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Video and Audio of Pilots Who Bombed Hospital

There is video and audio. It exists. The Pentagon says it's critically important. Congress has asked for it and been refused. WikiLeaks is offering $50,000 to the next brave soul willing to be punished for a good deed in the manner of Chelsea Manning, Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, and so many others. You can petition the White House to hand it over here.

The entire world thinks the U.S. military intentionally attacked a hospital because it considered some of the patients enemies, didn't give a damn about the others, and has zero respect for the rule of law in the course of waging an illegal war. Even Congress members think this. All the Pentagon would have to do to exonerate itself would be to hand over the audio and video of the pilots talking with each other and with their co-conspirators on the ground during the commission of the crime -- that is, if there is something exculpatory on the tapes, such as, "Hey, John, you're sure they evacuated all the patients last week, right?"

All Congress would have to do to settle the matter would be to take the following steps one-at-a-time until one of them succeeds: publicly demand the recordings; send a subpoena for the recordings and the appearance of the Secretary of "Defense" from any committee or subcommittee in either house; exercise the long dormant power of inherent contempt by locking up said Secretary until he complies; open impeachment hearings against both the same Secretary and his Commander in Chief; impeach them; try them; convict them. A serious threat of this series of steps would make most or all of the steps unnecessary.

Since the Pentagon won't act and Congress won't act and the President won't act (except by apologizing for having attacked a location containing white people with access to means of communication), and since we have numerous similar past incidents to base our analysis on, we are left to assume that it is highly unlikely that the hidden recordings include any exculpatory comments, but more likely conversation resembling that recorded in the collateral murder video ("Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.")

There isn't actually any question that the U.S. military intentionally targeted what it knew to be a hospital. The only mystery is really how colorful, blood-thirsty, and racist the language was in the cockpit. Left in the dark, we will tend to assume the worst, since past revelations have usually measured up to that standard.

For those of you working to compel police officers in the United States to wear body cameras, it's worth noting that the U.S. military already has them. The planes record their acts of murder. Even the unmanned planes, the drones, record video of their victims before, during, and after murdering them. These videos are not turned over to any grand juries or legislators or the people of the "democracy" for which so many people and places are being blown into little bits.

Law professors that measure up to the standards of Congressional hearings on kill lists never seem to ask for the videos; they always ask for the legal memos that make the drone murders around the world part of a war and therefore acceptable. Because in wars, they imply, all is fair. Doctors Without Borders, on the other hand, declares that even in wars there are rules. Actually, in life there are rules, and one of them is that war is a crime. It's a crime under the U.N. Charter and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and when one mass-murder out of millions makes the news, we ought to seize that opportunity to draw attention, outrage, and criminal prosecution to all the others.

I don't want the video and audio recordings of the hospital bombing. I want the video and audio recordings of every bombing of the past 14 years. I want Youtube and Facebook and Twitter full, not just of racist cops murdering black men for walking or chewing gum, but also of racist pilots (and drone "pilots") murdering dark-skinned men, women, and children for living in the wrong countries. Exposing that material would be a healing act beyond national prejudice and truly worthy of honoring Doctors Without Borders.

‘We’re sorry’: America’s Latest War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Hospital in Afghanistan

By Dave Lindorff

  

            Really? The best that Nobel Peace Laureate President Obama can do after the US bombs and destroys a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 people, including 12 volunteer doctors from Doctors Without Borders, is to say, “We’re sorry”?

 

22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan

By Kathy Kelly

Before the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing in Iraq, a group of activists living in Baghdad would regularly go to city sites that were crucial for maintaining health and well-being in Baghdad, such as hospitals, electrical facilities, water purification plants, and schools, and string large vinyl banners between the trees outside these buildings which read: “To Bomb This Site Would Be A War Crime.”  We encouraged people in U.S. cities to do the same, trying to build empathy for people trapped in Iraq, anticipating a terrible aerial bombing.

Tragically, sadly, the banners must again condemn war crimes, this time echoing international outcry because in an hour of airstrikes this past Saturday morning, the U.S. repeatedly bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, a facility that served the fifth largest city in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.

U.S./NATO forces carried out the airstrike at about 2AM on October 3rd.  Doctors Without Borders had already notified the U.S., NATO and Afghan forces of their geographical coordinates to clarify that their compound, the size of a football field, was a hospital.  When the first bombs hit, medical staff immediately phoned NATO headquarters to report the strike on its facility, and yet strikes continued, at 15 minute intervals, until 3:15 a.m., killing 22 people. 12 of the dead were medical staff; ten were patients, and three of the patients were children. At least 37 more people were injured.  One survivor said that the first section of the hospital to be hit was the Intensive Care Unit.

“Patients were burning in their beds,” said one nurse, an eyewitness to the ICU attack."There are no words for how terrible it was."  The U.S. airstrikes continued, even after the Doctors Without Borders officials had notified the U.S., NATO and Afghan military that the warplanes were attacking the hospital.

Taliban forces do not have air power, and the Afghan Air Force fleet is subordinate to the U.S., so it was patently clear that the U.S. had committed a war crime.

The U.S. military has said that the matter is under investigation.  Yet another in an endless train of somber apologies; feeling families' pain but excusing all involved decision makers seems inevitable. Doctors Without Borders has demanded a transparent, independent investigation, assembled by a legitimate international body and without direct involvement by the U.S. or by any other warring party in the Afghan conflict.  If such an investigation occurs, and is able to confirm that this was a deliberate, or else a murderously neglectful war crime, how many Americans will ever learn of the verdict?  

War crimes can be acknowledged when carried out by official U.S. enemies, when they are useful in justifying invasions and efforts at regime change.

One investigation the U.S. has signally failed to carry out would tell it how much Kunduz needed this hospital. The U.S. could investigate SIGAR reports ("Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction") numbering Afghanistan's "U.S. funded health care facilities," allegedly funded through USAID, which cannot even be located, 189 alleged locations at whose coordinates there are demonstrably no buildings within 400 feet. In their June 25th letter they astoundingly write, “My office’s initial analysis of USAID data and geospatial imagery has led us to question whether USAID has accurate location information for 510—nearly 80 percent—of the 641 health care facilities funded by the PCH program.” It notes that six of the Afghan facilities are actually located in Pakistan, six in Tajikstan, and one in the Mediterranean Sea.

Now it seems we've created yet another ghost hospital, not out of thin air this time but from the walls of a desperately needed facility which are now charred rubble, from which the bodies of staff and patients have been exhumed. And with the hospital lost to a terrified community, the ghosts of this attack are, again, beyond anyone's ability to number.  But in the week leading up to this attack, its staff had treated 345 wounded people, 59 of them children.

The U.S. has long shown itself the most formidable warlord fighting in Afghanistan, setting an example of brute force that frightens rural people who wonder to whom they can turn for protection.  In July of 2015, U.S. bomber jets attacked an Afghan army facility in the Logar Province, killing ten soldiers. The Pentagon said this incident would likewise be under investigation.  No public conclusion of the investigation seems ever to have been issued.  There isn't always even an apology.  

This was a massacre, whether one of carelessness or of hate.   One way to join the outcry against it, demanding not just an inquiry but a final end to all U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, would be to assemble in front of health care facilities, hospitals or trauma units, carrying signage which says, “To Bomb This Place Would Be a War Crime.” Invite hospital personnel to join the assembly, notify local media, and hold an additional sign which says: “The Same Is True in Afghanistan.”

We should affirm the Afghans' right to medical care and safety. The U.S. should offer investigators unimpeded access to the decision makers in this attack and pay to reconstruct the hospital with reparations for suffering caused throughout these fourteen years of war and cruelly manufactured chaos. Finally, and for the sake of future generations, we should take hold of our runaway empire and make it a nation we can restrain from committing the fathomlessly obscene atrocity that is war.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (vcnv.org) She returned from Afghanistan in mid-September, 2015 where she was a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers  (ourjourneytosmile.com)

Talk Nation Radio: Maria Santelli on Conscience and War

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-maria-santelli-on-conscience-and-war 

Maria Santelli is Executive Director of the Center on Conscience & War, a 75-year old organization founded to provide technical and community support to conscientious objectors to war. Based in Washington, D.C., Santelli has been working for peace and justice since 1996. She discusses conscientious objection and this week's attack on a hospital in Afghanistan.

See http://centeronconscience.org

Read her articles at http://www.truth-out.org/author/itemlist/user/51409

Total run time: 29:00

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

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VCNV Calls for Emergency Protest of Airstrike on Afghanistan Hospital

During the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing on Iraq, and afterwards, anti-war campaigners with Voices for Creative Nonviolence were encouraging people around the country to go in front of hospitals with signs and banners saying, "To bomb this site would be a war crime!"

At around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, Oct. 3, 2015, U.S./NATO forces carried out an airstrike that hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Medical staff immediately phoned NATO headquarters to report the strike on its facility, and yet strikes continued on for nearly an hour. At least nine medical staff were killed and seven patients including three children. At least 35 more people were injured.
 
Taliban forces do not have air power, and the Afghan Air Force fleet is subordinate to the U.S., so it is patently clear that the U.S. has committed a war crime. This occurred just days prior to the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, which was itself the "supreme war crime" of aggression against a nation that posed no imminent military threat. The U.S. remains culpable for all the chaos that has followed its invasion. Now, almost 6 years after Obama’s 2009 “surge," there remain close to 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with the Pentagon talking up the need to keep those troops there.

We want to affirm the Afghans' right to medical care and safety, and we want the aggression to end. Only Afghans themselves can engineer their own society to fit their aspirations. If the U.S. has any role to play at all, it is only to provide reconstruction funds for Afghan-led projects that can actually uplift civil institutions.
 
VCNV is mobilizing activists to gather in front of hospitals around the U.S. and beyond, under the message, "Dropping Bombs Here would be a War Crime!" and "The same is true in Afghanistan." We will be protesting in Chicago on Tuesday, October 6, at 3 PM in front of Stroger Hospital (at Ogden and Damen). We are joined by our partners: Chicago World Can't Wait, Chicago Area Peace Action, and Gay Liberation Network.

Ruminations of an Afghan Girl Burning to Death in a Hospital Bed

Life is a very jumbled mixture. The pain of it, if you're awake and thinking, brings into your mind the happiest moments you can remember and transforms them into agony unless you resist bitterness with every drop of strength you have left, if not more. Physical pain makes clear-thinking and generous thinking more difficult, until death appears in front of you, and then the physical pain is as nothing.

I know that I'm not supposed to be bitter, and yet that somehow makes it harder not to be. When my father and sister and two cousins were blown into little pieces last year, it was the action of some distant office worker pushing a switch on a remote-controlled airplane. And I'm supposed to believe that they meant well. And this is supposed to make it better. But somehow it makes it worse.

The war that landed me in this hospital in Kunduz, along with all of the screaming men, women, and children around me whose voices have now faded into what I imagine the roar of the ocean must be, this war comes from a distant land that we are told means well. Yet it generates enemies through its horrors. It funds those enemies through its incompetence, corruption, and insistence on buying protection for its occupiers. It fights those enemies with such marvelous weaponry that it kills and kills and kills until many more enemies face it, and it goes on fighting from afar. I'm told the people in America believe the war ended, that it isn't even happening, that it isn't entering Year 15 in four days, while I will never enter Year 14.

I've only known war. I've only heard of peace. Now I will know only the peace of the dead. And I've been told that the dead go on with living somewhere else, but I'm told this by people whose other statements are nothing but lies, so I prefer to wait the endless moments of this hospital burning to the ground with me inside it, and then see for myself.

I understand that I am only an Afghan. I am not an American school student wrongly murdered. I am not an Israeli settler brutally blown up. I'm not a U.S. soldier or a Syrian or Ukrainian who was killed by the wrong side. But this is what makes my bitterness so hard to push back against. I'm an Afghan being bombed for women's rights that I will never ever have a chance to exercise, because I will never ever be a woman. So, I must focus on my gratitude to those who have been kind to me, including those who left this world ahead of me to guide the way.

When I focus on the good in my life intensely, I can shut out any echoes of the evil. I can almost even come back to the evil with a sense of forgiveness and the realization that really, truly, the people who do these things must not know what they are doing. I understand that no one could really begin to understand my experience who isn't me.

Predators, Near and Far

By Kathy Kelly

#Enough! Fatima needs food and proper medical care, not war!

Kabul—Some days ago, at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center, I met Jamila, the mother of a little girl, Fatima, who comes to the Street Kids School, a program designed to help children working on the streets go to school.  Jamila, a young mother of seven, smiles and laughs easily, even though she faces dire circumstances here in Kabul.

Nine years ago, at age 19, she fled escalating conflict in Pul e Khumri, located in the northern province of Baghlan, and moved to Kabul.  Jamila had already been married for 12  years.

Her family, desperate for income, had sold her in marriage to an older man when she was seven years old. As a child, she lived in servitude to the family of her future husband, earning a small income for them through sewing and embroidering. 

At age 13, She gave birth to her oldest daughter . With her when we met were two of her middle daughters, Fatima and Nozuko.  Her oldest daughter is no longer with her, as, at age 12, she was given away, six years ago now, in marriage. Jamila is determined not to give her remaining daughters away in marriage while they are still children.

One and a half years ago, Fatima, then aged 9, developed a fever which lasted for about a month. All four of her limbs became paralyzed.  In a hospital at Wazir Akbar Khan, doctors said she was 10 minutes away from death. They treated her for typhoid meningitis and hospitalized her. After a month, the doctors said she was not ready for discharge, but Jamila had other children to take care of and had already incurred huge debt. The doctors made her sign a form saying they were not responsible if Fatima died.  They said Jamila must continue with twice-a-day injections of strong antibiotics.

After being discharged from the hospital, Fatima continued receiving the injections for a year and a half until, one day, about three months ago, Jamila abruptly stopped giving Fatima the injections.  When Fatima developed a fever, Jamila became panicky again. 

Fatima finally ended up in a private hospital whose initial tests cost 3,000 Afghanis (about $50 U.S. dollars).  Jamila begged loans from her sister, her uncle and her cousins to pay for the lab tests.  

Doctors told Jamila that Fatima needed the injections because the typhoid bacteria were in her blood.

At this point, Jamila, facing a debt of 140,000 Afghanis (about $2333 U.S. dollars ), finds it hard to sleep, worrying for Fatima and her other children. How will she pay her debts?  How can she buy flour to make bread so that the children have something to eat? 

Her only means of income is through washing clothes.  The people she washes clothes for say times are hard, and they don’t have any income themselves. They have only paid her twice over the past two months, once in the form of some meat and rice.

Ali and Fatima

Fatima in her mud house compound, with Ali,
an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment

Jamila met the Afghan Peace Volunteers when Hadisa and Abdulhai visited her home in April this year as part of a survey designed to identify children who could participate in the Street Kids School. When Ali, a volunteer teacher at the Street Kids School, learned about Fatima’s illness, he introduced Jamila to Hakim, the mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Hakim is a medical doctor from Singapore.  Since 2004, when he first began working in Afghanistan, Hakim has recognized that the country’s health care system is riddled by pervasively corrupt practices.  Appalled by the massive doses of antibiotics prescribed for Fatima, Hakim recommended a stool sample analysis which could be done through the lab of a local hospital.  The lab report showed that Fatima no longer needed the antibiotics, that her medical condition was normal. 

The medical system in Afghanistan failed to help Jamila and Fatima. Lack of oversight allowed corrupt doctors and pharmacists to over-prescribe antibiotics, and Jamila had nowhere to turn for a second opinion or for any assistance. Greedy predators, purportedly delivering health care, have steadily taken money from desperate people, like Jamila, in payment for useless or even murderous treatments.  

Jamila and Fatima clearly trust Hakim.  They both looked relieved as he emphatically encouraged the mother and daughter to overcome fears about Fatima’s health.  He told Fatima that she can become strong and stay healthy by drinking clean water and having a healthy diet, including her favorite dishes of beans and chick peas. But Jamila faces another tragic health problem - she can’t even afford flour for bread, let alone nutritious but costly beans for her children.

The World Food Programme recently reported an alarming rise in food insecurity, across Afghanistan. 

The U.S. pours billions of dollars into surveying Afghanistan, flying Predator drones over cities, towns and roadways, claiming to better understand “patterns of life” in Afghanistan.  But the war system establishes tragic patterns of death, of poverty, misinformation, desperate insecurity, and continued despair. If she could flee her circumstances, Jamila surely would seek refuge elsewhere in the world.  But she has nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide from Predators near and far.

Young people gathering at the Afghan Peace Volunteer’s Borderfree Center long to embrace innumerable people afflicted by war who share Jamila’s seemingly insoluble problems.  Thoughtfully, carefully, they’ve designed a campaign that they call  #Enough! – a simple yet compelling call to abolish wars and instead work to meet human needs.  We asked Jamila if she thought her problems were connected to war.  “Yes,| she said. “War leads to poverty and because of that poverty I have had so many problems.   I hope the war will end so that I can find enough food.”

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (vcnv.org) While in Afghanistan, she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (ourjourneytosmile.com)

 

photo credit:  Dr. Hakim

A question from Afghanistan, “Can we abolish war?”

By Dr Hakim

Hadisa, a bright 18 year old Afghan girl, ranks as the top student in her 12th grade class. “The question is,” she wondered, “are human beings capable of abolishing war?”

Like Hadisa, I had my doubts about whether human nature could have the capacity to abolish war. For years, I had presumed that war is sometimes necessary to control ‘terrorists’, and based on that presumption, it didn’t make sense to abolish it. Yet my heart went out to Hadisa when I imagined her in a future riddled with intractable violence.

Hadisa tilted her head slightly in deep thought. She listened attentively to different opinions voiced by fellow Afghan Peace Volunteers. She struggles to find answers.

But when Hadisa turns up at the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids School every Friday to teach the child breadwinners, now numbering 100 in morning and afternoon classes, she lays aside her doubts.

I can see her apply her inner compassion which rises way above the war that is still raging in Afghanistan.

Hadisa, like 99% of human beings, and the more than 60 million refugees fleeing from military and economic wars, usually chooses peaceful, constructive action rather than violence.

“Dear students,“ Hadisa says, “In this school, we wish to build a world without war for you.”

Hadisa says #Enough! War
Hadisa, now convinced of the possibility of abolishing war, says #Enough!

Her street kid students enjoy Hadisa’s teaching. What’s more, away from the rough and unpredictable streets of Kabul, they find the space at the school affirming, safe and different.

Fatima, one of Hadisa’s students, participated in the very first street kids’ demonstration in Kabul demanding a school for 100 street kids. In subsequent actions, she helped plant trees and bury toy weapons. In another two days, on the 21st of September, the International day of Peace, she will be one of 100 street kids who will serve a lunch meal to 100 Afghan labourers.

“In place of war,” Fatima learnt, “we will do acts of kindness.”

This action will launch #Enough!, a long-term campaign and movement initiated by the Afghan Peace Volunteers to abolish war.

Wow! What practical learning!

If the street kids were taught erroneous ways, and became ‘terrorists’, would the solution be to eventually ‘target and kill’ them?

I couldn’t bear to think of it, and am more and more convinced, like Hadisa and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, that killing those labelled ‘terrorists’ by waging war against them doesn’t work.

War and weapons don’t heal the root causes of ‘terrorism’. If our brother or sister was violent, we wouldn’t think of killing them to reform them.

I was in the class when the question was first posed to the street kids: “To whom would you wish to serve a meal?” Hands went up like love and hope blooming for the new Afghan generation, and Habib, an older street kid who was Hadisa’s student last year, echoed along with many others, “The labourers!”

I felt immensely moved, having seen a definite glimmer of our human capacity to care for others, rather than exercise hate, discrimination, indifference or apathy.

Habib makes a lunch invitation list for labourers
Habib, with pen and paper, making an invitation list of 100 Afghan labourers with whom he and other Afghan street kids will share a meal

Yesterday, Habib helped his volunteer teacher, Ali, to invite labourers to the meal on the 21st. As I filmed and photographed Habib taking down the names of Afghan men much older than him, I felt renewed faith in our human ability to do good, and a warm, tender feeling overwhelmed me.

With people like Hadisa, Fatima, Habib and the many wonderful young Afghans I’ve met, I know that we can abolish war.

For their sake and the sake of human kind, we should work together with much patience, and all of our love.

In 1955, after two world wars and the loss of at least 96 million people, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein wrote a Manifesto, saying, “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”

After finishing the invitations, as we were walking along the very streets where Habib used to take the weight of pedestrians to earn some income for his family, I asked him, “Why do you want to end war?’

He replied, “Ten persons killed here, ten persons killed there. What’s the point? Soon, there’s a massacre, and gradually a world war.”

Habib says #Enough War!
Habib says #Enough!

Dr Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

Dear friends who have had #Enough!

Today, every day, we wake up, and we want to live differently, because the status quo stinks! :) Join the Afghan Peace Volunteers and street kids, Zarghuna, Muheb, Barath, Mursal, Inam, Deeba and Zahra, to say #Enough!  

From Afghanistan, #Enough!

http://youtu.be/brFHhvh2xRs

 

100 Afghan street kids, including Muqadisa in the photo, will cook and serve a meal for 100 Afghan labourers to launch #Enough! on 21st Sept, the International Day of Peace. Beautiful! Why do the elite know only ugly violence and ugly war? #Enough!

 

We want to abolish war, and we need you! So, we hope that you and your friends can:

  1. Sign ‘The People’s Agreement to Abolish War’ at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com. You’ll be generating the critical mass of friends needed to build a world without war.
  2. Get together with one or more friends to serve a vulnerable person/persons in your vicinity. Energies and resources invested in wars will instead be redirected toward meeting human needs. Register your local solidarity action at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com/wordpress/solidarity-actions
  3. Give one another hope and be in solidarity by writing a letter to enough@ourjourneytosmile.com, or send a selfie, a photo of friends with ‘#Enough!’ written on the palms of your hands, or a captioned photo of your solidarity action.

 

Love and thanks,

Hakim with the Afghan Peace Volunteers

http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com

www.facebook.com/wesayenough

https://twitter.com/we_say_enough

Tomgram: David Vine, Our Base Nation

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: This morning we have a special offer for you. TomDispatch regular David Vine will send any of you willing to donate $100 (or more) to  this website a signed, personalized copy of his groundbreaking new book, <

Worst president ever?: History Should and Probably Will Judge President Obama Harshly

By Dave Lindorff


President Barack Obama is on track to go down in history as one of the, or perhaps as the worst and most criminal presidents in US history. 


No Warlords Need Apply -- a call for credible peacemaking in Afghanistan

By Kathy Kelly and Buddy Bell

A second round of peace talks between Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives, expected to begin before the end of July, 2015, suggests that some parties to the fighting want to declare a cease fire.  But even in the short time since the first round on July 7th, fighting has intensified.  The Taliban, the Afghan government forces, various militias and the U.S. have ramped up attacks, across Afghanistan.

The circus is in town: The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015

By John Grant

 

"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."

It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War

By Dave Lindorff

 

I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.

We’re #1...in the heroin business!: US Lost in Afghanistan, But Did Make Afghanistan World’s Top Heroin Exporter

By Jack Balkwill


...The US government pretends to care about eradicating opium production in Afghanistan, while production soars to record levels.  Can this be an accident? 

The largest marketplace for illegal drugs continues to be the United States, despite a decades-long so-called "war on drugs."  Can this be an accident? 

Before the Dawn

By Kathy Kelly

Each year, throughout the Muslim world, believers participate in the month-long Ramadan fast. Here in Kabul, where I'm a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, our household awakens at 2:15 a.m. to prepare a simple meal before the fast begins at about 3:00 a.m.  I like the easy companionship we feel, seated on the floor, sharing our food.  Friday, the day off, is household clean-up day, and it seemed a bit odd, to be sweeping and washing floors in the pre-dawn hours, but we tended to various tasks and then caught a nap before heading over to meet the early bird students at the Street Kids School, a project my hosts are running for child laborers who otherwise couldn't go to school.

I didn't nap - I was fitful and couldn't, my mind filled with images from a memoir, Guantanamo Diary, which I've been reading since arriving here.   Mohamedou Ould Slahi's  story of being imprisoned in Guantanamo since 2002 rightly disturbs me. In all his years of captivity, he has never been charged with a crime. He has suffered grotesque torture, humiliation and mistreatment, and yet his memoir includes many humane, tender accounts, including remembrances of past Ramadan fasts spent with his family.

Describing his early time in a Jordanian prison, he writes:

We don’t do body counts: Have Millions of Deaths from America's 'War on Terror' been Concealed?

By Jack Balkwill

 

How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?

Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?

― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land
 

Courage: Caitlyn Jenner vs. Chelsea Manning

                There has been much talk of late about the courage of Caitlyn Jenner. A recent Vanity Fair cover showed the transformation of former 65-year-old Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn, an attractive woman who appears to be in her thirties.

                But let us look for a moment at the definition of courage. Merriam-Webster defines it thusly: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”.

The case for ‘courageous restraint’: The Killer Elite, at Home and Abroad

By John Grant


We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

                                                      - George Orwell


Fear and Learning in Kabul

By Kathy Kelly

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world… Shall we say the odds are too great? … the struggle is too hard? … and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message -- of longing, of hope, of solidarity… The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, “Beyond Vietnam”

15-standing-in-the-rain-300x200
Kabul—I’ve spent a wonderfully calm morning here in Kabul, listening to bird songs and to the call and response between mothers and their children in neighboring homes as families awaken and prepare their children for school. Maya Evans and I arrived here yesterday, and  are just settling into the community quarters of our young hosts, The Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs).  Last night, they told us about the jarring and frightening events that marked the past few months of their lives in Kabul. 

They described how they felt when bomb explosions, nearby, awakened them on several mornings.  Some said they'd felt almost shell-shocked themselves discovering one recent day that thieves had ransacked their home.   They shared their intense feelings of alarm at a notorious warlord's statement condemning a human rights demonstration in which several community members had participated. And their horror when a few weeks later, in Kabul, a young woman, an Islamic scholar named  Farkhunda, was falsely accused in a street argument of desecrating the Koran, after which, to the roared approval of a frenzied mob of perhaps two thousand men, members of the crowd, with apparent police collusion, beat her to death.   Our young friends quietly sort through their emotions in the face of inescapable and often overwhelming violence.

Why do Afghan children have to polish boots and sell ‘bolonis’?

By Dr Hakim

Inam polishes leather shoes and Adilah sells flour pancakes.

They make a living on the dangerous streets of fortified Kabul, two of an estimated 60,000 working street kids in the capital.

10 years old, that’s how small they are.

Imagine ourselves at the same eye-level as Inam and Adilah, in the dusty alleys, swarmed by smelly drains, threatened by desperate crimes.

Like them, you often hear helicopters hovering so close overhead that the windows in your rented mud rooms rattle. You see the polished, bullet-proof cars of the corrupt Afghan ‘elite’, mostly men, dressed in suits and ties.

Adilah with her leek pancakes ( ‘bolonis’ ), waiting for customers

Some American friends smile when they hear that the pancakes, filled with delicious mashed potatoes or salted leek, are called ‘bolonis’ in Dari.

“Nowadays, I don’t often let Adilah sell ‘bolonis’ in the streets. What if she’s near a suicide bomb attack?” Adilah’s aunt said about the worsening security, despite 14 years of U.S. / NATO’s ambitions.

Adilah’s aunt frying the leek ‘bolonis’ in their rented single room

Adilah leaves her rented room to go out into the streets, carrying the ‘bolonis’ in a tray

Adilah walking past a gas canister shop

Adilah squats in front of a provision shop, hoping for her first customers for the day.

She makes about 5 Afghanis ( less than one U.S. cent ) for each ‘boloni’ she sells.

Adilah’s thoughts are ‘all over the place’ when she works in the streets of Kabul

 

A young passerby asks, “How much is it for a ‘boloni’?”

Adilah’s voice can hardly be heard.

She appears lost in her world of uncertainties.

Earlier, her aunt had served Zarghuna and I two sizzling ‘bolonis’.

We had eaten one of them, so Adilah had gestured to the other,

“Put that on the tray too. I can sell it.”

She whispered to the customer, “Ten Afghanis.”

That’s how the world economy works today.

Even war-weary, impoverished Afghans sympathize with her,

as the young man took out a typically crumpled 20-Afghani note,

handed it to Adilah,

and waved deferringly, as if in protest,

no, please, keep the ‘bolonis’….

The young Afghan man must have been contemplating

what he could do in the face of 60% unemployment.

He must have been thinking,

“Why is a small girl doing what we adults ought to be doing?”

Inam, standing in a newly-constructed shop space, with his blue plastic jerry-can  

of boot-polishing tools and a pair of sandals for his customers to wear while he polishes their boots

“I don’t enjoy polishing boots but I have no choice,” replied Inam, describing his breadwinning role in a family of six persons. His father can’t support the family as he is one of Afghanistan’s 1.6 million drug addicts, and lives in another province. “We haven’t heard from our father for about 5 years.”

Inam, describing how some students in school are punished if they don’t do their homework,

“They stand like this for half an hour!”

Inam, along the street where he usually polishes boots. A few days ago, he had left his boot-polishing tools at a bakery while he played street soccer. “Someone stole my tools!” Inam understands why he has to work, but is determined to study hard too, so he can fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor.

What does Inam wake up to every day?

His mannerisms are beyond his 10 war-years,

with a spirit of acceptance

akin to ‘innocence’,

though he is far from naïve to be able to

evade the drug dealers,

thieves,

huge speeding cars with snarling armed guards

and angry, hungry Afghans looking for cash.

And hope.

“The drug business is violent,

as the addicts can’t do anything

except smoke under the bridges,” Inam tells the class,

which is a story about his own estranged father.

The least the American elite could do for Inam, their fellow human being,

is not to lie that their military strategy has been a ‘success’.

The elite need to know

that Inam, like billions of the awakening 99%,

understand what’s going on.

We understand the realities in our flesh and blood.

Inam was hoping to hear his name being called out in the enrollment of street kids into the Borderfree Street Kids School,

where he learns Dari and Math, and nonviolence, and gets a monthly assistance of rice and oil.

The mission of the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids School for 2015 is to ‘share learning skills with 100 Afghan street kids ( including Adilah and Inam ) on understanding language, nature, humanity, and life, and to be students and practitioners of nonviolence. ‘

About 92% of the required budget for the school is spent on providing the street kids and their families with a needed monthly gift of a sack of rice and a bottle of oil.

It costs $534 to put one street kid through the street kids school for one year.

Those interested to support the project can browse http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/borderfree-afghan-street-kids-school/ for more info and write to borderfree@mail2world.com. Donations will be directed to Voices for Creative Nonviolence U.S. and UK, who are partners in this project.

NB : New video clips will be on this post soon, showing Adilah and Inam on the streets of Kabul

Ann Jones: Citizen's Revolt in Afghanistan

Soon after 9/11, Ann Jones went to Afghanistan to help in whatever way she could, “embedding” with civilians who had been battered by the rigors of that war-torn land.

Child Soldier released from jail by Canadian court: US Still Seeks Jail for ‘Fighter’ Captured at 15 in Afghanistan

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The good news is that an appellate judge in Canada has had the courage and good sense to uphold the release from jail on bail of Omar Khadr, a native of Canada who was captured as a child soldier at the age of 15 in Afghanistan by US forces back in 2002 and shipped off to Guantanamo, where he became one of the children held in captivity.

Talk Nation Radio: Kathy Kelly: Fog of War Is Not the Problem

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-kathy-kelly-fog-of-war-is-not-the-problem

Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( http://vcnv.org ) a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare. During each of fourteen trips to Afghanistan, since 2010, Kathy Kelly, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She is just out of prison for having protested drone murders at Whiteman Airforce Base in Missouri. Kelly discusses the state of peace and war.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

40 years after Vietnam: Celebrating the End of One War, and Witnessing the Start of a New One Here at Home

By Dave Lindorff


It was 40 years ago today that the last troops from America’s criminal war against the people of Vietnam scurried ignominiously onto a helicopter on the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and fled the country where US forces had killed some 3-4 million people in the name of “fighting Communism.” 


Credit where credit's due...but only where it's due: How Can Obama Claim the Alternative to a Nuclear Deal with Iran is War?

By Dave Lindorff


A kudo to President Obama. But just one.

If he manages to pull off an agreement with Iran on limiting that country's nuclear fuel enrichment program in the fact of determined resistance from Republicans, Neocons, the Israel Lobby and the warmongers in both the GOP and his own Democratic Party, he will have finally earned at least some small portion of the gold in his Nobel Peace medallion.

The Blood Sacrifice of Sergeant Bergdahl

By Matthew Hoh

Last week charges of Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy were recommended against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Tragically, Sergeant Bergdahl was once again crucified, without evidence or trial, throughout mainstream, alternative and social media. That same day Sergeant Bergdahl was offered as a sacrifice to primarily Republican politicians, bloggers, pundits, chicken hawks and jingoists, while Democrats mostly kept silent as Sergeant Bergdahl was paraded electronically and digitally in the latest Triumph of the Global War on Terror, President Ashraf Ghani was applauded, in person, by the American Congress. Such coincidences, whether they are arranged or accidental, often appear in literary or cinematic tales, but they do, occasionally, manifest themselves in real life, often appearing to juxtapose the virtues and vices of a society for the sake and advancement of political narratives.

The problem with this specific coincidence for those on the Right, indulging in the fantasy of American military success abroad, as well as for those on the Left, desperate to prove that Democrats can be as tough as Republicans, is that reality may intrude. To the chagrin and consternation of many in DC, Sergeant Bergdahl may prove to be the selfless hero, while President Ghani may play the thief, and Sergeant Bergdahl's departure from his unit in Afghanistan may come to be understood as just and his time as a prisoner of war principled, while President Obama's continued propping up and bankrolling of the government in Kabul, at the expense of American servicemembers and taxpayers, comes to be fully acknowledged as immoral and profligate.

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