Sunday, February 28, 2010

Press Release from Blackwater Watch group

PRESS RELEASE                                                        
Christian Stalberg, Coordinator
Xe Watch (aka Blackwater Watch)

Citizens’ Group Urges Support of Stop Outsourcing Security Act: Legislation Introduced February 23rd

RALEIGH – On Tuesday, February 23rd Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) introduced legislation that would phase out private security contractors in war zones.

Last year the U.S. employed more than 22,000 hired guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. They performed tasks that ranged from protecting diplomats, training police and military, to repairing and maintain weapons systems, and loading bombs onto drones.

“The behavior of private contractors has endangered our military, hurt relationships with foreign governments, and undermined our missions overseas,” Schakowsky said.

The Stop Outsourcing Security Act would restore the responsibility of the American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence. The bill also would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by U.S. government personnel. The White House could seek exceptions, but those contracts would be subject to congressional oversight.

“The latest allegations where Xe Services/Blackwater personnel took hundreds of weapons unauthorized in Afghanistan from both U.S. military and Afghani stockpiles underscores the fact that these mercenary companies are still unregulated, out of control and an ongoing liability to the interests of the United States and its military missions,” Christian Stalberg said, coordinator of Xe Watch (aka Blackwater Watch) headquartered in North Carolina. “It is high time to restore to the military the functions which it traditionally handles.”

Every member of Congress should support this legislation to defend the human rights of all people from contractors, to protect taxpayer money from fraud and waste, and return core governmental functions to the government.

To view a copy of the Senate bill:

About XeWatch (aka BlackwaterWatch)

Xe Watch exists to shine a light on Xe Services (aka Blackwater) specifically, and private armies/mercenaries generally. We represent a growing contingent of concerned individuals and groups including, but not limited to, human rights and peace activists, people of faith, civil libertarians, and veterans. XeWatch is concerned about human rights abuses, indiscriminate use of deadly force and the lack of accountability by private armies, mercenaries, and private security contractors. For more information visit

Friday, February 26, 2010

Quote from John Locke

"That the aggressor, who puts himself into the state of war with another, and unjustly invades another man's right, can, by such an unjust war, never come to have a right over the conquered, will be easily agreed by all men, who will not think that robbers and pirates have a right of empire over whomsoever they have force enough to master, or that men are bound by promises which unlawful force extorts from them.
Should a robber break into my house, and, with a dagger at my throat, make me seal deeds to convey my estate to him, would this give him any title? Just such a title by his sword has an unjust conqueror who forces me into submission. The injury and the crime is equal, whether committed by the wearer of a crown or some petty villain.

The title of the offender and the number of his followers make no difference in the offence, unless it be to aggravate it. The only difference is, great robbers punish little ones to keep them in their obedience; but the great ones are rewarded with laurels and triumphs, because they are too big for the weak hands of justice in this world, and have the power in their own possession which should punish offenders." ~ John Locke - 1632-1704 - The Second Treatise of Civil Government 1690

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Real Socialists Respond: From a statement by Socialist Party

This came via the News Dissector Blog:

February 25, 2010 - At the President’s Healthcare Summit today, the American people witnessed a debate between the bad proposal for healthcare reform and the even worse one. The Democrats House and Senate Bill’s fail to address the growing problems of for-profit healthcare. Instead, by mandating the purchase of healthcare, their plan will create a profitable market for private health insurance companies to exploit. The Republican’s counter-proposal, which seeks to allow consumers to buy insurance plans across state lines, would reverse decades of necessary reforms carried out at the state-level. This would give mega-healthcare corporations a free-hand to expand their already abusive practices.

While the two parties squabble about how to carry out the corporate restructuring of healthcare, the American people continue to suffer under a for-profit healthcare system. 50 million people are underinsured, another 20 million underinsured and nearly 50,000 people die each year from preventable illnesses. In response, millions of Americans have begun to avoid healthcare – a recent survey indicates that 6 out of 10 have either deferred or delayed necessary care in the last year.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Last week, was, well, depressing

First off, Cheney admitted to being a war criminal. I commend him on his new-found honesty. Unfortunately, no one is going to do a blasted thing about it. He admitted to doing torture - waterboarding specifically - and that is in violation of the Geneva Convention. He admitted that the White House told the DOJ lawyers to authorize torture. Or maybe the word is 'pressured' the DOJ. Hard to tell, but it looks to me like it was pretty easy to get the Bush DOJ to write those memos.

And on Friday, the Obama DOJ decided that those memos showed poor judgment, but were not illegal. So, those torture memo writers are off the hook. As are the people who tortured.

And torture continues under Obama.

The onslaught of Marjah in Afghanistan really got cranked up. Lots more dead civilians, and even more injured, ill, and homeless civilians. This is beyond disgusting.

There apparently is no law in the USA anymore, except MIGHT MAKES RIGHT.

So, which is worse (h/t to a commenter on Chris Floyd's blog):

"War is a challenge to law, and the law must adjust." Judge Janice Rogers Brown -- U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. 2010

"In times of war, breach of loyalty and baseness cannot find any leniency and must be met with the full force of the law." Roland Freisler -- Secretary of State, Reich Ministry of Justice. 1939


Well, that's a tough one.


And then there was the final report on the Anthrax killings, which turns out to be a cover up. There are so many loopholes in that official FBI story, and our legislature is too scared to really investigate. Well, they have reason to be scared. Whoever was behind it tried to kill some of them and the perps are still alive.

And then there is that little problem of ABC News reporting that they had several sources inside Ft. Dix who said that the anthrax came from Iraq. Those anonymous sources will never be identified, and they work at the same place that the anthrax really came from.

Looks like one more massive crime by some group of folks in the US government who will get away with their crimes. Meanwhile, they will keep on torturing, kidnapping, raping, stuffing people into secret prisons, and assassinating innocent people.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ice tree in western North Carolina


Picture taken by Bill Rhodes of Asheville

Ice tree bowed with snow
hangs its head till Winter ends
weeping crystal tears

This poem posted by Dancing Cat at the website of the photo.  Link here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Prayer for America - by Rep. Dennis Kucinich

I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, as a celebration of our country. With love of democracy. With love of our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time. With the understanding that there is a deeper truth in the unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country is the union of all people, everywhere. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation; but interconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse to be and to breathe free.

I offer this prayer for America.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving and accomplishment of civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble?

How can we justify, in effect, the canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it.

We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant.

We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups.

We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere, including medical and financial records.

We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for domestic intelligence and intelligence surveillance.

We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy.

The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself in this administration.

Let us pray, oremus, that our nation's leaders will not be overcome by fear. Because today there is great fear in the Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in this current environment.

The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington during the anthrax scare, when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House of Representatives. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden tapes at the very same time the President was announcing our country would withdraw from the ABM treaty.

It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote.

The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his undisclosed Vice President.

Let us pray. Let us pray that our country will stop this war. "To provide for the common defense" is one of the formational principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September 11. We licensed a response to those who helped create the terror of September 11th. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.

We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.

We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.

We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.

We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.

We did not authorize assassination squads.

We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.

We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.

We did not authorize national identity cards.

We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.

We did not authorize an eye for an eye.

Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize this administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.

We did not authorize war without end.

We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion.

Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit.

Consider that the Inspector General notified Congress, recently, that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion - that's trillion - in expenditures. Correct, that it cannot account for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent years the Department of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased. Consider that it has written off as lost billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

Yet the Pentagon's budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of a nation, not appropriate for the survival of the world.

Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people, and as a nation, to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September 11th our democratic traditions.

Let us declare. Let us declare our love of democracy. And declare our intent for peace.

Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society.

Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war, as being inevitable.

Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.

Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. This is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of Congress are now cosponsoring the legislation.

Let us work for a world where America can lead the way in banning all nuclear weapons not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. This is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God's creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities. Not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray. Pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September 11th, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump-cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year's Eve, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace those images with the images of people working to rebuild their democratic institutions. With images of the work of human relations. Of the work of reaching out to people, helping our citizens here at home. Of lifting the plight of people everywhere.

That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world.

That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom.

America, America. God shed grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood and sisterhood.

America, America. Long may Thy land be bright with Freedom's holy light

America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within.

America, America. Crown thy good. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a uni-polar world. But through looking at America as a nation among nations and viewing the world as an interconnected whole.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with sisterhood and brotherhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace and democracy here at home and in the world. And a commitment to economic democracy here at home and throughout the world.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

Thank you.

Do you know about Gaza?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Haiti - the politics of rebuilding

Anonymous quote sent in an email

'May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are.. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.'

I thought this was beautiful.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To all Americans: time to break up with the banksters!

Yes, it is time - beyond time - to take your money and your business away from the big banks and to the small banks, or better yet - the credit union.  And don't pay them interest on anything... if you can possibly help it.

And here is a story of a couple who paid cash for their home, but Bank of America foreclosed on them anyway - sent the sheriff to the home (they listed the wrong address) to remove their personal items and put a lock box on the home.  I hope these folks sue Bank of America for MILLIONS!

I have my own story with Bank of America.  I paid down my mortgage early, and they were total dicks about it.  Took months to get them straightened out - and at one point they claimed I had missed payments, when the truth was they put the payments to someone else's mortgage.  Those folks at Bank of America are not just incompetent and stupid, they are evil.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Na'vi fight for their land in Palestine


Sunday, February 14, 2010

War veterans and resisters say......

War veterans and resisters say "All Out for March 20th-National March on Washington!"

"On Saturday, March 20, 2010, there will be a massive National March & Rally in D.C. A day of action and outreach in Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, March 19, preceding the Saturday march."

I plan on being there, and I thought this video was great!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Great speech and march in Germany

This happened on February 9, 2010. It is a NATO peace rally.

They are still protesting in Europe against the NATO insanity in Afghanistan, and I will be protesting next month in DC.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Today's letter to US Senators

I live in Asheville NC and I lived through the gasoline shortage of September 2008. It was not a great hardship for me, since I have no medical problems or children who need to get somewhere, so I just canceled any appointments and did not drive to entertainment events. All I had to worry about was getting to work, which is 4 miles away. I could walk to the grocery store, so no problem there. I was lucky. Others had much bigger problems.

I bring that up because I am hearing that the US government is proposing a gasoline embargo on Iran.

I feel this is wrong.

Forcing people in foreign countries to suffer -- PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT HARMED US IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FROM -- is just wrong. It is also counter-productive, since causing the ordinary people to cling closer to their government no matter how awful it might be. It will cause the general population to support their government's policies, no matter how awful they might be.

If Asheville had been denied gasoline in September 2008 from a foreign entity, I am certain that animosity toward that foreign entity would have been terrific.

In short, causing regular people to suffer - people who have not harmed us - will increase the likelihood of Iran getting nuclear weapons. Any US Senator or Representative who supports this embargo is REALLY SAYING THEY WANT IRAN TO GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS SO THAT WE CAN HAVE A NUCLEAR WAR WITH THEM.

This is massively stupid and massively evil.


You can send a message to your US Senators at this link.

Letters like this are hard to write. I am arguing against actions that will increase nuclear weapons and the possibility of war. One would think that this is a logical position to take and that our elected officials actually would want the same things. They may say they want the same things, but they are lying. They actually want to INCREASE spending on weapons of all kinds, and the route to doing that is to encourage other countries to increase their spending on weapons, including nuclear weapons, and to have endless war.

I do not feel that there will be a war or attack on Iran anytime in the next five years. That is simply because the US and Israel are bullies who only pick on the weak. Iran is not weak. And the point of the sanctions is to weaken them (like in Iraq) but I don't think it will work. Iran is much bigger and stronger than Iraq has been in the last few decades. Putting severe sanctions on Iran will only push them towards developing nuclear weapons, which is a bad thing (so is building nuclear energy plants) for any country, any where, at any time. Nuclear weapons and nuclear power could destroy the planet, no doubt about that. So we need to move towards reducing the nuclear weapons and shutting down the nuclear energy plants. Fat chance that is going to happen!

The biggest threat to world safety is the nuclear weapons in Pakistan and India. A nuclear exchange between them would have a severe negative impact on the ENTIRE planet's health. Pakistan is doubly dangerous because of a remote possibility that the nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of the extremists who would have no hesitation to use them. And the more drone bombings the USA does, the more extremists there are in Pakistan.

Iran is perfectly capable of having nuclear weapons and not using them offensively.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Protect civilians in Marjah

This is the email that I sent to Obama, Burr, Hagen, Shuler tonight:

I am alarmed by press reports that U.S. forces are about to launch a major assault on the Afghan district of Marjah, where tens of thousands of civilians remain in their homes. I urge you to do everything in your power to protect civilians in Marjah, as the United States is obligated to do under the laws of war. If you cannot guarantee that civilians in Marjah will be protected, I urge you to cancel this assault.

I was asked to do this via Just Foreign Policy email, and you can go to their website to send the same email.

At that website, you can compose your own email or just use theirs, as shown above. I am afraid that Marjah is going to be another Fallujah.

Let the Eagle Soar - FAST

This cracked me up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Afghans youths in opposition to Operation Together

Please, do not fight anymore.

No one wins in war, neither men nor women

We the people of Afghanistan are tired of war & don’t want this war.

We the youth of Afghanistan say to Obama, Gordon Brown & the world, let’s be TOGETHER in the way of humane-ness & non-violence ‘cos love is how we’ll ask for peace.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

John and Yoko

"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of the colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy

Monday, February 08, 2010

Peace video from Afghanistan

From Our Journey to Smile:
Please watch how Afghans in Kabul desire peace so much theyd scribble it on the walls.‎

I was in Kabul recently and as I was passing by the high, barbed-wire walls surrounding the Ministry of ‎Finance, I noticed the deep wishes of Afghans graffiti-ed on the grey walls, declaring : ‎

Peace is happiness

Peace for security

Peace is mutual respect

Peace is friendship

Peace is our hope

Peace is our desire.‎

I couldnt capture all the graffiti in time, but need we demand more Afghan graffiti to prove their desperate ‎desire for peace, while the world gets un-imaginatively stuck in the tiring idea that bombs and bullets can meet ‎the needs of their hearts?‎
‎ ‎
Transcript of Video

For those who would remember Afghanistan

Dont just remember its ruins

Remember the writing on its walls saying, Peace for security‎

And most of all, remember her people

Afghans who want to make human contact with others

Radio : I want to speak more to my daughter but telephone expenses are high‎

Afghan wall wish: Peace is good fortune

Afghans declare on the walls : Peace is happiness

And most of all, remember her people‎

Afghans who wish it so much theyll write it on the walls : Peace is our desire

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Cliff Cornell released from the brig

On January 16, 2010, Cliff Cornell was released from the brig at Camp Lejuene. He had fled to Canada to avoid going to Iraq, since he felt killing people in Iraq was illegal. Canadian authorities deported him, and he was tried and sentenced to a year in the brig. He served eight months, and early in the morning one cold January day, he was released. A blog post by Chuck Fager says they went to eat breakfast, and then saw the movie Avatar. Here is a link to Chuck's blog and some pictures of Cliff and the party they held for him.

And here is a you tube of Cliff answering some questions.

And here is a you tube from his supporters in Gabriola Island, Canada and the War Resisters League.

It is people like Cliff and the War Resisters League and Courage to Resist and other peace groups that will lead our world to a better place.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Letter sent to Ash Citizen Times 012610

This is what they call an "insta-letter" and those are letters that are less than 50 words. They did not publish this letter:

There is a group of Afghan children who are holding a Peace Camp in Afghanistan. They are advocating for non-violent solutions. They recently sent this message: "We thank those who pray that we'll have peace, but prayers won’t suffice if one by one, war takes us away from life."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Today's letter to elected officials

I think it is ridiculous to increase our military budget to the highest level seen since WW2. We are not under a threat by an invading army, nor do we have a single foreign government declaring war on the USA. What we have is a group of criminals who want to terrorize us, and we are responding by terrorizing poor people around the planet with our bombs and our military. This in turn means more poor people around the planet is inspired to join the group of criminals who want to terrorize us.

We are making more terrorists faster than we can kill them. We have destroyed Iraq, and are on the way to destroying Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are also arming everyone and nearly every country around the world.

We cannot afford this, and in light of the problems we have at home, it is vastly stupid to continue on this path.

We are making ourselves weaker and more likely to have attacks from rogue elements who want to terrorize us.

I have heard that Obama wants to increase military spending and reduce domestic spending. This is a proposal that will lead to weakening the USA and making the people here suffer even more.

I am apposed to this plan.