Nine cities in states across the US have pressed for resolutions to recognize October 12 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. Eight of those cities passed resolutions in the last two months and three adopted a resolution just this week.
The City Council of Albuquerque, New Mexico voted six to three on Thursday to recognize October 12 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a new proclamation:
“Albuquerque recognizes the occupation of New Mexico’s homelands for the building of our City and knows indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial and values the process of our society accomplished through and by American Indian thought, culture, technology.”
The proclamation noted 500 years of Indian resistance since the arrival of Christopher Columbus and marked the day “in an effort to reveal a more accurate historical record of the ‘discovery’ of the United States of America,” and to “recognize the contributions of Indigenous peoples despite enormous efforts against native nations.”
On October 7, the City Council of Lawrence, Kansas supported efforts from students from Haskell University to have the city honor their ancestors by declaring October 12 Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
On Tuesday, Portland’s City Council also declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day, something tribal leaders have been seeking since 1954, as did the City Council of Bexas County, Texas, according to US Uncut. Local San Antonio activists are pressing for the same.
In August, lawmakers in St. Paul, Minnesota declared that October 12 was to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. The city of Minneapolis passed their resolution a year ago.
Minneapolis City Councilwoman Alondra Cano, who represents the diverse 9th Ward, told RT that tribal councils and indigenous peoples have been raising awareness about the myths of Christopher Columbus and his legacy since the civil rights movement. Through that work, they were able to connect to young people who, during a mayoral forum in 2013, asked candidates if they would support Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. Current Mayor Betsy Hodges pledged she would.
“It is important to recognize there is a strategy on the ground. There is organizing that happened to help advance these policy agendas at the city council level,” said Cano.
In September, Anadarko, Oklahoma’s proclamation was signed while surrounded by leaders from the Apache, Choctaw, Delaware, and Wichita tribes, among others.
Meanwhile, Mayor Matt Waligora of Alpena, Michigan said the city wants “to develop a strong and productive relationship with all indigenous peoples, including the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, based on mutual respect and trust.”
Olympia, Washington also supported a name change resolution in August, joining Bellingham.
In March, the Newstead Town Council in Erie County, New York voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day after being petitioned by their local high school lacrosse team, the Arkon Tigers.
In New York this weekend, the Redhawk Native American Arts Council will bring together over 500 indigenous American artists, educators, singers and dancers from 75 different nations on Randall’s Island in New York for a Native American Festival and pow-wow. It is the first pow-wow to be held in Manhattan.
On Monday, organizer Cliff Matias said they would celebrate Indigenous People’s Day and recognize America’s earliest native tribes.
“Not so much an anti-Columbus Day but a celebration of indigenous peoples’ culture,” Matias told RT. “It is 500 years and we are still here to share our culture, so that’s pretty amazing. If you look at Columbus’ journey here, and the colonization, and the genocide, and the slavery he brought to this hemisphere, we probably weren’t supposed to make it 500 years later, but our traditions, our culture, they are here.”
Matias said making it an official holiday in New York will take a lot of negotiating, but he intends to capture people’s hearts first and their minds later. The population of indigenous groups in New York is small, unlike places like Seattle and Minneapolis.
“Then there is a large population of Italian Americans who for some reason align themselves with this idea of Columbus being an Italian American,” said Matias. “He never made it out of the Caribbean, and was sent back to face charges. So even then Columbus was seen as a criminal who filled his ships with rapists, murders and thieves. We are hoping to generate some interest that Columbus is not a great representative. I always say they should have Frank Sinatra Day.”
In 1990, the state of South Dakota, with its large Dakota Nation, established Native Americans’ Day on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ so-called founding of America, in order to rename the day for the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of the state. Berkeley, California began their Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1992.
It took the city of Seattle until October 2014 for the council to declare Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The news was heralded by the sound of drums and loud cheers, and an impromptu singing of the American Indian Movement song in City Hall.
Educator Matt Remle from the Lakota tribe led the effort there, which required five years of negotiating with tribal councils before a resolution could be written, but he said the biggest catalyst has been the use of the internet in native communities.
“With native communities utilizing the internet and social media to tell essentially our own stories, The Last Real Indians [website] was started with the basic idea that native issues, Indian issues, are seldom if ever covered in mainstream media,” he said.
“So instead of trying to bang on their doors… we just do it ourselves as native peoples. So what you’ve probably been seeing over the past several years is natives capitalizing on that, and being able to tell our own stories and to reach …. globally.”
Remle said that after Seattle recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day, other cities reached out to petition for the same celebration.
Militants trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight against the Syrian government are now under Russian missile strikes with little prospect of rescue by their American supporters, according to US officials.
Russia has directed parts of its military campaign against US-backed terrorists and other extremist groups in an effort to weaken them, The Associated Press reported on Saturday, citing unnamed US officials.
The Obama administration has few options to defend those it had secretly trained and armed, the officials say.
US Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas who serves on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told The Associated Press the Russians “know their targets, and they have a sophisticated capacity to understand the battlefield situation.”
The CIA began its covert operation in 2013 to arm, fund and train terrorists to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The covert CIA program has floundered for years, so much so that some lawmakers in Congress proposed cutting its budget.
Some CIA-trained terrorists have been captured; others have defected to other extremist groups, such al-Nusra Front.
“Probably 60 to 80 percent of the arms that America shoveled in have gone to al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.
Since 2013, the CIA has trained approximately 10,000 terrorists. The effort was separate from a failed US military program to train “moderate” militants to supposedly fight the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.
That $500 million Pentagon program is widely considered a failure, and on Friday, the US Defense Department announced it was abandoning those efforts and instead opting to arm existing groups to fight Daesh.
The US Defense Department had spent $42 million (out of $500 million set aside for the training program) to vet, arm and pay dozens of militants. The original goal of the program was to train 5,400 in the first year.
Most good spy stories involve political blackmail. In the first season of the popular television show HOMELAND, about the CIA’s post-9/11 terror wars, the bearded old CIA veteran Saul meets with a federal judge to get a court order to conduct surveillance on someone in the United States without probable cause. The judge appears to balk for a moment, until Saul cryptically reminds him about that thing. With a look that says, “You got me, you bastard,” the judge relents and signs the order. The CIA, we are meant to understand, knows something about this judge that the judge does not want the rest of the world to know.
Knowledge actually is power.
We know that the NSA and FBI have for over a decade been collecting the phone records of every person in United States, which includes every member of congress. An NSA whistleblower alleges that the NSA deliberately spied on Supreme Court justices. For decades, the FBI under Hoover ran a counterintelligence program (codename: COINTELPRO) that brandished political blackmail as a central weapon for control and manipulation. In a piece of political theater that may never have come to light had it not been for the courage of a few dissidents, the FBI wrote an anonymous letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., urging him to commit suicide. We know you are a pervert, the letter said. You should just end it now, and save yourself the embarrassment when we expose you to the press.
Today, even local law enforcement agencies and private corporations possess incredibly sensitive information about all of us—elected and appointed political and judicial figures included. Although I don’t have data to support this claim, my experience growing up in the United States leads me to strongly assume that most Americans would like to believe that this is a country in which secretive law enforcement and spy agencies do not routinely manipulate sensitive information for political purposes. Blackmail is a thing that happens in the mob or in corrupt foreign countries, I assume many people think—not in the US government.
But I assume the opposite. The cliché that absolute power corrupts is a cliché for a reason—and it’s why basic democratic norms like checks and balances on government power are so important. When civil libertarians and rights advocates repeat the words ‘transparency, accountability, and oversight’ over and over again in innumerable contexts, it’s not because we like how they sound rolling around our mouths. These three practices are foundational in any society that seeks to be democratic (as opposed to just using democratic rhetoric) and fight the human tendency to abuse power.
Corruption is only natural. That’s why we build systems to check greed, selfishness, and abuse of power. Or, rather, it’s why we should.
Take the case of Congressman Jason Chaffetz. The GOP Congressman was highly critical of the Secret Service during a time when it seemed like the press was every week reporting on another in a series of embarrassing agency mistakes. It turns out that the Secret Service did not appreciate Chaffetz’ public criticisms. Instead of investing energy in fixing the problems with the agency that the Congressman wanted to discuss publicly, the assistant director of the agency used his access to confidential government databases to leak embarrassing information about Chaffetz to the press, which subsequently published it. “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair,” the assistant director wrote in an email to colleagues before the leak.
I don’t have lots of money, but if there was a way of discovering the whole truth about these secretive and powerful members of our society, I would bet one thousand dollars that law enforcement and security agencies from police departments all the way up to the NSA, and everywhere in between, routinely deploy confidential information for political purposes. I’ve seen far too many scandals come to light to assume anything other than rampant corruption at agencies like the FBI, CIA, and NSA—not to mention state and local police departments. Do you really think the CIA would torture and murder people, and then destroy the evidence and try to interfere with an investigation into its activity, but not engage in a little political blackmail on the side? Torture and murder are all good, but the use of sensitive personal information to acquire political power is going too far?
Maybe you disagree with my assumption that agencies with access to loads of sensitive information about people likely routinely use it to secure and expand their power, but it doesn’t matter if my assumptions are totally wrong. Even if you believe that security agencies are generally good, and only bad apples misuse their access to sensitive information, we have enough examples of such abuse to support the obvious conclusion that transparency, accountability, and oversight over security agencies are basic requirements in a free society. The only way to ensure people don’t abuse their access to information is to limit that access, and then institute and uphold rigorous transparency and oversight mechanisms to ensure they aren’t improperly using information they legitimately hold.
Ultimately, the ACLU’s call for a 21st century warrant requirement for the tracking and monitoring of our electronic communications and devices is a conservative call for basic reform. Nonetheless, it’s an uphill battle in many states to fold information age technology into foundational Fourth Amendment law.
But lawmakers considering bills like those currently before the Massachusetts state legislature, on license plate, drone, social media, and electronic privacy, should remember that corruption happens everywhere. In a state that suffered the terror reign of Whitey Bulger and his FBI cronies, you’d think that lawmakers would be clear on the need for basic accountability in law enforcement. As of today, however, Massachusetts falls far behind other states in the category of passing basic electronic privacy law.
Let’s hope we don’t wait until someone in Massachusetts state government gets Jason Chaffetzed before we take essential steps towards protecting personal information in the digital age. It’s a simple matter of common sense, and for legislators, might someday mean the difference between having a lovely morning and waking up to an embarrassing headline screaming their name.
The development of “killer robots” is a new and original way of using human intelligence for perverse means. Human directing machines to kill and destroy in a scale not yet imagined is a concept that not even George Orwell could have imagined. In the meantime, the leading world powers continue their un-merry-go-round of destruction and death -mostly of innocent civilians- without stopping to consider the consequences of their actions.
Killer robots are fully autonomous weapons that can identify, select and engage targets without meaningful human control. Although fully developed weapons of this kind do not yet exist, the world leaders such as the U.S., the U.K, Israel, Russia, China and South Korea are already working on creating their precursors.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that in 2012, 76 countries had some kind of drones, and 16 countries already possessed armed ones. The U.S. Department of Defense spends $6 billion every year on the research and development of better drones.
South Korea is presently using the Samsung Techwin security surveillance guard robots, which the country uses in the demilitarized zone it shares with North Korea. Although these units are currently operated by humans, the robots have an automatic feature that can detect body heat and fire a machine gun without human intervention.
Israel is developing an armed drone called Harop that could select targets with a special sensor. Northrop Grumman has also developed an autonomous drone called the X-47B which can travel on a preprogrammed flight path while being monitored by a pilot on a ship. It is planned to enter into active service by 2019. China is also moving rapidly in this area. In 2012 it already had 27 armed drone models, one of which is an autonomous air-to-air supersonic combat aircraft.
Killer robots follow the generation of drones and, as with drones, their potential use is also creating a host of human rights, legal and ethical issues. Military officials state that this kind of hardware protects human life by taking soldiers and pilots out of harm’s way. What they don’t say, however, is that the protected lives are those of the attacking armies, not those of the mostly civilians who are their targets, whose untimely deaths are euphemistically called collateral damage.
According to Denise Garcia, an expert in international law, four branches of internationally law have been used to limit violence in war: the law of state responsibility, the law on the use of force, international humanitarian law and human rights law. As currently carried out, U.S. drone strikes violate all of them.
From the ethical point of view, the use of these machines presents a moral dilemma: by allowing machines to make life-and death decisions we remove people’s responsibility for their actions and eliminate accountability. Lack of accountability almost ensures future human rights violations. In addition, many experts believe that the proliferation of autonomous weapons would make an arms race inevitable.
As the United Nations is trying to negotiate the future use of autonomous weapons, the U.S. and U.K. representatives want to support weaker rules that would prohibit future technology but not killer robots developed during the negotiating period. That delay would allow existing semi-autonomous prototypes to continue being used.
The need for a pre-emptive ban on the development and use of this kind of weapon is urgent. As Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions stated recently, “If there is not a pre-emptive ban on the high-level autonomous weapons, then once the genie is out of the bottle it will be extremely difficult to get it back in.”
Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant. He recently received the Cedar of Lebanon Gold Medal from the House of Lebanon in Tucuman, Argentina.
Two Connecticut cops were hanging out together off-duty when suddenly, they feared for their lives, drew their firearms and hosed down a suspicious car in their driveway.
Too bad the car was empty.
And belonged to one of the officers.
Then the Darien Police Department did something even more shocking.
Darien police asked the Connecticut State Police to investigate the incident, leading to charges against the two officers for second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree breach of peace and unlawful discharge of a firearm under state law.
It’s no shock that an independent investigation would find probable cause to charge the two officers for these actions.
James Martin and Daniel Ehret fired the live ammunition for unknown reasons on August 1st, 2015, but it took two months before charges were announced just yesterday.
The officers were at Martin’s house and destroyed Martin’s own personal vehicle.
Of course, this means the officers have now been placed on “paid administrative leave” which is the police term of art for a fully paid vacation with salary.
More significant than charges is the rare admission from a police agency that cops must abide the same laws as citizens AND that investigations of a department’s own officers. According to local TV station WTNH:
Darien Police Chief Duane Lovello says that the two officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident occurred. “The allegations leading to the arrests are disturbing. I cannot conceive of anything that would lead police officers to do something so profoundly dangerous and wholly irresponsible. This conduct is intolerable and does not reflect the professional values or the ethical, responsible, and moral conduct we demand of Darien police officers and their duty to the public we serve,” Chief Lovello said in a statement.
Local outlet Darien Times story released Chief Lovello’s entire statement, which revealed the car’s true owner and the location of the alleged crimes committed by two 10-year police veterans. Turns out that the town of Darien, which was founded in 1737, survived all the way until 1925 without any police force whatsoever.
When 16-year-old Matthew Robinson and his mother, Eva, took their dog out for a walk one September evening four years ago, they never once thought they’d end up in a federal courtroom. Yet that’s where they have been as their terrifying case against two police officers was put in the hands of a jury this week in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Tased, beaten, and terrorized — the Robinsons were not suspected of any crime when they were stopped by police beside their home in Dover, Arkansas. The catalyst for the stop was innocent: Matthew looked and waved at Dover Deputy Marshall Steven Payton as he drove by. Payton admitted this behavior is perfectly legal, yet said he found it suspicious. That led to Matthew being beaten, tased multiple times, kicked, searched, and arrested while his mother was also beaten, handcuffed, choked, and arrested. Her glasses were broken as her face was repeatedly slammed into the hood of a patrol car.
Dover Deputy Marshall Steven Payton testified that he detained the Robinsons and their dog in the back of his patrol car, with the intent to take them to jail solely to identify them. When co-defendant Pope County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Kristopher Stevens arrived on the scene, he ordered Matthew to get out of the car. When Matthew was not able to get out quickly enough, the Pope County sergeant tased him twice inside the car.
Counsel for the officers claim that the incident would have been avoided if Matthew had said who he was or if he had gotten out of the patrol car when they said, maintaining that officers had “no choice” to use the taser.
We disagree. De-escalation is always an option.
The case has been rife with missing evidence that police had a duty to preserve. Data from the taser, which would have shown the number and duration of taser deployments on Matthew, was destroyed even after a request was made for a copy of the data. Sergeant Stevens admitted at trial he was untruthful when he told Mr. Robinson there was no data on the taser. Though three police cars were audio and video capable, and should have been in use, police produced only one grainy video of part of the stop.
Photographs show 22 separate taser marks on Matthew’s torso, sides, shoulder, stomach, and lower back. Police admitted at trial to tasing Matthew at least six times, though Sergeant Stevens’ written report from the incident reflected only three tasings and Deputy Payton’s report showed only one. Sergeant Stevens admitted that his testimony in the juvenile case against Matthew, where he denied tasing the teenager while he was on the ground being cuffed, was untrue and that he had in fact tased the minor while he was on the ground. He also admitted that each of the six tasings were in violation of the department’s policy, as was the failure to properly record the incident.
To boot, each officer testified that the other was in charge of the scene. Neither Matthew nor his mother were ever read their rights or told that they were being arrested or why. This is in direct violation of the Robinson’s rights and the polar opposite of good policing.
While the officers continued to deny any wrongdoing, they have admitted to previously testifying falsely, false reports, missing evidence, and multiple violations of policy and training standards. We brought out the missing evidence and inconsistent testimonies in the Robinsons’ case. Missing evidence and police misconduct, after all, are often reasons that the criminal justice system fails us.
With the officers and departments disclaiming any and all responsibility, the Robinsons had nowhere else to turn but to court. They’ve had to fight for four years to ask a jury to serve as the first line of accountability.
In the end, Sergeant Stevens and Pope County settled with the Robinsons just before the verdict for $225,000. No action has been taken by the departments or the officers to prevent such a thing from happening again. Officers have not been disciplined or retrained, and no policies have been revised or implemented. In fact, both officers testified that they would do things exactly the same again.
Success in civil rights cases is against the odds, especially in a case involving police. Tremendous time, money, resources, and energy must be invested just to fight for a chance to obtain some bit of relief or accountability. And then, judges and juries are not empowered to truly bring about better, safer policing.
Unchecked violations of the duty to serve and protect threaten police credibility and safety as well as public safety. We entrust our police officers with great power — to detain, arrest, and use deadly force if necessary — and we provide them special status in return. For all our sakes, they should honor that status by serving and protecting, not terrorizing and tasing.
MH-17 Yet Again, Poring Over the Data (and Translations); Serious Factual Errors by Time and Western Media
For most, the shoot-down of flight MH-17 over Ukraine is a forgotten memory. Western media has continually trumped up one of three stories.
- Russian-backed rebels did it
- Russia did it
- Russian-backed rebels did it with Russia’s help
The extent to which Western media fabricated all sorts of lies to make those claims is still not widely known or understood.
Reader Jacob Dreizin, a US citizen who speaks and reads Russian, and who works for the US government (but speaks only for himself), just recently decided to review some video footage and translations offered by Time Magazine on July 17: Russia Is Blocking Justice for the Victims of Flight 17.
Dreizin emailed Time about factual errors in the article a few days ago. He sent this letter to Time.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I have found a serious factual error—in fact, a complete fabrication—in your July 17, 2015 piece titled How Russia Is Blocking Justice for the Victims of Flight 17, which is posted here:
In the piece, your author, Simon Shuster, states as follows:
On the day of the tragedy, the Ukrainian State Security Service, which is known as the SBU, released what it claimed to be an intercepted phone conversation between Kozitsyn and one of his fighters. According to the SBU’s recording, the fighter reports to Kozitsyn that they have shot down a civilian plane by mistake. “There’s a whole sea of corpses, women and children,” the fighter says. The voice identified as that of Kozitsyn does not seem moved by this information. “They shouldn’t have been flying,” the voice says. “There’s a war going on here.”
I am a native Russian speaker and I have listened to this recording, which commences at around 1:50 at the following link:
I can tell you that in this recording, despite the allegations of your author, who claims to be a native Russian speaker (as per his LinkedIn account), at no time does either party to this particular conversation claim to have shot down an airplane.
Rather, as per the SBU’s accurate translation, which is shown in subtitles on the YouTube link, and which I confirm is correct, the unnamed alleged rebel speaking with a person alleged to be Kozitsyn merely recounts his observations of the wreckage of a plane that he believes has been shot down. He takes no credit for shooting it down, nor does he state or suggest who shot it down.
Why, then, does your writer, Simon Shuster, state “According to the SBU’s recording, the fighter reports to Kozitsyn that they have shot down a civilian plane by mistake”?
Mr. Shuster’s account substantially departs from his own source material. Why?
Of course, the SBU’s intent is to showcase a number of alleged rebels talking about an aircraft going down and to imply (by way of their interest in the matter) that they were responsible for the MH17 disaster. Mr. Shuster, like so many others over the last 14-some months, seems to have taken that implication and ran with it, to the point of actually putting words into the recording that are simply not there!
Another point of interest: In the first recording in the above link, which starts at around 0:18 in the link, the SBU allegedly presents the rebel commander Igor Bezler talking with his alleged Russian handler as to his knowledge of a certain rebel unit shooting down a plane around 30 minutes prior to the conversation occurring. The SBU translation subtitles also suggest that Bezler can see smoke coming from the crash site, although to me that part is indiscernible.
Given that Bezler’s headquarters and main zone of control (the city of Gorlovka) was roughly 25 to 30 miles northwest of the MH17 debris field, it is highly likely that—assuming it is in fact him on the recording—the conversation relates to a prior shoot-down of a Ukrainian combat plane in the Gorlovka area, i.e. something that did in fact take place before the downing of MH17.
In any case, there is nothing within the recording itself to identify a place, date, time, or even the parties to the conversation—we have only the SBU’s word as to who these people are and when the conversation is taking place.
Also of interest, the second recording in the link (starting at 0:43) is unnatural in places and, to a Russian speaker such as myself, seems to be either a splice of two or three separate conversations, or else one conversation that has been condensed (i.e. pieces of it have been removed, possibly to present an inaccurate picture of the whole.)
Last but not least, the fact that this diverse montage (totaling three separate conversations) was jumbled together in one video, subtitled in English, and posted to YouTube, not to mention pitched to the media, all just a few hours after MH17 went down (note the date on the link), is suspicious to say the least. I work for the U.S. Government, and (though I am not speaking for the Government or any of its agencies or offices in any way whatsoever) I have never seen Government move so fast—it is simply inconceivable.
My main point in writing you is to inform you that your writer, Simon Shuster, has made a bold, significant claim on your website that is patently and demonstrably false—and moreover, one that he must have known to be false.
Thus, I request that you issue a public retraction on this matter.
Thank you for your attention.
Video in Russian – English Subtitles
Link if video does not play: Malaysia Airlines: Phone calls of terrorists intercepted by Security Service of Ukraine.
I commend Dreizin for taking a stand for the truth, and I hope it does not cost him his job.
- Neither the US nor Ukraine is interested in the truth if Ukraine is responsible.
- Neither Russia nor the Rebels are interested in the truth if the rebels or Russia is responsible.
- Blatant lies and sloppy media reporting by Ukraine and Western media is clearly rampant.
- Most have jumped to conclusions believing biased reporting and outright fabrications by their government.
- A small subset of us would like to know what really happened, regardless of whom is to blame.
Shortly after the incident, allegations similar to those made by Simon Shuster were widely trumped up as “proof” the rebels did it. The ensuing propaganda campaign was an unfortunate success, at least to the small subset of us who want the truth be known, no matter which side is to blame.
Iranian defense ministry believes reports on “fallen Russian cruise missiles” are part of the intensified western propaganda war, according to a source.
Tehran has denied US reports that four of Russia’s cruise missiles targeting ISIL actually fell to the ground in Iran, with the country’s defense ministry calling the accusations “psychological war.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry also refutes US media reports of an alleged incident involving cruise missiles which were fired at ISIL positions in Syria on October 7, stating that all missiles hit their designated targets.
“No matter how unpleasant and unexpected for our colleagues in the Pentagon and Langley was yesterday’s high-precision strike on Islamic State infrastructure in Syria, the fact remains that all missiles launched from our ships have found their targets,” ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
On Thursday, CNN reported that four of the 26 missiles fired from Russian warships in the Caspian Sea went off target and crashed in Iran. That report was based on anonymous Pentagon sources, who despite claiming to have evidence of the targeting malfunction, could not identify where, precisely, the missiles landed.
“In contrast to CNN we do not talk with reference to anonymous sources,” Konashenkov said. “We show the launch of our rockets and the targets they struck.”
Indeed, the Russian Defense Ministry has posted a number of videos to prove the accuracy of its targeting systems.
US/NATO planes bombed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan on Saturday. The attack lasted an hour, and continued even after medics “frantically phoned NATO and Washington” to tell them what they were bombing.
It was no use. The attackers already knew full well what their target was. Doctors Without Borders had long ago provided them with the GPS coordinates of their facilities. And the US-installed Afghan government, which had raided that very same hospital in July of this year, had requested the strike, claiming the hospital was being used by insurgents.
The attack killed 22 people, including 12 medical workers and 10 patients. Three of the patients were children. The first bombardment targeted the Intensive Care Unit, where an eyewitness nurse said, “Patients were burning in their beds.” And a hospital caretaker said that he could hear women and children, “screaming for help inside the hospital while it was set ablaze by the bombing.”
Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. President Obama was awarded his in 2009. As Commander-in-Chief of the military that bombed the Doctors Without Borders hospital, this makes Obama perhaps the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to bomb another Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Or maybe not? Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, and he masterminded the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos for President Nixon around that time. Shortly thereafter, it came to light that in that campaign, hospitals were routinely targeted for bombing. As The Nation recently reported:
“A letter from former Army captain Rowan Malphurs said that in 1969 and 1970, he analyzed aerial photographs where B-52 bombs (the ones ordered by Kissinger) fell on Cambodia: “I saw on several occasions where possible hospitals had been bombed…. On another occasion I observed a red cross on a building that was partially destroyed by bombs.”
By then, the Red Cross had already been awarded its three Nobel Peace Prizes.
Sorry, Obama, it looks like that’s one “historic first” you can’t claim. That old fox beat you to it.
If it makes you feel any better, Kissinger seems to think your mass-murder record actually beats his. (I know this will warm your heart, since you once bragged, “Turns out I’m really good at killing people.”) When confronted about bombing Cambodia on a recent book tour, Kissinger said in his own defense:
“I think we would find, if you study the conduct of guerrilla-type wars, that the Obama administration has hit more targets on a broader scale than the Nixon administration ever did. (…)
And I bet if one did an honest account, there were fewer civilian casualties in Cambodia than there have been from American drone attacks.”
Whether that dubious claim is true or not, it’s the thought that counts. Consider it a compliment: a gold star from teacher. Or even an elder statesman’s passing of the torch: from one peace-prize winning war criminal to another.
The United States has condemned Russia for striking the Western-backed militants in Syria and denied that it is cooperating with Moscow in this regard.
Speaking at a press conference in Rome, Italy, on Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the airstrikes against terrorists “a fundamental mistake”.
“I have said before that we believed that Russia has the wrong strategy — they continue to hit targets that are not ISIL. We believe this is a fundamental mistake,” Carter claimed, using an acronym for the Daesh terrorist group.
“Despite what the Russians say we have not agreed to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue a mistaken strategy and hit these targets,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was considering proposals from the US to coordinate operations against ISIL terrorists.
“On the whole, these proposals could be put in place,” defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
He added that US and Russian military officials were discussing technical details on Wednesday.
“What we will do is continue basic, technical discussions on the professional safety procedures for our pilots flying above Syria,” Carter said.
“That’s it. We will keep the channel open because it’s a matter of safety for our pilots,” he added.
A new US intelligence assessment has found Russia has targeted militant groups backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Syria.
The assessment, shared by commanders on the ground, has led American officials to conclude that Russian warplanes have intentionally struck CIA-backed militants in a string of attacks running for days, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Meanwhile, US foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski, a strong supporter of the Obama administration, says the United States should retaliate if Russia does not stop bombing its assets in Syria.
Former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski
Moscow’s apparent decision to strike CIA-trained militants “at best” reflects “Russian military incompetence,” and worst, “evidence of a dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence,” Brzezinski, the national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter, wrote in an article published by the Financial Times on Sunday.
He added that if Moscow continues to target these people, then Washington should retaliate against Russians.
Obama administration officials are debating how the United States can come to the aid of its proxy forces on the ground without risking a broader conflict, according to the Wall Street Journal.
US officials said Russia’s moves in Syria posed a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s foreign policy on the Middle East.
Iraq is planning to officially ask Russia for airstrikes against Daesh in a bid to purge the Takfiri militant group from the territories it controls in the west and north of the Arab country.
“We might be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes in Iraq soon. I think in the upcoming few days or weeks Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes and that depends on their success in Syria,” the head of the Iraqi parliament’s defense and security committee, Hakim al-Zamili, said on Wednesday, urging Moscow to play a bigger role than the United States in fighting terrorists in Iraq.
Baghdad has long criticized the ineffectiveness of the aerial military campaign by Washington and its allies against alleged Daesh positions in Iraq. However, Moscow’s recent military intervention against the terrorists in Syria has raised hopes of a similar move in Iraq.
“We are seeking to see Russia have a bigger role in Iraq. … Yes, definitely a bigger role than the Americans,” Zamili said.
The senior Iraqi legislator also expressed hope that a newly-established security and intelligence-sharing command center which includes Iran, Iraq and Syria and Russia and is set to begin work in Iraq, could make the anti-Daesh battle more effective.
“We believe that this center will develop in the near future to be a joint operation command to lead the war against Daesh in Iraq,” he added.
Russia has been pounding the positions of Daesh and other militant groups in Syria for a week, a move which has clearly irritated the United States and other Western governments. Washington accuses Russia of targeting the so-called moderate militants in Syria, but Moscow denies the charges, saying it chooses its targets based on intelligence provided by the Syrian army. Russia has also sought to play down the significance of US-fabricated distinction between militants in Syria.
Earlier in the day, Russian officials said they would consider an airborne operation against Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Iraq if they received a formal request from the Arab country on the issue.
Valentina Matviyenko, the Russian Federation Council speaker, said Russian leaders would be open to study “the political and military expediency” of an operation in Iraq in case of official request by Iraq.