Author Archive: mrdsk

Political Cartoonist Fired by LA Times After Criticising LAPD: Interview with Ted Rall

Lee Camp talks to Ted Rall, an award-winning nationally-syndicated political cartoonist who was recently fired by the Los Angeles Times after criticising Los Angeles Police Department. Rall is the author of a number books including Snowden and Billionaires & Ballot Bandits with Greg Palast. (Redacted Tonight)

CENTCOM Document Reveals Coalition’s Hidden Civilian Carnage in Syria and Iraq

Chris Woods reports for AirWars.org:

A newly-declassified CENTCOM document – published by Airwars and international media partners for the first time on Thursday –  reveals that by early May of this year, the anti-ISIL Coalition had already internally investigated dozens of events involving at least 325 possible civilian deaths from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Yet despite often significant published evidence of civilians killed in Coalition strikes, most allegations were dismissed as “Not credible” within 48 hours – with few signs of later follow-ups.

The document also reveals for the first time that French, Canadian, Dutch and Australian aircraft have all been involved in problem incidents in Iraq, which between them allegedly killed up to 30 civilians.

The previously-secret 14-page file – obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by journalist Joseph Trevithick for War Is Boring – offers a rare insight into internal military workings. It also makes clear that the US and its 12 international allies have long known of significant allegations of civilians killed in some 6,500 airstrikes – far more than the two deaths presently admitted to.

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Banned Cluster Bombs Were Used in Five Countries, Report Says

Rick Gladstone reports for The New York Times:

[…] The organization, the Cluster Munition Coalition, said in its annual report that use of the bombs had been documented in armed conflicts in LibyaSudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

The use of these weapons was criticized by all 117 countries that have joined the treaty, which took effect five years ago. Their use was also criticized by a number of others that have not yet joined the treaty but appear to have abided by its provisions.

[…] The treaty prohibits all use of cluster munitions and sets deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles and the clearance of areas contaminated by unexploded cluster bomblets, which can be deadly if disturbed. The treaty also provides for assistance to victims of cluster bombs.

The United States, which is among the countries that have not signed the treaty, still produces and exports cluster munitions. In a telephone interview, Ms. Wareham said that although the United States had sharply reduced its supply of cluster munitions, at least three different types of American-made cluster munitions had been used by Saudi-led forces this year in the Yemen conflict.

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David Petraeus’ bright idea: Give terrorists weapons to beat terrorists

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

The latest brilliant plan to curtail Isis in the Middle East? Give more weapons to current members of al-Qaida. The Daily Beast reported that former CIA director David Petraeus, still somehow entrenched in the DC Beltway power circles despite leaking highly classified secrets, is now advocating arming members of the al-Nusra Front in Syria, an offshoot of al-Qaida and a designated terrorist organization. Could there be a more dangerous and crazy idea?

Petraeus was forced to respond on Tuesday, the day after his article provoked a firestorm, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he doesn’t want to arm al-Nusra itself, just “some individual fighters, and perhaps some elements, within Nusra”. He thinks the US could somehow “peel off” these fighters and convince to join the much weaker rebel army that al-Nusra recently decimated. Oh okay, then. He’s in favor of arming only the “moderate” members of al-Qaida: that sounds so much better.

Let’s put aside for a second that there’s not much difference between arming al-Nusra and arming “some individual fighters, and perhaps some elements, within Nusra.” How the US can possibly “peel off” fighters from a terrorist group is a complete mystery. In Iraq – Petraeus is apparently using part of the largely failedIraq “surge” as his blueprint here – he convinced some Sunni tribes to switch sides temporarily, but that was with over 100,000 US troops on the ground to do the convincing. Does Petraeus think we should invade Syria to accomplish the same feat?

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Nothing captures Western hypocrisy on refugees like these British tabloid front pages

Max Fisher writes for Vox:

 British tabloids, which have been scaremongering about refugees for years, telling Britons to fear and resist any immigration and helping to drive the UK’s shameful anti-refugee policies, discovered their compassion for refugees on Wednesday when a small child’s body washed up on a Turkish shore.

The child was a Syrian refugee who, like many hundreds of other refugees, had died during the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. A photo of the young boy went viral, and the same British tabloids that are overtly hostile to living refugees decided that this one was worth caring about, and have plastered their covers with his image.

Some British outlets are even running the image alongside sanctimonious headlines, decrying the loss of the life that is a direct and foreseeable result of the very anti-refugee policies they spent years clamoring for. The Sun, which is famous for anti-refugee headlines such as “Halt the Asylum Tide Now” and “Draw a Red Line on Immigration or Else” is running the dead child’s photo on its Thursday cover with the headline “Mr. Cameron, Summer Is Over … Now Deal With the Biggest Crisis Facing Europe Since WW2.”

The Daily Mail, just in July, ran an anti-refugee front page with the headline “The Swarm in Our Streets.” Today, suddenly, it cares about refugees, and will join the Sun (and, seemingly, much of the British press) in splashing the image of the dead child across its front page with the headline “Tiny victim of a human catastrophe.”

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Greg Grandin on “Kissinger’s Shadow”

Amy Goodman speaks to Greg Grandin, the author of Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman. Grandin states that despite Kissinger being out of office for four decades after serving as national security adviser and secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations, his influence on America’s national security state is still widely felt. Grandin is a historian and a professor at New York University. He is also the author of a number of other books including, Fordlândia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City and Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. (Democracy Now!)

Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees

Helena Smith reports for The Guardian:

Young boy washed up on the beach.The full horror of the human tragedy unfolding on the shores of Europe was brought home on Wednesday as images of the lifeless body of a young boy – one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach the Greek island of Kos – encapsulated the extraordinary risks refugees are taking to reach the west.

The picture, taken on Wednesday morning, depicted the dark-haired toddler, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on a beach, lying face down in the surf not far from Turkey’s fashionable resort town of Bodrum.

A second image portrays a grim-faced policeman carrying the tiny body away. Within hours it had gone viral becoming the top trending picture on Twitter under the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore).

Turkish media identified the boy as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and reported that his five-year-old brother had also met a similar death. Both had reportedly hailed from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the site of fierce fighting between Islamic state insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year.

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, said: “This tragic image of a little boy who’s lost his life fleeing Syria is shocking and is a reminder of the dangers children and families are taking in search of a better life. This child’s plight should concentrate minds and force the EU to come together and agree to a plan to tackle the refugee crisis.”

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Refugee Crisis: Interview with Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration, and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders

Amy Goodman speaks with Joel Millman, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders in the Sicilian town of Pozzallo in Italy. Dr. Montaldo provides medical and psychological care to people rescued from boats in the Mediterranean. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has reported that approximately 2,500 people have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe so far this year. (Democracy Now!)

CIA Running Anti-ISIS Drone Campaign in Syria

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] The CIA has been involved in various operations against ISIS for years, of course, and has also been doing all sorts of different things in Syria, mostly arming dubious rebel factions. That they are escalating this to a drone war concurrent with an actual war must inevitably raise eyebrows, as previously the US has been very careful to keep CIA drone wars distinct from Pentagon-run wars.

The war is targeting ISIS so far, but officials say that they are also authorized to attack al-Qaeda militants or any other “operatives” suspected of advancing ISIS goals to expand their caliphate further across Syria, a nation they already control more than half of.

But officials say that the CIA war, at least in Syria, is comparatively small, and that they’ve launched relatively few strikes compared to the military. That the two are both launching strikes in the same theater will only add to complications about investigating civilian casualties, as it will allow each side to deny being the one behind a particular incident.

Officials are also insisting that the Syria war won’t be using the same model as the Pakistan and Yemen drone wars, but rather that the Syria CIA war, in which they are working closely with special forces, could itself be a model for even more drone wars elsewhere around the world.

This plan to expand CIA war-making comes amid some pushes from the Pentagon, which believes that as the military wars should sort of be their thing exclusively. Running wars concurrently only adds to the confusion, and seems to reflect an intention by the Obama Administration to keep the CIA running wars of its own outside of traditional military purview.

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4,547 Killed in August Bloodshed across Iraq

Margaret Griffis reports for Antiwar:

During August at least 4,547 people were killed and 2,296 were wounded. These figures include civilians, security personnel and militants. At least 350 were killed and 10 were wounded in more recent fighting.

The casualty figures compiled in this column during August were 1,464 killed and 1,179 wounded. That includes 1,017 civilians killed and 818 wounded. These figures were compiled from media reports.

The United Nations, which has team members on the ground in Iraq, found 1,325 dead and 1,811 wounded. These numbers do not count militant deaths. Of those killed, 585 were civilians. The number of civilian wounded was 1,103. These figures should be considered the absolute lowest possible casualty numbers. The true number of dead and wounded is likely much higher.

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Iraq: The battle for your hearts and minds in Fallujah

Former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi writes for Insurge Intelligence:

On 13th August 2015, the Iraqi government bombed the Fallujah Maternity and Neonatal Hospital, killing 31 people, including 23 women and children.

This incident was widely reported in the Western media; though the coverage was perhaps cursory and even dismissive by labeling it an “IS-held” hospital. Nevertheless, information about this atrocity was available to the Western world, as is information about the many similar atrocities committed by the Iraqi government since the start of their war against the Sunni uprising and the Islamic State in December 2013.

This was in fact the 40th time that the Iraqi government has bombed a hospital in Fallujah, and in Fallujah alone over 4,000 civilians have been killed and 5,200 wounded in the last 20 months of government attack.

The United States has also been complicit in these killings; first by shipping weapons to the Iraqi government to facilitate their internal repression of Sunnis, and then by reinitiating a campaign of airstrikes in the Sunni majority provinces of Iraq in August 2014.

According to Airwars, a nonprofit group monitoring US-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State, “publicly-available evidence” alone shows that civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria from these airstrikes are significantly higher than what the US and its partners have claimed.

Though certainly not a trending topic, information on these killings is readily available to those who look for it. Yet despite easy access to these reports, the public’s reaction has never surpassed bland disapproval.

It is easy to chastise the American public for their indifference. But there is reason to believe that the American public doesn’t fully understand why Iraqis are dying in the staggering numbers that they are, who to blame for them, or what they could do to stop the bloodshed.

None of this is accidental. The public’s reaction to civilian casualties has been carefully crafted by the best thinkers in “strategic communications” — or in common parlance, “propaganda” — within the US military and government.

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Yemen’s Hidden War: How the Saudi-Led Coalition Is Killing Civilians

Iona Craig reports for The Intercept:

[…] The names of the dead did not even make news in the local press in Aden. This form of death is now commonplace amid a war so hidden that foreign journalists are forced to smuggle themselves by boat into the country to report on an ongoing conflict that the U.N. says has killed more than 4,500 people and left another 23,500 wounded.

On one side of the conflict is the U.S.-backed coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia supporting Yemen’s president-in-exile, Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi. Their adversaries are the predominantly Shiite Houthi fighters who hail from the northern province of Saada that abuts the Saudi border, along with soldiers from renegade military units loyal to the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In March, the Saudis — aided by U.S. and British weapons and intelligence — began a bombing campaign in an attempt to push back the Houthis, who they see as a proxy for Iran. Since then, from the northern province of Saada to the capital Sanaa, from the central cities of Taiz and Ibb to the narrow streets at the heart of Aden, scores of airstrikes have hit densely populated areas, factories, schools, civilian infrastructure and even a camp for displaced people.

From visiting some 20 sites of airstrikes and interviews with more than a dozen witnesses, survivors and relatives of those killed in eight of these strikes in southern Yemen, this reporter discovered evidence of a pattern of Saudi-coalition airstrikes that show indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers, adding further weight to claims made by human rights organizations that some Saudi-led strikes may amount to war crimes and raising vital questions over the U.S. and Britain’s role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

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Human Rights Watch: Saudi-Led Forces Kill Dozens in Yemen Using US-Made Cluster Bombs

Amy Goodman interviews Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth. Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia of using U.S.-made cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in the Yemeni city of Hajjah between late April and mid-July. Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. (Democracy Now!)

Is Turkey’s Erdogan Creating a Perfect Storm to Get His Party in Power? Interview with Baris Karaagac

Jessica Devereux interviews Baris Karaagac, a lecturer in International Development Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. (The Real News)

Will the U.S. Stop “Cozying Up” to Egyptian Regime After Jailing of Journalists? Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Kenneth Roth

Democracy Now! talks to Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Cairo, and  Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, after Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste to three years in jail for “spreading false news” that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. According to Roth: “The U.S. should stop cozying up to General — now President — Sisi. He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history.” (Democracy Now!)

UN: Gaza could be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020 if trends continue

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

A new United Nations report says Gaza could be “uninhabitable” in less than five years if current economic trends continue.

The report released Tuesday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development points to the eight years of economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians there over the past six years.

Last year’s war displaced half a million people and left parts of Gaza destroyed.

The war “has effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid,” the new report says.

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President Otto Pérez Molina Is Stripped of Immunity in Guatemala

Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed report for The New York Times:

Guatemala’s Congress voted on Tuesday to strip President Otto Pérez Molina of his immunity from prosecution, a unanimous decision that acknowledged the outpouring of citizen demands for an end to entrenched impunity.

The 132-0 vote was the culmination of a tumultuous five months since prosecutors revealed the existence of a customs fraud ring in April, describing how officials received bribes in exchange for discounted tariffs, a scheme that effectively stole millions from the treasury.

As rain fell over Guatemala City, jubilant crowds outside Congress after the vote shouted, “Yes, we could!”

Late on Tuesday, a judge granted a request from prosecutors and ordered Mr. Pérez Molina not to leave the country.

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Al Jazeera interviews Kirsten Weld, a historian of modern Latin America at Harvard University. (Al Jazeera English)

Extraordinary Brutality Inflicted on Civilians in Yemen: Interview with Vijay Prashad

David Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS

Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef report for The Daily Beast:

Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast.

The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

The tactic worked, at least temporarily. But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy.

However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky.

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Bush, ‘Brownie’, FEMA and Katrina: Interview with Russ Baker

Thom Hartmann interviews Russ Baker, editor of WhoWhatWhy and the author of Family of Secrets, on his five part investigative series on the corruption that led to FEMA’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans ten years ago. (The Big Picture)

An Unequal Recovery: New Orleans 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

‘We spend the hour today marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people, forcing more than a million people to evacuate. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased 37 percent since 2005. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. On Thursday, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, remembering what happened 10 years ago. “We came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Obama said.’ (Democracy Now!)

Greg Palast on New Orleans 10 Years Later: I’m Not Celebrating

Greg Palast, creator of the documentary film Big Easy to Big Empty, recently wrote on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

Screw the celebration.  New Orleans hasn’t “come back.”  That is, there are still the Bourbon Street bars serving “Hurricanes” to sloshed tourists and Mardi Gras when white Americans can catch trinkets from floats floating over the ghosts of the drowned.

New Orleans is back to 79% of its pre-flood population.  Why am I not cheering? Because the original residents—that is, the majority of the pre-flood Black residents—are still wandering inAmerica’s cruel economic desert.

And the pols of Louisiana love it. Louisiana had a Democratic governor.  The purge of the voter rolls by flood has changed that forever.

Watch my film and meet Stephen Smith, who couldn’t swim, but floated on a mattress from rooftop to rooftop to save the lives of his neighbors.  Smith brought them to a bridge over the rising waters.  They waited for four days without food or water, as helicopters buzzed overhead.  Undoubtedly, one was President Bush’s copter, heading to his self-congratulatory press conference.

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Change Everything or Face A Global Katrina

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, recently published an excerpt from The Shock Doctrine:

For me, the road to This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate begins in a very specific time and place. The time was exactly ten years ago. The place was New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The road in question was flooded and littered with bodies.

Today I am posting, for the first time, the entire section on Hurricane Katrina from my last book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Rereading the chapter 10 years after the events transpired, I am struck most by this fact: the same military equipment and contractors used against New Orleans’ Black residents have since been used to militarize police across the United States, contributing to the epidemic of murders of unarmed Black men and women. That is one way in which the Disaster Capitalism Complex perpetuates itself and protects its lucrative market.

This material is free for reproduction.

From the Introduction:

I met Jamar Perry in September 2005, at the big Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dinner was being doled out by grinning young Scientologists, and he was standing in line. I had just been busted for talking to evacuees without a media escort and was now doing my best to blend in, a white Canadian in a sea of African-American Southerners. I dodged into the food line behind Perry and asked him to talk to me as if we were old friends, which he kindly did.

Born and raised in New Orleans, he’d been out of the flooded city for a week. He looked about seventeen but told me he was twenty-three. He and his family had waited forever for the evacuation buses; when they didn’t arrive, they had walked out in the baking sun. Finally they ended up here, a sprawling convention centre, normally home to pharmaceutical trade shows and “Capital City Carnage: The Ultimate in Steel Cage Fighting,” now jammed with two thousand cots and a mess of angry, exhausted people being patrolled by edgy National Guard soldiers just back from Iraq.

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The Soft Logic of Soft Targets

Stephen M. Walt writes for Foreign Policy:

The recent “lone wolf” attack on a French train — thankfully foiled by three alert and courageous American passengers — has sparked new concerns about terrorist assaults on so-called “soft targets.” These are places where people congregate and are potentially vulnerable, but are not subject to airport-style security procedures. The Islamic State has called upon sympathizers to conduct such attacks wherever they might be, and European governments are now pondering additional measures to protect trains and railway stations. And on Aug. 22, just one day after the thwarted attack, the New York Times brought it all home by warning: “Train Attack in Europe Puts Focus on Vulnerability of U.S. Rail.”

As I’ve suggested before, it’s time to “chill out” in the face of this latest supposedly grave danger. It is obviously not a good thing that these (and other) attacks have taken place, and counterterrorism officials should continue to take reasonable precautions against future occurrences. But hyping the threat and turning ourselves inside-out to prevent any and all attacks will squander resources and play into our adversaries’ hands.

For starters, the danger of terrorist attacks on “soft targets” is dwarfed by other hazards that we accept with aplomb every day. Highway accidents, household mishaps — and in the United States, ordinary homicide — are all far more serious dangers than the risk from terrorism. To take but one example, over the past 12 months Islamic State sympathizers have killed about 600 people outside Iraq and Syria. In that same period, more than 15,000 peoplewere murdered in the United States alone. Both phenomena are disturbing, but which is the greater danger?

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Emerging Markets Offer Growth Opportunities For Western Defense Firms

Andrew Clevenger reports for Defense News:

[…] The shift in defense spending creates opportunities for Western defense contractors as demand for sophisticated weapons will likely outpace emerging countries’ abilities to produce them domestically. As a white paper published by Avascent in March noted, the US has a leading position in these markets, but political friction between the US and its allies leaves an opening for competition from European, Israeli, Russian and Chinese defense companies.

While mature markets in Western Europe and Northeast Asia continue to offer major competitive opportunities over the next 10 years, “many opportunities will be found in fast-growing emerging markets which have less well-developed industrial capacity to fulfill the requirements of rapidly expanding militaries,” the Avascent white paper states. “A growing share of revenues for most Western defense suppliers will come from these emerging markets.”

For example, 95 percent of defense contracts in Gulf Corporation Council countries between 2010 and 2014 went to foreign companies, with the lion’s share going to the US (73 percent) and Western Europe (24 percent). In the coming decade, 64 percent of GCC contracts are up for grabs, according to Avascent projections.

Similarly, the US (41 percent) and Western Europe (31 percent) were the largest defense suppliers for Southeast Asia between 2010 and 2014, but 63 percent of contracts for the coming decade are uncommitted.

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German Envoy: ‘US Considered Using Nukes Against Afghanistan After 9/11’

Ofer Aderet reports for Haaretz:

U.S. President George Bush (2nd R) is pictured with Vice President Dick Cheney (R) and senior staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center in Washington in the hours following the September 11, 2001. © U.S. National ArchivesThe United States considered using nuclear weapons against Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks, Der Spiegel reported on its website Saturday.

Michael Steiner, who served as a political advisor to then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, told the German daily that the nuclear option was one of the possibilities examined after the attacks.

“The papers were written,” Steiner said when asked whether the U.S. was considered using nuclear weapons in response to the attacks orchestrated by Al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden, in which almost 3,000 people were killed. “They had really played through all possibilities.”

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In Japan, Tens of Thousands Anti-War Protesters Reject Return to Militarism

Jon Queally reports for Common Dreams:

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Japanese parliament building on Sunday to reject plans put forth by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would see an aggressive expansion of the nation’s armed forces despite a long-standing constitutional mandate for a “defense only” military posture.

The enormous crowd—estimated by organizers as more than 120,000 people—is opposing a set of bills moving through the country’s legislature which would allow the country’s military to engage in overseas fighting and ratchet up spending on new weapons systems. Despite loud public protest against the plan, Abe has continued to defend the plan. Demonstrators carried banners reading “Peace Not War” and “Abe, Quit!”

“Sitting in front of TV and just complaining wouldn’t do,” Naoko Hiramatsu, a 44-year-old associate professor in French and one of the Tokyo protesters, told Reuters. Holding his four-year-old son in her arms, she continued, “If I don’t take action and try to put a stop on this, I will not be able to explain myself to my child in the future.”

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Jeremy Corbyn poses national security threat, says Brititsh Chancellor George Osborne

Press Associated reports:

A Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose a threat to national security by undermining the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, according to the chancellor, George Osborne.

The chancellor said “an unholy alliance of Labour’s leftwing insurgents and the Scottish nationalists” would shatter decades of near-unbroken Westminster consensus in favour of maintaining a nuclear capability.

Both Corbyn, the favourite to succeed Ed Miliband, and the SNP oppose the renewal of the Trident missile system being pursued by the Conservative government. Osborne said that would be disastrous.

Amid suggestions that Conservatives were delighted at Corbyn’s surprise emergence as the favourite to lead the party, Osborne insisted the contest should not be seen as a joke.

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August Playlist

UN Official Says Human Suffering in Yemen ‘Almost Incomprehensible’

Kanya D’Almeida reports for IPS News:

With a staggering four in five Yemenis now in need of immediate humanitarian aid, 1.5 million people displaced and a death toll that has surpassed 4,000 in just five months, a United Nations official told the Security Council on August 19 that the scale of human suffering is “almost incomprehensible”.

Briefing the 15-member body upon his return from the embattled Arab nation on Aug. 19, Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien stressed that the civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict and warned that unless warring parties came to the negotiating table there would soon be “nothing left to fight for”.

An August assessment report by Save the Children-Yemen on the humanitarian situation in the country of 26 million noted that over 21 million people, or 80 percent of the population, require urgent relief in the form of food, fuel, medicines, sanitation and shelter.

The health sector is on the verge of collapse, and the threat of famine looms large, with an estimated 12 million people facing “critical levels of food insecurity”, the organisation said.

In a sign of what O’Brien denounced as a blatant “disregard for human life” by all sides in the conflict, children have paid a heavy price for the fighting: 400 kids have lost their lives, while 600 of the estimated 22,000 wounded are children.

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