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United States: Lagging on Landmine Ban

“It’s going to be embarrassing for the US to have to explain to the high-level officials at the summit meeting why it has been reviewing its landmine policies for five years without making a decision,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of more than 400 nongovernmental organizations. “It’s time for the US to commit to the Mine Ban Treaty as the best framework for achieving a world without landmines.”

The United States is not among the 161 nations that have signed the treaty, which comprehensively bans antipersonnel landmines and requires their clearance and assistance to victims. The Clinton administration in 1997 set the objective of joining the treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration reversed course in 2004.

Photo: Two victims of landmines sit at a prosthetic center in Sanaa, Yemen on January 30, 2014. © 2014 Reuters


Obama cites Israeli Supreme Court to justify killing Americans without trial
June 24, 2014

Almost three years have passed since the United States government extrajudicially murdered American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen. Al-Awlaki, although described by the government as a “terrorist” mastermind, had never been charged with any crime.

The Obama adminstration refused to disclose the legal reasoning behind the killing. But thanks to Freedom Information Act lawsuits by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a redacted version of the Department of Justice memo outlining the Obama administration’s rationale for killing American citizens abroad without trial is now public

Authored by David Barron—former chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, who has since been appointed by Obama to a federal judgeship—the 41-page document seeks to legitimize so-called targeted killings, a practice Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, vigorously condemned Israel for using against Palestinians during the second intifada. 

Shout out to Israel

This makes it all the more ironic that the Obama administration’s kill memo cites an Israeli Supreme Court decision to justify al-Awlaki’s summary execution. 

On page 40, the kill memo — using an alternative transliteration for al-Awlaki’s name — states:

In addition to the nature of the threat posed by al-Aulaqi’s activities, both agencies here have represented that they intend to capture rather than target al-Aulaqi if feasible; yet we also understand that an operation by either agency to capture al-Aulaqi in Yemen would be infeasible at this time.

Below that, the memo cites Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) v. Government of Israel, a 2006 Israeli Supreme Court decision that ruled that the targeted assassinations of hundreds of Palestinians since the start of the second intifada were legal and did not violate international law. The memo provides this as the basis for determining the infeasibility of al-Awlaki’s capture, with the following explanation in parenthesis:

although arrest, investigation and trial “might actually be particularly practical under the conditions of belligerent occupation, in which the army controls the area in which the operation takes place,” such alternatives “are not means which can always be used,” either because they are impossible or because they involve a great risk to the lives of soldiers.

War of terror

It should not come as a surprise that the US is echoing Israeli rationale to validate its own belligerence in the “war on terror,” which bears a striking resemblance to Israel’s decades-long war on the Palestinians and its neighbors. 

In the summer of 2001, then US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indykdeclared, “The United States government is very clearly on record as against targeted assassinations. They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that.” 

This philosophy was thrown out the window following the 11 September, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. Even so, the Bush administration carried out extrajudicial killings sparingly in comparison to Obama, who has embraced assassination as the centerpiece of his counterterrorism strategy, killing thousands in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia in the process.

Full article

On Tuesday, June 17, 2014, President Obama announced a proposal to create one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The proposal recommends that the current protected area be expanded from nearly 87,000 square miles to approximately 782,000 square miles. This would effectively double the area of ocean that is fully protected from activities such as fishing and energy exploration, according to the Washington Post.

—Deanna Connors (June 23, 2014). Gorgeous photos of the Pacific Remote


South Dakota Tribes Barred from Obama Meeting By Brandon Ecoffey

PINE RIDGE –– President Obama’s historic visit to Standing Rock last week was celebrated across Indian Country. However, after days of speculation, neighboring tribes from South Dakota were barred from a round table discussion that the president had with tribal leaders from North Dakota.

“President Obama missed out on a real opportunity to have a face to face consultation with tribes in South Dakota,” said Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer. “We had several issues that we had planned on bringing to President Obama but that wasn’t allowed to happen.”

Earlier this year Brewer had walked out of a meeting with White House officials after he and several other tribal leaders were greeted by what he called “low-level” staffers during the highly publicized Cowboy and Indian Alliance protests in Washington D.C. against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.


Fossil fuels maintain America’s geostrategic advantage

Despite a convincing study detailing how America’s largest city, New York, could be entirely powered by wind, water and sunlight by 2050, Obama’s “all of the above” means in practice that the emphasis continues to be on maximizing fossil fuel extraction to undercut rival countries and maintain an imperial geostrategic advantage…

—Williams, Chris (2013, April 2). Imperial recipes for a burnt planetSocialist Worker, pp. 10.

Death From Above: How American Drone Strikes Are Devastating Yemen


this is surely a crime against humanity that the u.s. government is engaged in.


On the ground in a country where unmanned missile attacks are a terrifyingly regular occurrence.

Last year, London-based forensic psychologist Peter Schaapveld presented research he’d conducted on the psychological impact of drone strikes in Yemen to a British parliamentary sub-committee. He reported that 92 percent of the population sample he examined was found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – with children being the demographic most significantly affected. Women, he found, claimed to be miscarrying from their fear of drones. “This is a population that by any figure is hugely suffering,” Schaapveld said. The fear of drones, he added, “is traumatizing an entire generation.”
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