News Releases

“Meet the New Muslim Ban, Harsher Than the Old Muslim Ban”

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent [at] gmail.com, @arunindy
Independent reporter Gupta just wrote the piece “Meet the New Muslim Ban, Harsher Than the Old Muslim Ban,” which states: “The new order appears to be narrower in scope, at least initially. It claims to exclude ‘categories of aliens that have prompted judicial concerns.’ Green-card holders, dual citizens, and Syrian refugees are exempt from the blanket ban. Iraq is no longer on the list of affected countries, and the order allows for exceptions from the other targeted countries and for refugees on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.

“Nonetheless, on March 7, the state of Hawaii filed suit in federal court on behalf of the state and Ismail Elshikh, PhD, the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. The state claims Trump’s order harms Elshikh by preventing his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting her family in Hawaii. The state asserts the Trump Administration is acting ‘arbitrarily and capriciously’ in its choice of countries on the banned list. ….

“The revised order affords the Trump Administration wide latitude in broadening the scope of the order later on, with language that will allow the profiling of entire countries so as to exclude their citizens. It states that the U.S. government will conduct ‘a worldwide review’ to determine what ‘additional information will be needed from each foreign country’ to assess the application of any person from one of the specified countries seeking admission to the United States so as to ensure they are ‘not a security or public-safety threat.’

“The order adds that ‘At any point … the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.’ And, ‘The Secretary of Homeland Security may conclude that certain information is needed from particular countries even if it is not needed from every country.’

“Put together, this language could enable wildly differing criteria for nationals from one country to the next, as well as countries coming on and off the list at the whim of the White House.”

Lies and Carnage in Yemen

HA066__03HF0-1Iona Craig’s piece “Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump’s ‘Highly Successful’ SEAL Raid” was published by the Intercept today.

Geopolitics Alert recently published the piece “U.S. Can’t Eliminate Al-Qaeda While Supporting Its Sponsors.”

ANDREW COCKBURN, @andrewmcockburn

Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Cockburn is available for a limited number of interviews. His most recent book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins.

He wrote the piece “Acceptable Losses Aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen,” which states: “Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

“Such was the dire condition of the country before Saudi Arabia unleashed a bombing campaign in March 2015, which has destroyed warehouses, factories, power plants, ports, hospitals, water tanks, gas stations, and bridges, along with miscellaneous targets ranging from donkey carts to wedding parties to archaeological monuments.”

U.S. Korea Deployment and Korean Elections

The Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reports: “The question of whether or not Park Geun-hye will be removed from the presidency will be determined on Mar. 10 at 11 a.m., the Constitutional Court announced on Mar. 8.” [Thursday at 9 p.m. D.C. time]

The left-wing, citizen-owned newspaper editorializes: “Ramming through THAAD deployment both irresponsible and dangerous.”

HYUN LEE, [in NYC] zoominkorea [at] gmail.com
Managing editor of ZoominKorea, which features the new piece “U.S. Considers First-Strike Attack on North Korea,” Lee wrote the piece “North Korea: Trump’s First Foreign Policy Test in Asia.”

TIM SHORROCK, [in D.C.] timshorrock [at] gmail.com, @TimothyS
Shorrock is an independent journalist who has written extensively on Korea. He grew up in Korea and Japan. He said today: “The court’s decision … will almost certainly lead to a snap election in which the opposition party is favored to win (I may be there for it — I’ll be in South Korea all of April and May).” See Shorrock’s blog “Money Doesn’t Talk, it Swears,” which features his writing, including a recent piece: “Congress and North Korea: Diplomacy Not on the Table.” http://timshorrock.com/

Shorrock continued: “Park’s ousting and the coming election have tremendous implications for the U.S. The Trump administration and the conservative South Korean government have just dispatched the THAAD system to South Korea, which is opposed by a majority of Koreans and the opposition party. Many in the opposition also want a less confrontational stance towards both North Korea and China, which has basically launched a boycott of trade and tourism with the South to protest the THAAD deployment. For months, the Pentagon and its think tanks have been warning of the dangers of a Korean opposition victory in this year’s presidential election because they fear losing their militaristic partner in Seoul. Americans need to be aware of how the U.S. is trampling on the democratic rights of South Koreans who oppose THAAD by its unilateral deployment and of the dangers to the entire region of a war that would be sparked by the military strikes on the North that are being contemplated by U.S. and South Korean officials.”

Shorrock’s books include Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.

Doctors on Republican House Health Plan

ROBERT ZARR, M.D., rlzarr [at] yahoo.com, @doczarr
Zarr is a board-certified pediatrician at Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C., where he cares for a low-income and immigrant population. He is past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

ADAM GAFFNEY, M.D., gaffney.adam [at] gmail.com, @awgaffney
Gaffney is a national board member of Physicians for a National Health Program and a practicing pulmonologist at Cambridge Health Alliance and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

He said today: “The long-awaited House Republican Obamacare replacement law, released Monday, would be terrible for America. While the well-off would benefit from tax-cuts, the sick and the poor would suffer from cutbacks in Medicaid and insurance subsidies. GOP Care would therefore take us farther, not closer, to universal healthcare, a goal that is achievable only through single payer reform.”

Trump Promises U.S. Steel in Pipelines; A Russian Oligarch Profits

Pipeline1STEVE HORN, steve [at] desmogblog.com, @SteveAHorn
Horn is an investigative journalist and writer for DeSmogBlog.com. See his recent writing exposing many aspects of the fossil fuel industry. He recently broke the story: “Behind Trump’s Push for ‘American Steel’ in Pipelines, Another Russian Company with Putin Ties Stands to Benefit,” which states:

“In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) … President Donald Trump commemorated the one-month anniversary of his executive orders calling for the approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as one calling for U.S. pipelines to get their line pipe steel from U.S. facilities.

“‘I said, who makes the pipes for the pipeline?’ Trump told the CPAC crowd. ‘If they want a pipeline in the United States, they’re going to use pipe that’s made in the United States, do we agree?’

“But while the pipe may be made in the U.S., as DeSmog has shown in previous investigations, ownership tells a different story. Enter: TMK IPSCO, a massive producer of steel for U.S. oil country tubular goods (OCTG) and line pipe, and a subsidiary of TMK Group. A DeSmog investigation has found ties between TMK Group’s Board of Directors and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“TMK Group was incorporated in 2001, and in 2008, TMK IPSCO opened its doors as a U.S. subsidiary with a heavy focus on making oilfield pipes on behalf of companies performing hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) techniques in the Marcellus Shale basin located in the northeast U.S. TMK IPSCO, which has said it wants to be a direct competitor of U.S. Steel Corporation in the Marcellus, also makes steel for companies doing fracking in the Bakken Shale basin, located primarily in North Dakota.

“TMK Group also has a subsidiary named TMK Completions, which manufactures ‘multi-stage completion systems and tools for both uncemented and cemented well completion designs’ for the fracking process. TMK did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.”

Drone Resisters Acquitted, Juror Tells Them: “Keep Doing It”

16991757_1267415053294453_5898102062265302564_oThe Washington Post reports: “The United States conducted a series of airstrikes on Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen on Thursday, the Pentagon said, in another sign of the Trump administration’s expanding counterterrorism campaign there.”

See from Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations: “The (Not-So) Peaceful Transition of Power: Trump’s Drone Strikes Outpace Obama.”

JAMES RICKS, chavoc32 [at] gmail.com
ED KINANE, edkinane [at] verizon.net
BRIAN HYNES, brianhynes [at] verizon.net

The group UpstateDroneAction.org released a statement Friday morning: “Four drone resisters, James Ricks, Daniel Burns, Brian Hynes, and Ed Kinane, from the 2015 big books action were found innocent of all charges at 11 p.m. at the Dewitt Town Court. After deliberating for only about a half hour, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty on all charges. Applause erupted in the courtroom upon the jurors’ announcement of the verdict. The four were charged with obstruction of government administration, disorderly conduct, and trespass and faced a year in jail. Following the rendering of the verdict, a juror approached Brian Hynes and said ‘I really support what you are doing. Keep doing it.’

“During the trial, Brian Hynes told the jury, “This is not a case about contested facts, this is a case about contested meanings.” Hynes went on to explain to the jury that they could, in the words of the 4th Circuit of Appeals, acquit for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion. In powerful testimony, James Ricks told the jury about meeting the families of drone victims and seeing the wreckage of hellfire missiles. Jurors were brought to tears several times. Daniel Joseph Burns  said, ‘Would any of us deem it acceptable for our precious loved ones to be sacrificed for another nation’s anticipatory self defense. Of course not!  Moreover, if drones were being aimed at my children by another country, I would hope with all my might that the citizens of that country might try and stop their country’s illegal and immoral actions.’ Ed Kinane told the jury in clear and powerful language about his time living in Iraq during the war and about the terror sown by drones. …

“The trail resulted from an action on March 19, 2015. On the 12th anniversary of the U.S.’ illegal invasion of Iraq, seven members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars shut the main gate of the Hancock Drone Base (near Syracuse, NY) with a giant copy of the UN Charter and three other giant books – Dirty Wars (Jeremy Scahill), ‘Living Under Drones’ (NYU and Stanford Law Schools), and ‘You Never Die Twice’ (Reprieve).

“The nonviolent activists also held a banner quoting Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, stating that every treaty signed becomes the supreme law of the land. They brought the books to Hancock to remind everyone at the base of the signed treaties that prohibit the killing of civilians and assassinations of human beings. The group attempted yet again to deliver a citizens’ indictment for war crimes to the Hancock Air base chain of command.”

Breaking the Yemen Central Bank: Is Saudi Arabia Using Starvation as a Weapon?

screen_shot_2017-01-07_at_2.39.09_amSee from the UN: “In Yemen, UN aid chief rallies support for relief efforts to prevent famine.” The Washington Post recently reported: “Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children are nearing starvation.”

See @accuracy Twitter list on Yemen.

GARETH PORTER, porter.gareth50 [at] gmail.com, @GarethPorter
Porter is an independent investigative journalist. His books include Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Porter’s articles include, from 2016: “Justifying the Saudi Slaughter in Yemen.”

Porter said today: “Now what we’re seeing is another layer of actually using starvation as a weapon: The Saudi government — with U.S. government support — has effectively eliminated the Central Bank of Yemen. This has been the only institution standing between hundreds of thousands — millions, really — and the prospect of famine.

“Clearly the IMF could not have carried out the action it did — cutting off Yemen from the bank that held its foreign exchange reserve — without U.S. government approval.” See report from the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies: “Yemen Without a Functioning Central Bank: The loss of basic economic stabilization and accelerating famine.”

Porter added: “An on-going major under-reported story of the Saudi attack on Yemen is that it could not have happened without the active logistical support of the U.S. — i.e., refueling of planes in flight.

“But now, it’s not even enough to stop the bombing, The primary danger is not the immediate bombs. It’s the lack of food and medicine and fuel — and now taking away the capacity of people in Yemen to purchase those necessities.”

ABC News is reporting today: “More than 20 U.S. airstrikes conducted in Yemen overnight.” See from Ben Norton at AlterNet: “U.S.-Backed Saudi Coalition Bombs Another Funeral in Yemen, Killing 8 Women, Child.”

Confronting Military Recruitment of Students

military-recruiting-in-the-united-states-cover-1PAT ELDER, pelder [at] studentprivacy.org
Author of the recently released book Military Recruiting in the United States, Elder is director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that confronts militarism in the schools. His recent pieces for Truthout include: “High School Students’ Test Results Are Being Sent To Military Recruiters Without Consent,” “Military Exploits School Testing Opt Out Campaign” and “Water Isn’t The Only Source Of Lead Contamination In Flint.

He said today: “America is witnessing the ‘grave implications’ of the ‘economic, political and even spiritual’ influence of the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about. A single F-35 fighter jet costs more than the budget of a medium-sized city’s school system and the U.S. is building 2,500 of them while the schools crumble. …

“It’s a coerced, recruited Army as much as it is a volunteer Army. American military recruiting is a despicable, psychological pursuit that pits carefully selected and highly trained soldiers against vulnerable children. The American Public Health Association, (APHA) calls for the cessation of military recruiting in the nation’s schools, claiming recruiters engage in aggressive behaviors to gain a child’s confidence and trust. They say recruiters are exceptionally charming while failing to honor clear boundaries. It is despicable public policy, and it’s time to end it. …

“From electronic trolling of social websites, recruiters know intimate details about our children and they use them to prepare a psychological dossier before first contact.”

Elder also addresses the role of Hollywood, media and video games. He adds: “Producers who desire access to military bases, soldiers and weapons in the production of motion pictures and television shows are directed to contact the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (OCPA) to submit their scripts and plans for editorial approval. Censors regularly edit the scripts of thousands of productions, [such as] ‘American Idol,’  ‘Cupcake Wars,’ and hundreds of movies. The Pentagon rejects productions they don’t like and rewrites scripts to enhance the military image to ‘safeguard recruiting and retention numbers.'”

Resisters to Militarism on Trial Today

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The New York Times reports: “Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending.”

On March 19, 2015, on the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, seven members of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition were arrested at Hancock Air Base outside Syracuse, New York. The group states that the protesters “were nonviolently protesting Hancock’s lethal and illegal use of MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“The seven deployed huge (7×4 feet) replicas of four books across the main entrance of Hancock, the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard — a major hunter/killer Reaper drone hub. The books were: the UN Charter; Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars; NYU and Stanford Law School’s “Living Under Drones;” and Reprieve’s human rights report “You Never Die Twice.”

“Five of the seven [protesters] are charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration (a misdemeanor requiring a jury and carrying a maximum one-year sentence), trespass, and two counts of disorderly conduct. … Originally scheduled for trial in late November 2016, the trial was postponed until February 28 so a new jury pool could be called in order to assure [James Ricks, who is an African American Muslim] a ‘jury of his peers’.”

JAMES RICKS, chavoc32 [at] gmail.com

One of the defendants, Ricks said today: “I first started doing social activism work when my child witnessed someone getting shot by a police officer. I became active with the Shawn Greenwood Truth and Reconciliation group, named for the person who was shot. It was there that someone from the Catholic Worker told me about an anti drone killing meeting.

“I learned that our government is assassinating people in other countries and this violates the UN Charter — which, as a treaty, the Constitution says is the supreme law of the land. But the judges and police are ignoring that. We’re working to uphold such laws. Our country isn’t supposed to use violence or even the threat of violence without proper authorization, which it didn’t get when it invaded Iraq.

“Yesterday I saw George W. Bush on TV talking about how power is seductive and corrosive. Well, he illegally invaded Iraq and was never held to meaningful account.

“Everyone in our group takes an oath of nonviolence when we try to expose what they are doing at this military base.

“I also do this because I went to Pakistan to learn more about drone killing. People were so friendly — they so want to build a better relationship with people in the U.S. …

“And now it’s troubling that Trump is calling for more military spending. He’s appealing to people’s anger over many of the wrong things.

“Targeted assassinations with these drone wars are war crimes. Too many people have become distracted or overwhelmed and just ignore this — or actually celebrate war crimes as some kind of patriotic victory. It’s not and we need to work to stop it.”

ELLEN GRADY, demottgrady6 [at] gmail.com

Grady is part of the Ithaca New York Catholic Worker movement, which has been a key part of organizing against the U.S. government killer drone assassinations program outside Hancock Air Force Base in upstate New York.

ED KINANE, edkinane [at] verizon.net

Kinane is author of several pieces on drone assassinations for Truthout, including “Exposing The Killer Drones Of Hancock Airbases’s 174th Attack Wing,” “Drone Surveillance Is No Longer Just ‘Over There'” and “Weaponized Drones And The Phony ‘War On Terror’.”

DANIEL BURNS and Fr. BILL PICKARD, FrPickard [at] stjosephscenter.org

Burns stated: “Drone warfare kills many innocents, including children. As a father of three beautiful children, I’m morally obligated to try and stop drone warfare. People of conscience must do everything in our power to stop such violations of human rights and international law.”

“Neo-McCarthyite Furor” on Russia and Threat of More War

FuforThe New York Times claimed recently in “Democrats Elect Thomas Perez, Establishment Favorite, as Party Chairman” that: “This year’s contest was shadowed … by the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer system last year by Russian intelligence services. That resulted in the disclosure that the party, under Mr. Obama’s handpicked chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, had sought to undermine Mr. Sanders’s candidacy.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel recently wrote the piece “Neo-McCarthyite furor around Russia is counterproductive” in the Washington Post, which states: “To date, the evidence released publicly for this explosive charge — in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Jan. 6 report — is so threadbare that the Times conceded [in January] that it ‘contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions.’

“Sadly, common sense is getting lost in the frenzy. Clinton supporters inflate the importance of the purported Russian hacks to excuse her painful defeat. Democrats see the scandal as a way to undermine Trump.

“In the targeting of Trump, too many liberals have joined in fanning a neo-McCarthyite furor, working to discredit those who seek to deescalate U.S.-Russian tensions, and dismissing anyone expressing doubts about the charges of hacking or collusion as a Putin apologist.”

STEPHEN F. COHEN, via Caitlin Graf, press [at] thenation.com

Available for a very limited number of interviews, Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University. His most recent book, from Columbia University Press, is Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.

He recently wrote the piece “Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump” for The Nation. The piece states: “The bipartisan, nearly full-political-spectrum tsunami of factually unverified allegations that President Trump has been seditiously ‘compromised’ by the Kremlin, with scarcely any nonpartisan pushback from influential political or media sources, is deeply alarming.”

Cohen addresses a series of “allegations [that] pass as evidence” on the issue, including:
“The crux of the allegations against Trump was, and remains, that Putin ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the dissemination of stolen e-mails through WikiLeaks in order to undermine the Clinton campaign and put Trump in the White House. A summary of these ‘facts’ was presented in a declassified report released by the ‘intelligence community’ and widely discussed in January. Though it quickly became axiomatic proof for Trump’s political and media enemies, almost nothing in the report is persuasive. About half are ‘assessments’ based on surmised motivations, not factual evidence of an actual Kremlin operation on Trump’s behalf. The other half is standard whining about the Kremlin-funded television network RT, which is at worst an above-average ‘propaganda’ outlet.”

JAMES CARDEN, editor [at] eastwestaccord.com

Carden is executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord. His articles and essays have also appeared in The American Conservative and The National Interest. His recent pieces for The Nation include: “The #Resistance and Russia” and “McCain Talks Tough as the War in Ukraine Continues Without End,” which states: “Kiev’s recent offensive came almost immediately following a trip to to the war’s front lines by none other than Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. In the presence of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Graham told a brigade of Ukrainian soldiers: ‘Your fight is our fight… 2017 will be the year of offense.’ For his part, McCain told the troops, ‘I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win.’ One could be forgiven for wondering if there is any precedent for such an incitement to violence by two sitting U.S. senators?”

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