Monday, June 28, 2010

Some information on G-20

Bullies:  Police arrest a protester during an anti G20 demonstration on Saturday, June 26, 2010 in Toronto as leaders of the world's key industrialized nations have started to arrive in for the G20 meetings. AP

Idiocy:  Two police vehicles, set on fire by anarchist demonstrators, burn in the midst of protests on the streets of Toronto during the G20 summit June 26, 2010. Reuters

Got to wonder why a small group of people could burn police cars and smash windows while the police did nothing, especially after they spent almost a billion on security.

Toronto Protest:  BERNARD WEIL - A plain clothed police officer (long hair and holding riot stick) is taken down by a protestor on Eastern Avenue. (This was on Sunday at the area of the detention center.  The plain clothed police jumped out of an unmarked van and started making arrests.)

More than 500 people have been arrested in Toronto after a night of rioting that saw police cars burned in the financial district and storefront windows broken as leaders of the world's largest economies gathered in the city for the G20 summit.
As clashes between police and protesters moved into their second day, there were more reports of journalists and peaceful protesters being arrested. The National Post reported that two of its photographers were arrested, and a Post blogger says a cyclist was arrested after accidentally bumping into a police officer.

The Real News Network has a report on the protests.

Archer, who was in Miami as a liaison between protesters and police, has a 40-box checklist to identify the Model. Here are the main themes.
  Information warfare. This starts weeks before the event. Protesters are criminalized and dehumanized, and described as dangerous “anarchists” and “terrorists” the city needs to defend against.
 Intimidation. Police start random searches of perceived protesters before any large rallies. They are asked where they are staying, why they are walking around. Police raid organizer’s homes or meeting places, “usually just before the summit, so there’s maximum chaos organizers have to deal with,” says Archer.
  “They threw rocks.” That’s the line police use after tear-gassing or beating protesters most times, Archer says. Urine and human feces are variations on the theme. But it’s always the protesters who triggered the violence. A popular police tactic is called “kettling.” Officers on bike or horses herd protesters into an enclosed space, so they can’t leave without trying to break through the police line. Take the bait; you provoke a beating or arrest. And of course, there are the famous agent provocateurs, outted publicly two years ago in Montebello. Police officers dressed up like militant protesters to protect the peaceful crowd, they say; Archer says it’s to instigate trouble.
In Montebello, one of the three cops dressed in black was holding a rock.
“It’s the same lies every single protest,” she says. “It’s justification by law enforcement for their violent actions. This is a propaganda war.”
 Job well done. At the end, regardless of the bodies clogging the temporary holding cells and hospitals, the police always congratulate themselves. And by the time the cases go to court, the story is long forgotten and the circus has moved to a new unsuspecting town.
More than 270 people were arrested in Miami during the summit seven years ago . How many were convicted, in the end? I called the American Civil Liberties Union to find out.
“None,” said lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, who was the president of the Miami chapter back then.

And some evidence is emerging that there were agent provocateurs in the crowd.

Here an operative throws a metal chair through a Starbucks window. This man’s physique doesn’t look like a seedy ‘anarchist’ to me. Rather, this is the fit strong body of a trained soldier – somebody who puts in a lot of regular gym time. He is also wearing what is really a uniform and rather specialized equipment on his forearm and possibly his hip. Unfortunately in this picture we cannot see the shoes being worn. But we certainly can in the picture that follows, and this is where it gets interesting.


Take a close look at the upturned boot.  This is a brand new (? recently issued) very distinctive deep black colour combat boot. Note as at Montebello, the special thick heavy corrugated soles plus what appears to be some reinforcement of the upper forefoot area. Also note the mismatched black and white socks. Is this a recognition code to their uniformed colleagues? The nice heavy shiny new belt also appears to be part of a uniform. 

Maybe speculation, maybe not.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Newly Frugal Guy

Yeah, they did not give a damn about the deficit when Bush was handing out tax cuts to the rich and spending a trillion on wars of aggression..... but NOW those "frugal" people don't want to help the poor people that resulted from their stinking policies!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Letter to Shuler tonight

Photo is of a recent Women in Black vigil at Pack Square in downtown Asheville.

Here is my letter to Rep. Shuler:

"If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular," a senior adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal says in a recent Rolling Stone magazine article called “The Runaway General.”  

I have been paying attention to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  I am aware of the Special Forces operating in over 75 foreign countries.  And none of these actions are popular with me, because I see the dead civilians on my computer, and I hear the horrible tales of devastation that the US government has visited on them.  

I know it is massively, massively, massively evil and as far from the teachings of Jesus Christ as anyone can get.

I want it to stop.

I want the US to start being a force for good in the world instead of evil.  

Wars are evil.

Occupations are evil.

Bombing people is evil.

Killing people is evil.

I want it to stop.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All wars are wars against children

The greatest casualties of this long war are the children of the world
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) - 06/08/10 01:25 PM ET 
The War in Afghanistan has now surpassed the number of years we spent in Vietnam, making it the longest war in U.S. history. This grim landmark must serve as an awakening for the human and financial costs of the war. Our continued presence in Afghanistan foments resentment toward us, undermines the human rights of the Afghan people, and places our troops in harm's way. Prior to the Memorial Day break, the House passed a bill authorizing $159.3 billion for the continuation of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the so-called "war on terror" with little-to-no discussion of the cost our constituents must bear to keep the wars going. The war is creating a new generation of Americans who will experience the trauma of war, like Vietnam veterans before them. Billions of dollars go toward our supposed nation-building in Afghanistan. Yet millions of Americans struggle as funds for essential social services get cut.

The greatest casualties of this long war are the children of the world for whom war becomes as ordinary as the sunrise. Children, who go to bed hungry each night, who are denied the fullness of health, who are ill-housed, ill-clothed, who do not have a chance for a decent education, whose opportunities in life are limited because the resources of nations are squandered in unnecessary wars based on lies. What a terrible legacy this generation of leaders will leave for the children of the world unless we finally come to an understanding of the utter futility of war, unless we challenge the underlying thinking that leads to war, unless we firmly explore the science of human relations which leads away from war and towards understanding and human unity. This is the surge the world is waiting for.

In the coming weeks, Congress is expected to be asked to give another $33 billion for war efforts. Congress must stop funding this misguided war. We need to bring the troops home now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The People's Journey comes to Asheville

Salam Hassan

Josh Stieber

Conor Curran

At the presentation by “The Peoples Journey” on June 12, 2010 in Asheville, Conor Curran was the first to speak.  He said we need to break down barriers of ignorance and cultural prejudice.  Their tour will be joined by two girls from Gaza soon.  Conor talked about his transition from Marine to long haired hippy.  He said that he feels the common goal of humanity is to make a better world.  Even when operating from a fear based position, they have the underlying goal of trying to make a better world.

Conor said that he thought about and prepared for the worst and found himself in the middle of it all.  He was very fear based in searching an Iraqi home, but the Iraqi homeowner served him tea with compassion and love – and that day started to change him.  He recommended that we exercise our ‘compassion muscles’. 

Salam Hassan, an Iraqi who has moved to the US, was the next to speak.  He started by saying that he had polio at age one, which he mentioned because he uses crutches to walk.  Salam when to Baghdad University at age 16, and he said that Iraq was a military state.  But, if you did what you were supposed to do, then your life went okay.  Salam was kicked out of college because his father spoke out about Saddam.   He trained in engineering but he went into journalism after US invasion.  He reported for Pacifica Radio.  He explained Iraqi ideas of hospitality and said that some Iraqis still see the US military as guests, and they should therefore be treated as guests and in a hospitable manner.  He talked about meeting with Conor and Josh, and how they found they had so much in common.  He feels that peace is way more than the absence of violence – way more than that.

Josh Stieber spoke last, and he said he was motivated by 9/11 events to keep Americans safe.  He joined the military to “fix” Iraq.  He saw videos of bombings in basic training, and also saw celebration of this death and destruction.  He said that they were also subjected to “fear” development.  He talked about moving into a factory in Iraq and how the locals protested peacefully against this.  The US troops put up barricades and destroyed businesses and homes and things just got worse and worse.  And he spoke of how the violence just increased there in Iraq

They then played the WikiLeaks video, and Josh said it was a common event and the US troops sometimes did worse.  (Josh was a member of the unit on the ground in the WikiLeaks video, but he was not on scene when it happened.  He did write a letter of apology to the Iraqi people in response to the video.)  He felt more and more that he was being a hypocrite in Iraq and that the war had stopped making sense morally and strategically.  He became a conscientious objector.

After the talk was over, I asked Josh if he felt that the people running the war (who he said were not making sense strategically) were just dumb or if they were doing it on purpose.  Josh did not have an answer for that question.

They were not able to connect with the Afghan peace group on the evening of their presentation.  Their story is here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In front of our eyes

Photo:  The oil slick as seen from space by NASA's Terra satellite on May 24, 2010.  

In front of our eyes
(June 2010)

In front of our eyes
The Gulf is dying
And what we are getting
Is more and more lying

In front of our eyes
The planet is frying
We don’t stop to think
We just keep on buying

In front of our eyes
Other people are crying
As to keeping them safe –
We are not even trying

In front of our eyes
We are not even trying
To stop burning oil
Even as the Gulf is dying

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We are hypocrites!

Well, we are sending someone a message, and it is not a positive one.  I just read an old article by Jane Mayer about torture and the Obama presidency.  Everything she wrote a year ago is still true today - there is no prosecution for torture, rendition, secret prisons, or murder.  And the poor souls who were kidnapped and torture - and survived - have no recourse to our courts at all.  Mr. Arar recently had his case dismissed by the US Supreme Court.  He is far from being the only innocent who was sent to another country for torture, or tortured by our own CIA and Special Forces.  And not only did Obama fail to prosecute, HE IS STILL DOING ALL THOSE THINGS - TORTURE, KIDNAPPING, SECRET PRISONS, ALL OF IT!!!

It is beyond shameful.  It is massively sickening.

Here is a quote from Jane Mayer's article:

It was partly Panetta’s rectitude that got him the C.I.A. job. During the Bush years, he decried the country’s loss of moral authority; in a blunt essay for Washington Monthly last year, he declared that Americans had been transformed “from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers.” He concluded, “We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don’t. There is no middle ground.” 

That's right - there is no middle ground.  We profess to believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, but we are total hypocrites.

And here is another quote:
The Convention Against Torture, which America ratified in 1994, requires a government to prosecute all acts of torture; failure to do so is considered a breach of international law.

Our government does not care about some puny "international law".... they are beyond laws, morality, and decency.  They sicken me and that includes Obama and his government!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JUSTICE - except they never should have been arrested in the first place!

Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted in Trial for Protest at the US CapitolCalling for Guantanamo's Closure and the Investigation of Deaths at the Prison

For Immediate Release, June 15, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Monday, June 14, twenty-four activists with Witness Against Torture were acquitted in Washington, D.C. Superior Court of charges of “unlawful entry with disorderly conduct.”  The charges stemmed from demonstrations at the US Capitol on January 21,2010 - the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.

“With his decision, the judge validated the effort of the demonstrators to condemn the ongoing crime of indefinite detention at Guantanamo,”says Bill Quigley, legal adviser to the defendants and the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Our acquittal is a victory for free speech and for the right of Americans to stand up for those falsely imprisoned and abused at Guantanamo,” says Ellen Graves, one of the defendants.  “We tried to shine a light on the unconstitutional policies of the Bush and now the Obama administrations.  That light shone brightly today.”

“We will use our freedom to continue to work for the day when Guantanamo is closed and those who designed and carried out torture policies are held to account,” says defendant Paul Thorson.

On January 21, activists dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises,Broken Laws, Broken Lives.”  Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006.  Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been - as recent evidence suggests - the result of the men being tortured to death (see Scott Horton, “Murders at Guantanamo, March2010, Harpers).

Witness Against Torture formed in December 2005 when twenty-five activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies.  Since then, it has engaged in public education,community outreach, and non-violent civil disobedience. To learn more visit

Monday, June 14, 2010

Support letter asking for Israeli accountability in Marmara massacre

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, began circulating a letter today to his colleagues in the House of Representatives asking President Barack Obama to hold Israel accountable for its illegal raid on the Freedom Flotilla on May 31, 2010. During the raid, which took place in international waters in the dead of night, Israeli commandos killed nine unarmed humanitarian civilians. Rep. Kucinich is asking President Obama, as Commander in Chief of U.S. Armed Forces, to hold Israel accountable for the egregious act. Read the letter and then contact your elected officials and ask them to support this effort by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Israeli commandos, acting at the direction of the State of Israel, attacked and seized a Turkish ship in international waters, in the Mediterranean Sea.

At least nine were killed in the incident aboard the Mavi Marmara.  Hundreds of civilians were taken into custody and goods were confiscated. Since the United States considers Israel our most important ally in the region, whose survival is a primary concern, it is incumbent upon the Commander in Chief to call Israel to an accounting for its conduct in planning and executing the deadly military attack in international waters upon a peaceful flotilla carrying citizens from over 50 countries.

The State of Israel's conduct, attacking a Turkish ship in international waters, constitutes an act of belligerence against Turkey, which at one time Israel considered an important ally. It also undermines United States’ troops efforts in Iraq, since your administration's efforts to achieve stability in the region and to withdraw troops from Iraq has depended upon Turkey's cooperation through use of its air bases.

In its violent commando raid on the Mavi Marmara, the government of Israel showed no concern as to how its conduct may affect the lives of defenseless, innocent people, its friends and allies, and in particular the United States. The United States must remind Israel as well as all of our other friends and allies:
  • It is not acceptable to repeatedly violate international law.
  • It is not acceptable to shoot and kill innocent civilians.
  • It is not acceptable to commit an act of aggression against another U.S. ally.
  • It is not acceptable to continue a blockade which denies humanitarian relief.
  • It is not acceptable to heighten tensions in a region while the United States continues to put so much blood and treasure on the line.

The State of Israel's action necessitates that the United States, which is Israel's partner in the region, begin to redefine its relationship and to establish such boundaries and conditions which are sufficient for mutual respect and cooperation.

It is incumbent upon Israeli officials to bring forth the truth about the planning for and the attack upon the Mavi Marmara.

No one questions the right of Israel to defend its border, but that defense does not extend to shooting innocent civilians anywhere in the world, anytime it pleases.

Israel must account for our support, for the lives of our soldiers, for the investment of billions from our taxpayers.  Israel owes the United States more than reckless, pre-meditated violence waged against innocent people.

The attack on the Mavi Marmara requires consequences for the Netanyahu Administration and for the State of Israel. Those consequences must be dealt by the United States. They must be diplomatic and they must be financial. The U.S. can begin by calling for an independent international inquiry of the Mavi Marmara incident. The integrity of such inquiry necessitates that it not be led by the nation whose conduct is under scrutiny. If our nation fails to act in any substantive way, the United States licenses the violence and we are complicit in it and our own citizens will be forced to pay the consequences.

We the undersigned deeply regret the loss of life. We are also fully aware of the dangers to world security which exist in the region, which is why the United States has been unstinting it its defense of Israel. We have a right to expect that Israel not add to those dangers with military conduct which all people of good will know is neither defensible nor moral. There must be consequences for such conduct. We await your response.


Read the letter and then contact your elected officials and ask them to support this effort. You can contact your representatives by by going to

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A love letter asking for forgiveness by Our Journey to Smile

"Please. Stop behaving like you're gods. Please stop throwing money at Afghans. Please stop killing. Please, stop."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Witness Against Torture Press Release


Twenty-Seven to Go on Trial for Protesting the Obama Administration’s Failure to Close Guantanamo, Plan for Indefinite Detention, and Refusal to Prosecute Torture

For Immediate Release, June 10, 2010

Contact:          Jeremy Varon:           M: 732-979-3119
                      Helen Schietinger:      M: 202-344-5762

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, June 14 twenty-seven will face trial stemming from arrests at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2010 — the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp. The human rights activists will hold a press conference outside the courthouse defending their protest, condemning the Obama administration’s continuation of Bush policies, and explaining their use in court of the “necessity defense.” The press conference will be held Monday, June 14th at 8:30 am, across from the Federal District Courthouse (333 Constitution Avenue, NW).

On January 21, twenty-seven people dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives.”  Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006.  Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been — as recent evidence suggests — the result of the men being tortured to death (see Scott Horton, “Murders at Guantanamo, March 2010, Harpers).

“The continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo is unacceptable,” Matthew W. Daloisio of Witness Against Torture. “If Guantanamo was a foreign policy liability and stain on the rule of law on day one of the Obama presidency, it surely is eighteen months later.”

“The deaths at Guantanamo show how barbaric US policies have been,” says Helen Schietinger, a defendant in the trial. “We are still waiting for accountability for those who designed and carried out
torture policies under President Bush.  Obama can’t restore the rule of law if he doesn’t enforce the law.”

The human rights activists plan to mount a “necessity defense” before Judge Russell Canan. “We will be arguing that we broke the law only after exhausting all legal means of op posing a much larger crime—the indefinite detention, mistreatment, and torture of men at Guantanamo and other US prisons,” says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois, another the defendants.

The January protests were the culmination of a twelve-day fast for justice and an end to torture organized by Witness Against Torture in Washington, DC. More than 100 people participated in the fast and daily actions throughout the nation’s Capital.

Witness Against Torture formed in December 2005 when twenty-five activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies.  Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent civil disobedience. To learn more visit

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Speech by President Kennedy on 06-10-63

   President Anderson, members of the faculty, board of trustees, distinguished guests, my old colleague, Senator Bob Byrd, who has earned his degree through many years of attending night law school, while I am earning mine in the next 30 minutes, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
     It is with great pride that I participate in this ceremony of the American University, sponsored by the Methodist Church, founded by Bishop John Fletcher Hurst, and first opened by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This is a young and growing university, but it has already fulfilled Bishop Hurst's enlightened hope for the study of history and public affairs in a city devoted to the making of history and the conduct of the public's business. By sponsoring this institution of higher learning for all who wish to learn, whatever their color or their creed, the Methodists of this area and the Nation deserve the Nation's thanks, and I commend all those who are today graduating.
     Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man sent out from a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time, and I am confident that the men and women who carry the honor of graduating from this institution will continue to give from their lives, from their talents, a high measure of public service and public support.
     "There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university," wrote John Masefield in his tribute to English universities--and his words are equally true today. He did not refer to spires and towers, to campus greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty of the university, he said, because it was "a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see."
     I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived--yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.
     What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children--not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women--not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
     I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.
     Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles--which can only destroy and never create--is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.
     I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war--and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.
     Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament--and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude--as individuals and as a Nation--for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward--by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.
     First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable--that mankind is doomed--that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.
     We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade--therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable--and we believe they can do it again.
     I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.
     Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace-- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions--on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace--no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process--a way of solving problems.
     With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor--it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.
     So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.
     Second: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims--such as the allegation that "American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of wars . . . that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union . . . [and that] the political aims of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries . . . [and] to achieve world domination . . . by means of aggressive wars."
     Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements--to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning--a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.
     No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements--in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage.
     Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation's territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland--a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.
     Today, should total war ever break out again--no matter how--our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and dangers to so many nations, including this Nation's closest allies--our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.
     In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours--and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.
     So, let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.
     Third: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different.
     We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists' interest to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy--or of a collective death-wish for the world.
     To secure these ends, America's weapons are nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter, and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self- restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility.
     For we can seek a relaxation of tension without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove that we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people--but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.
     Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system--a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished.
     At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western unity, which invite Communist intervention or which threaten to erupt into war. Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and in the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an example for others--by seeking to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in Mexico and in Canada.
     Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear. We are bound to many nations by alliances. Those alliances exist because our concern and theirs substantially overlap. Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, stands undiminished because of the identity of our vital interests. The United States will make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples, not merely because they are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge
     Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom, but in pursuing the paths of peace. It is our hope-- and the purpose of allied policies--to convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each nation choose its own future, so long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.
     This will require a new effort to achieve world law--a new context for world discussions. It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding will require increased contact and communication. One step in this direction is the proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and Washington, to avoid on each side the dangerous delays, misunderstandings, and misreadings of the other's actions which might occur at a time of crisis.
     We have also been talking in Geneva about the other first-step measures of arms control designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and to reduce the risks of accidental war. Our primary long range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament-- designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this Government since the 1920's. It has been urgently sought by the past three administrations. And however dim the prospects may be today, we intend to continue this effort--to continue it in order that all countries, including our own, can better grasp what the problems and possibilities of disarmament are.
     The one major area of these negotiations where the end is in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security--it would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.
     I am taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two important decisions in this regard.
     First: Chairman khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan, and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history--but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind.
     Second: To make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on the matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty, but I hope it will help us achieve one.  Nor would such a treaty be a substitute for disarmament, but I hope it will help us achieve it.
     Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our own lives--as many of you who are graduating today will have a unique opportunity to do, by serving without pay in the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service Corps here at home.
     But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because the freedom is incomplete.
     It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all levels of government--local, State, and National--to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within their authority. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels, wherever that authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of all others and to respect the law of the land.
     All this is not unrelated to world peace. "When a man's ways please the Lord," the Scriptures tell us, "he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights--the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation--the right to breathe air as nature provided it--the right of future generations to a healthy existence?
     While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can--if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement and if it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers--offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.
     The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough--more than enough--of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on--not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"We Shall Overcome" - by Roger Waters

In honor of the nine activists who lost their lives on the Mari Marmara recently:

Monday, June 07, 2010

Quote from George Carlin

"The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice ... you don't.  You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They've long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ... lobbying, to get what they want ... Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don't want ... They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking."  ~  George Carlin

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Words of Rachel Corrie

You will have no protection

You will have no protection
Alice Walker, The Electronic Intifada, 4 June 2010

You will have no protection

-- Medgar Evers to Civil Rights Activists in Mississippi, shortly before he was assassinated, 12 June, 1963

My heart is breaking; but I do not mind.

For one thing, as soon as I wrote those words I was able to weep. Which I had not been able to do since learning of the attack by armed Israeli commandos on defenseless peace activists carrying aid to Gaza who tried to fend them off using chairs and sticks. I am thankful to know what it means to be good; I know that the people of the Freedom Flotilla are/were in some cases, some of the best people on earth. They have not stood silently by and watched the destruction of others, brutally, sustained, without offering themselves, weaponless except for their bodies, to the situation. I am thankful to have a long history of knowing people like this from my earliest years, beginning in my student days of marches and demonstrations: for peace, for non-separation among peoples, for justice for Women, for People of Color, for Cubans, for Animals, for Indians, and for Her, the planet.

I am weeping for the truth of Medgar's statement; so brave and so true. I weep for him gunned down in his carport, not far from where I would eventually live in Mississippi, with a box of t-shirts in his arms that said: "Jim Crow Must Go." Though trained in the United States Military under racist treatment one cringes to imagine, he remained a peaceful soldier in the army of liberation to the end. I weep and will always weep, even through the widest smiles, for the beautiful young wife, Myrlie Evers, he left behind, herself still strong and focused on the truth of struggle; and for their children, who lost their father to a fate they could not possibly, at the time, understand. I don't think any of us could imagine during that particular phase of the struggle for justice, that we risked losing not just our lives, which we were prepared to give, but also our children, who we were not.

Nothing protected Medgar, nor will anything protect any of us; nothing but our love for ourselves and for others whom we recognize unfailingly as also ourselves. Nothing can protect us but our lives. How we have lived them; what battles, with love and compassion our only shield, we have engaged. And yet, the moment of realizing we are truly alone, that in the ultimate crisis of our existence our government is not there for us, is one of shock. Especially if we have had the illusion of a system behind us to which we truly belong. Thankfully I have never had opportunity to have this illusion. And so, every peaceful witnessing, every non-violent confrontation has been a pure offering. I do not regret this at all.

When I was in Cairo last December to support CODEPINK's efforts to carry aid into Gaza I was unfortunately ill with the flu and could not offer very much. I lay in bed in the hotel room and listened to other activists report on what was happening around the city as Egypt refused entry to Gaza to the 1,400 people who had come for the accompanying Freedom march. I heard many distressing things, but only one made me feel, not exactly envy, but something close; it was that the French activists had shown up, en masse, in front of their embassy and that their ambassador had come out to talk to them and to try to make them comfortable as they set up camp outside the building. This small gesture of compassion for his country's activists in a strange land touched me profoundly, as I was touched decades ago when someone in John Kennedy's White House (maybe the cook) sent out cups of hot coffee to our line of freezing student and teacher demonstrators as we tried, with our signs and slogans and
songs, to protect a vulnerable neighbor, Cuba.

Where have the Israelis put our friends? I thought about this all night. Those whom they assassinated on the ship and those they injured? Is "my" government capable of insisting on respect for their dead bodies? Can it demand that those who are injured but alive be treated with care? Not only with care, but the tenderness and honor they deserve? If it cannot do this, such a simple, decent thing, of what use is it to the protection and healing of the planet? I heard a spokesman for the United States opine at the United Nations (not an exact quote) that the Freedom Flotilla activists should have gone through other, more proper, channels, not been confrontational with their attempt to bring aid to the distressed. This is almost exactly what college administrators advised half a century ago when students were trying to bring down apartheid in the South and getting bullets, nooses, bombings and burnings for our efforts. I felt embarrassed (to the degree one can permit embarrassment by
another) to be even vaguely represented by this man: a useless voice from the far past. One had hoped.

The Israeli spin on the massacre: that the commandos were under attack by the peace activists and that the whole thing was like "a lynching" of the armed attackers, reminds me of a Redd Foxx joke. I loved Redd Foxx, for all his vulgarity. A wife caught her husband in bed with another woman, flagrant, in the act, skin to skin. The husband said, probably through pants of aroused sexual exertion: All right, go ahead and believe your lying eyes! It would be fun, were it not tragic, to compare the various ways the Israeli government and our media will attempt to blame the victims of this unconscionable attack for their own imprisonment, wounds and deaths.

So what to do? Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus. Martin Luther King followed her act of courage with many of his own, and using his ringing, compassionate voice he aroused the people of Montgomery, Alabama to commit to a sustained boycott of the bus company; a company that refused to allow people of color to sit in the front of the bus, even if it was empty. It is time for us, en masse, to show up in front of our conscience, and sit down in the front of the only bus we have: our very lives.

What would that look like, be like, today, in this situation between Palestine and Israel? This "impasse" that has dragged on for decades. This "conflict" that would have ended in a week if humanity as a whole had acted in defense of justice everywhere on the globe. Which maybe we are learning! It would look like the granddaughter of Rosa Parks, the grandson of Martin Luther King. It would look like spending our money only where we can spend our lives in peace and happiness; freely sharing whatever we have with our friends.

It would be to support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel to End the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and by this effort begin to soothe the pain and attend the sorrows of a people wrongly treated for generations. This action would also remind Israel that we have seen it lose its way and have called to it, often with love, and we have not been heard. In fact, we have reached out to it only to encounter slander, insult and, too frequently, bodily harm.

Disengage, avoid, and withhold support from whatever abuses, degrades and humiliates humanity.

This we can do. We the people; who ultimately hold all the power. We the people, who must never forget to believe we can win.

We the people.

It has always been about us; as we watch governments come and go. It always will be.

Alice Walker is a poet, novelist, feminist and activist whose award-winning works have sold over ten million copies.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Thanks to Information Clearing House for these quotes

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security: Dwight David Eisenhower : 34th president of the United States, 1890-1969
I have named the destroyers of nations: comfort, plenty, and security - out of which grow a bored and slothful cynicism, in which rebellion against the world as it is, and myself as I am, are submerged in listless self-satisfaction : John Steinbeck: American novelist, Nobel Prize for Literature for 1962, 1902-1968
The only security for the American people today, or for any people, is to be found through the control of force rather than the use of force : Norman Cousins: American essayist and editor, long associated with the Saturday Review, 1912-1990
Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous : William Proxmire

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Letter to my Senators on 6-1-10

At the urging of FCNL, I sent this letter via their website.  The last sentence is theirs.  There is a video of Ann Wright being interviewed last Saturday further down on the blog.  I am agnostic about a two-state solution.  I think the people of Palestine and Israel should make the decision about a one-state or two-state solution.  But I am totally against Israel's policy of occupation, warfare, and brutality towards other people, particularly the Palestinians.

I have a friend, Col. Ann Wright (Retired, US Army) who is now in prison in Israel.  I know she is okay because there was a video shot of her coming off the Mavi Marmara boat.  She was under control of the IDF.  She is also a former US diplomat with the US State Department.  She quit her job over the invasion of Iraq.

I am appalled at the behavior of the IDF and the Israeli government.  I am also appalled that the US government does not take some action concerning this situation.  I am not seeing any progress on the horrible conditions that Gaza is forced to live under because of Israel's government.

Senator Feinstein has drafted a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging support for deliberate, determined U.S. diplomacy for a two-state solution. I urge you to let Senator Feinstein know this week that you will sign the letter with her.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memorial for 23 dead

It happens again and again and again in Afghanistan, just as it does in Pakistan, and has happened again and again in Iraq.  A US drone sees something that the drone operator thinks is militants, and orders some bombs dropped.  The locals come out and protest and claim that the dead were civilians.  Sometime later, an investigation is done, and it turns out the locals were correct.  Some asshat apologizes, they give the victims some money, and then the US goes out and does it again.

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Forever and ever…. Well, maybe one day this forever war on civilians will be over, but no sign of that today.  President Obama is intent on ramping it up, and currently has more US troops in combat than President Bush ever did. He is spending much more money on these forever wars too.  (Sure glad we are rich!)  And, just like Bush, he goes and puts wreaths on graves and talks about honoring our combatants while ignoring the civilian deaths from the decisions of the US government. 

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I don’t know why I care about the death of the non-combatants (maybe I was a victim of war in a past life?), but I do and will continue to do so until I no longer draw breath.  What I really don’t get is all the romanticizing of the deaths of combatants, both here in the USA and in the countries where we start up wars of aggression.  Or anywhere, for that matter.

And today, I am going to remember 23 non-combatants, who were sighted by a US drone in a convoy and then tracked for 3 ½ hours.  One would think in that time they might have gotten a clue that the convoy was made up of families trying to escape the ongoing violence, but those drone operators never got a clue.  There were women and children in the convoy, but they thought they were Taliban.  And the Special Forces that they conveyed information too also did not have a clue, but they sure had deadly weapons. 

U.S. acknowledges mistaken attack on Afghan civilians

The U.S. military acknowledged on Saturday killing 23 civilians and wounding 12 others earlier this year after mistaking them for a convoy of Taliban insurgents.  The U.S. report into the incident, which happened in Uruzgan, said the crew of a remote-controlled drone aircraft had "provided inaccurate reporting" ahead of the incident and local command posts "failed to properly analyze the situation."  "Information that the convoy was anything other than an attacking force was ignored or downplayed by UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) personal," it said.

This, of course, is routine for drone operators to get the information wrong.  They think cameras are RPGs.  They think children are combatants.  But in this case, the US helicopters that fired on them did not recognize that they were firing on civilians, at least at first.  This report says they did finally recognize this, but locals said they kept firing on them even when the women were waving their head scarves at the helicopters (I cannot find the link to that claim at this time.) 

In the Oruzgan incident, in which 12 civilians were wounded in addition to those killed, a Kiowa attack-reconnaissance helicopter launched Hellfire missiles and rockets at two sport-utility vehicles and a pickup truck. The report indicated that the Predator, normally armed with two Hellfire missiles, did not fire.

The report said the Kiowa stopped firing when its crew spotted brightly colored clothing, indicating women and children. It also said the 23 people killed were men, and that three children and a woman were among those wounded. At the time, Afghan officials said that at least 27 civilians were killed, many of them women and children.

And, afterwards, the US military claimed they were shooting (or bombing) at the Taliban.  The locals went into the streets to protest the killing of more civilians.  Some of the injured went to visit their politicians in Kabul

There have been some reprimands over this killing of non-combatants, but really, what difference does that make?  The troops on the ground and in the helicopters were only trying to do the job they were sent to Afghanistan for – that is, kill people and break their shit – and the ‘reprimands’ neither bring back the dead or stop the next incident from happening. 

US reprimands six over deadly air strike in Afghanistan

The US military has reprimanded six operators of an unmanned drone, which mistakenly attacked a civilian convoy in Afghanistan killing at least 23.  Warnings that the convoy was not an attacking force were ignored or played down, while the ground-force commander was not sure who was in the vehicles, an investigation found.  The deadly assault took place in Uruzgan Province in February.

It seems silly to me to reprimand our troops for doing a job we told them to do.  It also seems like a stupid, empty gesture.   The intelligent thing to do would be to get our troops out of there so they can no longer kill other people in a war of aggression, but doing the intelligent thing is apparently off the table.

The killing of civilians in Afghanistan, like Iraq, is routine.  You can read about them in this blog.

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Dr Sirajuddin Kakar, a doctor at Sustainable Outreach Services (SOS), which provides nutrients to mothers, said the rising insecurity was preventing families from harvesting crops and accessing food for their children.  "Just to step outside their front door has become a risk to many people. If a child is sick, a mother chooses to keep it at home rather than risk taking it to a health centre for treatment. Some children are literally starving in their homes because their parents are too scared, or unable, to earn the money needed to feed them properly."

“All wars are wars against children.” – Howard Zinn
Lord have mercy on our souls.

I believe we need to stop glamorizing war and the warriors and pay attention to the non-combatants and how they suffer.  We need to listen to our troops when they tell the truth.