Saturday, November 28, 2009

Does the US Spend Too Much on Foreign Aid? - Peter Singer

There is just a huge amount of ignorance in this country. I read recently that 1/3 of students in Los Angeles High Schools droop out. But even for those who do graduate from High School, there is still a vast amount of ignorance, misinformation, and a lack of critical thinking skills. This video is one example of that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hamas and Israel

Hamas Convinces Armed Factions To Halt Homemade Shelling

Hamas has gotten the right-wing fractions in Gaza to cease with the rocket launchings into Israel. This agreement is supposed to hold – unless Israel launches an invasion into Gaza. There are many factions in Gaza that are not under the control of Hamas, and they are often the ones doing the rocket launches.

Israel ignores this development
Hamas announced on Saturday it reached an agreement with other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip to only fire rockets against Israeli targets in response to any future Israeli military incursion into the coastal enclave. Just hours after the Hamas statement, Israel responded to a rocket attack fired from Gaza earlier on Saturday. Israeli aircraft targeted what the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said were two weapons-making facilities in northern and central Gaza and one smuggling tunnel under the border between Gaza and Egypt.

And so it goes…….

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another video from Our Journey to Smile

The love in Zekerullah’s journey to peace

This came in an email sent to me by "Our Journey to Smile".

Zekerullah, a 13 year Afghan youth peace volunteer who is taking part in the peace vigils at Bamiyan Peace Park, is learning to walk that 2nd mile for love.

Love speaks the truth with gentleness, calling corruption corruption, not a budding democracy.

Love will not nurture greed in Afghan robes or international suits.

Love walks 2 hours in the mud to earn a decent penny though it is aware that, by economic design, money and power are not with those who walk.

Love deliberately asks ‘Does Zekerullah deserve a decent livelihood as much as I do?’

Love waits eagerly for peace and justice, even if, by ‘fateful neglect’, it is un-noticed and un-rewarded.

Love knows that killing in whatever name, even in the name of ‘Overseas Contingency Operations’, is killing. Killing removes life and love; we are not able to justify to Zekerullah that killing is a civil response for our ‘contingencies’.

Love recognizes that war is not peace, whatever its prize.

Love empathizes with soldiers and victims who suffer post-traumatic stress, knowing that it is an ORDER of human conscience that can guide Mankind to wholeness, pleading ‘Enough. Please stop!’

U.S. to Hunt Down Afghan Drug Lords

And after we hunt them down, they said the drug traffickers will be killed or captured.

Fifty Afghans believed to be drug traffickers with ties to the Taliban have been placed on a Pentagon target list to be captured or killed, reflecting a major shift in American counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional study to be released this week.

No arrest. No trial. No judge. No jury. No evidence. Just the death penalty, instantly executed. Just US run assassination teams.

Now the Afghan warlords – who are heavy into the drug trafficking in Afghanistan – can just turn in the names of their enemies and get them taken care of by US forces. Hope they catch the CIA guys who are involved in drug trafficking also – but that is not likely since they are working closely with the warlords.

The US cannot stop drug trafficking anywhere in the world. This has been proven time and time again. The amount of drugs, and the crimes associated with them, just keep going up and up and up.

Article here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pentagon budget must rise to fund current plans

Well, I don’t get why we cannot just ‘borrow’ more money from China, like we did under the Bush administration. But it is without a doubt true that we will need more money to fund these idiotic wars that only create hell-on-earth for the people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan….. and will create more terrorism around the world. That includes the USA.

U.S. defense spending in coming years must rise roughly 6 percent on average from the record sum sought by President Barack Obama this year just to meet current plans, Congress's budget office said Wednesday. An average of $567 billion would be needed annually, in constant 2010 dollars, from 2011 to 2028, not including any war funding, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated. This is about 6 percent more than the bumper $534 billion requested in the base fiscal 2010 Defense Department budget, Matthew Goldberg, CBO's acting assistant director, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Seems to me that we could do better things with our money than throw it away on evil shit like this.

Article here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SOA Watch weekend

I arrived in Columbus GA yesterday, and went to see a movie about Jimmy Massey and his objections to what the US Marines were doing in Iraq in 2003. I will write up a review of that movie one day.

Today, I went to Fort Benning and joined in the protest against the SOA and the military madness that is evident in the USA. I signed postcards for various actions - against military escalation in Afghanistan, US policies towards Israel, and the Barrier Wall in the West Bank. I will be bringing some of these postcards back to Asheville. I hope to have a showing of the movie about Jimmy Massey, who used to be a local in WNC.

War Quote

...If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

- From "Dulce et Decorum est" (It is Sweet and Right to Die for Your Country) by British Army Lt. Wilfred Owen, killed a week before the 1918 Armistice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peace Journey to Iraq

from before the US invasion:

It is six years and eight months since the US military went into Iraq and destroyed the place.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What US drone strikes do

Fury said to a mouse,
That he met in the
house, 'Let us
both go to law:
I will prosecute
you.-- Come, I'll
take no denial;
We must have
a trial: For
really this
morning I've
nothing to do.'
Said the mouse
to the cur,
'Such a trial,
dear Sir, With
no jury or
judge, would
be wasting
our breath.'
'I'll be
judge, I'll
be jury,'
Said cunning
old Fury:
'I'll try
the whole
cause, and

- by Lewis Carroll

Extrajudicial Executions
"You have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws,' Alston said.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It does not mean anything....

"The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything... That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about."
Above statement by Noam Chomsky.

I think the statues and memorials built to honor the veterans are really there to promote war. The very same people who put them up do not seem to want to do a thing for the living veterans who need help.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What War Brings: birth defects and infant death

Photo is from the article in The Independent (UK) cited in this post. The boys are holding pieces of US rockets.

I thought I had finished up my series on WHAT WAR BRINGS to civilians, but I clearly missed at least one issue: birth defects. There has been stories about US troops coming home from combat and having a high rate of birth defects in their offspring, and I don’t know if that has been firmly established as an after-effect of war. There has also been stories about Vietnamese babies having a high rate of birth defects in areas that were treated with Agent Orange.

But today I read a report from the Independent (UK) about the extraordinary rise in birth defects and infant mortality in Fallujah, Iraq.

Toxic munitions 'may be cause' of baby deaths and deformities in Fallujah

In September this year, say campaigners, 170 children were born at Fallujah General Hospital, 24 per cent of whom died within seven days. Three-quarters of these exhibited deformities, including "children born with two heads, no heads, a single eye in their foreheads, or missing limbs". The comparable data for August 2002 – before the invasion – records 530 births, of whom six died and only one of whom was deformed.

This tells us two things right off:

  1. The birth rate at this hospital has gone way down. This may be because lots of local folks moved away (I know I would have, if I could), or there is a better hospital close by or that there is a fertility problem. The article does not make this clear.
  2. The rate of physical deformities and infant mortality has skyrocketed.

What it does not tell us is WHY this is happening, but we all know about the major event that happened in Fallujah between 2002 and 2009, and that was two major military offenses, the second one pretty much destroying the city.

The data was collected by British and Iraqi doctors, and people working for the UN. They suspect either white phosphorus or depleted uranium.

Fallujah General’s director said this:

"We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies... There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of brain tumours."

This is a short article, and there is not a lot of information yet…. But it is coming out in bits and pieces that Iraq is experiencing a huge increase in cancer rates in areas that saw US military action.

Iraq cancer rates from Al Jazeera, via the Real News

Cancer sufferers in the province of Babil have risen by almost tenfold in just three years. Locals blame depleted uranium from US military equipment used in the 2003 invasion. But the link has been difficult to prove, prompting them to demand an investigation. In this part of Iraq 500 cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2004. That figure rose to almost 1,000 two years later. In 2008, the number of cases increased sevenfold to 7,000 diagnoses. This year, there have so far been more than 9,000 new cases ... and the number is rising.

I wonder how many of the anti-abortion folks in the USA, who seem so very concerned about unborn American children, were also war supporters of the invasion of Iraq….. and today, I bet they don’t give a rat’s ass about the unborn children of Fallujah.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: birth defects and infant death.


Report from Al Jazeera

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Gramm-Leach-Biley Act of 1999

This bill was a major player in the financial disaster we are now dealing with.

Part One:

Part Two:

It was ten years ago that this act was passed.


…And you yourself would mutter when
You took the things that once were men,
And sped them through that zone of hate
To where the dripping surgeons wait;
And wonder too if in God's sight
War ever, ever can be right.

– From “Foreword” by British ambulance driver, Robert Service

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iraqis search for missing loved ones

One of the more horrific tragedies of the US war and occupation of Iraq is the number of people who simply went ‘missing’. They are most likely dead from violence, and that could be violence from over a dozen different sources.

During those years of extreme violence, the morgue in Baghdad would take photos of the dead and then bury them in Najaf if they were unclaimed. The numbered the graves and saved the photos and other identifying information.

Today, Iraqis are going to the morgue to try to identify their loved ones. According to this article, there are 22,000 unidentified graves in the cemetery in Najaf.

Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during those years of chaos, either kidnapped for ransom or killed in sectarian warfare. People were snatched from buses, stores and fake checkpoints, often in broad daylight. Dozens of bullet-riddled bodies were found on the streets and in the river every day, lacking any identification because their documents were taken as trophies.

On top of the 22,000 buried in Najaf, other mass graves are being discovered in Iraq on a regular basis. And there are more mass graves that have yet to be discovered.

Before the invasion of Iraq, members of the Bush administration talked about Saddam’s mass graves, even though these same people did not give a rat’s ass about these same mass graves when they were being created (due to the fact that Saddam was their friend at that time).

And there were mass graves from the Saddam era uncovered. One in Hilla had 3,000 bodies in it, and there was another one that had 5,000 Kurds in it. The Kurdish mass grave was uncovered and the bodies taken up to northern Iraq for a mass burial. To see 5,000 coffins lined up as far as the eye can see was a horrible sight.

But in the end, Bush made more mass graves in Iraq than Saddam did. It is debatable which person is responsible for more deaths overall, but there is no question who killed more Iraqis – and that would be Bush. And even Bush’s killing of Iraqis pales in comparison to the number of Iraqis killed under US-run UN sanctions. It was estimated that over a half million Iraqi kids died from the sanctions.

And today, Iraqis are coming down with cancer at an alarming rate. The number of Iraqis with cancer in the southern part of Iraq is sky-rocketing. And many of them will also die.

Meanwhile, most Americans remain totally unaware of the evil that they have allowed to be done in their names.

Photo: In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, gravedigger Ali Zayer-Daham is seen in the unidentified bodies section of the cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during years of violence, often ending up as bullet-riddled and unidentified bodies found on the streets or dumped in the river. The bodies were taken to the morgue and photographed but it was often too dangerous for loved ones to search for them. A sharp decline in violence has changed that. Often the search ends at the Wadi al-Salam, or the Valley of Peace, cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rep. Eric Massa speaks on Afghanistan

He made this statement the day before the massacre at Fort Hood. He correctly predicted that our military will carry the scars from these wars and occupations well into the future. He also asks what victory in Afghanistan would look like -- especially in light of the very fraudulent elections there.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Love is how we will ask for Peace

Rep. Grayson tells of the deaths

from lack of access to health care in the USA. He is reading the names of the congressional districts and the number of deaths before he is shut down.

I am not sure that the recent legislation passed by the US House of Representatives is going to be helpful for Americans. I suspect it will not be - since AARP, a large insurance company for seniors, and the AMA - support it. I know it was bad news for women that health care coverage for them was stripped from the bill.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Statement from Rep. Kucinich on HR 3962

(November 7, 2009)

Congressman Dennis Kucinich after voting against H.R. 3962 addresses why he voted NO, stating:

"We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system."

"Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick."

"But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies - a bailout under a blue cross."

"By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress' blog, Think Progress, states, 'since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.' Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that 'money will start flowing in again' to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy."

"During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The 'robust public option' which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies."

"Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks' hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy - in which most Americans live - the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street."

"This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America's manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care."

"Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America's businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals."

June 25 - scenes from an anti-torture rally

Friday, November 06, 2009

Brothers Frantzich Singing at the White House

"The Brothers Frantzich lead a cloud of witnesses singing as followers of the Prince of Peace are arrested in front of the White House, April 29, 2009. Christian Peace Witness for Iraq."

This was little noted by the corporate press, but dozens of people were arrested in front of the White House while protesting the Obama war policies. Here is a video of that event on 4-29-09:

In many respects, I am a conservative

+conservative about the environment (keep it whole and healthy)

+conservative about money and budgets (don't spend what you don't have)

+conservative about foreign policy - we should tread very careful on other people's land, never ever start up a war and stop handing so damn much money to other countries to buy weapons. We also need to stop arming, funding and training foreigners who are up to no good - but then, we would have to stop our foreign policy of furthering the interests of multi-national corporations.

+conservative about energy - don't waste it and always keep in mind that it is going to run out one day

+conservative about what the government should be involved with -- and they have NO damn business in what consenting adults do in their homes or their doctor's offices!

+conservative in making changes - it often seems that some folks want change just for change's sake

But then it comes to taking care of one another and providing for the common good, and I am a died-in-wool socialist.

The funny part is this - I have been self-sufficient since I was 17 years old, never took a nickle from anyone to go to college or buy what I needed (except for home mortgage, which was paid off in 8 years)...... and I expect I will be self-sufficient until the day I die.

But I still feel that we should help one another out when that is needed. And we should never start up a war or do immoral and illegal actions under the US government banner.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Rep. Grayson tells of the deaths

from lack of access to health care in the USA. He is reading the names of the congressional districts and the number of deaths before he is shut down.

Kucinich on the Goldstone Report

Kucinich: Truth, Human Dignity and the Goldstone Report

Washington, Nov 3 -

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement on the House Floor about H. Res 867, which condemns the ‘Goldstone Report’ or the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict:

“Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt. Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist.

“Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian.

“The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the “Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right” resolution.

“Because if this Congress votes to condemn a report it has not read, concerning events it has totally ignored, about violations of law of which it is unaware, it will have brought shame to this great institution.

“How can we ever expect there to be peace in the Middle East if we tacitly approve of violations of international law and international human rights, if we look the other way, or if we close our eyes to the heartbreak of people on both sides by white-washing a legitimate investigation?

“How can we protect the people of Israel from existential threats if we hold no concern for the protection of the Palestinians, for their physical security, their right to land, their right to their own homes, their right to water, their right to sustenance, their right to freedom of movement, their right to the human security of jobs, education and health care?

“We will have peace only when the plight of both Palestinians and Israelis is brought before this House and given equal consideration in recognition of that principle that all people on this planet have a right to survive and thrive, and it is our responsibility, our duty to see that no individual, no group, no people are barred from this humble human claim.”

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

La'Onf = No Violence

La’Onf means “no violence” in Arabic, and that is the name of an Iraqi group promoting non-violent solutions to problems and conflict.

The September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows recently sent this email message:

It is with great pleasure that Peaceful Tomorrows is contacting everyone who worked with us last year on our La'Onf campaign to announce that La'Onf is the winner of the 2009 Pfeffer Peace Prize awarded by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) - USA. The nonviolence activists of La'Onf have been an inspiration to so many of us and we are delighted that they have received this well-deserved recognition.

FOR will be inviting a member of La'Onf to come to New York to receive the award in October. We at Peaceful Tomorrows see this as an extraordinary opportunity to let many more people hear the inspiring message of the La'Onf activists. We are hoping to possibly bring more than one Iraqi activist to the United States and to arrange to bring them to several cities.

We need to raise funds to make this possible. Please donate as generously as you can to bring members of La'Onf to the US to share their message and vision.

Click here to donate.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Spirit of Asheville

It is VOTING DAY in Asheville! Come vote for city council and celebrate our wonderful city.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Compare and contrast

one CNN program from the other. First one is domestic, where this heroic women, Malalai Joya is challenged when speaking her truth... the second one is CNN International, where the truth is respected.