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US Killed at Least 14 Civilians in a Country Most Americans Don’t Know the US is Bombing

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US Airstrikes Killed 14 Civilians Somalia
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A new report from Amnesty International reveals that U.S. air strikes from aircraft and drones have increased in Somalia, resulting in the deaths of at least 14 civilians.

Due to a literal black out of all news related to the ongoing wars waged by the U.S. military, most Americans cannot name the nations in which the military is currently engaged in conflict or dropping bombs. The average American does not realize the U.S. is still involved in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia. A new report from Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights, attempts to provide a little more clarity regarding what exactly is happening right now in Somalia.

The report, titled “The Hidden US War in Somalia”, details the history of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab, the history of U.S. military involvement in Somalia, the current numbers on drone strikes and the impact on Somalis. The report also outlines conclusions about how the U.S. military should approach the situation moving forward.

The report shows the U.S. military has tripled the annual rate of drone strikes in Somalia since April 2017. The number of strikes in 2018 was higher than strikes taking place in Libya and Yemen combined. Despite the increase in strikes, the U.S. military continues to claim that no civilians have died. The Amnesty International report investigates five incidents in Lower Shabelle, Somalia, in which 14 civilians were killed and eight injured. Amnesty International states that the report is the result of interviews, satellite imagery analysis, corroborating the information through a variety of open-source investigation techniques, and speaking to doctors.

The Department of Defense responded to the report, stating that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has no aircraft that would have been involved. “We appreciate Amnesty’s efforts to allow us to contribute to the report prior to its publication,” the official said, “but we really do believe the report does not accurately reflect AFRICOM’s record in mitigating civilian casualties.”

Brian Castner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations, says the Amnesty International team spoke to people in person or through an encrypted app with smartphones to get their side of the story. Amnesty conducted 150 interviews and not a single person said they were interviewed by a government official from the U.S. or Somalia.

From 2017, the AFRICOM did a report to Congress that they killed zero, as the official number. In 2018, they said that was true for that year, as well—110 strikes, 800 terrorists killed, zero civilians,” Castner said on a recent episode of Democracy Now! “And we would maintain that in war, nothing is perfect, and so going 800 for 800 is just not a reasonable conclusion. It means that investigations, really thorough investigations, are not being done, as opposed to just having a perfect record.”

Castner said he worries that AFRICOM says they are striking at Al-Shabaab affiliates without detailing what type of activity an individual must be involved in to be considered an affiliate. “So, in several of our cases from our report, AFRICOM says they did the strike. We say that four died. They say four people died. But they will call those four al-Shabab or al-Shabab affiliate members.”

What’s important to remember is that the Ruling Class Oligarchy, and their friends in the corporate media, do not want the free minds of the world to wake up and resist the war machine. They know they can prevent the growth of a massive anti-war movement if they just stop talking about it and pretend it doesn’t exist. This is why earlier this month, AFRICOM commander General Thomas Waldhauser, told a Congressional Hearing that he wouldn’t call what the U.S. is doing in Somalia a “war.” Why? Because part of the agenda is to change the very words we use so the public becomes desensitized. This is why wars are conflicts, torture is enhanced interrogation, and killing civilians is just killing militants.

As Castner noted on Democracy Now!, the war in Somalia is not confined to airstrikes from planes and drones. “There’s also advise-and-assist missions going on on the ground. There’s raids going on, where U.S. marines and SEALs and soldiers are advising Somali units and are, you know, participating in those activities, as well,” Castner stated. “It sure looks like a war to us. There is political pressure to not use that word.”

Check out the graphic novel version of the Amnesty International Report: Graphic novel: Zero Civilian Casualties – The hidden US war in Somalia 

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Corruption

Chris Cuomo “indefinitely” gone from CNN after his deep role in brother’s sex scandal is revealed

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CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was suspended indefinitely by CNN on Tuesday after it was revealed by the New York Attorney General’s Office that the star anchor, the most popular on the news network, was deeply involved in assisting his scandal-embroiled brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations that ultimately led to him resigning.

While Chris Cuomo had apologized in the past for advising his brother’s senior aides – effectively shattering the wall typically standing between policymakers and journalists – the thousands of pages released by Attorney General Letitia James show that the anchor played a deeply intimate role in damage control efforts stemming from the accusations.

The network and its top leadership, including president Jeff Zucker, had backed their star anchor to the hilt in recent months despite accumulating info showing Cuomo’s breach of basic journalistic standards. The anchor also had apologized for advising the governor while simultaneously downplaying or omitting the extent of his direct involvement in the scandal.

Late Tuesday, the network released a statement acknowledging that “the documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.”

“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the statement explained. “However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

Text messages show that Chris Cuomo clamored to play an increasingly direct role in the scandal, ranging from offers to draft statements for his brother to demands that he play a commanding role in strategic matters. Cuomo also looked into potential angles for news reports and researched the women who accused his brother of sexual misconduct.

“Please let me help with the prep,” Cuomo wrote at to his brother’s top aides as evidence damning the governor mounted.

The move to indefinitely suspend the argumentative and charismatic anchor came as a shock to some anchors, who were aware that he was dear to CNN management. CNN president Zucker also declined to discipline him as reports poured in about his misconduct, reports New York Times.

Chris Cuomo had long admitted that for him, the matter was about “family first, job second.”

“I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family,” he said on May 20. He also played down his fervent role in the scandal, claiming that he had been haplessly “looped into calls” with the governor’s inner circle, which he claims was a “mistake” that spilled over onto his work life and placed his CNN colleagues in a “bad spot.”

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Corruption

Jeffrey Epstein’s pilot testifies: Clinton, Trump, Prince Andrew among “Lolita Express” passengers

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Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime pilot took the stand on Tuesday, the second day of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, and detailed the names of famous passengers who rode in the private jet of the disgraced financier who has been accused of a range of crimes, including sex trafficking minors.

Testifying at the trial of Maxwell, who was Epstein’s girlfriend and alleged co-conspirator, pilot Larry Visoski explained how he met a number of notable and powerful people. The names included Prince Andrew, Donald Trump (before he was president), former President Bill Clinton, Chris Tucker, Kevin Spacey, George Mitchell, violinist Itzhak Perlman, and astronaut John Glenn.

The pilot explained that he met the celebrities over the course of decades while flying Epstein’s Boeing 727 Gulfstream jet — often referred to in media as the “Lolita Express” — as well as helicopters.

“I certainly remember President Trump, but not many people associated with him,” the pilot said during cross-examination by Maxwell’s defense team, adding that the future head of state flew on the plane before he became president in 2016.

Clinton was mentioned as Visoski testified about a meeting with a female singer in the cockpit of the jet before flying off from an airport in Palm Beach, Florida. Visoski claims that he remembered the singer, identified as Jane Doe in the courtroom, by her “piercing blue eyes” and that she didn’t appear to be young at the time.

“You’ll forgive the question, Mr. Visoski, but I think you’ll remember that at the time you saw her, you also remembered she had large breasts. Isn’t that right?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Comey.

“Uh. She was a mature woman,” Visoski answered in response.

According to prosecutors, Jane was 14 years old when she was essentially “recruited” by Maxwell in 1994, not long before Visoski met her in the cockpit.

“I can’t visualize her sitting in the passenger compartment like I would, say, President Clinton. It was so long ago,” the pilot said.

“Jane Doe” also testified on Tuesday and explained how she was eating ice cream at a youth summer camp when Maxwell and Epstein approached her in a friendly manner.

Before long, however, Maxwell allegedly began training her on how to “massage” Epstein.

Eventually, she explained, she took part in orgies involving both Maxwell and Esptein at the late financier’s massive homes in Palm Beach, New York City, and New Mexico.

Prosecutors have depicted Maxwell as the mastermind of a sadistic sex trafficking gang that preyed on young women and underage girls. The U.S. government has alleged that over the span of at least 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” the girls and young women.

The British media heiress has pleaded not guilty to the six felony counts.

Epstein, 66, died of apparent suicide during his incarceration at a federal prison in Manhattan while facing a likely prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.

According to Visoski, from 1991 until 2019, he regularly flew Epstein to his private island in the Caribbean, Little St. James – an island popularly referred to as “Pedophile Island.”

“Every week to every 10 days if we weren’t elsewhere in the world, but, you know, it was a regular destination,” Visoski said.

Visoski also noted that he remembered Maxwell, a one-time girlfriend of Epstein, as an employee of the late sex criminal – albeit one whose specific role was unclear.

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial begins as Epstein’s shadow looms large

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On Monday, opening arguments began in the widely anticipated federal trial of accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, the notorious British socialite who allegedly helped disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein commit a dizzying array of abusive and exploitative acts toward multiple women and girls, including one as young as 14.

Epstein, 66, died of apparent suicide during his incarceration at a federal prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.

The Maxwell trial could be a last-ditch opportunity for the government to secure a conviction for the crimes of Epstein, in effect making this the trial that he prevented from ever occurring.

“The shadow of Epstein is going to loom large here,” former federal judge Moira Penza told the New York Times. “The case is obviously going to be about Maxwell, but he’s going to be right at the center of it as well.”

Early Monday, jury selection drew to a close.

The trial won’t be broadcast on television or online, while attendees will be prevented from broadcasting or photographing the trial, reports NPR.

Maxwell, 59, faces charges of grooming multiple minors to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, and sex-trafficking a minor. The indictment accuses the British media heiress of conspiracy, including recruiting one of her partner’s victims to help recruit other girls to be paid to undergo abuse at the hands of Epstein.

On Monday, prosecutors depicted Maxwell, who circulated in wealthy and powerful circles in the U.K. and U.S., as the mastermind of a sadistic sex trafficking gang that preyed on teenage girls. U.S. Attorneys have alleged that over the span of at least 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” the girls and young women.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges, while her multiple attempts to be released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, have all been shot down.

Prosecutor Laura Pomerantz said Monday that Maxwell was a key component in Epstein’s “pyramid scheme of abuse” and criminal sex acts carried out under the color of respectability, reports BBC.

Pomerantz noted that one accuser befriended by the pair was promised bright opportunities in the future.

Prosecutors will call on witnesses including four alleged victims and experts on sexual abuse and those who can inform the jury about the credibility of the couple’s victims, including those who may not have been aware that they suffered abuse at the time.

Experts say that the prosecution will have their work cut out for them and must refrain from making the trial center too much on Epstein’s crimes rather than those of his alleged co-conspirator Maxwell.

Maxwell’s defense will also have to convince the 12-person jury that she was an unwitting player in Epstein’s game, likely by delving into the details of the deceased criminal’s dealings at the top levels of philanthropy, academia, politics, and high finance.

On Monday, the defense protested Maxwell being held liable for Epstein’s crimes and depicted her situation as being one where “memory, manipulation and money” play crucial roles.

However, federal attorneys have pushed back at the idea that she was a victim of Epstein, as opposed to a willing accomplice.

“The government’s yearslong investigation has not developed any evidence that the defendant was victimized in any way by Jeffrey Epstein,” read court papers that were recently filed by the government.

Prosecutors are expected to draw on Maxwell’s so-called “black book,” which meticulously recorded the friends and contacts of Epstein. The FBI gained possession of the book in 2019 when Epstein’s former butler tried to sell it. The government is confident that the book contains “compelling evidence of her guilt,” according to court filings.

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