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Monday, May 31, 2010

The Gaza Strip: Israel's Own Warsaw Ghetto.

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(Israel Has Stolen Most Of The Land Of The Palestinians. The green shows the land of Palestine in 1946; the white shows land stolen by Israel from 1948 to 2000.)

During World War II, Germany and its Nazi government decided to exterminate all the Jews in Europe. Six million Jews were slaughtered by being starved, rounded up and placed into concentration camps, worked to death, used in gross medical experimentations, forced into open-air prisons such as the Warsaw Ghetto where nobody could get out, and no food or aid could get in, until enough of them had died that the Germans moved in for the final slaughter.

There were between 80 and 100 million people who died during World War II. Poland had 6 million dead, only half of whom were Jewish. Russia had 24 million of their citizens who died during World War II. The Philippines lost between 1/2 and 1 million people. Yugoslavia had 1 million dead. And China had between 10 and 20 million who died. So it's important to keep in mind that an awful lot of people were killed during World War II, but most of them did not leave the nation of their birth and their heritage to go to somebody else's country and steal their land.

If we're going by the number of people killed, then I suppose the Soviet Union is the big winner with 24 million dead, and they should have gone to the middle east and stolen somebody else's land. But being the victims of a war has never been seen as a justification to go steal somebody else's land. Most people return to their own country and live alongside their former persecutors, even though they may never do more than co-exist.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

Some of the Jewish survivors of that genocide in Europe wanted to leave Europe forever. Unfortunately, a group of Jewish people who called themselves zionists encouraged survivors to move to Palestine, a territory controlled by Britain and occupied by Palestinian and Jewish people. The zionists, however, had a secret plan to expel the Palestinians and steal the land for themselves. And that is what happened. In 1948, the zionists attacked their Palestinian neighbors and drove them out of their homes, off of their lands, and out of Palestine. Israel seized and held a section of land, which they named "Israel," and the U.N. and most nations of the world agreed to recognize this as a jewish state. Of course any religious state is a bad idea.

Since that time, Israel has been conducting a persistent siege and attack on all Palestinians who remain within what was formerly Palestine, using military and economic means to force the Palestinians further off of their own land. The official Israel policy is to commit genocide against the Palestinians, to kill as many as possible, if not outright with bullets and bombs, more indirectly by starving people and denying them medical assistance. The second tool of Israel is ethnic cleansing, to drive all Palestinians or non-Jewish people out of all the new land that Israel continues to steal from the Palestinians.

The goal of Israel is to have a Jewish nation in which only Jewish people live. The government of rabid right-wing religious and racist fanatics, who, much like the Nazis in Germany, decide people's merits based on the percentage of "good" Jewish blood in their veins, wants to have an all-Jewish nation purged of the discards, the people who have the "wrong" blood in their veins. In most respects, Israel's law and policies are mirror images of those of Nazi Germany, right down to evaluating the percentage of different kinds of blood in people's veins to determine whether they are worthy, they may stay, they may have the rights of citizens, or determining that they are discards and must be expelled or killed. Like the Klan and the Aryan nation does in our country.

It is almost too obvious to point out, but if the approximately 6 million mostly European Jewish people living in Israel did not want to live around any Arabs, they picked the wrong neighborhood to move into. There's 6 million really angry Palestinians who want their land back, for starters. And there's about 90 million other Arab folks in the immediate vicinity. So either the Jewish people in Israel need to find some way to live in peace with their Arab neighbors, or they need to get out. Go somewhere else.

The map above shows the land Israel has stolen from 1948. Its theft continues, funded by U.S. donations in the billions, and "reparations" from various European sources paid to Israel for people killed during World War II, since Israel somehow claims to be the spokesperson, the representative for all Jews everywhere. I have never heard of reparations being paid to the Soviet Union, or to China, both nations having the largest number of citizens killed during World War II. It's ironic that Israel has stolen so much of the Palestinian's land and refused to pay even a penny for it, has killed so many Palestinian people but never paid for the wrongful deaths, destroyed homes and institutions and buildings and never paid a penny. I guess reparations flows in only one direction.

One of Israel's policies is the "right of return." In order to bolster their claim that God wants them to steal this land and murder the Palestinians, Israel declared that any Jewish person (with the right percentage of "Jewish" blood in their veins) has the absolute right to move to Israel and steal land from any Palestinian.

Of more interest, the millions of Palestinians who have been expelled have the legal right to return to the nation of Palestine, according to international law, which luckily is not so concerned with the percentage of blood in people's backgrounds or veins. If the Palestinians whose land has been stolen and who have been driven out of Palestine were allowed to return, they would be the majority.

How can Israel have a religious state, controlled by Jewish laws, with rights only for Jewish people, if the majority of their citizens are Palestinians and not Jewish. That is precisely why Israel is committed to genocide and ethnic cleansing to force out all the Palestinians. The Jewish settlors from Europe never had a right to steal that land of Palestine in the first place, and the demographics of the region make it unlikely they will be able to hold the land for the long-term, unless they kill every single Palestinian. And maybe that's what they're trying to do.

Below is a map showing the Gaza strip. It is a small segment of land that Israel has not yet completely stolen, although they keep trying. Israel wants to kill or drive out every Palestinian living in the Gaza strip, all 1.5 million of them. The Gaza strip is bordered on 2 sides by Israel, on one side by Egypt, and on the 4th side by the Mediterranean sea.


(The Gaza Strip)

In order to force out the remaining Palestinians from the Gaza strip, Israel has established illegal settlements, stealing land and building homes, then sending armed settlers out to live on Palestinian land. Of course the "settlors" are just thieves with another name, and tend to be the most fanatic, racist, right-wing religious zealots in the world. Think Sarah Palin and Jerry Falwell's love children, ignorant, insane, home-schooled, on meth and heavily-armed.

In addition, when that wasn't forcing the Palestinians out quickly enough, or killing them off quickly enough, Israel declared that the Gaza strip would be subject to complete boycott/barricade. Nobody can go in, nobody can go out, nothing can go in, nothing can go out. Just like the Nazis did with the Warsaw Ghetto.

Israel hopes the Palestinians in the Gaza strip will die off from starvation and a lack of medical attention, plus will be murdered by routine attacks by the Israeli military, including the dumping of white phosphorous in the area which has radically increased the cancer rates and birth defects among the people in the Gaza strip. (Human Rights Watch report on Israel's use of white phosphorous against the palestinian people in the Gaza strip: http://gazasiege.org/docs/mar09/HRW_Gaza_Report_March2009.pdf).

Egypt receives a lot of money from the U.S., so they went along with Israel's demands to barricade off the Gaza strip and leave the people to die. Re the barricade, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%932010_blockade_of_the_Gaza_Strip

How can Israel barricade the Gaza Strip? Among other things, Israel claims that it owns, and has the right to control, the entire Mediterranean sea that fronts on the Gaza strip. It is an illegal, a reprehensible policy, an absurd claim (maybe God told them they own the oceans too) but nonetheless that is the justification that Israel used in attacking the aid boats this morning, which were filled with medical and food aid being delivered by humanitarian groups to the people in Gaza strip. Those boats were in the Mediterranean sea, and Israel said "I own the sea," attacked the boats, killed and wounded and people, stopped the aid from being delivered to make sure the Palestinians will continue to die.

Israel has its PR machine cranked up, and has called the humanitarian aid workers on the boat, the ones they killed, as being "pro-palestinian activists," whatever that means. Apparently Israel thinks they have the right to kill an aid worker trying to bring some antibiotics to sick people. They killed 10 of the aid workers outright and wounded another 30. It was an act of barbarism and an international war crime.

Of course Israel claims that when they attacked the aid boats (which supposedly happened in international waters, which nobody owns), that the aid workers attacked the Israeli millitary. The Israeli military, that is, that attacked in the pre-dawn hours, a few bucket-of-bolts old boats filled with humanitarian aid, and the Israeli military came in with their naval ships and helicopters. It's ridiculous to claim that the aid workers attacked them.

But here are two additional important points: (1) Israel had no right to attack those boats, and if the aid workers had fought back, they would have been within their rights of self-defense; and (2) since the attacks, in which Israel murdered 10 people and wounded another 30, Israel has held all the aid workers incommunicado -- nobody has been allowed to speak, to communicate with the outside world, or to tell their story. I wonder if Israel is torturing them, or murdering more of them. "Where'd you hide the bandaids? Beat him, make him tell. Where'd you put the aspirin?"

Attacking humanitarian aid workers is like attacking kittens. Ireland, among many other nations, has condemned Israel for this murderous assault.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/10195838.stm

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-israel-anger-20100531,0,839429.story

There are humanitarian groups which have been desperately trying to get aid into the Gaza Strip, including food, water, and medical supplies. When israel last attacked the Gaza strip, they deliberately targeted and blew up the hospital, the school for the children, and the aid relief buildings. The people are therefore left with nothing. And they are dying, just like the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto died.

It is an international war crime to attack humanitarian aid groups trying to bring medical and food supplies to people under siege. Israel is a criminal nation. They should be indicted. The U.S. needs to cut off all relations with Israel, boycott all business or other relations with that nation, people should stop going there on these religious tours which just gives more money for their bullets which are used to kill Palestinian children. There is nothing religious about murder. And we need to cut off all money to Israel. Our politicians take money from israel "support" groups. It's like selling out of the people of the U.S. in exchange for money from a foreign country. It's treason. It needs to end.

U.S. Out of Israel.

More:

Here's a link to an NPR story from 2008. The wall between the Gaza strip and Egypt was knocked down in one section, and Palestinians poured into Egypt to buy such basic staples as food and water which they could not get because of Israel's barricade.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18349120&ps=rs

Here's a statement from Amnesty International:

Israeli killings of Gaza ship activists must be investigated
31 May 2010

Amnesty International has called for Israel to launch an immediate, credible and independent investigation into the killing by its armed forces of at least 10 activists on boats protesting the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli forces appear clearly to have used excessive force,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Israel says its forces acted in self-defence, alleging that they were attacked by protestors, but it begs credibility that the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops could have been justified. It appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed.”

As a first step, Amnesty International has called on the Israeli authorities to make public immediately the rules of engagement issued to the troops who carried out this lethal attack.

“The activists on the ships made it clear that their primary purpose was to protest against the continuing Israeli blockade, which constitutes a form of collective punishment and so a breach of international law,” said Malcolm Smart.

For nearly three years, Israel, which is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, has implemented a policy of banning all movement of goods and people, except for the most basic humanitarian necessities, which are imported by international aid agencies. Only a fraction of patients in need of treatment outside Gaza are allowed out, and dozens have died waiting for Israeli permission to travel.

The blockade does not target armed groups but rather punishes Gaza’s entire population by restricting the entry of food, medical supplies, educational equipment and building materials,” said Malcolm Smart.

“Unsurprisingly, its impact falls most heavily on those most vulnerable among Gaza ’s 1.5 million people: children, the elderly and the sick. The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately.”

Israel has a duty under international law to ensure the welfare of Gaza ’s inhabitants, including their rights to health, education, food and adequate housing.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/israeli-killings-gaza-ship-activists-must-be-investigated-2010-05-31


More re the siege of Gaza: http://gazasiege.org/index.html

The Campaign for Peace and Democracy is asking people to call the White House and the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.:

... The U.S. arms Israel to the tune of billions of dollars a year and hence shares responsibility for this atrocity. How many more must die before the Obama Administration cuts off the aid we give to Israel each year?

On board were 750 people of conscience from 40 different countries, including 35 international politicians intent on breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. We offer our sincerest condolences to family and friends who have lost loved ones in the attack. One of the boats was named after Rachel Corrie, to honor this strong young woman killed by the Israel Defense Forces in April 2003.

Contact the White House!

Call or email to demand an immediate cutoff of U.S. aid to Israel.
Email the White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact.
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Contact the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and demand that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice vote to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's action and initiating an investigation. 212-415-4062

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Order, 1868: To Strew With Flowers The Graves Of Comrades Who Died In Defense Of Their Country.


(Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: "Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.")

Memorial Day was established in 1868 to honor and remember those military people who died in defense of the nation against the "rebellion" (the U.S. Civil War). So the guys who fought for the North were to have their graves strewn with springtime flowers. For all the dead guys who fought for the South, nothing.

It's time we stopped filling our cemeteries with young dead men who have died needlessly in war. Putting flowers on somebody's grave doesn't bring them back to their families, and doesn't give the dead guy back the 60 or so years of his life which were stolen because his nation went to war.

If we absolutely must go to war, let's make it a rare occurrence rather than something we do routinely. Let's stop resource wars -- wars of aggression we wage against other countries to help corporations go into other countries and steal their resources. We need to get out of the war business. Our nation is broke. One reason is because we keep starting resource wars, stealing all the money of our citizens and giving it to the war industry. Our nation is also morally bankrupt from the inevitable slaughter of innocent civilians.

It's important to remember that the rich people, the powerful, and their children, rarely go to war. Even back in the days of the Civil War it was common for rich people to pay to have some poor young man take their place, so the rich could stay home and live in luxury while the poor went off to die. Dick Cheney got five deferments so he could avoid going to war in Vietnam. George W. Bush's dad pulled strings to get him into the Texas National Guard, and W gave explicit instructions that he did not want to go to war. He wanted to stay in Texas and party. Bill Clinton didn't go into the military. Neither did Barack Obama. Neither did the children of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Neither did the Clinton girl -- she went to work on Wall Street for a hedge fund.

The government and the media no longer show news reporting of the war, photos and videos of the slaughter, because they want the American people to be ignorant, they want young people to enlist in the military believing that it will be fun, they will be manly studs, instead of the truth, which is that they will be indoctrinated into believing that everyone in the middle east (or wherever they are sent) is bad and should be killed, that nobody seems to know exactly who the enemy is or what is the goal or or how do we know when we have "won" the war.

The war is perpetual, it never ends. We are told that next year, or five or ten years from now it will end, but it won't. By refusing to ever explain when it would mean to "win" the war, it allows the governments (both parties) to never end the wars. Just keep them going, continue the expansion of empire, keep bribes and kick-backs being delivered timely to the politicians so they can all be even richer, keep the people at home fearful and poor, ignorant, breeding the next crop of young people to be sent off to die.

It doesn't matter the party: the rich and powerful do not go to war. They send the children of the working class instead. If Congress decides we must go to war, then they should be the first ones in. They should all resign and go to boot camp, regardless of their age, and be the first troops in. If they're convinced it's important enough for other people's children to die, then they should be the first to die.

We cannot have a democracy when we continue to wage wars against the poorest people in the world to steal their resources, lie about why we're invading them and murdering their people, kidnapping, torturing, murdering generations of young men to prevent them from defending their own countries. We are on the wrong side of history. Most of our politicians take bribes and kick-backs to support these resource wars, while the citizens of this nation are going broke. End the Wars, stop the killing. War is disgusting.

("Harvest of Death," by Timothy H. O'Sullivan (photographer) 1863.)

"Slowly, over the misty fields of Gettysburg--as all reluctant to expose their ghastly horrors to the light--came the sunless morn, after the retreat by [General Robert. E.] Lee's broken army."

"Through the shadowy vapors, it was, indeed, a 'harvest of death' that was presented; hundreds and thousands of torn Union and rebel soldiers--although many of the former were already interred--strewed the now quiet fighting ground, soaked by the rain, which for two days had drenched the country with its fitful showers."

(Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Alexander Gardner wrote these words to describe the now-famous photo above, taken by Timothy H. Sullivan, and commonly referred to as "Harvest of Death." This was a picture taken of the dead in the U.S. Civil War after the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 - July 3, 1863).

Memorial Day Order, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan
II. It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective.

—General Orders No. 11 Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We Are A War-Mongering Nation.


This week-end we will celebrate Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those who died in defense of this nation. We have new graves for every generation of Americans, but the newly-dead did not die defending this nation -- they were sent by cowards and liars in our government to wage wars of aggression in the middle east to expand empire and steal resources. We are a war mongering nation.


If we stayed out of war, and let other nations work out their own problems (with the exception of the obvious need to intervene to prevent genocide), everybody would be much better off. Certainly the U.S. would be because we would have enough money to pay for everyone to go to college, work a 35-hour week, retire at 50, have complete medical and dental coverage provided by the government. And we could live like the Europeans do, taking long vacations and holidays. Actually live our lives instead of just working from cradle to grave to make the criminals on Wall Street rich and pay for endless wars.

The world would be better off, too. We could have a world tax on wealth, and use that to help people in third world countries to improve their own communities, build housing and schools and hospitals, develop local sustainable agriculture, preserve their own culture, and protect against their exploitation by corporations and puppet dictatorships who serve them. Instead of using our tax money to murder our neighbors, we could use it to help them.

The politicians and media tell us that we can determine the cost of war by adding up numbers: number of U.S. dead and wounded; number of dollars spent. But this is silly. We need to add up the number of people we kill in other countries when we attack them, then multiply that by 50 because that's how many family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors knew that person we killed, and will hate the U.S. forever for having done so.

Nobody has ever included in the domestic cost of war the mental deterioration and damage caused to the people that we send to war. Now there is some small effort to quantify something that the medical community has created, a disease-model name, called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The military wants to convince the public that only a small percentage, a few of those we send to slaughter, have mental problems when they return. But the truth is that they all have mental problems when they return. If they witnessed or participated in slaughter, they will have mental problems for the rest of their lives, and their family, neighbors, and community will pay a terrible cost.

What the military is labeling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is just the preliminary evidence of the natural and inevitable response to having witnessed or participated in slaughter. For some, it will not surface for years after the return, but everyone is damaged. People who we send to war are changed, forever changed. When they come back to this country they bring their trauma with them.

The damage done to the Americans who return from war significantly adds to our national level of alcoholism and drug addiction, spousal and child abuse, suicide, homicide, and early death. But nobody includes those numbers when determining the "cost" of war. Those are the hidden costs borne by the shamed women hiding inside their homes with black eyes and broken bones. They are the hidden costs borne by the children who are terrorized by their own father's neverending rage. The streets of our cities are constantly replenished with the newest crop of homeless mentally ill addicted veterans. Which generation gets to skip this, which generation is allowed to grow and heal, war-free in this country? None. The wars never end.

Below is a partial list of U.S. wars against other nations, involvement in wars, and interventions. I did not include everything from the list, just for about the last 100 years. It's simply too much war.

(From PBS Website: A Chronology of U.S. Military Interventions From Vietnam To The Balkans)
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/military/etc/cron.html

Also see: http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html

1898-1910

China Boxer Rebellion
Philippines Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
Cuba Seized from Spain
Puerto Rico Seized from Spain
Guam Seized from Spain
Nicaragua Marines land at Port San Juan del Sur.
Samoa
Nicaragua Marines land at port of Bluefields
Panama Annexed Canal Zone 1914
Honduras Marines intervene in revolution
Dominican Republican U.S. troops sent in
Korea Marines land, Russo-Japanese war
Cuba Marines land
Nicaragua Protectorate set up
Honduras Marines land during war with Nicaragua
Panama 1908 Marines intervene in election
Nicaragua 1910 Marines land in Corinto

1911-1920

Honduras U.S. military intervenes in civil war
China Continuous occupation 1911-1941
Cuba U.S. troops intervene
Panama 1912 U.S. troops intervene
Honduras 1912 U.S. troops intervene
Nicaragua 1912-33 U.S. troops, 10-year occupation
Dominican Republican, 1914
Mexico 1914-1918, series of interventions
Haiti 1914-34, 19-year occupation by U.S. military forces

1920-1950

Cuba 1917-1933: U.S. military occupationeconomic control.
World War I
1918-1922 Numerous interventions in Soviet Union.
Panama 1918-1920 Military control.
Honduras 1919 U.S. Marines land.
Guatemala 1920 U.S. troops intervene in labor dispute.
China 1922-1927 Naval troops deployed to China.
Honduras 1924-1925 Military landed twice during unrest.
Panama 1925 Marines used to suppress striking workers.
China 1927-34 Marines stationed throughout the country.
El Salvador 1932 Warships sent during Marti revolt.
World War II 1941-1945

1950-1970

Puerto Rico 1950 U.S. assisted in crushing rebellion.
Korea 1951-1953 U.S. War Against Korea.
Iran 1953 CIA overthrows democracy, Shah installed.
Vietnam 1954-1975 U.S. War Against Vietnam
Lebanon 1958 Marines occupy against rebel group.
Cuba 1961 U.S./CIA directed invasion by exiles.
Iraq 1963 U.S. coup kills leader, brings Saddam Hussein back to run the Secret Service.
Indonesia 1965 CIA-assisted army coups kills 1.0 million.
Dominican Republican 1965-66, Marines land during election dispute.
Guatemala 1966 U.S. Green Berets intervene, work against rebels

1970-2000

Cambodia 1969-75 U.S. illegal war
Laos 1971-73 U.S. directs South Vietnamese puppet government invasion, carpet-bombs the country.
Chile 1973 CIA/Henry Kissinger-backed coup ousts democratically elected president Allende and installs military dictator Pinochet, leading to the torture and murder of thousands.
Angola 1976-92 CIA assists rebels backed by South Africa.
El Salvador 1981-1992 U.S. military "advisers," pilots, soldiers assist military dictatorship in war against citizens.
Nicaragua 1981-1990 CIA-directed and secretly funded war against citizens on behalf of dictatorship.
Lebanon 1982-1984 U.S. Marines support Phalangists; U.S. military bombs and shells Muslim population.
Grenada 1983-1984 U.S. invades country.
Honduras 1983-1989 U.S. troops engage in various activities in support of dictatorship.
Libya 1986 U.S. sends pilots, drops bombs to assist in overthrowing the government.
Bolivia 1986 U.S. troops conduct raids in various parts of the country, purportedly in "war on drugs."
Iran 1987-1988 U.S. sides in Iraq in war against Iran, delivers to Iraq various weaponry including chemical warfare for Iraq to use against Iran.
Panama 1989 U.S. sends in troops, overthrows government.
Saudi Arabia 1990-1991 U.S. stations troops and jets in Saudi Arabia, plus over one-half million other troops in Oman, Qatar, Behrain, UAE, Israel.
Iraq 1990- U.S. conducts air strikes, invades Iraq and Kuwait, creates no-fly zone, blockades.
Somalia 1992-1994 U.S. leads United Nations occupation.
Bosnia 1993 U.S. involvement in war between Bosnia, Serbia, former Yugoslavia. Haiti 1994 U.S. troops intervene against sitting government, restore Aristide to office.
Sudan 1998 U.S. missile strike on apparent pharmaceutical plant alleged to be a weapons plant.
Afghanistan 1998 U.S. missiles strike inside Afghanistan allegedly attacking Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Yugoslavia 1999 U.S. and Nato air strikes re Serbia, Kosovo; occupation of Kosovo through NATO.

2000 - present

Macedonia 2001 U.S./NATO forces intervene against Albanian rebels.
Afghanistan 2001- U.S. bombs, invades, occupies after 9/11 attacks on U.S.
Columbia 2003 - U.S. military engage in warfare on behalf of dictatorship and against rebels, either as "war on drugs," or as security mercenaries for oil corporations protecting their oil pipelines, used to take oil from the country.
Iraq 2003 - U.S. invasion, bombing, occupation.
Haiti 2004-2005 U.S. marines land after Aristide is ousted by local rebel group.
Pakistan 2005 - CIA missile, air strikes, special forces raid alleged al Queda and Taliban villages.
Somalia 2006 U.S. Special Forces assist Ethiopian invasion to topple government of Somalia; air strikes and missile attacks, plus naval blockade.

Why should the United States be invading and attacking all these other countries? China, Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Yugoslavia. Is there any place on earth that people are safe from us? Why do we keep invading Haiti? Why don't we help them instead of killing them? The U.S. has military troops all over the world. We, the citizens, pay for that. Who benefits from it? The corporations who use the presence and threat of the U.S. military to force countries to turn over their resources to the corporations, turn over their citizens to become slaves in corporate factories.

Our military is used as private security, mercenaries, hit-men for the corporate CEOs. Much like the state-sponsored Explorers of Europe from hundreds of years ago would go out in big ships, well-armed, "discover" some country, claim to own it, then kill all the people and steal all the resources. We are doing the same thing, just with a modern twist. Instead of the King, or Queen getting all the gold and jewels, now we have the CEOs who have the military come back and lay this wealth at their feet. It's so ludicrous that people claim we are a religious nation, when the truth is that we spend most of our money, time, effort, and resources in murdering other people around the world and turning our backs on the misery and suffering that we cause.

The citizens pay for this. Our treasury goes to paying for more and more wars and military invasions and occupations. This does not make us safer. It makes everybody in the world hate us. And the government tells us that there is no money left for us. No money for roads, no money for schools, no money for healthcare. We are taught to expect nothing for ourselves, as if we are the lowest of the low: no job security, no education, no healthcare, no homes, no public transportation, no vacations, no sick leave, no holidays. We get nothing. In contrast with people in every other developed country in the world, who have relatively comfortable lives compared to the misery and exploitation of working people in this country.

We need to stop these wars, and we need to tell our government that from now on, we are out of the war business, and we are in the nation-building business, starting with our own nation. Instead of sending bombs to blow up other countries, let's use the money to re-build our own nation. Instead of sending the navy to provide protection for the shipping industry that is carrying resources away from third world countries, we should let those people keep their own resources, and use our money to protect our own people from illness by creating a national healthcare system. Help our neighbors instead of killing them.

Masters Of War (Bob Dylan)

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desk
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It Ain't Armageddon, But We Certainly Need A Judgment Day.

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This massive corporate oil dump in the Gulf Coast brings up so many things. First and foremost a feeling of complete helplessness. Seeing all those birds and fish being slaughtered, it's just a speeded-up version of extinction of species. Partly it exposes the irrational hopes many of us had that Obama could somehow make everything okay, when we know that it's the corporations who are in control, and all of our politicians are on the corporate payroll. It sears cynicism and despair into the flesh.

Part of me was thinking today, as I watched a parade of politicians before cameras demanding immediate government help, that I do not recall seeing national politicians out in front of cameras demanding help when it was the people of New Orleans whose lives were being destroyed. Now I hear politicians demanding the entire military and all its abilities (are there any left? Aren't they all in the middle east?) be sent to help. But again, I don't remember this level of concern after the levees broke.

No talk of criminal indictments. It just rubs it in our faces again -- these people can do anything they want, even murder, and get away with it. When a nation refuses to apply the laws to the rich and powerful, it is no longer a nation of laws, no longer a democracy. It is just a dictatorship. In our case, it is a corporate dictatorship. The lives of people murdered by corporations are waved off, like irritating flies at a summer picnic. Workers killed in a coal mine which refused to comply with safety orders: so what? Workers murdered on an oil rig? Yeah, what're you gonna do about it? People's lives, ability to support themselves, a big chunk of our ocean, land, all destroyed: so what're ya gonna do?

The Democrats and Obama refused to indict bush and cheney for international war crimes, refused to indict people who kidnapped, tortured, and beat to death, actually murdered others -- murderers without excuse -- but Obama and the Democrats did nothing. The AJ is not independent but is a lackey of the white house. There can be no justice when the Department of Justice is just a political wing of the next reelection campaign.

Wall Street? Not only have Obama and the Democrats refused to indict these criminals and throw them in prison and seize their assets, which is what they should have done, but Obama actually stood up and defended their looting, saying "Oh, they work hard." So do I, but nobody ever gave me ten million dollars as a little something extra for my efforts. You want to know who works hard? Coal miners work hard, but the government won't even enforce the most minimal safety standards to protect their lives, and when many are killed, the government refuses to indict. The head of Massey is a murderer, and he should be indicted as such, and tried, and convicted, and spend the rest of his life in a cell. Preferably without a window, so he can live just like those miners died, without air or light or hope.

I don't believe in Armageddon, and I think people who believe that nonsense are morons. We don't need to search supernatural texts or read tea leaves or look to the skies for an explanation of what is going on. It is all caused by greed and corruption. These wars represent greed by the oil industry, and corruption by our politicians. Wall Street is the same. Unemployment, the devastation of the world's economy, all the same: greed and corruption. The perpetrators? All white men. We know who they are, but our government simply refuses to enforce the laws against them.

Maybe we do need a judgment day, but skip the angels and the horns, forget about the heavens opening up. Judgment by a jury of 12. Demand criminal indictments. Let the drug users out of prison and make room for the criminals from Wall Street, the oil industry, and the politicians they own.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Remember, This Is The Bush-Cheney Depression.

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Chart from Andrew Sullivan:


Look at the wars. End the wars and get rid of bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, and we might be able to pull out of this depression. Keep them going, we're doomed. Look at this chart: even 10 years in the future it shows disastrous levels of debt and costs in excess of anything we can sustain. Don't listen to the Republicans talk of closing schools and firing cops. If we want to end this depression, we need to end the wars and get rid of bush's tax cuts for the rich.

If Obama Cuts Social Security Benefits, He Should Be Thrown Out Of Office.

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The Obama administration, while devoting trillions of tax dollars to war and to Wall Street give-aways, is caving in to the right-wing's demand that more social services for the citizens of this country must be slashed, so there is still more money available for Wall Street bonuses. When Wall Street gets their bonuses, they give generous kick-backs to the politicians in Congress, so that's why the politicians support bonuses for Wall Street.

How to pay for Wall Street bonuses, never mind the billions spent on war and on propping up the dictatorship in Columbia? Well, the neo-cons say, let's slash benefits for the public. Let's cut back on the schools, fire the teachers, take away the desks and books, no more summer school. Fire cops and firefighters. Take all the money that is supposed to be used to maintain the infrastructure, and send it to Wall Street instead. Of course the financial problems our country has right now are primarily the result of bush's tax cuts for the rich. Rich people and businesses no longer pay much if any taxes at all. That plus these insane wars are what's bankrupting our country. End the wars, tax all income above $250,000 at 90%, and solve the problem.

Now Obama has created a "commission" to come up with a list of other citizens' benefits that can be eliminated or reduced. Top of their list: Social Security. The conservatives want to eliminate Social Security altogether. Let Grandma starve, she's old and sick, no longer productive, half-blind, takes a bunch of drugs just to live, and nobody likes her anyway. So take away her Social Security and she'll die even faster.

Back when Ronald Reagan became president, he wanted to cut taxes for rich people and businesses, and he did. But the government soon did not have enough money to meet its obligations. Reagan didn't want to eliminate his tax cuts for the rich, so he asked that smarmy suck-up Alan Greenspan to fix the problem.

Alan Greenspan came up with a really sneaky plan. He increased the social security taxes that working people have to pay, so more money flowed into the social security fund. Then Reagan had the government "borrow" the money from the social security fund, money paid in by working people, and he took that money and used it to run the government, to make up for the deficit he created by cutting taxes for rich people.

In other words, the Social Security money belongs to us, to working people, but Reagan essentially stole the money and used it to cover big tax kick-backs to his rich friends. Our money was stolen and given to the rich. That's why we have a potential problem with Social Security: the Republicans have stolen the money from the Social Security fund.

There is no need to cut Social Security. If anything, Obama should eliminate the cap on incomes that are subject to the tax. Right now, only the first $106,000 of income is subject to the Social Security tax. Eliminate that cap so that rich people, including the criminals on Wall Street, have to pay a Social Security tax on every bloody penny they pay to themselves.

If Obama cuts Social Security, he should be thrown out of office. And every politician who supports cutting Social Security should be run out of town. Or better still, run out of the country.

There is always more money for Wall Street, more money for wars. But for the people, for the citizens of this country, there is nothing. This has got to stop. If we need 90-year-olds in wheelchairs sitting in government offices, then everybody needs to go to the old folks' home and start wheeling them out, because this looting and plundering of our country has got to stop.

AP Exclusive: Social Security needs small 'tweaks'
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER (AP) – May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON — Social Security faces a $5.3 trillion shortfall over the next 75 years, but a new congressional report says the massive gap could be erased with only modest changes to payroll taxes and benefits.

Some of the options are politically dangerous, such as increasing payroll taxes or reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients. Others, such as gradually raising the age when retirees qualify for full benefits, wouldn't be felt for years but would affect millions.

Many wouldn't affect current recipients, according to the report by the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the committee, said small "tweaks" are all that is needed to bolster Social Security's finances for future generations of retirees.

Currently, 53 million Americans get Social Security benefits averaging $1,067 a month. In 75 years, 122 million, or one-fourth of the population, will be drawing benefits.

On its current path, Social Security is projected to run out of money by 2037, largely because of aging baby boomers reaching retirement. For the first time since the 1980s, Social Security will pay out more money in benefits this year than it collects in payroll taxes. The longer action is delayed, the harder it will get to address the program's finances.

"Modest changes can be made over time that will keep the program in surplus," Kohl, D-Wis., told The Associated Press. "They are not draconian, as the report points out, and they can be done and will be done."

The committee is scheduled to release its report Tuesday. The report, obtained by the Associated Press, lays out options for fixing Social Security, but doesn't endorse any of them.

Kohl said lawmakers will probably combine several options to ease their impact. No action is expected this year, with midterm congressional elections looming in November. Lawmakers have said they hope to take up the issue next year.
Social Security is financed by a 6.2 percent payroll tax on wages below $106,800. The tax is paid by workers and matched by employers. Older Americans can apply for early retirement benefits, starting at age 62. They qualify for full benefits if they wait until they turn 66, a threshold that is gradually increasing to 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

The entire $5.3 trillion shortfall over the next 75 years would be wiped out if payroll taxes were increased by 1.1 percentage points for both workers and employers. It would also disappear if Congress started taxing all wages, not just those below $106,800, said the Senate report, citing projections by the actuaries at the Social Security Administration.

On the benefits side, more than three-fourths of the shortfall would vanish if Congress reduced annual cost-of-living increases by 1 percentage point each year. Social Security recipients get annual increases based on inflation. This January, for the first time since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975, there was no increase because prices decreased last year.

About 23 percent of the shortfall would be gone if Congress gradually increased the age when retirees qualify for full benefits from 67 to 68. Nearly a third of the shortfall would disappear if the full retirement age were gradually increased to 70.

The Social Security trust funds have built up a $2.5 trillion surplus over the past 25 years. But the federal government has borrowed that money over the years to spend on other programs. The government must now start borrowing money from public debt markets — adding to annual budget deficits — to repay Social Security.

The Senate panel's report will be presented to President Barack Obama's deficit reduction commission, which is expected to review all entitlement programs in the search for savings.

Many of the options sound simple, but most would have widespread ramifications, said Barbara Kennelly, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

"If you raise the retirement age and you don't do anything about the pension law or anything about retraining, and there's been no discussion on that, where are the jobs?" asked Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut. "It's not so simple."

One expert cautioned that adjustments designed to fully fund Social Security for only 75 years will almost certainly have to be revisited well before then.

Here's why: In 15 or 20 years, the Social Security trustees will be looking at a new 75-year window, one that includes future shortfalls beyond the current 75-year horizon. Those shortfalls will have to be addressed years in advance to avoid dramatic tax increases or significant benefit cuts, said Kent Smetters, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school.

"If you only fix it for 75 years at a time, the same problem suddenly reappears every 15 to 20 years," Smetters said.

___

Social Security Administration: http://www.ssa.gov

Senate Special Committee on Aging: http://www.aging.senate.gov

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Mysterious Naked Man (Alden Nowlan)



A Mysterious Naked Man by Alden Nowlan

A mysterious naked man has been reported
on Cranston Avenue. The police are performing
the usual ceremonies with coloured lights and sirens.
Almost everyone is outdoors and strangers are conversing
excitedly
as they do during disasters when their involvement is
peripheral.

'What did he look like? ' the lieutenant is asking.
'I don't know, ' says the witness. 'He was naked.'

There is talk of dogs-this is no ordinary case
of indecent exposure, the man has been seen
a dozen times since the milkman spotted him and now
the sky is turning purple and voices
carry a long way and the children
have gone a little crazy as they often do at dusk
and cars are arriving
from other sections of the city.

And the mysterious naked man
is kneeling behind a garbage can or lying on his belly
in somebody's garden
or maybe even hiding in the branches of a tree,
where the wind from the harbour
whips at his naked body,
and by now he's probably done
whatever it was he wanted to do
and wishes he could go to sleep
or die
or take to the air like Superman.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Go Home, Johnny Reb. The War Is Over. You Lost.

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(Rand Paul; photo by Gage Skidmore)

Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, just won the Republican nomination to run for Senator from the State of Kentucky. He's mostly on the right, being endorsed by Sarah Palin as well as others, but oddly opposes the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act. He's also against the erosion of civil liberties begun on the bush regime.

Immediately after his primary victory, he stuck his foot in his mouth, and cannot seem to get it out. Among other things, he stated on national television that he "questions" the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and basically thinks that business owners should be able to refuse to provide services to anyone they want based on race, religion, or national origin. He went on to say that he personally is opposed to such discrimination, but thinks businesses should be able to do so.

This entire issue about all Americans being able to eat in a restaurant or buy a soda in a store was resolved fifty years ago. It's kind of like the people who keep waving the Confederate Flag: It's over Rebs, you lost. Go on back to the farm.


The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government authority over, among other things, interstate commerce. There are a whole series of cases involving mudflaps on trucks that were litigated all the way to the Supreme court on this issue. If Rhode Island requires mudflaps four feet square, and Massachusets prohibits mud flaps bigger than 3 1/2 feet, then how in the heck can a trucker haul goods from New York to Maine, or back again? The courts decided early on that nobody, no state has the right to interfere with the free flow of interstate commerce. That is an issue that is exclusively entrusted to the federal government.

The court also is very protective of the first amendment protections for the rights of individuals, natural born rights, to associate with others, to speak, to believe, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Anybody who is unhappy with what the government is doing has the absolute right to go to the seat of government (Washington D.C.), go see their politicians, make a complaint, and ask them to fix it.

If local businesses are allowed to refuse to sell food, or serve food in a restaurant to certain people based on race, if a bus or train can refuse to allow certain people to ride based on race, if a motel can refuse to allow people to rent a room, and the gas station can refuse to sell gas or a soda, it essentially would prohibit people of the excluded race from being able to travel. If they cannot travel, they cannot petition the government, cannot associate freely with others. They could not even move from one state to another. They would be denied fundamental rights as citizens. For that reason, as well as others, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has the authority to prohibit businesses from discriminating against groups of people based on race, gender, religion, or ethnicity.

Rand Paul is waving the confederate flag when he raises this issue. He's appealing to the racists in Kentucky who are still pissed off that they have to sell a soda to a black person who comes into their little store.

This battle has been fought for over 200 years now. They won't let it go. Back in the early 1800s, there were blood battles between people trying to make states pro-slave or to abolish slavery. In the early 1800s there was such an upheavel across the nation around this issue that you had revivalist religious tent-groups traveling the country preparing people for the end times, or their version of it. One of the areas in upstate New York was such a popular route for the revivalist tents that it was similar to what we today call the Bible Belt, and one of the residents of that area, apparently affected by the religious fervor, claimed that God talked to him and told him to form a new religion, the Mormons, and God assured him that black people were always intended to be slaves. Racism is so ingrained in this country that people actually use religion to support their racist views.

During the 1950s, black people in this country put their lives on the line to get out and demand civil rights, the right to vote, the right to go to school and get an education, and the right to be free from violence and persecution from the state and the police. The right to justice. It is because of these struggles, and the violent brutality, including murder, which was used to beat down the people fighting for basic civil rights, that the federal government finally intervened and passed some laws to protect the rights of black Americans as citizens. These are generally called Civil Rights Laws, one of which, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rand Paul does not support. He thinks that business owners should be able to refuse to have black customers if that's what they want.

(George Wallace blocks the door at the University of Alabama)

George Wallace, governor of Alabama during the 1960s, vowed he would fight anyone who tried to integrate his state. He personally stood in the doorway of the all-white University of Alabama to prevent two black students from walking through the door, and he dared the federal government to try to stop him. They did, and he backed down, but he became a hero to racists across the nation.

In 1963, on his election as governor, George Wallace gave his most famous inaugural speech in which he fervently supported the rights of Americans to maintain a segregated country. This is George Wallace's most famous phrase still chanted today by racists: Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever.

I'm surprised Rand Paul didn't use that in his acceptance speech when he won the primary.

When George Wallace ran for president on his segregationist racist platform, he was met with large crowds of anti-war and anti-racist young people around the nation who were tired of listening to the racist and militaristic leaders of the country.



This has been a sickening rot at the core of our nation for over 200 years. Now Jim-Crow Paul wants to bring it up again, pretend that he's a nice guy, and he didn't really mean it, but you just watch to see how many Confederate Flags show up at his next campaign stop. He knows exactly what he's doing: appealing to the Southern racist white men who are still pissed off that their kids go to school with black kids. They should be pissed off about the fact that they're poor, they can't get ahead, and there is no hope they will ever retire, or pay off their credit cards, or have enough money to go on a nice vacation. But instead, they're pissed off about the fact that they lost the Civil War.


Go home Johnny Reb, you lost. Go back to your dirt farms and your ignorance, your shotguns and gas-guzzling trucks, your crappy jobs and dead-end lives. Stop being manipulated by politicians who ridicule you behind your back. Go meet your black and Hispanic neighbors and organize together to demand good jobs, schools, and healthcare for everybody in your community. Stop being clowns for the entertainment benefit of rich white southern men who think you are fools. Just like everybody else in the country thinks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Art Deco: Parisian Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes.

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In 1900, a group of French artists worked together in a collective which they called La Societe des artistes decorateurs (society of decorator artists) (the "Society"). The Society organized an international art exhibition in 1925, called the Exposition Intgernationale des Arts Decoratirs et Industriels Modernes (the "1925 Exhibition"). The term "art deco" comes from the title of the 1925 exhibition.

The 1925 Exhibition was held in Paris, and intended to solidify Paris as the center of art, style and design. Similar exhibitions were held in later years. Works from around the world were displayed, and millions of people attended the 1925 exhibition. The French Deco which was so popular at the time often included exotic flowers, drawings of animals, and great luxurious colors such as black and gold.
By 1930, Deco changed and embraced the architectural, engineering and structured forms of an industrial style of work. This Deco evolved to be based more on geometric shapes, and abandoned the lavish luxurious flourish for a structured line. The interiors of many movie theaters used an Art Deco style of decoration. Many Ocean Liners used Art Deco as part of their design style.


Art Deco was the basic architectural style used on buildings in many parts of the world. Some still survive in the U.S., most notably the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York City.








Materials commonly used in Art Deco include aluminum, stainless steel, and lacquer. The forms were often stepped, chevron patterns, and in general reflected a focus on the industrial development of the world.

The people who began this art movement considered themselves to be quite modern and forward-thinking. If we look back on history, from 1900 until the start of World War I, much of Europe considered themselves the cultural and political and economic center of the world, so it is natural they should take upon themselves the position of artistic leaders.


After World War I, it gets more interesting. The 1920s, the roaring twenties as they are called, were years of great optimism in much of the world. People believed that even if they didn't have money now, they would someday. They also believed in a liberation through modernity -- the idea that modern developments would somehow bring prosperity throughout the world.


Once the stock market crashed in 1929, all that changed. People were broke. Entire nations were broke. People had nothing, no future, no hope, no jobs, often no food. The mood turned to despair and in some countries, the fascists began to gain support with a nationalistic and militaristic ideology that told their supporters they were better than everyone else, and they had the right to go take what wealth and respect they deserved as a nation.


Some people contend that the Art Deco industrial style of post 1925 was a fascist style of design, that the focus on tough materials and strong lines were the same ideas as those promoted by fascists in Europe.


I don't know that deco art was or was not fascist. But as a group artists are interested in expressing what they see in the world, which for them, at that time, was a commitment to a future based on industrial strength and the ability to create through work, materials and ideas.

(The Jazz Bowl by Victor Schreckengost - 1930)

"The Jazz Bowl" is a well-known American Art Deco piece, originally created by Viktor Schreckengost when he worked at Cowan Pottery Studios. The bowl is a punch bowl, commissioned by a New York City gallery for one of its clients: Eleanor Roosevelt. The bowl was purchased by Eleanor to use at the celebration of her husband's election as Governor of New York. The Cowan Pottery Studio eventually produced other pieces in the Jazz series including other bowls and plates.

http://www.journalofantiques.com/Sept04/featuresep04.htm

I Never Knew

I Never Knew When I Arrived In This Country

That my pillow might hold your scent
as I tried to sleep, beginning to know
you were with your first wife and son

That my dowry bought
you and your parents
a larger house in Richmond.

That if I believed you each time you warned
you'd hurt me and our baby if I left,
I would only feed the rakshas inside you.

That our elders' protests, our daughter's
brimming eyes, and my shame
might mean nothing to you

That I did not have to live
with a man shouting,
"I didn't choose to marry you!"

That the library and the internet
are such private places
to find shelters and friends

That if I threatened to show your boss
my bruises, it could stop you, mid-strike
and I'd smell your thwarted breath

That I wouldn't be raped
by a policeman or prostituted
in a shelter if I called for help.

That other women have seen
the noose of Yama move behind
their husband's eyes, and survived

That I wouldn't have to take
my three-year-old girl and leave
our home --- instead, you would.

That if I did decide to leave and divorce,
someone in this country
would pay fairly for my work

That I could find one room with a stove
and a fridge, and live with
my daughter, on my own.

But I know now.

by Shauna Singh Baldwin
from The Fieldstone Review,
Issue 3, May 2008

Posted at: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/05/tuesday-poem-2.html

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sophie Scholl and The White Rose.

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Sophie Scholl was born in 1921 to a middle class family in Germany. Her father, a businessman, was the mayor of the town where they lived.

Starting at the age of 12, Sophie, like other German schoolchildren, was required to participate in political youth groups. Her father, her brother, and some of her friends had independent views, dissenting from the popular nazi politics that dominated Germany in the 1930s. Sophie had strong religious views, as well as an interest in philosophy, and those combined to lead her to reject the Nazi ideology of her country.

All German youth were required to serve in a National Labor group as a condition to attending a University. After completing high school, Sophie served her six month national service commitment, which further alienated her from the militaristic government and its supporters.

In 1942 Sophie began college at the University of Munich. Her brother Hans was also a student there. Both Sophie and Hans had other friends who shared their political views including artists, writers, philosophers, and theatre people. By the time Sophie entered the university, Germany was at war, and undisputably was a military dictatorship. Sophie and her friends agonized over the obligation of an individual living in an unjust society: are people required to put their own lives on the line in order to stop a murderous regime? Her father ended up being thrown in prison for having made a critical comment about Hitler, which increased Sophie's commitment to doing something to oppose the Nazis.


Sophie was assigned to work in a factory in the summer of 1942, and her boyfriend was sent to the eastern front. By that time, Sophie had begun reading certain Catholic writings which had influenced her views of war, dictatorships, conscience, and the role and obligations of an individual in an unjust state.

In the summer of 1942, Sophie, her brother Hans, and some of their friends formed a group they called the White Rose. They wrote six anti-Nazi leaflets and secretly distributed them to the public. The pamphlets called on Germans to engage in passive resistance to the Nazis. Distributing the leaflets was extremely dangerous, and they knew that if they were caught, they would likely be executed. In February of 1943, all of the members of White Rose were arrested after one was found distributing the sixth leaflet.


The members of White Rose were immediately tried, and condemned to death for treason. Within a few hours after the conclusion of their trial, each of the members of White Rose was beheaded by the executioner in the prison in Munich.

Reportedly, as Sophie was led to the guillotine she made this statement: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"

Sophie and her brother Hans, and the other members of White Rose, have been acknowledged and celebrated for their courage and sacrifice throughout the world. The Allied forces printed thousands of copies of the sixth leaflet of White Rose and dropped them all over Germany while the war was still being fought, to let the Germans know about these brave young people who were resisting the Nazis.

One of the institutes at the University of Munich is named after Sophie and Hans. Artists have sculpted busts of Sophie. Many schools and streets in Germany have been named after Sophie and her brother Hans. Both Sophie and her brother have been chosen by Germans as being among the top ten most important Germans of all time.

There have been many movies made about White Rose and Sophie Scholl including, most recently, the Academy Award Best Foreign Film nominee "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. There have also been many books written about them.


The First Pamphlet

Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be "governed" without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes - crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure - reach the light of day?

If the German people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable faith in lawful order in history; if they surrender man's highest principle, that which raises him above all other God's creatures, his free will; if they abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass - then, yes, they deserve their downfall.

Goethe speaks of the Germans as a tragic people, like the Jews and the Greeks, but today it would appear rather that they are a spineless, will-less herd of hangers-on, who now - the marrow sucked out of their bones, robbed of their center of stability - are waiting to be hounded to their destruction. So it seems - but it is not so. Rather, by means of a gradual, treacherous, systematic abuse, the system has put every man into a spiritual prison. Only now, finding himself lying in fetters, has he become aware of his fate.

Only a few recognized the threat of ruin, and the reward for their heroic warning was death. We will have more to say about the fate of these persons. If everyone waits until the other man makes a start, the messengers of avenging Nemesis will come steadily closer; then even the last victim will have been cast senselessly into the maw of the insatiable demon.

Therefore every individual, conscious of his responsibility as a member of Christian and Western civilization, must defend himself against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism. Offer passive resistance - resistance - wherever you may be, forestall the spread of this atheistic war machine before it is too late, before the last cities, like Cologne, have been reduced to rubble, and before the nation's last young man has given his blood on some battlefield for the hubris of a sub-human. Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure.

From Friedrich Schiller's "The Lawgiving of Lycurgus and Solon":

Viewed in relation to its purposes, the law code of Lycurgus is a masterpiece of political science and knowledge of human nature. He desired a powerful, unassailable state, firmly established on its own principles. Political effectiveness and permanence were the goal towards which he strove, and he attained this goal to the full extent possible under the circumstances.

But if one compares the purpose Lycurgus had in view with the purposes of mankind, then a deep abhorrence takes the place of the approbation which we felt at first glance. Anything may be sacrificed to the good of the state except that end for which the State serves as a means. The state is never an end in itself; it is important only as a condition under which the purpose of mankind can be attained, and this purpose is none other than the development of all of man's powers, his progress and improvement.

If a state prevents the development of the capacities which reside in man, if it interferes with the progress of the human spirit, then it is reprehensible and injurious, no matter how excellently devised, how perfect in its own way. Its very permanence in that case amounts more to a reproach than to a basis for fame; it becomes a prolonged evil, and the longer it endures, the more harmful it is...

At the price of all moral feeling a political system was set up, and the resources of the state were mobilized to that end. In Sparta there was no conjugal love, no mother love, no filial devotion, no friendship; all men were citizens only, and all virtue was civic virtue.

A law of the state made it the duty of Spartans to be inhumane to their slaves; in these unhappy victims of war humanity itself was insulted and mistreated. In the Spartan code of law the dangerous principle was promulgated that men are to be looked upon as means and not as ends - and the foundations of natural law and of morality were destroyed by that law...

What an admirable sight is afforded, by contrast, by the rough soldier Gaius Marcius in his camp before Rome, when he renounced vengeance and victory because he could not endure to see a mother's tears!...

The state [of Lycurgus] could endure only under the one condition: that the spirit of the people remained quiescent. Hence it could be maintained only if it failed to achieve the highest, the sole purpose of a state.

From Goethe's "The Awakening of Epimenides, Act II, Scene 4:

SPIRITS: Though he who has boldly risen from the abyss Through an iron will and cunning May conquer half the world, Yet to the abyss he must return. Already a terrible fear has seized him; In vain he will resist! And all who still stand with him Must perish in his fall

HOPE: Now I find my good men Are gathered in the night, To wait in silence, not to sleep. And the glorious word of liberty They whisper and murmur, Till in unaccustomed strangeness, On the steps of our temple Once again in delight they cry: Freedom! Freedom!

Please make as many copies of this leaflet as you can and distribute them.

"Immigration" Reform: The Problem Is War And Poverty, Not A Lack of Passports.

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(Wall in Tijuana marking the deaths of people trying to get into the U.S.)

When Marie Antoinette, the "It" girl of pre-revolutionary France, was told that the people were starving because they had no bread, she said "Let them eat cake." She thought this was a reasonable solution -- a way to solve the problem. But she was wrong, because she did not understand or acknowledge what the real problem was. The problem was that the people were desperately poor and could not afford to buy bread or cake.

Now, as then, the problem in this country and the world with "immigration" isn't really a problem that can be solved by making visas, "guest" worker programs, or passports more readily available, will not be solved or even ameliorated by amnesty programs. The problem isn't "immigration" -- the problem is war and poverty. Desperate, grinding, hopeless poverty in which much of the world lives.

Two Percent of the people in the world own Fifty Percent of the world's wealth. If we simply take that 50% away from those 2% and redistribute it, that would allow people to stay in their own countries and live decent lives. It is never a good thing, not a real solution, to promote policies and programs to make it easier for poor people to send their children to other countries to do slave labor, so they can send money back home. That's not much of an answer to anything.

The "solution" being proposed of making it easier for people to immigrate is a bubble-headed approach, a denial of the reality. It is not progressive, liberal, or kind to suggest we should "help" the mothers of 12 year old children send their children to the U.S. to mow lawns and scrub our toilets. We're not really "helping" when we do that.

The real problem is that the U.S. has, throughout its history, oppressed, militarily invaded, attacked Mexico and South and Central America, stolen resources, propped up dictatorships, tortured, murdered, disappeared people, sponsored despots and dictators, all for the sole purpose of driving the people into the dirt and leaving the entire continent subdued so U.S. multinational corporations can extract the wealth with minimal interference or expense.

That is why these countries have to send their children to the U.S. as slaves. Because the U.S. has destroyed their countries. Why don't we just pay reparations to the people -- people to people -- and let them re-build their own lives. That along with staying out of their countries and letting them finally use their own resources for the benefit of their own people. That would be a real solution to the real problem -- the problem of poverty, and of hoarding of wealth by the few. Let South and Central America finally be free to develop their own economies without interference from the U.S. If Mexico has any brains, they should look south instead of continuing to align themselves with the U.S. and against their Central and Southern American neighbors.

One of the pet projects of many progressives in the U.S. and in other countries is the support of movements to "reform" immigration laws. Essentially they propose that anyone who is living in a country without having the permission of the country to be there should be granted amnesty, a right to stay and to become a citizen. They also propose that all other people should be allowed to move freely into the magnet countries, to work, live, go to school, use all the public services available to citizens, and to become citizens if they choose.

The people who support these "reforms" of immigration laws are entirely short-sighted in their analysis, although they may well be compassionate in their motivations.

The end result of these "reforms" will simply be to flood developed countries with the desperately poor people from third world countries, to smash all countries down to poverty, destroy nations that now provide a decent living for their own citizens. Moving millions of poor people into a developed nation has the effect of draining the resources of the developed nation. The surge of desperate workers also has the effect of bringing down wages, working conditions, benefits, and eliminating job security.

It is simply a fact that when there is a labor shortage, workers have more power in negotiating with their employers for better wages, benefits, working conditions, and they have more job security because it is difficult to replace them. And the opposite is also true: when there are thousands lined up to fill one job, the wages plummet, benefits are non-existent, job security is eliminated.

Current TV had a two-hour special on about immigration around the world, and they showed the desperate measures taken by the poor to reach a developed nation where there might be jobs. One segment was on Africans who cross the ocean in rafts to reach Italy in the hope of finding work there. Many die on the voyage. For those who survive, once they arrive in Italy, the illegal immigrants are unwanted, live under bridges, and have miserable lives. But even sleeping on the ground under a bridge is a better life for them because there is no work in their own countries.

One segment showed young people from Guatemala who jump onto tanker trains (they call it the "Death Train"), hang onto bars to ride through Mexico. Among the dangers are that they may slip, lose their grip, fall asleep, or get hit by something and fall off the train, get run over by the train, and have arms or legs cut off. This amputation from the trains is so common that there is a special recovery home in Mexico which provides help to all the people who have lost arms and legs because they fell off the trains. Once they reach northern Mexico, they still had to walk for three days through the desert to reach the United States.



Why do they do it? Because there is no work in their own country, there is extreme poverty, and they need to find work, at whatever the risk, so they can send money home to support their families.

The United States has a long and disgraceful history of intervention, use of military, secretly funding death squads, training military right-wing dictatorships in torture, fomenting coups, destroying efforts at democracy nevermind socialism, opposing efforts to use the resources for the benefit of the people, in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

http://www.deansbeans.com/coffee/deans_zine.html?blogid=653

(Waiting For The Death Train)

We have created such chaos, disruption, and despair throughout the region that there is nothing there for the people, so of course they try to leave. But where should they all go? Why shouldn't they stay in their own country and be paid reparations for the harm we have done. Or even just "help" so they can support themselves on their own land.

See http://www.serendipity.li/cia/death_squads1.htm:

"Central America, circa 1979-87. According to Americas Watch, ... 40,000-50,000 Salvadoran citizens killed by death squads and government forces [supported by the U.S.] during this period; still higher numbers in Guatemala. Chomsky, N. (1988), The Culture of Terrorism, p. 101"

"Central America, 1981-87. Death toll under Reagan in El Salvador passed 50,000 and in Guatemala it may approach 100,000. ... Death toll in region 150,000 or more. Chomsky, N. (1988). The Culture of Terrorism, p. 29"

"Central America, 1982-84. Admiral Bobby Inman, former head of NSA, ... complained that the CIA was hiring murderers to conduct operations in Central America and the Middle East. Toohey, B., and Pinwill, W. (1990). Oyster: the Story of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, pp. 215-6"

Of course this ignores the direct involvement of the U.S. in staging the coup in Chile in 1973 to overthrow Allende and install a military dictatorship, and our support for similar coups, military dictatorships, and bloodbaths against the citizens in Argentina. Not to mention our ongoing military occupation of the nation of Columbia to support another cheap despot and dictator.

Whenever there is massive immigration from one country to another, we need to look at the reasons. Sometimes it's war, sometimes it's drought or other environmental problems. But in this country, the cause of immigration from Mexico and from Central America is extreme poverty and destruction of their own countries. Since the U.S. has treated much of the area as a colony for decades, using our military to prop up dictatorships and supporting our corporations in stealing the wealth, the U.S. should begin paying reparations to the people of the countries that we have harmed.

Instead of demanding more liberal immigration laws, we should demand real assistance for the people of those nations. Instead of finding a cot for some recent child immigrant to sleep on, we should send them back to their own homes (to their own mothers) with money to build houses, and with investment programs to create jobs, with the education and tools to develop sustainable agriculture to feed themselves and their communities.

The problem is not immigration. The problem is poverty, war, and the destruction of their own countries. Let's help them rebuild so the children can stay home with their own mothers, which is as it should be.

"World Wealth Levels, Year 2000"

"The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth according to a path-breaking study released today by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER)."

Other findings:

The richest 1% of adults own 40% of the world's assets.

The richest 10% of the people own 85% of the world's assets.

The bottom 50% of the people in the world only own 1% of the wealth of the world.

A household that has $2,200 per adult in total assets ($4,400 total assets for a married couple) is the top 50% of the wealthiest people in the world.

The study also has a factor which it uses to describe the inequality of wealth in the world, which is very high. The number they calculate using their own formula is 89%, which they describe as meaning that if one person took 99% of all the wealth, and the other 9 people in a group had to share the remaining 1% of the total wealth, that is how our world is divided up today.

Authors of The World Distribution of Household Wealth, December 2006, include James Davies, Professor, in the Department of Economics at the University of Western Ontario, and Edward Wolff, Professor of Economics, New York University. For full article, see:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-12/unu-pss120106.php