Thursday, May 29, 2008

U.S. Rejects Global Ban On Cluster Bombs

Global cluster munitions ban agreed, U.S. absent
28 May 2008 21:15:24 GMT
Source: Reuters
(adds U.S. quotes, background)

By Andras Gergely

DUBLIN, May 28 (Reuters) - A draft treaty for a worldwide ban on cluster munitions was adopted on Wednesday although major powers including the United States did not attend the meeting.

The Dublin gathering attended by more than 100 nations made the final step towards agreement after a promise from Britain to stop using the devices. Cluster bombs can cause indiscriminate injury long after a conflict has ended.

Diplomats and activists said the text built on the lessons from the 1997 treaty to ban landmines and it did not allow exceptions.

"It's a strong and robust prohibition on all known cluster munitions," Christian Ruge, a member of the Norwegian delegation, told Reuters after a meeting that Russia and China also did not attend.

The draft will be submitted to a plenary session on Friday but approval is now regarded as a formality. Unless any unexpected objections derail the process, the treaty is due to be signed in Oslo in December.

Cluster munitions open in mid-air and scatter as many as several hundred "bomblets" over a wide area. They often fail to explode, creating virtual minefields that can kill or injure anyone who finds them later, often curious children.

Despite the draft treaty, the United States said it still opposed a ban on cluster munitions.
Read On

Are You Kind?

President of Iraqi Oil Unions: Help Us End The Nightmare Of Occupation


Statement by Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions to 2008 Chevron and ExxonMobil Shareholder Meetings

by Hassan Juma'a Awad, President, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions c/o USLAW

On May 28, 2008, Chevron and ExxonMobil Corporations will each conduct their annual shareholder meetings. Chevron will convene its meeting at its world headquarters in San Ramon, CA. ExxonMobil will conduct its meeting in Dallas, Texas. Antiwar, environmental and other social justice organizations will conduct protests at each event.

The following statement from the Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq to the shareholders of each corporation will be presented at press conferences conducted in conjunction with these protests. The statement was transmitted by Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, to U.S. Labor Against the War for presentation at these events.

To: The Shareholders of ExxonMobil and Chevron Corporations and All Peace Loving People of the World

From: Hassan Juma’a Awad, President, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)

We call upon the governments, corporations and other institutions behind the ongoing occupation of Iraq to respond to our demands for real democracy, true sovereignty and self-determination, free of all foreign interference.

Five years of invasion, war and occupation have brought nothing but death, destruction, misery and suffering to our people. In the name of our “liberation,” more than a million of our citizens have been killed or wounded, our nation’s schools, hospitals and other infrastructure have been destroyed, our neighbourhoods have been bombed, our homes have been broken into, our children have been traumatized, many of our family members and neighbours have been assaulted and arrested, our national treasures have been looted, and nearly twenty percent of our people have been turned into refugees.

The continued occupation fuels the violence in Iraq rather than alleviating it. The occupation has helped to foment and then exploit sectarian divisions and terror attacks where there had been none.

The Ba’athist legislation of 1987, which banned trade unions in the public sector and public enterprises (80% of all workers), is still in effect and continues to be enforced against us. Our union offices have been raided. Union property has been seized and destroyed. Our bank accounts have been frozen. Our leaders have been beaten, arrested, abducted and assassinated. Our rights as workers are routinely violated. This is an attack on our rights and the basic precepts of a democratic society. It is a grim reminder of the shadow of dictatorship still stalking our country.

We call upon you and all the world’s peace-loving peoples to help us to end the nightmare of occupation and restore our sovereignty and national independence so that we can chart our own course to the future.

We demand an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from our country, and utterly reject the agreement being negotiated with the USA for long-term bases and a military presence. Iraq must be returned to full sovereignty.

We demand the passage of a labour law promised by our Constitution, that adheres to ILO principles to protect the rights of workers to organize, bargain and strike, independent of state control and interference and on which Iraqi trade unionists have been fully consulted.

We demand an end to meddling in our sovereign economic affairs by the International Monetary Fund, the USA and UK, and multinational energy corporations, and recognition that no major economic decisions concerning our services and resources can be made while foreign troops occupy our country.

We demand that the US government, oil companies and others immediately cease lobbying for the oil law which would fracture the country and hand control over our oil to multinational companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron. We demand that all oil companies be prevented from entering into any long-term agreement concerning oil while Iraq remains occupied. The Iraqi government must tear up the current draft of the oil law, and begin to develop a legitimate oil policy based on full and genuine consultation with the Iraqi people.

Only after all occupation forces are gone should a long term plan for the development of our oil resources be adopted.

We seek your support and solidarity to help us end the military and economic occupation of our country.

We look forward to the day when we have a world based on co-operation and solidarity. We look forward to a world free from war, sectarianism, competition and exploitation.

May 28, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Days

By Jeff Zurawski

May 25th, 2008 marked the one-year anniversary of the day I was arrested several weeks after expressing a political opinion on a public walkway above a highway in DuPage County, IL. The completely bogus misdemeanor charge alleges I committed the offense of “disorderly conduct” because I “knowingly without a county permit, staged a war protest...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…”

( Click Here to read the whole story from its beginning. )

With strong support from our community, local activist groups, the international net-roots society, and the Collins Law Firm we’re still fighting the malicious prosecution, which has now entered its second year.

Over the holiday weekend, I exercised my recently regained freedom to leave the State of Illinois and visited a friend up in Wisconsin. Mostly I fished for walleyes and hunted for morel mushrooms.

I did make time to think about more important things like the death and suffering caused by the US-led military invasion of Iraq:

4084 U.S. troops have been killed and over 30,000 wounded. Department of Veterans’ Affairs coordinators have identified approximately 1,000 suicide attempts per month by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans under VA care. Roughly eighteen veterans commit suicide every week. 1.6 million (approx. 18-20%) veterans of those wars are suffering from psychological problems.

Depending on which source you believe, the number of Iraqi civilians who’ve died violently since the 2003 US-led military invasion is approximately 84,000, between 104,000-223,000, nearly 655,000, or over 1.2 million. An estimated 5 million Iraqis have fled their homes due to violence.

Simply staggering, especially knowing all that death and suffering resulted from unnecessary war of choice based on a pack of lies. Want to know more about Iraq war lies? Here’s a handy electronic gadget created by Mother Jones magazine: Lie by Lie Timeline.

Crossing the Illinois state line on my way back home, I remembered that I have a court date coming up on June 9th, 9:30am, building 505, room 4007 at the DuPage County court complex in Wheaton, IL. The case is set to go to trial. The trial won’t start until 1:30pm or later.

This whole situation is even more ironic after learning more about how it developed during the last hearing on April 10th when our lawyer argued there was no “probable cause” for our arrests.

In our case, the arresting officer established probable cause when he confirmed a motorist called 911 to report he was scared because he saw us “acting like they were throwing stuff at the windshields” then confirmed that allegation was at least possible when he responded to the call and saw us standing on the bridge.

In the United States of America, where freedom reigns, the Constitution’s 1st Amendment guarantees us the Right to express a political opinion in public. As citizens, it’s our duty to exercise that Right, especially when our government lies and leads us in the wrong direction. If you exercise that Right in DuPage County, IL you might find yourself arrested, jailed, and forced to defend yourself in court against criminal charges based solely on someone’s lies.

Worse yet, after we win the case (and I’m sure we will, eventually), the sickness that motivates a citizen to call 911 with a totally fake story to harass fellow citizens won’t magically disappear, nor will the sicknesses that cause law enforcement officials to pursue malicious prosecutions or governments to wage wars of aggression.

Please Keep The Faith!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ex-Guantanamo Inmate Finds Distracted Audience at U.S. Congress

by Fanny Carrier, Agence France-Presse
Wed May 21, 3:53 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A handful of US lawmakers gave only half an ear to the testimony on Tuesday of a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who spent nearly five years in prison before being released without charge.

Murat Kurnaz, a Turk who was born in Germany, was arrested during a trip to Pakistan in autumn 2001 and delivered to US authorities in exchange for a payment of 3,000 dollars.
Kurnaz spent several nightmarish weeks at the US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan before being transferred to the US "war on terror" camp at Guantanamo.

US authorities determined in 2002 that Kurnaz had no terror links, but claimed that he remained a danger because one of his friends had committed a suicide attack -- even though the friend in question is alive, and has never been found to have terror ties. Read On

A truly outrageous example of how the U.S. strips people of basic human rights.

United States Constitution, Amendment VI - Rights To A Fair Trial

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.......and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."

U.S. helicopter strike kills 8 Iraqi civilians

By Sabah al-Bazee

BAIJI, Iraq (Reuters) - A U.S. helicopter airstrike on Wednesday night killed eight civilians, including two children, north of Baghdad, police officials said on Thursday.

Colonel Mudhher al-Qaisi, police chief in the town of Baiji, said the attack was on a group of shepherds in a vehicle in a farming area. Relatives said some of those killed were fleeing on foot after the U.S. military arrived in the area.

"This is a criminal act. It will make the relations between Iraqi citizens and the U.S. forces tense. This will negatively affect security improvements," Qaisi told Reuters.

Read On

Another horrifying example of the United States violently stripping innocent people of their right to be alive. Please take a moment to consider how you might feel if an un-invited foreign military force killed your family members.

MIDEAST: The Anniversary Is Over, the Agony Is Not

By Mohammed Omer

RAFAH REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza, May 19 (IPS) - Holding up an old copper key, Yousef al-Hums settles down to retell the story of his eviction from what was once his home, and now is Israel. Because only the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel is over, the occupation of home of which al-Hums still keeps a key is not.

What was to Israel the creation of their nation is to Palestinians al-Nakba, meaning the catastrophe, of eviction from their homes and homeland. From that event now, it's 60 years, and counting.

Palestinian children do not learn of that event from history books, but from people like al-Hums. "We cannot return to our homes today," he tells his sons and about 50 of his grandchildren gathered around him, with the key raised. "But you are going to return to your grandfather's home in Yebna village."

That the home or the village does not exist any more only adds to the emotion around the upheld key. "Every day I pray that when I die I am buried on my land in Yebna," he says. "Those were the most beautiful days of my life. Everyone in our village supported every other."

Al-Hums got married in 1947 at age 15. And then in May 1948 it all changed.

"It was about 2am. We all had to run after we heard that the Haganah (a Jewish force at the time) had invaded our village." Like others, he fled with his wife to Gaza, the only exit route left. He barely survived, he said, and showed scars on his hand he said came from an attack by a British helicopter backing the Jewish forces.

Today, home is the Yebna refugee camp in Gaza, where he lives with his two wives, seven sons and the many grandchildren.

He has been back to the real Yebna twice, the first time in 1976 and the second in 2000. By the second visit, he said, nothing was left of the farm as he had known it. "They took away everything and all is destroyed," he said. Read On

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Egyptian foreign minister says US is fueling Middle East turmoil

(From Associated Press via Raw Story)

Staff AP News
May 19, 2008 19:33 EST

Egypt's foreign minister criticized President Bush' Mideast policies Monday, a day after the American leader lectured Arab leaders on their approach to governing.

Bush took a strikingly tougher tone with Arab nations during his address to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East than he did with Israel in a speech last week.

Israel received praise from the president while Arab nations heard a litany of U.S. criticisms mixed with some compliments.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded Monday by saying U.S. support for Israel and its own actions in the Mideast helped fuel turmoil and a clash of civilizations between Muslims and the West.

"When we see ... an Israeli tank in an Arab city, a Palestinian city or an American tank in an Arab city firing arms, that makes people angry," said Aboul Gheit at a summit meeting linked to the economic forum being held in Sharm El-Sheik, a Red Sea resort town.

"The anger leads to lots of turmoil. Turmoil leads to instability," said Aboul-Gheit.
Bush lectured Arab nations Sunday on suppressing political opposition and religious freedom in the region. He also said Iran must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.

"Would you please tell me, did anyone raise the issue of the Israeli capability?" said Aboul Gheit on Monday to roaring applause. "Why are you hiding the Israeli nuclear capability?"

Experts have long maintained Israel has nuclear weapons, although the Jewish state refuses to confirm or deny it.

U.S. Cluster Bombs in Afghanistan Ruin Childhood Dreams

Afghan teenage cluster bomb victim battling for ban

by Robin Millard, AFP
Tue May 20, 2:22 AM ET

DUBLIN (AFP) - Afghan teenager Soraj Ghulam Habib, whose legs were blown off by a cluster bomb, is campaigning hard for a ban on such lethal munitions that would spare other children from his tragic fate.

A 10-year-old boy when the unexploded bomblet left him close to death, Habib, now 17 and wheelchair-bound, is in Dublin to press officials from 109 countries who have gathered to thrash out a landmark ban on cluster bombs.

The conference, due to conclude on May 30, is aiming for a wide-ranging international pact that would completely eliminate the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions among signatories.

Habib's childhood curiosity with a funny-looking object left him a whisker from death, yet another innocent civilian victim of deadly cluster bombs.

"One day, I went out with some of my cousins for a picnic in a public park," the softly-spoken teenager, from Herat province in north-western Afghanistan, told AFP through a Dari-speaking interpreter.

"It was the beginning of New Year in Afghanistan and on the way home, on the sidewalk, I saw a yellow can. I picked it up and wanted to open it. When I threw it down, it exploded."

The same colour as the emergency food parcels air-dropped by US planes, the yellow can was in fact a BLU-97, a sub-munition dropped in a cluster bomb during the US aerial bombing campaign to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

"It's a dangerous weapon but it looks nice, it looks very interesting to a child," he said. Read On

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Training Program For DuPage County Sheriff's Dept.

GDP - May 17, 2008
by EF Swagee

In response to mounting public pressure against what many are calling a "political persecution" of two local peace activists, the DuPage County Sheriff's Department is implementing a new training program with help from Hazzard County, sources said.

Deputies we spoke with anticipate learning how to tell the difference between peaceful First Amendment exercises and criminal acts.

"Our goal is to reduce the number of wrongful arrests we make and the number of tax dollars we waste, while protecting our citizens' Constitutional rights," said one Deputy who spoke on the condition of anonymity pending formal announcement of the program.

Hazzard County officials, including J.D. ("Boss") Hogg and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane have not replied to requests for comment.

Last May, Coltrane's top Deputies led a similar program in DuPage, but it failed miserably, by their own accounts. "They just plain didn't get it," Cletus said. "Hard to say what went wrong. But, we're trying a new approach this time," added Enos. "Pictures."

Cletus and Enos released an important part of the new training manual to Grateful Dissident for this exclusive report:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

F U B A R !

Call 911 for help when your life is in danger and the dispatcher might forget to call you back or might say, "I really don't give a sh*t what happens to you."

Call 911 to harrass two peaceful protesters publicly expressing a political opinion you find offensive and not only will the police be sent to investigate, but they just might collaborate with you and the State's Attorney to have the protesters wrongfully arrested and maliciously prosecuted. You may have to lie and say the protesters are, "acting like they're throwing stuff".

Don't worry though, it's only illegal to make a false report to 911 . And everyone would agree that people should be arrested, jailed, and forced to defend themselves in court against criminal charges that are based on nothing more than a person's baseless claims.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Domestic Spying Far Outpaces Terrorism Prosecutions

As more Americans are watched, fewer cases are made. The trend concerns civil liberties groups as well as some lawmakers and legal experts.

By Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 12, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks. But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court -- one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing -- has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously.

The trends, visible in new government data and a private analysis of Justice Department records, are worrisome to civil liberties groups and some legal scholars. They say it is further evidence that the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it. Read On

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Injustice In DuPage County, IL

Ever wonder how our justice system allows wrongful arrests and unjust persecutions?

It's simple, really. Start with a false report to 911, Add a spiteful Sheriff's Deputy, Mix in a vindictive State's Attorney, Sprinkle with Corruption. And, voila!

Take the tale of the "DuPage Duo" for example, which begins with two people peacefully exercising their right to express a political opinion in public and transforms inconceivably into a criminal case....

Transcript of False Report To 911:

Copy of Bogus Arrest Warrant Issued Eight Days After Police Responded To the Fake 911 Call and Detained, Questioned, Then Released The Peaceful Protesters:

The Sheriff's Deputy had no probable cause to arrest the protesters. Their lawyer filed a Motion to Quash the Arrest and Suppress Evidence. The motion was denied at a hearing on April 10th.
Amazingly, the guy who called 911 and claimed to have seen the protesters "acting like they were throwing stuff at the windshields" is allowed to change his story completely and without question.
Now he is saying he didn't see the protesters throw anything, but did see a traffic disturbance, a traffic disturbance that wasn't mentioned in the 911 call. According to the protesters, who've been very consistent with their story from the beginning, there was never any traffic disturbance.
When asked about the protesters' alleged throwing motions during the hearing, the 911 caller says, "it was just the demeanor that made me believe that that was possible" and "I interpreted them as the possibility that, yes, it was like they could have been releasing something, but I don't know. I really don't know."
Can probable cause for an arrest be fabricated out of a bunch of lies nearly eleven months AFTER a bogus arrest warrant is issued? You Betcha!
Here you have it folks, in plain view:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Another Year of Carnage, Brought to you by the Corporate Democrats

by Cindy Sheehan
Wednesday May 7th, 2008 2:58 PM

Commentary about the war funding bill

The Democrats are working diligently to put a war funding bill on George's desk that will give him two cycles of money for the illegal and obscene occupations in the Middle East connecting anti-poverty programs and VA educational benefits to the appropriation's bill to exploit the horrible condition of poor families and vets who have risked life and limb because Congress is too worried about their political stakes than our children's lives.

The Democrats, with shaky reasoning, feel that attaching a time-line on an appropriation's bill for troop withdrawal (which George has promised to veto) by December 2009, will assuage the anti-war left that is becoming a bigger and bigger majority by the day. What the Democratic leadership is doing is putting their major donors and political futures ahead of our flesh and blood. Are you okay with the Democratic leadership thinking that you are dumber than a door bell and hoping that you don't see their ploy for what it is: a pure political calculation to help themselves and harm everyone else.

Are you okay with borrowing 178 billion more dollars from China furthering the demise of our dollar, economy and enlarging our deficit? Are you okay with putting our children's future at jeopardy so the Democrats can maybe widen their majority in Congress and perhaps put a Democrat in the White House?

Are you okay with the HUMANS of Iraq and Afghanistan (who bleed the same color you do and who love their children just as much) being exploited and abused for the sake of a bigger Democratic majority? Are you okay with our brothers and sisters in these countries being terrorized by OUR military? Are you okay with CHILDREN being demonized and then blown up by bombs dropped out of US jets? Are you okay with two countries being torn apart so Congress' cronies can make obscene profits when you know that many Senators and Congressional Reps are invested in the very industries that profit off of the death, dismemberment and destruction?
Read On

Nearly seventy-percent of our fellow citizens oppose the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

Congress can end the occupation by de-funding it.

Congress, namely Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, can de-fund the occupation by simply refusing to introduce any new funding bills onto the house floor for debate.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Veterans' Office Covering Up Soldier Suicides: US Lawmakers

Published on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 by Agence France Presse

WASHINGTON - US lawmakers have accused the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of being out of control and of covering up the high suicide rate among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

“The VA healthcare system has been pushed to the edge in dealing with the mental health care needs of our veterans,” Bob Filner, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee of Veterans’ Affairs, told a packed congressional hearing about the issue of suicides among veterans.

The hearing came five months after a first round of testimonials on the same topic, and weeks after a series of internal VA emails about suicides among veterans were brought to light by a documentary on US network television.

In one of the emails, sent in February, Dr Ira Katz, deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health at the VA, wrote: “Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see.” Read On

18 suicides per week. 1,000 suicide attempts per month. Staggering.

Our leaders give the troops all the bullets and bombs they need to kill and be killed halfway around the world, then neglect them when they return home with psychological problems. What a disgrace. -EF Swagee

Monday, May 5, 2008

Iraqi alleges Abu Ghraib torture, sues US contractors

By GREG RISLING, Associated Press Writer May 5, 2008

LOS ANGELES - An Iraqi man sued two U.S. military contractors Monday, claiming he was repeatedly tortured while being held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison for more than 10 months.

Emad al-Janabi's federal lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, claims that employees of CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communications punched him, slammed him into walls, hung from a bed frame and kept him naked and handcuffed in his cell beginning in September 2003.
Also named as a defendant is CACI interrogator Steven Stefanowicz, known as "Big Steve." The suit claims he directed some of the torture tactics.

Phone messages left for Arlington, Va.-based CACI and New York City-based L-3 Communications, formerly Titan Corp., were not immediately returned Monday. Stefanowicz could not immediately be reached for comment at a Los Angeles address.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles because Stefanowicz lives there, seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The firms provided interrogators or interpreters to assist U.S. military guards at Abu Ghraib, which became notorious when photos made public in early 2004 showing U.S. soldiers abusing and humiliating detainees. Military investigators later concluded that much of the abuse happened in late 2003 — when CACI and Titan's interrogators were at the prison.

CACI and L-3 were accused of abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners in earlier lawsuits. In November a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed the suit against L-3 but allowed the one against CACI to proceed.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday in Istanbul, Turkey, al-Janabi said he hopes the lawsuit sheds light on what happened to him and other detainees.

"God willing the righteousness will emerge and God willing the criminal will receive his punishment," al-Janabi said.

Al-Janabi, 43, said he was detained by U.S. troops during a late-night raid in which he and his family were beaten by their captors. He said he was taken to a military base where he was stripped naked, a hood was placed on his head and his hands and legs were chained.

"They (U.S. troops) did not tell me what was the reason behind my arrest ... during the interrogation, the American soldier told me I was a terrorist ... and I was preparing for an attack against the U.S. forces," said al-Janabi, who denied the accusation and claims he was forced to give confessions under "savage" intimidation. Read On

Worse yet, even after Mr. Al-Janabi wins his lawsuit (and I sure hope he does) the sickness that motivates people to torture each other will remain. -EF Swagee

Profiteers Squeeze Billions Out of Growing Global Food Crisis

By Geoffrey Lean, Independent UK. Posted May 5, 2008.

Speculators blamed for driving up price of basic foods as 100 million face severe hunger.

Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor -- who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food -- into hunger and destitution.

The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world's richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12 billion. Its profits increased from $1.44 billion to $2.22 billion. Read On

Saturday, May 3, 2008

U.S. Airstrike In Bagdad Injures Women and Children

Iraq hospital 'damaged by US raid'

Al Jezeera Saturday May 3, 2008

At least 28 people have been wounded after a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr City district, a stronghold of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, was damaged in what witnesses described as a US air strike.

A medic at the al-Sadr hospital said women and children were among the wounded in the raid, which an Iraqi security official said took place at around 10am local time (0700 GMT) on Saturday. The US military confirmed the attack but said it targeted "known criminal elements". [AFP]

Factory Farms Must Change

A New Report Details the Impact of Intensive Food Animal Production on Humans, Animals and the Environment — and It's Not Pretty.

By Annie Bell Muzaurieta

The farm animal industry has got to change, according to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.

The Commission, which began its research in 2006 and consisted of 15 experts in public policy, veterinary medicine, public health, agriculture, animal welfare and rural society, released a report detailing the impact of intensive food animal production (IFAP) on humans, animals and the environment.

The report details how animal agriculture has grown at warp speed over the past 50 years thanks to cheap feed, water and energy, according to the Environment News Service. As a result, Americans eat more meat per person than any other society on the planet. The report suggests that the industry will have to change as these resources become less available.

The commission is quoted in the article: "Our diminishing land capacity for producing food animals, combined with dwindling freshwater supplies, escalating energy costs, nutrient overloading of soil, and increased antibiotic resistance, will result in a crisis unless new laws and regulations go into effect in a timely fashion. This process must begin immediately and be fully implemented within 10 years." Read On

Why not just stop eating meat altogether? Let's be honest. The only reason we eat it is cuz it tastes good. I mean, we all know meat's nutritional value can be obtained in a plant-based diet way more efficiently and without destroying the environment, right? -EF Swagee

Friday, May 2, 2008

Iraqi Lawmakers: U.S. Bombing Sadr City Like Saddam Gassing His Own People

U.S. repeats Halabja massacre in Baghdad’s Sadr City, Iraqi legislators say
Azzaman newspaper, May 1, 2008
By Alaa al-Tameemi.

In 1988, former leader Saddam Hussein gassed his own people in the city of Halabja. For the U.S. he was then seen as a ‘good boy’. Today, the power that helped Saddam build the same chemical weapons he dropped on Halabja is reported to be carrying out a repeat of his crimes.

That is the impression several Iraqi members of parliament had following a fact finding mission of the Sadr City in Baghdad which the U.S. occupation troops have been bombarding and encircling for weeks.

“The aerial bombardment and military operations the U.S. is carrying out in Sadr city are similar to what happened in Halabja,” Iraqi member of parliament Falah Hassan said.

U.S. helicopter gun ships and warplanes have been pounding the city, home to more than 2 million people – their declared aim is to have it flushed of gunmen. While gunmen are nowhere to be found, those bearing the brunt of U.S.’s disproportionate use of force are none but the city’s impoverished inhabitants. Read On

Vets Await Verdict in Class Action Lawsuit

Aaron Glantz, North America Inter Press Service

SAN FRANCISCO, 2 May (IPS) - Arturo Gonzalez delivered his closing arguments inside a packed courtroom on the 17th floor of the Federal Building in downtown San Francisco.

A partner at the gigantic corporate law firm Morrison and Forrester, he's part of a team of lawyers seeking to force the Department of Veterans' Affairs to provide better health care and more timely disability benefits to returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

The case, officially known as Veterans for Common Sense vs. Peake, represents the first class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the 1.7 million U.S. citizens who served in the war zones. Veterans say that over the last six years, the George W. Bush administration has systematically denied veterans the health care they were promised and that they went to court as a last resort.

'We are here because veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate,' Gonzalez told U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti, citing government documents that show 18 U.S. war veterans kill themselves every day. 'More of these veterans are dying in the United States than in combat. That's wrong.'

'There is only one person on Earth who can do anything to help these men and women,' he told the judge, 'Your honour, these veterans need help. The VA has demonstrated that they won't do it on their own.' Read On

In Solidarity With Economic Refugees

March, rally smaller but still spirited
City immigration event draws about 15,000

By Antonio Olivo, Vanessa Bauzá and Carlos Sadovi Tribune reporters
9:14 PM CDT, May 1, 2008

Thursday's crowd of marchers was much smaller than those in years past, but for several hours they filled downtown Chicago with the echoing beats of drums and deafening chants for Immigration reform.

Nearly 15,000 demonstrators—a tenth the tally at last year's May Day march, far short of the estimated 400,000 in 2006—made up for their numbers with youthful energy, in what Chicago police said was a peaceful event.

Taking advantage of the warm, sunny weather, crowds of high school and college students skipped classes to join a movement that had been made up mostly of labor unions, older immigrants and middle-aged activists.

As the younger marchers made their way from Union Park to an afternoon rally in Federal Plaza, iPods dangling from ears, they carried a hardening conviction that the struggle is not over, even with hopes for congressional reforms fading. Read On

All people are created equally and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights including Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, except if you're trying to escape a desperate, poverty-stricken environment and improve your family's quality of life. In that case, you should expect to be vilified, terrorized, abused, and exploited. -EF Swagee

Friday Time Capsule 05.02.08

Don't Ease Me In!