National Prison Strike Begins: Prisoners in 17 States Demand End to “Slave Labor” Behind Bars

https://www.democracynow.org/2018/8/21/national_prison_strike_begins_prisoners_in

From Democracy Now!

Prisoners across the country are set to launch a nationwide strike today to demand improved living conditions, greater access to resources and the “end of modern day slavery.” Prisoners in at least 17 states are expected to participate in the coordinated sit-ins, hunger strikes, work stoppages and commissary boycotts from today until September 9—the 47th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. For more, we speak with Amani Sawari, a prison strike organizer working on behalf of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a network of prisoners who are helping organize the nationwide strike. We also speak with Cole Dorsey, a formerly incarcerated member of the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee who is helping coordinate with prisoners on the prison strike.

Bomb in Yemen school bus strike was US-supplied – CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/17/middleeast/us-saudi-yemen-bus-strike-intl/index.html

USA! USA! USA!

The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

Working with local Yemeni journalists and munitions experts, CNN has established that the weapon that left dozens of children dead on August 9 was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defense contractors.

 

The War in Afghanistan Is Still Not Going Well, Forcing Washington to Order Yet Another Review of U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

matthewaid:

July 10, 2018

After discouraging year, U.S. officials expect review of Afghan strategy

Reuters

July 10, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told Reuters, a year after President Donald Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the coalition forces at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

Officials said Trump has shown signs of frustration over the lack of progress since he unveiled a strategy last August that committed to an open-ended deployment of U.S. military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan security forces. The goal was to force the Taliban militants to open peace talks with the Kabul government.

Trump was opposed to remaining in America’s longest war, but was convinced by his advisers to give it more time. He authorized last year the deployment an additional 3,000 U.S. troops, bringing the total to around 15,000.

Nearly a year later, the current situation is in a stalemate in which Afghan civilians are paying a heavy toll, the Taliban are expanding in rural areas but are unable to capture major urban centers and the capability of Afghan security forces remains in doubt.

Several current U.S. officials and other former officials and advisers with direct knowledge said the White House had not yet formally ordered the review, but they were preparing for a government-wide appraisal in the next few months.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

“We’ve received some indications from the White House that Trump could ask for a review in the next few months. So we’re preparing for what it would look like,” said a senior U.S. official.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

The review would examine all facets of the current strategy, including what progress had been made, the U.S. troops presence, and prospect of negotiations with the Taliban. It also would include U.S. relations with Pakistan, which U.S. officials accuse of supporting the insurgents, the senior official said. Islamabad denies the charge.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

LONGEST WAR

U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban government for harboring al-Qaeda.

Since then, nearly 1,900 U.S. troops have been killed in the war, even as corruption remains endemic in the country and security remains precarious. A recent U.S. government watchdog report found that the Afghan government controlled or influenced only 56 percent of country.

Trump has vented over the lack of progress in Afghanistan, other officials told Reuters, also on the condition of anonymity.

“The president has asked repeatedly what progress we’ve made in Afghanistan since he made his decision, and how much we’ve invested there since 2001,” said one senior official with first-hand knowledge of the ongoing debate over Afghan policy.

“He’s voiced his frustration about the lack of progress many, many times, basically asking ‘What have we got for all that money?’”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the coalition forces at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said that if there had meaningful progress in Afghanistan, a review would be unlikely.

“The administration could essentially say (after the review) that the conditions have not improved on the ground, so what is the reason to stay,” Kugelman said.

It is not unprecedented for the White House to request such an internal review. Officials said a similar review was carried out after President Barack Obama unveiled an Afghanistan strategy in 2009.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Monday, promised support for President Ashraf Ghani’s bid to start peace talks with the Taliban and repeated the United States would be willing to take part.

He said the strategy announced last year was working, and would reassure Afghans “that we will support them as they continue fighting to liberate their country and their people.”

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Are immigration officials allowed to stop people in places wholly inside the U.S.?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency tasked with patrolling the U.S. border and areas that function like a border, claims a territorial reach much larger than you might imagine. A federal law says that, without a warrant, CBP can board vehicles and vessels and search for people without immigration documentation “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.” These “external boundaries” include international land borders but also the entire U.S. coastline.

What is a “reasonable distance”?

The federal government defines a “reasonable distance” as 100 air miles from any external boundary of the U.S. So, combining this federal regulation and the federal law regarding warrantless vehicle searches, CBP claims authority to board a bus or train without a warrant anywhere within this 100-mile zone. Two-thirds of the U.S. population, or about 200 million people, reside within this expanded border region, according to the 2010 census. Most of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, fall in this region. Some states, like Florida, lie entirely within this border band so their entire populations are impacted.

Your Rights in the Border Zone

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The call to action among American Muslims has yielded a diverse array of candidates. They include former Obama administration officials and longtime political activists, but also physicians and lawyers, women’s rights advocates, a molecular biologist and a former Planned Parenthood manager.

The flurry of candidacies makes for a lot of potential “firsts.”

Asif Mahmood, a 56-year-old pulmonologist, would be the first Muslim insurance commissioner in California. Deedra Abboud, 45, in Arizona, or Jesse Sbaih, 42, in Nevada, could be the country’s first Muslim senator.

And any one of four Muslim women — Nadia Hashimi, 40, in Maryland; Sameena Mustafa, 47, in Illinois; or Fayrouz Saad, 34, and Rashida Tlaib, 41, in Michigan — could be the first in Congress.

Muslim political activists and community leaders say they’ve noticed more young Muslims showing up to political events ranging from legislative hearings and school board meetings to women’s marches and civil rights rallies.

The blue Muslim wave: American Muslims launch political campaigns, hope to deliver ‘sweet justice’ to Trump

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…the document admits that far from the US being some innocently hapless victim of Russian interference, the US has at various times run covert “information, economic and diplomatic” campaigns to either “dethrone Putin”, or at least undermine his rule.

The document goes on to compare NATO policy to co-opt former Soviet
states to an imagined Russian effort to incorporate Mexico or Canada
into the Warsaw Pact, or deploy ballistic missile defences to the
Americas — such actions have never been contemplated by Russia, and
would of course never be acceptable to the United States. But, the
document says, their equivalence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is
already being carried out by NATO to weaken Russia. This is why the
incorporation of Georgia into NATO “triggered the 2008 Russian invasion
of South Ossetia and the Kremlin’s first use of nuclear coercion.”

…the document also sets out more conciliatory gestures to appease Russia, for instance, in “negotiations on any of the frozen conflicts the US, the West and Russia are involved in… One notion might be a bigger role with Iran, Syria or even Turkey.”

This does, indeed, now appear to be the self-serving policy adopted in Syria, where the US is actively planning for an accommodation with Bashir al-Assad. In the words of the DIA’s Otto, “there must be an understanding that some countries may suffer as a result of our actions. A strategy of partial withdrawal from Syria or the Ukraine may actually allow for better future negotiations. The springtime drawdown of Russia from Syria allowed negotiation space for Putin, and even Assad.”

Army document: US strategy to ‘dethrone’ Putin for oil pipelines might provoke WW3

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According to a 2017 study published by military advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, found “significant racial disparity in the military justice system.”

Black members of the military are, “substantially more likely” than their white counterparts to be punished in four out of the five branches of the US armed forces.

The report also found that black military service members were as much as 2.61 times more likely than their white peers to face court-martial or non-judicial punishment in an average year…

A fallen black soldier being disrespected? That’s not an aberration in America | Ameer Hasan Loggins | Opinion | The Guardian