Jessica Reznicek, 34, an Iowa peace activist, was arraigned yesterday and charged with two felonies for breaking three windows with a sledgehammer at the Northrup Grumman facility outside the Omaha Nebraska Strategic Air Command at Offut Air Force base. After her court appearance she was returned to the Sarpy County Jail where she has remained on $100,000 bond since her action on December 27. Reznicek, who has no plans to post a cash bond, is facing up to twenty years in prison if convicted on both counts. Her trial is set for May 24.
Writing from her jail cell, Reznicek, who has lived and worked at the Des Moines Catholic Worker for years, said she broke the windows as an act of conscience “in an effort to expose the details of the defense contracts currently held by Northrup Grumman with U.S. Strategic Air Command (STRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base. Over the years, billions of taxpayer dollars are pouring into the hands of these money-hungry, bomb-building, and computer geek space war criminals.”
Her letter continued, “Yes, glass did shatter. It shattered like the illusion that Northrop Grumman holds human life in any way in its best interest. It shattered like the illusion Iraq ever possessed weapons of mass destruction. It shattered like the illusion Iraqis were involved in 9/11. It shattered like the lie that perpetual war will ever bring peace. Glass shattered in the name of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives taken when Northrop Grumman/STRATCOM’s direct bombs from space rained down upon them from space. I destroyed two windows and a door, yes! STRATCOM with its cooperate partner Northrop Grumman destroys life in the tens of thousands.”
“My intention was to be on the property and to do property destruction, that’s what I wanted to do,” Reznicek told a local television reporter via a jailhouse phone interview. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I didn’t want to scare anybody.”
Why Northrup Grumman? Northrup Grumman has been manufacturing weapons and weapon systems for profit for the US government for decades. Its primary customer is the US government which accounts for about 85 percent of its total sales every year. The massive corporation spends $10 to $20 million each year lobbying Congress according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In return it is one of the very top recipients of federal contracts year after year.
In October 2015 Northrup Grumman received the biggest prize of all, a $55 billion contract from the US to build 21 long range strike bombers. According to the Secretary of the Air Force, these bombers will “allow the Air Force to launch an airstrike from the continental US to anywhere in the world.”
USA Today included Northrup Grumman in its list of the ten companies profiting the most from war. The corporation recently reported it generated $2.6 billion in income and earned a profit of 12.9%. Its CEO makes more than $21 million a year. Board members are paid over $250,000 each per year and include several who passed through the revolving door of government like one high-ranking twenty year Democratic member of Congress, a General who was appointed by President Bush to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an Admiral who was Chief of Naval Operations under President Bush.
Even in jail, Reznicek remains hopeful. “I want to say now that I truly believe that the American people are done with war – done funding, killing and dying in U.S.-led wars and terrorism – and are ready to pave a path to peace.”
“I acted in accordance with my conscience and my spirit and that my property destruction was a useful form of nonviolent direct action. I do not stand in judgment of folks who feel uncomfortable using such methods. Nonetheless, I want to stand beside them, asking them to develop and apply their own means to expose the lies of Northrop Grumman & STRATCOM be it through education, research, writing letters, public discussions, public vigils, rallies and marches and yes, even civil disobedience.
“We all have our part to play. Here in the heartland of America we who seek peace must make efforts to dismantle the U.S. military dominance of space from the top down, by publicly and nonviolently resisting the joint Northrup Grumman and STRATCOM missions.
“This is why I acted. You do not have to act as radically or dramatically as I did, but please make a statement in your own way against government funded companies which focus on war and destruction.
“I’ll sit in jail for as long as I need to if it gets people talking.”
Fran Quigley is clinical professor and director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law.
Britain has refused to sign up to a UN agreement on protecting schools in wartime, which has been signed by 51 states, despite the fact it was drawn up by a former UK military officer.
The agreement was championed by the UN children’s fund UNICEF to protect schools from attack during conflicts. It aimed to set out a “safe schools declaration” and provide guidelines for military forces.
However, it was reported on Tuesday by the Telegraph newspaper that Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond had effectively vetoed the move after having opposed it as head of two government departments.
Already signed by 51 nations, the initiative was developed in response to deadly attacks on schools in Syria and Yemen.
In a statement on Monday, Amnesty International senior crisis advisor Lama Fakih reported how schools were being targeted with deadly effect in Yemen, where a Sunni/Shia proxy war is currently being fought with Saudi and Iranian backing.
“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched a series of unlawful airstrikes on schools being used for educational – not for military – purposes, a flagrant violation of the laws of war,” she wrote.
“Schools are central to civilian life, they are meant to offer a safe space for children. Yemen’s young school pupils are being forced to pay the price for these attacks,” she added.
It was hoped Britain would be a leading voice in the campaign to protect schoolchildren and schools after the high-profile campaign against sexual violence in warzones led by Phillip Hammond’s predecessor William Hague and movie star Angelina Jolie.
But Britain, like the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, did not sign up.
It is rumored that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Foreign Office have been put off by fears of litigation given the volume of cases brought against the military for alleged crimes in the Iraq and Afghan occupations.
Initially it appears that of the three government departments whose support was needed only the MoD – then under Hammond – was resisting, while the Department for International Development (DFID) and Hague’s Foreign Office were supportive.
Hammond’s subsequent shift from defense to the Foreign Office is felt to have poisoned both the military and diplomatic ministries against the initiative, despite the fact the agreement was drawn up by a former British naval officer.
Steven Haines, who drew up the British military rulebook for the 2003 Iraq invasion, is now a professor of international law at the University of Greenwich.
He told the Telegraph of his disappointment at the government’s response to his proposals.
“The stumbling block was Philip Hammond at Defence,” he said.
“It’s very frustrating.
“There’s no way that I was going to draft something that would embarrass the British government.”
The declaration, which was launched in Norway in 2015, commits governments to six guidelines including one which prevents military forces for using from using active schools as military bases.
It was thought that if Britain signed up then its role as a trainer of foreign troops would help to engender respect for schools and schoolchildren among military forces globally.
A Foreign Office spokesman defended the move, telling the paper that while they “support the spirit of the initiative, we have concerns that the Guidelines do not mirror the exact language and content of International Humanitarian Law.
“Therefore the UK, along with several other countries, was not able to sign the Safe Schools Declaration in Oslo in May 2015,” the spokesman said.
Britain’s concern about future legal cases may spring from its controversial military support for regional ally Saudi Arabia in the Gulf theocracy’s war in Yemen.
That support has included both material backing, in the form of weapons and munitions traded by UK arms firms subject to government license, and the presence of British military personnel as advisors to the Saudi military.
The UK government maintains the military advisors are present in Saudi headquarters to ensure international law is followed.
An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council early Monday has “strongly condemned” North Korea’s launch of a satellite into space, but China and the US differed on the type of response debated among world powers.
North Korea says the satellite launch was for peaceful and scientific research purposes, but global powers fear that the launch was a part of Pyongyang’s development of its ballistic missile program.
United States ambassador Samantha Powers called for robust responses to “violations” committed by the North Koreans.
It is likely the Security Council will draft a number of measures to increase and deepen economic sanctions already in place on North Korea.
However, North Korea’s only ally in the Security Council – China – fears that too severe a sanctions regimen will destabilize North Korea and the region.
It is likely that Washington will lean on Beijing to exert all its diplomatic efforts to rein in its weapons programs.
In the meantime, South Korea and the US said they will hold talks to possibly deploy an anti-missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on the peninsula – a move that Beijing says will harm regional peace.
While China summoned North Korea’s ambassador to protest Pyongyang’s satellite launch on Sunday, it also summoned the South Korean ambassador to protest THAAD’s deployment.
“China holds a consistent and clear stance on the anti-missile issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.
“When pursuing its own security, one country should not impair the security interests of others,” Hua added.
China says that the deployment of such advanced anti-missile weaponry will not help in deescalating tensions in the Korean peninsula.
Russia says the United States and its western allies rejected Moscow’s proposal to form an advisory center in Jordan for coordinating actions in Syria.
“Our minister proposed holding a telephone conversation with (US Defense Secretary) Ashton Carter on Jan. 19, but we were given to understand that such a talk was not expedient,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov was quoted by Interfax as saying on Friday.
Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg criticized Russia’s military campaign against terrorists in Syria, saying the air raids were “undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.”
The UN-brokered peace talks between delegates from the Syrian government and divided opposition were suspended on Wednesday only three days after their shaky start. The talks are not expected to resume until February 25.
The Geneva negotiations were halted after the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), a Saudi-backed anti-Damascus opposition group, failed to show up at a meeting.
The Syrian government delegation blamed the opposition for the failure of the peace talks, accusing it of pulling out because it was losing the fight on the ground.
The HNC’s pullout came as Syrian armed forces, backed by Russian air cover, made significant gains against Takfiri militant groups on several fronts. Moscow began pounding terror groups in Syria last September upon a request by Damascus.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow supports diplomatic measures to end the conflict in Syria while continuing its military assistance to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Russia is consistently making efforts within the general international framework of seeking a peaceful and political settlement to the situation in Syria. At the same time, Russia is providing support to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic in its fight against terror,” he said.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are apparently ready to send ground forces to the Syrian battlefield, but although a direct invasion has not yet been launched, an indirect one is already happening, political scientist Yuri Pochta told Radio Sputnik.
“The fact of the matter is that the invasion is already taking place, but it is indirect. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are acting through rebel groups that are fighting against Damascus,” Pochta explained. “These militants have been less active since Russia launched its aerial campaign. They are losing in several regions.”
Indeed, the Syrian Arab Army, assisted by Russian warplanes and Hezbollah fighters, has managed to turn the tide of war in recent months and is currently on the offensive. This year, Damascus-led forces have scored major victories in Latakia and other provinces, while militants from Daesh and other terrorist groups are retreating. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have backed some of these rebels.
Ankara and Riyadh have “apparently decided to ‘save the day’: to launch a direct ground operation in Syria and overthrow President Bashar al-Assad,” he suggested.
Evidence, supporting this sentiment, has surfaced this week. On Thursday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that Ankara was “actively,” but covertly preparing to launch a military campaign in Syria. On the same day, Saudi Arabia confirmed its readiness to take part in a ground operation, if the US-led coalition would support one.
Pochta warned that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would further complicate the situation in Syria if they decide to send ground forces to an already overcrowded battlefield. Many experts have long pointed out that resolving Syrian crisis is a major challenge due to the sheer number of stakeholders involved.
“Who will they be fighting against? Will it not turn into a real war, involving Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria? Then there is Russia… And Turkey is a member of NATO. The situation is increasingly exacerbated at a time when hundreds of different rebel groups take part in the fighting. Syria is being transformed into a gray zone. Local, regional and global players are all pursuing their own interests. The majority wants to destroy the Syrian state and society. This is tragic,” the analyst added.
“Russia bombing Syria will lead to further radicalization and increased terrorism”. Prime Minister David Cameron, 4th October 2015.
How desperately Prime Minister Cameron has been yearning to bomb the Syrian Arab Republic.
In August 2013 when his aim was defeated in Parliament by a 285-272 vote, his vision of the UK joining US-led strikes bit the dust. His dreams of illegally joining the bigger bully and bombing an historic nation of just 22.85 million people (2013 figures) three and a half thousand kilometers away, posing no threat to Britain, was thwarted.
The US threw a conciliatory bone to the snarling Cameron and according to the BBC (1): “would ‘continue to consult’ with the UK, ‘one of our closest allies and friends.’
France said (that) the UK’s vote does not change its resolve on the need to act in Syria.
After the vote … Cameron said it was clear Parliament did not want action and ‘the government will act accordingly.’
Chancellor George Osborne whined on BBC Radio 4′s flagship “Today” programme that: “there would now be “national soul searching about our role in the world “, adding: “I hope this doesn’t become a moment when we turn our back on all of the world’s problems.
Translation: “Inconsequential politicians on small island only feel like real men when sending off their depleted air force to blow modest populations far away to bits.”
The then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: “ … told BBC’s Newsnight programme that he and the Prime Minister were “disappointed” with the result, saying it would harm Britain’s “special relationship” with Washington. Ah ha, that tail wagging, panting, lap dog “special relationship” again, for which no body part licking, no crawling on all fours, no humiliation, no deviation of international law is too much.
The excuse for the 2013 rush to annihilate was accusations that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in March and August of that year, a claim subsequently comprehensively dismissed by detailed UN investigations (2.)
Cameron’s excuse for attack had all the validity of Tony Blair’s fantasy Iraq weapons of mass destruction, but of course he regards Blair as a trusted advisor. Judgement, it might be argued, as Blair’s, is not one of Cameron’s strong attributes.
Then came the Friday 13th November tragedies in Paris and by 2nd December Cameron’s parliamentary press gangs managed to threaten and arm twist through a vote to attack Syria in an action of shame which will surely haunt him as Blair is haunted by Iraq.
As the bombs fell, on 6th December, Cameron celebrated the anniversary of his his tenth year as Leader of the Conservative Party with his very own military action, Libya’s tragedy forgotten and belonging to yesterday. That, as Blair’s Iraq, it is entirely illegal (3) apparently bothers the former PR man not a whit.
As the Parliamentary debate was taking place, before the vote, it was reported that RAF reconnaissance ‘planes had already taken off for Syria from Scotland – of whose fifty nine parliamentarians, fifty seven voted against the attack. Cameron thumbed his arrogant nose to near and far.
Apart from the illegality, did it even cross Cameron’s mind, or did he care, that using the Paris attack not only defied law, it defied reason. To repeat again, the attackers were French and Belgian born, of North African extraction, with no Syrian connections apart from that some of them had been there joining the organ eating, head chopping, people incinerating terrorists. Syria is the victim, not the perpetrator, deserving aid and protection, not cowardly retribution from 30,000 feet.
After the vote, pro-killing MPs reportedly went straight into the Commons bar to celebrate with tax payer subsidized booze. Warned that the main doors in to Parliament had been closed due to anti-war protesters outside, one woman MP apparently shouted gleefully “It’s a lock in.” How lightly mass murder is taken in the Palace of Westminster.
Chancellor George Osborne: “eschewed the celebratory drinks … and joined a carol service in nearby St. Margaret’s Church – in aid of a charity for child amputees. You couldn’t make it up”, wrote a ballistic friend.
Within a week Osborne was in the US addressing the Council on Foreign Relations stating that with the air strikes Britain had “got it’s mojo back” and stood with the United States to “reassert Western values.”
It was he said “a real source of pride” to have the authority for air strikes in Syria.
“Britain has got its mojo back and we are going to be with you as we reassert Western values, confident that our best days lie ahead.”
Britain was prepared to play a “bigger role”, he vowed.
“Mojo” according to varying dictionaries means “a quality that attracts people to you, makes you successful and full of energy”, denotes “influence” and “sex appeal.” The man needs help.
Immediately after the vote during a visit to RAF Akrotiri, the British base in Cyprus from which the airborne killers will take off to drop their human being incinerating ordnance, UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, told military personnel that their mission had the backing of “both the government and the people of Britain.” He lied.
A recent ITV poll showed 89.32 % of British people against bombing. Governmental “mojo” has clearly passed them by.
Pro bombing MPs though, it seems, are anything but warrior material. When angry emails arrived from their constituents condemning the bombing, the heavyweight Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson (pro bombing) complained of “bullying” saying stronger social media policy was needed to prevent such correspondence.
Anti war campaigners had also sent graphic photographs of dead Syrian children to MPs to persuade them not to vote for creating more mutilated little souls. This, the warmongers said, was “intimidation.”
One pro-war parliamentarian said the messages led him to have concerns for the health of his pregnant wife. Beyond pathetic, try being the husband of a pregnant wife, or the wife, in Syria with Britain’s bombs incinerating your neighbourhood.
Another MP was so keen to become a member of the “bullied” club, she was found to have added a death threat to herself at the end of a justifiably angry email from a member of the public. Her attempt to was speedily uncovered. The desire to tarnish those repelled by illegally murdering others is seemingly becoming common currency in the Cameron Reichstag.
A majority of British politicians, prepared to drop bombs on people, blow their children, parents, relatives, villages, towns, homes to bits and are cowed by a few words. As for “bullied”, try being under a bomb Mr Watson, one of the bombs you voted for. “Bullying” doesn’t come bigger than that.
Upset at being sent pictures of dead babies? Imagine being a mother or father holding the shredded remains of theirs. Courtesy the RAF.
Have they any idea of the reality of their “mojo” moment? People tearing at the tons of rubble that was a home, trying to dig friends, beloveds out with bare, bleeding hands?
Further reality is the demented, terrified howls of the dogs who hear the ‘planes long before the human ear can, the swathes of birds that drop from the sky from the fear and vibration, their bodies carpeting the ground, the cats that go mad with fear, rushing from a loving home, never to be seen again. And the children that become mute in their terror, losing the ability to speak for weeks, sometimes months and even years.
Yet David Cameron allegedly called Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and those who voted against this shameful act of terror: “terrorist sympathisers”, reportedly telling a meeting of a Parliamentary Committee before the vote: “You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers.” (5)
This presumably was juvenile pay back time for Corbyn having stated correctly that: “Cameron’s approach is bomb first, talk later. But instead of adding British bombs to the others now raining down on Syria what’s needed is an acceleration of the peace talks in Vienna.”
Cameron also received widespread derision, including from Conservative Parliamentarian Julian Lewis, Chairman of the influential Defence Select Committee, for his claims that there were 70,000 “moderate” fighters on the ground ready to take on ISIS after British bombing.
One government source compared the claim to Tony Blair’s fantasy that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction on the West “in 45 minutes.” Lewis commented: “Instead of having ‘dodgy dossiers’, we now have bogus battalions of moderate fighters.” (6) Another commentator referred unkindly to Cameron’s “70,000 fantasy friends.”
Perhaps the best encapsulation of anger and desperation came from author Michel Faber, who sent his latest book to Cameron (7.)
In searing sarcasm, he wrote in an accompanying letter that he realized: “a book cannot compete with a bomb in its ability to cause death and misery, but each of us must make whatever small contribution we can, and I figure that if you drop my novel from a plane, it might hit a Syrian on the head … With luck, we might even kill a child: their skulls are quite soft.”
“I just felt so heartsick, despondent and exasperated that the human race, and particularly the benighted political arm of the human race, has learned nothing in 10,000 years, 100,000 years, however long we’ve been waging wars, and clearly the likes of Cameron are not interested in what individuals have to say.”
He speaks for the despairing 89.32% who hang their heads in shame. He speaks for those of us who simply cannot find the words.
Super Bowl 50 will be the first National Football League championship to happen since it was reported that much of the pro-military hoopla at football games, the honoring of troops and glorifying of wars that most people had assumed was voluntary or part of a marketing scheme for the NFL, has actually been a money-making scheme for the NFL. The U.S. military has been dumping millions of our dollars, part of a recruitment and advertising budget that’s in the billions, into paying the NFL to publicly display love for soldiers and weaponry.
Of course, the NFL may in fact really truly love the military, just as it may love the singers it permits to sing at the Super Bowl halftime show, but it makes them pay for the privilege too. And why shouldn’t the military pay the football league to hype its heroism? It pays damn near everybody else. At $2.8 billion a year on recruiting some 240,000 “volunteers,” that’s roughly $11,600 per recruit. That’s not, of course, the trillion with a T kind of spending it takes to run the military for a year; that’s just the spending to gently persuade each “volunteer” to join up. The biggest military “service” ad buyer in the sports world is the National Guard. The ads often depict humanitarian rescue missions. Recruiters often tell tall tales of “non-deployment” positions followed by free college. But it seems to me that the $11,600 would have gone a long way toward paying for a year in college! And, in fact, people who have that money for college are far less likely to be recruited.
Despite showing zero interest in signing up for wars, and despite the permanent presence of wars to sign up for, 44 percent of U.S. Americans tell the Gallup polling company that they “would” fight in a war, yet don’t. That’s at least 100 million new recruits. Luckily for them and the world, telling a pollster something doesn’t require follow through, but it might suggest why football fans tolerate and even celebrate military national anthems and troop-hyping hoopla at every turn. They think of themselves as willing warriors who just happen to be too busy at the moment. As they identify with their NFL team, making remarks such as “We just scored,” while firmly seated on their most precious assets, football fans also identify with their team on the imagined battlefield of war.
The NFL website says: “For decades the NFL and the military have had a close relationship at the Super Bowl, the most watched program year-to-year throughout the United States. In front of more than 160 million viewers, the NFL salutes the military with a unique array of in-game celebrations including the presentation of colors, on-field guests, pre-game ceremonies and stadium flyovers. During Super Bowl XLIX week [last year], the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project invited veterans to attend the Salute to Service: Officiating 101 Clinic at NFL Experience Engineered by GMC [double payment? ka-ching!] in Arizona. …”
Pat Tillman, still promoted on the NFL website, and eponym of the Pat Tillman Foundation, is of course the one NFL player who gave up a giant football contract to join the military. What the Foundation won’t tell you is that Tillman, as is quite common, ceased believing what the ads and recruiters had told him. On September 25, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Tillman had become critical of the Iraq war and had scheduled a meeting with the prominent war critic Noam Chomsky to take place when he returned from Afghanistan, all information that Tillman’s mother and Chomsky later confirmed. Tillman couldn’t confirm it because he had died in Afghanistan in 2004 from three bullets to the forehead at short range, bullets shot by an American. The White House and the military knew Tillman had died from so-called friendly fire, but they falsely told the media he’d died in a hostile exchange. Senior Army commanders knew the facts and yet approved awarding Tillman a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a posthumous promotion, all based on his having died fighting the “enemy.” Clearly the military wants a connection to football and is willing to lie as well as to pay for it. The Pat Tillman Foundation mis-uses a dead man’s name to play on and prey on the mutual interest of football and the military in being connected to each other.
Those on whom the military’s advertising succeeds will not typically die from friendly fire. Nor will they die from enemy fire. The number one killer of members of the U.S. military, reported yet again for another year this week, is suicide. And that’s not even counting later suicides by veterans. Every TV pundit and presidential debate moderator, and perhaps even a Super Bowl 50 announcer or two, tends to talk about the military’s answer for ISIS. What is its answer for people being stupidly ordered into such horrific hell that they won’t want to live anymore?
It’s in the ads
At least as big a focus of the Super Bowl as the game itself is the advertising. One particularly disturbing ad planned for Super Bowl 50 is an ad for a war video game. The U.S. military has long funded war video games and viewed them as recruiting tools. In this ad Arnold Schwarzenegger shows what fun it is to shoot people and blow up buildings on the game, while outside of the game people are tackling him more or less as in a football game. Nothing here is remotely warlike in a realistic sense. For that I recommend playing with PTSD Action Man instead. But it does advance the equation of sport with war — something both the NFL and the military clearly desire.
An ad last year from Northrop Grumman, which has its own “Military Bowl,” was no less disturbing. Two years ago an ad that appeared to be for the military until the final seconds turned out to be for Jeeps. There was another ad that year for Budweiser beer with which one commentator found legal concerns:
“First, there’s a violation of the military’s ethics regulations, which explicitly state that Department of Defense personnel cannot ‘suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment’ of any ‘non-Federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise. … Under this regulation, the Army cannot legally endorse Budweiser, nor allow its active-duty personnel to participate in their ads (let alone wear their uniforms), any more than the Army can endorse Gatorade or Nike.”
Two serious issues with this. One: the military routinely endorses and promotes the NFL. Two: despite my deep-seated opposition to the very existence of an institution of mass murder, and my clear understanding of what it wants out of advertisements (whether by itself or by a car or beer company), I can’t help getting sucked into the emotion. The technique of this sort of propaganda (here’s another ad) is very high level. The rising music. The facial expressions. The gestures. The build up of tension. The outpouring of simulated love. You’d have to be a monster not to fall for this poison. And it permeates the world of millions of wonderful young people who deserve better.
It’s in the stadium
If you get past the commercials, there’s the problem of the stadium for Super Bowl 50, unlike most stadiums for most sports events, being conspicuously “protected” by the military and militarized police, including with military helicopters and jets that will shoot down any drones and “intercept” any planes. Ruining the pretense that this is actually for the purpose of protecting anyone, military jets will show off by flying over the stadium, as in past years, when they have even done it over stadiums covered by domes.
The idea that there is anything questionable about coating a sporting event in military promotion is the furthest thing from the minds of most viewers of the Super Bowl. That the military’s purpose is to kill and destroy, that it’s recent major wars have eventually been opposed as bad decisions from the start by a majority of Americans, just doesn’t enter into it. On the contrary, the military publicly questions whether it should be associating with a sports league whose players hit their wives and girlfriends too much.
My point is not that assault is acceptable, but that murder isn’t. The progressive view of the Super Bowl in the United States will question the racism directed at a black quarterback, the concussions of a violent sport that damages the brains of too many of its players (and perhaps even the recruitment of new players from the far reaches of the empire to take their place), sexist treatment of cheerleaders or women in commercials, and perhaps even the disgusting materialism of some of the commercials. But not the militarism. The announcers will thank “the troops” for watching from “over 175 countries” and nobody will pause, set down their beer and dead animal flesh and ask whether 174 countries might not be enough to have U.S. troops in right now.
The idea that the Super Bowl promotes is that war is more or less like football, only better. I was happy to help get a TV show canceled that turned war into a reality game. There is still some resistance to that idea that can be tapped in the U.S. public. But I suspect it is eroding.
The NFL doesn’t just want the military’s (our) money. It wants the patriotism, the nationalism, the fervent blind loyalty, the unthinking passion, the personal identification, a love for the players to match love of troops — and with similar willingness to throw them under a bus.
The military doesn’t just want the sheer numbers of viewers attracted to the Super Bowl. It wants wars imagined as sporting events between teams, rather than horrific crimes perpetrated on people in their homes and villages. It wants us thinking of Afghanistan not as a 15-year disaster, murder-spree, and counter-productive SNAFU, but as a competition gone into double quadruple overtime despite the visiting team being down 84 points and attempting an impossible comeback. The military wants chants of “USA!” that fill a stadium. It wants role models and heroes and local connections to potential recruits. It wants kids who can’t make it to the pros in football or another sport to think they’ve got the inside track to something even better and more meaningful.
I really wish they did.
By Chris Rossini | RonPaulLibertyReport | February 5, 2016
We all know how Hollywood and the crony media likes to portray the US military. It’s almost always presented as this well-oiled machine, good looking people, white teeth, well-spoken, the whole nine yards.
Hardly will you see how trillions of taxpayers dollars go up in smoke and how the Pentagon mysteriously “loses” track of where the money goes. No, the actual truth about how government bureaucracy works is not what you’ll see in the latest blockbuster film.
Perceptions are critically important when running an operation that forcefully takes money from American citizens. Perception is worth big bucks! As a matter of fact, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter had his hands out this week seeking yet another $600 billion.
Even as we fight today’s fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.
This is where perception comes in. The belief that the US military (a) should be fighting for decades to come, and (b) that it’s able to sit down and plan 10, 20, and 30 years down the road.
If this were even remotely true, was it in the US plans for ISIS to exist right now? How about the fact that the Taliban controls more of Afghanistan than at any time since 2001? Was that in the plans?
Obama’s “plan” for Iraq was “an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant.” Yet, Iraq today doesn’t resemble that at all. Obama was supposed to end the Iraq war, yet mission creep has the US with well above 4,000 troops in that country, and the numbers keep climbing. Was all of this in the plans as well?
The “plan” for Libya was to conduct a “humanitarian intervention,” yet anyone who looks at Libya now and sees humanitarianism needs to get their eyes checked. Was turning Libya into a cauldron of misery, and yet another magnet for ISIS, in the “plans”?
What if there’s a financial crisis in the next 10, 20, or 30 years? Is that factored into the plans? And are we to assume that the American public will still be OK with military interventionism that far into the future? What if non-interventionist ideas reach a critical mass?
The truth is this: our world is incredibly complex. It’s so complex that it’s beyond the human mind to “run it” with a military empire. If that were possible, the dustbin of history wouldn’t be overflowing with failed military empires.
Who knows what the world will look like 10, 20, or 30 years from now? That’s an eternity when you’re dealing with human beings that have the ability to choose and contemplate their actions.
One thing is certain though. What happens 30 years from now is insignificant to the military-industrial-complex. They want as much of our money as possible RIGHT NOW!
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last October said in a little noticed comment that the United States was ready to take “direct action on the ground” in Syria. Vice President Joe Biden said in Istanbul last month that if peace talks in Geneva failed, the United States was prepared for a “military solution” in that country.
The peace talks collapsed on Wednesday even before they began. A day later Saudi Arabia said it is ready to invade Syria while Turkey is building up forces at its Syrian border.
The U.N. aims to restart the talks on Feb. 25 but there is little hope they can begin in earnest as the Saudi-run opposition has set numerous conditions. The most important is that Russia stop its military operation in support of the Syrian government, which has been making serious gains on the ground.
A day after the talks collapsed, it was revealed that Turkey has begun preparations for an invasion of Syria, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. On Thursday, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “We have good reasons to believe that Turkey is actively preparing for a military invasion of a sovereign state – the Syrian Arab Republic. We’re detecting more and more signs of Turkish armed forces being engaged in covert preparations for direct military actions in Syria.” The U.N. and the State Department had no comment. But this intelligence was supported by a sound of alarm from Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Turkey, which has restarted its war against Kurdish PKK guerillas inside Turkey, is determined to crush the emergence of an independent Kurdish state inside Syria as well. Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan stopped the Syrian Kurds from attending the aborted Geneva talks.
A Turkish invasion would appear poised to attack the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, which is allied with the PKK. The Syrian (and Iraqi) Kurds, with the Syrian army, are the main ground forces fighting the Islamic State. Turkey is pretending to fight ISIS, all the while actually supporting its quest to overthrow Assad, also a Turkish goal.
Saudi Arabia then said on Thursday it was prepared to send its ground forces into Syria if asked. Carter welcomed it. Of course Biden, Erdogan, Carter and the Saudis are all saying a ground invasion would fight ISIS. But their war against ISIS has been half-hearted at best and they share ISIS’ same enemy: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If the U.S. were serious about fighting ISIS it would have at least considered a proposal by Russia to join a coalition as the U.S. did against the Nazis.
The Prize of Aleppo
The excuse of the Geneva collapse is a ruse. There was little optimism the talks would succeed. The real reason for the coming showdown in Syria is the success of Russia’s military intervention in defense of the Syrian government against the Islamic State and other extremist groups. Many of these groups are supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States in pursuit of overthrowing Assad.
These three nations are all apparently poised for a ground invasion of Syria just as, by no coincidence, the Syrian Arab Army with Russian air cover is pushing to liberate perhaps the greatest prize in the Syrian civil war — Aleppo, the country’s commercial capital. The Russians and Syrians have already cut off Turkey’s supply lines to rebels in the city.
The U.S. cannot stand by and watch Russia win in Syria. At the very least it wants to be on the ground to meet them at a modern-day Elbe and influence the outcome.
But things could go wrong in a war in which the U.S. and Russia are not allies, as they were in World War II. Despite this, the U.S. and its allies see Syria as important enough to risk confrontation with Russia, with all that implies. It is not at all clear though what the U.S. interests are in Syria to take such a risk.
From the outset of Russia’s intervention the U.S. and its allies have wanted Moscow out of the Syrian theater. They seem to be only waiting for the right opportunity. That opportunity may be now — forced by events.
Former U.S. national security adviser and current Obama adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said last October in the Financial Times that, “The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland. They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the U.S.”
Turkey’s downing in November of a Russian warplane that allegedly veered 17 seconds into Turkish territory appeared to be very much a provocation to draw Russia into a conflict to allow NATO to drive Moscow out of Syrian skies. But Russia was too smart for that and instead imposed sanctions on Turkey, while urging Russian tourists not to visit the country, which has hurt the Turkish economy.
A Battleground of Empires
As a fertile crossroad between Asia and Africa backed by desert, Syrian territory has been fought over for centuries. Pharaoh Ramses II defeated the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh near Lake Homs in 1247 BCE. The Persians conquered Syria in 538 BCE. Alexander the Great took it 200 years later and the Romans grabbed Syria in 64 BCE.
Islam defeated the Byzantine Empire there at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636. In one of the first Shia-Sunni battles, Ali failed to defeat Muawiyah in 657 at Siffin along the Euphrates near the Iraq-Syria border. Damascus became the seat of the Caliphate until a coup in 750 moved it to Baghdad.
Waves of Crusaders next invaded Syria beginning in 1098. Egyptian Mamluks took the country in 1250 and the Ottoman Empire began in 1516 at its victory at Marj Dabik, 44 kilometers north of Aleppo — about where Turkish supplies are now being cut off. France double-crossed the Arabs and gained control of Syria in 1922 after the Ottoman collapse.
We may now be looking at an epic war with similar historical significance. All these previous battles, as momentous as they were, were regional in nature.
What we are potentially facing is a war that goes beyond the Soviet-U.S. proxy wars of the Cold War era, and beyond the proxy war that has so far taken place in the five-year Syrian civil war. Russia is already present in Syria. The entry of the United States and its allies would risk a direct confrontation between the two largest nuclear powers on earth.
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.
Is it possible for an epidemic to be invisible?
Since 1991 the annual number of newly documented cases of thyroid cancer in the United States has skyrocketed from 12,400 to 62,450. It’s now the seventh most common type of cancer.
Relatively little attention is paid to the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that wraps around the throat. Many don’t even know what the gland does. But this small organ (and the hormone it produces) is crucial to physical and mental development, especially early in life.
Cancer of the thyroid also gets little attention, perhaps because it is treatable, with long-term survival rates more than 90 percent. Still, the obvious question is what is causing this epidemic, and what can be done to address it?
Recently, there has been a debate in medical journals, with several authors claiming that the increase in thyroid cancer is the result of doctors doing a better job of detecting the disease at an earlier stage. A team of Italian researchers who published a paper last January split the difference, citing increased rates and better diagnosis. But as rates of all stages of thyroid cancer are soaring, better detection is probably a small factor.
So, what are the causes?
The Mayo Clinic describes a higher frequency of occurrence of thyroid cancer in women (not a telling clue, unless more is known about what predisposes women to the condition). It mentions inherited genetic syndromes that increase risk, although the true cause of these syndromes aren’t known. And Mayo links thyroid cancer to exposure to radiation. The latter is perhaps the only “cause” for which there is a public policy solution.
In the atomic age, radioactive iodine (chiefly Iodine-131) has proliferated, from atom bomb explosions and now from nuclear power reactors.
The thyroid gland requires iodine, a naturally occurring chemical. But it doesn’t distinguish between radioactive Iodine 131 and naturally occurring iodine. Iodine 131 enters the human body via the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, damaging and killing cells, a process that can lead to cancer and other diseases.
The current debate in medical journals, or lack of one, ignores the obvious. Although the specific process that causes thyroid cancer isn’t known, many scholarly studies have already linked exposure to radioactive iodine to increased risk. Studies of Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki found the cancer with the greatest increase was thyroid cancer.
* A U.S. government survey of cancer rates among residents of the Marshall Islands, who were exposed to U.S. bomb testing in the 1950s, found thyroid cancer outpaced all others.
* A 1999 federal study estimated that exposure to I-131 from bomb testing in Nevada caused as many as 212,000 Americans to develop thyroid cancer.
* A 2009 book on the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster found soaring levels of local thyroid cancer rates after the meltdown, especially among children, and workers called “liquidators,” who cleaned up the burning plant.
* More recently, studies have documented thyroid cancer rates in children near Fukushima, Japan, site of the 2011 meltdown, to be 20 to 50 times above the expected rate.
Today, one of the main sources of human exposure to radioactive iodine is nuclear power reactors. Not only from accidents like the ones at Chernobyl and Fukushima, but from the routine operation of reactors. To create electricity, these plants use the same process to split uranium atoms that is used in atomic bombs. In that process, waste products, including I-131, are produced in large amounts and must be contained to prevent exposure to workers and local residents. Some of this waste inevitably leaks from reactors and finds its way into plants and the bodies of humans and other animals.
The highest rates of thyroid cancer in the United States, according to federal statistics, are found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, states with the densest concentration of reactors in the nation. In a study conducted in 2009, one of this article’s authors (Janette Sherman) found the highest rates of thyroid cancer occurring within 90-mile radiuses of the 16 nuclear power plants (13 still operating) in those states.
Declaring “we don’t know why” and continuing to diagnose and treat the growing number of Americans suffering from thyroid disease is not sufficient. Causes must be identified, preventive strategies must be implemented, and ultimately policy makers will have to take a serious look at closing the 99 nuclear reactors currently operating in the United States.
Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA, is the author of Mad Science (pub. 2012) as well and many articles on the effects of nuclear power. He is an epidemiologist, and Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project and can be reached at: (www.radiation.org). Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease, and is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She edited the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009. Her primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education. She can be reached at: email@example.com www.janettesherman.com
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi warned on Thursday of the consequences of any military intervention in Libya, stressing the need for the countries considering such action to consult with Tunisia and other neighbouring countries, a presidential statement said.
According to the statement, Essebsi made the remarks during a meeting with heads of diplomatic missions and representatives of regional and international organizations held in Tunis to celebrate the New Year.
“The President of the Republic has pointed to the uniqueness of Tunisia’s situation, being a neighbour with Libya, which has become the scene for terrorist cells and home to Islamic State [Daesh] threats,” the statement read.
President Essebsi stressed that the only way to bring an end to the Libyan conflict is through inter-Libyan political unity. The international community must support the efforts of the unity government, he said.
Despite the difficulties in Libya, Essebsi said that Tunisia “will not close its borders to its Libyan brothers”.
Media reports have suggested that military intervention in Libya by an international coalition could be imminent.
However, US Secretary of State John Kerry ruled out military intervention in Libya in the near future on Tuesday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also said that his country has no intention in militarily intervening in Libya.
The US defense chief welcomed reports on Thursday about Saudi Arabia’s willingness to deploy troops in Syria, noting that he would discuss the issue with his Saudi counterpart in Brussels next week.
During an interview with the Saudi al-Arabiya TV channel on Thursday, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said Riyadh “is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition may agree to carry out in Syria”.
“That kind of news is very welcome. I look forward to discussing that with the Saudi defense minister next week – and other kinds of contributions that Saudi Arabia can make,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told reporters at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Carter is going to meet defense ministers of 26 countries, which are part of the US-led coalition countering the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group in Belgian capital Brussels.
The US defense chief acknowledged that the Saudi government has indicated willingness to do more in the fight against ISIL, which western media reports revealed it receives funds from main regional countries including the Saudi.
“I should mention also Saudi Arabia has indicated a willingness to take the lead in marshaling some Muslim-majority countries,” he said.
Carter said that the Netherlands also pledged to support anti-ISIL operations in Syria last week, in addition to the Dutch government’s existing contributions to the campaign in Iraq.
“You see others stepping up, and the reason why I’m going to Brussels next week is to bring the full weight of the coalition behind accelerating the defeat of ISIL,” Carter said.