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The Strange Tale of the USS Pueblo

Tales of the American Empire

On January 23,1968 a US Navy ship, the USS Pueblo, was captured by North Korea while conducting environmental research offshore. North Korea killed one sailor during the seizure and held its 82 crewmen for 11 months and kept the ship as a museum. This incident has been cited for decades as proof that North Korea can never be trusted. However, evidence suggests that the secret mission of the USS Pueblo was to get captured!

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Drone Pilots have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds for Exposing US Murder

By William N. Grigg | The Free Thought Project | November 25, 2015

The U.S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack.

“My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,” Radack lamented on her Twitter feed (the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense – but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State.

Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.

“We are former Air Force service members,” the letter begins. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

Elsewhere the former drone operators have described how their colleagues dismissed children as “fun-sized terrorists” and compared killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long.” Children who live in countries targeted by the drone program are in a state of constant terror, according to Westmoreland: “There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what’s going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.”

By reliable estimates, ninety percent of those killed in drone strikes are entirely harmless people, making the program a singularly effective method of producing anti-American terrorism. “We kill four and create ten,” Bryant said during a November 19 press conference, referring to potential terrorists. “If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.”

Haas explained that the institutional culture of the drone program emphasized and encouraged the dehumanization of the targeted populations. “There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,” he recalled. “Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.”

Unable to repress his conscience or choke down his moral disgust, Haas took refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, which he says is predictably commonplace among drone operators. At least a half-dozen members of his unit were using bath salts and could be found “impaired” while on duty, Haas testifies.

Among the burdens Bryant now bears is the knowledge that he participated in the mission that killed a fellow U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Identified as a radical cleric and accused of offering material support for al-Qaeda, al-Awlaki was executed by a drone strike in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate drone strike a few weeks later while sitting down to dinner at the home of a family friend. Asked about the killing of a native-born U.S. citizen – who, at age 16, was legally still a child – former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to justify that act by blaming it on the irresponsibility of the innocent child’s father.

As Bryant points out, as a matter of law the elder al-Awlaki was innocent, as well.

“We were told that al-Awlaki deserved to die, he deserved to be killed as a traitor, but article 3 of section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that even a traitor deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers,” Bryant notes, lamenting that his role in the “targeted killing” of a U.S. citizen without a trial was a violation of his constitutional oath.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has produced evidence suggesting that the White House-approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s son may have been carried out as retaliation against the family for refusing to cooperate in the search for the cleric. There are indications that the government has tried to intimidate the whistleblowers by intimidating their families.

In October, while Brandon Bryant was preparing to testify about the drone program before a German parliamentary committee, his mother LanAnn received a visit in her Missoula, Montana home from two representatives of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. The men claimed that her personal information was in the hands of the Islamic State, which had placed her name on a “hit list.” She was also told not to share that disclosure with anyone – a directive she promptly ignored by informing Ms. Radack, who represents Brandon and the other whistleblowers.

According to Radack, a very similar episode occurred last March in which the stepparent of another whistleblower received a nearly identical visit from agents of the Air Force OSI. “This is the US government wasting taxpayer dollars trying to silence, intimidate and shut up people. It’s a very amateurish way to shut up a whistleblower … by intimidating and scaring their parents. This would be laughable if it weren’t so frightening.”

Given the role played by the U.S. government in fomenting, equipping, and abetting the growth of ISIS, such warnings have to be perceived as credible, albeit, indirect death threats.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Boss of ‘socialist themed vegan meat company’ filmed busting union drive

RT | May 23, 2020

The CEO of a socialist themed vegan meat company pleaded with workers not to join a union, arguing that it would hamper the firm’s efforts to “change the world.” Because nothing seasons fake meat quite like a dollop of hypocrisy.

No Evil Foods offers a range of socialist-themed vegan meats with names like Comrade Cluck, the Pit Boss and El Zapatista, a chorizo substitute whose name is a nod to the anarcho-socialist militant group in southern Mexico.

While the company readily embraces left-wing ideals for marketing purposes, that appears to be as far as their values stretch. The boss of the company, Mike Woliansky, has been filmed urging workers not to join a union during a compulsory gathering of workers.

The meeting came as No Evil Foods was seeking to fend off a union drive at its plant in Weaverville, North Carolina, and video footage of Woliansky’s appeal was published by the Motherboard news outlet this week.

In the video, Woliansky repeatedly urges workers to vote “no” in the union election and makes the grandiose claim that a union would get in the way of the company’s ability to “save lives” and “change the world.”

The CEO said joining the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union was akin to “hitching your wagon to a huge organization with high-paid executives and a history of scandal and supporting slaughterhouses.”

“I sincerely believe that right now a union would be a terrible thing for you and for No Evil Foods,” Woliansky told workers during the meeting, which took place earlier this year. “A union contact would only serve to lessen our impact at a time when it’s so important in the world… If there’s an election here, I ask you to vote ‘no’ on a union.”

Following a series of mandatory meetings, No Evil Foods workers voted against joining the union in a landslide vote. The Appeal news outlet reports that the company fired several workers who led the union drive in recent weeks.

No Evil Foods sells its faux-meat products in 5,500 stores across the United States and online.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

Biden Condemns Pro Palestinian BDS Movement

teleSUR | May 21, 2020

Left-wing activists in the U.S. rejected assertions by the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, who said criticism of Israel too often drifts towards anti-Semitism before he declared his opposition to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement (BDS).

“Criticism of Israel’s policy is not anti-Semitism,” Biden said during a phone call with donors earlier this week. “But too often that criticism from the left morphs into anti-Semitism.”

The call was part of a virtual fundraiser hosted by Dan Shapiro, a former ambassador to Israel, and Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University.

Biden was asked how to respond to anti-Semitism among progressive activists in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

“We have to condemn it, and I’ve gotten in trouble for doing that,” the former vice president said. “Whatever the source, right, left, or center.”

The Biden campaign later released a policy paper saying it “firmly rejects” the BDS movement, a nonviolent initiative launched by Palestinians in 2005 to pressure Israel to comply with international law and defend Palestinian human rights.

Biden said the movement “singles out Israel – home to millions of Jews – and too often veers into anti-Semitism while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices”.

Leaders of the BDS movement replied that Democratic voters should be endorsing the movement instead of rejecting it.

“By rejecting BDS, Joe Biden endorses U.S. complicity in Israel’s decades-old regime of occupation, colonialism, and apartheid, and supports depriving Palestinians of our fundamental human rights,” the group said.

Biden has struggled to unite a Democratic Party deeply divided between moderates and younger progressives who gravitated towards Biden’s rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, who has withdrawn from the election.

The progressive wing has been outspoken in its opposition to Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, particularly under right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 2 Comments

Russia, China won’t accept US nuclear superiority

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | May 23, 2020

Geopolitics has returned with a bang although Covid-19 is still very much around and a ‘second wave’ is also expected. The US President Donald Trump’s arms control negotiator, Special Presidential Envoy Marshall Billingslea said in an online presentation to a Washington think tank on Thursday that the United States is prepared to spend Russia and China “into oblivion” in order to win a new nuclear arms race.

As he put it, “The president has made clear that we have a tried and true practice here. We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it.”

We are back to the era of the Manhattan Project. The US is rebooting its 75-year old moribund chase of nuclear superiority over its adversaries. Its corollary also appeared on Thursday when the Trump administration announced that it will withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty of 1992 (which was first proposed by US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 and was ultimately pushed forward by President George H.W. Bush as a way of promoting stability in Europe after the Cold War ended.)

The Open Skies Treaty came into effect in 2002 with some 34 countries joining it, including Russia of course, which permits each party state to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities under clearly defined rules of conduct as regards the type of monitoring equipment to be used, the procedures and so on.

The reconnaissance / surveillance flights could often be at short-notice so that the spying missions could be mounted faster than a satellite can be moved into position. Equally, the aircraft used are highly specialised and would have on-board observers of the states spied upon. The treaty retained many benefits for all sides and has a wider context insofar as it was a unique confidence-building measure that doubled up as critical underpinning to arms control agreements.

Washington is resorting to the by-now-familiar plea that it is withdrawing from the treaty due to repeated Russian violations of its terms, an argument the Trump administration had advanced last year also while scuttling the INF Treaty of 1987, which banned all of the US and Russia’s land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (short medium-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (intermediate-range).

The US will formally withdraw from the Open Skies accord in six months, American officials have said. The news was confirmed by Trump himself midday, followed by a special briefing by the US State Department, kicking off a six-month clock before a formal exit occurs. The move was not a surprise, as Washington had signalled to its European allies toward the end of last year that the US would consider withdrawing.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has reacted that it had not violated the treaty and that a US withdrawal would be “very regrettable”, adding that the Trump administration was working to “derail all agreements on arms control”. The statement said,

“This decision is a deplorable development for European security. This US-initiated treaty is a major component of European security… US security concerns will not improve either and its international prestige is bound to be hurt. The policy to discard the Open Skies Treaty calls into question Washington’s negotiability and consistency. This is a source of serious concern even for US allies. Russia’s policy on the treaty will be based on its national security interests and in close cooperation with its allies and partners.”

Indeed, this is not the first arms control agreement that the Trump administration has abandoned. What we are witnessing is the Trump administration dismantling systematically the entire fabric of arms control inherited from the Cold War era. The keystone of arms control, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or START agreement, expires in 2021, and there is little enthusiasm in the US for its extension.

The US’ dreams of attaining nuclear superiority over the former Soviet Union proved a chimera. The Trump administration’s enterprise can only meet a similar fate. In the Russian defence doctrine, global stability is riveted on strategic balance and there is no question of Moscow conceding nuclear superiority to the US, no matter what it takes.

A new dimension has now appeared in the pointed reference in the Russian statement to Moscow formulating its policy apropos the US decision on the Open Skies Treaty “in close cooperation with its allies and partners”. It hints at a Russian policy response in coordination with China. If so, the Russian-Chinese entente is being elevated to a qualitatively new level. It may be recalled that on the sidelines of an international affairs conference in Moscow last year, President Vladimir Putin had revealed that Russia is helping China build a system to warn of ballistic missile launches.

Putin added that “this is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defence capability.” The seemingly inadvertent remark was calibrated to signal a new degree of defence cooperation between Russia and China at a juncture when Washington branded both as revisionist powers that challenge US interests globally and must be countered.

The period since October is characterised by growing belligerence in the US force projection toward Russia and China. The Chief of Staff of Russia’s North-Eastern Joint Command Mikhail Bilichenko said in December that US was boosting its activity near the Chukotka Peninsula, “increasing the grouping and practicing, among other things, the landing of an amphibious assault force.”

Earlier this month, a US Navy strike force of the 6th Fleet began operating in the Barents Sea, north of Russia, for the first time since the Cold War, further expanding its portfolio of Arctic operations by aircraft carriers and surface combatants in the past two years. Three Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers – USS Donald Cook, USS Porter and USS Roosevelt along with fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE-6) are in the Barents Sea to “assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies,” according to a U.S. Navy news release.

Similarly, a longer-term struggle between the US and China is at a turning point, as the former rolls out new weapons and strategy in a bid to close a wide missile gap with China. Having got rid of the constraints under the INF Treaty, the Trump administration is planning to deploy long-range, ground-launched cruise missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the White House budget requests for 2021 and Congressional testimony in March of senior U.S. military commanders, the Pentagon intends to arm its Marines with versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile now carried on US warships, It is also accelerating deliveries of its first new long-range anti-ship missiles in decades.

And, in a radical shift in tactics, the U.S. moves are aimed at countering China’s overwhelming advantage in land-based cruise and ballistic missiles. The US Navy maintains a powerful presence off the Chinese coast. The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry passed through the Taiwan Strait twice in April. And the amphibious assault ship USS America last month exercised in the East China Sea and South China Sea. A Reuters Special Report this month quoted a former senior Australian government defense official as estimating, “The Americans are coming back strongly. By 2024 or 2025 there is a serious risk for the PLA that their military developments will be obsolete.”

Beijing has been repeatedly warning that it will not stand by idly if the provocative US force projections continued. In an article last week in the Chinese Communist Party tabloid Global Times, the daily’s editor-in-chief Hu Xijin wrote that China should increase its nuclear warheads to 1,000 “in a relatively short time span”, and to procure at least 100 DF-41 strategic missiles, the country’s fourth-generation and latest solid-fuelled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile with an operation range up to 15,000 kilometres.

Hu, a hugely influential opinion maker, argued that it is not sufficient for China to develop adequate nuclear deterrent, since the US government has identified China as its largest strategic competitor, and Washington is “more likely to exert all its power at its disposal to suppress and intimidate China… it is highly likely that it could even take similar risks that led to the Cuban missile crisis.” Therefore, China needs to possess such power that prevents the US politicians from “gambling with its nuclear armament and harming China.”

In plain terms, Hu said, if the US tries to subdue China in the Taiwan Straits or the South China Sea, which are its core interests, to considerations that defeating China is necessary for perpetuation of its global hegemony, then “China must fix its nuclear gap with the US.” At a time when Washington sharply increases its investment in nuclear arsenal armament as the “cornerstone of American politics and psychology,” China needs a bigger depot of nuclear weapons.

The post-Covid era is destined to see an acceleration of strategic competition between the big powers. The existing strategic conventions are being jettisoned and new weapons systems are being developed, such as very high-speed, hypersonic missiles. Also undermining deterrence is Artificial Intelligence. To tamp down the intensifying geopolitical contestation, a bolstering of the old arms control order would have helped but the opposite is happening.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment