Archive for the ‘military’ Tag
Way to go, Mr President. I think we can all agree that it has been a cracking first week. Apart from the swearing-in glitch – which was entirely the fault of that judge – I have supported just about everything that Barack Obama has done.
I liked the speech, and the promise that America is ready to lead again. It is good news that he is getting rid of Guantanamo and water-boarding and extraordinary rendition, all the dread apparatus of the Bush regime.
But before we all get too misty-eyed about the new era, and before Barack devotes himself entirely to the meltdown of the banks, there is one more thing in his diplomatic in-tray. There is one last piece of neocon lunacy that needs to be addressed, and Mr Obama could sort it out at the stroke of a pen.
In a legal nightmare that has lasted seven years, and cost untold millions to taxpayers both here and in America, the US Justice Department is persisting in its demented quest to extradite 43-year-old Londoner, Gary McKinnon.
To listen to the ravings of the US military, you would think that Mr McKinnon is a threat to national security on a par with Osama bin Laden. According to the Americans, this mild-mannered computer programmer has done more damage to their war-fighting capabilities than all the orange-pyjama-clad suspects of Guantanamo combined.
And how? He is a hacker.
More information on Gary McKinnon can be found at freegary.org.uk.
The Israeli army’s chief rabbinate gave soldiers preparing to enter the Gaza Strip a booklet implying that all Palestinians are their mortal enemies and advising them that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute”.
The booklet, entitled Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, was published especially for Operation Cast Lead, the devastating three-week campaign launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire against southern Israel. The publication draws on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Jewish fundamentalist Ateret Cohanim seminary in Jerusalem.
In one section, Rabbi Aviner compares Palestinians to the Philistines, a people depicted in the Bible as a war-like menace and existential threat to Israel.
The rabbi in question has been reprimanded.
This morning, activists from Stop Kernow Arms Trade occupied the roof of Helston Gunsmiths, a company who manufacture tanks & small arms, to highlight the irresponsibility of the arms trade.
In 2007, the UK sold weapons to 11 of the 13 countries identified as being locations with at least one armed conflict in 2006. Helston Gunsmiths were involved in supplying guns to the Iraqi police force which ended up in the hands of Al Qaeda. It’s hard to determine where weapons will eventually end up, and arms manufacturers have a vested interest in keeping things this way. Around 90% of casualties in armed conflicts are caused by small arms, which are used for domestic repression by corrupt regimes and prolong violent conflict.
US aerospace leviathan Boeing was delighted yesterday to announce that its Humvee-mounted “Laser Avenger” deathray weapon had shot down a small drone aircraft.
According to Boeing:
Laser Avenger achieved its principal test objectives by using its advanced targeting system to acquire and track three small UAVs [Unmanned Air Vehicles] flying against a complex background of mountains and desert. The laser system also shot down one of the UAVs from an operationally relevant range. These tests mark the first time a combat vehicle has used a laser to shoot down a UAV.
The Laser Avenger, in which a laser weapon is added to Boeing’s existing Avenger gun’n’missile anti-aircraft system, had previously suffered from a reputation for being a bit feeble. The best it had done to date was to cook off improvised bombs and unexploded shells lying stationary on the ground.
But Boeing say the Laser Avenger now kicks coherent-light arse.
Anti-militarists in Brighton have struck at a local factory of EDO MBM, an arms company which provides components to the Israeli army.
Smash EDO, a protest and direct action group organising against the weapons factory, released the following press release:
MASSIVE DAMAGE AT BRIGHTON ARMS FACTORY.
Nine activists were arrested at a Brighton weapons factory in the early hours of this morning (17th). According to one witness computers and filing cabinets were hurled out of top floor windows as
a group of protesters broke in to the factory in the early hours staging a “citizen’s decommissioning” of the EDO-MBM/ITT arms factory in direct response to the killings of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military.
The activists barricaded themselves into the factory on Home Farm Rd, Moulsecoombe. Eventually 30 police arrived and they were arrested.
Elijah Smith, one of the protesters that broke into the factory, said ““I’m looking at the world scene and I’m getting more and more horrified. I’ve been looking at the law and I don’t feel I’m going to do anything illegal tonight, but I’m going to go into an arms factory and smash it up to the best of my ability so that it cannot actually work or produce munitions and these very dirty bombs that have been provided to the Israeli army so that they can kill children. The time for talking has gone too far. I’m not a writer, I’m just a person from the community and I’m deeply disgusted.”
There have been a total of 9 arrests.
A video of the action can be found here.
The Pentagon has suspended the delivery of a shipload of munitions to Israel after international concern that it could be used by Israeli forces in Gaza.
The German-owned cargo vessel, Wehr Elbe, under charter by the US Military Sealift Command, is currently in Greek waters with its transponder tracking turned off to prevent its location being identified.
Amnesty International has written to the foreign secretary, David Miliband, asking him to make “urgent approaches to the US, German and Greek governments to prevent this, or any pending or future shipments of weaponry until it can be verified that they will not be transferred to the Israeli Defence Forces or other parties to the conflict in Gaza.
“We urge you to ensure that no EU member state will allow their ports or other facilities to be used to transit these or any other weapons to any of the parties to this conflict.”
The Wehr Elbe, owned by the Hamburg company Oskar Wehr, arrived outside the Greek port of Astakos on 1 January, where it was due to transfer its 1,000 containers to another vessel for delivery to Ashdod in Israel.
But after a two week stand-off, amid local protests in Greece, it moved out into the Mediterranean two days ago and disappeared off tracking websites.
Photographic evidence has emerged that proves that Israel has been using controversial white phosphorus shells during its offensive in Gaza, despite official denials by the Israel Defence Forces.
There is also evidence that the rounds have injured Palestinian civilians, causing severe burns. The use of white phosphorus against civilians is prohibited under international law.
The Times has identified stockpiles of white phosphorus (WP) shells from high-resolution images taken of Israel Defence Forces (IDF) artillery units on the Israeli-Gaza border this week. The pale blue 155mm rounds are clearly marked with the designation M825A1, an American-made WP munition. The shell is an improved version with a more limited dispersion of the phosphorus, which ignites on contact with oxygen, and is being used by the Israeli gunners to create a smoke screen on the ground.
The rounds, which explode into a shower of burning white streaks, were first identified by The Times at the weekend when they were fired over Gaza at the start of Israel’s ground offensive. Artillery experts said that the Israeli troops would be in trouble if they were banned from using WP because it is the simplest way of creating smoke to protect them from enemy fire.
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against a rural North Carolina school system that barred a peace activist from talking to high school students about alternatives to joining the military.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, says the Wilkes County school district and its superintendent violated the First Amendment by preventing Sally Ferrell from distributing pamphlets and other materials that warn students to think twice before joining the military.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ferrell and Bill Towe, director of N.C. Peace Action.
“We’ve tried to find another alternative to bringing this lawsuit,” Katherine Parker, legal director of the ACLU’s North Carolina chapter, said Tuesday. “They just will not compromise.”
The legal group is asking a judge to issue an injunction to allow Ferrell, a member of N.C. Peace Action, to distribute the materials and give her the same access to students as military recruiters who are allowed in the schools.
Catholic Priest, former British Marine and Catholic Worker Arrested in “Peace Break In” at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters.
Two Catholic Workers were arrested Monday 8 a.m. after cutting through a perimiter fence at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters in suburban London.
Fr Martin Newell 41 and Susan Clarkson 62 are from the London and Oxford Catholic Worker commmunities where they live and work with refugees from wars in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. While the two were arrested praying inside the base, other members of Catholic Worker communities held vigil at the front entrance reading the names of British and Afghani war dead.
Former British Marine Les Gibbons was arrested while engaging armed guards, M.O.D. police and other Base employees making there way to work at the base. During the arrests, sirens and public address messages from within the base could be heard announcing “Operation Round Up” and a return of all staff to buildings as the base’s security response was put in place.
Northwood Military Headquarters is the command centre for all British forces deployed abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a 43 acre site in suburban London accommodating over 2,000 military and civilian personnel. In recent weeks, two British soldiers commited suicide in Basra while the 136th. British soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on Christmas Eve. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimates over 750 Afghani civilians have been killed by Western forces in 2008.
The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.
The long-planned shift in the Defense Department’s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.
There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.
But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.