News Releases

Illegal West Virginia Wildcat Strike Continues

MIKE ELK, mike.elk at, @MikeElk
Elk has lived in West Virginia and is a member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild; he is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report. He previously served as senior labor reporter at POLITICO and has written for the New York Times.

He wrote the piece “West Virginia teachers stage walkout over wages and benefits” for The Guardian.

He tweeted Thursday night: “Strike will continue as Senate refuses to pass teachers pay raise measure.”

On Wednesday he wrote the piece “Rejecting W.V. Deal, Over 50 Counties Will Continue Wildcat Strike Tomorrow,” which stated: “It appears that the West Virginia teachers’ strike will last indefinitely as rank and file teachers in a majority of counties around the state have promised to continue their strike until the state legislature addresses their concerns. …

“It is also unclear if the state’s attorney general will seek an injunction against the union — or even if he would be able to, since the union leaders have actually ordered their workers back to work but the workers have not agreed to return to work.”

On Tuesday, he wrote the piece: “Settling W.V. Teachers Strike Could Hinge on Taxing Frackers“: “As the illegal wildcat statewide strike of teachers in 55 counties in West Virginia stretches into its fourth day, West Virginia Governor and billionaire coal baron Jim Justice has found himself on the defensive.

“In order to resolve the dispute, Justice will likely have to take on members of his own party, who are resisting calls to increase taxes on the natural gas industry.

“However, in Wheeling Monday night, Justice found himself on the defensive and facing boos from the crowd as he urged the union to end the strike. …

“On Tuesday, United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, a backwoods Baptist preacher, gave a roaring speech, calling on West Virginians to remember their history of struggle. He called on the striking teachers to engage in civil disobedience as their ancestors had during the 1921 struggle of striking mine workers at the Battle of Blair Mountain and the 1969 strike of 40,000 coal miners, who occupied the West Virginia State Capitol.

“‘When those miners came here [in 1969], they were breaking the law [and] when those miners marched on Blair Mountain, they were breaking the law,’ Roberts told the assembled crowd during a half-hour labor sermon.

“‘This is not really a strike,’ said Cecil Roberts. ‘This is when the good people of West Virginia take back their state.’

“Despite breaking the law, the teachers have rallied near unanimous support. The West Virginia PTA voiced their support for the strikers as well.”

Postol: U.S. Policies Driving Putin Nuclear Statements

NBC News reports in “Putin unveils new nuclear missile, says ‘listen to us now’” that: “Russia has a new array of nuclear-capable weapons including an intercontinental ballistic missile that renders defense systems ‘useless,’ President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday.”

Available for a very limited number of interviews, Postol is professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. He said today: “The American foreign policy establishment should not be surprised by Mr. Putin’s recent statements about Russian efforts to improve the capabilities of their nuclear forces against U.S. offensive nuclear forces and missile defenses.

“The United States has created the appearance that it believes it can fight and win a nuclear war against Russia. The U.S. is in the process of increasing the killing power of its nuclear ballistic missile forces against Russian ICBMs by a factor of three or more, and it is building missile defenses that suggest the U.S. believes it can strike Russia and and then defend against retaliation. It has issued a Nuclear Policy Review (NPR) that makes it clear that the U.S. could choose to use nuclear weapons first and at any time.

“Mr. Putin has made many statements in the past warning about these U.S. efforts and his current statements are simply consistent with those he has made in the past.”

In 2014, Postol wrote the piece “How the Obama Administration Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” for The Nation.

Last year, Postol co-wrote a paper for The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: “How U.S. nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze.”

The paper warned: “The U.S. nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing — boosting the overall killing power of existing U.S. ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three — and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

The paper continued: “The capability upgrade has happened outside the attention of most government officials, who have been preoccupied with reducing nuclear warhead numbers. The result is a nuclear arsenal that is being transformed into a force that has the unambiguous characteristics of being optimized for surprise attacks against Russia and for fighting and winning nuclear wars. While the lethality and firepower of the U.S. force has been greatly increased, the numbers of weapons in both U.S. and Russian forces have decreased, resulting in a dramatic increase in the vulnerability of Russian nuclear forces to a U.S. first strike. We estimate that the results of arms reductions with the increase in U.S. nuclear capacity means that the U.S. military can now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos using only about 20 percent of the warheads deployed on U.S. land- and sea-based ballistic missiles.”

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release with Postol from last year: “U.S. Breakthrough on Nuclear First Strike Threatens Stability.”

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from earlier this month: “U.S. Nuclear Stance Toward Russia Increasing Existential Threats.”

Left and Right Unite Against Continued U.S. Backing of Saudi Attack on Yemen

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) “introduced Wednesday a bipartisan joint resolution to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. The bill will force the first-ever vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from an unauthorized war.”

The text directs “the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” It makes an exception for forces “engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces.”

KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS, kv at, @KelleyBVlahos
Executive editor of The American Conservative magazine, Kelley Beaucar Vlahos said today: “The relentless airstrikes and blockade by the Saudis has left Yemen in a catastrophic state of crisis — and as co-belligerents, the United States is partly to blame.” She noted that the U.S. public has been removed from a meaningful “decision-making process” on warmaking. “This bill forcing a vote on this war in Yemen is a good first step.”

KATE GOULD, kate at, @FCNL
Gould is legislative representative for Middle East Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. She said today: “By invoking the War Powers Resolution to end the illegal U.S. war in Yemen, this bipartisan trio of senators has made history, taking a step toward restoring congressional authority over decisions about war as required by the Constitution. The bill will force the first-ever vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. armed forces from an unauthorized war.

“This March, with senators set to vote on whether to end the illegal U.S. war in Yemen, millions of lives hang in the balance. Nowhere in the world does Washington have more leverage to stop millions of people from starvation than in Yemen, where more than 8 million people are on the verge of starving to death.

“March also marks the third anniversary of this devastating war, enabled by Washington at every major juncture. U.S. pilots are refueling U.S.-made bombers as they drop U.S.-made bombs on Yemeni men, women, and children, and the hospitals, water sanitation facilities and other civilian infrastructure that they depend on. As the coalition continues to bomb Yemeni hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods, it is also blocking food, fuel, and other essential imports from getting into Yemen. Under this legislation, no longer would U.S. pilots serve as gas station attendants in the sky to refuel Saudi and UAE bombers that rein down terror on Yemeni men, women, and children.”

NRA’s “Boondoggle” — CMP: Government-Backed Program Teaches Kids to Shoot Guns at School; Sells Weapons

PAT ELDER, pelder at, @studentprivacy
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. He was recently on FAIR’s program “CounterSpin” and “Democracy Now.”

He just wrote the piece “Cruz, Instagram, and the Civilian Marksmanship Program,” which states: “A young Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, posted the image shown on his Instagram account. The date is unknown. The orange tip on the end of the gun signifies he is holding an ‘airsoft’ gun that fires BB-like, spherical projectiles that are typically made of plastic. American youth are introduced to these guns at an early age. The lethal weapon Cruz is holding shoots a projectile at 500 feet per second. The term ‘airsoft’ is concocted by the wizards of Madison Avenue who represent the arms industry. …

“Cruz’s ‘airsoft’ pistol is available on Amazon for $50. Similar, but much more powerful CO2-propelled handguns are available for sale for use by children through the congressionally established Civilian Marksmanship Program, CMP.” Added Elder: “The NRA hosts air pistol matches for the younger set.”

Elder notes that the late Sen. Paul Simon tried to stop the CMP in 1996, calling it “An incomprehensible, irresponsible, baffling boondoggle for the NRA.”

Elder writes in his recent piece: “The image at the top right is an M1911 U.S. Army pistol, a cherished collector’s item. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces for 75 years, from 1911 to 1986. The weapons are revered by millions. They’re reliable. They’ll kill the enemy, and they’re American-made. Today, many American youth are enamored by these semi-automatic handguns. …

“All that love for the M1911 pistol led the Trump administration to OK the release of the weaponry from the Army’s ammunition depot in Anniston, Alabama to the CMP, also based in Anniston. The semiautomatic handguns are to be sold to the American public. The U.S. stands alone as the only nation that offers its warehoused military weapons for sale to the public. Prudent nations destroy antiquated guns. The CMP has been recirculating used rifles to the public since 1903, but this is the first time the agency will be selling handguns. Soon, youth like Cruz will be allowed to purchase these extraordinarily lethal, semi-automatic weapons through the quasi-governmental CMP.

“Although President Obama authorized the sale of the M1911 when he approved his last National Defense Authorization Act two years ago, his administration held up the Army’s actual shipment of the handguns to the CMP.”

SC Janus Case: Culmination of Prolonged “Attempt to Kill Public-Sector Unions”

Ed Pilkington in the Guardian writes: “A 20-year campaign by right-wing billionaire donors to undermine trade unions and strike a blow at the progressive movement in America comes to a climax on Monday, in a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Lenchner and Wallner are with National Nurses United, which held rallies last Thursday about the case — Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the Chicago rally. The group states: “The case, solicited and bankrolled by billionaires and corporate executives, is intended to weaken public sector unions by encouraging employees in unionized public sector workplaces to refuse to pay dues — while they enjoy the rights and benefits of a union contract and representation.

“A not-so-hidden goal, which matches anti-union ‘right to work’ laws for private sector workplaces pushed by the same groups across the U.S., is to decimate unions financially, crippling their ability to effectively challenge employer abuses against workers and the public, and bankrupting their ability to advocate for public policies that benefit all working people. Without a union, employers have free reign to exploit their unprotected workers.”

Bottari is deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy and just wrote the piece “Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions” for In These Times magazine.She writes: “The Roman god Janus was known for having two faces. It is a fitting name for the U.S. Supreme Court case scheduled for oral arguments February 26, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, that could deal a devastating blow to public-sector unions and workers nationwide.”In the past decade, a small group of people working for deep-pocketed corporate interests, conservative think tanks and right-wing foundations have bankrolled a series of lawsuits to end what they call ‘forced unionization.’ They say they fight in the name of ‘free speech,’ ‘worker rights’ and ‘workplace freedom.’ In briefs before the court, they present their public face: carefully selected and appealing plaintiffs like Illinois child-support worker Mark Janus and California schoolteacher Rebecca Friedrichs. The language they use is relentlessly pro-worker.”Behind closed doors, a different face is revealed. Those same people cheer ‘defunding’ and ‘bankrupting unions to deal a ‘mortal blow’ to progressive politics in America.”A key director of this charade is the State Policy Network, whose game plan is revealed in a union-busting toolkit uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy. The first rule of the national network of right-wing think tanks that are pushing to dismantle unions? ‘Rule #1: Be pro-worker, not anti-union. … Don’t rant against unions. … Using phrases like “union fat cats” and “corrupt union bosses” and other negative language reduces support for reform.'””And yet, SPN groups have systematically spearheaded attacks on unions and workers in statehouses and courtrooms nationwide. The Janus case, and its precursor, Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association, represent SPN’s most audacious move yet, an effort to kneecap the unions of public-sector workers — including teachers, nurses, sanitation workers, park rangers, prison guards, police and firefighters — in a single blow.”

Bottari helped launch CMD’s award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation in 2011 and is a recipient of the Hillman Prize for investigative journalism.

U.S. Biowarfare in North Korea Charges: Long-Suppressed Report Finally Accessible

[Politico reports this morning: “Trump administration announces ‘largest’ North Korea sanctions.” The 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony from South Korea will start Sunday, Feb. 25 at 6 a.m. E.T. and is scheduled to be available livestream without network commentary via in the U.S.]

JEFFREY KAYE, jeffkaye at, @jeff_kaye
Kaye just wrote the article “REVEALED: The long-suppressed official report on U.S. biowarfare in North Korea” for Insurge Intelligence, “people-powered watchdog journalism for the global commons.”

Insurge Intelligence writes about the report by the International Scientific Commission: “Written largely by the most prestigious British scientist of his day [Joseph Needham], this official report, containing hundreds of pages of evidence about the use of U.S. biological weapons during the Korean War, was effectively suppressed upon its original release in 1952. …

“The report provides compelling evidence of systematic violation of the laws of war against North Korea through the deployment of biological weapons — a critical context that is essential for anyone to understand the dynamics of current regional tensions, and what might be done about them.”

Kaye said today: “Among the hundreds of pages of documentation appended to the ISC report are four handwritten statements written by U.S. Air Force airmen captured by Communist forces, whose admissions of germ warfare were widely attributed to supposed brainwashing.

“The report also offers a first public accounting of the Japanese biological warfare campaign against China in the 1940s. At the time of the report (1952), these germ warfare attacks, which killed a few hundred thousand people, was said to be propaganda by Communist forces. But in fact the U.S. had made a secret agreement of cooperation with these Japanese biowarfare personnel (Unit 731).”

Kaye also describes “how the U.S. government responded to the ISC report, rejecting its conclusions and calling for an ‘independent’ UN or Red Cross investigation into the biowarfare charges. But in recently declassified documents, top government officials working for the Psychological Strategy Board (essentially a CIA-State Department collaboration) admitted internally that an ‘actual investigation’ was the last thing they wanted, as it could reveal information that would cause the U.S. government ‘psychological as well as military damage.’ They used as an example of what could be revealed ‘8th Army preparations or operations (e.g. chemical warfare).'”

Billy Graham: “Prince of War”

Bothwell wrote the biography The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire. He just wrote the piece “Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear,” published by CounterPunch, which states: “When Graham succumbed to various ailments this week at the age of 99 he left behind an organization that is said to have touched more people than any other Christian ministry in history, with property, assets and a name-brand worth hundreds of millions. The address lists of contributors alone comprise a mother lode for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, now headed by his son and namesake, William Franklin Graham, III. …

“Graham first gained national attention in 1949 when the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, searching for a spiritual icon to spread his anti-communist sentiments, discovered the young preacher holding forth at a Los Angeles tent meeting. Hearst wired his editors across the nation, ‘puff Graham,’ and he was an instant sensation.

“Hearst next contacted his friend and fellow [Time/Life] publisher Henry Luce. Their Wall Street ally, Bernard Baruch, arranged a meeting between Luce and Graham while the preacher was staying with the segregationist Governor Strom Thurmond in the official mansion in Columbia, S.C. Luce concurred with Hearst about Graham’s marketability and Time and Life were enlisted in the job of selling the soap of salvation to the world. Time, alone, has run more than 600 stories about Graham.

“The man who would become known as ‘the minister to presidents’ offered his first military advice in 1950. On June 25, North Korean troops invaded South Korea and Graham sent Truman a telegram. ‘MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS PRAYING GOD GIVE YOU WISDOM IN THIS CRISIS. STRONGLY URGE SHOWDOWN WITH COMMUNISM NOW. MORE CHRISTIANS IN SOUTHERN KOREA PER CAPITA THAN ANY PART OF WORLD. WE CANNOT LET THEM DOWN.’ …

“Subsequently, Graham gave his blessing to every conflict under every president from Truman to the second Bush, and most of the presidents, pleased to enjoy public assurance of God’s approval, made him welcome in the White House. Graham excoriated Truman for firing General Douglas MacArthur and supported the general’s plan to invade China. He went so far as to urge Nixon to bomb dikes in Vietnam — knowing that it would kill upward of a million civilians — and he claimed to have sat on the sofa next to G.H.W. Bush as the bombs began falling in the first Gulf War.”

Real Black Panthers — Not the Disney Movie — Were Actually Targeted by the CIA

Disney recently released the movie “Black Panther” to a great deal of media coverage. It’s the name of an influential radical organization founded in 1966, the Black Panther Party. In the Hollywood production, the CIA is depicted as an ally.

JARED BALL, imixwhatilike at, @IMIXWHATILIKE
Ball is professor of communication studies, Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and author of I MiX What I Like: A MiXtape Manifesto and A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X. Malcolm X was assassinated on this date, February 21, in 1965 — see Institute for Public Accuracy news release featuring audio of some of his key statements.

Ball posted on his Facebook page about the term Black Panther: “We have among the most revolutionary international symbols of anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist politics re-presented to us in stunning beauty and style but packaged in the exact neoliberal politics, backed by the same Western-style support and assassination that destroyed the Black Panther Party, assassinated its members, imprisons to this day its survivors or hunts down with international bounties those who had the audacity — not to hope goddammit — but to organize and act accordingly. It isn’t that the film does this or that as much as that what it does is being read by many as having real meaning in this world and that makes critiquing it so important.

“Two quick examples: 1) Please compare the 1960 UN speech delivered by Patrice Lumumba to that of T’challa’s [in the film]. The former condemns the West, its colonialism, theft and abuse of Africa and Africans and declares all that at an end. His European audience was furious and moved to have him assassinated within a year whereas [in the film] the West’s representative — the CIA no less — smiles in full agreement and support having himself participated in the assassination of a true pan-African revolutionary (dismissed and demeaned as an angry lunatic blinded by his own imperial grandeur …)

“2) Please note how the film ends with the antidote developed precisely to crush a Black Panther revolution: a wealthy benefactor imposing ‘help’ in the form of neoliberal non-profit ‘reform.’ This is in lock-step with the state’s response to the BPP [Black Panther Party] and its programs and political education.”

See “CIA Reportedly Recruited Blacks For Surveillance of Panther Party” by Seymour Hersh in the New York Times in 1978, which states: “CIA officials have said repeatedly that the goal of the agency’s domestic spying program was to determine whether antiwar activists and black extremists were being financed and directed by Communist governments. Agency officials have declined to discuss the programs further.

“One longtime CIA operative with direct knowledge of the spying said, however, that there was an additional goal in the case of the Black Panthers living abroad: to ‘neutralize’ them; ‘to try and get them in trouble with local authorities wherever they could.’ Just how successful the CIA was in those alleged activities could not be determined.”

See piece in The Nation by Jeff Cohen and Jeff Gottlieb: “Was Fred Hampton Executed?” about the Illinois chairperson of the Black Panther Party, which states: “That the FBI supervised a nationwide effort to destroy the Black Panther Party is no longer seen as the paranoid rantings of leftists, but as a fact documented by the Staff Report of the Church committee. The report stated that the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence program) used ‘dangerous, degrading or blatantly unconstitutional techniques’ to disrupt Left and black organizations. It went on to liken the FBI’s harassment of Martin Luther King to the treatment usually afforded a Soviet agent.”

Is “Russiagate” the New Benghazi?

SOPHIA McCLENNEN, sophia.mcclennen at, @mcclennen65
McClennen just wrote the piece “The Russia election investigation is important — but it’s not everything” for Salon, which states: “Remember when the right couldn’t stop obsessing over Benghazi? The attack on the U.S. embassy on September 11, 2012, led to a right-wing witch hunt aimed at blaming President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for misrepresenting the attacks to the U.S. public and for missing signs that could have prevented it. The critical thing to remember is that shortly after the attacks, right-wing media covered Benghazi in a constant loop. As Stephen Colbert parodied it for ‘The Colbert Report’ in late November 2013, it was ‘Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.’ Well guess what? The right’s Benghazi is now the left’s Russia. …

“Let’s start by agreeing that we should figure out the scope and extent of Russian involvement and the degree to which the Trump team was involved. The problem, though, is that the obsession with Russia is keeping us from paying attention to the various sources of information-meddling that have nothing to do with Russia. …

“The obsession with Russian propaganda isn’t just an entertaining way for the U.S. public to revive Cold War logics; in the end, it is a disaster for our democracy. One of the biggest flaws to propaganda hype is that it gives the left a pass from taking seriously the policy flaws in the Hillary Clinton campaign. ..

“Even worse, the Russia propaganda story allows the DNC to avoid dealing with the reality that the 2016 elections revealed the truth that the party is an oligarchy populated by insiders, corporate capitalists, cronies and superdelegates.”

McClennen is professor of international affairs and comparative literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She is co-author of Is Satire Saving Our Nation? Mockery and American Politics and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights.

Shooter Cruz, JROTC and the NRA

PAT ELDER, pelder at, @studentprivacy
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.

He just wrote the piece “JROTC, Military Indoctrination and the Training of Mass Killers,” which states: “Nikolas Cruz, the south Florida shooter, was enrolled in the Army’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program as a 9th grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Army taught Cruz to shoot lethal weapons at a very young and impressionable age.

“Few in America have connected the dots between military indoctrination and firearms instruction on the one hand, and the propensity for training mass killers, whether their crimes are committed as enlisted soldiers in atrocities overseas or in American high schools. …

“When Cruz was apprehended he was wearing his JROTC polo shirt, sending a message to the world of his affiliation with the military program. …

“JROTC programs in Florida and elsewhere were once plagued by low enrollment numbers which threatened to shut down the program. The military responded with a robust lobbying effort directed at states, aiming to allow students to satisfy normal, for-credit course requirements by taking the JROTC elective. Florida is most friendly to the military in this regard. The state allows students enrolled in JROTC to satisfy the curricular requirements of physical education, biology, physical science, art, and life management. JROTC is regarded as an Advanced Placement course. Students earn 6 Quality Points toward their weighted GPA.

“Many of these courses are taught by retired enlisted soldiers with no teaching credentials and little or no college education. Meanwhile, Broward schools require teachers to hold teacher certification and most must have a Master’s degree after a certain period of time.

“JROTC programs in U.S. schools are run by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. The school shooting programs are regulated by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, (CMP). The program was set up by Congress after the Spanish-American War to ensure that large numbers of Americans knew how shoot guns in the event of a war. The CMP is now a private entity with $160 million in assets. It sells discarded military rifles, pistols, and ammunition to the American public at the behest of Congress. The CMP downplays the health and safety concerns of the robust shooting program. …

    “Children participate in shooting programs at tournaments hosted by the CMP and supported by the NRA.”

The Associated Press reported over the weekend: “Florida shooting suspect was on school rifle team that got NRA grant.”

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