The First Casualty of War
March 6, 2020
“I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. And the enemy… was in us.” – From the movie Platoon (one of our favorite war movies)
“I don’t gripe to *you*, Reiben. I’m a captain. There’s a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on. I don’t gripe to you. I don’t gripe in front of you. You should know that as a Ranger.” – From the movie Saving Private Ryan (another great war movie)
“Since 2001, the United States has spent approximately $6.5 trillion on several wars, while sustaining some sixty thousand casualties. Post-9/11 interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere have also contributed directly or indirectly to an estimated 750,000 “other” deaths. During this same period, attempts to export American values triggered a pronounced backlash, especially among Muslims abroad. Clinging to Marshall’s formula as a basis for policy has allowed the global balance of power to shift in ways unfavorable to the United States.” – Andrew J. Bacevich, The Old Normal: Why we can’t beat our addiction to war
The First Casualty of War is Innocence
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a tribunal sitting in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Some 120 countries have ratified the ICC’s foundational statute — the US is not among them.
In the past the US has cooperated with the court on many investigations. But after the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, began attempting to investigate allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan, including any committed by Americans, the Trump administration pushed back aggressively. In April 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to revoke the visas of anyone connected with court investigations involving American citizens, and not long after Bensouda’s visa was revoked. In September 2018, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton condemned any inquiry as an “utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation” by an “illegitimate” court, warning that sanctions would be imposed if “the court comes after us, Israel, or other US allies….”
A lower chamber of the ICC halted any inquiry into the behavior of US forces in Afghanistan. But on Thursday, an appeals chamber reversed that decision, ruling that the chief prosecutor can proceed with making her case of suspected war crimes, including those allegedly committed by Americans. Pompeo called the ruling a “truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable, political institution masquerading as a legal body.” Bensouda has said enough information exists to prove that US forces “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, and later in clandestine CIA facilities in Poland, Romania and Lithuania. Additional read: Trump picks official involved in Bush-era torture program as his nuclear envoy (Guardian)
The Crazy Bunch, The Crazy Bunch
- After months of private hearings at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, the president of the family division of the high court in England and Wales has released his 34-page fact-finding ruling involving behavior that potentially violates English and international criminal law.
- It details an extraordinary family saga spanning 20 years, during which Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum — 70-year-old ruler of Dubai, and vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates — organized international kidnappings, had two of his 25 children abducted, imprisoned and possibly tortured, and subjected his youngest wife to a campaign of “intimidation.”
- The ruling records events surrounding the notorious disappearances of 19-year-old Princess Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000, and of 32-year-old Princess Latifa, who was seized by Indian army commandos from the Indian Ocean in 2018 and forcibly returned to Dubai.
- Sheikh Mohammed’s actions came to light after his sixth wife, 45-year-old Princess Haya, fled to London last April with their two young children. The sheikh’s attempt to return the children to Dubai triggered Haya’s legal action in the family courts. The findings could destabilize Britain’s diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, a close Gulf ally. (Guardian)
This App Really Blued Up
- China is thought to have an LGBTQ population of around 70 million. Beijing has publically vocalized support for gay rights at the UN, saying it opposes all forms of “discrimination, violence and intolerance based on sexual orientation.”
- Domestically, however, gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples are not allowed, and there are no known openly gay public figures in the government or explicit forms of legal protection against LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace.
- By UN estimates, less than 5 percent of gay Chinese choose to come out. But the rise of the Chinese internet, along with thirty years of market reforms, has created unprecedented connection and visibility for gay communities in China. The gay social networking app Blued has a reported in-country user base of some 24 million, easily making it one of the most popular gay dating apps in the world.
- Like WeChat, Blued aspires to be the user’s go-to-for-all-things-gay, from newsfeeds to livestreaming functions, and resources like HIV testing and a surrogacy service called Blue Baby. A former employee described the gay tech company as being like “Grindr crossed with Facebook, and more.” (NYT)
Additional World News
- Putin and Erdoğan in last-ditch talks to secure Syria ceasefire (Guardian)
- Nigeria housing: ‘I live in a floating slum’ in Lagos (BBC)
- For Seoul’s Poor, Class Strife in ‘Parasite’ Is Daily Reality (NYT, $) Additional video: Why Parasite Should Terrify Us – Spoilers (Broey Deschanel)
- Mexico: activists voice anger at Amlo’s failure to tackle ‘femicide emergency’ (Guardian)
- Nine out of 10 people found to be biased against women (Guardian)
- Translator Accused of Revealing U.S. Secrets Amid Tensions With Iran (NYT, $)
- This winter in Europe was hottest on record by far, say scientists (Guardian) & Global Warming: A Very Hot Year | by Bill McKibben (NY Books)
Stop Assimilate And Hidden, ICE Is Back With A Brand New Questionable Strategy
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is intensifying its operations in sanctuary cities, deploying elite tactical agents and conducting round-the-clock surveillance in order to catch, arrest and deport undocumented immigrants.
- The agency plans to add hundreds of additional officers in unmarked cars in coming weeks to increase arrests in certain cities — including Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Orleans — where local law enforcement agencies haven’t cooperated with federal immigration enforcement.
- ICE leadership wants at least 500 special agents, who are normally investigating dangerous criminals and traffickers, to join President Trump’s enhanced arrest campaign. Advocacy groups in New York say they have documented an increasing use of aggressive tactics, including agents brandishing weapons and claiming to be police officers. (NYT)
Bill Pugliano via Getty Images
UAW Turns Out To Be A Lemon
- Federal prosecutors have charged former United Auto Workers president Gary Jones with embezzlement and other crimes.
- The criminal filing unsealed Thursday claims Jones appropriated more than a million dollars of union money — going back before he was elected president in 2018 — to finance his extravagant lifestyle. Jones, who resigned last November, is the highest ranking UAW official to be prosecuted in the justice department’s broad investigation of financial wrongdoing that has already charged more than a dozen people, including three former Fiat Chrysler executives.
- Allegations against those executives prompted a lawsuit by General Motors that accused Fiat Chrysler of bribing union officials to get an advantage over GM in contract negotiations.
- Matthew Schneider, the US attorney overseeing the investigation in Detroit, said he could not rule out a federal takeover of the UAW. The government resorted to such measures for over 25 years to root out corruption inside the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. (NYT)
Additional USA News
- Martin Luther King’s son and others rally to halt Alabama execution (Guardian)
- Humorous Highway Signs Aim To Steer Drivers Safely Down The Old Town Road (NPR)
- U.S. to Hold Tech Firms Accountable for Spread of Child Sex Abuse Imagery (NYT, $)
- Tips For Avoiding Misinformation And Disinformation About The US Census (NPR)
- FBI lacks strategy for handling tips on people with mental health problems (Guardian)
- Steve Bullock Is Poised to Run for Senate in Montana, Officials Say (NYT, $)
- Stacey Abrams Is Building a New Kind of Political Machine in the Deep South (Rolling Stone)
- The Campaign at the End of the World (New Republic)
- Opinion | The Great Biden Consolidation (NYT, $)
- What Bernie Really Got Done in His 29 Years in Congress (The Daily Beast)
- Sanders vs. Biden: You can’t lead a party you loathe (Vox)
- It Will Be Hard to Get Over What Happened to Elizabeth Warren (Gen)
Buys 99.9% Of Hand Sanitizer
- In 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak, the global hand sanitizer market was projected to be worth over $5.5 billion by 2024. Since the outbreak in December, demand for the product has increased 1,400 percent. So good luck finding any. Local Walmarts and pharmacies are sold out. Major brand names like Purell and Germ-X are either out of stock on Amazon or available at ridiculously inflated prices.
- Stores that have the product are rationing it as panicked customers try to stock up. Google searches to locate it have skyrocketed. In South Korea, the government instituted penalties of up to $42,000 and two years in prison for anyone caught hoarding hand sanitizer.
- But hand sanitizer is not a cure-all, and not all hand sanitizers are the same. The CDC says the most effective sanitizers are alcohol-based, with at least 60 percent alcohol content. And it isn’t fully effective unless you use it properly, which many people don’t. Follow directions for the amount to use and rub it all over both hands until dry.
- Make sure to let it dry on your hands. Don’t wipe any off; some bacteria could theoretically escape and mutate. Or just use good ol’ soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. It’s still the best way to decontaminate your hands. (Vox)
- Coronavirus: Don’t use vodka to sanitise hands (BBC)
- Everyone’s a Curator Now (NYT, $)
- A week in the Philippines with Manny Pacquiao … future president? (ESPN)
- Bernie Madoff’s Release Request: Leniency for Ponzi Schemers? (Bloomberg)
- Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think (BBC)
- An Interview with Paul Graham, Founder of Y Combinator (The Politic) & Inside the Bizarre, Boozy World of a Junior VC in Silicon Valley (Marker)
- Sequoia Capital tells its founders to prepare for the worst on coronavirus (Vox)
- Suckers List: How Allstate’s Secret Auto Insurance Algorithm Squeezes Big Spenders (The Markup)
- Why superheroes are the shape of tech things to come (Aeon)
- How To Start Exercising: Life Kit (Aeon)
- The Problem We All Live With and the political awakening of Norman Rockwell (Vox)
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