News Items – 03.01.17

Washington Post: “This remarkable chart shows how U.S. defense spending dwarfs the rest of the world

CNN: “Global arms trade hits highest level since end of Cold War“: “The U.S. is by far the world’s biggest arms exporter, accounting for 33% of all weapons exports in the five years through 2016, the SIPRI report said. Russia was the second biggest supplier, with China third.”

Bloomberg: “Chile, Mexico, U.S. Have Highest Inequality Rates, OECD Says

CNBC: “Americans consume vast majority of the world’s opioids“: “Approximately 80 percent of the global opioid supply is consumed in the United States.”

The Guardian: Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects’ links to US-trained elite troops

I suggest reading the article above in its entirety, but here’s one necessary takeaway: “Extrajudicial killings by the security forces and widespread impunity are among the most serious human rights violations in Honduras, according to the US state department. Nevertheless, the US is the main provider of military and police support to Honduras, and last year approved $18m of aid. … Violence against social activists has surged since a [US-backed/pre-approved] military backed coup d’état ousted populist president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Since then at least 124 land and environmental campaigners have been killed. A recent investigation by corruption watchdog Global Witness described extensive involvement of political, business and military elites in environmentally destructive mega projects which have flourished since the coup. … [Diaz, one of eight charged with murder,] also attended cadet leadership courses at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1997, and a counter-terrorism course at the Inter American air force academy in 2005. The court documents also reveal that at the time of his arrest, Díaz, 44, was under investigation for drug trafficking and kidnapping, while also studying for promotion. Military records show that in 1997, Bustillo attended logistics and artillery courses at the School of the Americas, at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trained hundreds of Latin American officers who later committed human rights abuses.”

More on the School of the Americas and the US’ brutal exploitation of Latin America by Abby Martin, Noam Chomsky, John PilgerSchool of the Americas Watch, John Perkins, and William Blum.

Greg Grandin — professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at New York University and former UN special consultant to war crimes in Guatemala: “Berta Cáceres’s Killers Are Getting Good at the PR Game” – “The Clinton-Backed Honduran Regime Is Picking Off Indigenous Leaders” – “Before Her Murder, Berta Cáceres Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Criticism

The Guardian: “Berta Cáceres’s name was on Honduran military hitlist, says former soldier” – “Honduras elites blamed for violence against environmental activists

The Intercept: “State Department Turns Blind Eye to Evidence of Honduran Military’s Activist Kill List” – “An Interview With Gustavo Castro, Sole Witness to Assassination of Berta Caceres” – “Drugs, Dams, and Power: the Murder of Honduras Activist Berta Cáceres” – “Death Squads Are Back in Honduras, Activists Tell Congress

Who exactly are ‘radical’ Muslims?,” by Z. Fareen Parvez — Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. (It’s about Salafism.)

Who are the Sufis and why does ISIS see them as threatening?,” by Peter Gottschalk — Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University.

Orlando Sentinel: “Trump: Fake Love for the First Amendment”

CNN: “Trump on deportations: ‘It’s a military operation’

Juan Cole – Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan:

Top 5 Hypocrisies of Trump Friday

Sorry, Trump, China’s cut-back on Coal Dooms Industry

Spurned Reporters should dump Trump Briefings, turn to Investigative Journalism

Would Trump let Oscar Winner Mahershala Ali back into the Country?

Top 5 Ways Obama is Behind Leaks, Protests against Trump

CNN: “Jewish center bomb threats top 100; kids pulled from schools

Financial Times: “Record-breaking auction for Obamas’ book deal tops $65m“: “Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, paid $15m for the rights to Bill Clinton’s 2004 memoirs My Life when he left the White House, while George W Bush made an estimated $10m from his book Decision Points, which was published by Crown.”

UNICEF: “Nearly 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen”

More via FAIR: “Downplaying US Contribution to Potential Yemen Famine”

More via FAIR: “Hiding US Role in Yemen Slaughter So Bombing Can Be Sold as ‘Self-Defense’”

More via Guardian: “UK and Saudi Arabia ‘in secret deal’ over human rights council place”

More via Reuters: “U.N. experts warn Saudi-led coalition allies over war crimes in Yemen”

More via Reuters: “Exclusive: As Saudis bombed Yemen, U.S. worried about legal blowback”

More via New York Times: “Why 20 Million People Are on Brink of Famine in a ‘World of Plenty’”

More via Alternet: “One of the Nastiest Wars in Recent History Is Raging in Yemen—And the U.S. Is Heavily Involved in It”

More from The Intercept and Amnesty International.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR):

Any of the Journalists Present Could Have Been Arrested’

Downplaying US Contribution to Potential Yemen Famine

NPR Spins Trump’s ‘Restrained’ Foreign Policy–Ignoring Threats, Bans and Escalation

Trump Didn’t ‘Revoke’ Protections for Trans Students–Because He Can’t

Paul Robinson — professor of Russian and military history at the University of Ottawa:

Infamous Putinphile“: “My old University of Toronto friend Bill Szuch, who produces the UkeTube youtube channel, has published a rather fun interview with Taras Kuzio denouncing the ‘Russophiles’ and ‘Putinphiles’ in Canadian universities. The roll of honour is: myself (apparently I am ‘infamous’, which pleases me no end); Ivan Katchanovski (author of a well-known study of the shootings on Maidan); University of Ottawa’s Chair of Ukrainian Studies Dominique Arel (who I am sure will be most surprised to be listed among the Putinphiles); Mikhail Molchanov of St Thomas’ University; and Carleton University’s Piotr Diutkewicz. John-Paul Himka also gets a mention. One thing which puzzles me is why Kuzio thinks that I am ‘anti-American’. What he gets right, however, is that there are quite a few Canadian academics – including several whom Kuzio didn’t mention – who don’t follow the normal Kremlin-bashing line and who have put forward alternative perspectives about the war in Ukraine as well as other issues (see, for instance chapters in this and this). In fact, it is interesting that scholarly analysis of these issues tends to be much more sober and balanced than what you read in the press.”

[The Globe and Mail’s] Self-Contradiction

Al Jazeera: “Sufis return to Sehwan shrine in defiance of ISIL: Day after deadly ISIL attack, more than 100 gather to wash blood-soaked floors of the shrine and continue ritual.”

Fortune: “Sorry, Coal. Solar Is Where the Jobs Are

Oxford Scholarship: “Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement

“Salafism has attracted a lot of attention lately. This is because it appeals to Muslims who believe that through Salafism they gain direct access to the truth. In contrast to the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafism concentrates on theology and the purification of doctrine. It takes its name from the first three generations of Muslims after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the pious forefathers, al-salaf al-salih. These first generations, as the closest companions to Muhammad, are considered to be the fountain of pure knowledge of Islam. Salafism is perhaps the most rapidly expanding current within Islam, both in the Muslim world and in Europe and the United States, where it appeals to young people who find a deterritorialized and deculturalized Islam more attractive than the traditional Islam of their parents, which tends to be influenced by non-Islamic local customs. In this anthology the three forms of Salafism are extensively analyzed. These are: apolitical, quietist Salafism, whose adherents focus on the purification of Islam and live strictly according to Hadith and the Qur’an; political Salafism, which mixes the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood with Salafism; and Jihadi Salafism, which focuses on jihad. Salafism has been promoted especially by Saudi Arabia and is also called Wahhabism.”

USA Today: “Officials at a federal training facility that mistakenly exposed thousands of first responders to deadly ricin toxin were worried five years ago that their vendor had shipped the wrong type of powder, records obtained by USA TODAY show. … FEMA went ahead and used the powder in its training programs – and for five years kept buying more of it for use in classes — despite the vials continuing to arrive with certificates declaring that the powder was lethal, nearly pure ricin, the records show.”

USA Today: “Government regulators have no idea how often laboratories working with some of the world’s most dangerous viruses and bacteria are failing to fully kill vials of specimens before sending them to other researchers who lack critical gear to protect them against infection, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. The risks to scientists, shipping companies and the public became the subject of international scrutiny last year when it was discovered that a U.S. Army lab in Utah had unwittingly made 575 shipments of still-live anthrax specimens – labeled as killed – to 194 labs and contractors around the world from 2004 through 2015.”

Intelnews: “Analysis: African intelligence run amok and prospects for reform in The Gambia

Here is the latest post from George Washington University’s National Security Archive blog, Unredacted.

Reuters: “Trump administration would ignore WTO rulings it sees as anti-U.S

Bruce Schneier — fellow at Harvard University; board member of The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

My TEDMED Talk on Medical Data Privacy

A Survey of Propaganda

Adm. Rogers Talks about Buying Cyberweapons


Who’s Behind US Downward-Mobility?

Risks in Rush to Crush ISIS,” by Paul Pillar — former CIA Executive Assistant to the Director and Deputy Director of the Counterterrorist Center; senior fellow and former visiting professor at Georgetown University; and former National Intelligence Council Officer for the Near East and South Asia.

NYT’s Fake News about Fake News,” by Robert Parry — former investigative reporter for AP and Newsweek that uncovered many of the Iran-Contra stories, including the CIA-Contra drug trafficking, CIA assassination manual, and Oliver North’s connection to Iran-Contra; recipient of the George Polk Award and the Harvard Nieman Foundation I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence; and founder/editor of the oldest online investigative website, Consortiumnews.

How ‘New Cold Warriors’ Cornered Trump

NATO’s Strange Addition of Montenegro

Sleepwalking into a New Arms Race


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