Are we closer to a nuclear war?

The article was published in The Guardian

 Trump team drawing up fresh plans to bolster US nuclear arsenal.

The Trump administration is working on a nuclear weapons policy that is intended to mark a decisive end to the era of post-cold war disarmament, by bolstering the US arsenal and loosening the conditions under which it would be used.

A draft of the new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was presented in September at a White House meeting between Donald Trump and his top national security advisers. Congress and US allies have been briefed on the progress of the new draft.

The document is still being debated with a target for completion by the end of this year or the beginning of next. Among the new elements under consideration are a low yield ballistic missile intended primarily to deter Russia’s use of a small nuclear weapon in a war over the Baltic states; a sea-launched cruise missile; a change in language governing conditions in which the US would use nuclear weapons; and investments aimed at reducing the time it would take the US to prepare a nuclear test.

Trump has frequently voiced his intention to build up the US arsenal. According to one report, he was outraged at a meeting with military leaders in July when he was shown a downward sloping graph of the US weapons stockpile since the cold war, and had to be talked out of ordering a tenfold increase.

The White House denied the report but it has repeatedly made clear it aims to adopt a more aggressive nuclear stance.

“You can … be assured that our administration is committed to strengthen and modernize America’s nuclear deterrent,” Mike Pence, the vice-president, said on Friday on a morale-boosting visit to Minot air force base in North Dakota, home to Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and B-52 strategic bombers.

History attests the surest path to peace is through American strength

Mike Pence

“History attests the surest path to peace is through American strength. There’s no greater element of American strength, there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”

Like much else about Trump’s presidency, the new policy is aimed at erasing the legacy of his predecessor. Barack Obama began his administration with a major speech in Prague in April 2009, committing the US to disarmament and the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons globally.

A year after the speech, the US and Russia signed the New Start agreement, restricting both sides to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and bombs, down by about 30% from previously agreed limits.

However, the “Prague agenda” petered out. Aspirations to cut the strategic stockpile by another third, unilaterally if necessary, were abandoned in the face of congressional resistance, North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons programme and worsening relations with Russia.

In February, Russia was reported to have deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile that the US said violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987 with the aim of reversing the nuclear build-up in Europe.

The alleged violation brought calls from defence hawks for the US to respond in kind. Trump officials present it as yet another sign of the failure of Obama’s policies.

On Thursday, Christopher Ford, special assistant to the president on weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, told a meeting on nuclear threats organised by the Ploughshares Fund: “The traditional post-cold war approach of seeking to demonstrate disarmament bona fides by showing steady numerical movement towards elimination, while trying to avoid steps that could actually undermine US national security, has largely run its course and is no longer tenable, especially given evolving security conditions.

“So it’s time to explore alternative approaches – and we are.”

Ford did not provide further details, as he said the NPR was still being worked on. Several sources briefed on its progress said elements under consideration include:

A low-yield ballistic missile, possibly using the Trident D5 missile but using only the first, fission, part of its two-stage warhead.

  • Bringing back nuclear Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missiles, which were dropped from the arsenal in 2013.
  • Reducing the lead time the US would need to resume nuclear testing from its current level of three years.
  • A relaxation of constraints laid down in Obama’s 2010 NPR, which pledged the US would only used its nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners” and never against non-weapons states in compliance with their non-proliferation obligations.

Any change in the US arsenal would have to be approved by Congress, which controls the funding for the nuclear weapons programme and which is already concerned that its ballooning cost is eating away at conventional capabilities.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to issue a new report on Tuesday that would revise cost estimates for the nuclear weapon modernisation programme approved by Obama from $1tn to $1.25tn over the next three decade.

“We never really knew where the money was coming from and now it is even less clear,” said Jon Wolfsthal, who was senior director for arms control and nonproliferation in the Obama White House.

There will also be particular resistance to anything in Trump’s NPR, like the low-yield missile, that is seen as a representing a new nuclear capability.

On the grounds that any such innovations risks setting off a new arms race, the Obama administration enshrined a bipartisan consensus on what were called the “three nos” of weapons doctrine: no new nuclear warheads, no new military missions, and no new military capabilities for existing weapons.

Some critics argued that some enhancements made to US weapons in the Obama era were in a grey area. Adam Mount, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said the developments under consideration by the Trump administration go much further.

Mount said: “When a new procurement plan affords US strategists new options, that’s when it starts to transform the arsenal, and that’s when it takes us on the road to an arms race.”

Are we after 122 countries have voted at the UN, to scrap all nuclear weapons in the world. It seems that the Trump era has changed the game. After a worldwide research of the Pew opinion, where the questing was raised: Who do you think is starting a new world war. The overwhelming answers where “THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA”. Is the US the exceptional state, who can do everything it likes, to get all their policy through on this world?

I do think we, the rest of the world’s population should not be a bystander and just accept all the policy the US is putting on all of us.

The article was published in The Guardian

Airline Racism Against Black and Muslim Passengers Is Out of Hand

On Tuesday, the NAACP released a travel advisory [3] warning African-American travelers that “their safety and well being” might be jeopardized on American Airlines flights. A few weeks prior, in partnership with civil rights organization Muslim Advocates, the organization sent a letter to the heads of eight major airlines, a group that included American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, Virgin and United, demanding they “address the unlawful profiling [4] of Muslims, African Americans, and passengers of color by airlines staff.” The messages were issued on the heels of numerous incidents of black and Muslim (or perceived Muslim) passengers being booted from flights, inexplicably downgraded or treated with disrespect by airline employees. Those cases demonstrate how racism and bigotry pervade every American institution and impact and interrupt the daily lives of people of color.

The NAACP cites four specific examples among what it calls a pattern of disturbing cases in which black travelers were “subject [to] disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.” In April 2016, the Reverend William Barber, a noted civil rights leader who spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is a vocal leader of North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement, was kicked off an American Airlines flight [5] after he complained of racial harassment by two drunken white passengers. The inebriated men, one of whom Barber says loudly stated “he did not like ‘those people,’ and that ‘those people’ made him sick,” were allowed to remain on the flight. (The passenger claims Barber took his words “out of context [6]” while admitting his own behavior “was definitely out of line.”) Barber has filed a lawsuit against the airline.

In a Facebook Live [7] video, Women’s March on Washington co-chair Tamika Mallory describes mildly protesting a seating mix-up to a gate agent, only to be condescendingly interrogated by a white male pilot about whether she planned to “behave” or “be a problem,” and then being booted from the plane despite having quietly taken her seat. (“It definitely was white male aggression,” Mallory has said. “I was singled out, I was disrespected, and he was trying to intimidate me. I was discriminated against.”)

Briana Williams, a Harvard Law student flying with her 4-month-old daughter, says she was thrown off an AA flight [8] after she requested the airline return her stroller during a five-hour delay. Rane Baldwin, who is black, purchased two first-class tickets, the second for her friend Janet Novack, who is white. When the two passengers were given their boarding passes, Baldwin found she’d been [9] reassigned to coach [9], while Novack had retained her first-class seat. Baldwin is an AAdvantage Platinum Select/World Elite cardholder.

“As [Baldwin] asked questions, she was ignored,” Novack write in series of tweets. “However, whenever I asked the same questions, I received thorough answers…The whole reason that I was flying first class was because I was associated with her and her reservation. They were ignoring the cardholder.”

In a piece for the Nation [10], Deepa Iyer catalogues a lengthy list of Muslim and black passenger on various airlines who have faced discriminatory treatment from airline employees. On Southwest Airlines, over a six-month period, a flight attendant pulled a hijab-wearing Muslim woman off a flight because she did “not feel comfortable [11]” with the passenger; a man was kicked off a flight because a white passenger was unnerved by him speaking Arabic on his cell phone; and a group of Middle Eastern men were tossed [12] for asking fellow passengers to switch seats so they could sit together. An American Airlines employee called the cops in response to a minor luggage issue [13] with Symone Sanders, the former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders and a frequent CNN talking head. Iyer also cited the example of Tamika Cross [14], a black physician who responded to a flight attendant’s request for a doctor to help a sick passenger. “Oh no, sweetie, put your hand down,” the Delta employee patronizingly responded to Cross when she volunteered. “[W]e are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.”

The case of Anila Daulatzai, a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, is yet another case in point:

Daulatzai, a frequent Southwest Airlines flier, had a traumatic experience on a flight bound for Los Angeles from Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Daulatzai, a Pakistani American and Muslim woman, asked to be seated far away from dogs on the flight because of an allergy. Southwest Airlines personnel demanded that Daulatzai leave the flight, despite Daulatzai’s assurances that her allergies were not life-threatening. Instead of believing Daulatzai and granting her the agency to make knowledgeable decisions about her own body and her flying preferences, airline personnel and a pilot escalated the situation. They called in airport law enforcement from the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MTAP) who proceeded to forcibly remove Daulatzai off the flight, despite her pleas that she is pregnant. Daulatzai claims that she was pulled from her seat via her belt and then dragged through the aisle with torn pants. But Daulatzai’s ordeal didn’t end there. She alleges that MTAP law-enforcement agents made racist remarks about immigrants. The MTAP also charged her with five criminal charges, including disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer, and resisting arrest.

“There’s something that they just didn’t trust me with,” Daulatzai said in a subsequent interview [15]. “I was a brown woman with a hoodie.”

The comfort of white passengers and airline staff is so fiercely guarded, and racial profiling so absurdly widespread, that one misguided—and hyperparanoid—woman got an Italian economist kicked off a flight [16] because she thought the math equation he was working on was some kind of terrorist missive. And while the cases cited here have gotten press coverage and attention via social media, they’re likely the tip of the iceberg, as the Washington Post points out [17]:

Passengers filed 95 civil rights complaints against U.S. airlines and foreign carriers flying into the country in 2016, according to federal data. That’s a 45 percent uptick from 2015. As of Oct. 16 this year, passengers have filed 70 civil rights complaints against airlines, including at least 13 against American Airlines, according to the Department of Transportation. Even with the increase, these figures probably underrepresent the problem, civil rights organizations say. Many passengers aren’t aware that complaints can be filed with the Department of Transportation. Some only take concerns to the airline or keep quiet about their experiences out of fear of future travel problems or exhaustion with the experience.

American and other airlines have responded on a case-by-case basis, often regurgitating anti-discrimination language from corporate handbooks. In a few cases, they’ve apologized, and in response to the NAACP’s travel warning, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker issued a letter stating the company had “reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.” But the difficulty of erasing racism from any aspect of American society, including airlines, is a way bigger issue than any one meeting can change.

“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s president and CEO said in the organization’s statement. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

by alfonso


CAN criticises Trump’s decision to undermine the JCPOA

October 13, 2017

Today, US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withhold certification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

As the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons strongly criticises this decision.

The JCPOA is a demonstration of how well diplomacy can work. It is an example of the power of multilateral approaches to nuclear weapons that, by necessity involve a range of actors, including those who do not have nuclear weapons.

The JCPOA, like the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, reflects the urgent global imperative to eliminate nuclear weapons and the grave threat they pose. President Trump’s attempt to disrupt the Iran deal, despite the fact that the IAEA has repeatedly certified that Iran is complying with its terms, is a jarring reminder of the immense nuclear danger now facing the world and the urgent need to eliminate these weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offers a pathway towards eliminating this existential threat to humanity.  It is supported by more than two-thirds of all UN Member States. The treaty is a response to the ever-deepening concern of the international community that any use of nuclear weapons would inflict catastrophic, widespread and long-lasting harm on people and our living planet.

The treaty strengthens nuclear nonproliferation by establishing an explicit norm, based on international humanitarian law, that nuclear weapons are anillegitimate means for seeking security, regardless of who possesses them. It recognizes that there are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ nuclear weapons; in the words of Ban Ki-moon there are no right hands for the wrong weapons. President Trump’s rejection of the JCPOA is an incitement to proliferation, makes achieving further agreements to rein in the nuclear threat more difficult,and increases global risk.

This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now. All states should sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a responsible action that supports nuclear disarmament and strengthens nuclear non proliferation.

by Alfonso

What on Earth Are We Doing There?

When our soldiers kill and die in fruitless wars we don’t know about and can’t end, we’re not a democracy anymore — we’re an empire. And perhaps a fading one at that.In our military-revering culture, it’s a strange thing for a president to start a war of words with the grieving families of slain soldiers.

Strange, yes. But from Donald Trump’s campaign season feud with the parents of Humayun Khan, who died protecting fellow soldiers in Iraq, to his recent feud with the mourning widow of La David Johnson, who died on patrol in Niger, it’s no longer surprising. At root in the latest spat is a comment Trump made to La David’s widow Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” Myeshia thought that remark was disrespectful — she later said it “made me cry.”

Beyond insensitive, though, there’s a good chance it simply wasn’t true. Why, after all, should La David have expected to die in a dusty corner of Niger — a Saharan country most Americans (and, one suspects, their president) couldn’t find on a map? And where the U.S. isn’t actually at war? If you were surprised to learn the U.S. has nearly a thousand troops in Niger, you’re not alone. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Armed Forces Committee, told NBC he “had no idea.” Neither did Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat.

Well, the surprises may keep coming.

The New York Times notes that the U.S. now has “over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.” Count it again: 172 countries, out of 193 UN member states. Most of us remain at least dimly aware that we still have thousands of troops in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Cold War outposts like Japan, South Korea, and Germany. But what about the 160-plus others? And where are the nearly 38,000 troops whose location the Pentagon lists as “unknown”?

We catch an occasional glimpse of this global footprint when a U.S. service member dies someplace surprising — as Ryan Owens did earlier this year in Yemen, and a Navy SEAL did several months later in Somalia. More rarely we catch darker reminders still, when our wars abroad come home in the form of terrorist attacks. But mostly the American people remain every bit as in the dark as Graham and Schumer.

Americans like to imagine ourselves as citizens of a democracy that rejects the colonial ambitions of Old World powers like France and the UK. And yet we’ve deployed troops to literally most of the planet, and our leading lawmakers — tasked by the Constitution with the exclusive right to declare war — don’t even know about it.

Worse still, Congress appears to be abetting its own irrelevance.

Earlier this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan quietly killed an amendment by Democrat Barbara Lee that would’ve revoked Congress’ post-9/11 Authorization of Military Force, which has been used as a fig leaf of legality for this global war making. And last month the Senate voted 2:1 to reject an amendment from Republican Rand Paul that would’ve done the same. Odds are, the real victims from our post-9/11 wars live in countries we seldom see or hear about. But as veteran and Army strategist Danny Sjursen writes, “the potential, and all too pervasive, deaths of American service members demand a public hearing” too. Especially when 16-plus years of war doesn’t appear to have made the world any safer. When our soldiers kill and die in fruitless wars we don’t know about and can’t end, we’re not a democracy anymore — we’re an empire. And perhaps a fading one at that.

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of Foreign Policy In Focus.

by alfonso


The trama in Las Vegas

The risk of being killed by other Americans, such as last in Las Vegas, is a much greater threat in the US than the threat of “international terrorism”. Why is that subaltern.

By the end of September, FBI Director Christopher Wray had warned the Senate’s internal committee that the threats of “domestic (homegrown) extremists, cybercriminals, and hostile foreign intelligence agencies and their agents” were threatened.

In the first place, however, he drew attention to the threat posed by terrorism, mainly by the Islamic state and its followers, who are recruited via the Internet and are asked to carry out attacks. It was “much less important than foreign terrorist organizations”, “domestic extremist movements”. Here, too, one is most concerned about “attacks, primarily with firearms, lonesome wolves,” the most prevalent kind of fatal domestic extremist violence. “Especially the target of these attacks are police, ethnic minorities and the US government.”

The FBI director was correct in the “mass shootings”, but obviously underestimated the threat, as the massacre in Las Vegas showed, where Stephen Paddocks, whose motifs are still unclear, equipped with an arsenal of firearms, killed 58 visitors at a country music festival and injured more than 500. Before or during the massacre he seems to have also tried to blow up a large fuel tank of the nearby airfield by shooting at a fuledepo. This could have had devastating consequences, but the fuel is very difficult to ignite for safety reasons. The lone wolf Paddock obviously did not know that bullets are not enough, or bullets have inadvertently strayed into the tanks.

The massacre of Paddock, followed by suicide, was a terrorist suicide attack, which is why the IS probably described the prosperous gamblers as one of his “soldiers”. So far, at least, the claims of the IS have not yet become known to the latter. Joseph Lombardo, the sheriff of the Las Vegas police, tried to distinguish the difference between a “mass shooting” and a terrorist attack by the motivation behind the massacre. A terrorist has motives connected with terrorism, a man like Paddocks is a kind of madman, someone who has gone through a “confused person”. If the terrorist is an evil man, the person who is firing wildly around him, committing an extended suicide, even if he is apparently well planned and prepared, is by no means spontaneous, rather a social misfortune.

In Nevada, however, the massacre could well have been called a terrorist attack, since, according to the terrorism definition, every action that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence is a serious physical injury or death. ” the Lombardo government, the population, or a part of it, is to be put into fear or pressure on them to promote political or social goals ” “We do not know yet whether Paddock’s goal was to go beyond the attempt to attract attention, kill as many people as possible, and reach the” best “list of US massacres. And could fatal anger be a motive?

In the US, it is at least endeavored to kill such massacres as “mass shootings”, in which at least four, three people have recently been killed to be considered as such, if possible not as terrorist attacks. Donald Trump has made this clear again when he calls the massacre an “act of absolutely evil.” This is to avoid the possibility of combining such violent outbreaks with social problems, if possible not with the easy availability of firearms. If this were interpreted as terrorism, Washington would be forced to act.

Barack Obama has repeatedly pointed to the lax weapons laws, and in 2015, after a young American at Umpqua Community College had shot 9 people, tried to compare such recurring suicide attacks with terrorist attacks to criticize how little is done to prevent them, albeit a lot more Americans were killed by firearms than by terrorist attacks: “We have spent over a trillion dollars, passed numerous laws, and devoted entire authorities to the prevention of terrorist attacks on our soil.” But the Congress even prevented, according to Obama, even collect data as one

Violence, the government, the population, or part of it is put into fear or pressure on them to promote political or social goals. “One does not know yet whether Paddocks has pursued any goal beyond trying to attract attention, as many people as possible, to kill the “bestseller” of the massacres committed in the US, and the people were frightened.

In the US, it is at least endeavored to kill such massacres as “mass shootings”, in which at least four, three people have recently been killed to be considered as such, if possible not as terrorist attacks. Donald Trump has made this clear again when he calls the massacre an “act of absolutely evil.” This is to avoid the possibility of combining such violent outbreaks with social problems, if possible not with the easy availability of firearms. If this were interpreted as terrorism, Washington would be forced to act.

Barack Obama has repeatedly pointed to the lax weapons laws, and in 2015, after a young American at Umpqua Community College had shot 9 people, tried to compare such recurring suicide attacks with terrorist attacks to criticize how little is done to prevent them, albeit a lot more Americans were killed by firearms than by terrorist attacks: “We have spent over a trillion dollars, passed numerous laws, and devoted entire authorities to the prevention of terrorist attacks on our soil.” But the Congress even prevented, according to Obama, to gather only data on how to reduce gunfire.

Media then also once made the comparison demanded by Obama. As a result, CNN concluded that at least 1049 Americans killed in the US (33,599) were killed in a US or foreign terrorist attack in 2014 (32). Between 2001 and 2014, terrorist attacks killed 3412 people. This included the exception of 9/11, which killed almost 3,000 people. Even with this exception, the number of people killed in the US firing 440.095 faded in this period, including accidents and suicide. Between 2005 and 2015, 94 people died in the US due to terrorist attacks and 301,797 in guns.

Indeed, in the face of this grotesque divide, it is difficult to understand why the US is on its way to wars, where soldiers and vast numbers of people die, spend huge sums of taxpayers, build walls against migrants, impose entry bans and expand surveillance while opposing the much greater risk can hardly do anything, unless the citizens themselves equip themselves with even more weapons and the security forces are equipped with military equipment. According to surveys, the Americans are very afraid of terrorism, but hardly a gun, much more so before the possible tightening of the arms laws.

From an economic and power policy point of view, the irrational position is to push the greater risk, but quite rational. In efforts to reduce the spread of firearms and to change the social causes of the outbreak (self) of murderous rage, wars, armor, security and surveillance techniques and attempts to maintain control over geopolitically important areas are quite rational and profitable for certain Circles and industries, including the preservation and creation of jobs. Finally, the destruction of cities and infrastructure is a business for the armaments industry and then one for companies that deserve rebuilding.

The military-industrial complex, which includes the entire security sector as well as the universities, is a central economic machine in the USA, which is dependent on the maintenance of wars and conflicts. Therefore, the Trump government cuts social spending, while the funds for military and security forces are to be stepped up. This will continue to promote terrorism abroad, but also in the country, which is necessary to justify the rearmament and the wars and to finance them with tax credits. For this, life is also sacrificed by Americans massacred by Americans. They follow the practice of the Overkill, which the US obeys after the mass extermination campaigns of the Nazis and the Stalinists and led to the first atom bombs used: the “mass shooting” of the state. by (Florian Rötzer)

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