Category Archives: Terrorism

A Tale of Two Realities

The relationship between Israel and Palestine is truly a tale of two realities where, over the decades,  people on both sides had their lives prematurely taken from their loved ones. Strong leadership committed to peace and prosperity on both sides for both sides is needed to resolve this dispute as well as the United States leadership returning to the role of Honest Broker instead of its recent overt pro-Israel posture.

On one side you have the Israelis who represent the only vibrant democracy in the region. In this country, everyone, including the Arabs, has equal rights and representation in the Israelis Parliament, the Knesset.

However, the Israelis have a problem trusting their neighbors for good reason. Before it achieved nationhood, its mandate to establish a homeland in Palestine was reduced by roughly two thirds when the British, in the first land for peace deal, called the Palestinian Territories east of the Jordan River Trans Jordan (later just Jordan) and gave it to the Arabs. Not satisfied with two-thirds of the land, the Arabs in the Jewish third of Palestine wanted that too. Giving into Arab protests, the British decided to divide that parcel up in a similar way that they haphazardly partitioned India and Pakistan (whose eastern boundaries would become Bangladesh). This arrangement was doomed to cause future conflict as the future states of Israel and Palestine were born. In the war for independence, Israel, despite the odds, survived increasing its territorial holdings on lands Palestinians abandoned at the leading Arab elites request (thinking they would return after Israel was defeated) or when the Israelis ejected them.  Whatever was left was scooped up by Jordan and Egypt in the occupation nobody seems to remember in the history books. In the later Six Day War in 1967, Israel acquired the remainder of Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel offered to return all the captured lands in exchange for peace and the Arab countries rejected the overture. Only later when Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 was the Sinai returned. Gaza was also offered back to Egypt but the Egyptians did not want the headache. Jordan probably felt the same way when it did not insist on the return of the West Bank when it made its peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

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Russia attacks Britain, Putin’s puppet fires his Secretary of State (Updated)

Events over the past week portend a developing international crisis.

On Sunday, March 4, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England. Was the Poisoning of a Former Russian Spy a Chemical Weapons Attack?

Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still in critical condition after they were found slumped on a park bench on March 4. The officer who found them is also still in the hospital but is communicative. At least 21 people received medical attention, and hundreds more who visited the restaurant where the nerve agent has been detected may have been exposed and have been urged to wash their clothes.

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The Skripal poisoning wasn’t a battlefield attack, of course, but the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which both Russia and Britain are signatories, prohibits the use of toxic chemicals such as nerve agents except for a few, specifically described purposes; assassinating ex-spies on foreign soil is not one of them.

British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed Parliament on Monday regarding the chemical weapon attack in Salisbury, England last week. In her address, she squarely placed the blame for the chemical weapons attack on the Russian government:

Mr. Speaker, this morning I chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in which we considered the information so far available. As is normal, the Council was updated on the assessment and intelligence picture, as well as the state of the investigation.

It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.

Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

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Register high school students to vote at March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain events

In 2015, Arizona became the 1st state to pass law requiring high-school civics test: The American Civics Act will require students to pass 60 of the 100 questions on the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics test. They can first take the test in eighth grade, and can retake it until they pass.

If Arizona really wants to teach its children civics – the obligation of American citizens to actively participate in the democratic political process, at a minimum, through voting  – then an opportunity to put actions before empty platitudes will present itself in the coming weeks.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,  have organized the March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain movement. Several civics events are planned, i.e., the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances:

Students, teachers, and allies will take part in a for 17 minutes at 10am on March 14, 2018. Join us in saying !http://bit.ly/EnoughMarch14.

On March 24 students, teachers and allies will take to the streets of Washington, DC and our communities across the country for March for Our Lives. We will be the last group of students who have to stand up for fallen children due to senseless gun violence. March with us. Sign up at marchforourlives.com.

On April 20th students and teachers will participate in the National School Walkout at 10:00 a.m. Sit outside your schools and peacefully protest. Make some noise. Voice your thoughts. “We are students, we are victims, we are change.” Sign the petition at Change.org National High School Walk-Out for Anti Gun Violence.

My thought was that the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and our 15 County Recorder’s offices, along with voter registration organizations such as the League of Women Voters and many others, could coordinate with Arizona’s school districts to make voter registration tables available at every Arizona high school for seniors participating in these extraordinary events to register to vote. High school civics teachers should see this as a golden opportunity to teach their students about civics.

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Past, present and future tribulations

When the Gadsden Purchase was completed in 1854, Mexico received $10 million from the United States for the 29,670 square miles of territory, south of Gila River, which the U.S. government added to the New Mexico Territory. At the time, the only military presence in the vast purchase area was the Mexican force stationed at the Tucson presidio. In November 1856, four companies of U.S. dragoons arrived with orders to establish a garrison in the vicinity of Tucson. After scouting the area, they established Fort Buchanan, named for the new president, at the headwaters of Sonoita Creek on the eastern side of the Santa Rita Mountains.

As the troops stationed at Ft. Buchanan chased down outlaws, tried to counter Apache raids and provided protection for the Butterfield stage line, the national political consensus was unraveling due to sectional quarrels over the issues of states’ rights and slavery. Regrettably, President Buchanan and the other national politicians of the day failed to find a peaceful resolution to the sectional crisis. After President Lincoln took office, hostilities erupted in South Carolina in April 1861. As a result, Fort Buchanan was abandoned in July 1861, its troops transferred to places more vital to the war effort. Fortunately for the fragmenting United States, the European powers decided to stay mostly on the sidelines. In America, the Lincoln administration fought a bloody Civil War as slavery and its attendant issues were settled by four years of warfare.

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Donald Trump disgraces himself with his Gold Star family scandal

A week ago, President Trump was asked at an improptou press conference why he had not yet commented on the deaths of four American soldiers ambushed in Niger on October 4.  Rather than answer the question posed, Trump created a grand distraction for the media by bragging about his calls to the families of fallen soldiers and suggesting he is better at it than his predecessors, Presidents Obama and Bush. Criticized for not commenting on soldiers killed in action, Trump falsely says Obama did even less:

During an impromptu news conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked why he hadn’t yet made a public comment on the fatalities.

“I’ve written [the soldiers’ families] personal letters,” Trump replied. “They’ve been sent — or they’re going out tonight but they were written during the weekend.”

He continued:

“I will at some point during the period of time call the parents and the families because I have done that traditionally. I felt very, very badly about that; I always feel bad. The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where you make four or five of them in one day, it’s a very, very tough day. For me that’s by far the toughest.”

“So, the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them — I want a little time to pass — I’m going to be calling them. I have, as you know, since I’ve been president I have. But in addition I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we’re talking about and they’re going to be going out either today or tomorrow.”

These comments were immediately criticized by veterans of the Obama administration and members of the media who had covered it.

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Niger is Donald Trump’s ‘Benghazi’ scandal

When four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, Republicans moved quickly to politicize their deaths and to pin blame on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration only hours  after the incident in Benghazi of sympathizing with the attackers.

Republicans also accused National Security Advisor Susan Rice of misleading the public by saying on CBS’ Face the Nation and ABC’s This Week that the attack was a direct result of a “heinous and offensive video,” and was spontaneous, not a preplanned terrorist attack.

Congressional Republicans subsequently conducted seven congressional committee investigations and issued nine reports into the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The final probe lasted more than two years and cost more than $7 million, as GOP lawmakers hoped to find misconduct by Obama, or more significantly Secretary Clinton. Those inquiries came up empty, but served Republican’s desired purpose of smearing Obama, Clinton and Rice within the epistemic closure of the conservative media entertainment complex feedback loop.

The Benghazi conspiracy theory, in a nutshell, was that: (1) the Obama administration prematurely claimed victory against al Qaida terrorist groups in Libya; (2) there was an intelligence failure that left U.S. diplomatic personnel vulnerable, and (4) the U.S. military was not in position to conduct a rescue operation.  (5) Republicans, of course, politicized the incident accusing the Obama administration of lying about what happened and what went wrong.

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