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  •  How Did 3 American Commandos and 3 Moroccan Women End Up Dead at the Bottom of the Niger River?

     

    Inside the shadowy operations of the US Africa Command.

     
     

    By 

     

    Nick Turse 

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    April 21, 2015

  •  This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.
  •  [Note for TomDispatch Readers: We have news and a special offer for TomDispatchreaders today. As all TD obsessives know, for the last two years award-winning journalist Nick Turse has been covering a striking development tenaciously and practically alone: the “pivot” of US Africa Command to that continent. It’s a major story that, at the moment, simply can’t be found elsewhere and it’s now in book form, thanks to our growing publishing program at Dispatch Books. Its title: Tomorrow’s Battlefield: United States Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and it’s that ominous “tomorrow” that catches just why we should all be concerned. Right now, when you think of war, American-style, what comes to mind is Iraq or Afghanistan or maybe Libya or even Yemen, but as Turse makes clear, tomorrow it could be Mali, or Nigeria, or Niger, or dozens of other places on the African continent. This story should be a significant beat for the mainstream media, but as of now almost no one’s paying attention except, of course, the US military—and TomDispatch. Glenn Greenwald calls Nick’s new book “gripping and meticulous… his investigations… reveal a secret war with grave implications for Africans and Americans alike.” Noam Chomsky says, “Nick Turse’s investigative reporting has revealed a remarkable picture of evolving US military operations in Africa that have been concealed from view, but have ominous portent, as he demonstrates vividly and in depth.” That’s why, both for your own information and to support a small operation that does big things, you really should pick up a copy of Nick’s remarkable new book of reportage, available now and officially published in a few days. (If you want to order it directly from our publisher, the stalwart and remarkable Haymarket Books, just click here and then, for a special publication date discount of 40%, enter this code, TBF40, at checkout.)

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  • Obama's Top Secret Drone War 'Illegally' Commanded From Germany
  • New evidence has emerged on the 'top secret' drone war being carried out by US President Barack Obama's administration suggesting its main European centre of operations is in Germany, and may be in breach of German, or even international law.

    New documents obtained by The Intercept and Der Spiegel show that the huge US base at Ramstein, in south west Germany, is the European centre of operations for Obama's drone war against Islamist terror. 

     

    The graphics in the documents show that Ramstein is involved in virtually every US Air Force drone attack. Even if the pilots are directing the drones from Air Force bases in Nevada, Arizona or Missouri, and even if the targets are located on the Horn of Africa or the Arab Peninsula, USAFE headquarters at Ramstein is almost always involved.

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    • The Pentagon is trying to recruit Silicon Valley to join 'Team America' 

        

      Will techies do a tour of duty in 'the force of the future'?

        
  • The Pentagon just closed out a two-day tour to win the hearts, minds, and technical talent of Silicon Valley.

     

    At a lecture at Stanford yesterday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter discussed plans to recruit engineers to the Pentagon’s new cybersecurity force, invest in startups, and establish a Defense Department outpost here in the hoodie of innovation. Next he dropped by Facebook to meet with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Today, Carter power-brunched at Andreessen Horowitz’s headquarters, where he met Peter Thiel and Ben Horowitz, as well as CEOs from security startups in the firm’s portfolio.

  • The visit represents what locals might call a "pivot" at the Pentagon. Critics call it "a long-delayed shift" in recognizing cyber attacks as a national security threat. The last time a Defense Department chief came to Silicon Valley was the mid-1990s, before everyone started walking around taking selfies with a tracking device in their hand.

    Carter's plan goes beyond repairing damaged relationships with tech leaders. In order to fight cyberterrorism, the Pentagon intends to take advantage of technological advancements by forging partnerships, investing, and setting up shop next door. While they're at it, his agency would also love to borrow some of the Bay Area's brainiac engineers.

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  • Former U.N. Envoy Says Yemen Political Deal was Close Before Saudi Airstrikes Began

      

    Campaign derailed agreement that could have averted conflict

    • Putin claims intercepted phone calls prove US helped Chechen Islamic insurgents wage war against Russia

       
      • Putin said calls show contact between insurgents and US secret services 
      • He claimed US helped Chechen extremists wage war against Russia
      • President said George Bush promised to 'kick the ass' of officers involved
      • He made claims in documentary aired today on state-owned Russian TV
       
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that intercepted phone calls prove the US helped Chechen Islamic insurgents wage war against Russia.

    In a documentary aired today on state-owned Rossiya-1 TV channel, he said phone records from the early 2000s show direct contact between North Caucasus separatists and US secret services. 

    'At one point our secret services simply detected direct contacts between militants from the North Caucasus and representatives of the United States secret services in Azerbaijan,' Putin said.

    Putin said he raised the issue with then-US President George W. Bush, who promised to 'kick the ass' of the intelligence officers in question.

  • But he claimed a few days later the heads of Russia's FSB received a letter from their American counterparts, which said they had the right to support opposition forces in Russia.

    'Someone over there, especially the West's intelligence services, obviously thought that if they act to destabilize their main geopolitical rival, which, as we now understand, in their eyes has always been Russia, it would be good for them. It turned out, it wasn't,' Putin said.

    He said he had warned the West about the possible dangers of supporting terrorists.

    Following a disastrous war in the 1990s, Russia fought Islamic insurgents in Chechnya and neighboring regions in the volatile North Caucasus.

    'They were actually helping them, even with transportation,' Putin said. 

    The documentary 'The President' showed Putin being interviewed at the Kremlin in the dimly-lit St. Alexander's Hall. 

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  • Putin says 'no regrets' on Crimea

      2015-04-26 20:31
  • Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that he had no regrets over Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and that it was righting a historical injustice.

    "I think we did the right thing and I don't regret a thing," Putin said of his decision to take back the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine, interviewed in a state television documentary.

  • "When we defend our [interests], we go to the end," Putin said.

    "If people want to return to Russia and don't want to be under the authority of neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists and followers of [Stepan] Bandera, then we don't have the right to abandon them," Putin said.

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    Bandera was the hugely controversial anti-Soviet wartime leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which both fought against and collaborated with occupying Nazi forces.

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  • War by Other Means

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  • By Ray Ja,

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  • It has been confirmed that TV journalist Richard Engel’s kidnapping/rescue in norther Syria in late 2012 was a hoax. NBC management knew the story was probably false but proceeded to broadcast it anyway.
  • There are at least two good things about “Engelgate”.

     

    * It is clear evidence of mainstream media bias in their reporting and characterization of the conflict in Syria. The kidnapping was meant to show that “bad” Assad supporters had kidnapped Richard Engel only to be rescued by the Western/Turkey/Gulf supported “good” rebels. NBC management knew the scenario was dubious but promoted it anyway.

     

    * Engelgate is also proof that Syrian anti-government rebels consciously manipulated western media for political gain. An elaborate ruse was performed to demonize the Syrian government &supporters and to encourage more support for the anti-government rebels.

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  • "Col Gaddafi had predicted the Mediterranean tragedy in his last Interview": Ahmed Gaddaf

      2015-04-23 13:10:01
  • London

    Going public for the first time, a senior member of the Gaddafi clan has laid the blame of the migrant shipwreck that killed about 950 people on the western countries which helped overthrow Colonel Gaddafi.

      

    Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, a former minister and Muammar Gaddafi's cousin, said the 'overwhelming chaos' in Libya "has become a shame that will haunt the countries that had participated in the destruction of the Libyan armed forces in 2011".

      

    About 800 people are believed to have died when a fishing boat carrying migrants overturned off Libyan waters, south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, shortly after midnight on Sunday.

      

    Mr Gaddaf al-Dam, whose supporters claim could be Libya's next president, said western countries have shed "the tears of crocodiles over democracy and human rights".  

  • "The missiles of NATO have installed the gangsters instead of the regime," he said.

      

    "I express my astonishment. How have super power countries, members of the Security Council, been incapable of realising that they are committing such a crime and not foreseeing the consequences?"

      

    "What happened in Libya, Syria and Iraq may extend everywhere... and will burn all the fingers that have participated in it." 

      

    He described the situation in Libya since the fall of his cousin as a 'continuing tragedy'. Mr Gaddaf al-Dam claimed a third of the population had been displaced, men and women had been imprisoned and are subjected to torture, and towns are cities are bombed.  

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  • Before Dangers at Sea, African Migrants Face Perils of a Lawless Libya
  • APRIL 27, 2015

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  • Faculty in Canada may not need rules for using social media, observers say

     

    Academics say the climate around free speech differs in Canada from the U.S.

     
      By ELIZABETH RAYMER | April 27, 2015
  • On August 1, 2014, U.S. professor Steven G. Salaita was anticipating starting a new job at the University of Illinois’s Urbana-Champaign campus in two weeks’ time: a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program, which Dr. Salaita had accepted in writing the previous October. That day, though, he received an emailed letter from the university rescinding the job offer. His appointment was subject to approval by the university’s board of trustees, and the appointment would not be submitted to the board, he was told in a letter from Phyllis Wise, chancellor of the University of Illinois.

     

    Dr. Salaita, a frequent and public critic of Israel and an author of two books about Israel-Palestine, had been tweeting on his personal Twitter account during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip that summer; some of his language was provocative and the university said it received multiple complaints.

  • Following Dr. Salaita’s firing, academics weighed in on whether it was justified, or whether his academic freedom had been violated. Some scholars threatened to boycott the University of Illinois’s conferences and events if Dr. Salaita was not reinstated. Peter Kirstein, vice-president of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors, told the Chicago Tribune it was a question of “academic freedom and due process.”

     

    “He could have been a little more careful in the language he used, but he had the right” to express his opinions,” said Dr. Kirstein, a history professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago.

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  • Censure Threat

        
     
           
      April 28, 2015
        
     
       

    By

         
  • There’s been no shortage of criticism, both formal and informal, of how the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign handled the withdrawn faculty appointment of Steven Salaita last summer. (The university has a substantial number of supporters who say it was right to reject Salaita for the tone of his anti-Israel remarks on Twitter, but detractors have been numerous and vocal.) The latest disapproving report, out today from the American Association of University Professors, offers familiar complaints and also paves the way for the organization to hold a censure vote against the university later this spring.

      

    The AAUP isn’t a regulatory body, but institutions generally hope to avoid landing on its censure list for alleged violations of academic freedom and sometimes work hard to remove themselves once on it. So any vote could amount to the biggest consequence yet for the university, since Salaita’s First Amendment and breach of contract lawsuit against the institution and the financial donors he alleges forced its hand is still pending.

  • “If nothing changes, [a censure vote] is most likely something that will happen,” said Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at California State University at East Bay and chair of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which issued the report. Of the report more generally, he said, “This is a reminder of what the AAUP has essentially been advocating for 100 years, which is that faculty expressions of their political views as citizens should not be used as a criterion for whether they should be hired or fired, unless of course those views can be shown to be part of a broader case against their fitness for teaching and research. And that is very visibly not the case here.”

      

    Salaita’s case also demonstrates that faculty members should enjoy free personal expression even on social media, and that universities should align their hiring and appointment policies with institutional norms, Reichman said.

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  • Anti-Black racism, always just beneath the surface of polite racial discourse in the U.S., has exploded in reaction to the resistance of black youth to another brutal murder by the agents of this racist, settler-colonialist state. With the resistance, the focus shifted from the brutal murder of Freddie Gray and the systematic state violence that historically has been deployed to control and contain the black population in the colonized urban zones of North America, to the forms of resistance by African Americans to the trauma of ongoing state violence.
  • The narrative being advanced by corporate media spokespeople gives the impression that the resistance has no rational basis. The impression being established is that this is just another manifestation of the irrationality of non-European people – in particular, Black people – and how they are prone to violence. This is the classic colonial projection employed by all white supremacist settler states, from the U.S., to South Africa and Israel.

     

    The accompanying narrative is that any kind of resistance that does not fit the narrow definition of “non-violent” resistance is illegitimate violence and, therefore, counter-productive because – “violence doesn’t accomplish anything.” Not only does this position falsely equates resistance to oppression as being morally equivalent to the violence of the oppressor, it also attempts to erase the role of violence as being fundamental to the U.S. colonial project.

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  • As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary — a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination.  Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, “Caliph” of the Islamic State, was reportedly seriously wounded in a March airstrike and thereby removed from day-to-day control of the organization. In January, as the White House belatedly admitted, a strike targeting al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan also managed to kill an American, Warren Weinstein, and his fellow hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto.
  • More recently in Yemen, even as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took control of a key airport, an American drone strike killed Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, allegedly an important figure in the group’s hierarchy.  Meanwhile, the Saudi news channel al-Arabiya has featured a deck of cards bearing pictures of that country’s principal enemies in Yemen in emulation of the infamous cards issued by the U.S. military prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq as an aid to targeting its leaders.  (Saddam Hussein was the ace of spades.)

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  • President Barack Obama stood behind the podium and apologized for inadvertently killing two Western hostages – including one American – during a drone strike in Yemen. Obama said, “one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional, is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.” In his 2015 state of the union address, Obama described America as “exceptional.” When he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, he said, “Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional.”
  • American exceptionalism reflects the belief that Americans are somehow better than everyone else. This view reared its head after the 2013 leak of a Department of Justice White Paper that describes circumstances under which the President can order the targeted killing of U.S. citizens. There had been little public concern in this country about drone strikes that killed people in other countries. But when it was revealed that U.S. citizens could be targeted, Americans were outraged. This motivated Senator Rand Paul to launch his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director.

     

    It is this double standard that moved Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, in which he asked, “Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours?” (When I saw that letter, I immediately invited Archbishop Tutu to write the foreword to my book, “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” He graciously agreed and he elaborates on that sentiment in the foreword).

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  • In August 1936 nearly 20,000 excited spectators filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. That hanging would be the last public execution in America.

     

    Although states across this country have banned executions in public as barbaric, some contend that the American public is again witnessing the spectacle of a public execution. This time it is an inmate in Pennsylvania that evidence indicates is experiencing a barbaric ‘slow execution’ through calculated medical mistreatment and medical neglect.

  • Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most widely known prison inmate in America, is gravely ill, hardly able to walk or talk because of severe complications related largely to the diabetes which medical personnel inside a Pennsylvania prison failed to diagnose for months. Those prison personnel either did not detect the diabetes earlier this year while giving Abu-Jamal numerous blood tests that easily identify the elevated blood sugar levels of diabetes or did not inform Abu-Jamal of the blood test results .

     

    That failure to find his raging diabetes – a disease easy to diagnose and easy to treat — led to Abu-Jamal’s emergency hospitalization at the end of March, after he collapsed, unconscious and in sugar shock. At the time he was finally transported to the hospital, Abu-Jamal was on the verge of a potentially fatal diabetic coma.

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  • Kahnawake mixed couple subject of 'marry out, stay out' protest

     
     

    Mohawk man, non-native wife say they are afraid for their family's safety

     

        By Tanya Birkbeck, CBC News    Posted: May 02, 2015

  • Dozens of protesters spent Saturday demonstrating in front of a house in Kahnawake, Que., where a Mohawk man lives with his non-native wife.
  • Marvin and Terry McComber woke up Saturday morning to spray-painted graffiti on the front of their two-storey yellow house, and on their daughter's car.

     

    Terry McComber told CBC News she feels intimidated by the protesters, and fears for the safety of her children.

     

    The protesters say the couple is breaking a law that has been on the books in Kahnawake since 1981. It states that any Mohawk resident who marries or lives with a non-native must move away from Kahnawake.

     

    Nineteen-year-old resident Keisha Goodleaf is among the protesters outside the McComber home.

     

    "Well I am here because I was raised [knowing that] you marry out, you get out. We all knew that. Everyone in town grew up knowing that," Goodleaf says.

     

    She says she is worried about losing native land, language and culture.

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  • ​Response-ability to protect? Ft. Jennifer Welsh, UN Special Adviser on R2P 

  • The Responsibility to Protect doctrine was born out of the need to prevent the most horrific war crimes and atrocities. But its implementation in recent conflicts has arguably led to more harm than it has prevented. Can humanitarian interventions be disentangled from the geopolitical interests of the intervening parties? And how can we hold those claiming the right to intervene accountable for their actions under international law? Oksana is joined by Dr Jennifer Welsh, UN special adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, to discuss these issues.
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