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For Shame: The Giant Poster That Shows Drone Pilots the People They’re Bombing

A new project, initiated by a collective of artists from around the world including the French JR, has tried to reach the people pulling the trigger in America’s drone wars—the drone operators themselves.

It’s called “Not A Bug Splat,” and its gets its name from the term drone operators use for a successful “kill,” because—in the pixelated grayscale of the drone camera—ending a human life looks like squashing a bug.

Read more. [Image: Not a Bug Splat]

Israeli teens tell Netanyahu: We will not take part in occupation | +972 Magazine

Dozens of Israel teenagers signed a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday, in which they announced that they would refuse to serve in the Israeli army come draft time.

According to the letter, the teenagers are refusing to enlist in the army due to their “opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories,” where “human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.” Aside from the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian citizens of Israel, army service is mandatory for all Israelis (three years for males, two for females).

The letter goes on to decry the effect of the occupation on Israeli society itself, especially the way it “shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination,” and promotes and perpetuates “male dominance” and oppressive gender structures within the army itself.


When asked about the possible consequences, [17-year old Elza Bugnet] says “We know that the outcome might be problematic, but we cannot be a part of an army that takes upon itself to occupy another people.” “I am sure there will be a big price to pay,” adds Segal, “but I don’t really want to live in a community that measures me by whether or not I served in the army.”

(Source: letterstomycountry)

Study finds "no compelling medical reason" to ban trans people from military


A study released this week confirmed something we’ve known all along — there is "no compelling medical reason" to ban transgender people from serving in the military. 

The report came from the Palm Center, a research center for gender, sexuality and military issues at San Francisco State University, and it was funded by trans veteran Jennifer Pritzker. Trans people are still banned from serving, even though the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell made it legal for openly LGBT people to serve.

Some details that I could never summarize accurately: 

"Arguments based on mental health are not convincing rationales for prohibiting transgender military service, and [the ban] is not consistent with modern medical understanding," the report argues. "Scientists have abandoned psychopathological understandings of transgender identity, and no longer classify gender non-conformity as a mental illness."

The report goes on to explain that the diagnosis “transsexualism” — which is one of the specific conditions listed in the regulations banning trans service members — was replaced in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual by the term “gender identity disorder” in 1994, and once again changed to the diagnosis gender dysphoria in 2013. “While gender identity disorder was pathologized as an all-encompassing mental illness, gender dysphoria is understood as a condition that is amenable to treatment,” the report adds.

The commission also dispelled arguments that suggest that the military providing hormone replacement therapy treatments and gender-confirming surgeries would disrupt deployment plans, and come at too high a cost to the federal government. Outlined in the report, the commission points to the expensive medical treatment non-military personnel often receive, comparing that to the relatively inexpensive and sparingly used treatment of trans service members.

This is SO important. President Obama could theoretically end this ban without Congressional action; I really hope he’s paying attention to this.

During the War on Terror, regulations were not adhered at all. So, for example, you had people who were able to get into the military with swastikas tattooed on their skin. I spoke with the head of recruitment for the United States army about this, he said, “well, there’s first amendment rights.” If someone says they like the way swastikas look, or claim that they are Indian symbols which look very similar, then the commander can basically blow it off. So, there are regulations on tattoos — which are frequently the best indicators for recruiters of extremism — that were broadly ignored.

And then you had the other side, when these people are discovered after they are already in, there are other regulations to deal with that. So, if you are caught posting messages on websites like StormFront, or writing racist messages on places like the New Saxon, a sort of neo-Nazi Facebook, you can be disciplined, and maybe even kicked out of the military altogether. But that didn’t happen, either. In fact, I received reports from the Criminal Investigative Command (CID), which is the criminal investigative arm of the Army, about what happened to white supremacists when they were caught. Some of it is really shocking. In one instance, a soldier passed a military explosives manual to the leader of a white supremacist group. In the report I received from the CID, the military terminated the investigation because the soldier in question had been shipped off to Iraq. This is somebody who may have been planning a domestic terrorist attack! Jaw-dropping.

There are obviously first amendment rights. But if you are training, equipping and then sending white supremacists to a country of brown people, I think that really does trump first amendment rights. I focus on the War on Terror, but there is also the case of Michael Wade Page, who carried out the Sikh Temple Massacre last August. He was serving in the 1990s, a period during which there was supposedly a harsh crackdown on white supremacists in the military, by the military, following the Oklahoma City bombing. Well, Stars and Stripes interviewed friends of Page, who told the paper that he was completely open about his Neo-Nazism while in the Army.
Matt Kennard, Irregular Army: A Conversation with (via toxicmilitary)

The penetration of the military into the nation’s bastions of learning had been gathering pace for decades. In 1996, in the middle of Bill Clinton’s tenure, the Solomon Amendment, named for its sponsor, US Representative Gerald B. H. Solomon, permitted the denial of federal funding to any educational institution which refused to allow military recruiters to go about their business on campus. This increased level of aggressive recruitment was facilitated and supported by one of George W. Bush’s flagship pieces of legislation. In 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law with great fanfare and bipartisan support. The act was supposed to enforce a more standardized testing regimen, but deep into its thousands of pages was a directive that would prove to be of huge help to recruiters looking to pester high school students to sign up. Though it drew no comment from the media at the time, which probably didn’t have time to read the whole thing, the Act stipulated: “each local educational agency receiving assistance under this Act shall provide, on a request made by military recruiters or an institution of higher education, access to secondary school students names, addresses, and telephone listings.” In other words, high schools would now be obliged to hand over the phone numbers of all their pupils (no matter how young) to military recruiters, so a process of grooming them for service in the US military could get underway. It represented the manipulation of US youth at its worst. Before the age of eighteen, young people were not trusted to vote, to make legal or medical decisions, among others, but now they were ready to be solicited for the job of putting their life on the line.


Investigative journalist David Goodman did the most serious research into the effects of this policy. He found that the Pentagon had gathered the names of 34 million young people, what they called “the largest repository of 16-25-year-million young people, in something they called the JAMRS database, or the Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies program run by the DOD.


The result was a full-scale militarization of high schools throughout America. A concerned BBC report profiled Sergeant Larry Arnold, a career soldier “with a charming line of fast-paced chatter” who “circulates through the town like a salesman.” The victims of his sales routine were the youth of Kokomo, Indiana—population 46,000—many of whom receive “cold calls” from the sergeant in order to get them to enlist. “He uses lists of student that federal law requires the schools to provide to military recruiters,” the article notes, without referencing the offending No Child Left Behind Act. Therefore “it is not uncommon for students to get calls from every branch of the service.” Sgt. Arnold said that army recruiters will make 300 calls a day, adding, “Pressure is always there. It’s the army, it’s your mission, and they drill that into you every day.”


In the process, they were breaking the law. A report, Soldiers of Misfortune, by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that the US government was actually in contravention of an international protocol prohibiting the recruitment of children into military service when they are under eighteen years old. It also noted that the US military disproportionately targets poor and minority public school students, but its findings were dutifully ignored after being submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Maybe that was because the US is one of only two countries (the other is Somalia) to have never ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even so, the Senate puts the age minimum for recruitment at seventeen, but the report found that recruiters “regularly target” younger children, “heavily recruiting on high school campuses, in school lunchrooms, and in classes.”

Matt Kennard, Irregular Army: How The US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror. (via toxicmilitary)


Why are We Arming Israel to the Teeth?

We Americans have funny notions about foreign aid. Recent polls show that, on average, we believe 28 percent of the federal budget is eaten up by it, and that, in a time of austerity, this gigantic bite of the budget should be cut back to 10 percent. In actual fact, barely 1 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid of any kind.

In this case, however, truth is at least as strange as fiction. Consider that the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past three decades isn’t some impoverished land filled with starving kids, but a wealthy nation with a per-head gross domestic product on par with the European Union average, and higher than that of Italy, Spain, or South Korea.

Consider also that this top recipient of such aid—nearly all of it military since 2008—has been busily engaged in what looks like a 19th-style colonization project. In the late 1940s, our beneficiary expelled some 700,000 indigenous people from the land it was claiming. In 1967, our client seized some contiguous pieces of real estate and ever since has been colonizing these territories with nearly 650,000 of its own people. It has divided the conquered lands with myriad checkpoints and roads accessible only to the colonizers and is building a 440-mile wall around (and cutting into) the conquered territory, creating a geography of control that violates international law.

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New Ambassador Caroline Kennedy Shocks the Japanese with Her Strong Criticism of Japan's Cruel Dolphin Slaughters. What Comes Next?

(Source: thisisnotjapan)

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