| Fukushima contamination spreads as meltdowns continue!

Russian Experts: Fukushima pollution spreads all over Earth, clearly a large amount of fish, seaweeds, and everything in ocean has been polluted — These products are the main danger for mankind as they can end up being eaten by people on a massive scale.

Maxim Shingarkin, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Committee for Natural Resources, Dec. 26, 2013:

“Currents in the World Ocean are so structured that the areas of seafood capture near the US north-west coast are more likely to contain radioactive nuclides than even the Sea of Okhotsk which is much closer to Japan. These products are the main danger for mankind because they can find their way to people’s tables on a massive scale. […] Air emissions were not projected either on the Sea of Okhotsk, or Sakhalin, or the Far East, or the Kuril Islands. So airlifting cargoes does not seem dangerous so far. I mean so far because not all the nuclear fuel has been taken out of the power generation units. This means that radioactive emissions into the atmosphere are possible as a result of heating.”

Vladimir Slivyak, Co-chairman of the Ecodefence international ecology group, Dec. 26, 2013:

“The Russian government planned to restrict fishing in the Far East. As far as I know, no such restrictions have been introduced so far. Still it is possible that some steps will be taken. […] It took years after Chernobyl to make detailed conclusions about the scale of nuclear pollution. We are having a similar situation with Fukushima […] We’ll probably know the consequences of this accident in 10-15 years. It is clear that a large amount of fish, sea weeds and everything the ocean contains has been polluted. It is clear that pollution spreads all over Earth. It is clear that vast territories have been polluted in Japan itself. All this is generally clear. But we need research to provide more details and this will take a long time.”

More from Shingarkin and Slivyak here: Expect airborne radiation releases from Fukushima to increase — Seafood catches off U.S. Pacific coast more likely to be contaminated than ones far closer to Japan — ‘Gravest danger’ to public is if they eat these products.

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| IAEA wants diluted Fukushima toxic water discharged into sea!

IAEA Official: “What we are trying to say is consider” putting all the toxic Fukushima water in Pacific — Impact on human health must be monitored — Nearby countries all against it  ~ .

Juan Carlos Lentijo, head of IAEA’s mission to Fukushima Daiichi, Dec. 4, 2013: “Controlled discharge is a regular practice in all the nuclear facilities in the world. And what we are trying to say here is to consider this as one of the options to contribute to a good balance of risks and to stabilize the facility for the long term.”

Presentation by Lake Barrett, currently a Tepco adviser (2011)

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, Dec. 4, 2013: “You cannot keep storing the water forever. We have to make choice comparing all risks involved.”

Xinhua, Dec. 4, 2013: Lentijo said that TEPCO should weigh the possible damaging effects of discharging toxic water against the total risks involved in the overall decommissioning work process. […] Tanaka highlighted the fact that while highly radioactive water could be decontaminated in around seven years, the amount of water containing tritium will keep rising, topping 700,000 tons in two years. […] nuclear experts have repeatedly pointed out that [tritium] is still a significant radiation hazard when inhaled, ingested via food or water, or absorbed through the skin. […] fisherman, industries and fisheries bodies in the Fukushima area and beyond in Japan’s northeast, have collectively baulked at the idea of releasing toxic water into the sea […] TEPCO will be duty-bound to submit assessments of the safety and environmental impact […]

NHK, Dec. 4, 2013: IAEA team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo […] said it is necessary and indispensable to assess the impact the tritium discharge might have on human health and the environment, and to get government approval as well as consent from concerned people.

Japan Times, Dec. 4, 2013: “Of course . . . public acceptance for this purpose is necessary,” said Lentijo, adding strict monitoring of the impact of the discharge would also be essential.

AFP, Dec. 4, 2013: [L]ocal fishermen, neighbouring countries and environmental groups all oppose the idea.

See also: Gundersen: They want to dump all Fukushima’s radioactive water in Pacific — Tepco: It will be diluted, then released — Professor suggests pumping it out in deep ocean (VIDEOS)

Related Posts

  1. Japan Study: “Contamination levels are possibly higher than Chernobyl” from Fukushima disaster — Human health must be carefully and continuously monitored — Highly contaminated river soil in Tokyo metropolitan area October 22, 2013
  2. Scientists: ‘Spheres’ of radioactive material from Fukushima reported for first time — Ball-like particles composed of cesium, iron, zinc — Solid and insoluble in water — Impact on human health needs to be examined (PHOTOS) October 24, 2013
  3. Washington Post: It’s an environmental disaster, radioactivity levels in ocean hundreds of times above normal — NHK: Countries around Pacific worried about ongoing Fukushima leaks, gov’t wants testing up to 3,000 km offshore (VIDEO) October 22, 2013
  4. Fukushima Mystery? TV: Japan expert says radiation levels in ocean too high to be explained by groundwater flow alone — Must be coming from “other contamination routes” entering Pacific — “Devastating impact” to come? (VIDEO) August 19, 2013
  5. TV: A force beyond human control was unleashed at Fukushima, says former top U.S. nuclear official — Impossible to stop radioactive groundwater flowing into Pacific (VIDEO) September 25, 2013

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| US flyover in China-Japan island row: Will the real provocateur please stand up?

US flyover in China-Japan island row: Will the real provocateur please stand up? ~ Nile Bowie, RT.

Washington’s move to fly nuclear-capable bombers over China’s eastern air defense zone as a forceful endorsement of Japan’s claims over disputed islands is both needlessly confrontational and totally counterproductive.

The territorial dispute over an uninhabited chain of islands in the East China Sea – referred to as the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China – has been a highly contentious issue in Sino-Japanese relations for decades, and the issue has resurfaced in recent times as both sides assert their sovereignty over the area.

Mass protests were seen in China targeting Japan’s embassy and Japanese products, shops and restaurants when Tokyo’s far-right former Governor Shintaro Ishihara called on Japan to use public money to buy the islands from private Japanese owners in 2012.

The issue stirs passions in Chinese society because Tokyo’s claims are seen as an extension of the brutal legacy of the Japanese occupation and a direct challenge to strong historical evidence that has legitimized Chinese sovereignty over the area since ancient times.

Moreover, the official stance of the government in Beijing is that Japan’s invalid claims over the islands were facilitated and legitimized by a backdoor-deal between Tokyo and Washington that directly challenges international law and post-World War II international treaties.

The right-wing government of Shinzo Abe in Japan has abandoned the passive approach to the issue taken by previous governments and has played on nationalist sentiments by asserting Tokyo’s firm position over the islands, which are internationally administered by Japan.

Chinese and Korean societies see Abe’s administration as whitewashing Japan’s history as a ruthless occupier and imperial power, and have lodged angry protests over his calls to revise Japan’s 1995 war apology and amend Article 9 of its pacifist constitution, which forbids Japan from having a standing army. China’s recent moves to introduce an air defense zone over the disputed islands have come as a response to months of aggressive Japanese military exercises in the area.

Beijing has denounced the presence of the Japanese navy in the region and Japan’s numerous threats to fire warning shots against Chinese planes that violate Japan’s air defense zone, which defiantly stretches only 130km from China’s mainland and includes the disputed islands. In addition to claims by Taiwan, both China and Japan have strengthened their rights over the islands due to significant oil and mineral resources that have yet to be exploited there.

Let history be the judge

Given legacies of both China and Japan as neighboring civilizations that morphed in modern nation-states, ancient history is sewn into conflicts like the Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute. The earliest historical records of the island being under China’s maritime jurisdiction date back to 1403 in texts prepared by imperial envoys of the Ming Dynasty; during the Qing Dynasty, the islands were placed under the jurisdiction of the local government of Taiwan province. Maps published throughout the 1800s in France, Britain, and the United States all recognize the Diaoyu Islands as a territory of China.

Japan eventually defeated the Qing Dynasty in the late 1800s during its expansionary campaigns in the region and strong-armed China into signing the humiliating Treaty of Shimonoseki that officially ceded Taiwan and surrounding islands, including the Diaoyu, which the Japanese renamed to ‘Senkaku Islands’ in 1900. Following the defeat and surrender of Japan in World War II, international treaties such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation legally returned all territories stolen by Japan to pre-revolutionary China.

Beijing accuses US forces in post-war Japan of unilaterally and arbitrarily expanding its jurisdiction to include the Diaoyu Islands shortly after the Chinese revolution in the early 1950s, which were‘returned’ to Japan in the 1970s in the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, a move condemned by China and the US-allied Taiwan authorities. 

Japan has argued since the 1970s that the Diaoyu was not part of the affiliated islands that were ceded to Japan by the Qing Dynasty (despite strong evidence to the contrary), and that the islands were placed under the administration of the United States following World War II and‘returned’ to Japan. The view from Beijing, and especially from within the Xi Jinping administration, is that this case constitutes an illegal occupation of Chinese territory that seriously violates the obligations Japan should undertake according to international law.

Tokyo’s position on the issue really doesn’t hold water considering that 19th-century Japanese government documents available for viewing in Japan’s National Archives suggest that Japan clearly knew and recognized the Diaoyu Islands as Chinese territory.

Washington’s B-52 diplomacy

Beijing’s announcement of an air defense zone over the Diaoyu Islands would naturally be seen as controversial due to the dispute with Japan, and because Washington implicitly backs Tokyo’s claims, the US administration has taken to framing the issue so as to portray China as the hostile actor and principal belligerent.

China has defended its air defense declaration as an extension of its entitlement to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity; Beijing has also pointed out how the US and Japan have established their own zones decades ago, which extend to the frontline borders of other countries in some cases. Beijing’s air defense declaration essentially asserts the right to identify, monitor and possibly take military action against any aircraft that enters the area, and despite the US backing Japan’s right to uphold a similar zone, the White House declared China’s moves “unnecessarily inflammatory.”

Just days after the Chinese government issued its defense declaration, the US military deployed two unarmed (nuclear-capable) B-52 bombers from its airbase in Guam that embarked on a 1500-mile flight into the Chinese air defense umbrella before turning back. The symbolic but forceful display by Washington is essentially the equivalent of the Pentagon giving the middle finger to the Chinese government.

The maneuver was apparently part of a ‘long-planned’ exercise, but the timing and the message sent a clearly hostile and deeply arrogant message to Beijing. China claims that it monitored the US bombers in the zone and took no action, and as Beijing exercises restraint, Tokyo and Washington openly stoke tensions and practice hypocritical double standards.

The United States and Japan both operate vast unilateral air defense zones, and yet Washington has the cheek to childishly reject the legitimate defensive claims of others.

To quote Xinhua columnist Wu Liming’s characterization of US-Japan policy, “Their logic is simple: they can do it while China cannot, which could be described with a Chinese saying, ‘the magistrates are free to burn down houses while the common people are forbidden even to light lamps.’

The message derived from Washington’s actions perfectly illustrates the nature of the so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’, that even though America’s political representatives cannot be relied on to fulfill their long-planned appointments to visit the region, the Pentagon can always be relied on to deliver reminders that the US seeks hegemony in Asia.

The truth is that China and Japan have too much to lose as the second- and third-largest economies in the world to allow this issue to slide into a military confrontation, and cooler heads will likely prevent the latter scenario.

Given the contention around this dispute and the destabilizing effects it could have on the global economy if the situation were to deteriorate into a military conflict, it would be fundamental for the US to instead remain neutral and promote a peaceful compromise and settlement to this issue.

Beijing and Tokyo should both take their claims to the UN to settle this issue indefinitely if a mutual compromise to jointly develop the disputed region cannot be agreed upon.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

P-3C patrol plane of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea. (AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press Japan out)

P-3C patrol plane of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea. (AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press Japan out)

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| Three Good Reasons To Liquidate Our Empire And Ten Steps to Take to Do So!

Three Good Reasons To Liquidate Our Empire And Ten Steps to Take to Do SoChalmers Johnson, TomDispatch.

However ambitious President Barack Obama’s domestic plans, one unacknowledged issue has the potential to destroy any reform efforts he might launch. Think of it as the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room: our longstanding reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.

According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, our empire consists of 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. We deploy over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and territories. In just one such country, Japan, at the end of March 2008, we still had 99,295 people connected to U.S. military forces living and working there — 49,364 members of our armed services, 45,753 dependent family members, and 4,178 civilian employees. Some 13,975 of these were crowded into the small island of Okinawa, the largest concentration of foreign troops anywhere in Japan.

These massive concentrations of American military power outside the United States are not needed for our defense. They are, if anything, a prime contributor to our numerous conflicts with other countries. They are also unimaginably expensive. According to Anita Dancs, an analyst for the website Foreign Policy in Focus, the United States spends approximately $250 billion each year maintaining its global military presence. The sole purpose of this is to give us hegemony — that is, control or dominance — over as many nations on the planet as possible.

We are like the British at the end of World War II: desperately trying to shore up an empire that we never needed and can no longer afford, using methods that often resemble those of failed empires of the past — including the Axis powers of World War II and the former Soviet Union. There is an important lesson for us in the British decision, starting in 1945, to liquidate their empire relatively voluntarily, rather than being forced to do so by defeat in war, as were Japan and Germany, or by debilitating colonial conflicts, as were the French and Dutch. We should follow the British example. (Alas, they are currently backsliding and following our example by assisting us in the war in Afghanistan.)

Here are three basic reasons why we must liquidate our empire or else watch it liquidate us.

1. We Can No Longer Afford Our Postwar Expansionism

Shortly after his election as president, Barack Obama, in a speech announcing several members of his new cabinet, stated as fact that “[w]e have to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” A few weeks later, on March 12, 2009, in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., the president againinsisted, “Now make no mistake, this nation will maintain our military dominance. We will have the strongest armed forces in the history of the world.” And in a commencement address to the cadets of the U.S. Naval Academy on May 22nd, Obama stressed that “[w]e will maintain America’s military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen.”

What he failed to note is that the United States no longer has the capability to remain a global hegemon, and to pretend otherwise is to invite disaster.

According to a growing consensus of economists and political scientists around the world, it is impossible for the United States to continue in that role while emerging into full view as a crippled economic power. No such configuration has ever persisted in the history of imperialism. The University of Chicago’s Robert Pape, author of the important study Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House, 2005), typically writes:

“America is in unprecedented decline. The self-inflicted wounds of the Iraq war, growing government debt, increasingly negative current-account balances and other internal economic weaknesses have cost the United States real power in today’s world of rapidly spreading knowledge and technology. If present trends continue, we will look back on the Bush years as the death knell of American hegemony.”

There is something absurd, even Kafkaesque, about our military empire. Jay Barr, a bankruptcy attorney, makes this point using an insightful analogy:

“Whether liquidating or reorganizing, a debtor who desires bankruptcy protection must provide a list of expenses, which, if considered reasonable, are offset against income to show that only limited funds are available to repay the bankrupted creditors. Now imagine a person filing for bankruptcy claiming that he could not repay his debts because he had the astronomical expense of maintaining at least 737 facilities overseas that provide exactly zero return on the significant investment required to sustain them… He could not qualify for liquidation without turning over many of his assets for the benefit of creditors, including the valuable foreign real estate on which he placed his bases.”

In other words, the United States is not seriously contemplating its own bankruptcy. It is instead ignoring the meaning of its precipitate economic decline and flirting with insolvency.

Nick Turse, author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books, 2008), calculates that we could clear $2.6 billion if we would sell our base assets at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and earn another $2.2 billion if we did the same with Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. These are only two of our over 800 overblown military enclaves.

Our unwillingness to retrench, no less liquidate, represents a striking historical failure of the imagination. In his first official visit to China since becoming Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner assured an audience of students at Beijing University, “Chinese assets [invested in the United States] are very safe.” According to press reports, the students responded with loud laughter. Well they might.

In May 2009, the Office of Management and Budget predicted that in 2010 the United States will be burdened with a budget deficit of at least $1.75 trillion. This includes neither a projected $640 billion budget for the Pentagon, nor the costs of waging two remarkably expensive wars. The sum is so immense that it will take several generations for American citizens to repay the costs of George W. Bush’s imperial adventures — if they ever can or will. It represents about 13% of our current gross domestic product (that is, the value of everything we produce). It is worth noting that the target demanded of European nations wanting to join the Euro Zone is a deficit no greater than 3% of GDP.

Thus far, President Obama has announced measly cuts of only $8.8 billion in wasteful and worthless weapons spending, including his cancellation of the F-22 fighter aircraft. The actual Pentagon budget for next year will, in fact, be larger, not smaller, than the bloated final budget of the Bush era. Far bolder cuts in our military expenditures will obviously be required in the very near future if we intend to maintain any semblance of fiscal integrity.

2. We Are Going to Lose the War in Afghanistan and It Will Help Bankrupt Us

One of our major strategic blunders in Afghanistan was not to have recognized that both Great Britain and the Soviet Union attempted to pacify Afghanistan using the same military methods as ours and failed disastrously. We seem to have learned nothing from Afghanistan’s modern history — to the extent that we even know what it is. Between 1849 and 1947, Britain sent almost annual expeditions against the Pashtun tribes and sub-tribes living in what was then called the North-West Frontier Territories — the area along either side of the artificial border between Afghanistan and Pakistan called the Durand Line. This frontier was created in 1893 by Britain’s foreign secretary for India, Sir Mortimer Durand.

Neither Britain nor Pakistan has ever managed to establish effective control over the area. As the eminent historian Louis Dupree put it in his book Afghanistan(Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 425): “Pashtun tribes, almost genetically expert at guerrilla warfare after resisting centuries of all comers and fighting among themselves when no comers were available, plagued attempts to extend the Pax Britannica into their mountain homeland.” An estimated 41 million Pashtuns live in an undemarcated area along the Durand Line and profess no loyalties to the central governments of either Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The region known today as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan is administered directly by Islamabad, which — just as British imperial officials did — has divided the territory into seven agencies, each with its own “political agent” who wields much the same powers as his colonial-era predecessor. Then as now, the part of FATA known as Waziristan and the home of Pashtun tribesmen offered the fiercest resistance.

According to Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, experienced Afghan hands and coauthors of Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story (City Lights, 2009, p. 317):

“If Washington’s bureaucrats don’t remember the history of the region, the Afghans do. The British used air power to bomb these same Pashtun villages after World War I and were condemned for it. When the Soviets used MiGs and the dreaded Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships to do it during the 1980s, they were called criminals. For America to use its overwhelming firepower in the same reckless and indiscriminate manner defies the world’s sense of justice and morality while turning the Afghan people and the Islamic world even further against the United States.”

In 1932, in a series of Guernica-like atrocities, the British used poison gas in Waziristan. The disarmament convention of the same year sought a ban against the aerial bombardment of civilians, but Lloyd George, who had been British prime minister during World War I, gloated: “We insisted on reserving the right to bomb niggers” (Fitzgerald and Gould, p. 65). His view prevailed.

The U.S. continues to act similarly, but with the new excuse that our killing of noncombatants is a result of “collateral damage,” or human error. Using pilotless drones guided with only minimal accuracy from computers at military bases in the Arizona and Nevada deserts, among other places, we have killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed bystanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistani and Afghan governments have repeatedly warned that we are alienating precisely the people we claim to be saving for democracy.

When in May 2009 General Stanley McChrystal was appointed as the commander in Afghanistan, he ordered new limits on air attacks, including those carried out by the CIA, except when needed to protect allied troops. Unfortunately, as if to illustrate the incompetence of our chain of command, only two days after this order, on June 23, 2009, the United States carried out a drone attack against a funeral procession that killed at least 80 people, the single deadliest U.S. attack on Pakistani soil so far. There was virtually no reporting of these developments by the mainstream American press or on the network television news. (At the time, the media were almost totally preoccupied by the sexual adventures of the governor of South Carolina and the death of pop star Michael Jackson.)

Our military operations in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been plagued by inadequate and inaccurate intelligence about both countries, ideological preconceptions about which parties we should support and which ones we should oppose, and myopic understandings of what we could possibly hope to achieve. Fitzgerald and Gould, for example, charge that, contrary to our own intelligence service’s focus on Afghanistan, “Pakistan has always been the problem.” They add:

“Pakistan’s army and its Inter-Services Intelligence branch… from 1973 on, has played the key role in funding and directing first the mujahideen [anti-Soviet fighters during the 1980s] and then the Taliban. It is Pakistan’s army that controls its nuclear weapons, constrains the development of democratic institutions, trains Taliban fighters in suicide attacks and orders them to fight American and NATO soldiers protecting the Afghan government.” (p. 322-324)

The Pakistani army and its intelligence arm are staffed, in part, by devout Muslims who fostered the Taliban in Afghanistan to meet the needs of their own agenda, though not necessarily to advance an Islamic jihad. Their purposes have always included: keeping Afghanistan free of Russian or Indian influence, providing a training and recruiting ground for mujahideen guerrillas to be used in places like Kashmir (fought over by both Pakistan and India), containing Islamic radicalism in Afghanistan (and so keeping it out of Pakistan), and extorting huge amounts of money from Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf emirates, and the United States to pay and train “freedom fighters” throughout the Islamic world. Pakistan’s consistent policy has been to support the clandestine policies of the Inter-Services Intelligence and thwart the influence of its major enemy and competitor, India.

Colonel Douglas MacGregor, U.S. Army (retired), an adviser to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, summarizes our hopeless project in South Asia this way: “Nothing we do will compel 125 million Muslims in Pakistan to make common cause with a United States in league with the two states that are unambiguously anti-Muslim: Israel and India.”

Obama’s mid-2009 “surge” of troops into southern Afghanistan and particularly into Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold, is fast becoming darkly reminiscent of General William Westmoreland’s continuous requests in Vietnam for more troops and his promises that if we would ratchet up the violence just a little more and tolerate a few more casualties, we would certainly break the will of the Vietnamese insurgents. This was a total misreading of the nature of the conflict in Vietnam, just as it is in Afghanistan today.

Twenty years after the forces of the Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan in disgrace, the last Russian general to command them, Gen. Boris Gromov, issuedhis own prediction: Disaster, he insisted, will come to the thousands of new forces Obama is sending there, just as it did to the Soviet Union’s, which lost some 15,000 soldiers in its own Afghan war. We should recognize that we are wasting time, lives, and resources in an area where we have never understood the political dynamics and continue to make the wrong choices.

3. We Need to End the Secret Shame of Our Empire of Bases

In March, New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert noted, “Rape and other forms of sexual assault against women is the great shame of the U.S. armed forces, and there is no evidence that this ghastly problem, kept out of sight as much as possible, is diminishing.” He continued:

“New data released by the Pentagon showed an almost 9 percent increase in the number of sexual assaults — 2,923 — and a 25 percent increase in such assaults reported by women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan [over the past year]. Try to imagine how bizarre it is that women in American uniforms who are enduring all the stresses related to serving in a combat zone have to also worry about defending themselves against rapists wearing the same uniform and lining up in formation right beside them.”

The problem is exacerbated by having our troops garrisoned in overseas bases located cheek-by-jowl next to civilian populations and often preying on them like foreign conquerors. For example, sexual violence against women and girls by American GIs has been out of control in Okinawa, Japan’s poorest prefecture, ever since it was permanently occupied by our soldiers, Marines, and airmen some 64 years ago.

That island was the scene of the largest anti-American demonstrations since the end of World War II after the 1995 kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by two Marines and a sailor. The problem of rape has been ubiquitous around all of our bases on every continent and has probably contributed as much to our being loathed abroad as the policies of the Bush administration or our economic exploitation of poverty-stricken countries whose raw materials we covet.

The military itself has done next to nothing to protect its own female soldiers or to defend the rights of innocent bystanders forced to live next to our often racially biased and predatory troops. “The military’s record of prosecuting rapists is not just lousy, it’s atrocious,” writes Herbert. In territories occupied by American military forces, the high command and the State Department make strenuous efforts to enact so-called “Status of Forces Agreements” (SOFAs) that will prevent host governments from gaining jurisdiction over our troops who commit crimes overseas. The SOFAs also make it easier for our military to spirit culprits out of a country before they can be apprehended by local authorities.

This issue was well illustrated by the case of an Australian teacher, a long-time resident of Japan, who in April 2002 was raped by a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, then based at the big naval base at Yokosuka. She identified her assailant and reported him to both Japanese and U.S. authorities. Instead of his being arrested and effectively prosecuted, the victim herself was harassed and humiliated by the local Japanese police. Meanwhile, the U.S. discharged the suspect from the Navy but allowed him to escape Japanese law by returning him to the U.S., where he lives today.

In the course of trying to obtain justice, the Australian teacher discovered that almost fifty years earlier, in October 1953, the Japanese and American governments signed a secret “understanding” as part of their SOFA in which Japan agreed to waive its jurisdiction if the crime was not of “national importance to Japan.” The U.S. argued strenuously for this codicil because it feared that otherwise it would face the likelihood of some 350 servicemen per year being sent to Japanese jails for sex crimes.

Since that time the U.S. has negotiated similar wording in SOFAs with Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Denmark. According to the Handbook of the Law of Visiting Forces (2001), the Japanese practice has become the norm for SOFAs throughout the world, with predictable results. In Japan, of 3,184 U.S. military personnel who committed crimes between 2001 and 2008, 83% were not prosecuted. In Iraq, we have just signed a SOFA that bears a strong resemblance to the first postwar one we had with Japan: namely, military personnel and military contractors accused of off-duty crimes will remain in U.S. custody while Iraqis investigate. This is, of course, a perfect opportunity to spirit the culprits out of the country before they can be charged.

Within the military itself, the journalist Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007), speaks of the “culture of unpunished sexual assaults” and the “shockingly low numbers of courts martial” for rapes and other forms of sexual attacks. Helen Benedict, author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq (Beacon Press, 2009), quotes this figure in a 2009 Pentagon report on military sexual assaults: 90% of the rapes in the military are never reported at all and, when they are, the consequences for the perpetrator are negligible.

It is fair to say that the U.S. military has created a worldwide sexual playground for its personnel and protected them to a large extent from the consequences of their behavior.  I believe a better solution would be to radically reduce the size of our standing army, and bring the troops home from countries where they do not understand their environments and have been taught to think of the inhabitants as inferior to themselves.

10 Steps Toward Liquidating the Empire

Dismantling the American empire would, of course, involve many steps. Here are ten key places to begin:

1. We need to put a halt to the serious environmental damage done by our bases planet-wide. We also need to stop writing SOFAs that exempt us from any responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves.

2. Liquidating the empire will end the burden of carrying our empire of bases and so of the “opportunity costs” that go with them — the things we might otherwise do with our talents and resources but can’t or won’t.

3. As we already know (but often forget), imperialism breeds the use of torture. In the 1960s and 1970s we helped overthrow the elected governments in Brazil and Chile and underwrote regimes of torture that prefigured our own treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. (See, for instance, A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors [Pantheon, 1979], on how the U.S. spread torture methods to Brazil and Uruguay.) Dismantling the empire would potentially mean a real end to the modern American record of using torture abroad.

4. We need to cut the ever-lengthening train of camp followers, dependents, civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and hucksters — along with their expensive medical facilities, housing requirements, swimming pools, clubs, golf courses, and so forth — that follow our military enclaves around the world.

5. We need to discredit the myth promoted by the military-industrial complex that our military establishment is valuable to us in terms of jobs, scientific research, and defense. These alleged advantages have long been discredited by serious economic research. Ending empire would make this happen.

6. As a self-respecting democratic nation, we need to stop being the world’s largest exporter of arms and munitions and quit educating Third World militaries in the techniques of torture, military coups, and service as proxies for our imperialism. A prime candidate for immediate closure is the so-called School of the Americas, the U.S. Army’s infamous military academy at Fort Benning, Georgia, for Latin American military officers. (See Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire[Metropolitan Books, 2004], pp. 136-40.)

7. Given the growing constraints on the federal budget, we should abolish the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and other long-standing programs that promote militarism in our schools.

8. We need to restore discipline and accountability in our armed forces by radically scaling back our reliance on civilian contractors, private military companies, and agents working for the military outside the chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (See Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater:The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army [Nation Books, 2007]). Ending empire would make this possible.

9. We need to reduce, not increase, the size of our standing army and deal much more effectively with the wounds our soldiers receive and combat stress they undergo.

10. To repeat the main message of this essay, we must give up our inappropriate reliance on military force as the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Unfortunately, few empires of the past voluntarily gave up their dominions in order to remain independent, self-governing polities. The two most important recent examples are the British and Soviet empires. If we do not learn from their examples, our decline and fall is foreordained.

Chalmers Johnson was the author of Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006), and editor of Okinawa: Cold War Island (1999).  His final book was Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope (2010).

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Hegemony A

| So Who’s the world’s oldest? China + Japan’s Battle of the Ages!

No I’M the world’s oldest person! Chinese woman aged 127 takes on ‘young man’ from Japan who is aged just 115 ~ HUGO GYE, Daily Mail.

 

China and Japan are constantly struggling over territory, politics and economic dominance – but now it appears the two Asian giants could have found another topic to fight about.

Earlier this month a Japanese man was officially declared the world’s oldest living person at 115, but China is fielding an alternative candidate for the title.

This week an official news agency repeated claims that a Chinese woman is 127 years old, which would make her the record-holder by a large margin.

Jiroemon Kimura
Luo Meizhen

Contest: Jiroemon Kimura, left, and Luo Meizhen, right, both claim to be the world’s oldest living person

Jiroemon Kimura, a former postman who was born on April 19, 1897, was named the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records after the death of American Dina Manfredini.

He lives in Kyotango and has 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

Mr Kimura is the second oldest man ever whose age has been officially verified.

However, just a few days ago the Xinhua agency reported on Luo Meizhen, a woman who claims to have turned 127 in September.

Official: Mr Kimura was declared the world's oldest by Guinness World Records earlier this monthOfficial: Mr Kimura was declared the world’s oldest by Guinness World Records earlier this month

Celebration: Mr Kimura is handed a bouquet of flowers by a nurse as he is declared the record holderCelebration: Mr Kimura is handed a bouquet of flowers by a nurse as he is declared the record holder

Ms Luo lives in Guangxi region’s Bama county, an area famous for the longevity of its residents.

Her ID card claims she was born in 1885, but she does not have a birth certificate to prove this.

She lives with her son, who she says she gave to when she was aged 61.

Celebration: Ms Luo with her family on what she claimed was her 127th birthday in SeptemberCelebration: Ms Luo with her family on what she claimed was her 127th birthday in September

If Ms Luo is truly 127, that would make her the oldest person ever to have lived, beating Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122.

It is unclear how aggressively China intends to pursue the centenarian’s record claim, but it has the potential to become another bone of contention between the country and its rival power.

Even if Ms Luo does not manage to wrest the title from Mr Kimura, interest in her home county will doubtless continue as it draws thousands of visitors seeking to discover the secret behind the long lives of its 74 residents aged more than 100.

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old woman1

HumanRightsA

| Global opposition to drones + disappointment with Obama on climate change + Middle East!

The Day After: Obama Triumph Sobered by Unmet Global Expectations ~ Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Senior Researcher, Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Much of the world cheered the November 6 re-election of U.S. president Barack Obama. But the president’s honeymoon may be short lived. Disappointment with Obama’s first term foreign policy may challenge both his popularity and his ability to present a positive image of the United States around the globe.

Prior to the election, overwhelming majorities in Western Europe, Japan and Brazil supported Obama’s reelection. But they were upset with signature elements of his foreign policy. In particular, a surveyconducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project earlier this year found widespread opposition to drone strikes, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy, and many believe the president hasn’t sought international approval before using military force, as they expected he would when he first took office. In addition, publics around the globe say Obama failed to meet their expectations that he would tackle climate change and take an even-handed approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Four years ago, Obama came to office with the world behind him, reversing a decade-long trend of negative opinions of the U.S.  Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of Germans, French, Spanish and Indonesians expressing positive views of the U.S. increased by at least 25 percentage points, and double-digit increases were also evident in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, India and Nigeria.  Even in some Muslim countries, where Obama has never enjoyed broad popularity, the image of the U.S. saw modest improvements in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon when Obama was first elected.

But clouds loom on the horizon, as overall approval of Obama’s international policies and confidence in the American president have declined around the globe since 2009. Among Obama’s biggest problems is his administration’s drone campaign against extremist leaders and organizations.  Majorities in virtually every country surveyed in 2012 oppose this policy, which is a key component of American anti-terrorism efforts.  Opposition is especially prevalent in Muslim countries – at least eight-in-ten in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are against drone strikes – but about three-quarters in Spain, Japan, Mexico and Brazil are also against drones, as are 63% in France and 59% in Germany.

Obama is now confronted with a sense of disappointment over unmet expectations during his first term, especially when it comes to his handling of global climate change, and especially in Western Europe.  In 2009, large majorities in France, Germany, Britain and Spain believed Obama would take significant measures to control climate change. By Spring 2012, however, fewer than three-in-ten in these countries said Obama had, in fact, done this.  Significant gaps between expectations and evaluations of Obama’s performance on climate change were also evident in Poland, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, China, Japan, and Mexico.

In Western Europe, Obama also failed to meet expectations on his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although 61% in Germany, 57% in France, and nearly half in Britain still believed Obama had been fair in dealing with both sides in the Spring 2012, as many as 79% in each of these three countries said they expected Obama to be even-handed on this issue at the beginning of this first term.

In most of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, where expectations that Obama would be fair in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were already low in 2009, even fewer said the American president had handled the conflict fairly. For example, after Obama took office, about a quarter of Egyptians believed he would be fair, compared with 11% who said Obama had been fair in 2012. Double-digit gaps between expectations and evaluations were also evident in Turkey and Pakistan.

More generally, many publics around the globe are disappointed with Obama’s approach to foreign affairs. Shortly after Obama took office, majorities in Britain, France and Germany, and at least four-in-ten in Spain, Poland, Russia, Japan and Mexico, expected Obama to act multilaterally when making international policy decisions. In the Spring 2012 survey, the percentage in these countries that said the president had, in fact, done this had dropped by 14 percentage points or more.

Similarly, in most countries, fewer said Obama had sought international approval before using military force than said they expected him to do so in 2009. Disillusionment with the president on this issue is especially common in Spain, Germany, Egypt and Japan, where the gap between expectations and evaluations is larger than 20 percentage points.

But despite some disappointment with Obama and a decline in the president’s popularity in some parts of the world, large majorities in Western Europe, Japan and Brazil continued to express confidence in the American president to do the right thing in world affairs in the Spring 2012 survey. And America’s image, which had declined dramatically during the Bush presidency, remained largely positive three years into Obama’s tenure.

A reelection is a time for renewal. And Obama has much support from the global community to build upon. Whether he continues to enjoy that good will, however, may hinge on how he approaches issues like drone strikes, climate change and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the extent to which he reaches out to the rest of the world in his second term.

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