much more bang for each buck.”

U.S. Approval of Turkey’s Bombing: Disaster in the Making?

TurkeyPatrick Cockburn — author of The Rise of Islamic State — just wrote a piece titled “Turkey conflict with Kurds: Was approving air strikes against the PKK America’s worst error in the Middle East since the Iraq War?” Meanwhile, the New York Times recently reported: “U.S. Jets to Use Turkish Bases in War on ISIS.”

AP reports: “NATO announced that its decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, will convene Tuesday after Ankara invoked the alliance’s Article 4, which allows member states to request a meeting if they feel their territorial integrity or security is under threat.”

EDMUND GHAREEB, edmundghareeb at gmail.com
Available for a limited number of interviews, Ghareeb is an internationally recognized expert on the Middle East and especially Kurdish movements. His books include The Kurdish Question in Iraq, The Kurdish Nationalist Movement and War in the Gulf which he co-authored with Majid Khadduri. Ghareeb was the first Mustafa Barzani Scholar of Global Kurdish Studies at the Center for Global Peace at American University.

He can address a number of aspects of this story. Ian Masters interviewed Ghareeb on Sunday: audio. Also see his recent segments on The Real News.

KANI XULAM, kani at kurdistan.org, @AKINinfo
Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network. He said today: “The U.S. had been helping the Kurdish group in Syria — the YPG. That group is basically another branch of the PKK, which Turkey just bombed in Iraq — a sovereign country — with an apparent U.S. green light. There certainly hasn’t been a condemnation by the U.S. government of the bombing. A paper in Australia succinctly headlined it this way: ‘Turkey confuses Middle East mess by attacking Islamic State’s main opponent, the Kurds.’

“Turkish president Erdogan also has domestic interests in lashing out now. He was aiming to totally dominate Turkish politics but had major setbacks in the recent parliamentary elections. There are major corruption charges against several of his ministers for allegedly siphoning off money into personal accounts. His son is making financial deals with Israel while the father is grandstanding for Palestinians in Gaza. By attacking the PKK now, he wants to pump up the jingoistic sentiments in the country and silence his critics. He demonizes the PKK while the group has kept its guns silent in Turkey for three years.”

U.S. Criticized for Killer Drones and Backing Kenyan and Ethiopian “Fragmentation of Somalia”

East Africa 2.0President Obama just started his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. has stepped up use of drone strikes in neighboring Somalia ahead of Obama’s trip. See the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for information on U.S. drones strikes and covert operations in Somalia.

ABDI ISMAIL SAMATAR, [currently in South Africa, 6 hours ahead of U.S. ET] samat001 at umn.edu
Samatar is professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Environment & Society at the University of Minnesota. He is currently research fellow at the University of Pretoria. He will be traveling to Kenya on Monday and then on to Somalia. He has written a number of pieces on east Africa for Al-Jazeera. He said today: “Somalia might be the first place for the war on terror to succeed if the Obama administration has the will to support progressive politics in the country, and not the fragmentation of Somalia into tribal fiefdom under the hegemony of Ethiopia and Kenya. If the latter continues Al-Shabaab and other similar groups will remain and might get stronger.”

SADIA ALI ADEN, [currently in Somalia, 7 hours ahead of U.S. ET] sadiaaden at gmail.com, @sadiaaden
Aden is a human rights advocate and freelance writer who has written for the Huffington Post, Middle East On-Line, Islam Online and numerous other outlets. Sadia is the co-founder of Adar Foundation and Somali Diaspora Youth. She left Kenya for Somali a few days ago.

She said today about the situation in Somalia: “Both on the humanitarian and development fronts there is good progress. One may argue the same for the security front, though not without contention. However, on the political front, there are a great deal of tensions and very little progress.

“The biggest myth of all is that Somalia does not need reconciliation and that an election or a selection would solve all its problems. … Somalia is yet to have a national and holistic reconciliation that is Somali-led and Somali-owned.

“The involvement of Kenya and Ethiopia and their officially joining AMISOM [African Union Mission to Somalia] to secure an indefinite presence in Somalia has exacerbated the situation. Frontline states could never be entrusted with peace building missions that involve their next door neighbors. They always have a conflict of interest.

“U.S. policy toward the entire region has been ineffective, if not dysfunctional. Partnership with Ethiopia and Kenya on counter-terrorism causes the U.S. to turn a blind eye on certain human rights violations in both countries.” See segment: “U.S. Drone Campaign In Somalia Creates More Enemies.”

ABAYOMI AZIKIWE, panafnewswire at yahoo.com, @panafnewswire
Azikiwe, based in Detroit, runs the Pan African News Wire. He said today: “This is President Obama’s first visit to Kenya as president even though his father is from there. U.S. policy toward east Africa has not been a rational policy, in terms of benefiting either the African people or most people in the U.S. It has stressed military and counter-terrorism, not economic development and the U.S. government has not shown serious interest in trade with Africa on an equitable basis.

“The U.S. government has backed both Kenya and Ethiopia intervening in Somalia with predictably terrible results. Much of U.S. policy in the region is built around AFRICOM [United States Africa Command] which was started in the Bush administration and Obama has continued to back. AFRICOM is ostensibly designed to enhance national security for African states, but the opposite has happened.”

U.S. Reopening Philippines Bases Met with Protests

The Guardian recently reported: “Philippines reopens Subic Bay as military base to cover South China Sea.”

AMIRAH LIDASAN, CYNTHIA JARAMILLO and BERNA ELLORIN, ateberns at gmail.com
Ellorin is a Filipino activist and the chair of BAYAN-USA, the New Patriotic Alliance, a group of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth.

Lidasan and Jaramillo are due to return to the Philippines shortly. Lidasan testified at the recently concluded International Peoples Tribunal on the Philippines: “Subic is not only a symbol of American control over the Philippines, it is symbol of abuses … and toxic waste that continues to destroy our environment.” The Tribunal, in which Filipino Congressman Neri Colmenares participated, accused the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III of “gross human rights abuses, including war crimes, and violations to the Filipino peoples’ right to self-determination and sovereignty.” Participants also charged the U.S. government with facilitating these abuses.

Following the Tribunal in Washington D.C., hundreds of Filipinos, human rights advocates and supporters protested in front of the White House and the Philippine Embassy, demanding the U.S. halt the re-opening of Subic Naval Base as a U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

Jaramillo testified that her husband, Arnold, was one of nine unarmed men killed in a massive military operation that lasted almost a month conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against members of the New People’s Army. Jaramillo stated: “They were not killed during a legitimate running battle. The state of their bodies when recovered clearly indicated the torture, willful killing and desecration of the remains.”

See Marjorie Cohn’s piece in Truthdig: “The U.S. Aids and Abets War Crimes in the Philippines,” in which she writes: “Arnold was taken alive and killed at close range by multiple gunshot wounds, his internal organs lacerated, his jaws and teeth shattered. This violates the Geneva Conventions and constitutes illegal extrajudicial killing off the battlefield.”

Cohn also reports: “Thirty-one-year-old Melissa Roxas was a community health adviser who went to the Philippines in 2009 to conduct health surveys in central Luzon, where people were dying from cholera and diarrhea. In May of that year, 15 men in civilian clothes with high-powered rifles and wearing bonnets and ski masks forced her into a van and handcuffed and blindfolded her. They beat her, suffocated her and used other forms of torture on her until releasing her six days later. Roxas was continually interrogated and even threatened with death during her horrific torture. She was likely released because she is a U.S. citizen (she has dual citizenship). But WikiLeaks revealed that although the U.S. Embassy was aware of Roxas’ torture and abduction, it did nothing to secure her release.”

On Eve of Obama Visit, Rich Nations Block Tax Reform at Ethiopia UN Meeting

Obama is scheduled to go to Kenya today. CNN reports he will “address the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and the first to be held in sub-Saharan Africa.” He will then go to Addis Ababa, becoming the first U.S. president to visit Ethiopia.

The third international Financing for Development Conference was just held in Addis Ababa. There the developing countries and non-governmental organizations tried to reform the global tax rules, to end tax dodging by multinational corporations which is estimated to cost developing countries hundreds of billions of dollars every year. But the U.S. government was the leading blocker of the proposal. Groups advocating reform argue that talking about the benefits of entrepreneurship while denying demands that rich countries take responsibility for their tax systems that deprive African countries of great sums of money is more than a misdiagnosis, it’s a purposeful misdirection by shifting responsibility onto the victims.

The Guardian reported in “Glee, relief and regret: Addis Ababa outcome receive mixed reception” that the conference will be “remembered for a standoff over calls from the G77 [Group of 77 developing countries, which now numbers over 100] to upgrade the UN expert committee on tax into a new UN agency giving all countries a seat at the table. …Tax was always going to be the biggest bone of contention in Addis … Rich nations, particularly the U.S., UK and Japan, were accused of lobbying hard to block the proposed agency.”

ALDO CALIARI, acaliari at coc.org
Caliari is with the Center of Concern in Washington, D.C., which criticized the conclusion of the conference as an “inaction agenda.” He spoke at a news conference at the end of meeting in Ethiopia. See video.

LUCKYSTAR MIYANDAZI, Luckystar.Miyandazi at actionaid.org, @Lustarnde
Miyandazi is Tax Power Campaign Africa Coordinator for ActionAid International, based in Kenya. She said today: “What came out of the third international Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was almost no change at all to how the international tax system currently works! Paragraph 29 on tax was the major contentious point. Arguing for the establishment of a UN tax body was the G77 and China group of 134 developing countries. It was a huge missed opportunity, an appalling failure and a great blow to the fight against poverty and injustice especially in developing countries. Blocking the establishment of a UN intergovernmental tax body by the U.S., UK and Japan has confirmed that the world will be stuck with a tax system that continues to work only in the interests of rich countries, rich individuals, and rich companies for the foreseeable future. The poorest and most marginalized people, in particular women, will continue to suffer and inequality will continue to grow.”

ActionAid noted in a statement during the recent conference: “Developing countries lose an estimated $212 billion every year to tax dodging by multinational companies. This is lost revenue that is desperately needed for the provision of public services, such as education and health care, which are essential for the eradication of poverty. Harmful tax practices like this are, in large part, due to the decision-making structure of the global tax system.”

Iraqi Nuclear Scientist Debunks Nuclear Myths

President Obama stated Tuesday: “The same politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program are the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would only take a few months.” [In fact, many who he has appointed to top foreign policy positions voted for the Iraq war.]

On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will discuss the new Iran nuclear deal before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. See accuracy.org/calendar for critical upcoming events.

IMAD KHADDURI, imad.khadduri at gmail.com
Currently in Toronto, Khadduri is author of the books Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now runs the “Free Iraq” blog.

He has closely followed the Iran nuclear deal and has a 30-page paper forthcoming from the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha: “The Iranian Nuclear Project: Military or Civilian?”

Khadduri can address a number of myths on these issues. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled since the 1991 attack on Iraq. In a November 21, 2002 article, a few months before the occupation, “Iraq’s nuclear non-capability,” he wrote: “Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the two parading emperors have no clothes.”

Max Fisher claimed in Vox recently that if “Iran tried to block inspectors…that would blow up the deal. … This was something that so infuriated the world when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein tried it in 1998 that it ended with his country getting bombed shortly thereafter.”

Said Khadduri: “This doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The U.S. used inspectors as a method of espionage, not for legitimate arms inspections purposes. Scott Ritter notes in a recent article titled ‘We ain’t found shit‘ why the Iranians shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites. The ‘no notice’ inspection on Iraq didn’t help with the disarmament process, but they were a gold mine for illegitimate espionage. The Iranians learned from our mistakes and they were much better negotiators.” See from FAIR: “It’s Simple, Face the Nation: Iran Doesn’t Trust U.S. Inspectors — and Shouldn’t.”

The New York Times earlier this year published a piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 and now with the American Enterprise Institute. In the piece, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,’ he claims: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq… can accomplish what is required.” It’s a claim that’s long been made by war hawks, for example, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has claimed: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.”

Khadduri said: “This is nonsense. I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn’t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it.” See IPA news release: “Myth: Israel’s Strike on Iraqi Reactor Hindered Iraqi Nukes.”

Khadduri added: “The Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. Their nuclear program started in the 1950s under the U.S. government’s Atoms for Peace project, which sent Iraq, Iran and other counties nuclear plans. In the case of Iraq, it was a gift from the U.S. for joining the Baghdad Pact. After the revolution in Iraq ended the monarchy, the U.S. built for Iran the plant they were going to build for us. …

“The Iranian nuclear program really took off in the 1970s after the U.S. convinced the Shah that he could be a regional power only if he embraced the atom. But the U.S. was trying to gouge the Shah, so he had the Germans build his reactors. A main component of the Iranian program is a research reactor used for medical purposes — even Iranian Americans frequently go back to Tehran for chemo because it’s provided for free. …

“When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he stopped work on Iranian nuclear facilities. He had already come to the position that having nuclear weapons was religiously prohibited and the financial costs were enormous. But he eventually allowed it to be restarted for peaceful purposes since the costs of cancelling the contracts were high. During the war with Iran, Iraq attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities more than 12 times, but they were minor attacks. But after the Iranians bombed Iraqi oil refineries, Saddam ordered the destruction of two Iranian reactors in 1987, killing 14 people including one German and the Germans withdrew.

“Since then, the Iranians have been struggling to have a serious nuclear program for civilian purposes, and the U.S. has continuously put up road blocks. The recent deal compromises Iran’s notion of nuclear sovereignty, but gets the Iranians what they really wanted.”

Is U.S. Already Violating Iran Deal?

NuCThe UN Security Council resolution passed Monday on Iran’s nuclear program begins its second paragraph: “Reaffirming its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the need for all States Party to that Treaty to comply fully with their obligations…”

But nuclear analysts and activists — including former U.S. government officials who negotiated the treaty like Robert McNamara (see below) — have stated that the U.S. is constantly violating the NPT. That treaty — which the U.S. signed in 1968 — was based on the grand bargain that the non-nuclear weapons states, like Iran, would not acquire nuclear weapons and in return, the nuclear weapons states would move toward “cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.”

On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will discuss the new Iran nuclear deal before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Also on Thursday, Adam Scheinman, U.S. Ambassador to the NPT Review Conference will speak about it at the National Defense University. See accuracy.org/calendar for critical upcoming events.

ALICE SLATER, aslater at rcn.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She said today: “The hypocrisy of the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states who are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, with the U.S. having actually tested in Nevada a new dummy nuke bunker buster bomb this month, is breathtaking as we single out Iran for special and more stringent rules for compliance with the NPT than we require of other countries such as Japan and Brazil who have huge uranium enrichment programs, for example.” See reports from earlier this month: “Air force drops dummy nuclear bomb in Nevada in first controversial test to update cold war arsenal” and “Russia Considers U.S. Nuclear Bomb Test ‘Open Provocation.'”

Slater added: “The Obama administration has announced that the U.S. government will be spending $1 trillion dollars over the next 30 years for two new bomb factories, planes, missiles and submarines to deliver new nuclear weapons. That’s totally inconsistent with its pledge under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to make ‘good faith efforts’ for nuclear disarmament, a pledge which the International Court of Justice ruled in 1996 requires the U.S. and other NPT nuclear weapons states to ‘bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.'” See IPA release: “As Anti Nuclear Weapons Activists Released, 91 Nations Pressing Abolition.”

Sr. MEGAN RICE, mrice12 at gmail.com
Rice, a nun, is one of the Transform Now Plowshares, a group of three activists who were convicted of allegedly intending to harm national security by entering into a Y-12 National Security Complex, a nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The activists spent two years in prison before their sentences were finally overturned in May. Their actions — which including pouring blood and painting “The Fruit of Justice is Peace” — sparked Congressional hearings on the vulnerability of major nuclear facilities.

She said today: “The facility we entered into at Oak Ridge is illegal — it’s producing weapons of mass destruction. The government calls it ‘modernizing’ — but they’re making some 80 bombs a year. It’s unconscionable that we know the effects of nuclear weapons and continue to build them, threatening all of life. And of course, some are profiteering on these weapons while poor people sleep on the street tonight.

“Instead, we need to all transform now into truly life-enhancing alternative socio-economics and eco-friendly alternatives — which could be disassembling weapons of mass destruction and cleaning up the assembly sites.”

See the Washington Post coverage of their trial, including a video interview of Sister Rice. Also: “The Prophets of Oak Ridge” and “3 Peace Activists Sentenced for Breaking into Nuclear Site.”

Background: The U.S. obligation to disarm under the NPT has been acknowledged by former Secretary of Defense McNamara (the U.S. signed the treaty during the Johnson administration, in which McNamara served). In 2005, he told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The NPT was signed by a president. It was submitted to the Senate; it was ratified by the Senate. It is today the law of the land. The U.S. government is not adhering to Article VI of the NPT and we show no signs of planning to adhere to its requirements to move forward with the elimination — not reduction, but elimination — of nuclear weapons. That was the agreement, these other countries would not develop nuclear weapons and the nuclear powers would move to elimination. We are violating that.” In 2009, shortly before his death, McNamara wrote the piece “Apocalypse Soon.”

How the Iran Deal “Snap Back” Could be Manipulated

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books on international law include Destroying Libya and World Order.

He said today: “President Obama and others have stated that if Iran violates the agreement, the sanctions on Iran will ‘snap back’ into place. That’s true, but what’s menacing about this is what they don’t highlight: the sanctions could quite conceivably ‘snap back’ based on some bogus pretext after Iran has dismantled the guts of its nuclear industry that is lawful under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Everyone knows that Iran does not have nuclear weapons to begin with.

“Under the agreement, this current or some future U.S. administration would only need the votes of the European powers to enact such a scenario since decisions will be made by the majority of a group that includes not only Iran, China, Russia, France and the UK, but also Germany and the EU. They have in effect set up a mechanism that gets around the possibility of a Russian and/or Chinese veto.

“The UN Security Council resolution passed today states that disputes arising from the agreement will be dealt with by this panel and that ‘If the Security Council does not adopt a resolution’ then the sanctions Iran has been under ‘shall apply in the same manner as they applied before the adoption of this resolution.’ So if the U.S. vetoes action by the Security Council, the sanctions come back.

“There has been misreporting on this issue, for example rightwing outlets like CNS falsely claiming: ‘Iran Deal Includes Loophole in Sanctions “Snapback’ Mechanism.’ Meanwhile, most mainstream or liberal reporting or commentary about this has been laudatory about the way the ‘snap back’ mechanism works: ‘How the Iran Deal’s ‘Snap Back’ Mechanism Will Keep Tehran Compliant.’

“This ignores the record of the U.S. government on these issues. In the recent case of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi eliminated his nuclear equipment and then was literally stabbed in the back — NATO bombed the country, he was murdered, and there’s a failed state there now, leading to untold human suffering. At a minimum, the United States government will use the ‘snap-back’ mechanism as a cudgel to beat the Islamic Republic of Iran into ‘regime change,’ which has been its objective all along.”

U.S. And Cuba: Restoring Diplomatic Relations

AP reports today: “US, Cuba restore full diplomatic ties after 5 decades.” A ceremony in front of the Cuban embassy will raise the Cuban flag at 10:30 ET.

JOSE PERTIERRA, josepertierra at aol.com, @guaguap11
Pertierra is a D.C.-based attorney and Cuban American who formerly represented the father of Elian Gonzalez. He also represents Venezuela in the case to extradite rightwing Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. See Miami Herald piece from last month: “Declassified document says Posada Carriles likely planner 1976 bombing of Cuba plane.” Pertierra appeared this morning on the program “Democracy Now.”

NETFA FREEMAN, netfa at ips-dc.org, @ips_dc
Freeman is organizer for the Campaign for a Just Policy Towards Cuba
for the Institute for Policy Studies. He recently wrote the piece “Has U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Really Changed?” — which states: “The United States could learn a lot from Cuba when it comes to disaster relief, education, and healthcare. More pointedly, Cuba projects a foreign policy of international solidarity around the world. As the U.S. supplies troops seen as military occupiers, Cuba sends — often to the same places the U.S militarizes — doctors and teachers who provide crucial assistance, free of charge, to the countries they’re in service of. Cuba does this with no strings attached, unlike the aid packages provided by U.S.-led international institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and even the United Nations. …

“Many of the moves the Obama administration has made in terms of its Cuba policy are in lockstep with Bill Clinton’s, as expressed in the recommendations of a 1999 task force report from the Council on Foreign Relations. The report asserted that ‘no change in policy should have the primary effect of consolidating, or appearing to legitimize, the political status quo on the island.’ While the Obama administration insists that it’s just changing a U.S. policy that was ‘not working,’ it remains an essentially disrespectful position against Cuba.”

Producers might want to use Jackson Browne “Going Down to Cuba” as musical intro.

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