Juan Cole: John Kerry acknowledges Israeli apartheid and 5 ways he is understating it

Juan Cole: John Kerry acknowledges Israeli apartheid and 5 ways he is understating it

“Israel itself was ethnically cleansed of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948, and was designated ‘Jewish,’ such that the expelled Palestinians (now millions strong) were denied the right to return to their homes.  Some 70% of the residents of the Gaza Strip are from southern Israel, and cannot return to their nearby homes in cities such as Sderot, where Israelis have settled Ethiopians and Thai guest workers.  In the Palestinian West Bank, some 600,000 Israeli squatters have usurped significant amounts of land from Palestinians, for which they paid nothing to the original owners, and their squatter settlements are off-limits to Palestinians, who cannot live in them.”


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Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race

Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race

The US is still responsible for the vast majority of drone strikes, but that may have more to do with politics than capability. A GAO report from 2012 found that more than 75 countries have some form of drone system. Most are unarmed but some, like the systems used in Australia, Japan, and Singapore, could be retrofitted for military purpose. More importantly, the US’ use of drones — more than 50 strikes in 2013 alone— seems to have whetted a global appetite for combat drones. ‘If you think of this as part of a broader trend of the proliferation of military robotics, then the idea that we were going to have a monopoly on this kind of technology was always a bit far-fetched,’ says University of Pennsylvania political scientist Michael Horowitz. ‘The American monopoly on drones is over and probably never really existed.'”

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US senators remove requirement for disclosure over drone strike victims

US senators remove requirement for disclosure over drone strike victims

“At the behest of the director of national intelligence, US senators have removed a provision from a major intelligence bill that would require the president to publicly disclose information about drone strikes and their victims.

The bill authorizing intelligence operations in fiscal 2014 passed out of the Senate intelligence committee in November, and it originally required the president to issue an annual public report clarifying the total number of ‘combatants’ and ‘noncombatant civilians’ killed or injured by drone strikes in the previous year. It did not require the White House to disclose the total number of strikes worldwide.”


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CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

“Brandon Bryant, a former US Predator operator, told the film he decided to speak out after senior officials in the Obama administration gave a briefing last year in which they said they wanted to “transfer” control of the CIA’s secret drones programme to the military.

Bryant said this was disingenuous because it was widely known in military circles that the US air force was already involved.

‘There is a lie hidden within that truth. And the lie is that it’s always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been.'”


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Hobby Lobby retirement plan invests heavily in contraception manufacturers

Hobby Lobby retirement plan invests heavily in contraception manufacturers

Redden examined documents filed with the Department of Labor three months after the company’s owners filed the lawsuit challenging the contraception provision of the Affordable Care Act and found that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) ‘held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions.'”

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GM saved $1 per faulty car

GM saved $1 per faulty car

According to an internal document given to U.S. congressional investigators, in 2005 General Motors did not change the ignition switch in cars that have been linked to at least 13 deaths, because it would have added roughly a dollar to the cost of each car.”

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The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

“Now we have McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Court, in yet another controversial 5-4 opinionwritten by Roberts, struck down the limits on how much an individual can contribute to candidates, parties and political action committees. So instead of an individual donor being allowed to give $117,000 to campaigns, parties and PACs in an election cycle (the aggregate limit in 2012), they can now give up to $3.5 million, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reports. 

The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.”


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In support of #CancelColbert: why Stephen Colbert needs to make this right

In support of #CancelColbert: why Stephen Colbert needs to make this right

“I sent a few #CancelColbert tweets in solidarity, making it clear that racism (and ethnic insensitivity and Orientalism) is simply unacceptable. And I was most disheartened to receive several tweets and Facebook replies from black people defending the show. Though none of them used the word, the gist of many of the replies was to explain to me that the tweet was part of a satire — a satire meant to critique racism — and as such, the show shouldn’t be canceled, because Asian Americans were just being hypersensitive and overreacting to something designed actually to help.

How soon we forget!”


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UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

“Asserting that obligation is core to the report. ‘In essence, the report states that it is governments who now bear the legal burden of explaining the strikes,” Knuckey writes. The report also recommends that the UN “set-up a panel of experts to discuss and report on the legal issues raised by the use of drones for targeted killings.'”

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Obama will never end the War on Terror

Obama will never end the War on Terror

“What began as one horrific attack 13 years ago and a simple, 60-word Authorization for the Use of Military Force three days later has morphed all but unnoticed into a war with no name or parameters—against an enemy that the government will no longer even officially identify, on battlefields that didn’t exist when the measure hurriedly passed Congress.

And as the Yemen strike suggests, the war hardly appears to be winding down. Nor do U.S. forces seem to be getting much better at avoiding “collateral damage.” The grave but very real danger is that this strangest of wars will never end, certainly not before the expiration of Obama’s second term. And his successors may be left with nearly the entire unresolved mess: an open-ended war authorization and inchoate rules for drone and special operations, the promised-but-never-carried-through closing of Guantánamo Bay, and a National Security Agency that’s still not sure whom or what it can spy on.”

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