Some have used the attacks in Paris Friday to whip up a xenophobic hysteria against Syrian refugees. Members of Congress say their phones are ringing with demands to keep Syrian refugees out, but not with voices insisting that America is a place of refuge from persecution. We need to speak up. Welcoming refugees is our moral obligation. It’s also our obligation under international law.
Help us turn the tide. Call your Representative at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:
“We can’t fight terrorism with xenophobia. I urge you to reject efforts to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the United States.”
When you’ve made your call, please report it below.
It’s magical thinking to claim that US air power is the solution to Syria’s problems. People who claim that US air power can magically “protect civilians” in Syria should explain why US air power just blew up a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan. But Washington never seems to tire of the fairy tale that US military power is a magic solution to the world’s problems.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for the U.S. to impose a “no fly zone” to prevent Russia from attacking CIA-backed forces fighting the Syrian government. These calls for a “no fly zone” are demands for dangerous U.S. military escalation against Russia and the Syrian government – imposing a “no fly zone” would mean bombing Syria and attacking Russian and Syrian aircraft. Unfortunately, Hillary’s stand is encouraging other Democrats to call for military escalation.
This is how US wars often start, with breathless claims of an emergency requiring US military bombing to “protect civilians.” How exactly US bombing will “protect civilians” is never explained. If escalation is achieved nobody will check whether civilians were protected or not.
Call your Senator NOW at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:
“I urge you to reject calls for US military escalation against Russia in Syria, including calls for a ‘no fly zone.’”
When you’ve made your call, please report it below.
President Obama has rightly called Republican proposals for a “no fly zone” in Syria “half baked” “mumbo jumbo.” Senator Bernie Sanders is standing with President Obama and against Hillary Clinton in opposition to these “half baked” proposals for military escalation.
If you haven’t signed our petition against military escalation in Syria yet, you can do that here:
A left-right coalition, supported by the president and public opinion, could successfully push Congress to end the Cuba embargo.
Can Republicans nostalgic for the Cold War block President Obama from taking executive actions to improve US diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba? Could a Republican-led Congress vote to end the US embargo? Some Republican leaders were quick to denounce President Obama's announcement that the United States was restoring ties with Cuba. But how many divisions do these Cold War dead-enders control?
On whether Republicans can follow through on threats to block the president, Associated Press is skeptical:
"Time Is Running Out on the CIA Torture Report," the National Journal reports:
Judging from press reports, when Congress returns from its August recess in early September, the United States military will have been bombing "Islamic State" fighters in Iraq for a month, with a broader set of missions than originally advertised, and with plans to continue bombing for months.
Just over a week ago, the Senate fell one vote short of overcoming a Republican filibuster to pass a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed.
by Robert Naiman
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently took an important step by passing an intelligence authorization which would require for the first time - if it became law - that the Administration publicly report on civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes.
Sarah Knuckey, Director of the Project on Extrajudicial Executions at New York University School of Law and a Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, calls this provision "an important step toward improving transparency," and notes that "Various U.N. officials, foreign governments, a broad range of civil society, and many others, including former U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor Harold Koh ... have called for the publication of such basic information."
This provision could be offered as an amendment in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act. It could be offered in the House as an amendment on the intelligence authorization, or as a freestanding bill. But it's not likely to become law unless there's some public agitation for it (you can participate in the public agitation here.)
In mid-November, the Christian Science Monitor reports, a loya jirga in Afghanistan - a national meeting of tribal leaders and other notable Afghans - will vote on whether to meet the Obama administration's terms for keeping U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of 2014.
If you care about democracy in Afghanistan, you should be happy for the Afghans. Whether or not - and if so, under what conditions - they want to have thousands of U.S. troops in their country after 2014 is obviously a very big deal for them. Why shouldn't they have full deliberation and debate?
But if you also care about democracy in the United States, you should be a bit troubled. Because Congress has never approved keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.
The closest Congress has come to considering this question is in language passed by the House in June, 2013. Offered by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, this language - which passed the House 305-121, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voting yes- said [my emphasis]: