United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

CALENDAR: Save these dates -- Fri., Jan. 10 & Sat., Feb. 8!

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UFPPC will cosponsor an important event in Tacoma on Sat., Feb. 8: a joint presentation by nationally known whistleblowers Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake at the Washington State History Museum.  --  While this event will be free to the public, it involves considerable expense, and on Fri., Jan. 10, at the Tacoma Urban League, we're having a fundraising party to help raise money to defray some of the expenses of the event.  --  So please put these events on your calendar, and help us spread the word about them.  --  See below for more information on these events.[1] ...

Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2013 23:55 Read more...
 

COMMENTARY: In historic shift, Chinese 'furiously brushing up on their Mahan' (P. Escobar)

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Things are getting more complicated in East Asia.  --  "Communication had better be damned 'effective' from now on as China asserts itself as a rising sea power and it's obviously unclear who can really do what in the South as well as the East China Sea, not to mention the oceans beyond," observed Pepe Escobar on Wednesday on the Asia Times Online website.[1]  --  Escobar referred to a January 2013 article in the South China Morning Post, reproduced below, noting that it was in November 2012 that President Hu Jintao "for the first time declared China's ambition to 'build itself into a maritime power.'"[2]  --  According to Cary Huang, "the overwhelming belief among the establishment and academics is that China, which has growing influence over many of its smaller Asian neighbors, should be more than just a continental power, as its land-based strategic culture constrained its ability to become a global power."  --  Chinese academic research and internal discussion show "reverence" for the 1890 classic of geostrategy by Alfred Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783, Huang said.  --  He quoted Professor John Lee of the University of Sydney:  "China has been a continental power for several centuries.  --  The shift from continental to maritime power and in military doctrine is inherently unsettling for all Asian states."  --  Meanwhile, the U.S. is continuing a "strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region" that "will see 60 per cent of U.S. warships move to the region by the end of the decade.  --  That's a plan Beijing believes is intended to contain a rising China.  --  It's a plan that will lead to two maritime giants congesting a shrinking ocean." ...

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NEWS: Israel lobby aiming to push sanctions bill through Congress, torpedo White House Iran initiative

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In "the biggest test of the political clout of the Israel lobby . . . in decades," a struggle is looming over a bill intended to sabotage the P5+1 effort to resolve peacefully the stand-off with Iran over its nuclear program, Inter Press Service reported Saturday.[1]  --  The White House says President Obama will veto the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" if it is passed, but supporters of the bill are banking on being able to overcome a veto.  --  The main battle, Jim Lobe said, will take place "within the Democratic majority," where "loyalty to Obama" will be up against "fear that new sanctions will indeed derail negotiations and thus make war more likely, . . . general antipathy for Iran, and the influence exerted by AIPAC and associated groups as a result of the questionable perception that Israel’s security is uppermost in the minds of Jewish voters and campaign contributors (who, by some estimates, provide as much as 40 percent of political donations to Democrats in national campaigns)."  --  "Since it lost a major battle with former President Ronald Reagan over a huge arms sale to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, the Israel lobby has generally avoided directly confronting a sitting president, but, at this point, it appears determined to take on Obama over Iran."  --  Lobe quoted a former senior AIPAC executive who suggested that AIPAC's motivation may be self-interest:  AIPAC's leaders are said to be "terrified they’re going to lose their major fund-raising appeal" if the Iran-P5+1 stand-off is resolved...

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 December 2013 05:29 Read more...
 

VIDEO: On the social-psychological effects of wealth and status

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"The wealthier you are, the more likely  you are to pursue a vision of personal success, of achievement and accomplishment, to the detriment of others around you."  --  This, U.C. Berkeley psychologist Paul Piff says, is the conclusion supported by dozens of social psychology experiments he and colleagues have carried out.  --  Piff discussed his findings in a 16-minute TED talk delivered in October.[1]  --  They suggest that increasing levels of inequality like those that increasingly characterize American society will inevitably lead to less social mobility, lower economic growth, a more stunted community life, a decline in levels of social trust, lower life expectancy, poorer educational performance, and poorer physical health.  --  At the same time, they tend to cause obesity, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, and rates of violence, imprisonment, and punishment to rise.  --  On a more positive note, studies by Piff and others show that reminders and "nudges" recalling the value of cooperation, community, and compassion can revive benevolence in persons possessing greater wealth and status...

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 December 2013 15:46 Read more...
 

COMMENTARY: 'Time for team in White House & NSA to stop defending indefensible'

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On Tuesday the CEO and editor of Foreign Policy urged President Obama to "stop defending the indefensible," fire the head of the NSA, and admit that "There is no justification for the systematic abuses by the NSA or for the defense of those abuses by the president and his team."  --  The emperor has no clothes:  "[T]he U.S. government has committed the most grotesque violation of the principles on which it was founded since its acceptance of the mechanisms of racism and sexism of the past century," said David Rothkopf.  --  "Don't wait for appeals to make their way through the judiciary to do what is right."  --   And, he added, it is time that Americans stop debating whether Edward Snowden was right to do what he did and debate instead whether James Madison, the architect of the United States Constitution, was right when he said:  "If tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."  --  And:  "The means of defence against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home."  --  And:  "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."  --  And:  "All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree."  --  And:  "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 07:37 Read more...
 

NEWS: Judge rules NSA 'may not hang a cloak of secrecy over the Constitution'

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Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Monday "that the mass collection of metadata probably violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and was 'almost Orwellian' in its scope. . . . [H]e said James Madison, the architect of the U.S. Constitution, would be 'aghast' at the scope of the agency’s collection of Americans' communications data," the London Guardian reported.[1]  --  The ruling, which was greeted by Edward Snowden by a rare statement saying it vindicated his whistleblowing, "sets up a legal battle that will drag on for months, almost certainly destined to end up in the Supreme Court," Spencer Ackerman and Dan Roberts said.  --  The New York Times noted that "The case is the first in which a federal judge who is not on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorized the once-secret program, has examined the bulk data collection on behalf of someone who is not a criminal defendant."[2]  --  "Judge Leon, appointed to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush, stayed his injunction 'in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues,' allowing the government time to appeal it, which he said could take at least six months," Charlie Savage said....

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ANALYSIS: Saudi money is financing a 'rerun of Afghanistan' in Syria

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In the aftermath of the Free Syrian Army's commander being run out of northern Syria by the Islamic Front, "[c]onfusion over what is happening is so great that Western leaders may not pay as much of a political price at home as they should for the failure of their Syrian policy," veteran Mideast correspondent Patrick Cockburn said in the London Independent on Thursday.[1]  --  "[I]t is worth recalling that the Syrian National Coalition and the FSA are the same people for whom the U.S. and U.K. almost went to war in August . . . The recent debacle shows how right public opinion in both countries was to reject military intervention."  --  The Saudis' "limitless funds" are a big part of the problem, Cockburn said.  --  "[T]his summer . . . Saudi Arabia took over from Qatar as chief supporter of the rebels."  --  However, "it looks highly unlikely that Saudi money will be enough to bring down or even significantly weaken Assad though it may be enough to keep a war going for years."  --  "The U.S., Britain, and France do not have many options left except to try to control the jihadi Frankenstein’s monster that they helped create in Syria and which is already helping destabilize Iraq and Lebanon."  --  "All U.S., British, and French miscalculations have produced in Syria is a re-run of Afghanistan in the 1980s, creating a situation the ruinous consequences of which have yet to appear.  --  As jihadis in Syria realize they are not going to win, they may well look for targets closer to home." ...

Last Updated on Monday, 16 December 2013 06:50 Read more...
 

NEWS: US unable to determine extent of Snowden's leaks

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After spending hundreds of hours trying to reconstruct how Edward Snowden obtained the classified documents whose leaking has rocked the U.S. national security state establishment, officials have "concluded that they may never know the entirety of what" he took, "partly because the NSA facility in Hawaii where Mr. Snowden worked -- unlike other NSA facilities -- was not equipped with up-to-date software," the New York Times reported Saturday.[1]  --  Although Snowden has said he gave all the documents he downloaded to journalists and kept no additional copies, "[i]n recent days, a senior NSA official has told reporters that he believed Mr. Snowden still had access to documents not yet disclosed," Mark Mazzetti and Michael Schmidt said.  --  "The official, Rick Ledgett, who is heading the security agency’s task force examining Mr. Snowden’s leak, said he would consider recommending amnesty for Mr. Snowden in exchange for those documents." ...

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BACKGROUND & COMMENTARY: China's 'Confucius Institutes' are antithetical to university values

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In a 7,000-word article published in October in The Nation, anthropologist Marshall Sahlins made a strong argument against the China-subsidized Confucius Institutes that are being set up in more and more universities in the U.S. and elsewhere.[1]  --  Confucius Institutes are unquestionably part of China's "overseas propaganda set-up," to use Politburo Li Changchun's phrase.  --  "[B]y hosting a Confucius Institute," Sahlins argued, univeristies "have become engaged in the political and propaganda efforts of a foreign government in a way that contradicts the values of free inquiry and human welfare to which they are otherwise committed."  --  According to Sahlins, by limiting instruction to Standard Chinese Characters, the Chinese government is guaranteeing that the scholars these institutes produce will be "only semi-literate in Chinese" and will be "[u]nable to read the classics except in versions translated and interpreted in the PRC."[1]  --  Because "the model agreement establishing [Confucius Institute] . . . is secret," it is hard to evaluate their operation.  --  But Sahlins accused American universities of being "concerned only with their parochial welfare as academic institutions."  --  "Directly or indirectly, but ever-increasingly, American institutions of higher learning are heavily dependent on Chinese money."  --  As an example of this, Sahlins cited the 2,062 students from China at the Univ. of Iowa, where 21% of business school students are Chinese.  --  "The number of students from mainland China grew from 98,235 in 2008-09 to 127,628 in 2009-10 and 157,558 in 2010-11."  --  C.I.s "endow most affiliated universities with an initial fee of $100,000 or $150,000 and annual payments along the same lines for the duration of the contract, as well as free instructors, textbooks, and course materials, a number of scholarships for study in China, and upscale, wine-and-dine junkets to China for American administrators."  --  NOTE:  In Washington State, a "Confucius Institute of the State of Washington" was set up in 2009 with an agreement signed by the University of Washington and Seattle Public Schools....

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 December 2013 02:08 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND: AP reveals Robert Levinson was working for CIA when he disappeared in Iran

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The longstanding mystery of Robert Levinson's disappearance lost some of its mystery on Thursday, when AP decided to publish a story about the nature of Robert Levinson's activities when he disappeared in March 2007 in Iran.[1] ...

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NEWS: Hersh report on White House’s Syria lies blacked out in US mainstream media

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Seymour’s Hersh important exposé of White House misrepresentations about the Aug. 21 sarin attack in Syria and mainstream media complicity in them was refused by both the New Yorker and the Washington Post before it was published on Saturday in the London Review of Books, the Huffington Post reported Sunday.[1]  --  These publications have so far refused to comment on their failure to publish the piece by Hersh, an investigative reporter of legendary stature and prestige who broke the My Lai Massacre story in 1969 and helped break the Abu Ghraib story in 2004.  --  Hersh’s information has been almost completely blacked out of major U.S. mainstream media (the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Seattle Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, CNN, etc., have made no mention of it; the Los Angeles Times did devote one sentence in passing to Hersh’s 5000-word article on Dec. 12 ).  --  Hersh has said that the Post raised sourcing issues, but a senior editor at the London Review of Books said that Hersh’s article, entitled “Whose Sarin?,” was not only edited, but thoroughly fact checked by a former New Yorker fact checker who had worked with Hersh in the past.”  --  WSWS devoted a piece on Wednesday to the news blackout, calling it “a highly conscious operation.”[2]  --  Democracy Now!, however, reported on the story on Monday, interviewing Hersh at length about his report.  --  COMMENT:  The most remarkable thing Hersh told Democracy Now! has not received any attention, as far as we know:  “[T]here was incredible opposition that will be, one of these days, written about, maybe in history books. There was incredible operation [Hersh evidently means ‘opposition’; ‘operation’ makes no sense -- there other places where the 76-year-old Hersh, who tends to ramble, misspeaks in the interview] from some very, very strong-minded, constitutionally minded people in the Pentagon.  That’s the real story.  I don’t have it.  I could just tell you I know it.” ...

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 December 2013 08:48 Read more...
 

NEWS: US freezes aid after top US-backed rebel commander 'run out' of Syria by Islamic Front

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Over the weekend, Islamist fighters kicked the top U.S.-backed rebel commander out of his HQ and he had to flee to Turkey, leading shocked Americans to conclude that the Free Syrian Army is "collapsing under the pressure of Islamist domination of the rebel side of the war" and to freeze aid to rebels in northern Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.[1]  --  "[T]there are growing signs that the SMC is losing legitimacy among the increasing ranks of Islamist rebels," said Adam Entous and Rima Abushakra....

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NEWS: NSA nibbling Google cookies in order to 'track everyone everywhere' (Wash. Post)

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Using cookies, the National Security Agency is "piggybacking" so as to "pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance," the Washington Post reported Tuesday, in another revelation based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.[1]  --  The latest disclosure "hand[ed] privacy advocates a new argument for reining in commercial surveillance," said Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman.  --  In particular, the NSA is using "a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the 'PREF' cookie" that "allows NSA to single out an individual's communications among the sea of Internet data" and "home in on someone."  --  The NSA is also "using commercially gathered information to help it locate mobile devices around the world," using "smartphone apps running on iPhones and Android devices, and the Apple and Google operating systems themselves, [that] track the location of each device."  --  The authors of the Post piece are not sure how the NSA gets its digital hands on cookie data, but believe that "cookie information is among the data NSA can obtain with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order."  --  Use of this method would mean that Google knows what the NSA is doing, but is "legally compelled to assist."  --  Cookies, Soltani, Peterson, and Gellman note in an aside, are "invisible to all but the most sophisticated users -- and the tools to opt-out or block them have limited effectiveness."  --  With this information the NSA is able "to map Internet addresses to physical locations more precisely than is possible with traditional Internet geolocation services."  --  Most people who think they have opted out can still be tracked, because "even when GPS is disabled, most smart phones silently determine their location in the background using signals from Wi-Fi networks or cellular towers," and "apps that do not need geolocation data may still collect it anyway to share with third-party advertisers." ...

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BACKGROUND: Seymour Hersh reveals White House lied about Aug. 21 sarin attack in Syria

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We were right, it turns out, to doubt claims that the U.S. government knew Syria was responsible for the sarin gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21.  --  In an important investigatory piece published by the London Review of Books, Seymour Hersh revealed that "In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports . . . citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity."[1]  --  "When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad."  --  Hersh reported "intense concern, and on occasion anger" inside the intelligence community over "what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence."  --  "The cherry-picking" of intelligence by the Obama administration, Hersh says, "was similar to the process used to justify the Iraq war."  --  Hersh also details various sorts of journalistic malfeasance by U.S. mainstream media (the Washington Post and the New York Times, especially), always willing to shelve doubts in order to maintain access to official sources.  --  It is, moreover, clear from what Hersh reports about the way the U.S. government is responding to Hersh's article that it is continuing to prevaricate about this episode.  --  In the article's conclusion, Hersh makes clear that it is unlikely that "we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria . . . It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information:  evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan."  --  COMMENT: Why is this important article being published in an erudite British publication rather than in an American mass-market magazine devoted to current affairs? ...

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NEWS: Obama estimates chances of final nuclear deal with Iran 50-50 at best

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Barack Obama appeared Saturday at a discussion organized by the the Brookings Institution's Saban Center.  --  The discussion was broadcast live to Israel.  --  Obama said he did not estimate the chances of a final P5+1 deal with Iran about its nuclear program as greater as more than "50-50," the Associated Press reported Saturday.[1]  --  Bradley Klapper and Darlene Superville called the remark "somewhat startling."  --  AFP noted that Obama is dealing with opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamain Netanyahu, who "this week slammed the international community's 'rush to accommodate' with the interim deal, describing an easing of sanctions as dangerous 'political theater.'"[2]  --   BACKGROUND:  The Saban Center was founded with money from Egyptian-born Israeli-American billionaire media mogul Haim Saban, a major presidential campaign donor who made his fortune from music for cartoons....

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NEWS: Kerry suggests 'somebody' else can sign his Afghan SOFA

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Although the U.S. has insisted it will begin to plan for a total withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2014 if the SOFA is not signed by year's end, President Hamid Karzai has added new conditions and is refusing to sign.  --  He has told others that the U.S. threat to leave is a bluff.  --  U.S. behavior supports his view:  on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that if Afghan President Hamid Karzai's intransigence would not sign the SOFA, "his minister of defense can sign it, the government can sign it, somebody can accept responsibility for this," Reuters reported.[1]  --  COMMENT:  Paul Simon put it this way in "The Boxer":  "The man hears what he wants to hear / And disregards the rest."  --  As UFPPC has often noted, the U.S. national security state is pursuing an "Afpak" policy utterly disconnected from the desires, aspirations, and interests of the populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan....

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NEWS & COMMENT: US climbing down on China's ECS air defense ID zone

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The U.S. is "intensively addressing" something it is refusing to "recognize," but it looks as if this amounts to accepting the 'air identification zone' over most of the East China Sea that China unilaterally declared on Nov. 23.  --  After China's unilateral action, many initially thought leaders in Beijing had underestimated the response their action would evoke and were in a lose-lose situation.  --  But perhaps not.  --  The strong initial U.S. reaction is being toned down, because the Obama administration believes that "nationalist sentiments in China may preclude Xi from backing down now that he’s established the zone," AP reported.  --  As a result, Vice President Joe Biden's tack during his visit to China is "to persuade Beijing to quietly refrain from enforcing it, nullifying it in practice if not in deed," Josh Lederman of the Associated Press said.[1]  --  Speaking to U.S. businessmen in Beijing Thursday, Biden he "was 'very direct' about the matter during his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping" on Wednesday, when the two met for more than five hours.[2]  --  Apart from Biden and Xi, the talks on Wednesday were attended only by "attended only by interpreters and a handful of staff members," the Washington Post reported.[3]  --  But the Chinese are likely to take this mild approach as a form of tacit acceptance.  --  "Xi made no promises during the talks," David Nakamura said.  --  According to the Wall Street Journal, "the U.S. didn't directly ask China to rescind the air-defense identification zone it established last month."[4]  --  This gave some satisfaction to at least one Chinese nationalist, who crowed on social media that "Biden doesn't have the heart to show off" while in China.  --  The New York Times, too, downplayed the issue in a short piece that gave much more prominence to the accreditation of its correspondents than to the East China Sea, which was mentioned only in Mark Landler's fifth paragraph.[5]  --  The Times accords with the view of a Foreign Policy piece according to which the U.S. "seems to have accepted that China will keep the zone in place indefinitely."[6]  --  COMMENT:  With marvelous restraint, not one of these pieces mentions that the U.S. owes the People's Republic of China more than $1 trillion.  --  President Xi was probably not so circumspect....

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:26 Read more...
 

NEWS & BACKGROUND: Kurds' saga takes new turn as 'golden oil' flows to Turkey

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Iraqi Kurds have been selling their oil to Turkey without Baghdad's approval, the New York Times reported Monday.[1]  --  "[A] year-and-a-half-long diplomatic drive by the United States to stop the flow has so far failed, reflecting Washington’s diminished influence in the region," Tim Arango and Clifford Krauss reported.  --  The deputy chairman of the Iraq's parliamentary oil and gas committee calls this "a huge violation against the Iraqi Constitution."  --  Kurds are also making "exploration agreements with foreign companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Gazprom" that have not been approved by government in Baghdad.  --  U.S. officials are worried that they "appear to be part of a slow, long-term strategy by the Iraqi Kurds to pursue a path of increasing autonomy that experts say has one endgame: an independent Kurdish state."  --  Already "Iraqi Kurds run their own autonomous and relatively prosperous region in northern Iraq, control their own ports of entry, field their own army and intelligence service and conduct their own foreign policy.  --  The Kurdish region also has separate visa rules, so an American, for instance, might wait weeks or months to secure a visa to Baghdad, but could buy one at the airport in Erbil.  --  The region has also served as a safe haven for Sunni officials looking to escape the reach of the Shiite-led government, including former Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, accused in 2011 of terrorism."  --  The Maliki government apparently has too much on its hands to fight this battle, too, since on Tuesday Reuters reported that "Iraq and northern Kurdistan appear to have found a formula that will allow the autonomous region to export oil to Turkey in a new pipeline, a step towards resolving a long-running dispute over land and oil rights."  --  Orhan Coskun said that the "new pipeline from Kurdistan's Taq Taq oil field is complete and ready to receive . . . around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, which . . . will be ramped up towards 1 million bpd by 2015."  --  A June 2013 London Guardian piece explained this oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is high-grade, easy to produce, and easy to refine.[3]  --  Long the losers in the last century's Great Game, this time Iraqi Kurds are relishing having "oil and the new link with Turkey," giving them "a strong hand to play in the game of nations," Ian Black said.  --  "Kurdistan's [oil industry] was started from scratch in 2006 because it was never developed under Saddam . . . 'This is all oil Iraq never knew it had,' says an official in Erbil." ...

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VIDEO: It takes a world to make a T-shirt

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On Sunday, Planet Money, NPR's podcast and blog, posted a compelling series of short videos about T-shirt manufacturing.[1]  --  Inspired by Pietra Rivoli's The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, (see here for a book synopsis by yours truly that has garnered more than 20,000 hits) Planet Money manufactured the shirts as a Kickstarter project that in fourteen days enlisted the support of more than 20,000 people.  --  People who pledged $25.00 or more are receiving one of the T-shirts.  --  The shirts are still available for sale at the price of $30.00....

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ANALYSIS & COMMENT: What are secret 'watch lists' really good for?

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On Monday, after nearly eight years of legal maneuvering, a lawsuit brought by a traveler seeking removal of her name from the U.S. government's no-fly list, or at least the acknowledgment that due process requires recognition of her right to challenge that list, is going to trial in Federal District Court in San Francisco.  --  The Sunday New York Times used the occasion to review the proliferation of these occult designations.  --  "[T]he federal government’s main terrorist watch list has grown to at least 700,000 people, with little scrutiny over how the determinations are made or the impact on those marked with the terrorist label," Susan Stellin reported.[1]  --  COMMENT: Stellin's arguments are sensible, but the false premise of her piece is that the government's primary interest in this matter is accurate risk analysis.  --  While authorities do, no doubt, wish to know who is planning attacks, they have a broader, overarching interest in fear-mongering.  --  Ever since the late 19th century, when monopoly capitalism began to generate the surplus profits that have by now returned levels of wealth inequality to something reminiscent of the Ancien Régime, the modern state has sought to legitimate its activities by frightening the general population about some demonized group.  --  Socialists, Communists, and Islamist terrorists have successively been the principal actors in this drama, but various racial, ethnic, and religious groups and criminal organizations have often played a part.  --  Such psychodramas appear to be an essential constituent of contemporary societies.  --  It matters little that the threat represented by each successive group is decreasingly plausible, since over time the techniques used to manipulate the public mind have increased in efficacy.  --  At present, it matters little how absurd is the claim that this, that, or the other thing cannot be divulged because it puts "national security" at risk.  --  Simply maintaining an official "national security" discourse suffices to dissuade most of the public from wishing to contemplate the non-existence of the emperor's new clothes....

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 08:03 Read more...
 

NEWS, BACKGROUND, & COMMENT: Sectarian violence in Iraq up sharply

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Men wearing Iraqi army uniforms abducted eighteen men from their homes in Baghdad on Friday and then shot them in the head execution-style in an orchard about twenty miles to the north, Al Jazeera reported Saturday.[1]  --  Most of the victims were Shiites, but attackers "also target fellow Sunnis through kidnappings, killings, and extortions.  --  Security officials, government employees from both sects and government-backed Sunni Sahwa armed group members are all seen as prime targets for al-Qaeda."  --  Such murders are called "silent operations" by the Iraqi government, "because they are not aimed at controlling land or confronting security forces head on."  --  "Among those killed on Friday were a police officer and an army official, the headmaster of a school, and a mayor from the neighborhood.  --  The victims also included a Sunni tribal sheikh and his son."  --  Similar killings are on the increase in Iraq, which is enduring the most violent year since 2007.  --  More than 200 have died this week, 600 have died this month, and more than 6,000 this year, "raising fears Iraq is slipping back into the communal bloodshed that plagued it from 2005 to 2007," AFP said in a separate article.[2]  --  For the New York Times, in an article that appeared in the Thanksgiving Day edition, the number of Iraqis killed this month is "[m]ore than 300."[3]  --  Duraid Adnan quoted a victim of a bomb blast in Baghdad on Wednesday:   --  "'This is the second time I get wounded in an explosion,' said one victim, Ali Ahmed, 33, whose legs were injured in the Dora explosion, which he said killed his friend.  --  'Now I would prefer if I die.  --  Every day I lose a friend or a family member.'"  --  BACKGROUND:  The website Iraq Body Count continues to report on the deaths of Iraqi civilians on a daily basis.  --  COMMENT:  About 40% of the American public still thinks the Iraq war was "not a mistake."  --  Perhaps this number is so high because many of them think the war was not a mistake, but rather a deliberate crime....

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Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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