National Peace Action
for a Sane World

Every gun that is made,
every warship launched,
every rocket fired signifies,
in the final sense,
a theft from those who hunger
and are not fed,
those who are cold
and are not clothed.

This world in arms
is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat
of its laborers,
the genius of its scientists,
the hopes of its children…

This is not a way of life
at all, in any true sense.
Under the cloud of threatening war,
it is humanity hanging
from a cross of iron.”
~ D. Eisenhower,
former U.S. president
Tim Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 224-3121  TTY: (202)-225-1904
17th Congressional district of Ohio.
Seven Examples of a "Police
State," and How They Are
Appearing in the US  
by Will Potter
“Has the United States become a police state?”

That’s the stark question I was asked at the beginning of a recent
radio interview. Framing the current political climate in these terms
is quite blunt,and can be jarring to some people because it
automatically conjures images of, for example, Nazi Germany.
That’s clearly different than what is occurring right now in the
United States. So  how do we conceptualize the current state of
government repression and how do we
put it in a historical context?

The image that most
people hold of a
“police state” is a
representation of
extreme power
dynamics, and
repressive tactics
to maintain them,
at specific points
of history.
The current political
climate in the United
States is unique in
many ways, and
distinct from those
eras. However, it
shares core
attributes that we
generally associate
with a “police state”:
1. Raids, harassment, and intimidation of dissidents by police

When FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents raided multiple activist
homes in the Northwest recently, they were in search of “anti-
government or anarchist literature.”

2. Militarization of domestic law enforcement

As Arthur Rizer wrote for The Atlantic:
In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism
on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased
military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a
“soldier’s mentality” among their ranks.

3. Disproportionate prison sentences for political activists

The reason Marie Mason, who destroyed property, received a prison
sentence twice as long as racists, who harmed human beings, is
because of her politics.

Likewise Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for
non-violent disrupting an illegal oil and gas lease auction because he
cost corporations thousands of dollars.

4. Creation of new laws for people because of their political

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was created solely to prosecute
activists who threaten the “loss of profits” for corporations.

And now 10 states have considered “Ag Gag” bills that go so far as to
criminalize non-violent undercover investigations. The new bills have
passed in two states, Utah and Iowa.

5. Creation of special prison units

In addition to Guantanamo Bay, which Obama has refused to close,
there are now two experimental prison units on U.S. soil for “domestic
terrorists.” These Communications Management Units are for political
prisoners that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons describes as having
“inspirational significance.”

6. Pervasive use of surveillance

Spy drones are being used by domestic law enforcement for
surveillance, artificial intelligence, and monitoring social movements

Recently, Tampa police wanted to use them against RNC protesters.
This is in addition to widespread surveillance measures such as

7. Criminalization of ideology

In my opinion this is the hallmark of any police state: the targets of the
state have little to do with criminal activity, and everything to do with their
perceived subversive ideology.

For example, consider these FBI “domestic terrorism” training
documents which say that anarchists are “criminals seeking an ideology
to justify their activities.”

There is no “tipping point”

A final, more nebulous characteristic of a police state is the extent to
which all of the tactics above take place. It’s a question of degree and
intensity, and some would argue that, even though these tactics are
occurring with increasing frequency, they are not at the level that would
merit this kind of “police state” language. I think that’s completely

But no matter how you feel about the characterization of what is
occurring right now, the most important point is this: if we’re not a police
state already, we are marching closer and closer every day.
Tells the facts and names the names
The Silenced

By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan,  
Foreword by Michael Moore
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
began writing a weekly column,
“Breaking the Sound Barrier,” for King
Features Syndicate in 2006.
This timely new sequel to Goodman’s New
York Times bestseller of the same name
gives voice to the many ordinary people
standing up to corporate and government
power—and refusing to be silent.

The Silenced Majority pulls back the veil
of corporate media reporting to dig deep
into the politics of “climate apartheid,”
the implications of the Fukushima nuclear
disaster, the movement to halt the
execution of Troy Anthony Davis,
and the globalization of dissent
“From Tahrir Square to Liberty Plaza.”
Throughout Goodman and Moynihan show
the work of ordinary people to change
their media—and change the world.
Examples of a "Police State",
How They Are Appearing
in the US - Will Potter
Silenced Majority
- Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan
Rebuild the Dream
- Peace Action
A daily independent global news hour
w/ Amy Goodman & Juan González

Praise for Amy Goodman
"Amy Goodman has taken investigative
journalism to new heights of exciting,
informative, and probing analysis."
—Noam Chomsky

"You can learn more of the truth about
Washington and the world from one week of
Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! than from
a month of Sunday morning talk shows.
Make that a year of Sunday talk shows.
That’s because Amy, as you will discover on
every page of this book, knows the critical
question for journalists is how close they
are to the truth, not how close they are to
power." — Bill Moyers

"Amy Goodman is not afraid to speak truth
to power. She does it every day."
— Susan Sarandon
10 Critical Steps to Get Our
Economy Back on Track:

I. Invest in America's
. Rebuild our
crumbling bridges, dams, levees,
ports, water and sewer lines,
railways, roads, and public transit.
We must invest in high-speed
Internet and a modern,
energy-saving electric grid.
These investments will create good
jobs and rebuild America.
To help finance these projects,
we need national and state
infrastructure banks.

II. Create 21st Century Energy
We should invest in American
businesses that can power our
country with innovative technologies
like wind turbines, solar panels,
geothermal systems, hybrid and
electric cars, and next-generation
batteries. And we should put
Americans to work making our
homes and buildings energy
efficient. We can create good, green
jobs in America, address the
climate crisis, and build
the clean energy economy.

III. Invest in Public Education. We
should provide universal access to
early childhood education, make
school funding equitable, invest in
high-quality teachers, and build
safe, well-equipped school
buildings for our students
. A high-quality education system,
from universal preschool to
vocational training and affordable
higher education, is critical for our
future and can create badly
needed jobs now.

IV. Offer Medicare for All.
We should expand Medicare so it's
available to all Americans, and
reform it to provide even more
cost-effective, quality care.
The Affordable Care Act is a good
start and we must implement it --
but it's not enough.We can save
trillions of dollars by joining every
other industrialized country --paying
much less for health care while
getting the same or better results.

V. Make Work Pay.
Americans have a right to fair
minimum and living wages, to
organize and collectively bargain, to
enjoy equal opportunity, and to earn
equal pay for equal work. Corporate
assaults on these rights bring
down wages and benefits for all of
us. They must be outlawed.

VI. Secure Social Security. Keep
Social Security sound, and
strengthen the retirement, disability,
and survivors' protections
Americans earn through their hard
work. Pay for it by removing the cap
on the Social Security tax, so that
upper-income people pay into
Social Security on all they make,
just like the rest of us.

VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates.
End, once and for all, the Bush-era
tax giveaways for the rich, which the
rest of us -- or our kids -- must pay
eventually. Also, we must outlaw
corporate tax havens and tax breaks
for shipping jobs overseas. Lastly,
with millionaires and billionaires
taking a growing share of our
country's wealth, we should add
new tax brackets for those making
more than $1 million each year.

VIII. End the Wars and
Invest at Home.
Our troops have done everything
that's been asked of them, and it's
time to bring them home to good
jobs here. We're sending $3 billion
each week overseas that we should
be investing to rebuild America.

IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation.
A tiny fee of a twentieth of 1% on
each Wall Street trade could raise
tens of billions of dollars annually
with little impact on actual
investment. This would reduce
speculation, "flash trading," and
outrageous bankers' bonuses --
and we'd have a lot more money to
spend on Main Street job creation.
X. Strengthen Democracy.
We need clean, fair elections --
where no one's right to vote can be
taken away, and where money
doesn't buy you your own member
of Congress. We must ban
anonymous political influence,
slam shut the lobbyists' revolving
door in D.C., and publicly finance
elections. Immigrants who want to
join in our democracy deserve a
clear path to citizenship. We must
stop giving corporations the rights
of people when it comes to our
elections. And we must ensure our
judiciary's respect for the
Constitution. Together, we will
reclaim our democracy to get our
country back on track.
Website Contact~Therese Joseph
The goal toward which
all history tends is peace,
not peace through the medium of war,
not peace through a process of universal intimidation,
not peace through a program of mutual impoverishment,
not peace by any means that leaves the world
too weak or too frightened to go on fighting,
but peace pure and simple based on that will to peace
which has animated the overwhelming majority of mankind
through countless ages.

This will to peace does not arise out of a cowardly desire
to preserve one’s life and property, but out of conviction
that the fullest development of the highest powers of men
can be achieved only in a world of peace.
— Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977)

Brian Williams, Bob Simon and the
Difference Between a News Star and a Reporter
The Dirty Little Secret of Network News

(This column is written in honor of Gary Webb formerly of the San Jose Mercury News who
exposed the CIA connection in smuggling drugs into LA’s African American community.  
For some reporting errors he was hung out to dry by his publisher and most of the
Establishment media like the LATimes, Washington Post and NY Times.
He committed suicide.)

After cowboys, my heroes have always been reporters, in real life and in the movies.  Good,
accurate reporters are the Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spades of our time – detectives
tracking a crime in all but name.  A century ago Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens were
insulted with the compliment of “muckraker” for exposing the crimes and cruelty of the
Gilded Age.  Today’s muckraking by “detectives” like Matt Taibbi, Patrick Cockburn, Sy
Hersh and James Risen is almost always a product of dull print not glamorous broadcast.   
Bob Simon’s over 200 reports on CBS’s 60 Minutes, from places like Gaza, Vietnam and
Bosnia, are shining exceptions for their straightforward, sympathetic writing and
letting a story speak for itself not the journalist.

The dirty little secret of most network TV is that its finest stories – that is, those exposes that
make the Establishment’s skin crawl –often start as “boring” research-based slogging by
unglam reporters, for local newspapers like the Hartford Courant,
the Anderson Valley Advertiser and San Jose Mercury News, armed only with
a computer, telephone and public records index.

I was lucky to be born in Chicago a fabulous newspaper town, full of crime, dirty cops and
dirtier judges, covered by my favorite tabloids including the Chicago Times where I served
an apprenticeship as a copy boy.  Scandal and muckraking were the meat and drink for us
OR Book Going RougeChicago readers in a one-party
Democratic-dictatorship town.

Heaven knows there was enough muck to rake.  It was, and today often is, a rare judge or
alderman who doesn’t end up in the clink.  Of the 100 or so people to serve as a Chicago
alderman in the last four decades, 31 of them have been convicted of corruption.
And let’s not even speak of the past governor Blagojevich who became the fourth of the past
seven Illinois governors to be convicted of a felony.

Thus, I grew up in a headline hunting, scandalmongering, “irresponsible” tabloidish
journalistic culture.

I first became a working journalist in London’s Fleet Street which in many ways resembled
Old Timey Chicago’s graft, alcoholism and pursuit of trivial sleaze.

Given this history, I’m hardly one to sit in judgment on journalistic “ethical lapses”.   
But there really is a world of difference between a sleek superstar like Brian Williams and a
stone-cold reporter like Bob Simon.

On TV’s 60 Minutes Simon reported without performing.  (His last story, on Ebola, will
appear this Sunday.)  Brian Williams is cut from a different cloth.  (See actor William Hurt in
Broadcast News.)  Williams adored, and got addicted to, the ego-Botox of celebrity.  NBC
pushed him absurdly hard as their Peacock Network brand, and paid him $10 million a
year to shine on viewers with whatever is the opposite of real news. With his jut jaw, easy
delivery and delight in telling fish stories to David Letterman on late nite TV shows, he is
almost as much a victim of an anti-news system as its exploiter.

As an “embedded” war reporter in Iraq he broke an honest
reporter’s first moral rule to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.  He praised the
invasion as “the cleanest war in all of military history” in tune with elite journalism’s
prevailing lies at the time.

Celebrity journalism usually stinks on TV.  You can be 99 percent certain that when ABC’s
David Muir, CBS’s Scott Pelley and whoever NBC digs up as its next Rock Center star
announces a “scoop” the crucial drudge work begins with a woman or man with a pencil
and a sharp nose for news beavering away probably in some distant “regional” paper.  February 17, 2015

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives. Sigal and
Doris Lessing lived together in London for several years.


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Eat at Your Own Risk: Flawed FDA Risk
Assessments Strengthen Arguments for
Labeling GMOs
25 Feb 2015 By Alex James, Truthout | Op-Ed

Help Truthout keep publishing stories like this: They can’t be found
in corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation today.

For the past two decades, developers of genetically engineered (GE)
crops and their corporate allies have maintained that because their
products are so obviously safe, there is no need to label them. Thanks to
marketing campaigns, squelched state initiatives and a flood of GE
products on the market, the public has largely adopted this belief as well.

Would it shock the public to know that the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has never formally approved any GE crop as safe for human
consumption? Instead, these companies have been trusted to self-
regulate with little scientific oversight and even less transparency in their

This was quietly mentioned in December 2014, during a testimony given
by Michael Landa, former director of the Center for Food Safety and
Applied Nutrition with the FDA, before the House Subcommittee on Health.

His testimony drew attention to a fact often overlooked in the ongoing
debate around GE food safety: The FDA has exempted developers of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from premarket reviews of their
products, which would normally result in a formal assessment and either a
rejection or approval of their safety for human consumption. Landa's
testimony described the risk assessment process for GE crops, which
continues to use a policy crafted in 1992, establishing that the FDA sees
no essential difference between GE crops and their conventionally grown

As a result, the FDA merely invites GE developers to voluntarily consult
with the FDA on their products' safety.

According to an article written by William Freese and David Schubert on
the FDA's risk assessment process:
Under voluntary consultation, the GE crop developer is encouraged, but
not required, to consult with the FDA. The company submits data
summaries of research it has conducted but not the full studies. That is,
the FDA never sees the methodological details, but rather only limited
data and the conclusions the company has drawn from its own research.
As one might expect with a voluntary process, the FDA does not require
the submission of data.

During his testimony, Landa offered assurance that:
The fact that participation in the process is voluntary should not mislead
individuals to believe that the process does not provide for a rigorous
food safety evaluation. It is not uncommon for FDA to request additional
data and information or clarification about the data and information
submitted by the developer.

Landa failed to mention that these requests are often refused or ignored,
and when that happens the FDA continues its assessment without the
additional data.

A study conducted by David Gurian-Sherman found that when the FDA
requested additional information to conduct a complete and thorough
safety assessment 50 percent of the time GE food developers "did not
comply with that request."

The study goes on to show that of the developer data summaries they
reviewed and that were submitted to the FDA, there were "obvious errors
that were not identified by FDA during its review process," and the
summaries "often lacked sufficient detail, such as necessary statistical
analyses needed for an adequate safety evaluation."

Even more concerning, Gurian-Sherman revealed that these submissions
to the FDA often did not evaluate dangerous compounds such as
toxicants in tomatoes or anti-nutrients in corn and, "allergenicity testing
was not always performed using the best tests available."

Alarmingly, Gurian-Sherman's study also reports that upon the FDA's
completion of a review of corporate-generated data summaries, the FDA
does not generate its own safety assessment, but merely summarizes for
the public the developers' food-safety analyses.

None of the GE crops currently in the market place have ever been FDA
approved as safe. As Freese and Schubert point out:

Instead, at the end of the consultation, the FDA merely issues a short
note summarizing the review process and a letter that conveys the crop
developer's assurances that the GE crop is substantially equivalent to its
conventional counterpart.

The implication is made that there exists a rigorously tested, well-
regulated marketplace of GE food. However, these risk assessments,
when they occur at all, are highly questionable, and the ubiquity with
which the FDA has issued these summaries of corporate-driven analyses
of their own products only casts further doubt on their credibility and

What's the problem?

A problem arises when independent researchers appeal to these risk
assessments of GE crops, and their subsequent FDA "approval" as
testaments to their inherent safety. Further problems occur when
independent studies are conducted on various aspects of GMO and GE
crop safety, but often after the products are already on the market.

Too often, the independent nature of these studies is dubious to begin
with. Alison Van Eenennaam's recent literature review, for example,
received a great deal of media attention, and though touted as
independent, was sponsored by the Kellogg Company which spent $1
million fighting GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington State
in 2013.

The literature reviewed by Van Eenennaam was a collection of animal
feeding studies, conducted by six researchers all of whom work with
AgroParisTech, which considers Monsanto a business partner and
sponsor of its research.

Such conflicts of interest call into question the "independent" nature of a
lot of research done in the field. The lack of regulatory oversight indicates
that the marketplace is not a well-regulated one, nor is it transparent in its
risk assessment methods. Neither of these issues necessarily evidence
that GE crops themselves are dangerous for consumption.

There is, however, an important distinction to be made between the safety
of consuming GE crops and the safety of consuming the pesticides used
in their cultivation. The FDA is only concerned with the GE crops
themselves, while pesticide use is under the purview of the Environmental
Protection Agency. Research on glyphosate-based pesticides is highly
contested, with recent studies indicating glyphosate as potentially
carcinogenic, potentially active in human cell-toxicity, and indicating its
potential to damage DNA in humans and fish. A recent article in The
Guardian indicates that there may be still further harmful side effects to
these pesticides that remain unexamined. All of which only strengthen
arguments in favor of thorough, independent safety assessments and
labeling of GMO products in the marketplace.

Recommendations put forward in Gurian-Sherman's study are common
sense: Congress should provide the FDA with legal authority for
mandatory review and safety approval of GE crops. Additionally, the FDA
should develop detailed safety standards and testing guidelines, and
require developers to submit not summaries of data, but complete details
about their testing methods, the actual data from safety tests and
statistical analyses of those data. The FDA should then be prepared to
reassess the safety of GE products if new safety concerns are recognized
or new tests become available.

Landa made a point in his testimony to highlight that there is no need to
label GE crops because they do not differ significantly from their
conventional counterparts, and he sides with courts that have held that
"consumer desire to know such information is not, by itself, sufficient to
require such labeling." Perhaps if consumer desire to know is not
sufficient in itself, these flawed, weak and blatantly toothless risk
assessments provide a stronger basis to demand that GE food products
be labeled until we have more thorough testing and review standards in

Besides, you can take it from Monsanto's director of corporate
communications, Phil Angell, in his oft-quoted interview in The New York
Times: "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech
food," he said. "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.
Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."
The Reckless Lies of War Mongers
Why the Rise of Fascism
is Again the Issue


The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder
of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our
consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of
goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the
same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget,
the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it
is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in
1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international
crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself
the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not
have happened.  Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their
war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive
today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its
savagery.  They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the
bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the
precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and
its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more
than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used;
the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross
identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children
killed] were under the age of ten”.

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with
a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary
Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.”  His murder, like the
destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was
planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we
waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of
Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across
the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan
government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath,
a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie
provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron
as a “humanitarian intervention”.

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would
become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21
Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf
by Nato bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s
economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s
greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American
imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common
African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote
economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or
not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it
prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military

Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution,
Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s
Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an
African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.

The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western
liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair
sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing
“genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of
Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic],
claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14
and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the
Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic
allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was
set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call
him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins,
along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station,
international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence
of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went
home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily
denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”.
A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final
count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both
sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no
genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely
independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and
economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major
manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the
expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which
had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav
provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at
Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret
deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was
denied World Bank loans.  Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic,
was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace”
conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the
enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret
Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This
demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country
with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of
a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets.
No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato
bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the
catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations –
69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of
America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments
overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections
subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all
protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as
“sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in
the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan
is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union
address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors
(mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.  “The
longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,”
said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than
in any year since the UN took records.  The majority have been killed —
civilians and soldiers — during Obama’s time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina.  In his
lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American
Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the
godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if
America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a
popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that
commands popular passion . . . Democracy is inimical to imperial
mobilisation.”  He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have
revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976,
Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor,
demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and
only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country
on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in
1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a
government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition
of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social
justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were
freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest;
peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For
women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university
students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s
doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,”
recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and
university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We
used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a
Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the
mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools.
We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the
West supported.”

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though,
as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no
evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]“. Alarmed by the
growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world,
Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA,
its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorized support for tribal
“fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to
over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was
the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In
August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’
larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA
government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social
and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They
included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in
cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and
throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited
to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not
launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in
Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and
“destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography,
“a few stirred up Muslims”.  His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of  
the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In
1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit
people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-
millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would
eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic
college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA
camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was
celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan,
Mohammed Najibullah — who had gone before the UN General Assembly
to plead for help — was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was
September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in
which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across
the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria.
The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The
American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and
“collatoral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from,
many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only
one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the
greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror
marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the
air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own
ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution
of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are
Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his
selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White
House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal
justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the
Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these
roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains.  Each “hit” is
registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the
seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the
bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work,
planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in
American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama,
evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian
Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt,
who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up
Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains
unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally
unrecognised brainwashing.  Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as
enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew
up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had
no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war
machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US
losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their
hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in
distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment
of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was
nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is
about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it
as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its
opening days”.

There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During
the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks
who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of
Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military
junta in Athens — as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans
and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes
against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered
and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both
the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans
became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine
were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of
Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union,
Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the
enforcer as “nationalists”.

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration
splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government.  The
shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda.
Their leaders include  Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the
“Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and
those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The
first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader
of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14,
Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us
highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act
of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart
of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22
million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At
the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of
State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse
about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime.
She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for
defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of
Robert D. Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the
extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign
policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’
s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly
Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita
Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they
had done in the 1990s.  The referendum was voluntary, popular and
internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian
population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-
Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to
siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting
off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and
pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia.
In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence”
caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General
Breedlove — whose name and actions might have been inspired by
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove — announced that 40,000 Russian
troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he
offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the
population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s
ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow.
Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their
homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and
establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on
them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the
trade union headquarters with police standing by.  The Right Sector
leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our
national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as
a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-
Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on
a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian
propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of
Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims –
“Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”.
Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained
“pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine.
On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor
Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU
sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The
Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.  
There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed
groups”, but there was no Russian invasion.  This was not news. Vadym
Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war”
with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma,
introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime.  
In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of
Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as
fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet
installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of
its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a
reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative
journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No
European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to
dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but
the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s
media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this
reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established
….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much
as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at
the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media:
“The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well
known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based
on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their
victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack
…. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and
the radio that were the most important weapons.”

In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a
world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes
only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might
“nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-
checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his
readers that “America has the best kit”.

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that
led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin]
Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and
biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to
get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal
interventionist”.  In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the
West after Iraq: Iran.”

The outbursts — or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal
ambivalence” — are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite
who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost
leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a
full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing
image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35.
GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3
billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world.  In
tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in
military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want
Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new
Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State
Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was
hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.

They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is
on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The
manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto,
want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to
Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural
gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic
Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their
man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’
s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia
as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the
reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-
awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to
modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of
ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent,
victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

John Pilger can be reached through his website:
The Terror We
Give Is the Terror
We Get
Feb 8, 2015  By Chris Hedges
@ bottom of page

The Terror We Give
Is the Terror We Get
Feb 8, 2015  By Chris Hedges

We fire missiles from the sky that incinerate families huddled in
their houses. They incinerate a pilot cowering in a cage. We torture
hostages in our black sites and choke them to death by stuffing
rags down their throats. They torture hostages in squalid hovels
and behead them. We organize Shiite death squads to kill Sunnis.
They organize Sunni death squads to kill Shiites. We produce high-
budget films such as “American Sniper” to glorify our war crimes.
They produce inspirational videos to glorify their twisted
version of jihad.

The barbarism we condemn is the barbarism we commit. The line
that separates us from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is
technological, not moral. We are those we fight.

“From violence, only violence is born,” Primo Levi wrote,
“following a pendular action that, as time goes by, rather than
dying down, becomes more frenzied.”  

The burning of the pilot, Jordanian Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, by ISIS
militants after his F-16 crashed near Raqqa, Syria, was as
gruesome as anything devised for the Roman amphitheater. And it
was meant to be. Death is the primary spectacle of war. If ISIS had
fighter jets, missiles, drones and heavy artillery to bomb American
cities there would be no need to light a captured pilot on fire; ISIS
would be able to burn human beings, as we do, from several
thousand feet up. But since ISIS is limited in its capacity for war it
must broadcast to the world a miniature version of what we do to
people in the Middle East. The ISIS process is cruder.
The result is the same.  

Terror is choreographed. Remember “Shock and Awe”? Terror
must be seen and felt to be effective. Terror demands gruesome
images. Terror must instill a paralyzing fear. Terror requires the
agony of families. It requires mutilated corpses. It requires
anguished appeals from helpless hostages and prisoners. Terror
is a message sent back and forth in the twisted dialogue of war.
Terror creates a whirlwind of rage, horror, shame, pain, disgust,
pity, frustration and impotence. It consumes civilians and
combatants. It elevates violence as the highest virtue, justified in
the name of noble ideals. It unleashes a carnival of death and
plunges a society into blood-drenched madness.  

During the Bosnian War of the 1990s, relatives paid enormous
sums to retrieve the bodies of their sons or husbands being held
by corpse traders on the opposing side. And they paid even more
in attempts to secure the release of sons or husbands when they
were alive. Such trades are as old as war itself. Human beings,
whether in our black sites or in the hands of Islamic militants, are
war’s collateral.  

Not all hostages or prisoners evoke the same national outcry. Not
all command the same price. And not all are slated for release. The
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which turned
kidnapping and ransom negotiations into an efficient business and
took hundreds of captives, held tiers of hostages. Celebrity
hostages—including politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was
captured while she was running for the presidency of Colombia
and who was freed by the Colombian military after being held six
years—were essentially priced out of the market. FARC also had
middle-priced hostages such as police officers and soldiers and
low-priced hostages who included peasants. Celebrity hostages
are worth more to all sides of a conflict while they are in captivity.
These celebrity hostages—onetime Italian Prime Minister Aldo
Moro, who was kidnapped and executed by the Red Brigades in
1978, is another example—heighten war’s drama. Saddam Hussein
in a cage served this purpose. Celebrity hostages, because the
price demanded for their release is so extravagant, are often
condemned to death in advance. I suspect this was the case with
the American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded in
captivity. The proposed ransom was so wildly exorbitant—100
million euros and the release of Islamic radicals being held by the
United States—that his captors probably never expected
it to be paid.  

The Jordanian government is struggling to contain a virulent, if
small radical Islamic movement. There is unease among Jordan’s
population, as there is unease in the United States about American
air assaults on ISIS. The death of the Jordanian pilot, however,
bolsters the claims by Washington and Amman that the battle with
ISIS is a struggle between democratic, enlightened states
(although Jordan is not a democracy) and savage jihadists. And
Jordan’s hanging of two al-Qaida members Wednesday was
calculated, along with Jordanian fighter jet strikes in Syria on the
de facto capital of ISIS, to highlight these supposed differences
and intensify the conflict.

Sajida al-Rishawi, one of the two who were hanged, had been on
death row since 2005 for her role in the attacks on Amman hotels
that left 60 people dead. She had been an associate of the
Jordanian-born al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was
killed in Iraq in 2006. The tit-for-tat executions by Jordan and ISIS,
like the airstrikes, are useful in playing the game of terror versus
terror. It fosters the binary vision of a battle between good and
evil that is crucial to maintaining the fevered pitch of war. You do
not want your enemy to appear human. You do not want to let your
population tire of the bloodletting. You must always manufacture
terror and fear.

France and most other European states, unlike the United States,
negotiate with kidnappers and pay for hostages. This has devolved
into an established business practice. The tens of millions of
dollars raised by ISIS through kidnapping is a significant source of
its revenue, amounting to perhaps as much as half of its operating
budget. The New York Times, in an investigation, wrote in July 2014
that “Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125
million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66
million was paid just last year.” But negotiating and paying ransoms
has consequences. While French and other European citizens are
more likely to be ransomed, they are also more likely to be taken
hostage. But France is spared the scenes that Americans, who
refuse to pay, must endure. And because of this France is able to
remain relatively sane.

Terror serves the interests of the war mongers on both sides of
the divide. This is what happened during the 444-day Iran hostage
crisis that took place from 1979 to 1981. And this is why Jordan—
unlike Japan, which saw two of its nationals executed but is not
involved militarily against ISIS—has reacted with sanctimonious
fury and carried out retaliation. It is why Foley’s murder
strengthened the call by the war lobby in Washington to launch a
bombing campaign against ISIS. Terror—the terror we commit and
the terror done to us—feeds the lusts for war. It is a recruiting tool
for war’s crusade. If ISIS were not brutal it would have to be made
to seem brutal. It is the luck of the fanatics we oppose, and the
fanatics in our midst, that everyone’s propaganda needs are amply
met. The tragedy is that so many innocents suffer.

Mideast governments allied with the West, including Jordan, Iraq
and Saudi Arabia, have watched in horror as ISIS has carved out of
parts of Syria and Iraq to create a self-declared caliphate the size
of Texas. ISIS has managed through oil exports and the business
of hostage taking to become financially self-sufficient. The area
under its control has become a mecca for jihadists. It has attracted
an estimated 12,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 from Europe.

The longer the rogue caliphate remains in existence the more it
becomes a mortal threat to the West’s allies in the region. ISIS will
not invade countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but its
continued existence empowers the discontented and the radicals
in those countries, many groaning under collapsing economies, to
stoke internal upheavals. The United States and its allies in the
region are determined to erase ISIS from the map. It is too
destabilizing. Dramas like these, because they serve the aims of
ISIS as well as those of the nations seeking to destroy ISIS, will be
played out as long as the caliphate exists.

Terror is the engine of war. And terror is what all sides in this
conflict produce in overabundance.  

Ireland’s Social Revolution:
Traditionally Catholic Nation
Makes History with
Marriage Equality Vote

June, 2015 Democracy Now
In a historic victory for marriage equality, Ireland has become
the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage via
popular vote. By a 62-to-38 margin, the people of Ireland voted a
resounding "yes" for equality in a national referendum on Friday.
This signals what some are calling a "social revolution" in the
traditionally conservative Catholic country. Ireland’s constitution
will now be amended to say that two people can marry
"without distinction as to their sex."

The turnout was one of the highest in the country’s
history and came after a robust civic campaign led by
human rights activists, trade unions, celebrities and
. Ireland’s referendum reflects a sea change
in a country where homosexuality was decriminalized
just two decades ago and where 70 percent of
the population still identifies as Roman Catholic.
Rush Transcript at Democracy Now website.
On June 26, 2015
the U.S. Supreme
Court ruled states
cannot ban
same-sex marriage.
This page features our coverage of efforts to legalize and ban
same-sex marriage and civil unions in the United States,
including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), state ballot
measures, court challenges, grassroots mobilizations and the
2013 Supreme Court cases.
More at Democracy

Bernie Sanders closes on
Hillary Clinton in New
Hampshire Democrats poll

Vermont senator on 35%, behind former secretary of state on 43%
Clinton’s lead is slimmer than that held over Barack Obama in 2008

A CNN/WMUR poll released Thursday showed the socialist senator from
Vermont just 8 points behind the former secretary of state in the New
Hampshire Democratic Primary for the 2016 presidential race.

The Guardian reports:
The poll has Sanders receiving the support of 35% of likely
Democratic voters while Clinton is at 43%. Vice-president Joe
Biden, who has not indicated that he will mount a presidential bid,
is at 8% and the former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is at 2%.

The poll has Clinton with a far slimmer lead than she possessed at
this time eight years ago. In June 2007 a CNN/WMUR poll gave
Clinton a 36%-22% lead over Barack Obama in New Hampshire.
Obama won the Democratic nomination. …

Clinton’s weakness in New Hampshire is a significant red flag for
her campaign. New Hampshire has long been a stronghold for both
Hillary and Bill Clinton. A strong performance in the state’s
primary made Bill Clinton “the Comeback Kid” in 1992 and a
surprise win in the 2008 primary kept Hillary Clinton’s presidential
campaign alive after her loss in Iowa.
Friday 6/26/~ United Nations' International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
(Photo: Susan Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

A U.S. government review board said Friday that Abdul Rahman Shalabi, a
prisoner who has been on a nine-year hunger strike at the U.S. base at
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been cleared to return to his native Saudi Arabia.

Shalabi, one of the first prisoners brought to Guantánamo in January 2002,
was never charged with a crime. The government said he had been a
bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and had links to al Qaeda's external
operations chief, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is facing trial by military
commission at Guantánamo.

The Periodic Review Board—which was established by the Obama
administration in 2011 as part of the effort to close the prison at Guantánamo—
said in a statement (pdf) published on its website that Shalabi can be released
to take part in a Saudi government rehabilitation program for militants and
would be subject to monitoring afterward.

"The Board acknowledges the detainee's past terrorist-related activities and
connections," the final determination statement (pdf) reads. However, it
continues, "in light of the factors and conditions of the transfer...the risk the
detainee presents can be adequately mitigated. The detainee does not
appear to be in contact with any extremists and his family has
no known ties to extremism."

Shalabi has been on hunger strike since 2005, with his lawyer telling (pdf) the
review board in April "he has exercised a peaceful means of protest by refusing
to consume food and has largely cooperated with the enteral feedings he has
been provided on a daily basis over the last nine years."

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. now holds 116 men at
Guantánamo, including 52 cleared for transfer or release.

On Thursday, attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed
papers demanding the immediate release of another hunger-striking detainee—
cleared Guantánamo prisoner Tariq Ba Odah, who has been on hunger strike
for eight years to protest his continued indefinite detention and solitary
conditions of confinement at the prison. According to medical experts, the
military’s force-feeding regimen is failing to keep him alive; Ba Odah currently
weighs only approximately 75 lbs.—56 percent of his ideal body weight.

"Mr. Ba Odah has been imprisoned at Guantánamo for 13 years, and yet
despite the fact that he was cleared for release by top U.S. security agencies
more than five years ago, the U.S. has refused to repatriate him to Saudi
Arabia where his family resides or resettle him in a third country," CCR stated.

"What excuse could the Obama administration possibly have to continue
delaying his freedom?" asked CCR's advocacy program manager for the
Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative, Aliya Hana Hussain, in a blog post on
Friday. "None. It is the Defense Department’s gross negligence that has Tariq
on the precipice of death, holding on to the only way he has of reflecting back
what Guantánamo has done to him and others."