Tag Archives: Russia

How the United States Kept Arms Flowing into South Sudan

South Sudan faces several arms embargo. How has the government continued to get weapons?

By Edward Hunt. Published 12-12-2018 by FPIF


Salva Kiir (Utenriksdepartementet UD via Flickr)

During the South Sudanese Civil War, which has claimed nearly 400,000 lives, the United States helped the main belligerent in the war continually acquire arms through Uganda, a close U.S. ally in the region. For years, the Ugandan government channeled arms, ammunition, and military aircraft to the regime of President Salva Kiir, according to multiple reports by Conflict Armament Research and the U.N. Panel of Experts on South Sudan.

“Uganda remains the main transit point and facilitator for arms and ammunition to the regime,” former U.S. diplomat Payton Knopf reported in September. Continue reading

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US Uses Banned White Phosphorus Bombs in Syrian City for the Fourth Time in Two Months

The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that “employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices is listed in the Statute of the International Criminal Court as a war crime.”

By Whitney Webb. Published 11-6-2018 by MintPress News

White phosphorus attack. Photo: Human Rights Watch

The U.S.-led coalition in Syria has been accused of using white phosphorus incendiary munitions for the fourth time since mid-September.  White phosphorus is banned internationally when used in areas with civilian populations.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported on a bombing conducted by the U.S.-led coalition that had targeted the small city of Hajin in Syria’s Eastern Deir Ez-Zor province over the weekend. The bombing, allegedly intended to target Daesh (ISIS) terrorists who control the city, killed fifteen civilians – among them women and children – and injured scores more. Civil sources cited by SANA reported that white phosphorus bombs had been used, which – in addition to resulting in several civilian deaths and injuries — caused massive property damage due to the fires resulting from the use of the banned substance. Continue reading

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‘Appalling’: Asbestos Imports Soar 2,000% as Trump Loosens Restrictions on Cancer-Causing Material

“Americans cannot identify or manage the risks of asbestos. The time is now for the EPA to say no to the asbestos industry and finally ban asbestos without exemptions.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-24-2018

Photo: Amazon

As President Donald Trump’s industry-friendly Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes steps to loosen restrictions on the commercial use of asbestos—which is known to cause cancer and lung disease—an analysis of federal data published Tuesday found that asbestos imports to the U.S. surged by nearly 2,000 percent between July and August of this year.

Conducted by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and Environmental Working Group (EWG), the analysis found that “the U.S. imported more than 341 metric tons of asbestos” last year, with imports expected to double in 2018 thanks to the Trump administration’s aggressive and deeply harmful deregulatory agenda. Continue reading

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‘Bolton Gonna Bolton’: Trump’s National Security Adviser Pushing to Ditch Nuclear Arms Treaty With Russia

Critics warn that “withdrawal would be stupid and reckless.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-19-2018

President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton is reportedly seeking to ditch a Cold War-era treaty with Russia focusing on nuclear arms control. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump’s notorious warmonger of a national security adviser, John Bolton, reportedly “is pushing for the U.S. to withdraw from a Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia,” a move that critics denounced as a “stupid and reckless” mistake that would fuel nuclear weapons production, alienate allies, and increase the threat of conflict.

Despite resistance within the administration and from key allies abroad, Bolton wants the United States to bail on the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) on the grounds that Russia is violating the agreement, sources briefed on the effort told the Guardian. Continue reading

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Senate Dems Threaten Suit to Get Kavanaugh Records as Poll Shows Trump Nominee Least Popular in Decades

“Not only is Brett Kavanaugh extreme, he’s wildly unpopular. The momentum is on our side, and we’re not done yet.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-16-2018

While Senate Democrats continue to fight for records pertaining to President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaughthreatening on Thursday to sue the National Archives for documents detailing his time working for the second Bush administration—a new poll from CNN revealed Kavanaugh is the least popular nominee in more than three decades.

The survey (pdf), conducted by SSRS and published Thursday, found that only 37 percent of Americans want the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh, which CNN noted “is the lowest in polling dating back to Robert Bork’s nomination by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.” Forty percent of those polled said they oppose Trump’s nominee, while 22 percent said they have no opinion. Continue reading

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Finnish Newspaper Greets Trump and Putin With Billboards Defending ‘Free Press’

With protesters in the streets of Helsinki, U.S. and Russian presidents get cold and critical greeting in nation’s capital city

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-15-2018

Finland’s largest newspaper put out clear markers for both President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin ahead of a one-on-one meeting in Helsinki on Monday. (Photo: Helsingin Sanomat/Finland)

Like every other place the U.S. president has traveled in Europe over the last week, large protests also took place in the Finnish capitol of Helsinki on Sunday—a day ahead of a highly anticipated and much-hyped meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.

Both leaders were also greeted with a large billboard advertisement purchased by Helsingin Sanomat, the nation’s largest newspaper, which bashed the Trump and Putin as being enemies of journalism and a free press. Continue reading

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Fighting Resolution to Restrict Baby Formula Sales and Promote Breastfeeding, Trump Officials Threatened Funding Cuts

“What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-8-2018

As baby formula sales have gone down in welathy countries in recent years, the baby food industry has targeted developing countries with marketing campaigns. A UN resolution passed this spring—despite pushback from the U.S.—aimed to promote breastfeeding around the world. (Photo: USAID/Flickr/cc)

International delegates to the United Nation’s World Health Assembly looked on at the group’s recent meeting, as U.S. representatives appeared to put the interests of the $70 billion baby food industry ahead of those of parents and children—and pressured other countries to do the same.

The New York Times reported Sunday that American officials, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, attempted to strongarm Ecuadorean delegates out of introducing a resolution to encourage and support breastfeeding and urge governments to restrict misleading marketing claims about baby formula.  Continue reading

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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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6 Reasons We Should All Hope Trump Doesn’t Add John Bolton to His Cabinet

The president’s rumored replacement for H.R. McMaster is an Islamophobic ultrahawk.

By Jacob Sugarman. Published 3-15-2018 by AlterNet

John Bolton. Screenshot: Fox News

 

Earlier this week, Donald Trump tapped a charter member of the Tea Party to lead the State Department and an established torturer to head the CIA. Both appointments were perfectly monstrous, but if there is a governing law of this administration, it’s that things can always get worse. Consider the president’s rumored replacement for national security adviser H.R. McMaster: According to multiple outlets, Trump has met with John Bolton at the White House and could offer him the position as early as next week.

That the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has the president’s ear at all should be a cause for concern. Over the course of his checkered career, Bolton has proven himself a hawk of the first order, enthusiastically endorsing the war in Iraq and more recently calling for a first strike on North Korea. He’d almost certainly encourage Trump to flex his military might, and with the president’s approval numbers floundering and a wave election looming, there’s every reason to believe Trump could take his advice. Continue reading

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Trump, Congress and the case for Treason

What happens when a sitting president kicks the legs of Democracy’s stool?

Written by Carol Benedict

President Donald Trump delivered his 2018 State of the Union address on January 20, 2018. Since that time, the consequences and ramifications put forth in that speech are still being discussed after having set new precedents to the tone, nature and policies spelled out to the American people.

Congress has always held the tradition that when the sitting president delivers these speeches, the opposing party withholds applause and ovations for most the speech, and only the most basic and inarguable points receive unanimous approval. Like all traditions in Washington since Trump’s inauguration, this too has now changed.

Agreeing with a critic who called the actions of the democrats “treasonous” and “un-American” for not applauding policies they disagree with, Trump has taken a step into an entirely new territory that should have caused alarm bells to go for all.

“You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy, wild—they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news—really positive news, like that—they were like death and un-American. Un-American,” the president said. “Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

The White House quickly defended Trump’s words, saying it was meant as a joke. When the President of the United States makes a JOKE of calling for the DEATHS of the opposing party’s members of Congress, we have entered a perception and introduction to authoritarian rule and dictatorship. Opposing the president is not punishable by death in the US, and to suggest otherwise demonstrates total ignorance or self-absorption. In fact, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution provides for the right of every American to not only disagree with the government or even the President, but to also assemble together to make their grievances known. Most people know this concept as “protest” or “dissent.”

In service to our country, we have put together a short refresher course about the history of Treason charges in the US since World War II. Let’s begin with what the law states as the punishment for Treason.

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

One person convicted of treason was Tomoya Kawakita, a Japanese-American sentenced to death in 1952 for tormenting American prisoners of war during World War II. Even such a clear-cut case created qualms; Kawakita was commuted to a life sentence and was eventually deported to Japan and barred from ever entering the United States again.

On June 19, 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed after being convicted of committing espionage for the Soviet Union. They were accused of transmitting nuclear weapon designs to the Soviet Union; at that time the United States was the only country with nuclear weapons. They were also accused of providing top-secret information about radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines to the USSR. Espionage is considered a treasonable act.

Treason is a serious, non-jokable charge with very unfunny consequences. But don’t overlook this as just another benign statement from an overly-vociferous president. What he is actually demanding here is a One Party System that does not allow dissent or protest, that prevents a press from publishing negative articles and results in job losses of federal employees who oppose his authority.

His latest claim is that if he does not get his way on immigration, he will shut down the government. This holds the American people hostage and in economic jeopardy and is questionably illegal.

The irony in all of this is that for all intents and purposes, this president has walked up to the line of committing Treason himself, and is so close in reality that only legal experts can parse out if or why he has not actually committed that crime. In psychology, this is called “Projectionalism;” to accuse others of what you are carry inside yourself.

Since taking office, Trump has assembled quite a laundry list of things he has done for the benefit of the Russian government.

* Shortly after his inauguration, Russian officials were invited to an Oval Office meeting, in which Trump revealed to Foreign Minister Lavrov secrets that compromised the coordination of intelligence gathering with Israeli operatives, jeopardizing Israeli and the U.S. ability to track down terrorists and proliferates.
* Following the events in the Ukraine in 2014 and Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Congress imposed sanctions against Russia and individual operatives of the Russian government. Since taking office, Trump has refused to take actions to impose these sanctions, despite the fact the law requires him to do so.
* The recent meeting in the United States dealing with cybersecurity and counterterrorism between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the heads of Russia’s intelligence agencies, one of which is included in the above mentioned sanctions and not allowed travel to the US.
* The Gasleys, a tanker carrying Russian LPG, docked in Boston and unloaded its cargo recently. Russia’s gas and oil industry is currently under sanctions, or is supposed to be at any rate.
* The Nunes memo and the Republican efforts to discredit the FBI and other intelligence services as a way to slow or stop Robert Mueller’s investigation has weakened the trust between Congress and the intelligence community, and has shown sources that their identities may not be protected.
* On April 7, 2017, the Trump administration launched a cruise missile strike against Shayrat airbase in Syria. The US launched 58 cruise missiles at the base, yet the base was operational within two days of the attack. Why? Because Trump had warned the Russians about the attack, so most of the planes, etc. had been moved before the missiles were even launched.

Moreover, words in the State of the Union address called for extending presidential powers and other non-restrictive measures which, in effect, abolish the Rule of Law for the President and his Administration’s activities.

America is now teetering on the balance between being ruled, not governed; in complete spineless fear, the GOP clenches their power at the cost of democracy and nation, shredding the ideals of the Constitution as fast as this administration has shed regulations protecting the American people, environment, public lands and diverse society.

At the fulcrum, we wait for something – anything – to prevent further decay of the country once known as a shining example of democracy.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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