Category: June 2015

Eyewitness Reports on Life in Afghanistan

MARTHA HENNESSY – Despite uncertainties over the future, the APV community pursues small but significant efforts at the Borderfree Center. They give a fine example of how a community can cooperate toward reaching shared goals, rather than compete. Roses keep blooming in Kabul amid the chaos and dust, and a tiny light of joyful collaboration remains graciously alive.

War, Murder and the American Way

ROBERT KOEHLER – Every war and every mass murder spreads fear and hatred — and inspiration — in their aftermath. We can’t go to war without spawning imitators. The day after nine members of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered, USA Today reported, the vigils at two South Carolina churches, in Charleston and Greenville, were disrupted by bomb threats and the churches had to be evacuated. “At some point,” President Obama said, “we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. . . . ” Until we begin demilitarizing our relationship with the world, such words uttered by presidents are as empty as the words Dylann Roof uttered in prayer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that fateful night.

Corvallis Council Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuels

KRIS PAUL – The Corvallis, Oregon divest campaign which started last fall came to a successful conclusion with the Corvallis City Council voting to divest on June 15th, 2015. Excited supporters in the audience clapped as the council unanimously voted to pass the resolution and were gently reminded by Mayor Traber that clapping during council meetings is not expected behavior.

Subsidies at 16 Times Carbon Prices Stymie Pollution Curbs

MATHEW CARR – Subsidies for fossil fuels are overwhelming efforts to curb pollution, the International Energy Agency said. Tax-breaks, subsidized fuel prices and other government support amount to an incentive to pollute worth $115 per metric ton of carbon-dioxide, the agency said Monday in its Energy and Climate Change report. That compares with an average $7 cost to buy emission permits in carbon markets, according to the Paris-based group.

Supreme Court: Corporations Over People AGAIN

LAURA FINLEY – Here we go again. Another court decision favoring businesses over human rights. Sadly, it is no shock that the Supreme Court is friendlier to business more than anything or anyone else. From its 2010 Citizens United blunder that allowed even greater corporate influence on our political process to the 2014 Hobby Lobby case affirming the “religious beliefs” of private corporations, the court’s continual siding with corporate entities over individual rights is maddening and ludicrous, but not surprising. Now, we learn that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of employers in a case that addressed whether persons with lawful medical marijuana cards can be fired for testing positive for the substance.

Corporate Welfare Fails to Deliver the Jobs

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – For several decades, state and local governments have been showering private businesses with tax breaks and direct subsidies based on the theory that this practice fosters economic development and, therefore, job growth. But does it? New York State’s experience indicates that, when it comes to producing jobs, corporate welfare programs are a bad investment.

U.S.-China Crisis Looms in the South China Sea

MEL GURTOV – The long-running, multi-party dispute over control of islets in the South China Sea (SCS) is worsening both in rhetoric and provocative activity. Meeting in late May at the Shangri-La Dialogue on regional security, U.S. and Chinese defense officials sparred over responsibility for the increased tension, though they stopped short of issuing threats. In fact, all sides to the dispute say they want to avoid violence, prefer a diplomatic resolution, and support freedom of navigation.

A Misleading Moment of Celebration for a New Surveillance Program

NORMAN SOLOMON – The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The new law, he told me, is “a new spy program.” It restarts some of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and further codifies systematic violations of Fourth Amendment rights. Later on Wednesday, here in Oslo as part of a “Stand Up For Truth” tour, Drake warned at a public forum that “national security” has become “the new state religion.” Meanwhile, his Twitter messages were calling the USA Freedom Act an “itty-bitty step” — and a “stop/restart kabuki shell game” that “starts w/ restarting bulk collection of phone records.”

Seattle’s Raging Grannies Arrested After Blocking Shell Workers From Access to Arctic Drilling Rig

ALEX GARLAND – The Seattle Police Department (SPD) rose early Tuesday morning, wooed by a swarm of Raging Grannies and other protesters who had gathered at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 bridge and Chelan Avenue South. Protesters attempted to prevent workers from boarding Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer. For a few hours, they succeeded.

To Prevent War with Iran, Remember Deceptions of War with Iraq

REV. ROBERT MOORE and RICHARD MOODY – The question recently was raised to presumed presidential candidate Jeb Bush whether, knowing what he knows now, he would have started a war with Iraq, as his brother, President George W. Bush, did in 2003. His initial answer, on which he flip-flopped a number of times in the days following, was yes. We tend to believe his first answer, partly because it was unvarnished before any public blowback — but even more because many of his top foreign policy advisoes include those who championed the rush to war using manipulated intelligence on Iraq. It is crucial to remember the truth about what led to that war, as we may be on the verge of being neo-conned into another even more disastrous war — with Iran.

Costa Rica Abolished its Military, Never Regretted it

DAVID SWANSON – The forthcoming film, A Bold Peace: Costa Rica’s Path of Demilitarization, should be given every possible means of support and promotion. After all, it documents the blatant violation of laws of physics, human nature, and economics, as understood in the United States — and the violators seem positively gleeful about it. In 1948 Costa Rica abolished its military, something widely deemed impossible in the United States. This film documents how that was done and what the results have been. I don’t want to give away the ending but let me just say this: there has not been a hostile Muslim takeover of Costa Rica, the Costa Rican economy has not collapsed, and Costa Rican women still seem to find a certain attraction in Costa Rican men.

Errors and Lies: How the U.S. Was Lied into War

PAUL KRUGMAN – Surprise! It turns out that there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago. But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Jeffrey Sterling vs. the CIA: An Untold Story of Race and Retribution

NORMAN SOLOMON – A dozen years before his recent sentencing to a 42-month prison term based on a jury’s conclusion that he gave classified information to a New York Times journalist, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was in the midst of a protracted and fruitless effort to find someone in Congress willing to look into his accusations about racial discrimination at the agency. has obtained letters from Sterling to prominent members of Congress, beseeching them in 2003 and 2006 to hear him out about racial bias at the CIA. Sterling, who is expected to enter prison soon, provided the letters last week. They indicate that he believed the CIA was retaliating against him for daring to become the first-ever black case officer to sue the agency for racial discrimination.