Monday, January 31, 2011


This came from an email from Witness to Torture.
  • Guantanamo remains open.
  • There have been very few repatriations or resettlements, despite Obama's pledge to free those who will not be tried.
  • There is a blanket ban on releasing the largest group of remaining men (Yemenis) who face no charges but may never see freedom.
  • The Justice Department has appealed most (if not all) habeas victories, preventing due process and/or release.
  • Resettlements and even the transfer of men to stand trial in the US have been legally blocked by the Congress.
  • Bagram is a new "legal black hole" and largely off limits to even minimal oversight.
  • Anyone operating under the "enhanced interrogation" protocols is a priori excluded from prosecution.
  • The Justice Department overrode the conclusion of an accountability investigation initiated under Bush, effectively exonerating those who "authorized" torture.
  • There is no adequate criminal inquiry into torture.
  • The government has blocked every effort at legal redress for the Guantanamo detainees and other victims of torture.
  • Civilan trials have been essentially abandoned.
  • Military commissions at Guantanamo will be re-initiated to provide a lower threshold of evidence and permit easier prosecution of victims of torture and easier use of evidence derived from torture.
  • A formal system of indefinite detention without charge or trial is being devised.
The State of Our Community

We find hope in the community that gathered in Washington DC from Jan 11-22 (visit for re-caps of and reflections of their daily activities). We find hope in the men who remain in Guantanamo, whose protest within the prison walls on January 22 (the anniversary of Obama's broken promise) is both haunting and challenging.

Building on this hope, and faced with Guantanamo's tenth year as the shame of the nation, we begin planning... We now know for certain that the president has no plans to shutter Guantanamo before next January 11, so we have no plans to shut down our operations. Another Witness presence in Washington DC will come in June, and we plan to launch a mass education and recruitment drive, reaching parishes, congregations, and college campuses across the nation. When we return to Washington next January 11, we will number in the thousands - marching and witnessing and lobbying and processing and speaking out and being silent and haranguing and incommoding - until the people in power get the message: No Torture, No Bagram, No GTMO, No More

Protest in Egypt

Made in the USA

I found this photo on this website.

I wonder why they hate the USA?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Song for the Egyptian protesters

Solidarity with Egypt

We had a small rally today to show our support of what the protesters in Egypt are doing.  The Egyptians are very inspiring to me!

Yes, Mubarak must go!!  And here is the lyrics of the song "Do you hear the people sing?" which has been going through my head today.... dedicated to the freedom fighters in Egypt, Tunisa and anywhere else they may be found today.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France!

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Demands of the Egyptian People:

1. The downfall of the regime of Mubarak and his ministers
2. The cessation of the Emergency Law
3. Freedom
4. Justice
5. The formation of a new, non-military government with the interests of the Egyptian people at heart.
6. The constructive administration of all of Egypt's resources.

Egyptian Empassy:


And here is a very inspiring video out of London:

"Killing One Person Is MURDER--Killing 100,000 Is FOREIGN POLICY." - Anonymous

January 20, 2011"BlackCommentator" -- 

The United States of America is, in reality, a one-party corporatist state whose very existence is, more than ever, perpetuated by a conscious deliberate denial of reality, even in the face of the obvious.

This nation's internal and external political, economic, and military policies have nothing whatever to do with "democracy," "justice," or "human rights;" and everything to do with exploitation, hegemony, deceit, and control of the many--by the fewNo amount of rationalization can change or ameliorate this fact.

Everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this actual one-party U.S. corporatist state are the de facto cannon fodder of the corporate / military Democratic and Republican Party foxes and wolves respectively. Moreover, it is utterly absurd and delusionary to expect "hope" to bring about much-needed systemic "change." The time is here for the people of this nation to dispense with myths, face reality, and change it.

Above written by Larry Pinkney, Editorial board member of the Black Commentator

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"The Promised Land" by Springsteen and Browne

This was recorded at a concert for disarmament in 1982.  Jackson Browne has been working on this issue for many decades.

Friday, January 28, 2011

After the journey — a UN man’s open letter to Tony Blair

Hans von Sponeck, UN humanitarian co-ordinator from 1998-2000, demands answers from the former prime minister to a simple question: Why is Iraq in such a mess?

Dear Mr Blair,

You do not know me. Why should you? Or maybe you should have known me and the many other UN officials who struggled in Iraq when you prepared your Iraq policy. Reading the Iraq details of your "journey", as told in your memoir, has confirmed my fears. You tell a story of a leader, but not of a statesman. You could have, at least belatedly, set the record straight. Instead you repeat all the arguments we have heard before, such as why sanctions had to be the way they were; why the fear of Saddam Hussein outweighed the fear of crossing the line between concern for people and power politics; why Iraq ended up as a human garbage can. You preferred to latch on to Bill Clinton's 1998 Iraq Liberation Act and George W Bush's determination to implement it.

You present yourself as the man who tried to use the UN road. I am not sure. Is it really wrong to say that, if you had this intention, it was for purely tactical reasons and not because you wanted to protect the role of the UN to decide when military action was justified? The list of those who disagreed with you and your government's handling of 13 years of sanctions and the invasion and occupation of Iraq is long, very long. It includes Unicef and other UN agencies, Care, Caritas, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the then UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Nelson Mandela. Do not forget, either, the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in protest in Britain and across the world, among them Cambridge Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) and the UK Stop the War Coalition.

You suggest that you and your supporters - the "people of good will", as you call them - are the owners of the facts. Your disparaging observations about Clare Short, a woman with courage who resigned as international development secretary in 2003, make it clear you have her on a different list. You appeal to those who do not agree to pause and reflect. I ask you to do the same. Those of us who lived in Iraq experienced the grief and misery that your policies caused. UN officials on the ground were not "taken in" by a dictator's regime. We were "taken in" by the challenge to tackle human suffering created by the gravely faulty policies of two governments - yours and that of the United States - and by the gutlessness of those in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere who could have made a difference but chose otherwise. The facts are on our side, not on yours.

Here are some of those facts. Had Hans Blix, the then UN chief weapons inspector, been given the additional three months he requested, your plans could have been thwarted. You and George W Bush feared this. If you had respected international law, you would not, following Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, have allowed your forces to launch attacks from two no-fly zones. Allegedly carried out to protect Iraqi Kurds in the north and Iraqi Shias in the south, these air strikes killed civilians and destroyed non-military installations.

I know that the reports we prepared in Baghdad to show the damage wreaked by these air strikes caused much anger in Whitehall. A conversation I had on the sidelines of the Labour party conference in 2004 with your former foreign secretary Robin Cook confirmed that, even in your cabinet, there had been grave doubts about your approach. UN Resolution 688 was passed in 1991 to authorise the UN secretary general - no one else - to safeguard the rights of people and to help in meeting their humanitarian needs. It did not authorise the no-fly zones. In fact, the British government, in voting for Resolution 688, accepted the obligation to respect Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

I was a daily witness to what you and two US administrations had concocted for Iraq: a harsh and uncompromising sanctions regime punishing the wrong people. Your officials must have told you that your policies translated into a meagre 51 US cents to finance a person's daily existence in Iraq. You acknowledge that 60 per cent of Iraqis were totally dependent on the goods that were allowed into their country under sanctions, but you make no reference in your book to how the UK and US governments blocked and delayed huge amounts of supplies that were needed for survival. In mid-2002, more than $5bn worth of supplies was blocked from entering the country. No other country on the Iraq sanctions committee of the UN Security Council supported you in this. The UN files are full of such evidence. I saw the education system, once a pride of Iraq, totally collapse. And conditions in the health sector were equally desperate. In 1999, the entire country had only one fully functioning X-ray machine. Diseases that had been all but forgotten in the country re-emerged.

You refuse to acknowledge that you and your policies had anything to do with this humanitarian crisis. You even argue that the death rate of children under five in Iraq, then among the highest in the world, was entirely due to the Iraqi government. I beg you to read Unicef's reports on this subject and what Carol Bellamy, Unicef's American executive director at the time, had to say to the Security Council. None of the UN officials involved in dealing with the crisis will subscribe to your view that Iraq "was free to buy as much food and medicines" as the government would allow. I wish that had been the case. During the Chilcot inquiry in July this year, a respected diplomat who represented the UK on the Security Council sanctions committee while I was in Baghdad observed: "UK officials and ministers were well aware of the negative effects of sanctions, but preferred to blame them on the Saddam regime's failure to implement the oil-for-food programme."

No one in his right mind would defend the human rights record of Saddam Hussein. Your critical words in this respect are justified. But you offer only that part of this gruesome story. You quote damning statements about Saddam Hussein made by Max van der Stoel, the former Dutch foreign minister who was UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iraq during the time I served in Baghdad. You conveniently omitted three pertinent facts: van der Stoel had not been in Iraq since 1991 and had to rely on second-hand information; his UN mandate was limited to assessing the human rights record of the Iraqi government and therefore excluded violations due to other reasons such as economic sanctions; and his successor, Andreas Mavrommatis, formerly foreign secretary in Cyprus, quickly recognised the biased UN mandate and broadened the scope of his review to include sanctions as a major human rights issue. This was a very important correction.

Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, who in the years of sanctions on Iraq was his country's permanent representative to the UN, is not mentioned in your book. Is that because he was one of the diplomats who climbed over the wall of disinformation and sought the truth about the deplorable human conditions in Iraq in the late 1990s? Amorim used the opportunity of his presidency of the UN Security Council to call for a review of the humanitarian situation. His conclusion was unambiguous. "Even if not all the suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war."

Malaysia's ambassador to the UN, Hasmy Agam, starkly remarked: "How ironic it is that the same policy that is supposed to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction has itself become a weapon of mass destruction." The secretary general, too, made very critical observations on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. When I raised my own concerns in a newspaper article, your minister Peter Hain repeated what the world had become accustomed to hearing from London and Washington: it is all of Saddam's making. Hain was a loyal ally of yours. He and others in your administration wrote me off as subjective, straying off my mandate, not up to the task, or, in the words of the US state department's spokesman at the time, James Rubin: "This man in Baghdad is paid to work, not to speak!"

My predecessor in Baghdad, Denis Halliday, and I were repeatedly barred from testifying to the Security Council. On one occasion, the US and UK governments, in a joint letter to the secretary general, insisted that we did not have enough experience with sanctions and therefore could not contribute much to the debate. You were scared of the facts.
We live in serious times, which you helped bring about. The international security architecture is severely weakened, the UN Security Council fails to solve crises peacefully, and there are immense double standards in the debate on the direction our world is travelling in. A former British prime minister - "a big player, a world leader and not just a national leader", as you describe yourself in your book - should find little time to promote his "journey" on a US talk show. You decided differently. I watched this show, and a show it was. You clearly felt uncomfortable. Everything you and your brother-in-arms, Bush, had planned for Iraq has fallen apart, the sole exception being the removal of Saddam Hussein. You chose to point to Iran as the new danger.

Whether you like it or not, the legacy of your Iraq journey, made with your self-made GPS, includes your sacrifice of the UN and negotiations on the altar of a self-serving alliance with the Bush administration. You admit in your book that "a few mistakes were made here and there". One line reads: "The intelligence was wrong and we should have, and I have, apologised for it." A major pillar of your case for invading Iraq is treated almost like a footnote. Your refusal to face the facts fully is the reason why "people of good will" remain so distressed and continue to demand accountability.

Hans von Sponeck is a former UN assistant secretary general and was UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq from 1998 until he resigned in protest in March 2000.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quotes on justice, truth, and WikiLeaks

“Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.” – Lewis H. Lapham

"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against." - Malcolm X

"We have to condemn publicly the very idea that some people have the right to repress others. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers ... we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations."  - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"Our memory is struggling to rescue the truth that human rights were not handed down as privileges from a parliament, or a boardroom, or an institution, but that peace is only possible with justice and with information that gives us the power to act justly."  - John Pilger

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public!" - Cornell West

 Although these quotes are not directly speaking of WikiLeaks, I believe that openness and transparency, which WikiLeaks provides, will one day lead to justice.  The same holds true for the Palestine Papers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dark cloud of misery......

"The shadow of what comes next looms over the world like a dark cloud of misery brought about by the madness of men." - Annonymous

 Photo is of the lunar eclipse in December 2010.  I heard it was beautiful - but it was cloudy here in Asheville, so I did not get to see it. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two years of shame!

Two years ago today, Obama said he would shut Guantanamo, because it was the right thing to do.

And yet - it is still open.  Shame on Obama and his entire administration for allowing this lawlessness and evil to continue.

Friday, January 21, 2011

From The Shock Doctrine

An amazing book – The Shock Doctrine – by Naomi Klein.  After reading just a few chapters, I knew it was an amazing book.  I got my first copy from WPVM, a local low power FM radio station.  They gave out the book for a donation I made.  I donated that book to the local library, since I wanted people to have access to this book.  I then bought another copy, which I gave to my brother for Christmas in 2008.  I ended up getting a copy for a friend in Ontario too.

Here are a few quotes from the book that I retyped:
“Once you accept that profit and greed as practiced on a mass scale create the  greatest possible benefits for any society, pretty much any act of personal enrichment can be justified as a contribution to the great creative cauldron of capitalism, generating wealth and spurring economic growth – even it it’s only for yourself and your colleagues.

……In the seventies, when the corporatist crusade began, it used tactic that courts ruled were overtly genocidal:  the deliberate erasure of a segment of the population. In Iraq, something even more monstrous has happened – the erasure not of a segment of the population but of an entire country; Iraq is disappearing, disintegrating.  It began, as it often does, with the disappearance of women behind veils and doors, then the children disappeared from the schools – as of 2006, two-thirds of them stayed home.  Next came the professionals: doctors, professors, entrepreneurs, scientists, pharmacists, judges, lawyers. As estimated three hundred Iraqi academics have been assassinated by death squads since the US invasion, including several deans of departments; thousands more fled.  Doctors have fared even worse: by February 2007, an estimated two thousand had been killed and twelve thousand had fled.  In November 2006, the UN High Commission for Refugees estimated that three thousand Iraqis were fleeing the country every day. By April 2007, the organization reported that four million people had been forced to leave their homes - roughly one in seven Iraqis.

…. The unanticipated violence that now engulfs Iraq is the creation of the lethally optimistic architects of the war – it was preordained in that original seemingly innocuous, even idealistic phrase: “a model for a new Middle East.” The disintegration of Iraq has its roots in the ideology that demanded a tabula rasa on which to write its new story.  And when no such pristine tableau presented itself, the supporters of that ideology proceeded to blast and surge and blast again in the hopes of reaching that promised land.”

This book, “The Shock Doctrine” tells the story of how the University of Chicago’s school of economics developed a doctrine of 100% capitalism and 100% free-market system, and then applied it around the world.  However, under ordinary circumstances, the majority of the population would reject these economic theories (developed by Milton Friedman).  It was only after “shocks” were applied that the economic theories could be applied by ‘the Chicago Boys’ on a society or country.  So, shock was applied, and while the shock was in effect, the policies were applied, whether the population wanted that or not.  It was done from Chile in 1973 to Iraq in 2003 to New Orleans in 2005.  And is still going strong.  It is a plan to privatize government assets (after the taxpayers had funded it) and turn them over to private hands.  It is a plan to take money from the ordinary taxpayers and funnel it up to the very wealthy, and to crush the ordinary people along the way.

This summary does not do justice to the book – please go and read it – it is a very valuable piece of work that explains a lot of the policies behind US foreign policy.    I highly recommend this book, and anything written by Naomi Klein.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chomsky's plea to Iran

Chomsky is pleading with Iranian leaders to release the two American hikers, Shane and Josh, from their prisons.

A Song for Bradley Manning - by David Rovics

The changing situation in Afghanistan

Obama as Bush

Glenn Greenwald writes about the Obama administration as a vindication of the Bush/Cheney administration:

Gen. Hayden put it best, as quoted by The Washington Times:

"You've got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram [in Afghanistan]," Mr. Hayden said, listing the continuities. "And although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action."

And that list, impressive though it is, doesn't even include the due-process-free assassination hit lists of American citizens, the sweeping executive power and secrecy theories used to justify it, the multi-tiered, "state-always-wins" justice system the Obama DOJ concocted for detainees, the vastly more aggressive war on whistleblowers and press freedoms, or the new presidential immunity doctrines his DOJ has invented.  Critically, this continuity extends beyond specific policies into the underlying sloganeering mentality in which they're based:  we're in a Global War; the whole Earth is the Battlefield; the Terrorists want to kill us because they're intrinsically Evil (not in reaction to anything we do); we're justified in doing anything and everything to eradicate Them; the President's overarching obligation (contrary to his Constitutional oath) is to keep us Safe; this should all be kept secret from us; we can't be bothered with obsolete dogma like Due Process and Warrants, etc. etc.

In short:  the evil continues and grows, as evil usually does.  And while it is done with the stated purpose of “keeping us safe” it will not show that result.  Of course, that is not the REAL purpose behind why they are doing these things.

They want control of everything.  And they will lie about anything and everything to get it.  They will also try to destroy anyone or anything that challenges them.  And they will likely succeed.

Here is a video of one man they destroyed - for no reason at all, other than they could:

Cartoon I liked.....

Cartoon:  Rex Babin/Sacramento Bee (January 13, 2011)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

But he is OUR terrorist!

And I am sure the CIA directed his every action, which is why the US government has allowed him to stay in the US without charges for his terrorist bombings and murders.  The US government are total hypocrites when they claim they do not condone terrorism.

A billboard in A-merry-ca!

I heard that they took this down recently.  But it does show what Rush is all about - unfortunately.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am sorry that my recent speeches on Vietnam has cost us your support. However, I feel that war is no longer, if it ever was, a valid way to solve international problems. Even the negative good served by a war against an evil force such as Hitler can no longer be considered worth the costly risk to mankind, for the ultimate weapons of today mean only the destruction of mankind. Man can no longer afford war. We must find a non-violent way to settle the problems of the world. (Read the full letter here)


Thanks for UFPJ for the photo and the quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.  I remember thinking years ago, that the final death toll from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still unknown, since there are still nuclear weapons available for humans to use.... and until they are totally gone, we will have that specter of total annihilation over our heads.  Furthermore, we have to get rid of nuclear power, since the technology for building nuclear power will get you about 90% of the way to building nuclear bombs. 

Violence is not the way to solve problems, and it never was.  And having enough bombs to wipe all human life off the planet is insane.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

20 years of war on Iraq

The DoD grossly insults Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is an article posted on the US Dept of Defense's website about how Martin Luther King Jr would support our current wars and bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia (and probably other places we do not know about).  It says:

King might understand today's wars, Pentagon lawyer says

This is obscenely stupid.

And at the bottom of the article, it says "There are no comments."  This is a lie - I made a comment to them and they have not yet posted it.  They did send an email to verify the comment, though.
But here is my comment to this odious article:
It is totally ridiculous to think that Martin Luther King Jr. would approve of the insane wars being run today by the US military.

Furthermore, the idea that the wars (and bombings) that the US military is doing is keeping Americans SAFE is just nonsense.  All it is doing is making more enemies for the US military to fight.

This is a load of bullshit.
I predict that they are too chicken-shit to publish it.  Yeap, that's our military - lies about what dead people have said, justifies all their violence, and at the same time, will not allow freedom of speech on their website or engage in discussion with the American citizens who are paying their bills. Or, in other words, evil to the core.
[Oh, by the way, there is no freedom of speech on this blog either, except for me.  If I think a comment is stupid or hateful, I will remove the comment.  But no one is paying me to do this blog, least of all US taxpayers.  Everyone is welcome to set up their own blogs and have their own free speech zone if they want.]

A response to the DOD nonsense

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: A People’s History of the United States

Howard Zinn, in his book “A People’s History of the United States” reflects on US foreign policy during the Clinton presidency:

The U.S. government did not seem to recognize that its punitive foreign policies, its military installations in countries all over the glove, might arouse anger in foreign countries, and that anger might turn to violence.  When it did, the only response that the United States could think of was to react with more violence.

And so they did engage in more violence and over nine years later, are still doing so.  But one women, Amber Amundson, who lost her husband, an army pilot, in the attack on 9/11 on the Pentagon, said this:

I have heard angry rhetoric by some Americans, including many of our nation’s leaders, who advise a heavy dose of revenge and punishment.  To those leaders, I would like to make clear that my family and I take no comfort in your words of rage.  If you choose to respond to this incomprehensible brutality by perpetuating violence against other innocent human beings, you may not do so in the name of justice for my husband.

Unfortunately, they did not listen.  The violence against innocent human beings, mainly children, continues to spread around the globe, with no end in sight.

Here is what Robert Bowman, retired US Air Force and retired Catholic Bishop, wrote about the terrorist bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, back in 1998 in the National Catholic Reporter:

We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights.  We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations.  That hatred we have sown has come back to hunt us in the form of terrorism….. Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children…. In short, we should do good instead of evil.  Who would try to stop us?  Who would hate us?  Who would want to bomb us?  That is the truth the American people need to hear.

But the American people are not listening.  They did not listen then, and they are not listening today.  I wonder if they will ever wake up and listen to the truth.  I wonder if they will ever hear the screams of the little children as they die from US bombs and US bullets in their own homes. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

US military shows it's evil side in Afghanistan



Information on the background of the destruction of this village in Afghanistan, can be found at this link.

Review: A People’s History of the United States

In “A People’s History of the United States” there is a letter written by Isabella Leitner in response to President Carter’s directive that young men have to register for a military draft back in 1979:

To the editor:  Thirty-six years ago I stood in front of the crematorium.  The ugliest force in the world had promised itself that I should be removed from the cycle of life – that I should never know the pleasure of giving life.  With great guns and great hatred, this force thought itself the equal of the force of life.

I survived the great guns, and with every smile of my son, they grow smaller.  It is not for me, sir, to offer my son’s blood as lubricant for the next generation of guns.  I remove myself and my own from the cycle of death.

Awesome letter!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: A People’s History of the United States

People’s History of the United States has this to say about Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers:

Ellsberg and Russo spent night after night, after hours, at a friend’s advertising agency, duplicating the 7,000-page document.  Then Ellsberg gave copies to various Congressmen and to the New York Times.  In June 1971 the Times began printing selections from what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.  It created a national sensation.

The Nixon administration tried to get the Supreme Court to stop further publication, but the Court said this was “prior restraint” of the freedom of the press and thus unconstitutional.  The government then indicted Ellsberg and Russo for violating the Espionage Act by releasing classified documents to unauthorized people; they faced long terms in prison if convicted.  The judge, however, called off the trial during the jury deliberations, because the Watergate events unfolding at the time revealed unfair practices by the prosecution.

Ellsberg, by his bold act, had broken with the usual tactic of dissidents inside the government who bided their time and kept their opinions to themselves, hoping for small changes in policy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Witness Against Torture - January 11, 2011

Review: A People’s History of the United States

Below are some reflections on Native people’s activities and viewpoints from “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.

Chief Luther Standing Bear, in his 1933 autobiography, “From The Land of the Spotted Eagle”, wrote:

True, the white man brought great change.  But the varied fruits of his civilization, though highly colored and inviting, are sickening and deadening.  And if it be the part of civilization to maim, rob, and thwart, then what is progress?

I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization…..

And later in 1976, Ila Abernathy wrote:

I am grass growing and the shearer of grass,
I am the willow and the splitter of laths,
weaver and the thing woven, marriage of willow and grass.
I am frost on the land and the land’s life,
breath and beast and the sharp rock underfoot;
In me the mountain lives, and the owl strikes,
and I in them.  I am the sun’s twin,
mover of blood and the blood lost,
I am the deer and the deer’s death;
I am the burr I your conscience:
acknowledge me.

And Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote:

You think I have visions
because I am an Indian.

I have visions because
there are visions to be seen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Witness Against Torture

As of this date - Guantanamo has been open NINE years.  This is a horrific human rights abuse by the US government.  Here is a video of the protest in 2010.

Monday, January 10, 2011

American Friends Service Committee

Responds to the violence in our society:

Responding to Violence against Those in Public Life
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization committed to overcoming violence in communities throughout the U.S. and around the world, is deeply saddened by the violence of January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, when an attempt to kill U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords brought death and injury to so many.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all victims of the shooting, as well as their families and friends who are now mourning the deceased and anxiously awaiting the recovery of the injured. As Friends say, we are holding them in the Light.

In our work for peace, we have seen how each act of violence hurts not only the immediate victims, but tears at the fabric of entire communities. In the wake of such a senseless violation, everyone in Tucson will struggle to feel secure, to regain trust for each other, and to work together to move forward. Our hearts go out to all in Tucson today.

Today’s strident political atmosphere escalates tension and helps to set the stage for
incidents like this one. Our world is increasingly swept up in a tide of intolerance. We are all too accepting when political and spiritual leaders use rhetoric that demonizes
those with different beliefs; when those who should call us to higher purpose, instead, contribute to an atmosphere that provokes the most vulnerable, disturbed
among us to acts of vandalism, violence, and assassination. We all must take responsibility for correcting a political climate that has become so polarized and vitriolic.

It is not an accident that this tragic shooting took place in Arizona, where punitive laws and anti-immigrant scapegoating have only resulted in misunderstanding and divisiveness in our borderlands. These laws have brought us no closer to creating humane, workable policies that respect the rights and needs of those living on either side of the border. This is one of many examples that show how our nation’s political conversation is counterproductive to developing solutions that address our society’s fundamental needs.

What would help us move forward?

The American Friends Service Committee urges our elected officials, spiritual leaders and community leaders to commit now to act with civility and common purpose to heal our society. Real healing goes beyond civil words and tamped-down rhetoric and looks to the root causes of violence in our society, the conditions of inequality and injustice. A political culture devoted to honestly and reasonably addressing those conditions would be a healthier one for all of us.

We call on national, state, and local leaders to respond with compassion to the needs and aspirations of those who have been disenfranchised by the political system and excluded from the economic recovery. This is a time to fulfill the promise of “justice for all.” This is a time for leadership towards “a more perfect union.”

I just want to add that if the Clinton-era legislation against assault weapons had not been allowed to expire, then this man who shot up people in AZ would have had to reload after 10 shots instead of 32 shots.  He was taken down and disarmed while he was reloading.  An elderly women was the one who got to him first and tried to take the magazine of bullets away from him.  Two men joined in, and they disarmed the man who was shooting.  Also, AZ has some of the least restrictive laws on guns in our country.

And it is rather sad that we live in a country where it is easier to get guns than mental health care.

And while I don't think the violent rhetoric and violent symbols (like gun sights on political ads) are responsible for this, I do think that our society would be better without this nonsense.

Review: A People’s History of the United States

This is Howard Zinn writing about the USA at the beginning of World War II:

For the United States to step forward as a defender of helpless countries matched its image in American high school history textbooks, but not its record in world affairs.  It has opposed the Haitian revolution for independence from France at the start of the nineteenth century.  It had instigated a war with Mexico and taken half of that country.  It has pretended to help Cuba win freedom from Spain, and then planted itself in Cuba with a military base, investments, and rights of intervention.  It had seized Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and fought a brutal war to subjugate the Filipinos.  It had “opened” Japan to its trade with gunboats and threats.  It had declared an Open Door Policy in China as a means of assuring that the United States would have opportunities equal to other imperial powers in exploiting China.  It had sent troops to Peking with other nations, to assert Western supremacy in China, and kept them there for over thirty years.

Quite the record we had going there before we set out to “liberate” people in Europe and Asia in World War II.

Of course, the rhetoric shortly after the invasion of Iraq (after no WMDs were found) was to bring them “freedom” and “democracy”.    We brought the Iraqi people the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death. 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Judith Miller idiocy

From Democracy Now on 1-3-11:

Judith Miller Criticizes WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller is back in the news. Last month, it was revealed she had started writing for the right-wing website NewsMax. And on Sunday, she appeared on Fox News and criticized WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Judith Miller: "Julian Assange may be a bad journalist, but he is a journalist."
Question: "Why is he a bad journalist?"
Judith Miller: "Because he didn’t care at all about attempting to verify the information that he was putting out, or determine whether or not it would hurt anyone."
While at the New York Times, Judith Miller was often criticized for not verifying her own stories. She wrote several of the key articles that claimed Iraq had an extensive weapons of mass destruction program ahead of the Iraq invasion. Miller once said, "y job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of the New York Times what the government thought about Iraq’s arsenal."

What Democracy Now is too polite to state is that Judith Miller's bad journalism lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and ruined the lives of tens of millions of people.  She never verified her published "journalism" - instead she acted as a stenographer for Chalabi and people in the Bush Administration.

When Judith Miller went to jail to protect Scooter Libby and members of the Bush White House, I held a "Judith Miller goes to jail for the wrong reasons" party.  I hope one day she goes to jail for the correct reasons.  She is a scumbag! 

Review: A People’s History of the United States

“Let America Be America Again”

This is a poem written by Langston Hughes in the middle 1930’s.  This was in “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.

…… I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek –
And finding only the same old stupid plan.
Of dog eat dog, of might crush the weak….

O, let America be America again –
The land that never has been yet –
And yet must be – the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s,
            ME –
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our might dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose –
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America! ……

"I Ain't Marchin' Anymore"

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Review: A People’s History of the United States

War Resistance to World War I

These examples are but a couple from the book “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.

Emma Goldman, an anarchist, were sentenced to prison for opposing the draft.  She said this to her jury:

“Verily, poor as we are in democracy how can we give of it to the world?  …. A democracy conceived in the military servitude of the masses, in their economic enslavement, and nurtured in their tears and blood, is not democracy at all.  It is despotism – the cumulative result of a chain of abuses which, according to the dangerous document, the Declaration of Independence, the people have the right to overthrow…..”

In 1918, Eugene Debs spoke out against the war going on:

“They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people.  That is too much, even for a joke…….

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder…. And that is war in a nutshell.  The master class has always declared the wars; and the subject class has always fought the battles…..”

He was arrested for violating the Espionage Act. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Music Will Stop The Wars

Review: A People’s History of the United States

From “A People’s History of the United States” concerning the so-called Progressive period in American history:

In this early part of the twentieth century, labeled by generations of white scholars as “the Progressive period,” lynchings were reported every week; it was the low point for Negroes, North and South, “the nadir” as Rayford Logan, a black historian, put it.  In 1910 there were 10 million Negros in the United States, and 9 million of them were in the South.

The government of the United States (between 1901 and 1921, the Presidents were Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson) – whether Republican or Democrat – watched Negroes being lynched, observed murderous riots against blacks in Statesboro, Georgia, Brownsville, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia – and did nothing.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Review: A People’s History of the United States

Helen Keller wrote this to a suffragist friend in England in 1911, a century ago:

“Our democracy is but a name.  We vote?  What does that mean?  In means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats.    We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee….

You ask for votes for women.  What good can votes do when ten-eleventh to the land of Great Britain belong to 200,000 and one one-eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000?  Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves to this injustice?”

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Review: A People’s History of the United States

Mark Twain, American author, wrote this for the New York Herald back in 1900:

“I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Philippines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies.”

A short video on US empire by Howard Zinn:

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Song for Bradley Manning - by David Rovics

Review: A People’s History of the United States

Below is an excerpt from the book, about a speech given on the Fourth of July in 1852.

Frederick Douglass knew that the shame of slavery was not just the South’s, that the whole nation was complicit in it.  On the Fourth of July, 1852, he gave an Independence Day address:

“Fellow Citizens:  Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today?  What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence?  Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?  And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national alter, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? ….

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?  I answer, as day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.  To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity;  your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless;  your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.   There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

Monday, January 03, 2011

"Turn, Turn, Turn" by Judy Collins

Review: A People’s History of the United States

This book was written by Howard Zinn, who died last year.  Of all the people who died in the year 2010, he is someone who I never met, yet I will still miss him.  I re-read his book this winter, and I am going to do a multi-part review of aspects of his book, mainly by using quotes.

He starts off the book with a review of Columbus and his massacre of the native population where ever he went.  This reality is often justified by the conquering classes who benefited from a massacre, with the idea that this “sacrifice” had to be done to further human “progress”.  Zinn has this to say about that idea:

If there are necessary sacrifices to be made for human progress, is it not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves?  We can all decide to give up something of ours, but do we have the right to throw into the pyre the children of others, or even our own children, for a progress which is not nearly as clear or present as sickness or health, life or death? 

It is, of course, the ruling classes who decide who is to be sacrificed for that classes’ advancements, and the lower classes or the foreigners or (in this case) the poor native population who are the ones sacrificed – without anyone asking permission.

In response to US aggression towards Mexico in 1846, Horace Greenley wrote in the New York Tribune:

We can easily defeat the armies of Mexico, slaughter them by the thousands, and pursue them perhaps to their capital; we can conquer and “annex” their territory; but what then?  Have the histories of the ruin of Greek and Roman liberty consequent on such extensions of empire by the sword no lesson for us?  Who believes that a score of victories over Mexico, the “annexation” of half her provinces, will give us more Liberty, a purer Morality, a more prosperous Industry, than we now have?  …. Is not Life miserable enough, comes not Death soon enough, without resort to the hideous enginery of War?

It seems to me that those questions are still applicable today, with US military bases in over 700 countries and bombing or occupation going on in 4 countries and Special Forces working in over 75 countries. 

Here is another echo from the past that is reminiscent of today’s orientation of the US government:

In 1887, with a huge surplus in the treasury, Cleveland vetoed a bill appropriating $100,000 to give relief to Texas farmers to help them buy seed grain during a drought.  He said:  “Federal aid in such cases…. Encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.”  But the same year, Cleveland used his gold surplus to pay off wealthy bondholders at $28 above the $100 value of each bond – a give of $45 million.

Yes, back then and today – socialism for the banksters and capitalism for the rest of us.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 - the one hundred year anniversary of air bombing

 (US bombing of Baghdad, 2003)

This year, 2011, marks one hundred years of air bombing.  Now, guess which country did the bombing and which native population were bombed?

Italy did the first air bombing, and the victims were Arabs in the town of Tagiura, near Tripoli.  And a nearby oasis of Ain Zara was also bombed on that day.  These bombs were dropped by Lieutenant Carvotti, and there were over eight tons of bombs dropped on that day.

I found out about this in Tom Engelhardt’s book THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR.  He got it from a book called A HISTORY OF BOMBING.  So, for a hundred years, humans have been dropping bombs on fellow humans.  And the reason for this initial bombing?  Revenge and collective punishment, all because those Arabs did not want to be occupied by a foreign army.  Some things just never change.


If you listen to Democracy Now!, you may have heard my Uncle Ghazi's voice the last time I did. My uncle Ghazi was Chief Electrical Engineer for the entire country until he retired in the nineties. The last time I heard his voice, it was crackling through a small bedside radio on the day the invasion began, when Amy Goodman interviewed him from his home. I shall never forget laying there, hearing Ghazi's unshakeable, dignified voice, when Amy asked him what he and his family planned to do, "Will you leave town, or...?", and he responded, "What can we do? We are expecting our first grandchild in the next two month we will gather the family and take them into the basement until the bombing stops." Arundhati Roy, also on line from India, burst out in tears thoroughly disturbed that Americans could hear such a testimony and not do everything possible to stop the war that would begin a mere three hours later. Still composed, Ghazi went on to say that he did not blame all Americans for the acts of their administration ... he understood how a people, any people, and in this case the Americans, can be systematically disinformed.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Videos from Afghanistan

Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War

THIS is the best event of the year 2010, in my opinion:

And a Happy New Year!

Let's hope it's a good year for the entire planet, although that is probably overly optimistic.  The photo above came in an email from Progressive Democrats of America.  I like the peace sign on top of the earth, all being held in someone's hands.