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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Voices on Afghanistan Washington refuses to hear

Re-reported, compiled, edited by Carolyn Bennett

“If we do not take civilian components of the transition strategy as seriously as the military component, we will fail,” Kai Eide, the outgoing Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan said in his final report before Security Council in January. “For years, there has been a consensus ─ at least in rhetoric ─ that this conflict cannot ultimately be solved by military means,” he said, “but most of our focus has nevertheless been on the number and activity of military forces.”

Casualty reporting
February 28, 2010 (Accurate totals unknown)

• Anti-war dot com March 19, 2003 ─ [Since the Obama inauguration January 20, 2009: 151] Wounded 31,693-100,000; U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000; Suicides 18 a day http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/
• Iraq Body Count figures: 95,557-104,255, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
• ICasualties IRAQ: 4,380 U.S., 4,698 Coalition; AFGHANISTAN: 1,007 U.S., 1,667 Coalition http://icasualties.org/oif/
• Just Foreign Policy: [not current] 1,366,350 http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq

Voices, News from Afghanistan
Washington refuses to heed U.S. Middle East/Central/South Asia WAR

This past week from Kabul, London and elsewhere, UN officials pleaded for children in conflict and for an end to violent aggression. “I have always felt that the children in Afghanistan have probably suffered more than anywhere in the world,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, in a February 24, 2010, press conference in Kabul. “I came here during the time of the Taliban in 1997 and actually met with ministers of the Taliban government. I have now come twice and have personally witnessed this continuous exposure to war and suffering. It is very important that we try to focus attention on children.”

Coomaraswamy said that in 2009 there were 615 educational-related incidents ─ double those of the previous year ─ and more than 100 health-related incidents.

Three hundred and forty-six (346) children died (as part of the conflict):131 died in aerial strikes, 22 from search-and-raid by Special Forces, 128 died at the hand of anti-Government elements (AGE) ─ assassinations, suicide bombings. Undetermined perpetrators caused other deaths.

The ideal situation, she said, is that “there should be no war” but “if there is going to be conflict, military activities should be judged by rules and procedures of international humanitarian law.”

In his February 22 opinion piece in the UK Telegraph, Kai Eide again urged diplomacy, respect for and cooperation with the Afghan people. “A political process must be shaped and led by Afghan authorities and cannot be imposed by international civilians or military with scant knowledge of this complex society. However, the international community must support – in financial and political terms – and facilitate where the Afghan authorities desire.…

“Loud and public invitations to the insurgency to join a reconciliation process will most likely be met with rejections. More cautious diplomatic initiatives may produce results. As in many other peace processes, confidence-building measures could be undertaken to test the prospects for a wider process. The delisting of individuals from the UN sanctions list could be one such measure. Five individuals have already been delisted as a result of a request by the Afghan Government in January. More should be considered. Another confidence-building measure should be the release of detainees from facilities such as the U.S. detention centre at Bagram.…

“We should not underestimate the number of those who fight for reasons of ideology, resentment and a sense of humiliation – in addition to criminal elements. Often, such motivation stems from a conviction that the government is corrupt and unable to provide law and order combined with a sense of foreign invasion – not only in military terms, but also in terms of disrespect for Afghanistan's culture, values and religion.…

“There is – particularly at this moment – an urgent need to inject more political oxygen in the non-military areas of our partnership.”

Washington refuses to listen and the bloodletting continues ─ February 28, 2010 ─ Eleven civilians died after a roadside bomb hit Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand. Though thousands of U.S., NATO and Afghan troops have been pursuing a major offensive against the Taliban in Helmand’s Marjah and Nad Ali areas since February 13 ─ the town of Marjah continues to see sporadic resistance. More than a dozen foreign soldiers and at least two of their Afghan counterparts died during Moshtarak. Dozens of Taliban fighters have also died although the authorities have yet to give precise figures. At least 15 civilians died in the offensive, 12 of them by a rocket fired by U.S. forces. The violence, military operations, reportedly will expand to the neighboring province of Kandahar. An estimated 121,000 mainly U.S. and NATO international troops are at war in Afghanistan.

Sources and notes
“UN Afghan chief stresses political strategy in final Security Council briefing,” January 6, 2010, http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/detail/88576.html
“SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy Press Conference,” February 24, 2010, http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1741&ctl=Details&mid=1882&ItemID=7881
“Afghanistan: UN official urges steps to prevent child deaths in conflict,” February 24, 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33879&Cr=afghan&Cr1=
“Commentary: Kai Eide: ‘The largest military offensive since 2002 is now under way in the Helmand province in Afghanistan. At the same time, a consensus is emerging that the conflict in this country can ultimately not be solved by military means’ (Kai Eide,
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan” (Telegraph UK), February 22, 2010, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7293889/Commentary-Kai-Eide.html
“Top UN envoy to Afghanistan calls for greater political effort to end conflict ─ ‘The involvement of neighboring countries, and especially Pakistan, will be critical,’ concluded Mr. Eide, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), ” February 23, 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33872&Cr=Afghan&Cr1=
“Top UN envoy to Afghanistan deplores militant attacks in Kabul,” January 18, 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33503&Cr=afghan&Cr1=
“UNAMA calls for safety first, as civilian casualties rise by 14 percent 2009, January 13, 2010, http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1783&ctl=Details&mid=1882&ItemID=7260
“Lethal Bombing in South Afghanistan,” February 28, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/2010228133831513930.html
Operation Moshtarak (Dari and Arabic for Together or Joint)” is the name given by foreign forces to the latest killing spree in an area described as “the 'poppy-growing belt' of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.”

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Entrenched MANFACTURED Iran, Giraldi’s Progressive Course

Edited excerpt for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

“Why is Iran the target of so much rage,” former CIA officer Philip Giraldi asks, “even though [Iran] has not threatened the United States or any vital American interest?”

Israel and its friends’ influence over Congress and the media is surely a large part of the answer. How else can one explain the different treatment afforded Iran and North Korea given Pyongyang’s open development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles?
• Unlike North Korea, Iran continues to be a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its nuclear sites are inspected by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. • Iran is a developing country with a small economy and tiny defense budget and it has not invaded a neighbor since the eighteenth century.• Iran does not even have the resources to refine its own oil for home consumption and must import the gasoline it uses.
Wider consequences ─ If proposed Congressional sanctions are fully implemented Iran’s economy will grind to a halt but the damage does not stop there. Iran deals with many European and Asian companies in its energy industry, all of which would be sanctioned by the United States if they do not break off relations. They might not like that and might well take commensurate steps against the United States. Ultimately, the United States Navy might have to enforce the sanctions. What would happen when a Chinese or Russian ship is stopped on the high seas? Did the U.S. Congress really think about what it was doing and what the consequences of sanctions might be?
The irony is that the United States has an Iran problem largely manufactured in Washington and in Tel Aviv.  
• Tehran does not actually threaten the United States yet Washington has been supporting terrorists and separatists who have killed hundreds of people inside Iran. • Israel, which has its own secret nuclear arsenal, claims to be threatened if Iran develops even the ability to concentrate its uranium referred to as ‘mastering the enrichment cycle,’ a point of view that has also been adopted by Washington.  • The White House has made repeated threats that the military option for dealing with Tehran is ‘on the table’ while Israel has been even more explicit in its threats to attack.  • The U.S. mainstream media are united in their desire to come to grips with the Mullahs.
No wonder Iran feels threatened ─ because it is. To be sure, Iran is no role model for good governance but a desire to deal with the country fairly and realistically is not an endorsement of the regime in power. Iran is engaged diplomatically and through surrogates in the entire Persian Gulf region and central Asia, supporting its friends and seeking to undermine its enemies; but that does not make it different than any of its neighbors and the United States, all of which play the same game.

The bottom line is that the United States has been interfering in Iran since 1978 and even before if one goes back to the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadeq by the CIA in 1953. The interference has accomplished nothing and has only created a poisonous relationship that Barack Obama has done little to improve. Indeed, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s harsh rhetoric suggests that when it comes to Iran the Democrats are more hard line than was George W. Bush.
The drive to punish Iran supported in Congress and the media is perhaps no coincidence suggesting that those who want war are coordinating the effort. In an overwhelming voice vote at the end of January, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing a resolution demanding sanctions on Iran’s energy imports. A joint resolution being crafted could well give Obama the political cover he needs to advocate even more draconian measures against Iran and its rulers. From the Iranian viewpoint, it is pretty much a declaration of war.

Far better course of action ─ Imagine for a moment what might happen if Washington were to adopt a serious foreign policy based on the U.S. national interest.

That would mean strict non-interventionism in troubled regions like the Middle East where the United States has everything to lose and little to gain.
• It would be the real change promised by Obama if Washington were to admit that it is not threatened by Tehran and were to declare that it will not interfere in Iran’s politics.

• It could further announce that it no longer has a military option on the table, and that it will not permit Israeli overflight of Iraq to attack Iran.

• Iran’s leaders just might decide that they don’t really need their own ‘option on the table’ which has been the threat that they might seek to develop a nuclear weapon.

• An Iran that feels more secure might well be willing to take some risks itself to defuse tension with its neighbors and Washington. In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate all outstanding differences with the United States ─ an offer the Bush White House turned down.

The big question about Iran is not whether or not it has the knowledge and resources to build an atom bomb. It does or soon will. The real issue is whether the United States is actually threatened by that knowledge and what should be done in terms of positive policies to discourage an expanded nuclear program.  

The United States should first of all recognize that, as the world’s only superpower, it controls the playing field. It is up to Washington to take the first steps to defuse the crisis that is building by offering Tehran the security guarantees that might undercut the influence of those in its government who seek a nuclear weapon deterrent.

Punishing Iran is no solution. It will not work, closes the door to diplomacy, and will only make the worst case scenario that much more likely. Opening the door to a rapprochement by eliminating the threatening language coming out of Washington and creating incentives for cooperation is a far better course of action.

Sources and notes

“Some Straight Thinking About Iran” (Philip Giraldi), February 18, 2010, http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2010/02/17/some-straight-thinking-about-iran

Philip Giraldi is a former officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency who became famous for claiming in 2005 that the USA was preparing plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons in response to a terrorist action against the United States, independently of whether or not Iran was involved in the action. He is presently a partner in an international security consultancy, Cannistraro Associates. Giraldi is a graduate of the University of Chicago and holds an MA & Ph.D. in European History from the University of London [Wikipedia].
“The U.S. and Iran: A Manufactured Crisis Part 1: The Facts of the Matter” (Jack A. Smith), September 28, 2009, http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com/ 

“If push does come to shove with Iran it is important to remember how effortless it was to hoodwink the majority of American politicians and the masses of people into backing a completely unnecessary war against Iraq. As in the buildup to the unjust invasion of Iraq, today’s U.S. corporate mass media are playing a principal part to perfection: uncritically echoing government distortions about the danger of Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons. The Iran situation is different but similar in terms of mass public manipulation and the possibility of a future confrontation getting out of hand.”
Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter, a former editor of the Guardian (U.S.) radical newsweekly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

U.S. Footprints in Afghanistan ─ WAR

Re-reported, compiled, edited by Carolyn Bennett

Casualty sites reporting
February 23, 2010 casualty sites reporting (accurate totals unknown)
• Anti-war dot com March 19, 2003 ─ [Since the Obama inauguration January 20, 2009: 150] Wounded 31,669-100,000; U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000; Suicides 18 a day http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/
• Iraq Body Count figures: 95,412-104,103, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
• ICasualties IRAQ: 4,378 U.S., 4,696 Coalition; AFGHANISTAN: 1,003 U.S., 1,659 Coalition http://icasualties.org/oif/
• Just Foreign Policy: [not current] 1,366,350 http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq
News from U.S. Middle East/Central/South Asia WAR

February 23
Amid the NATO/Afghan military surge continuing today, at least eight people (among them one woman) died after a bomb exploded in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. All of the dead as reported by local authorities were civilians. Thirteen people suffered wounds.

Al Jazeera reports in special programming a man (Hamidullah) claiming to be “a member of the Taliban fighting against ‘Operation Moshtarak’ says since [foreign forces] often kill civilians instead of Taliban fighters, the foreign troops’ offensive is not succeeding.” These civilian deaths have prompted “the Afghan people to support the Taliban more than before.” The man’s “statements come after Sunday’s NATO air strike on what was assumed to be a bus carrying Taliban fighters.” Thirty-three civilians died.

In an interview today with Pacifica’s Democracy Now, Phyllis Bennis said, contrary to prevailing propaganda, “The notion that it’s the Taliban’s fault because they are among civilians, well, the problem is the Taliban come from those communities; they are those civilians. Many of the Taliban fighters, in the words of many U.S. and strategy officials … who have faded away with this new offensive in Marjah, faded away because they live there. They’ve gone back to their families, back to their farms; and they will rise to fight again, presumably, if their interests are at stake, whether those interests are economic or they are issues of loyalty and connection to their communities.

“This is inevitable in this kind of a war, the escalation that we have seen during President Obama’s first year; and there is no question that this is President Obama’s war. He claimed it as his own, even during the campaign. The fact that we have now reached a thousand U.S. casualties, and we don’t know … significantly accurate totals of the vast number of Afghan civilians who have died in this war. We know that it has been escalating. By the time that President Obama’s most recent escalation is finished, which is supposed to be in the next several months, there will be over 100,000 U.S. and allied troops occupying Afghanistan. There are already more than 104,000 U.S. paid mercenaries in this war in Afghanistan…

“The exit strategy has to start by ending the killing. There has to be a unilateral ceasefire that can set the stage hopefully for a reciprocal ceasefire from all the various parties that are at war here.”

The ANSWER Coalition wrote this week as it plans its march on Washington, “The Pentagon has been bragging about new rules of engagement designed to ‘protect civilian lives,’ yet more than 50 Afghan civilians have died” at the hands of U.S./NATO forces during the past two weeks; and as long as Afghanistan is under occupation, the bloodshed will continue. The march is still on schedule for March 20. “People across the United States will converge on Washington, D.C. and joint demonstrations will be held in San Francisco and Los Angeles [all demanding] ‘No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Haiti!’

“We will march together to say, ‘No War against Iran!’ We will demand money for jobs, free and universal health care, decent schools, and affordable housing.”

February 23
Israel’s air force has unveiled a fleet of unmanned aircraft that it says are able to reach the Gulf, putting Iran within range.… Accusing Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, Israel has been putting pressure on UN Security Council [China, France, Russian Federation, United States, United Kingdom permanent] members to support U.S. moves for fresh sanctions against Tehran.

February 22
At least three people died Monday and four were wounded after a car bombing at an interior ministry detention centre. Among the dead were two police officers, a six-year-old boy and his father. The incident occurred near Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province. The latest violence comes as campaigning approaches Iraq’s March 7 elections. The country is mired in conflict over a ban on scores of candidates. Since October, Ramadi has seen a rise in attacks including three bombings of the provincial governor’s offices.

February 22
At least six people died Monday in a car bomb attack on a security forces convoy in northwest Pakistan. A suspected suicide bomber crashed his vehicle into a convoy as it passed through a market in Mingora, the main town in North West Frontier Province’s Swat Valley. Since July 2007, more than 3,000 people have died in suicide attacks and other bombings across Pakistan.

February 20
Israel’s separation wall has generated anger and protests all over the Palestinian territories. The Al-Nu'man village was cut off from Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank in 2003. Illegally constructed beyond the Green Line drawn after the 1949 Arab-Israeli war ─ the West Bank separation wall walls in Al-Nu'man on three sides. A permanent checkpoint today provides the only entrance to and from this village on the outskirts of Bethlehem. “The wall has effectively imprisoned its Palestinian residents.”

“Deadly bombings rock Afghan towns,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/20102237950809185.html
“NATO losing Afghan support” (Al Jazeera spoke to Hamidullah in an exclusive interview in Lashkar Gar, Helmand's capital city), http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/2010222131354638461.html
“Phyllis Bennis on Ending the US War in Afghanistan,” February 23, 2010 (Democracy Now interview with Amy Goodman, http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/23/phyllis_bennis_on_ending_the_us
Phyllis Bennis’s latest book, with David Wildman, is Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer.
Another high-tech massacre, All out on March 20, http://answer.pephost.org/site/News2?abbr=ANS_&page=NewsArticle&id=9371&news_iv_ctrl=1621
“Israel’s drones could target Iran,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/2010221181347325634.html
“Suicide bomber targets Iraqi police,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/201022215942107239.html
“Suicide bomber targets Iraqi police,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/201022215942107239.html
“Barrier imprisons West Bank village” (Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh reports). http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/20102208759184330.html

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NO MORE SAY DUTCH ─ Out of Afghanistan

The Netherlands leads countries to say enough is enough
Re-reported, edited excerpts for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

Dutch troops’ participation in Afghanistan has today caused the Dutch government to collapse. A rift in political parties rose over extending Dutch troops in the U.S./NATO-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulting in Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende offering his government’s resignation to the constitutional head-of-state, Queen Beatrix.

The standoff began after the Labour Party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos, “drew a line in the sand” over extending the Dutch mission in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan.
The collapse of the coalition government in the Netherlands automatically means that Dutch forces will be withdrawn from the Afghan province of Uruzgan as of 1 August. The withdrawal of the 1,500 military personnel currently in the province will be completed by the end of December. The move is mandatory under a government decision taken in late 2007, in which the Netherlands signed up for another two-year stint in Uruzgan beginning on 1 August 2008. The Netherlands is the first country of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to withdraw its troops.
News of the government collapse came in the early hours of Saturday morning following 16 hours of crisis meetings and days of speculation that differences between coalition [political] parties had become too great to bridge. The Prime Minister’s representative, Henk Brons, has confirmed that Mr Balkenende has officially tendered the resignations of the 12 Labour (PvdA) ministers to Queen Beatrix. Though she is currently on holiday in Austria, Netherlands Queen Beatrix is expected to curtail her vacation in light of the governmental crisis.

Twenty-one Dutch military personnel have died since the latest Dutch mission in Afghanistan began in March 2006. Sixteen soldiers died in combat or by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Five others died in accidents. The only Dutch contribution to ISAF that is expected to remain consists of four F-16 fighter planes based at Kandahar Airfield and in Uruzgan some civilian personnel of the foreign affairs and development aid ministries.

Sources and notes
“Dutch government falls over Afghanistan mission,” http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/dutch-government-falls-over-afghanistan-mission
“Dutch Deputy PM Bos reacts to Dutch cabinet fall,” February 20, 1010, http://www.rnw.nl/english/video/dutch-deputy-pm-bos-reacts-dutch-cabinet-fall
“Dutch troops to leave Uruzgan after cabinet collapse,” http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/dutch-troops-leave-uruzgan-after-cabinet-collapse
The Dutch Labour Party (Dutch: Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA), literally ‘Party of Labour’) is a social-democratic political party in the Netherlands [Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Labour_Party]

Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S. Footprints in Central/South Asia ─ WAR

Re-reported, compiled, by Carolyn Bennett
Casualty sites reporting
February 19, 2010 casualty sites reporting (accurate totals unknown)
• Anti-war dot com March 19, 2003 ─ [Since the Obama inauguration January 20, 2009: 148] Wounded 31,648-100,000; U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000; Suicides 18 a day http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/
• Iraq Body Count figures: 95,412-104,103, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
• ICasualties IRAQ: 4,376 U.S., 4,694 Coalition; AFGHANISTAN: 998 U.S., 1,655 Coalition http://icasualties.org/oif/
• Just Foreign Policy: [not current] 1,366,350 http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq
News from Middle East/Central/South Asia WAR

February 19
Six NATO soldiers have died on the sixth day of a military offensive to gain control of a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. The deaths on Thursday bring the total to 12 one of whom is an Afghan soldier. These latest deaths come a day after a NATO air strike ‘mistakenly’ killed at least seven Afghan police officers and wounded two others in Imam Sahib District of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan.

February 19
The brother of a senior pro-Taliban commander died following a suspected U.S. missile strike in northwestern Pakistan. Mohammed Haqqani and a number of other associates of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the so-called Haqqani network, were said to have died today in a compound in North Waziristan.

At least 29 people died and dozens were wounded in an explosion at a mosque in northwestern Pakistan. This attack on in the Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border came hours after the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, arrived for a meeting with Pakistan’s prime minister in the capital Islamabad.

February 19
─ The U.S. government has changed the name of the Iraq invasion/occupation from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to “Operation New Dawn,” shamelessly taking the same name as used by U.S. forces in their November 2004 U.S. attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. That attack left hundreds of Iraqi civilians dead and thousands more displaced.

February 18
In the Iraqi city of Ramadi eleven people died on Thursday, among them four police officers and a young girl; the deaths followed a suicide bombing. Fifteen people suffered wounds.

“NATO troops killed in Afghan push,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/201021925143887757.html
“U.S. drone kills Taliban supporters,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/2010219122853435538.html
“Blast as Holbrooke visits Pakistan,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/2010218232824418823.html
“U.S. Changes Name of Iraq War,” February 19, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/19/headlines
“Bomber hits checkpoint,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/201021810496996936.html

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

U.S. Footprints in Central/South Asia ─ WAR

Re-reported, compiled, by Carolyn Bennett
Casualty sites reporting
February 17, 2010 casualty sites reporting (accurate totals unknown)
• Anti-war dot com March 19, 2003 ─ [Since the Obama inauguration January 20, 2009: 148] Wounded 31,648-100,000; U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000; Suicides 18 a day http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/
• Iraq Body Count figures: 95,409-104,100, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
• ICasualties [not current] IRAQ: 4,375 U.S., 4,693 Coalition; AFGHANISTAN: 984 U.S., 1,624 Coalition http://icasualties.org/oif/
• Just Foreign Policy: [not current] 1,366,350 http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq
News from Middle East/Central/South Asia WAR

February 17
Two errant U.S. missiles on Sunday struck a house on the outskirts of Marjah. Twelve people died. Half of them were children.

On Tuesday, an Afghan human rights group said they had counted 19 civilian deaths since the start of the latest U.S. killing spree. Four of the dead had been “caught in the crossfire” as they left their homes. The director of Afghanistan Rights Monitor told Al Jazeera “neighbors reported bodies left outside” waiting to be removed. Survivors on this slaughter said they were “scared if they go outside they too will be shot dead.”

At least 1,240 families are said to have fled the massive US/UK onslaught against the Taliban. Many people are seeking shelter with friends and relatives as no camps have been set up for the displaced.

February 11
An estimated 185 people have died in avalanches that blocked a mountain pass north of the Afghan capital … More than 200 lorries [trucks], buses and cars were trapped inside the tunnel at 3,400 meters (11,154.85 feet) above sea level.

February 14
A deadly explosion has hit the Indian city of Pune leaving nine people dead and 57 wounded. The incident throws the India/Pakistan peace talks into jeopardy. Saturday’s bomb attack was India’s first big assault since the Mumbai attack that left 166 people dead.

February 14
Elections are due March 7 in Iraq. Leading up to that event, candidate expulsions and bomb attacks rooted in U.S. invasion 2003 have rocked Baghdad. Bans on candidates ─ a ban that blacklisted more than 500 Sunni and Shia candidates, severely affecting the Iraqiya list ─ have resulted in suspensions of election campaigns and bombings of political offices across Baghdad. A blast struck the political offices of Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician and co-founder of the barred Iraqiya list. Another bomb that wounded two guards was thrown into the garden of a building used by Sunni scholars including poll candidates in Mansour in west Baghdad. A third blast damaged the headquarters of the United Iraq list in east Baghdad. Another blast hit the headquarters of the Moderate Movement list in Karrada in east Baghdad wounding two people. A fifth bomb struck a building used by an election list led by Nehru Abdulkarim al-Keznazani and wounded another person. The election turmoil in Iraq seems to find roots in the ban on candidates accused of ties with the outlawed Baath party of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president whom the U.S.-led invasion and administration ousted and executed.

“Afghan civilians killed in fighting, February 17, 2010
“Afghan avalanches death toll soars,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/201021083946138428.html
“Blast clouds ‘India-Pakistan talks,’”
“Iraq coalition halts poll campaign,” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/201021463242489398.html

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Resisting ‘war time’ ─ Poets and their Poetry

Respectfully excerpted no copyright claimed for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

Diane di Prima

It’s terrorism, isn’t it, when you’re afraid to answer the door
for lack of a Green Card
afraid to look for work, walk into the hospital when your child is sick,
and what else than terrorism could you call
those smallpox blankets we gave the Indians
the trail of tears, the raids on Ghost Dancing tribes
It’s terrorism when you’re forbidden to speak your language
paddled for it, made to run a hundred laps in the snow
in your thin and holey sneakers. What do you call it
when you’re locked in your high school classroom,
armed policemen manning the halls?
Isn’t it terrorism to force a young woman
to talk to her parents about her clandestine love
the child she will or will not carry?
Is it terrorism to shoot striking onion workers (1934),
pick off AIM members one by one?

What happened to the Hampton family in Chicago [in] bed;
would you call that terrorism? Or the MOVE kids in Philadelphia
bombed in their home. Or all the stories we don’t know
buried in throats stuffed w/socks, or pierced w/bullets.
Would you call it terrorism, what happened at Wounded Knee
or the Drug Wars picking off the youth of our cities
twenty years ago now; you know the names.

What was COINTELPRO if not terrorism?
What new initials are they calling it today?
Is Leonard Peltier a victim of terrorism? Is Mumia Abu-Jamal?
Is it terrorism if you are terrified of the INS, the IRS, the landlord,
your boss, the man who might do your job for less?
if you're scared of your health insurance no health insurance
scared of your street, your hallway, scared every month
you might not get to the 1st and the next measly check?
Is it terrorism to take food from hungry school-kids?
To threaten teenagers who still have hope enough
have joy enough to bring babies into this mess?

How has terrorism touched you, shaped your life?
Are you afraid to go out, to walk in your city,
your suburb, your countryside?
To read, to speak your own language, wear your tribe’s clothes?
Afraid of the thin-shelled birds w/twisted necks
poisoned by nitrates, by selenium?
Afraid that the dawn will be silent, the forests grey?

Is it terrorism to fill the Dnieper w/radiation?
or heat the ionosphere w/magnetism ‘to see what will happen’?
A wonderful weapon, they say, it will perturb
the weather pattern, disrupt communications
Who are the terrorists in the lumber wars?
(the water wars are coming)
And we haven’t even talked about AIDS and cancer.
Is the assault on native intelligence and good will
that we call the evening news
anything other than an act of terror?

What was the Gulf War but terrorism
wearing the death mask of order? and one big car bomb it was
the guys who drove it dying now one by one
Is acid rain a form of terrorism? (Think for yourself.)
Is GATT or NAFTA anything but a pact among brigands
and their back-up men?
How long before they fight over the spoils?
Who’ll do their fighting for them?

Is Alan Greenspan perhaps the biggest known & named
of our terrorist leaders, here,
nurtured here, trained here
the dark design of whose hearts makes
Hutu and Tutsi
Croat and Muslim and Serb
mere diversionary tactics before the onslaught

Diane di Prima (b. Brooklyn, New York, 1934)
Diane di Prima in 2009 was Poet Laureate of San Francisco and in 2006 received the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and community service. She is the author of 43 books of poetry and prose, including Pieces of a Song (City Lights, 1990). Her work has been translated into at least twenty languages. She has received grants for her poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, she received an Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry from the National Poetry Association. In May/June 1994 she was Master Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. In 1999, she received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from St. Lawrence University. In Spring, 2000, she was Master Poet-in-Residence at Columbia College, Chicago. Her autobiographical memoir Recollections of My Life as a Woman was published by Viking in April 2001. In her Manhattan years, she was an important writer of the Beat movement and co-founded the New York Poets Theatre; founded the Poets Press that published the work of many new writers of the period. She co-edited the literary newsletter The Floating Bear (1961-1969). Diane Di Prima has lived in northern California for the past thirty-four years. Biography of Diane Di Prima, http://dianediprima.com/bio.html

American Wars
Ursula K. Le Guin

Like the topaz in the toad's head
the comfort in the terrible histories
was up front, easy to find:
Once upon a time in a kingdom far away.

Even to the dreadful now of news we listened comforted
by far timezones, languages we didn't speak,
the wide, forgetful oceans.
Today, no comfort but the jewel courage.
The war is ours, now, here, it is our republic
facing its own betraying terror.

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (b. Berkeley, California, 1929 -)
Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards. Three of Le Guin's books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Among many honors her writing has received a National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, SFWA’s [Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s] Grand Master, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Her latest publications include Incredible Good Fortune: New Poems (Shambhala 2006); the Annals of the Western Shore: Gifts, (Harcourt 2004, paperback edition 2006); Voices (Harcourt, September 2006), and Powers, (Harcourt, September 2007); Lavinia (Harcourt, April 2008). Though now retired, she has taught writing workshops from as far distanced places as Vermont-USA and Australia. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Ursula K. Le Guin: Biographical Sketch, http://www.ursulakleguin.com/BiographicalSketch.html; http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Biography-70Word.html

Umoja: Each One of Us Counts
Rita Dove

Do those who failed still miss the wind,
that sweet breath from the sky?
Do they still covet rock and moss
or the swift, hard blink of the lizard's eye?
We walk on water, we are written on air.

Let us honor the lost, the snatched, the relinquished,
those vanquished by glory, muted by shame.
Stand up in the silence they've left and listen:
those absent ones, unknown and unnamed --

Remember! their whispers fill the arena.

Rita Dove (b. Ohio, 1952- )
Rita Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. From 1993 to 1995, she was Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress. From 2004 to 2006, she was Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Her writing and collections include The Yellow House on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Selected Poems (1993), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985), the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992), essays under the title The Poet’s World (1995), and the play The Darker Face of the Earth, which had its world premiere in 1996 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London, and other theatres. Seven for Luck, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1998. Her latest poetry collection, Sonata Mulattica, was published by W.W. Norton & Company in the spring of 2009. Rita Dove was a 1970 Presidential Scholar and received her B.A. from Miami University (Ohio), an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa, and held a Fulbright scholarship at the Universität Tübingen in Germany.  Rita Dove, a Brief Biography , http://people.virginia.edu/~rfd4b/

Diane di Prima

It is happening even as you read this page.
By the time you finish reading this it will be over.

She will have left the hotel and disappeared.
He will have eaten the pills.
That one will slip and crack her skull on the floor.
That one will go out in a driveby shooting.

halfway around the world the bombs are dropping

As you read these words it is already too late.
200,000 children will have starved.
One of them held the Jewel in his brain,
another could cure plagues with her breath.
As you read this line one thousand have died of AIDS.
They die alone hidden in furnished rooms.
They die on the ground all over Africa.

halfway around the world the bombs are falling

Do not think to correct this by refusing to read.
It happens as you put down the paper, head for the door.
The ozone reaches the point of no-return
the butterflies bellyflop, the last firefly, etc.
Do not think to correct this by reading.

The bombs burst the small skull of an Arab infant
the silky black hair is stuck to your hands with brains. W/bits of blood.
There is less shrieking than you would expect a soft silence.
The silence of the poor, those who could not afford to leave.
Drop flowers on them from your mind, why don't you?
"I guess we'll have to stay and take our chances."

They die so silently even as we speak
Black eyes of children seek eyes of the dying mother
bricks fall dirt spurts like fountains in the streets.
In the time you fill a cup they die of thirst.
In the time it takes to turn off the radio.
Not past, not future
The huts are blazing now.
South of Market a woman ODs with an elegant sigh.
No more no less than is needed.

halfway around the world the bombs are dropping

All poetry at Poets against War, http://www.poetsagainstwar.com/chapbook.asp#Le%20Guin

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

State Murder breaches Constitution ─ Rep. Kucinich

Rights under law apply to ALL U.S. citizens
Excerpt, minor editing for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

None shall make or enforce law abridging privileges or immunities
of citizens of the United States.
None shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law.
None shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the
equal protection of the laws.

Another administration breaches the Constitution of the United States and international laws. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich calls the Executive Branch to “justify”  State acts of murder.

Writing last week to the U.S. Attorney General, Kucinich wrote, “Due process of law is a fundamental principle in our Constitutional structure.

Even the most superficial reading of Article XIV makes it clear that extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government or its agents are by definition outside the law. Yet under the policy cited in The Washington Post, when citizens are unilaterally deemed a threat to our national security, their right to present a defense is summarily and anonymously stripped from them ─ the government becomes policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner all in one. This suspension of basic constitutional protections for U.S. citizens puts in jeopardy our Constitution and the rule of law. …

[The] revelation that Blackwater [later named Xe Services] is intimately involved with the targeted assassination program run by the CIA and JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command, a component command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)] in Pakistan leads me to the concern that there is a possibility of their involvement in targeted assassinations elsewhere. … The company’s founder, Erik Prince, has confirmed Blackwater’s participation in covert, targeted assassination programs run by the CIA and JSOC. It seems [therefore] that since private, U.S.-based security contractors are intimately involved in the planning of targeted assassinations, the door of murder-for-hire has been opened wide.

Blackwater has already been subject to an investigation of wholesale murder in Iraq. Instead of being debarred from federal contracts, the Pentagon and the CIA have now seen fit to give Blackwater operatives the power over life and death. The use of private security companies in operations that have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight raises serious legal questions, particularly when the outcomes of such programs constitute possible violations of international law and violations of the U.S. Constitution. …

“The government has the right and the obligation to protect the citizens of this country. However, I reject the notion that we can accomplish this goal only by violating international law and trampling on the Constitution. Protecting the constitutional rights of some citizens should not require revoking the constitutional rights of other citizens.…”

Sources and notes
Member of the House of Representatives of the United States Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio] was writing [letter excerpted] February 4, 2010, to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder, Jr.

The XIV Article/Amendment of the Constitution of the United States ratified July 9, 1868, reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Dennis J. Kucinich rose from Cleveland’s City Council (1970-75) to its Mayor (1977, the youngest person ever elected to lead a major U.S. city) and City Council (1981-82) to Clerk of Courts for the Cleveland Municipal Court (1976-77) to Ohio State Senator (1994-96) to United States House of Representatives (1997-present). Representative Kucinich has remained one of America’s stalwart Constitutional and human rights progressives. In the U.S. Congress, Kucinich chairs the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; and is a member of the Education and Labor Committee. In his tireless advocacy for worker rights, civil rights, and human rights, Representative Kucinich has authored and co-sponsored legislation to create a national health care system, preserve Social Security, lower the costs of prescription drugs, provide economic development through infrastructure improvements, abolish the death penalty, provide universal prekindergarten to all 3, 4, and 5 year olds, create a Department of Peace, regulate genetically engineered foods, repeal the USA PATRIOT Act, and provide tax relief to working class families.

“Obama Administration: U.S. Forces Can Assassinate Americans Believed to Be Involved in Terrorist Activity,” Democracy Now, February 9, 2010. Guests Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who last week he wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an explanation of the Obama administration’s legal basis for the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens; Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com, who wrote ‘Presidential Assassinations of U.S. Citizens’ http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/9/obama_administration_us_forces_can_assassinate

SAFER INTERNET DAY ─ “Think before you post!”

Re-reported, edited for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

More than 60 countries on five continents Canada to South Korea, Russia to Kenya, and all 27 EU countries are today celebrating the seventh annual “Safer Internet Day!”

Hundreds of online and offline activities have been organized to celebrate the wonderful opportunities internet offers and to focus the attention of children and teenagers on the means to manage their online identity in a responsible way.

Overall traffic on social networking sites has grown enormously over the past three years. It is therefore a critical responsibility of mature people to make the online world a safe and secure environment that everyone can enjoy. Think before you post [‘Think B4 U Post’] is the theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day.

Once an image is posted online
it is hard if not impossible to take it back.
Anyone can see it.

European online survey1 underscores the need to empower young people to manage wisely their personal information online. Fifty-seven percent of young people in the survey said they realize it is not safe to post personal information on their blog or social networking site; yet 44 percent provide personal details on the net; one in eight give their home address. Forty percent of parents across Europe admit they do not monitor their children’s online movements or internet postings …

“The goal is not to prevent young people from using these sites but to make them aware of the risks of sharing personal information online and to encourage them to control their online identity by thinking carefully about the consequences.”

Descriptions of Safer Internet Day national celebrations are available on the Safer Internet Day fair (www.sidfair.org), a collaborative platform where the public can visit, leave comments in the guest books and share images, ideas, tips and resources of more than 70 profiles created by national Safer Internet Day committees and international organizations.

Safer Internet Day is part of a global drive by awareness-raising partners to promote a safer Internet for all users, especially young people. INSAFE has organized Safer Internet Day within the framework of the European Commission’s Safer Internet Program. National awareness centre with tips on how to protect your privacy online at http://www.saferinternet.org/.

Insafe is the European Safer Internet awareness-raising network co-funded by the European Commission and coordinated by European Schoolnet. It comprises national centers in 25 countries across the European Union and in Iceland and Norway, with partner organizations in Argentina, Australia and the USA. Insafe aims at empowering users to benefit from the positive aspects of internet while avoiding the potential risks. Further information is available at www.saferinternet.org or contact info-insafe@eun.org.

Safer Internet Day 2010 launches the web version of eSafety toolkit (www.esafetykit.net) developed by Insafe in collaboration with Liberty Global Inc. and supported by the European Commission. Localized versions for Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Netherlands, Spain, Romania and Belgium are now online. More language versions will become available in the coming months, offering an indispensable resource for parents, teachers and librarians throughout Europe and beyond.

SAFER INTERNET DAY celebrations! Think before you post! February 9, 2010: “Today marks the seventh edition of the event,” Insafe, http://www.saferinternet.org/web/guest/press-releases

Saturday, February 6, 2010

“Heart broken open moving forward” Haiti ─ Dr Lyon

From Dr Evan Lyon’s report back from two weeks in Haiti
Edited excerpt for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

The pain is staggering, crippling. Everyone who has watched the news or has friends or family in Haiti has touched the edges of this pain. Everyone who has seen the broken bodies and buildings, who has inhaled the dust and stench of dying in and around Port-au-Prince knows this even more intimately. Those lucky enough to live will carry some of this pain for the rest of our lives. I know my heart has never been broken like this.

I also feel my heart has broken open ─ enough to let me work, enough to stay upright and keep moving forward with the hope of helping my suffering sisters and brothers. When we could not help, which was very often, I still felt open to witness, to listen, to offer my presence and kindness.

It seems reasonable at this point to say that more than 200,000 have died and one-and-a-half to two million made homeless and displaced.… There is pressure on the infrastructure of the entire nation with so many fleeing the city to live in the countryside and in smaller cities. Much of Port-au-Prince and Jacmel needs rebuilding. Leogane is nearly completely destroyed.

We need to stay with Haiti for a long time. Our medicines and healthcare will play an important role but, in reality, a limited one. Durable health and fulfillment of other basic human rights grows best from social conditions and the basics: shelter, water, food, sanitation, families, education, a healthy environment and reforestation, art, music.

We need to remain open and optimistic.
The only other choice is nihilism, to be broken.…
‘We are alive.’
We can continue.

Sources and notes
Dr. Evan Lyon is a long time clinical volunteer with Partners in Health and more than a decade experience in rural Haiti. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). He is currently on the faculty of the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at BWH. Dr. Lyon’s work in Haiti has focused on community-based care for HIV and tuberculosis. In addition to his work with Partners in Health, he is an active member of the People’s Health Movement. http://www.environment.uwaterloo.ca/ers/faculty/narya/PtHphotosandbios.htm
Partners in Health's work in Haiti and worldwide, http://www.pih.org/.
“‘Breaking hearts open’ in Haiti” (by Evan Lyon), February 2, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/haitiearthquake/2010/02/20102272125725938.html
Dr Evan Lyon had just returned from Haiti where he spent two weeks working as a volunteer clinician with Partners In Health (PIH), a non-profit healthcare organization, at the University General Hospital (HUEH) in the capital Port-au-Prince.

“No giving up, keep moving forward” ─ Dr. Abuelaish

From Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's speech accepting the 2009 Niarchos Prize for his courage after the loss of his daughters in speaking out during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Edited excerpt for Today’s Insight News by Carolyn Bennett

Gaza is a place deprived … No hope, no life, no work, no employment … nothing is there. One NO is there ─ No giving up their rights to live equally in this world as others!

I am coming from Gaza with what happened this winter…this war, this craziness that resulted in more than 1,500 innocent civilians killed. More than 20,000 demolished houses, tens of thousands homeless. Rubble left is more than half a million tons. These are consequences of this craziness.

The 16th of January 2009, I experienced a terrible tragedy I don’t want anyone to experience … I lost three precious daughters and one niece. I don’t want anyone to see what I have seen: bodies disconnected from heads, drowning in blood, body parts on the ceiling. For what ─ for nothing they did ─ being full of love, hope and dreams… In memory of my three daughters, a foundation [has been] established for only girls and women, for health and education.
It is time for women to lead and to take the upper hand!

One NO is there [in Gaza] –
No giving up their rights to live equally in this world as others!

I assure you that this tragedy has strengthened [me] and I am more determined to continue my efforts for the sake of humanity. I also want you to know that willing is not enough. We must act. We know that all it takes for evil to survive is for good people like you to do nothing. It is time to do, and to act.

Life is like riding a bicycle
In order to keep your balance you must keep moving.
We have to look forward.
Darkness can’t drive out darkness, only love and respect can drive out darkness.
We need to prevent tragedies, not to treat tragedies.
To have a better world free of violence, diseases and injustice
is to have big and open hearts, minds and eyes.
All of us are human beings and all of us are equal.
We have to understand and respect each other.

No giving up rights to live equally in this world!

Sources and notes
The war on Gaza that occurred in the winter of 2008–09 (December 27, 2008 - January18, 2009) Israel Defense Forces called “Operation Cast Lead.” Others called it the “Gaza Massacre”
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish received the 2009 Niarchos Prize for Survivorship for his courageous voice during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a Palestinian obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) who treats both Israelis and Palestinians. During the war in Gaza, his media appearances provided the Israeli public with a rare glimpse of the human cost suffered by residents of Gaza during the attacks. The edited excerpt is from Dr. Abuelaish speech on accepting the prize. http://www.survivorcorps.org/netcommunity/niarchos/abuelaish
 Tragedy and reconciliation, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, February 6, 2010, “Israel’s Operation Cast Lead left as many as 900 Palestinian civilians dead in 2009. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s house in Gaza was shelled twice by an Israeli tank. Three of his daughters were killed. Yet his message is resolute: non-violence is the only path and peaceful reconciliation the only goal,” http://www.rnw.nl/english/radioshow/enlisting-god

Dr. Abuelaish’s foundation for girls and women in Gaza and the Middle East in memory of his daughters: Daughters for Life, http://www.daughtersforlife.com/

Author Spotlight: Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH, is a medical doctor and infertility expert who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He received a scholarship to study medicine in Cairo, Egypt, and then received a diploma from the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of London. He completed a residency in the same discipline at Soroka University hospital in Israel, followed by a subspecialty in fetal medicine in Italy and Belgium. He then undertook an MA in public health (health policy and management) at Harvard University. Before his three daughters were killed in January 2009 during the Israeli incursion into Gaza, Dr. Abuelaish worked as a researcher at the Gertner Institute at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv. He now lives with his family in Toronto, where he is an associate professor at the Dala Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. http://www.randomhouse.ca/author/results.pperl?authorid=113726&view=full_sptlght

Friday, February 5, 2010

U.S. Footprints in Central/South Asia ─ WAR

Re-reported, compiled, by Carolyn Bennett

From casualty reporting sites
February 5, 2010 casualty sites reporting (accurate totals unknown)
U.S.-involved Bloodletting
News from Middle East/Central/South Asia
January 30
On Saturday, four army soldiers died and six were wounded when a foreign forces’  ["friendly fire"?] air strike hit their post. Also in the early morning on Saturday joint NATO-Afghan forces came under attack in the northwestern province of Badghis, prompting a gun battle and an air attack that killed eight fighters. The violence in Badghis followed the previous day’s Afghan troop/NATO helicopters clash with the Taliban in Helmand. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/01/2010130102632120814.html
February 3
At least eight people have died, including three U.S. military personnel and four schoolchildren (girls, ages 10-15), after a roadside bomb exploded near a school for girls in northwest Pakistan. Hospital reports said they had 65 wounded, most of them girls. At least 29 people died on Tuesday and many more suffered injuries in a suspected U.S. drone attack in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. Officials said a series of missiles ─ as many as 19 missiles ─ rained down on Dattakhel village in the Degan area of North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region near the Afghan border. The missile attack has been called “one of the largest attacks carried out so far” and a backlash is expected because recently the military had clearly said they had not given any tacit approval for the Americans to conduct such a strike and there is tremendous opposition inside Pakistan.” The attacks have often resulted in civilian deaths, stirring anger among Pakistanis and even bolstering support for the Taliban and anti-U.S. sentiment.

Unconfirmed were area tribesmen’s claims that they had shot down at least two U.S. drones in the past. The U.S. never confirms drone attacks but its forces in neighboring Afghanistan and the Central Intelligence Agency are the only ones known to use the unmanned aircraft capable of firing missiles.

The U.S. has increased drone attacks inside Pakistan since a suicide bomber crossed over the Pakistani border and killed seven CIA employees in an attack in eastern Afghanistan on December 30. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/201023125741180461.html
February 5
Thousands of Pakistanis on Thursday staged protest rallies in several cities against the Wednesday conviction in a New York court of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui. She was found guilty of trying to kill American service members in Afghanistan. Many believe Aafia Siddiqui is innocent. She had disappeared for five years before her arrest in Afghanistan in 2008.
February 5
Twenty-two people died after two bomb blasts hit the Pakistani city of Karachi, apparently targeting Shia Muslims marking a religious ceremony. A bomb-laden motorcycle first exploded on a main road in the city as a bus carrying Shia worshippers passed on Friday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 40 others. The second blast went off outside the hospital where the wounded were being taken, reportedly killing another 10 people.
February 5
Political parties and religious groups across Pakistan are holding rallies in support of the separatist movement in Kashmir. On Friday, Indian troops sealed off neighborhoods in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir and arrested dozens of activists to block planned protests over the death of a Muslim boy. The 14-year-old child died after being struck by a teargas shell fired by police on Sunday during a separatist demonstration.

Kashmir ─ predominantly Muslim and Indian-administered ─ is claimed by both India and Pakistan. Anti-India sentiments run deep in the Himalayan region, where more than a dozen groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with neighboring Pakistan. Since 2008, Kashmiri separatists have been holding regular rallies, which often turn violent. In that period more than 60 protesters have died, most of the deaths resulting from police fire. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/02/2010258817644962.html
February 5
At least 27 people have died and more than 75 suffered injuries after two explosions in the Iraqi city of Karbala. Hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims observed at this major religious rite. Friday’s attack came on the final and most important day of the Arbaeen festival and was the third major strike this week against Iraq’s Shia Muslim pilgrims. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/20102595844693762.html

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Con Amend Check Corp $ speech ─ Rep. Donna Edwards

U.S. Congresswoman Donna Edwards this week introduced a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to “regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.”

The Article in two sections reads:

The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity. 
Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
Introduced in the 111th Congress, 2nd session, by Rep. Edwards of Maryland and co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr., of Michigan, House Joint Resolution 74 proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, subject to ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of submission.

House Joint Resolution 74 has been sent (February 2, 2010) to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards is a Representative from Maryland, a Member of U.S. Congress since June 17, 2008. She has been a lawyer and clerk for the District of Columbia Superior Court; and executive directors, respectively, for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Center for a New Democracy, and the Arca Foundation. She holds a doctorate of jurisprudence (JD) from Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N. H.; and a B.A. from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Resist war ‘policy of madness’ ─ McGovern ‘67 forward

Excerpts, editing for Today's Insight News by Carolyn Bennett  
We seem bent upon saving the Vietnamese from Ho Chi Minh, even if we have to kill them and demolish their country to do it… I do not intend to remain silent in the face of what I regard as a policy of madness which, sooner or later, will envelop my son and American youth by the millions for years to come.
Former Senator George Stanley McGovern was speaking in the Senate of the United States, April 25, 1967.

George McGovern was born in Avon, South Dakota (July 19, 1922), the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister. In his lifetime, he has been a World War II pilot, a University of South Dakota professor of history and government, a member (D-SD) of both the U.S. House of Representatives (1956-61) and the Senate (1963-81). He was a candidate for the U.S. presidency in 1972 and in the 1960s a stalwart opponent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

In 1968, he wrote A Time of War, A Time of Peace; in 2006, he wrote Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now. In 2000, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. McGovern is a prolific author and lecturer lauded for his “respect for the common man and his work on behalf of American farmers and hungry children throughout the world.” 

History keeps retreating, begging for progressive protest against a policy of madness. This week’s war news from Washington reports “‘Peace Prize’ President” Barack Obama has sent to Congress “the largest war budget ever published.” The administration unmasked its brazen embrace of military industries raising the heat in a murderous policy of madness:
Increasing defense spending to $708 billion
Further hemorrhaging war and occupation within and beyond Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan
Instead of dialoguing, paying resisters not to resist
Further militarizing, traumatizing, and destabilizing the Middle East/South-Central Asia with missiles and sea threats within and around Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait
Stronger arming Absolute Monarchy Saudi Arabia
Boosting U.S. nuclear threat, proliferating $5 billion, backing Iran farther into a corner while claiming global defense of the world “against Iran.”

McGovern Center for leadership and public service, http://www.mcgoverncenter.com/george.htm
American Quotations, Carruth and Ehrlich, Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography
News wires and Peoples' Voice, Democracy Now, Common Dreams, February 1, 2010