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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Washington Wizards unfit for purpose at home and abroad

Compiled, re-reported, edited with comment by Carolyn Bennett

As callous incompetents in Washington continue their summer theater — and a nation escapes in collective hysteria and ceaseless drama the drones of their wars continue blowing up innocent peoples across three continents and leaving their lives, their futures in ruins.

Drones have become more widespread throughout the world — in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and not only these — Deutsche Welle reports from interviews this week. “The United States has especially increased its use of drones in Pakistan.” Between 2004 and 2007, there were nine drone attacks. In 2008, they rose to 33, the next year to 53, and last year the attacks hit 118.

University of Dortmund physicist and cofounder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), Jürgen Altmann, told Deutsche Welle, ‘I can't imagine that the USA would launch this many manned air attacks in Pakistan.’

Civilian deaths, future foreign relations
Professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University (UK), Noel Sharkey, told the news organization “the new development is not just dangerous for civilians living in enemy territory, ‘It is also dangerous for our own civilians, because lopsided wars lead to new terrorism. … People won’t just give up because we’ve got the best technology.’”

Furthermore, a killing machine without feeling or conscience is also incapable of forming ethical judgments. “‘No one knows what it means to bring ethical considerations into programming,’ said Hans-Jörg Kreowsky, a professor of computer science at the University of Bremen. ‘Algorithms cannot define ethics. That means you cannot build [an ethical drone].’”

As evidenced in the tone and violence emanating from and led repeatedly by Washington — the United States of America in this era has ceased all pretenses of civil discourse, dialogue and diplomacy and any attempt to respect, listen, understand and adopt strategies of cooperation and negotiation (sans bribery or corruption) with the world’s nations and peoples.

U.S. officials call them ‘militants,’ villagers call them ‘civilian victims’ of war crimes

Afghanistan suffered its latest invasion on the Western pretext of “curbing militancy and bringing peace and stability” to the country. Nine years later, Afghanistan is unstable. Civilians continue paying the price. Their casualties continue rising as U.S.-led foreign troops’ attacks rise. Reports say that in the past few months “hundreds of civilians have been killed in U.S.-led airstrikes and ground operations” in various parts of this war-torn country.

The latest reports from “troubled eastern Afghanistan” said, “a large number of civilians” died and several were wounded “in a U.S.-led military operation.” These casualties came “after foreign forces pounded a residential area in Paktia Province.”

The U.S. army “confirmed the operation” but claimed the casualties were militants.” Villagers and eyewitnesses said the victims “had no links to militant groups.”

Rising numbers of foreign casualties are also causing rising opposition to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan from NATO member countries and from other non-NATO countries that have contributed troops to this invasion and war and occupation.

Today, as foreign forces experienced some of their deadliest days, two U.S.-led NATO soldiers reportedly died in eastern Afghanistan.  Yesterday, two other U.S.-led foreign soldiers died when a roadside bomb exploded in the east. These deaths bring this year’s estimated number of foreign fatalities to more than 330.

“Official figures” report more than 2,611 U.S.-led soldiers have died since the U.S. launched the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.


Lies in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean covering about 1,491,000 square miles
(3,862,000 square kilometers) and
Forming part of the principal sea route between Europe and India
Bounded to the west by the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
To the west, the Gulf of Aden connects it with
Red Sea via the Bab el-Mandeb Strait
To the north by Iran and Pakistan
To the north, the Gulf of Oman connects
Arabian Sea with the Persian Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz
To the east by India
To the south by the remainder of the Indian Ocean
The Arabian Sea has a mean depth of 8,970 feet (2,734 meters)

PAKISTAN [U.S. bombed]
“Hundreds of people have died in Balochistan since 2004 when militants began fighting for political autonomy and a greater share of the revenues from the oil and gas resources of the region.”

Quetta, Balochistan — At least thirteen Shiites died yesterday and several others were injured when shooters opened fire at a passenger pick-up in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan.

A similar incident on Friday left seven (est.) Shiite Muslim pilgrims dead and several others wounded. A group of heavily armed militants reportedly attacked a bus on the outskirts of Quetta.

Also on Friday, at least three people died and 25 were injured when a bomb exploded during a football match in Balochistan.

IRAQ [occupied]
More than a million Iraqi citizens have faced ‘violent deaths’ since the U.S.-led military invasion of this country began in 2003, according to a study by the British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB).

Tikrit — Thursday, 130 kilometers north of Baghdad 12 people died and 34 were wounded when two bombs exploded near the state-run Al-Rafidain Bank in the Iraqi city of Tikrit.

“Bombings and other forms of violence are a near-daily occurrence in war-torn [and occupied] Iraq,” Press TV reports. “June was the deadliest month this year for both Iraq and the U.S., with the occupiers losing 14 of their soldiers.”

From Iraq's Foreign Ministry — though combat operations have officially ended, approximately 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in the country until the end of 2011 to ‘advise Iraqi forces and protect U.S. interests.’ However, on Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Baghdad has decided not to allow U.S. military troops to stay in the country past the 2011 deadline.


PERSIAN GULF (Arabian Gulf)
A shallow marginal sea of the Indian Ocean that
Lies between the Arabian Peninsula and southwestern Iran
Bordered on the north, northeast and east by Iran;
On the southeast and south by part of Oman and by the United Arab Emirates;
On the southwest and west by Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia; and
On the northwest by Kuwait and Iraq
The term Persian Gulf sometimes refers not only to Persian Gulf proper but
Also to its outlets —
The Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, which open into the Arabian Sea

UAE — Although it is a leading oil exporter, the United Arab Emirates “has embarked on a nuclear program to meet its domestic demand for power.” The UAE is said to be “advancing its plans to buy the uranium that will be needed to begin operating nuclear power plants.”

Saudi Arabia — Senior officials at the White House, according to today’s press reports, have said the Obama administration “is planning to resume talks with Saudi Arabia about a potential nuclear cooperation.”

BAHRAIN (occupied by U.S. Fifth Feet)
Bahrain’s largest political party, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has repeatedly called for ‘elected government,’ ‘elected parliament with full legislative powers,’ and ‘fair and independent judicial system’ in the kingdom.

Opposition groups and anti-government activists are accusing Washington of “supporting the ruling Al Khalifa regime and turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by Bahraini authorities against peaceful protesters.”

Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have massed around the U.S. Embassy in the capital this weekend to prevent a scheduled protest sit-in outside the U.S. diplomatic compound.

Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets outside the capital to condemn the results of a National Dialogue, saying it had failed to address people’s demands.


A deepwater basin that forms a natural sea link between the
Red Sea and the Arabian Sea
Named after the seaport of Aden, in southern Yemen,
The gulf lies between the coasts of Arabia and the Horn of Africa

YEMEN [U.S. ally]
Yemen has been the scene of violence since the popular revolution began in late January. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been taking part in regular mass demonstrations in the nation’s major cities.

Forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh “often resort to brutal violence to disperse peaceful Yemeni protesters, killing hundreds of protesters and leaving many more injured.”  Pro-Saleh forces reportedly “have attacked several villages near the capital Sana’a. Today, five (est.) villagers died in an attack.

Tribal leaders have vowed to guard the demonstrations, promised to support anti-regime protests. They “formed an alliance, called on the international community to back the revolution, and issued a warning to “those who brutally attack the Yemeni people.”



Intercontinental sea 
stretching from the Atlantic Ocean on the west 
to Asia on the east
separating Europe from Africa — ancient ‘sea between the lands,’
often called the incubator of Western civilization

From the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco (west-east extent)
to the shores of the Gulf of Iskenderun [seaport/chief city Iskenderun
in southern Turkey on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Iskenderun]
on the southwestern coast of Turkey—is
approximately 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers).

Between the shores of Yugoslavia and Libya
(its average north-south extent) is about 500 miles.

The Mediterranean Sea, including the Sea of Marmara,
occupies an area of approximately 970,000 square miles
(2,510,000 square kilometers). [Britannica]

In mid-March, NATO launched a major air campaign against Libya’s government saying that UN Security Council Resolution 1973 gives the military bloc a mandate to ‘protect the Libyan population.’

Libya [U.S.-led NATO war]

NATO is now reportedly “intensifying its attacks on Libya in an alleged attempt to increase pressure” on that country’s president. In this foreign aggression, “the attacks by the U.S.-led military alliance have killed scores of civilians and wounded many others in key Libyan cities.”

A report published July 28 by Reuters says since taking command of airstrikes on March 31, NATO “has conducted more than 16,822 sorties [attacks, raids, acts of violence from afar] including at least 6,339 strike sorties” into Libya.

Today, NATO announced airstrikes carried out by its warplanes on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, hit three television transmitters. The strikes “disabled three ground-based Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes.”

SOMALIA [attacked, occupied, threatened, blackmailed]
Thousands of Somalis have fled to the neighboring Kenyan camp of Dadaab. The camp currently has “more than 440,000 refugees.”

Today, at least sixteen children died of hunger and diseases caused by the lack of food in Somalia. The food crisis on the Horn of Africa escalates.  Medical sources confirmed that the children died in lower Shabelle regional town of Merka.


West Bank [U.S. extremist support of Israel, unsupportive of Palestine]
Palestinian farmers in the occupied territories every year plant some 10,000 olive trees.

Olive oil is regarded the backbone of the Palestinian economy. It is the second major export item in the occupied territories.  

Israeli settlers this week set olive trees alight in the West Bank village of Burin. Their attempt — not for the first time — is “to target a key product of the Palestinian economy.”

GAZA Strip [U.S. hostile, unsupportive]
Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza strip since the democratically elected Hamas government took control of the territory in 2007. The crippling blockade on the territory has triggered a humanitarian crisis. Because of the blockade, Palestinians in Gaza have trouble coping with everyday life and struggle to attain basic needs.

“I do not want to see Gaza opened up like all of the other markets of the world where the darker-skinned people are being used like modern-day slaves — and that is happening all around the world,” activist Ken O'Keefe said today in a Press-TV interview.

Palestinians “are more than capable of taking care of themselves [but] they need to have freedom of movement, self-determination [It is an insult to Palestinians and an insult to our intelligence to think we should be providing Palestinians with aid]. Once their import and export trade is established, Palestinians will have no need, whatsoever, for handouts.”


‘Sea of Atlas’ (salt water, second in size to the Pacific Ocean)
covering approximately a fifth of the Earth’s surface
separating continents of
Europe and Africa to the east
North and South America to the west

Without its dependent seas, the S-shaped Atlantic is
approximately 31,830,000 square miles (82,440,000 square kilometers);
with them, 41,100,000 square miles (106,460,000 square kilometers).
Average depth (with its seas) of 10,925 feet (3,300 meters); maximum depth of 27,493 feet (8,380 meters) in the Puerto Rico Trench, north of the island of Puerto Rico.
From east to west, the ocean’s breadth varies considerably:
between Newfoundland and Ireland, it is about 2,060 miles;
farther south, it widens to more than 3,000 miles before narrowing again
so that the distance from Cape São Roque, Brazil, to Cape Palmas, Liberia,
is only some 1,770 miles.

Southward it again becomes broader and is bordered by
simple coasts almost without islands;
between Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope,
the ocean approaches Antarctica on a broad front nearly 4,000 miles wide.

NORTH AMERICAS update August 8, 2011

Deepening violent occupation— U.S. in Mexico

New York Times reveals (Democarcy Now re-reporting) United States’ increased “involvement in Mexico’s bloody drug war.”

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials along with retired military personnel are, for the first time, being deployed in Mexico with that country’s military and authorities at an intelligence outpost — “modeled after compounds the United States operates in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Officials from the United States and Mexico are also “considering embedding private security contractors [mercenaries] in a specially vetted Mexican counter-narcotics police unit.”

The United States also in recent months began “flying unmanned drones over Mexican soil.” [Source: Democracy Now: “U.S. Expands involvement in Mexican Drug War with CIA, DEA Intelligence Post,” August 8, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/8/headlines]

Since the president of the United Mexican States (Mexico), Felipe Calderon, launched his army-led drive to crush drug cartels in late 2006, nearly 35,000 people have died in this war.

Mexico is stumbling under the weight of imprisoned people as the country’s government ramps up its campaign against drug cartels and increases detentions.

On Monday, at least seventeen people died and four others were injured in a prison riot in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. [In the United States of America, prisons too are overflowing and prisoners are rioting, some dying in protest to abuse and inhumane prison conditions.]

In the United States government, meanwhile, federal officials reportedly have failed to find more than two dozen rifles allegedly “stolen from a military base in California on July 15.” Several agencies have investigated the theft(s) and found one rifle.  

Federal officials are offering a reward for information leading arrests.

In further evidence of Washington’s incompetence and corruption, violence overshadowed by hysteria and bad theater, economics professor Richard D. Wolff said this week on the Democracy Now program, “The United States government refuses to tax corporations and the rich. It then runs a deficit. It spends more than it takes in because [the government] is not taxing them [corporations]. … The government then turns around to the people it didn’t tax — corporations and the rich — and borrows the money from them, paying them interest and paying them back.…

“We’re running a deficit because the people who run this society would like us to deal with our economic problems, not by taxing those who have it, the way we used to; but, instead, by endlessly borrowing from them.

“The ultimate irony,” he said, “is that we have borrowed so much as a nation from the rich and the corporations [and] they now are not so sure they want to continue lending to us, because we’re so deeply in debt. Instead of lending, they want us, instead, to go stick it to poor people and sick people.

“It is an extraordinary moment in our history as a nation.”

Sources and notes
“Drone usage on the rise in conflicts worldwide,” July 21, 2011, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15253842,00.html [www.dw-world.de | © Deutsche Welle]

The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) is a non-profit organization that advocates a reevaluation of automated war technologies like drones.

“Dozens killed by suspected U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan — Pakistan has repeatedly called for an end to the drone strikes, which the US never confirms. However, the U.S. military and the CIA are the only forces in the region to deploy the armed, unmanned Predator aircraft in the region,” July 12, 2011, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6570004,00.html

“U.S.-led operation kills Afghan civilians,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191516.html

“Two U.S.-led troops die in Afghan war,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191488.html

“13 Shia Muslims killed in SW Pakistan,” July 30, 2011, http://www.press”tv.ir/detail/191454.html

“Three killed in Pakistan stadium attack,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191421.html

“Iraq twin bomb attack kills 12, hurts 34,” July 29, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/section/351020201.html
“Iraq against U.S. presence beyond 2011,” July 27, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191101.html

“UAE to buy uranium for nuclear plants,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191420.html

“The U.S. plans nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/section/351020205.html

“Bahraini forces surround U.S. Embassy,” July 29, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191402.html
“Bahrainis to stage anti-U.S. Friday sit-in — Friday, Bahrain’s February 14 Movement has called for a mass sit-in in front of the U.S. embassy in Manama to condemn Washington’s interference in the internal affairs of the Persian Gulf country,” July 29, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191151.html

Al Wefaq National Islamic Society (also known as the Islamic National Accord Association) is a Bahraini political society. It is Bahrain’s largest party, both in terms of its membership and its results at the polls.  

“Yemeni forces heavily shell villages,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191515.html

“NATO: 3 TV transmitters hit in Libya,” July 30, 2011,  http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191451.html

“‘NATO should cut Qaddafi arms supply’— a former Libyan commander, colonel Hamed Al-Hassi,”

“16 Somali children die of hunger,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191479.html

“Israeli settlers torch Palestinian trees,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191549.html

“‘Blockade on Gaza root cause of crisis,’” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191562.html

Press TV interviewed Ken O'Keefe, an Irish- American activist, tells us what he has seen on his visit to Gaza.

Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe is an Irish-American activist and former United States Marine who led the human shield action to Iraq and was a passenger on the MV Mavi Marmara during the Gaza flotilla raid.

“17 killed in Mexican prison riot,” July 26, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/190930.html

“FBI fails to recover stolen army rifles,” July 30, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/191552.html

“Richard Wolff: Debt Showdown is ‘Political Theater’ Burdening Society’s Most Vulnerable,”
Democracy Now July 28, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/28/richard_wolff_debt_showdown_is_political   

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University (New York City). He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.

Since 2005, Richard Wolff has written analytical pieces focused chiefly although not only on the emerging and then exploding global capitalist crisis. Professor Wolff’s public speaking engagements and media interviews usually focus on one or more of the following topics: The Current Economic Crisis: Origins and Consequences; The Current Economic Crisis: Why Bailouts Fail and Alternative Responses;  The Current Economic Crisis and Globalization; Economic Crisis and Socialist Strategy, 2009;  The Difference Among Economic Theories (Neoclassical, Keynesian and Marxian); The History of the Marxian Theoretical Tradition; The Contemporary Relevance and Unique Insights of Marxian economics; A Class Analysis of the Rise and Fall of the USSR, http://www.rdwolff.com/content/about


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