U.S. Military Is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa

The Intercept, By Nick Turse, September 29

From high above, Agadez almost blends into the cocoa-colored wasteland that surrounds it. Only when you descend farther can you make out a city that curves around an airfield before fading into the desert. Once a nexus for camel caravans hauling tea and salt across the Sahara, Agadez is now a West African paradise for people smugglers and a way station for refugees and migrants intent on reaching Europe’s shores by any means necessary.

Africans fleeing unrest and poverty are not, however, the only foreigners making their way to this town in the center of Niger. U.S. military documents reveal new information about an American drone base under construction on the outskirts of the city. The long-planned project — considered the most important U.S. military construction effort in Africa, according to formerly secret files obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act — is slated to cost $100 million, and is just one of a number of recent American military initiatives in the impoverished nation.

The base is the latest sign, experts say, of an ever-increasing emphasis on counterterror [?!??!] operations in the north and west of the continent. As the only country in the region willing to allow a U.S. base for MQ-9 Reapers — a newer, larger, and potentially more lethal model than the venerable Predator drone — Niger has positioned itself to be the key regional hub for U.S. military operations, with Agadez serving as the premier outpost for launching intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions against a plethora of terror groups.
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Trudeau government approves Petronas’ $36-billion LNG project in BC

Daily Hive (Vancouver), By Kenneth Chan, September 27

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has provided the $36-billion Pacific Northwest liquid natural gas (LNG) production and export facility project in Prince Rupert, BC with the green light to proceed. The announcement was made by members of the federal cabinet at a press conference held in Richmond this evening.

“The Pacific NorthWest LNG Project will deliver thousands of good middle-class jobs and will help pay for schools and roads and social programs that enrich people’s lives,” said Jim Carr, federal Minister of Natural Resources.

Coincidentally: US drives rainforest destruction by importing Amazon oil, study finds

Jill Stein’s money isn’t where her mouth is

stein

Looking at Jill Stein’s federal filing reveals a lot of capitalist investment in industries she decries.

She rails against toxic chemicals while holding over fifty thousand dollars of 3M stock, and against “Big Pharma” while holding as much in Merck. She spray paints bulldozers sitting on six figures of Home Depot. These companies alone pay her yearly dividends between $4500 and $11,500.

But the big money is in her myriad of mutual funds. I pulled up the prospectus for a random fund, the Vanguard 500 she has at least $500,000 in, up to a million.

Their fourth largest holding is Exxon shares.

It’s a robust portfolio. She’s got bonds, she’s got annuities, she’s got precious metals, IBM and Intel, Treasury notes and Johnson & Johnson. Over four million dollars in all, between her and her husband.

Very little seems geared toward socially responsible investing.

Her attacks on “corporate” opponents ring hollow.

The South Is Organizing — and There’s No One to Cover It

Workers are less scared of organizing when the press is covering them. The solution? More labor reporters in the South.

Pacific Standard, By Mike Elk, September 5

The striking thing about being a recent northern immigrant to the South is how often I walk into a bar and hear people talking about Bernie Sanders. As an outsider to the region (I’m a native of the East End of Pittsburgh), I sometimes find it incredible: Go into any bar in the South and all the young folks are feeling the Bern. While Sanders lost big in these states, he did win among southern Millennials — yet another indication that the South is changing a lot faster than some folks realize.

Yet people up North are always shocked to hear this. Too often, the only depictions of the South that we get via national news are cartoon caricatures of Confederate flag enthusiasts. As a result, we often forget about the progressives in the South. In part, the Internet has played a role in creating them, in replacing local news outlets as the place to follow national politics. People in the South read the same blogs we do; their Tinder profiles include witty references to Michelle Obama. I meet young people in the South all the time who ask me, “What was it like before Obama?” These people literally don’t remember an America that didn’t have a black president or an Occupy Wall Street movement. They aren’t yokels, and they aren’t products of the Old South — they are products of a digital South in the age of Obama.
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Secret government electronic surveillance documents must be released, judge says

Vice, By Jason Leopold, September 17

In a major victory for journalists and privacy and transparency advocates, a federal court has started the process of unsealing secret records related to the government’s use of electronic surveillance.

US District Court Judge Beryl Howell said at a hearing Friday morning that absent an objection by government attorneys, the court would post to its website next week a list of all case numbers from 2012 in which federal prosecutors in Washington, DC applied for an order to install a pen register or a trap and trace device.
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DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit

ProPublica, By Lauren Kirchner, September 12

Police in Florida and other states are building up private DNA databases, in part by collecting voluntary samples from people not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime.

The five teenage boys were sitting in a parked car in a gated community in Melbourne, Florida, when a police officer pulled up behind them.

Officer Justin Valutsky closed one of the rear doors, which had been ajar, and told them to stay in the car. He peered into the drivers’ side window of the white Hyundai SUV and asked what the teens were doing there. It was a Saturday night in March 2015 and they told Valutsky they were visiting a friend for a sleepover.

Valutsky told them there had been a string of car break-ins recently in the area. Then, after questioning them some more, he made an unexpected demand: He asked which one of them wanted to give him a DNA sample.
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Reflections on Frank Biggio’s “Thank me for my military service by voting for Hillary Clinton”

Decorated Marine Corps veteran Frank Biggio joins the ranks of service members unable to accept Trump as a valid candidate for Commander in Chief.

“This is a mercurial man who will have almost unchecked authority to put uniformed men and women in harm’s way, but whose understanding of foreign affairs and military strategy is based almost solely on his instincts rather than analysis,” he writes.

When I enlisted my grasp of politics was pretty weak. Presidents were boring white guys. I’ve grown a lot since then. I’m very glad I didn’t serve under Dubya. I would have only found out after the fact I’d participated in Shock & Awe. I’m terrified at the thought of our troops under Trump. We’ve seen how he treats his employees, who he has to occasionally bump into. I can’t imagine the pointless violence he’d inflict in lands he’ll never set foot.

He says he’ll toss out the generals and install his own. That’s fascism, folks, no exaggeration. He wants to use the US military to further his own political and corporate goals.

Trump wants to prove himself on the job. We’re supposed to trust a temperament we’ve never seen, to execute plans that haven’t been made, based on a grasp of global power balances that frankly gets outclassed by any regular NY Times reader.

It’s no joke that economists advising international firms rank Trump as a top 10 threat to humanity.

There’s a certain personal irony that part of my time was spent shooting down SCUDs meant for the Jews of Tel Aviv, and now we’re faced with a candidate who “surely doesn’t mean all those racist things he says.”

The Biggest Strike in World History? No Thanks, We’re Focusing on the New iPhone

Trade unions in India representing some 180 million workers staged a one-day strike—and there was virtually no coverage by mainstream American media.

FAIR / Alternet, By Jim Naureckas, September 9, 2016

When tens of millions of workers go out on strike in the second-largest country in the world—and the third-largest economy in the world—resulting in what may be the biggest labor action in world history (AlterNet, 9/7/16), you’d think that would merit some kind of news coverage, right?

Not if you’re a decision-maker at a U.S. corporate media outlet, apparently.

A coalition of trade unions in India representing some 180 million workers staged a one-day general strike on Friday, September 2, in protest of what they called the “anti-worker and anti-people” policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an advocate of neoliberal policies and increased foreign investment (Democracy Now!, 9/2/16). Assocham, India’s chamber of commerce, estimated that the economic impact of the strike was $2.4 billion–$2.7 billion (Hindustan Today, 9/3/16).
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Why prisoners nationwide are striking

CBS News, By Aimee Picchi, September 9

Prisons can’t run without inmates, in more ways than one. Prisoners wash floors, work in the laundries and kitchens, and provide a large amount of the labor that keeps their facilities running. In return, they earn pennies per hour or even no pay at all.

That’s sparking what may be the largest prison strike yet as inmates across the country plan to stop working on Friday. The strikers are calling for an end to forced labor and what they call “prison slavery.”

It’s no coincidence that they picked Sept. 9 as the strike date: It’s the 45th anniversary of the Attica riot, when prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York rioted for better conditions.
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The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire

Counterpunch, By Mike Whitney, August 25

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:

“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.

Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment.

The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.” (Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest)

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