My views to come

April 11, 2008

My views relating to the world how i see it. Will be expressed here.

JUSTICE FOR A KING

April 8, 2008

 January 21 is Dr Martin Luther King day in the USA. Most Big Issue read­ers will have heard of Dr Martin Luther King. They will almost certainly know that he was very active in the civil rights movement in the USA in the 1960s. They probably know that he won the Nobel Peace Prize. They might know that he was killed by a single bullet while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. They might even know that the man who went to jail for that crime was called James Earl Ray.
    What they probably don’t know is that the family and friends of Dr King never believed the official story and fought for thirty years to get nearer the truth. And what they definitely won’t know is that the family succeeded in proving the offi­cial government story to be completely false in a court of law.
    In 1999, thirty years after the assassi­nation, in a civil trial held in Memphis, Tennessee, the family proved in a court of law that it was the US government that killed Dr Martin Luther King and not at all the man who was put in jail for it.
    The trial lasted three weeks during which seventy witnesses gave evidence and yet it took the jury of six white people and six black people only one hour to decide that it was a part of the US government who executed Dr King.
    Anyone interested in the trial can read the transcript on the King family website at www.thekingcenter.org/news/trial-.html. An excellent overview of the back­ground is given by the lawyer in the case.
    The complete media blackout of the trial is not accidental. Compare the fren­zied media circus that covered the trial of OJ Simpson (a trial about a black man killing a white woman) with the blank-ness about the trial of a white man accused of killing a black man – even when that black man was a Nobel Prize Winner who had a National Holiday named after him.
    This year is the 40th anniversary of Dr King’s assassination. Although the media will rightly heap praise on him for his civil rights campaigning, they will deliberately
ignore mentioning the political activities that the jury thought had probably got him killed.

    The media will not mention that by 1967, King had become the country’s mosi prominent opponent of the Vietnam War and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4,1967 – a year to the day before he was murdered – King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”.
     King also spoke-out against the causes of poverty. Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white. King started to sneak on behalf of all poor people – not just black ones. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.
    “True compassion,” King declared, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which pro­duces beggars needs restructuring.”
    In his last months, King was organis­ing the Poor People’s Campaign. He criss­crossed the country to assemble “a multi­racial army of the poor” that would go to Washington and engage in non-violent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress enacted a poor people’s bill of rights.
    King’s economic bill of rights called for massive government job programmes to rebuild America’s cities. He was going to confront a Congress that had demonstrat­ed its “hostility to the poor” – appropriat­ing “military funds with alacrity and gen­erosity”, but providing “poverty funds with miserliness”.
    How familiar that all sounds, 40 years later America is still “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Except that now Britain openly helps them in their illegal war and parliament can always find money for war – but not for the homeless.

DANIEL DONNACHIE

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Troops Kill Family

April 8, 2008

US troops kill Iraqi family in their beds
US SOLDIERS killed an Iraqi couple and their son as they lay sleeping in their beds early yesterday morning, injuring their two daughters in the process, one of whom later died in hospital.
    The troops stormed a tiny one-room house in the village of Adwar about 10 miles south of Tikrit and opened fire.
    The US military said that the soldiers had killed “two suspected members of a terrorist cell” after they were fired on.
    It is the second time in as many days that the US military has owned up to involve­ment in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.
On Monday, the military reported that it had accidentally killed nine Iraqi civilians, including a child, in an air strike.
     In both cases, the military acknowledged involvement in the killings only in response to media inquiries.
    It said that the raid in Adwar had been based on intelligence gleaned from an in­formant and that the killings remained un­der investigation.
    The victims’ cousin Kareem Talea Hamad, who watched the killings from his house across the street, reported that the US soldiers had opened fire immediately on entering the house, killing its unarmed residents — father Ali Hamad Shihab, his wife Naeimah Ali Su-laiman and their son Diaa Ali, who was a member of a US-allied Awakening Council.
    Two daughters were wounded and taken to hospital, but one died hours later.
    A surviving daughter, Nawal Ali, said that she had been inside the house at the time of the raid and that an Iraqi interpreter working for US forces had tried to stop the soldiers from killing her parents.
    Ms Ali credited the interpreter with sav­ing the lives of two of her younger siblings, Hamzah and Asmaa.
A new Iraqi flag bereft of the three green stars of the Ba’ath Party and former presi-‘ dent Saddam Hussein’s handwriting was hoisted over the Iraqi cabinet building in Baghdad yesterday.
    Earlier this month, Iraq’s parliament vot­ed to remove the stars, which represented the three objectives of the Ba’ath Party — unity, freedom and socialism.

Depleted Uranium

April 8, 2008

 

Depleted Uranium Radiation

A COUPLE OF WEEKS before the
outbreak of war in Iraq, I travelled
with a cross-party group of MEPs to
Baghdad and Basra to see for myself
the effects on ordinary Iraqi people of
the last Gulf War and 12 years of
crippling sanctions, and to try to assess
the likely humanitarian impact of
another war.
    I found a country on its knees – its
economy was in tatters, teachers,
doctors and other professionals were
being paid so little that some were
forced to abandon their jobs to take any
opportunities to make a living and
malnutrition was affecting one child in
three. Parts of the country were still
reeling from of the ongoing effects of
the widespread use of Depleted
Uranium {DU) munitions by British
and American forces during the 1991
conflict.
    Depleted uranium is used to
produce missiles capable of penetrating
armoured vehicles or underground
bunkers – but their use produces
radioactive dust that travels in the air
and is inhaled by nearby residents for
years after their initial use.
    Even before this latest military
misadventure, Iraq’s children were still
suffering the consequences of the DUtipped
warheads that rained down on
their country over a decade ago.
    Basra, in the South of Iraq, was one
of the places worst hit by the effects of
such radiation. I visited the Basra
Maternity and Paediatric Hospital. It
was a harrowing experience, where I
was shown the most shocking
photographs of babies born with
terrible congenitall malformations.
     “Women are afraid of becoming
pregnant in this city,” Dr Jasim, the
hospital’s chief oncologist told me.
“Before 1991, we had no leukemias at
this hospital. Now we sometimes have
four or five in one week”.
    During my visit I learned the
devastating scale of the suffering
caused by DU: that Iraqi children were
seven times more likely to be born with
leukaemia or birth defects than before
the Gulf War.
    Researchers in Basra, near Iraq’s
border with Kuwait, have directly
blamed the shocking increase on allied
forces’ use of depleted uranium (DU)
weapons in 1991.
    The incidence of congenital
malformations per 1,000 births in
Basra rose from 3.04 in 1991 to 22.19
in 2001, according to the report
‘Depleted Uranium and Health:
Incidence and Pattern of Congenital
Abnormalities Among Births in Basra
1990-2001’.
    The report also shows childhood
leukaemias in and around the city have
doubled over the same period and the
total number of children suffering from
malignant disease such as lymphoma
and brain tumours rose threefold
between 1990 and 1999.
    These figures make a mockery of
Tony Blair’s desperate and
increasingly isolated justification that
war was a moral duty to help the Iraqi
people.
    No wonder that the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud
Lubbers, warned that a war on Iraq
would be “a disaster from the
humanitarian perspective” – and that
the UN Sub-Commission on Human
Rights has ruled the use of DU
m u n i t i o n s illegal for their
indiscriminate effects on civilians, a
ruling which has been simply ignored
by military planners in the UK and US.
    When innocent, even unborn,
children suffer the effects of war for
many years to come, it becomes
completely impossible for Blair and
Bush to pretend they were driven by a
desire to protect and enhance the lives
of Iraqi civilians.
    Despite these findings, and the
increasingly well – documented
indiscriminate risks to human health
posed by DU, the weapons were widely
used during the most recent conflict.
Neither the US or UK Governments
have vet. nnhlished details of where
they were used, details urgently
required by humanitarian agencies
and health workers struggling to limit
their post-war impact on civilians.
    The MoD has simply stated: “DU
will remain part of our arsenal for the
foreseeable future because we have a
duty to provide our troops with the best
available equipment”.
    But British troops may not thank
the ministry for its decision:
thousands of Gulf War veterans are
estimated to be suffering from illnesses
resulting from the last conflict and
large numbers are already making the
same claims this time around.
    Please contact your MP today
regarding the use of depleted uranium
in British armaments.

by Caroline Lucas ( GREEN MEP )

War is just a racket

April 8, 2008

 

War is just a racket

[The following is an excerpt of a speech
delivered in 1933 by Major General
Smedley Butler, former Commandant of
the United States Marine Corps.]

“War is just a racket. A racket is best
described, I believe, as something that is
not what it seems to the majority of the
people. Only a small inside group knows
what it is about. It is conducted for the
benefit of the very few at the expense of
the masses. .

I believe in adequate defense at the
coastline and in nothing else. If a nation
comes over here to fight, then well, fight.
The trouble with America is that when
the dollar only earns six percent over
here, then it gets restless and goes
overseas to get 100 percent. Then the
flag follows the dollar and the soldiers
follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done
to defend some lousy investment of the
bankers. There are only two things that
we should fight for. One is the defense of
our homes and the other is the Bill of
Rights. War for any other reason is
simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag
that the military gang is blind to. It has its
“finger men” to point out enemies, its
“muscle men” to destroy enemies, its
“brain men” to plan war preparations and
a “Big Boss” – Super-nationalistic
Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man
to adopt such a comparison.
Truthfulness compels me to. I spent
thirty-three years and four months in
active military service as a member of
our country’s most agile military force -the Marine Corps. I served in all
commissioned ranks from a Second
Lieutenant to Major General. And, during
that period, I spent most of my time
being a high-class muscleman for Big
Business, for Wall Street and for the
Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a
gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just a part of a racket
at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all
members of the military profession, I
never had an original thought until I left
the service. My mental facilities
remained in suspended animation while I
obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is
typical with everyone in the military
service.

I helped make Mexico – especially
Tampico – safe for American oil interests
in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a
decent place for the National City Bank
boys to collect revenues in. I helped in
the raping of half a dozen Central
American republics for the benefits of
Wall Street. The record of racketeering is
long. I helped purify Nicaragua for
the international banking house of Brown
Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to
the Dominican Republic for American
sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped
see to it that Standard Oil went its way
unmolested.

During those years I had, as the boys in
the back room would say, a swell racket.
I was rewarded with honors, medals and
promotions. Looking back on it I feel that
I might have given Al Capone a few
hints. The best he could do was to
operate his racket in three districts. I
operated on three continents.”

Scientists urge D.U clean up

April 8, 2008

Scientists urge shell clear-up to protect civilians

Royal Society spells out dangers of depleted uranium

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Thursday April 17, 2003
The Guardian


Hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, the Royal Society said yesterday, contradicting Pentagon claims it was not necessary.The society’s statement fuels the controversy over the use of depleted uranium (DU), which is an effective tank destroyer and bunker buster but is believed by many scientists to cause cancers and other severe illnesses.
The society, Britain’s premier scientific institution, was incensed because the Pentagon had claimed it had the backing of the society in saying DU was not dangerous.

In fact, the society said, both soldiers and civilians were in short and long term danger. Children playing at contaminated sites were particularly at risk.

DU is left over after uranium is enriched for use in nuclear reactors and is also recovered after reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. There are thousands of tonnes of it in stores in the US and UK.

Because it is effectively free and 20% heavier than steel, the military experimented with it and discovered it could penetrate steel and concrete much more easily than convential weapons. It burns at 10,000C, incinerating everything as it turns to dust.

As it proved so effective, it was adopted as a standard weapon in the first Gulf war despite its slight radioactive content and toxic effects. It was used again in the Balkans and Afghanistan by the US.

DU has been suspected by many campaigners of causing the unexplained cancers among Iraqi civilians, particularly children, since the previ ous Gulf war. Chemicals released in the atmosphere during bombing could equally be to blame.

Among those against the use of DU is Professor Doug Rokke, a one time US army colonel who is also a former director of the Pentagon’s depleted uranium project, and a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University. He has said a nation’s military personnel cannot wilfully contaminate any other nation, cause harm to persons and the environment and then ignore the consequences of their actions. He has called on the US and UK to “recognise the immoral consequences of their actions and assume responsibility for medical care and thorough environmental remediation”.

The UN Environment Programme has been tracking the use of DU in the Balkans and found it leaching into the water table. Seven years after the conflict it has recommended the decontamination of buildings where DU dust is present to protect the civilian population against cancer.

Up to 2,000 tonnes of DU has been used in the Gulf, a large part of it in cities like Baghdad, far more than in the Balkans. Unep has offered to go to Iraq and check on the quantities of DU still present and the danger it poses to civilians.

Professor Brian Spratt, chairman of the Royal Society working group on depleted uranium, said that a recent study by the society had found that the majority of soldiers were unlikely to be exposed to dangerous levels of depleted uranium during and after its use on the battlefield.

“However, a small number of soldiers might suffer kidney damage and an increased risk of lung cancer if substantial amounts of depleted uranium are breathed in, for instance inside an armoured vehicle hit by a depleted uranium penetrator.”

He said the study also concluded that the soil around the impact sites of depleted uranium penetrators may be heavily contaminated, and could be harmful if swallowed by children for example.

“In addition, large numbers of corroding depleted uranium penetrators embedded in the ground might pose a long-term threat if the uranium leaches into water supplies.

“We recommend that fragments of depleted uranium penetrators should be removed, and areas of contamination should be identified and, where necessary, made safe.”

He added: “We also recommend long-term sampling, particularly of water and milk, to detect any increase in uranium levels in areas where depleted uranium has been used. This provides a cost-effective method of monitoring sensitive components in the environment, and of providing information about uranium levels to concerned local populations.”

Our last Occupation

April 8, 2008

 Our last occupation

Gas, chemicals, bombs: Britain has used them all before in Iraq

Jonathan Glancey
Saturday April 19, 2003
The Guardian

No one, least of all the British, should be surprised at the state of anarchy in Iraq. We have been here before. We know the territory, its long and miasmic history, the all-but-impossible diplomatic balance to be struck between the cultures and ambitions of Arabs, Kurds, Shia and Sunni, of Assyrians, Turks, Americans, French, Russians and of our own desire to keep an economic and strategic presence there.Laid waste, a chaotic post-invasion Iraq may now well be policed by old and new imperial masters promising liberty, democracy and unwanted exiled leaders, in return for oil, trade and submission. Only the last of these promises is certain. The peoples of Iraq, even those who have cheered passing troops, have every reason to mistrust foreign invaders. They have been lied to far too often, bombed and slaughtered promiscuously.

Iraq is the product of a lying empire. The British carved it duplicitously from ancient history, thwarted Arab hopes, Ottoman loss, the dunes of Mesopotamia and the mountains of Kurdistan at the end of the first world war. Unsurprisingly, anarchy and insurrection were there from the start.The British responded with gas attacks by the army in the south, bombing by the fledgling RAF in both north and south. When Iraqi tribes stood up for themselves, we unleashed the flying dogs of war to “police” them. Terror bombing, night bombing, heavy bombers, delayed action bombs (particularly lethal against children) were all developed during raids on mud, stone and reed villages during Britain’s League of Nations’ mandate. The mandate ended in 1932; the semi-colonial monarchy in 1958. But during the period of direct British rule, Iraq proved a useful testing ground for newly forged weapons of both limited and mass destruction, as well as new techniques for controlling imperial outposts and vassal states.

The RAF was first ordered to Iraq to quell Arab and Kurdish and Arab uprisings, to protect recently discovered oil reserves, to guard Jewish settlers in Palestine and to keep Turkey at bay. Some mission, yet it had already proved itself an effective imperial police force in both Afghanistan and Somaliland (today’s Somalia) in 1919-20. British and US forces have been back regularly to bomb these hubs of recalcitrance ever since.

Winston Churchill, secretary of state for war and air, estimated that without the RAF, somewhere between 25,000 British and 80,000 Indian troops would be needed to control Iraq. Reliance on the airforce promised to cut these numbers to just 4,000 and 10,000. Churchill’s confidence was soon repaid.

An uprising of more than 100,000 armed tribesmen against the British occupation swept through Iraq in the summer of 1920. In went the RAF. It flew missions totalling 4,008 hours, dropped 97 tons of bombs and fired 183,861 rounds for the loss of nine men killed, seven wounded and 11 aircraft destroyed behind rebel lines. The rebellion was thwarted, with nearly 9,000 Iraqis killed. Even so, concern was expressed in Westminster: the operation had cost more than the entire British-funded Arab rising against the Ottoman Empire in 1917-18.

The RAF was vindicated as British military expenditure in Iraq fell from £23m in 1921 to less than £4m five years later. This was despite the fact that the number of bombing raids increased after 1923 when Squadron Leader Arthur Harris – the future hammer of Hamburg and Dresden, whose statue stands in Fleet Street in London today – took command of 45 Squadron. Adding bomb-racks to Vickers Vernon troop car riers, Harris more or less invented the heavy bomber as well as night “terror” raids. Harris did not use gas himself – though the RAF had employed mustard gas against Bolshevik troops in 1919, while the army had gassed Iraqi rebels in 1920 “with excellent moral effect”.

Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used “against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment”. He dismissed objections as “unreasonable”. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes _ [to] spread a lively terror _” In today’s terms, “the Arab” needed to be shocked and awed. A good gassing might well do the job.

Conventional raids, however, proved to be an effective deterrent. They brought Sheikh Mahmoud, the most persistent of Kurdish rebels, to heel, at little cost. Writing in 1921, Wing Commander J A Chamier suggested that the best way to demoralise local people was to concentrate bombing on the “most inaccessible village of the most prominent tribe which it is desired to punish. All available aircraft must be collected the attack with bombs and machine guns must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle.”

“The Arab and Kurd now know”, reported Squadron Leader Harris after several such raids, “what real bombing means within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out, and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured, by four or five machines which offer them no real target, no opportunity for glory as warriors, no effective means of escape.”

In his memoir of the crushing of the 1920 Iraqi uprising, Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer L Haldane, quotes his own orders for the punishment of any Iraqi found in possession of weapons “with the utmost severity”: “The village where he resides will be destroyed _ pressure will be brought on the inhabitants by cutting off water power the area being cleared of the necessaries of life”. He added the warning: “Burning a village properly takes a long time, an hour or more according to size”.

Punitive British bombing continued throughout the 1920s. An eyewitness account by Saleh ‘Umar al Jabrim describes a raid in February 1923 on a village in southern Iraq, where bedouin were celebrating 12 weddings. After a visit from the RAF, a woman, two boys, a girl and four camels were left dead. There were many wounded. Perhaps to please his British interrogators, Saleh declared: “These casualties are from God and no one is to be blamed.”

One RAF officer, Air Commodore Lionel Charlton, resigned in 1924 when he visited a hospital after such a raid and faced armless and legless civilian victims. Others held less generous views of those under their control. “Woe betide any native [working for the RAF] who was caught in the act of thieving any article of clothing that may be hanging out to dry”, wrote Aircraftsman 2nd class, H Howe, based at RAF Hunaidi, Baghdad. “It was the practice to take the offending native into the squadron gymnasium. Here he would be placed in the boxing ring, used as a punch bag by members of the boxing team, and after he had received severe punishment, and was in a very sorry condition, he would be expelled for good, minus his job.”

At the time of the Arab revolt in Palestine in the late 1930s, Air Commodore Harris, as he then was, declared that “the only thing the Arab understands is the heavy hand, and sooner or later it will have to be applied”. As in 1921, so in 2003.