Monthly Archives: April 2018

CIA Operative Gina Haspel Who Tortured, Ordered CIA Torture Tapes Destroyed, and Now Wants To Lead CIA Did Nothing Wrong, Says CIA

“Torture was illegal and immoral after 9/11, and it still is now,” warn critics. And Gina Haspel “should never be allowed to work for the American people again.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2018

Gina Haspel, who was in charge of a black site in Thailand where torture occurred and ordered the destruction of CIA tapes of the human rights violations, has been nominated to become director of the spy agency. (Photo: CIA / with overlay)

In what critics are calling a bald attempt to help Trump’s controversial pick to lead the CIA get through a very difficult confirmation process, the CIA on Friday released a previously classifed memo in which Gina Haspel was “cleared” of any wrongdoing when she destroyed more than 90 videotapes of agency operatives torturing human beings.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported the story, the CIA on Friday “gave lawmakers a declassified memo Friday showing [Haspel] was cleared years ago of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes showing terror suspects being waterboarded after 9/11.” Continue reading

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‘Incredible’ News as Banking Giant HSBC Ditches New Coal, Tar Sands, and Offshore Arctic Drilling Projects

The development is “yet another signal to Donald Trump and the rest of the world that, despite their worst laid plans, the era of fossil fuels is coming to a close.”

By for Common Dreams, Published 4-20-2018.

Climate groups applauded HSBC’s announcement that it is moving away from fossil fuels. (Photo: ItzaFineDay/flickr/cc)

In another signal that “the era of fossil fuels is coming to a close,” Europe’s biggest bank, HSBC, announced Friday that it will no longer fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic, tar sands projects, or most coal projects.

The move was cheered by climate campaigners on social media, who said, “This is huge,” and called it “incredible news.”

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With Deadline Approaching, 500+ European Lawmakers Tell Congress to Stop Trump From Ripping Up Iran Nuclear Deal

“The message to Trump/Pompeo/Bolton is clear: You do this and you’re on your own.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-19-2018

An Iranian man reads a copy of Iranian daily newspaper Arman with a picture of US President Donald Trump on its front page with the title in Persian that reads ‘Crazy Trump and logical JCPOA’ on display in Tehran, Iran. (Photo: EPA)

As analysts warn that U.S. President Donald Trump could be planning to abandon the Iran nuclear accord as early as next month—particularly with national security adviser and war “fanatic” John Bolton whispering in his ear—more than 500 parliamentarians from the U.K., France, and Germany published an open letter on Thursday calling on Congress do all it can to keep the agreement alive and “protect the fruits of successful diplomacy.”

“Together, Europeans and Americans have proved that a strong and united transatlantic partnership can bring about a coalition extending to Russia and China, endorsed by the international community,” the lawmakers write. “But this coalition is now at risk, as the U.S. government moves towards abandoning the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] without any evidence of Iran not fulfilling its obligations.” Continue reading

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Drones Will Soon Use Artificial Intelligence to Decide Who to Kill

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society

By Peter Lee. Published 4-11-2018 by The Conversation

An Air Force RPA reconnaissance drone is retrofitted for use in attack squadron. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward. Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement.

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society. There is a chance that warfare will move from fighting to extermination, losing any semblance of humanity in the process. At the same time, it could widen the sphere of warfare so that the companies, engineers and scientists building AI become valid military targets. Continue reading

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‘Absolutely Earth-Shaking’: North and South Korea Reportedly in Talks to Officially End Korean War

“If this is confirmed, this is huge for the Korean Peninsula.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-17-2018

Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un are scheduled to meet this month. Photo: NK News

Technically, North and South Korea are still at war, and have been for more than six decades—but an “absolutely earth-shaking” new report on Tuesday indicates the conflict may soon be coming to an end.

Citing an anonymous South Korean diplomatic official, Munhwa Ilbo—a South Korean daily newspaper—reported that the neighboring countries are hashing out a statement that could officially bring the war to an end later this month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet in person for the first time. Continue reading

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New AUMF? Critics Warn Against Giving Trump—or Any President—Power to Wage War ‘Virtually Anywhere on the Planet’

The proposal follows Trump’s illegal weekend attack on Syria

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-16-2018

Protesters marched in New York City to oppose military action against Syria in 2013. (Photo: The All-Nite Images/Flickr/cc)

As the 17-year-old War on Terror rages on—and with the international community still reeling from the illegal missile strikes that the U.S., U.K., and France launched on Syria over the weekend—Congress is considering a measure that critics warn will expand the executive branch’s authority to wage war.

Some lawmakers have tried for years to replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used (pdf) by three administrations to justify military actions across the globe. Now that President Donald Trump has repeatedly ignored reminders that only Congress can approve attacks not covered by the authorization, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) plan to introduce a new AUMF that could give even more war powers to the president.

Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, explained that under the proposed AUMF described in reports on Monday, Trump would essentially “get a blank check from Congress to go to war virtually anywhere on the planet.”

Outlining his concerns with various aspects of the proposal, Anders concludes it “would cause colossal harm to the Constitution’s checks and balances, would jeopardize civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, and would lead to a breathtakingly broad expansion of war without meaningful oversight.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told NBC News that he worries “about an AUMF that is more permissive than what the president currently interprets his authority to be,” adding: “It’s gonna be hard for me to support something that has no sunset and no geographic limitation.”

Columbia Law School professor Matthew Waxman, a former national security official in the George W. Bush administration, said that an AUMF without an expiration date will bolster concerns among those who fear that greenlighting a new measure “entrenches an indefinite war.”

“The political reality, though, is that a much more restrictive AUMF won’t be possible anytime soon,” Waxman said, “and we’ll be engaged in an indefinite war either way.”

Reports about the new AUMF—which could be introduced as early as Monday—follow Kaine’s controversial comments to “CBS This Morning” earlier in the day.

While Kaine sharply criticized the attack on Syria as an “illegal military act,” the senator also said he would have “likely” supported it if Trump had asked for permission from Congress first.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—a long-time critic of the 2001 AUMF and the only member of Congress to vote against it—swiftly condemned Trump’s weekend attack, but many more were criticized for their apparent indifference or tempered responses to Trump’s unconstitutional act.

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With Walkout and Rally Planned for Monday, Teachers’ Anger Over Low Pay and Lack of Funding Spreads to Colorado

“Educators are fed up…Colorado has, year over year over year, significantly underfunded our public schools.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-15-2018

Teachers in Arizona last week wore red during a “walk-in,” preceding a possible walkout, to demand school funding. Colorado teachers plan to do the same on Monday. (Photo: @SenQuezada29/Twitter)

Colorado’s teachers’ union expects more than 400 teachers at a rally that’s planned for Monday at the state’s Capitol in Denver.

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Here We Go Again: Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Won’t Fix Anything

Current trade agreements are great at creating more billionaires, not so much at protecting the interests of workers.

By . Published 4-13-2018 by YES! Magazine

 

On Thursday, President Trump flipped his position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, suggesting the U.S. might want to rejoin the pact. His announcement sent Wall Street indices shooting upward in jubilation and angered labor leaders. It left China—which has been sorting out how to respond to Trump’s announced steel and aluminum tariffs—even more bewildered as criticism grows of its “Made in China 2025” initiative to dominate the high-technology sector.

Trump’s about-face is especially striking given that exiting the TPP was a crucial plank in his economic agenda on the campaign trail and one of his first acts as president. That pledge played well to the frustrations of people who know the global economy is ripping them off and are understandably angry. Continue reading

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Republicans Unveil Proposal to Push One Million Off Food Stamps

“Rich people who don’t need it get lavish billion-dollar handouts from this president…The struggling poor, on the other hand, are going to see new work requirements attached to their $1.40-a-meal food stamp.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-13-2018

Social welfare advocates on Friday denounced a proposal included in a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill which would impose work requirements on most adults who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. The proposal represents the first concrete attempt by Republicans to erode the social safety net since President Donald Trump took office.

Critics said the plan showed blatant hostility toward the 42 million Americans who rely on the program, and that it would do nothing to “break the poverty cycle” as House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) claimed on Thursday. Continue reading

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Confirming He ‘Does Not Give a Crap About Working People,’ Trump Proposes Rejoining TPP

“In a series of broken promises Trump made to the working people of this country, rejoining the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the biggest yet,” warned Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-12-2018

Photo: End the Illusion

As if his enormous tax cuts for the rich, attacks on the safety net, and efforts to help bosses steal their employees’ tips weren’t proof enough, President Donald Trump further demonstrated that he “does not give a crap about working people” on Thursday by telling lawmakers he is considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact he withdrew from last year and repeatedly derided as “terrible.”

In a statement responding to the news that Trump has directed his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine options for reentering the 11-nation accord, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen argued that the president’s move “could bring short term joy to Democratic campaign operatives” but would be yet another signal that Trump “cannot be trusted on anything.” Continue reading

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