In gratitude, we mark the death of Henry Kissinger, America's peerless war criminal. As U.S officials laud an "elder statesman" and "erudite strategist," the rest of us, and surely millions of brown-skinned people, celebrate the end of an "iconic napalm rights advocate" whose lies, hubris, towering inhumanity and many blood-soaked foreign policy follies left a legacy - in Vietnam, Chile, Cambodia, Argentina - of an "enormous pile of corpses" that may number four million. The consensus: "Burn hot, Henry."
The news of Dr. Death's demise at 100 was predictably, fawningly covered by an establishment press that the master of access journalism had long courted: "I'll tell you about some sleazy transgressions if you don't say I committed them and what it cost in lives or money." There were thoughts and prayers and cheesy accolades for a "towering American diplomat" who "shaped US Cold War history" and left "an undeniable legacy" - true but probably not the way they mean it. Tim Scott babbled, "While this is an incredible loss for our nation, his legacy will live on for generations to come." McConnell lauded "a titan among America's most consequential statesmen" whose "sheer force of will...changed the course of history." Chris Christie bemoaned "a very sad night" that "leaves a void all around the world." Echoing Trump's "many people say," the WaPo hedged their bets, queasily conceding with a Kissinger-like "'detached bloodlessness" that "critics held" he was kinda a sociopathic monster but who knows. Stephen Miller won the WTF-Are-You-Talking-About Award with, "May God bless Henry Kissinger, who devoted his life to the pursuit of peace," albeit with carpet bombing. Spencer Ackerman: "America, like every empire, champions its state murderers."
Some cited his inexplicable Nobel Peace Prize for ending a war that kept going - "Perhaps the vetting process needs a better vetting process"; Al Jazeera noted "the Nobel Prize-wining warmonger" had died; nobody mentioned the award was the reason Tom Lehrer retired: "Political satire became obsolete.” Few identified him as the ruthless architect of a murderous, empire-building "evil circle of power" now known as "a rules-based international order" whose deadly flaws and repercussions we still live with today, and whose crimes were so vast - of commission in Cambodia and Chile, omission in Iran and East Timor - he had to limit where he traveled to not land in the Hague. Still, Jeff Tiedrich insists, facts owe. "Good fucking riddance to Henry fucking Kissinger," he wrote of "the war criminal elephant in the room" who "never met a democratically-elected government he didn't want to topple" if they stood in his way. "There’s nothing complicated about (his) legacy. He overthrew democratic governments and bombed children on Christmas Eve" even as "DC's "power elite "sucked up to "the West Wing Playboy: "Everyone wanted this blood-spattered fuck at their dinner party." Sorry, not sorry. Voltaire: "We owe respect to the living. To the dead we owe only truth."
The truth, says historian Greg Grandin, is that during his years as National Security Adviser and then Secretary of State, Kissinger abetted or orchestrated the deaths of between three and four million civilians. His atrocities in Southeast Asia ranged from 1972's Christmas bombing of North Vietnam and Hanoi's main hospital, to devious efforts to sabotage the Paris Peace talks by passing information from them to Nixon in hopes of staying in power, to his apocalyptic, covert B-52 carpet-bombing of Cambodia, a country we were not at war with, with 540,000 tons of munitions - during all of World War ll, the U.S. dropped 160,000 tons of bombs on Japan - killing between 150,000 and 500,000 civilians in one of history's most deadly air campaigns. He and Nixon were reportedly "really excited" about the campaign - freakishly named Operation MENU, with BREAKFAST, LUNCH, SNACK, DINNER etc - born of Kissinger's order to hit "anything that moves," approving 3,875 sorties over what he claimed were unpopulated areas yielding "no significant civilian casualties." He thus galvanized Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, laying the groundwork for a genocide that killed millions; once they came to power, he secretly said they were "murderous thugs" but the U.S. "won’t let that stand in our way."
Over 10 years ago, investigative reporter Nick Turse uncovered evidence from an archive of U.S. military documents that Kissinger, who for decades dodged questions about Cambodia's killing fields, was responsible for even more civilian deaths than was known. In interviews with over 75 Cambodian survivors and U.S. witnesses, he heard tearful accounts of daily, random massacres that would kill neighbors, relatives, half a hamlet's population; of Army Rangers wildly shooting women and children before grabbing chickens, duck, cigarettes, a motorcycle; of "terrifying" air attacks by "lobster-leg" Huey Cobras wiping out families even as U.S. forces abided by the Nixon argument that, "As long as we didn’t set foot on that ground, we basically weren’t there"; of systemic disregard for, and lies about, "civilian harm" and deaths. Over his ensuing decades of impunity, Kissinger became "a visionary example for our 21st-century age of unaccountable power," a sinister template for U.S. leaders who learned they'd never face consequences for their actions in office - starting illegal wars, approving torture, dispatching drones on Afghans at a wedding - thus setting the stage for the civilian carnage of our so-called War on Terror around the world.
First came the 1973 overthrow of Socialist Salvador Allende's democratic election in Chile because, Kissinger argued, the U.S. can't “stand idly by and watch a country go communist...We will not let Chile go down the drain." Cue 17 years of of terror delivered by his military junta: Santiago's football stadium turned concentration camp with two lines - "We called them the line of life and the line of death" - wiping out "a whole generation of the working class"; entire newspaper staffs gunned down; tens of thousands imprisoned and tortured; women standing daily at bridges to look for the bodies of disappeared husbands or sons floating downriver, headless corpses with arms tied behind, fingernails ripped out, legs broken, testicles smashed, eyes gouged by cigarettes; and, later, unions decimated, multinationals enriched. Before Allende, his palace surrounded, killed himself, he urged an aide, "Tell the world." Eventually Pinochet, living in London, was extradited but ultimately let off, even as his junta agents in Operation Condor killed a former ambassador and political opponent in a D.C car bombing. Still, Kissinger stood by Pinochet, a brutal kindred spirit, telling him, "You are a victim of all left-wing groups around the world.”
And he was everywhere. In 1970, he turned a blind eye to Pakistan's slaughter of 300,000 Bengalis, most of them Hindu. In 1975, he similarly ignored Indonesian President Suharto's brutal invasion of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony moving toward independence, that killed over 200,000. In 1976, he brushed aside a military junta in Argentina that overthrew Isabel Perón and launched a savage Dirty War that "disappeared" over 30,000 civilians; when a junta official told Kissinger their main problem was "terrorism," the esteemed elder statesman responded, "If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.” A Republican truly ahead of his time, he even decried democracy in his own country, telling Nixon, "We’ve got to break the back of this generation of Democratic leaders (and) destroy the confidence of people in the American establishment." And he was a Jew who escaped the Nazis only to become the flunky for a vicious anti-Semite who blamed “dirty rotten Jews from New York” (Seymour Hersh) and "Jews at Harvard for exposing the My Lai massacre. "Well, Mr. President," Kissinger responded, "there are Jews and Jews." Another time he mused, "Any people who has been persecuted for 2,000 years must be doing something wrong."
Burn hot, Henry, indeed. It's equally forbidding to confront the "horrifying catastrophe" that was the man, the malignant machine that facilitated his rise to power, and the fact he was left free to shape history and the war-torn, post-truth, self-serving world we now inhabit. There was never a trip to the Hague for Wonder Warthog, but his awfulness didn't go unnoticed. One story has the venerable Gore Vidal coming upon Kissinger at the Vatican "gazing thoughtfully” at the Hell section of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. “Look,” said Vidal to a friend, "he’s apartment hunting." The late great chef Anthony Bourdain was likewise not a fan. "Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands," he wrote in a 2001 memoir about "that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag." When he turned 100 last May and dreadful think pieces pondered "What He Can Tell Us About the World," The Nation noted he was "still at large (but) he should have gone down the rest of them. "Still a war criminal," reported David Corn. "As he blows out all those candles, let's call the roll" - Cambodia, Chile, Iran et al. "The Cubans say there is no evil that lasts 100 years," Grandin wrote. "Kissinger is making a run to prove them wrong."
With his death, many people, bitter to droll, chimed in. They suggested humans should have a shorter shelf life, he should've died "with a rope around his war criminal neck," his body should be airdropped on Cambodia "for them to defile it as they please, he belongs to the ash-heap. Many lamented they don't believe in hell but hope his apartment in the World to Come is a tiny, dark, 4th floor walk-up for groceries.They said, "Let he who has not carpet-bombed Cambodia throw the first stone," he "put Cambodia on the map and almost took it off," "Collateral damage tested much better with audiences than 'innocent victims.'" They cited Monty Python's song - 'Henry Kissinger/how I'm missing yer" - comparing him to a German parakeet and positing, like the parrot, he's "just resting" or "pining for the fjords." There were questions: Is Cheney the most evil living American now? Who gets the peace prize - Santos, Putin, Miller? Is there room for him in Hell with all the other fascist creeps? Did he have more blood on his hands than any other homicidal sociopath? When he signed a check, did he use a pen or the severed limb of a dead brown child? They said rest in piss, rest in perfidy, and in a lousy year, "It's a glorious day." And the person who runs a "Did-Kissinger-Die-Yet" account answered, finally, "YES."
Not a moment too soon, "the world awoke a little less poisoned," wrote Charles Pierce, who quoted the Revelation of St. John: "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard (the) beast say, 'Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." "Kissinger lived for over half a century in the world he had made. He was its hubris," wrote Spencer Ackerman in a fine, detailed piece on a "War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class," a headline he'd earlier prepped; it's also tagged, "Good Riddance." "The infamy of Nixon's foreign-policy architect sits, eternally, beside that of history's worst mass murderers. A deeper shame attaches to the country that celebrates him." Still, "no infamy will find Kissinger." Over 50 years, the millions of deaths didn't make a dent. He got rich, voiced no regrets, mocked his war criminal label, was extolled by the likes of Hillary Clinton as "a friend" whose counsel she sought in the name of a neoliberalism birthed in "Pinochet's torture chambers...a baby delivered bloody and screaming by Henry Kissinger" as U.S leaders today routinely bomb countries we're not at war with. The goal of Cold War statecraft: To maximize America's freedom to "inflict (its) will on the world, measured in impunity... The organizing principle of American exceptionalism: America acts; it is not acted upon." And it still is.
"He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies." - the early Christian theologian Tertullian, (160-240 A.D) of Carthage, thought to have produce the first extensive body of Latin Christian literature.
Pinochet's terrifying Chile, with the help of the U.S.Getty Image
With help from generative artificial intelligence, We Don't Have Time turned over a dozen young climate campaigners into future versions of themselves to stress to world leaders the necessity of bolder action to tackle the climate emergency.
We Don't Have Time, the world's largest social network for climate solutions, launched the "Future Voices" initiative on Thursday, as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) began in the United Arab Emirates and scientists warned that after months of devastating heat and extreme weather events, 2023 is "virtually certain" to be the warmest year on record.
"World leaders are not listening to the younger generation, so what if we turn young climate advocates into older versions of themselves—into their future voices?" said David Olsson of We Don't Have Time. "Then the demand for ending fossils and accelerating solutions can't be ignored. We encourage everyone to support this message."
The Future Voices website highlights that current children and young adults will suffer the consequences of the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency "to a much higher degree than previous generations," and already, youth worldwide are enduring the impacts of heating the planet and reporting that the crisis is taking a toll on their mental health.
The website features an interactive globe through which users can view video testimonies from campaigners around the world (also included below). One of them stars Swedish Fridays for Future and Climate Live campaigner Andreas Magnusson, who said in a statement that "in the fight against the climate crisis, including and listening to young people is crucial."
Speaking from Sweden in 2050, the AI-aged Magnusson says in his video that "in my hometown, Mockfjärd, I've seen landslide after landslide hit, caused by the heavy raining. And yet, I am not the one who suffers most. I come from a great place of privilege. I come from a part of the world that is not affected by nature's fury like other parts of the world are."
Activists from other parts of the world, in their own video messages from 2050, speak of "vast droughts causing water shortage," more frequent hurricanes, rising sea levels, and "floods and plagues."
Near the end of Magnusson's video, the 2023 version of him warns: "Time is running out. The choices world leaders make today will determine the kind of world we will live in tomorrow. The future is now."
In addition to the AI videos, the Future Voices initiative includes an online hub to help young activists who can't make it to Dubai still participate in COP28. Organizers are planning daily broadcasts with climate leaders and decision-makers.
"We are very proud and happy to be able to offer this opportunity for young people to get access to the most important climate negotiations of the year and deliver their messages to world leaders," said Olsson. "It would not have been possible without our incredible community of youth climate advocates."
Magnusson said that "Future Voices and the youth hub make the discussions at COP28 more inclusive."
"World leaders hold not only our future in their hands, they also hold our present, because we are already today affected by the climate crisis," the campaigner added. "And, frankly, it is youth who most of the time bring bold ideas and the unfiltered truth to the discussions about the future of humanity. Discussions that for 30 years haven't been able to even mention 'oil' in their agreements."
Watch more of the Future Voices videos below:
Nikka Gerona of the Philippines is co-chair of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Regional Young People's Action Team in East Asia and the Pacific.
Isaias Hernandez of the United States is an environmental justice educator and public speaker who created QueerBrownVegan.
Valeria Horton of Mexico founded Green Reconnection and was the Mexican lead negotiator for loss and damage at COP27.
Sophia Mathur of Canada is a climate advocate with Fridays for Future and recipient of the 2021 Action for Nature International Award.
Agustín Ocaña of Ecuador is the founder and chairperson of the Global Youth Coalition.
Anita Soina of Kenya is a climate advocate, politician, and global youth champion for the U.N.-hosted partnership Sanitation and Water for All.
Other featured activists include Farzana Faruk Jhumu of Bangladesh, an advocate with Fridays for Future and Feminist Action Coalition for Climate Justice; Denzel James of Australia, a UNICEF young ambassador; and Madina Kimaro of Tanzania, a UNICEF youth advocate and climate advocacy champion for the Tanzania Girl Guides Association.
There are also videos from Emma Kroese of the Netherlands, a climate advocate with Fridays for Future; Ashley Lashley of Barbados, a UNICEF youth advocate and CARICOM youth ambassador; Geoffrey Mboya of Kenya, a humanitarian, sustainability advocate, and youth adviser of the WeDontHaveTime Foundation; and Joaquín Salinas Atenas of Chile, a socioenvironmental artivist and UNICEF COP26 youth delegate.
Experts on anti-poverty policies on Tuesday urged lawmakers weighing tax legislation to consider evidence that became strikingly clear in 2021: Guaranteeing that families have money on a monthly basis to provide for their children, via the expanded child tax credit, helped ensure that far fewer kids struggled with insufficient food and other essentials.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) noted that policymakers have reportedly begun negotiating a possible year-end tax bill and have already heard from dozens of pro-business groups from across the country that have called for a tax code that "supports innovation" and enables businesses to "finance growth."
To return to what analysts have called "a historic reduction in poverty" that was observed just two years ago, CBPP called on negotiators in Congress to include "a well-designed expansion of the child tax credit (CTC) in any tax legislation considered," with the children from the lowest-income households prioritized.
"Letting 9 million children in this country live in poverty is a policy choice, as recent census data underscores," wrote Chuck Marr, Kris Cox, and Sarah Calame at CBPP. "Policymakers have an opportunity to make a different—and better—choice in the coming weeks. They should prioritize reducing child poverty—and improving the life prospects of millions of children."
As Common Dreams reported in September, the opposition of Republican senators and right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) led to the end of the expanded CTC, which helped push child poverty to a record low of 5.2% in 2021 as eligible families received up to $300 per child, per month. As a result, in 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded the largest single-year increase in poverty among children in the U.S., which rose to 12.4%.
"If Congress had continued the American Rescue Plan's child tax credit expansion in 2022, about 3 million fewer children would have been in poverty, preventing more than half of the increase in the number of children in poverty last year, we estimate," wrote Marr, Cox, and Calame.
The decision to take thousands of dollars per year away from families struggling with the rising cost of living and stagnant wages was driven largely by Manchin's false claim that parents who were given money to help with the cost of childcare and groceries each month would spend the cash on drugs, but CBPP expressed hope that some Republicans facing tough reelection campaigns next year have signaled an interest in supporting the provision, which was backed by Republican, Independent, and Democratic voters in an Economic Security Project poll last year.
Civil society groups including the Maine People's Alliance (MPA) and Americans for Tax Fairness this week began calling on lawmakers to "put children first, not corporate profits" as they negotiate a tax bill.
"Right now, Congress is hearing from big business, not American families like yours," MPA told its supporters in a call to action. "We are the people who know how critical cash is to making a household work. We are the people our members of Congress need to hear from."
CBPP emphasized that "the details of any child tax credit expansion are important" and called for a particular focus on the children who have been left out of the credit in the past despite their families' struggles with the cost of housing, food, childcare, and other essentials.
The economists wrote that any tax bill must prioritize ensuring that 19 million children whose parents' incomes are too low to receive the full CTC must be "the focus of any child tax credit expansion."
Explaining that the current structure of the CTC is "upside down," they wrote that children in families with less than $2,500 in earnings are not eligible for any credit, while families with incomes below about $16,000 get less than $2,000 in total and middle- and high-income households receive the maximum of $2,000 per child.
For example, a childcare provider who has two children of their own and is a single parent might earn $15,000 per year and receive $1,875, while a married couple who employs the provider might earn $400,000 per year and receive $4,000 in CTC.
"The children who would benefit the most—children whose families face challenges affording rent, utilities, food, clothing, and transportation—often get the least," wrote the economists. "As a result, more children live in poverty than would if children in families with low incomes received the same child tax credit as children in families with higher incomes."
This inequity disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, and Latino children whose parents are "overrepresented in low-paid work," noted CBPP.
The record low child poverty rate in 2021 was achieved by making the full CTC available to low-income families, raising the maximum credit from $2,000 per child to $3,600 for children aged 5 and younger and $3,000 for older children, and providing the credit on a monthly basis rather than a lump sum after taxes were filed.
Marr, Cox, and Calame explained that simply raising the maximum amount for the CTC would do little to help the families who need it most, and a proposal led by Rep. John James (R-Mich.) would still leave many low-income families with partial or no credit.
By contrast, the economists proposed making the current $2,000 CTC—often called the "fully refundable" credit—to the lowest-income households, which could lift an estimated 1.5 million children out of poverty and boost the income of the single parent in CBPP's example by $2,125—a significant difference for a regular household income of $15,000.
"As policymakers evaluate approaches to expanding the child tax credit" in end-of-year tax legislation, said Marr, Cox, and Calame, "they should seek to maximize the number of children with low incomes lifted out of poverty."
Henry Kissinger, the former diplomat whose efforts to prolong and expand the U.S. war on Southeast Asia and undermine democracy in Latin America and elsewhere took millions of lives, died Wednesday at 100 years old.
Treated like royalty in elite U.S. political circles until his death at his home in Connecticut, Kissinger—who served as secretary of state and national security adviser under Nixon and Ford—never faced justice for the secretive carpet bombing of Cambodia that he helped orchestrate, the overthrow of Chile's democratically elected president, or the murderous "dirty war" in Argentina that killed tens of thousands.
The scope of his crimes was so vast that he had to watch where he traveled, lest he be detained to face questioning for his role in assassinations, massacres, and violent military coups whose reverberations are still felt in the present.
"The covert justifications for illegally bombing Cambodia became the framework for the justifications of drone strikes and forever war. It's a perfect expression of American militarism's unbroken circle," historian Greg Grandin, author of "Kissinger's Shadow," toldThe Intercept earlier this year. Grandin has estimated that Kissinger was responsible for at least 3 million deaths.
Observers of Kissinger's impact have said it's difficult to convey the true extent of the destruction he inflicted across the globe.
In his obituary of Kissinger for Rolling Stone, journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote that "measuring purely by confirmed kills, the worst mass murderer ever executed by the United States was the white-supremacist terrorist Timothy McVeigh."
"McVeigh, who in his own psychotic way thought he was saving America, never remotely killed on the scale of Kissinger, the most revered American grand strategist of the second half of the 20th century," Ackerman continued. "Every single person who died in Vietnam between autumn 1968 and the Fall of Saigon—and all who died in Laos and Cambodia, where Nixon and Kissinger secretly expanded the war within months of taking office, as well as all who died in the aftermath, like the Cambodian genocide their destabilization set into motion—died because of Henry Kissinger."
"We will never know what might have been, the question Kissinger's apologists, and those in the U.S. foreign policy elite who imagine themselves standing in Kissinger's shoes, insist upon when explaining away his crimes," he added. "We can only know what actually happened. What actually happened was that Kissinger materially sabotaged the only chance for an end to the war in 1968 as a hedged bet to ensure he would achieve power in Nixon's administration or Humphrey's. A true tally will probably never be known of everyone who died so Kissinger could be national security adviser."
The Biden administration's proposal to better protect drinking water nationwide was met with sweeping applause on Thursday, but at least one consumer advocacy group stressed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy is "still not enough."
With its proposed changes to the Lead and Copper Rule, the administration aims to replace all lead water service lines in the United States within a decade, according to the EPA. There are also provisions intended to locate legacy lead pipes, improve tap sampling, lower the lead action level, and strengthen protections to reduce exposure.
Food & Water Watch Public Water for All director Mary Grant said that "the federal government has already waited far too long to require the elimination of these toxic lead water pipes, which poisoned the water in communities across the country," from Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi to Newark, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
"The Biden administration has proposed long-overdue meaningful action toward the goal of eliminating lead from drinking water, but to ensure that every community has safe, lead-free water, much more must be done—much faster—at no cost to impacted households," she asserted.
Grant praised "agitators who emerged from... water contamination fights" and called on Congress to "step up to provide funding to replace the entire service line at no cost to impacted households, prioritizing low-income and environmental justice communities."
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed by President Joe Biden two years ago, "provided a $15 billion downpayment on this overhaul, but the total cost could exceed $60 billion," she pointed out, urging Congress to pass the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act.
"In a moment when many of us feel overwhelmed by bad news, the EPA's lead rule provides a ray of hope."
While additional steps are clearly needed, impacted communities and other campaigners still welcomed the progress on Thursday.
"Communities like ours... have grappled with the repercussions of lead contamination for too long," said Deborah Brown, a steering committee member of Newburgh Clean Water Project in New York. "The proposed improvements, especially the replacement of all lead service lines, signify a significant stride to safe and clean drinking water for our families and future generations. It's a step in the right direction."
Earthjustice attorney Suzanne Novak—whose legal group has represented the Newburgh Clean Water Project—said that "the EPA's proposed improvements to the Lead and Copper Rule are a much-needed response to a dire public health crisis that's been ongoing for more than a century."
"The administration's proposal takes important steps towards fulfilling the Safe Drinking Water Act's purpose of protecting human health to the extent feasible," Novak continued. "EPA has recognized that quick removal of all lead service lines is imperative, and that swift action is needed when a community has persistent high levels of lead in its water."
"Because the public health burden of lead exposure falls disproportionately on environmental justice communities," she emphasized, "we need to make sure that the final rule is equitable in how it achieves reduction of lead in drinking water across the country."
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) noted "apparent weaknesses" of the proposal, including that "water systems are not required to pay for the lead service line replacement," utilities could get extensions beyond the 10-year deadline, and the action level reduction from 15 parts per billion to 10 ppb "is less strict than the 5 ppb standards recommended by health experts and the governments in Canada and Europe."
Still, Erik Olson, senior strategic director for health at NRDC, said that "in a moment when many of us feel overwhelmed by bad news, the EPA's lead rule provides a ray of hope that we are approaching the day when every family can trust that the water from their kitchen tap is safe, regardless of how much money they have or their ZIP code."
Environmental Working Group senior vice president for government affairs Scott Faber also praised the progress, saying that "once again, President Biden's EPA is putting our families first and honoring his commitments to the American people."
The campaigner also highlighted the need to better protect communities whose drinking water is contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals used in various products that persist in the environment and human body and are connected to health problems including cancers.
Biden's EPA proposed the first-ever national drinking water standard for PFAS in March. Faber said Thursday that "we're confident he will also make good on his commitment to finalize a drinking water standard for the toxic 'forever chemicals.'"
"We're not at war."
That's what U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) claimed during a Wednesday hearing about controversial legislation backed by Republicans and right-wing Democrats that would create a so-called fiscal commission for the U.S. debt.
Making some on-the-fly additions to his prepared remarks, Arrington said, "120% debt to GDP—this is the highest level of indebtedness in the history of our country surpassing World War II and we're not at war, we're in relative peace and prosperity."
And yet, a report published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs shows that since 2021, the U.S. military has conducted counterterrorism operations—including training and assistance, military exercises, combat and detention, and air and drone strikes—in at least 78 countries.
"The war launched by the United States government in response to the 9/11 terror attacks continues," states the report, authored by project co-director Stephanie Savell. "This map is a snapshot of today's global military and civilian operations that evolved from President George W. Bush's 'Global War on Terror,' launched in 2001, and continued through and beyond the U.S. military's official withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. This war on terror continues under President Joe Biden."
The United States conducted air and drone strikes against militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and likely Yemen, according to the report. U.S. forces also "engaged in combat and detention, using force on the ground against militants/terrorism suspects" in those five countries plus Cuba, Kenya, Mali, and the United Arab Emirates.
The publication also identifies 30 countries where the United States "conducted formal, named military exercises to project
force locally and rehearse scenarios of combating 'terrorists' or 'violent extremist organizations," and 73 nations where the U.S. government "trained and/or assisted military, police, and/or border patrol forces."
As the report details:
Many U.S. military operations are not included here—notably, those aimed at what U.S. officials and media identify as the military threat posed by Russia and China, the focus of much current U.S. foreign policy. Nor does this map include the military bases that have housed counterterrorism operations. Further, it does not include counterterrorism-related arms sales to foreign governments, all deployments of U.S. special operations forces, or all Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations. Also excluded are "military information support operations (MISO)," or "psychological operations," which the U.S. military carries out in many countries on the map and beyond, such as in Iran. All of these are significant elements of the bigger picture of U.S. counterterrorism strategy but beyond the scope of the map's data set.
USA Today exclusively reported on the new map. Citing the Pentagon and David Vine, an anthropologist and U.S military expert at American University, the newspaper noted that "there are up to 800 U.S. military bases overseas," and "the Biden administration signed an agreement in June that will bring six new U.S. military bases to Papua New Guinea."
The Costs of War Project report points out that "there are a few notable differences in comparing the current data with the previous version of the map, which covered activities between 2018 through 2020 under President Donald Trump's administration." Differences include that the number of nations hit with U.S. airstrikes decreased while the tally of countries where U.S. service members engaged in ground combat rose by one—the UAE.
"Overall, though the total number of countries has decreased slightly, from 85 to 78 total countries, the United States counterterrorism footprint remains remarkably similar," the report stresses. "Taken altogether, this map's data highlights that the expansive global counterterrorism apparatus grinds ever onwards. This contrasts starkly with claims or assumptions on the part of the U.S. public and policymakers that the so-called 'War on Terror' is over."
The report comes as Congress considers how much more military aid—if any—to provide Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion since February 2022, and Israel, which launched a war on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7.
"Today, in the current geopolitical context of the Middle East, the U.S. counterterrorism machinery is like a spark, ready to ignite," Savell wrote Wednesday in a related opinion piece for Newsweek. "The U.S. footprint in the region does not only make U.S. forces sitting ducks—it also threatens to dramatically escalate the current war on Gaza. Research has shown that having U.S. troops at the ready in so many places actually makes the chances of the U.S. waging aggressive, offensive wars far more likely."
"It is time for the U.S. to think deeply about the costs of overseas counterterrorism and to admit it has been a failure, underlaid by structural racism," she argued. "It is time to truly end the post-9/11 war era."
"Today's decision is another notch in a long history of ignoring the rights of tribal nations," said one Indigenous leader.
Days after climate advocates applauded Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's signing of a package of clean energy bills that one campaigner said would "translate into better air, water, and health for everyone," state regulators took several steps back from a sustainable future as they approved a key permit for Enbridge's Line 5 expansion project beneath the Great Lakes.
In a 2-0 vote with one member abstaining, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved siting for the project, granting Canadian oil firm Enbridge permission to build a concrete tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac—which connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron—to house a four-mile section of its 645-mile petroleum pipeline.
The company can't break ground on the project without approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which isn't expected to announce its decision until 2026, but Indigenous tribes and advocacy groups that have fought for years to stop the pipeline from being built expressed outrage that the commission approved the permit despite well-documented objections.
All federally recognized tribes in Michigan have passed resolutions opposing Line 5, which safety experts have warned puts the Great Lakes at risk for a massive explosion and oil spill.
"Today's decision is another notch in a long history of ignoring the rights of tribal nations," said Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community. "We must act now to protect the peoples of the Great Lakes from an oil spill, to lead our communities out of the fossil fuel era, and to preserve the shared lands and waters in Michigan for all of us."
Tribes have said the project would violate their treaty rights and that Enbridge has not proven it can operate the tunnel safely. The company's Line 6B oil spill in 2010 contaminated nearly 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River.
"Disappointment isn't a big enough word," Rebecca Liebing, attorney for Bay Mills, told Michigan Bridge after the MPSC vote was announced. "There's no ambiguity regarding how the tribes feel about this matter... We're not done fighting."
The lakes hold 84% of North America's surface freshwater, and the Line 5 expansion would be the largest underwater hazardous liquids tunnel ever completed, said the coalition Oil and Water Don't Mix (OWDM).
"With this action, the Michigan Public Service Commission is putting Michigan in uncharted, dangerous territory while ignoring warnings by independent industry experts who testified during the MPSC's proceedings," said Sean McBrearty, a campaign coordinator for OWDM. "Never before has an oil tunnel that also carries other hazardous liquids been built in one of the most ecologically sensitive spots on Earth."
McBrearty pointed out that Enbridge already operates other oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac, and said there is "an open question whether Enbridge intends to build the tunnel or is simply using the project as a diversion and delay from shutting down the existing twin oil pipelines."
"Moreover, the Line 5 tunnel will worsen the impacts of the climate crisis by adding 27 million metric tons of polluting and climate altering carbon into the atmosphere, equivalent to 10 coal-fired power plants," said McBrearty, calling on President Joe Biden to revoke the presidential permit for Line 5.
Whitmer campaigned on closing down Line 5, but Enbridge has claimed the governor has no authority to shut down its pipelines because it runs between the U.S. and Canada and is subject to federal regulations.
A spokesperson for the governor toldMichigan Bridge that Whitmer is reviewing the MPSC's decision and that her goal "has always been getting the pipelines out of the water as quickly as possible."
Christopher Clark, senior attorney for Earthjustice, which represented Bay Mills as it presented its case objecting to Line 5 to the MPSC, said the commission ignored "the concerns of tribal communities in favor of the profit of a fossil fuel company.""The evidence before the commission demonstrated that the proposed tunnel would put the Great Lakes region at serious risk and profoundly endanger the identity and lifeways of the Bay Mills Indian Community, a sovereign tribal nation whose relationship to these waters preexists the United States," said Clark. "We will use every open avenue to shut down Line 5 in order to avert an environmental catastrophe and slow the unthinkable impacts of climate change.”
"If you are going to expel Santos, how can you allow... somebody like Menendez to remain in the Senate?"
Fetterman (D-Pa.) has been calling for Menendez (D-N.J.) to exit the Senate since he was indicted in September and accused aiding the government of Egypt, engaging in "a corrupt relationship" with multiple businessmen, and accepting bribes in the form of "cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value."
Menendez has temporarily stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but refused to voluntarily leave the chamber, even after he was hit with another federal charge in October for allegedly acting as an unregistered agent for Egpyt.
Appearing on "The View" Friday, Fetterman argued that Menendez's alleged actions are "much more sinister and serious" than those of Santos—who faces 23 charges including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.
"He needs to go. And if you are going to expel Santos, how can you allow... somebody like Menendez to remain in the Senate?" said Fetterman, who previously returned $5,000 that his colleague gave to his 2022 campaign. "Menendez, I think, is really a senator for Egypt, not New Jersey."
Asked about the fact that Menendez has not been convicted of any crimes, Fetterman responded that "he has the right for his day in court... but he doesn't have the right to have those kind of votes [in the Senate]. That's not a right and I think we need to make that kind of decision to send him out."
Congressman Rob Menendez (D-N.J.)—the embattled senator's son, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing—was among the 105 Republicans and 206 Democrats who voted Friday to expel Santos. It was a reversal from his position last month, before the House Ethics Committee released its report on the New Yorker's alleged misconduct and criminal activity.
"This is the first AI-facilitated genocide in history," said one observer.
As Israel on Friday resumed bombarding Gaza following a weeklong pause, a joint investigation by a pair of progressive Israeli media outlets sheds new light on the Israel Defense Forces' use of artificial intelligence to select targets, essentially creating what one former Israeli officer called a "mass assassination factory."
The Israeli sites +972 Magazine and Local Call interviewed seven current and former Israeli intelligence officials including participants in the current war on Gaza, who spoke under condition of anonymity. Their testimonies—as well as official statements by Israeli officials, interviews with Palestinians, documentation from the besieged strip, and data—show how Israeli leaders know roughly how many Palestinian civilians are likely to be killed in each of its attacks, and how the use of AI-based systems is accelerating a noncombatant casualty rate that more resembles the indiscriminate bombing of World War II than the modern era of codified civilian protection under international humanitarian law.
"Nothing happens by accident," another source stressed. "When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it's because someone in the army decided it wasn't a big deal for her to be killed—that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target."
"We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets," the source added. "Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home."
In one case, sources said Israeli officials approved an attack they knew would kill up to hundreds of civilians in a bid to assassinate a single Hamas military commander. More than 120 civilians were killed in the October 31 bombing of the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp with at least two 2,000-pound bombs.
"The numbers increased from dozens of civilian deaths [permitted] as collateral damage as part of an attack on a senior official in previous operations, to hundreds of civilian deaths as collateral damage," one source said.
One reason for the staggering Palestinian civilian death toll—over 15,000 people as of December 1, most of them women and children—is Israel's use of a platform called Habsora, or "Gospel," which is largely built on AI and can generate targets at what the report states is "almost automatically at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible."
A source interviewed in the report said that "in the past there were times in Gaza when we would create 50 targets per year," but with AI-driven systems, it is possible to produce 100 targets in a single day.
"It really is like a factory," the source said. "We work quickly and there is no time to delve deep into the target. The view is that we are judged according to how many targets we manage to generate."
According to the report :
The increasing use of AI-based systems like Habsora allows the army to carry out strikes on residential homes where a single Hamas member lives on a massive scale, even those who are junior Hamas operatives. Yet testimonies of Palestinians in Gaza suggest that since October 7, the army has also attacked many private residences where there was no known or apparent member of Hamas or any other militant group residing. Such strikes, sources confirmed to +972 and Local Call, can knowingly kill entire families in the process.
One source said that a senior intelligence officer told his subordinates after October 7 that the goal was to "kill as many Hamas operatives as possible," leading to "cases in which we shell based on a wide cellular pinpointing of where the target is, killing civilians."
"This is often done to save time, instead of doing a little more work to get a more accurate pinpointing," the source added.
Another source said that the "emphasis is on quantity and not on quality." A human "will go over the targets before each attack, but it need not spend a lot of time on them."
The result of the new Israeli policy is the killing and maiming of civilians at a rate with few if any parallels in modern history. Since October 7, when Hamas-led attacks killed 1,200 Israelis and others in southern Israel, nearly 50,000 Palestinians have been killed, wounded, or left missing by IDF attacks. Over 300 families have lost at least 10 members, which the report notes is 15 times higher than during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when the IDF killed more than 2,300 Palestinian civilians in what was at the time its deadliest attack on Gaza.
In the wake of the horrific October 7 attacks—plans for which were known to Israeli leaders but dismissed as too audacious, according to new reporting by The New York Times—Israeli officials publicly stated how they would retaliate, sometimes using language rife with genocidal intent.
"The emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy," IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari explained on October 9.
Israeli forces answered the worst mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust with the worst mass murder of Palestinians since the 1947-48 Nakba, or "catastrophe," when Jews—many of them Holocaust survivors—killed 15,000 Arabs and ethnically cleansed more than 750,000 others from Palestine while establishing the modern state of Israel.
IDF bombs and bullets have killed nearly as many civilians in 56 days as the U.S.-led coalition did in Afghanistan in 20 years. During the first two weeks of the Israeli onslaught, nearly all the bombs dropped by the IDF were either 1,000- or 2,000-pound bombs made by the United States—which, although it has killed more foreign civilians this century than any other armed force in the world, eschews using such massive ordnance in civilian areas.
Israeli military officials said the IDF dropped 6,000 bombs weighing a total of 4,000 tons on Gaza during the first five days of the war alone, destroying entire neighborhoods.
In addition to bombing tactical and undergound targets—which often lie beneath homes and other civilian structures—the IDF is destroying so-called "power targets," which include high-rise and residential towers in the center of densely populated cities, and other civilian structures likes universities, banks, and government offices. The idea, intelligence sources said in the report, is to foment "civil pressure" against Hamas, whose political wing governs Gaza.
The IDF also targets the homes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad personnel, but Palestinians interviewed in the report said some of the families killed by Israeli bombing had no members who were in militant groups.
"We are asked to look for high-rise buildings with half a floor that can be attributed to Hamas," said one source. "Sometimes it is a militant group's spokesperson's office, or a point where operatives meet. I understood that the floor is an excuse that allows the army to cause a lot of destruction in Gaza. That is what they told us."
"If they would tell the whole world that the [Islamic Jihad] offices on the 10th floor are not important as a target, but that its existence is a justification to bring down the entire high-rise with the aim of pressuring civilian families who live in it in order to put pressure on terrorist organizations, this would itself be seen as terrorism. So they do not say it," the source added.