Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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News Roundup 5/26/17

  • Trump tells the leaders of NATO countries they are not spending enough on defense. 23 of the 28 countries in NATO do not meet the expectation to spend 2% of GDP on defense. [Link]
  • A high school junior kills himself after he was threatened by police and school administration of being charged with possessing and sharing child pornography. The young man had an audio recording of a sexual encounter on his phone. The police never intended to charge the young man and the goal of the threat was to scare him straight. Hours after being threatened he jump off a building. [Link]
  • The DEA lied about their role in a shooting that left two pregnant woman and two other civilians dead in Honduras. A new report found that the DEA and Honduras police fired on the civilians without being provoked. [Link]
  • The US defense spending totals $1.1 trillion a year. [Link]
  • The Army’s request for funds 2018 asks for $6.4 million to build a forward operating base in Turkey. The base could be a site for THAAD missiles. [Link]
  • This article looks at the US increasing use of special forces. [Link]
  • Senators Jeff Flake and Tim Kaine introduce a bill that will be a new AUMF. The new AUMF will give the authorization to fight ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. [Link]
  • The UK has condemned the leaks coming from the US related to the Manchester terror attack. [Link]
  • Four Egyptian security force members were killed in the Sinai. [Link]
  • An estimated 23 people were killed during an attack on an Egyptian church. [Link]
  • At least 13 Afghan fighters were killed while fighting militants in the Kandahar Province. [Link]
  • A video shows Iraqi special forces torturing and killing suspected members of ISIS. [Link]
  • The US now admits to killing over 100 people in the March 17th attack in Mosul that killed up to 278 civilians. Before this admission, the Pentagon only admitted to killing 14 civilians in the attack. [Link]
  • Between April 23rd and May 23rd, the US coalition in Syria killed at least 225 civilians and only 122 suspected ISIS fighters. May will be the 5th straight month that the US coalition has killed more civilians than Russia. [Link]
  • Syria and Jordan trade threats because of international war games that were played out in Jordan. [Link]
  • The US killed 35 civilians in East Syria with airstrikes. This brings the two-day total of civilians killed in US airstrikes to over 50. [Link]

News Roundup 5/1/17

  • Trump signs an executive order reversing Obama’s ban on Artic drilling. [Link]
  • Trump says the US is losing money providing defense for Saudi Arabia. [Link]
  • The ten-member Association of South East Asian Nations issues a statement softening its stance on tensions with China related to the South China Sea. [Link]
  • Mali expands the country’s state of emergency for an additional six months. The Mali government continues to fight against Islamist militias. [Link]
  • A report revealed through FOIA shows the US has 36 outposts in 24 African countries. [Link]
  • The Taliban announce the start of their spring offensive. For the past several years, the Taliban have increased attacks during the spring season. [Link]
  • Erdogan threatens to attack US-backed Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. [Link]
  • Erdogan says he is “seriously saddened” to see US military vehicles operating with YPG forces near the Turkish border. Erdogan views the YPG as a terrorist organization. The US backs the YPG in the fight against ISIS in Syria. [Link]
  • Erdogan dismisses 3,900 people from their jobs. 1,200 of those were military personnel. Erdogan also canceled dating shows on Turkish TV and blocked Wikipedia. [Link]
  • A US service member has died from wounds caused by an explosive. The service member was a part of the US operation in Mosul. [Link]
  • US-backed SDF claims to have made a big gain against ISIS in Tabqa. The mission to take Tabqa is part of the operation to take Raqqa from ISIS. [Link]
  • The Pentagon releases a report that claims the US has only killed 350 civilians in its war against ISIS that started in August 2014. International watchdog groups estimate the number to be thousands more. [Link]
  • The Syrian government carried out a double tap attack against a White Helmets building. The second bomb to hit the site killed eight rescue workers. [Link]

Trump, The Phoenix Speech, and Afghanistan

Remember when James Baker and the H.W. Bush team tried to stop the Iraq War, but then Cheney came out and lied at a VFW speech and beat them to the chase?

Apparently the Afghanistan policy is decided.  The “let the generals decide” play didn’t work because, guess what, they wanted more troops than the limits imposed on them.  So the buck goes to Trump.  Apparently Bannon was against more troops, possibly the original source of weird Trump tweets about Persia, Alexander, Britain, USSR all seeing their empires die there.  Bannon’s gone now.

I’m guessing the “decision” by this utterly isolated Trump is: a huge troop surge!

But, my little libertarian day dream is that Trump will use this big speech on Monday in Phoenix (to pardon Sherriff Joe?) to say “F— it, we’re leaving Afghanistan yesterday.”

Naturally, this can’t be what he told his generals.  But what could they do?  A lot I suppose, but if I was Trump and faced removal from office by the “deep state” and impassioned idiot liberals salivating over the chance to meet real Nazis to validate their worldview (which is the New Deal imposed on world society by way of redemptive violence – Hiroshima, Dresden, etc. solid government program outcomes), if I faced this I’d just as soon turn it into a story of peace and reasonability failing in the face of revolutionary mania.

Wouldn’t that be something?  Trump’s huge ego as the straw on the camel’s back sinking the overloaded ship of American Empire.

Heck, if that’s how it turned out I’d name my elementary school after him.

But, it’s never going to happen.  Our best scenario is that N Korea hysteria is just a DoD psyops feint to ensure they get Afghanistan.  One war to appease Mars, sparing us from the others.

I think the Pashtuns need to invest in sandworms.

News Roundup 1/5/17

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump is looking to cut the national intelligence agencies. Trump believes the intelligence agencies have become too politicized. [Link]
  • Glenn Greenwald explains why the Washington Post continues to publish fake news stories, how the paper lacks journalistic integrity, and the papers insufficient efforts to inform its readers that it got the story wrong. [Link]
  • The US government’s debt increased over $1 trillion in 2016. The national debt is now nearly $20 trillion. [Link]
  • Philadelphia’s new drink tax is shocking citizens. The tax amounts to 1.5% per oz. Some shoppers are finding the tax comes to over 50%. [Link]
  • Senator Rand Paul and Reparative Thomas Massie introduce Audit the FED bills in both Houses of Congress. [Link]
  • Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has announced he will lead a Congressional delegation to Russia sometime in February. [Link]
  • An Israeli soldier who killed a dying man in the street was convicted of manslaughter. The man had attacked Israeli soldiers but was wounded, unarmed, and laying on the ground at the time he was executed by the soldier. [Link]
  • After the conviction of the Israeli soldier was announced, protests broke out in Israel. The protesters were upset the soldier was convicted. [Link]
  • An Iraqi general says that Iraqi forces have taken 65%-70% of Eastern Mosul from ISIS. He expects the Eastern half of the city to be liberated in the coming days. [Link]
  • The US announced that it has doubled the number of advisors embedded with the Iraqi forces working to retake Mosul. There are now 450 American advisors embedded with the Iraqi troops. [Link]

The One Thing We Can’t Forget About North Korea (and Everywhere Else)

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

“It was easy enough to spot my cheerleader: She was the only person shouting in a crowd of quiet, curious, shy supporters. Her visage dug with deep wrinkles, but she was full of energy and smiles. When I saw her, I merged to the right and gave her a high-five. When I did, a group of women started to cheer me, (‘Bali! Bali!’), and a bunch of kids ran toward me to get their own high-fives. The ice was broken.”

Nick Busca was a foreigner running in a marathon, and up until that point, as he describes in an enlightening Quartz piece that ran Friday, the host country’s citizens had been standoffish. But as Busca would later explain, once the connection was made on the human level, everything else fell away.

Considering this first-hand account — particularly within the context of the current mainstream news headlines — it may surprise readers to know that the host nation Busca is describing is North Korea.

The marathoner opens his story with pain, explaining how his training had been inadequate for the Southeast Asia climate. Busca was in “all sorts of trouble,” he writes, when he heard his cheerleader’s words.

“Bali! Bali!,” incidentally, means “Quicker! Quicker!”

Busca explains that while he was still in physical agony, the simple human gestures were enough to bring his mind back into focus:

“However, those few words of encouragement were able to distract me temporarily from the pain and bring me back to (sur)reality: I was running the North Korea Marathon.”

This wasn’t the first time Nick Busca had run the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, which is held annually in the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang. He’s been running the 42 kilometer race for the past three years and says the positive feedback he got from locals this year is by no means atypical.

“It wasn’t the first time I had bonded with fellow amateur athletes in North Korea,” he writes for Quartz. “In 2014, I found myself talking to an engineering student on a chairlift at the Masik Pass Ski Resort; on the flight there from Beijing, I also chatted with a few members of a women’s soccer team who were coming back from a tournament in Asia.”

Continuing:

“The day after this year’s marathon, with our legs begging for mercy, my tour group visited a soccer academy and played with six- and seven-year-old children. In all of these occasions, when the language barrier kept our cultures apart, sports functioned as a catalyst for social interaction.”

Busca points out that the Olympic charter, which the marathoner notes is held up as “the pinnacle of how we value sports,” promotes a “peaceful society, the preservation of human dignity, and the celebration of friendship as its main values.”

He also reminds readers that even among bitter enemies, sports can act as a vehicle to find common ground as negative, even violent tendencies among participants are being expressed in “a war with the bloodshed of real conflicts.”

But perhaps the most deeply penetrating part of Busca’s narrative comes when he’s addressing the problems with the isolated country.

Acknowledging the demonization of the Kim Jong-un regime in the press and admitting that sure, a lot of what’s being said may be true, the runner says it’s difficult to consider all the negativity when encountering the actual people of North Korea — and that if you do choose to condemn, then you should direct that condemnation toward those who actually deserve it.

“It is hard to travel there without having these kinds of reports in my mind,” Busca writes of the Hermit Kingdom, “but through my journey, I learned that even when we legitimately condemn a regime, we must keep the top of its political pyramid separated from the bottom.”

Then, in moments of almost stunning clarity — sad commentary on an age where reports of drone strikes killing civilians barely register a response from the public — Busca states what would be common sense in a sane world:

“A country’s people may be subjugated to the decisions of their government, but they have their own lives and values — and deserve more than being held to the same ethical judgements we hold their leaders.”

It must be noted here that the same logic should apply to the people of any and all nations.

If you truly believe Bashar al-Assad is an evil dictator who gases his own civilians, then hate him — but don’t let that hatred spill down to the women and children who are being blown apart by bomb-dropping robots in Syria.

If you truly believe Saddam Hussein was a ruthless authoritarian who deserved to be ousted and eventually hanged, then run with that. But don’t for a second believe that the people in the streets of Baghdad had anything to do with the atrocities you associate with their country’s leader.

And if you choose to believe that North Korea is a nuclear threat to its surrounding neighbors, terrific. But try your best to remember that the human beings living under Kim Jong-un’s rule play no part in the decision-making.

I’ll close here with one of Busca’s lines that echoes the feeling he started the piece off with: pain.

Because for many of us, the drone strikes do register. The innocent dead are felt. We didn’t know them, but we know they didn’t deserve to die. And so, their pain, and the pain of the loved ones left behind, becomes ours. Or, as Nick Busca so truthfully states:

“By the 30km mark, it doesn’t matter what country you’re from or what kind of life you live: You just want it to stop.”

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This

So another new Star Wars movie comes out in a couple of months, Rogue One. So far so good. I even like the Star Wars movies I don’t like, so even though it’s this weird just-before Episode IV prequel-thing, and even though I really don’t like the idea of the coming Han Solo and Yoda spin offs — What the hell? — for this one I’m thinking I don’t know, there’s Mon Mothma on Yavin IV, I’ve got a stomach full of member-berries, and oh, hey, there’s Forest Whitaker. That’s interesting, I thought. Maybe this can be a real thing here. That guy’s got some gravity and some acting chops and stuff, right? So maybe he read the script and it was good or something.

I can’t say it makes much sense to me to have a master of Chinese Kung Fu make a cameo in it. Seems a little be too specific to Earth, right? Like Han saying “See you in Hell”?

But anyway, so then I read a thing. And what it said was that the Forest Whitaker character wasn’t originally, but is now based on this other character from the Clone Wars cartoons, Saw Gerrera. They even reshot his scenes after the movie was done to give him hair and everything — in the original trailer he’s bald. But then I forgot about it.

But then I remembered again. So I searched it, and it turns out that Saw Gerrera is the worst character from the worst story line in all of dang Star Wars. You know who he is? He’s Abu Mohammad al-Julani.

And do you know who Abu Mohammad al-Julani is? That’s right. He’s the leader of Jabhat al Nusra, aka Jabat Fateh al-Sham — al Qaeda in Syria.

In the fifth season of The Clone Wars, from 2012, there’s an episode where Obi-Wan Kenobi is John Brennan, sent to arm and train al Qaeda terrorists to overthrow the fascist dictatorship in Syria. We’re so sorry. The War on Shi’ite Droid Separatists has got the Old Republic’s people all crippled and broke and they just don’t want to commit to overthrowing Assad just now, but we’d be happy to send some advisors to train your moderate rebels. It’s so unfair that the regime calls these great freedom fighters terrorists. Haven’t they read The Redirection?

And who’s the leader of the “moderate rebels”? From Wookiepedia:

“In the early resistance against the Separatist Alliance on Onderon, Gerrera and his fellow soldiers were outnumbered and out-fought by the Separatist Droid Army. They requested help from the Jedi High Council, which led the Grand Army of the Republic in its fight against the Separatists, but the Jedi Order chose not to become actively involved in the fighting on Onderon. Instead, they sent a team of advisors — Generals Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Commander Ahsoka Tano, and Clone Captain CT-7567 (“Rex”) — to train the Onderonian fighters. The Jedi and Captain Rex taught them proper techniques and strategies for taking on the battle droid army, and, through their efforts, the rebels began to turn the tide. …

“He later became a key member in the fight against the Galactic Empire and the formation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. His tactics against the Empire led him to be seen as an extremist, one whose notoriety was recognized by the Empire and, many years later, the New Republic.”

This was especially a disgrace because if the writers had been smarter about what was going on in Syria, they could have made a better Star Wars story out of it anyway. Here again is another example of the Sith using the Jedi to create the evil world empire that ultimately will destroy the Republic and them with it. Instead of Anakin and the Jedi’s moralizing about helping the poor FSA, they instead could have had the whole plot develop in the Chancellor’s office in collusion with corrupt foreign and special interests, and more blatantly use the Jedi for evil ends, further alienating them from the Chancellor, and demonstrating the effect the Galactic Clone War had on the institutions of the Republic — as corrupt as it already was. Instead there’s really no lead up to the Empire in the Clone Wars cartoons, the government just goes from day to night, heroes to villains the moment Sam Jackson is out of the Emperor’s way. But this isn’t how it is supposed to be! It was the Clone War that turned the Republic into the dictatorial Empire over the course of three or four years, the former’s Jedi warrior leaders the latter’s willing dupes.

That’s what Star Wars was supposed to be about in the first place: Us. The evil American Empire. The Star Destroyers are Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet; the Emperor is Nixon; the Ewoks, the Vietnamese. It’s the story of how a war destroyed a galaxy before another became necessary to save it.

Whether the director of this new movie gets it at all or we’re just in for a two-hour argument for a Tie-Fighter enforced no-fly zone to protect the rebels who wish to blow up the Death Star because that’s what Grand Moff Hillary wants, remains to be seen. I don’t know. They can’t do that, right? It would be just too crazy of a storyline for anyone to believe.

Update: Imperial Troops Garrison Tatooine

JASTA Passes: Here Are the Implications

© Jim Bourg / Reuters. U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman (R) at Erga Palace in Riyadh, January 27, 2015.

For once, a bipartisan agreement in Congress actually produced a good outcome.

Last week, President Obama vetoed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would allow the 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for its apparent involvement. Many leaders in Congress claimed they had the votes needed to overcome the veto (2/3 in both houses), but it almost seemed too good to be true.

On Wednesday, the votes finally occurred and it wasn’t even a contest. The Senate overrode Obama’s veto 97-1, and the House overrode the veto at 348-77. JASTA will become law, and the principle of sovereign immunity now has an exception for terrorism. Congress doesn’t deserve praise often, but this is one of those days.

JASTA is likely to have several important effects. Here’s a brief rundown:

A Chance for Justice

As a simple matter of justice, JASTA is a very positive development. Until now, there’s been a lot of violent retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks, but the vast majority of it was directed at unsavory people and governments that had little or no connection to the attacks themselves. Thus, real justice has remained elusive.

In the name of 9/11, the US first invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government. This occurred in spite of the fact that the Taliban is not the same thing as Al Qaeda and actually offered to extradite Osama bin Laden for prosecution, under fairly reasonable conditions. The US opted not to pursue diplomacy, however, and threw the country of Afghanistan into chaos that still persists to this day. The Iraq invasion was also partly justified on Iraq’s alleged involvement in 9/11–even though Saddam Hussein’s government was actually a bitter enemy of Al Qaeda and like-minded groups. This too created a situation of unimaginable suffering for the Iraqi people that also persists to the present.

Thus, it’s been darkly ironic that Saudi Arabia, the country that appears to have the most substantial links to the 9/11 attacks, suffered no consequences whatsoever in the aftermath of 9/11. Their alliance with America was preserved intact as America threatened or bombed many of its neighbors. The US government eventually got around to finding and executing Osama bin Laden in 2011–nine years after he might have been captured if the US had accepted the Taliban’s offer. Given this history, it’s fair to say justice hasn’t been fully served in the case of 9/11, and Congress’s action this week will do something to rectify this situation.

New Evidence Could Jeopardize the Saudi Alliance

The discovery procedure involved in the 9/11 lawsuits may reveal new information that has previously been withheld. If this information further confirms suspicions of Saudi complicity in the attacks, it may have negative implications for the US-Saudi alliance. And given that the Saudi government is currently engaged in an aggressive war against neighboring Yemen, with US support, an end to the alliance would be a positive development for peace.

Economic Uncertainty for US and Saudi

Naturally, the Saudi government has opposed any measures that aim to shine a brighter light on Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks. One tactic used by the Saudis was a threat to sell off billions in US government debt.

It’s not clear exactly how much US government debt the Saudi government and its officials actually own. It’s also unclear whether the Saudi government will follow through on this threat now that their nightmare has become a reality. But it is a real risk nevertheless.

Assuming they do decide to sell all of their portfolio, the repercussions in the US economy could be considerable. A large sell-off of US debt would put upward pressure on interest rates that are currently near all-time lows. If the shock is significant enough, it could spark a larger panic in the financial markets.

Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, liquidating their US assets is a double-edged sword. For their threat to be meaningful, they’d have to be willing to try to cause an outright recession. But if such a recession really did occur, the Saudis would suffer as well, because oil prices would likely fall further in the event of a recession.

It remains to be seen what the Saudis will ultimately decide. In the meantime, JASTA just gave the global economy, one more source of uncertainty.

Accountability for US Crimes?

One of the most popular arguments against passing JASTA was that it would subject US personnel to lawsuits as well. However, this argument conveniently omits the fact that the bill only lifts sovereign immunity in the case of terrorism. Should US personnel and the US government really be immune to any legal sanctions if they are committing acts of terrorism? What reasonable person could possibly justify this?

Of course, it seems virtually certain that some parts of the US government have participated in activities consistent with terrorism. This explains the opposition to the law.

Having said that, the official concern that US personnel would be subject to the rulings of foreign courts should be treated with skepticism. The US violates international law and other countries’ wishes on a regular basis, without consequences. The US government has also proved eager to apply double standards internationally whenever it proves convenient. It’s difficult to imagine any of these trends would change just because Congress passed a law.

In fact, the day after the veto was defeated, many lawmakers were already talking up the possibility that the legislation could be modified to further protect US personnel from any legal ramifications. If such a modification is passed, it should be viewed as a formality. The probability that the US government would honor the rulings of a foreign court was basically zero. The most likely modification of JASTA will amount to a novel legal rationale to justify the double standard.  But the double standard will exist either way.

Summary

The passage of JASTA over President Obama’s veto may be the most promising foreign policy development this year. It marks the continuing deterioration of the US-Saudi alliance and the decline of Saudi power in the region.

For supporters of peace and nonintervention, this is all to the good.

News Roundup 4/15/17

  • The US conducted a conducted a test of its new nuclear weapon. [Link]
  • The US is moving ground troops back into Somalia for the first time in 24 years. [Link]
  • The Pentagon denies that the US plans to carry out an attack on North Korea if North Korea carries out a nuclear weapons test. The Pentagon did admit the US is assessing military operations against North Korea. [Link]
  • Military officials say that they did not need Trump’s approval to use the MOAB in Afghanistan. [Link]
  • The US claims to have killed 36 ISIS fighters with the MOAB strike. [Link]

On Foreign Policy Focus #27. I take a look at Trump backing up on campaign promises again. Trump now believes NATO is not obsolete. I discuss Trump moving closer to regime change in North Korea. I also update Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Mosul. LISTEN HERE!!

Duterte Pulls a 180: China to Build Fake Islands Right Off Philippine Coast

This article was originally published at Underground Reporter.

 

Beijing — In a move signaling a point of no return in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pivot to China, it was reported Tuesday the Philippines have granted a state-owned Chinese infrastructure group the right to build artificial islands in the South China Sea — they very practice Duterte’s predecessor had sought to restrict via U.N. intervention.

“China Communication Construction Company (CCCC), a State-owned infrastructure group, recently signed a contract with the Philippines’ Mega Harbour Port and Development Inc. to conduct a 208-hectare land reclamation project in Davao’s harbour,” wrote China’s state-run People’s Daily.

To be built just off the Philippines’ southern coast by “moving sediment from the seafloor to a reef,” the four islands “will be used for government offices, businesses, residences, ports and industrial land.”

The CCCC Dredging chairman stated “the project will elevate cooperation between China and the Philippines’ port construction companies to a new height” and that he “expects the project to become a model for future cooperation between the two nations.”

It was barely three months ago that a United Nations arbitration court ruled China’s nearly all-encompassing claim of territorial rights to the South China Sea was invalid. That case had been brought by the administration of Duterte’s predecessor, President Benigno Aquino, because China had begun to construct artificial islands in those waters.

Such a drastic shift in policy — and the, admittedly, somewhat puzzling nature of it — was remarked on by Steve Mollman who, writing for Quartz, reported on the new China-Philippines deal on Thursday:

“You’d think that rewarding China’s dredging sector would be the last thing the Philippines wants to do. After all, in recent years Chinese dredging ships have been an unwelcome presence in parts of the South China Sea near the Philippines, helping to build islands atop reefs that then became Chinese military bases, complete with runways and ports.”

Indeed, for awhile it appeared the navies of China and the United States — who physically intervened on the side of the Philippines — would succumb to all-out war in the South China Sea.

Tensions have since deescalated considerably, however, due in large part to the fact that Duterte, who’s officially announced he intends for his country’s future to unfold within the Chinese sphere of influence, has taken away the one thing the U.S. needed to stick its nose in the affairs of the region — an excuse.

“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said while speaking at the Great Hall of the People during a historic trip to Beijing last week.

In that speech, the Filipino president made his reasoning for the pivot quite clear. “America has lost,” he said flatly. He made equally clear he wants to be a part of what he feels is the winning side: “I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to talk to (Russian President) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”

So Duterte is now allowing China to build fake islands in the South China Sea.

That statement, in itself, is enough to raise the eyebrows of people following the developments in that region. And with regard to the South China Sea dispute — on the Philippines front, at least — Duterte, in a very real sense, is right. America has lost. Because, after all, it’s awfully hard to convince folks of Chinese aggression when China and the country in question are cooperating voluntarily.

News Roundup 12/15/16

  • Georgia’s Secretary of State confirms that someone from DHS attempted to hack into their voter database ten separate times. [Link]
  • The FED announced a rate hike yesterday. Rates will increase .25% and will now be between .5%-.75%. This is the FED’s first rate hike since last December. [Link]
  • Uber began testing their self-driving cars in San Francisco. The California DMV sent Uber a letter telling them to stop testing and get a permit to test. [Link]
  • Youth smoking continues to decline. Researchers now conclude that vaping is replacing the smoking culture among youth and not leading youth to smoke cigarettes. [Link]
  • An Army sergeant admits to selling weapons to a Mexican drug cartel. He pleaded guilty to the crime this week. [Link]
  • The DEA says that positive news stories about marijuana has made it harder to prosecute and enforce marijuana laws. [Link]
  • Representative Tulsi Gabbard says the CIA has been giving weapons to Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Those countries then give the weapons to al-Qaeda and ISIS. She believes both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are aware of this. [Link]
  • The ceasefire never went into effect yesterday, and fighting in Aleppo continued for most of the day. The rebels said today that the ceasefire was back on and reports are that fighting stopped in Aleppo. [Link] [Link]
  • A US drone strike kills a family of nine in Mosul. At least 40 civilians were killed in fighting around Mosul on Monday. [Link]
  • In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using US made cluster bombs against civilian targets. In one attack, Saudi Arabia attacked fishing boats and killed a civilian. The US continues to support Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen. [Link]
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