It’s time we saw economic sanctions for what they really are – war crimes


The record of economic sanctions in forcing political change is dismal, but as a way of reducing a country to poverty and misery it is difficult to beat. UN sanctions were imposed against Iraq from 1990 until 2003. Supposedly, it was directed against Saddam Hussein and his regime, though it did nothing to dislodge or weaken them: on the contrary, the Baathist political elite took advantage of the scarcity of various items to enrich themselves by becoming the sole suppliers. Saddam’s odious elder son Uday made vast profits by controlling the import of cigarettes into Iraq.

The bureaucrats in charge of UN sanctions in Iraq always pretended that they prevented Saddam rebuilding his military strength. This was always a hypocritical lie: the Iraqi army did not fight for him in 1991 at the beginning of sanctions any more than it did when they ended. It was absurd to imagine that dictators like Kim Jong-un or Saddam Hussein would be influenced by the sufferings of their people.

These are very real: I used to visit Iraqi hospitals in the 1990s where the oxygen had run out and there were no tyres for the ambulances. Once, I was pursued across a field in Diyala province north of Baghdad by local farmers holding up dusty X-rays of their children because they thought I might be a visiting foreign doctor.

Saddam Hussein and his senior lieutenants were rightly executed for their crimes, but the foreign politicians and officials who were responsible for the sanctions regime that killed so many deserved to stand beside them in the dock. It is time that the imposition of economic sanctions should be seen as a war crime, since it involves the collective punishment of millions of innocent civilians who die, sicken or are reduced to living off scraps from the garbage dumps.

There is nothing very new in this. Economic sanctions are like a medieval siege but with a modern PR apparatus attached to justify what is being done. A difference is that such sieges used to be directed at starving out a single town or city while now they are aimed at squeezing whole countries into submission.

An attraction for politicians is that sanctions can be sold to the public, though of course not to people at the receiving end, as more humane than military action. There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them.

An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible.”

People should be just as outraged by the impact of this sort of thing as they are by the destruction of hospitals by bombing and artillery fire. But the picture of X-ray or kidney dialysis machines lacking essential spare parts is never going to compete for impact with film of dead and wounded on the front line. And those who die because medical equipment has been disabled by sanctions are likely to do so undramatically and out of sight.

Embargoes are dull and war is exciting. A few failed rocket strikes against Riyadh by the Houthi forces in Yemen was heavily publicised, though no Saudis were killed. Compare this to the scant coverage of the Saudi embargo on Houthi-held Yemen which has helped cause the largest man-made famine in recent history. In addition, there are over one million cholera cases suspected and 2,000 Yemenis have died from the illness according to the World Health Organisation.

PR gambits justifying sanctions are often the same regardless of circumstances. One is to claim that the economic damage caused prevents those who are targeted spending money on guns and terror. President Trump denounces the nuclear deal with Iran on the grounds that it frees up money to finance Iranian foreign ventures, though the cost of these is small and, in Iraq, Iranian activities probably make a profit.

Sanctions are just as much a collective punishment as area bombing in East Aleppo, Raqqa and Mosul. They may even kill more people than the bombs and shells because they go on for years and their effect is cumulative. The death of so many North Korean fishermen in their unseaworthy wooden craft is one side effect of sanctions but not atypical of their toxic impact. As usual, they are hitting the wrong target and they are not succeeding against Kim Jong-un any more than they did against Saddam Hussein.

It’s time we saw economic sanctions for what they really are – war crimes

Homeland Security will start collecting data on hundreds of thousands of journalists



“…DHS is looking for a contractor to help build the database and keep track of more than 290,000 news sources, collecting data about each source’s “sentiment,” influence, language, and circulation. The data would allow the agency to identify “any and all” coverage related to a particular event, DHS officials told Bloomberg Law.

The tracking would apply to online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio sources — essentially, any journalist, editor, blogger, or correspondent deemed a possible “media influencer” could be included.”

Another article I saw about this suggested writing Congresspeople to express concern. I’m not totally sure I understand to what extent Congress actually has the ability to rein in the DHS (frankly, I’m not sure anyone does), but at the very least, backlash in Congress can send a message, so I recommend my American followers do so.

Homeland Security will start collecting data on hundreds of thousands of journalists

I guess we’ll be hearing about the “summery” weather again 😀

(Any time it gets over 60-65F, pretty much. These things are very relative, but I still have to get amused sometimes. That would be pretty warm and sunny for July hereabouts.)

This afternoon was a pleasant surprise, and I’m not about to complain about the forecast for the rest of the week.




Senate Enrolled Act 340 was authored by Indiana State Senator Travis Holdman in January 2018; it was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on 25 March 2018. That bill amended existing law to require that health care providers “report to the state department each case in which [they] treated a patient suffering from an abortion complication,” and to require that reports of abortion complications (including psychological or emotional complications, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and sleeping disorders) contain information such as the age and race of the patient, the type of abortion procedure used, and where that procedure was performed. The bill says that each failure to report an abortion complication as required is a misdemeanor.

In other words, the law posits legal penalties (including jail time and fines) for health care providers who fail to report information about patients with abortion complications, not for patients who fail to disclose such information to their doctors.


Under this law (supposedly), women would not be jailed for having had abortions, but the law’s sole purpose is to force doctors to create the idea that abortion complications are common and that the procedure itself is dangerous, as well as to actively discourage health care providers from offering reproductive services to patients who need it. The law will also discourage women from seeking health care of various kinds, as it’s targeting mental and physical symptoms in an attempt to link them to abortion, and it creates a basis for medical exams to be more invasive and upsetting to female patients than they should be (imagine going to a doctor for help with a health problem and getting grilled about your reproductive record and having your symptoms turned into political talking points). This is heinous. 

“But women aren’t oppressed in the West” someone somewhere will cry.



Boozhoo (hello), my name is Ken, I am a disabled Ojibwe artist from northern Wisconsin. I am writing this post because I am having a hard time making ends meet and any donations I could possibly receive at this time would be greatly appreciated. Recent events have left my bank account depleted and my cupboards bare, I have some food but it will not last and I still do not know how I will cover all the utility bills.

I do have PayPal, that is really the best way to donate at this time, the email I use for that is:, or you can click here.

Miigwech (thank you) everyone. Working hard to at least get caught up and still coming up short, every little bit helps.

These April snowstorms haven’t been making things easy as far as food shopping goes but I am hoping to go on Friday the 20th, any help to make it a worthwhile trip is greatly appreciated.

Stethacanthus: This Is the Weirdest-Looking Shark Ever & It’s 100% Real


The ocean will
seemingly never run out of strange creatures to baffle the mind —
especially when you factor in the extinct ones from millions of years

You think the hammerhead shark or the barreleye fish are weirdly built, right? But, then you hear about animals like the ancient Dunkleosteus or the giant sea scorpion,
and you’re probably like, “Wow I am so glad I didn’t live in a time
where 8-foot swimming scorpions and fish with blades for teeth existed.”

Millions of years ago, the sea was kind of a free-for-all in terms of what nightmare animals lived there. Take, for instance, the Stethacanthus, a shark with spikes on its head and dorsal fin.

And it’s the weirdest-looking dorsal fin you’ll ever see…

Stethacanthus: This Is the Weirdest-Looking Shark Ever & It’s 100% Real







Your players are faced with an ancient Sumerian curse! However, since the early ancient Sumerian language was only used for recording tax debts, it turns out to actually be an ancient Sumerian bill.

and therefore they need to get hold of some ancient Sumerian coinage and bring it to the ruins of the ancient Sumerian tax office, because the Sumerians had a pleasingly direct way of preventing tax evasion, namely horrifying curses.

well I don’t have any coin but I have these copper ingots, lovely copper ingots, from a very reputable merchant, never heard a word said against him, very thorough with his paperwork, anyway they’re guaranteed pure copper and proper weight, so can I pay my tax with those?

I just want everyone to take a step back for a second and really think about how we’re using the most powerful knowledge tool in history to make jokes about a specific dude who lived almost 4000 years ago.

it’s fuckin wonderful, is what it is.

Ea-nasir has been dead for 4700 fraudy fraudy years.

god, another ea-nasir callout post? honestly when are y’all gonna leave him be