Why US-South Korea Military Drill Could Provoke North Korea’s Ire

The US M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System fires an MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile during a US and South Korea joint missile drill aimed to counter North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 5. Picture: South Korean Defence Ministry via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

By James Law for News – THE US and South Korea will join forces on Monday for a provocative 10-day military drill, which North Korea says could lead to “nuclear war”. While Kim Jong-un appeared to back off on his threat to attack Guam yesterday, the North Korean leader has made it clear that the military exercise could raise his ire again. The joint military drill, known as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, happens every year, but it has antagonised the North more than usual given the heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. The North sees the massive land, air and sea war games as a provocation, because it believes it is a way for the South to prepare for an invasion. Washington and Seoul, which will each deploy tens of thousands of troops for the exercise, maintain the exercise is defensive and a response to North Korea aggression. Past drills are believed to have included simulated “decapitation strikes”, which see soldiers carry out trial operations to kill Kim Jong-un and his top generals.

Swift Backlash Meets President’s Tweet Declaring Ban On Transgender Military Service

Veterans and hundreds of LGBTQ supporters mobilized with hits of the President’s tweet announcing a ban on transgender military service members. Photo: John Zangas

By John Zangas for DC Media Group – Washington, DC– A tweet issued by President Trump Wednesday morning appeared to rescind a Department of Defense policy which allows transgender men and women to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. Activists were quick to react and staged a protest outside the White House within hours. “I am shocked, angry and feel betrayed,” said Kara Zajak, a U.S. Navy Submariner, who identified as a transgender woman. “We had all this going through, it was passed, we had the [military] instructions and we were following them,” she said. Trump’s tweet caught the Pentagon flat-footed, and its website showed the policy was still in effect as of Thursday. The president apparently did not directly order military leaders to change policy in any documented form. According to a letter seen by Reuters, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the military that no changes would be implemented until a presidential directive. In June 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced implementation of the policy paving the way for transgender people to serve in the military.

Times Square Protest Against Donald Trump’s Transgender Military Service Ban

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Tanya Walker, a trans woman and U.S. Army veteran, said she is “appalled” by Donald Trump’s proposed policy.

By Hayley Miller for The Huffington Post – New Yorkers came out in droves Wednesday to protest President Donald Trump’s seemingly sudden decision to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. Hundreds rallied in front of the U.S. Army Career Center in Times Square as trans activists and allies blasted the president’s discriminatory policy proposal, which he announced in a series of tweets early Wednesday morning. Tanya Walker, a trans woman and U.S. Army veteran, said she was “appalled” by Trump’s tweets, and led the crowd in chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” ″It is our duty to fight,” Walker told the crowd. “It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other.” The ban would reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender people to openly serve in the country’s armed forces. The policy would affect thousands of transgender people actively serving in the U.S. military. Trump announced the ban on Wednesday on Twitter and claimed he made the move after consulting with military experts, despite the Pentagon lifting the ban on transgender service members in 2016. Jacqueline Swannick, a trans woman and former Army medic, joined protesters demonstrating against the proposed ban on Wednesday.

President Trump Cruelly Threatens Trans Service Members With Rank Discrimination

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By Chase Strangio for ACLU – Apparently that extensive work over many years and across many areas of expertise was reversed in a matter of minutes — over Twitter. Indeed, contrary to Trump’s suggestion on Twitter, retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in Congress just last week that inclusion of transgender individuals in the military promoted readiness and caused no disruption or cost. He explained that “[t]he military conducted a thorough research process on this issue and concluded that inclusive policy for transgender troops promotes readiness” and urged Congress “to respect the military’s judgment and not to breach the faith of service members who defend our freedoms.” Congress ultimately rejected a proposal to ban health coverage for transgender servicemembers and dependents. As Mullen noted, “Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require.” This is not about cost. This is not about readiness or a strong military. Today’s announcement is about targeting, demonizing, and endangering a group of people who are risking their lives every day for our country.

Pentagon Study Declares American Empire Is ‘Collapsing’

Report demands massive expansion of military-industrial complex to maintain global ‘access to resources’

By Nafeez Ahmed for Medium – An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the U.S.-backed international order established after World War 2 is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing”, leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs. The solution proposed to protect U.S. power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism. The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which U.S. power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling. Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence”, the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority”. Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

South Korea’s New Gov Proposes Rare Military Talks With North Korea To Ease Tensions

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, says he will never negotiate his weapons programmes unless the United States abandons its hostile policy toward his country AP/Wong Maye-E

By Samuel Osborne for Independent – South Korea has offered to have military talks with North Korea in order to ease tension across their border and resume the reunion of families separated by their war in the 1950s. It is the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, which said the two sides should discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarised border. It is unclear if the North would agree to the proposed talks, as it remains suspicious of the South Korean President’s actions, seeing the new leader’s more liberal policy as still resorting to the United States to force North Korea to disarm. The offer comes after the North claimed to have conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, and said it had mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile. South Korea and the United States dispute the claim. It also comes amid a surge in petrol and diesel prices in the hermit state, weeks after a Chinese state oil company suspended fuel sales amid international pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear and missile programmes. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), a state-controlled company, halted diesel and petrol sales to the reclusive state “over the last month or two”, according to Reuters.

Pentagon Recruiting Playbook Revealed

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By Pat Elder for War is a Crime – Ominous developments in three states this summer – Oregon, Texas, New Jersey, and one city – Chicago, provide a glimpse into the Pentagon’s new playbook to recruit soldiers from high schools across the country. In brief, the military has been engaged in a robust lobbying campaign to lower academic standards to make it easier to recruit youth. New recruits have long been required to hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. This requirement is a major impediment to finding enough soldiers to meet annual targets, but even when struggling students barely manage to graduate, the Pentagon has developed a plan to marshal more of them into the military. The Oregon Department of Education recently endorsed the Oregon National Guard’s Credit Proficiency Program for use in high schools across the state. The program gives juniors and seniors the chance to earn academic credits while training for military service at Oregon National Guard facilities. The program is expected to cut the state’s drop-out rate while increasing the on-time graduation rate. In 2015 Oregon’s 74.8% graduation rate was the third lowest in the country. Under the program, if a senior in high school realizes a few weeks before graduation that he doesn’t have enough credits to graduate…

Dakota Access Security Firm's Top Adviser Led Military Intelligence Efforts For 1992 LA Riots

James “Spider” Marks speaking in support of the Bayou Bridge pipeline at a Louisiana permit hearing in February 2017. Credit: Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

By Steve Horn and Curtis Waltman for Desmog – Retired Major General James “Spider” Marks chairs the advisory board for TigerSwan, a private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to help police protests of the Dakota Access pipeline — an approach for which Marks has shown vocal support. DeSmog has found that Marks also headed up intelligence efforts for the task force which brought over 10,000 U.S. military troops to police the 1992 riots following the acquittal of Los Angeles Police Department members involved in beating Rodney King. In addition, Marks, a long-time military analyst for CNN, led intelligence-gathering efforts for the U.S. military’s 2003 “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq, which was dubbed “Operation Iraqi Liberation.” In recent months, Marks has endorsed Dakota Access and its southern leg, the Bayou Bridge pipeline. He has shown this support by writing op-ed pieces published in various newspapers and on the website of a pro-Dakota Access coalition run by a PR firm funded by Energy Transfer Partners. “I spent a good portion of my adult life in Iraq, and I must tell you that the similarities are stark,” Marks said in November of the anti-Dakota Access encampment set up by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Syrians Roll Back Extremism In Idlib Without Military Intervention

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By Julia Taleb for Waging Nonviolence – The U.S. airstrikes in response to the chemical weapons attack in Idlib province last month triggered calls for greater outside military force against the Assad regime by some of the Syrian opposition. Yet, in a country exhausted by armed struggle and the presence of extremist groups, local civil initiatives have proven to be more effective at building peace than increased military involvement. In Idlib City, ordinary citizens have shown that they are capable of managing their civil affairs, alleviating suffering at the local level and rolling back extremism by themselves. On March 3, 2015, an umbrella group of Islamic armed factions called Jeish al-Fateh expelled the Syrian government from Idlib City, sparking an ongoing struggle by citizens and civil resistance groups to gain control of the city’s administration. After it took control of the city, Jeish al-Fateh — which includes Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formally known as al-Nusra Front, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda — formed a Shura Council to manage the city’s military and civil affairs. The armed group appointed its members and loyalists to administer the city without paying attention to qualifications or proper recruitment procedures.

Resisting Imperialist Militarism On Memorial Day

From countercurrents.org

By Brian Trautman for Counter Currents – The United States is the most militarized and jingoistic nation on earth. Its foreign policy is guided by imperialist militarism, neoliberal capitalism and racial xenophobia. For more than sixteen years now, three presidential administrations have carried out a so-called “War on Terror” (GWOT), a perpetual state of war that is waged globally, under the depraved reasoning that “the world is a battlefield,” to quote investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. As demonstrated by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the GWOT is conducted through conventional warfare. More often, however, it is executed through covert or “dirty” wars, against groups and individuals in many other nations. The U.S. has the financial and logistical capacity to wage these illegal wars. Its bloated military budget is larger than the next seven countries combined. It is by far the largest operator of military installations abroad, maintaining nearly 800 bases in around 70 countries. The ever-growing military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address, permeates every facet of our society – from an economy largely dependent on the war industry, to military recruiting in our public schools, to police militarization.

Military Veterans March on D.C. May 30, Memorial Day

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By Nick Motten for Veterans for Peace. WASHINGTON D.C. – In response to President Trump’s “outrageous” $54 billion defense-spending increase, military veterans are being called to the nation’s capital May 30/Memorial Day to demand “Peace at Home and Peace Abroad.” And they’re using television commercials in D.C. to spread the call for peace. “Wherever you are, your presence is respectfully and urgently requested in Washington, DC, on May 30 at the Lincoln Memorial. At this historic site—95 years after its inauguration on May 30, 1922—at 11 a.m., nationally and internationally known speakers and musicians will convey our adamant determination to achieve Peace at Home and Peace Abroad,” is the message of Veterans for Peace and other vet groups.

The Vision And Legacy Of Berta Cáceres

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By Beverly Bell for Other Worlds. One year ago today, Berta Cáceres was murdered by the national and local Honduran government and a multinational dam company, with at least the tacit support of the US. Last September, all the evidence Cáceres’ family had collected over many months was stolen, almost certainly by the government. The government has also refused to share information with the family and to allow independent parties like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to help with the process. Please contact your US congressperson to urge him or her to endorse the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act, which is being re-introduced today, March 2, 2017. It compels the US government to cut military aid to Honduras until it improves its human rights record.

Military-Grade Spy Gear Is Flooding Into Local Police Departments

KATIE MARTIN, THE ATLANTIC

By Katie Martin for The Atlantic – A week later, audio of a police radio dispatch from the protest was released online. In the recording, an officer alerts a department intelligence analyst about of one of the protest organizers. “One of the girls here… she’s been on her phone a lot,” the officer says. “You guys picking up any information? Where they’re going, possibly?”The analyst responds, “Yeah, we’re keeping an eye on it. We’ll let you know if we hear anything.”The leaked conversation and the cellphone disruptions led many activists to conclude that the police were eavesdropping on them. This story circulated widely in protest circles, but the Chicago Police Department never confirmed any such surveillance operations that night. Legally, listening in on private communications between citizens talking over mobile phones would require a Title III search warrant. But one thing is indisputable: The technology to snoop on nearby phones exists—and the Chicago Police Department has had it for over ten years.

Trump Appeals To The Military Against The Press And The Courts

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By Barry Grey for WSWS – In an extraordinary appearance Monday at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, President Donald Trump dispensed with democratic protocol to deliver a political speech. He denounced the press and implicitly suggested the formation of a presidential-military alliance against the courts and the Constitution. In his brief remarks, Trump lavished praise on the Central Command and Special Forces Command troops that are based at MacDill. He began by thanking the military for its lopsided vote in his favor in last November’s election. “And I saw those numbers—and you like me and I like you,” he said. He continued: “And we’re going to be loading [MacDill] up with beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment… We’re going to load you up.” He returned to this theme several times, stating at one point, “We will make a historic financial investment in the Armed Forces of the United States…”

Trump’s Phony Populism On Military Spending

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By Miriam Pemberton for Other Words – The president says he’ll protect our interests against the boondoggle weapons makers. Don’t believe him. There’s a lot of misdirection going on these days. Anybody whose head hasn’t been spinning over the last couple of weeks has probably been in a nice news blackout somewhere. We’ll all need some strategies if we’re going to stay sane. One is making sure that in the midst of the controversy of the day, we keep track of the big picture. Here’s one attempt along those lines. Donald Trump has been taking credit for cutting $600 million from the contract for the biggest Pentagon buy in history: the F-35 “Joint Strike Fighter” plane.