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The Abominable No Fly List

Tsa

Last week the United States government prohibited poet and journalist Amjad Nasser from speaking at an event to inaugurate the Gallatin Global Writers series at New York University. How did the government do this? By having a policeman at the event inform Nasser that he would be arrested if Nasser took his turn to speak at the event? No, that would be a clear prior restraint on speech in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution — a government action courts routinely rule is prohibited. Instead, the US government simply banned Nasser from flying to the conference.

Nasser recounts the process by which his participation in the event was blocked by a faceless Department of Homeland Security agent on the other end of a phone line at London Heathrow Airport. At the airport terminal, Nasser was handed a phone whereupon the US bureaucrat on the call peppered him with personal questions about Nasser and the event at which Nasser was planning to speak. Nasser relates that, after two hours on the phone, the questioner informed Nasser that Nasser was banned from taking the already booked, and by then already departed, US-bound flight.

While Nasser, a British and Jordanian citizen, had to answer a series of questions regarding his private affairs in hopes that he would just be allowed to board the plane and fulfill his speaking commitment, the US bureaucrat on the other end of the line was not obliged to even provide an explanation for why Nasser was prevented from boarding the plane.
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Urgent: Right-Left Alliance Needed to Stop This War!

Last year, public pressure played a big role in stopping US missile strikes on Syria. The biggest difference between then and now was that televisions weren't telling people that ISIS might be coming to their neighborhood to behead them. There were other, smaller differences as well: Britain's opposition, Russia's opposition, and the difficulty of explaining to Americans that it now made sense to join a war on the same side as al Qaeda.

But there's another big difference between last year and this year. Last year was not a Congressional election year. With elections coming this November, Congress declared an early vacation in September and fled town in order to avoid voting a new war up or down. It did this while fully aware that the President would proceed with the war illegally. Most Congress members, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Leader Harry Reid, believe that by allowing a war to happen without explicitly voting for or against it they can best win our votes for re-election without offending their funders.
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Pennsylvania Legislature Moves To Pass Injunctive Law In Wake Of Abu-Jamal Commencement Speech

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There has been some predicable and understandable objections to the selection of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981, as this year’s commencement speaker for Goddard College in Vermont. Faulkner’s widow and others have decried his recorded appearance from Mahanoy state prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania. However, as is all too often the case, politicians have responded to such good-faith objections with a highly questionable, poorly crafted law that allows victims to seek injunctions in future such cases.

Goddard College recognized Abu-Jamal as “an award winning journalist who chronicles the human condition.”

He addressed about 20 students receiving bachelor degrees from Goddard College in Plainfield, where he himself earned a degree from the college in 1996. He told them to
“Think about the myriad of problems that beset this land and strive to make it better.” While he did not discuss his crime, he such “Goddard reawakened in me my love of learning,. In my mind, I left death row.”

Abu-Jamal was a member of the Black Panther Party. He later became a radio journalist and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. On December 9, 1981, Officer Faulkner was shot dead while conducting a traffic stop on a car driven by Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook. Faulkner shot Abu-Jamal in the encounter. The case became a national focus not only because of the death of a police officer but the later errors claimed in association with Abu-Jamal, who initially represented himself with disastrous results.
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Presidents and the War Power

Bombs Over Libya

President Barack Obama's claim that he doesn't need congressional authorization for his current war in Iraq and Syria is troubling. The country's founders would pass out upon hearing his claim that the post-9/11 congressional approval of force in 2001 against the perpetrators of those attacks and their abettors and the congressional resolution approving George W. Bush's invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003 give him the current authority for a very different war against very different people. However, Obama is not the first president to believe that he has the rather imperial authority for war by executive fiat.

Up until 1950, for major conflicts, presidents followed the nation's founders' intent in the U.S. Constitution to obtain a declaration of war from Congress. For the Korean War, however, Harry Truman, really the first imperial president, decided that this vital constitutional requirement was optional. Unfortunately, as I note in my new book -- Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty -- once a bad precedent is set, meaning that the chief executive gets away with an unconstitutional act, future presidents will cite it in carrying out their own questionable actions.

Over American history, that process has thus resulted in an expansion of presidential power much past what the founders had envisioned when they wrote their constitutional blueprint. Thinking of the powerful European monarchs of the day, who took their countries to war on a whim and let the costs in blood and treasure fall to their unfortunate citizens, the founders wanted an executive with severely restricted powers.
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Washington Is Destroying The World

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The aggressive and mindless stance that Washington’s warmongers have taken toward Russia and China have shattered the accomplishment of Reagan and Gorbachev.

Reagan and Gorbachev ended the cold war and removed the threat of nuclear armageddon. Now the neocons, the US budget-dependent (taxpayer dependent) US military/security complex, and the US politicians dependent on campaign funds from the military/security complex have resurrected the nuclear threat.

The corrupt and duplicitous Clinton regime broke the agreement that the George H.W. Bush administration gave Moscow in 1990. In exchange for Moscow permitting a reunified Germany to be a NATO member, Washington agreed that there would be no expansion of NATO to the east. Gorbachev, US Secretary of State James Baker, US ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock, and declassified documents all testify to the fact that Moscow was assured that there would be no expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe.

In 1999 President Bill Clinton made a liar of the administration of President George H.W. Bush. The corrupt Clinton brought Poland, Hungary, and the newly formed Czech Republic into NATO.
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The Siege Of Kobani: Obama’s Syrian Fiasco In Motion

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Another humanitarian catastrophe may be just hours away at Kobani. The latter is the Syrian Kurdish town on the border with Turkey that is now surrounded by ISIS tanks and is being pounded day after day by ISIS heavy artillery. Already this lethal phalanx, which fuses 21st century American technology and equipment with 12th century religious fanaticism, has rolled through dozens of Kurdish villages and towns in the region around Kobani, sending 180,000 refugees fleeing for their lives across the border.

Self-evidently the lightly armed Kurdish militias desperately holding out in Kobani are fighting the right enemy — that is, the Islamic State. So why has Obama’s grand coalition not been able to relieve the siege?  Why haven’t American bombers and cruise missiles, for instance, been able to destroy the American tanks and artillery which a terrifying band of butchers has brought to bear on several hundred thousand innocent Syrian Kurds who have made this enclave their home for more than a century? Why has not NATO ally Turkey, with a 600,000 man military, 3,500 tanks and 1,000 modern aircraft and helicopters, done anything meaningful to help the imperiled Kurds?

Let’s see. The US is making perfunctory air strikes. Yet with no boots on the ground in the context of close urban combat in a city of 50,000 — a major air onslaught would result in massive civilian casualties. Although Obama already has much blood on his hands, he is apparently not ready for a Gaza-on-the-Euphrates.
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The Real Status of Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq

Rp Weekly ButtonAfter 13 years of war in Afghanistan – the longest in US history – the US government has achieved no victory. Afghanistan is in chaos and would collapse completely without regular infusions of US money. The war has been a failure, but Washington will not admit it.
 
More than 2,000 US fighters have been killed in the 13 year Afghan war. More than 20,000 Afghan civilians were also killed. According to a study last year by a Harvard University researcher, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost in total between four and six trillion dollars. There is no way of looking at the US invasion of Afghanistan and seeing a success.
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Hong Kong Boiling — But Gently So Far

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Hong Kong is at a gentle boil. As of this writing, tens of thousands of students have been politely demonstrating, calling for the Beijing-appointed chief executive, C.Y. Leung, to resign and be replaced through free elections.

Politics don’t often divert Hong Kong’s manic obsession with business and finance, but the upsurge of youthful discontent has presented China with one of its biggest popular challenges since the 1989 Tiananmen uprising – which China insists never happened.

So far, China’s Communist Party and its tough new boss, Xi Jinping, have stood back and taken no serious action to curb the peaceful demonstrations. Now, however, protest leaders are threatening to seize government buildings unless Beijing drops plans to select Hong Kong’s new government in 2017. This is a direct challenge to Beijing’s national authority.

Considering that Beijing is ruthlessly crushing protests by Uighur Muslims in its strategic westernmost province of Xinjiang, Hong Kong’s demands for true autonomy and self-rule come at a particularly difficult time for the Communist Party which is feting its 65th anniversary of taking over China.
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America’s Never-Ending War in the Middle East

Saudi King Obama

While President Obama continues—at least for now—to resist redeploying large numbers of U.S. soldiers to fight the Islamic State on the ground, the military components of the anti-Islamic State strategy he has laid out effectively recommit the United States to its post-9/11 template for never-ending war in the Middle East. In the end, such an approach can only compound the damage that has already been done to America’s severely weakened strategic position in the Middle East by its previous post-9/11 military misadventures. 

Thirteen years after the fact, most of America’s political and policy elites have yet to grasp the strategic logic that motivated the 9/11 attacks against the United States. Certainly, al-Qa’ida was not averse to damaging America’s economy and punishing its people. But Osama bin Laden knew that effects of this sort would be finite, and thus of limited strategic value; he had no illusions about destroying “the American way of life.”

The real objective of the 9/11 attacks was to prompt American overreaction: to goad Washington into launching prolonged military campaigns against Muslim lands. These campaigns would galvanise popular sentiment across the Muslim world against the United States, mobilise Middle Eastern publics against regional governments (like the one in bin Laden’s native Saudi Arabia) that cooperate politically and militarily with it, and rally them in favor of jihadi fighters who resist American domination. Looking ahead, the al-Qa’ida leader anticipated that local backlash against U.S. overreaction to a terrorist provocation would ultimately undermine the regional foundations of America’s ability to project massive amounts of military force into the Middle East, compelling it to disengage from the region and go home.
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