What You Should Do

US-Military-around-the-world-

Hello, thanks for coming to my website.

I’m still here in southern Mexico, trying to learn the language, to prepare myself to go to Cuba, to protest the GITMO prison. There are some prisoners there who are not innocent, some whom I believe ARE innocent. This has been proven by the numerous ones who have been released, over the years, who were certified to be no threat to anyone, and who the government was unable to prove DID ANYTHING WRONG.

They just didn’t want them to get out and tell their stories, proving to the public how they were mistreated and tortured (ALL OF THEM WERE). But now they are out, all but about 40 something of them, who are still being tortured, if only by force-feeding and by the total absence of any release date. They are in indefinite detention. What little hope they had faded to nothing when T. Rump got elected. He wants to fill it back up again, and to resume water-boarding again. I’ll refrain from any rant about the character of this fraudulent president. I think all sane people understand how despicable he is, so why elaborate on it?

It is so good not to be in the USA at this time. I understand that a small segment of the population actually still support this man. I couldn’t stand to be in a crowd and to realize that. And to speak with such a person, I couldn’t bear it.

Actually, I have been doing some historical evaluation of our nation, the USA. Many are waking up to the fact that we are, and have been, the proverbial “bad guys” in the western drama of the world. We’ve been the ones in black hats for a long time. Now, the powers-that-be have decided that a little spin by the main-stream-media is all it takes to keep people satisfied. And the media is in the hands of so few, and they are all in agreement, the big, powerful ones, so no pretense need be made to pretend to be doing the “right things” in the world. It’s just permanent war, regime-change, turn them into chaos, divide and conquer, steal resources; the only way to keep the capitalist pyramid scheme afloat, now that the American consumer can no longer afford to buy enough consumer goods to keep it all going.

Now that bribery is legalized and acceptable, the elite can afford to ignore the protests of the average citizen. The politicians, whom are mostly in the pockets of these same elite, have also found that they can ignore the citizenry, and even be hostile toward them, in attitude and in their legislature. Protests are being made illegal, if not by laws passed (as they are trying to do), then simply by turning a blind eye to police misbehavior, and brutality. I think the elite have finally gotten wealthy and powerful enough, that if the citizens ever did begin to recover any level of power, the authorities could cruelly quash any revolutionary efforts.

So what is a conscientious person to do, someone who isn’t comfortable being a citizen of the nation that most of the world points to, as the biggest threat to peace on earth? What if one begins to feel real discomfort at the horrible specter of millions of poor refugees, fleeing our wars, flooding into Europe, while the USA refuses to help them, or to allow any of them onto our turf? Well, yes, a token few have been let in.

My answer is this: we must flee to other countries, where we can try to adjust our lives so that we pay as little taxes as possible, the goal being to take OUR financial support away from this great Babylon that is the USA. Any other country will do, if one can overcome the language barrier, including Russia, because NO COUNTRY has hundreds of military bases scattered all over the planet; no country has caused nearly as much death and destruction as the USA. And not only is it getting no better, but the evil violence is being stepped-up exponentially. It will soon spark a world war, I am certain; which brings up another reason to move out of the country. The major cities of the USA will be targets, in this coming war. It won’t be fought on some unseen battlefield, as in the past. One would be safer anywhere else on earth, except, of course, near a possible target of the USA military.

I must qualify these statements, of course, by admitting that in the case of a major full-out war between Russia and the USA, no life on earth is safe, in any location. Even a “limited war between two of the smaller nuclear powers would negatively affect all areas around the globe. But an all-out nuclear war would wipe out all life, certainly human life, within a short while.

Also, in light of full disclosure, I must admit that although I have moved to southern Mexico, I am forced by poverty to be dependent upon Social Security for survival. To continue this, I must file income taxes in the USA, and so I do. If I could find enough donors or employers to stop this, I would. I am disabled, with a terribly bad ankle from a bad break that happened in 2000.

I know this is a radical article, and this is not what everyone should do, as the title says. It is only what many of you may decide to do, which would be a good move, in my opinion. Please research the true history of the USA, and the many places our country has troops and bases, and the war crimes that have been committed, and which are being continued. You needn’t be stuck in a situation where your tax dollars are buying bombs for the dismemberment of innocent children, for the blasting to bits people in a wedding, or for the blasting of folks just lounging in their homes, innocently.oct31-192

Advertisements

Pictures from Mexico

Sabanilla, Mexico, at Christmas. Hot weather.
Sabanilla, Mexico, at Christmas. Hot weather.
Friends, I have never adequately explained what I am doing here in Mexico, why I moved here, and so forth. My goal is to get to Cuba, in a way that will give me more control over my visit there. I can fly there cheaply, from Villahermosa, an hour{s drive north of here. “here” being Tapijulapa, my home for now. I have gotten a sort of costume together, this orange jumpsuit. I{m trying to learn a bit more Spanish, and saving up and begging for help, to do this protest. I want to go there and stay a couple of weeks, then return to my home in Mexico. Then to repeat similar protests on into the future. I want to go to the actual base also, as near to the prison as possible, to protest there. I have some banner signs as well. I have pictures of them on my other thumb drive, at home. Later.
My GITMO protest suit. I got this and lettered it to use in a protest I have planned for the USA embassy in Havana, Cuba.
My GITMO protest suit. I got this and lettered it to use in a protest I have planned for the USA embassy in Havana, Cuba.

Above is a town in Chiapas State, south of here. I spent a wonderful Christmas there. My new-found Mexican friends invited me.They have just about adopted me. It was a wonderful time. Two nice parties, on Christmas eve and Christmas day. The town is very far back in the mountains, down a road that I swear you Americano gringos would not believe! If it had been any worse, I would have busted a hole in my transmission, or fallen OFF of it.20161224_18143120161225_091848
Above is a shot of the mountain from the hotel front door. The square and rectantular areas high on the mountain are crops, grown by the local farmers. They walk up there to work their crops. Everybody mentions marijuana as a possible crop, when I mention this, but it’s mostly coffee. There are some illegal crops, too, but it’s not the main focus of the town. Coffee is.20161225_091929
Mexico is a fantastic country, in many ways. The countryside is overwhelmingly beautiful. The people are upright, and kind. The worst I have met have been harmless, if bothersome. (Just alcoholic types, begging for pesos). I am so happy to be where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing at this point of my life.
Thomas Ashez

More from Mexico

Hi friends. Here is a link to a site that has published a story about me, my friend, Lupita, at Lupita News.com

When I first moved to Mexico…

Please visit her site. She has lots of interesting things. Perhaps I will do some more writing there in the future.

The picture above is my beloved Tapijulapa, photographed from above. I need to downsize my photos, so I will only have this one today.

For those who want, here is the story I wrote for Lupita News.

Three Things About Mexico That I Like

I have been here in Tapijulapa for almost two months. I drove here, 2400 miles, from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

I will speak of personal experiences I have had with the people here, because this is what stands out in my mind. The first thing I will mention is the kind and professional police and border control people. From the beginning, at the border, the agents were tolerant of me. My Spanish is abysmal, and the agents’ English was not perfect. The first thing I did was to pull into the wrong lane. This required me to do a circuit of the large building, so I could pull around to where they could deal with me and my car.

The car looked strange, what with all my worldly belongings piled up inside, and the frame of my motor scooter strapped down to the trunk lid. And, of course, since I planned to stay a while, I had to go inside and get a FMM, the 180 day pass. Plus I had to pay $260 for a permit for the car (you get $200 of that that back next renewal). The Scooter, I told them, was a moped, requiring no tag. But immediately I was struck by the fact that everyone was smiling at me, a little. It was just enough to let me know that they were on my side. They wanted me to get on through and have a good time in Mexico. It was a small thing, but it meant the world to me, being so nervous, and having come so far already.

And there were police check points periodically, along the way. And I was pulled over a couple of times for being a gringo with a crazy looking tag. But invariably, the policeman reached out his hand, and smiled, especially when they heard my attempt at Spanish, “Buenos tardy, Senior, yo soy de Estados Unidos” And they immediately understood that I was an upright and good fellow, not someone to be concerned about. So that is one aspect.

Also, incidentally, I heard from almost everybody, when I mentioned Mexico, “Be careful! Isn’t it dangerous?” And I´m sure there are places to avoid in Mexico, as there is in every country. But there is a list, on the State Department site of these. You avoid those places, and there is no problem. I’ll tell you, from my couple of months here, I feel certain that I am just as safe, if not safer, than I was in my little South Carolina town.

To enumerate another favorite aspect of Mexico, or, my experience with Mexico, I have actually established at least five friendships, a good rapport with a number of people here. The owner of the hotel, Paulo, who speaks some limited English, he is a real friend. Also his brother, Eric, is a friend. I could call either one of them up, and say, “Hey, I am in Teapa (20 miles away), and have a flat tire on my scooter. Come and help me.” I have no doubt that they would come, or send someone to help me. Their father is a pharmacist, and he has advised me on my medicines, a big deal for someone like me who takes a number of pills every day. Also, he has checked my blood-pressure a few times. He is so friendly, never accepting any money.

Which is a good segue into my next favorite thing about this great country. As I said, I must take numerous medications. For one of these meds, I need a monthly blood test. So I looked up a doctor’s office in Tacotalpa. Paulo called them for me. I have pestered this man with numerous such requests. He never acts put-out.

He discovered that this was actually a little hospital, with numerous doctors. I needed no appointment, just come in. So I did, and though there was no one there who spoke a word of English, patiently listened to my sorry, limited Española, and figured out what I needed. They were happy to oblige me, and spent a long time with me, drawing blood. Then after an hour or so, they gave me the result. This came with advice about my dosage (it needed changing). Everyone was so nice to me. There was no impatience or irritation. Then when I was ready to go, I said, “Oh, but I must pay!” They said, “No, we don’t take money here.” I was so overwhelmed, I hugged the doctor, and shook everybody’s hands. They had even given me free medicine!

I would urge everyone who feels an urge to do so, to come to Mexico. There are no worries about your safety, if you are half-way intelligent, enough to take common-sense precautions. Now, I must warn that driving can be a challenge, for someone from the States. For that reason, even though I drove here, I don’t recommend it for others.

 

Mid-November in Mexico

20161031_161010

Hi Everyone. Here I am with the young owner and manager of the hotel where I am here in Tapijulapa, Mexico. I have been very busy, it seems. Well, for an old man, busy getting a doctor to do my blood test, which has to be done every month, in order to regulate my dosage of Warfarin. I found a wonderful little hospital right nearby in Tacotalpa. They did my blood test, no problem, in spite of the language problem. But yesterday I went to a pharmacy there to pick up my prescription for Warfarin, and the pharmacist confidently stated that the drug does not exist in Mexico. Well, this was disturbing to hear, until I did a little research and I am just as confident that he was wrong. So today, I was headed to another slightly larger town, Teapa, to get the prescription. But I was on my scooter, and it began raining. These storms can come up quickly with quite a lot of rain, so I turned around.

Anyway. I am unable to give a good organized account of everything in this short time slot. So here are some more pictures. I’m doing fine. God bless everyone!

oct31-340

This above is a fruit I had never see nor heard of. But they are MARVELOUS! The outer hull is covered with soft thorns, but you slit it, and it comes right off, revealing the soft, slimy and sweet insides. Beware, there is a seed in the middle, you can see a bit of it in the third picture. Yummy. A whole big 2 or 3 pound bag is about 75 cents.

Pictures and the trip- Mexico

oct31-228
Here is the car, loaded up and ready to go. What I’ve actually done, is to make a MOVE to Mexico. Southern Mexico, that is, Tapajulipa. 2454 miles from Spartanburg, my former home. What you see is the frame of my motorscooter, tied to the trunk lid. I removed the back seat completely, leaving it behind, to make a better place for the dog (my 90 pound shepherd/lab mix), and as a place for more stuff. The engine of the scooter, and all the parts took up a good bit of space. But I had the luggage carrier thing on top, packed full, and stuff in every crack and cranny. Still had to leave some of my stuff behind.
dsc00139
The first campsite in Southern Alabama. The nights were a bit cool, so I tried to get as far as I could, to drive into warmer weather. next is a picture of “Them ol’ cottonfields back home”, which I had NEVER seen before, being from east Tennessee and Carolina, where they don’t really grow it anymore.dsc00142
dsc00142

oct31-232
This is a picture of a Mexican man actually PUMPING GAS, and there is free air and water, which he is willing to administer if needed, with a smile. A little tip is appreciated, though.
Well, heck, I can’t find the pictures I took of the other campsites in the USA. I spent the night somewhere in Lousiana, I think it was, and also onece in south Texas, in El Campo, which is Spanish for ‘the Camp’. But now for some photos of Mexico.
oct31-236
This is a nice Motel, where my dog, Buddy, slept oudoors. In Mexico there were no campsites, none that I could find. But it was OK, since the motels were cheaper than a campsite in the USA! $15 to $35 for a luxury room, and they were happy as long as buddy(my dog) stayed outside, tied up to something. Luckily there was almost no rain for the whole trip, so he didn’t get wet.
oct31-241
Some of the Motels were not so nice, of course. But never any bed bugs, never anything dirty or unsanitary. I wisely drink only bottled water. This (pictured above) is Hotel Gaby in Tacotalpa. It was $15 a night, but after a couple days, he gave me an additional charge for the ‘garage’, a caged in area where I had parked. This was the only underhanded thing I came across here.
oct31-298
This is the lovely motel here in Tapijulapa, where I finally decided to ‘nest’ for at month or two. It is the nicest Motel here, right on a big river (but high enough above that there is no danger of flooding, ever). I will just put in some random pictures of the area here.
oct31-244oct31-340
oct31-252

oct31-254
oct31-265

oct31-266

oct31-267
Well, there are more interesting photos, I think some are on the phone still. I will include them later. I have to go to Tacotalpa on my motorcycle to get a certain drug at the pharmacy. In America it requires a prescription. It’s just for blood pressure, usual stuff for an old boy like me. Oh, I should insert another picture of me, something I have rarely done. I am in my orange Gitmo suit. I plan to go further now, while keeping a base here, and go to Mexico, taking the scooter. They say it is possible to take a normal little ‘cruise’ boat to Cuba, where I plan to protest the Guantanamo bay prison gulag and torture camp.I have to take my time, though, since funds are limited. I would like to open up to anyone interested in helping me to finance this venture. I have a paypal account.
oct31-191

oct31-192
Oh. as an afterthought, i would caution anyone about driving to mexico.The road here was nice, sometimes, but mostly HELLISH, with huge pot-holes, and huge speed-bumps most of the way. I got lost three or four times, even using GPS.

Announcing: Trip to Mexico!

gitmo-protest
Announcing: Trip to Mexico!

For a long time, I have thought about the injustice of the indefinite detention of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I have wondered what I might be able to do, to at least bring attention to this.
Of course, the goal is to see this prison, this aberration of USA policy, CLOSED! But understanding my limitations, and the perverse attitude of the Republicans in Congress, and unfortunately, even some Democrats, and the President’s reluctance to go ‘all-out’ to fulfill his campaign promise, I am looking to simply do all I can, in my own small way, to work toward this goal.
What this has to do with a trip to Mexico, I will explain. I know they speak as if Cuba has been opened up for Americans, as if all restraints have been lifted. Not so. One goes to Cuba, from the USA, with a mandatory return date listed in the paperwork. We can’t just freely go there to stay as long as we please, and to do whatever we like. We have to fill out on paper, or on online, a form stating what we are doing there. It must be something within a number of government-controlled categories. None of these categories includes conducting protests against the prison and Naval base at GITMO. I know, there have been those who have gone there and done just that, and I applaud these efforts. But they go, and return in a few days. I want to continually protest these things, over a very long time. I want to actually dedicate my remaining life to trying to get these prisoners either freed (most have never been charged with any crime), or, in the few cases where there have been charges leveled at a prisoner, to get them a fair trial, a definite verdict and sentencing.
I feel this is very important. This indefinite detention policy, holding prisoners without charge, and doing it after they admit to having tortured these people, most of whom, I am convinced, are innocent; this represents a major shift in American policy. Our government is acting illegally, according to all international law. It sets a precedent that may be repeated elsewhere, especially since the USA sets itself up as a beacon for human rights worldwide. I mean, if we demonstrate that torture and indefinite detention are suitable treatment for people against whom the government cannot even find enough evidence to build a case, then what limits are there left in the world? If this is judged to be acceptable, then what would be unacceptable? We have justified the cruel prison camps of the Vietnamese during the war, the gulags of Stalin, the concentration camps of the Nazis; we cannot claim to be one bit better than any of these.
So, here I go. I’m leaving in mid-October, to move to central Mexico, to establish a personal base, from which to conduct trips to and from Cuba, where I will set up a one-man protest against the GITMO prison AND against the unjust presence of the Naval base there (it should be vacated and returned to the Cuban people). I said “one-man”, but all would be welcome. Also, I will bring attention to the fact that Congress has resisted until now, the lifting of the trade blockade against the Cuban people. This embargo must be lifted immediately. It is the height of hypocrisy to pretend to be warming to Cuba, in our international relationship, and still holding this blockade over them, costing a poor nation more than they can afford, millions of dollars.
From my rented home in Mexico, I believe (I speak hopefully) I’ll be able to travel back and forth to Cuba easily and inexpensively, being unimpeded, and be able to perform my non-violent campaign of protests. My plan is simple. I will post myself, with signs announcing my purpose, nearby the American embassy in Havana. I will wear an orange prison jumpsuit, similar to the uniform of the detainees, and will pray and meditate, a living physical witness to those in the U.S. embassy. Also, I will explore the possibility of protesting at the perimeter of the Naval base. I don’t know if this is possible, or if it would be effective, but it’s a possibility, I guess. I may protest nearby the arriving Cruise ships of American tourists, reminding them, as they disembark, of the injustice taking place on this island, even as they take their vacation there, an injustice perpetuated by their tax dollars.
Maybe in the future I’ll be able to actually live in Cuba, which would make things easier. But, in the beginning, I think it’s better to have a home to go to that is not mainland USA, and not an address in Cuba. I will try to keep my address in Mexico a secret.
I would like to communicate with my friends, and all interested, by email, and on Facebook. So if you want, please send me your email address, or ‘friend’ me on Facebook, and I will make little reports, only emailing once a week (not daily). My email address is ashez.thomas@aol.com
I have very limited finances, and I have a large dog, so I have decided to drive to my new home in Mexico in my old car. I will be taking photographs, and writing, to document the trip. We can go on this adventure together. So please do get in touch with me.
To my brothers and sisters who believe in it, I solicit your prayers. To my atheist brothers and sisters, please “hold me in the light’ or think positively, send positive energy in my direction, if you will. I am a liberal Christian Universalist, which means I count all good people of all faiths as my brothers and sisters, as well as atheists. And let me immediately add that I’m not a good Christian at all. I have my weaknesses and flaws. It’s just what I am, though. But I never try to change anyone. I never preach, unless it’s to horrible hypocrite Congressmen and women who need to quit working for the 1%, and do something to help their constituents. Their religion is between them and God.

The Nuclear Threat. What is the possibility of nuke warfare?

nuclear-artillery-mushroom-cloud-explosion-8
To those who read my stuff, thank you. I haven’t written Anything in a while. I am tempted to write about the news of the primary elections, and I did have one article on Donald Trump, but I had to do that, because he had criticized the Pope, whom I respect immensely. But I have decided to keep this blog free of any mention of it, as much as I can. Let this be a campaign-free zone. It may be one of the few left.
Believe it or not, there are more pressing matters to discuss. I speak of the threat of nuclear war, it being one of the two biggest threats to the health of the very planet upon which we live. The other is environmental degradation and the subsequent global warming, sea-level increase, and so on.
Journalists and commentators usually strive to avoid what might be called “alarmist” writing. That is fine for those who want to retain their gravitas, or their professional demeanor. But I believe it is such an urgent risk, I think it’s time to be as alarmist as possible about the possibility of a nuclear war. The nuclear arsenals of the world are on a ‘hair-trigger’, and there are those in positions of power who have an ‘itchy finger’ on that trigger. Whether these leaders sincerely wish to avoid the a-bomb trigger or not, there are dangerous scenarios that could possibly, even accidentally, lead to destruction.
Obama made a good speech in Prague, a few years ago, speaking of the need to reduce the worlds arsenal of nuclear weapons. We applauded. We thought he was serious. But either he wasn’t, or he changed his mind. He has turned in the other direction. This is from a report by Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now! television report:

President Obama delivered his first address on the U.S. nuclear arsenal on April 5, 2009, in Prague: “Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black-market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound,” he said.
As with his pledge to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, his pledge to move the U.S. toward nuclear disarmament seems to have been abandoned.
Despite the lofty rhetoric, President Obama has launched what the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability calls the “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck.” That is the title of a new report on Obama’s massive plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear-weapons arsenal, to be released next Monday. Marylia Kelley is one of the report’s authors. She serves as executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, or Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, a partner organization with the Alliance.
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/4/15/obama_s_trillion_dollar_nuclear_arms

This is about our recent steps, as a nation, to re-start a nuclear arms race, a nuclear build-up. It is being spoken of as sort of a ‘refurbishment’, as if it were simply maintenance of existing weapons; it is NOT.
Amy quoted from Ms. Marylia Kelly, who was a guest on her show recently. I hope it’s alright if I cut and paste a few lines from that broadcast:

So, for listeners who think that perhaps nuclear weapons are a thing of the past, unfortunately they are not. They’ve left the 6:00 news—and thank God for Democracy Now!—but they have not left us. The United States has about 7,300 nuclear weapons. We’re in the process of designing and developing new ones and also new platforms and delivery vehicles—new bombers, new submarines, new missiles. And this, together, is the trillion-dollar trainwreck. It’s estimated to cost a trillion dollars, at least, over the next 30 years.
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/4/14/a_new_nuclear_arms_race_builds

My words: But this is not the worst part of it. In my mind, the worst is the news of our development of new smaller nuclear weapons. I’ve heard them referred to as “battlefield nukes”. The stated purpose would be to do less collateral damage than, say, just incinerating an entire city. But, ironically, having small nuclear warheads, together with new precision guidance systems, would have the effect of making them more ‘usable’. The temptation to use such a weapon is increased. That last sentence could be the key to the end of our world, as we know it.
Now, add to that another feature of these new mini-nukes; they can be delivered with smaller, conventional-weapons-style missiles. So, on top of the fact that the military generals would be more apt to push for the use of these, the ‘enemy’ in our sights wouldn’t be able to determine if this incoming missile is a conventional weapon, or a goddamn NUKE! So, why wouldn’t they just assume the worst, and launch a retaliatory nuclear strike, one that would not be a mini, but a full-sized nuclear attack! This, to me, is the most worrisome damn news I have heard in my life.
More from Marylia Kelly, on Democracy Now!:

So we’re on the precipice of a new arms race, not exactly like the old one with the Soviet Union, because it’s not going to be about huge numbers and throw rates—throw weights, sorry, but a new kind of a nuclear arms race that’s about capabilities, about precision guidance, about dial-a-yield options down to very low yields to make them militarily usable in conflict. These things may actually—and I believe they are—be more dangerous than the arms race that was on the 6:00 news all during the ’50s and the ’60s.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the U.S. designing smaller nuclear weapons? I want to turn to a quote of General James Cartwright, retired vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told The New York Times, “what going smaller does is to make the weapon more thinkable.”
MARYLIA KELLEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts about this, Marylia Kelley?
MARYLIA KELLEY: This is extraordinarily dangerous. When I talk about adding new dial-a-yield options, that’s what I’m talking about, where you can actually—and they’re dials—you can actually change what the yield will be in the field before it’s used, so that it will now be militarily thinkable, militarily usable in conflict. This is a—we’ve had dial-a-yield, but these new precision guidance—the new precision guidance that’s going into nuclear weapons, so that a nuclear weapon will now be very precise, so that you can get extraordinary damage at low yields, these are all making them more thinkable, in General Cartwright’s words, more usable, in the words that I use.

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/4/14/a_new_nuclear_arms_race_builds

(My words now). I may sound quite alarmist, as I write. But I am not alone in my convictions. The following is from The Guardian, the words of a former U.S. Secretary of defense.

[from ‘The Guardian’]The risks of a nuclear catastrophe – in a regional war, terrorist attack, by accident or miscalculation – is greater than it was during the cold war and rising, a former US defence secretary has said.

William Perry, who served at the Pentagon from 1994 to 1997, made his comments a few hours before North Korea’s nuclear test on Wednesday, and listed Pyongyang’s aggressive atomic weapons programme as one of the global risk factors.
He also said progress made after the fall of the Soviet Union to reduce the chance of a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia was now unravelling.
“The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, that it was during the cold war,” Perry said. “A new danger has been rising in the past three years and that is the possibility there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia … brought about by a substantial miscalculation, a false alarm.”
Over the next decade, the Pentagon is planning a $355bn (£243bn) spending spree to fund 12 new nuclear-armed strategic submarines, as many as 100 new strategic bombers, new land-based, intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of deployment on mobile launchers, and more than 1,000 nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
The missiles are described as uniquely destabilising, as they come in conventional and nuclear variants, so an adversary would have no way of knowing which was being launched. The UK rejected a cruise-based deterrent in 2013 because, as the then defence secretary Philip Hammond said, it “would carry significant risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation”.
Perry said: “In the cold war, we and Russia were in the process of dismantling nuclear weapons … Today, in contrast, both the Russia and the US are beginning a complete rebuilding of the cold war nuclear arsenals. And today Russia is threatening the use of nuclear weapons … Those are very dramatic steps between today and the 90s. That is a major difference.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/07/nuclear-weapons-risk-greater-than-in-cold-war-says-ex-pentagon-chief

This article is getting a little long, so I will only mention one more thing. Obama’s recent nuclear summit was obviously boycotted altogether by Russia. This means one thing: the summit was crap.
In conclusion, I suggest that we get hold of our Congressmen and Congresswomen, and try to wield some influence over them, toward DISARMAMENT. That is, IF they have any time for us after attending A.L.E.C. meetings, and other Koch sponsored events.
Also, and I know I said this was a campaign-free zone, but we could elect representatives that voice support for nuclear disarmament; not idiots that speak of using them.

Human Rights

The great Christian, Mr Donald Trump,(I speak jokingly) has rebuffed the admonitions of the Pope Francis. “It is wrong to question a man’s Faith”, says Mr. Trump.
No, Trump, you are wrong. It is the leader of a church’s duty to define what is and what is not Christian. That, a grade-school child could tell you. Actually, even a layman such as I can say for certain that Trump does not speak as a Christian, not only from his statements about a wall along the border, but from his threat to “bring back waterboarding, and a lot more.”
But he draws a crowd, and gets cheered on by the kind of people who attend his rallies. This is how low we have sunk, as a nation. The world outside of the USA understands this as well as we do. The following is an excerpt from a British publication, The Guardian. Nick Moss’ words are quite insightful.

The country that gave us the secret detention centres at Bagram air base, Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper to carry out its detention and interrogation programme without interruption or challenge; the country that gave us Guantánamo Bay and drone assassinations, is now called on to be a force for “democracy and human rights”. I suspect the “young, educated population” of the region has long since ditched any faith in such empty promises. Anyone who retains such belief need only look at how the US stood by while the military took power in Egypt and massacred about 1,000 protesters at Rabaa al-Adawiya square on 14 August 2013. After the Rabaa massacre the US continued to provide the Egyptian state with $1.5bn of aid per annum. So much for fostering rationality, legality and compassion.
Nick Moss
London
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/20/us-in-no-position-to-lecture-on-compassion

_________________________________________________________________________________________
So, you see, our reputation as a nation has been destroyed.
I would like to present another excerpt from a writer for the Miami Herald. This episode illustrates how utterly stupid Mr. Trump and his followers are, if they think torture is helpful, in interrogating and prosecuting terror suspects. This one article tells us that the very fact that a prisoner has been tortured, renders all of his information, and confessions, NULL AND VOID. Is it only lawyers that know this? Not only do you get false information (they will say anything to stop the torture), but prosecution becomes impossible, because they were illegally detained, and treated in an illegal manner.
To know the depravity of the torturers of our military, and not be shocked and appalled, this is foolish beyond belief. It reeks of evil. Those who can’t see that, ARE evil. The excerpt:

By Carol Rosenberg

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba

Defense lawyers in the Sept. 11 case screened grisly scenes of torture from the Hollywood movie “Zero Dark Thirty” at the war court Thursday in their bid to argue that the CIA gave filmmakers more access to evidence than lawyers in the death-penalty case.

The clips shown by attorneys for alleged 9/11 conspirator Ammar al Baluchi included a bruised and battered character named “Ammar” being put in a coffin-sized box, being doused with ice water in a mock waterboarding scene and being strung up by his arms, during rounds of CIA interrogation.
U.S. Army military judge Col. James L. Pohl, shown in this July 7, 2005 file photo at Fort Hood, Texas, is the chief of the Guantánamo military commissions judiciary.
U.S. Army military judge Col. James L. Pohl, shown in this July 7, 2005 file photo at Fort Hood, Texas, is the chief of the Guantánamo military commissions judiciary. LM OTERO ASSOCIATED PRESS

“This is a movie, not a documentary,” protested prosecutor Jeffrey Groharing. Army Col. James L. Pohl, the Sept. 11 trial judge, overruled the objection.

In the courtroom at the time was Baluchi, whose attorney Jay Connell said was subjected to some of the techniques, including being told to stand on a mat and threatened with a beating if he stepped off. Connell told the judge that actually happened to his client, but it was not publicly known when the filmmakers included it.

The stark images of torture punctuated a day of largely technical presentations by prosecutors on how they wanted to proceed with providing the captives’ lawyers with evidence about the years the alleged Sept. 11 plotters were kept in CIA black sites.

Lawyers for all the accused terrorists call the details of their clients’ torture critical to challenging the legitimacy of statements their clients gave law enforcement authorities at Guantánamo, after the black sites. They also want it to argue that the United States has lost its moral authority to execute them if they are convicted.

Prosecutors argue that some information needs protection as national security secrets and some is not relevant. They say that, under the rules that govern the war court, they and the judge get to decide what the defense lawyers get.

In their Zero Dark Thirty motion, filed in 2013, Baluchi’s attorneys argue that the U.S. government gave screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow more information for the movie than the lawyers have themselves seen of Baluchi’s years in CIA custody.

They are seeking information about the CIA’s briefings of Bigelow and Boal beyond a series of partially redacted emails released to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act. But Groharing told Pohl that he had examined the redacted emails and, while they contained classified information, none of the information withheld under FOIA was responsive to the defenders’ requests.

Pohl looked baffled by the suggestion that the information furnished to the filmmakers was unavailable to the defense attorneys. “Did Bigelow and Boal have a clearance?” he asked.

“No,” Groharing replied.

The screening itself was a departure from the dry legal arguments in years of pretrial hearings of the five men who allegedly conspired to direct, train and fund the hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

It was a graphic, if fictional, illustration of some of the things the so-called Senate Torture Report shows went on in the CIA black sites

“When you lie to me I hurt you,” says a Hollywood version of a spy agency interrogator. “You want the water again?… Give me a name.”

The day ended with defense attorneys photographing KSM’s scars

To which the character Ammar replies, “I don’t know,” and is strung back up.

After court, Connell said that the film contained uncanny representations of Baluchi’s real-life CIA experiences, including the mat scene in which he would be beaten if he stepped off.

The courtroom was silent but for the video clips, according to those who were inside, not watching on a 40-second delay. Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann said she looked away at one point, and was sick to her stomach.

Connell said Baluchi had seen the clips before but “was visibly upset” during the screening. “Mr. al Baluchi sat in court today and watched film clips about his own torture.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article61163027.html#storylink=cpy

[End of article.]
As fate would have it, in the news today, we hear of President Obama’s upcoming visit to Cuba, during which, we are promised, Barak will bring up Cuba’s troublesome human-rights record. Guantanamo Bay is in Cuba. The Castros only need to take a short drive to see, if they could get inside, the USA’s shining example of human rights. The emperor stands naked, and doesn’t know it.
The President will NOT visit Guantanamo.
He could fulfill his promise to close GITMO, if he wanted to. Congress is resistant, yes, but this is an excuse, not a reason. G.W. Bush opened the thing without any input from Congress. Obama can close it without Congress’ approval. Indeed, Tom Cotton, and Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans, have voiced the will to keep Guantanamo prison operating on a permanent basis. It’s like saying that you want to prevent a cure for cancer. We are being guided by fools and idiots. The fruit of such things is sure to hit us soon.
Thomas Ashez

Smokescreen. The Project:

Keep the masses ignorant and simple. Give them plenty to be angry about, and plenty to fear, just as long as it all masks the real threats to humanity.

This is about our news media here in the USA and in Britain, since some of us pay attention to the BBC, and even the European press.Specifically, I want to address the sorry job that is being done by NPR, National Public Radio. I don’t think we are being served very well by them at all.

US-Military-around-the-world-

The most important information; WHAT is important for us to know, as listeners to American news radio, to enable us to understand the challenges and the dangers that affect us? What are the most pressing needs of our society, our world? IF NPR and the rest of them, were doing their jobs properly, we would hear real experts, people with experience in these fields, or people who are highly educated, educators preferably, giving us what is widely considered to be some of the best ways to deal with our world. There would be various and maybe opposing viewpoints, but there would be no fringe elements, from opposite sides of an issue, shouting at each other.
THEN, we would hear some sort of conclusion. It would be the learned opinion of the author, or the anchor-person, about what has been said, and some kind of solution would be offered. We would not simply be left hanging with no answers at all, as if news programs were here just to entertain, to grab viewers with spectacular headlines.

Obviously, in the main-stream media, we don’t have real, informative news programs. We do not get what we need to be informed about national or world events and issues, NOT at all.
What we get is quite the opposite. This is evident, just from the fact that even concerned citizens who listen to and read these main-stream media programs and news magazines are woefully unaware and ill-informed about so many things.

Listening to NPR recently, I counted eleven times when Donald Trump was brought up and considered from every possible perspective. So, from this, I can imagine, as most listeners probably do, that this Trump person is the most important thing for us to be concerned about. He MUST be the most important news item, because he is mentioned more often than anything else! Come on, REALLY? But here, I will not give him one more mention.
Of course, after Donald Trump, the second most important item on the list of things to report, is the upcoming election (though only a minority will even actually VOTE). After these two things are covered, on NPR radio news, what we get is eight minutes devoted to a rapper music artist. He is new, up-and-coming, and so, we have never heard of him, nor heard any of his songs. But he MUST be very important, right? Eight minutes!
Next, a news section devoted to a sort of “immersion technology”, “virtual reality eating. You put this contraption on your head, and see a virtual world. This particular one is equipped with a feature that gives you actual smells as you eat some piece of food.
Since this is given such a prominent place in the broadcast, I suppose it will solve most of the problems in the world, once it is developed fully, and we have all bought one.
There is a long bit about the Republican debate. Each one is given time to utter one misleading lie, some misinformation. We are not told that if one checks the facts, what they’ve said is UNTRUE. It’s not the role of NPR to check the veracity of anything, it seems. The lies are left to stand, and we are left to wonder if it is 90% true, or 5% true.
There is ample time in today’s broadcast, which is a series of the same program, repeated every hour, by the way, for an almost three minute section on the social habits of octopuses.
Do we know that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists say it’s three minutes to midnight?
http://thebulletin.org/timeline
Their latest bulletin: “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernization, and out-sized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”
Three minutes, on the overview of proverbial clock of humanity on earth, until doomsday.
They list the imminent dangers facing us, as a species, as a planet of living beings.
Dangers? I just finished listening to NPR, “All Things Considered”! If there were any threats to humanity, you’d think we would have heard about it there! I figured, after hearing the program, that if Donald Trump, and the elections, and octopus’ mating habits are the only things worthy of reporting, then it must be a pretty safe world!
“Yes”, says the media, “there’s nothing to worry about. Just be entertained by our brief list of current events, and go back to your slumber. Don’t worry. Don’t become an activist. Don’t protest, don’t become socially concerned. After all, an election’s on the way, and our candidates assure us that they will fix everything.
IF NPR EVER DECIDES THAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC NEEDS SOME REAL NEWS, they might mention some of the following:
• From the aforementioned Atomic Scientists organization, this.
• “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernization, and oversized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”
• [From T. Ashez] Both Russia and the USA are spending their billions on revamping their nuclear arsenals. Both these nations are expanding their nuclear capabilities. A recent dangerous development, the USA is designing a nuclear warhead that can be launched with a ‘cruise’ missile. These missiles would look like a conventional missile, on the radar. How would Moscow know if the incoming missile is nuclear, or conventional? They would have only minutes to guess the answer. Should they respond with a nuclear missile as well, or with a conventional warhead? This is a hell of a bad problem, and we are heading right for it.
Israel. Whatever your opinion of this nation, they are prone to be involved in conflicts in the middle east. They have nuclear weapons. If they attack with them, and if they provoke a response, in kind, the USA is sworn to protect this nation.
• Speaking of Israel, our dollars are enabling them to persecute the Palestinians in a hellish manner. They are rounding up Eritrean immigrants, and putting them in the biggest prison in the world. Does the American public even know this?
We are planning to actually go back into Afghanistan, Iraq, and now plans are to go back into Libya as well. I say this as if our troops ever completely left these places. These places are infernal hell-holes, after being destroyed by guess-who. By the way, many of the refugees streaming into Europe are these very Afghanis and Iraqis whom we have “liberated”. The Syrian problem is partly the result of our actions in Syria. Has this been mentioned, as we debate whether to take in a few thousand, while Europe assimilates millions? Does the USA public know this? Perhaps there isn’t time on NPR for these things. They have only an hour per broadcast, then it is repeated, word for word.
News flash! We have all been made into paupers, relative to the 1%. Does the public know that the 62 individuals, who have more wealth than the lower HALF of all humanity (according to the latest OXFAM report), could solve world hunger? They could simply write a check! If these people didn’t OWN our government, they could be FORCED to solve these sort of problems. How is it even legal to hoard such massive wealth? Hardly anyone, speaking of the general public, ever hears of this!
• Thousands of Americans are being murdered by police. These are mostly blacks, immigrants, Hispanics, and native Americans. This could stand at least a brief mention, main-stream media. Every day there are many instances that go unreported. Too many octopus facts to ponder.
Our military is scattered all over the globe, about a thousand bases, overseas and in South America, from which our government is waging a war of world domination, working mainly for the profit of multinational corporations. But all for the constant growth of the American Empire. We have secret operations, special forces, secretly working in Africa, and in almost every other country. We aren’t even ALLOWED to learn about any of this. The public has no say-so as to whether we want this or not. Well, hell, it is NOT REPORTED. One will never learn this, unless one knows where to research to find out.
American bombs are now being used to create a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, our ally, is doing this with the actual assistance of our government and military. This is actively being covered up, the obedient news factories self-censoring. “It’s unpleasant. Why upset the public? And, by the way, remember which side our bread is buttered on!”
Global warming is coming perilously close to a sort of ‘tipping-point’, a situation where methane begins to be released from the permafrost and from the ocean floor. This would further speed and worsen global warming, in a snowball-effect. This is not a debatable idea, except in the USA, the world’s worst offender, per capita. The Arctic ice is melting at alarming rates.

But, never mind. Everything is just fine! I’m not interested in the news. It’s depressing. And politics! They’re all just crooked. I kinda like that Donald Trump. He wants to make the country great again.