Monday, May 31, 2010

Remember them, don't martyr them

by Ross Caputi

Memorial Day is a day for us to remember the men and women who died in military service. It is also a day when most veterans feel especially proud; however, I am a veteran and for me the opposite is true. I feel like we have gotten away from what Memorial Day is supposed to be about, and instead of it being a day to remember the dead and learn something from their death, it has become a day to wave the flag and not question why they died. On Memorial Day I am treated like a hero, even though I have not done anything heroic, and instead of feeling proud or remembering my friends that never made it back, I think about Iraq and the role I played in the battle of Fallujah. Every handshake and thank you that I receive for my service feels tainted with hypocrisy, because I know that most Americans do not understand what they are thanking me for, and I know that this misunderstanding is facilitating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In November of 2004, 300,000 people living in the city of Fallujah were forced to flee their homes as we came to “liberate” them. I remember seeing families fleeing into the desert as we staged for the attack outside their city, and I remember going house-to-house, in their houses, and seeing the lives that we forced them to leave behind. We went house-to-house for nearly two weeks as we searched for “terrorists”, and in each house there was a trace of the family that had lived there until recently. There was still food in their refrigerators and clothes in their dresser drawers, but we ate their food and we took anything we wanted out of the houses as souvenirs.
Their pictures no longer hung on the walls, because the previous week of bombing had shook them loose and they lay on the ground in broken frames and shattered glass, but I picked them up and looked at them, pictures of families and weddings, and I caught a glimpse of the lives that I had helped ruin. I found a few photo albums lying amongst the broken glass and rubble, and as I flipped through the pages I came to know a few families intimately. Through their photos I watched children grow from infants, to teenagers, to young men and women, and I saw photos of family parties, celebrations, and graduation days.
As the battle continued the situation worsened, and after we started taking casualties everything began to spiral out of control. We became increasingly vindictive for every friend that we lost, and we believed in our alleged reasons for being there that much more. We convinced ourselves that democracy and freedom rested on everything that we were doing, and that our friends lost their lives in the pursuit of a noble end. Our rage became entangled with a moral crusade, and the results were disastrous. We began bulldozing houses, rather than risking our lives by going inside them. We flattened whole neighborhoods like this. In one house there were two resisters and a young boy bunkered inside. We fired so many grenades into that house that the roof caved in on top of them. The boy was about ten years old. We reduced Fallujah to a pile of rubble, and we left the 300,000 that used to live there with practically nothing to return to. To this day, many of us who were there still maintain the illusion that we had somehow done this for them, for their freedom and liberty – which is precisely what we took away from them.
My friends Travis and Brad were shot and killed in Fallujah. Their deaths were not necessary, nor were they for a noble cause. They died for the sins of our government, like so many Iraqis have, and the worst thing that we could do for their memory is to drape a flag on them and enshrine them in heroism. To remember them in this way would turn them into martyrs, and that is not be what Memorial Day should be about. Furthermore, we would be perpetuating a lie that might encourage others to go to war, and then their deaths truly would be for nothing. The truth is that they were good people who died too young, and that we did not make America a safer place or help Iraqis. The truth is that we participated in something terrible, and telling the truth about what we did does not dishonor the memory of the dead.
I feel like a hypocrite on Memorial Day, not because of the way America chooses to remember the men and women who were killed or because of the way America chooses to forget the pain and suffering that we have caused abroad, but because many veterans including myself have allowed this to happen. By choosing to accept praise rather than talking about the suffering we have caused, we are endangering the next generation of service men and women, because we have not given them a realistic portrayal of what they are getting involved in. I feel like a hypocrite because on past Memorial Days I have not lived up to my responsibilities as a veteran, and I have not done enough to make sure other Americans do not meet the same end as my friends Travis and Brad did.

The above came from War Crimes Times.

The enemy is at home speech

24 dead in international waters, bringing aid to Gaza

Al Jazeera's report on board the Mavi Marmara before communications were cut
CORRECTION: reports say 16 to 20 were killed

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Obama answers Helen Thomas on Afghanistan

Helen asks a direct question - when are we going to get out of Afghanistan - and gets the run around from President Obama.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Bread and roses, bread and roses"

This brings back memories of singing this song with my friend Els. I knew her when I lived in Canada, and she passed on to that unknown shore in 1995. She was a great dancer, a great seamstress, and a very good person. And yes, the women of this world need bread (education, jobs) as wall as roses (art, beauty, dance).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quote from MLK

"The difference between social service and social justice" is that social service "works to alleviate hardship" while social justice "aims to eradicate the root causes of that hardship." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Statement from an Iraqi journalist

I Heard the First Ring of My Death
 
By Sardasht (Saro) Osman
translated in to Endlish: Kirmanj Ahmed
In the last few days they told me: you don’t have much longer to live, or as they told me “you are no longer allowed to breathe in this city”. I don’t fear death or pain. I am waiting for the end of the allotted time to meet my killers. I pray that they will give me a tragic death the same as my tragic life. The reason I write this is so everyone knows the youth in this country are Homo Sacer* and that death is the simplest choice they have. I want them to know that what scares us is the continuation of this condition for future generations, not our death. My duty is to fulfill satisfaction for my little brothers, not my self.

What bothers me about these threats is that there so many issues to discuss and it can’t be left like that. It is unfortunate that this State is apathetic towards the death of its people.

Yesterday, I informed the Dean of our college that last night they threatened to kill me. He told me this was a case for the police. I don’t know if there is another country where a college student gets a death threat and his University takes shameful inaction. The Dean or the University should have sponsored my case as their own, as I am a part of this school. But this did not shock me. I knew for a long time that this country’s universities are not havens of tranquility.

Later, I contacted the head of Police General, Abdul Khaliq, who told me, “This mobile phone number may be from abroad, or it may be a private issue, and it may happen again. But [Erbil] is safe and nothing like that can happen here.”

With a whimsical smile, I thought of the Director’s reply; it may have been Sarkozy who threatened me. How can I be sure my life is safe if only few days ago, a friend of mine was beaten and forced to leave this city because of his writing?

Whatever happens, I will not leave this city and will wait for my death. I know this is the first ring of my death knell and is ultimately a ring for all the youth in this country. This time, I will not press any charges nor will I inform the authorities. This a path I choose and I will bear the consequences. From now on, I will think of every word that I write as my last. So I will try to be truthful as Jesus. I am happy that I have something to write about, but there are people who don’t want to listen. Whenever we whisper, their ears become restless. We should talk as long as we are alive. When my life ends, let my friend mark a period, start another sentence and continue where I left off.”

*a citizen status in Roman law where individuals are stripped of the right to life and all civil rights and liberties.
This Iraqi journalist was murdered recently. 

True News

I do not agree with everything this guy says, but the premise of his remarks in the beginning of this video are totally spot on correct.  
The government that jails the innocent, tortures the meek and sells your children does NOT care about your frackin otters! The fascistic reality behind modern corporations.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mad World

Economic news


May 21, 2010

Bernie Sanders:

“As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, this country was plunged into a horrendous recession. While this bill does not go as far as I would like, it is a strong beginning in the effort to reregulate huge financial institutions and to bring transparency to their often nefarious activities. 
“I am especially proud that in this bill there is a major provision I authored which, for the first time, will lift the veil of secrecy at the Federal Reserve and give the American people an understanding of where trillions of their tax dollars went in the Wall Street bailout.
“I am disappointed that we could not garner the necessary votes to lower interest rates on credit cards or to begin the process of breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country which are the cause of so many of our problems. I intend to continue that effort until we succeed.”


Yet there's no reason to believe the reforms will address the casino mentality that has prevailed throughout this decade -- and no reason to expect bankers to stop digging up new ways to trade their way to giant bonuses. Indeed, few expect the derivatives provision to make it into the final bill in its current form.
Risky trading by banks lives on, and how.


And meanwhile:

One in Ten Mortgage Borrowers Will Lose Their Home To The Bank

New Observations is forecasting that a minimum of one in ten homes with a mortgage today will be lost to foreclosure in the next two years and that this loss represents a staggering five-million-unit addition to inventory-for-sale.
A record high 4.63% of mortgages were in foreclosure at the end of March The Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. Much worse, a mammoth 9.54% of mortgages are 90-days or more past due.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bill puts polluters before climate

In light of the growing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) abandoned the idea of introducing their new climate legislation with BP’s CEO at their side.

But the public relations decision to consign BP to the sidelines cannot hide the fact that the senators had crafted a bill that Big Oil — along with King Coal and the nuclear lobby — could endorse.

There is no doubting Kerry and Lieberman’s commitment to addressing climate change. However, while the senators negotiated with the energy industry in an attempt to address inside-the-Beltway political realities, this bill neglects climate realities — which could require a paradigmatic shift in the energy sector, not cutting deals with fossil fuel lobbyists.

The proposed legislation, at this point, looks like it would do more for corporations that pollute than the environment.

The bill has strayed so far that the climate would probably be better without it. Unacceptable levels of global warming pollution would continue if this bill were to pass in anything like its current form.

In addition, the contradictions inherent in this climate deal seem to bolster polluting industries and might make winning majority support in the Senate more difficult, not easier.

And this is surely more likely now, as BP oil gushes into the Gulf.

Ultimately, the problem of deal making with polluters is not just a matter of optics. It has led to policy proposals that undermine the effort to achieve effective pollution reductions.

For example, Kerry-Lieberman establishes a pollution reduction target for 2020 that fails to deliver on what scientists tell us is required to respond to the climate crisis.

Avoiding runaway global warming, these scientists say, requires rapidly reducing pollution in the next five to 10 years. Strong goals for 30 years out will be moot if global warming pollution does not peak by 2015.

Kerry-Lieberman also envisions a continuing dominance of dirty technologies. It even offers subsidies and gifts to coal (for carbon capture and storage), oil (expanded offshore drilling) and nuclear power (expanded taxpayer bailout guarantees for new reactors).

Each of these wastes scarce resources that could be invested in clean energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal power.

Kerry-Lieberman could also significantly undermine the Clean Air Act’s protections against climate pollution, removing the most powerful existing federal tool that can protect citizens from the effects of a destabilized climate.
Kerry-Lieberman relies on pollution trading schemes that could be fodder for Wall Street manipulation — schemes that look certain to undermine rather than advance carbon reduction efforts.

At least initially, the proposed bill gives away pollution allowances rather than auctioning them. As a result, consumers could foot the bill while electric utilities reap potential windfall profits.

The proposed legislation also relies on offset loopholes — often empty promises to “achieve” emissions reductions elsewhere.

These are the sort of promises that have led, in other cases, to international fraud and abuse.
And the proposed bill seems likely to fail to generate enough funding to fulfill Washington’s obligations to help developing countries adapt to global warming.

The absence of international finance, coupled with a weak pollution reduction target, could seriously undermine the likelihood of an international climate treaty anytime soon.

We do not expect that climate legislation can ever be perfect. But, at a minimum, it does need to take us in the right direction.

Any climate bill that moves forward must retain strong consumer protections, reflect the polluter-pays principle and respect existing federal and state tools — which remain overall more promising avenues for reducing global warming pollution.

As we face this grave challenge to the planet, the Gulf oil spill should remind us that we need serious policy changes now.

Averting devastating climate change will come not from an accommodation with the corporate purveyors of the dirty energy past but from embracing the challenge of becoming more efficient — and recalibrating the world economy to rely on clean, renewable energy.

Erich Pica is president of Friends of the Earth. Phil Radford is executive director of Greenpeace. Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen.

The above article came from Politico.

From NO MORE VICTIMS

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Washington DC is totally corrupt

I agree with the man in this video:


The incoming tide

Institute of Marine Mammal Sciences researchers gather data before collecting a dead sea turtle on the beach in Pass Christian, Miss., Sunday, May 2, 2010. At rear are researchers (L-R) Kelly Folkedahl, Justin Main and Meagan Broadway. The researchers were collecting dead turtles and will examine them to determine the cause of death. 







Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gaza in plain language

This video reviews what happened in Gaza in January 2009.  It was a huge crime.  And yesterday, Israel did not allow Noam Chomsky into the West Bank.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quote on non violence from MLK Jr.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Power

“Power is something we only need in order to spread lies and hypocrisy, to mouth empty words and pretend they are true.” – Alice Miller in “The Truth Will Set You Free”

Friday, May 14, 2010

US drone attacks rise in Pakistan

Talking points from the Green Team at FCNL

Potential talking points on introduction of Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill
On Wednesday Senator Kerry and Lieberman will release their long awaited cap-and-trade climate and energy bill without the support of a Republican Senator. I am pleased that after months of secret negotiations, the public will have its first opportunity to evaluate the proposal and understand how it will impact households, businesses and the environment.   
I share Senator Kerry and Lieberman’s desire to reduce greenhouse gases and our dependence on foreign oil.  I share their belief that investments in clean energy technologies will spur innovation and job growth.  I applaud their reported call for the United States to reduce its carbon emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.
However, I do not believe that the approach taken by Senators Kerry and Lieberman is the best way to price carbon.  While the legislation has been seen by only a select group of energy CEOs and favored organizations, the following presumed features of the bill are obstacles to spurring economic growth, protecting American households and meeting our urgent environmental goals. 
Specifically, we are concerned that the proposed legislation will:
Ø       Diminish the Clean Air Act’s ability to limit carbon emissions.
Ø       Convert consumer and taxpayer money into windfall profits to coal, oil, nuclear and other energy industries.
Ø       Carve out special protections for electric utilities by giving them billions of free pollution permits.
Ø       Encourage polluters to buy carbon offset in foreign countries instead of investing in American clean energy jobs and technology.
Ø       Expand offshore oil drilling.
Even while I disagree with the approach that Senators Kerry and Lieberman have taken, I strongly urge Congress and the White House to continue to pursue energy legislation this year that will price carbon.
In a recent national and state survey by Republican pollster Glen Bolger, a majority of republican, independent and democratic likely-voters said that they wanted energy reform.  Voters believe that energy reform can lead to job and economic growth and want Washington to act on both these urgent needs.
The bi-partisan CLEAR Act, introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) is the simplest, most transparent way to price carbon, spur economic growth and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
In an editorial, The Washington Post explained that the CLEAR Act’s 100 percent auction and rebate to households “would not hurt most Americans’ budgets…making the vast majority of them whole if not better off.”   The Economist referred to the CLEAR Act as “promising” and “honest.”
Senator Kerry and Lieberman, along with Majority Leader Reid, have said Republican support is essential to the proposal’s success.  After six months of effort by the White House and Congress, that threshold has not been reached and we need to take a different approach.  We’re going straight to our Senators and asking them to back the CLEAR Act as our best bi-partisan option for pricing carbon.

350.org - How one person can make a difference

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quote from Chalmers Johnson


"Four sorrows ... are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787. 
First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut.
Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal 'executive branch' of government into a military junta.
Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions.
Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens."  ~  Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Letter from Senator Hagan

This was sent to me via email, and the date was May 4,2010.

Some background info:  I asked Senator Hagen to support a full public audit of THE FED.  Taxpayers have handed over trillions of dollars to THE FED, and I feel we have a right to know what they are doing and where our money is going.  Some have proposed that we have a 180 day delay in releasing the information, and I am okay with a delay (but 60 days would be more appropriate, in my opinion).  I do not know why she would address the letter as "Dear Friend" since I am not her friend by any means.  But here it is:


Dear Friend,

Thank you for your message expressing support for the
Federal Reserve Sunshine Act. I appreciate hearing your
thoughts on this important issue.

The Federal Reserve Sunshine Act (S. 604 / H.R. 1207)
was introduced in the Senate on March 16, 2009, and in
the House of Representatives on February 26, 2009. The
Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Banking,
Housing, and Urban Affairs and the House bill was
referred to the Committee on Financial Services. Both
bills reform the manner in which the Board of Governors
of the Federal Reserve System is audited by the General
Accountability Office (GAO) and the manner in which
such audits are reported.

Under the Federal Banking Agency Audit Act (PL 95-320),
the GAO has the authority to conduct financial and
performance audits of the Board of Governors, and the
Federal Reserve banks and branches. However, such audits
are limited, as the law stipulates that monetary policy
operations, foreign transactions, and the Federal Open
Market Committee operations are excluded from the scope
of the GAO audits. The Federal Reserve Sunshine Act
seeks to expand the GAO's authority by removing these
limitations.

As the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act is currently written,
I am opposed to the legislation. Under common usage of
the term audit -- an examination of accounts and records –
there is already a 100 percent audit of the Federal Reserve.
Furthermore, Congress already reviews semi-annual
reports on monetary policy submitted by the Board of
Governors as required under the Full Employment and
Balanced Growth Act (PL 95-523).

When Congress passed the Federal Banking Agency
Audit Act in 1978, the legislation attempted to balance
the need for public accountability of the Federal Reserve
with the need to insulate the Reserve's monetary policy
function from political pressures. I believe this balance
must be maintained going forward.

The formulation of monetary policy is a decision-making
process that involves information gathering from a host
of foreign governments and central banks. The information
provided from those exchanges is critical and extremely
sensitive. The immediate and broad disclosure that S. 604
would require could disrupt the financial markets, and
jeopardize our country's international finance relationships.
Ultimately, it would be taxpayers who would bear the
brunt of any losses resulting from policies caused by
untimely disclosure of sensitive information. Because
of this, I do not believe the benefits of legislation like 
the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act outweigh the costs.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly
an honor to represent North Carolina in the United
States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to
contact me in the future should you have any further
questions or concerns.

  Sincerely,  
  Kay R. Hagan

Please do not reply to this email. Instead, if you have
further questions, please visit www.hagan.senate.gov
and fill out my web form for your inquiry. Thank you.


Got that?  We cannot have a public audit of THE FED because the poor taxpayers have to be protected.  And we are protected by staying ignorant.  Here is Senator Sanders speaking on this bill:


+++++
AND, Senator Hagan also voted against the Brown/Kaufman amendment to break up the big banks.  It failed because 27 Democrats voted against it.  Guess we know what side she is on, and that all this talk of "financial reform" is just talk.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Response to Senator Burr

I received a letter from Senator Burr dated April 19,2010 that is full of inaccuracies. This is my response to him, posted on his web page.

Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has helped find peaceful solutions to conflict in Iraq on at least two occasions.  There may be more than that - I just don't know about them.

Iran is not supporting terrorism.  Iran does not kidnap people (rendition) and sent them to another country (like GITMO), and Iran does have some torture of it's internal prisoners, the people responsible for that are being dealt with in the courts.

Iran has not invaded or attacked another country.  The stories about Iran selling weapons to insurgents in Iraq are lies.  If Iranian made weapons ended up in their hands, it is because someone OTHER THAN THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN sold them to insurgents.  There are many more weapons in the Iraqi insurgents hands THAT WERE MADE IN THE USA.

And while I would not hold up Iran as a model of respect for human rights, the proposal of a bill in the US Congress targeting Iranians who do not respect human rights has got to be the height of hypocrisy.  Iran does not start wars, Iran is not occupying foreign countries, Iran does not have hundreds of bases around the planet, Iran does not kidnap, Iran does not authorize torture by it's citizens, Iran does not run secret prisons.  These are all human rights violations that the US GOVERNMENT DOES.

Senator Burr ends his letter saying he believes that the US should remain committed to peace in the Middle East.

WAR IS NOT PEACE.

OCCUPATION IS NOT PEACE.

PUTTING SANCTIONS ON A COUNTRY THAT HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG IS A STEP TOWARDS WAR.

It is also stupid, since it punishes the lower income people and makes the population more supportive of their government.  That is what sanctions did in Iraq, along with killing off about a half million children.  That was evil to do, and doing it again will also be massively evil.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Four dead in Ohio

Four dead forty years ago today.  And look how far we have NOT come.

Letter to the Editor

This was published in the Asheville Citizen Times on April 24, 2010.  President Obama was in town, sure hope he read it.


Rev. Martin Luther King made a speech in April 1967 where he said “we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness.”   I believe that is true of today’s times also.  We are now closing down on almost nine years of war in Afghanistan, with no end in sight.  We have been in Iraq for over seven years, with a promise of withdrawal that is moving at a snail’s pace.

Today, as back then, actions are needed to “save the soul of America.”   Today, we are supporting a government in Afghanistan that is totally corrupt and without popular support inside the country.  We are regularly killing and hurting civilians, even as we are proposing to “liberate” them.  As in Vietnam and Iraq, we are poisoning the water and the land.  And while doing all this, we are inspiring others to acts of terrorism against our own country.  This madness must cease.

Our country is dealing in the three vices of militarism, poverty and racism.  If they are left to continuously fester, they will destroy us.  To Mr. Obama, I would like to say that war is not peace, and it is not a peace prize either.


Pictures from the May Day rally


These are some pictures from the May Day rally for immigrant rights in Asheville on 5-1-10.  I thought it was a small turn out, but the UNCA SDS group had a good turnout.  It was great to see them again, and I saw several of my friends there too.  Our country really needs to reform the immigration process, and allow those who only want to come here to work and feed their families to do so without being hassled. 

I am descended from immigrants to this country, so of course I support immigration.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The making of an Iraqi insurgent


I ran across this article about a week ago.  It is titled:


This anonymous Iraqi man states that he did not originally think of fighting the US troops inside his country.  He did not like seeing them on Iraqi streets, but then, he did not like Saddam either.  He wished that Iraqis had made the change of disposing Saddam, instead of the Americans.

But it all changed on April 28, 2003.  In his words:

I joined al-Qaeda on April 28, 2003, after several U.S. soldiers killed more than 13 Iraqi civilians from the rooftop of an elementary school in Hay al-Nazzal, south of Fallujah. The Iraqis were staging a demonstration and demanded that the Americans leave the school.  The Americans killed the civilians and then refused to let us remove the dead bodies. It was then that I felt the rush to fight.

…..  I met several young men who were thinking of attacking the school. At 1 am, eight of us went to the school carrying RPG7s and AK-47s, which we found at deserted Iraqi army bases. We were surprised to find another group preparing an attack.

That other group was al-Qaeda.  They were foreigners and Arabs, for the most part, who came to Iraq to fight the Americans and the American occupation.  This Iraqi insurgent reports on various engagements with US troops, and that his brigade numbered about 120 fighters in Fallujah.  Very few are still alive.  He claims that he had more than 60 engagements with the Americans while he was with al-Qaeda. 

Later on, he breaks with al-Qaeda because he does not agree with killing civilians, either Iraqi or American.  He only wanted to fight US troops. 

But what I want to focus on here is the underlying reason why this man joined the insurgency in Iraq and ended up fighting with al-Qaeda:  it was the killing of non-violent demonstrators that day in April 2003.

On April 28, 2003, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne opened fire on civilian protestors outside of a local school.  The US troops had taken over the school as a base. 


By all accounts, a protest demonstration against the U.S. occupation in al-Falluja began around 6:30 p.m. on April 28th.  Approximately 150 people gathered in front of the Ba`th Party headquarters on the main street, where U.S. troops in al-Falluja were based.  The city hall is next door.  According to participants in the demonstration, the protest was peaceful and no one had guns.  They chanted slogans like "God is great! Muhammad is his prophet!"  They also chanted a slogan heard often at protests around Iraq: "No to Saddam!  No to the U.S.!"



The US forces claimed that the locals were shooting at them.  According to the report by Human Rights Watch, they interviewed 20 people who were part of the demonstration.  They all claimed that no one had guns.  They do say that people removed from the scene where probably firing into the air.  They did acknowledge that there was some rock throwing.  Here is a part of their report of the shooting:

Human Rights Watch separately interviewed the wounded brother Usama, who gave a corroborating account:
After the shooting started, I heard some shouting from my brother Muthanna's house.  His children and his wife were shouting, and he was also shouting loudly.  I decided to go out and see what was happening.  I entered his house and saw him in the garage.  He told me that he was shot inside his house in the foot, and that his foot was gone.


I pulled him out into the street to bring him to another house.  But he is very heavy, so I stopped to rest.  Walid came out to help me, and I saw Walid fall to the ground [after being shot].  I carried Walid and took him inside the house.  I could not carry Muthanna myself, so I ran to my house to get my taxi.  I opened the garage door and started bringing the car outside.  Two bullets grazed the back of my head as I was trying to reverse the car backwards.  After that I got out of the car and started to crawl. I was pulling myself along and turning over until I reached the middle of the street.  During this time, they shot more than thirty bullets at me.


There were 13 people killed and many more injured. 

The US troops have a different story about the events of that evening.  They say they were fired on from the crowd of protesters.  All of this happened after local officials had told the US forces they did not want them inside the city, and certainly not at their school, where they could look in the windows of the local homes.  No matter, the US military decided to stay anyway.

I recently wrote a post on “Our military has an honesty problem” because there has been a very serious case recently when the US military was caught changing their stories.

The US military often does change its story, when presented with some actual facts from human rights groups or journalists.  Tom Engelhardt did an article on some of the more well-known instances of US killing of civilians and how the report on the incidents evolved.  The “shock and awe” we saw on our TVs in 2003 resulted in only the killing of innocent civilians.

But it really does not matter what the US military has claimed.  What matters is how it is perceived by the people on the ground.  What matters is how it affects them and what they decide to do about it.  And some of them decide that they will take up arms and fight, like the man who decided to become an insurgent.


The shooting outraged local people who, like many other Iraqis, welcomed the removal of Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led forces but now want the American troops to leave. It is likely to fuel anti-American sentiment elsewhere in Iraq.

….  "They are stealing our oil and they are slaughtering our people," said Shuker Abdullah Hamid, a cousin of one of the victims, 47-year-old Tuamer Abdel Hamid.  "Now, all preachers of Falluja mosques and all youths...are organizing martyr operations against the American occupiers," said a man cloaked in white, using the term often used to describe suicide attacks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the case of an attack in Afghanistan in February 2010, the father of the two men killed said that he wanted to be a suicide bomber against the Americans.  He was quite elderly.  The US Special Forces had come to his home at night, while there was a large gathering of relatives for a baby-naming celebration. 

The US forces killed three women (two of them 7 months pregnant) and two men.  They returned to the scene and removed the bullets and said the women were killed in honor killings.  They have since retracted that story, and admitted they killed five innocents (two of whom worked for the Afghan government that our troops are supposedly fighting to protect against the Taliban).


But the lesson is this:  if you kill unarmed civilians, their fellow citizens will take up arms against you, one way or another.  And if you can make these “mistakes” while actually on the ground looking at the people you are shooting, then just imagine how very wrong things can go when you are shooting from a drone up high in the sky.

And we are doing that a lot.

And there will be blowback. 

And while President Obama was making a disgusting “joke” about predator drones last night at the White House correspondents dinner, a car bomb failed to go off in Times SquareThe Pakistani Taliban have claimed credit for the attempted bombing, and said it was in retaliation for the drone bombings in Pakistan.  I am grateful the bomb did not go off.

This time.

There will be blowback.

We will pay a price.

Quote from Chris Floyd:
“We don't know the half of it, the tenth of it; we wander in the fog, hearing the distant ghostly moans, but never knowing where they come from, or what they mean.”

Stand against racism event on 4-30-10


This event was held at Aston Park in Asheville.  It was sponsored by the YWCA.  These are a group of kids singing a song. 


These children were too cute!  They attend childcare at the YWCA.  The teachers did a great job teaching them songs and preparing them for this event.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Upcoming events for the week

05/06/10 VETERANS FOR PEACE MEETING
This is held at the Veterans for Peace office in Asheville.  Address is 9 Walnut Street, downstairs.  This starts at 6:30 PM.

05/06/10 TRANSITION ASHEVILLE DISCUSSION ON PEAK OIL
Just as climate change will affect the stability of our ecosystem, the coming decline in petroleum production will soon affect the stability of our economy and our entire way of life.  Come find out about this and the Transition Town movement, which seeks to pro-actively rebuild local resilience and prepare for these coming crises.  The meeting will consist of a 30-minute movie, followed by discussion.
May 6th 7:00 – 8:30 PM North Asheville Library meeting room
May 10th 7:00 – 8:30 PM West Asheville Library meeting room
June 17th 7:00 – 8:30 PM North Asheville Library meeting room
All Transition Asheville events: http://transitionasheville.ning.com/events/event/listUpcoming

05/06/10 COMMUNITY FORUM to end corporate influence in our democracy, organized via Move On
Location is First Congregational Church of Asheville, 20 Oak Street.  Time is 6:30 for chocolate desserts and the forum starts at 7:30 and goes until 8:30 PM.  Had enough of Wall Street CEOs getting big bonuses and calling the shots in Washington?  It's time to stop just yelling at our TVs.  Local residents concerned about corporate influence in our democracy are meeting up at a community forum on Thursday, May 6, 2010.  We'll discuss how the problem of corporate influence in Washington is hurting people in Asheville and nearby communities, and what we as regular folks can do about it.

05/16/10 TRANSITION ASHEVILLE OPEN SPACE EVENT
The May Open Space is scheduled for Sunday, May 16th, from 2 pm to 5 pm at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 20 Oak Street, Asheville.  Come and help us shape the vision for Transition in our area!



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ONGOING EVENTS
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TUESDAY
Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square Peacetown meets weekly at the Veterans for Peace Headquarters at the Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut Street, Asheville.  Contact Steve at earthsun2@gmail.com for more information.

WEDNESDAY
Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood Country Courthouse in Waynesville.

FRIDAY
Women in Black have a weekly vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square in Asheville Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the Old Courthouse in Hendersonville

SATURDAY
Transylvanians for Peace have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard.

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ACTIONS AND READINGS

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GOOGLE FIBER
There is 30 days of voting for which city gets Google fiber installed in the city as a pilot program.    Here's the link:  http://www.googlefiber.com/

LETTERS ABOUT POSSIBLE SANCTIONS ON IRAN
This website will allow you to send emails to Senator Burr and Senator Hagan.  http://www.fcnl.org/action/alert.htm

PETITION
Sign our petition to President Obama asking he end his plans for offshore drilling. We'll share the petition with the media and start a public call for Obama to change course on offshore drilling and invest in real energy solutions.    Click here:  http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/obamaoil

FOUND ITEM AT PEACETOWN PROTEST
Anyone missing a bronze water bottle from the protest on April 23rd on the Charlotte Street bridge?  If so, let me know.

YOUNG AFGHAN PEACEMAKERS DENIED VISA TO USA
There is a group of young Afghan peacemakers who were invited to the USA by the group Fellowship of Reconciliation for a tour of several states to talk about peace.  The US denied him a visa, saying that they do not think he will return to his homeland of Afghanistan.   He made a short video about this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLOH3LWAB5g  More information at the website http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/.  This is a small, but important, peace group in Afghanistan.

THE REAL NEWS NETWORK DISCUSSES US ECONOMIC POLICY AND ITS EFFECT ON MEXICAN MIGRATION TO THE USA
This news networks puts out one to three short You Tube videos per day and will send you links via email.  I have found them to worthwhile to watch.  This video discusses NAFTA and how US economic policy impacted workers in Mexico.  It is an interview of Dan La Botz, who is a prominent labor union activist, academic, journalist, and author in the United States. He was a co-founder of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and has written extensively on worker rights in the United States and Mexico. His writing appears frequently in Against the Current, Counterpunch, Labor Notes, Monthly Review, New Labor Forum
and Z Magazine.  Here is a link to today's video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEvq2M1Quy0&feature=player_embedded

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Seven years ago today - "Mission Accomplished"

Democrats noted Bush's "turning point" assessment came on the third anniversary of his appearance on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner reading "Mission Accomplished." "The mission was not accomplished then, and it is not accomplished now," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). "Looking back on it, the president's public relations stunt on the aircraft carrier is an embarrassing symbol of the administration's naive and inept approach to Iraq."

Thirty five years ago today - the fall of Saigon