Prof. Joseph Hickman is an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and a senior research fellow at its Center for Policy and Research. Joe is also a former Marine and army sergeant who has worked on a variety of sensitive operations worldwide, including security at Guantanamo prison in Cuba. His revelations about the abuse of prisoners at the facility resulted in his award winning story in Harper’s magazine and his book “Murder at Camp Delta.” Prof. Hickman’s most recent book “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers” investigates the Department of Defense’s and its private contractors’ negligence and subsequent denial about the human health and environmental dangers of “burn pits” in Afghanistan and Iraq, which exposed tens of 1000s of soldiers to life threatening toxins. The book has been banned by the Defense Department, and Joe is donating his royalties to the non-profit advocacy organization, BurnPit360.org, that is fighting on behalf of 1000s of soldiers suffering from a wide range of diseases, including autoimmune disorders, untreatable respiratory illnesses, and a variety of cancers due to burn pit exposure.
With General John Campbell’s tour of duty in Afghanistan finished, a new commander has taken over. Admittedly, things did not go well during Campbell’s year and a half heading up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) there, but that’s par for the course. In late 2015, while he was in the saddle, the Talibantook the provincial capital of Kunduz, the first city to be (briefly) theirs since the American invasion of 2001. In response, U.S. forces devastated a Doctors Without Borders hospital. The Taliban is also now in control of more territory than at any time since the invasion and gaining an ever-firmer grip on contested Helmand Province in the heart of the country’s poppy-growing region (and so the staggering drug funds that go with it). In that same province, only about half of the “on duty” Afghan security forces the United States trained, equipped, and largely funded (to the tune of more than $65 billion over the years) were reportedly even present. On his way into retirement, General Campbell has been vigorously urging the Obama administration to expand its operations in that country. (“I’m not going to leave,” he said, “without making sure my leadership understands that there are things we need to do.”) In this, he’s been in good company. Behind the
As European governments move to seal their external borders, tens of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe are trapped in Greece, leading to a rapidly escalating humanitarian catastrophe. Each day hundreds of refugees risk the dangerous journey from their war-torn countries in the Middle East via Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece. Most of them are trying to get to Western Europe via the Balkan route. In late February, the Macedonian government closed its border to Greece for the transit of refugees. Since then, the number of refugees in Greece has risen to over 30,000. According to the Greek state television ERT, last Thursday there were some 25,000 refugees on the Greek mainland and nearly 7,000 on the Aegean islands. Thousands of exhausted people face desperate conditions at the border, in the hope they may soon be able to continue their journey north. Idomeni in the Kilkis region has been transformed from a tiny village of 154 inhabitants into a giant refugee camp. Meanwhile, over 13,000 people are camping in a field near the border fence and the railway tracks. Every day, hundreds more refugees arrive from other regions of Greece. News station ERT has broadcast shocking images of the
When people ask me what more can be done to achieve 9/11 truth and justice, I tell them to spend less time calling for a new investigation and more time investigating. Even without subpoena power, independent investigators can make a lot of progress. To help with that effort, here are three steps for an independent investigation and an objective way to evaluate suspects in the 9/11 crimes. The first step is to ask specific, well-formulated questions. What do we need to know? We need to know things like how explosives got into the WTC, how the North American air defenses failed, how the U.S. chain of command and communication systems failed, how the alleged hijackers got away with so much, and how the planes were hijacked. Here are examples of specific questions that will help answer these questions. What more can we learn from the official accounts about transponder and autopilot use on 9/11? Who was invited to the explosive disposal/terrorism meeting at WTC 7 on the morning 9/11 and what was the agenda? What do the strip clubs, bars, and other businesses frequented by the alleged hijackers have in common? Read
After fighting the longest war in its history, the United States stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How can this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for 15 years, deploying 100,000 of its finest troops, sacrificing the lives of 2,200 of those soldiers, spending more than a trillion dollars on its military operations, lavishing a record hundred billion more on “nation-building” and “reconstruction,” helping raise, fund, equip, and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies, and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations? So dismal is the prospect for stability in Afghanistan in 2016 that the Obama White House has recently cancelled a planned further withdrawal of its forces and will leave an estimated 10,000 troops in the country indefinitely. Were you to cut through the Gordian knot of complexity that is the Afghan War, you would find that in the American failure there lies the greatest policy paradox of the century: Washington’s massive military juggernaut has been stopped dead in its steel tracks by a pink flower, the opium poppy. Read
The World Heath Organization reports that worldwide, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability around the globe and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Ayahuasca, a psychotropic brew of two plants, the vine Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of the shrubPsychotria viridis, has been used for centuries in healing ceremonies in the Amazon. In the last few years ayahuasca has gained prominence on a global scale, with thousands traveling across the world to participate in indigenous ceremonies in South America, most notably in Peru. Concomitant with the growing popularity of ayahuasca as a tool for spiritual and physical healing is an increased scientific interest in understanding the biomedical underpinnings and treatment ramifications of this powerful medicine. Recently, one of the most prestigious scientific journals, Nature, highlighted research conducted by a team of Brazilian from the University of São Paulo on the antidepressant effects of a single dose of ayahuasca on a group of six individuals suffering from major depression. In that study, researchers demonstrated that ayahuasca was able to alleviate symptoms of depression within hours of intake and that the antidepressant effects persisted for weeks afterward. Read
If anyone wants to understand the shame of Afghanistan – the yearly cull of civilians, the beheadings, the execution by single shots, the kidnapping of women – they have only to read the shocking UN report just published in Kabul. It is laced with fearful eyewitness descriptions of brutality. Isis features in its 87 pages with its usual depravity (in Afghanistan, of course, not in Iraq or Syria) and the report’s statistics show clearly that, last year, there were more civilians killed or wounded in the country than in any year since 2009. In 2015 alone, 3,545 civilians were killed and 7,457 injured. Since 2009, the total civilian dead – not soldiers, militiamen or Taliban – comes to 21,323 dead. And this, remember, is the graveyard of empires into which we blithely trod after 9/11 on the basis that we would not “forget” Afghanistan again. We would see it through to the end. The Taliban, in the words of a Canadian commander, were “scumbags”. Our soldiers would not die in vain. And it has come to this. Read
The US Central Intelligence Agency has, according to multiple investigative reports from both mainstream media outlets and human rights organizations, operated numerous “black sites” across the world. These locations, according to the reports, are secret prisons used to house “ghost prisoners.” Those sent to these places are held captive without being charged with any crime and are not allowed any form of legal defense. Ghost prisoners are subject to what the CIA calls “enhanced interrogation tactics”; most others call it torture. The CIA and their operatives’ methods allegedly include waterboarding, sleep deprivation, humiliation, physical beatings, electric shocks, and worse. These secret prisons, dotted all over the world, might just be the most terrifying places on Earth. Read
January 13, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – It has been a month since the UN climate summit in Paris, aka COP 21. One might expect the kind of ebb and flow we often see in popular movements. Interest in climate issues, the cause of the day during the summit, might be expected to wane and move to the back burner of public discourse until such time as another development pushes it forward again. However, climate change is fundamentally different. It is going to get worse — we will be getting slapped in the face with this one for a long, long time, even under the best scenarios. Only a few weeks after COP 21, the world experienced a wave of floods and extreme weather exacerbated by global warming. In the US, there were record-setting floods along the Mississippi River. In South America, floods caused the evacuation of 180,000 persons. In Scotland, floods cut across class lines to threaten a historic castle neighboring the Queen’s Balmoral residence, its foundation being eaten away by the swollen Dee river. Meanwhile, oil wars and drought continue to drive an immigration crisis in Syria and throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa.