On my new radio show, Playing for Keeps, my co-hosts Adam Ericksen, Suzanne Ross and I will have the pleasure of interviewing global peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly. The show will be on Monday, May 21, at 11 a.m. Central time.
NATO is visiting Chicago next week and so are nonviolent protestors from around the globe. While the NATO powers are in town, we are delighted to bring you two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, who has been speaking truth to power for decades. Kathy is the coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has witnessed for peace in Gaza, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
I have several reading/speaking engagements coming up related to my new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound: On Sunday, April 24, I will be speaking at Mothers Trust, in Ganges, Michigan. On May 6, I will be reading at the Quaker Friends meetinghouse in Lake Forest, Illinois. Specific details coming soon. In addition, I will be moderating a panel discussion following a showing of the film Concrete, Steel and Paint at 6 p.m. Friday, April 15, at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, 1870 Campus Drive, on the school’s Evanston campus.
By Robert C. Koehler
Whatever the strategic — and humanitarian — considerations behind NATO/U.S. intervention in Libya, a larger force utterly indifferent to both, and seldom sufficiently newsworthy to merit mention, unites tyrant and rescuer and keeps the world tangled in an endless cycle of hellish violence far beyond the scope of the conflict that generates it.
I’m talking about the global arms trade, for which wars large and small, whatever their cause, whatever their “legitimacy,” are necessities without which the goods would not move. They’re also more than that, but not the sort of thing we salute or honor with granite statuary.
Since there are now three conflicts in the greater Middle East; Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel /”Palestine” and maybe another Lebanese war in the offing, it might be a good idea to take a look at the cost of war. (Image)
Not the human cost – 80 lives a day in Iraq, unknown numbers in Afghanistan, one a day in Israel/”Palestine” (for now) – but the financial one. I’m still obsessed by the Saudi claim for its money back after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. Hadn’t Saudi Arabia, King Fahd reminded Saddam, financed his eight-year war against Iran to the tune of $25,734,469,885.80? For the custodian of the two holy places, Mecca and Medina, to have shelled out $25bn for Saddam to slaughter his fellow Muslims was pretty generous – although asking for that extra 80 cents was surely a bit greedy.
What does it mean that the New York Times, upon the occasion of President Obama’s announced drawdown of forces in Iraq last week, called our seven and a half years of invasion and occupation of the country “a pointless war”?
The editorial proceeded to do what Obama himself seemed to be under enormous political pressure to avoid: It skewered his predecessor, mildly perhaps, but repeatedly throughout the 645-word editorial: “the war made America less safe,” “it is important not to forget how much damage Mr. Bush caused by misleading Americans,” etc. The editorial even acknowledged an Iraqi death toll: “at least 100,000.”
Why am I underwhelmed — disturbed, even — by this evidence of mainstream disavowal of the disastrous war that had such overwhelming support at its bloody, shock-and-awe onset?
On Monday, the Israeli military attacked and boarded one of the Turkish aid ships sailing to Gaza as part of a flotilla, killing 19 and injuring many more. As this occurred in international waters, it is not only an act of piracy but could also be construed as an ‘act of war’. This attack on unarmed civilian men and women illustrates the moral depths to which Israel has sunk. An Al Jazeera reporter on board the vessel says the Israelis fired live bullets even after a white flag was hoisted. This atrocity and the potential fall-out should merit loud condemnation from the international community … but don’t hold your breath! We have yet to witness the extent of Turkey’s response.
Why are so many nations bending to Israel’s will or staying silent on its crimes? What is it about this minuscule country that enables it to have so much control on decisions made by larger and more powerful nations? It refuses to abide by international laws and treaties. It illegally occupies great swathes of Palestinian land and it’s imposing an illegal blockade on Gaza. Moreover, it is the only country that could get away with assassinating its enemies on foreign soil.
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Florida) has been waging his own war on corporate insurance forces determined to maintain the fiscal “slaver’s whip” by proposing a straightforward public option plan through the existing Medicare network. Rather than the 2,000-plus-page proposal endorsed by the president; Grayson’s bill is a robust … 4 pages.
In short, he proposes to extend Medicare benefits to anyone from birth to age 64 with a simple “buy-in. ”
In the past year, in response to emerging independent science on the 9/11 attacks, nine corporate, seven public, and two independent media outlets aired analytic programs investigating the official account. Increasingly, the issue is treated as a scientific controversy worthy of debate, rather than as a “conspiracy theory” ignoring science and common sense.
This essay presents these media analyses in the form of 18 case studies.
In my last column, I reviewed the military implications if the United States and Israel launched an attack on Iran. I will now discuss the types of weapons likely to be used and the catastrophic contamination of the entire Middle East region and the world that would result should they be foolish enough to proceed.
As with the “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad, many missiles are likely to be fired from naval vessels located in the north of the Persian Gulf. Many of these missiles contain uranium components and would form part of an initial attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran.
The media are awash with talking heads bloviating about the top stories of the last decade. The wired-in society. The growth of organic food. The new frugality. This is the ritual that reveals their true function in the culture: pacification. It’s their way of signaling the masses that Bigger Thinkers are looking after things, so go back to your Wii or Survivor or Facebook reveries.
The amazing thing is how little is ever mentioned about the stories that really mattered, those that affected the very nature of our society, its institutions, and the relation of the people to their state and society. Those stories paint a picture of danger, of a people who have lost control of their government and the corporations that own it. But you’ll hear nary a word about such difficult truths from any storyteller in the conventional media.
So here, in no particular order, are my Top Ten Stories of the Naughties, the ones that really matter.
In Afghanistan, if the US military thinks you might be connected to the drug trade, they can simply shoot you on sight.
Over in Afghanistan, the locals have once again displayed their backwardness, this time by objecting to the US military’s compilation of a hit list: a register of suspected drug lords for army units to kill on sight. Afghan officials object that foreign troops summarily executing people identified as criminals via secret evidence will — get this! — undermine the local justice system.
The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country’s future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.
The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. Continue reading →
Defense contractors Titan and CACI narrowly avoided liability over claims that their agents abused detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The D.C. Circuit ruled 2-1 that the contractors, as wartime agents of the U.S. military, can’t be sued under state tort laws.
The ruling affirms dismissal of claims against Titan, but reverses a decision to allow Iraqi detainees and their relatives to sue CACI.