After torture, executions in Bahrain


This 20 February 2016 video is called Bahrain’s army deliberately kills peaceful protesters.

From Deutsche Welle in Germany today:

Bahrain executes three, despite protests

Bahrain has executed by firing squad three Shiite men … . Activists warn that civil unrest could ensue in the Gulf state, which hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Bahrain said the executions proceeded Sunday despite protests by majority Shiites and warnings from human rights advocates that resort to the death penalty would destabilize the Gulf region. …

The case dates back to a March 2014 bombing that killed three policemen, including an Emirati member of a force sent in 2011 by regional powers, notably Saudi Arabia, to put down months of Shiite-led protest inspired by reformist “Arab Spring” revolts.

Last Monday, Bahrain’s high court rejected an appeal filed by the three against convictions for their alleged involvement in the attack in Bahrain’s al-Daish area.

Terms of life imprisonment had been imposed on seven other defendants.

Protests, appeals

On Saturday, scores of people had protested in Bahrain on news of the impending executions.

“This is a black day in Bahrain‘s history. It is the most heinous crime committed by the government of Bahrain and a shame upon its rules,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

The London-based human rights group Reprieve said the trio’s convictions had been “based on confessions extracted through torture.”

Ahead of the executions, Brian Dooley, the head of the Washington-based Human Rights Defenders, had urged the US government to dissuade Bahrain.

“Washington should warn its Gulf ally that this would be a reckless, frightening level of repression to pursue, likely to spark rage and further violence in an already volatile region,” Dooley said.

Bahrain is a strategic ally of the United States and host of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Last year, Bahraini authorities escalated a crackdown on Shiite critics by imprisoning a top rights campaigner and shut down a main opposition political bloc.

Fresh fears over UK links to Bahrain’s ‘torture prisons’. Evidence emerges of visit by Gulf state jail officials to immigration detention centre Yarl’s Wood: here.

Donald Trump and nuclear weapons


This video from the USA says about itself:

23 December 2016

Donald Trump tweeted out that he’s ready for a new nuclear arms race. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, Ben Mankiewicz, and Jimmy Dore, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

By Kate Hudson in Britain:

The orange finger on the nuclear button

Saturday 14th January 2017

Trump’s ignorance of the life-destroying capabilities of nuclear weapons and his cavalier attitude towards their use should be extremely alarming to everyone, writes KATE HUDSON

IN uncertain times the last thing anyone needs is the most powerful man on earth kicking off a new nuclear arms race.

But that’s exactly what president-elect Donald Trump did just three days before Christmas, tweeting that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

There are so many ways in which this tweet is wrong, dangerous and ignorant!.

First of all, let’s take a look at the US’s nuclear capability.

It currently has 7,300 nuclear warheads, deliverable by land, sea and air, with plans to spend over $350 billion over the next decade modernising and maintaining them.

The full-scale production of approximately 1,200 W76-1 warheads for the Trident II (D5) submarine- launched missiles is well under way, with scheduled completion in 2019. Production of the new B61-12 guided nuclear gravity bomb is scheduled to be complete by 2025.

With the yield of some of these weapons many, many times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, the US already has the capacity to destroy all life on earth.

So what conceivable reason could Trump possibly have for wanting to increase the US’s nuclear arsenal?

Indeed Trump’s ignorance about nuclear matters and his seemingly cavalier approach to their use is extremely alarming given that he will have his finger on the nuclear button in a matter of days.

During his election campaign this became increasingly clear as he promised to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran.

This agreement was a huge achievement which replaced the Bush war drive against Iran with a deal to end sanctions and reduce nuclear facilities.

Ripping it up may well push Iran down the road to nuclear weapons, potentially opening the door to Egypt and Saudi Arabia going down the nuclear route.

Trump also said that he might use nuclear weapons and questioned why they would make them if they wouldn’t use them.

Those of us who remember the fear of nuclear war in Europe in the 1980s when the US was bringing cruise and polaris to our shores would do well to be aware that Trump is open to nuking Europe because it’s a “big place” and that he thinks “you want to be unpredictable” with nuclear weapons.

Of course some people write these comments off as throwaway remarks with no substance but the fact is Trump has repeatedly said that more countries should get nuclear weapons, in particular referencing Japan and South Korea, saying he’d be “OK” with an arms race in Asia.

This has raised the question of Trump’s commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into force in 1970 and has undoubtedly restrained the growth of nuclear weapons possession and contributed to the safety of all of us.

With his support for more countries getting nukes, Trump has called into question what has been a bipartisan policy in the United States for pretty much seven decades: non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

If the president of the US sanctions nuclear proliferation then we are heading on a disastrous path.

But this brings us to the second part of Trump’s tweet: “Until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

The fact is, most of the world has already come to its senses — in fact, had never lost them! Only nine countries have nuclear weapons and the vast majority of the rest of them want global nuclear abolition.

This has never been clearer than it is today.

Last month the United Nations general assembly voted to start negotiations on a global nuclear weapons ban treaty. They start in New York in March.

When it came to voting, the US voted against negotiating a ban treaty — as did Britain, in spite of its repeated insistence that it wants a multilateral disarmament process.

Of the other nuclear weapons states, Russia, France and Israel also voted against a ban treaty, China, India and Pakistan abstained, and North Korea voted in favour.

So it is the US, Britain and the nuclear weapons states that need to come to their senses, not the rest of the world!.

At this incredibly dangerous time it is essential that we step up our anti-war and anti-nuclear work, and increase our international co-operation.

The forthcoming Nato summit in Brussels will be a key opportunity for us to work with partners across Europe and the US against the war policies of our governments.

And here in Britain, let’s put the maximum pressure on our government to take part in the negotiations for a global nuclear ban, and to support the achievement of such a treaty.

Why not write to Boris Johnson, telling him to get involved, or go to the CND website where you can lobby online?

You can also join our parliamentary lobby on March 1 and make an appointment to speak to your MP in person.

Details of all these activities can be found at www.cnduk.org.

As Trump prepares to enter the White House there is no better time to get down to serious analysis of the issues, strategising together for action.

Kate Hudson is CND general secretary. New Approaches to Foreign Policy, hosted by London Region CND and SOAS CND, will be held on Saturday January 14 from 12 noon to 5pm at SOAS University of London. All are welcome.

Donald Trump Expanding Scottish Golf Resort After Vowing Not To Make New Foreign Deals. “No new foreign deals … whatsoever” apparently doesn’t include this one: here.

Donald Trump’s ‘mad dog’ Secretary of War


This video says about itself:

US General says “It’s good fun to shoot people”

The Pentagon has picked General James Mattis as the new head of Central Command.

If confirmed, Mattis will replace General David Petraeus in overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq along with US military operations across the Middle East.

Mattis oversaw US troops at the bloody battle of Fallujah in Iraq, and led the first conventional forces in the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Centcom chief role is more statesman than warrior though, and the general was reprimanded in 2005 for publicly saying “it’s fun to shoot people”.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane reports. (July 09, 2010)

The disclosure of the statements by a US General who had said its fun to kill Afghans has turned into a problem for the US army.

The US military, still recovering from the shock of the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, its top commander in Afghanistan — is facing fresh problems over revelations that another top commander declared that it was “fun to shoot people” in Afghanistan.

Mattis has been named as head of US central Command.

He has said at a seminar in 2005: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. Apparently no humanity has remained in Afghanistan. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

By Tom Eley in the USA:

With bipartisan support, Trump defense nominee outlines plans for global war

13 January 2017

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, used his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday to outline an aggressive war policy, designate Russia and China as enemies and call for a dramatic expansion of military spending, including the “modernization” of nuclear weapons and expansion of cyberwarfare.

All of those present—Democrats and Republicans alike—heaped praise on Mattis during the three-and-one-half hour hearing. Not a single senator asked the nominee how he might scale down US wars, which are currently raging in several countries. Instead, senators vied with each other in appealing to Mattis to identify threats to “national security” that will be immediately confronted by the Trump administration.

No senator, including the supposedly “left” Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, asked the retired Marine General about his record in the occupation of Iraq, where he was implicated in war crimes. Mattis led the savage Marine counteroffensive that retook the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004, and he ordered an air strike that year against a wedding party in which over 40 civilians were killed. Nor was he challenged about a public speech he made in which he stated it was “fun” to kill some people.

Until Thursday, Mattis was not legally eligible to be defense secretary. Federal law prevents selecting any individual who has been out of the military for less than seven years, a rule designed to protect the democratic principle of military subordination to the elected civilian government. Immediately after the hearing, the Armed Services Committee voted 24-3 to waive the law for Mattis, who retired from active command only three years ago, after which he assumed a seat on the corporate board of defense contracting giant General Dynamics. The US Senate quickly followed, voting 81-17 in favor of the waiver.

In a particularly ominous exchange during the hearing, Mattis was asked by the committee chairman, the Republican warmonger John McCain, whether or not he thought the “world order” was under its greatest strain in 70 years. Mattis responded, “I think it’s under the biggest attacks since World War II. And that’s from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.” Later in the hearing, Mattis said, “America has global responsibilities, and it is not to our advantage to leave any of those areas to the world absent from our efforts.”

There will be no end to these global wars, the senators’ questions and Mattis’ answers made clear. The US will “be engaged in global conflict for the foreseeable future,” McCain declared. “Believing otherwise is wishful thinking… Hard power matters, having it, threatening it, leveraging for diplomacy and at times using it.”

Though he was at pains to stress the importance of US alliances, especially NATO, Mattis, like McCain, embraced military unilateralism. The nominee said that the US has only “two fundamental powers,” one of which he called “the power of intimidation.” Necessary for this “intimidation” of other nations is for the US military to be “the top in its game in a competition where second place is last place.”

Starting with McCain, senators repeatedly invited Mattis to denounce Russia and to separate himself from Trump over the president-elect’s less publicly bellicose stance toward Moscow and his open conflict with US intelligence agencies over unsubstantiated allegations of Russian “hacking” of the US election.

Mattis labeled Russia a “strategic competitor” and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to “break” the NATO alliance, which he hailed as the greatest military alliance in history. “[T]here’s a decreasing number of areas where we can cooperate actively and increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia,” Mattis said. He also signaled his deference to US intelligence agencies, saying he has a “very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community.”

When asked by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico to identify “key threats” to the US, Mattis began with Russia, but from there developed a list that could include any nation in the world.

“I would consider the principal threat to start with Russia,” Mattis responded, “and then it would certainly include any nations that are looking to intimidate nations around the periphery or nations nearby them whether it is with weapons of mass destruction or—I would call it unusual, unorthodox means of intimidating them.”

This theme was taken up by Warren, who, alongside Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is promoted as the “left” face of the Democratic Party.

“Russia wants to promote its security through instability…trying to create a sphere of unstable states along the periphery,” Warren said. “As defense secretary, when it comes to the threats posed by Russia, will you advocate for your views frankly and forcefully to the president to speak about these threats and the need to take them seriously?” Mattis affirmed that he would. “We are counting on you,” pleaded the liberal senator.

Sometimes taking a more militaristic tone than the nominee, the senators also encouraged Mattis to make bellicose statements against China, Iran and North Korea, and solicited declarations that the US military—which spends more each year militarizing than the next eight biggest economies in the world combined—is underfunded. Committee members, Warren and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill included, used their questioning to call for major new spending on the nuclear arsenal, the National Guard and cyberwarfare.

Mattis did not retreat from statements made by Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO nominated by Trump for secretary of state, that the US should block China from access to the South China Sea—itself an act of war. Mattis supported the conclusion that China, in its land reclamation projects, is “militarizing” the South China Sea.

Mattis stated his support for increased US aggression in the Middle East, telling the committee that the war on the Islamic State [ISIS] in Iraq and Syria needed to be placed on “a more aggressive timeline.”

In a document submitted to the committee prior to the hearing, Mattis identified Iran as the “biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East” and said that the Trump administration should “checkmate Iran’s goal for regional hegemony.” In previous statements, he has insisted that ISIS was nothing more than a stalking horse for Tehran to project its influence. However, invited by senators to disavow the treaty with Iran concluded by the Obama administration, which removed the immediate threat of war, Mattis said he would uphold it.

Also Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings for Trump’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, a former Tea Party Caucus Congressman from Kansas with close ties to the multibillionaire Koch brothers. It is also expected that the Pompeo nomination will be ratified with little resistance from Democrats.

Pompeo’s testimony was notable for its belligerent posture toward Russia. He upheld the US spy agencies’ report of hacking, though that report contained not a shred of evidence and was previously questioned by Trump.

“With respect to this report in particular, it’s pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy,” Pompeo said. “This was an aggressive action taken by senior leadership inside of Russia.” Pompeo also accused Russia of “invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

The bitter fight over the allegations of Russian “interference” in the US elections boils down to a dispute over foreign policy—whether or not to settle scores first with Russia, or to focus on a showdown with China. The media hysteria and the intervention of the intelligence apparatus and leading Republicans such as McCain to support these allegations amounts to an attempt to ensure that the Trump administration will intensify the Obama administration’s anti-Russia policy, which would have been the first order of business in a Hillary Clinton White House.

The confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees confirm that his administration intends to vastly intensify US demands for massive economic and strategic concessions from the Chinese regime. In pursuit of the predatory ambitions of a tiny layer of corporate oligarchs, policies are being put forward that could result in a military clash and trigger a nuclear exchange: here.

Looking For Anti-Trump Protests? Here Are Dozens To Choose From: here.

Filipina ‘comfort women’ protest Japan’s Abe


This video says about itself:

Comfort Women Survivors Protest Against Japanese Prime Minister’s Visit

12 January 2017

Some surviving comfort women in the Philippines rallied on Thursday to protest against the Japanese prime minister’s visit to the country, asking for apology and compensation for the crimes the Japanese invaders committed against humanity during World War II.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Philippines: Comfort women lead protest against Abe

Friday 13th January 2017

PROTESTERS led by four World War II Filipino sex slaves gathered in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila yesterday against a state visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Left-wing umbrella group Bayan, which is among the organisations supporting the “comfort women,” said Mr Abe’s trip was not a mere “social visit.”

Comfort women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during the second world war.

Bayan said: “The visit of the Japanese PM is another step to slowly establish its military presence” through regular naval port calls and joint military exercises with US forces.

Japan wants to flex its military muscle in the region as a junior partner of the US. It has passed security legislation that goes against the spirit of its peace constitution.”

Saudi government kills Yemenis, British government helps


This 16 August 2016 video is called Yemen: deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike on MSF hospital kills at least 11.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

CAAT: investigate British complicity in Yemen war crimes

Friday 13th January 2016

PARLIAMENT must support an independent probe into the government’s complicity in war crimes in Yemen, campaigners told MPs yesterday.

Labour international development select committee chairman Stephen Twigg said such an investigation is “long overdue” as he bemoaned the “glacial” progress made by Saudi Arabia on its own investigations.

Britain has licensed over £3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015.

Committee on arms exports controls chair Chris White said there is an “urgent need” for Britain to suspend sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia until a UN investigation into alleged breaches of humanitarian law is completed.

The Tory MP warned that if ministers fail to do so, Britain risks damaging its international reputation.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) said: “The UK government has been complicit in the destruction of Yemen and the humanitarian catastrophe that has been forced upon the Yemeni people.

“Parliament must stand with those caught in the middle of the devastating conflict and support an international investigation into the human rights abuses that are taking place.

“For any investigation to be credible then it must be independent. The government has relied on investigations and evidence provided by the Saudi-led coalition itself.

“This is a regime that has a proven contempt for human rights. If it cannot be trusted to hold free and fair elections then how can it be trusted to investigate itself for war crimes?”

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are currently subject to a judicial review which will be heard in the High Court between February 7 and 9 following an application by CAAT.

The claim calls on the government to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen while it holds a full review into whether the exports are compatible with British and EU law.

British government helps whitewashing Saudi war crimes in Yemen: here.

No food, no medicine, no money, no world support: Yemenis faces mass death by starvation: here.

Racism, sexism in Dutch armed forces


This video from Britain says about itself:

Sexism in the British armed forces – Channel 4 News, 15 01 16

Rebecca Crookshank was a member of the RAF, where she experienced sexual harassment.

See also here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Soldiers sick of discrimination and sexism

Today, 11:38

Thirteen (former) soldiers have complained to the Ministry of Defence because they suffer from discriminatory or sexist remarks. This confirms lawyer Michael Ruperti in response to an article in the Algemeen Dagblad daily.

In the newspaper, eg, an Antillean soldier complains that he was told that he “should go back to the monkey rock”. A female soldier was told that she was a “tampon“, and was called a “first aid kit cunt” as she had to keep her mouth shut.

Transfer

Ruperti speaks of more than 32 cases, and also today still people with stories about the culture in the armed forces are reporting. Some immigrant soldiers according to him have already asked themselves for a transfer because they are sick of the discriminatory harassment. …

In 2006 there already was research on discrimination in the military. It showed that many Dutch soldiers were against immigrants. According to Ruperti, little appears to have changed in ten years.