Links to Start Your Week 9/22/13

The Nation has created an interactive database to help track the civilian victims of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The Department of Defense currently has no coordinated effort to track civilian deaths in our armed conflicts, meaning that lessons learned from encounters that endanger civilians are not institutionalized for the whole military to learn from in an effort to prevent civilian casualties in the future. If you think that would be a worthwhile endeavor, sign their open letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the subject.

Iran conservatives have not spoken out against new president Hassan Rouhani’s plans to meet with President Obama at the U.N. General Assembly, which may indicate that they actually support nuclear negotiations but don’t want to look like they’re backing down in any way. So that could be good.

Halliburton, one of the companies involved in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, destroyed evidence during the investigation into that disaster. But they have successfully cut a deal to pay a small misdemeanor fine for it, and apparently that is good enough for the U.S. government.

Just some fun info about how the U.S. intelligence community dodges any actual oversight from Congress, courtesy of Representative Justin Amash.

Colin Powell’s former Chief of Staff thinks the intelligence and military budget have gotten out of control and should be severely cut. My favorite quote from the interview he did recently: “We’ve created a national security state, and now it’s giving us its main product, which is war.”  Second favorite: “It become impossible to do anything but grow them [intelligence community and military-industrial complex.]

As a follow-up to my own piece a while ago about how the U.S. has significant problems with its nuclear security protocols, here is a piece on how they literally dropped Hydrogen bombs on North Carolina.

The African Union is considering withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, in part to protest the fact that thus far, the court has only indicted Africans. The move would seriously weaken an institution that is still in the process of trying to build its credibility.

Given the rate at which the Jewish population is growing versus that of the Arab Muslim and Christian population in Israel, I think the country is at a crossroads. It can either be a Jewish state or a liberal democracy, but not both. Controversy over a mayor’s policies against Arab schools, mosques and churches, and books in Arabic in his city’s libraries serves as a microcosm of the country’s identity crisis.


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