Saturday, April 30, 2011

Four Dead in Ohio

This is in honor of the upcoming anniversary of the killings at Kent State. These killings of unarmed US citizens by the US military were followed by more killing later in the month of May at Jackson State, where two were killed by city and state police.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Banning journalists from doing journalism

“White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.”

The rest of the article is here.

It appears to me that the Obama administration wants to be the joke of the world.


Photo is a bench in a small park in Asheville, taken in the summer of 2010.


[A poem by T.S. Eliot]

Eyes that last I saw in tears
Through division
Here in death’s dream kingdom
The golden vision reappears
I see the eyes but not the tears
This is my affliction

This is my affliction
Eyes I shall not see again
Eyes of decision
Eyes I shall not see unless
At the door of death’s other kingdom
Where, as in this,
The eyes outlast a little while
A little while outlasts the tears
And hold us in derision.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Non-violent protests against drones

Photos from The Post-Standard

Demonstrators protest military use of drone airplanes outside the Air National Guard Base at Hancock. - by Gary Walts

The photos above come from the protest in New York at Hancock Air Base.  There were about 150 people there to march and rally against the drone bombings and the wars.  They marched to the base, and there some of them engaged in lying down in front of the entrance to the base.  They had sheets with red paint on them, symbolizing the deaths caused by drone attacks. 

37 people who protest at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse against the use of drones are arrested Friday
Thirty seven protesters, draped with red-spattered sheets, had lain themselves in the main entrance roads to the base, off East Molloy Road. They were arrested by Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputies on charges of trespassing and obstruction of justice.
The arrests followed a rally outside the air base where more than 150 people had gathered to protest the MQ-9 Reaper drones, and U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  Friday’s rally culminated a week of walks, talks and dinners that brought people from around New York State and the U.S., organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.  “Our real goal is to end the war,” said Kathy Kelly, a peace activist from Chicago.

Protesters arrested outside upstate NY drone base

The protest was organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. The organization says civilian deaths in drone attacks are violations of human rights.

And, over in Pakistan, they are also trying to non-violently stop the drones.  There are a lot more protesters there, and they have a leader in one of their politicians.  They also kept it up much longer.  I am not sure if they plan to stay there after today, but it sounds like they plan on doing just that.

NATO supply route blocked as Imran Khan leads 2-day sit-in

Thousands of people, led by Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, on Saturday blocked the main supply route for NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan to protest against the US drone strikes in the restive tribal regions.  Several opposition and Islamist groups as wells as tribal elders have backed the protest led by Imran, the chief of Tehrik-e-Insaf party (justice movement).
The protest comes just a day after two US drone aircraft rained missiles into North Waziristan tribal region which killed 25 people, including women and children, according to tribesmen in the region.  The protestors blocked the Khyber Pass, the main supply route for NATO troops in the neighbouring Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.  The protest forced the authorities to suspend for two days the supplies for nearly 150,000 US-led foreign forces.

I hope these non-violent protests are successful!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

25 years after Chernobyl disaster

Back on April 26, 1986, there was a massive nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine, which caused it to be closed down.  Hundreds of people got sick, and I have no idea how many people suffered from this accident.  Today, it is considered a wildlife refugee, because nature has taken over.  There are more plants and more animals there now, compared to when there were people living there.  However, there is disagreement around the number of species of animals who can safely survive and reproduce in the radiation levels at Chernobyl.  There are no birds in the area, but wolves, boars and deer seem to be doing okay.  There is plenty of children who were born long after 1986 in the area around Chernobyl who suffer from horrific birth defects.  Lots of people have gotten cancer. 

It was a clear sign to many people (including me) that nuclear power was not safe or clean, but the real problems with nuclear power is the horrid waste that never goes away, and the fact that the technology can lead to nuclear weapons development.  Nuclear power is not the way to go.  Neither is coal, gas or oil.  They are all dirty.  //We need safe and clean power sources.

Of course, this lesson has been reinforced by the disaster at Fukushima Power Plant.  

This is a link to a fascinating voyage into the lands most impacted by Chernobl.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Arrested in Bahrain

The situation in Bahrain is getting worse day by day, and I am very concerned about this.  Of course, Obama and Clinton are basically not doing anything about this situation, even as they fret about a possible massacre in Libya.  In Bahrain, the protesters have stayed peaceful – they have not picked up weapons in response to the violence directed towards them.

Here is some information from The Independent:

Bahrain’s security forces stole ambulances and posed as medics to round up injured protesters during a ferocious crackdown on unarmed demonstrators calling for reform of the monarchy, an investigation by a rights group reveals today. 

The first major report on repression of the medical profession during the country’s crisis details how a doctor was abducted during an operation and injured patients lying in hospital were tortured and threatened with rape. 

The investigation by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) followed a report by The Independent yesterday detailing threats faced by medical staff who treated victims of the repression. More than 30 medics have been taken away by security forces and have had little or no contact with their families. 
Protesters have basically gone home, but they are being arrested at their homes and all signs point to them being tortured while in detention, and some have died in prison.  Even more have just been fired from their jobs.  The Bahrain government made up a list of names, and even private employers were required to fire them.  They are doing what they can to stoke tension between Shia and Sunni citizens.  The Bahrain government seems to be going after doctors and journalist and bloggers and (of course) the leaders of the protests. 

Amnesty International sent out this Press Release:
April, 21 2011

Bahrain: International pressure needed now to halt spiralling human rights crisis

Bahrain's allies must take stronger action to address the rapidly worsening human rights crisis in the small but strategic Gulf state, Amnesty International said today as it released a new briefing paper on the continuing suppression of peaceful protest.

Bahrain's allies must take stronger action to address the rapidly worsening human rights crisis in the small but strategic Gulf state, Amnesty International said today as it released a new briefing paper on the continuing suppression of peaceful protest.

In Bahrain: A Human Rights Crisis, Amnesty International calls on governments with close ties to Bahrain to press for an end to the crackdown on those calling for change.

"North American and European governments, so vocal recently in espousing the cause of human rights in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, need also to speak out loudly about what is going on in Bahrain" said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"To avoid the charge of double standards, they must be much more robust in pressing the Bahraini authorities to uphold their international human rights obligations."
I will be calling on Obama and Clinton and my Representative and Senators (and sending them postcards) to speak out publicly about this situation, although I doubt they will listen.  They are complete hypocrites, and this situation really shows that they do not care about democracy, human rights or the welfare of people in foreign countries.  The idea that Obama and Clinton are bombing Libya for “humanitarian” reasons is bullshit through and through.

Here is a video of the people who have been arrested and have not been heard from:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Report on Iraqi sit-in (from IVAW)

Protesters stand outside of tents for Mosul sit-ins. – from IVAW email

Iraqi protesters throw shoes at low-flying US helicopters. – from IVAW email
[ Iraqis also recently threw shoes at three US military vehicles, and this action cause the US military vehicles to turn around and leave.]

From an email by IVAW:

Iraqis continue protests against the US Occupation and Maliki’s government in Mosul

Two weeks ago, we reported that a national sit-in movement launched across Iraq.  The city of Mosul in northern Iraq seems to have become the epicenter of the continuing protests this week.
An estimated three hundred Iraqis initially set up tents in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to demand an end to the U.S. occupation, the release of political prisoners, rewriting of the constitution, and the departure of what they call the ‘Green Zone’ government, headed by Nouri al-Maliki.
Among the dozens of grassroots organizations calling for sit-ins in front of U.S. military bases, two of the most prominent taking part in Mosul are the Popular Movement to Save Iraq and The Free Iraqis of Mosul.  Contingents of Iraqis from as far south as Nasiriyah and al-Basra are at the Mosul sit-in being held in what has become known as ‘Prisoner’s Square.’  The calls for nation-wide demonstrations in Iraq comes in the wake of high-ranking U.S. politicians including Senator Kerry, Vice President Biden, and most recently Secretary Gates all implying that U.S. forces may stay past the December 2011 deadline.
Last week, Iraqi Facebook pages administered directly by protest organizers reported that government security forces encircled their camp, surveiled and taunted them, and called on them to end their sit-in.  Protesters also reported that a low-flying American military helicopter swept towards the demonstrators, in what was interpreted as an attempt to intimidate them.  Their response, captured in the video below, was to throw dozens of shoes towards the helicopter, and has prompted them to ask for an investigation into why this military vehicle was sent towards them.
Demonstrations have been joined by dozens of women, who are calling for the end of the U.S. occupation and the release of their sons and brothers who are held in both Iraqi and US prisons throughout Iraq.  This week tribal chieftains from nearby Anbar province joined the Mosul protests as well.

As of today, reports now estimate the growing crowds in Mosul to number in the thousands, comprised of many young people who were last seen marching toward the 4th bridge, where they were stopped by government troops preventing them from going to the square to join with other protesters.
Demonstrators are insistent on continuing their sit-in until all their demands are met, foremost of which are:
  • Complete departure of the U.S. occupying forces.
  • No extension of the security agreement between the Maliki government and the U.S.
  • The release of innocent prisoners.
We will keep you informed of new developments in this growing Iraqi protest movement.  Thanks again to Ali Issa at War Resister's League for helping to compile this report.
In Solidarity,  Iraq Veterans Against the War

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The US occupation of Afghanistan

They were attacked by young Alikozai fighters who had been egged on and paid off by Taliban commanders. So the Marines fought back. In October and November, the reconnaissance battalion killed about 200 Alikozai militants in the valley. The 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment, the unit in Sangin that suffered devastating casualties, killed several hundred more insurgents to the south over the same period, many of them Alikozai as well.

“We started stacking bodies like cordwood,” said an officer in Sangin, who like other Marines asked for anonymity to speak frankly. “And they came to a point where they said, ‘Holy [expletive], there aren’t that many of us left.’ ”

On New Year’s Day, Alikozai elders agreed to a security pact with the governor of Helmand province that calls for the tribe to forsake the Taliban and rein in its young men from joining the insurgency. In exchange, the Afghan, U.S. and British governments will fund development projects in the 15-mile-long Alikozai area and the Marines will consider releasing some Alikozai detainees.

Afghan officials and U.S. diplomats hailed the deal as a sign of how the promise of reconstruction aid can lead to reintegration, but Marine officers have a different view of why the Alikozai came to the table.

“You can’t just convince them through projects and goodwill,” another Marine officer said. “You have to show up at their door with two companies of Marines and start killing people. That’s how you start convincing them.”

The rest of the article.

Convince them of what?  That the US military is totally evil?  That siding with the US military and the corrupt Karzai government will lead to a better future?  The Taliban LIVE in Afghanistan, they are AFGHAN PEOPLE.  Is the US military planning on killing them all?  That would certainly border on genocide, which is, of course, why the US military was founded - to commit genocide on the native people of this continent.  Even with that, there will still be Taliban there in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.  The people of Afghanistan did not attack us, and neither did their government.  The Al Qaeda criminals are the ones who attacked us, and they are long gone from Afghanistan.  Exactly who does the US military think they are fighting, and WHY are they fighting with them?  It is insane, deadly, immoral, and a huge waste of time and money.

And, as to the villages that were rebuilt after the US military flattened them - if they used weapons with DU, then not only is the US military been poisoned, but so will the local population be poisoned when they return.  This will result in massive increases in birth defects and cancers, just like in Fallujah.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Protest in DC - against the School of the Americas

Drones going to Libya

Death from the sky for the people of Libya - including the stupid rebels who think that more violence will solve their problems and put them in power.  Of course, the rebels are a very mixed group, so there will be a further violent fight for power once Gaddafi is gone.  And the USA is there all the way!!  That is, they are available for bombing people, giving military tools to the rebels, and sending in Special Forces or some mercenaries - er, I mean, contractors!   And Britain and France are now going to send in ADVISERS so the rebels will be even better at violence and killing of their fellow humans.

And there is one thing I know:  the US/NATO/BRITAIN/FRANCE governments behind this escalation of violence in Libya do not give a rat's ass for what happens to the people of Libya!  They never have and never will.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How about a no fly zone for Palestine?

This is a very clever non-violent action to take - 250 children of Gaza made this statement on the beaches of Gaza. 

If you love this land of the free - BRING THEM HOME!

Because if we don't, our imperialism will finish us off.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Collateral Murder song

Collateral Murder
(Words and Music by Giles Watson)

Somewhere in New Baghdad, one morning in July,
Two Apache helicopters cruising in the sky;
Two journalists out walking: Saeed and Namir,
Cameras hanging casually, not a sign of fear,
And up in the Apache, the troops are so bored sick,
One shouts, "That's a weapon! Yeah! Fuckin' prick!
Get on 'em an' open up. Set 'em all alight!"
He's laughing as New Baghdad dust is rising in his sight.

This is your collateral murder.

Saeed falls to ground at once; Nameer makes a dash,
The Apache circles round, and hurries in to splash
His blood upon the pavement, he judders and he falls,
And still he's groping forward, trying to make it to the wall.
"Come on now buddy," the murderers all shout,
"Pick up a weapon!" though his guts are spilling out,
Nameer on his cellphone is running out of breath
And the finger on the trigger is itching to deal death.

They're coming to his rescue: a family in a van,
Heedless of the danger: a brotherhood of man,
But inside the Apache, they're boiling up with rage,
Like boys on Nintendo: "Let me engage!"
The shells, they fly in flurries, the rescuers, they fall:
Two run for cover and are shot straight through the wall,
And while they're up there laughing, "Look what we did!"
Someone else sees movement: "Seems like it's a kid."

Ethan McCord, a US soldier on the ground,
Hears Apaches shooting -- he's familiar with the sound --
He comes to the van and he opens up the door:
A little gut-shot girl -- casualty of war --
And as she's rushed away, her father lolling dead,
He pulls out a boy with shrapnel in his head.
"What the fuck you doin'?" his C.O. demands,
"They're just Iraqi kids! We got war on our hands!"

Later in the barracks, Ethan McCord
Sees the scene inside his head; it cannot be ignored.
He goes to the psychologist, who says "You're just a whiner.
Quit being a pussy -- get the sand out your vagina.
You need to suck that shit up -- a soldier's got to take it."
But when we know the truth, there's some of us can't fake it,
'Cause when the Iraqi sun is setting like a flood,
Ethan sees his tunic dappled with Iraqi blood.

Bradley Manning finds the video - his emotions hurled
Into tumult -- and he baulks -- and he leaks it to the world:
"A battle with insurgents", the Army spokesmen claimed -
The killing of two journalists, two children orphaned, maimed -
And Bradley is arrested: he's the one who's made to pay
For telling us the things we should all know anyway:
That terrorists fill New Baghdad, they hoard it like a swarm,
And more than half are wearing US Army uniform.

Now Manning has no window; he is never left alone,
Manning has no internet, Manning has no phone,
Manning has no underwear, he sleeps inside a smock,
No sheets upon his bed, no contact and no clock.
Obama in your White House, with your smiles and your ties,
Will you let them get away with it, perpetuating lies?
And those Iraqi children, with wounds in guts and head,
Are they forever crippled, do they weep, or are they dead?

Song Lyric by Giles Watson, 2011. My sources are the three videos on the WikiLeaks site, and various internet and newspaper resources on the plight of the heroic 22 year-old Private Bradley Manning, who leaked a video of the disgusting events described above, along with other documents revealing war-crimes committed by US forces in Iraq, and is now detained by the US government in conditions which have aroused the suspicion and criticism of Amnesty International and the United Nations. I have tried to stick as close as possible to the dialogue recorded on the helicopters, augmented with the testimony of Ethan McCord.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Letter to the Editor

I would like to say “Thank you VERY MUCH” to Representative Shuler for voting in favor of H. Con. Res. 28 on an exit strategy from the occupation of Afghanistan.  Next, I hope to see you vote to cut the funding for this hideous occupation.  We cannot afford it in either a financial sense or moral sense.  We also cannot afford the extension of the occupation of Iraq (which is being hinted at by Sec. Gates) nor can we afford the $1 billion spent starting up a war with Libya.

The LA Times ran an article this past weekend called the Anatomy of an Afghan War Tragedy.  It is about a drone and helicopter bombing of innocent Afghans who were traveling inside their own country on February 21, 2011.  A transcript of the radio transmissions is posted on their website, and it is sickening reading indeed.  The blood lust in the US military folks is just disgusting.  Over a dozen innocents were killed.  However, it is the US government’s blood lust that caused this crime, and they are the real villains.  This hideous miscarriage of justice and decency must come to an end NOW.


The LA Times article that I am referring to was discussed on this blog on 4-14-11.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Masters of War

Masters Of War

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

“Masters of War” is a song by Bob Dylan, written in 1963.  He played this song on the night of the 2004 US election.  According to Wikipedia, Dylan is quoted as saying that the song "is supposed to be a pacifistic song against war. It's not an anti-war song. It's speaking against what Eisenhower was calling a military-industrial complex as he was making his exit from the presidency. That spirit was in the air, and I picked it up."

“Masters of War” preformed by Sam Bradley

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Protest at Oak Ridge today

 The protesters gathered at a park in Oak Ridge TN today - to protest the building of more nuclear bombs and a new bomb plant.

 Ralph Hutchinson of OREPA spoke.
 Some of the crowd there - it was a small group.
 The peace walkers spoke also.

 Sign at Y-12 bomb plant.
 Signs saying to stay out of the creek, and that no fishing or swimming is allowed.  Reportedly, there is still nuclear contamination in Oak Ridge.  A friend at the rally today said that they allow people to hunt deer on the grounds of Y-12, but the deer have to be checked for radiation before they are allowed to take the dead deers home to eat.

 The welcoming committee.  They were yelling at us to get out of the street, which was odd because the road was totally blocked by this barrier. 
 Kids made a big sign.
The puppets getting ready to preform.  It was getting a bit chilly at this point.  Below is part of an article about Fukushima nuclear plant, but they also mentioned Oak Ridge and the contamination there.  And they are right in saying that there is a protest every year at Y-12, and the corporate media ignore it.

Pour Evian on your radishes

Helping poisoned soil regain its health will be a very long process. Mycologist Paul Stamets recommends creation of a Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone. There have been some studies on forest processes in controlled exposure areas at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Los Alamos in New Mexico and a mixed oak-pine forest near Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, but they are more cautionary than encouraging. At Oak Ridge, for instance, pine needles still contain radioactive elements in significant quantities 40 years after exposure.

That is actually the good news. By collecting and deep burying radioactive pine needles and fallen trees, we can gradually cleanse the contaminated soil a Nuclear Forest is rooted in. We have to handle byproducts carefully, and also bury our gloves and tools along with the wood products, but this is the technique.

At Oak Ridge they have also demonstrated ways to reduce waste volume by using a closed venturi incinerator with HEPA filters to dispose of flammable radioactive waste (i.e.: pine needles, Hazmat suits, used HEPA filters). We can only hope the Japanese government will be more scrupulous in regulating their incinerators than US and Tennessee regulators have been. The Oak Ridge incinerator, today the site of annual protest marches that you will never see on television, has contaminated a wide area around itself that is a long-neglected SuperFund site, championed and then abandoned by successive administrations. Also neglected is the facility that vitrifies the ash into glass and ceramic forms for long-term disposal. And so will be most of Oak Ridge, eventually.

Paul Stamets asks, “How long would this remediation effort take? I have no clear idea but suggest this may require decades. However, a forested national park could emerge -The Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone - and eventually benefit future generations with its many ecological and cultural attributes.”

A message from the real Americans

Who did their best to keep illegal immigrants from destroying them, their culture, their way of life, and their land.

They failed to stop the genocide and the rape of the land.  This genocide was done by the illegal immigrants from Europe - including my ancestors.

May God forgive us for the evils we delivered to the Native People of this land.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Details of a slaughter

Article below is on a drone killing in Afghanistan - and you guessed it - they killed innocent people.  Again.  What is really disturbing is hearing (once again) the blood lust in the voices of our military folks - they just cannot wait to shoot at, and kill, some people who they suspect are "bad" guys.  This is just like the WikiLeaks video Collateral Murder, except the transcript is written out.  It is worth reading.  I read this late the other night and found it highly disturbing.  At the article link is a copy of all the talk between drone operators and military folks on the ground.  It is long but worth the read.

Anatomy of an Afghan War Tragedy

Nearly three miles above the rugged hills of central Afghanistan, American eyes silently tracked two SUVs and a pickup truck as they snaked down a dirt road in the pre-dawn darkness.

The vehicles, packed with people, were 3 1/2 miles from a dozen U.S. special operations soldiers, who had been dropped into the area hours earlier to root out insurgents. The convoy was closing in on them.

At 6:15 a.m., just before the sun crested the mountains, the convoy halted.

"We have 18 pax [passengers] dismounted and spreading out at this time," an Air Force pilot said from a cramped control room at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, 7,000 miles away. He was flying a Predator drone remotely using a joystick, watching its live video transmissions from the Afghan sky and radioing his crew and the unit on the ground.

The Afghans unfolded what looked like blankets and kneeled. "They're praying. They are praying," said the Predator's camera operator, seated near the pilot.  By now, the Predator crew was sure that the men were Taliban. "This is definitely it, this is their force," the cameraman said. "Praying? I
mean, seriously, that's what they do."

"They're gonna do something nefarious," the crew's intelligence coordinator chimed in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Speaking out on the human rights abuses in Bahrain

Here is the blog post that inspired me to write these emails.

To the Bahrain Embassy in the USA:

Ambassador Ms. Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo:

I am writing today to call for the protection and release of Mr. Alkhawaja.  He has worked his entire life for peaceful change and for human rights.  I also call for the protection and release of Mr. Almajed and Mr. Hussain (sons in law of Mr. Alkhawaja).  I have read a report from the daughter of Mr. Alkhawaja, and it is harrowing. 

I have been following the events in the Middle East, and once again, the hypocrisy of the US government and it's policies is stunning.  While the US is sporting bombings in Libya to "protect lives" they are allowing tanks and Saudi military to wreck havoc in Bahrain without making a peep.  It must take an amazing level of cynicism for Ms. Clinton to state in public that the US does not support violence, when in fact violence is our first, last and usually ONLY means of addressing a problem. But allowing the violence in Bahrain is PARTICULARLY STRIKING.

Of course, the vast majority of the US population is so ill-informed that they don't know what they are supporting or not supporting, but I wanted to let YOU know that there is one American - that is, myself - who is informed and is totally sickened by this immoral and evil behavior.

Please do whatever you can to protect these men and all the other non-violent protesters.  Please do what you can to stop the US government and Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton from wrecking Bahrain to further the business interests of western elites.


To the US Embassy in Bahrain:

Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Williams:

I am writing today to call for the protection and release of Mr. Alkhawaja.  He has worked his entire life for peaceful change and for human rights.  I also call for the protection and release of Mr. Almajed and Mr. Hussain (sons in law of Mr. Alkhawaja).  I have read a report from the daughter of Mr. Alkhawaja, and it is harrowing.

I have been following the events in the Middle East, and once again, they hypocrisy of the US government and it's policies is stunning.  While the US is sporting bombings in Libya to "protect lives" they are allowing tanks and Saudi military to wreck havoc in Bahrain without making a peep.  It must take an amazing level of cynicism for Ms. Clinton to state in public that the US does not support violence, when in fact violence is our first, last and usually ONLY means of addressing a problem.  But allowing the violence in Bahrain is PARTICULARLY STRIKING.

Of course, the vast majority of the US population is so ill-informed that they don't know what they are supporting or not supporting, but I wanted to let YOU know that there is one American - that is, myself - who is informed and is totally sickened by this immoral and evil behavior.

I will personally hold you and Ms. Clinton responsible for what happens to Mr. Alkhawaja, Mr. Almajed and Mr. Hussain.  Their blood in on your hands.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Song for Private Manning - by David Rovics

Appeal for Bradley Manning

Photo is from a protest in NYC on 4-9-11.  Looks like a pretty good crowd.

Below is an appeal to stop the torture of Bradley Manning:

To President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:
We call on you to immediately end the torture, isolation and public humiliation of Bradley Manning. This treatment is a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed human rights, and a chilling deterrent to other potential whistleblowers committed to public integrity. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bob Dylan, will you head the call?

This came from the Palestinian Campaign for Academic & Cultural Boycott of Isreal.

Dear Bob Dylan,

“Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.”

We are members of an Israeli group called BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within (BfW). We support the Palestinian call for the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel (1) until Palestinians’ most basic human rights are respected:

1. Ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

You have been part of a civil rights movement. You have been able to raise your voice louder than others, you can do it again. We are asking you not to perform in Israel until it respects Palestinian human rights. A performance in Israel, today, is a vote of support for its policies of oppression, whether you intend for it to be that, or not (2). Choosing not to perform will effect over 3 and a half million lives, living under brutal occupation.

As we write this, Israel continues a practice of ethnic cleansing and it is systematically driving its own Palestinian citizens off their lands. Israel is keeping a population of millions under martial-law in the West Bank, and yet another threat of wholesale massacre is looming in Gaza, in the last few days. In the late of night of 21.3.11 the Israeli air force attacked Gaza, bombing the most populated area in the world from the sky. 8 children under the age of 17 lost their lives (3). This is not an out of the ordinary occurrence, or even a rare one. Over half the population of besieged Gaza are minors (under 18 years of age), over a million are registered refugees. They are trapped inside the biggest open-air prison in the world and are under a real and immediate threat of death, as we speak.

In 2005 over 170 (and growing) civil society Palestinian groups came together and signed the BDS call. BDS is a powerful and united civil initiative in the face of a brutal military occupation and apartheid. It’s a nonviolent alternative to a waning armed struggle and it has reaped many successes and instilled much hope, in the past 6 years. BDS is a long process in which those of us who live here are deeply invested in, knowing that there’s a personal price, which non of us could withstand alone. That is why we ask for support from the international community. Your celebrity status affords you a leading role. You may choose to block the halls, or heed the call.

Sincerely on behalf of BfW,
Noa Abend
Adi Dagan
Naama Farjoun
Shir Hever
Assaf Kintzer
Gal Lugassi
Naomi Lyth
Rela Mazali
Edo Medicks
Ofer Neiman
David Nir
Leehee Rothschild
Tal Shapira
Yana Ziferblat

Dylan is performing on 4-11-11 in Israel.  I support this appeal, and wish Dylan would listen.

Asheville scene

These are photos of a proposed new "Health Adventure" museum.  This is a children's museum in downtown Asheville currently, but they wanted a brand new huge museum with lots of outside space.  So, they raised some money - $8 million - of which $1.5 million was from the taxpayers - and went to work destroying a nice green space.  Now, they are broke.  And these are pictures of how they left the place they intended to "remodel" and build a new museum.  It's a mess.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Give Peaceful Resistance a Chance


There was an article written and published in the NYT with this title "Give Peaceful Resistance a Chance".   It talks about violent vs. non-violent revolutions, and concludes that non-violent revolutions are twice as likely to succeed, which a much lower cost to the society that sponsored them.

Unfortunately for the Libyan rebels, research shows that nonviolent resistance is much more likely to produce results, while violent resistance runs a greater risk of backfiring. ……..   Indeed, a study I recently conducted with Maria J. Stephan, now a strategic planner at the State Department, compared the outcomes of hundreds of violent insurgencies with those of major nonviolent resistance campaigns from 1900 to 2006; we found that over 50 percent of the nonviolent movements succeeded, compared with about 25 percent of the violent insurgencies. 

And some of the reasons cited for the success of a non-violent revolution includes the fact that people do not have to give up their jobs, leave their families or agree to kill anyone to participate.  This means that the non-violent revolutions will draw a larger portion of the population, including members of the regime being overthrown.

Furthermore, violent protests are going against an enemy who greatest strength is the use of violence.  This is especially true for the US military and the IDF.  Anyone who tries to challenge them violently will likely lose, because the US military and the IDF have extensive weapons, good protection from other people’s weapons, and extensive training in using the weapons.  Using non-violent tactics plays to the protesters strengths, not the police or military’s strengths.

And they are more likely to succeed:
Although the change is not immediate, our data show that from 1900 to 2006, 35 percent to 40 percent of authoritarian regimes that faced major nonviolent uprisings had become democracies five years after the campaign ended, even if the campaigns failed to cause immediate regime change. For the nonviolent campaigns that succeeded, the figure increases to well over 50 percent.  The good guys don’t always win, but their chances increase greatly when they play their cards well. Nonviolent resistance is about finding and exploiting points of leverage in one’s own society. Every dictatorship has vulnerabilities, and every society can find them. 

“Nonviolence is not inaction – it is not for the timid or weak – nonviolence is hard work.  It is the willingness to sacrifice.  It is the patience to win.” – Cesar Chavez

Photo is from Iraq, taken April 8, 2011.  Caption:  Protesters chant anti-US slogans and wave Iraqi flags during a demonstration in the Azamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, April 8, 2011. Some thousands of demonstrators turned out in one of the city's largest Sunni neighborhoods to protest the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The banners in Arabic read, 'People want to drive out the occupier' and 'Free the detainees' and 'Down with the occupation.'  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Another example of peaceful resistance

Nasser Ishtayeh/Associated Press

Palestinians prayed near Israeli soldiers on Friday, April 1, 2011.  They were protesting land confiscation in the village of Qusra, near Nablus.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

April 9th

People attend the weekly friday demonstration against corruption, unemployment and poor public services in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.  April 8, 2011.  (AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye)

April 9, 2003 was the day the statue of Saddam came down in Baghdad.  Very few Iraqis were present for the event (this was lied about on US corporate media), but it did mark the day that Baghdad fell to the US invasion.

April 9, 2004 was a day of massive protest in Baghdad, at the same spot as the former statue.  They burned Saddam, Bush and Blair in effigy, and had many signs saying all three were cut from the same cloth. It was ignored by our corporate media.   I saved pictures of that protest on this blog.

Just like in the US, the size of the protest does not determine coverage by the US corporate media..... only the goal of the protest does - if it further US imperial goals, or US corporate interests, it gets covered.  If not, it is ignored, no matter how massive.

Since then, there have been many massive protests, especially when Sadr calls for one.  Lately, there have been more protests, although they are not as large as former ones.  These protests are being met with violence and scores have become casualties, but the exact toll is not known.

Today, there will be another protest in Baghdad, and the War Resisters League made up a most excellent flier to mark the event.  The Iraqis will hold sit ins at the US military bases in Iraq.  I wish them every success in kicking the US invaders out of their country.

Friday, April 08, 2011

In Remembrance of Tareq Ayyoub

 Tareq Ayyoub, an employee of al Jazeera, was killed by US troops on April 8, 2003.  This is an excerpt from the movie CONTROL ROOM, which I highly recommend. 

This is the eighth anniversary of his murder.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

“Hopes and Prospects” by Noam Chomsky

Chomsky talking about the founding of the USA:

The United States is, I suppose, the only country that was founded as an “infant empire” in the words of the father of the country.  After liberation from England, George Washington observed that “the gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire; both being beasts of prey, though they differ in shape.”  We must “induce [the Aborigines] to relinquish our Territories and to remove into the illimitable regions of the West” – which we were to “induce” them to leave later on, for heaven.  The Territories became “ours” by right of conquest as the “Aborigines” were regularly instructed. 

Chomsky on Iraq, prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait:

Well after Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States continued to support Saddam, even to expedite his development of weapons of mass destruction.  Nuclear weapons specialist Gary Milhollin testified to Congress in 1992 that “if you look at the nuclear weapon program, you can see that if Saddam Hussein had not invaded Kuwait [in August 1990], Iraq would be very close to making a bomb today with American machine tools, American instruments for controlling the quality of nuclear weapon material, American computers for nuclear design, and Iraqi scientists trained in America in the techniques of nuclear detonation [in 1989, well after the end of the Iraq-Iran war].  Also the UN found American equipment at chemical and ballistic missile sites.  The UN early this year sent the US State Department a confidential list of American equipment that had turned up in chemical and ballistic missile programs.”  In April 1990, President Bush I even sent a high-level congressional delegation, led by Senate majority leader Bob Dole, to convey his personal greetings to his good friend and to assure him that he should disregard criticisms by “the haughty and pampered press” who are out of control. 

A few months later Saddam defied or misunderstood orders, and shifted from admired friend to the embodiment of evil.  All such matters have been consigned to the usual repository of unwelcome fact.

Photo:  USA today.... March 20, 2011 at Quantico Marine base.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

THE SORROWS OF EMPIRE by Chalmers Johnson

The sub-title is “Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic”. 

One chapter in this book is called “Iraq Wars”.  In that chapter, Johnson comments on Bush’s lies about the upcoming war.  On October 7, 2002, Bush made up lies about Saddam (the homicidal dictator with WMDs) in a speech he gave in Cincinnati.  He said that Saddam had a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas.  He then made the ridiculous claim that Saddam might target the US with these aerial vehicles.  Of course, it was quite impossible for Saddam to get any such aerial vehicles to the USA.  But what I find interesting about this lie is that the military under Bush was busy developing unmanned drones, which would turn out to be quite deadly in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Another lie he (and Rumsfeld) made up was that Saddam had connections with al Qaeda.  Saddam had nothing to do with al Qaeda, but unfortunately, al Qaeda showed up in Iraq after the US troops took up residence.  And even more unfortunately, that turned out to be quite deadly and destructive to the Iraqi people.

Johnson also pointed out that Bush and his administration made up several other lies about Iraq – one was that Saddam did not abide by UN resolutions.  Of course, the country of Israel has violated more UN resolutions than anybody, and no one is proposing that we attack them for those violations.  Another bullshit lie was the claim that we were going to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.  Bush brought them the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death. 

The war of aggression on Iraq had no legal justification and few allies.  It was waged in the face of widespread world wide protest. 

The sorrows of empire include imperialism and militarism.  Our imperialism is not like the imperialism of former empires.  We have military bases all over the planet and we certainly tell the governments of those countries what to do or not to do, and we have little regard for the native population, but we are not running their day to day lives and we are not collecting taxes from them.  Instead, we pay the host countries where we set up our military bases. 

Here are the sorrows of empire:
  1. state of perpetual war
  2. loss of democracy and constitutional rights at home (we have lost the fourth and sixth articles of the Bill of Rights)
  3. extensive propaganda, disinformation, and outright lies by officials, along with glorification of war and military legions
  4. bankruptcy, as we pour more money into wars and grandiose military projects and take money away from services (like education and health care) at home

The first three will lead to erosion of the Constitution and rule of law, but it is the last one that will create a crisis and get people’s attention.  Permanent military occupations around the world are expensive.  In light of what the US government spent on the financial crisis, I am guessing that the US has quite a way to go before the permanent military occupations and world domination will bankrupt us.  The most serious damage from pursuing empire is what it does to Americans and our Constitution and laws.  Empires come to an end, and the endings are not pleasant. 

The solution that Johnson offers is that the people retake control of Congress and turn it back into a true democratic institution.   Then we need to cut off the money to the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, and close down the overseas bases.  In theory, the people could take control away from the armed forces and the military-industrial complex. 

But frankly, that does not look likely to happen.

“When the government fears the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.” -  Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Silence is betrayal

This is a clip of an anti-war speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.  He died on April 4th, as did Casey Sheehan in the Iraq war.  He was the son of Cindy Sheehan.

The Boy from Gitmo.....

Quote: "I lack the words to express the heartsickness I experienced when I came to understand the pointless, purely gratuitous mistreatment of [the detainee] by my fellow soldiers." 

A riveting story..... of a child tortured into evil, and his precarious future, and a Marine who is good and decent in every cell of his body.


Sunday, April 03, 2011

An Islamic Voice for Peace

Samar Sarhan is a Palestinian-American serving as a Middle East Peace Apprentice with AFSC's Iowa program. She made the following remarks representing her own views at the Des Moines rally marking the 8th anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.

War, Harb or whatever you want to call it is the same in any language, culture, or religion.  It starts and ends the same way whenever and whereever it happens. War can’t be contained to one place; it transcends oceans, walls and barriers. We are all affected by what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Palestine. Whether it be because we have been involved in the war, lived in the countries, have loved ones go through the war or know someone who fought in the war. We all have been personally touched in one way or another.

As Americans our tax money is spent to finance these wars that cause hurt, pain and disappointment to everyone involved. For 2010 the government allocated $1.12 trillion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attack. 1% of those funds are allocated for veterans medical care. Just one percent.

Throughout these wars, Islam has been my solace. It has given me hope when I felt there wasn’t any and kept me going when I didn’t think I had it in me to go on. I have learned patience and the power of prayer through Islam which reminds me of this verse in the Quran “We have shown man the way, he may be thankful or he may be unthankful.” I choose to be thankful. Thankful that I am still alive, thankful that I can speak my mind and thankful that there are people who think that these wars should be stopped.

As I’m sure Islam has been a solace for the people in Iraq when they heard bombs dropping or the people of Afghanistan when they weren’t allowed to leave their homes or the people in Libya who aren’t able to get medical care for their wounded and the people of Palestine when they can’t visit family or friends because of walls and check points that stop them.

Islam is a religion of peace and has very clear rules of war and engagement. The prophet said: “None of you wish to meet an enemy but if you do, stand your ground.” In Islam, it isn’t about causing the war but defending oneself if attacked.

I want to leave you with one last verse from the Quran "Say, O my people, do your best, and so will I. You will surely find out who the ultimate victors are." Certainly, the wicked will never succeed.

The wicked will never succeed.

Thank you and Peace.

 Photo taken by me on a road near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.  March, 2011

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A friend's response to DSCC fund raising request

Senator Kerry/DSCC,

As antiwar and progressive as my personal politics are I feel like a freight train ran over me after the last election. I don't have any spare change to donate to any Democrats that keep funding Bush's wars AND starting new ones. Frankly, I'm still waiting for a refund from the Kerry/Edwards campaign that quit fighting to get all the '04 votes counted properly!!  I'm also wondering what happened to the Viet Nam veteran by the name of John Kerry who supposedly tossed his medals over the White House fence. Did he get turned into a corporate zombie somewhere along the way? I guess things look different once you're elected & working inside the beltway, eh?? - David

Afghan New Year - and a message of peace

On 19th March, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, with an international team of 24 peace activists, planted 55 trees at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan. They did this to usher in the Afghan New Year, in hope for a new way of living, a non-violent way of rebuilding the country.

Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

We need a different tree

For seekers of roots, life has ample proof
that Power and Privilege consistently oppress the People.
This Power and Privilege is perfected in war,
And accepted universally like any other conventional tree.
And then, its shade kills the People.
Why would an Afghan mother want a tree that kills?
Why would scholars promote it?
Why would the few rich and powerful insist on it?
Why would the People want it?
War is NOT what we wish to plant on any day, & certainly not today.
We wish to plant a tree rooted in Love,
a Love which says,’I live and love, so I shall not kill.’
If we wish to live without wars,
we need to plant a different tree.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I am in opposition to this war on Libya!

Anti-war protesters take part in a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 26, 2011 urging an end to the war on Libya. US President Barack Obama gave a staunch defense of the US role in the international military mission in Libya, as he comes under pressure to explain US goals to a public exhausted by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
AFP Photo/Jewel Samad
Date created: 26 Mar 2011

Wish I could be at the protests!


"Some stood up once.....    and sat down.
Some walked a mile....      and walked away.
Some stood up twice.....    then sat down.

              I've had it, they said.

Some walked two miles.....         then walked away.
                It's too much, they cried.

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools
They were taken for being taken in.

Some walked and walked and walked
They walked the earth
They walked the waters
They walked the air.

Why do you stand.....     they were asked, and
Why do you walk?

Because of the children, they said, and
Because of the heart, and
Because of the bread.

The cause
Is the heart's beat
And the children born
And the risen bread.
-Daniel Berrigan


Photo is of the Japanese-American memorial in Washington DC.  It was taken on 3-20-11.  It is a memorial of the time when the US government put all citizens and residents who were of Japanese background, in concentration camps.  They also took away all of their property.  After the war, they were released.  This was a huge civil rights violation, and I have no doubt that the US government would do it again - and the US citizens allow it - if the same conditions arose.