by Mattea Kramer
ashington is pushing the panic button, claiming austerity is hollowing out our armed forces and our national security is at risk. That was the message Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered last week when he announced that the Army would shrink to levels not seen since before World War II. Headlines
about this crisis followed in papers like the New York Times and members of Congress issued statements swearing that they would never allow our security to be held hostage to the budget-cutting process.
Yet a careful look at budget figures for the U.S. military -- a bureaucratic juggernaut accounting for 57%
of the federal discretionary budget and nearly 40%
of all military spending on this planet -- shows that such claims have been largely fictional. Despite cries of doom
since the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration surfaced in Washington in 2011, the Pentagon has seen few actual reductions, and there is no indication that will change any time soon.
This piece of potentially explosive news has, however, gone missing in action -- and the “news” that replaced it could prove to be one of the great bait-and-switch stories of our time.
Created on Thursday, 06 March 2014 17:31
Written by Press Release
Seven Years of Inaction: Rights organizations call for oversight mechanism in response to CBSA abuses
he BC Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers today called on the government to end its long inaction on the need for an independent and effective complaints and monitoring mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
The Maher Arar judicial inquiry recommended that CBSA’s national security activities be subjected to independent review in 2006. The federal government has failed to act on this recommendation.
While CBSA has sweeping police powers, it is unlike most other police forces in Canada because there is no independent oversight body to review its actions and to ensure respect for the human rights of refugees, migrants, and Canadians who deal with the agency. Municipal and provincial police across Canada, as well as the RCMP, have various forms of complaint agencies and independent investigation agencies to supervise their conduct.
“There is no excuse for seven years of doing nothing to ensure Canada’s border police are accountable to independent oversight,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.
“That’s seven years of people having virtually nowhere to turn when they have a complaint about the CBSA. Just filing a complaint with the CBSA itself is not good enough. There needs to be independent review for all of CBSA’s national security, enforcement and border policing activities.”
Read more: Government's Protracted Inaction on Border Services Abuses Draws Call for Oversight
Created on Thursday, 06 March 2014 17:21
Written by Ron Jacobs
Crimean Shock Waves
by Ron Jacobs
ecent events in the Ukraine have taken center stage since the Russian parliament passed legislation approving the deployment of more troops into the Crimea. The rationale is simple: to defend the Russian fleet that makes port in the Black Sea. This is Russia’s only warm water port and has been a point of contention for more than a century.
After the Crimean war of the 1850s, Russia lost her rights to base her fleet there. It wasn’t long afterwards, however, that Russia reclaimed that right after Napoleon III’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. Since then, Russia has had military ships there.
After the Russian-friendly government in Ukraine’s Kiev was overthrown the last week of February 2014 by angry Ukrainians, Russian mercenary forces moved into the Crimea. As of March 2, 2014, they are occupying various government buildings and generally making their presence known. Furthermore, the Russian Duma passed the resolution referred to above.
In response, Washington threatened unspecified “costs.” Secretary of State Kerry told the world that;
“You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.”
Besides the obvious hypocrisy of the statement by a representative of the one nation in today’s world which does exactly this every couple years, this sentence from Kerry glosses over the larger geopolitical and economic issues in this tete-a-tete.
Created on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 18:24
Written by Ramzy Baroud
Tears of Yarmouk – The Palestinian Lesson that Every Syrian Should Know
by Ramzy Baroud
n the early days of the Syrian uprising-turned civil war three years ago, the writing on the wall of it becoming an intricate regional and international conflict was there for all to see. Palestinians in Syria were likely to find themselves a pawn in a dirty war, but few could have predicted the magnitude of the crisis, and perhaps, few cared.
Despite their many differences, there are two common denominators that unite all the parties involved in the Syrian conflict. One is that they are all contributing, directly or otherwise, to the killing of Syrians with unmitigated impunity, savageness even. And, two, in the same breath, they all pose as defenders of the Syrian people.
It is not a puzzle, but the nature of dirty conflicts.
Created on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 17:47
Written by Ray Grigg
Of Two Minds - Part 1 of 3: The Divided Hemispheres
by Ray Grigg - Shades of Green
Humanity's incomparable degradation of our planet's environment continues unabated. Despite the inevitable severity of the consequences, we seem incapable of stopping the process, even though the causes have been exhaustively documented by a consensus of many scientists from multiple disciplines and the media have publicized the alarms in lurid detail.
So we know what we're doing wrong. Why, then, don't we change our behaviour? This perplexing question is being answered by the psychiatrist and writer, Iain McGilchrist.
McGilchrist's book is The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. The title is derived from a story told by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900). Neitzsche's story recounts a small but prosperous realm that is ruled by a wise master who governs his people with selfless devotion.
As his realm prospers and expands, the master realizes he needs emissaries to communicate with its distant parts. So he carefully selects and trains his representatives so they can be entrusted with this special duty. Eventually, however, the most clever and ambitious of these emissaries becomes contemptuous of the real master, begins presenting himself as him, and finally usurps power. With the master deposed, the people are incompetently ruled, tyranny replaces wisdom, and the realm soon collapses in ruin.
Created on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 16:58
Written by Dahr Jamail
Iraqi Government Killing Civilians in Fallujah
by Dahr Jamail
octors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city.
Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.
"Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children," Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded.
"Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city," Shami said. "At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki's army has killed and burned their bodies."
While the Iraqi government has not cut the city's water and electricity, doctors in Fallujah told Truthout that the Iraqi army, which they refer to as "Maliki's forces," continues to prevent medical supplies from entering the city.
Truthout spoke with another doctor from Fallujah, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals from the Maliki government.
"Many houses and even the mosque near our house have been attacked, and many civilians killed and injured," the doctor said. "Many people have been killed before they could reach the hospital, which has also been targeted by Maliki's army."
Created on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 16:30
Written by Press Release
New Federally Funded Academic Institute a Tool to Support Mining Industry