Author: Friends of TFC

Eight Ways to Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting

Throughout this trying election season, we’ve been told how much is at stake with our vote. But the success of any democracy depends on continuing to pay attention long after we cast our ballots.

So let’s pledge to strengthen our democracy with a few resolutions to focus our intentions and keep us moving forward over the next four years.

Most Japanese See US as a Threat, Survey Reveals

A poll conducted earlier this year revealed the majority of Japanese view the US as a threat to Japan, despite playing a less important role in the world than they did a decade ago.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in April and May in Japan revealed that the majority of Japanese people view their ally, the United States, as one of the major threats to their country. They also believe the US is playing a less important role in the world than it did 10 years ago. Perhaps paradoxically, however, most of the 1000 respondents still share a favorable view of the US.
According to the poll, 72% have favorable view of the US in general. However, 61% of them see America as being in decline, as compared to a decade ago. Fifty-two percent of respondents named the US as 6th out of 8 major threats to their nation, after cyberattacks from other nations, Daesh and China’s emergence as a world power. Global climate change and economic instability are also among the top threats.

Protecting monuments but not rape victims

Georges, a Malian journalist and blogger, has made a heartfelt appeal, condemning the fact that while monuments have been meticulously restored in his country, the same care has not been taken to confront sexual assault and rape of women.

In his blog, which has the rather long title “Au Grin, Il se dit beaucoup de choses autour d’un verre de thé” (At the Grin, Much IS Talked About Around a Cup of Tea), he posted an article titled “Timbuktu: They are as innocent as the shrines!”. In it, he accused Malian and international judicial bodies of wanting to sweep the violence against women under the rug:

The most threatened ecosystem you’ve never heard of

What covers up to 600,000 square kilometers (230,000 square miles) of Earth’s surface, provides benefits worth an estimated US$570 billion or more each year, and is rapidly being lost due to human activity?

If you have not a clue, you’re far from alone. Scientists who study the underwater feature known as a seagrass meadow call it a “marginalized ecosystem” that ranks with coral reefs and mangrove swamps as among the most endangered marine habitats but is “often overlooked, regarded as merely an innocuous feature of the ocean.”

Yemen Could Collapse without A Peace Agreement Soon: UN

Yemen

If the warring parties in Yemen do not reach a peace agreement soon, the country could collapse with menacing consequences for the entire region, the UN humanitarian chief said Monday.

Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council that 80 per cent of Yemenis, some 21.2 million people, need some form of humanitarian assistance and over two million people, including 370,000 children, are suffering from malnutrition.

UK bases used for targeting in secret US drone war, documents indicate

Personnel on military bases in the UK have been involved in choosing targets for a secret US drone campaign which has killed hundreds of civilians in violation of international law, documents obtained by human rights charity Reprieve indicate.

Job adverts and CVs identified from publicly-available sources show that the US Air Force has employed a “MQ-9 REAPER [drone] ISR Mission Intelligence Coordinator” at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire ; while a Private Military Contractor (PMC) has advertised for an “All Source Analyst – Targeting” to work at the same base.

RAF Molesworth is leased to the US, but the UK Government has refused to answer questions on whether it plays a role in the covert drone campaign – which carries out missile strikes outside of warzones with minimal accountability.

Israel’s Blockade of Gaza is Inherently Violent

This fall, the U.S. agreed to provide $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years, ensuring America’s continued role in funding the occupation of Palestine. Meanwhile, my friends and colleagues here in Gaza live in fear of another significant Israeli attack in the near future.

They have every reason to fear another major escalation — violence is a daily reality in Gaza. In two recent incidents, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel without causing damage or injuries, and in both instances Israel responded by bombing targets throughout Gaza.

US Admits Use of Depleted Uranium in Syria

The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition Syria, after it had earlier stated that the weapons would not be used. US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates – the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU. CENTCOM said that the ammunition was selected because of the “nature of the targets”.
The news comes as governments are debating a UN General Assembly resolutionon DU weapons in New York. And, although DU use has only been admitted on two dates, ICBUW and PAX are concerned that this disclosure could be the sign that DU has, or will, be used more widely in the conflict.

In March 2015, and following the deployment of A-10s to the conflict, the US hadconfirmed to journalists that the aircraft would not be armed with DU, stating: “U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” Justifying the decision, CENTCOM public affairs explained that: “The ammunition is developed to destroy tanks on a conventional battlefield; Daesh does not possess large numbers of tanks.”

America Was Not Founded as a Christian Nation

A good place to start is by getting some things out of the way. Yes, some of the founding fathers were Christians. Yes, the word God is used in multiple colonial documents. Yes, there are a lot of Christian American citizens. There is no dispute to these facts. Now to move forward:

America has always been a stir fry of religion and culture. Each coming together and contributing to create a wonderful product. The idea of our country being a melting pot is not only incorrect, it is disgusting. Try throwing that stir fry into a blender and see how it comes out.

Our Inability to Unite

Conceived as a child out of wedlock from parents who were from different sides of the tracks is an interesting start. I don’t claim to be anything that I’m not. A mid-western love affair of two teenagers who were trying to make a mark in life.

Each reader has their own story. A story of happiness, sadness, joy, or sorrow. A personal story of the past, and a new story to write for the future. Regardless, we are a group who should be trying to improve life, and at the least tolerate one another. The existence of people we have personally created, the friends we have made, our family members, or simply the other humans who inhabit our planet can all be both loved and obnoxious. Sometimes in the exact same moment, which takes a special kind of talent.
The news channels want you to worry about the latest shooting. The television networks want you to watch all of their shows. Magazines want you to know who is too fat, or too thin. The Republicans battle the Democrats. The Democrats battle the Republicans. The Independents tell you to be independent, and here you are; trying to decide what is best for your country, community, family, and self.

Drone video from independent investigation exposes illegal burning of 3000 hectares

A drone video captured the extent of burnt oil palms and the clearing of land in the western region of Indonesia. The burning of land is believed to be the cause of the haze that has blanketed Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia every year.

The drone’s launch was part of an investigation by Eyes on the Forest Indonesia (EOF), a coalition of three environment groups which was established in 2004 to study the recurring forest fires.

Japanese Ex-PM Koizumi: Abe ‘Lied’ Claiming Fukushima ‘Under Control’

On Wednesday, former Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi said that current Japanese President Shinzo Abe told a “lie” by downplaying the damage wrought by the Fukushima nuclear accident, and claiming that the radioactivity contaminating the site was “under control.”

After a March 2011 tsunami and earthquake caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Koizumi, who served as premier from 2001 to 2006, began sharply criticizing nuclear power, saying he was “ashamed” for believing that nuclear energy was a clean, safe and cheap energy alternative for Japan.

Brazil: Guarantee Protesters’ Rights

Brazilian authorities should conduct thorough and impartial investigations into the police use of force and detentions of protesters during recent anti-government demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said today.

The demonstrators were protesting the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, who lost the presidency of Brazil on August 31, 2016, and was replaced by her former vice president, Michel Temer. The largest demonstration took place in São Paulo on September 4, which organizers said attracted 100,000 participants.

Native Americans Gain Partial Victory in Pipeline Protest Saga

Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have achieved a partial victory after a district judge ordered a partial halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

According to reports, US District Judge James Boasberg on Tuesday ordered construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) stopped over some of the planned territory. A final ruling is expected to come by the end of Friday.

Judge Boasberg said that work will temporarily halt between North Dakota’s State Highway 1806 and an area 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but will continue west of the highway, as he believes that the US Army Corps of Engineers lacks jurisdiction over privately-owned land.