Without mentioning the widespread protests against US drone warfare, the mainstream media reports a sharp decline in drone attacks recently. Noted several weeks ago by the Peace and Justice Resource Center, the sudden silence of the drones once again received front-page mention by Scott Shane in the May 22 New York Times in the run-up to President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University.
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The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.
It is terrible enough that Apple produces its 21st-century technology in 19th-century sweatshops overseas. Now the New York Times reports that when it comes to profits, Apple only pretends to be outsourcing overseas, saving themselves $40 billion annually, which would otherwise go to education or deficit reduction. The “offshore” funds are funneled through subsidiaries abroad before landing in government securities in the US. Apple’s supply chain starts with low-wage investment havens and spirals through intermediary countries like Ireland, where two-thirds of its pre-tax income is sheltered, though only one percent of its customers live there.
The Pentagon wants to extend the 2001 Congressional authorization of war against Al Qaeda, enacted following the 9/11 attacks, “at least 10 to 20 years.” If granted by Congress, that would mean open-ended, executive branch secret war in many parts of the globe. The Nusra Front in Syria could be attacked by the US, as could Islamist fighters in northern Yemen and beyond. Drones and Special Forces operations, under the 2001 blanket authorization to use military force, already target insurgents in Yemen, who had nothing to do with 9/11.
Kent State, last week, commemorated the 43rd anniversary of the National Guard killings of four students and the wounding of nine others on May 4, 1970, by the opening of the official May 4 Visitors Center. It was a significant milestone for activists – some already dead, the rest gone gray – determined to uncover the truth and honor the memory of those who died in an anti-war protest on that fateful day.
With the death of 1,127 innocent garment workers, mostly young women, in a Bangladesh factory collapse, there is hope that conditions will finally improve in the sweatshops where garments are manufactured for Western consumers.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has even Robert Scheer justifiably swooning by standing up for students against Wall Street. Public expectations are soaring around Sen. Warren’s role on the Senate Banking Committee, feeding speculation of a future presidential run. Progressives should be delighted, for the moment. For a perspective on what happens to fighting liberals when they join the insider culture of Congress, no one should miss the New York Times article, “The Mellowing of Maxine Waters.”
It is understandable that the mass movement for ending the Afghanistan War has disappeared amidst promises of peace and the compelling demands of other crises. Nevertheless, there will have to be serious monitoring and focus, especially by local peace networks, Congressional opponents and the mainstream media, to prevent the “winding down” from becoming stalled in a political and military bog.
President Barack Obama’s unwillingness so far to accept the two percent victory margin of Nicholas Maduro as Venezuelan president, endorsing instead the Venezuelan opposition’s demand for an audit, hints at the permanence of a US desire for hegemony over Latin America. In an undiplomatic but revealing remark, Secretary of State John Kerry’s, at an April Senate committee hearing, said, "the Western Hemisphere is our backyard," summing up the lingering legacy of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine at a time when all of Latin America is striving for peaceful development on an equal basis with the United States.
While media attention was focused elsewhere, President Barack Obama made an important though low-keyed shift in rhetoric and policy toward Latin America last week. One of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez, was returned home from Florida, where he was kept on probation after serving 13 years in prison. Obama’s decision, criticized as too little, too late by American supporters of Cuba, may be a step toward further diplomatic action for the rest of the Cuban Five and Alan Gross, an American contractor held in Cuba since 2009 for smuggling illegal communications equipment.