Category: Big Picture

Top U.S.Special Forces Chief: Iraq War was a “Huge Error”

PAUL VALE – The former top US Special Forces chief claimed on Sunday, November 29, that blinding emotion after the 9/11 attacks led the United States and its allies to take the wrong strategic decisions to counter al-Qaeda, calling the subsequent Iraq War a “huge error.” The admission by Michael Flynn, made to German newspaper Der Spiegel, comes as British MPs prepare to vote on extending the UK’s bombing campaign against the Islamic State into Syria following the massacre in Paris.

These Are the 100 Most Militarized Universities in America

WILLIAM M. ARKIN and ALEXA O’BRIEN – An information and intelligence shift has emerged in America’s national security state over the last two decades, and that change has been reflected in the country’s educational institutions as they have become increasingly tied to the military, intelligence, and law enforcement worlds. This is why VICE News has analyzed and ranked the 100 most militarized universities in America.

Fukushima Radiation in Pacific Reaches West Coast

JOHN LAFORGE – “We should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,” marine chemist Ken Buesseler said last spring. Instead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency halted its emergency radiation monitoring of Fukushima’s radioactive plume in May 2011, three months after the disaster began. Japan isn’t even monitoring seawater near Fukushima, according to a Sept. 28 story in “The Ecologist.”

UN to Vote on Nuclear Disarmament Resolutions

UNFOLD ZERO [November 1, 2015] – From Monday November 2, and running the whole week, the United Nations General Assembly in New York [is voting] on a number of draft resolutions on nuclear disarmament. Many of these are repeat resolutions from previous years – and countries [are likely voting] for them the same way as they have in the past. However there are a few exciting new resolutions – which if adopted with significant support – could pave the way for effective multi-lateral negotiations.

22 People Killed by U.S. Airstrike on Hospital in Afghanistan

KATHY KELLY – Before the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing in Iraq, a group of activists living in Baghdad would regularly go to city sites that were crucial for maintaining health and well-being in Baghdad. These sites included hospitals, electrical facilities, water purification plants, and schools. The activists would then string large vinyl banners between the trees outside these buildings that read: “To Bomb This Site Would Be A War Crime.” At the time, we encouraged people in U.S. cities to do the same, trying to build empathy for people trapped in Iraq, anticipating a terrible aerial bombing. Tragically, sadly, the banners must again condemn war crimes, this time echoing international outcry.

University Scientists Caught Conspiring with Biotech Industry to Manipulate Public Opinion on GMOs

DAVE MURPHY – What happens when a private company with a long history of producing some of the most toxic chemicals on the planet and now produces our food starts facing public pressure from a growing national grassroots movement to label their products to conform with basic principles of democracy and transparency? Well, if the company in question is Monsanto, then you take a page out of Big Tobacco’s playbook and hatch a secret plan to enlist public university scientists to bury the potential harm of your genetically engineered crops by whitewashing negative studies and systematically demonizing your opponents in the media to mislead elected officials and the American public about the safety of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and their accompanying toxic pesticides.

Tiny Guam Faces Huge U.S. Marine Base Expansions

SYLVIA FRAIN – On Saturday morning August 29, 2015, the United States Navy signed the Record of Decision (ROD), the final document needed for the implementation of one of the largest “peacetime” military build-ups in American history. This will cost between $8 and 9 billion, with only $174 million for civilian infrastructure, which Congress has not released yet. As a central aspect of American’s foreign policy ‘Pivot to the Pacific’, the build-up will relocate thousands of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. This does not auger well for the people of Guam.

GOP Attempting to Kill Environmental Regulations Across the Board With Sneaky Budget Riders

EMERSON URRY – It seems like we, at EnviroNews, have been reporting on this type of thing all year. That is, sketchy environmental riders being attached to totally unrelated appropriations bills in backdoor efforts to kill environmental and wildlife protections. Yes, this year’s spending bills are littered with Republican-stamped provisions seeking to gut current regulations, while rolling back what little painstaking progress the government has made on the climate issue – this, in an attempt to open the door for limitless carbon pollution, and myriad other industrial plunders.

Boeing Patents Nuclear-Powered Airplane

KARL GROSSMAN – Consider getting on to an airplane with nuclear-powered engines. Consider the consequences if an atomic airplane crashes. The Boeing Company last week received approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for an airplane engine that combines the use of lasers and nuclear power. “Boeing’s newly-patented engine provides thrust in a very different and rather novel manner,” heralded Business Insider. It’s a leap into mad science—and backwards to a 1950s notion of nuclear-powered aircraft.

Pope Francis is Taking on Climate Change

ETHICAL MARKETS – The encyclical from Pope Francis [the week of June 1, 2015] marks yet another significant milestone in our planet’s march toward a global climate change agreement in Paris this December. The fact that the leader to more than 1 billion Catholics—roughly 14 percent of the world’s population—is urging action on climate change is undeniable evidence of growing support for an agreement that even global warming naysayers cannot refute.

Supreme Court Rejects EPA’s Regulation of Power Plants’ Emissions of Mercury and Other Toxins

METEOR BLADE (TIMOTHY LANGE) – The U.S. Supreme Court plunked a setback into the lap of the Environmental Protection Agency Monday [6-29-15] by trashing the agency’s regulation of emissions of mercury and other air toxins (MATS) from electricity-generating plants. The court overturned a lower-court decision in the case of Michigan v. EPA stating that the agency had acted reasonably when it chose not to consider compliance costs first in its effort to control those emissions. The justices split 5-4, with the four liberals on the side of the EPA and the four conservatives and Justice Anthony Kennedy on the side of industry and the states that had sued.

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.

US Officials: ‘Saudis Set to Buy Nuclear Weapons from Pakistan’

YASMIN KAYE – Saudi Arabia is said to have taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” nuclear weapons from ally Pakistan, senior US officials told the Sunday Times. Sunni Arab states are increasingly concerned of the repercussions of a deal currently being negotiated between world powers and Shi’ite rival Iran, which they fear may still be able to develop a nuclear bomb.

Time to Ban the Bomb

ALICE SLATER – Global Momentum is building for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. While the world has banned chemical and biological weapons, there is no explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, although the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously that there is an obligation to bring to a conclusion negotiations for their total elimination. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), negotiated in 1970 required the five existing nuclear weapons states, the US, Russia, UK, France and China (P-5) to make “good faith efforts” to eliminate their nuclear weapons, while the rest of the world promised not to acquire them (except for India, Pakistan, Israel, who never signed the NPT). North Korea relied on the NPT Faustian bargain for “peaceful” nuclear power to build its own bomb, and then walked out of the treaty.

Controversial Trade Deal’s Text Leaked by Wikileaks

JONATHON TASINI – This is an advanced January 2015 version of the confidential draft treaty chapter from the Investment group of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks between the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam. The treaty is being negotiated in secret by delegations from each of these 12 countries, who together account for 40% of global GDP. The chapter covers agreements on investments from one TPP nation to another, including empowering foreign firms to “sue” other states’ governments, as well as regulations around investor-state dispute settlements and tribunals. This document was prepared by TPP investment chapter negotiators in advance of the informal round of negotiations held in New York City 26th January to 1st February, 2015.

Scientists Set Doomsday Clock Closer to Armageddon

ROBERT F. DODGE, M.D. – The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has just announced its latest nuclear Doomsday Clock moving ahead the minute hand to three minutes till midnight. The clock represents the count down to zero in minutes to nuclear apocalypse – midnight. This significant move of two minutes is the 22nd time since its inception in 1947 that the time has been changed.

Intervention in Civil Wars ‘Far More Likely in Oil-rich Nations’

DAVID SWANSON – Conspiracy theorists have long insisted that modern wars revolve around oil. Now research suggests hydrocarbons play an even bigger role in conflicts than they had suspected. According to academics from the Universities of Portsmouth, Warwick and Essex, foreign intervention in a civil war is 100 times more likely when the afflicted country has high oil reserves than if it has none.

Why Tesla’s Battery for Your Home Should Terrify Utilities

JOSH DZIEZA – Earlier this week, during a disappointing Tesla earnings call, Elon Musk mentioned in passing that he’d be producing a stationary battery for powering the home in the next few months. It sounded like a throwaway side project from someone who’s never seen a side project he doesn’t like. But it’s a very smart move, and one that’s more central to Musk’s ambitions than it might seem.

Meet The 80 People Who Are As Rich As Half The World

MONA CHALABI – Eighty people hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people, according to an analysis just released from Oxfam. The report from the global anti-poverty organization finds that since 2009, the wealth of those 80 richest has doubled in nominal terms — while the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population has fallen.

Obama Proposes to Boost Spending for Nuclear Armaments

DOUGLAS BIRCH – The Obama administration has proposed to boost spending on the U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads at a higher rate than for many other military programs, according to White House budget documents published February 2. Arms control advocates call the ambitious program both bloated and wasteful, and based on an outdated view of the importance of nuclear weapons to U.S. security. Meanwhile, nonproliferation efforts have been downplayed.

Editor Of Major Newspaper Says He Planted Stories For CIA

RALPH LOPEZ – Becoming the first credentialed, well-known media insider to step forward and state publicly that he was secretly a “propagandist,” an editor of a major German daily has said that he personally planted stories for the CIA. Saying he believes a medical condition gives him only a few years to live, and that he is filled with remorse, Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, the editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, said in an interview that he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name. Ulfkotte said the aim of much of the deception was to drive nations toward war. Dr. Ulfkotte says the corruption of journalists and major news outlets by the CIA is routine, accepted, and widespread in the western media, and that journalists who do not comply either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.

CIA on Trial in Virginia for Planting Nuke Evidence in Iran

DAVID SWANSON – Since Tuesday and continuing for the coming three weeks, an amazing trial is happening in U.S. District Court at 401 Courthouse Square in Alexandria, Va. The trial is open to the public, and among the upcoming witnesses is Condoleezza Rice, but — unlike the Chelsea Manning trial — most of the seats at this somewhat similar event are empty. The media is mostly MIA, and during lunch break the two tables at the cafe across the street are occupied, one by the defendant and his lawyers, the other by a small group of activists, including former CIA officer Ray McGovern, blogger Marcy Wheeler (follow her report of every detail at ExposeFacts.org), and Norman Solomon who has organized a petition at DropTheCharges.org — the name of which speaks for itself.

Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking

DENNIS KUCINICH – Late Thursday night [December 11], the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.

America is on a “Hot War Footing”: House Legislation Paves the Way for War with Russia?

MICHAL CHOSSUDOVSKY – America is on a war footing. While a World War Three Scenario has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than ten years, military action against Russia is now contemplated at an “operational level.” Similarly, both the Senate and the House have introduced enabling legislation which provides legitimacy to the conduct of a war against Russia. We are not dealing with a “Cold War.” None of the safeguards of the Cold War era prevail. There has been a breakdown in East-West diplomacy coupled with extensive war propaganda. In turn the United Nations has turned a blind eye to extensive war crimes committed by the Western military alliance.

Germany Does Something the U.S. Hasn’t for Peace

DAVID SWANSON – Imagine a letter co-signed by former presidents, former representatives from both sides of the aisle, House speakers, former governors, attorneys general, cabinet members, ambassadors, CEOs, movie stars and directors, writers, astronauts, religious leaders, mayors, academics, mainstream media correspondents, and more — all united in stating “Nobody wants war.” Imagine the New York Times publishing this letter. The equivalent happened in Germany just a few days ago.

U.N. Predicts New Global Population Boom

DAVID TALBOT – A new analysis suggests that the world’s population will keep rising through 2100, and not flatten around 2050 as has been widely assumed. Such an increase would have huge implications, but the prediction’s reliability is debatable, given that it does not take into account future hardships a large population would likely face.

DeFazio Stakes Out Anti-War Position on ISIS

PETER DEFAZIO – Thank you for contacting me with your opposition to President Obama’s plan to take military action against the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We are in complete agreement on this issue. You will be pleased to know that I voted against the authorization to arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. Unfortunately, the McKeon Amendment to train and equip Syrian rebels passed the House of Representatives 273-156.

Progress in Pakistan Depends on Women’s Participation

RIZWAN ZULFIGAR BHUTTA – Women have a vital role in the progress of human society. Yet, women’s contributions to progress aren’t always acknowledged by or even included in history books. In her 1998 book, “You Can’t Kill the Spirit: Women and Nonviolent Action,” writer Pam McAllister spotlights stories, struggles and contributions of women all over the world – stories that are often hidden in plain sight. The latest story comes from Pakistan, where local women are actively working toward social and political change at this very moment.