Category Archives: Merchants of Death

To Sell Weapons, Defense Contractors Make War Seem Fun

Naomi LaChance reports for The Intercept:

image-13I’m getting command to aim and fire. I pull the trigger again and again until I see an explosion. I feel vaguely sick, maybe because my chair shakes every time I pull the trigger, or maybe because the images I’m seeing are blurry.

When I take off my VR headset, a smiling young woman hands me a round token: Distinguished Gunner A14, it says. I’m not exactly the target audience —  and neither are the high school boys I saw enjoying the game later.

The woman tells me the game is to show just how strong the General Dynamics Stryker 30mm cannon is. I’m at the Association of the United States Army’s annual exposition, Monday to Wednesday at the new, cavernous Washington Convention Center, where in order to score contracts with the Pentagon, defense contractors are making their weapons seem fun.

AUSA features a who’s who of the military-industrial complex, and the extreme excess of money in the industry is evident everywhere.


UK Government Works ‘Hand in Glove’ With Arms Firms, Say Campaigners

Alice Ross reports for The Guardian:

The British government and the UK arms industry have a “politically intimate and hugely compromising relationship” that sees government officials working “hand in glove” with companies promoting weapons exports, according to campaigners who have tracked thousands of meetings between officials and arms trade representatives.

Officials from the government’s dedicated arms export department, the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), attended more than 1,000 meetings since the 2010 election – more than a third of all meetings recorded by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which has published data on contact between the government and the arms industry.

The data reveals how crucial the export of British-made weapons and security equipment – totalling £8bn last year – has become to both government and the industry, ensuring that Britain is among the world’s largest arms exporters.

“The government may talk about the importance of human rights, but its role is absolutely central to the UK arms trade,” said a CAAT spokesman, Andrew Smith.


Colin Powell in Leaked Email Says Israel Has 200 Nukes

Jack Moore reports for Newsweek:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin PowellFormer U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell alleged that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of 200 warheads, a thorny subject that Israel never comments on, according to an email that Russian hackers leaked earlier this week.

Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to speak about its rumored nuclear arsenal and never even going as far as to admit that it has possession of nuclear weapons.

But Powell may have given away the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Speaking to Democratic party donor Jeffrey Leeds about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress focusing on the Iranian nuclear deal, he wrote that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon if it was able to develop one. He then stated that Israel has hundreds of nukes and Washington thousands, suggesting that such firepower would deter any Iranian action.


Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

Alex Emmons writes for The Intercept:

In the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the war on terror is still in its opening act.


Hillary Clinton’s National Security Advisers Are a “Who’s Who” of the Warfare State

Zaid Jilani, Alex Emmons and Naomi LaChance report for The Intercept:

The list of key advisers — which includes the general who executed the troop surge in Iraq and a former Bush homeland security chief turned terror profiteer — is a strong indicator that Clinton’s national security policy will not threaten the post-9/11 national-security status quo that includes active use of military power abroad and heightened security measures at home.

It’s a story we’ve seen before in President Obama’s early appointments. In retrospect, analysts have pointed to the continuity in national security and intelligence advisers as an early sign that despite his campaign rhetoric Obama would end up building on — rather than tearing down — the often-extralegal, Bush-Cheney counterterror regime. For instance, while Obama promised in 2008 to reform the NSA, its director was kept on and its reach continued to grow.

Obama’s most fateful decision may have been choosing former National Counterterrorism Center Director John Brennan to be national security adviser, despite Brennan’s support of Bush’s torture program. Brennan would go on to run the president’s drone program, lead the CIA, fight the Senate’s torture investigation, and then lie about searching Senate computers.

That backdrop is what makes Clinton’s new list of advisers so significant.


Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world

Jon Stone reports for The Independent:

yemen-1.jpgBritain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world, official government figures show – with most of the weapons fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East.

Since 2010 Britain has also sold arms to 39 of the 51 countries ranked “not free” on the Freedom House “Freedom in the world” report, and 22 of the 30 countries on the UK Government’s own human rights watch list.

A full two-thirds of UK weapons over this period were sold to Middle Eastern countries, where instability has fed into increased risk of terror threats to Britain and across the West.

Meanwhile statistics collated by UK Trade and Investment, a government body that promotes British exports abroad, show the UK has sold more arms than Russia, China, or France on average over the last 10 years. Only the United States is a bigger exporter.


The U.S. Army Lost Track of $6.5 Trillion

Matthew Gault reports for War Is Boring:

By congressional mandate, the Pentagon needs to be ready for an audit of its finances by Sept. 30, 2017. If what’s going on at the U.S. Army is any indication — and it is — then next fall’s audit will be a shit-show of broken promises, cooked books and bizarre accounting.

The Army made headlines in mid-August 2016 when a Defense Department Inspector General report landed with a heavy thud. The 75-page reportdetailed all the ways the Army screwed up its accounting of the Army General Fund in 2015.

According to the report, Army bookkeepers screwed up the budget to the tune of … $6.5 trillion dollars.

Yes, trillion.

That’s $6.5 trillion in accounting mistakes for the year 2015 alone. That’s such a huge number that it doesn’t even make a lot of sense. The annual budget for the entire U.S. military in the past few years has been around half-a-trillion bucks.


Journalist Andrew Cockburn on the U.S. Role in Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen

Amy Goodman speaks to Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor for Harper’s magazine, about America’s role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. His latest piece for Harper’s is headlined Acceptable Losses: Aiding and Abetting the Saudi Slaughter in Yemen. He is author of a number of books, his latest is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. (Democracy Now!)

How the Pentagon Became Walmart

Rosa Brooks, author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything, writes for Foreign Policy:

How the Pentagon Became Walmart When my mother came for lunch at the Pentagon, I shepherded her through the visitor’s entrance, maneuvered her onto the escalator, and had just ushered her past the chocolate shop when she stopped short. I stopped too, letting an army of crisply uniformed officers and shirt-sleeved civilians flow past us down the corridor. Taking in the Pentagon’s florist shop, the banks, the nail salon, ­and the food court, my mother finally looked back at me. “So the heart of American military power is a shopping mall?”

She wasn’t far off. By the time I started working at the Defense Department in the early years of the Obama administration, the Pentagon’s 17.5 miles of corridors had sprouted dozens of shops and restaurants catering to the building’s 23,000 employees. And, over time, the U.S. military has itself come to offer a similar one-stop shopping experience to the nation’s top policymakers. At the Pentagon, you can buy a pair of new running shoes or order the Navy to search for Somali pirates. You can grab some Tylenol at CVS or send a team of Army medics to fight malaria in Chad. You can buy yourself a new cell phone or task the National Security Agency with monitoring a terrorist suspect’s text messages. You can purchase a small chocolate fighter jet or order up drone strikes in Yemen.

You name it, the Pentagon supplies it. As retired Army Lt. Gen. Dave Barno once put it to me, the relentlessly expanding U.S. military has become “a Super Walmart with everything under one roof” — and two successive presidential administrations have been eager consumers.

But the military’s transformation into the world’s biggest one-stop shopping outfit is no cause for celebration. On the contrary, it’s at once the product and the driver of seismic changes in how we think about war, with consequent challenges both to our laws and to the military itself.


The Obama Administration Has Brokered More Weapons Sales Than Any Other Administration Since World War II

William D. Hartung, author of Prophets of War, writes for TomDispatch:

Lockheed F-35 Jet AustraliaWhen American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of US weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to US allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft. And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, US arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.

So here’s a question that’s puzzled me for years (and I’m something of an arms wonk): Why do other major US exports—from Hollywood movies to Midwestern grain shipments to Boeing airliners—garner regular coverage while trends in weapons exports remain in relative obscurity? Are we ashamed of standing essentially alone as the world’s number one arms dealer, or is our Weapons “R” Us role such a commonplace that we take it for granted, like death or taxes?


Ukraine, After War, Becomes a Trove for Black Market Arms Trade

Alessandra Prentice and Anton Zverev report for Reuters:

[…] The fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Moscow-backed separatists and Ukraine’s pro-Western government killed hundreds of people, displaced thousands of residents and created a Cold War-style stand off between Moscow in the West.

It also had another consequence that is less visible but could in time prove equally dangerous: the conflict took huge amounts of arms out of government arsenals and put them in the hands of irregular units unable to properly control them.

Now the fighting has subsided, according to security officials and experts on the arms trade, the weapons are getting into the hands of criminals and being spirited to buyers well beyond the conflict zone.

Interviews by Reuters with security officials and rebels, as well as study of law enforcement data and court documents have shown that weapons are being channeled out of the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine in significant numbers, in some cases as part of an organized underground trade.


Why defense stocks could keep soaring no matter who wins the election

Rebecca Ungarino reports for CNBC:

Two defense stocks hit 52-week highs this week, and may be heading higher. In a time of international market volatility and global conflict, some analysts say defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications will continue to thrive. And the future of defense spending, and of these stocks, may not depend on who wins the election in November.

“I do think they will go higher,” Gina Sanchez of Chantico Global said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “The fundamentals support them; the fundamentals are rather scary fundamentals. … We have seen an increase in conflict around the world, and that has not only increased U.S. defense spending, but it’s also increased spending by its allies.”

“And if you look at both candidates, [Hillary] Clinton is hawkish, and she’s seen as likely supporting a strong military. And we know that [Donald] Trump is in favor of expanding the military, so I think the defense contractors on either side of that ticket are going to win.”


The 50 American H-Bombs in Turkey

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, writes for The New Yorker:

B-61 nuclear bombs, the same model as those stored by the U.S. at airbases in various NATO countries, often under lax safeguards.[…] According to Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, underground vaults at Incirlik hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than twenty-five per cent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The nuclear yield of the B-61 can be adjusted to suit a particular mission. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima had an explosive force equivalent to about fifteen kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the “dial-a-yield” of the B-61 bombs at Incirlik can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as a hundred and seventy kilotons.

Incirlik was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of the Second World War; when Turkey joined NATO, in 1952, it became a crucial American base during the Cold War. With a flight time of about an hour to the Soviet Union, the base hosted American fighters, bombers, tankers, and U-2 spy planes. And, like many NATO bases, it stored American nuclear weapons. NATO strategy was dependent on nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to the perceived superiority of Soviet conventional forces. The threat of a nuclear attack, it was assumed, would deter Soviet tanks from rolling into NATO territory. And granting NATO countries access to nuclear weapons would strengthen the alliance, providing tangible evidence that the United States would risk a nuclear war for NATO’s defense.


Bursting the Pentagon Spending Bubble

Veronique de Rugy writes for Reason:

Next year the White House will have a new occupant, but one thing is almost certain not to change: a U.S. foreign policy driven by mind-boggling sums of taxpayer money. With the exception of Bernie Sanders, all the major-party presidential candidates during this election season have said they would oppose military spending cuts. Even the relatively non-interventionist Sen. Rand Paul wanted to bust the military spending caps put into place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, while the other Republican candidates essentially fought over who wanted to increase spending most.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, left no doubt that he intends to keep the military gravy train rolling. Trump may have said that President George W. Bush lied about Iraq (a war that he claims, falsely, to have been publicly against since the start) but he has nonetheless earned the endorsements of former Vice President (and Hawk in Chief) Dick Cheney; interventionist former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, a man who has rarely met an international problem he does not want to fix with American force.

Don’t count on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to cut Pentagon spending, either. Clinton’s track record of supporting more and bigger interventions paid for with a growing military budget makes her virtually indistinguishable from the Republican White House hopefuls. As reason‘s Nick Gillespie put it, “a vote for Hillary is a vote for war.”


U.S. arms sales approvals on track to reach nearly $40 billion

Andrea Shalal reports for Reuters:

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Mediterranean Sea June 28, 2016.   U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Handout via ReutersThe U.S. government is on track to approve nearly $40 billion in foreign military sales in the 2016 fiscal year that ends October 1, down from $46.6 billion last year, a top Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

“We’re tracking toward $40 billion. We’re tracking toward our forecast,” U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, who heads the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), told Reuters at the Farnborough International Airshow.

Rixey said the total could still fluctuate, depending on what happened in the fourth quarter.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union should not affect its relationship with the United States, or potential future arms sale, Rixey said, citing two large UK arms purchases of Boeing Co equipment announced on Monday.


A Cluster Bomb Made in America Shattered Lives in Yemen’s Capital

Sudarsan Raghavan reports for The Washington Post:

[…] The United States is playing a quiet but lethal role in the killing and wounding of thousands of civilians in Yemen’s civil war. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has purchased U.S. fighter jets and other American-made weapons in deals worth billions of dollars, and the Pentagon has provided the coalition with training, aerial refueling support and intelligence as it attacks targets in Yemen.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest has defended the Obama administration’s backing of Saudi Arabia and the other members of the coalition, calling them “effective national security partners.”

But criticism is growing over the U.S. involvement in the war. Human rights groups and some American lawmakers have urged a ban on weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, saying the airstrikes have had a devastating impact on civilians and have violated international laws.


One Shooter, No Snipers: Grossly Inaccurate Police and Media Information About Dallas Killings

Steven Rosenfeld writes for AlterNet:

The mainstream media in the U.S. and abroad badly botched the reporting of the Dallas police shooting that killed five officers Thursday, egged on by speculation by police sources that a team of snipers was bent on avenging the killing of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by white cops the day before.

Even after the Dallas Morning News changed its headline Friday afternoon to read, “Dallas sniper was loner, Army vet with stash of arms, bomb parts at home,” the article’s second paragraph said, “Four Dallas police officers and a DART officer were shot and killed in a coordinated sniper attack that followed a Thursday night protest.”

The incorrect sniper meme was repeated internationally, such as this headline from the British Mirror, “Dallas police shooting: ‘Black Power group’ claims responsibility for police killings and warns of more assassinations to come.”


The Second Amendment’s Second-Class Citizens

David A. Graham reports for The Atlantic:

[…] The two shootings give a strong sense that the Second Amendment does not apply to black Americans in the same way it does to white Americans. Although liberals are loath to think of the right to bear arms as a civil right, it’s spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Like other civil rights, the nation and courts have interpreted it differently over time—as an individual right, and as a collective right. But however it’s been applied, African Americans have historically not enjoyed nearly the same protection as their white fellow citizens.

As Adam Winkler wrote in The Atlantic in 2011, one crucial testing ground for a personal right to bear arms came in the aftermath of the Civil War. Blacks in the South encountered a new landscape, one which they were ostensibly free but vulnerable and beset by white antagonists:

After losing the Civil War, Southern states quickly adopted the Black Codes, laws designed to reestablish white supremacy by dictating what the freedmen could and couldn’t do. One common provision barred blacks from possessing firearms. To enforce the gun ban, white men riding in posses began terrorizing black communities. In January 1866,Harper’s Weekly reported that in Mississippi, such groups had “seized every gun and pistol found in the hands of the (so called) freedmen” in parts of the state. The most infamous of these disarmament posses, of course, was the Ku Klux Klan.


Police Whistleblower: Failures of Criminal Justice System Lead to the Dallas Shooting

Jaisal Noor speaks to ex-Cop Michael Wood who responds to the Dallas attacks, the history of racism in modern policing, threats against the Black Lives Matter movement and the news the shooter was an army veteran. (The Real News)

NATO Takes Over US-Built Missile Shield, Amid Russian Suspicion

Yeganeh Torbati and Robin Emmott report for Reuters:

NATO took command of a U.S.-built missile shield in Europe on Friday after France won assurances that the multi-billion-dollar system would not be under Washington’s direct control.

The missile shield, billed as a defense against any strike by a “rogue state” against European cities, is one of the most sensitive aspects of U.S. military support for Europe. Russia says the system is in fact intended by Washington to blunt its nuclear arsenal, which the U.S. denies.

“Today we have decided to declare initial operational capability of the NATO ballistic missile defense system,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

“This means that the U.S. ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and control,” he said, adding that the umbrella was “entirely defensive” and “represents no threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent”.

Russia is incensed at the show of force by the United States, its Cold War rival in ex-communist-ruled eastern Europe.


The Pentagon’s Real Strategy in the Middle East: Interview with Andrew Cockburn

A few weeks ago, journalist Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, discussed the Pentagon’s real strategy in the Middle East on the Scott Horton Show. This strategy, he states, revolves around keeping the money flowing to the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex.


Military-Industrial Election: How Defense Firms Spend Campaign Cash

Kelley Vlahos writes for The American Conservative:

tankwithlogosLike all special interests in the nation’s capital, the defense industry is spending millions of dollars this election season to ensure a front-row spot at the federal trough—and in the case of the most powerful military-industrial contractors, a chance to influence the national-security policies that will keep production lines humming and profit margins growing.

Defense contractors took a keen interest in the Republican and Democratic primaries, backing candidates for reasons both ideological and commercial. How they will divide their dollars between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election remains to be seen, though there are reasons to think one of the major-party nominees will be especially receptive to industry support. For the military-industrial complex, however, the race for the White House is not the whole story—and in the ways that matter most, this year’s elections mean business as usual.


U.S. Banks Top Cluster Bomb Investment ‘Hall of Shame’

Nadia Prupis reports for Common Dreams:

Despite the international ban on cluster bombs, more than 150 financial institutions have invested $28 billion in companies that produce them, according to a new report released Thursday.

Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are among the 158 banks, pension funds, and other firms listed in the “Hall of Shame” compiled by the Netherlands-based organization PAX, a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

The report, titled Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility (pdf), finds that the leading investors come from 14 countries including the U.S., the UK, and Canada. Of the top 10 overall investors, the U.S. is home to eight. Japan and China round out the last two.


The Doomsday Clock: Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and the Prospects for Survival

An excerpt from Noam Chomsky’s latest book, Who Rules the World?, recently appeared at TomDispatch:

In January 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its famous Doomsday Clock to three minutes before midnight, a threat level that had not been reached for 30 years. The Bulletin’s statement explaining this advance toward catastrophe invoked the two major threats to survival: nuclear weapons and “unchecked climate change.” The call condemned world leaders, who “have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” endangering “every person on Earth [by] failing to perform their most important duty — ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”

Since then, there has been good reason to consider moving the hands even closer to doomsday.

As 2015 ended, world leaders met in Paris to address the severe problem of “unchecked climate change.” Hardly a day passes without new evidence of how severe the crisis is. To pick almost at random, shortly before the opening of the Paris conference, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab released a study that both surprised and alarmed scientists who have been studying Arctic ice. The study showed that a huge Greenland glacier, Zachariae Isstrom, “broke loose from a glaciologically stable position in 2012 and entered a phase of accelerated retreat,” an unexpected and ominous development. The glacier “holds enough water to raise global sea level by more than 18 inches (46 centimeters) if it were to melt completely. And now it’s on a crash diet, losing 5 billion tons of mass every year. All that ice is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean.”

Yet there was little expectation that world leaders in Paris would “act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.” And even if by some miracle they had, it would have been of limited value, for reasons that should be deeply disturbing.


Too Hot For War: Now Will Our Politicians Take Climate Change Seriously?

Richard Galustian writes for The Ecologist:

HMS Dragon's Lynx helicopter fires infra red flares during an exercise over a Type 45 destroyer of the kind that won't work in warm seas. Photo: Dave Jenkins / Defence Images via Flickr (CC BY-SA).Western governments may be dithering over taking action over climate change, but their defence chiefs think differently – at least regarding changing weapons systems to suit rising world temperatures.

Major defense companies are studying the retro-fitting and upgrade of armaments, power plants and platforms to cope with rising temperatures amid predictions the world’s hot spots are getting hotter on land and on sea.

The world’s defence chiefs are particularly concerned with two zones in particular, the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. Both seas are shallow and therefore absorb more heat than the great oceans and certainly the world’s seas.

And rising temperatures are already making themselves felt. Some of a group of six British Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers, costing $1 billion each, have stopped operating in the Persian Gulf because the sea was too hot, with water temperatures rising above 90 degrees fahrenheit (32.2C).

The issue saw Royal Navy staff questioned on 2nd June by the UK’s Commons Defence Committee as to why their Type 45 destroyers keep losing power. The response was that the ships’ turbines overheated resulting in massive technical failures that can slow the ships to a crawl.


The Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBT People in America

Emma Green writes for The Atlantic:

The attack at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday is the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history. The father of Omar Mateen, the alleged shooter, said his son may have been motivated by anger toward the LGBT community; other reports suggest he may have pledged allegiance to ISIS in advance of the attacks.

No matter what, he picked a gay club. He carried out his attack during Pride month, on a weekend when cities across the country, from Washington, D.C. to Detroit to Los Angeles, are hosting celebrations and parades. This is an unprecedented shooting attack in scale and violence, but not in kind. It is an extraordinary example of an extremely common kind of violence in the United States: hate-motivated attacks on LGBT people.

In a 2011 analysis of FBI hate-crime statistics, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that “LGBT people are more than twice as likely to be the target of a violent hate-crime than Jews or black people,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center. Because the population of LGBT Americans is relatively small, and the number of hate crimes against that group is significant, LGBT individuals face a higher risk than other groups of being the victim of an attack. “They are more than four times as likely as Muslims, and almost 14 times as likely as Latinos,” Potok added. Sexual orientation motivated roughly 20 percent of hate crimes in 2013, according to the FBI; the only factor that accounted for more was race.


Australia Stopped Mass Shootings After 1996 Massacre, So Why Doesn’t the U.S. Follow Suit?

Amy Goodman speaks to Rebecca Peters, an international arms control advocate and part of the International Network on Small Arms, who led the campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre in April of 1996 (Democracy Now!).

Gun Used in Orlando Shooting Becoming Mass Shooters’ Weapon of Choice

Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post:

Last night in Orlando, a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed at least 50 people and wounded 53 others in a crowded nightclub.

Six months ago, in San Bernardino, Calif., a man and woman armed with assault-style rifleskilled 14 people and wounded 20 others at a holiday party.

In 2012, in Aurora, Colo., a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a crowded movie theater.

Also in 2012, in Newtown Conn., a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 28 people and wounded 2 others at an elementary school.

One common denominator behind these and other high-casualty mass shootings in recent years is the use of assault style rifles, capable of firing many rounds of ammunition in a relatively short period of time, with high accuracy. And their use in these types of shooting is becoming more common: There have been eight high-profile public mass shootings since July of last year, according to a database compiled by Mother Jones magazine. Assault-style rifles were used in seven of those.

In the past 10 years, assault-style rifles have been used in 14 public mass shootings. Half of those shootings have occurred since last June.


UK Has ‘Secretly’ Upgraded Trident Arsenal and Developed an Entirely New Warhead, Report Finds

The Telegraph reports:

The Trident nuclear submarine HMS Victorious is pictured near Faslane in ScotlandThe row over Trident is set to reignite after it emerged Britain has been secretly upgrading its arsenal of nuclear weapons and developed an entirely new warhead.

A report from the Nuclear Information Service revealed ministers have already authorised £85 million for the more accurate and destructive Mark 4A warhead without consulting Parliament.

According to the report, the costs and the timetable of the program have not been revealed to Parliament. David Cameron is now facing calls for an urgent vote on the issue of Trident’s renewal following the EU referendum.

The independent research body said work has already been undertaken at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, and new warheads have been tested at Sandia National Laboratories in the US.


Hillary Clinton Positions Herself to the Right of Trump in Major National Security Speech: Interview with Phyllis Bennis

Jaisal Noor speaks to Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies who says although Clinton rightfully used her national security speech to condemn the bigotry and outlandishness of Trump’s positions, she laid out a much more militaristic foreign policy. (The Real News)