Tuesday, March 31, 2015

News from Palestine

Human Rights Watch
The ICC treaty officially went into effect for Palestine on April 1, 2015, giving the court a mandate dating back to June 13, 2014, over serious crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on or from Palestinian territory.
On January 2, 2015, Palestinian authorities transmitted a copy of Palestine’s ICC accession instrument to the United Nations Secretariat. As depository for the ICC treaty, the UN secretary-general officially accepted the document on January 6 and circulated a notification indicating that Palestine would formally become an ICC state party on April 1, making it the 123rd member of the court. On January 1, the Palestinian government had also lodged a declaration, giving the court a mandate back to June 13, 2014, to cover the 2014 conflict in Gaza.

The United Nations Office on the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) published its latest report on humanitarian figures from the West Bank and Gaza.
Here is the most recent weekly report.

For more follow my list on Twitter

Pakistan discusses possibility of sending troops to fight in Yemen

Militant Pakistani Sunni groups that trained alongside al Qaida, fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan and launched terrorist attacks in India have pledged their support to Saudi Arabia, a key source of their funding, amid growing pressure on Pakistan to join the military coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
In the last seven days, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has received calls from Saudi Arabia’s king, its crown prince, its foreign minister and its intelligence chief, each seeking unspecified support from Pakistan’s 550,000-strong military, one of the largest in the Muslim world.
The calls have, since Friday, prompted four meetings between Sharif and Pakistan’s powerful military chiefs, who’ve been working to craft a response to the Saudi requests that would keep Pakistan from becoming a combatant in Yemen but provide some Pakistani bolstering of Saudi defenses.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/03/31/261579/pakistani-militants-pledge-support.html#storylink=cpy
via Dawn News
Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan has asked the government to convene all-party conference before making a decision about sending army to Yemen.
The people of Balochistan would bear its brunt if the government decided to send army to Yemen, he told journalists after chairing a meeting of the working committee of ANP at the residence of MNA Ghulam Ahmed Bilour here on Tuesday.
Mr Khan said that Pakhtuns were suffering owing to the government’s decision to get involved in someone else’s war in Afghanistan. The government was repeating the same mistake by sending troops to Yemen, he said, adding it would cause disaster.

And then there was a poll for readers

Here were the results when I saw this article

Saturday, March 28, 2015

US double-speak on regime change

Back on February 14th I wrote about claims that the US was coordinating a coup against Venezuela. About halfway through my post I noticed a State Dept briefing with Jen Psaki and AP reporter Matt Lee that talked about America's
longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal.
Later on February 26th I wrote about how media, including one's I admire like FAIR and Democracy Now! had or had not covered the story on the coup attempt against Venezuela.

Then on March 11th after Obama signed new sanctions against Venezuela Democracy Now had a great segment with Professor Miguel Tinker Salas which brought up the press briefing with Jen Psaki and Matt Lee almost a month later where Professor Salas said
MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: I would have loved if that kind of exchange would have got broader diffusion in the U.S. press, but the fact is that it hasn’t.
I can't agree more, but I noticed it a month earlier on the day it happened! RSS feeds people! They really work so you don't miss things...

AND because I am not yet as popular as Democracy Now (LOL) they get to say this and I do not
A week ago Democracy Now! aired this short clip from a recent State Department press briefing about Venezuela. It has since gone viral.
Professor Salas added 
And we continue to have the belief that the U.S. does not—is not involved in unconstitutional change in Latin America. And as a historian, the record speaks just the opposite, from ’53 in Guatemala to the Dominican Republic, to Chile in ’73, and through the support of the Argentine military dictatorships and Brazil, and, if we want to go even closer, to 2002 in Venezuela, when the U.S. actually did support a coup against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez, the shortest coup in the world, and the coup that brought Chávez back to power, and then again in Honduras in 2009, and, not shortly thereafter, in Paraguay with Lugo, where they said it was a democratic transition, when in fact it was an unconstitutional shift in power. So, again, the notion that the U.S. has not supported both military coups directly or through what they call soft power is really ludicrous.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO TODAY'S POINT--Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

After Jen Psaki announced America's "long standing policy" of not supporting regime change (besides the obvious Iraq) I say "Assad?"

UN Ambassador Samantha Power on The Takeaway on Monday March 23rd (emphasis mine)
the only solution, she argues, is the political dismantling of the Assad regime.
This is not a regime whose existence, whose perpetuation is compatible with peace.
Bringing down the regime while maintaining what little stability is left in the region will be complicated.
Power also remains adamant that, despite the length and brutality of the Syrian Civil War, Assad will be brought down and his regime will be held responsible for its acts.
“We’re never going to give up, and a regime that commits acts like this will eventually be held accountable," she says. "It may feel like that day is a ways off right now because this regime has again, tragically, the support of two powerful countries, but that day will come. We have the evidence, we know who’s responsible and they will be held to account.”
 Also note that "regime" is used 11 times in a short interview.  I agree that Assad is a brutal dictator, but I thought we were against regime change.  Oh well.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Some Documents on Police Shootings and Brutality

Documents on Police Shootings and Brutality

DOJ Report on Michael Brown Shooting
DOJ Report Pattern and Practices Chart
President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Interim Report March 2015
Sentencing Project Report Black Lives Matter: eliminating racial inequity in the criminal justice system
DOJ report Civil Rights Division accomplishments in 2013
DOJ Report Civil Rights Division 2009-2012
Every 28 Hours Report by Operation Ghetto Storm

2012 Annual Report on the extrajudicial killing of 313 Black people by police, security guards and vigilantes

The Report exposes how every 28 hours someone inside the United States, employed or protected by the U.S. government kills a Black child, woman or man.

clarifying what the report actually says
On August 20, in one of those debates that corporate media set up more for entertainment than for enlightenment, CNN pitted right-wing Black pundit, Larry Elder against liberal Black commentator Marc Lamont Hill.  Lamont attempted explain that the killing of “unarmed Black youth Michael Brown” was part of a pattern. Elder interrupted and demanded to change the subject to “Black-on-Black” violence. In an exchange, now partially deleted from CNN’s website, Elder accused Hill, “You don’t even know how many Black people are killed by police.”
“Yes we do know,” Hill proclaimed, “Every 28 hours an unarmed Black person is killed,” and he cited the Report. Unfortunately for Hill, neither the hashtag, nor the Report, distinguished between “armed” or “unarmed”. It counted the total.

Some Tsarnaev Trial Documents

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

Pretrial Detention Conditions DOJ Memo August 2013 (article) see also here and ACLU challenging SAMs (special administrative measures)
ACLU ICCPR Report United States’ Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights February 2014
Page 10 Death Penalty
As noted in the initial report, while the death penalty in the United States is predominantly practiced at the state level, the federal government still retains the authority to use it. On January 30, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the government would seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young man accused of bombing the Boston Marathon. Holder stated, “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,”1 even though under federal constitutional law, the death penalty is never required.
2005 Report on Death Penalty Juries
2013 ACLU report on FBI “Unleashed and Unaccountable” on how FBI abuses rights of citizens and how too much surveillance fails to stop attacks
Report The Boston Marathon Bombings, one year on:                  House Homeland Security Committee April 9, 2014
Report Lessons learned from the Boston Marathon Bombings:
Senate Homeland Security Committee April 30, 2014
Report The Road to Boston: Counterterrorism Challenges and Lessons from the Marathon Bombings House Homeland Security Committee March 2014
Combined Inspectors General report on Boston Bombings
2010 DOJ Memo Guidance for Conducting Interviews without Providing Miranda Warnings in Arrests of Terrorism Suspects
More Documents available on these websites
Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Documents
Boston NBC 7 Trial Documents
Boston Fox25 Trial Documents
Who’s Who in Tsarnaev Trial (WBUR)
Judge and Lawyers in Trial (Associated Press)
Official US Attorney Boston Marathon Bombings Page
DocumentCloud search (beware of multiple results of same document)

Afghan President Visits US as US extends trip there and we charge soldier with desertion for leaving

Turns out we aren't leaving after all.  Remember Biden's statement from the debate in 2012?

Or Obama in December "ending" the war in Afghanistan?
Statement by the President on the End of the Combat Mission in Afghanistan
Today's ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan. Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.
Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defense of their country. At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States--along with our allies and partners--will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.
These past 13 years have tested our nation and our military. But compared to the nearly 180,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan when I took office, we now have fewer than 15,000 in those countries. Some 90 percent of our troops are home.
In December Obama said 180,000 troops, and yesterday he said
At our peak four years ago, the United States had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan
Here is where he publicly announces changing the troop withdrawal timeline
As we announced yesterday, we’ll work with Congress on funding to sustain 352,000 Afghan police and troops through 2017. At the same time, we’ll continue to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations, and we agreed to maintain a dialogue on our counterterrorism partnership in the years ahead.
At our peak four years ago, the United States had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. In support of today’s narrow missions, we have just under 10,000 troops there. Last year, I announced a timeline for drawing down our forces further, and I’ve made it clear that we’re determined to preserve the gains our troops have won. President Ghani has requested some flexibility on our drawdown timelines. I’ve consulted with General Campbell in Afghanistan and my national security team, and I’ve decided that we will maintain our current posture of 9,800 troops through the end of this year.
The specific trajectory of the 2016 drawdown will be established later this year to enable our final consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016. This flexibility reflects our reinvigorated partnership with Afghanistan, which is aimed at making Afghanistan secure and preventing it from being used to launch terrorist attacks. Reconciliation and a political settlement remain the surest way to achieve the full drawdown of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan in a way that safeguards international interests and peace in Afghanistan, as well as U.S. national security interests.

Defense contractors are happy about ISIS because they had been losing money from the withdrawal in Afghanistan
Sales slumped 8.5 percent to 16.64 billion pounds as a result of a 600 million-pound hit from exchange-rate changes and lower volumes in the Land & Armaments unit, where demand has dropped with the exit from Afghanistan

Meanwhile we've known that secretly Obama has slowed the withdrawal from Afghanistan since the end of November as he announced an increased role for remaining troops (just as the NATO mission was ending)
President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.
Delaying the closure of two key bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad.

Nominating war hawk Ashton Carter to take over for Chuck Hagel.

In his nomination hearing Carter said as much that we need to keep troops there longer and that he would tell Obama that
Carter: I think that success is possible there but, as you indicate, requires the United States to continue its campaign and finish the job. I understand we have a plan. The President has a plan. I support that plan. At the same time, it is a plan. And if I am confirmed and I ascertain, as the years ago [sic] by, that we need to change that plan, I will recommend those changes to the President.
Chairman McCain: Well, all I can say is it is not a matter of years. It is a matter of weeks, actually, because one of the major withdrawals is going to start this coming June.
Senator McCain and other Republicans have long cited the rise of ISIS as a result of Obama's "decision" to withdraw troops from Iraq instead of the invasion in 2003 as the real cause.

We have also seen the increase of night raids as the official military mission ends.  The information driving the raids comes from computers seized during the killing of Osama bin Laden.
as part of its counterterror activities authorized under the Bilateral Security Agreement put into place once Ashraf Ghani assumed the presidency. Unlike the days of the Karzai presidency, the John Kerry-invented National Unity Government of Ghani and Abdullah not only doesn’t protest US night raids, it actively works with the US to hide all news of them:
The spike in raids is at odds with policy declarations in Washington, where the Obama administration has deemed the American role in the war essentially over. But the increase reflects the reality in Afghanistan, where fierce fighting in the past year killed record numbers of Afghan soldiers, police officers and civilians.
And the government has twice tried to classify information coming out of Afghanistan in another attempt to declare the war over as fighting continues
The military has joined in Obama’s gamesmanship, taking as much of the war effort behind curtains of secrecy as it possibly can. In October, it suddenly classified information on Afghan troop capabilities and then in January it tried to expand that classification to nearly all information coming out of the war.
Those who support the war continue to talk about how great things are in Afghanistan because we've been there for 14 years

Carter nomination hearing 
Senator Kaine: We have, at the expense of blood and treasure, achieved a lot in Afghanistan. I mean, the nation's life expectancy has gone from 44 to 61 in 10 years. And you know, my back of the envelope math, I always say 30 million people living on an average 17 years longer. That is 510 million years of human life. That seems like a pretty good ROI to me, for as painful as it has been, for as expensive as it has been. 
Situation in Afghanistan Feb 11, 2015
Senator McCain: More than 2,200 Americans have given their lives in Afghanistan, and thousands more have been wounded. And the progress they have enabled is extraordinary. The number of Afghan children in school has increased tenfold since 2001, from less than 1 million to almost 10 million today. Forty percent of these students are girls, and 40 percent of Afghan teachers today are women. Life expectancy has increased by over 20 years in less than a generation, an achievement unheard of in modern history. Less than 10 percent of the Afghan population supports the Taliban, while over 70 percent express the confidence -- express confidence in the Afghan military.  These gains and others are significant. But, as General Mattis testified last month, the gains achieved at great cost against our enemy in Afghanistan are reversible.   Afghan National Security Forces are now leading the fight and responsible for safeguarding their country. They've made real progress as a fighting force. The Afghan army and police maintained their professionalism during the presidential runoff last summer, upholding security and allowing the democratic process to play out without armed intervention. And, while the casualty rates of our Afghan partners in their fight against the Taliban are high, there is no doubt -- none whatsoever -- about the Afghan willingness to fight and die for their country.  But, like the Iraqi Security Forces at the end of 2011, the Afghan National Security Forces are still developing some key enabling capabilities, the shortfalls sounding eerily familiar: intelligence, logistics, airlift, close-air support, special forces, and institutional development.  Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan are developing plans to address these shortfalls, but they need the time, resources, and authorities to help our Afghan partners to develop these nascent capabilities.  As I've said before, wars do not end just because politicians say so. Indeed, in Afghanistan we've seen an initial emergence of ISIS as well as the residual capabilities of al-Qaeda wrapped in their support network of the Taliban insurgency.  The world walked away from Afghanistan once, and it descended into chaotic violence that became the platform for the worst terrorist attack in history against our homeland. The threats are real and the stakes are high. We can't let Afghanistan become a sanctuary for al-Qaeda or ISIS. Failure in this manner would destabilize the region, especially by undermining the security of a nuclear-armed Pakistan. Worst still, failure would condemn millions of Afghans, especially women and girls, to live again under the tyranny of violent radicals.  We can't turn the clock back in Iraq, but we can, and we must, apply the tragic lesson that we learned in Iraq to Afghanistan. To preserve the progress enabled by our troops and the Afghan people, President Obama must replace his plan for unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan with a conditions-based drawdown and a clear commitment to maintain a limited residual force. If the President repeats his mistakes from Iraq, we can expect a similar disaster in Afghanistan: growing instability, terrorist safe havens, horrific human rights abuses, the rapid dissolution of the hard-won gains that our men and women in uniform purchased at such high cost, and, ultimately, direct threats to the United States.
While American policy makers and war hawks are counting children in school and longer life expectancy as wins in the war in Afghanistan, and they are to some extent, they are not the reasons we went into Afghanistan, and 2014 was the deadliest year yet, for Afghan civilians and the Afghan military forces.
Some 5,000 members of the Afghan security forces were killed in 2014. That’s more than the US lost in all 13 years of combat operations. In addition, more than 3,000 Afghan civilians were killed.
What's the ROI on that Senators Kaine and McCain? 

Meanwhile as newly elected President Ashraf Ghani visits to praise from the American elite and mainstream media, he was at Council on Foreign Relations, NPR and the New York Times, thanking troops for their sacrifice at the Pentagon. (I also noticed he was in Saudi Arabia in March for Hajj)

Here is the official Taliban response to Obama's announcement reiterating their opposition to foreign occupation
The Afghans will never accept foreign occupation
And as America commits to keeping it's troops in Afghanistan for at least 2 more years, Bowe Bergdahl was charged under UCMJ Articles 85 (desertion) and 99 (misbehavior before the enemy) and for being fed up with the war and destruction as many other soldiers are and like many in the military not knowing about conscientious objector status or how to apply

Conscientious Objection information by Branch
As The Guardian has reported in a video filmed with Bergdahl's unit in 2009 right before Bowe left, Bergdahl was not the only soldier acknowledging that the war had many problems and that Afghans hated occupation
Yet in emails to his family published in 2012 by Rolling Stone, Bergdahl, too, expressed doubt and bitterness over the mission, much like his colleagues in the video, who question the wisdom of the arduous counterinsurgency and nation-building mission featured in the US’s longest-ever war.
“They all hate us here anyway,” one soldier says. Another remarks: “They just want to be left alone, man. The same thing in Iraq, when I was there. These people just want to be left alone.”
The 501st appears isolated from the Afghan population, unable even to speak with the Afghans in whose name they fight except through radio communication with an interpreter, as Bergdahl watches. At one point, soldiers seem to consider throwing rocks at nearby Afghan children. The soldiers’ hilltop outpost is constructed near a burial site. One warns: “It’s not gonna be pretty when they come up here and get pissed off at us for desecrating their graveyard.”
Now we are hearing from defense a clarification on claims that Bergdahl did not intend to desert, instead saying he intended to report on
problems with "order and discipline" at Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika province and also had concerns about "leadership issues at his base."
In 2012, Bergdahl's father, Bob Bergdahl, disclosed a series of emails from his son to Rolling Stone magazine.
Bowe Bergdahl wrote that three "good" sergeants in his unit had been forced to move to another company and that his battalion commander was a "conceited old fool."
Bob Bergdahl video interview on destruction of war and comparing POWs to Guantanamo

End the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Close Guantanamo.  Repeal the PATRIOT Act and 9/11 AUMF and let's end the war on terror.

If you really want to win against ISIS here is how to do it.
  • pursue a comprehensive diplomatic, political, economic, and regionally led strategy to degrade and dismantle the Islamic State
  • work through the United Nations and with allies and regional partners, including the Arab League, to pursue a political and diplomatic solution
  • address the legitimate political grievances of all ethnic and religious groups in Iraq and Syria and to protect vulnerable groups from violence
  • implement to the fullest extent United Nations Security Council Resolution 2170 (2014), calling on Member States to act to suppress the flow of foreign fighters, financing, and other support

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More US visitors to Japan

Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey is in Japan talking about the importance of our alliance.

First Lady Michelle Obama also visited recently to talk about education
While in Tokyo, the First Lady will meet with Mrs. Akie Abe, the Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan, and deliver remarks on the importance both countries place on international girls education. The First Lady will also announce plans to deepen our partnership on this issue, including through a collaboration between the Peace Corps and Japan’s Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. Following their remarks, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Abe will meet with Japanese university students and share stories from their own educational backgrounds.
ABC News focuses on what's important, writing First Lady Michelle Obama Goes on Adventures in Japan
Bentos, kimonos and drums, oh my!
Obama stepped off the plane in a vibrant green dress by Kenzo, a French fashion house founded by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada.
At least the "tourist" news from ABC is better than the National Enquirer's "scandal" between Michelle and Caroline
Livid MICHELLE OBAMA rips into CAROLINE after wild romp with Barack – insider.
It was an international incident when a furious First Lady ripped into Ambassador to Japan CAROLINE KENNEDY over her secret relations with the “Commander in Cheat!”
The “ugly” showdown happened as soon as Michelle Obama landed in Tokyo as part of her tour of the Far East.
“Michelle was so disgusted with Caroline that she could barely even look at her!” an insider dished to The National ENQUIRER.
 See my posts on Alfred Magleby and Caroline Kennedy

 From DOD News

In Tokyo, Dempsey Reinforces U.S.-Japan Alliance

By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

TOKYO, March 25, 2015 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today underscored the importance of the U.S.-Japanese alliance as he met here with Japan's senior military and political leaders.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey thanked Japan for its strong partnership with the United States, as well as its contributions to global security and commitment in the fight against terrorism.

Dempsey met at the Ministry of Defense with his counterpart, Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani. He paid a visit later in the day to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Dempsey complimented the prime minister for all he has done to improve the posture of Japan in a complex security environment.

"The kizuna between us has never been stronger," the chairman said, using the Japanese word for bonds or connections between people.

He said he looks forward to working with Japan under the new defense guidelines that Japan and the United States are developing to define their bilateral defense relationship.

The prime minister, who is to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington next month, said the alliance between the United States and Japan has contributed to the peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

More Complicated World

Extremism is a common challenge faced by the United States and Japan, Dempsey said at the Ministry of Defense. Terrorists in Syria killed two Japanese hostages earlier this year, he said, and three Japanese tourists were killed when gunmen opened fire in a Tunisia museum last week.

The global security environment has "clearly become more complicated" in the last few years, the chairman said. In that time, the relationship between the United States and Japan has strengthened, he added.

"We're fortunate to have Japan as an ally and honored to have you as a friend," Dempsey told his counterpart.

Dempsey, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, thanked Japan for its efforts for missile defense interoperability, noting that a strong deterrent is needed in the face of North Korean provocations.

Dempsey Honors Fallen Troops

In a ceremony before the talks at the Ministry of Defense, Dempsey took part in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen Japanese and U.S. troops. He said he was honored to have been invited to pay tribute to the men and women of both nations' armed forces.

Then, before entering the Ministry of Defense, Dempsey attended an honor cordon, where he reviewed the Japanese troops who were assembled in perfect order outside the building.

Additionally, in an evening event, Nakatani presented Dempsey with a medal on behalf of Japan's emperor to honor the chairman's service, the United States military and the strong U.S.-Japanese alliance.

Dempsey accepted the award, as he told the prime minister earlier in the day, on behalf of the men and women of the United States armed forces who have "benefited so much and enjoyed the relationship" with Japan.

Pacific Rebalance

The chairman said the purpose of his visit to Japan and his next stop in South Korea is to further strengthen ties and reinforce the U.S. commitment to the region as the U.S. military continues its Pacific rebalance.

Other topics in South Korea are expected to include transferring control of allied forces on the Korean Peninsula to South Korea during wartime, as well as integrated air and missile defense, training exercises and options for responding to North Korean provocations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More on Alfred Magleby

I wrote a few days ago about the death threats against US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

On March 24 Democracy Now reported 
Japan: Okinawa Governor Orders Halt to Construction of U.S. Base
In Japan, the governor of Okinawa has ordered a halt to construction of a new U.S. military base there. Takeshi Onaga was elected last year on a platform of stopping the base. He has given the Japanese Defense Ministry a week to stop construction following the discovery massive concrete blocks dropped into the sea as part of the project had damaged coral reefs. The Japanese government has vowed to press ahead with construction, setting up a possible legal battle. Okinawa houses about 26,000 U.S. troops, and their presence has been the subject of protests for decades.
I couldn't find much about Alfred Magleby besides an official biography, but I did just find this.

Ryukyu Shimpo

U.S. Consul-General apologizes to Naha Mayor for crimes

U.S. Consul-General in Okinawa Alfred R. Magleby, (left) who apologized for crimes committed by U.S. military personnel, and Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, who requested a review of the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.

January 17, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

In the afternoon of January 16, at the Naha Municipal Office, the U.S. Consul-General in Okinawa Alfred R. Magleby met Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga in order to apologize for the series of crimes that U.S. servicemen committed at the end of last year.
The consul-general apologized for causing troubles for Naha citizens. In response, the mayor stated that the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement needs to be reviewed and that the Naha Military Port should be returned at an early stage, saying, “We cannot establish good relations as neighbors without resolving these fundamental issues.”
This is the first time that the U.S. consul-general has come to apologize to the mayor of Naha for such a sequence of incidents. Up until now, when U.S. soldiers committed crimes, local chief executives would visit the Office of the Consulate General of the United States to protest, but last November Onaga suggested that the U.S. consul-general should come to the Naha Municipal Office to explain and apologize. Magleby said that some people here may view less serious crimes as being worse than they are, and stressed that most U.S. servicemen and women are fine young people.
In response, the mayor remarked that Okinawa is overburdened with U.S. military bases and suffers from crime committed by U.S. military personnel. He was critical that the U.S. military only provides newcomers with one month of orientation programs about Okinawa, and that the U.S. government does not return the land it seized in Okinawa. “This clearly indicates that the United States looks down on Okinawa,” said Onaga. The mayor pointed out that Okinawa has had to experience many very difficult things since WWII. He said that regardless of how the U.S. government apologizes in future, it will be difficult to accept such apologies without a review of the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.
The mayor asked the consul-general, “Why do you think Okinawans are angry?” The consul-general answered that he could understand Okinawan people’s feelings, and that it might be a result of history. The mayor remarked that Naha Military Port remains unused and requested its early return. The consul-general commented that the port has existed for emergency situations and that the U.S. military will fully utilize the facilities when and if such a situation arises.
(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

10 days later the US Navy makes no mention of any of this as Magleby visits them (shocking, I know...)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Threats against Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and others

News broke a few days ago that there were death threats called in last month against US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, as well as
the U.S. Consul General in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Alfred Magleby.
This official biography is all that I could find on Alfred Magleby in English. 

Today (March 20) they arrested
Mitsuyoshi Kamiya, 52, admitted to having made such calls thrice, threatening to bomb the embassy and a US military base in Okinawa prefecture between March 5 and 14, Xinhua reported citing Japan's Kyodo News.
The threats were called in bad English to 
"Bomb Camp Schwab (in Okinawa). Bomb embassy,"
Camp Schwab, a US military base on Okinawa, is the site to which an air station is set to be relocated.
The plan has attracted vociferous opposition from many islanders, who feel that hosting half of the 47,000 US military personnel in Japan is too heavy a burden.
Mired in protests for years, it is the focus of much of the friction between Okinawa, Japan's poorest prefecture, and the central government in Tokyo.
(Separately there were more biological weapon envelopes mailed to the White House this week NYT Intercept and Emptywheel writes about anthrax and Iraq War justification).  We also have the White House fence jumpers, White House lawn drone-flying NGIA agent and drunk Secret Service agents crashing the gates.

Appointed by Obama in November 2013 Ambassador Kennedy has faced some criticism in the past for
expressing concern about the traditional dolphin hunt in the Japanese town of Taiji, calling it inhumane. Under her tenure, the United States Embassy also criticized Mr. Abe for visiting a war shrine that other Asian countries view as a symbol of Japan’s imperialist past.
Besides some talk of blackmail against Ambassador Kennedy, many are comparing it correctly I think to last month's attack against US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert
Mr. Kim claimed he attacked Mr. Lippert to protest the annual joint military exercises the United States began with the South Korean military this week. He said the exercises raised tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula, hindering inter-Korean dialogue and efforts for reunification of the two Koreas.
Daily Beast reporter Jake Adelstein asks whether Yazuka, the Japanese right-wing mafia is behind the attack
A police officer on background said that among many suspects they were looking at several right-wing groups in Japan backed by the yakuza, Japan’s omnipresent mafia. One group high on the lists of suspects is Daikosha, the political arm of the Inagawa-kai, Japan’s third largest yakuza organization. According to the U.S. Treasury Departement, “under the leadership of Jiro Kiyota (the supreme leader) and Kazuya Uchibori (the chairman of the board), the Inagawa-kai has become increasingly aligned with the (Japan’s largest yakuza organization) the Yamaguchi-gumi.”
Ironically, Daikosha is considered loosely connected to the Abe administration, including Hakubun Shimomura, Japan’s Minister of Education, via its supporters and members. Mr. Shimomura is in trouble for accepting a number of dubious political donations via unofficial political support groups, one of them led by an associate of the Yamaguchi-gumi. Shimomura also allegedly received cash payment from the yakuza associate as well.
Daikosha has recently been protesting and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abe and the repeal of the organized crime control ordinances. They have staged protests near the U.S. embassy several times.
According to several issues of the Daikosha 2012 publication, Taiko, the special advisor to the group is Kazuya Uchibori, the chairman of the Inagawa-kai, who was designated an enemy of the U.S. government by the Department of Treasury in January of 2013.

U.S. law enforcement officials at the embassy are not allowed to carry firearms, the police say. According to some police sources, this is not the first time that threats have been made to the Ambassador. There was a flurry of them when Ambassador Kennedy tweeted her disapproval of the annual dolphin culling in Taiji.
These kinds of cases aren't unprecedented. In September of 2011, the Tokyo Police arrested a Yamaguchi-gumi-backed right-winger, age 46, for sending a bullet to the Russian embassy with a menacing note and threatening the ambassador and embassy staff. He was angry over Russian refusal to return the northern territories to Japan. However, Japan's right wing has traditionally shown some deference to the U.S.

North Korea asked the US and South Korea to cancel the annual military drills in exchange for suspending nuclear tests, and when they told North Korea "no" North Korea fired two protest missiles into the sea
North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan on Monday morning, registering its displeasure with the start of annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States.
After offering to suspend nuclear tests if the United States and South Korea canceled the drills, Pyongyang has reverted saber rattling, threatening “merciless strikes” just hours before the missiles were launched.
North Korea fired the two missiles, thought to be Scud-C or Scud-D types, from the western coastal city of Nampo, about 300 miles over the peninsula and into the sea off its east coast
They were launched as South Korea and the United States began military exercises to practice to coordinate their response to the North Korean threat: The two-week-long computer-simulated Key Resolve drill, and the Foal Eagle field exercises, which will continue through April 24.
North Korea has protested the drills year after year, calling them a “dress rehearsal” for an invasion.
“Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are an undisguised encroachment upon the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK and an unpardonable war hysteria of dishonest hostile forces,” the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army said in a statement issued before the launches Monday.
South Korea and Japan sharply criticized North Korea’s actions.
“Its menacing words and deeds are a very grave challenge to the security of the Korean peninsula and firing ballistic missiles is in violation of the United Nations’ resolutions,” Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for the South’s defense ministry, told reporters in Seoul.
“Our military squarely warns the North against its reckless provocations and will respond in a stern and strong manner based upon a staunch combined defense posture,” he said, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Shinzo Abe’s government in Tokyo also said it would lodge a strong protest with North Korea.
Earlier this year, North Korea said it was willing to suspend nuclear tests if the United States and South Korea canceled the annual military drills, but the State Department dismissed the offer, calling it “an implicit threat.”
Both South Korea and Japan host several US military bases. (along with a long list around the world).
There have been accusations of sexual abuse and rape by US servicemen in Japan going back to 1995, and the US has been in Japan since the end of World War 2.

Recently in the Philippines there are reports that there were Americans at a botched raid in January
U.S. counterterrorism personnel played a hidden but key role in a bungled commando operation in the Philippines that resulted in dozens of deaths and a political scandal, according to a government investigation released Tuesday in Manila.
The botched raid is creating a political crisis in Manilla as FBI hunted a most wanted fugitive.

Additionally there is a trial against a soldier accused of killing a transgender woman named Jennifer Laude.
The US military has had an enduring presence in its former colony since the Philippines gained independence in 1946.
Military exercises involving thousands of US soldiers take place each year, with a new agreement signed a year ago allowing a greater US troop presence in the country -- part of US President Barack Obama's so-called pivot to Asia.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino had courted a greater US presence in an effort to counter perceived rising Chinese aggression in a long-running territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
BBC report on US and Korean war exercises

Threats against our diplomats abroad are not isolated incidents for no reason, but instead are a direct response to our imperialistic military presence in these countries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Israel elections and Netanyahu

Why Netanyahu called elections
Netanyahu complained that the current government was imposed on him and therefore it has been unable to carry out its tasks.
He claimed that Lapid has opposed the government's decisions to build in Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, recognise Israel as the state for Jewish people, and the fight against terrorism. He accused Livni of violating a security cabinet decision by meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as opposing the Jewish state law.
Israel elections are not over tonight

Coalition building begins after elections
President Rivlin said to be eyeing unity government
Though voting has ended, the true political game begins now, as Herzog and Netanyahu vie for the support of smaller parties to back them for the position of prime minister while sources close to Rivlin say he will vie for unity government.

My Twitter List on Israel/Palestine

Ynet Guide to Elections

Israeli Government guide to elections

Netanyahu's victory tweet

While denying a Palestinian state Netanyahu insists upon Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state
He said the two ministers defied his own policies, including his stances regarding the “Iranian nuclear file,” in addition to opposing him on main issues, such as his insistent of a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, his settlement construction agenda, and the construction of settlements in occupied Jerusalem.
Palestinians: Netanyahu's win forces us to intensify diplomatic offensive

"It is clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government, so we say clearly that we will go to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and we will speed up, pursue and intensify" all diplomatic efforts, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

And on Face the Nation I noticed this (emphasis mine)

Did Netanyahu admit to STUXNET?
SCHIEFFER: Let me read you a tweet that the White House called -- sent out last week calling attention to an article by Fareed Zakaria on why he said your predictions have been wrong for 25 years. Were you offended by that?
NETANYAHU: Well, the reason I have been warning for 25 years is because Iran has been trying to get to the bomb. And if we hadn't acted, I and President Obama and Congress and others, if we hadn't acted in these intervening years, Iran would have had the nuclear weapon a long time ago.
And if we don't, if we let our guard down, if we had let our guard down, then Iran would have had the weapon. If we let our guard down now, it will have the weapon.
Microsoft fixes STUXNET.....5 years later
Stuxnet malware, a sophisticated cyber-espionage malware allegedly developed by the US Intelligence and Israeli government together, was specially designed to sabotage the Iranian nuclear facilities a few years ago. First uncovered in 2010, Stuxnet targeted computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in Windows systems.
Thankfully, Microsoft has issued a patch to protect its Windows machines that have been left vulnerable to Stuxnet and other similar attacks for the past five years.
Leak investigation stalled  (see also Petraeus
A criminal leak investigation into a top military official has stalled out of concern it could force US officials to confirm joint US-Israeli involvement behind the Stuxnet worm that targeted Iran's nuclear program, according to a media report published Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors have been investigating whether retired Marine Gen. James E. "Hoss" Cartwright leaked highly sensitive information to New York Times reporter David Sanger.

Palestinian Authority ends security cooperation with Israel

Gaza blockade undermining living conditions