Friday, August 29, 2014

8-29-14 Activist Newsletter

08-29 2014, Issue 207
ACTIVIST NEWSLETTER
To subscribe or contact us — jacdon@earthlink.net
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CONTENTS:

1.   Quotes of The Month — Malcolm X, 1925-1965
2.   Travel Tickets (poem)
3.   Iraq and Syria — the U.S. Goes In Deeper
4.   The Failures of U.S. Foreign/Military Policy
5.   Obama is Wrong About Natural Gas
6.   Serious Hunger In America
7.   Ferguson: It’s Time For America To Own Up
8.   Ferguson: Elite Killing Gear
9.   Report Exposes Police Militarization
10. Gaza Truce Holding, Less So Netanyahu's Support
11. Israeli Soldiers used Gaza Civilians as Human Shields
12. What Should We Think About Ferguson and Gaza?
13. More U.S. Marines to ‘Encircle’ China
14. Upcoming National Mass Demonstrations
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1.   QUOTES OF THE MONTH — Malcolm X, 1925-1965




We wonder what Malcolm X, who was rapidly developing his views when he was assassinated at the age of 39, would say about the police murder of Michael Brown Jr., and the subsequent strong demonstrations of protest. Much been said of the differences between M.L. King and Malcolm X, but each saw something to admire in the other.  From a statement by King upon Malcolm’s death: “I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence and the root of the problem.”


·     Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've  always made me glad.

·      You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

·      Nobody should teach the black man in America to turn the other cheek, unless someone is teaching the white man in America to turn the other cheek.

·      If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.

·      Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.

·      I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment.
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2.   TRAVEL TICKETS                                     
(Translated by A.Z. Foreman)
By Samih Al-Qasim

The day I'm killed,
my killer, rifling through my pockets,
will find travel tickets:
One to peace,
one to the fields and the rain,
and one
to the conscience of humankind.

Dear killer of mine, I beg you:
Do not stay and waste them.
Take them, use them.
I beg you to travel.

— Samih Al-Qasim, a Palestinian poet celebrated throughout the Arab world, died Aug.19, 2014, aged 75. He authored many books of poetry, including the collection “Sadder Than Water: New & Selected Poems,” which is available in the U.S. He was the editor of an Arab-Israeli newspaper, and he fought for Palestinian rights as a dissident living within Israel.
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3.   IRAQ AND SYRIA —THE U.S. GOES IN DEEPER

Soldiers of the Islamic State, on the move.
By Jack A. Smith, editor

The maintenance of superpower prestige above all obligates the Obama Administration to launch a full scale air war against the against the well organized, well supplied and so far victorious barbaric Islamic State (IS) (formerly ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria).  There has been no mention so far of Congressional approval and UN backing.

After 13 years of stalemated wars against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Washington is in no position to ignore the much more powerful IS that now controls a third of the territory in two countries — larger than Great Britain and inhabited by 6 million people. This most powerful jihadist organization is the unanticipated byproduct of America’s ill-conceived imperial misadventures in the Islamic world. (See next article: “Foreign Policy Failures.”)

Step by Step since IS’s startling early June takeover of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, President Obama has been incrementally increasing U.S. involvement while awaiting sufficient political backing at home and broad international support to launch a war on the IS.

 On Aug. 27 it was reported he authorized surveillance flights over Syria. Seeking to gather support from a war-exhausted public for yet another conflict in the Middle East, White House propaganda focuses primarily on saving American lives, then helping the Kurds, rescuing refugees on a mountain top and promising not to send in ground troops, although in time contingents of Special Forces have likely entered the fray, largely sub rosa. TruthOut reported Aug. 29 that “since the second week in August, the U.S. has carried out some 100 air strikes in Iraq [and] has deployed about 1,000 troops back into the country.”

Kurdish army on offensive.
Few Americans are directly threatened by the IS in the region, the Kurds are now on the offensive, the refugees have been saved (primarily by the Kurds, not U.S air power as the Pentagon brags) and now the air war will begin to unfold in earnest while Iraqi and Kurdish troops are expected to greatly intensify the ground war. The fanatically sectarian IS despises all non- Sunni religions but has particular, murderous, antipathy for the Shi’ite branch of Islam.

The Pentagon and CIA will handle the jet fighters, bombers, drones, surveillance, communications, intelligence and concealed leadership of the ground war. Washington is now engaged in putting together another “coalition of the willing” to assist the new war one way or another. Among them are Iran, Turkey, Australia, Saudi Arabia and others.

As IS territory expands, there is a possibility that the disunified Middle East, now split into three main blocs on various matters, may combine at least on this issue to oppose the IS threat. At present, according to Arab journalist Ali Hashem, the factions are (1) anti-Shi’ite Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan; (2) Iran [which views IS as its most formidable enemy], Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (the Shi’ite organization in Lebanon); and (3) the Turkey-Qatar alliance, which leans toward Muslim Brotherhood.

Washington must deal with an even more throbbing contradiction — Syria. President Obama has been working toward regime change in Damascus for three years, seeking to oust the Alawite/Shia regime of Bashar Hafez al-Assad in favor of Sunni governance allied with Washington. He was going to bomb Syria last year, only to be saved from this unpopular move by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who convinced Assad to agree to the destruction of his chemical arsenal. Obama returned the favor by backing the overthrow of the pro-Russian president of Ukraine.

Obama’s monomania has resulted in the Sunni jihadist takeover of the battle against Assad including IS, al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra and other fighting groups dedicated to the extreme fundamentalist Salafi movement. The Oval Office clings to its now virtually inconsequential acquisition, the Free Syrian Army, largely a product of U.S. machinations and exiled Syrians with little standing in their homeland.

The U.S. is soon going to bomb IS’s large land holdings in northern Syria, but international law stipulates it needs permission from the Syrian government. President Assad says he will grant permission but the U.S. must first ask the sovereign state of Syria. Obama, according to the New York Times “is loath to be seen as aiding the Syrian government, even inadvertently.”

The White House later announced it did not plan to coordinate its bombings or cooperate in any way with Syria. Damascus replied:  “Any strike which is not coordinated with the government will be considered as aggression.” It is doubtful the Syrian government could do anything about it, of course.

At the same time, there remains the possibility that impending U.S. air attacks over IS-held regions of Syria may in time expand to the large territories held by the Assad regime, particularly if the jihadist forces are pushed back and the FSA is strengthened.

With demands in Congress for further action against the Syrian regime — from influential warhawks such as probable Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain — there’s no telling where perceived opportunity may knock for the commander in chief. Clinton has recently suggested that the IS developed because Obama didn’t fight strongly enough against Assad — a foretaste perhaps of things to come.

The White House made a strategic mistake to begin with by seeking to depose Assad but now feels obliged to “stand its ground” in entirely new conditions rather than change course. This is power vanity, not routine power politics. Meanwhile IS has launched a  major “revenge” offensive against the major Syrian city of Aleppo with a population of over 2 million.


The unspoken main reason the U.S. was fixated on Assad was to weaken Iran by removing a principal ally. Washington’s blundering aggression against in 2003-2011 resulted in a geopolitically empowered Teheran.

This allowed the Shi’ites — a disrespected minority within large portions of the international Sunni community — to extend West to East from Iran through Iraq to Syria and south to bifurcated Lebanon’s Shia community and its powerful self-defense organization Hezbollah. The Shia comprise up to 13% of the Muslim world’s 1.7 billion people; the rest are Sunni, with some small offshoots from both.

Iraqi Shi'ite volunteers.
Equally opposed to a stronger Shi’ite sector is the self-appointed proprietor of Sunni dominance in the Middle East, U.S.-protected Saudi Arabia. That’s why the Saudis supported U.S./Israeli threats against Iran and why they helped finance and organize the jihadist opposition to Assad, Iran’s Arab ally.

President Obama knew this all along. As early as two years ago the N.Y. Times accurately reported: “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

 Washington maintained the fiction that the FSA had a chance to prevail while Obama stood aside as the jihadists trampled over Syria competing for the head Assad. The IS — originally an al-Qaeda offshoot — emerged the front runner from this swamp of jihadist expansion.

It is of interest that the explosive entrance of IS into the equation has motivated Saudi Arabia to meet with arch rival Iran for discussions about how “the Islamic State jihadist movement has complicated the countries' regional struggle for influence,” according to Stratfor Aug. 26.

This wealthy reactionary monarchy — Washington’s closest Arab ally — is the main exponent of the ultraconservative, repressive Wahhabi branch of Islam that is nearly identical to the jihadist Salafi movement embraced by the IS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other such groups.

Saudi Arabia financially aided most of these groups in Syria, but it recently decided to oppose IS, mainly because the House of Saud fears this organization may seek to undermine the kingdom itself.
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4.   THE FAILURES OF U.S. FOREIGN/MILITARY POLICY
By Jack A. Smith

The United States insists on throwing its formidable weight around and being recognized as world hegemon, but refuses to take any responsibility for the great number of negative results that emanate from its constant military and political interventions in the affairs of other states and regions.

At this time of great conflict in the world, U.S. foreign/military policy seems to be intimately connected to virtually everything that’s going wrong. Like the bull in a china shop, Uncle Sam’s blundering wreckage is left behind but the rich superpower emerges relatively unscathed to enter into yet another perceived trouble spot requiring its dubious interference. 

Following is an assessment of recent U.S. interventions in the Middle East (Syria-Iraq, Gaza-Israel), Ukraine-Russia and other topics.

  The Middle East is afire with ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, now called the Islamic State (IS). This religo-fascist movement occupies portions of Iraq and Syria and is threatening much of the Middle East. This is the latest of the unintended but inevitable consequences of European and later primarily U.S. aggressive intervention in the region for well over 100 years, escalating rapidly when British and French imperialism enjoyed the spoils following the defeat the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I.

In modern times the U.S. has protected many regional dictatorships, launched wars and attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, western Pakistan, Libya and Yemen, and supported regime change in Syria. It not only sanctions Iran but keeps the possibility of war “on the table” should nuclear talks fail with Tehran.

In recent decades, Washington’s endless military and other interventions in the region may seem to have succeeded at first but they all blow up in Uncle Sam’s face sooner than later.

Iraq is the textbook example. All those years of war, resulting in death to up to a million people and
four million displaced internal and external refugees cost the U.S. trillions of dollars and the embarrassment of a stalemate against a much weaker country. Now Washington is sinking into another quagmire by having to deal with the blowback from the 2003 Iraq misadventure — the Islamic State. The U.S. has a unique relationship to Iraq. Four U.S. presidents in a row have bombed the country.

The invasion of Afghanistan, after 13 years, has become an utter fiasco. After the Pentagon pulls back, the country will largely be in the hands of various warlords and the Taliban, regardless of who becomes the elected president ruling from a virtual fortress in Kabul.

The Obama Administration’s three-year support for the overthrow of the Syrian government with the Free Syrian Army as its vehicle on the ground is a major failure. The secular FSA was largely backed by pro-U.S. exiles, not the Syrian people. Despite being armed by the Gulf states, Turkey and others, including the U.S. (which gave politically, financially, and militarily with basic weapons), the FSA could never compete with the Sunni Islamist groups that that assumed command of the war.

The Islamists included IS, al-Qaeda, and several other jihadi fighting groups seeking the overthrow of the Damascus regime and the installation of a Sunni Islamist regime. All of them are identified with the ultra-conservative Salafi movement. The Islamist State is the most powerful and fights with the others to acquire control over the struggle.

Taliban fighters in 1990s, backed  by U.S.
U.S. intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria not only facilitated the creation of IS. In the 1970s-‘90s Washington’s extensive backing and financing of warlord and jihadist groups in Afghanistan against a left wing government in Kabul and its Soviet backers resulted in the birth of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the regime change brought about by U.S. military engagement in Libya, along with several members of the NATO foreign legion, has resulted in chaos leading to the possibility of civil war. Various militias are fighting each other in Tripoli, the capital, and the country can only be described as in the process of falling apart. Egypt is now facilitating air attacks on some Islamist groups in Libya from jet   fighters from the United Arab Emirates. The U.S., which has supplied the tiny UAE with a world class air force, said it was not told of the attacks. Egypt evidently allows the planes to take off from its own airfields. This is one more unanticipated result of U.S. intervention.

America’s strong support and financial backing for resource rich southern Sudan in northeast Africa to break away from Sudan proper in 2011 has backfired, causing extreme punishment for the nation’s people from mass killings in an unexpected and murderous civil war tearing apart the new state of South Sudan. Washington thought its intervention urging secession from Sudan would enlarge the U.S footprint in Africa as well as provide a big economic payoff for U.S. corporations.

After the downfall of President Mubarak in Egypt — Washington’s favorite dictator in Middle East — the U.S. decided to intervene in the Arab Spring, welcoming to power the then Gen. Abdel el-Sisi, who subsequently led a popular coup against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government. The White House fawns even more upon Sisi now that he is president and governs like the dictator he is. The White House won’t call the overthrow of the Brotherhood a coup and continues subsidizing the Egyptian army despite the murder of over a thousand supporters of the previous government.

Washington's dynamite policy in Mideast.
•  U.S. foreign policy strongly supports Israel financially and politically. Washington’s backing Gaza as well as earlier wars in 2008-9 and 2012, not to mention the police state occupation of the West Bank enabled the settler regime to launch its one-sided, murderous current war against the Palestinians of

Both U.S. ruling political parties compete to determine which will more deeply bend the knee to the far right colonial regime led by Prime Minister Netanyahu. This includes Democrats from President Obama and Vice President Biden to liberal icons Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (independent but he blocs with the Dems), New York’s Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand and its pandering and opportunistic Gov. Cuomo, the Congressional Black Caucus and just about all progressives in the Senate and House.  The Republicans are arguably a trifle more slavish in their veneration.

America’s leading politicians appear take pleasure in cheering for Goliath because David dared retaliate with his slingshot against almost seven decades of colonial repression and pain. These powerful political paragons are so privileged they can even get away with judgments that omit the distinction between oppressed and oppressor and brush off the matter of disproportion in evaluating blame.

Armed to the teeth Israel, the world’s fourth largest military, has the right to “defend” itself; the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, without the semblance of an army or proper military equipage, do not.

It is a real insight into Washington, that neither President Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry or any leading American politician has expressed criticism of the Israeli government for killing about 2,142 Palestinians — 1,800 estimated to be babies, children, teenagers, women, and seniors — since its offensive began in July.  Israel is said to have lost 72 people including four civilians.

Israel has committed serious war crimes in Gaza and West Bank for which it should be charged by the UN and other international jurisdictions. Only American veto power in the UN has prevented this, as it has often in the past. The Obama Administration, too, shares responsibility for these crimes. In just circumstances, such support for the settler state would be defined as a moral failure surpassing its years of backing for South African apartheid.

• The Ukraine crisis developed because Washington decided months earlier to encourage and support a coup that took place this February against the country’s democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovich, who was about to develop closer relations with the country’s long time Russian neighbor. The U.S. and EU wanted to minimize Russian influence and maximize their own by separating the two historic associates.

Moscow’s main goal in supporting Russian separatists against the Kiev government is for the U.S. and NATO to declare unambiguously that Ukraine will not be invited or permitted to join the Washington-dominated cold war military alliance, which now deploys its tentacles around the world.

The U.S. and NATO have been gravitating ever closer geographically to the former USSR with evident ill intent since the Soviet implosion over two decades ago. Crimea’s decisive 97% decision to join Russia was exploited by Washington to justify increasingly aggressive sanctions against Moscow.

The U.S. thought it had Russia in its pocket back in the 1990s, applauding as the newly minted oligarchs looted the economic patrimony of the former socialist working class. Today, Washington is engaged in an effort to reduce Russia’s sphere of influence and undermine its economy enough to weaken Moscow geopolitically. (See 03-28-14 Activist Newsletter for our analysis of this situation.)

Victims of Ukraine bombing of pro-Russian area.
At present the UN reports that some 2,600 civilians have been killed in fighting between Ukrainian troops and heavily armed separatists in the rebel redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as elsewhere. Russian President Vladimir Putin demands a humanitarian cease-fire and negotiations, but clearly intends to aid the rebels in the meanwhile. The U.S.-influenced Ukrainian government of President Petro Poroshenko declines. Most of the civilian casualties died from heavy shelling of pro-Russian territory by the Ukrainian government. Kiev declared this week that Moscow has sent troops to “invade” southern Ukraine, but Moscow denied the charge.

On Aug. 29 the Russian leader publicly sent a message of support to the pro-Russian fighters for their recent successful offensive, this time calling for a “humanitarian corridor” to be established to permit trapped Ukrainian soldiers to retreat.

NATO and the U.S. are strengthening their military position throughout the east European region, though it is most unlikely the two sides will collide in a war. It is also unlikely at this point that the Obama Administration will take action to resolve the crisis, not least by pledging that the Kiev regime will never enter NATO, and working out an autonomy agreement for the separatists within Ukraine. At this stage Washington undoubtedly believes it has the stronger hand and that it’s incessant criticism of Russian action is isolating and weakening Moscow.

  The only good thing about the latest Mideast, Israeli and Ukrainian crises is that the Obama Administration has once again had to delay important non-military aspects of its pivot to Asia, which is intended to prevent China from exercising leadership within its own sphere of influence. The Imperium does not appreciate erosions of its regional management lest this dilute its global empire.

• Lurking in the background, intimately associated with foreign/military policy is a specter much of the world would prefer not to think about. Technology has created the possibility of generating a third world war worse than the combined World Wars I and II.  At this stage the Pentagon would be derelict if it did not have dozens of detailed battle plans for every aspect of a third world war, and dozens more for any variety of wars on land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. How could it not? That’s the Pentagon’s job. No one wants another global conflict, but who wanted the first two world wars as they ultimately turned out?  It is folly to think this could not happen again.

Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons continue to exist, many on a hair-trigger alert at U.S. bases. Washington has been a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons for almost five decades, but it has totally ignored the treaty’s provision that genuine efforts must be taken by nuclear nations to attain the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament.

The Pentagon’s ability to wage devastating wars greatly improves every few years, based on new technology compounded by enormous expenditures. Einstein rightly said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” 

The next world war — unless it can be prevented by an entirely new U.S. foreign/military strategy —  will be far more deadly than past wars. In 1914, just before World War I, the global population was 1.8 billion. The war resulted in 18 million deaths of soldiers and civilians, and 20 million wounded. In 1939, just before WWII, global population was 2.3 billion and by the end of the war there were up to 85 million dead. By 2050 world population is expected to reach 9.6 billion — the big difference in addition to population, bigger wars, and more devastating weapons will be the existence of developed climate change.

  Although the global ecological crisis is not often thought to be a foreign policy issue, it is in practice since what the big industrialized nations do and do not do about this impending calamity impacts every country on Earth. Right now, though it demands to lead the world, U.S. policy is moving at a turtle’s pace to take the steps required to inhibit the growth of global warming.

In terms of climate change, the capitalist economic system and the political leadership that caters to that system refuses to take the swift emergency measures necessary to curtail global climate change and stricter protection of natural resources. The reason is that it depends for survival on the expansion of consumption, profits and standing in the marketplace. Big corporations, the banking system, Wall Street and related interests are not convinced a major transformation from fossil fuel to solar, wind, and other renewable sources over a couple of decades will protect and expand their assets. The world’s assets always come in second.

Human well being and survival depend upon several crucial international transformations that are basically ignored by Washington as it functions as global hegemon and leader of all nations:

·      Massive reduction of fossil fuel use to prevent ever higher proportions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
·      Strict regulations to protect the global ecological system.
·      Nuclear and general world disarmament.
·      Serious international efforts to rid the world of war, poverty, exploitation and oppression, vast social and economic inequality, imperialism, neocolonialism, and militarism.
·      Global leadership by cooperative countries working for the good of all, not a single self-interested military superpower that insists upon ruling unilaterally, rewarding its friends, punishing all others, and living at the top of the social order.

The United States, undoubtedly the most influential country on Earth as well as history’s deadliest martial juggernaut, is an arch offender in all these categories. Combined with imperial Washington’s numerous counterproductive interventions in complex world affairs, creating more havoc than order, it is time for Washington to focus upon its own mounting tribulations in America and leave the governance of the globe to the countries and peoples of the world who look upon it as their home, too.
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5.   OBAMA IS WRONG ABOUT NATURAL GAS
By The Activist Newsletter

Natural gas is falsely promoted by the Obama Administration and energy corporations as a “bridge fuel” that will allow American society to continue to use fossil energy over the coming decades while emitting fewer greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

On this basis, President Obama is providing total support to a massive expansion of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas within the U.S. He seeks sufficient quantities to last for many decades, allowing the U.S. to export liquefied natural gas and oil throughout the world.

Counting on lower greenhouse pollution from the use of natural gas, Obama has also instituted a major
campaign to greatly increase the amount of crude oil extracted from within the U.S., in good part from fracking. In mid-July the AP reported: “The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.”

Here’s the catch: A new scientific study  — “A Bridge to Nowhere: Methane Emissions and the Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Natural Gas” — argues that both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger greenhouse gas footprint than do coal or oil, especially for the primary uses of residential and commercial heating.

The author, Dr. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, came to this conclusion after assessing the best available data and analyzing greenhouse gas footprints for both methane (including shale gas and conventional gas) and carbon dioxide over a timescale of 20-years following emissions.

[According to a July 30 report from the University of Stockholm: “An international team of scientists aboard the icebreaker Oden – currently north of eastern Siberia, in the Arctic Ocean – is working primarily to measure methane emissions from the Arctic seafloor. On July 22, 2014, only a week into their voyage, the team reported, ‘elevated methane levels, about 10 times higher than background seawater.’ They say the culprit in this release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, may be a tongue of relatively warm water from the Atlantic Ocean, the last remnants of the Gulf Stream, mixing into the Arctic Ocean.”]

“We have to control methane immediately, and natural gas is the largest methane pollution source in the United States,” said Howarth, who explains that Earth may reach the point of no return if average global temperatures rise by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius in future decades. “If we hit a climate-system tipping point because of methane, our carbon dioxide problem is immaterial. We have to get a handle on methane, or increasingly risk global catastrophe.”....

"While emissions of carbon dioxide are less from natural gas than from coal and oil, methane emissions are far greater. Methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that these emissions make natural gas a dangerous fuel from the standpoint of global warming over the next several decades. Society should wean ourselves from all fossil fuels and not rely on the myth that natural gas is an acceptable bridge fuel to a sustainable future."

In this connection, while Washington talks about reducing coal use in the U.S., the Real News Network reported Aug. 4: “According to a new study by Greenpeace, American coal that is not being used at home is actually being sent overseas. So it begs the question: is the U.S. simply exporting climate change? That's how some critics are seeing it.” (1)

Obama’s new permission for oil companies to explore the Eastern Seaboard from the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida will produce trillions in profits as well as heavily contribute to global warming. AP reports that “Oil lobbyists say drilling for the estimated 4.72 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 37.51 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that lies beneath federal waters from Florida to Maine could generate $195 billion in investment and spending between 2017 and 2035, contributing $23.5 billion per year to the economy.” (At this stage the northern limit is Delaware, but it may we,, be extended in time.)

Incidentally, the use of sonic cannons to detect energy deposits create noise pollution in waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending sound waves many times louder than a jet engine reverberating through the deep every 10 seconds for weeks at a time. Seeking to head off presidential approval for East Coast exploration, some environmental groups pointed out that endangered species could be seriously harmed by the noise. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said this was true, but moved ahead.

The U.S. government’s heavy concentration on producing and using such “bridge” fuels as natural gas, “clean” coal, oil and nuclear power, with only token attention to renewable resources such as wind and solar energy, will significantly increase global warming. But as with sonic cannons and sea creatures, trillions in quick profits for the capitalist economic system trump the needs of unimaginable numbers of human beings who will suffer the consequences.

— This article is based on two recent reports on methane from Science Daily and from Dr. Howarth’s scientific paper published in Energy Science & Engineering. His technical article is at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ese3.35/full. Other sources were AP and Real News Network.
— J.A.S.
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6.   SERIOUS HUNGER IN AMERICA

Miami residents lined up in Central Shopping Plaza Aug. 22 to take advantage of a food giveaway by  Farm Share — a box of free vegetables, meats and bread. Supplies were exhausted after the first thousand were served, leaving a number of people empty handed. Press reports quoted many as saying they could not afford to feed their families adequately. 
By Feeding America, 8-18-14

One in seven Americans, more than 46 million people, including 12 million children, rely on food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families, according to a new study released Aug. 18 by Feeding America, the nation’s largest provider of charitable food assistance to low-income Americans.

Hunger in America 2014 is the largest and most comprehensive study of people seeking food assistance in the United States ever conducted. More than 60,000 people confidentially answered questions about their personal circumstances for the study.  

The study represents findings from 200 Feeding America food banks, which annually provide more than 3 billion meals to people facing hunger through 58,000 food pantries and meal service programs that serve every community in the nation.

The study documents household demographics and offers a snapshot of the people served by Feeding America food banks – their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make living on extremely limited household incomes. It is also the first nationally representative study that assesses the prevalence of past and current members of the U.S. Military and adult students receiving charitable food assistance.

“The results from this historic study are truly alarming. Many of the people being served struggle not only to get enough to eat, but also to keep a roof over their heads, the lights on in their homes, and to cover their healthcare and medicine costs,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America.

The report covers only food banks. This is different from the 47 million people who receive food stamp benefits (the government’s SNAP program). About 55% of those receiving stamps also rely on food banks to feed their families. President Obama this year cut $8.7 billion over10 years from the federal SNAP program. It followed cuts in November that slashed food assistance by $319 per year for a typical family of three.

Additional key statistics from the report include:

·      Among all clients, 43 % are white (1 in 10 white people in America), 26 % are black (1 in 4 black people in America), and 20 % are Latino (1 in 6 Latinos in America).
·      10 % of adult clients are students.
·      In a typical month, nearly 2 million volunteers contribute more than 8.4 million hours of their time to help provide food through Feeding America network agency programs. That’s more than 100 million hours of donated labor across the Feeding America network over the course of a year.
·      79 % of households surveyed report purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they knew it wasn’t the healthiest option, in an effort to provide enough.
·      66 % of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
·      33 % of households include a member with diabetes.        
·      More than half of households (58 %) have a member with high blood pressure.
·      The median annual income of Feeding America clients is $9,175.
·      16 % of respondents have experienced foreclosure or eviction in the past five years.

—A brief video and the text of Hunger in America 2014 is at http://help.feedingamerica.org/site/PageServer/?pagename=HIA_hunger_in_america
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7.   FERGUSON: IT’S TIME FOR AMERICA TO OWN UP

[The byline on this article belongs to the author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration,” which won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, among other awards. We consider the book an outstanding contribution to black and American history. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago bureau chief of the New York Times.]

By Isabel Wilkerson, Guardian, Aug. 25, 2014

Not terribly long ago in a country that many people misremember, if they knew it at all, a black person was killed in public every four days for often the most mundane of infractions, or rather accusation of infractions – for taking a hog, making boastful remarks, for stealing 75 cents. For the most banal of missteps, the penalty could be an hours-long spectacle of torture and lynching. No trial, no jury, no judge, no appeal. Now, well into a new century, as a family in Ferguson, Missouri, buries yet another American teenager killed at the hands of authorities, the rate of police killings of black Americans is nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century.

About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012, according to studies of the latest data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That number is incomplete and likely an undercount, as only a fraction of local police jurisdictions even report such deaths – and those reported are the ones deemed somehow “justifiable”. That means that despite the attention given the deaths of teenagers Trayvon Martin (killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman) and Jordan Davis (killed by a white man for playing his music too loud), their cases would not have been included in that already grim statistic – not only because they were not killed by police but because the state of Florida, for example, is not included in the limited data compiled by the FBI.


The haunting symmetry of a death every three or four days links us to an uglier time that many would prefer not to think about, but which reminds us that the devaluation of black life in America is as old as the nation itself and has yet to be confronted. Beyond the numbers, it is the banality of injustice, the now predictable playing out of 21st Century convention – the swift killing, the shaming of the victim rather than inquiry into the shooter, the kitchen-table protest signs, twitter handles and spontaneous symbols of grievance, whether hoodies or Skittles or hands in the air, the spectacle of death by skin color. All of it connects the numbing evil of a public hanging in 1918 to the numbing evil of a sidewalk killing uploaded on YouTube in the summer of 2014.

Lynchings were, of course, distinct from today’s police killings. They were ritualistic displays of public violence before sometimes thousands of people, including children. They were intended to reinforce the arbitrary rules of a race-based caste system, primarily in the American south. One white father in Texas took his toddler to a lynching in Waco in 1916 for that express purpose. He propped the boy up on his shoulders as 18-year-old Jesse Washington was burned alive. “My son can’t learn too young,” the man said.

But there are parallels between the violence of the past and what happens today. Images and stereotypes built into American culture have fed prevailing assumptions of black inferiority and wantonness since before the time of Jim Crow. Many of those stereotypes persist to this day and have mutated with the times. Last century’s beast and savage have become this century’s gangbanger and thug, embedding a pre-written script for subconscious bias that primes many to accept what they were programmed to believe about black Americans, whether they are aware of it or not.

It is the ordinariness of the supposed infractions and the very human nature of the behavior of some of the victims that may be most heart-wrenching about both lynchings of the past and the public killings of today. In both cases, it has never taken very much for an African-American to lose one’s life, whether taking a hog during the time of formal Jim Crow or jaywalking three Saturdays ago in Ferguson. Or, in a stunning case in Brooklyn, New York, 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury Jr., unarmed and with no criminal record, was killed in 2004 as he walked up a stairwell. The officer who shot him said that he had been startled. A grand jury refused to indict.

There has long been a readiness to see ordinary human behavior as criminal when that human is black, to see the death penalty as justified even for common missteps by black people. There seems to come a thirst for more incriminating evidence about the victim – a trace of marijuana in the blood, say, or a grainy selfie on Instagram with pants sagging low – a search for justification that the victims brought the trouble on themselves.

Jim Crow, down South in the 1920s.
The demeaning objectification of the victim that was evident historically also persists to current times. During formal Jim Crow, the lynched body was sometimes left hanging for days or weeks as a lesson to people not to step outside the caste into which they had been born. In a similar way, Michael Brown’s body was left in the street in Ferguson for four hours in the August sun after he had been killed.

During formal Jim Crow, lynchers killed with impunity. Rarely was there so much as an inquiry. Sheriffs were often actively involved, in attendance or chose not to intercede. In many cases of police brutality today, the officers may be suspended with or without pay (if at all), reassigned to a desk job or may be returned to the streets.

Lynchings were spectacles with hundreds if not thousands of witnesses and were often photographed extensively. Now, much of the recent police violence has been recorded as well. The chokehold killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York, the beating of great-grandmother Marlene Pinnock on a Los Angeles freeway and the gut-wrenching case of 17-year-old Victor Steen, tasered while riding his bicycle and then run over by the police officer in Pensacola, Florida, were all caught on videotape and have reached hundreds of thousands of watchers on YouTube – a form of public witness to brutality beyond anything possible in the age of lynching.

During the era of formal Jim Crow, white Americans were as safely disconnected from the lived experiences of black Americans as polls show that many are today. A Pew study last week found that 80% of black Americans polled, preoccupied by the killing of Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson and its aftermath, felt that the case raised important issues about race. Only 37% of white respondents felt that way, due in part to de facto segregation and a majority status that does not require engagement with those outside their own group.

That racial isolation, combined with the negative messages embedded in American culture, create a lack in empathy that allows otherwise well-meaning people to turn away from the plight of fellow citizens. This implicit anti-black bias, present in varying degrees across races, extends to every sphere in American life, from harsher sentencing for black people in the criminal justice system to the likelihood that young men of color with clean records are less likely to be hired for jobs than white applicants with a criminal record.

Subconscious bias affects one’s actions before a person is aware of it and goes so deep that a study at the University of Milano-Bicocca found that when people are exposed to images of a needle piercing someone’s skin they experience a more dramatic, measurable, physiological response when white skin is inflicted with pain than when black skin is. Thus the brutality continues in part because the majority of Americans may literally be unable to feel the pain of their fellow Americans.

— Click for information about “The Warmth of Other Suns.” http://isabelwilkerson.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Warmth_of_Other_Suns,
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8.   FERGUSON: ELITE KILLING GEAR


Militarized Ferguson cop, waiting for action.

FromThe Nation blog


Former Marine Lyle Jeremy Rubin posted an article on police weaponry, with Ferguson in mind, on The Nation website Aug. 20. Here is an excerpt:

There is a growing chorus of military veterans who have chimed in on the absurdity of photographs like this one above. Let me join the parade. What we're seeing here is a gaggle of cops wearing more elite killing gear than your average squad leader leading a foot patrol through the most hostile sands or hills of Afghanistan.

They are equipped with Kevlar helmets, assault-friendly gas masks, combat gloves and knee pads (all four of them), woodland Marine Pattern utility trousers, tactical body armor vests, about 120 to 180 rounds for each shooter, semiautomatic pistols attached to their thighs, disposable handcuff restraints hanging from their vests, close-quarter-battle receivers for their M4 carbine rifles and Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights. In other words, they're itching for a fight. A big one. It's a well-known horror that the U.S. military greets foreign peoples in this fashion as our politicians preach freedom, democracy and peace. It's an abomination that the police greet black communities in the States with the same trigger-happy posture. Especially on the occasion of an unarmed teen's death by cop.

There's at least one line every Marine knows. It's ingrained at boot camp or Officer Candidate School and follows us to the front lines and back home again. It's a simple command and it's the second of the four weapons-safety rules. It says, "Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot." The St. Louis County Police Department apparently never received the memo. Either that or they intend to shoot.

Although their tactical flashlights might be assisting them in spying on (and blinding) their targets, I suspect their air-purifying respirators and the smoke and CS gas they've released might be getting in the way of said objective. It's unclear whether it was cheap fuse-operated smoke bombs (think fireworks) or more expensive pin-operated smoke grenades that are responsible for the fog. Both tools have been reported onsite. For what it's worth, such smokescreens are usually executed during flanking attacks, retreats, close air support missions or casualty evacuations. All of these situations are presumed to take place under real or potential conditions of heavy enemy fire. Make of this what you will. My guess is that they've got a surplus of toys to play with, and a powerless demographic to experiment on....
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9.   REPORT EXPOSES POLICE MILITARIZATION



[The events in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown have focused a bright light on the militarization of U.S. police departments. In this connection we recommend the 2013 book,
“Rise of the Warrior Cop,” by Radley Balko for a shocking insight into what the cops are up to with their new equipment from the Pentagon. Also if you want to obtain a listing of the equipment your county and others have obtained from the Federal program, we have a link at the end of this article.]

By Brian J. Trautman

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report in June titled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” shedding much-needed light on the emergence of a militarist ethos in policing across the nation.

In a review of public records, such as incident reports, requested from more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 25 states and the District of Columbia, the ACLU found that, from the responses received, 818 SWAT operations from 20 local law enforcement agencies located in 11 states fully met their research criteria, which took geographic diversity into account, among other factors.

The SWAT incidents that were analyzed fell in the time period between July 2010 and last October. Based on the ACLU’s examination, it was determined that paramilitary policing is neither sporadic nor isolated; rather, it is widespread and pervasive. Perhaps the most eye-opening and disturbing aspects of the ACLU’s report are the revelations of when, why and how Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are being used.
SWAT team frightening family at home.

The trend toward hyper-aggressive tactics of today’s law enforcement are having tragic consequences
for both civilians and law officers. Property is being destroyed. Civil liberties are being violated. SWAT teams are employing methods and equipment that have traditionally been reserved for war. For example, roughly 500 law enforcement agencies now possess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles built to withstand armor-piercing roadside bombs. According to the report, the root causes of the excessive militarization of policing and its reshaping of cultural values are numerous. They include the “War on Drugs,” the events of September 11, 2001, and a series of Supreme Court decisions which have eroded the rights guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment and given police unprecedented access to private homes.

The report cites several incidents in which crime suspects or their family members have either been injured or killed during SWAT raids. These include the killing of a 26-year-old mother holding her infant son; the killing of a 68-year-old grandfather; a flashbang grenade severely burning a toddler in a crib; and, the shooting (22 times) of a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran. The ACLU also learned of various instances in which SWAT teams deployed when children were on the premises, sometimes when police had advanced warning that children would be on site. And it was not uncommon, the ACLU discovered, for family pets to be needlessly shot during raids.

There are five primary findings presented in the report:
1.     The excessive militarization of American policing has largely been the result of federal programs that have incentivized the use of “unnecessarily aggressive weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield.”
2.     There has been virtually no public oversight concerning the militarization of American policing.
3.     In the majority of cases, SWAT teams were deployed to execute search warrants in low-level drug investigations, whereas traditional uses of SWAT (in hostage or barricade scenarios) totaled considerably fewer cases: According to the ACLU, “SWAT teams were more than twice as likely to force entry into a person’s home when searching for drugs than for other deployments.”
4.     People of color were disproportionately impacted by paramilitary weapons and tactics and were the primary targets of drug searches.
5.     War-like tactics and equipment are unnecessary and increase the risk of harm to people and damage to property.

The report also includes a number of recommendations. These include:
·      Because the militarization of policing has permeated American society, systemic reform including a transformation in police culture is needed.
·      Different agencies of the federal government are responsible for the trend of aggressive policing. Accordingly, reform should occur throughout government. Programs that incentivize the militarization of policing must be curtailed.
·      Probable cause must not be the sole justification for SWAT teams to enter homes, even in cases when a search warrant has been issued.
·      Appropriate restraints of SWAT should be developed by state legislatures and municipalities.
·      Local police departments should develop internal policies and training that restrain officers and discourage a “warrior” mindset....

  From Dissident Voice, a website we recommend, at http://dissidentvoice.org/
The author is an instructor of peace studies at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA. He is a peace activist involved with several groups, including Veterans for Peace and Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice.

[Readers can check what military supplies have been given to the police in their county. Go to: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/military-hardware-local-pd-stockpiling-database-show-you/?appSession=746119534422761]
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10. GAZA TRUCE HOLDING,
LESS SO NETANYAHU'S SUPPORT AT HOME



Gaza family returns to bombed home from UN shelter after cease fire.

By Tony Karon and Ehab Zahriyeh, Aljazeera, 8-27

Even in the best-case scenario, the truce agreed to Aug. 26 between Israel and Palestinian factions will end the recent Gaza battle, but not the war.

If it holds, the cease-fire agreement caps seven weeks of fighting that killed some 2,142 Palestinians (including 577 children) and 69 Israelis (six of them civilians, one a child), with Israel securing no obvious gains. And while it promises some opening of Gaza, as demanded by Hamas, the truce does not address the organization’s more expansive demand for ending the long-term siege on the territory.

Moreover, the deal does not even pretend to address the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict of which Gaza is but one symptom. And the persistence of that underlying conflict with no prospect of resolving it through the now-collapsed U.S.-led “peace process” is just one of the reasons why the latest truce is unlikely to be the last.

The combatants have agreed to halt attacks on one another, and for Israel to open Gaza’s crossings to humanitarian aid and building materials. The crossings and the reconstruction of Gaza will be under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority (PA) rather than Hamas, while the waters in which Palestinian trawlers will be allowed to fish will be extended. Palestinian demands for the construction of air and sea ports, and Israeli demands for Gaza’s disarmament, were deferred to another round of talks to begin in Cairo next month.

While there’s no clear victor in the inconclusive outcome, Hamas appears to have fared better politically.
“[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu looks much more shaky today than he did 50 days ago,” said former Israeli negotiator Daniel Levy, now at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Hamas looks stronger today than it did 50 days ago. Hamas may have been hit harder physically, but Israel has been hit harder strategically.”
Not everyone returned home.

Ironically, perhaps, even though Hamas suffered the loss of some commanders and combatants, and
large parts of its Gaza domain have once again been reduced to rubble, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge may have improved Hamas’ political position, while weakening Netanyahu’s.

Before the current outbreak, Hamas had been politically weakened by the overthrow of its Egyptian ally, President Mohammed Morsi, in last summer’s coup, and the resulting financial hardships imposed on Gaza from the Egyptian side had forced the movement to accept unfavorable terms for reconciliation with Abbas – most notably the restoration of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, and the return of its security forces ejected by Hamas fighters in 2007 – to operate the crossings into the territory. Even if it was pushed there by unfavorable circumstances, that meant Hamas claimed the Palestinian political center throughout the past seven weeks, articulating mainstream demands on the siege that had the backing of even Hamas’ opponents.

Allowing PA President Mahmoud Abbas a role in negotiating the truce despite having no part in the Gaza conflict also worked to help restore Hamas’ political fortunes. Not only has the Israeli campaign in Gaza forced Netanyahu to negotiate with a group that just days ago he branded as equal to the extremist Islamic State movement in Syria and Iraq; it has effectively put an end to Israeli efforts to demand that Abbas abandon the Palestinian reconciliation agreement between his Fatah movement and Hamas. The new truce agreement that Israel struck with an alliance of Palestinian factions cements the place of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the mainstream Palestinian polity, and as interlocutors for Israel.

Indeed, the truce makes Abbas a co-owner of the outcome, which could be a perilous situation since Netanyahu is likely to come under mounting political pressure to back out of the deal.
Consider the assessment of the cease-fire agreement by correspondent Barak Ravid in the liberal Israel daily Haaretz:

“Without a formal discussion, without a vote, in laconic telephone updates with members of the security cabinet – that is how the government of Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu in August 2014 approved a cease-fire agreement with a terror organization,” wrote Ravid. “The same Benjamin Netanyahu who ran for election five years ago, after Operation Cast Lead, on the platform that the mission had not been accomplished, that Hamas rule had to be destroyed and that he was the only one who could do it.”

 “Netanyahu's conduct during the 50 days of fighting in Gaza highlighted the gap between his statements and promises and the reality,” Ravid continued. “The prime minister, who was the most strident in his statement against Hamas, ended the confrontation with the organization in the weakest position.”

Ravid argued that Israel had achieved no strategic gains in the operation, but has suffered great damage to its diplomatic position and the population’s sense of calm and security. And that’s the assessment of a liberal critic. Economy minister Naftali Bennett, who throughout the war had challenged Netanyahu’s approach for lacking conviction, denounced the cease-fire Tuesday night, demanding a cabinet vote — which, he said, Netanyahu knew he would lose.

[YNet reported Aug. 27: “ Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the open-ended ceasefire deal reached between Israel and Hamas, and said that Israel should not make political agreements with Hamas, hinting at growing tensions within Prime Minister Netanyahu's governing coalition. The ceasefire was decided on by the prime minister, without being put to a Cabinet vote.]

A day before the truce, a public opinion poll by Israel’s Channel 2 had found Netanyahu’s approval rating at 38 percent, compared with 82 percent earlier in the operation. And that’s before he had to face the withering onslaught of right-wing critics from within his own cabinet over the war’s outcome.
The extent of Palestinian gains from the cease-fire deal, of course, will depend largely on whether and how it’s implemented. “In 2012, we saw certain terms to an agreement that looked in some ways favorable for Palestinians in Gaza, but then they were never really enforced and followed up on,” said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C.

And he’s not confident, given the “huge imbalance of power between the parties” and the absence of a credible enforcement mechanism. “The Israelis are a very strong state versus the Palestinians in Gaza, which are stateless people and a group of guerrillas basically,” he said.  “Previous ceasefires have failed so spectacularly in the past because if Hamas or other Palestinians violate the ceasefire, Israel is independently capable of holding them accountable through the use of force, whereas if the Israelis violate the ceasefire, Palestinians do not have that capacity. In fact the only thing that they have in attempt to do that is of course projectile fire, which can then lead to further Israeli responses and then lead to an escalation and so on and that’s how the ceasefire crumbles again.”

One reason for concern over implementation is the pressure on Netanyahu to back away from what will be seen on both sides as concessions to Hamas.

Boy cries after returning to shattered home, Aug. 26.
It’s also worth noting that Israeli-Palestinian talks mediated by Secretary of State John Kerry formally broke down over Israel’s refusal to continue releasing prisoners on the basis of an agreement brokered by the U.S. — an agreement opposed by some of the same members of Netanyahu’s cabinet that have attacked his Gaza truce. One of the issues postponed until next month's talks in Cairo is Hamas' demand that Israel releases prisoners arrested in the West Bank.

No surprise, then, that Levy doesn’t expect much to come of the talks mediated by the Egyptians to address the key issues left unresolved. If the pressure exerted by both sides by force of arms over the past seven weeks was insufficient to force compliance with their demands, said Levy, “neither side is going to achieve in indirect negotiations what it couldn’t achieve in military confrontation.”

The stalemate was underscored in Abbas’ own statement on the Cairo truce. “What next?” the PA president asked. “Should we expect another war after a year or two? Until when will the cause remain unresolved?” Abbas was referring to the long-stalled process to address the underlying conflict via a two-state solution. After two decades of negotiations, however, that solution is no closer.

“Engaging in vague negotiations is something we cannot continue to do,” Abbas declared. Yet, there’s no sign that the latest truce will offer anything more than “vague negotiations” and the recurring Gaza nightmare of which he warned.
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11. ISRAELI SOLDIERS USED GAZA CIVILIANS HUMAN SHIELDS
Max Blumenthal, Alternet, Aug. 26, 2014

GAZA — Mahmoud Abu Said could hardly speak about what happened to him when the soldiers first arrived to his neighborhood. His eyes filled with tears, the muscles in his face began to twitch, and his voice faltered. As the baby-faced, 19-year-old resident of Rafah in Southern Gaza recounted how Israeli soldiers used him as a human shield, torturing and then kidnapping him, he collapsed into a plastic chair. 

“I feel so afraid,” he muttered. “It’s not normal. I feel weak and I’m not myself.”

Mahmoud was among several residents of the Gaza Strip who provided me with testimony of being used as human shields by Israeli forces during their ground invasion in July. He is also among the young men from various locations around the besieged coastal territory who told me they were kidnapped by Israeli soldiers, taken to a prison in southern Israel, physically abused and interrogated about activity by armed resistance groups operating in Gaza. 

The Israeli military and its international corps of supporters have accused Hamas of exploiting residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields, hoping to deflect from the whopping toll of civilian casualties they caused. But interviews with Palestinians from Gaza’s border areas revealed the opposite to be true: Israel has repeatedly used defenseless civilians to shield themselves from potential guerrilla attacks, brutally abusing young men like Mahmoud Abu Said during their invasion of Gaza. The practice is not only a war crime that violates international human rights law, it was outlawed by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2005.

Israeli soldiers with Gaza captives.
As we stood on the porch of the ransacked home of Mahmoud’s family, a drone buzzed incessantly
overhead while squadrons of F-16s roared by. The red tile roof above us had been punctured with gaping holes from Israeli shrapnel; the interior of the house had been trashed by the soldiers who transformed it into a shooting gallery; and the house next door was reduced to a pile of rubble. But nowhere was the damage exacted by Israeli forces more apparent than in Mahmoud’s bloodshot eyes and nearly catatonic expression.

“Traumatized!” his friend exclaims. “He’s completely traumatized.”

After a drink of water, Mahmoud managed to pull himself together. He recalled what happened when the soldiers arrived on July 14 during the first stage of Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The entire Abu Said family had gathered at his spacious home, including 30 cousins. When a platoon of Israeli troops appeared in the dirt road outside the house, the terror began.

After ordering the family to evacuate the house under the shelling their army had just initiated, the soldiers called for Mahmoud’s father, Abdul Hadi El Said. As soon as he appeared at his doorstep, they shot him in the chest, leaving him to die. Miraculously, after bleeding for two hours, he managed to survive and seek medical help. The rest of the family fled west away from the oncoming troops; however, the soldiers grabbed Mahmoud and refused to allow him to leave.

Mahmoud said the Israeli troops dragged him back into his house, blindfolded him and wrapped him in a blanket on the floor as they began to blow holes in the walls to use as makeshift sniper slits — what US troops in Afghanistan called “murder holes.” Then the soldiers stripped Mahmoud to his underwear, handcuffed him, slammed him against a wall and began to beat him. With an M-16 at his back, they forced him to stand in front of open windows as they hunted his fleeing neighbors, sniping directly beside him at virtually anything that moved. When they were not using him as a human shield, Mahmoud said, the soldiers left him alone in the room with an unleashed army dog who was periodically ordered to attack him.

It was on the top floor of Mahmoud’s home, in a darkened crawl space, that an Israeli sniper killed two of his neighbors through a murder hole. Saleh Israibi and Ala Abu Shabab, two young men who had attempted to flee under the intensifying Israeli shelling, were killed in front of their own homes. According to Saleh Israibi’s father, Suleiman, his 22-year-old son was shot to death while attempting to rescue a neighbor he found bleeding in the street.

Continued at http://www.alternet.org/world/gaza-residents-share-monstrous-allegations-abuse-israeli-soldiers?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark
— Max Blumenthal is the author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009) and is a senior writer for AlterNet.
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12. WHAT SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT FERGUSON AND GAZA?
 
By KAL, The Economist
[Following is an anonymous contribution received by the Activist Newsletter that evidently supports both the Ferguson militarized police and the Israel government’s unconscionable assault on the Palestinian population of Gaza.  We suspect this came from either the Republican or Democratic parties, probably the latter. We disagree with the article but are impelled to be fair to both sides.]

By Anonymous

We are tirelessly dedicated to the Obama Administration’s campaign to stop the fighting between oppressors and oppressed and convince them to accept their present status instead of disturbing the peace and making frightening noises on the streets. This goes not only for our own Ferguson, Mo., but by odd coincidence, in Gaza as well.

We’re about to investigate an aspect of these wars. That’s the pros and cons of the decision made by the Ferguson Police Dept. to don the garb, the weapons and other accouterments of warfare given them by the Pentagon in a program strongly backed by President Obama. The purpose is to militarize the police in order to keep the homeland 100% safe from terrorists. After Ferguson, however, he now is rethinking the program.

The pros and cons are below, but first we must provide some context for both conflicts, beginning with Ferguson.

It’s true that a young man was killed in Ferguson after he engaged in shoplifting cigars, and then disobeyed a hardworking peace officer’s request to enter an official vehicle for a chat. The officer, a patriotic U.S. military veteran with a clean record during his eight years of service in the police force, had no choice but to fire warning shots to get the suspect to stop. The escaping man — a black perpetrator, it turns out — responded by changing course, and turning to face the officer with his arms spread menacingly in the air. He walked directly into the warning shots and was accidently killed. Those things happen.

The police department was very upset about it, although comforted when they remembered from the Good Book, “The wages of sin is death.” The department’s Protestant minister, the inerrant Pastor Knowsall, ruled that if the Bible said it, it’s true. And the force’s Roman Catholic adviser, Father Whiteman, ruled that robbing a convenience store is a major sin. Whiteman, considered a virtual saint in more peaceful and, frankly, attractive neighborhoods in the St. Louis area, has never sinned of course, but he learned all about it at his church’s summer camp for boys, which he visited frequently as a young priest and still manages to show up from time to time for what he calls special occasions.

Then, all of a sudden, raucous mobs took over the streets of this peaceful community, threatening everyone in sight, including peace officers seeking to keep the rioters calm. There was a case of looting and some people cursed the police, and someone threw a “Molotov Cocktail,” a terror weapon named after a Communist. This continued for days.

Needless to say, the mobs were made up mainly of African American people who were acting as though they were back in the “sixties” and hadn’t already gained everything they wanted.

These protests and riots have not been fair to the good people of Ferguson. We’re sure this majority black town’s three African American officers join their 50 white brothers in arms in feeling this way. There should be no more looting, and demonstrators must refrain from discourtesy toward our heroic boys in blue and camo as they try to restore peace and tranquility in our best of all possible democracies.

Eyeless in Gaza

A different, but relatively similar terrorist outbreak has been bedeviling our closest ally the State of Israel, started by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza, a part of Greater Israel. We say, along with the president of the United States, “Hamas! Stop firing those rockets against innocent Israelis! Monster! Aren’t you sated yet? Your bloodbath has already killed four civilians.”

We have been told there will be retribution, and we cannot fault them for this. According to the “Law of An Eye for an Eye,” as amended by the Knesset in 1949, this means 520 terrorist eyes for one innocent Israeli civilian eye. Scores will be settled!

Here is how it all started:  Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu (may his tribe increase) awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, and saw, within the moonlight in his room, the glare of terrorist Hamas rockets threatening the Jewish State. Terror rockets!

With deep reluctance and against his own passionately held peaceful and humanitarian principles, Bibi had no choice but to save his people by deploying the Most Moral Army in the World to defend the very land God Himself personally transferred to the prime minister’s direct ancestors — His gift of “land to the landless.”

When, God forbid, Bibi passes to his generous eternal reward, the heavenly real estate deed to all the former Palestinian lands will be posted in an elaborate shrine next to the public display of a magnificent glass enclosed coffin containing the embalmed remains of the fallen Bibi. After 60 days of being viewed by a weeping nation, this modest man will be buried. In his honor, when the time comes, the Israeli government plans to imprint Bibi’s favorite selfie and a copy of the deed on all Israel’s flags. We thank President Obama for agreeing to rename the storied War Room in the White House basement, Bibi’s Hideaway.

So far the Most Moral Army has harvested over 2,100 eyes, and counting.

Now back to Ferguson.

The Pentagon’s program of militarizing domestic police forces is controversial. People in Washington have put together a list of pros and cons on this burning issue for the White House and Congress to mull over. We are sending you a copy to prove how hard the politicians in Washington are working on behalf of the people. Here it is, courtesy of The Onion:

PROS:

·      Same tactics used successfully in Afghanistan, Iraq
·      Modern law enforcement simply cannot do their job properly by relying on handguns, tasers, and tear gas alone
·      A real shot in arm for nation’s ailing weapons industry
·      Look on driver’s face when tank pulls up beside Mini Cooper always fun
·      Local photojournalists now able to capture fog of war at home
·      Nice surprise treat for veterans to see weapons they used in war pop up on their hometown streets
·      Never a bad idea to put a more powerful gun in someone’s hand
·      Actually going to seem pretty quaint when compared with police armaments 20 years from now

CONS

·      Most police officers have proven fully capable of violently subduing protesters without any military-grade weapons
·      It is actually very hard to recite Miranda rights while holding a 40-pound grenade launcher
·      There is no longer any middle ground between community watch and military
·      Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles only get 5 miles per gallon
·      Military-style helmets limit peripheral vision while firing indiscriminately into crowd
·      Could potentially be abused if put in lesser hands other than America’s historically honest and virtuous police departments
·      Takes away that personal touch of beating a suspect to death with bare hands

What do you think?  Get back to us later. We’re still working on our opinion. Bibi hasn’t called yet.

Action proposal:

We think all Americans should visit with their top local political and corporate decision makers. Tell them you support their call to restore calm and healing between oppressed and oppressor, and that you agree there should be no monkeying around with our existing social and income structure, housing patterns and free markets because it is part of God’s plan.

And remember, as we part, when you go out at night, and there is not much light, and you happen to be white, and there is a shadow in sight, man up and do right. Above all, go armed and stand your ground. You never know who is lurking in the bushes, waiting to rob your cigars.

God Bless America!

— J.A.S.  The Onion created the pro and con points, but not the article. And when we wrote “Netanyahu awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, and saw...” we were using words from the famous poem Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase). A few readers may be offended by some of our comments, but keep in mind our only intention is to identify the real killers and their accomplices.
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13. MORE U.S. MARINES TO ‘ENCIRCLE’ CHINA
By Hu Qingyun, Global Times, 8-14-14

The U.S. signed a deal Aug. 12 to deploy 2,500 Marines to Australia, which will give it a further edge to militarily "encircle" China, despite its repeated reassurance toward Beijing over its intentions.
Some 1,150 Marines are stationed in Darwin in Australia's tropical north under a 2011 agreement that launched President Barack Obama's “pivot” to Asia.

The contingent, primed to respond to regional conflicts and humanitarian crises, will swell to 2,500 by 2017.

A communiqué issued after the Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations said that enhanced aircraft and naval cooperation was discussed, while the allies will also examine options for Australia's contributions to ballistic missile defense in the region.


John Kerry clasps hands with Australian
 Foreign Minister Julie Bishop after
agreement on troops.
Though no details about the talks were made public, Reuters quoted a source with direct knowledge of the discussions as saying that it involves an increased tempo of visits by U.S. fighter jets and bombers.

"So more U.S. air force visits to northern Australia, where they can use the fabulous Delamere bombing range and they would probably base out of Tindal," the source said, referring to an Australian air force base.



After signing the deal in Sydney, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was not interested in conflict with China. "We welcome the rise of China as a global partner, hopefully as a powerful economy, as a full participating constructive member of the international community," he said.

"We are not seeking conflict and confrontation. And our hope is that China will likewise take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of it and be that cooperative partner."



Chinese analysts rebuffed Kerry's remarks as "insincere," noting the move is clearly targeting China.

 Speaking at the start of the talks, Kerry said the Australia-U.S. relationship was "essential to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region," and named maritime disputes in the South China Sea as one of the new challenges in the region.

 Li Jie, a military analyst, told the Global Times Aug. 12 that the U.S. base in northern Australia will operate in conjunction with its existing bases in Japan, South Korea and Guam. He added that it will further boost Washington’s presence in the South China Sea and facilitate its future maneuvers in the region. "It is moving toward encircling China," he said.



Li also noted that given that Darwin is relatively close to the South China Sea, Indonesia and the Strait of Malacca, it will help the U.S. to exert pressure over China by sealing off its maritime passage if necessary.

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Pix ferguson march
14. UPCOMING NATIONAL MASS DEMONSTRATIONS

1. Saturday, Aug. 30 in Ferguson, Mo.: 
National march for justice for Michael Brown 10 a. m.
Canfield Dr. and W. Florissant Ave (Ground Zero)
March to police headquarters. Protest against police killings, brutality, profiling and legal cover-ups. "This will be a national massive march on Ferguson. People of conscience, from all walks of life, and all over the United States, will come together in Ferguson in the largest single mass demonstration to demand justice for Michael Brown," said Akbar Muhammad of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Council.  Information: http://www.answercoalition.org

2. Sunday, Aug. 31 in Detroit: 
End the Siege of Gaza NOW! 1:30 p.m. in front of the Cobo Center
1 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MichiganBuses are coming from all over!
Contact (313) 999-4420  or  DetroitGazaMarch2014@gmail.com. The truce slightly modified the worst aspects of Israel’s virtual imprisonment of the people of Gaza.  We demand the entire siege be ended! Information, http://www.answercoalition.org. Sponsors include: ANSWER Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine, National Lawyers Guild, American Muslim Alliance, Muslim American Society, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition - USA, Detroit Area Peace with Justice Network, Islamic Center of Detroit, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Palestine Cultural Office, Michigan, Michigan Emergency Coalition against Racism and Injustice, Detroit Water Coalition, American Arab Women’s Community Network, Dearborn Community Center, One Hamtramck, Code Pink, Witness Against Torture, Immigrant Justice Center, Peace Action, Peace Thru Justice Foundation, American-Arab and Muslim Political Action Committee, Black Workers for Justice, Imam Jamil Al-Amin Humanitarian National Support Committee, Northern Interfaith Alliance, Muslim Mothers for Peace.

3. Sunday, Sept. 21, NEW YORK CITY: A massive climate march
What is projected to be the “largest climate march in history” will take place in Manhattan today, two days before the 2014 Climate Summit will convene at UN Headquarters. The event comes at a time when the U.S. has been derelict in serious programs to reduce fossil fuel producing climate change. As of Aug. 1 there were over 700 national and local groups that will participate. More have been added since then. Organizations include environmental, religious, union, peace, justice, political, left, and various other good causes, collaborating to make this “People’s Climate March” a tremendous success. Full details about buses from New York State (several from the Hudson Valley) to NYC and lots of other information in in our last calendar. Click here: 8-14 CALENDAR, Aug. & Sept.

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