Local Stories, Events
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Books, Films, Arts & Education
07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]
07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]
07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]
07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]
07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]
07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]
07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]
07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]
07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]
07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn
07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]
07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]
07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]
07.16 As Trump Sows Discord, Chief of Staff Mulvaney Reportedly Focused on 'Building Empire for the Right Wing' [And the South shall rise again...]
07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]
07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]
07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]
07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]
07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
International & Futurism
07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]
07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]
07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]
07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]
07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]
07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]
07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]
07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]
Winter Soldiers testify
Marking the Fifth Anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq
The Winter Soldiers are fighting another battle here at home—for their sanity and for what's right, as they now see it, after what they witnessed in the military.Sun, 03/16/2008—On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the euphemistically named "Coalition," the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) held a gathering of Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in Silver Spring, Md. They spent the entire weekend testifying before an audience about the experiences that turned them against the war. Staunch patriots all, these brave men and women of principle were following the precedent of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War who met in Detroit in 1971 to testify about the atrocities and wrongs they witnessed, or committed, in their American war. As John Kerry, a leader of the VVAW, explained back then in an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "the term 'Winter Soldier' is a play on [the] words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough... We feel we have to be winter soldiers now...we have to speak out."
Joyce and Kevin Lucey told the story of how their son who returned couldn't be prevented from committing suicide because he was tormented by the memories of what he had done, and the VA hospital would not help him.
The soldier's "winter," the greatest test of endurance, is back here for every returning soldier tormented by things he or she witnessed overseas—memories of children shot in cars or blown apart by mines, of old women set on fire while carrying a big bag of groceries, of families guilty of nothing terrorized in their homes, of every taxi in Baghdad made a target by an arbitrary US command, of innocent Iraqi prisoners dying after days of suffering. It's not "easy" to forget any of that, but it's easier to try to get on with your life than to speak out about what you saw and take a stand against war, as these veterans have chosen to do. So the Winter Soldiers are fighting another battle here at home—for their sanity and for what's right, as they now see it, after what they witnessed in the military.
The testimony in Silver Spring was largely ignored by the mainstream media and not even covered even on progressive sites like CounterPunch, Common Dreams, Mother Jones, or In These Times. In the Washington Post it was covered, but in the B Section as a local story; there was also a brief AP story. As Jeff Cohen, of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), has pointed out, however, some independent media provided feeds of the event. "Democracy Now" with Amy Goodman covered it with highlights of the testimony, and KPFA Pacifica Radio broadcast all of it live, so that what Cohen calls "a significant minority of Americans" had access to it. If the mainstream media had provided some of that access, the effect might have been extraordinarily different, and there might be something more like the mood of this country in 1971. (The Winter Soldier conference can be viewed on the IVAW website.)
Indeed, reports indicate that today the mainstream media devotes only a tiny percentage of space to any aspect of the Iraq war. It has become less than a sound bite. The Democrats allude to getting out; the Republicans to staying in. But few want to talk about what's happening there, or what we've done, as the Winter Soldier speakers did. In sharp contrast, receiving widespread coverage, Vice President Cheney made a quick trip to Iraq and reported that "It's been a difficult, challenging, but nonetheless successful endeavor. We've come a long way in five years and it's been well worth the effort." Just a few words of wishful thinking are enough. Sen. McCain made a similar quick trip and a similar whitewash statement.
The Winter Soldier event, however underplayed in the media, was a powerful moment. On this fifth anniversary of America's Iraq invasion it shone a blindingly clear light on the realities of the invasion—on its ugliness and brutality. Notably, it shone light on a constantly changing and opportunistic set of Rules of Engagement. One soldier spoke of his men carrying shovels on patrol, because they were instructed to consider anyone shoveling hostile, so if they shot someone by accident, they'd throw a shovel on them so they could claim they followed the Rules of Engagement. The Winter Soldier speakers also made it abundantly clear that racist epithets like "Haji" for anyone in Iraq who is not "us" came from the top down, from the generals—as did the brutality of Iraq prisons shown in the film "Taxi to the Dark Side."
What went wrong
It's hard to know if the Iraq war has been more horrible than other wars. Obviously the public was sold on it through an unusually blatant pack of lies; but some of the atrocities described by Vietnam vets in 1971 sound more gruesome than the new ones from Winter Solder 2008. The fact is, brutality is brutality. Many other things are different from war to war. They are both unnecessary wars, but the differences between Vietnam and Iraq are great. One thing that's notably different about Iraq is that the US "won" the war there almost immediately—and then preceded to lose it again thereafter during the five chaotic years (so far) of occupation that have followed.
The "Shock and Awe" invasion brought down Saddam Hussein's hated regime in a matter of days and military victory took little more than three weeks to achieve. But beginning with the Provisional Authority headed by L. Paul Bremer III, the US occupation of Iraq was spectacularly mismanaged. It's impossible to say how much incidental American brutality and cultural insensitivity might have still been tolerated by the Iraqi people if order had been maintained; if the ministries and the national library and archaeological museum had been saved and the looting held in check; if the hospitals had been re-supplied, electrical generators and water purification restored; if top-ranking military cadres had not been arbitrarily banished and de-Baathification not begun.
Of course proper handling of the immediate and long-term aftermath of the invasion would have required prior planning that did not exist. If there was anything that could be done wrong, it was done. This seems very different from Vietnam: in Iraq the US in effect created the very kind of counterinsurgency that American troops were sent to Vietnam to fight. US forces have stayed on in Iraq in an increasingly chaotic and dangerous situation on the pretense of maintaining security and creating a democracy, while increasing hostility, instability, and general chaos through their presence.
This is what the Winter Soldiers witnessed, along with the brutal policies and racism against the Iraqis transmitted to them from their superiors. Iraq became and remains a very dangerous place. It is hard to conceive that it would be worse if the US withdrew. However, this does not seem likely to happen, because we went in, to an important degree, for the oil, and the oil remains. Again in contrast to Vietnam, the Iraqis don't seem unified by any particular aims, other than to get their country back and drive out the occupation.
America wouldn't just lose face by leaving Baghdad, as with Saigon, but would lose a strategic location—except that, in political terms, that location is long gone.Unlike Vietnam, the US still wants to keep its hands on Iraqi resources. America wouldn't just lose face by leaving Baghdad, as with Saigon, but would lose a strategic location—except that, in political terms, that location is long gone. Another big difference from Southeast Asia: the US's addictive connection to a nearby country, Israel—an allegiance beyond all reason, which alienates America from the vast majority of the populations of the Middle East.
So there are two ways of looking at the Iraq war and occupation (and the general failure in Afghanistan), the one that is humanitarian and the one that is cool and calculating. Either way it is hard to see the benefit of continued occupation, but hard to imagine Washington making any dramatic shifts, regardless of the suffering of the Iraqis and Afghans and of American veterans. Some things, like supporting the Zionist state and holding onto the sources of Middle East oil, are more important than either human decency or rational thought.
©Chris Knipp 2007. Chris Knipp, of San Francisco, writes about movies, politics and art on his blogsite.
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This story was published on March 20, 2008.