daniel hale sits holding a cat on a couch against a green wall

Daniel Hale Is Used As A Warning To Would-Be Whistleblowers

When those who expose the crimes of the state are criminalized and sent to prison, tyranny is inevitable.

By Chris Hedges, Scheerpost

Daniel Hale, dressed in a khaki uniform, his hair cut short and sporting a long, neatly groomed brown beard, is seated behind a plexiglass screen, speaking into a telephone receiver at the federal prison in Marion, Illinois. I hold a receiver on the other side of the plexiglass and listen as he describes his journey from working for the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to becoming federal prisoner 26069-07.

daniel hale sits holding a cat on a couch against a green wall

Hale, a 34-year-old former Air Force signals intelligence analyst, is serving a 45 month prison sentence, following his conviction under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified documents about the U.S. military’s drone assassination program and its high civilian death toll. The documents are believed to be the source material for “The Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, on October 15, 2015.

These documents revealed that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations drone airstrikes killed more than 200 people — of which only 35 were the intended targets. According to the documents, over one five-month period of the operation, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The civilian dead, usually innocent bystanders, were routinely classified as “enemies killed in action.”

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Man dressed in red and yellow carries the Chilean flag down the street

Chile's New, Progressive Constitution Mocked By US Media

Is Chile’s draft constitution undemocratic—or too democratic?

By Ari Paul, FAIR

Chileans will vote in September on whether to approve a new constitution that promises to address inequality and lack of democracy (Reuters7/4/22). It would replace the present constitution imposed by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who came into power through a US-backed coup in 1973. The nation’s newly elected left-wing leadership is calling for a “yes” vote, although in the much-divided country, the constitution faces steep opposition from the right.

Man dressed in red and yellow carries the Chilean flag down the street

US and Western editorialists are also pushing for a no vote. Opposition to the constitution’s economic changes should be expected; of course conservative and corporate centrist outlets will be against a proposed constitution that would make way for economic regulation and nationalization. But the idea being pushed that a democratic process to upgrade the national framework from one designed under despotism is against “democracy” is both Orwellian and an effective propaganda tool against popular progress.

Wall Street Journal op-ed (7/27/22), penned by Axel Kaiser of the right-wing Atlas Center, complained that the proposed constitution “could destroy Chile’s economy, democracy and integrity as a nation.” Exhibit A was “a new entity, the Council of Justice, to evaluate judges’ performance and decide whether they can remain on the bench”—thereby paving the way for a “dictatorial regime.” Given that unaccountable judges in the United States are stripping citizens of basic human rights, some US readers might be more sympathetic to the introduction of a check on judicial power.

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Participants to the Women's March event carry

Despite Trifecta Control, Democrats Have Barely Expanded Welfare

All that is left of Biden’s welfare platform is an increase in premium subsidies for the 3.6 percent of Americans who get insurance from the ACA exchanges.

By Matt Bruenig, People’s Policy Project

During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden proposed a lot of additions to the US welfare state. These included:

Participants to the Women's March event carry

  1. Enacting paid family leave.
  2. Enacting child care subsidies.
  3. Enacting universal pre-k.
  4. Increasing the Child Tax Credit, eliminating the CTC phase-in, and paying it out monthly.
  5. Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
  6. Increasing allowed contributions to Dependent Care Flexible Savings Accounts.
  7. Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  8. Increasing monthly Social Security benefits for very old Americans.
  9. Increasing the Social Security special minimum benefit.
  10. Increasing the Social Security survivors benefit.
  11. Increasing the maximum SSI benefit for disabled people .
  12. Eliminating the 5-month waiting period for receiving SSDI.
  13. Eliminating the 2-year waiting period to receive Medicare for individuals on SSDI.
  14. Expanding the Medicaid long-term support and services program.
  15. Creating a public option for health insurance.
  16. Providing insurance to uninsured people in the Medicaid gap.
  17. Increasing the premium subsidies for exchange insurance plans.

Some of these policies were enacted temporarily as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Others were in initial drafts of the Build Back Better (BBB) legislation.

But, with the release of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), it’s now clear that none of these proposals will be enacted beyond this year except the last one: increasing the generosity of the Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) for individuals who buy insurance on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. And even the change to the APTC is set to expire after 2025.

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A little girl taking care of a baby and living in the wooden makeshift place of Internally Displaced Persons in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria.

US Played A Covert Role In Nigerian Attack On A Refugee Camp

The 2017 bombing of a displaced persons’ camp was termed a “U.S.-Nigerian” operation, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.

By Nick Turse, The Intercept

The United States played an unacknowledged role in the 2017 bombing of an internally displaced persons’ camp in Nigeria that killed more than 160 civilians, many of them children.

A surveillance plane circled above the Rann IDP camp, which housed 43,000 people and was controlled by the Nigerian military, before a jet arrived and bombed the area where people draw water from a borehole, survivors of the attack said. The jet then circled and dropped another bomb on the tents of displaced civilians sheltering there.

A little girl taking care of a baby and living in the wooden makeshift place of Internally Displaced Persons in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria.

The Nigerian air force expressed regret for carrying out the airstrike, which also killed nine aid workers and seriously wounded more than 120 people. But the attack was referred to as an instance of “U.S.-Nigerian operations” in a formerly secret U.S. military document obtained exclusively by The Intercept.

Evidence suggests that the U.S. launched a near unprecedented internal investigation of the attack because it secretly provided intelligence or other support to the Nigerian armed forces, a contribution hinted at by Nigerian military officials at the time. The U.S. inquiry, the existence of which has not been previously reported, was ordered by the top American general overseeing troops in Africa and was specifically designed to avoid questions of wrongdoing or recommendations for disciplinary action, according to the document.

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Henry Cuellar sits at a desk

Anti-Abortion Democrat Henry Cuellar Also Hates Workers' Rights

Henry Cuellar, the conservative, antiabortion Democratic congressman — who Nancy Pelosi called a “fighter for hardworking families” — has shocked the labor movement with a radical bill seeking to eviscerate workers’ rights.

By Liza Featherstone, Jacobin

Representative Henry Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, has introduced a bill eviscerating labor rights that would make the Koch brothers proud.

Cuellar’s bill bears a gaslighting moniker: the Worker Flexibility and Choice Act — joining the Clear Skies Act and the Class Action Fairness Act in the annals of bills whose names are the exact opposite of their actual intent.

Henry Cuellar sits at a desk

Cosponsored with Trumpian Republican Congresswomen Elise Stefanik and Michelle Steel, the bill creates whole new ways for employers to get out of paying minimum wage and overtime, extending the gig economy’s stress and chaos to millions more workers. As employment law professor Veena Dubal of University of California Hastings Law put it on Twitter, this bill would “make earning a living nearly impossible” for workers without bargaining power.

Cuellar, who represents Texas’s Twenty-Eighth District, gets significant funding from Koch organizations. That’s not surprising, since he’s been working to destroy Americans’ already fragile workplace rights for years. The scandal is that the Democratic national leadership fought hard to help him get elected. They did this not in a general election — against a Republican who might well have been even worse — but in a primary against a challenger, Jessica Cisneros, an immigration rights lawyer backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Justice Democrats.

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Ukrainian servicemen march during a final rehearsal for the Independence Day military parade in central Kyiv, Ukraine August 22, 2021.

Ukraine Has Received Billions In US Weaponry This Year

The US provided a hefty $8.2 billion to Ukraine  to facilitate battling a superpower.

By Thalif Deen, In Depth News

The five largest recipients of US weapons have traditionally included Saudi Arabia, Australia, South Korea, Japan and Qatar.

Ukraine, which was ranked as the 50th largest importer of US arms, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), is now set to make a giant leap upwards.

Ukrainian servicemen march during a final rehearsal for the Independence Day military parade in central Kyiv, Ukraine August 22, 2021.

During 2017-2021, Saudi Arabia accounted for 23% of US arms exports, Australia 9.4%, South Korea 6.8%, Japan 6.7% and Qatar 5.4%.

But these were all paying customers compared to Ukraine which has received billions of dollars in US weapons gratis—in its five-month-old battle against one of the world’s major nuclear powers.

The distribution of weapons, including large donations from Western Europe, are being coordinated by the International Donor Coordination Center, which has moved over 78,000 tons of arms and ammunitions worth more than $10 billion, both from US and Western allies, according to the New York Times.

In a fact Sheet released July 22, the State Department said the United States has committed a staggering $8.2 billion in arms and security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration in early 2021, with an accelerated flow of weapons following the Russian invasion on February 24.

A partial breakdown of US arms to Ukraine includes:

Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; more than 6,500 Javelin anti-armor systems.

Over 20,000 other anti-armor systems.

Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems.

126 155mm Howitzers and up to 411,000 155mm artillery rounds.

72,000 105mm artillery rounds.

126 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers.

22 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment.

16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition.

Four Command Post vehicles.

Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).

20 Mi-17 helicopters.

Counter-battery systems.

Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.

200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers.

Over 10,000 grenade launchers and small arms.

Over 59,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition.

75,000 sets of body armor and helmets.

Approximately 700 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems.

Laser-guided rocket systems—and more.

Norman Solomon, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy and Director, RootsAction.org told IDN the massive arms shipments from the United States to Ukraine are in sync with the refusal of the US government to engage in serious diplomatic efforts as the horrific Russian war on Ukraine continues.

“The military-industrial complex of the USA is thriving on the war crimes of the Kremlin, as if in a macabre and tacit partnership. It’s not difficult to discern some forms of glee—in effect, “let’s you and them fight”—from the governing U.S. establishment as it voices enthusiastic support for Ukrainian people who are suffering and dying. Yet the war can only end through negotiations and diplomacy,” he said.

There is scarcely any evidence that the top policymakers in Washington have real interest in seeking to nurture diplomatic initiatives that could halt the carnage, argued Solomon.

“Instead, we get endless rhetorical flourishes in harmony with the sounds of massive weapons shipments being rushed to Ukraine. For the arms contractors making a killing, it’s win-win; this is a war they cannot lose.”

It is mere realism to observe how fantastically lucrative the ongoing war is proving to be for US-based weapons dealers—and a longer war means still more huge profits, said Solomon, author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death“.

He said the recent news reports that the White House is “exploring” whether to ship fighter jets to Ukraine is a further indication that the US administration is in the midst of extremely dangerous mission creep.

Back on March 11, President Biden declared that sending jets with US pilots and crews to Ukraine would amount to “World War III.”

Yet, he is now reportedly considering a big step in that direction. Instead of more massive shipments of weaponry, what’s desperately needed is a commitment to leave no stone unturned on behalf of finding diplomatic solutions that can end this war, said Solomon.

Meanwhile, the State Department says the United States is committed to strengthening allies and partners worldwide to meet their sovereign self-defense needs and to improve their capabilities to operate with US forces to address shared security challenges.

The Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs oversees most government-to-government arms transfers and commercial export licensing of U.S.-origin defense equipment and technologies, consistent with the Arms Export Control Act, the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and other statutory authorities and relevant international agreements.

Additionally, according to the July 22 State Department Fact Sheet, US weapons to Ukraine also included:

  • Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
  • 26 counter-artillery radars;
  • Four counter-mortar radars;
  • Four air surveillance radars;
  • Two harpoon coastal defense systems;
  • 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats;
  • M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
  • C-4 explosives, demolition munitions, and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
  • Tactical secure communications systems;
  • Thousands of night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders;
  • Commercial satellite imagery services;
  • Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear;
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
  • Medical supplies to include first aid kits;
  • Electronic jamming equipment;
  • Field equipment and spare parts;
  • Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

The United States also continues to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with additional capabilities to defend itself.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Russian Federation’s military and paramilitary services are equipped mostly with domestically-produced weapons systems, although since 2010, Russia has imported limited amounts of military hardware from several countries, including Czechia, France, Israel, Italy, Turkey, and Ukraine.

The Russian defense industry is also capable of designing, developing, and producing a full range of advanced air, land, missile, and naval systems. As of 2021, Russia is the world’s second largest exporter of military hardware.

The Russian armed forces include approximately 850,000 total active-duty troops (300,000 Ground Troops; 40,000 Airborne Troops; 150,000 Navy; 160,000 Aerospace Forces; 70,000 Strategic Rocket Forces; approximately 20,000 special operations forces; approximately 100,000 other uniformed personnel (command and control, cyber, support, logistics, security, etc.); estimated 200-250,000 Federal National Guard Troops.

Thalif Deen is a former Director, Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services; Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International; and military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group, US. [IDN-InDepthNews — 29 July 2022]

NSO Group logo seen on the smartphone placed on Apple Macbook laptop keyboard. Israeli company known for its Pegasus spyware for survaliance.

Blacklisted Israeli Spyware Firm's Lobbying Inundates Congress

A recent House intel hearing found that Americans had been caught up in the technology’s illegal surveillance. Now NSO wants federal contracts?

By Nick Cleveland-Stout, Responsible Statecraft

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign spyware Wednesday, one company dominated discussion: NSO Group.

The controversial Israeli spyware company is best known for Pegasus, a spyware capable of discreetly extracting messages, contacts, photos, and videos from a target’s phone without ever even needing to click a link. Pegasus has been used by client governments from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to Mexico and Rwanda to infect the phones of dissidents, journalists, human rights organizations, and even U.S. officials.

NSO Group logo seen on the smartphone placed on Apple Macbook laptop keyboard. Israeli company known for its Pegasus spyware for survaliance.

Carine Kanimba, the daughter of arrested Rwandan dissident Paul Rusesabagina, testified about her experience as a victim of Pegasus even after seeking refuge with her family in Texas; “It is horrifying to me that they knew everything I was doing, precisely where I was, who I was speaking with, my private thoughts and actions, at any moment they desired,” she told the committee.

Shane Huntley, the Senior Director of the Threat Analysis Group at Google labeled Pegasus “a weapon against which there is no defense.”

Last November, the Biden Administration blacklisted NSO Group after a series of national security breaches were brought to light – including the infection of the phones of 11 American diplomats in Uganda. Kanimba, an American citizen, testified that there were times when the spyware “was active during calls with the U.S. presidential envoy for Hostage Affairs team and the U.S. State Department,” despite NSO Group’s claims that its spyware cannot be used against Americans.

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Exterior view of the One Medical family practice office in Beaverton, Oregon.

Amazon's One Medical Acquisition Will Further Erode Our Privacy

Amazon has a dangerous ambition to dominate healthcare.

By Roger McNamee and Johnny Ryan, Time

Patient privacy has been inviolable since the time of Hippocrates, in 400 BC. That may be about to end. Last week Amazon announced it is going to acquire One Medical, a health care provider with over 700,000 patients.

Big Tech has flirted with health care for years. Amazon’s direct entry into primary health care is a turning point. It will increase the perils of surveillance capitalism, with implications for everyone.

Exterior view of the One Medical family practice office in Beaverton, Oregon.

Amazon knows our guilty pleasures, what we buy, what pills we buy, and what we watch and read and listen to. Its devices listen in our homes, and peep out of our (Amazon Ring) door bells. Amazon’s “Kuiper” satellites will soon connect our Internet.

Recent scandals revealed that Amazon uses the data collected for supposedly innocent reasons in ways that betray our trust. Amazon staff say there are no limits on how Amazon uses this data internally. According to Amazon’s former head of information security: “We have no idea where our fucking data is.”

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Exterior of the Kansas State Capital Building in Topeka, Kansas

Abortion Rights Will Face Critical Ballot Test In Kansas

Anti-abortion actors have deployed misleading talking points to convince voters that the right to abortion isn’t on the line.

By Jordan Smith, The Intercept

Danielle Underwood was sidestepping the question.

Underwood, director of communications for Kansans for Life, was a guest on “Up to Date,” a morning talk show on KCUR, the public radio station in Kansas City, Missouri.

Exterior of the Kansas State Capital Building in Topeka, Kansas

The topic was an upcoming vote in neighboring Kansas on the “Value Them Both Amendment,” which, if passed, will strip reproductive rights from the state’s constitution and turn decisions about the legality of abortion over to the Legislature.

Underwood tried to cast the measure as a modest proposal. She was adamant that a “yes” vote would do no more than allow state lawmakers to enact “reasonable” regulations to ensure the health and safety of pregnant people seeking care. “We want to make sure that we’re able to have those kinds of protections for women in our state,” she said.

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Joe Manchin walking away fro protestors

Manchin, Democratic Leadership, Agree To Climate Legislation

The bill would devote $369 billion toward tackling “energy security and climate change.”

By Diana Kruzman, Grist

This story was originally published by Grist. You can subscribe to its weekly newsletter here.

Democratic leaders have reached an agreement with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia on a package to fund climate action, capping off a contentious battle over a bill that just a week ago seemed dead in the water.

Joe Manchin walking away fro protestors

Manchin’s office announced that he would vote for the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which along with instating a minimum tax on corporations and reforming prescription drug pricing, would funnel $369 billion toward tackling “energy security and climate change,” according to a summary of the bill.

The proposal claims these investments would reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030, falling short of Biden’s goal to slash them by ​​at least 50 percent. The bill would not rule out additional fossil fuel infrastructure, Manchin was careful to say, while also investing in hydrogen, nuclear power, and renewable energy.

“I support a plan that will advance a realistic energy and climate policy that lowers prices today and strategically invests in the long game,” he said in a press release. “As the super power of the world, it is vital we not undermine our super power status by removing dependable and affordable fossil fuel energy before new technologies are ready to reliably carry the load.”

The release also notes that Congress is committed to considering “commonsense permitting reforms” for energy infrastructure this fall — a possible indication that the embattled Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas from shale fields in West Virginia to southern Virginia and has Manchin’s support, could end up being approved.

President Biden celebrated the agreement, confirming that he spoke with Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Wednesday. The bill “will improve our energy security and tackle the climate crisis – by providing tax credits and investments for energy projects,” he said in a statement. “This will create thousands of new jobs and help lower energy costs in the future.

Early reactions from climate advocates were mixed, with some signaling support for the agreement and others saying it falls short. “The reported agreement between Senator Manchin and Leader Schumer presents the opportunity for a major breakthrough in America’s fight against climate change,” Jamal Raad, executive director of the advocacy group Evergreen Action, wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the political nonprofit Food & Water Action, argued that the deal would “prop up fossil fuels and promote the various false climate solutions beloved by industry.”

“After dragging his feet for more than a year, Senator Manchin announced an agreement that won’t solve the crisis, and may make it worse,” Hauter said in a press release. “More subsidies for dirty hydrogen, carbon capture, and nuclear energy are not climate action, they are the opposite.”

The announcement comes just over a week after reports that Manchin would not support climate legislation due to concerns over inflation left Democrats scrambling to reassure voters that Biden could still pursue a climate agenda. But it’s a significantly pared-down version of the president’s original climate ambitions, which included nearly half a trillion dollars in clean energy tax credits and other climate-related measures as part of last year’s Build Back Better bill.

Because Republicans are nearly unanimous in their opposition to acting on climate change, Schumer has pinned his hopes on passing climate legislation along party lines through a process called budget reconciliation. But that requires Democrats, who hold exactly half of the seats in the Senate, to vote in unison — and so far they’ve been unable to do so.

Last November, after House Democrats voted to pass Build Back Better with no Republican support, the legislation stalled in the Senate when Manchin, as well as Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, refused to support the bill. (Manchin is heavily invested in coal in his home state and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the energy industry).

For several months, the ensuing negotiations and tentative deals did not result in anything resembling comprehensive climate action. That changed on Wednesday, although Sinema did not say whether she would support the new bill, leaving some uncertainty about its chances of success. The Senate could consider the legislation as soon as next week.

Additional reporting by Zoya Teirstein.