US F-35 Destroyed in Apparent First-ever Crash for the Stealth Jet Cause of crash not clear;
Israel operates 12 of the advanced planes Agence France-Presse and The Times of Israel
SOUTH CAROLINA (September 28, 2018) — A US F-35 fighter was completely destroyed in a crash while training Friday, officials said. The pilot safely ejected. The crash appears to be the first of its kind for the troubled F-35 program, marking an unfortunate moment for the most expensive plane in history.
Speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement, a defense official told AFP that the Marine Corps F-35 had crashed outside Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.
“It’s a total loss,” the official said.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said the pilot safely ejected and was being evaluated for injuries.
Unit costs vary, but the price tag of F-35s is around $100 million each.
The crash comes just one day after the US military first used the F-35, which has been beset with delays and cost overruns, in combat. Multiple Marine Corps F-35s struck Taliban targets in Afghanistan.
Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.
Once servicing and maintenance costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s lifespan through 2070, overall program costs are expected to rise to $1.5 trillion.
Israel operates 12 F-35 fighters known in Israel by their Hebrew name, the “Adir,” meaning mighty or great.
Israel began receiving the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter from the United States in December 2016. The aircraft was declared operational approximately a year later.
In May, the head of the air force revealed that Israel had used the fighter jets operationally, which the IDF said made it the first military do so.
Israel has, for now, agreed to purchase 50 F-35 fighters in total from the United States, which are scheduled to be delivered in installments of twos and threes by 2024.
The fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet has been lauded as a “game-changer” by the Israeli military, not only for its offensive and stealth capabilities, but for its ability to connect its systems with other aircraft and form an information-sharing network.
WASHINGTON (September 29, 2018) â€“ An F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina, the US Marine Corps said, in the first such incident to affect the most expensive defence programme in the world. A statement said the crash occurred in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina, at approximately 11.40am on Friday.
“The US Marine pilot ejected safely,” the statement said, adding that there were no civilian injuries and both the health of the pilot and the cause of the crash were being evaluated.
The F-35 Lightning II is built by Lockheed-Martin. Reuters reported earlier on Friday that the Pentagon announced an $11.5bn contract for 141 planes, which “lowered the price for the most common version of the stealthy jet by 5.4% to $89.2 million”.
Donald Trump has trumpeted efforts to cut costs. On Friday V Adm Mat Winter, head of the Pentagon’s F-35 office, said: “Driving down cost is critical to the success of this programme.”
Most of the new planes will be for US use but some will go to allies. Israel and Britain are among countries committed to buying F-35s. On Thursday, F-35s landed on a British aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the first time.
On the same day, the US military said it carried out its first operation with the plane in Afghanistan. Israel has used its F-35s to carry out strikes.
The planes are equipped with stealth technology to help evade detection by radar. Trump has attracted criticism and ridicule for seeming to believe this makes the jets “invisible”.
Last November, for example, the president told an audience of coast guard officers the US was “ordering hundreds of millions of dollars of new airplanes for the air force, especially the F-35.”
“You like the F-35?” he asked. “. . . You can’t see it. You literally can’t see it. It’s hard to fight a plane you can’t see.”
Trump said he had discussed the plane with “some air force guys” who told him: “Well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it, even if it’s right next to it, it can’t see it.”
(April 26, 2018) –The United States has just finished the first operational deployment of the controversial F-35 stealth fighter.
We don’t know how it went.
We won’t know how it went.
The Pentagon has classified its report into the most significant challenges the US Marine Corps encountered in Japan and when taking its F-35B ‘jump jet’ variant to sea aboard the USS Wasp in January.
We know problems emerged.
“While the Marine Corps recognises the advanced warfighting capabilities the F-35 will bring to the Pacific, it is facing challenges operating in the area,” an unclassified summary of the report states. “In particular, it is uncertain how long the F-35 can effectively operate if ALIS becomes disconnected from the aircraft.”
This refers to the aircraft’s self diagnostic system, an artificial intelligence (called ALIS) intended to make critical maintenance easier and ensure it is up to standard.
And it’s not known if the ‘airframe issues’ which caused one of the F-35Bs to make an emergency landing in Japan recently is part of the Marine Corp’s concerns.
The United Kingdom is purchasing the ‘jump jet’ F-35B. Other nations such as Australia, Norway, Italy, and Candada have all contributed to the stealth fighter’s exorbitant development costs, as well as committed to buying it.
But the Pentagon earlier this month suspended all deliveries of the new jet from its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.
This is because of a dispute over who was responsible for the cost of repairing serious production faults discovered upon delivery.
TROUBLED TRILLION-DOLLAR TURKEY
Some 16 F-35Bs in Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 were deployed to Japan last year. In January, these went to sea in a heavily promoted deployment aboard the USS Wasp.
The US Marine Corps has plans to buy 353 of the ‘jump jet’ variant to replace its AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornets.
What we know of the F-35Bs performance comes from a Government Accountability Office assessment of the state of the program.
“The F-35 program does not currently disseminate or make available lessons learned across all services, although program officials agreed that doing so would be beneficial,” it found.
“The services are at risk of not having access to key information that could affect their movements, exercises, operations, and sustainment of the aircraft in the Pacific and other areas where they operate. Now is the time for DOD to make sure that lessons learned are communicated effectively across all services.”
And, hopefully, all allies.
The F-35 stealth fighter, which is the world’s most costly defence project ever, is also known to have software problems associated with its one greatest advantage — the ability to ‘network’ with nearby aircraft, ships, soldiers and satellites.
Whether or not this was raised in the Pentagon report is unknown.
But spare parts are clearly part of the issue.
“The Marine Corps has also encountered several challenges with the F-35’s supply chain since beginning flight operations in January 2017. Further details are provided in our classified report . . . ”
The dispute between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin has remained unresolved since it emerged earlier this month.
The dispute is specifically over who is responsible for paying for production errors. Neither US Government nor Lockheed Martin inspectors identified the issue while the jets were on the production lines.
It’s not the first time such a suspension has been enforced.
No new F-35s were accepted for more than 30 days last year after it was discovered corrosion was affecting the join between carbon fibre panels and the aluminium airframe. A recall had to be applied to more than 200 F-35s.
In 2016, a delivery halt was related to insulation problems with the fuel lines and tanks. The new, unspecified, problems will require technicians to travel the world to wherever the stealth fighter is located.
It’s clearly not a cheap job.
“We are still progressing along with the Joint Program Office on that,” Lockheed Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson said in a statement. “It’s just a temporary suspension that they have on accepting some aircraft until we reach agreement on a contractual issue. So we’re working through that contractual issue with them.”
The extent to which these production defects apply to the handful of F-35A fighters so far delivered to the Australian Air Force has not been revealed, nor whom will wear the cost of remediating the problems.
Reuters reports two sources as saying two unspecified foreign customers had also stopped accepting F-35s as a result of the new issues.
WASHINGTON (September 26, 2018) — Well into the second year of the Trump administration, “draining the swamp” is more of a hapless zigzag than a charge against Washington’s sacred cows.
Case in point: the earmarking process. Despite a 2011 ban on congressional earmarking, lawmakers have found ways to bake “inducements” into massive defense and infrastructure bills. Tallying and tabulating the earmarks found in the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) found 679 earmarks totaling $19.3 billion. These earmarks fuel unnecessary and unaccountable programs that harm taxpayers and service members alike.
One large winner from the still-widespread earmarking process is the F-35 aircraft program, slated to run taxpayers an estimated $1.5 trillion due to the combined costs of construction, fuel, and maintenance over a 20-year time frame. The cost overruns are infamous, with a 7 percent jump in price over the past year alone.
The program’s executive officer, Mathias W. Winter, claimed in a hearing that, despite poor management decisions over the past 20 years, the situation has improved since 2011’s clock reset and the F-35 program has become more affordable and reliable. Yet average F-35 costs have more than doubled since the program’s inception in 2001.
Taxpayers have seen the per-aircraft cost rise from $62.2 million to $158.4 million, and it would have been even higher if the Pentagon hadn’t taken well-documented shortcuts in the construction process. Despite these warnings and cost overruns, however, the House added $740 million for eight additional F-35s in the current spending bill.
A June 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office noted that F-35 aircraft had 111 deficiencies that “may cause death, severe injury, or severe occupational illness; may cause loss or major damage to a weapon system; critically restricts the combat readiness capabilities of the using organization; or result in a production line stoppage.” An additional 855 deficiencies could “impede or constrain successful mission accomplishment.”
Yet rather than fixing these potentially fatal design flaws, Pentagon documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) show that planners are eager to patch over these flaws in order to move full speed ahead. Take, for instance, the failure of the emergency squawk to “automatically initiate upon ejection.” Despite the obvious threat to service personnel, the Deficiency Review Board moved to “change status to no plan to correct. . ..”
In response to these deficiencies and mission-critical shortcomings, the Pentagon could have instead committed to capping off the program and dedicating remaining resources to ensuring program safety and effectiveness. But some members of Congress had other ideas.
House Armed Services Committee subcommittee chairman Mike Turner suggested that ramping up production even further could lower per-unit costs, despite increasing the total program cost to taxpayers.
For the subcommittee chairman, boosting production would be “bringing home the bacon” to his constituents in the Dayton area, where multiple F-35 suppliers are located.
Pork-barrel politics aside, if the plane “doesn’t work,” how will buying more make them better? Sure, per-unit costs will tend to be low (by 2018 standards) with a bulk purchase, but amping up total program costs from $1.5 trillion to more than $2 trillion shows a reckless disregard for taxpayer money and guarantees continued designed woes.
The F-35 is but one of countless programs soaring in costs yet lacking any sort of accountability. TPA also found, for instance, that appropriators allocated $950 million for two additional Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) this year, on top of the Navy’s $646 million request for just one additional ship. Lacking in these requests was any justification for the program increase, given the disappointing results delivered by the program thus far.
In a review conducted between 2016 and 2018, the Pentagon found significant LCS shortcomings, including little backup capability for vital system functions and nil missile self-defense functions. In fact, there’s a significant chance that “a single hit will result in loss of propulsion, combat capability, and the ability to control damage and restore system operation.”
Yet with the rampant cost escalation that has plagued the program since its inception in 2005, one could be forgiven for thinking that LCS ships have Volvo-style safety features. LCS vessels now cost more than $600 million each, nearly triple the figure that was initially slated back in 2005. The late Senator John McCain rightly pointed out that “the littoral combat ship, or LCS, is an unfortunate yet all too common example of defense acquisition gone awry.”
As long as programs such as the F-35 and LCS are beholden to trigger-happy appropriators focused more on winning reelection than eliminating program waste, costs will continue to skyrocket. Congress can take a first bold step by strengthening the earmark ban on the books, rather than eliminating it as some have suggested.
Lawmakers must also hold the Pentagon accountable for these ballistic boondoggles, by tying funding more closely to program capabilities and cost overruns. Until officials — both on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon — start applying pressure to faulty programs, service members and taxpayers will continue to be in the line of fire.
ACTION ALERT: War Profiteering Isn’t Humanitarian
Tell the International Rescue Committee Not to Honor a War Profiteer CODE PINK and World BEYOND War
We are asking you to reconsider presenting
Larry Fink with a humanitarian award, while he
continues to profit from war, weapons, and violence.
(September 30, 2018) — The International Rescue Committee is known throughout the globe for its outstanding support for migrants and refugees; however, the humanitarian organization is dead set on honoring the war profiteer BlackRock CEO Larry Fink at its November Rescue Gala in New York City.
THE LETTER To: David Miliband, President & CEO of IRC
We are writing to you today on behalf of CODEPINK and World BEYOND War, two non-profit organizations that oppose militarism and seek positive social change through proactive, creative protest, and non-violent direct action. CODEPINK and World BEYOND War are part of a campaign that includes 85 organizations that are calling for divestment from weapons of war.
We want to thank you for your ongoing work to support migrants and refugees in conflict regions across the globe. It is through the work of the International Rescue Committee that refugees are able to gain a foothold in their host countries. Today, we are writing out of concern for this year’s John C. Whitehead Humanitarian Award Honoree Laurence D. Fink, CEO of BlackRock.
As you may know, Larry Fink stated that he would hold companies accountable for being responsible corporate citizens. His comments made waves in the US business sector. However, under his watch, BlackRock maintains significant stakes in US, Israeli, and UK weapons companies, with it being the fifth-largest shareholder in BAE Systems.
The products made by weapons manufacturers create refugees and internally displaced persons. They do not promote a just and compassionate world, which is why we are calling on BlackRock to divest its assets from weapons and warfare.
We are also asking you to reconsider awarding Mr. Fink with a humanitarian award, while he continues to profit from war, weapons, and violence. As you know, the two leading contributors to the global refugee crisis are climate change and war. Rewarding Mr. Fink’s profits from weapons and violence while you seek to assist the people impacted by these wars undermines the valuable work that IRC is doing around the world.
In the US, the military-industrial complex dominates spending and spreads death and destruction at home and abroad. Investing in weapons of war means making a killing on killing — hardly the humanitarian way to run a business.
In 2016, the US dedicated over $700 billion in tax dollars toward the Pentagon, which amounts to 64% of federal discretionary spending; and half of the Pentagon’s spending goes directly to US weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.
This money is being used to engage the US and UK in active conflicts around the world, to give military support to the disastrous Saudi-led war on Yemen, and to support Israeli suppression of Palestinian human rights.
As you have documented in your country file for Yemen, it is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. US weapons manufacturers have sold more than $650 million worth of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to support their war in Yemen.
In addition, the UK has licensed over Â£4.7 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This includes small arms, precision-guided bombs, and so-called “dumb bomb” conversion kits.
BlackRock and Mr. Fink own billions in shares in the companies that are arming Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; Mr. Fink is therefore profiting from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The massive profits these companies rake in are made on the backs of civilians in poor countries such as Yemen, who are paying the ultimate price of war. General Dynamics is a prime example of a US company profiting from those who are suffering. The military contractor has taken a government contract to provide “social services” to migrant children held at US detention camps.
In the past, General Dynamics has provided weapons to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq, and Turkey, and directly benefited from the US invasion of Iraq. IRC has condemned the actions at the border, and the separation of families. We are urging you to reconsider honoring Mr. Fink as he profits from those displacements and gross human rights violations.
Honoring Mr. Fink with a humanitarian award only undermines the mission and vision of the International Rescue Committee. His company’s insistence on propping up weapons manufacturers undermines any possibility of diplomacy between countries and prevents the proper compassionate care of refugees and internally displaced persons.
We strongly urge you to reconsider your award to Laurence D. Fink.
‘Bombs Not Homes’ Defines
Trudeau’s Feminist Foreign Policy Matthew Behrens / Rabble
OTTAWA (September 28, 2018) — As Canada’s three main political parties prepare for the 2019 election, there is one issue on which they will all agree: there will be no challenge to Canada’s bloated war economy.
While rightwing parties will rail against government waste and improper spending (an attack they usually aim at social programs that on the whole function well and would perform even better if properly funded), the federal War Department receives no such criticism, even when its fiscal mismanagement is well documented.
So infused is the myth of Canadian benevolence on the world stage that no one from the NDP, Liberals or Conservatives will raise a scintilla of dissent regarding the already enormous $20-billion annual investment in an organization that regularly produces questionable financial audits, continues to cover up its role in war crimes such as the torture of Afghan detainees, and treats its veterans with a degree of disrespect that is beyond reprehensible.
To date, no one sitting in Parliament has condemned one of the largest impending thefts from the poor ever undertaken by Ottawa: the immoral and wholly unnecessary $60 billion-plus investment in a new generation of warships.
The War Department has already spent over $39 million reviewing bids for the warship contracts, and is seeking an additional $54 million to continue doing so, even as it concedes that it does not know how much the warships will eventually cost (an invitation to corporate entities to charge whatever they please since, in the end, they know Ottawa will pony up). The federal government has already been accused of rigging the bids, given that it appears to be favoring a company linked to Irving Shipyards.
Even assuming such megaprojects are needed — which they most certainly are not — the carelessness with which soldiers’ lives are treated in the process of procuring war materiel is particularly galling. Indeed, during a dispute heard at a summertime trade tribunal, Canada argued that it has absolutely no obligation to ensure that the equipment it purchases actually works.
This dispute was in the context of their admitted failure to test recently purchased search and rescue gear for the military and coast guard. The message to soldiers and sailors is clear: we have no responsibility to ensure you have a safe workplace, and when you do get hurt on the job due to our negligence, you will spend years fighting Veterans Affairs to receive benefits.
Warfare over Child Care
To help distract from this glaring failure to prioritize child care over warfare and housing over drones and new bombers, the Liberals continue to dance about the global stage as self-proclaimed feminists, from hosting last weekend’s much heralded Montreal gathering of female foreign affairs ministers to the laughable creation of a new ambassador for women, peace and security.
“The new ambassadorial position I announced today is just one step in our ongoing effort to put some meat on the bones of this feminist foreign policy,” Chrystia Freeland said proudly, repeating the mantra about how much her government supports women’s rights as human rights.
Yet Freeland continues to approve weapons sales to the world’s most misogynist regimes (USA, Saudi Arabia) and is silent as her own government funds the War Department to the detriment of women.
Indeed, every dollar that goes down the rat hole of militarism is one that could be used to stop the endless murder of women in this land (a woman is now killed every other day in Canada by a man). A coalition of women’s shelters released a new report reminding Canadians that:
“Our goal is to see a Canada where every woman living with violence is able to access comparable levels of services and protection, no matter where she lives. Currently, that is not the case. Canada currently has a federal strategy on Gender Based Violence. Its reach is limited to the areas of responsibility of the federal government and thus does not seek to ensure that women in all areas of the country have access to comparable levels of services and protection.”
Among the barriers faced by women are “poor legislative protections, insufficient social and housing supports, inadequate funding and increases, deficient data collection and monitoring, and convoluted and overlapping information.” While at the United Nations this week, neither Freeland nor Trudeau addressed why they have failed to implement a UN-mandated national action plan to end violence against women and girls.
While liberal-minded types glowed on Twitter and Facebook about the women’s gathering in Montreal, few pointed out that Freeland’s Swedish and South African counterparts, for example, oversee weapons exports that regularly keep their respective countries in the top ranks of arms exporters.
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said that calling one’s foreign policy feminist is a “great step, in that it opens up the space for us to come in with specific demands, like: stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia or sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” (Canada refuses to sign the nuclear weapons treaty and continues to stand by its $15-billion weapons sale to the Saudis).
Poverty Continues to Grow
While the Trudeau-Freeland warfare state continues to grow, Ottawa has also announced a “visionary” strategy to reduce poverty by a few percentage points by 2030 (assuming on their part that is it OK to leave yet another generation suffering from hunger and homelessness for another dozen years). But with this strategy, they announced not a single dime in new spending to achieve this goal. While the funds are clearly available to end poverty in Canada tomorrow, the political will simply is not there.
Despite decades of friendly rhetoric about helping those without money, the rate of poverty in this country has been relatively unchanged for the past half century. As Canada Without Poverty points out, almost five million people in Canada are officially deemed to live in poverty.
In 1971, Ian Adams, William Cameron, Brian Hill and Peter Henz — all of whom had resigned from a Senate committee tasked with studying poverty when it became clear that senators were not interested in eliminating the causes of poverty — wrote their own study, The Real Poverty Report.
Reminding readers that “to be poor in our society is to suffer the most outrageous kinds of violence perpetrated by human beings on other human beings,” they went on to ask a pertinent question, one rarely addressed by those in political life:
“What are the consequences for a society that claims to have a democratic system, enjoys trappings of wealth and economic power spectacularly beyond the reach of most nations in the world, but allows one-fifth of its population to live and die in a cycle of unrelieved misery?”
They were reminded in their study of Jean-Paul Sartre’s description of the affluent, one that fits perfectly for the Trudeau Liberals, “who have it in their power to produce alterations for the better but instead work assiduously to perpetuate ancient swindles while professing humane goals.”
Even in 1971, at a time when Canadian nationalist mythmakers incorrectly labelled Canada a peaceable kingdom, the authors point out that “Canada has over the years allocated more for military expenditure than it has in the area of social welfare.”
While the need for an immediate housing investment and income supports is beyond glaring, monies continue to flow elsewhere, especially to the military. The amazing amount of money thrown away includes a top-heavy bureaucracy, with the number of admirals and generals having grown 60 percent since 2003 (despite the military itself only growing an estimated two percent during that time period).
Current War Department Chief Jonathan Vance is unashamed abut the number of men strutting about Ottawa with the massive fruit salad on their chests, and he actually plans to expand their numbers even more, especially since Ottawa will invest well over $1 billion in a new facility for the War Department to accompany an $800-million building in the former Nortel campus in the city’s west end.
Ultimately, despite the happy smiles and collegial back slapping for good feminist speaking points, the Liberals and their friends across the aisles in Parliament all continue to reign over a society that, in spending far more on war than on social needs, is approaching, as Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly pointed out, spiritual death. It might be a good idea before volunteering or donating to these political parties to ask whether one really wants to contribute to that spiritual death.
Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and US ‘national security’ profiling for many years.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Here’s What We Could Have
If We Slashed The Military Budget Lindsay Koshgarian / Jacobin Magazine
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(September 29, 2018) — The US military budget sucks up an enormous amount of resources without making the world more peaceful or democratic. Here are a few ways we could better spend that $717 billion.
The Pentagon is set to receive $717 billion in 2019 — more than half of the roughly trillion-dollar annual budget. That level of Pentagon funding is immense by any standard. Next year’s budget will be roughly twice the size of military appropriations in the mid-1990s, before George W. Bush and his twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it will be higher than the peak of Pentagon spending during the Vietnam War.
None of this is necessary. The Pentagon is the least accountable part of the federal government, wasting billions of dollars on needless bureaucracy, pouring billions more into dangerous (and redundant) nuclear weapons, and cozying up to contractors who siphon off roughly half of the Pentagon’s budget each year.
Even worse, the never-ending US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the world more dangerous, and American imperialism continues to undermine the autonomy of other nations and peoples.
While profligate Pentagon spending doesn’t make the world more peaceful or more democratic, it does guarantee that the US government will be cash-strapped when it tries to fund vital public programs. Here are a few ways we could be spending our money if we didn’t bequeath the military with $717 billion.
1. Medicare for All
Medicare for All has become a top item on progressives’ policy wish list, raising the ire of conservatives and centrists everywhere. But despite the cries from fiscal scolds, Medicare for All is not as much as might you think: the $717 billion military budget is just about $12 billion shy of the sum needed to expand government health insurance to the 200 million US children and adults who currently have private insurance or no insurance at all. Structured the right way, Medicare for All could even reduce overall US health care costs by as much as $2 trillion.
2. Free College
Free college for all is completely affordable — especially if you have the Pentagon budget at your disposal. The military’s $717 billion could pay full tuition for four years at a public university for 21 million college students — more students than are currently enrolled in all colleges in the country.
3. Food Assistance
At the same time that the $717 billion military bill wends its way toward Trump’s desk, Congress is debating the merits of cutting $24 billion over ten years from food stamps and related assistance for the poor. Together, the proposed cuts and rule changes could result in 3 million Americans losing food assistance.
Trimming the Pentagon budget by $2.4 billion per year — a reduction of less than half a percent — would make up the difference and keep food stamps and its sister programs intact.
4. Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood received $543 million in government funds in its last reported year. Thanks to lots of resistance, attempts in Congress to defund the organization have so far proven unsuccessful. But now women face a new challenge, named Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump’s Supreme Court pick is widely believed to be the vote that could overturn Roe v. Wade, or at least weaken it past recognition. Technically no federal funds are used to pay for abortions (an absurd restriction that should be reversed), but the Pentagon budget could fund services like birth control and gynecological exams at the current funding level until the year 3336.
5. Reduced Fossil-Fuel Emissions
The only way to slash carbon emissions is by taking aggressive action at the federal level. That will be costly. But fortunately, there’s a bloated Pentagon budget we can draw on.
The military budget could fully fund the $200 billion annual investment needed to reduce US fossil fuel emissions by 40 percent by 2035, according to a 2014 study. That study — the best cost-estimate available for carbon reduction — also estimated that a $200 billion annual investment would create 2.7 million new jobs.
6. Upgraded Infrastructure
Aside from clean energy, the United States is in desperate need of new infrastructure investment for roads, bridges, public water systems, schools, and more. Millions of Americans drink tap water that isn’t up to public safety standards.
The American Society for Civil Engineers gave the United States a D+ for its infrastructure on their most recent report card. Since the United States is $2 trillion shy of the needed funds for repairs over the next ten years, a 28 percent cut to Pentagon funding — from $717 billion to $513 billion, still higher than during the 1990s — would cover the difference.
The military budget crowds out spending that could make America more just. And the costs to countries where the US wages war are even higher. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have killed hundreds of thousands of people and caused 10 million to be displaced or flee their homes.
Meanwhile, at home, millions struggle to meet their basic needs. Paring back the Pentagon budget by $300 billion — a modest step that would still leave it at 1990s levels — would free up resources for domestic needs while weakening the military’s ability to do harm abroad.
It’s not national security that drives this spending. But human security could be the rationale for cutting it.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Spending on the Military Creates Fewer Jobs than Spending Money on Education The Young Turks (December 10, 2011)
(September 30, 2018) — The Kavanaugh confirmation process has been a missed opportunity for the United States to face up to many urgent issues on which the bi-partisans in Washington, DC are united and wrong.
Kavanaugh’s career as a Republican legal operative and judge supporting the power of corporations, the security state and abusive foreign policy should have been put on trial. The hearings could have provided an opportunity to confront the security state, use of torture, mass spying and the domination of money in politics and oligarchy as he has had an important role in each of these.
Kavanaugh’s behavior as a teenager who likely drank too much and was inappropriately aggressive and abusive with women, perhaps even attempting rape, must also be confronted. In an era where patriarchy and mistreatment of women are being challenged, Kavanaugh is the wrong nominee for this important time.
However, sexual assault should not be a distraction that keeps the the public’s focus off other issues raised by his career as a conservative political activist.
The Security State, Mass Spying and Torture
A central issue of our era is the US security state — mass spying on emails, Internet activity, texts and phone calls. Judge Kavanough enabled invasive spying on everyone in the United States. He described mass surveillance as “entirely consistent” with the US Constitution. This is a manipulation of the law as the Constitution plainly requires probable cause and a search warrant for the government to search an individual.
Kavanaugh explained in a decision, “In my view, that critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this [NSA] program.” This low regard for protecting individual privacy should have been enough for a majority of the Senate to say this nominee is inappropriate for the court.
Kavanaugh ruled multiple times that police have the power to search people, emphasizing “reasonableness” as the standard for searching people. He ruled broadly for the police in searches conducted on the street without a warrant. He ruled in favor of broader use of drug testing of federal employees.
Kavanaugh applauded Justice Rehnquist’s views on the Fourth Amendment, which favored police searches by defining probable cause in a flexible way and creating a broad exception for when the government has “special needs” to search without a warrant of probable cause. In this era of police abuse through stop and frisk, jump out squads and searches when driving (or walking or running) while black, Kavanaugh is the wrong nominee and should be disqualified.
Kavanaugh also played a role in the Bush torture policy. Torture is against US and international law, certainly facilitating torture should be disqualifying not only as a justice but should result in disbarment as a lawyer. Kavanaugh was appointed by President Trump, who once vowed he would “bring back waterboarding and . . . a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” Minimizing torture is demonstrated in his rulings, e.g. not protecting prisoners at risk of torture and not allowing people to sue the government on allegations of torture.
Torture is a landmine in the Senate, so Kavanaugh misled the Senate likely committing perjury on torture. In his 2006 confirmation, he said he was “not involved” in “questions about the rules governing detention of combatants.” Tens of thousands of documents have been kept secret by the White House about Kavanaugh from the Bush era.
Even so, during these confirmation hearings documents related to the nomination of a lawyer involved in the torture program showed Kavanaugh’s role in torture policies leading Senator Dick Durbin to write: “It is clear now that not only did Judge Kavanaugh mislead me when it came to his involvement in the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation policies, but also regarding his role in the controversial Haynes nomination.”
Durbin spoke more broadly about perjury writing: “This is a theme that we see emerge with Judge Kavanaugh time and time again â€“ he says one thing under oath, and then the documents tell a different story. It is no wonder the White House and Senate Republicans are rushing through this nomination and hiding much of Judge Kavanaugh’s record — the questions about this nominee’s credibility are growing every day.” Perjury allegations should be investigated and if proven should result in him not being confirmed.
This should have been enough to stop the process until documents were released to reveal Kavanaugh’s role as Associate White House Counsel under George Bush from 2001 to 2003 and as his White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006. Unfortunately, Democrats have been complicit in allowing torture as well, e.g. the Obama administration never prosecuted anyone accused of torture and advanced the careers of people involved in torture.
Shouldn’t the risk of having a torture facilitator on the Supreme Court be enough to stop this nomination?
Corporate Power vs
Protecting People and the Planet
In this era of corporate power, Kavanaugh sides with the corporations. Ralph Nader describes him as a corporation masquerading as a judge. He narrowly limited the powers of federal agencies to curtail corporate power and to protect the interests of the people and planet.
This is evident in cases where Kavanaugh has favored reducing restrictions on polluting corporations. He dissented in cases where the majority ruled in favor of environmental protection but has never dissented where the majority ruled against an environmental interest.
He ruled against agencies seeking to protect clean air and water. If Kavanaugh is on the court, it will be much harder to hold corporations responsible for the damage they have done to the climate, the environment or health.
Kavanaugh takes the side of businesses over their workers with a long history of anti-union and anti-labor rulings. A few examples of many, he ruled in favor of the Trump Organization throwing out the results of a union election, sided with the management of Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian Casino Resort upholding the casino’s First Amendment right to summon police against workers engaged in a peaceful demonstration — for which they had a permit, affirmed the Department of Defense’s discretion to negate the collective bargaining rights of employees, and overturned an NLRB ruling that allowed Verizon workers to display pro-union signs on company property despite having given up the right to picket in their collective bargaining agreement. In this time of labor unrest and mistreatment of workers, Kavanaugh will be a detriment to workers rights.
Kavanough opposed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling in favor of net neutrality, which forbids telecom companies from discrimination on the Internet. He argued net neutrality violated the First Amendment rights of Internet Service Providers (ISP) and was beyond the power granted to the FCC. He put the rights of big corporations ahead of the people having a free and open Internet.
The idea that an ISP has a right to control what it allows on the Internet could give corporations great control over what people see on the Internet. It is a very dangerous line of reasoning in this era of corporations curtailing news that challenges the mainstream narrative.
In 2016, Kavanaugh was asked if he believed that money spent during campaigns represents speech, and is protected by the First Amendment and answered: “Absolutely.” Kavanaugh joined in decisions and wrote opinions consistent with efforts to oppose any attempt by Congress or the Federal Elections Commission to restrict campaign contributions or expenditures.
His view that free speech allows unrestricted money in elections will add to the avalanche of big money politics. Wealthy elites and big corporations will have even greater influence with Kavanaugh on the court.
Kavanaugh will be friendly to powerful business and the interests of the wealthy on the Supreme Court, and will tend to stand in the way of efforts by administrative agencies to regulate them and by people seeking greater rights.
Women’s Rights, Abortion and Sexual Assault
Judge Kavanaugh has not ruled on Roe v. Wade and whether the constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion. In 2017, Kavanaugh gave a Constitution Day lecture to the conservative American Enterprise Institute where he praised Justice Rehnquist and one of the cases he focused on was his dissent in Roe.
Rehnquist opposed making abortion constitutionally protected, writing, it was not “rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people.” Shortly after that speech, Kavanaugh wrote a dissent that argued an immigrant minor in government detention did not have a right to obtain an abortion.
On the third day of his confirmation hearings, Judge Brett Kavanaugh seemed to refer to the use of contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs.” It was a discussion of a case where Kavanaugh dissented from the majority involving the Priests for Life’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Kavanaugh opposed the requirement that all health plans cover birth control, claiming that IUDs and emergency contraception were an infringement of their free exercise of religion.
Multiple accusers have come forward to allege Kavanaugh’s involvement in sexual assault and abuse. While Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is viewed as credible — she was the only witness allowed to testify — it is not clear these allegations will be thoroughly reviewed. After being approved by the committee, the Republican leadership and President Trump agreed on a limited FBI investigation.
It is unclear whether the FBI will be allowed to follow all the evidence and question all the witnesses. As we write this newsletter, the outcome has yet to unfold. If there is corroborating evidence for the accusers, Kavanaugh should not be approved.
A Republican Political Operative As A Justice?
Kavanaugh has been a legal operative for the Republican Party involved in many high profile partisan legal battles. He spent three years working for Ken Starr on the impeachment of Bill Clinton where he pressed Starr to ask Clinton sexually graphic details about his relationship with Monica Lewinisky. He tried to expand the Starr investigation into the death of Vince Foster, whose death had been ruled a suicide. He was a lead author of the infamous Starr Report — widely criticized as “strain[ing] credulity” and being based on “shaky allegations.”
Kavanaugh was one of George W. Bush’s lawyers in the litigation after the election in 2000, which sought to block a recount of ballots in Florida, resulting in a decision that handed the presidential election to Bush. In the Bush administration, he was involved in pushing for conservative judges as well as controversial policies like torture.
During his confirmation process, in response to the accusations of assault, he claimed they were “a calculated and orchestrated political hit” and “revenge on behalf of the Clinton’s.” He demonstrated partisan anger and displayed a lack of judicial temperament, making him unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh exposes the true partisan nature of the highest court, which is not a neutral arbiter but another battleground for partisan politics. The lack of debate on issues of spying, torture and more shows both parties support a court that protects the security state and corporate interests over people and planet. Accusations of sexual assault must be confronted, but there are many reasons Kavanaugh should not be on the court. The confirmation process undermines the court’s legitimacy and highlights bi-partisan corruption.
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Illegal US Nuclear Weapons Handouts John LaForge / CounterPunch
(September 27, 2018) — The US military practice of placing nuclear weapons in five other countries (no other nuclear power does this) is a legal and political embarrassment for US diplomacy. That’s why all the governments involved refuse to “confirm or deny” the practice of “nuclear sharing” or the locations of the B61 free-fall gravity bombs in question.
Expert analysts and observers agree that the United States currently deploys 150-to-180 of these nuclear weapons at bases in Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey and Belgium. The authors of the January 2018 report “Building a Safe, Secure, and Credible NATO Nuclear Posture” take for granted the open secret that nuclear sharing is ongoing even though all six countries are signatory parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
In a paper for the journal Science for Democratic Action, German weapons expert Otfried Nassauer, director of Berlin’s Information Center for Transatlantic Security, concluded, “NATO’s program of ‘nuclear sharing’ with five European countries probably violates Articles I and II of the Treaty.”
Article I prohibits nuclear weapon states that are parties to the NPT from sharing their weapons. It says: “Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly . . . .”
Article II, the corollary commitment, states says: “Each non-nuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly . . . or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices . . . .”
What ‘Nuclear Sharing’ Means in Practice
The five NATO countries currently hosting US H-bombs on their air bases are officially “non-nuclear weapons states.” But as Nassauer reports, “Under NATO nuclear sharing in times of war, the US would hand control of these nuclear weapons over to the non-nuclear weapon states’ pilots for use with aircraft from non-nuclear weapon states.
Once the bomb is loaded aboard, once the correct Permissive Action Link code has been entered by the US soldiers guarding the weapons, and once the aircraft begins its mission, control over the respective weapon(s) has been transferred. That is the operational, technical part of what is called ‘nuclear sharing.'”
This flaunting of the NPT is what peace activists on both sides of the Atlantic refer to when calling the US bombs in Europe “illegal.” Nassauer notes, “The pilots for these aircraft are provided with training specific to use nuclear weapons. T
he air force units to which these pilots and aircraft belong have the capability to play a part in NATO nuclear planning, including assigning a target, selecting the yield of the warhead for the target, and planning a specific mission for the use of the bombs.”
“NATO nuclear sharing,” Nassauer writes, “was described in 1964 by one member of the US National Security Council . . . as meaning that ‘the non-nuclear NATO-partners in effect become nuclear powers in time of war.’
The concern is that, at the moment the aircraft loaded with the bomb is on the runway ready to start, the control of the weapon is turned over from the US, a nuclear weapon state, to non-nuclear weapon states . . . . To my understanding, this is in violation of the spirit if not the text of Articles I and II of the NPT.”
How Do the US and its Allies
Explain their Lawlessness?
An undated, 1960s-era letter from then-US Secretary of State Rusk explained the US ‘interpretation’ of the NPT. The pretext for ignoring the treaty’s plain language, the Rusk letter “argues that the NPT does not specify what is allowed, but only what is forbidden. In this view, everything that is not forbidden by the NPT is allowed,” Nassauer explained.
In its most absurd section, Rusk simply denies the treaty’s obvious purpose and intent. “Since the treaty doesn’t explicitly talk about the deployment of nuclear warheads in countries that are non-nuclear weapon states,” Nassauer writes, “such deployments are considered legal under the NPT.”
It is so easy to show that the United States and its nuclear sharing partners are in violation of the NPT, the governments involved work hard pretending there is nothing to worry about, no lawbreaking underway, no reason to demand answers. This is why so many activists across Europe have become nonviolently disobedient at the air bases involved.
The transparent unlawfulness of NATO’s nuclear war planning is also the reason why prosecutors in Germany don’t dare bring serious charges against civil resisters; even those who have cut fences and occupied hot weapons bunkers in broad daylight. Some Air Force witness might testify at trial that US nuclear weapons are on base.
John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.
Nukewatch, 740A Round Lake Road, Luck, WI 54853. (715) 472-4185
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Planned Shake-Up at EPA Would Make Scientists
More Vulnerable to Political Interference, Critics Say Andrew Wheeler carries on former EPA
Administrator Scott Pruitt’s anti-science agenda Mark Hand / ThinkProgress
WASHINGTON (September 29, 2018) — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to combine the agency’s two science offices into one, a move that critics contend is another example of the Trump administration trying to diminish the role of scientists at the agency.
Under the plan, the EPA’s Office of Science Policy and the Office of the Science Advisor would be merged into one entity, The Hill reported Thursday. The merger would downgrade the science advisor’s role by placing it into a position lower in the agency, according to experts.
The changes are occurring within the EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) — the scientific research arm of the agency — and would combine the two science offices into into a single Office of Science Integration and Policy.
“By dissolving the science adviser’s office and putting it several layers down in ORD, that greatly accelerates the decay of science advice within the EPA administrator’s office,” Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Bloomberg News. “That kind of coordination is much more difficult to do if they’re buried down inside an office.”
The ORD announced to agency staff on Wednesday that it will reorganize several departments found within the office. “EPA’s Office of Research and Development career leadership developed a proposal to combine offices with similar functions in order to reduce redundancies in ORD operations,” Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, EPA’s principal deputy assistant administrator for Science, Office of Research and Development, said in a statement emailed to ThinkProgress on Friday. Among the suggestions was to combine the two offices into one.
The news of this restructure comes after other controversial changes announced by the EPA this week. On Tuesday, it was revealed that the EPA was placing Dr. Ruth Etzel, who runs the Office of Children’s Health, on administrative leave. No explanation was given for placing Etzel on leave, although critics of the move believe it could be part of an effort to shut the office down.
The Trump administration has already demonstrated it is “undermining the use of science in decision-making” and shutting down the Office of Children’s Health would be consistent with that, Tracey Woodruff, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, told BuzzFeed News.
Michael Mikulka, president of a union representing more than 900 EPA employees, said the reorganization and the placing of Etzel on administrative leave are among several moves by the Trump EPA intended to “kill career civil servants’ input and scientific perspectives on rule making,” CNN reported Friday.
And restructuring the Office of the Science Advisor is the latest example of this. The office currently provides leadership across the agency on science policy development and implementation issues.
“The mission of the OSA is to provide leadership and serve as an honest broker for cross-Agency science, science policy, and technology issues,” the EPA’s website says.
About two dozen employees work in the Office of Science Advisor, providing science advice across the agency. The office also oversees the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Office, the Science and Technology Policy Council, and other programs.
Under the plan, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler would have the head of the new office report to the EPA’s deputy assistant administrator for science, at least two managerial layers between the agency’s chief scientist and the administrator, according to the New York Times. The head of the Office of Science Advisor currently reports directly to the administrator.
The merger of the offices could make the agency’s scientists more “vulnerable to political interference,” the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Halpern told the Courthouse News Service.
In implementing these changes, Wheeler is following the same anti-science and anti-environmental protection agenda set by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Experts predicted Wheeler would be more effective at dismantling the agency than agency because he would be more adept at avoiding the scandals that drove Pruitt out of the position.
Pruitt waged an explicitly anti-science campaign during his tenure as agency chief. He sought to purge scientists who had previously received EPA grants from sitting on the agency’s advisory committees. Pruitt also was personally involved in the purging of climate science information from the agency’s website in the early months of the Trump administration.
Before he resigned, Pruitt also signed a controversial proposed rule that limited the type of scientific studies and data the agency can use in creating public health and environmental regulations.
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Republican Rebels Block Restrictions on Saudi Nuclear Deal Bryant Harris / Al Monitor
(September 25, 2018) — A handful of Senate Republicans are bucking their leadership by holding up a resolution calling on the Donald Trump administration to refrain from reaching a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia that falls short of America’s so-called gold standard.
Al-Monitor has learned from congressional sources that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to unanimously pass a nonbinding resolution on the floor urging the Trump administration to “prohibit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from enriching uranium or separating plutonium on its own territory.” But several Republicans are objecting, casting doubt on Congress’ determination to weigh in on the Trump administration’s nuclear negotiations with the Saudis.
Because senators object to unanimous consent requests anonymously, it’s not known who has concerns. McConnell’s office did not respond to inquiries about how many lawmakers have objected.
“This blocks both the plutonium and the uranium route to civilian nuclear energy being converted into a potential bomb,” the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said at a July markup. “This is a standard that we are trying to establish everywhere in the world, and it is so important in the context of the Middle East and the dynamic in Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
Congress and the Barack Obama administration dubbed the domestic enrichment prohibition and other transparency measures as the “gold standard” in a civil nuclear agreement with the United Arab Emirates in 2009. But the Trump administration’s handling of the negotiations — and its rumored willingness to consider anything less than a gold standard agreement as it seeks to promote the US nuclear industry — have generated bipartisan concern in Congress.
“They’re keeping everything very close to their vest,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., told Al-Monitor. “In fact it’s like glued to their vest, so we have no ability to have any idea what’s going on.”
A week after Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with his Saudi counterpart Khalid al-Falih, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson told Congress that the Trump administration wants any agreement to adhere to “the strongest standard possible” and “ensure that the enrichment and reprocessing and those abilities do not get proliferated.” But lawmakers remain skeptical of Riyadh’s intentions.
March comments from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which indicated that Riyadh would seek a nuclear weapon if Iran did, have further stoked concerns that the Saudis could use US technology for such a program.
Furthermore, Washington’s agreement with the UAE allows it to revisit the agreement if the United States secures a more favorable agreement with another country, potentially sparking a nuclear arms race in the region.
The Saudis have hired a small army of law firms this year to push the administration and Capitol Hill on the issue. The Saudi Energy Ministry directly hired four firms — Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, King & Spalding, Gowling WLG and the office of David B. Kultgen, a former Saudi Aramco executive — in February and March.
Lobbying disclosure forms indicate that Pillsbury met with senior officials at the National Security Council, State Department and Energy Department in March. The firm also met with a staffer for Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in April. In July the firm spoke with another staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee about “a staff delegation visit to Saudi Arabia.”
Domestic interests are also weighing in.
According to lobbying disclosures reviewed by Al-Monitor, US-based Westinghouse has spent $540,000 this year lobbying Congress against both the Merkley resolution and a separate House bill — the Nuclear Cooperation Reform Act — that would force the administration to make prohibitions on a nuclear weapons program part of any agreement with Riyadh. The firm hopes that contracts for at least some of the 16 nuclear reactors Saudi Arabia wants to build will help it crawl out of bankruptcy.
The House bill, introduced earlier this year by Middle East panel chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., would also require Saudi Arabia to sign on to an additional protocol on nonproliferation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which Riyadh has not done.
Additionally, Al-Monitor has learned that the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association, unsuccessfully lobbied members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to go on record with a voice vote when it advanced the Merkley resolution in July. But Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., convinced his committee to advance the resolution unanimously.
Corker told Al-Monitor that it’s unlikely the resolution can get a stand-alone vote on the floor by the end of the year. The Senate is busy with Trump’s embattled nominee for the Supreme Court and myriad must-pass spending bills.
“But it could be attached to something else,” said Corker.
Both Corker and Ros-Lehtinen are retiring in January, leaving the future of both legislative items in doubt. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has not yet scheduled a markup on Ros-Lehtinen’s bill.
And Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, who is likely to replace Corker as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should Republicans hold the Senate in the midterm elections, has been less vocal on the issue. Risch’s home state hosts the Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility that hopes to build reactors for Saudi facilities.
In an emailed statement, Risch told Al-Monitor that he supports efforts to meet the gold standard with Saudi Arabia.
“However, it is not the only way to achieve the nonproliferation goals the United States advocates. Every [civil nuclear agreement] is different, but every [one] must, at a minimum, adhere to the same nonproliferation goals outlined in the Atomic Energy Act. I look forward to the congressional review a Saudi â€¦ agreement would require and ensuring US goals are being met.”
Bryant Harris is Al-Monitor‘s congressional correspondent. He was previously the White House assistant correspondent for Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera English and IPS News. Prior to his stint in DC, he spent two years as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. On Twitter: @brykharris_ALM
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Tell The International Criminal Court
To Investigate Israel’s Crimes Popular Resistance
Al Jazeera English (May 22, 2018)
(September 12, 2018) — Since the Nakba in 1947, Israel has displaced, brutalized and murdered Palestinians. The United States is Israel’s biggest supporter and regularly provides cover for the crimes committed by Israel.
* The US gives more money to Israel than to any other country, almost $135 billion since 1946. The last Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, signed by President Obama, gives a record $38 billion over ten years.
* The United States and Israel consistently vote as a bloc in the United Nations to oppose recognition of Palestine and to prevent criticism of Israel’s actions.
During the six weeks of peaceful actions by Palestinians starting in March to demand their Right of Return, the United States tried to block a UN resolution calling on Israel to show constraint instead of injuring and murdering Palestinians, including children, reporters and medics. Fortunately, the resolution passed without the US in June.
For these reasons, residents of the United States have a responsibility to demand that Israel is held accountable for its war crimes.
To that end, a letter is being circulated for individuals, political parties and organizations to sign calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for its crimes against Palestinians. The letter, written by the Peace Action and International committees of the Green Party US, is being circulated globally for signatures. A delegation will deliver the letter in person to the ICC in November.
The Letter The Right Honorable Ms. Fatou Bensouda
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
Post Office Box 19519
The Hague, The Netherlands
Re: Israeli War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
Dear Madame Prosecutor:
We, the undersigned, are crying out in unison with all people of conscience and compassion for the ICC to use its momentous authority to establish and preserve peace and justice throughout the world, most urgently for the oppressed and besieged people of Palestine. We, therefore, implore you to institute a full investigation in relation to the preliminary inquiry opened in 2015. 
We agree with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki who told reporters at the ICC in The Hague on May 22, 2018 that the evidence against the Israelis was “insurmountable.” Maliki said his request to move beyond a preliminary inquiry would give prosecutors the authority to investigate alleged crimes starting in 2014 and beyond, including the recent deaths during the protests in Gaza. 
When Palestine was recognized as a State in 2012 by the UN General Assembly, the ICC was given jurisdiction over crimes committed in their homeland, however, not before June, 2014. 
Although the Court cannot investigate crimes committed before 2014, historical events set the stage for the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The arbitrary UN Partition Resolution of 1947 arrogated 56% of Palestinian land to the Zionists for the creation of a Jewish State.
The Palestinians naturally rejected the resolution because it did not include any provisions for their civil or human rights. The newly anointed Israelis knew they would have to take the appropriated land by force, so they prepared well for the initial onslaught. Palestinians call that first invasion the “Nakba” or Catastrophe, which resulted in ethnic cleansing. 
Zionist militias brutally raped and molested women and girls; slaughtered men, women and children; sacked 500 villages; and drove out 750,000 Arab and Muslim human beings from their homes, property and livelihoods. 
The quality of life for Palestinians has been poor, with little peace or stability since 1947. The wealthy, US-backed, and nuclear-armed Israelis have fought war after war for supremacy and the acquisition of more and more land, while the Palestinians have defended themselves mostly with rocks, burning kites, balloons and tires, homemade rockets and starkly tragic human suicide bombers.
For 70 years they have: suffered the most appalling living conditions imposed upon them by the military occupation and apartheid rule; peacefully resisted the unabated illegal settlements upon their land (at least 80% has been seized since the Nakba); withstood the blockade of Gaza and survived genocidal assaults. 
Since 1947, the Palestinians have steadfastly and peacefully fought for their safety, dignity, freedoms and Right of Return proclaimed by the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 passed in 1948. The Right of Return, to include damages and compensation, was deemed their inalienable right in Resolution 3236 passed in 1974. 
Nevertheless, we understand that only alleged crimes that have been reported since June of 2014 may be investigated by the ICC starting with Operation Protective Edge launched on July 8, 2014 against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. By August 25, the IDF had killed 2,076 Palestinians including 525 children.  In all 10,224 were injured and Gaza was left in ruins. One teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was abducted and burned alive. 
Since March 30, 2018, at the heavily blockaded Gaza border, IDF snipers have used live fire and tear gas, a chemical weapon banned in warfare, on Palestinians peacefully protesting on a weekly basis for their Right of Return. As of August 17, 2018 records indicate that more than 18,000 have been seriously injured and at least 166 killed. 
On June 13, 2018 the UN General Assembly adopted a draft resolution condemning the use of excessive force by Israeli troops on the Palestinian civilians during the protests. 
Lastly, we request the Court investigate the reports of 150 illegal settlements on private Palestinian property in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank housing 750,000 Israelis. It is our understanding that these settlements are in violation of the UN Security Resolution 242. 
Thank you for your consideration of our most sincere and urgent request.
Peace and best wishes,
The Green Party of the United States
Some Israeli crimes against the Palestinians since 1948. Khalida Sara (November 8, 2015)
 The Netherlands, International Criminal Court, Press Release January 16, 2015″ The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, opens a preliminary examination of the situation of Palestine” < https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1083&ln=en>.
 Stephanie van den Berg, “Palestinians demand full investigation into Israel at Hague court” Reuters World News, May 22, 2018. .
 Amanda Taub, “Palestine just formally joined the International Criminal Court. Here’s what that means.” Vox, April 1, 2015
 Ilan Pappe’, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006, One World Publications, Oxford, England.
 Dana Visalli, “A Brief History of Palestine and Israel Explains Everything” Global Research, March 13, 2018
 Mark Levine “Why Palestinians have a right to return home,” Aljazeera , September 23, 2011
 “Operation Protective Edge: What happened, why, and what now? American Friends Services Committee
 Kareem Khadder, Samira Said and Susanna Capelouto “Palestinian teen burned alive autopsy shows” CNN, July 5, 2014
 “Gaza protests: All the latest updates” Aljazeera, August 17, 2018
 Michelle Nichols “United Nations condemns excessive Israeli force against Palestinians” Reuters, June 13, 2018 < https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN1J935D>
 Zena Tehan “Israel’s settlements: 50 years of land theft explained” Aljazeera, November 21, 2017
Ten Children, Two Women Killed in Air Strike in
Afghanistan’s Wardak Province, Says Initial UN Report Agence France-Presse & FirstPost.com
KABUL (September 26, 2018) — An airstrike appears to have killed 12 members of an Afghan family, most of them children, the United Nations said, citing preliminary findings, as US and Afghan forces ramp up aerial bombardments against militants.
The victims, including 10 children aged six to 15 and two women, died on Sunday night when an “aerial ordnance” destroyed their house in a village in Wardak province, near Kabul, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a statement late Tuesday.
The findings support earlier comments from provincial council member Ahmad Jahfari, who told AFP that 12 members of a family had been killed in an airstrike targeting Taliban fighters.
A villager called Abdullah told AFP that two of his sisters died in the attack that he said claimed the lives of more than 12 civilians. “Three other houses were also destroyed,” Abdullah said. “They wanted to bomb a Taliban prison about 100 metres (330 feet) from our house.”
UNAMA is also reviewing reports of civilian casualties from “a number of alleged air strikes in other parts of the country”, its statement said. That includes “credible reports” that nine members of a family were killed in an air strike on Saturday in the eastern province of Kapisa. US Forces confirmed it had carried out an air strike in support of Afghan ground troops in Kapisa, but killed “only militants”, spokesman David Butler said earlier. It is not clear if the air strike in Wardak was carried out by US or Afghan forces.
Afghanistan’s defence ministry is investigating both incidents, spokesman Ghafor Ahmad Jawed told AFP.
US Forces said it was reviewing “relevant and credible information” relating to its operations in Wardak.
UNAMA expressed its “strong concern” at the rising number of civilian casualties from air strikes this year. Air strikes killed or wounded 353 civilians in the first half, up 52 percent from the same period in 2017. The figure accounted for roughly seven percent of total civilian casualties for the six-month period.
One of the worst incidents was in the northern province of Kunduz in April, when an Afghan air strike on an outdoor religious gathering in Dashte Archi killed or wounded 107 people, mostly children, a previous UNAMA report found. The government and military said it had targeted a Taliban base where senior members of the group were planning attacks.
US and Afghan forces have dramatically increased air offensives against Taliban and Islamic State insurgents in the past year as they try to get the upper hand in the 17-year war.
US forces employed 746 weapons in July, which was the highest monthly total since November 2010, the most recent US Air Forces Central Command data shows. That is more than double the 350 munitions used in July 2017, a month before US President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan that gave American forces greater leeway to go after militants.
Afghanistan’s fledgling air force also has accelerated bombardments as the United States beefs up the country’s aerial capability with more aircraft and better weapons.
KABUL (September 25, 2018) — The United Nations mission in Afghanistan voiced concern on Tuesday over increasing numbers of civilian casualties as a result of airstrikes by US or government forces, following reports that nine were killed in an eastern province last week.
Air strikes have spiked steeply this year, in a strategy aimed at forcing Taliban militants to accept peace talks, with the number of bombs dropped by the US air force almost doubling in the first six months, to nearly 3,000.
The UNAMA mission said it had received “multiple, credible allegations” that a strike hit the house of a teacher in the eastern province of Kapisa on Saturday, killing nine members of the same family, including three women and four children. Six others were wounded, it said.
“UNAMA reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm,” it said in a statement.
“The Mission repeats its earlier call for government forces to uphold their commitment to regular review of targeting protocols and ensure mitigation measures and compensation for victims.”
Mohammad Radmanish, a defense ministry spokesman confirmed civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and US forces that involved air support, but gave no details. He said an investigation was underway.
The US military in Kabul said it was reviewing information regarding the Kapisa incident and reiterated that it did all it could to avoid civilian casualties.
“We are aware of the UNAMA announcement regarding Kapisa as well as the Afghan government’s statements, and that they’re conducting their independent process,” it said in an emailed statement.
“It isn’t uncommon for insurgents to use these accusations to drive a wedge between the military and the population. We will provide updates as they become available.”
The reports underlined one of the problems facing Gen. Scott Miller, the new US commander in Afghanistan who took up his post this month and must balance the need to pressure the Taliban with the need to avoid civilian casualties.
United Nations’ data shows a jump of 52 percent in the number of civilians killed or wounded in air strikes in the first six months of the year. The UN said 149 civilians were killed and 204 wounded in air attacks in the year’s first half, with women and children comprising more than half the 353 casualties.
Since the figures were reported in July, the UN said it had recorded increasing numbers of civilian casualties from air strikes.
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