Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Children Of Gaza
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Truly, I have never felt as oppressed as I have since 2003...I have never felt as much angst, as much suffocation, as much tyranny, as much repression as I have felt since those subhumans landed in Iraq....
For me today, America and Americans are associated in my head with pure Oppression...I have learned through those years, to unmask them in no time...even the "most liberal " among them...because in the latter's case it is their indifference and their cover-up that is so oppressive.
I find their political correctness oppressive, tyrannical...I find their external veneer asphyxiating with its phoniness, I find their so-called outer friendliness and so-called openness so thick with ill intent, ignorance and profiteering coupled with a poisonous snide racism that they can't seem to shake off...
I see America as the child of the Brits....but more "modern" looking, without the overt Victorian hangups of the English...yet God knows how much the mixture of American puritanism and perversion - at the same time...yes they are puritans and perverts together - how that deeply sick combination is lethal, toxic, caustic to others....and how it seeps and colors their words and deeds...
I need to stop again - this is making me sick. And it a beautiful morning here, but I will not dwell or stress it too much, lest they covet and come to occupy that too....
Happy Gaza Passover
By Sam Bahour
In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the ancient Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that’s another story.)
The Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table.
For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per Wikipedia and the Chabad website) —listed here by its Hebrew name—I note its traditional symbolic role and offer an additional, alternative interpretation. I hope my alternative can help Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, connect with a broader perspective on the meaning of Passover right here, right now, in the land that became the eventual endpoint of that ancient exodus.
Maror and Chazeret — Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. Slavery: severe curtailment of one’s freedom. Today, one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are tasting the bitterness of unfreedom, hermetically sealed in their encircled enclave with no end in sight. Sixty percent are under the age of 16. The Jewish citizens of Israel have hardened their hearts to this reality and they have expected the rest of the world’s Jews to do likewise. For how long will you wait for Palestinians to vanish?
Charoset — A coarse mixture of chopped nuts, apples or dates, and wine, meant to symbolize the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt. Today, Israel permits no mortar, or cement, or any other building materials, to enter Gaza. Let them sleep in tents! This, after last winter’s assault on Gaza, internationally documented war crimes (and possibly crimes against humanity), causing over 1,400 deaths in 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009– leaving scores homeless in the rubble. Is this the freedom Moses envisioned? The freedom to attack civilians with the tanks, planes and warships of the "Jewish" State? Doesn’t sound very Jewish to me. Not at all.
Karpas — A vegetable other than bitter herbs, dipped into salt water (which represents tears) to recall the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. Tears! Pain! In your name, my Jewish friends, Israel continues its inhuman siege on Gaza. The folks there shed tears as salty as anyone’s; their pain is beyond description. Two of every three of today’s Gaza residents originally lost their homes in what is now Israel when the state was established. Six decades later, they find themselves living a nightmare, a kind of living death: their economy in ruins, their neighborhoods in ruins, their educational and health systems in ruins, even their sanitation systems in ruins. Israel refuses to allow reconstruction. What comes after stripping Gazans from their last remaining sense of sanity?
Z'roa — A roasted lamb shankbone (or a chicken wing, or chicken neck) symbolizes the paschal sacrifice offered originally on the eve of the exodus and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Sacrifice! Do you insist on sacrificing the possibility of a sustainable future for modern Israel in the name of its founding myth – since discredited – that Palestine was "a land without people, for a people without a land"? A million of today’s Gazans are from the families that Israel expelled. Gazans have remained steadfast under conditions even the early Hebrews might have found intolerable in Egypt. Gazans, together with all Palestinians, are the people that Jews in Israel are destined to live with, today, tomorrow, and forever. The only uncertainty is how much more hate will be generated by military occupation and armed assault before a process of shared rehabilitation can begin.
Beitzah — A hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the main festival sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. The egg is a symbol of mourning. Eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a Jewish funeral. The egg on the Seder plate evokes the mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent inability to offer sacrifices there in honor of the Pesach holiday. Mourning! As Jews, you know a lot about mourning; consider the sixty-two years of mourning, consider every day of every one of those years, among the people--real people, with real names and real children—in Gaza and in squalid refugee camps all around Israel who can see their homeland with the naked eye, but are denied their basic human right of returning home. Sixty-two Passovers and counting. All I ask of you on this year’s holy day, as you contemplate the egg on the Seder plate, is to remember them, no more.
My Jewish sisters and brothers, you can continue to look away as Israel claims to speak and to act in your name. It kills and maims in your name. It dispossesses and occupies in your name. It talks peace and wages war in your name. If you turn a deaf ear to their mourning again this year, if you harden your heart again this year, if your voice is not raised this year in protest – then you are acquiescing in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of another people, in your name. If you cannot see Palestinians as fully human now, you will hear them trying to give voice to their humanity in your nightmares, year after year, until you can see and until you can hear.
It is written in the Talmud: We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. I urge you, while you commemorate the Hebrews’ ancient slavery and deliverance, to see yourselves finally as equals in this world: equal with your neighbors, neither their masters nor their slaves. I urge you to see yourself and your children in the image of every Palestinian mother, father and child in Gaza. Let this year be the year of your shared redemption!
Free Gaza now! End the occupation now! Happy Passover from Gaza!
- Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living under Israeli occupation
Fight Oppression Everywhere
The celebration of Passover reminds us to fight oppression everywhere, U.S. President Barack Obama said in his annual holiday greeting on Monday, also highlighting the battle against all forms of discrimination.
The celebration of Passover reminds us to fight oppression everywhere, U.S. President Barack Obama said in his annual holiday greeting on Monday, also highlighting the battle against all forms of discrimination.
In a statement released by the White House and signed by Obama, the U.S. president wrote that the story of Exodus taught that, "wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won."
"In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination," Obama wrote, adding that by doing so "we reaffirm the ties that bind us all."
The American president concluded his greeting by saying that "these bonds are the source of inextinguishable courage and strength, and provide hope that we can repair this world."
Later Monday, President Obama is expected to hold a Passover seder in the White House, making it the third year in a row he had done so, and a second time as president.
The president's weekly schedule indicated that he and the first lady president and are planned to host some 20 friends and staff members.
While the Hanukkah party he hosted at the White House was for Jewish community leaders (and was closed to the media), the previous seder was an intimate event for his Jewish campaign workers; a recreation of the makeshift seder in April 2008 - during the campaign, on the roads, in the basement of a hotel in Pennsylvania.
The battle for the nomination against Hillary Clinton was two months away from a decision. Criticism of the controversial statements of the pastor of the Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, which Obama attended with his family, refused to die down. But at the end of one more grueling day, the Jewish staffers, including Arun Chaudhary, the videographer who documented Obama's campaign and who is half-Jewish, half-Indian, and Eric Lesser, a former baggage handler on the campaign trail who has since become senior adviser David Axelrod's aide, were determined to keep the tradition.
Most of the people at the seder were not Jewish, but some continued with Obama to the White House, among them senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Reggie Love. According to nostalgic reports of that historic evening, it is said to have ended with Obama saying the words, "Next year in the White House."
The next seder did indeed take place in the White House - on the second night of the holiday, after the president had delivered a greeting in which he called the Haggadah "among the most powerful stories of suffering and redemption in human history."
It was not the hoped-for intimate family event with no wait staff; the White House kitchen went all out. But the first daughters, Malia and Sasha, lived up to their part in the evening's festivities, searching for the afikoman.
Some Jewish community leaders were at first surprised to hear about the president's Passover seder. Hanukkah parties at the White House have become a tradition, but the seder did not rank on the list of Washington events to which one must wangle an invitation, because there simply wasn't one at the presidential level.
Many wondered who would be on this year's guest list. When it turned out to be a private event, most still quickly and warmly praised the respectful nod to Jewish tradition.
This year's guest list has not been released yet, but according to reports, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will again not attend, while David Axelrod will be there, along with Valerie Jarrett and one of the younger aides, Herbie Ziskend.
GM Crops Cause Liver
And Kidney Damage
A report published in the International Journal of Microbiology has verified once again that Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) crops are causing severe health problems. A legal challenge issued against Monsanto forced the multi-national agriculture giant to release raw data revealing that animals fed its patented GM corn suffered liver and kidney damage within just three months.
Adding to the mounting evidence that GM crops are dangerous all around, this information provides a damning indictment against Monsanto which continually insists that its GM products are safe. Not only are GM crops proving disastrous for the environment, but study after study, including those conducted by Monsanto itself, is showing that GM foods are detrimental to health.
Monsanto's data indicated that the company had conducted tests on three varieties of its GM corn, two of which contain the dangerous Bt protein, and one designed specifically to resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. All three are widely grown in the United States while only one is currently grown in Europe.
Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, a French researcher from the University of Caen, was tasked with examining the data and providing a review. While stopping short of declaring GM crops to be toxic, he did emphasize that chronic negative effects were apparent and that there were "statistically significant" indications of kidney and liver damage.
The specific effects observed in test rats included a buildup of hormones in the blood, indicating that their liver and kidneys were not functioning properly. One variety of the corn led to elevated blood sugar levels and increased triglyceride levels in female rats given it.
Dr. Seralini concluded that, because GM crops are foreign substances that have never been a part of a normal diet, there is no telling what the long-term effects of consumption will be on people. In animals, significant disruption of normal bodily function has been observed even in the short term.
Genetically manipulated food crops are not fit for human consumption and should not be classified as food. No legitimate study has ever proven them to be safe or nutritious. The burden of proof is on the producers of such crops to verify their safety and, to date, all data has revealed that they are unsafe. Claims that GM foods will end world hunger are baseless, propagated only by those that have a financial interest in converting the world's food supply to their own patented varieties in order to control it.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
As Texas Rewrites American History
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Country music is an important modern cultural movement; hip-hop isn't. Thomas Jefferson deserves to be erased from a list of "great Americans", but Ronald Reagan doesn't. And we should re-evaluate Senator Joe McCarthy: he was almost certainly a national hero.
If you think that sounds like a quirky rewriting of American history with a right-wing twist, then you're not alone. But if the state of Texas gets its way, it'll be what teachers across the rest of the nation are required to tell their students.
In a move that has sparked controversy from coast to coast, together with a slew of headlines about the "Texas schoolbook massacre", the Lone Star state has just narrowly approved a series of conservative-minded alterations to its social studies curriculum.
The school board's decrees range from the surreal to the faintly sinister. One dictates that the Republican former House speaker Newt Gingrich should be studied. Another says that the speeches of Jefferson Davis, the slave-owning president of the Confederacy, should be taught alongside those of Abraham Lincoln. And the National Rifle Association should be praised for upholding the Constitution.
These and many other changes were approved by the board earlier this month, following three days of rancorous debate in Austin, the state capital. The vote of 15-5 in favour of the move was made entirely along party lines: every Republican on the committee approved them.
To the rest of America, the board's colourful right-wingery ought to be nothing more than a colourful sideshow. But the economics of the education industry mean otherwise: Texas is the biggest market for new teaching materials in the country, with 4.7 million schoolchildren, meaning that its curriculum influences the contents of textbooks nationwide.
Historians this week voiced concerns about the proposed revisions, many of which they have described as inaccurate. They are particularly angry that Jefferson's importance to the nation's founding fathers will in future be played down. That change to the curriculum was supported by evangelical Christians, who dislike Jefferson's support for the separation of church and state.
"The books that are altered to fit the [new] standards become the bestselling books, and therefore within the next two years they'll end up in other classrooms," Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education and a vociferous opponent of the changes, told The Washington Post. "It's not a partisan issue; it's a good history issue."
Elsewhere, the new curriculum allows teachers to treat country and western music as a significant cultural movement. But a move to add hip-hop to the same list was voted down by conservatives.
Students of Cold War history looking at McCarthyism must in future be told that the Verona papers, which documented communications between the Soviet Union and its spies, "confirmed suspicions of Communist infiltration in US government". In fact, historians are divided on whether this is really the case.
Controversy over the changes has shone a spotlight on the powers and make-up of the 15-strong Texas board. One of them, a dentist called Roy McElroy, failed by a whisker last year to get the board to force the teaching of Creationism alongside evolution in science lessons. This year he supported a successful move to have the term "capitalism" replaced with "free market enterprise" in classes.
Texas has a long and storied tradition of political interference in the educational process. Since the 1970s, evangelicals have repeatedly tried to have books seen as anti-Christian removed from its syllabus. Conservatives have also attempted to prevent children being taught about gay rights and global warming.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Be Sure The Truth
Will Find You Out
By Yvonne Ridley, Patron of Cageprisoners
Well it has now emerged that the British Government used spies, lies and community leaders to spew out anti-Palestinian propaganda during the Gaza War.
And the proof is there, in black and white, for any of you who care to wade through the weighty document called the Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).
Most MPs are still too busy trying to tot up the shortfall left by the expenses scandal, to leaf through the document which was quietly slipped into Parliament a few days ago.
But hidden among the layers of government-speak there is confirmation that a Government propaganda unit which was originally set up to tackle terrorism was used on a black propaganda exercise.
Its aim was simple – to promote Israel and depict the innocents suffering in Gaza as extremists and therefore, anyone helping these people must be themselves regarded as extremist.
The aim, as always, was to frighten people, intimidate them and turn them away from showing any support to the besieged community of Gaza.
It could’ve been a huge victory for the Zionist lobby which has its tentacles reaching in to most government departments.
We now know the top secret unit set about influencing and twisting British public opinion during the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza last year in which more than 1400 died.
The report also outlines a number of other steps taken by the Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), including the creation of a network of community organisations.
RICU is linked to the UK Government's decidedly dodgy Prevent programme which was set up on the pretext of preventing "violent extremism."
It’s a filthy little black propaganda unit … the sort of which operates in tinpot dictatorships and the type of which fell under the CIA control of most Latin American juntas in the 70s.
The activities of its grubby employees bends, corrupts and distorts democracies and it is shameful this Labour Government employs such tactics.
The job of these shadowy types is to mobilise public and voluntary sector workers and ordinary people to Hoover up government policy and spew it out to friends, family and local communities.
The unit operators usually pick on naive and gullible community leaders moulding them into foolish propagandists for odious Government policies. Admittedly, some do it in the simple belief they are doing good for the community, while others are influenced by the seemingly generous bounty on offer. And then there are those who money can’t buy, but their egos can be massaged and swayed by the very notion of being awarded a gong … an OBE or MBE, or even higher.
Down they fall on their knees as their imaginations are allowed to run out of control, egged on by whispers from their RICU handlers.
This nasty, secretive unit poisons public debate by planting the idea that any sort of opposition to the Government's foreign policy can only be viewed as support for "extremism."
And all of this is done in the name of democracy because it is organized within a framework of suspect Government initiatives already notoriously linked to intelligence-gathering.
It’s always difficult to quantify success, especially on a public as jaded and cynical as the Brits but they do target the more vulnerable communities in the UK, especially the Muslim communities.
My friends in the Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
They say Prevent promotes views that are at odds with the views of most folk over the border and with the views of the Scottish National Party.
How I wish we could get the SNP into England – the nearest we have is the RESPECT Party led by Salma Yaqoob and founded by George Galloway, MP.
The rather shallow Prevent scheme encourages support for the war in Afghanistan - most Brits want the troops to come home – even the troops have had enough.
But of course say that in any Muslim community and you’ll be reported, called an extremist; someone who should be monitored and put under surveillance.
And now it has emerged that the masters of Prevent, hidden deep inside the intelligence units of MI5 and Special branch, slithered around the community on a whispering campaign.
While the dirty tricks were at play, the British Government appeared to be sitting on the fence agonizing silently over Israel’s attack on the civilian population of Gaza.
But now we know those pained expressions on the face of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Minister David Miliband were either caused by acute wind or a RADA lesson.
As war crimes were being committed and the children of Gaza were slaughtered by the Israeli army, it now transpires some Prevent leaders went about urging people to remain quiet.
Read the contents of the report and ask your MP more about the Prevent programme. In short it is a shameful project which should be scrapped and denied anymore taxpayers’ money.
There, among the pages of the Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee are written boasts from the Home Secretary: "During the Gaza conflict RICU ensured that the Government’s position was communicated… a major counter-narrative campaign has been initiated… a network of community organisations established… local partners in priority areas have been briefed and provided with communications advice… relationships have been built with key media channels… research into audience segmentation… has been completed… [and] guidance on communicating with Somali and Pakistani [communities] in the UK has been circulated."
And so the letter goes on – this is not British. This rails against our sense of fairplay and justice.
A report by the Institute of Race Relations in October last year certainly contradicts the Home Secretary’s view: "There is evidence that the Prevent programme has been used to establish one of the most elaborate system of surveillance ever seen in Britain."
Now if your little community project receives thousands of pounds from shadowy government organizations, ask yourself what is the real price of taking this money? What did your group do about the war on Gaza?
Did you encourage your community to demonstrates, protest, rally, cry and shout for an unarmed community being bombarded and shelled daily for 22 days or more?
The war in Gaza was a crime against humanity – and perhaps you should ask yourself what did you do to stop it? By remaining silent, looking the other way or even just sitting on the fence doing nothing while innocent women and children were slaughtered in their hundreds puts you in a rather strange position? And while remaining silent over mass murder is bad enough, did you actually start to brief your community against taking action?
Were you encouraged to prevent others from taking a stand, or did you encourage people to remain silent?
Does your group or community accept funding from Prevent? Prevent is an intrinsically racist initiative set up to target the Muslim community and to buy silence.
Can you afford to remain silent any longer?
1) The latest Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/346792/isc-annualreport-0809.pdf
2) The report by the Institute of Relations, entitled "Spooked - how not to prevent violent extremism is at http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf2/spooked.pdf
3) SACC campaigns against Britain's anti-terrorism laws and offers solidarity to the communities most affected by them. More information at www.sacc.org.uk
Covering up American
War Crimes, From Baghdad to New YorkBy Charles Glass
BBC correspondent John Simpson reported on March 4 that the number of defects in newborn babies in the Iraqi town of Fallujah had risen dramatically since the American assault there at the end of 2004. Some people in the town blame the abnormalities in their children on whatever chemicals the US Marines may have used in their conquest of the Sunni Muslim redoubt. Dr. Samira al-Ani, a paediatrician at Fallujah’s General Hospital, told Simpson that two or three children were born each day with serious cardiac problems. Before the first American attack on Fallujah in two years earlier, she noticed similar ailments in one baby every two months. “I have nothing documented,” she admitted, “but I can tell you that year by year the number [is] increasing.”
The Iraqi government, which supported the American attack with troops of its own, denies there has been any increase. “The US military authorities,” Simpson said, “are absolutely correct when they say they are not aware of any official reports indicating an increase in birth defects in Fallujah—no official reports exist.” Nor are any likely to. By any standard, though, this was a big story. John Simpson is a serious journalist and a friend, and I listened carefully to his report that morning on the BBC World Service. I waited in vain for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other serious American journals to take up the story. All I read was a brief item on the CBS News website quoting Simpson.
The US denied it anyway, perhaps out of habit. Military spokesman Michael Fitzpatrick responded predictably, “No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues.” But, as Simpson said, there have not been any studies. American spokesmen were reluctantly forced to admit the use of White Phosphorous—or Willie Pete, as the troops call it—in Fallujah when someone noticed that Field Artillery Magazine, a U. S. Army publication, had already documented its deployment in its March/April 2005 edition. The magazine wrote, “We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP [White Phosphorous] to flush them out and HE [High Explosives] to take them out.” After Dahr Jamail, a brilliant freelance journalist, reported during the battle in 2004 that American forces were using WP on Iraqis, Project Censored gave him an award for the second most under-reported story of the year. It is still under-reported, but it is not difficult to understand why. The US government does not want it known that it was using chemicals on human beings in a country whose leader it overthrew ostensibly because he retained the capacity to do the same thing. And the US Treasury does not want to compensate foreigners for any harm its troops might have done. Let us turn now to New York and what has become the secular-sacred site of the former World Trade Center.
The government this month finally settled claims by 10,000 workers on the Ground Zero clean-up by agreeing to pay $657.5 million for the debilitating effects of the asbestos and other poisons they were exposed to. That’s an average of $65,750 a head, less the lawyers’ share. It doesn’t sound like much, but they’re doing better than anyone in Fallujah. There are precedents for government resistance to admitting responsibility. American Vietnam veterans crippled by the dioxin they dropped all over Vietnam waited many years for the government to acknowledge their plight. At first, the government resisted the connection between dioxin and the veterans’ cancer, Parkinson’s, and other fatal illnesses. By the time the government paid anything, the vets were observing that their children were being born with severe birth defects from dioxin in Agent Orange and other herbicides unleashed on the South Vietnamese countryside. Their children’s congenital deformities included spina bifida and other horrors that may go for generations to come. The Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t send them any money until 2003—thirty years after the last barrel of poison was dropped on Vietnam. Even that was restricted to 7,520 of the 99,226 veterans who claimed to have been affected.
While dioxin disabled thousands of American service personnel who merely handled it, as many as 4.8 million Vietnamese endured twenty-eight million gallons of toxic rain that drenched their skins, soaked their soil, and polluted their rivers and groundwater for ten years. As with the American war vets, then-unborn children were also affected. Vietnam has one of the world’s highest levels of birth defects, concentrated in the south where the American forced deployed most of the chemicals. Five children out of one hundred are born with serious abnormalities, including missing limbs, spina bifida, twisted or missing internal organs and grotesque malformations that have made their survival impossible. While reluctantly accepting a link between dioxin and birth defects in American service personnel’s children, the US denies any connection when it comes to Vietnamese. I guess it’s just one of those strange anomalies that nature throws up every so often, like Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates’ observation that the disproportion in African-American deaths from the police choking was due to the fact that “blacks might be more likely to die from chokeholds because their arteries do not open as fast as they do on ‘normal people’.” Perhaps Vietnamese born after 1961, when Operation Ranch Hand to defoliate South Vietnam began, were just not normal anyway.
The abnormal people of Iraq remember that the US denied Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on its Kurdish citizens. In those days, Saddam was an American ally. When freelance journalist Gwynne Roberts brought back the soil samples from Hallabja that proved Saddam has gassed the Kurds, the US blamed the Iranians. That assessment became inoperative when condemning Saddam was politically useful. Now that the US has been caught using chemicals in the same country that the monster Saddam did, it admits using them on “insurgents” but not on civilians. It is hard in a city to blast chemicals at the people with guns and miss those who don’t have any. No matter. The US and Iraqi governments are blocking an investigation that would prove one way or another that White Phosphorous did any harm to Iraqi mothers and their children. It’s unlikely they’ll receive a cent for the next fifty years, if ever. But why the hell isn’t this a big story?
By Glenn Greenwald
President Obama gave an interview earlier this week to an Indonesian television station in lieu of the scheduled trip to that country which was canceled due to the health care vote. In 2008, Indonesia empowered a national commission to investigate human rights abuses committed by its own government under the U.S.-backed Suharto regime "in an attempt to finally bring the perpetrators to justice," and Obama was asked in this interview: "Is your administration satisfied with the resolution of the past human rights abuses in Indonesia?" He replied:
We have to acknowledge that those past human rights abuses existed. We can't go forward without looking backwards . . . .
When asked last year about whether the United States should use similar tribunals to investigate its own human rights abuses, as well his view of other countries' efforts (such as Spain) to investigate those abuses, Obama said:
I'm a strong believer that it's important to look forward and not backwards, and to remind ourselves that we do have very real security threats out there.
That "Look-Forward/Not-Backward" formulation is one which Obama and his top aides have frequently repeated to argue against any investigations in the U.S. Why, as Obama sermonized, must Indonesians first look backward before being able to move forward, whereas exactly the opposite is true of Americans? If a leader is going to demand that other countries adhere to the very "principles" which he insists on violating himself, it's probably best not to use antithetical clichés when issuing decrees, for the sake of appearances if nothing else.
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer -- in the last paragraph of her new article documenting the multiple lies told by former Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Marc Theissen in his pro-torture book -- offered the best summary yet as to why Obama's "Look Forward/Not Backward" mentality is so destructive:
The publication of "Courting Disaster" suggests that Obama's avowed determination "to look forward, not back" has laid the recent past open to partisan reinterpretation. By holding no one accountable for past abuse, and by convening no commission on what did and didn't protect the country, President Obama has left the telling of this dark chapter in American history to those who most want to whitewash it.
Nothing enables the glorification of crimes, and nothing ensures their future re-occurrence, more than shielding the criminals from all accountability. It's nice that Barack Obama is willing to dispense that lecture to other countries, but it's not so nice that he does exactly the opposite in his own.
Have a Nice World War
By John Pilger
Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.
According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.
“War is fun”, the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony, meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons. This danger can be illustrated by the liberal perception of Tony Blair in 1997 as one “who wants to create a world [where] ideology has surrendered entirely to values” (Hugo Young, the Guardian) compared with today’s public reckoning of a liar and war criminal.
Western war-states such as the US and Britain are not threatened by the Taliban or any other introverted tribesmen in faraway places, but by the anti-war instincts of their own citizens. Consider the draconian sentences handed down in London to scores of young people who protested Israel’s assault on Gaza in January last year. Following demonstrations in which paramilitary police “kettled” (corralled) thousands, first-offenders have received two and a half years in prison for minor offences that would not normally carry custodial sentences. On both sides of the Atlantic, serious dissent exposing illegal war has become a serious crime.
Silence in other high places allows this moral travesty. Across the arts, literature, journalism and the law, liberal elites, having hurried away from the debris of Blair and now Obama, continue to fudge their indifference to the barbarism and aims of western state crimes by promoting retrospectively the evils of their convenient demons, like Saddam Hussein. With Harold Pinter gone, try compiling a list of famous writers, artists and advocates whose principles are not consumed by the “market” or neutered by their celebrity. Who among them have spoken out about the holocaust in Iraq during almost 20 years of lethal blockade and assault? And all of it has been deliberate. On 22 January 1991, the US Defence Intelligence Agency predicted in impressive detail how a blockade would systematically destroy Iraq’s clean water system and lead to “increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease”. So the US set about eliminating clean water for the Iraqi population: one of the causes, noted Unicef, of the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five. But this extremism apparently has no name.
Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”
This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.
In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Empire will stop at nothing to find mechanisms and techniques to achieve its final objective, and we cannot disregard the possibility of a military conflict in the near future. If the US places Venezuela on the "terrorist list" this year, we could be on the verge of a regional war.
By Eva Golinger
March 13, 2010 - chavezcode.com
Latin America has suffered constant aggressions executed by Washington during the past two hundred years. Strategies and tactics of covert and overt warfare have been applied against different nations in the region, ranging from coup d'etats, assassinations, disappearances, torture, brutal dictatorships, atrocities, political persecution, economic sabotage, psychological operations, media warfare, biological warfare, subversion, counterinsurgency, paramiliary infiltration, diplomatic terrorism, blockades, electoral intervention to military invasions. Regardless of who's in the White House – democrat or republican – when it comes to Latin America, the Empire's policies remain the same.
In the twenty-first century, Venezuela has been one of the principle targets of these constant aggressions. Since the April 2002 coup, there has been a dangerous escalation in attacks and destabilization attempts against the Bolivarian Revolution. Although many fell beneath the seductive smile and poetic words of Barack Obama, it's not necessary to look beyond the past year to see the intensification of Washington's aggressions against Venezuela. The largest military expansion in history in the region – through the US occupation of Colombia – the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet of the US Navy, as well as an increased US military presence in the Caribbean, Panama and Central America throughout the past year, can be interpreted as preparation for a conflict scenario in the region.
ESCALATION IN AGGRESSIONS
The hostile declarations from various Washington representatives during the past few weeks, accusing Venezuela of failure to combat narcotics operations, violating human rights, "not contributing to democracy and regional stability", and of being the "regional anti-US leader", form part of a coordinated campaign that seeks to justify a direct aggression against Venezuela. Soon, Washington will publish its annual list of "state sponsors of terrorism", and if Venezuela is placed on the list this year, the region could be on the brink of an unprecedented military conflict.
Evidence seems to indicate a move in that direction. A US Air Force document justifying the need to increase military presence in Colombia affirmed that Washington is preparing for "expeditionary warfare" in South America.
The 2009 Air Force document, sent to Congress last May (but later modified in November after it was used to demonstrate the true intentions behind the military agreement between the US and Colombia), explained, ""Development of this CSL (Cooperative Security Location) will further the strategic partnership forged between the US and Colombia and is in the interest of both nations...A presence will also increase our capability to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), improve global reach, support logistics requirements, improve partnerships, improve theater security cooperation and expand expeditionary warfare capability".
ON THE VERGE OF WAR
The first official report outlining the defense and intelligence priorities of the Obama administration dedicated substantial attention to Venezuela. The Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community – which has mentioned Venezuela in years past, but not nearly with the same emphasis and extension – particularly signaled out President Chavez as a major "threat" to US interests. "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has established himself as one of the US's foremost international detractors, denouncing liberal democracy and market capitalism and opposing US policies and interests in the region", said the intelligence document, placing Venezuela in the same category as Iran, North Korea and Al Qa'ida.
Days after the report was published, the State Department presented its 2011 budget to Congress. In addition to an increase in financing through USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to fund opposition groups in Venezuela – more than $15 million USD – there was also a $48 million USD request for the Organization of American States (OAS) to "deploy special 'democracy promoter' teams to countries where democracy is under threat from the growing presence of alternative concepts such as the 'participatory democracy' promoted by Venezuela and Bolivia".
One week later, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the OAS – funded by Washington – emitted a whopping 322-page report slamming Venezuela for human rights violations, repression of the press and undermining democracy. Despite the fact that it was a report – and a Commission – dedicated to the topic of human rights, the detailed study barely mentioned the immense achievements of the Chavez government in advancing human rights; advances which have been recognized and applauded over the past five years by the Unted Nations. The evidence used by the OAS to elaborate the report came from opposition testimonies and biased media outlets, a clear demonstration of dangerous subjectivity.
Simultaneous to these accusations, a Spanish court accused the Venezuelan government last week of supporting and collaborating with the FARC and ETA – organizations considered terrorist by both the US and Spain – provoking an international scandal. President Chavez reiterated that his government has absolutely no ties with any terrorist group in the world. "This is a government of peace", declared Chavez, after explaining that the presence of ETA members in Venezuela is due to an agreement made over 20 years ago by the government of Carlos Andres Perez in order to aid Spain in a peace treaty with the Basque separatist group.
THE EMPIRE HAS NO COLOR
Last week, on tour in Latin America, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton couldn't stop attacking Venezuela during her different declarations made before international media. She expressed her "great concern" for democracy and human rights in Venezuela, accusing President Chavez of not "contributing in a constructive manner" to regional progress. In a cynical tone, Clinton advised President Chavez to "look further south" for inspiration, instead of towards Cuba.
Clinton's regional trip was part of a strategy announced by the Obama administration last year, to create a divide between the so-called "progressive left" and the "radical left" in Latin America. It's no coincidence that her first tour of the region coincided with the announcement of a new Latin American and Caribbean Community of States, which excludes the presence of the US and Canada.
THE COMING CONFLICT
A military conflict is not initiated from one day to the next. It's a process that involves first influencing public perception and opinion – demonizing the target leader or government in order to justify aggression. Subsequently, armed forces are strategically deployed in the region in order to guarantee an effective military action. Tactics, such as subversion and counterinsurgency, are utilized in order to debilitate and destabilize the target nation from within, increasing its vulnerability and weakening its defenses.
This plan has been active against Venezuela for several years. The consolidation of regional unity and Latin American integration threatens US possibilities of regaining domination and control in the hemisphere. And the advances of the Bolivarian Revolution have impeded its "self-destruction", provoked by internal subversion funded and directed by US agencies. However, the Empire will not cease its attempts to achieve its final objective, and a potential military conflict in the region remains on the horizon.
Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named "La Novia de Venezuela" by President Hugo Chávez, is a Venezuelan-American attorney from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, "The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela" (2006 Olive Branch Press), "Bush vs. Chávez: Washington's War on Venezuela" (2007, Monthly Review Press) Visit her website www.chavezcode.com
2) Do you agree with changing this model of over-consumption and waste that represents capitalist system? YES or NO
3) Do you agree that developing countries reduce and reabsorb their domestic greenhouse gas emissions for temperature not to rise more than 1 degree Celsius? YES or NO
4) Do you agree with transferring all that is spent in wars and for allocating a budget bigger than used for defense to climate change? YES or NO
5) Do you agree with a Climate Justice Tribunal to judge those who destroy Mother Earth? YES or NO
Saturday, March 20, 2010
By Andrew Tilghman and Brendan McGarry . Taken from The Army Times Site, Your Online resource for everything army.
And many troops are taking more than one kind, mixing several pills in daily “cocktails” — for example, an antidepressant with an antipsychotic to prevent nightmares, plus an anti-epileptic to reduce headaches — despite minimal clinical research testing such combinations.
The drugs come with serious side effects: They can impair motor skills, reduce reaction times and generally make a war fighter less effective. Some double the risk for suicide, prompting doctors — and Congress — to question whether these drugs are connected to the rising rate of military suicides.
“It’s really a large-scale experiment. We are experimenting with changing people’s cognition and behavior,” said Dr. Grace Jackson, a former Navy psychiatrist.
A Military Times investigation of electronic records obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency shows DLA spent $1.1 billion on common psychiatric and pain medications from 2001 to 2009. It also shows that use of psychiatric medications has increased dramatically — about 76 percent overall, with some drug types more than doubling — since the start of the current wars.
Troops and military health care providers also told Military Times that these medications are being prescribed, consumed, shared and traded in combat zones — despite some restrictions on the deployment of troops using those drugs.
The investigation also shows that drugs originally developed to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are now commonly used to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as headaches, nightmares, nervousness and fits of anger.
Such “off-label” use — prescribing medications to treat conditions for which the drugs were not formally approved by the FDA — is legal and even common. But experts say the lack of proof that these treatments work for other purposes, without fully understanding side effects, raises serious concerns about whether the treatments are safe and effective.
The DLA records detail the range of drugs being prescribed to the military community and the spending on them:
• Antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel and Risperdal, spiked most dramatically — orders jumped by more than 200 percent, and annual spending more than quadrupled, from $4 million to $16 million.
• Use of anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives such as Valium and Ambien also rose substantially; orders increased 170 percent, while spending nearly tripled, from $6 million to about $17 million.
• Antiepileptic drugs, also known as anticonvulsants, were among the most commonly used psychiatric medications. Annual orders for these drugs increased about 70 percent, while spending more than doubled, from $16 million to $35 million.
• Antidepressants had a comparatively modest 40 percent gain in orders, but it was the only drug group to show an overall decrease in spending, from $49 million in 2001 to $41 million in 2009, a drop of 16 percent. The debut in recent years of cheaper generic versions of these drugs is likely responsible for driving down costs.
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are the most common mental health medications prescribed to service members. Seventeen percent of the active-duty force, and as much as 6 percent of deployed troops, are on antidepressants, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist, told Congress on Feb. 24.
In contrast, about 10 percent of all Americans take antidepressants, according to a 2009 Columbia University study.
Many of the newest psychiatric drugs come with strong warnings about an increased risk for suicide, suicidal behavior and suicidal thoughts.
Doctors — and, more recently, lawmakers — are questioning whether the drugs could be responsible for the spike in military suicides during the past several years, an upward trend that roughly parallels the rise in psychiatric drug use.
From 2001 to 2009, the Army’s suicide rate increased more than 150 percent, from 9 per 100,000 soldiers to 23 per 100,000. The Marine Corps suicide rate is up about 50 percent, from 16.7 per 100,000 Marines in 2001 to 24 per 100,000 last year. Orders for psychiatric drugs in the analysis rose 76 percent over the same period.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the newer antidepressants commonly prescribed by the military can cause or worsen suicidality, aggression and other dangerous mental states,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who testified at the same Feb. 24 congressional hearing at which Sutton appeared.
Other side effects — increased irritability, aggressiveness and hostility — also could pose a risk.
“Imagine causing that in men and women who are heavily armed and under a great deal of stress,” Breggin said.
He cited dozens of clinical studies conducted by drug companies and submitted to federal regulators, including one among veterans that showed “completed suicide rates were approximately twice the base rate following antidepressant starts in VA clinical settings.”
But many military doctors say the risks are overstated and argue that the greater risk would be to fail to fully treat depressed troops.
For suicide, “depression is a big risk factor,” too, said Army Reserve Col. (Dr.) Thomas Hicklin, who teaches clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California. “To withhold the medications can be a huge problem.”
Nevertheless, Hicklin said the risks demand strict oversight. “The access to weapons is a very big concern with someone who is feeling suicidal,” he said. “It has to be monitored very carefully because side effects can occur.”
Defense officials repeatedly have denied requests by Military Times for copies of autopsy reports that would show the prevalence of such drugs in suicide toxicology reports.
Spc. Mike Kern enlisted in 2006 and spent a year deployed in 2008 with the 4th Infantry Division as an armor crewman, running patrols out of southwest Baghdad.
Kern went to the mental health clinic suffering from nervousness, sleep problems and depression. He was given Paxil, an antidepressant that carries a warning label about increased risk for suicide.
A few days later, while patrolling the streets in the gunner’s turret of a Humvee, he said he began having serious thoughts of suicide for the first time in his life.
“I had three weapons: a pistol, my rifle and a machine gun,” Kern said. “I started to think, ‘I could just do this and then it’s over.’ That’s where my brain was: ‘I can just put this gun right here and pull the trigger and I’m done. All my problems will be gone.’”
Kern said the incident scared him, and he did not take any more drugs during that deployment. But since his return, he has been diagnosed with PTSD and currently takes a variety of psychotropic medications.
Other side effects cited by troops who used such drugs in the war zones include slowed reaction times, impaired motor skills, and attention and memory problems.
One 35-year-old Army sergeant first class said he was prescribed the anticonvulsant Topamax to prevent the onset of debilitating migraines. But the drug left him feeling mentally sluggish, and he stopped taking it.
“Some people call it ‘Stupamax’ because it makes you stupid,” said the sergeant, who asked not to be identified because he said using such medication carries a social stigma in the military.
Being slow — or even “stupid” — might not be a critical problem for some civilians. But it can be deadly for troops working with weapons or patrolling dangerous areas in a war zone, said Dr. John Newcomer, a psychiatry professor at Washington University in St. Louis and a former fellow at the American Psychiatric Association.
“A drug that is really effective and it makes you feel happy and calm and sleepy … might be a great medication for the general population,” Newcomer said, “but that might not make sense for an infantryman in a combat arena.
“If it turns out that people on a certain combo are getting shot twice as often, you would start to worry if they were as ‘heads up’ as they should have been,” Newcomer said. “There is so much on the line, you’d really like to have more specific military data to inform the prescribing.”
Military doctors say they take a service member’s mission into consideration before prescribing.
“Obviously, one would be concerned about what the person does,” said Col. C.J. Diebold, chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. “If they have a desk job, that may factor in what medication you may be recommending for the patient [compared with] if they are out there and they have to be moving around and reacting fairly quickly.”
Little hard research has been done on such unique aspects of psychiatric drug usage in the military, particularly off-label usage.
A 2009 VA study found that 60 percent of veterans receiving antipsychotics were taking them for problems for which the drugs are not officially approved. For example, only two are approved for treating PTSD — Paxil and Zoloft, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But in actuality, doctors prescribe a range of drugs to treat PTSD symptoms.
To win FDA approval, drug makers must prove efficacy through rigorous and costly clinical trials. But approval determines only how a drug can be marketed; once a drug is approved for sale, doctors legally can prescribe it for any reason they feel appropriate.
Such off-label use comes with some risk, experts say.
“Patients may be exposed to drugs that have problematic side effects without deriving any benefit,” said Dr. Robert Rosenheck, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University who studied off-label drug use among veterans. “We just don’t know. There haven’t been very many studies.”
Some military psychiatrists are reluctant to prescribe off-label.
“It’s a slippery slope,” said Hicklin, the Army psychiatrist. “Medication can be overused. We need to use medication when indicated and we hope that we are all on the same page … with that.”
Combinations of drugs pose another risk. Doctors note that most drugs are tested as a single treatment, not as one ingredient in a mixture of medications.
“In the case of poly-drug use – the ‘cocktail’ — where you are combining an antidepressant, an anticonvulsant, an antipsychotic, and maybe a stimulant to keep this guy awake — that has never been tested,” Breggin said.
Newcomer agreed. “When we go to the literature and try to find support for these complex cocktails, we’re not going to find it,” he said. “As the number of medications goes up, the probability of adverse events like hospitalization or death goes up exponentially.”
Pinpointing the reasons for broad shifts in the military’s drug use today is difficult. Each doctor prescribes medications for the patient’s individual needs.
Nevertheless, many doctors in and outside the military point to several variables — some unique to the military, some not.
A close look at the data shows that use of the antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs, also known as “mood stabilizers,” are growing much faster than antidepressants. That may correlate to the challenges that deployed troops face when they arrive back home and begin to readjust to civilian social norms and family life.
“The ultimate effect of both of these drugs is to take the heightened arousal — the hypervigilance and all the emotions that served you once you were deployed — and help to turn that back down,” said Dr. Frank Ochberg, former associate director for the National Institute of Mental Health and a psychiatry professor at Michigan State University who reviewed the Military Times analysis.
Dr. Harry Holloway, a retired Army colonel and a psychiatry professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., said the increased use of these medications is simply another sign of deployment stress on the force.
“For a long time, the ops tempo has been completely unrelieved and unrestrained,” Holloway said. “When you have an increased ops tempo, and you have certain scheduling that will make it hard for everyone, you will produce a more symptomatic force. Most commanders understand that and they understand the tradeoffs.”
Violations of Iraqi
Children Rights Under the American Occupation
By Souad Al Azzawi, Professor in Environmental Engineering
March 19, 2010
I pride myself in being a scientist and a researcher. I built my academic career on theories and numbers. As a teacher, I teach my students that everything is based in science – everything has a reason. That is why, I am always frustrated with myself when I find I am overwhelmed with feelings on specific topics.
One such topic is the occupation of my country, Iraq. On this subject I find that I cannot always be dispassionate. I cannot be the researcher and observer and discuss it without feelings or emotions as I am sometimes expected to do. I find myself doing research on the damages caused by the war and occupation, and my head buzzes with anger, my eyes burn with tears of desperation at the state of my country.
I decided, I would view it as a scientist. I would not attack the subject with emotion. I would let the numbers speak for themselves. This year I will sit back and play the part of the analyst- the researcher- on the topic that is closest to my heart.
We will show that the American occupation violated children’s rights on all levels, including health care, education, social security, family unity and non separation of children from their parents through detention, imprisonment and exile
For two decades, Iraqi children, along with all other elements of Iraqi society, have been subjected to grave violations of human rights.
The American occupation forces, and the occupation-assigned Iraqi government, grossly failed to fulfill their most basic duties towards the children of Iraq in accordance with the UN/CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child, Resolution 25/ Session 44, November 1989. The convention was ratified by 194 United Nations countries, except the USA and Somalia.
Principals of the CRC emphasized the need to protect children’s rights’ to life and physical, mental, moral, and spiritual development in a safe environment.
Numerous violations of Iraqi children’s rights have systematically and continuously been committed under the American occupation of Iraq.
We will show that the American occupation violated children’s rights on all levels, including health care, education, social security, family unity and the non separation of children from their parents through detention, imprisonment and exile.
1.Iraqi Children under the Economic Sanctions (1990-2003)
During the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, the country was denied the right to import equipment, medicine, educational items, health care requirements, etc. The economic sanctions were imposed by US/UK administrations and enforced by UN resolution 661 in 1990. The sanctions committee in the UN was dominated by the USA and UK, who insisted on blocking most essentials related to human rights
2.Status of Iraqi Children under the Anglo-American Occupation of Iraq
Thirteen years of suffering and the death of more than half a million children under five as a result of economic sanctions ended with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraqi people, and children have had to face the excessive use of power, shock and awe techniques, raids, the destruction of infrastructure, burning and looting of the civil services and cultural centers of Iraq, damage to health care centers and hospitals, and sectarian killing staged by occupation intelligence. Numerous violations of Iraqi children’s rights have continuously and systematically been committed under the Anglo- American occupation of Iraq.
■ Direct killing during the military invasion operations where civilians were targeted directly. Additional casualties amongst children have resulted from unexploded ordinances along military engagement routes.
■ The direct killing and abuse of children during American troop raids on civilian areas like Fallujah, Haditha, Mahmodia, Telafer, Anbar, Mosul, and most of the other Iraqi cities. The Massacre of the children in Haditha in 2005 is a good example of "collateral damage" among civilians.
■ Daily car bombs casualties, explosion of buildings and other terrorist attacks on civilians.
■ Detention and torture of Iraqi children in American and Iraqi governmental prisons. While in detention, the children are being brutalized, raped, and tortured. American guards videotaped these brutal crimes in Abu Graib and other prisons.
■ Poverty due to economic collapse and corruption caused acute malnutrition among Iraqi children. As was reported by Oxfam in July 2007, up to eight million Iraqis required immediate emergency aid, with nearly half the population living in "absolute poverty".
■ Starving whole cities as collective punishment by blocking the delivery of food, aid, and sustenance before raiding them increased the suffering of the young children and added more casualties among them.
■ Microbial pollution and lack of sanitation including drinking water shortages for up to 70% of the population caused the death of "one in eight Iraqi children" before their fifth birthday. Death of young children in Iraq has been attributed to water borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, etc .
■ Contaminating and exposing other heavily populated cities to chemically toxic and radioactive ammunitions. Weapons like cluster bombs, Napalm, white phosphorous, and Depleted Uranium all caused drastic increases of cancer incidences, deformations in children, multiple malignancies and child leukemia. Children in areas like Basrah, Baghdad, Nasriya, Samawa, Fallujah, Dewania and other cities have been having multifold increases of such diseases. Over 24% of all children born in Fallujah in October 2009 had birth defects.The Minister of Environment in Iraq called upon the international community to help Iraqi authorities in facing the huge increase of cancer cases in Iraq.
■ The deterioration of the health care system and the intentional assassination of medical doctors have resulted in an increased number of casualties amongst children. It has been estimated that the mortality rate amongst the population of Iraq reached 650,000 from 2003 to 2006. Another survey indicated that the total number of dead for the period of 2003-2007 is about one million. Among other cases, the failures of the health care system were specified as one of the major causes.
■ Damage to the educational system. By 2004, it was estimated that two out of every three Iraqi children were dropping out of school. Statistics released by the Ministry of Education in October 2006 indicated that only 30% of the 3.5 million students were actually attending schools. Prior to the US invasion, UNESCO indicated that school attendance was nearly 100%. Assassination of educators and academics in Iraq drove their colleagues to leave the country. This brain drain and the intended destruction of schools and the educational system is part of the well planned cultural cleansing of the Iraqi society and identity.
■ Total collapse of Iraq's economy, the sectarian violence, American troop raids on civilians, the killing of a dear family member have all deprived the children in Iraq of an innocent, carefree childhood that is the right of any child. They have to deal with family breakdowns, poverty, and a complete and total lack of security. Iraqi children are being forced to assume income generating roles because their families are suffering from hunger and poverty. They are leaving schools and having to deal with adult problems such as unemployment, manual labor, etc. This situation exposes them to hardship, and many forms of abuse. Exposure to violence on a daily basis has affected their psychological development and behavior as well.
■ The drastic increase in the number of orphans in Iraq. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs estimated the number of Iraqi orphans to be around 4.5 million. Other estimates put them at around 5 million. About 500,000 of those orphans live on the streets without any home or family or specialized institutions to take care of them. Among these orphans, 700 are in Iraqi prisons and another 100 in American prisons.
■ The problems of families who were forced to migrate and the impact on their children. Since the invasion of Iraq, there have been about 2.2 million internally displaced people who were forced to migrate due to sectarian violence, American violence, etc. Well over two million other Iraqis were driven out of Iraq. On November 20, 2007 UNESCO reports indicated that the number of Iraqi children taking refuge in Syria alone was around 300,000. The problems of children who have been forced to migrate represent a real humanitarian crisis where a large number of families have no shelter, no finances, no health care, no education, and no security of any kind.
3.Deterioration of Living Conditions of Displaced Iraqi Children
This case study was conducted by the author with the help of the Iraqi Women Will body (IWW), an Iraqi NGO fighting for Iraqi women’s rights inside and outside of Iraq.
In October 2009, around 300 copies of the questionnaire were distributed to Iraqi families within the Yarmouk refugee area of Damascus, Syria. The researchers visited these families to ensure the accuracy of the answers and to conduct personal interviews.
You can read the case study and the conclusions on the website of The BRussells Tribunal here
Kissinger’s 1974 Plan
By Joseph Brewda
Dec. 8, 1995
On Dec. 10, 1974, the U.S. National Security Council under Henry Kissinger completed a classified 200-page study, “National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.” The study falsely claimed that population growth in the so-called Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs) was a grave threat to U.S. national security. Adopted as official policy in November 1975 by President Gerald Ford, NSSM 200 outlined a covert plan to reduce population growth in those countries through birth control, and also, implicitly, war and famine. Brent Scowcroft, who had by then replaced Kissinger as national security adviser (the same post Scowcroft was to hold in the Bush administration), was put in charge of implementing the plan. CIA Director George Bush was ordered to assist Scowcroft, as were the secretaries of state, treasury, defense, and agriculture.
The bogus arguments that Kissinger advanced were not original. One of his major sources was the Royal Commission on Population, which King George VI had created in 1944 “to consider what measures should be taken in the national interest to influence the future trend of population.” The commission found that Britain was gravely threatened by population growth in its colonies, since “a populous country has decided advantages over a sparsely-populated one for industrial production.” The combined effects of increasing population and industrialization in its colonies, it warned, “might be decisive in its effects on the prestige and influence of the West,” especially effecting “military strength and security.”
NSSM 200 similarly concluded that the United States was threatened by population growth in the former colonial sector. It paid special attention to 13 “key countries” in which the United States had a “special political and strategic interest”: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. It claimed that population growth in those states was especially worrisome, since it would quickly increase their relative political, economic, and military strength.
For example, Nigeria: “Already the most populous country on the continent, with an estimated 55 million people in 1970, Nigeria's population by the end of this century is projected to number 135 million. This suggests a growing political and strategic role for Nigeria, at least in Africa.” Or Brazil: “Brazil clearly dominated the continent demographically.” The study warned of a “growing power status for Brazil in Latin America and on the world scene over the next 25 years.”
Food as a weapon
There were several measures that Kissinger advocated to deal with this alleged threat, most prominently, birth control and related population-reduction programs. He also warned that “population growth rates are likely to increase appreciably before they begin to decline,” even if such measures were adopted.
A second measure was curtailing food supplies to targetted states, in part to force compliance with birth control policies: “There is also some established precedent for taking account of family planning performance in appraisal of assistance requirements by AID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and consultative groups. Since population growth is a major determinant of increases in food demand, allocation of scarce PL 480 resources should take account of what steps a country is taking in population control as well as food production. In these sensitive relations, however, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion.”
“Mandatory programs may be needed and we should be considering these possibilities now,” the document continued, adding, “Would food be considered an instrument of national power? ... Is the U.S. prepared to accept food rationing to help people who can't/won't control their population growth?”
Kissinger also predicted a return of famines that could make exclusive reliance on birth control programs unnecessary. “Rapid population growth and lagging food production in developing countries, together with the sharp deterioration in the global food situation in 1972 and 1973, have raised serious concerns about the ability of the world to feed itself adequately over the next quarter of century and beyond,” he reported.
The cause of that coming food deficit was not natural, however, but was a result of western financial policy: “Capital investments for irrigation and infrastucture and the organization requirements for continuous improvements in agricultural yields may be beyond the financial and administrative capacity of many LDCs. For some of the areas under heaviest population pressure, there is little or no prospect for foreign exchange earnings to cover constantly increasingly imports of food.”
“It is questionable,” Kissinger gloated, “whether aid donor countries will be prepared to provide the sort of massive food aid called for by the import projections on a long-term continuing basis.” Consequently, “large-scale famine of a kind not experienced for several decades—a kind the world thought had been permanently banished,” was foreseeable—famine, which has indeed come to pass.
Friday, March 19, 2010
by Patrick J. Buchanan, March 19, 2010
When the Soviet Union disintegrated, most Americans likely had never heard of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, or Turkmenistan.
Yet the ethnonationalism of these Asian peoples, boiling to the surface after centuries of tsarist and communist repression, helped tear apart one of the great empires of history.
There swiftly followed the collapse of Yugoslavia.
Yet, if one knew nothing of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires or the First and Second Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, one would likely have been surprised by the sudden emergence of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo on the map of Europe.
What the splintering of the Soviet Union and of a Yugoslavia whose baptismal certificate dated to the Paris peace conference of 1919 revealed was the accuracy of Arthur Schlesinger’s insight in his 1991 "Dis-Uniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society":
"Nationalism remains after two centuries the most vital political emotion in the world — far more vital than social ideologies such a communism or fascism or even democracy. … Within nation-states, nationalism takes the form of ethnicity or tribalism."
Ethnic ties, Schlesinger wrote, might prove more powerful and historically important than the forces of globalism and democratism, which then seemed ascendant. He only neglected to mention religious faith as often a "far more vital" emotion than ideology.
And though the Iraq elections have been hailed as a triumph of democracy, they would seem to prove him right.
Kurds voted for Kurds, Shi’ite for Shi’ite, Sunni for Sunni on a slate led by Ayad Allawi, a secular Shi’ite who campaigned on a unity ticket.
The election results resemble a national census.
In the struggle between Allawi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to put together a government, both are courting the Kurds, whose near-term goal is Kirkuk, control of which would mean control of 40 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves. If the Kurds, who have been forcing their way into Kirkuk and pushing Arabs out, can annex the city, they will have the economic base of a Kurdistan nation, the dream of a people whose kinfolk are spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The Kurds are using democratic means for ethnonational ends.
Maliki’s strength is in the Shi’ite south and the capital, Baghdad, that has been slowly cleansed of Sunni.
Among Allawi’s weaknesses is that the Shi’ite majority may not support as Iraq’s prime minister a Shi’ite secularist whose strength comes from a Sunni minority that was the bulwark of the Ba’ath Party of Saddam Hussein.
Among the Shi’ite are leaders who spent the Iran-Iraq war in exile in Iran, and whose ties to the Iranian Shi’ite seem stronger than any ties to their Sunni countrymen.
Hence, as we indulge in self-congratulation for having brought democracy to Iraq, Iraqis seem to be using the process to advance ethnonational and sectarian ends that are the antithesis of U.S. democracy. We see democracy as an end in itself. Many in that part of the world see it as a means of establishing their ascendancy and hegemony over other religious and ethnic minorities.
In 2005, George W. Bush, then promoting global democracy as the answer to all of mankind’s ills and an essential precondition for any permanent security for the United States, demanded free elections in Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine. The winners: the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas. A perplexed Bush refused to accept the results or recognize and talk to the winners.
Before the invasion, most Americans were probably unaware of the tribal and sectarian divisions in Iraq that may yet produce a new Saddam to keep that country from coming apart in sectarian and civil war.
And how many Americans were aware of the ethnic divisions in Afghanistan, among Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, and Pashtun, before we invaded? A program is underway to bring more Pashtun into the army and police, lest the Pashtun in the south feel invaded and occupied by alien tribes.
Globalization is no longer on the march, but on the defensive. Economic nationalism is rising. Across the Third World, we see an upsurge of ethnonationalism and fundamentalism, especially among the Islamic peoples. From Nigeria to Sudan to Mindanao, Muslims battle Christians, as Christians are persecuted in Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan.
In India and Thailand, Muslims battle Hindu and Buddhists. In the Northern Caucasus, they fight Russians.
Ethnonationalism, that relentless drive of peoples to secede and dwell apart, to establish their own nation-state, where their faith is predominant, their language spoken, their heroes and history revered, and they rule to the exclusion of all others, is rampant.
In China, Tibetans fight assimilation and the mass migration of Han Chinese into what was their country, as do the Uighurs in the west who dream of an East Turkestan breaking away and taking its place among the nations of the world.
In speaking of the rising tribalism abroad, Schlesinger added, "The ethnic upsurge in America, far from being unique, partakes of the global fever."
Indeed, separatism and secessionism seem to be in the air.