NFL Returning $723K For Sponsored Military Tributes

The NFL has refunded more than $723,000 to the U.S. government for marketing agreements sponsoring acts of patriotism -- including on-field flag ceremonies and tributes to welcome home veterans -- between 2012 to 2015. Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

By Darren Rovell for ESPN – The NFL is returning more than $700,000 of taxpayers’ money that was paid to teams for sponsored military tributes. After being criticized for “paid patriotism,” in which money came out of the armed forces budget for various measures of public recognition during games, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league would pay that money back. In a letter written to Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain on Wednesday, and disclosed on Thursday, Goodell said that — following an audited review of 100 marketing agreements from 2012 to 2015 by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche — teams were deemed to have received $723,734 for acts of sponsored patriotism. That money, Goodell promised, would be returned to the government. Goodell also wrote that marketing activities would be audited more frequently to catch such activities in the future.

How To Divest From The War Machine

David Owen/ Flickr

By Staff of Code Pink – CODEPINK, in partnership with an array of peace and disarmament groups, is launching a divestment campaign to encourage universities, religious organizations, retirement funds, mutual funds, private investors, and other financial institutions in the United States to take action to reduce violent global conflicts and slow the hyper-militarization of our world by divesting from the U.S. War Machine. Divestment from the War Machine means divesting (removing invested assets) from companies that derive their profits by supplying and profiting from U.S. military interventions, expansions, and the militarization of our streets. In other words, we are calling for divestment from companies that make a killing on killing. Through this strategy we plan to: Uncover the hold the military industrial complex has on our government and our foreign policy. Spark a vital public debate questioning the role of weapons manufacturers and military contractors in perpetuating conflict around the globe. Expose how our financial and educational institutions are supporting those companies Inspire the public and investors to pressure these institutions to divest. Hold the arms industry accountable in political and financial spheres for its culpability in the death and displacement of millions of innocent people.

Senate Military Spending Increase Alone Could Fund Free College

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By Alex Emmons for The Intercept – ONE OF THE most controversial proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Critics from both parties howled that the pie-in-the-sky idea would bankrupt the country. Where, after all, would the money come from? Those concerns were brushed aside Monday night, as the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, enough to have fully satisfied Sanders’s campaign promise. Instead, the Senate handed President Donald Trump far more than the $54 billion he asked for. The lavish spending package gives Trump a major legislative victory, allowing him to boast about fulfilling his promise of a “great rebuilding of the armed services.” The bill would set the U.S.’s annual military budget at around $700 billion, putting it within range of matching the spending level at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. To put that in further perspective: If the package becomes law, U.S. military spending would exceed the total spending of its next 10 rivals put together, going off of 2016 military spending estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Put another way, with a $700 billion military budget, the U.S. would be spending more than three times as much as China on its military, and 10 times as much as Russia. According to SIPRI, the U.S. already accounts for more than a third of all military spending.

South Korean Self-Immolates, Demands U.S. THAAD Weapons Be Kept Out Of Korea

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

By David Swanson for Let’s Try Democracy – Our country only has a future via the success of the Moon Jae-In Administration. President Moon Jae-In, long ago, when I was in Germany, I am someone who supported and respected you. President Moon Jae-In, I will give you a direct message. THAAD can not happen. Mr. President, you also know that THAAD will not bring peace, but anxiety and the dangers of war. There’s a saying that you take one step back to go two steps forward, I was considering that there might be a bigger picture, but by all means this is not the case. To be the coveted interest of the American superpower can’t be easy. But if from the beginning you are pushed like this, how will you stand up? I am a person who genuinely, honestly hoped for the success of the Moon Jae-In administration. Through the success of the Moon Jae-In administration, we could have seen a future for North-South Korean economic partnerships, peace & reunification, work done to achieve balance in Northeast Asia, and a future for us [Corean] descendants. THAAD, for all intents and purposes, will not be a war deterrent nor a protective arm for peace.

World Says ‘No’ To US Military Threats Against Venezuela

Caracas has since responded to the threat and is preparing defense measures. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Tele Sur – Politicians, social movements and governments have been issuing their responses. In the 24 hours since U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington is exploring “many options regarding Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary”, the global community has continued to condemn his comments. In a teleSUR exclusive, the U.S. intellectual Noam Chomsky said the remarks were “shocking and dangerous.” Chomsky believes Trump maybe “painting himself into a corner. It is worth remembering that he is probably following his usual practice of speaking to his base, and trying to ensure that he remains in the limelight, not caring much about real world consequences (except to his pocketbook and image). The best hope is that some of the generals around him, who presumably understand the consequences, will manage to control him.” Regional powers have also come out strongly against the comments. Ecuador says it “reminds the international community that the declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace implies the commitment of all nations to preserve our common territory free of threats or military interventions of any kind. In this context, it expresses its solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and rejects any threat of possible military intrusion into its territory.

Top German Politicians Want US Nuclear Weapons Out

by Neil H | CC BY 2.0

By John Laforge for Counter Punch – A series of anti-nuclear weapons actions between March and August at Air Base Büchel in Germany brought widespread media attention to the 20 US nuclear weapons still deployed there. Surprising demands for the bombs’ removal soon came from high-ranking political leaders including Germany’s foreign minister. A timeline of events between July 12 and 18, involving a Nukewatch-organized delegation of 11 US peace activists, shows how the work may have moved the officials to speak out. July 12 — Upon its arrival, four members of the US group held a press conference in Frankfurt accompanied by Marion Küpker, international coordinator for DFG-VK — Germany’s oldest anti-war group — and organizer of the five-month peace camp. News of the unprecedented US group was reported in the daily Frankfurt Journal (“Activists from the US land in Frankfurt: Campaign against US nuclear weapons”), the online magazine FOCUS (“Nuclear fighters receive support from the US”) and picked up around the country. July 15 — Headlines like “Today in Büchel: Action day against nuclear weapons,” and “Konstantin Wecker sings for the peace,” was news across southwest Germany when the well known singer-songwriter drew about 400 to his performance near base’s main gates. The US delegates all spoke briefly to the gathering through interpreters.

The Day Of The Generals: Winning Armageddon

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By Phil Butler for NEO – In a room, somewhere deep inside the Pentagon generals and admirals met recently in order to prepare an assessment for the United States Senate Armed Services Committee. Present at the metering were General Mark Milley, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller, and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. At such a meeting there’s no doubt that Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford attended seeing he’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The agenda for this meeting was serious as a heart attack – America’s most brilliant and powerful military men gathered that day to discuss Armageddon. The minutes of this fateful meeting are top secret. Only a handful of people will ever know what was discussed. But the end result of the strategy session was revealed on September 15, 2017 before the people of the United States. The top generals of the most powerful nation on Earth advised congress that America could in fact win an all-out war with Russia and China. It must have been a scene right out of Director Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War film, Dr. Strangelove.

U.S. Air Force Is Spraying 6 Million Acres With Chemicals In Response To Harvey

U.S. Air Force

By Whitney Webb for Eco Watch – While the Pentagon has framed its efforts to “assist” as seeking to eliminate a potential human health risk, the particular chemical it is using to control insect populations is likely to do more harm than good. According to the Air Force, the mosquito control protocol involves spraying the “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and regulated material, Naled,” which the Air Force insists will not be used in amounts large enough to “cause any concern for human health.” However, the insecticide Naled, manufactured and sold by a strategic partner of Monsanto, is currently banned in the European Union due to the “unacceptable risk” it presents to human health. Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans, as it inhibits acetylcholinesterase—an enzyme essential to nerve function and communication—and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence, including a recent Harvard study, has also pointed to Naled’s responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees. Just one day of Naled spraying in South Carolina killed more than 2.5 million bees last year. Yet, the most concerning consequence Naled poses for human health is the chemical’s ability to cross the placental barrier—meaning that Naled freely crosses from mother to fetus.

Syria: US-Led Coalition Use Of White Phosphorus May Amount To War Crime

Christopher Glenn and Kevin Zeese holding No War banner at White House and Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 27,  2017. Photo by Anne Meador, DC Media Group.

By Staff of Amnesty International – The US-led coalition’s use of white phosphorus munitions on the outskirts of al-Raqqa, Syria is unlawful and may amount to a war crime, Amnesty International can confirm after verifying five videos of the incident. The videos, published online on 8 and 9 June, showed the coalition’s artillery strike using the munitions over the civilian neighborhoods of Jezra and el-Sebahiya. International humanitarian law prohibits the use of white phosphorus near civilians. “The use of white phosphorus munitions by the US-led coalition gravely endangers the lives of thousands of civilians trapped in and around al-Raqqa city, and may amount to a war crime under these circumstances. It can cause horrific injuries by burning through flesh and bone and can pose a threat even weeks after being deployed by reigniting and burning at extremely high temperatures,” said Samah Hadid, Middle East Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International. “The US-led forces must immediately investigate artillery strikes on Jezra and el-Sebahiya and take all possible measures to protect civilians. The use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas poses an unacceptably high risk to civilians and would almost invariably amount to indiscriminate attacks.” Amnesty International verified and cross-checked five videos that surfaced on 8 and 9 June 2017. The videos clearly show different angles of a white phosphorus air-burst and the same areas being targeted by burning elements of white phosphorus landing upon low-level buildings.

US To Stay In Syria For Decades Say Kurdish Military Allies

American army vehicles drive north of Manbij city, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

By John Davison for Reuters – AIN ISSA, Syria (Reuters) – Washington’s main Syrian ally in the fight against Islamic State says the U.S. military will remain in northern Syria long after the jihadists are defeated, predicting enduring ties with the Kurdish-dominated region. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of militias dominated by the Kurdish YPG, believes the United States has a “strategic interest” in staying on, SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters. “They have a strategy policy for decades to come. There will be military, economic and political agreements in the long term between the leadership of the northern areas (of Syria) … and the U.S. administration,” Silo said. The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State has deployed forces at several locations in northern Syria, including an airbase near the town of Kobani. It has supported the SDF with air strikes, artillery, and special forces on the ground. Asked about long-term strategy, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, referred Reuters to the Pentagon. He said there was “still a lot of fighting to do, even after ISIS has been defeated in Raqqa”.

U.S. Flies Bombers, Fighters In Show Of Force Against North Korea

U.S. Air Force F-35 stealth fighter jets and South Korean F-15 fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula, South Korea, Thursday.  Photo: South Korea Defense Ministry via AP

By Kim Tong-Hyung for AP – The United States flew some of its most advanced warplanes in bombing drills with ally South Korea on Thursday, a clear warning after North Korea launched a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry nuclear bombs over Japan earlier this week, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said. North Korea hates such displays of U.S. military might at close range and will likely respond with fury. Two U.S. B-1B supersonic bombers and four F-35B stealth fighter jets joined four South Korean F-15 fighters in live-fire exercises at a military field in eastern South Korea that simulated precision strikes against the North’s “core facilities,” according to the U.S. Pacific Command and South Korea’s Defense Ministry. The B-1Bs were flown in from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam while the F-35Bs came from a U.S. base in Iwakuni, Japan. The North, which claims Washington has long threatened Pyongyang by flaunting the powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal, describes the long-range B-1Bs as “nuclear strategic bombers” although the United States no longer arms them with nuclear weapons. A strong North Korean reaction to the drills is almost certain. The dueling military displays open up the risk that things will get worse as each side seeks to show it won’t be intimidated.

Syria’s Survival

An anti-war demonstrator is seen outside the White House before President Photo By Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty

By Barbara Nimri Aziz for Counter Punch – I’m talking about Syria here. Knowing that I write this at my peril, I continue. Not as a defense, but as an argument, one from a different and, I believe, a worthy perspective. Because some acknowledgement must be made– especially by those who are aware of the terrible might of US power and Washington’s determination to destroy Syria at any cost–of that small, ancient nation’s astonishing ability to resist. Just as those who applaud Palestinians’ resolute pursuit of statehood; just as those who now regard Viet Nam with admiration for its emergence as a self-reliant, noble nation. Syria’s current struggle against multiple assaults is not over by any means. It remains in a highly vulnerable state. Its people are scattered across the globe, its highly educated citizens lost to other nations ready to exploit their skills. Refugees in camps and those suffering at home are uncertain of anything at all. Syria’s military has lost tens of thousands of mortally wounded men. (And what about the injured?) Its youths flee conscription. Syria’s once strong economy is crippled and barely recognizable. Its social institutions are overwhelmed, and its cultural riches, including contemporary theater and television, are shrunken or destroyed.

No Wonder US Forces In Morale Crisis

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By Finian Cunningham for Information Clearing House – August 24, 2017 “Information Clearing House” -The spate of deadly US Navy collisions is a symptom of a wider morale crisis among American military forces. Part of the reason is that American troops are simply exhausted from being abused by political masters in Washington. “Over-stretch” is one way of putting it. American forces continue to be assigned in overseas wars and operations around the globe with no end in sight. And for no credible purpose either. This is not just a Navy problem. It affects all other branches of the US military: Army, Air Force, the Marines and National Guard. When President Donald Trump announced his brazen U-turn sending more American troops back to Afghanistan, the move had the backing of the Pentagon’s top brass. No doubt stock prices for US arms manufacturers spiked. But what about ordinary American soldiers? One can imagine renewed Afghan missions are not welcome, given that the US has been fighting its longest war – 16 years – in that country known as the “Graveyard of Empires.” Any army is only as good as the morale among soldiers. Morale depends on having a respected leadership and a credible just cause. In America’s case, there are neither of these attributes, therefore it is no surprise that morale diminishes, as does fighting effectiveness. Look at the appalling record of US military defeats or failures. The fatal collision of a US Navy guided-missile destroyer this week with an oil tanker near Singapore – in which 10 missing American crew are feared dead

The Hard Numbers On The War In Afghanistan Trump Left Out Of His Speech

President Donald Trump gestures before delivering remarks on the US's military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base on August 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

By Mike Ludwig for Truthout – Last night, President Trump was expected to announce that he would be sending several thousand more troops to Afghanistan, where the United States has been at war for 16 years and violence and corruption have become a way of life. Instead, he outlined a vague strategy meant to appease both a public weary of endless war and the military generals who are now among his top advisors. In his address to the nation from Fort Myer, Trump did not say how many more troops he would send to Afghanistan, or how much more money he is willing to spend on the war. He only said that restrictions on wartime spending would be lifted, and that military commanders would have the freedom to launch attacks without waiting for approval from Washington. Trump also refused to give a timetable for withdrawing American forces, saying only that the enemy would not be privy to when and where the US would attack. He said the “nation-building” effort in Afghanistan is over, and the US would no longer seek to forge democracies in foreign lands “in our own image.” Trump did mention that the Taliban could have a place in a functioning Afghan democracy, a sign that the White House might now be willing to negotiate with anti-government forces after years of bloody warfare, but it’s not clear what such negotiations would look like.

Trump’s Afghan War Speech: More Of The Same, With More Killing

Trump, surrounded by troops and patriotic bunting, defines his “new” Afghan strategy (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By W.J. Astore for Bracing Views – Actually, the consequences of an American withdrawal are both unpredictable and (most probably) acceptable. Sure, terrorist organizations may gain impetus from an American withdrawal. It’s also possible that a notoriously corrupt Afghan government might finally negotiate with the Taliban and other organizations, and that regional power brokers like Pakistan and Iran, who have their own interests in regional stability, might broker a settlement that Americans could live with. Trump further argued that a rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 led to “hard-won gains slip[ping] back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for, and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS.” The truth is far more complex. The prolonged U.S. occupation of Iraq helped to create ISIS in the first place, and failed American efforts to create and train reliable Iraqi security forces contributed to easy ISIS victories after U.S. forces left in 2011.