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TSA’s Pistole on invasive patdowns and nude scanners

An admirably persistent reporter from WeAreChange.org (not mainstream media, of course) questioned TSA Administrator John Pistole the other day about the strip-search scanners and his euphemistically termed “enhanced patdowns.” Pistole is his usual weaselly self, dancing around questions, faux-caring, and lying. Here's the video.

Anatomy of a False Flag

 

Anatomy of a False Flag

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

False flags are an American tradition. They go way back. The Boston bombings appear the latest. More on that below. 

 

Notable earlier false flags or incidents approximating them include:

 

Venezuela's Maduro Inaugurated

 

Venezuela's Maduro Inaugurated

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Latin American and other heads of state attended Maduro's inaugural ceremony. Earlier he accused opposition forces of triggering post-election violence.

 

"We have stopped a coup in its first stage," he said. "They are beaten, but they are coming back with a new attack." On Thursday, he flew to Lima. 

 

Syria News Apr 21

 

Syrian rebels told by West to unify and reject extremism in return for a major new package of non-lethal assistance - Telegraph

Deep divisions seen among backers of Syrian rebels on who to aid, and how - The Washington Post

Syria opposition must distance itself from terrorists: Germany - Reuters

EU to discuss Syria arms embargo in coming weeks: UK's Hague - chicagotribune.com

Syria opposition voices frustration with international backers, "The international community cannot ask us for anything" - Yahoo! News

Demands of the Syrian Coalition to the Friends of Syria: Weapons, drone strikes and no-fly zone - yallasouriya

Free Syrian Army chief: No dialogue with Assad, "This (conflict) will not be settled other than by force” – In Serbia News

Davutoğlu: Turkey will not discuss future of Syria with Israel - todayszaman

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Syria battles rage near Lebanon border, seized Radwaniyeh village near rebel-held Qusayr - AFP

Dozens, many of them rebels, killed in battle near Damascus - AFP

Al Nusra battle with tribesmen over oil in Syria's east, respond by blowing up 30 houses after the battle which killed 17 rebels - Yahoo! News

Six Jabhat al-Nusra affiliated Iraqis arrested on Syrian border - Al-Shorfa

Syria Prevents Trucks from Heading to Lebanon via Abboudiyeh Crossing - Naharnet

Lebanon to complain to AL about Syria militants - PressTV 

Lebanese Villagers Discover Al-Qaeda Field Hospital - SyriaNews

Report: Hizbullah Fighter Killed in Clashes in Syria — Naharnet

Tensions High After Riot at Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan - NYTimes.com

Jordan in the Eye of the Syrian Storm - Al Akhbar English

Syrian Rebel Confesses to Receiving Military Training in Jordan- SANA, Syria

VIDEO: Wahhabi Rebels Wipe Out Christian Church in Deir Ezzor, Syria - YouTube

VIDEO: Saudi jihadist from Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) sings about getting Syrian girls - LiveLeak.com

VIDEO: Lebanese Talk Show Exposes the Selling of Underage Syrian Girls - LiveLeak.com

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Kremlin: Russia, US to step up counter-terrorism cooperation following the Boston Marathon bombings- NBC World News

The birth of Chechen Muslim radicals - CBS News

Saudi Money, Saudi Preachers In Chechnya, And The Boston Echo - New English Review

Chechen commander forms 'Army of Emigrants,' integrates Syrian groups (VIDEO) - The Long War Journal

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

 

"The Afghanistan Marathon" by Dennis Serdel

 

Photo source: Huffington Post / "Afghanistan: NATO Air Strike Kills 11 Children" April 8, 2013
 
The following poem was written by Dennis Serdel, Vietnam 1967-68 (one tour) Light Infantry, Americal Div. 11th Brigade, Purple Heart; United Auto Workers GM Retiree. It is re-published here with his permission. I added the graphics.

Afghanistan Marathon

It is the Afghanistan Marathon
Runners Race beginning in Lashkar
Gah in Helmand Province
& ending In Kabul so the US
Dictator Stooge Karzai could crown
the Winners.
The first bunch to take off
were Afghanistan Civilians, then off
went the Afghanistan Fake Soldiers,
coming up behind them were
the Taliban with all kinds of weapons,
then after that, the American Soldiers
were bringing up the rear.
The air & the road was so Hot
that Human Beings handed out
Water in cups to the Runners.
Half way in the Marathon
the Taliban set up IED's
in the pressure cooker race
& took off some of the American Soldier's
legs, killed three & wounded
more, they had to be choppered
out to the hospital & it really made
the US Top Brass mad
because they had bets on which
Army Unit would win,
So they sent two drones to cripple
the Taliban & it worked as the US
Soldiers passed the Taliban,
Arms, Legs lay everywhere.
The Afghanistan Fake Soldiers
began shooting the American Soldiers
until the US Air Force took some of them
out as the Rest tore off their Uniforms
& Ran & Escaped back to their War Lords,
Who were Not happy, because they
had bets on the Winners too.
Three quarters of the way,
the American Soldiers set up an ambush
& killed & crippled the
rest of the Taliban
but the damn Civilians who started
out First, were getting Closer & Closer
to the Finish Line
So at the last minute, the US Air Force
sent so many drones in
that they killed all the Civilians,
arms, legs, heads cut off
lay everywhere
& the Winners were the US Mountain
Infantry who found it easy to run
at Sea Level where the air was thick
but the bastard Karzai
said they cheated & would Not
make them the Winners & would Not
give them their Trophies
But he gave them to the few remaining
Taliban Patriots on the long bloody road
& Kept the Winners Money that
the Americans gave him for Himself
instead of the Winners.
The American Brass
were so mad, that they sent a 100 drones
out to kill any Afghanistans who were
at Funerals in the next few days
burying their Dead & then they'll bury more.
This Long Afghanistan Marathon War
has killed so many Afghanistan Children
Mothers, Fathers, GrandFathers / Mothers
for All these years, they can only Estimate
how many Died, it's in many thousands.
But at least we know
how many, American Soldiers
have been killed so far,
it's a Marathon,
an Afghanistan War Marathon
supposed to end next year
or the year after that,
no one seems to know
where the Finish Line is.

Written by Human Being Dennis Serdel for Military Resistance



Cost of War in Afghanistan at the moment of publication:
$631,956,947,739

Boston Black Ops: Manufacturing Terror

 

Boston Black Ops: Manufacturing Terror

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Mounting evidence suggests state-sponsored terrorism. Expect more later to confirm it. Cui bono matters most. Powerful interests benefit hugely. Ordinary people lose out. 

 

The Bloom Is Off Gold

 

The Bloom Is Off Gold

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It is for now. Don't bet against it longer term. Value eventually wins out. Gold's secular bull market continues. Experts believe it has a long way to go. 

 

Market manipulation bears full responsibility for recent market action. A previous article explained. It called gold a global thermometer. It reflects monetary, geopolitical and economic conditions. It's driven by supply and demand considerations.

Syria News Apr 20

 

 

Jordanian source: Jordan asked Washington to deploy "Patriot" on the border with Syria - middleeastmonitor.com

U.S. defense official: No Patriot missiles to Jordan-Syria border - Foreign Policy

Jordan Considers Creating Buffer Zone in Daraa - Al-Monitor

More than 100 US Soldiers Deploying To Jordan From Fort Bliss Amid Conflict In Syria - KPBS.org

10 Jordanian police injured in a riot at Syrian refugee camp- The Seattle Times

Northern Storm Brigade: Positive Breakthrough in Lebanese Abductees Case within 10 Days - Naharnet

Hezbollah Wary of Deeper Intervention in Syria - The Majalla Magazine

Encroaching Syrian Conflict Pits Hezbollah Against Jabhat al-Nusra - Al-Monitor

Israel 'set to hit Syria rebels over arms' - Big News Network

Belgium vs. Islamic Jihadists - Gatestone Institute

Russia, Egypt call for quick Syria ceasefire, the launch of negotiations between the regime and rebels - Yahoo! News Maktoob

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Boston Marathon suspects Chechen Islamic terrorists, their videos feature Bin Laden, call to kill Americans, Jews, Christians and establish a world-wide caliphate Fox News

VIDEO: Chechen Boston Bomber believed in "Islamic Prophecy" saying an army of Black Flags will "defeat USA and Israel" - LiveLeak.com

North Caucasus or Chechen jihadists’ money traces back to Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden - Money Jihad

Jabhat al-Nusra's rise in Syria: testimonies from inside - Al-Shorfa

A divorce with al-Nusra will not be easy since the battle against al-Assad is now organized and led by the Islamist fighters - hurriyetdailynews.com

Free Syrian Army denies connection with al-Nusra Front - hurriyetdailynews.com

Assailants Gun Down Official of Syria’s Relief Agency - NYTimes.com

Damascus Maintains Military Advantage, Inner Circle Cohesive: US official - almanar.com

Report: 4000 Militants Killed in Three Weeks in Syria - almanar.com

Clashes for control over major military base flare in Raqqa, northern Syria - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Syria shoots down balloon carrying US-made spying devices near Idlib - Siasat

VIDEO (and transcript): Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Full Interview with Ikhbariya News Channel - SyriaNews

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Top UN Official Amos: Syrian cities reduced to rubble, Children raped and murdered, House burned with families inside - United Nations

VIDEO: UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict: 'FSA raped, killed young woman in Syria' - YouTube

VIDEO: Syria UN Rep: Syrian Women Raped by Terrorists; Jordanian Cleric's Fatwa for FSA to Enslave Girls - YouTube

Syria: Old Franciscan church destroyed - Independent Catholic News

Syria: Qamishli’s Kurds Fight Two Enemies at Once - Al Akhbar English

Domestic opposition leader Manna: Syrians can be reconciled – through negotiation, not violence - The Guardian

VIDEO: Armenians face few options in Syria - YouTube

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Two scenes of terror this week, only one terrorism investigation: The Real Terrorists are the Corporate Execs Who’ve Bought the

 

By Dave Lindorff


The way I see it, we had two acts of terrorism in the US this week. The first took place at the end of the historic Boston Marathon, when two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three and seriously injuring dozens of runners and spectators. The second happened a couple days later in the town of West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant blew up, incinerating or otherwise killing at least 15, and injuring at least 150 people, and probably more as the search for the dead and the injured continues.

Bush and Obama: Dangerous Narcissists

 

Bush and Obama: Dangerous Narcissists

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Canadian psychiatrist Robert Hare analyzes psychopathic behavior. He does so clinically. He believes about 1% of the general population is insane. So are 10% of Wall Street employees, he says.

 

Palestinian Prisoners Day

 

Palestinian Prisoners Day

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On April 17, Palestinians commemorate Prisoners Day. They do so annually. They've done it since 1979. It marks Mahmoud Hijazi's release. Israel freed him in its first ever prisoner swap.

 

Getting involved versus Calls For Vengeance Citizen First-Responders: Models For Responsible Democracy

 

By John Grant


I write a lot of critical things about militarism, our unnecessary wars and our growing surveillance/police state. So it was heartwarming to watch the videos and listen to the stories from the Boston Marathon bombing about civilian “first-responders” who chose not to flee but to wade into a very messy situation.

Syria News Apr 19

 

 

Syria troops seize strategic Homs village, rebels in the area capture abandoned Dabaa military airport - NOW

VIDEO: The rebels who captured Dabaa military airport near Homs chant anti-Shia slogans - guardian.co.uk

VIDEO: Three Alawite soldiers being tortured by rebels in Homs province - YouTube

Syrian rebels sometimes bring strife to villages - usatoday.com

Syria's Christian Minority Lives in Fear of Kidnapping and Street Battles - The Atlantic

Islamist Ultimatum to Syrian Christians: Convert, Leave, or Die - aina.org

Protests over abducted Shiites in Syria target Turkish offices in Lebanon - NOW

Opposition chief Al Khatib rejects any military attack by Western countries inside Syria in the name of fighting terrorism - en.haberler.com

Syrian opposition to establish moderate form of Islamic law - The National

VIDEO: FSA group leader interview - LiveLeak.com

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France, Britain claim Syria used chemical weapons - The Times of India

U.S. Probes Suspicions Syria Used Chemical Weapons - WSJ.com

Israeli threat to intervene in Syria to prevent chemical and other weapons getting into the hands of militant Islamist groups - Telegraph

Iraq blasted daily by suicide bombings and shootings spawned by the civil war in neighboring Syria - UPI

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Vie For Influence in Syria - Al-Monitor

Kuwait makes good on $300 mn pledge for Syria aid - AFP

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Vile, Filthy, Bloody, Dirty Wars

Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has a new book that should be required reading for Congress members, journalists, war supporters, war opponents, Americans, non-Americans -- really, pretty much everybody.  The new book is called Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.

Of course, Scahill is not suggesting that the world should be a battlefield.  He's reporting on how the Bush and Obama White Houses have defined and treated it as such. 

The phrase "dirty wars" is a little less clear in meaning.  Scahill is a reporter whose chronological narrative is gripping and revealing but virtually commentary-free.  Any observations on the facts related tend to come in the form of quotations from experts and those involved.  So, there isn't anywhere in the book that explicitly explains what a dirty war is. 

The focus of the book is on operations that were once more secretive than they are today: kidnapping, rendition, secret-imprisonment, torture, and assassination.  "This is a story," reads the first sentence of the book, "about how the United States came to embrace assassination as a central part of its national security policy."  It's a story about special, elite, and mercenary forces operating under even less Congressional or public oversight than the rest of the U.S. military, a story about the Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA, and not about the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad or the activities of tens of thousands of soldiers occupying Iraq or Afghanistan.

The type of war recounted is variously identified in the book as dirty, dark, black, dark-side, small, covert, black-ops, asymmetric, secret, twilight, and -- in quotation marks -- "smart."  At one point, Scahill describes the White House, along with General Stanley McChrystal, as beginning to "apply its emerging global kill list doctrine inside Afghanistan, buried within the larger, public war involving conventional U.S. forces."  But part of Scahill's story is how, in recent years, something that had been considered special, secretive, and relatively unimportant has come to occupy the focus of the U.S. military.  In the process, it has lost some of its stigma as well as its secretiveness.  Scahill refers to some operations as "not so covert."  It's hard to hide a drone war that is killing people by the thousands.  Secret death squad night raids that are bragged about in front of the White House Press Corps are not so secret.

Join Me at Great Events in DC, Dallas, Syracuse, Asheville

I'll be speaking at these events and hope to see you there:

April 20 Washington, DC, Nation Magazine Discussion Group on Iraq 3-5:30 at 3310 Connecticut Ave.

April 25 Dallas TX

April 27 Syracuse NY

May 3-4 Asheville NC

Stopping the Billionaires, the Bombers, and the War Machine--an interview with David Swanson

By T. Forsyth, Rochester Indymedia

On April 11, 2013, Rochester Indymedia interviewed anti-war organizer, journalist, and blogger David Swanson who will be going to Syracuse, NY on April 26-28th for the “Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire" convergence. (See the FaceBook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/540569232649914/?ref=22.) David runs the website David Swanson dot org and writes, in a coalition effort, on War Is A Crime dot org. Currently, he works for Roots Action dot org and Veterans For Peace.

In this interview, David talks about his entry into the peace movement, the abolition of war, the sequester, and North Korea, among other topics.

Either we're gonna stop investing in billionaires, bombers, and the war machine, and start investing in people or we're headed for absolute disaster, be it climate disaster, nuclear disaster, or other military and economic and environmental collapse.  We have to change course.

Watch now!

For more about the upcoming, anti-drone "Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire" convergence in Syracuse, NY, please go to Upstate Drone Action dot org.

Post-Boston Bombings Fear-Mongering

 

Post-Boston Bombings Fear-Mongering

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On April 17, major media reported Obama and Senator Roger Wicker (R. MI) receiving letters containing suspicious substances. 

 

FBI testing continues. Initial evaluations confirmed ricin. A subsequent statement reported "inconsistent results." Further analysis is being conducted. 

 

Washington v. Venezuela

 

Washington v. Venezuela

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Longstanding US plans prioritize regime change. It's the oil, stupid! Venezuela has the world's largest reserves. It's a prize Washington covets. More on that below.

 

Post-election US-orchestrated destabilization continues. Venezuelans elected Nicolas Maduro president. The electoral process was scrupulously open, free and fair. The result is indisputable.

Syria News Apr 18

 

 

Key Obama Officials Differ on Syria in Testimony, Rift between the State Department and the Pentagon - NYTimes.com

Pentagon Chief Hagel Orders Unit to Jordan, Warns About Intervention in Syria - Defense.gov News

VIDEO: Hagel Testifies to Congress on Syria - dvidshub.net

U.S. Fears Syria Rebel Victory, for Now - WSJ.com

Netanyahu to urge Britain to 'carefully vet’ Syria rebels’ intentions before supplying them with arms - Haaretz Daily Newspaper

Russian foreign minister says all parties in Syria should lay down arms without any pre-condition- Anadolu Agency

VIDEO:  Russian Lavrov talk Syria with Turkish Davutoglu - PressTV

UN chief: Syria still has not allowed entry of chemical weapons investigation team - The Washington Post

Pentagon mum on Syria chemical weapons use - NDTV.com

EU to allow purchases of Syrian oil from opposition | Reuters

Iran, South Africa Stress Need to Stop Violence in Syria, Adopt Dialogue and Political Solutions- SANA, Syria

VIDEO: End War in Syria: Stop the Killing Now, Unprecedented Appeal from UN Heads of Agency - YouTube

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Syria's Assad warns West over Qaeda. vows that he will not "surrender" - NOW

VIDEO: Assad warns West against supporting 'al Qaeda rebels' - FRANCE 24

Battle for Damascus: Regime Fights on Four Fronts - Al Akhbar English

Syrian Christians Seek Refuge Beyond Lebanon - Al Akhbar English

Belgian Police Arrest Six on Charges of Recruiting for Syrian Insurgency - NYTimes.com

Historical heritage site Dura-Europos Looted and Vandalized by Syrian rebels - SyriaNews

VIDEO: Al Jazeera speaks to FSA deputy commander - YouTube

VIDEO: Syria Kurdish YPG Commander`s Speech - YouTube

VIDEO: Salafist Army arrests Sheik Hassan Seif Addin just before his beheading - LiveLeak.com

VIDEO: New Anti-Tank Weapons From The Former-Czechoslovakia Appear In Syria

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

That's Where the Money Goes

By Lawrence S. Wittner

According to a report just released by the highly-respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), world military expenditures in 2012 totaled $1.75 trillion.

The report revealed that, as in recent decades, the world’s biggest military spender by far was the U.S. government, whose expenditures for war and preparations for war amounted to $682 billion -- 39 percent of the global total.  The United States spent more than four times as much on the military as China (the number two big spender) and more than seven times as much as Russia (which ranked third).  Although the military expenditures of the United States dipped a bit in 2012, largely thanks to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, they remained 69 percent higher than in 2001.

U.S. military supremacy is even more evident when the U.S. military alliance system is brought into the picture, for the United States and its allies accounted for the vast bulk of world military spending in 2012.  NATO members alone spent a trillion dollars on the military.

Thus, although studies have found that the United States ranks 17th among nations in education, 26th in infant mortality, and 37th in life expectancy and overall health, there is no doubt that it ranks first when it comes to war.

This Number 1 status might not carry much weight among Americans scavenging for food in garbage dumpsters, among Americans unable to afford medical care, or among Americans shivering in poorly heated homes.  Even many Americans in the more comfortable middle class might be more concerned with how they are going to afford the skyrocketing costs of a college education, how they can get by with fewer teachers, firefighters, and police in their communities, and how their hospitals, parks, roads, bridges, and other public facilities can be maintained.

Anti-Zionism Not Anti-Semitism

 

Anti-Zionism Not Anti-Semitism

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Ronnie Fraser heads The Academic Friends of Israel (AFI). According to its mission statement, it was established to "fight the academic boycott of Israel and all other forms of anti-Semitism in the UK and the International academic and scientific arenas."

 

Talk Nation Radio: Honduras Most Dangerous Country in World Thanks to Us

Tom Loudon is the co-director of the Friendship Office of the Americas and former executive secretary of the Commission of Truth in Honduras.  He says that following the 2009 coup Honduras has spiraled into becoming the most dangerous country on earth, with much of the violence funded by the U.S. State Department, and with that Department clearly being less than forthcoming with the U.S. Congress or the public.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

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The Only Public Comment Kerry Needs to Deny Keystone XL

noxl3Creative Commons

Any project that increases greenhouse gasses above expectations at this moment in history, particularly a substantial increase, must be determined an imminent danger to the national interest if the people living in the nation are an interest in this determination.

The United States Department of State called for public comments on construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The deadline is April 22, 2013 -- Earth Day.  Since Keystone is an international project, Secretary of State John Kerry has authority to decide on starting or ending the proposed conduit for toxic oil from the Alberta, Canada tar sands, across the United States, to the Houston area for refining.  From there, the oil goes straight to China.

Tar sands oil produces 17% more carbon dioxide per barrel than the average barrel of oil.  With China's intense demand for fuel, the volume of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere will increase at a dangerous rate even beyond the current hazardous rate of pollution. 

Public Comment follows the break

Marathon Terror: Homegrown or State-Sponsored?

 

Marathon Terror: Homegrown or State-Sponsored?

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Boston's marathon is the modern world's oldest. It's the best known. It's an annual tradition. It's been held since 1897. It's one of six World Marathon Majors.

 

Thousands of runners participate. Professionals and amateurs compete. Hundreds of thousands of spectators watch it. They do so throughout its 26.2 mile route.

Destabilizing Venezuela

 

Destabilizing Venezuela

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On April 14, Venezuelans elected Nicolas Maduro president. He won fair and square. It's official. A nationally televised Monday ceremony announced it. 

 

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles cried foul. He called Maduro "illegitimate." He refuses to recognize election results. He demands a recount. He wants "every vote" counted. National Electoral Council (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena responded.

Vieques Vive La Lucha Continua 10 years after the bombing stopped

By Helen Jaccard and David Swanson, http://warisacrime.org/vieques

Ten years ago May 1, the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico and their supporters from around the world defeated the most powerful military machine ever, through mass civil disobedience and without firing a single shot.   On May 1, 2003 the bombing stopped and the bases were officially closed.  People from all over the world supported the struggle on Vieques, and the activists and residents have an incredible victory to celebrate.

There were decades of resistance, civil disobedience and arrests.  But those hoping and laying the groundwork for greater resistance were given an opportunity on April 19, 1999, when a U.S. Marines pilot missed his target and killed civilian security guard David Sanes Rodriguez.  That spark lit a fire of nonviolent resistance that brought together Viequenses, Puerto Ricans, and supporters from the United States and around the world.  A campaign of non-violent civil resistance that began in 1999 lasted four years, including a year-long occupation of the bombing range, and saw over 1,500 people arrested.  The Navy was forced to close the bombing range on May 1, 2003.  Peace loving people had won most of the first of their demands for the island: demilitarization.

A huge commemoration is planned in Vieques for the anniversary from May 1 – 4, 2013.

Beautiful Vieques island is only 21 miles across and 5 miles wide, and 7 miles from the main island of Puerto Rico.  It is home to about 9,300 people, as well as endangered turtle species, rare Caribbean plants and animals, bio-luminescent bays, and miles of what look like unspoiled beaches.

But crabs with three claws, grossly deformed fish laden with heavy metals, once-beautiful coral reefs, and beaches and seas that have been decimated by military activity tell a story of environmental disaster with huge health impacts on people, plants, and animals.

An incredible three-quarters of the island was appropriated in the 1940s and used by the U.S. Navy for bombing practice, war games, and dumping or burning old munitions.  This was a terrible attack on an island municipality, one the United States was not at war with. 

Now, Vieques Island, a paradise in trouble, is one of the largest superfund sites in the United States, together with its little sister island of Culebra, which took the brunt of the bombing until 1973, when the Culebra bombing range closed (also due to protests) and the bombing practice was transferred to Vieques.

In 2003, the Navy did not return the land to the people, but transferred its Vieques land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates beaches that were never used for military activities. 

Viequenses fear that keeping the U.S. Government in control of their lands could result in future re-militarization of the island.  Residents aren't happy that their land has not been returned to them and that they are fined for staying on their land past sunset or collecting crabs -- a mainstay of their historic diet.  There are also two military occupations of lands -- a ROTHR radar system and a communications area, and the people want these closed as well.  You can add your name to Viequenses' demand for peace here.

For over 2,000 years people known as Taino inhabited Vieques, which they called Bieque.  The Taino found and left behind them a paradise of fertile soil, fresh water, and trees.  In 1493, the conquistadors arrived.  In 1524, the Spanish killed every remaining resident.  Vieques was then left uninhabited by humanity for 300 years, interrupted by a few British, French, and Spanish attempts to set up forts or destroy each other's efforts.

From 1823 into the 1900s, Vieques was used by the Spanish and French to grow sugar.  English-speaking people of African origin, from nearby islands, were kept in slavery or the nearest thing to it, and forced to grow the sugar cane.  They revolted in 1864 and 1874, and in the 1915 Sugar Strike.  The United States took Puerto Rico from the Spanish in 1898 and made residents U.S. citizens in 1917.  The depression of the 1930s, together with two hurricanes in 1932, brought on harder times than ever.

In 1939 the United States bought 26,000 of the 30,000 acres of land on Vieques from big sugar plantation owners.  Living on that land were 10,000 to 12,000 workers who also raised crops to feed themselves.  The U.S. Navy gave families $30 and one day's notice before bulldozing houses.  Most people were left without means of subsistence, but many stubbornly refused to leave the island.

Carlos Prieta Ventura, a 51-year-old Viequense fisherman, says his father was 8-years-old in 1941 when the Navy told his family their house would be bulldozed whether or not they accepted the $30.  Ventura says he has always resisted the Navy's efforts to force people off the island.

From 1941 to 2003, the U.S. military flew planes from aircraft carriers based on the main island of Puerto Rico dropping bombs over Vieques.  Bombs "rained down," and you could feel the ground shake within the base, as one U.S. veteran told CNN.  Bombs fell at all hours, all day, all week, all year, amounting to approximately a trillion tons of ordnance, much of which (some 100,000 items) lies unexploded on land and in the sea.  Vieques was systematically poisoned by heavy metals, napalm, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and who knows what all else that the Navy has not announced publicly -- having falsely denied using depleted uranium before finally admitting to it, and having dumped barrels of unknown toxic substances into the clear blue Caribbean.

The arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminum in the bombs are also found in hair samples of 80% of the people living on Vieques, who suffer at far higher rates than on the main island (and possibly anywhere else on earth) from cancer (30% higher than Puerto Rico), cirrhosis of the liver, kidney failure, hypertension (381%), diabetes (41%), birth defects, stillbirths, and miscarriages.

The impact of the U.S. occupation that began in 1941 was felt far more swiftly than cancer.  According to Ventura, some 15,000 troops were routinely set loose on Vieques looking for booze and women.  Women were dragged out of their homes and gang raped.  A boy was killed by gang rape.  Ventura says people had only a machete and a hole in the wall by the door where they could try to stab the Marines who would come to take women.  A dozen people were killed over the years directly by the U.S. weapons testing.  And the Navy banned fishermen from various areas, advising them to try food stamps instead.  Fishermen attempted civil resistance actions, and many were arrested during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.

Lydia Ortiz, a Viequense who grew up in the small town of Esperanza, recalls the bombing:  "A lot of houses had their roofs falling in and everything as a result of the vibrations from the bombs for many years.  It was pretty nerve wracking because you never knew what was going to crash down in your house.  We lived quite close to where the bombing was happening.  When I was a child they were dropping bombs near me.  In the school, you could hear the bombing.  You couldn't even hear the teacher because of the noise.  People were afraid to go anywhere near the base or the beach so it was very difficult for many years.  It seems like just yesterday or only 5 or 6 years ago that the bombing stopped, even though it is really almost 10 years ago."

A celebration of the 10-year anniversary is indeed in order.  We must remember victories as they have remarkable power to motivate others around the world.

But the Navy's presence and the environmental disaster it created continue to afflict Vieques today.  The U.S. government has not cleaned up the poisons and bombs and continues to use practices that further endanger the people.  There is no bomb explosion chamber on the island.  The United States has disposed of what unexploded bombs it has disposed of by blowing them up, further spreading the contaminants that are killing the people of the island.

There is also no hospital on the island, few ferries to the island, few and overpriced airplanes, a handful of taxis and public vans, and very limited tourist facilities.  There is no college or university, and very few jobs of any kind.  Business licenses are issued in San Juan and require bribes.  Viequenses' families are ravaged by cancer, but also by illiteracy, unemployment, violent crime, and teen pregnancy.  All of the water -- like all electricity -- comes in a pipe from the main island.  Two of the residents said that the one resort on Vieques sometimes uses all the water.  Seven thousand Viequenses sued the U.S. government over their health problems, but the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear the case.

With very little land available for farming, Vieques, like all of Puerto Rico, imports almost all of its food.  Some people have become so desperate that they gather old munitions to sell for a little money to someone who will melt the metal for aluminum cans.  But heavy metals and depleted uranium endanger the metal gatherers and whoever later drinks from the cans.

Presidential candidate Obama wrote to the Governor of Puerto Rico in 2008: "We will closely monitor the health of the people of Vieques and promote appropriate remedies to health conditions caused by military activities conducted by the U.S. Navy on Vieques."  But that promise remains unfulfilled.

Robert Rabin Siegal of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques writes in a letter to President Barack Obama,

"Although I cannot claim the Navy and military toxics caused my cancer, you don't have to be a quantum physicist to understand how decades of exposure to heavy metals in the food chain, air, water and land, combined with the socio-economic pressures from the loss of two thirds of the island’s lands, would clearly contribute to high cancer rates.  The Navy dropped radioactive uranium projectiles here, we believe, in large quantities, in preparation for military actions in the Balkans and the Middle East.  The list of dangerous chemical components from munitions dropped on Vieques is extensive, as is the number of illnesses they cause.

"Mr. President: you received the Nobel Peace Prize; we demand peace for Vieques.  An island and people used to protect U.S. interests since WWII, forced to sacrifice its land, economic prosperity, tranquility and health, deserves at least the hope of peace for this and future generations."

". . . A handful of powerful US based corporations have pocketed most of the more than 200 million dollars spent on clean-up over the past decade.  We urge you to order technology transference to promote the creation of Puerto Rican and Viequense companies to carry out the clean-up of Vieques, thereby transforming that process into part of the economic reconstruction of the island as well as assuring community confidence in this crucial element in the healing of Vieques."

People anywhere in the world can take one minute to sign a petition to the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House in support of justice, at long last, for Vieques:

"I join the people of Vieques in demanding:

"Health Care -- Provide a modern hospital with cancer treatment facilities, early screening and timely treatment for all diseases.  Create a research facility to determine the relationship between military toxins and health.  Provide just compensation to people suffering poor health as a result of the Navy's activities.

"Cleanup -- Fund a complete, rapid cleanup of the land and surrounding waters, still littered by thousands of bombs, grenades, napalm, Agent Orange, depleted uranium and other explosives left by the Navy.  Cease the ongoing open detonation of unexploded ordnance.  Guarantee community participation in the cleanup; train Viequenses as managers, administrators, and scientists, and foster Viequense companies to do the work.

"Sustainable Development -- Support the Master Plan for Sustainable Development of Vieques which promotes agriculture, fishing, eco-tourism, small guest houses, housing, collective transportation, archaeology, and historic and environmental research, among other things.

"Demilitarization and Return of the Land -- Close the remaining military installations still occupying 200 acres of Vieques.  Return to the people of Vieques all land still under the control of the U.S. Navy and the federal government."

For extensive documentation, see the attachments below and others at this link.

Helen Jaccard is Chair of the Veterans For Peace -- Environmental Cost of War and Militarism Working Group.  She spent October, 2012 in Vieques doing research about the environmental and health effects of the military activities.  Her previous article about Sardinia, Italy can be found at http://www.warisacrime.org/sardinia .

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.

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