Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On July 30, the Republican minority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, headed by Sen. David Vitter, released a report titled "The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA."
Originally posted at AcronymTV
by Khashayar Nikazmrad
White phosphorus burning meat off the civilian bones, burning the single moms hopes of peace, chemical gas greeting the dusty morning sunshine, shelling orchestrating a symphony of death, breath by breath, the long forgotten dream of survival awakens the nightmare of Israel’s arrival, Airstrikes, ground invasion, the rape and theft of an entire nation,
Media, money, and mendacity corroding the remains of a heart sold to the musings of Zionist colonial congregation, the truth locked behind the delusion of defense, the a victimizing story lying about Zionist glory….
The plaque was accepted by co-founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, to overwhelming applause from an audience of about 100 people. In his remarks, Knox thanked CODEPINK for the great courage its members have shown and for the sacrifices they have made for peace. “CODEPINK is the most innovative, effective, and visible antiwar presence in the United States. Its approaches to peace and opposition to war are contemporary and receive more media and government attention than any other peace group. CODEPINK has shown what volunteers can do with limited resources. Their service is an inspiration to the world.”
In learning of the award, Jodie Evans remarked, “What a wonderful honor for tens of thousands of women and men of CODEPINK who take action, write letters to the editor, organize locally, travel globally, and live intentionally to create a more peace filled world. I feel blessed to work with this posse of angels who live from their hearts and gather under the banner CODEPINK, and those we collaborate with around the world who know that war is not the answer and the money we spend on war, weapons, and violence needs to be invested in our communities to achieve the peace and justice we all desire.”
Medea Benjamin noted: “After more than a decade of perpetual war, the American people are both war weary and war wise, understanding that a military response to violence only leads to more violence. While the military contractors and weapons manufacturers have made a killing, the rest of us - at home and abroad - have had to deal with death, suffering, PTSD, corruption, and depleted economies. I am honored to be part of a vibrant peace movement in CODEPINK and beyond, a movement that is now gaining traction with the general public that is more and more wary of calls for foreign military adventures. We don't do this work for recognition, but after so many years of exhausting work, getting this prize from the US Peace Memorial Foundation inspires us to continue our efforts to build a world where we take care of each other and our precious planet, and send the weapons-makers back to the drawing board to come up with a new set of products that are not designed to kill.”
See photos and other details at: www.uspeacememorial.org/
CODEPINK is the first organization to be recognized in this way by the Foundation. Previous Peace Prize recipients are Chelsea Manning, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, and Cindy Sheehan. Nominees considered this year include American Friends Service Committee, Garry Davis, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, and David Swanson. You can read about the antiwar/peace activities of all recipients and nominees in our publication, the US Peace Registry.
Our highly focused mission is to honor Americans who stand for peace by publishing the US Peace Registry, awarding an annual Peace Prize, and planning for the US Peace Memorial in Washington, D.C. These projects can help move the United States toward a culture of peace, as we honor the millions of thoughtful and courageous Americans who have taken a public stand against one or more U.S. wars or who have devoted their time, energy, and other resources to finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts. We celebrate these role models as they inspire other Americans to speak out against war and for peace.
Please help us continue this important work. Become a Founding Member and have your name permanently associated with peace. Founding Members are listed on our website, in our publication the US Peace Registry, and eventually at the National Monument.
Charlie, Jolyon, Lucy, and Michael
Board of Directors
Love is a serious problem in our world. There is too much of it. So I want to explain how we can destroy it systematically. If we can destroy love completely, we can destroy life on Earth.
But first, what is love?
President Obama may want us to sympathize with patriotic torturers, he may turn on whistleblowers like a flesh-eating zombie, he may have lost all ability to think an authentic thought, but I will say this for him: He knows how to mark the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin fraud like a champion.
It's back in Iraq, Jack! Yackety yack! Obama says the United States has fired missiles and dropped food in Iraq -- enough food to feed 8,000, enough missiles to kill an unknown number (presumably 7,500 or fewer keeps this a "humanitarian" effort). The White House told reporters on a phone call following the President's Thursday night speech that it is expediting weapons to Iraq, producing Hellfire missiles and ammunition around the clock, and shipping those off to a nation where Obama swears there is no military solution and only reconciliation can help. Hellfire missiles are famous for helping people reconcile.
Obama went straight into laying out his excuses for this latest war, before speaking against war and in favor of everything he invests no energy in. First, the illegitimate government of Iraq asked him to do it. Second, ISIS is to blame for the hell that the United States created in Iraq. Third, there are still lots of places in the world that Obama has not yet bombed. Oh, and this is not really a war but just protection of U.S. personnel, combined with a rescue mission for victims of a possible massacre on a scale we all need to try to understand.
Wow! We need to understand the scale of killing in Iraq? This is the United States you're talking to, the people who paid for the slaughter of 0.5 to 1.5 million Iraqis this decade. Either we're experts on the scale of mass killings or we're hopelessly incapable of understanding such matters.
Completing the deja vu all over again Thursday evening, the substitute host of the Rachel Maddow Show seemed eager for a new war on Iraq, all of his colleagues approved of anything Obama said, and I heard "Will troops be sent?" asked by several "journalists," but never heard a single one ask "Will families be killed?"
Pro-war veteran Democratic congressman elected by war opponents Patrick Murphy cheered for Obama supposedly drawing a red line for war. Murphy spoke of Congress without seeming aware that less than two weeks ago the House voted to deny the President any new war on Iraq. There are some 199 members of the House who may be having a hard time remembering that right now.
Pro-war veteran Paul Rieckhoff added that any new veterans created would be heroes, and -- given what a "mess" Iraq is now -- Rieckhoff advocated "looking forward." The past has such an extreme antiwar bias.
Rounding out the reunion of predictable pro-war platitudes and prevarications, Nancy Pelosi immediately quoted the bits of Obama's speech that suggested he was against the war he was starting. Can Friedman Units and benchmarks be far behind?
Obama promises no combat troops will be sent back to Iraq. No doubt. Instead it'll be planes, drones, helicopters, and "non-combat" troops. "America is coming to help" finally just sounded as evil as Reagan meant it to, but it was in Obama's voice. The ironies exploded like Iraqi houses on Thursday. While the United States locks Honduran refugee children in cages, it proposes to bomb Iraq for refugees. While Gaza starves and Detroit lacks water, Obama bombs Iraq to stop people from starving. While the U.S. ships weapons to Israel to commit genocide, and to Syria for allies of ISIS, it is rushing more weapons into Iraq to supposedly prevent genocide on a mountaintop -- also to add to the weapons supplies already looted by ISIS.
Of course, it's also for "U.S. interests," but if that means U.S. people, why not pull them out? If it means something else, why not admit as much in the light of day and let the argument die of shame?
Let me add a word to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman David Swanson, who is not me and whom I do not know: Please do keep pushing for actual humanitarian aid. But if you spoke against the missiles that are coming with the food, the reporters left that bit out. You have to fit it into the same sentence with the food and water if you want it quoted. I hope there is an internal U.N. lobby for adoption by the U.N. of the U.N. Charter, and if there is I wish it all the luck in the world.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
Originally posted at AcronymTV
“What once was maybe a Christian-Fascist movement against women’s right to abortion really got elevated and brought into the halls of power,” says Sunsara Taylor of Stop Patriarchy. “Starting with Ronald Reagan, continuing under Bush, escalating Bill Clinton (quiet as it is kept: Bill Clinton who signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which became the foundation for the recent Hobby Lobby decision).”
Originally posted at AcronymTV.com
“There is a big difference between being anti-pornography and anti sex worker,” says Taylor. “Stop Patriarchy does stand firmly against pornography, against the sex industry, against the commodification of women’s bodies, against the sexualized degradation of women, and just to be real: what is going on in pornography today is exactly part of this whole revenge against women. I don’t understand how anyone could claim to be for women’s rights and find (pornography) empowering or something we should celebrate.”
Taylor sums up her argument by saying: “There is no difference between the Pope and the pornographer. Both reduce women to objects. You could be a breeder or you could be a sex object.”
A George Will column this week, reviewing a book by Ken Hughes called Chasing Shadows, mentions almost in passing that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks that appeared likely to end the war on Vietnam until he intervened. As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war.
Will treats the matter as a technicality, citing the law against private diplomacy rather than the principle that one shouldn't undermine a government's attempts to halt an episode of mass-murder.
You'd almost have to already know what Will was referring to if you were going to pick up on the fact that Nixon secretly prevented peace while publicly pretending he had a peace plan. And you'd have to be independently aware that once Nixon got elected, he continued the war for years, the total carnage coming to include the deaths of 4 million Vietnamese plus hundreds of thousands of Cambodians and Laotians, with the deaths from bombs not previously exploded continuing on a major scale to this day, and, of course, the 58,000 Americans killed in the war who are listed on a wall in D.C. as if somehow more worthy than all the others.
Will is not the only one to acknowledge what Nixon did. The Smithsonian reported on Nixon's treason last year, on the occasion of new tapes of Lyndon Johnson being released. But the Smithsonian didn't call it treason; it treated the matter more as hard-nosed election strategizing. Ken Hughes himself published an article on the History News Network two years ago saying almost exactly what Will's column said this week. But the publication used the headline "LBJ Thought Nixon Committed Treason to Win the 1968 Election." Of course LBJ thought all kinds of things, sane and otherwise. The first two words of the headline ought to have been deleted.
The point is that it's now apparently become fashionable to acknowledge, but minimize, what Nixon did.
Will's focus is on Hughes' theory that Nixon's plan to break into or even firebomb the Brookings Institution was driven by his desire to recover evidence of his own treasonous sabotaging of peace, and that Watergate grew from Nixon's desire to coverup that horrendous crime. This differs from various theories as to what Nixon was so desperate to steal from Brookings (that he was after evidence that Kennedy murdered Diem, or evidence that LBJ halted the bombing of Vietnam just before the election to help Humphrey win, etc.) It certainly seems that Nixon had reasons for wanting files from Brookings that his staff did not share his views on the importance of. And covering up his own crimes was always a bigger motivation for Nixon than exposing someone else's. Nixon was after Daniel Ellsberg, not because Ellsberg had exposed Nixon's predecessors' high crimes and misdemeanors, but because Nixon feared what Ellsberg might have on him.
But Nixon's sabotaging of peace in 1968 has been known for many years. And that explanation of the Brookings incident has been written about for years, and written about in a context that doesn't bury the significance of the story. One need only turn to writings by Robert Parry (for example here, and in the book pictured on that page). Writes Parry:
"One of the Washington press corps' most misguided sayings – that 'the cover-up is worse than the crime' – derived from the failure to understand the full scope of Nixon’s crimes of state."
The way Parry tells the story might explain why the Washington Post prefers George Will's version:
"Rostow's 'The "X" Envelope,' which was finally opened in 1994 and is now largely declassified, reveals that Johnson had come to know a great deal about Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage from FBI wiretaps. In addition, tapes of presidential phone conversations, which were released in 2008, show Johnson complaining to key Republicans about the gambit and even confronting Nixon personally.
"In other words, the file that Nixon so desperately wanted to find was not primarily about how Johnson handled the 1968 bombing halt but rather how Nixon's campaign obstructed the peace talks by giving assurances to South Vietnamese leaders that Nixon would get them a better result.
"After becoming President, Nixon did extend and expand the conflict, much as South Vietnamese leaders had hoped. Ultimately, however, after more than 20,000 more Americans and possibly a million more Vietnamese had died, Nixon accepted a peace deal in 1972 similar to what Johnson was negotiating in 1968. After U.S. troops finally departed, the South Vietnamese government soon fell to the North and the Vietcong."
Parry even puts Nixon's action in the context of a pattern of actions that includes Ronald Reagan's election following sabotage of President Carter's hostage negotiations with Iran. Parry has written as well about LBJ's failure to expose Nixon as part of a pattern of Democratic Party spinelessness. There's President Clinton's failure to pursue Iran-Contra, Al Gore's failure to protest a Supreme Court coup, John Kerry's failure to protest apparent election fraud in Ohio, etc.
A less partisan and less contemporary context might include Nixon's phony pro-peace election campaign with those of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and other presidents elected to stay out of wars that they promptly jumped into. And that pattern might include candidate Obama's innumerable campaign-rally promises to end the war in Iraq, which as president he kept going for years, attempted to prolong further, and has begun trying to restart now that an opportunity has presented itself -- meanwhile having tripled troop levels in Afghanistan, attacked Libya, created a new kind of war with drones in multiple nations, and pushed the U.S. military into a greater and more active presence in numerous African and Asian countries.
It's almost universally maintained by those who have expressed any opinion on the matter that if the public had known about Nixon's treason while he was president, all hell would have broken loose. Are we really such idiots that we've now slipped into routinely acknowledging the truth of the matter but raising no hell whatsoever? Do we really care so much about personalities and vengeance that Nixon's crime means nothing if Nixon is dead? Isn't the need to end wars and spying and government secrets, to make diplomacy public and nonviolent, a need that presses itself fiercely upon us regardless of how many decades it will take before we learn every offensive thing our current top officials are up to?
Killing Lt. Goldin...and 150 innocents: The IDF’s ‘Hannibal Protocol’ and Two Criminally Insane Governments
By Dave Lindorff
The sickness of present-day Israel, on display over the past horrible month of the one-sided slaughter of over 2000 Palestinians (including over 400 children) in the fenced-in ghetto of Gaza, has finally reached its nadir with the ugly case of the deliberate Israeli Defense Force murder of captured IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.
The Limits of America’s African Experiment in Nation Building
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch
[This story was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.]
Juba, South Sudan -- The soft glow of the dancing white lights is a dead giveaway. It’s Christmas in July at the U.S. Embassy compound. Behind high walls topped with fierce-looking metal impediments meant to discourage climbers, there’s a party under way.
Close your eyes and you could be at a stateside summer barbeque or an office holiday party. Even with them open, the local realities of dirt roads and dirty water, civil war, mass graves, and nightly shoot-to-kill curfews seem foreign. These walls, it turns out, are even higher than they look.
Out by the swimming pool and the well-stocked bar, every table is packed with people. Slightly bleary-eyed men and sun-kissed women wear Santa hats and decorations in their hair. One festive fellow is dressed as Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation complete with a white sweater, black dickey, and bright white loafers. Another is straddling an inflatable killer whale that he’s borrowed from the collection of playthings around the pool and is using as improvised chair while he stuffs his face from an all-American smorgasbord. We’re all eating well tonight. Mac and cheese, barbequed ribs, beef tenderloin, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and for desert, peach cobbler. The drinks are flowing, too: wine and whisky and fine Tusker beer.
Yuletide songs drift out into the sultry night in this, the capital of the world’s newest nation. “Simply having a wonderful Christmastime,” croons Paul McCartney.
Just 15 minutes away, near the airport in an area known as Tongping, things aren’t quite so wonderful. There’s no fried chicken, no ribs, no peach cobbler. At Juba’s United Nations camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), they’re eating sorghum and a crude porridge made from a powdered blend of corn and soy beans provided by the United Nations’ World Food Program. Children at the camp call it “the yellow food.” “It’s no good,” one of them tells me, with a quick head shake for emphasis.
I mention to a few of the embassy revelers that I’m heading several hundred miles north to Malakal. A couple of them assure me that, according to colleagues, it’s “not that bad.” But while we’re chowing down, an emaciated young girl in Malakal clings to life. This one-year-old arrived at the hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, or MSF) at the U.N. camp there several days earlier, severely malnourished and weighing just 11 pounds. It’s uncertain if she’ll survive. One in 10 children who arrive at the hospital in her condition don’t.
A Man-Made Famine
As John Kerry, then-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put it in 2012, the United States “helped midwife the birth” of South Sudan. The choice of words may have been cringe-worthy, but hardly divorced from reality. For more than 20 years, a bipartisan coalition in Washington and beyond championed rebel forces here. As the new nation broke away from Sudan, after decades of bloody civil war, the U.S. poured in billions of dollars in aid, including hundreds of millions of dollars of military and security assistance, and sent military instructors to train the country’s armed forces and advisers to mentor government officials.
It would be Washington’s major nation-building effort in Africa, a new country destined to join Iraq and Afghanistan as a regional bulwark of democracy and a shining example of American know-how. On South Sudan’s independence day, July 9, 2011, President Obama hailed the moment as a “time of hope” and pledged U.S. partnership to the new land, emphasizing security and development. There’s precious little evidence of either of these at the U.N. camps and even less in vast areas of the countryside now teetering on the edge of a catastrophic famine.
Since a civil war broke out in December 2013, at least 10,000 South Sudanese have been killed, untold numbers of women and girls have been victims of sexual violence, and atrocities have been committed by all parties to the conflict. As a result, in the eyes of the United Nations, in a world of roiling strife -- civil wars, mass killings, hunger, and conflicts from Iraq to Gaza, Ukraine to Libya -- South Sudan is, along with the Central African Republic and Syria, one of just three “L3 emergencies,” the world’s most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. The country has also just displaced Somalia -- for six years running the archetypal failed state -- atop the Fund for Peace’s 178-nation list of the world’s most fragile nations.
Today, close to 100,000 people are huddled on United Nations military bases around the country, just a fraction of the almost 1.5 million who have been put to flight and are waiting out the war as internal exiles or as refugees in the bordering nations of Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan. Such massive levels of displacement guarantee another nightmare to come. Since so many subsistence farmers weren’t around to plant their crops, despite fertile ground and sufficient rain, seeds never met soil and food never had a chance to grow.
“At this point in time, because it’s the rainy season, there’s nothing we can do in terms of agriculture,” says Caroline Saint-Mleux, the regional emergency coordinator for East and Central Africa at CARE International. Above us, the sky is darkening as we sit in plastic chairs in the muddy “humanitarian hub,” a grimy ghetto of white tents, nondescript trailers, and makeshift headquarters of aid agencies like the International Committee of the Red Cross and MSF, on the outer edge of the U.N. base at Malakal. Her organization did distribute a limited number of seeds to farmers still on their land earlier in the year, but can do no more. The planting season is long past. “It would be a waste of energy at this point,” she says, resignation in her voice.
Famine "is a very realistic possibility,” Deborah Schein tells me. She’s the coordinator for the United Nations in Upper Nile State, where Malakal is located. Right now, experts are crunching the numbers and debating whether to formally declare a famine. Whether its this fall or early next year, aid workers say, it's definitely coming and the sooner it comes, the more lives can be saved. Recently, U.N. Security Council President Eugène-Richard Gasana called attention to “the catastrophic food insecurity situation.” Already, 3.9 million people -- about one in three South Sudanese -- face dangerous levels of food insecurity. However, unlike in Ethiopia in the 1980s, where drought led to crop failures that killed one million people, Vanessa Parra, Oxfam America’s press liaison in South Sudan, says this country is facing an “entirely man-made famine.”
Click here to see a larger version
Women walk through the muddy U.N. Mission in South Sudan camp in Malakal. (Nick Turse)
If it were dry, it would take only five minutes to walk from Deborah Schein’s office at the U.N. base in Malakal to the Médecins Sans Frontières field hospital in the adjoining IDP camp where 17,000 South Sudanese are now taking refuge. But the rains have turned this ground into fetid mud and an easy walk into a slip-sliding slog.
At the end of a gray, mucky expanse that nearly sucks the boots off your feet, an MSF flag flies outside a barn-sized white tent. Before you enter, you need to visit a foot-washing station, then have your feet or boots disinfected. Even then, it’s impossible to keep the grime out. “As you can imagine, this is not the best environment for a hospital,” says Teresa Sancristoval, the energetic chief of MSF’s emergency operations in Malakal.
Step inside that tent and you’re immediately in a ward that’s electric with activity. It’s hard to believe that this 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week hospital is manned by only three expat doctors and three expat nurses, plus a medical team leader. Still, add in various support personnel, local staff, and the many patients and suddenly this giant tent begins to shrink, putting space at a premium.
“The great majority of the hospital is pediatrics,” says Sancristoval, a compact dynamo from Madrid with the bearing of a field general and intense eyes that go wide when making a point. Not that she even needs to point that out. In this first ward, the 15 metal-frame beds -- blue paint peeling, thin mattresses, four makeshift bamboo posts topped with mosquito nets -- are packed tight, all but two filled with mother and child or children. Some days, there’s not a bed to spare, leaving patients ill with infection and wracked by disease to sleep on whatever space can be found on the floor.
On a bed adjacent to the main thoroughfare sits a tiny girl in a yellow top and pink skirt, her head bandaged and covered in a clingy mesh net. Nyajuma has been in this hospital for two weeks. She was lying here inside this tent, wasted and withered, the night we were having our Christmas feast at the embassy about 400 miles south in Juba.
Nyajuma weighed only 11 pounds on arrival. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average one-year-old girl in the U.S. weighs more than double that. She was quickly started on the first of two powdered therapeutic foods to combat her severe malnutrition, followed by a regimen of Plumpy’nut, a high-protein, high-calorie peanut paste, four times a day along with two servings of milk.
It would have been bad enough if her only problem were severe malnutrition, but that condition also exacerbated the skin infection beneath the bandages on her head. In addition, she suffers from kala azar, a deadly disease caused by a parasite spread by sandflies that results in prolonged fever and weakness. On top of that, she is being treated for two other potentially lethal maladies, cholera and tuberculosis. Her mother, resting beside her, looks exhausted, world-beaten. Pregnant on arrival, she gave birth five days later. She lies next to Nyajuma, listless, but carefully covers her face with her arm as if to shield herself from the harsh world beyond this bed.
During her first week at the hospital, nurse Monica Alvarez tells me, Nyajuma didn’t crack a smile. “But now, voilà,” she says lifting the child, sparking a broad grin that reflects the sea change in her condition. Nyajuma is enduring the rigors of kala azar and tuberculosis treatments with great aplomb. “She’s eating well and she’s smiling all the time,” says Alvarez, who's quick with a smile herself. But Nyajuma is still in the early stages of treatment. Once stable, severely malnourished children can be transferred to ambulatory care. But it takes roughly six weeks for them to make a full recovery and be discharged. And in today’s South Sudan, they are the lucky ones.
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One-year-old Nyajuma sits on a bed next to her mother at the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital at the U.N. Mission in South Sudan camp in Malakal.
Of those who make it to the hospital in such a condition, 10% don’t survive, Javier Roldan, MSF’s medical team leader, tells me. “We have people who come in in later stages or have a co-infection because malnutrition has compromised their immune system, which makes treatment much more complicated.” He talks of the difficulty of losing patients for want of better facilities, more staff, and greater resources. “The outcome of a baby weighing one and a half kilos [3.3 pounds] in Europe or America would be no problem at all, but here there’s quite a high mortality rate," says Roldan. "It’s very frustrating for the medical staff when you have patients die because you don’t have the means to treat them.”
And Malakal is no anomaly. At the MSF feeding station in Leer, a town in adjoining Unity State, they’ve treated roughly 1,800 malnourished children since mid-May, compared to 2,300 in all of last year. North of Leer, in Bentiu, the site of repeated spasms of violence, the situation is especially grim. “Over five percent of the children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition,” says CARE’s Country Director for South Sudan Aimee Ansari. “On the day I left Bentiu, CARE helped parents transport the bodies of children who had died from malnutrition to a burial site.” In all, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), almost one million South Sudanese children under five years of age will require treatment for acute malnutrition in 2014. UNICEF projects that 50,000 of them could die.
The Camps and the Countryside
At the U.N.’s Tongping camp in Juba -- where nearly 11,500 of the area’s tens of thousands of internally displaced persons are taking refuge -- the food situation is “not very good at all.” So John, a 17-year-old resident, emphatically assures me beneath the relentless midday sun. “Outside, when I was living at home, we could have fruit or whatever we wanted.” Here, he eats no fresh food and no vegetables. Its sorghum and “the yellow food” mixed with sugar, oil, and water. “This food doesn’t even compare,” he says more than once.
Still, people here aren’t dying of malnutrition and even those in the ruder, more dismal locales in Bentiu, and Malakal are luckier than most since they have access to aid from NGOs. At a time when South Sudan needs them most, however, almost eight months of war, insecurity, and attacks on aid workers have severely limited the reach of humanitarian organizations. Speaking of the entire NGO community, Wendy Taeuber, country director for the International Rescue Committee in South Sudan, says, "The remoteness of rural areas of South Sudan combined with the rainy season means that there are hundreds of thousands of IDPs still in need of additional assistance."
Sitting in the trailer that serves as his office, I ask Paulin Nkwosseu, the chief field officer for UNICEF in Malakal, about the situation of those in less accessible areas along the Nile River where World Food Program distributions are limited. “Due to the crisis, people have no income and no food, so they’re surviving on monthly food distributions from WFP,” he tells me. “But they say that the food distributed by WFP is not sufficient for the whole family.”
UNICEF works with NGO partners to reach people outside the camps, but it’s a struggle. Nkwosseu walks over to a large wall map and begins to point out Nile River towns to the north like Wau Shilluk (currently suffering a cholera outbreak), Lul, Kodok, and Melut. These, he says, are hubs where South Sudanese from rural areas go when faced with hunger. The reason is simple enough: the river is one of the few viable transport options in a country the size of Texas that has almost no paved roads and whose dirt tracks in the rainy season are quickly reduced to impassable mud.
Even using the Nile is anything but a slam-dunk operation. Earlier this year, for instance, a convoy of barges transporting food and fuel to Malakal was attacked by armed men. Even absent the acts of rebels, soldiers, or bandits, food barges are regularly delayed by everything from mechanical issues to drawn out negotiations with local powerbrokers. Air drops are costly, impractical, and -- thanks to a lack of airfield infrastructure -- often unfeasible. Security is minimal and so thousands of tons of food stocks have simply been looted. Even when road transport is possible, vehicles are attacked and food is stolen by both government and rebel troops, eager to feed themselves. When food supplies do make it to the river towns, many in need are unlikely to make it in from the water-logged countryside in time.
Among African nations, South Sudan has had an almost unprecedented relationship with the United States. Aside from Liberia -- a nation settled, hundreds of years ago, by former American slaves, whose capital is named after a U.S. president -- it is the only African country for which Americans have evidenced a deep bipartisan commitment and “longstanding humanitarian and political interest as well as a deeper kinship,” says Cameron Hudson, who was the director for African affairs on the staff of the National Security Council from 2005 to 2009.
“For nearly a decade leading up to the 2011 declaration of independence, the cause of the nation and its citizens was one that was near and dear to the heart of two successive U.S. administrations and some of its most seasoned and effective thinkers and policymakers,” Patricia Taft, a senior associate with the Fund for Peace, wrote in a recent analysis of South Sudan. “In order to secure this nation-building ‘win,’ both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations poured tons of aid into South Sudan, in every form imaginable. From military aid to food aid to the provision of technical expertise, America was South Sudan’s biggest ally and backer, ardently midwifing the country into nationhood by whatever means necessary.”
For all America’s efforts, the wheels started coming off almost immediately. “We’ve gotten pretty good at understanding what goes into building a state, institutionally, but as far as what creates a nation that’s actually functional, we fell short,” Taft tells TomDispatch. The U.S., she says, failed to do the necessary heavy lifting to encourage the building of a shared national identity and sat on its hands when targeted interventions might have helped reverse worrisome developments in South Sudan.
Still, the U.S. repeatedly pledged unyielding support for the struggling young nation. In August 2012, for example, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Juba, was emphatic that the U.S. “commitment to this new nation is enduring and absolute in terms of assistance and aid and support going forward.” A year later, announcing the appointment of Donald Booth as President Obama’s Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, made special reference to America’s “enduring commitment” to the South Sudanese people.
Lately, however, words like “enduring and absolute” have been replaced by the language of limits. Speaking in Juba just days before the July Christmas party, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard drew attention to the fact that the U.S. had given generously to South Sudan, but that such assistance would be of little use if the war continues. “There is a limit to how much aid can be provided in a year with so many crises around the world,” she said.
That doesn’t bode well for those already going hungry and those who will be affected by the coming famine, forecast by some to be the worst since Ethiopia’s in the 1980s. Here, limits equal lives lost. A $1.8 billion U.N. aid operation designed to counter the immediate, life-threatening needs of the worst affected South Sudanese is currently just 50% funded, according to Amanda Weyler of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in South Sudan. She explains that "any shortfall in funding potentially means that we cannot save lives of people that we may otherwise have been able to help.”
In a statement emailed to TomDispatch, Anne Richard acknowledged this very point, though she couched it in the language of “needs,” not lives. She put the blame on South Sudan’s warring factions while lamenting the plethora of crises around the world. “Even if Congress again funds our budget so that we can provide a solid share of support to aid organizations and U.N. appeals, we can’t cover them completely and other donor countries will also be stretched. At some point, we may see reports of food and water shortages and healthcare needs going unaddressed,” she wrote. “Ultimately, these crises are man-made and will not be alleviated until the fighting stops.”
Do They Know It’s Christmastime At All?
It’s an overcast day, but the sun is strong behind the clouds and it’s bright inside the white tent of the Médecins Sans Frontières field hospital. It’s also hot. One of several large, aged metal fans pushes the heavy, humid air around these cramped quarters as the staff moves purposefully from patient to patient, checking progress, dispensing medicine, providing instructions. Children cry and shriek, babble and laugh, and cough and cough and cough.
A scrawny black and white cat slips through a maze of legs moving from the rudimentary pharmacy to the examination room past the bed where Nyajuma sits. She’s putting on weight, 2.5 pounds since her arrival and so, for her, things are looking somewhat better. But as the country plunges into famine, how many other Nyajumas will arrive here and find there’s not enough food, not enough medicine, too few doctors? How many others will never make it and simply die in the bush?
“When there’s a clash, when the conflict starts, it’s in the news every day. Then we start to forget about it. In South Sudan, the needs are only getting bigger, even bigger than in the beginning,” MSF’s Javier Roldan tells me. “When the conflict becomes chronic, the situation deteriorates. Food access is getting even more difficult. Fewer donors are providing money, so the situation for civilians is deteriorating day by day.”
That embassy party in Juba seems light years away, not just in another state but another world -- a world where things in Malakal don’t seem so bad. It’s a world where choice cuts of beef sizzle and cold lager flows and the pool looks cool and inviting, a world where limits on aid are hard realities to be dispassionately explained and cursorily lamented, not death sentences to be suffered.
From Iraq to Afghanistan, American-style nation building has crumbled, exposing the limits of American power. Before things are over in South Sudan, Washington’s great experiment in Africa may prove to be the most disastrous effort of all. Just three years after this country’s independence, two years after Hillary Clinton stood in this city and pledged enduring and absolute assistance, at a time when its people are most in need, the U.S. is talking about limits on aid, about backing away from the country it fostered, its prime example of nation-building-in-action in the heart of Africa. The effects will be felt from Juba to Jonglei, Bor to Bentiu, Malek to Malakal.
If things continue as they have, by the time the U.S. Embassy throws its actual Christmas bash, the civil war in South Sudan will have entered its second year and large swaths of the country might be months into a man-made famine abetted by an under-funded humanitarian response -- and it’s the most vulnerable, like Nyajuma, who will bear the brunt of the crisis. Experts are currently debating if -- or when -- famine can be declared. Doing so will exert additional pressure on funders and no doubt save lives, so a declaration can’t come fast enough for Kate Donovan of UNICEF in South Sudan. “Waiting for data to be crunched in order to make sure all the numbers add up to famine is deadly for small children,” she says. “It is like ringing fire alarms when the building is already burnt to the ground.”
If history is any guide and projections of 50,000 child malnutrition fatalities are accurate, the outlook for South Sudan is devastating. What Donovan tells me should make Washington -- and the rest of the world -- sit up and take notice: “Half the kids may already be dead by the time famine is actually declared.”
Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute. A 2014 Izzy Award winner, he has reported from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa and his pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. This story is the second in a series of on-the-ground reports from Africa pursued in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Additional funding was provided through the generosity of Adelaide Gomer.
Copyright 2014 Nick Turse
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
Originally posted at AcronymTV
Sunsara Taylor of Stop Patriarchy sat down with Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV just days before leading a month long Abortion Rights Freedom Ride in Texas. The freedom ride is currently underway and will run through September 1, by which time Texas is expected to close all but six abortion clinics statewide.
A new film called Wisconsin Rising is screening around the country, the subject, of course, being the activism surrounding the mass occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011. I recommend attending a planned screening or setting up a new one, and discussing the film collectively upon its conclusion. For all the flaws in Wisconsin's activism in 2011 and since, other states haven't even come close -- most have a great deal to learn.
The film tells a story of one state, where, long ago, many workers' rights originated or found early support, and where, many years later, threats to workers' rights, wages, and benefits, and to what those workers produce including education in public schools, were aggressively initiated by the state's right-wing governor, Scott Walker.
The joy and inspiration created by the public resistance to that threat were intense. The occupation, the singing, the marching, the creative props and protests, the donations for pizza from around the world, the parades, the rallies, the concerts, the firefighters and police officers spared in the legislation but choosing to join with the rest of the public anyway, the growing crowds, the growing awareness of the power of nonviolent action, the legislators bringing their desks out onto the grass to meet with constituents in the cold snow or fleeing the state to deny the governor a quorum, Fox News propaganda showing a violent rally supposedly in Wisconsin but with palm trees in the background, the Wisconsinites hauling plastic palm trees to the capitol, the high school students joining the occupation on behalf of their teachers, Governor Walker unable to step outdoors without protest -- all of this energy and activity is accurately conveyed in Wisconsin Rising. For over three weeks, Wisconsin's capitol was occupied, and the reminders of it are still frequently visible there.
The Wisconsin legislature rammed through its horrendous legislation despite the public opposition. The film does not hide that awful defeat. But the same would have happened had there been no opposition. The question is whether the opposition did any good and whether it could conceivably have succeeded had wiser decisions been made -- and whether power was tapped that could be enlarged still further. I think the answer to all of these questions is yes.
In the film we see people withdrawing their money from a bank that funds candidates like Walker. That can and should continue.
We see a choice made to withdraw energy from protests and demonstrations and nonviolent resistance and camps and marches and a general strike, in order to put all of that energy into recall elections. The lessons of all of those labor songs sung at all of those rallies are not followed. Instead, an effort is made to pretend that the system works and that slightly better personalities in positions of corrupt power will solve everything. Massive popular energy went into a contest where it could not compete with massive money.
What might have happened instead? Energy could have stayed with the occupation, drawing inspiration from and giving inspiration to activism around the United States and the world. I remember Michael Moore pointing out at the Wisconsin occupation that 400 people in the United States had as much money as half the country, and pundits compelled to note that that was true. An education campaign about the division and concentration of wealth would have been time better spent. Creative means of keeping working people's wealth with working people, rather than handing it over to Wall Street, would have been wiser use of euphoric enthusiasm.
An effort might also have been made to build even wider state-level solidarity by recognizing the state of Wisconsin, like the other 49 U.S. states, as a victim of a federal budget gone off the deep end of plutocratic plunder and militarism. The federal government does not support education or any other human need, at home or abroad, in remotely the way that it could if it curtailed spending on war preparations, giveaways to corporations and billionaires, or both. What if Wisconsin were to convert from weapons to peaceful industries, tax major federal tax evaders at the state level instead, and call for a Constitutional Convention to recriminalize bribery? What if the money Wisconsinites dump into elections went into setting up and supporting independent media outlets in Wisconsin instead?
What if three enjoyable, energizing, inspiring weeks of effort wasn't seen as a record long action, but as the opening preview of much longer struggles? What if the pressure were to build back up, and a different direction were chosen this time, the direction of nonviolent resistance rather than naive compliance? Wisconsin, at least, has done its warm ups. Most states are still in the locker room.
Benjamin Ferencz was a prosecutor at Nuremberg and at age 94 is still focused on the problem of applying the rule of law to a world plagued by war. His website is http://benferencz.org
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By Mike Ferner
There's a wide and mysterious chasm between the stated intentions of the Israeli government as depicted by the U.S. media and what the Israeli government has been doing in Gaza, even as recounted in the U.S. media.
With the morgues full, Gazans are packing freezers with their dead children. Meanwhile, the worst images to be found in Israel depict fear, not death and suffering. Why the contrast? If the Israeli intent is defensive, why are 97% of the deaths Gazan, not Israeli? If the targets are fighters, why are whole families being slaughtered and their houses leveled? Why are schools and hospitals and children playing on the beach targeted? Why target water and electricity if the goal is not to attack an entire population?
The mystery melts away if you look at the stated intentions of the Israeli government as not depicted by the U.S. media but readily available in Israeli media and online.
On August 1st, the Deputy Speaker of Israel's Parliament posted on his FaceBook page a plan for the complete destruction of the people of Gaza using concentration camps. He had laid out a somewhat similar plan in a July 15th column.
Another member of the Israeli Parliament, Ayelet Shaked, called for genocide in Gaza at the start of the current war, writing: "Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."
Taking a slightly different approach, Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University has been widely quoted in Israeli media saying, "The only thing that can deter [Gazans] is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
The Times of Israel published a column on August 1st, and later unpublished it, with the headline "When Genocide Is Permissible." The answer turned out to be: now.
On August 5th, Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, published a column with the headline "In Gaza, There Is No Such Thing as 'Innocent Civilians'." Eiland wrote: "We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization). . . . [T]he right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity."
It's all part of putting Gaza "on a diet," in the grotesque wording of an advisor to a former Israeli Prime Minister.
If it were common among members of the Iranian or Russian government to speak in favor of genocide, you'd better believe the U.S. media would notice. Why does this phenomenon go unremarked in the case of Israel? Noticing it is bound to get you called an anti-Semite, but that's hardly a concern worthy of notice while children are being killed by the hundreds.
Another explanation is U.S. complicity. The weapons Israel is using are given to it, free-of-charge, by the U.S. government, which also leads efforts to provide Israel immunity for its crimes. Check out this revealing map of which nations recognize the nation of Palestine.
A third explanation is that looking too closely at what Israel's doing could lead to someone looking closely at what the U.S. has done and is doing. Roughly 97% of the deaths in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq were Iraqi. Things U.S. soldiers and military leaders said about Iraqis were shameful and genocidal.
War is the biggest U.S. investment, and contemporary war is almost always a one-sided slaughter of civilians. If seeing the horror of it in Israeli actions allow us to begin seeing the same in U.S. actions, an important step will have been taken toward war's elimination.
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
By Lee Lo
August 3 in Houston, TX from 6P to 8P about 40 people sang songs of peace at a Peace Sing-Along & Picnic. It was patterned after the similar activities that happened here from 1986 (on Aug. 3, by the way) to 1996 at “sunrise”. The peace singing began in Hiroshima/Nagasaki and as the world turned, the sun was greeted by people singing songs of peace. Because of the heat, we chose the cooler evening for this activity. I updated a songbook for the occasion.
Taking a cue from David Swanson, who has asked “what if we dislike war like we dislike cancer?” and suggested we use the color blue as our statement against war, we gave everyone a sky-blue ribbon (the Afghan Peace Volunteers have pointed out that there is “One Blue Sky Over Us All” as they wear their blue scarves to say “We Can Live Without War”– see vcnv.org), and also handed out magnetic bumper stickers which say “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS/BRING THEM HOME”. It was unanimous that we make this an annual event! It will be held on the grounds of the Live Oak Friends Meeting again.
This is where we got our ribbons: 250 ribbons w 250 safety pins for $20. Check it out and let’s turn the nation blue! Organized by Lee Loe, Grandmother for Peace & Sustainability ---> Awareness Ribbons --- The Ribbon Factory
IPB to award MacBride Peace Prize to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
The International Peace Bureau announced today that it will award its annual Sean MacBride Peace Prizefor 2014 to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, RMI, for courageously taking the nine nuclear weapons-possessing countries to the International Court of Justice to enforce compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international customary law.
The tiny Pacific nation has launched a parallel court case against the USA at the Federal District Court. RMI argues that the nuclear weapons-possessing countries have breached their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by continuing to modernize their arsenals and by failing to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.
The Marshall Islands were used by the USA as testing ground for nearly 70 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958. These tests gave rise to lasting health and environmental problems for the Marshall Islanders. Their first-hand experience of nuclear devastation and personal suffering gives legitimacy to their action and makes it especially difficult to dismiss.
The Marshall Islands are presently working hard on both court cases, whose final hearings are expected in 2016. Peace and anti-nuclear activists, lawyers, politicians and all people seeking a world without nuclear weapons are called upon to bring their knowledge, energy and political skills to build a powerful constituency to support this court case and related actions to ensure a successful outcome.
It is certainly not the case that the RMI, with its some 53,000 inhabitants, a large proportion of whom are young people, have no need of compensation or assistance. Nowhere are the costs of a militarized Pacific better illustrated than there. The country is burdened with some of the highest cancer rates in the region following the 12 years of US nuclear tests. Yet it is admirable that the Marshall Islanders in fact seek no compensation for themselves, but rather are determined to end the nuclear weapons threat for all humanity.
The world still has some 17,000 nuclear weapons, the majority in the USA and Russia, many of them on high alert. The knowhow to build atomic bombs is spreading, largely due to the continued promotion of nuclear power technology. Presently there are 9 nuclear weapon states, and 28 nuclear alliance states; and on the other hand 115 nuclear weapons-free zone states plus 40 non-nuclear weapons states.Only 37 states (out of 192) are still committed to nuclear weapons, clinging to outdated, questionable and extremely dangerous ‘deterrence’ policies.
IPB has a long history of campaigning for disarmament and for the banning of nuclear weapons (http://www.ipb.org). The organisation was, for instance, actively involved in bringing the nuclear issue before the International Court of Justice in 1996. The International Peace Bureau hopes to help draw attention to the aim of the various court cases on this issue by awarding the Sean MacBride Peace Prize to the people and government of the Marshall Islands. IPB sincerely hopes that the Marshall Islands initiative will be a significant and decisive step in ending the nuclear arms race and in achieving a world without nuclear weapons.
The prize ceremony will take place in Vienna in early December at the time of the international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and in the presence of the RMI’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tony de Brum and other dignitaries. Since its inception in 1992, many eminent peace promoters have received the Sean MacBride Prize, although it is not accompanied by any financial remuneration.
To learn more about the lawsuits and the campaign go to www.nuclearzero.org
Laos: The Birthplace of Modern U.S. Executive Secret War and a New "Ahuman" Age. A Powerpoint Presentation by Fred Branfman.
LAOS: THE BIRTHPLACE OF MODERN U.S. EXECUTIVE SECRET WAR AND A NEW “AHUMAN” AGE
A Powerpoint Presentation by Fred Branfman
By Brian Trautman
For a month now, the Palestinian territory of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet, has again come under heavy attack by Israel and its U.S-funded military might. According to Israel, the military operation, referred to as "Protective Edge," was launched in response to continuous rocket fire by Hamas, the controlling wing of the democratically-elected government of Palestine. Israel maintains it is only defending itself, and that the purpose of their latest assault is to disarm Hamas and destroy so-called "terror tunnels," which Israel claims Hamas uses to infiltrate and attack Israeli towns and cities. While the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), the military forces of Israel, is relentlessly bombarding Gaza with missiles and artillery shells, Hamas is fighting back and recruiting, launching more rockets into Israel and striking the IDF inside and across the border. Several humanitarian ceasefires and truces have been short-lived, some lasting only hours or minutes. Palestinian deaths and injuries have mounted precipitously, with no end in sight.
Since the beginning of Israel’s invasion, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, including over 300 children. Approximately 63 IDF soldiers have been killed. An estimated 9,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including nearly 3,000 children. Hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced, with around 300,000 currently being housed in UN schools-turned-shelters. It is a severe humanitarian crisis that is only deepening and worsening. People are struggling to meet their basic needs – food and clean water are in short supply. Electricity is only available for a couple of hours a day. Public infrastructure has been destroyed. Rubble covers the streets. A world of diverse and vibrant color has been transformed into shades of grey and red across Gaza. The levels of human suffering and unspeakable cruelty are almost too much to comprehend.
Israel argues that it is taking special precautions to protect civilians, in part by employing a so-called "knock on the roof" technique (either a telephone call or small explosion) to warn when a large strike is about to occur in a specific location. However, because of Gaza’s limited shelters (some of which have been purposely attacked by Israel) and the seven-year Israeli siege of Gaza, such an escape is extremely difficult if not impossible. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said, "the people of Gaza have nowhere to run." As the Gaza Strip is an area only about the size of Detroit, with a population of nearly 2 million, Ki-moon’s assessment of the mobility of Gazans is clearly not an exaggeration.
One talking point of the Israeli government and its supporters has been that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Even if this accusation were true (note that Amnesty International among other credible groups have debunked the charge), it does not justify the intentional and indiscriminate bombing of schools, hospitals or shelters, though Israel has done so with impunity. The IDF has also targeted and struck beaches, parks, mosques, markets, power plants and media outlets, killing scores of civilians in the process. The UN and International Criminal Court (ICC) must send a clear and unequivocal message to Israel that governments, no matter how powerful and influential they or their allies might be, will be held accountable for such atrocities. No nation should be above the law.
The UN has taken notice, criticizing some of Israel’s destructive actions. Citing attacks against homes and hospitals, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said there is a “strong possibility” that some of Israel’s strikes may be war crimes. On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council voted in favor of launching an international, independent inquiry into the possibility that Israel violated international humanitarian law and international human rights during its assault on Gaza. Of the 47 members of the Council, 29 nations voted in support of the inquiry, passing the resolution. Seventeen countries abstained, mostly European nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution.
Among the latest deadly strikes by Israel was one outside a UN shelter in Rafah on August 3. The action was strongly condemned in a statement released on behalf of the UN Secretary-general It read in part: "the attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities…This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act."
History reveals that when people are oppressed and their lands are stolen through repeated invasion and illegal military occupation, their access to basic needs is blocked, and their dignity is eroded, sooner or later they resist. Blaming Hamas for the apartheid and slaughter in Gaza defies logic, justice and morality. Israel’s excuse that it is simply defending itself fails to hold up under scrutiny – the brutal nature of their military offensive over the past four weeks should be evidence enough; however, it only scratches the surface of the persecution long endured by Palestinians. Israel’s aggression in and usurpation of Palestinian territories is deliberate and systematic, mirroring imperial and colonial land grabs throughout history.
The major media have painted Israel’s war against Gaza with the brush of moral equivalence – leading Americans to believe that Israel is acting merely to protect its citizens. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress staunchly defend Israel and continue to fund its war machine – the US has given Israel roughly $121 billion in military aid since the state’s founding. Today the US sends Israel about $3.1 billion annually, or $8.5 million per day. And as demonstrated by a recent vote for a resolution supporting Israel, even so-called progressive Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have sided with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Zionist lobby. Having backed the apartheid government of South Africa and other repressive regimes, the US is once again finding itself on the wrong side of history.
Hamas’ rocket fire into Israel is wrong and counterproductive, despite the fact that most of the rockets either never reach populated areas or get erased by Israel’s "Iron Dome" missile defense system (which, incidentally, the United States Senate voted on August 1 to allocate $225 million in emergency funding). In addition, Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist. No question. Irrespective of Israel’s continued military occupation and theft of Palestinian lands and confinement of its people in conditions tantamount to an open-air prison, Hamas’ current policy toward Israel cannot be condoned and must change. Until then, Israel will continue pointing to Hamas as the justification for its ongoing appropriation of Palestine’s lands and extermination of its people and will continue gleaning sympathy and support from different world powers.
Israel’s actions in Gaza are criminal and affront to humanity. Stories of entire families being shattered, literally and figuratively, have come out of Gaza since Israel’s offensive began. People of conscience have a moral obligation to overcome their fear of being accused of anti-Semitism and find the courage to denounce Israel’s war against a mostly defenseless civilian population. Apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing must be called out and stopped no matter who is committing it or why it is being committed.
Americans can speak out nonviolently through protest but also via boycott and divestment (BD) – – from banks, pension funds and businesses that deal commercially and financially with Israel. The BDS movement, which also includes government sanctions (e.g., arms embargo), can still be effective in the modern world. In an interview with Z Communications, renowned intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky argued that "Divestment from US firms is particularly significant because it not only punishes Israel for its crimes, but focuses attention on the crucial US role in supporting them, a necessary focus if there is to be any hope of real progress." Chomsky emphasizes, however, that "BD initiatives will have only limited effect." He believes government sanctions will also be needed before Israel acquiesces and ends its policy of aggression toward Palestine.
Temporary ceasefires and short-term truces are not enough. A long-term political solution is urgently needed, and must include Hamas’ recognizing Israel’s fundamental right to exist, as well as an end to the blockade, the removal of Israel settlements from the West Bank, and a two-state solution according to the 1967 lines. The Palestinian people want a peaceful two-state solution and no more war. Israeli citizens do, too. The more the world turns a blind eye to the tragic situation, the more anger and frustration get fueled across the Mideast. When Israel’s current assault on Gaza finally ends; when the smoke clears and all the Palestinian and Israeli dead have been buried, neither Israel nor Hamas will be any safer, as violence begets violence and terror begets terror. It always has and it always will.
Brian J. Trautman is a military veteran and an instructor of peace studies at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA. He is also a peace activist involved with a number of groups, including Veterans for Peace and Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice. On Twitter @BriTraut.
Theme: Abolish War on the Planet and the Poor
Hosted by VFP Chapter 099 Western North Carolina on July 23rd -27th 2014
The University of North Carolina at Asheville
all videos by Dan Shea
Dan Shea tells a personal story of how Agent Orange affected his life and took his son Casey and introduces an Agent Orange Facebook Page for other survivors to tell their stories and keep informed https://www.facebook.com/
Paul Cox giving update overview of our work, legislation & AO hotspots remediation clean up work being done. Paul is a Vietnam veteran and a founder of VFP chapter 69 in San Francisco. He has been working on Agent Orange since 2005 with the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC), a VFP National Campaign. He has been back to Vietnam thrice in recent years to investigate the lingering, disturbing effects of AO on the Vietnamese people and the environment. Susan Schnall: AO Workshop (2) VFP Convention July 2014 Susan Schnall served as a Navy nurse during the Vietnam conflict, caring for returning soldiers and marines at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. She was tried and convicted by a general court martial for anti-war activities in 1969. She been working with the VAORRC for the past several years and has vistied Viet Nam several times. Two years ago she brought a delegation of science/public health professionals to meet with families affected by the U.S. use of Agent Orange/Dioxin during the conflict and to survey the diozin contaminated land and remediation efforts. Susan is vice president of the NYC chapter of VFP. Chuck Searcy: AO Workshop (3) Community Base Rehabilitation Chuck Searcy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966 & served in the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion in Saigon 1967-1968. He has been living and working in Vietnam since January 1995, currently as International Advisor for Project RENEW, a mine action program in Quang Tri Province to clean up cluster bombs, landmines and other unexploded ordnance remaining along the DMZ. Q & A Discussion: AO Workshop (4)
Paul Cox giving update overview of our work, legislation & AO hotspots remediation clean up work being done. Paul is a Vietnam veteran and a founder of VFP chapter 69 in San Francisco. He has been working on Agent Orange since 2005 with the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC), a VFP National Campaign. He has been back to Vietnam thrice in recent years to investigate the lingering, disturbing effects of AO on the Vietnamese people and the environment.
Susan Schnall: AO Workshop (2) VFP Convention July 2014
Susan Schnall served as a Navy nurse during the Vietnam conflict, caring for returning soldiers and marines at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. She was tried and convicted by a general court martial for anti-war activities in 1969. She been working with the VAORRC for the past several years and has vistied Viet Nam several times. Two years ago she brought a delegation of science/public health professionals to meet with families affected by the U.S. use of Agent Orange/Dioxin during the conflict and to survey the diozin contaminated land and remediation efforts. Susan is vice president of the NYC chapter of VFP.
Chuck Searcy: AO Workshop (3) Community Base Rehabilitation
Chuck Searcy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966 & served in the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion in Saigon 1967-1968. He has been living and working in Vietnam since January 1995, currently as International Advisor for Project RENEW, a mine action program in Quang Tri Province to clean up cluster bombs, landmines and other unexploded ordnance remaining along the DMZ.
Q & A Discussion: AO Workshop (4)
The 16th Annual Kateri Peace Conference will be held with Fonda, NY, as its base on August 15th and 16th.
Extensive information on the nature of this event (I've been before and highly, highly recommend it. --David Swanson) is available here: http://kateripeaceconference.org
On Friday, August 15, from 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., the third annual day of reflection associated with this conference will be held at the bucolic National Kateri Tekawitha Shrine in Fonda. The day of reflection will be led by Thomas Gumbleton, a Roman Catholic Bishop from Detroit who for many decades has raised his voice, with great personal consequence, against war, militarism and social injustice.
On Friday evening, the Conference will officially open at 7 p.m. with the first ever "Rocking the Boat for Peace" cruise on the Erie Canal, leaving from Herkimer, NY. On board will be conference keynoters:
- DR. JILL STEIN, former Green Party Presidential candidate;
- DAVID SWANSON, author, journalist, radio host, organizer, blogger, World Beyond War director;
- KRISTIN CHRISTMAN, local writer and peace philosopher;
- BISHOP THOMAS GUMBLETON;
- HOWIE HAWKINS, Green Party candidate for Governor of New York;
and many others eager to consider the conference theme of transformation in a transformationally beautiful and peaceful setting. The evening promises to be a fun filled one and a lovely chance to have a great time with some powerful voices for peace and justice.
On Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. we'll have the opportunity to engage in a day long "conversation" with our speakers ( see above and including DR. STEVE BREYMAN) and fellow conference attendees through a series of questions designed to move us from a consideration of issues confronting us as concerned global citizens to a contemplation of strategies and solutions . The day's structure is designed to promote reflection, solidarity, and action.
Saturday's discussion promises to be extremely informative, enlightening, and energizing. Hope to see you there!
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Texas Governor Rick Perry is on the record with his objective to “make abortion a thing of the past.” Looking at the evidence, it is hard not to come to any other conclusion than the war on women is being won by a radical and regressively religious agenda.
Originally posted at: PopularResistance.org
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
Democracy...going, going gone: Leaving Brennan as CIA Director Means the Triumph of Secret Government
By Dave Lindorff
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says that John Brennan, the director of the CIA who has finally admitted that he lied when he angrily and repeatedly insisted that the agency did not spy on staff members of the Senate committee charged with oversight US intelligence agencies, “has a lot of work to do,” before she can forgive him for lying to and spying on her committee.