Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Time Capsule 04.25.08

Don't Tell Me This Town Ain't Got No Heart!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The U.S. Role In Haiti's Food Riots

By BILL QUIGLEY, Counterpunch

Riots in Haiti over explosive rises in food costs have claimed the lives of six people. There have also been food riots world-wide in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivorie, Egypt, Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The Economist, which calls the current crisis the silent tsunami, reports that last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16%, but since January rice prices have risen 141%. The reasons include rising fuel costs, weather problems, increased demand in China and India, as well as the push to create biofuels from cereal crops.

Hermite Joseph, a mother working in the markets of Port au Prince, told journalist Nick Whalen that her two kids are “like toothpicks” they’ re not getting enough nourishment. Before, if you had a dollar twenty-five cents, you could buy vegetables, some rice, 10 cents of charcoal and a little cooking oil. Right now, a little can of rice alone costs 65 cents, and is not good rice at all. Oil is 25 cents. Charcoal is 25 cents. With a dollar twenty-five, you can’t even make a plate of rice for one child.”

The St. Claire’s Church Food program, in the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood of Port au Prince, serves 1000 free meals a day, almost all to hungry children -- five times a week in partnership with the What If Foundation. Children from Cite Soleil have been known to walk the five miles to the church for a meal. The cost of rice, beans, vegetables, a little meat, spices, cooking oil, propane for the stoves, have gone up dramatically. Because of the rise in the cost of food, the portions are now smaller. But hunger is on the rise and more and more children come for the free meal. Hungry adults used to be allowed to eat the leftovers once all the children were fed, but now there are few leftovers.

The New York Times lectured Haiti on April 18 that “Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself.” Unfortunately, the article did not talk at all about one of the main causes of the shortages -- the fact that the U.S. and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for the heavily subsidized rice from U.S. farmers. This is not the only cause of hunger in Haiti and other poor countries, but it is a major force. Read On

The End of Cheap Food?

High Cost of Commodities Will Continue to Hit Developing World Hardest

The Washington Independent
By Mary Kane 04/23/2008

A sharp spike in prices for wheat, corn, rice and other staples has sparked riots in Mexico and Egypt, marches by hungry children in Yemen and the spectre of starving people in Haiti turning to mud pies for sustenance. This growing unrest is forcing the global community to focus on the causes of higher food costs and what can be done. But it's also raising the troubling possibility that cheap prices for food may be gone for good, an economic relic of the the past.

That scenario would be disastrous for the progress of fighting poverty in poor countries - and it would threaten to halt a long period of rising living standards in the United States tied directly to the inexpensive cost of food.


Should prices stay high, the effect will be felt most keenly in developing countries, as the recent food riots have shown. Impoverished families now pay 50 percent to 80 percent of their incomes for food. Continuing high prices for oil and corn threaten to undo any gains in reducing poverty made over the past decade, Zoellick said.

Josette Sheeran, head of the U.N.'s World Food Program, told The Economist that the effects of higher food prices in poor countries will be devastating:

“For the middle classes, it means cutting out medical care. For those on $2 a day, it means cutting out meat and taking the children out of school. For those on $1 a day, it means cutting out meat and vegetables and eating only cereals. And for those on 50 cents a day, it means total disaster.”

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The promise of globalization was that it could lift living standards for everyone. But if the world's hungry still can't be fed because food is no longer cheap, it's an empty promise. Read The Whole Piece Here

Read more about food riots going on around the world here, here, & here

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Land of the Free?

Inmate count in U.S. dwarfs other nations'

International Herald Tribune
By Adam Liptak
Published: April 23, 2008

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences. Read On

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Vets' Lawsuit Opens Door on Suicides, Poor Care

By Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO, Apr 22 (IPS) - The United States government does such a bad job of caring for wounded war veterans, advocates told a federal judge here Monday, that 18 veterans commit suicide every week.

"The suicide problem is out of control," said Gordon Erspamer, an attorney representing the groups Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). "Our veterans deserve better."

Erspamer's comments came in opening arguments for what is expected to be a week-long trial, the first class action brought on behalf of 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Early arguments were punctuated by allegations top government officials deliberately deceived the U.S. public about the number of veterans attempting suicide. Read On

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Distressed war veterans get day in court

Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:10am EDT

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere who say they have systematically been denied proper medical care will get their day in federal court starting on Monday in San Francisco.

The lawsuit before a judge in U.S. District Court for Northern California claims the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was unable to deal with the growing number of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, cases emerging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families, and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system and other social services in our communities," the suit said. Read On

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Credit crunch? The real crisis is global hunger. And if you care, eat less meat

A food recession is under way. Biofuels are a crime against humanity, but - take it from a flesh eater - flesh eating is worse

George Monbiot The Guardian,
Tuesday April 15 2008

Never mind the economic crisis. Focus for a moment on a more urgent threat: the great food recession that is sweeping the world faster than the credit crunch. You have probably seen the figures by now: the price of rice has risen by three-quarters over the past year, that of wheat by 130%. There are food crises in 37 countries. One hundred million people, according to the World Bank, could be pushed into deeper poverty by the high prices.

But I bet that you have missed the most telling statistic. At 2.1bn tonnes, the global grain harvest broke all records last year - it beat the previous year's by almost 5%. The crisis, in other words, has begun before world food supplies are hit by climate change. If hunger can strike now, what will happen if harvests decline?

There is plenty of food. It is just not reaching human stomachs. Of the 2.13bn tonnes likely to be consumed this year, only 1.01bn, according to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation, will feed people.

I am sorely tempted to write another column about biofuels. From this morning all sellers of transport fuel in the United Kingdom will be obliged to mix it with ethanol or biodiesel made from crops. The World Bank points out that "the grain required to fill the tank of a sports utility vehicle with ethanol ... could feed one person for a year". This year global stockpiles of cereals will decline by around 53m tonnes; this gives you a rough idea of the size of the hunger gap. The production of biofuels will consume almost 100m tonnes, which suggests that they are directly responsible for the current crisis. Read On

Food Shortages Threaten 100 Million

Wake Up!

Chicago Protesters Slapped With Felony Charges

Friday, April 18, 2008 By: John Beacham
Party For Socialism and Liberation

Criminal prosecution a pattern against anti-war protests

On March 23, six activists from Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War staged a die-in during Easter Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Ill. The protest was one of many direct actions that took place all across the country on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

Cardinal Francis George claimsanti-war protest with fake blood isan "act of violence."During the die-in, the activists spoke out against the war and spurted a packet of fake blood on themselves to dramatize the violent nature of the U.S. war on Iraq.

All six were arrested shortly after the anti-war action. They were later charged with felonies for criminal damage to property: Purportedly, some of the fake blood stained the carpet.
The outrageous charges against the six are a brazen attack against the anti-war movement meant to discourage protest.

At an impromptu press conference after the arrests, Cardinal Francis George suggested that the protesters were guilty of committing a violent act. George’s accusation is a preposterous stretch of reality. George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was conducting the Easter Mass at the time of the protest.

All major television news outlets in Chicago cover the holiday mass. The protest and arrests received widespread coverage in both the U.S. and world media.

The big-business media has completely vilified the young activists. But the six protesters are in no way criminals. They are right to take action against an unjust, murderous war based on lies—a war that is solely for profit and colonial domination.

The six protesters are Angela Haban, 20; Regan Maher, 25; Mercedes Phinaih, 18; Ephran Ramirez Jr., 22; Donte D. Smith, 21; and Ryane J. Ziemba, 25.

The felony charges leveled against the young activists are part of a pattern in the Chicago area.
On Jan. 7, four protesters were arrested during a demonstration against President Bush in Chicago. Their crime? Holding a banner in the street that read, “End the War and Occupation: Troops Home Now!” Three of the protesters were charged with disorderly conduct.

On Jan. 25, Andy Thayer, a well-known anti-war organizer in Chicago, was indicted by the Cook County Grand Jury on the felony charge of aggravated battery against a police officer. The charge carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

On May 26, 2007, two anti-war protesters, Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Hartfield, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct more than two weeks after they held a large sign on a bridge over the 335 Tollway in DuPage County, which borders Chicago. The sign read, “Impeach Bush and Cheney—Liars.”

The DuPage County prosecutor alleges that the two were throwing objects onto the tollway. Despite the utter falseness of the County’s claims, Zurawski and Hartfield have been fighting the charges for almost a year now. The trial is scheduled for June 9.

Unlike anti-war protesters who are being unjustly prosecuted in the Chicago area, President Bush, his appointees and the Pentagon generals are real-life criminals. Their war crimes against the Iraqi people would be quite easy to prosecute.

But Chicago-area officials and prosecutors are not concerned with justice. Their main intention is to preserve the status quo of war and class rule. With 80 percent of the U.S. population against the war and the current crisis deepening in all branches of the economy, the U.S. capitalist state is afraid that the anti-war movement might intensify.

Progressives and revolutionaries should demand that all charges against anti-war protesters in Chicago be immediately dropped.

U.S.-built wall fuels anger in Sadr City

Barrier intended to cut Baghdad attacks

Saturday, April 19, 2008 2:52 AM
By Lee Keath


BAGHDAD -- Followers of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the U.S. military's construction of a concrete wall through their Sadr City stronghold in Baghdad, the scene of clashes yesterday between militiamen and U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The wall, of varying height up to about 12 feet, is being built along a main street dividing the southern portion of Sadr City from the northern, where al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters are concentrated.

U.S. commanders hope that construction of the Sadr City wall, which began Tuesday, effectively will cut off insurgents' ability to move freely into the rest of Baghdad and hamper their ability to fire rockets and mortars at the Green Zone, the central Baghdad district where government offices and the U.S. Embassy are located.

The Sadrist movement stepped up its rhetoric yesterday, denouncing Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government as "just like Saddam Hussein's," and the Mahdi Army called on Iraqi troops to put down their weapons and stop fighting. Read On

I vote for constructing walls that effectively cut off the U.S. government's ability to slaughter innocent people. -EF Swagee

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One In Five US Servicemen Has Brain Injury

By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:26am BST 18/04/2008

The psychological toll of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has touched one in five servicemen and its consequences will be long-lasting, a study suggested yesterday.

The Rand Corporation, a leading research operation, said that 320,000 soldiers suffered brain injuries on the battlefield, while more than 300,000 suffered mental disorders on returning home.

The report said that US veterans are incurring "invisible wounds" of war, most notably traumatic brain injury. A survey of 1,926 soldiers represented a statistically significant sample of the 1.6 million troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, Rand said.

Roadside bombs were responsible for a vast number of injuries never fully diagnosed or treated in modern warfare, according to the report's authors.

It found that 19.5 per cent of the returning soldiers were reported to have experienced a "probable brain injury" during deployment but only 57 per cent of those had seen a doctor about the incident.

The report added there was a similar picture of mental health problems: "Among those who met diagnostic criteria for post traumatic stress disorder or major depression, only 53 percent had seen a physician or mental health provider to seek help for a mental health problem in the past 12 months."

Rand called for stronger support for veterans from the military's medical hierarchy. "There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Terri Tanielian, the lead researcher.

"Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation. Unfortunately, we found there are many barriers preventing them from getting the high-quality treatment they need.

Researchers predicted that 300,000 servicemen, or 18.5 per cent of those sent to fight, would suffer long-term depression or other mental health conditions.

Native chief seeks help of Venezuela's Chavez

He'll ask President to help stop profitable U.S.-bound oil pipelines

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
April 17, 2008 at 5:25 AM EDT

WINNIPEG — An outspoken Canadian native leader is urging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to throw his weight behind an attempt to block two multibillion-dollar pipelines that will transport oil from Alberta to the United States.

Terrance Nelson, chief of the Roseau First Nation in Manitoba, met last week with officials at the Venezuelan embassy in Ottawa and yesterday released a letter to Mr. Chavez in which he calls the President "a beacon of hope for poor and oppressed people everywhere." Read On

Free-Speeching In Waco, TX

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

America should fix its own house before destroying those of others

By The Daily Star Lebanon

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Every few weeks a story emerges from the heartland of the United States that serves to dispel the myth of an idyllic America. Mass shootings shatter university campuses, drug overdoses ruin lives, and, occasionally, religious fanatics convince dozens or even hundreds of people to do crazy things to themselves and their children. The latest example of the latter phenomenon comes from something called the "Yearn for Zion Ranch" at a place called Eldorado - just a few hours' drive from US President George W. Bush own famous spread in Crawford, Texas. Among other things, it seems, the "yearners" were forcing young girls to marry - and be raped by - much older men as soon as they reached puberty. The details of this particular cult are not important. What matters is that while successive US administrations have long assumed the right to judge the goings-on in far-flung nations - and to send troops to "fix" matters - all is far from well in America itself.

The problems are not limited to either Texas (although that state does seem to produce an inordinate number of social oddities) or religious extremism. As the continuing crisis stemming from the over-use and fraudulent reselling of a quintessentially American financial product, the "subprime mortgage," indicates, at least some of the stuffed suits on Wall Street are out of control, too. And where might they have got their inspiration for recklessness on such a gargantuan scale? Perhaps from a federal government that has borrowed so much money to avoid taxing the wealthy that its crumbling currency has helped stoke inflation around the world, one that has connived to saddle future generations of its own citizens with the multi-trillion-dollar bill for a botched war in Iraq, one whose studied disregard for international law has undermined America's reputation everywhere.

It is too late for Bush. His presidency will be over, thankfully, in less than a year, and he has never been the sort to learn from his mistakes, especially since he has never had to pay for any of them with his own money. He might be convinced to preach a little less and to at least acknowledge some of the problems created and exacerbated on his watch, but he will not have much input on fixing them.

That task will fall to his successor, and it will not be an easy one. Apart from having to clean up various messes in America, the next occupant of the White House will have to start rebuilding the country's international reputation. Thanks to Bush and the neoconservative miscreants who concocted so many of his most corrosive and destructive policies, allies have been alienated, enemies have been emboldened, and multilateral institutions have been gutted. Foreign governments and their citizens are far less likely these days to give the United States the benefit of the doubt, and their questions go beyond mere matters of method: There is less confidence than ever in America's basic intentions, largely because of the contempt and mendacity that have been the true pillars of the "Bush Doctrine." Rarely has one leader's legacy forced his successor to start with so many handicaps.

Never Give Up The Fight!

Military Releases High Casualty Figures

Department Of Defense's Latest Numbers: 31,590 Troops Wounded On Battle Field

April 14, 2008

(CBS) CBS News investigative producer Pia Malbran wrote this story for

The Department of Defense has released its latest American military casualty numbers for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the figures reveal non-fatal casualties that go well beyond the more than 4,000 U.S. troops who have died so far.

As of April 5, a total of 36,082 members of the U.S. military have been wounded in action and killed in Iraq, since the beginning of the war in March 2003, and in Afghanistan, where the war there began in October 2001.

The 36,082 number breaks down to 4,492 deaths and 31,590 wounded. According to the same DoD "casualty" counts, an additional 38,631 U.S. military personnel have also been removed from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan for "non-hostile-related medical air transports."

"That's a tremendous number," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of the advocate group Veterans for Common Sense, who believes these latest figures paint a more realistic picture of the true cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. He is concerned troop casualties, including those who have been wounded, killed and medically transported, is now nearing 75,000. Read On

Monday, April 14, 2008

IRAQ: Five Years On, Fallujah in Tatters

By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*
Inter Press Service News Agency

FALLUJAH, Apr 14 (IPS) - Fallujah remains a crippled city more than two years after the November 2004 U.S.-led assault.

Unemployment, and lack of medical care and safe drinking water in the city 60 km west of Baghdad remain a continuous problem. Freedom of movement is still curtailed. The city suffered two devastating U.S. military attacks during 2004. Many of the buildings were destroyed, or heavily damaged. Several collapsed under the heavy bombing, and were never rebuilt. The heaps of concrete slabs and piles of rubble remain where they were.

"We wonder why we have been targeted by Americans since the first days of the occupation," Dr. Mohammad Abed from al-Anbar University told IPS. "This city sacrificed thousands of its citizens through five years of occupation just because they said 'no' to a project that threatens their country's future."

Now a less visible form of destruction is being spread, he said. "The new wave of destruction is represented by tearing the social tissue apart. The Americans are paying tremendous amounts of money to get people of Fallujah to fight each other."

The road into Fallujah from the main Amman-Baghdad highway is safer today, but nobody is allowed into Fallujah who is not from the city and can prove it by providing elaborate identity documentation. That can only be obtained by undergoing biometric identification by the U.S. military -- a process which includes retina scans, body searches and finger-printing before issuance of a bar-coded ID badge. The city remains sealed.

Many residents refer to it as a big jail.

"Being sealed for five years, Fallujah has lost all aspects of natural life," Ahmad Hamid, a former member of the city council told IPS. READ ON

Ignition Point? Another Defining Moment In Iraq

Counterpunch Weekend Edition April 12/13 2008

When the Battle of Basra opened on Mar. 25, President Bush described it as a "defining moment" for the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Within days, however, the White House was scrambling to distance itself from the shellacking the Iraqi Army took at the hands of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

As the Iraqi Army disintegrated in Basra and Baghdad-plus Kut, Amarah, Nasiryah, and Diwaniya, the provincial capitals of four important southern provinces- the Washington Post was quoting administration officials "speaking anonymously" claiming that Maliki "decided to launch the offensive without consulting his U.S. allies."

But as historian and author Gareth Porter points out in the Asia Times, the claim is ludicrous. In fact, the Administration's fingerprints were all over the operation.

"No significant Iraqi military action can be planned without a range of military support functions being undertaken by the U.S. command," Porter argues. When Maliki attacked Basra, U.S. military spokesman, Col. Bill Buckner, announced that "coalition forces" were "providing intelligence, surveillance and support aircraft for the operation."

When the Iraqi Army found itself in trouble, U.S. aircraft bombed and strafed targets in Baghdad and Basra, and U.S. Special Forces teamed up with the Iraqi Army to kill "22 suspected militants" in Basra, according to the U.S. Command. U.S. soldiers also sealed off Sadr City in Baghdad. Lastly, U.S. military's Transition Teams are so deeply embedded in every unit of the Iraq Army that the latter can't spit without getting an okay.

It is increasingly obvious that the White House planned the entire operation. The genesis of the Mar. 25 attack goes back to last August, when Muqtada declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Americans and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's (ISCI) militia, the Badr Brigade. The ceasefire is a major reason why civilian and U.S. casualties have fallen over the past six months.

Maliki's Dawa Party and his allies in the ISCI, have long been at loggerheads with Muqtada over three major issues.

First, Muqtada is a nationalist and deeply opposed to the U.S. occupation, while Maliki and the ISCI's leader, Abdelaziz al-Hakim, support the presence of U.S. troops as a shield against the nationalists. READ ON

Free-Speeching In Phoenix

IRAQ-From One Dictator To The Next

Analysis by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

BAGHDAD, Apr 12 (IPS) - Many Iraqis have come to believe that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is just as much a dictator as Saddam Hussein was.

"Al-Maliki is a dictator who must be removed by all means," 35-year-old Abdul-Riza Hussein, a Mehdi Army member from Sadr City in Baghdad told IPS. "He is a worse dictator than Saddam; he has killed in less than two years more than Saddam killed in 10 years."

Following the failed attempt by the U.S.-backed al-Maliki to crack down on the Mehdi Army militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the situation in Iraq has become much worse. Iraq appears to be splintering more widely under this rule than under Saddam's.

Fierce fighting has broken out between Sadr's Mehdi Army and Maliki's army and police forces in Baghdad, which comprise mostly the Badr Organisation militia, the armed wing of the political group, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). Read On

Sunday, April 13, 2008

DuPage Free Speech Case NOT Dismissed!

posted by Jeff Zurawski

As you may have heard by now or read about in the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Sun-Times Publications, and Suburban Life, the hearing last Thursday didn’t go the way we hoped it would.

We maintain, and our lawyer Shawn Collins argued, the police had no probable cause to arrest us. The judge disagreed, presumably based on testimony given by the State’s only witness, Charles Hardin, the truck driver who called 911 after he drove past Sarah and I demonstrating. A tape recording of Mr. Hardin’s 911 call was played in court. Here’s the transcript:

Zurawski/Hartfield 911 Call May 6, 2007
Operator: 911.
Hardin: Yeah, I’d like to report uh, I’ve got two youths ... I’m going southbound on 355 at the 26th and a half mile marker 26th ½ to 27 mile marker. There’s a bridge that goes over 355 I’ve got two youths up there hanging a bunch of uh, a bunch of junk that looks like they’re hanging shit off of that bridge.
Operator: Let’s see, what road is that north of?
Hardin: Uh, I believe that would be north of Roosevelt?
Operator: Okay, do you have it kind of by that train bridge that goes overhead there? Like the prairie path possibly?
Hardin: Right, right. It’s north of the train bridge. You can see the train bridge if you’re going underneath the bridge that they’re standing on and it would be in between Roosevelt and North Avenue. [pause] It looks like it’s a pedestrian walkway.
Operator: Yeah. And do you have any idea what they were hanging off of it?
Hardin: It looked like they had maybe some flags or something they were hanging off of it. And they were acting like they were throwing stuff at the windshields and, I-I didn’t have anything hit my windshield but, you know, I’m a uh, I’m on my way to work right now, I’m a truck driver and whenever I see that that kind of scares me because...
Operator: Right.
Hardin: I’ve seen a lot of people get injured real, really bad from, you know, kids tossing rocks and other stuff off the bridges.
Operator: Uh-hum. What’s your last name?
Hardin: My last name is Hardin. H-A-R-D-I-N.
Operator: First name?
Hardin: Charles.
Operator: And your phone number is {censored by jeff}?
Hardin: Yes.
Operator: Okay, we will go ahead and get them out there.
Hardin: Thank you very much.
Operator: No problem.
Hardin: Bye.

Considering that Sarah and I did not have our signs “hanging off that bridge” and did not act like we were “throwing stuff at the windshields,” it’s inconceivable we were arrested on a disorderly conduct charge alleging we “knowingly without a county permit, staged a war protest on the Great Western Trail overpass in unincorporated DuPage County, Illinois causing the vehicles on the highway (I355) to swerve causing a traffic disturbance because unknown objects were being thrown on the expressway, as well as the American flag being displayed in an upside down manner from the overpass.”

Bewildered? Me, too!

Even more astonishing than the fact that Charles Hardin’s false report to 911 contradicts the false charge on which Sarah and I were arrested, is that Hardin testified under oath on Thursday that he saw "everyone trying to get out of the middle lane. It was an erratic -- not normal -- traffic pattern.” And that, “We came almost to a crawl.” All three statements are false.

Remembering that over a million innocent people have been senselessly killed or injured and millions more have fled their homes to escape the extreme violence in Iraq during the U.S.-led “war” that started based on a pack of lies, I suppose a prosecution without merit shouldn’t surprise us.

The judge set a trial date for Monday, June 9th. We’ll probably have another rally on the Thursday or Friday before then. In the meantime, we’ll be speaking at the next DuPage Against War Now meeting ( )and at the York Township Democrats meeting ( Please join us if you’d like to discuss the case’s latest developments.

As Always, Keep the Faith!

Police State Rising, pt 2

Out of Control Police Brutalize 64-year-old Man

Authority Teaching Our Children To Use Violence To Resolve Conflict.

Michael Moore Exposes Police Brutality & Racism

Woman Pulled Over For Speeding Dragged Out of Vehicle At Gunpoint By Crazed Trooper

Police Celebrate Shooting Woman Engaged In Peaceable Assembly

Say "Fuck Bush" in Public, Get Arrested

Iraq debate gets surreal

Sunday, April 13, 2008 The Detroit News
Eugene Robinson

No, it's not your imagination: The "debate" about Iraq, and I use the word loosely, becomes ever more surreal as the occupation drags on.

I don't blame Gen. David Petraeus or Ambassador Ryan Crocker for their stay-the-course recommendation this week on Capitol Hill. Generals and diplomats should do what our elected leaders tell them to do -- having covered South America, I can attest that the alternative is not pretty -- and George W. Bush is indeed the Decider when it comes to Iraq policy. For now, at least.

Of course, Bush long ago lost any credibility with Congress and the American people on Iraq. It's understandable that he hides behind Petraeus' breastplate of medals and Crocker's thatch of gray hair, sending these loyal and able public servants to explicate the inexplicable: What realistic goal is the United States trying to achieve in Iraq? And in what parallel universe is this open-ended occupation making our nation safer?

Even the most basic question of any war is undefined: Who is the enemy? It was almost painful listening to Petraeus as he faced reporters Thursday and was asked whether Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army were friend or foe. His tortured answer, translated into English, was yes. Read On

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Refugees Fight Forced Return To Iraq War Zones

UN dismay as tribunal allows British expulsions

Jamie Doward, home affairs editor
The Observer,
Sunday April 13 2008

This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday April 13 2008 on p4 of the News section. It was last updated at 00:07 on April 13 2008.

The United Nations last night accused the government of holding a 'sword of Damocles' over the heads of Iraqi refugees in Britain after it emerged that the Home Office had won a landmark test case giving it the power to return refugees to war-torn parts of their home country, including Basra and Baghdad.

The ruling, which is being studied closely by other European countries, has alarmed refugee support groups, who say it means asylum seekers from war zones could be returned to other dangerous countries, such as Somalia.

The Refugee Legal Centre has launched an urgent appeal against the ruling by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, which it says paves the way for the removal of the majority of Iraqi asylum seekers in the UK.

'If we didn't appeal the tribunal's decision, the government would have a free hand to forcibly remove hundreds of Iraqi civilians to Baghdad,' said Caroline Slocock, chief executive of the legal centre.

The test case, the culmination of a series of legal challenges that started last year, hinged on a European Council directive guaranteeing refugees the right to protection in the UK if their return to their native country meant a 'serious threat to their life' because of 'international or internal armed conflict'.

The UK has been returning Iraqis to the north of their country for some time. But the test case is considered pivotal in legal circles in defining what protection should be given to refugees fleeing war zones. Neither the Refugee Convention nor the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees refugees from war zones the right to remain in the UK, whereas the council directive was considered to offer them a much higher level of protection.

But following the tribunal's decision, the government now has the power to remove anyone to any part of Iraq. 'We are pleased that the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has agreed with our view and found that conditions in Iraq are such that an ordinary individual Iraqi civilian is not at serious risk from indiscriminate violence,' a spokesman for the Home Office said.

'We will continue to consider every asylum and human rights claim on its individual merits in accordance with our international obligations. We will ensure that we continue to monitor the situation in Iraq carefully so that our asylum and human rights decisions continue to reflect the latest available information.'

The government argued at the tribunal that there was no 'internal armed conflict' in Iraq as defined by the directive. And Home Office lawyers successfully argued the general risks to the refugee in the test case - a man known as KH - were not sufficient for him to be granted protection.

The tribunal ruling has wide implications for Iraqi asylum seekers. It stated: 'Neither civilians in Iraq generally, nor civilians even in provinces and cities worst affected by the armed conflict, can show they face a "serious and individual threat" to their "life or person"... merely by virtue of being civilians.'

The ruling has prompted a strong reaction from the UN, which has urged the government not to start sending people back to the most dangerous parts of Iraq. 'We strongly advise against the return of anyone to central or southern Iraq,' said Jacqueline Parlevliet, deputy representative with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 'As things now stand a sword of Damocles hangs over the head of every Iraqi in the UK. The way this ruling has been phrased means their protection needs are no longer recognised by the Home Office.'

The government's decision to argue for its right to return Iraqis has highlighted its increasingly tough line on asylum issues. Before 2003 the government recognised that people fleeing war zones could be granted a limited period of leave to remain in the UK until the situation improved.
But the Home Office scrapped the policy in 2004 amid concerns it acted as a 'pull factor' which encouraged asylum claims. Although the government recently started accepting Iraqis' asylum claims if they had worked for the British military, it is reluctant to allow other Iraqis to remain.

The European Council for Refugees and Exiles has found 13 per cent of Iraqis' asylum claims were approved in the first instance in the UK last year compared with 82 per cent in Sweden and 85 per cent in Germany. Last year just over 500 Iraqis were allowed to remain in the UK. 'Despite its active role in the region, the UK has given very little support to Iraqis,' Slocock said.
More than two million people have fled Iraq since 2003.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Freewayblogger

Brilliant 1st Amendment exercises!

Want more inspiration? Check this out:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

U.S. Destroys Iraq, Wants Iraqis To Pay To Rebuild

I am fired up this morning!

U.S. leadership is saying Iraqis should pay to rebuild their country:

Democrats plan to push legislation this spring that would force the Iraqi government to spend its own surplus in oil revenues to rebuild the country, sparing U.S. dollars.

Let's not forget, Iraqis did not invite the U.S. to destroy their infrastructure, homes, schools, hospitals, churches, and museums, etc. Iraqis weren't given an opportunity to vote on whether they wanted the U.S. to attack, invade, and occupy their country. And U.S. politicians expect Iraqis to pay to fix the damage. That's so fucking wrong!

Top Democrats are also saying the U.S. must pressure Iraq's government to achieve reconciliation:

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said pausing troop reductions would signal to the Iraqis that the United States was committed to the war indefinitely.

"Rather, we need to put continuous and increasing pressure on the Iraqis to settle their political differences, to pay for their own reconstruction with their oil windfalls, and to take the lead in conducting military operations," said Levin, D-Mich.

My stomach turns every time I hear the U.S. needs to pressure Iraqis. Haven't they been pressured enough? Seriously, I'd say it takes a lot of fucking pressure to cause the one million civilian deaths that occurred during the past several years and the refugee crisis in which 4.5 million people or nearly 1/5 of Iraq's population have fled their homes.

Yah, Carl, just what the Iraqis need, more pressure. Don't you see? The U.S. military presence and political influence prohibit reconciliation. The conflicts in Iraq will never be settled until the U.S. gets out of there, completely.

U.S. Out of the Middle East! Iraq for Iraqis!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Iraqis angered by renewal of Blackwater contract

05 Apr 2008 14:47:51 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Khalid Al-Ansary

BAGHDAD, April 5 (Reuters) - Iraqis expressed anger on Saturday at news the United States had renewed the contract of Blackwater, a private security firm blamed for killing up to 17 people in a shooting incident last year.

"Renewing this contract means we will see this sort of thing again in the streets," Abbas Hasoun, a grocer, said. "I wish we could turn the page on this, but keeping this company here means bloodshed will continue."

A traffic policeman who said he was questioned in Turkey by the FBI about the shooting was patrolling on Saturday the same busy traffic circle where the incident took place.

"I went to Turkey and testified about what I saw, but all my efforts were in vain when I heard the news," said the policeman who asked that his name not be published for security reasons.
Read On

West Coast Salmon Fishery Collapsing

US mulls Pacific salmon fishing ban

By Rajesh Mirchandani
BBC News, California and Oregon
Thursday, 3 April 2008 12:03 UK

The US government will decide next week whether to issue a complete season-long ban on salmon fishing off the Pacific coast of the US.

The proposal comes in response to a drastic collapse in fish stocks.

But fishermen's groups say it will devastate their industry and cost the local economy billions of dollars.

With a light hand on the steering wheel, captain Phil Bentivegna guides his boat, Butchie B, out of San Francisco harbour.

He has worked on the ocean for 41 years, many of them in his current role, running charter tours for sports fishing enthusiasts.

We pass dozens of other such boats, testament to this important part of San Francisco's tourist infrastructure.

But the fishing tour business is quiet these days. In fact, Mr Bentivegna tells me: "Last year was probably the slowest year I have ever had for catching salmon." Read On

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Iraq's Sadr calls for million-strong march against U.S

Thu Apr 3, 2008 9:53am EDT

By Peter Graff and Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Thursday for 1 million Iraqis to march against U.S. "occupation" next week after his Mehdi Army militia battled U.S. and government troops.

The government said it would not attempt to block the march if it was peaceful although Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who ordered a crackdown on militia in the southern city of Basra last week, threatened more strikes against Sadr's strongholds.

A statement released by Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf called on Iraqis of all sects to descend on the southern city, site of annual Shi'ite pilgrimages that attract hundreds of thousands of worshippers.

"The time has come to express your rejections and raise your voices loud against the unjust occupier and enemy of nations and humanity, and against the horrible massacres committed by the occupier against our honorable people," it said. Read On

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

ACLU: Dept. of Defense Using FBI To Spy On Citizens

Newly Unredacted Documents Confirm Lack Of Oversight Of Military's Domestic Surveillance Powers

CONTACT: (212)549-2666;

Records Released In ACLU's National Security Letters Lawsuit

NEW YORK - On the heels of an internal report criticizing the FBI for abusing its power to issue National Security Letters (NSLs), newly unredacted documents released today as a result of an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit reveal that the Department of Defense (DoD) is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL power and may have overstepped its authority to obtain private and sensitive records of people within the United States without court approval. The previously withheld records also reveal that the military is secretly accessing these private records without providing training, guidance, or any real recordkeeping.

"It looks like the Defense Department is evading the legal limits placed on the military's surveillance powers by simply getting the FBI to do its bidding," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "If the Defense Department is asking the FBI to get information it is not allowed to access on its own, there is a serious problem within both agencies. Clearly these agencies cannot police themselves - the time has come for less secrecy, stricter guidelines, and meaningful oversight to ensure that the NSL power is not abused anymore." Read On

A People's History of American Empire by Howard Zinn