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Video of Agent Orange Workshop at the 29th Annual Convention of Veterans For Peace

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/SurvivingAgentOrange But since he was doing the filming no video of his presentation. Dan Shea is a marine  veteran of (Vietnam 1968), Agent Orange survivor, former member of the VFP National Board of Directors and current member of the Core Committee of the the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. Dan is a poet, visual artist and currently hosts a monthly cable TV program Veterans For Peace Forum. He  is an active member of Portland, Oregon VFP Chapter 72 and keeps a blog at http://dsheavfp72.wordpress.

Paul Cox:  AO Workshop (1) VFP Convention July 2014

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)

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.


Assault on Gaza: The Moral Agonies of Asymmetrical Diplomacy

By John Grant


At a birthday dinner with friends last night, the Israeli assault on Gaza came up. One friend said having to helplessly watch the violence infuriated him and made him ill. Another said it made him want to cry.

When Irving Berlin Called Warmakers Worse Than the Devil, and Everybody Sang

From this wonderful song book:

By Irving Berlin in 1914 (100 years ago):
 

Stay Down Here Where You Belong

Down below
Down below
Sat the Devil talking to his son
Who wanted to go
Up above
Up above
He cried, "It's getting too warm for me down here and so
I'm going up on Earth where I can have a little fun”.
The Devil simply shook his head and answered his son:
Stay down here where you belong
The folks who live above you don't know right from wrong.
To please their kings they've all gone out to war
And not a one of them knows what he's fighting for.
Way up above they say that I'm a Devil and I'm bad
Kings up there are bigger devils than your dad.
They're breaking the hearts of mothers
Making butchers out of brothers
You'll find more hell up there than there is
down below.
Kings up there
They don't care
For the mothers who must stay at home
Their sorrows to bear
Stay at home
Don't you roam
Although it's warm down below,
you'll find it's warmer up there
If e'er you went up there, my son,
I know you'd be surprised
You'd find a lot of people are not civilized.

Another one:

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.
I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps—
His night is marching on.
I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"
We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!
In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom—and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich—
Our god is marching on.

And one more:

Bring Back My Daddy To Me

A sweet little girl, with bright golden curls,
Sat playing with toys on the floor,
Her dad went away, to enter the fray,
At the start of this long bitter war;
Her mother said, "Dear your birthday is near,
Tomorrow your presents I'll buy."
The dear little child, quickly looked up and smiled,
And said with a tear in her eye:
"I don't want a dress or a do-ly,
'Cause dollies get broken 'round here,
I don't want the skates, the books or the slates,
You bought for my birthday last year;
If you'll bring the present I ask for,
Dear Mother, how happy I'll be;
You can give all my toys To some poor girls and boys,
But bring back my Daddy to me!"

100 Years of War – 100 Years of Peace and the Peace Movement, 1914 – 2014

By Peter van den Dungen

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. … It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. --Andrew Carnegie

Since this is a strategy conference of the peace and anti-war movement, and since it is being held against the background of the centenary of the First World War, I will confine my comments largely to issues the centenary should focus on and to the way in which the peace movement can contribute to the anniversary events which will be spreading out over the coming four years. The numerous commemorative events not only in Europe but around the world offer an opportunity to the anti-war and peace movement to publicise and advance its agenda.

Counting the Presidents' Bodies

"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged," said Noam Chomsky prior to the last few presidencies, none of which is likely to have changed his analysis.

But what if you applied such principles retroactively back to George Washington and every U.S. president since?  What if you graded presidents, not on personality or style or popularity, but on how many deaths they caused or prevented?

Al Carroll's new book is called Presidents' Body Counts: The Twelve Worst and Four Best American Presidents: Based on How Many Lived or Died Because of Their Actions.

I think this is a model for how history ought to be examined, despite serious flaws.  Carroll's project may ultimately be impossible.  How do you score presidents on the areas of criminal enterprise they opened up for their successors?  Could you have really had a Nixon without a Truman?  Carroll is aware of these difficulties, and also of the overarching lesson that giving single individuals such royal powers as presidents have been given inevitably leads to disaster.  But I think he still falls short.

Carroll attempts to step outside his own biases and look at the facts.  But how does one include sins of omission? How does one score numbers of deaths across centuries, given dramatic growth in populations?  And what about the deaths that Carroll happens to approve of?  He gives Lincoln and FDR credit for the Civil War and World War II while marking all other presidents down for their wars (although marking FDR down for certain atrocities during his war); he has swallowed the humanitarian war advocates' mythology about Bosnia; and he omits dozens of smaller military operations from any mention at all.  And Carroll's current day partisanship seems to be showing as he credits Obama with ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that the war in Afghanistan has not been ended and the war in Iraq, which Obama was forced to end, he has now found a way of restarting.

I said this book was a model, not the ultimate achievement of the genre.  Carroll is of course right to denounce historians who examine "leadership" and "presidential caliber" as little better than celebrity tabloid writers.  And his book, whether one agrees with his selections and rankings, makes illuminating reading that would benefit any classroom.  Simplistic, it is not.  Much of each section is devoted to who else gets the blame for particular horrors.  To pretend that in blaming a president for something Carroll has asserted that nobody else is to blame for it would require cutting out a large percentage of the book.  Carroll also devotes space to what plausibly could have been done by each president rather than what that president did.

Our airports, cities, and states are named for butchers, Carroll writes, and correcting that does not require that we get the butchers into the perfect ranking.  Yet, for what it's worth, here is Carroll's ranking of the worst of the worst, beginning with the very worst of them all: Nixon, Reagan, Jackson, Buchanan, Polk, Filmore, Clinton, Ford, Truman, McKinley, Bush II, Andrew Johnson.  And here's his ranking of the best, beginning with number 1: Lincoln, Van Buren, Carter, Grant.  Carroll includes positive deeds by Nixon, and negative deeds by Carter, etc.  But this is where he comes out..

In fact, Carroll includes enough information on these and other presidents, that he may end up reinforcing your disagreement with him on the rankings.  I've always considered Truman the worst of the worst, and when Carroll lays the Cold War -- and all the actual wars it included -- at Truman's feet, he seems to make the case (although U.S. policy did not exactly transform when the Cold War ended). 

The book, I think, works best if read straight through and then re-arranged or collated in your head.  Carroll treats presidential horrors in terms of categories that don't make the most sense.  First come genocides, then the allowance of or provocation of genocides, then slavery as a subcategory of genocide, then atrocities during wars, then something called "mass death by incompetence or ideological blindness" (which ends up including, in order from greatest to fewest deaths: "deregulation," the Cold War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the U.S. Civil War [blaming Buchanan for it, while giving Lincoln credit for it], the "war" on drugs, the War of 1812, the Panama Canal, Hurricane Katrina, and the Branch Davidians), then "Other American Wars of Aggression," etc.  Wars of nonaggression (or something?) never make the lists.  I'd have preferred one list that combined all the sections and included all the wars, as well as all other acts of commission and omission causing or alleviating mass suffering.

Carroll also includes good deeds by presidents, including instances of war avoidance, and including disarmament successes.  I think this section could be significantly expanded and truly is a model for the sort of history books we need.  And we need them with something else in precisely this section: heroism.  Gore Vidal recounted JFK saying "What would Lincoln have been without a war? Just a railroad lawyer." Indeed, without his "good war," Lincoln might have been as thoroughly ignored as Coolidge by Carroll, despite the creation by the latter's administration of a treaty banning war, and the avoidance by his administration of any major war making.  But what if future Kennedys saw the later JFK who turned against wars, and paid a price for it, as a model of greatness, as well as viewing the rogues gallery of past butchers as just what they were?

Honduran child refugees and the US border: Bleedback of a US Imperial Wound

By John Grant

 

In Spanish, the word hondura means “depth; profundity.” The related word hondomeans “deep, low; bottom.” Hondon means “dell, glen, deep hole.” An example given in my dictionary is meterse en honduras, “to go beyond one’s depth.”

On KPFA's 'Project Censored' program: Discussing Homeland Security's Labeling of ThisCantBeHappening! as a 'Threat'

By Dave Lindorff

 

Dave Lindorff is interviewed by Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips of Project Censored on their June 27 program on San Francisco public radio station KPFA. Lindorff tells Huff and Phillips about how TCBH! learned, from a Department of Homeland Security document obtained recently thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filing by the Partnership for Civil Justice, that ThisCantBeHappening! had been labeled a "threat" by the DHS.

Meme with Wings: Are Western Anti-Fracking Activists Funded by Putin's Russia?

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At a June 19 speaking event at London's Chatham House, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen claimed the Russian government is covertly working to discredit hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the west from afar.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

War Stories: Bad Wars and the Voice of Disillusion

By John Grant

 

      When lo! An angel called him out of heaven,

      Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, . . .

Supporting Democracy is So Yesterday: Washington’s Rats are Abandoning Maliki

By Dave Lindorff 


The rat, among mammals, is one of the most successful animals on the planet. Cunning, ruthless, competitive and above all adaptable -- it is able to change its habits quickly as needed to accommodate the situation it finds itself in.  


When it comes to foreign policy, the US government is filled with rats.

The Legacy of World War II

By Elliott Adams, WarIsACrime.org

June 6th came once more. D-day was a long time ago and I didn't intend to make anything of it.  I was surprised by the emotional turmoil I felt, by how I felt about that day in my gut.  I realized that while I was born after the war was over, D-day and World War II were a real and tangible part of my childhood.  It was part of my family's life, my teachers lives, my friends parent's lives. It wasn't just old men who remembered it, every adult in my youth had stories from that war. It was amputees on street corners selling pencils and people all around me still dealing with it. It was part of my life and it played a role in my enlistment for Vietnam.  Of course I felt this day in my guts. Why did I think it would be otherwise?

The stories were part of the world I grew up in; stories of D-day, of every counter-espionage agent for a year saying the first attack will be a feint, of the phantom 1st Army with decoy tanks, fake radio chatter and empty tents looking like an army poised for an imminent invasion, of Omaha Beach, of Utah Beach.  The death, the military blunders, the maimed, the successes, the “discovery” of the concentration camps, the Battle of the Bulge, these stories were tangible and a part of my childhood. Many of the stories were told after I was in bed, at breakfast they were alluded to quietly by my parents, and we children were told never to ask the adults about them.

So what is the legacy of WWII?  For the people around me in my youth it was not D-day or even VE day or VJ day. Those were just markers of relief, of joy, that the war would come to an end.  The war was not fought just to win the war. No, the adults of my youth knew there was a bigger issue – how do we keep this from ever happening again?  In their experience, the world could not live through another world war, and it could not afford another war at all.  The legacy of World War II was the question of how we assure that the next crazy, the next despot, the next aggressor nation does not start another war. 

The Allies discussed this.  Stalin believed that we should take the top 50,000 living Nazi leaders and execute them. That would send a clear message to not only the heads of state, but to the people who did the work to implement their aggression.  Churchill, who incidentally had not personally been touched by the 30 million deaths on the Eastern Front, thought that Stalin was being excessive. Churchill proposed that executing the top 5,000 Nazi leaders would be enough death to make those who might support an aggressive nation's acts of war think twice.  Truman thought we needed the rule of law, that we needed to establish that these acts of war were crimes and that people could expect to be prosecuted for them. Thus the Nuremberg Tribunals were formed. The Tokyo Tribunals followed, but it was Nuremberg that set the standard and established the law.

Robert H. Jackson, a US Supreme Court Justice who took a leave from the court to become a main architect of the Nuremberg Tribunals, said on August 12, 1945 “We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify a resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.” This, not D-day, is what the people of my youth talked about. This was the legacy the war, this was the high ideal that made the whole war effort worth while.

I was recently talking with some US Airmen and found that they did not know what the Nuremberg Tribunals were, even when I prompted them with leads like WWII and trials.  Is it possible that after all that blood and gore, the lasting legacy, the summation of what WWII was fought for has been lost? Lost even to our people in uniform.

In preparation for the tribunals the Allied powers passed the Nuremberg Charter. This set out the process of the trials and the crimes that would be prosecuted. There would be no revenge summary executions. The process established was for fair and open trials in which each defendant was presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, with right to present evidence of defense.  The Nuremberg Charter went on to establish the crimes that would be prosecuted, thus we have words familiar to us today, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. 

It was the intent of the Nuremberg Tribunals to make starting a war illegal and prosecutable, even planning a war of aggression was a crime.  The new laws established by Nuremberg were summed up in the seven Nuremberg Principles, among them that the sovereign or the head of a sovereign state is not above the law, and could be tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. Up until then they were generally considered above the law, or more accurately were considered to be the law, thus could not be prosecuted. Principle IV says if you participate in a war crime, you can not be absolved of guilt by claiming you had just followed orders; if you were part of the war crime you can be prosecuted. These two principles alone radically changed the prospect for the officials and functionaries of an aggressor state and hopefully would would keep rogue leaders from starting wars and their subordinates from going along with them.

At the opening of the Nuremberg Tribunals on November 10, 1945, Robert H. Jackson, US Chief Prosecutor at the Tribunals, on leave from the US Supreme Court, said ”The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”   

Returning to June 6th and what it means, the veterans and people I grew up among in the shadow of World War II did not talk about winning another war, they believed the world could not even survive another war – they talked about Nuremberg, what it meant and the hope that Nuremberg brought.  As we remember that day, D-day, let us not loose sight of what all those lives were lost for, of what the people who lived through that war did to keep the scourge of war from ever consuming our world again. Make June 6th your day to study the Nuremberg Tribunals. Look up the Nuremberg Charter (also called the London Charter), the Nuremberg Tribunals and perhaps most importantly, the Nuremberg Principles.  It would be wrong, no it would worse than just wrong, for us to let the loss of 72 million lives, the pain, and the destruction wrought by World War II to be for naught by our forgetting about Nuremberg.

 

Elliot Adams is a Veterans For Peace (VFP) member from New York State and past president of VFP’s National Board.

Like Madoff telling a bum to get a job: After Running from his Anti-War Past, Kerry Tells Snowden ‘Man Up’ and Face Trial in US

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Our prissy Secretary of State John Kerry, hair carefully coiffed for his interview, told NBC’s Brian Williams last week that fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should “man up” and return to the US to “stand in our system of justice and make his case.”

ND Treasurer: Red Carpet Rollout for Gen. Petraeus Fracking Field Trip "Not Unusual"

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt has responded to DeSmogBlog's investigation of the Bakken Shale basin fracking field trip her office facilitated for former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who now works at the Manhattan-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)

David Petraeus Kelly Schmidt

Krauthammer is right: The US Empire is in Decline

By Dave Lindorff


I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer. 


Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.


Look who’s calling voting ‘divisive’ and ‘illegal’: The Blood-soaked US Has No Business Opposing Sovereignty Plebiscites

By Dave Lindorff



The rot at the core of US international relations, domestic politics and the corporate media is evident in the American approach to the Ukraine crisis.


Bearing the Pain of Affirmative Action: The Shame of Clarence Thomas

By John Grant

 
    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
    Everybody knows that the captain lied ...
    Everybody knows the deal is rotten
    Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
    For your ribbons and bows

                                       - Leonard Cohen
 

In honor of our Supreme Court I’ve decided to start this piece with a prayer.

For First Time, TransCanada Says Tar Sands Flowing to Gulf in Keystone XL South

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

TransCanada admitted for the first time that tar sands oil is now flowing through Keystone XL's southern leg, now rebranded the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project. The company confirmed the pipeline activity in its 2014 quarter one earnings call.

Cover-up in progress?: The Case of the Dead Brazilian Torturer Gets Murkier

By Michael Uhl


They haven't killed him yet.

Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.

Killing of leaders was being planned: Exposing the Federal Government’s Plan to Crush the Occupy Movement (Part I)

By Dave Lindorff


  Listen to Dave Lindorff explain on Santa Barbara radio KCSB's Radio Occupy program how the federal government, in collusion with state and local police, and possibly with private bank and oil company security firms, planned to use "suppressed sniper fire" to assassinate the leaders of Occupy Houston, and perhaps also the leaders of other Occupy Movement actions around the country.

Punishment or Witness Elimination?: Confessed Brazilian Torturer Found Murdered

By Michael Uhl

  

            At approximately four o’clock this past Thursday afternoon, Paulo Malhaes, a retired officer who served in the ‘70s  during the years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, was murdered at his small farm outside of Rio de Janeiro.

The Night of the Generals: When Brazilians were Tortured and Disappeared

By Michael Uhl


“The Face of Evil,” flashed the eye catching headline in Brazil’s major daily on a morning late this March, and the accompanying photo of Army lieutenant-colonel Paulo Malhaes, retired, could not have portrayed a more convincing ogre had it been photo shopped by central casting. Malhaes, a self-described torturer and murderer operated in the early 1970′s, the most repressive period in Brazil’s harsh era of prolonged military rule,

Taking the low road to war: Washington and the Corporate Media are in Full Propaganda Mode on Ukraine

By Dave Lindorff


The lies, propaganda and rank hypocrisy emanating from Washington, and echoed by the US corporate media regarding events in Ukraine are stunning and would be laughable, but for the fact that they appear to be aimed at conditioning the US public for increasing confrontation with Russia – confrontation which could easily tip over the edge into direct military conflict, with consequences that are too dreadful to contemplate.


Forty Years After the Carnation Revolution

Portugal as a Model for a New Socialism?

by Leila Dregger

 

Preliminary note of the author:
In this text the words socialism and communism are used synonymously. I see their differentiation and the rift, which has been stretched between their representatives, as no longer appropriate today. This article is directed toward all those interested in justice, solidarity and freedom.

 

 

End the Drug War: Happy Pot Legalization Day!

A Special Report today on the issue of ending Marijuana Prohibition and the massively destructive War on Drugs, by TCBH! collective journalist Linn Washington, Jr. and three students in his Temple University journalism class:


Marijuana: Facts and Falacies, by Linn Washington


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