Tag Archives | us

Assassination as Policy in Washington and How It Failed, 1990-2015

Lauri Heikkinen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lauri Heikkinen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Andrew Cockburn writes at TomDispatch:

As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary — a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination.  Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, “Caliph” of the Islamic State, was reportedly seriously wounded in a March airstrike and thereby removed from day-to-day control of the organization. In January, as the White House belatedly admitted, a strike targeting al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan also managed to kill an American, Warren Weinstein, and his fellow hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto.

More recently in Yemen, even as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took control of a key airport, an American drone strike killed Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, allegedly an important figure in the group’s hierarchy.  Meanwhile, the Saudi news channel al-Arabiya has featured a deck of cards bearing pictures of that country’s principal enemies in Yemen in emulation of the infamous cards issued by the U.S.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Solving the Four Corners Mystery: Probes Map Methane ‘Hot Spot’

The desert Four Corners region contains beautiful landforms like Shiprock in New Mexico. It's also the site of an anomalous blob containing high levels of methane. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The desert Four Corners region contains beautiful landforms like Shiprock in New Mexico. It’s also the site of an anomalous blob containing high levels of methane.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Stephanie Pappas via Live Science:

A methane “hot spot” over the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest is undergoing serious scrutiny as scientists work to figure out why levels of the gas in the area are so high.

The mysterious methane was firstdetected from space, via a European Space Agency satellite that can measure this potent greenhouse gas. Researchers reported the discovery in October in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, but couldn’t explain where the extra methane was coming from. The “hot spot” persisted from 2003 until at least 2009. And the amount of methane was significant, the researchers reported — equal to nearly 10 percent of all U.S. methane emissions from natural gas.

Now, a team of researchers is tackling the mystery of the extra methane.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Utah’s firing squad plan is another twist in America’s long quest for a perfect execution method

The death chamber at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. REUTERS/Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice/Handout

The death chamber at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
REUTERS/Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice/Handout

Daniel LaChance, Emory University

Concerned that the Supreme Court may soon declare lethal injection unconstitutional, some states are making back-up plans.

In March, Utah’s governor signed legislation that will bring back the firing squad as the state’s official execution method in the event that injection – the method used by every state that still retains the death penalty – is no longer possible.

Utah’s legislation has received a lot of attention, in part because the state occupies a symbolically important place in the history of the modern American death penalty.

In 1977, it was the first to kill anyone after a ten-year suspension of executions in the United States. (The Supreme Court had found the death penalty capriciously applied, and thus unconstitutional, in a 1972 case. But it permitted executions to resume four years later when states presented the Court with new sentencing guidelines aimed at reducing arbitrariness.)

Standing in front of five rifles poking through a slotted wall, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore famously uttered, “Let’s do it,” and with his death, the modern era of executions in the United States was born.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Police Chief Magazine: Possible New Revenue Streams For Law Enforcement

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

In the April edition of The Police Chief magazine, Paul LaCommare, Commander of the West Covina Police Department in West Covina, California, discusses new ways for law enforcement to raise money in light of dwindling revenue streams.

This article was sent to us by a reader who said, “If war is a racket, policing is even more so…”

via Police Chief Magazine:

The common reaction to a budget crisis is reducing personnel and cutting services. The focus of this article is to provide police agencies with an alternative to personnel and service reductions. This alternative could help the survival of a city and maintain or expand police service through generating new revenue streams as a proactive approach to meet the fiscal crisis of today and the uncertain future of tomorrow.

Possible New Revenue Streams

A group of experts in the fields of city government, business, real estate, and entrepreneurship assembled in April 2008 to identify possible new income streams that could be initiated by law enforcement.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Syria’s President Assad: US Airstrikes a Recruiting Bonanza for ISIS

Charlie Rose and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. (Image: CBS News)

Charlie Rose and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. (Image: CBS News)

Jon Queally via Common Dreams:

In an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on CBS News’ 60 Minutes Sunday night, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said American airstrikes that began last year against Islamic State (or ISIS) inside his country are doing little to benefit his own fight against the militant force but are having the undesirable side effect of increasing the number of fighters from across the region (and the world) who are flocking to join the group.

“How much of a benefit are you getting from American airstrikes in Syria reducing the power of ISIS?” Rose asked in the interview that took place just days ago in Damascus.

Al-Assad responded by pointing out that the U.S. government and its allies want to “sugar coat the situation” inside Syria by telling the world that ISIS “is being defeated” and that airstrikes are making things better.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Buchheit analyzes privatization at Common Dreams:

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.” 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don’t hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s, with the sense of wartime cooperation still in the minds of researchers and innovators, has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it’s “the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them.” An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. Other sources have found that private health insurance administrative costs are 5 to 6 times higher than Medicare administrative costs.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Golden Age of Black Ops: Special Ops Missions Already in 105 Countries in 2015

The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

Nick Turse writes at TomDispatch:

In the dead of night, they swept in aboard V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.  Landing in a remote region of one of the most volatile countries on the planet, they raided a village and soon found themselves in a life-or-death firefight.  It was the second time in two weeks that elite U.S. Navy SEALs had attempted to rescue American photojournalist Luke Somers.  And it was the second time they failed.

On December 6, 2014, approximately 36 of America’s top commandos, heavily armed, operating with intelligence from satellites, drones, and high-tech eavesdropping, outfitted with night vision goggles, and backed up by elite Yemeni troops, went toe-to-toe with about six militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  When it was over, Somers was dead, along with Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher due to be set free the next day.  Eight civilians were also killed by the commandos, according to local reports.  Most of the militants escaped.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Glenn Greenwald: Why Privacy Matters

Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to see — and write about — the Edward Snowden files, with their revelations about the United States’ extensive surveillance of private citizens. In this searing talk, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything you need to hide.”

Read the rest

Continue Reading

The US and China Just Announced a Huge Deal on Climate Change

via Mother Jones:

In a surprise announcement Tuesday night, the world’s two biggest economies and greenhouse gas emitters, United States and China, said they will partner closely on a broad-ranging package of plans to fight climate change, including new targets to reduce carbon pollution, according to a statement from the White House.

The announcement comes after President Obama met in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and includes headline-grabbing undertakings from both countries which are sure to breathe new life into negotiations to reach a new climate treaty in Paris next year.

According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

Tuesday’s announcement is equally remarkable for China’s commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downwards: around 2030.

Read the rest
Continue Reading