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.

The New Merchants Of Death

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By Jeremy Kuzmarov for ROAR Magazine – In August 2016, the Pentagon announced that Six3 Intelligence Solutions, a private intelligence company recently acquired by California Analysis Center Incorporated (CACI), which was implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal, had won a $10 million no-bid army contract to provide intelligence analysis services inside Syria. They were to work alongside the roughly three hundred US troops fighting against the so-called Islamic State and to depose Russian-backed Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad. Hiring a company with as checkered a record as CACI is bound to ignite a backlash against US interference within Syria, and may empower the very forces the US is fighting.

The U.S. Military’s Stats On Deadly Airstrikes Are Wrong

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By Andrew deGrandpre and Shawn Snow for Military Times – In 2016 alone, U.S. combat aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded as part of an open-source database maintained by the U.S. Air Force, information relied on by Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups to assess each war’s expense, manpower requirements and human toll. Those airstrikes were carried out by attack helicopters and armed drones operated by the U.S. Army, metrics quietly excluded from otherwise comprehensive monthly summaries, published online for years, detailing American military activity in all three theaters.

Trump Proposes Military Parades In DC

Russian S-400 air defense missile systems drive during a Victory Day parade in Red Square in Moscow in 2016. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

By Benjamin Freed for Washingtonian – While Trump says later in the interview that he has other plans for fulfilling his campaign slogan, the suggestion of military parades in DC feels a little, well, foreign. There are plenty of parades in Washington that include military participation, including those on July 4 and Memorial Day, to say nothing of the one on Friday that will follow Trump’s swearing-in. But the uniformed elements of those parades tend to be limited to companies on foot and mounted units, with the rest of the processions filled out by the usual festive retinue of marching bands, classic cars, local affinity groups, and floats. And even then, the military presences in those events are designed to allow spectators to show their appreciation for service members, not as a show of martial force.

Army Corps Of Engineers Will Shut Sacred Stone Camp By December 5, 2016

The Backwater Bridge near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, remains closed until further notice after authorities said it was set afire on October 27, 2016. Photo courtesy Morton County Sheriff's Department

By Staff of KFYR-TV – WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to the Morton County Sheriff’s Office, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants all people camping on its property north of the Cannonball River to leave by Dec. 5. The Corps sent a letter to Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault Nov. 25, saying the decision is to protect the general public from violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement in that area. He also says the decision was made to protect inhabitants of the camps from the harsh North Dakota winter and that medical, emergency and fire response teams cannot be provided.

Dakota Access Pipeline Delayed As Army Calls For More Analysis

A woman prays during a protest in Bismarck against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline under Lake Oahe. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Reuters

By Julia Carrie Wong for The Guardian – The US army corps of engineers has completed its review of the Dakota Access pipeline and is calling for “additional discussion and analysis”, further delaying completion of a project that has faced massive opposition from indigenous and environmental activists. The statement comes amid heightened tensions between Native American activists and the surrounding community over the pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says could contaminate its water supply and destroy sacred sites.

Lobbyist For Dakota Access Formerly Led Army’s “Restore Iraqi Oil” Program

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By Steve Horn for Desmog – Robert Crear, one of the lobbyists working for Dakota Access pipeline co-owners Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, formerly served as a chief of staff and commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps and other federal agencies are currently reviewing the permit granted for the controversial pipeline’s construction near the Missouri River and Lake Oahe in North Dakota…

Colombian Victims Of ‘Operation Orion’ Expose Uribe’s Hypocrisy

Colombia's former president and current Senator Alvaro Uribe. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Tele Sur – Victims of the paramilitary operation against the FARC-EP in 2002 called on the former president to take responsibility for the crimes. As Colombians mark the 14th anniversary of “Operation Orion” – a military offensive in the city of Medellin against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that led to the takeover by paramilitary groups who killed and tortured people – victims are calling for the prosecution of the official who authorized the operation: former President Alvaro Uribe.

Military To Be Used Against NZ Peace Flotilla

We say No to War sign seen at a 2007 anti-war protest. (Photo by Thiago Santos on flickr)

By Staff of Auckland Peace Action – The government has indicated it plans to deploy the NZ military against a peaceful flotilla opposing the entry of warships into Auckland Harbour in November. “This is a major crackdown on protests. It even bans swimming in parts of the Harbour while these warships are around,” said Auckland Peace Action member Valerie Morse. The NZ Navy is hosting wargames with a US warship in mid-November in the Hauraki Gulf. Auckland Peace Action is organising a flotilla to demonstrate New Zealanders’ opposition to war and weapons.