Sunday, May 29, 2011

Comfort for Laila's Cry

This post is especially for Laila Yaghi...

the poem below is from a book of her original poetry:

"Cries from a Mother's Heart".

Laila explemplifies these words of wisdom by Mother Teresa and calls for the same - even through her own tears. She cares for those who suffer like she does. Like many other Muslims - yes, even in our "democratic" USA - she suffers daily - while her loved one faces unknown prison misery and time for a fabricated crime.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

— Mother Teresa

The following is a touching poem written by Laila and published in a booklet called:
"Cries from a Mother's Heart"


Alas it is time for the sun to reverse its course
Injustice has become great in this world
Tears of women and children are scattered
Everywhere on our cracked soil
Carried by the wind
Creating hurricanes wherever one goes
Too many tears for the earth to absorb
Creating flood watches wherever one goes

Alas it is time for the sun to reverse its course
Creating rays of black tears
That drop like fiery coals onto
Our greedy heads

Alas it is time for the sun to reverse its course
And for the moon to be silent
Not to tilt its head anymore
With a smile that encourages humans to do more
Of crime against humanity
Of lies and deceit
Of greed
Of hate against one from a different religion

Alas it is time for the sun to reverse its course

September 30, 2010

My heart is so small
it's almost invisible.
How can You place
such big sorrows in it?

"Look," He answered,
"your eyes are even smaller,
yet they behold the world."

~ Rumi ~


While there is no mere human comfort for Laila's deep sorrow - may we pray that Love among us all will find a way...

More about her son Ziyad soon...

The photo above is from

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some Good News: Palestinians Welcomed at Rafah Border

Palestinian children look out from a bus window as they wait to cross the Rafah border. – Photo by Reuters

Egypt opens (re-opens permanently?) Rafah border with Gaza - Middle East - Al Jazeera English May 28, 2011 Palestinians welcome easing of four-year blockade on Gaza Strip, in a move ushered in by Egypt's new leaders. here

This photo is from 13 February 2011

I heard this news during my night EST (I was glad that the oft too western-oriented BBC news was favorable and had some nice reporting. BBC (the only worldwide radio news most of us can easily get in America by night - outside of our computers) gave a lovely sense of empathy with the people of Gaza - painted by the reporter: how the land of Gaza was so tiny - less than a small US state - and how such a border could now open up this space for some breathing room...or something like that)...

I began to dream of representatives (common people) from many places coming to welcome Palestinians in this freer place. I was there with a few friends I'd met over the years (courageous folk who've worked for peace all their lives)...I was glad to see my husband joining me at a table of friends in a cafe nearby the reopened border. We were celebrating as if one family and the atmosphere was one of a joy deeper as well as a bit more solemn than the usual night out.

What a relief I felt for this good news as an oasis in the midst of recent US rulings. (Laws that permit unhealthy war powers to leaders who less and less represent common humanity both in the US and elsewhere toward peace and goodwill).

After this dream, ending too soon for me...I found the following items. I see from some of my favorite Palestinian writers and sites that this day may be welcomed and yet with plenty of nuances and concerns.


Here is most personal one written several (1 1/2?) days ago by a longtime journalist and former Aljazeera producer

Excerpt from the article below:
‘Ramzy Baroud,’ called out an older officer loudly. ‘Welcome home, son,’ he said, as he handed me my passport and waved me in. No words could possibly have been sweeter at that moment.

26 May 2011

Welcome to Gaza: Revolution and Change at the Rafah Border

By: Ramzy Baroud

The Palestinian security officer at the Rafah border was overly polite. He wore a black uniform and walked around self-assuredly, as he instructed weary travelers on their next moves before being allowed back into Gaza. On the other side of the border, in Egypt, there was much anxiety, fear and anticipation.

‘Things will get better,’ said a Palestinian engineer from Gaza, who once studied and now works in a Swedish town south of Stockholm. What he meant was that things will get better at the border crossing, in terms of the relationship between Gaza and Egypt. Without a decisive Egyptian decision to reopen the crossing – completely – Gaza will continue to reel under the Israeli siege. Others agree, but Gazans have learned not to become too confident about political statements promising positive changes.

However, the Egypt of today belongs to an entirely different political category to the Egypt of Hosni Mubarak’s leadership. Palestinians, especially those trapped behind the shut borders in Gaza, are well aware of this. Still they are cautious. ‘Inshallah’ – God willing, they say, ‘May Allah bring good things.’

For now, things remain difficult at the border. When Egyptian border officials collect passports for examination, and return a few hours later to read aloud the names of those allowed in, a large crowd gathers around them. Tensions soon escalate to yelling, and occasional tears.

‘Go back or I will not give any his passport back,’ shouted a large Egyptian officer with some disdain. The veins on the side of his face suddenly bulked up. The crowd disbanded, only to return seconds later. The officer looked exhausted and clearly fed up. The Gaza travelers had already moved beyond the point of humiliation. They simply wanted to get from here to there, and back.

A young woman with a contorted back trotted behind her mother. Her pain was apparent on her face. ‘Yallah yamma,’ – hurry, daughter - urged the mother. ‘They might close the gate any minute.’ The girl, in her twenties, paused, closed her eyes tight, as if summoning whatever strength remained in her frail body to carry on for a few seconds longer.

The gate of the Egyptian border point was very wide, but only a small gap of a few feet was open. When it opened, early Thursday, May 19, hundreds tried to rush in at once. Large bags were tossed over people’s heads, children cried in panic, officers yelled, and a few dared to yell back. ‘Just open the gate, the big one,’ someone said. A white-haired little man, in an oversize, ancient suit, stood back and shock his head. ‘It’s a tragedy,’ he said. Soon, he too was forced to lose his civility and push against the mass of desperate humanity. Later, I saw him inside the border point, circling around nervously and intently puffing on a cigarette.

Here at the border, everyone is nervous, even those who have no reason to be. The Egyptian officers are edgy, as if their fate too is being determined somehow. Both sides know that the Gaza-Egypt border is undergoing an important transition. Egypt’s new foreign minister, Nabil al-Arabi, had already promised a breakup with the past, thus an opening of the border between his country and Gaza. There is much trust among Palestinians that the new Egypt is genuine, but also a fear that a politically vulnerable Egypt might be forced to compromise on its early stances.

But the Egyptian people seem determined to keep their government in check. Palestine is a major theme now in large protests. Hundreds of Egyptian activists were arrested, and many were wounded as they rallied near the Israeli embassy in Cairo, which was closed for few days before re-opening again. An Egyptian call to march to Gaza, in commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 – the Day of Catastrophe – was aborted after the Egyptian army sealed much of Sinai. Tanks still dot the highway leading from Cairo to Gaza via the Sinai desert. The soldiers are very polite, though. The Egyptian driver who took me to Rafah in a very late hour seemed happiest with the revolution in his country, simply because he is now treated with respect by men in uniform. ‘Officers used to treat us with so much disrespect,’ he said with a retrospective sense of grief. ‘Now, we are like brothers.’ The driver extended his hand for an unnecessary handshake with a noticeably short solider, wearing a pair of slippers.

The sense of joy, however, hasn’t made it to the Gaza border yet. The hope and anticipation that Gazans feel towards the changes underway in Egypt can only be understood after a degree of investigation. The distance between Cairo and Rafah is long and arduous. It will be no easy task to translate political will in the former into meaningful policy in the latter. Still, the Egyptian people are keeping up the pressure, and Palestinians in Gaza remain hopeful.

At the end, no one was turned back. Everyone made it into Gaza. The man with the very old suit was still smoking and cursing for no apparent reason. The girl with the hurt back was still in terrible pain, but also happy to be home. The Gaza-Swedish engineer had a crowd of young cousins waiting for him. In Rafah, I found myself invited to a lunch followed by Arabic coffee with many men I didn’t know, most of whom were called Mohammed. They all seemed happy.

‘So, Egypt has changed, right?’ asked one Mohammed with a knowing smile and a nod. Everyone seemed to agree, although they didn’t pinpoint exactly how that change has affected Gaza so far. Palestinians in Gaza survive largely because of the 500 or so tunnels that connect the impoverished, besieged Strip to Egypt. Now, they feed on hope and cheap cigarettes, much of it also coming from Egypt.

‘Ramzy Baroud,’ called out an older officer loudly. ‘Welcome home, son,’ he said, as he handed me my passport and waved me in. No words could possibly have been sweeter at that moment.

After seventeen years of constant attempts to visit Gaza again, I am finally here.

I am in Gaza. I am home.

* Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). - For original posting on 26 May for both Arabic and English items GO here

Find other Palestinian News at in Arabic (with some well-known and respected journalists including Daoud Kuttab one of my favorites has been here or GO here

For a large variety of world-newspapers with news/Oped in both Arabic and English pertaining to the plight and ongoing courageous struggle of Palestinians GO here

Thursday, May 26, 2011

US House Passes Authority for Worldwide War

NOTE: The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin its markup of the NDAA beginning on June 13. Watch for updates as we continue on this important issue.

See various related items and an important petition below and on NO More Crusades dot

I vow to try to find some positive and inspiring items soon.
The House just passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a provision to authorize worldwide war, which has no expiration date and will allow this president — and any future president — to go to war anywhere in the world, at any time, without further congressional authorization. The new authorization wouldn’t even require the president to show any threat to the national security of the United States. The American military could become the world’s cop, and could be sent into harm’s way almost anywhere and everywhere around the globe.

Before the vote, the House debated an amendment that would have struck the worldwide war provision. That amendment was introduced by a bipartisan group of representatives: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Given the enormity of the proposed law, you’d expect the House to debate the amendment to strike it extensively, but that’s not what happened. The amendment was debated for a total of 20 minutes. That’s right. Twenty minutes to debate whether Congress should hand the executive branch sweeping worldwide war authority.

The vote on the amendment took place earlier this afternoon, and it failed on the House floor by a vote of 187-in favor to 234-opposed. Check the vote here.

But not to worry, all of your efforts to bring the importance of the new law and the amendment to strike it to your representatives’ attention have not been in vain — we promise. Today’s vote marks the end only of the first stage in our opposition to an authorization of endless worldwide war for the president and to be honest, we came out looking pretty good.

Though it is a bit awkward to celebrate a loss, a margin of defeat of only 47 votes on a provision that most people were unaware of as recently as two weeks ago is a big step forward. The momentum is on our side. And the Obama administration helped efforts to turn the tide when it issued a threat earlier this week to veto the NDAA if it contained such board sweeping language for worldwide war.

Your answers to the call for action and the expedient work of a bipartisan group of members of Congress and their staff have our opposition movement very well positioned as we prepare for the next hurdle—the Senate.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin its markup of the NDAA beginning on June 13. Watch for updates as we continue on this important issue.

This article just came in 5:15 pm or so and was posted here

Here's how this news was worded on US lawmakers pass $690 billion Pentagon bill - Lawmakers voted 322-96 in favor of the budget plan which met the Defense Department's request for $119 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.(9minutes ago) SEE 6: 40 pm ET item to left column at - Just in (interesting deliniation of items voted and there potential or sure impact.) See Full article:

We Oppose Obama's Support for War

We the undersigned share with nearly two-thirds of our fellow Americans the conviction that our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be ended and that overall military spending should be dramatically reduced. This has been our position for years and will continue to be, and we take it seriously. We vow not to support President Barack Obama for renomination for another term in office, and to actively seek to impede his war policies unless and until he reverses them.

Since he became president, Obama has had three opportunities to work with Congress to reduce military spending, but instead has championed increases in that spending each time, despite the fact that this spending represents a clear threat to the economic future of our country. He has continued as well to try to hide the true costs of the wars by funding them with off-the-books supplemental spending bills, despite the fact that he campaigned against this very practice.

The President has escalated a war on Afghanistan in which rising civilian deaths and atrocities have become routine.

He has given the CIA even greater freedom of action to launch lethal drone strikes against civilian houses in Pakistan on mere assumption of some connection with Taliban or other organizations, despite the warning from the U.S. Ambassador in late 2009 -- revealed in a Wikileaks cable -- that such attacks could "destabilize" the Pakistani government, despite many reports that civilians, including children, are disproportionately victims, and despite the contention of the United Nations and many U.S. allies that this practice is illegal.

Obama has approved an increase in covert operations by CIA-controlled Afghan troops into Pakistan, and his administration has remained silent while the U.S. command in Afghanistan leaked to the New York Times plans for new Special Operations Forces raids into Pakistan aimed at Afghan Taliban targets.

The President has expanded the use of Special Operations Forces (SOF), operating in virtually total secrecy and without any accountability to Congress, in one country after another. SOF troops are presently in some 75 nations -- 15 more than when Obama took office.

President Obama has, on a later schedule than he campaigned on, finally reduced U.S. troop presence in Iraq. But he has not fully withdrawn U.S. combat forces from Iraq or ended U.S. combat there, his claims to have done so notwithstanding. His vice president has suggested, without correction by the President, the possibility of a U.S. military presence in the country even after the deadline for withdrawal under the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement, if only through the use of military contractors.

The Obama administration has announced plans to form an army of mercenary troops from private military contractors in Iraq which is to have its own air force and its own fleet of mine-resistant military vehicles. The plan includes continued contracts with the company formerly called Blackwater, despite the knowledge that it was guilty of atrocities against civilians in that country, and despite the openly declared opposition of the Iraqi government to such a continued role.

Obama has overseen increased weapons sales to foreign nations, and assisting in those sales has been a major function of his State Department. He has approved increased funding for work on nuclear weapons, even while supporting an arms control treaty. He has established a policy of potential nuclear first strike against Iran or North Korea.

President Obama has argued for the justness of war-making in widely watched speeches from the Oval Office and in Oslo, Norway, where he was accepting a Nobel Peace Prize. He has, in his Oval Office speech last August, defended false statements that took our nation into the current wars and false statements that have prolonged them.

The President has supported sanctions against Iran and Syria that punish the people, especially children, and not the leadership, of those countries. He has sent ships and missiles to Iran's border. He has risked hostilities with North Korea through the ongoing construction of new military bases in South Korea and provocative war games exercises. His administration has helped a military coup succeed in Honduras.

President Obama has sought to allow more Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. He has protected Israel's killing of activists on a humanitarian aid ship, not even protesting at the murder of an unarmed American youth. He issued a presidential memorandum on October 25, 2010, giving U.S. approval for the use of child soldiers by Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen. He has backed Indonesian armed forces that assassinated civilian activists in late 2009. He has expanded the U.S. military presence in Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Guam, Italy, and Diego Garcia, as well as overseeing an enormous military base construction project in Afghanistan.

President Obama has not closed the prison at Guantanamo Bay and continues to maintain a network of detention facilities in Afghanistan through which prisoners, according to the most recent information available, are still being subjected to harsh treatment. He has claimed the right to imprison people, including American citizens, indefinitely without charge or trial, thus further cementing in place the elimination of the rights of prisoners of war and the elimination of the right of habeas corpus for anyone, as well as the rights found in the Fourth through Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The President has claimed the power of rendition. His CIA Director Leon Panetta and his senior advisor David Axelrod have asserted, without correction by the President, that the President maintains the power to torture. In the recent case of Gulet Mohamed, the Obama administration, for a time, claimed the power to forbid an American to reenter the country, absent any conviction or even any charge of a crime, and apparently collaborated with Kuwait to torture that American. The President has also openly claimed the power to order the assassination of Americans abroad. In Iraq, the U.S. military has continued to work with and protect from accountability an Iraqi military that is known to regularly use torture.

The President has expanded the use of warrantless spying. Under his leadership, the FBI has infiltrated peace groups and raided the homes of peace activists. It has set up and entrapped in terrorism charges people whose training and motivation came largely or even entirely from the FBI. He has supported the re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act, which strips away Americans' civil liberties.

President Obama, in direct violation of the Nuremberg Charter, a U.S. treaty commitment, has publicly instructed his Attorney General not to prosecute individuals responsible for crimes, including torture. His administration has worked hard to provide retroactive immunity to corporations engaged in warrantless spying and individuals engaged in sanctioning torture. He has kept secret a vast trove of documents, photos, and videos pertaining to prisoner abuse. He has advanced unprecedented claims of secrecy powers in defending the crimes of his predecessor. President Obama's White House has put great pressure on European states not to investigate or prosecute U.S. war crimes.

This president has restricted the release of the names of White House visitors and has pursued the prosecution and punishment of government whistleblowers more aggressively than any previous president. His administration is responsible for the cruel and unusual lengthy confinement in a 6' by 12' cell, prior to any trial, of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning. His vice president, Joe Biden, has publicly labeled an Australian journalist, Julian Assange, a "terrorist." President Obama has used a private propaganda firm that had been exposed planting lies in Iraqi media, to screen potential embedded reporters for coverage of the U.S. military. He has used the military to restrict reporting by American journalists on an oil spill in American waters.

Perhaps most perilously, President Obama has claimed the right to engage in many of these activities without the authorization of Congress. He has even claimed the power first developed by his predecessor to rewrite new laws through the extra-Constitutional use of presidential signing statements. Expanded powers that are not opposed now will be far more difficult to oppose later with another president able to claim past precedent.

The President's own deficit commission recommended cuts of $100 billion to the military budget. The United States spends about $1 trillion each year on the military, through a variety of departments, and has spent over $1 trillion already on the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Over half of every U.S. dollar of income tax is going to war making. The Department of Defense budget alone is larger than the military expenditures of the next largest 16 militaries in the world combined. That budget could be cut by 85% and still be the largest in the world. In addition to the lessening of hostility toward our country that would result from a significant decrease in U.S. military presence around the world, by shifting our financial resources we could create jobs, green energy, top quality free education, public transportation and infrastructure. We could also end all talk of reducing our Social Security or health coverage. We intend to support public servants who put our money where it serves the public.

We are not concerned with whether President Obama is acting enthusiastically or reluctantly in pursuing a militaristic policy abroad and more repression of dissent at home. It matters little whether he is submitting to powerful forces or freely following his preferred course. We do not elect his soldiers or spies, his advisors, his campaign funders, or the owners of our major media outlets. We elect the president. We will not support his nomination for another term, and we believe that a large proportion of Americans who voted for him in 2008 will not do so again unless he reverses the most egregious policies to which we have referred -- especially by taking decisive steps to end the war on Afghanistan and to make deep cuts in the military and war budgets.

ADD YOUR NAME below this identifying list...

Some of those who have signed:

Nic Abramson, U.S. Boat to Gaza
Meredith Aby, MN Anti-War Committee
Elliott Adams, president, Veterans For Peace
Beth Adams, Leverett Peace Commission
Will Allen, author, The War on Bugs
Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson
Robert Anderson, political science professor, organizer, Stop the War Machine
Maria Allwine, Pledge of Resistance Baltimore
Vicki Andrews, Peace Circle - Grand Rapids MN
Jean Athey, coordinator of Peace Action Montgomery (MD)* and national board member, Peace Action*
Nellie Hester Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council & Black Agenda Report
Anna Baltzer, activist
Missy Beattie, activist and writer
Mark Bebawi, producer/host, The Monitor, KPFT
Medea Benjamin, cofounder, Code Pink*
Frida Berrigan, War Resisters League*
Toby Blome, activist, Bay Area Code Pink
William Blum, author of books on U.S. foreign policy
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Vice-President, Veterans For Peace
Roy Bourgeois, founder, School of the Americas Watch
Linda Boyd, activist
Lenni Brenner, author, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
Jean Hay Bright, Maine's 2006 Democratic US Senate candidate
Elaine Brower, military mom, World Can't Wait
Mike Byerly, Alachua County Commissioner, Gainesville, Fla.
Scott Camil, President, Gainesville Florida Chapter, Veterans For Peace
Patty Casazza, 9/11 widow, former 9/11 Commission Family Steering Committee Member
Oskar Castro, board member, War Resisters League
Zach Choate, operation recovery field organizer, Iraq Veterans Against the War
David Cobb, Move To Amend coalition*
Jeff Cohen, author/media critic
William A. Collins, former mayor, Norwalk, CT, board member, Veterans for Peace
William John Cox, Voters Evolt!
Catarina Correia, video editor, coordinating committee member, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Bud Courtney, New York Catholic Worker
David Culver, publisher, Evergreene Digest
Ronnie Cummins, national director, Organic Consumers Association
Matthew W. Daloisio, Witness Against Torture*
Nicolas J S Davies, author, Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq
Elena Day, People's Alliance for Clean Energy
Laurie Dobson, director,
Frank Dorrel, publisher, Addicted To War
Jane Swift Dugdale, Main Line Peace Action
Sibel Edmonds, founder & director, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
Cherie Eichholz, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Roy Eidelson, past president, Psychologists for Social Responsibility
Pat Elder, Coordinating Committee, National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth*
Daniel Ellsberg, former State and Defense Dept. official, whistleblower of Pentagon Papers
Samuel S. Epstein, professor
Desiree Fairooz, Northern Virginians for Peace and Justice
Mike Ferner, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Joy First, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Robert Fitrakis, professor, editor
Lisa Fithian, convenor, United for Peace and Justice
Margaret Flowers, M.D., Physicians for a National Health Program*
Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report*
George Friday, Independent Progressive Politics Network
Sarah Fuhro, board member, Military Families Speak Out*
James Clay Fuller, retired newspaper editor
Monica Gabrielle, 9/11 widow, former 9/11 Commission Family Steering Committee Member
Bruce K. Gagnon, coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space*
Lila Garrett, radio host
Nate Goldshlag, national board member and treasurer, Veterans For Peace
Michelle Gross, president, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Thomas John Gumbleton, retired Roman Catholic Bishop
DeeDee Halleck, founder, Paper Tiger Tv, Deep Dish Network, emerita professor, UCSD
Connie Hammond, Progressive Peace Coalition, Columbus, Ohio
Kathy Hass, activist, Central Florida Code Pink
Bill Habedank, Veterans for Peace
Jim Haber, coordinator, Nevada Desert Experience
Susan Harman, Progressive Democrats of America*, Code Pink*
David Harris, Veterans for Peace
David Harris, draft resister, author
Leslie Harris, activist, Code Pink Greater Dallas*
Bob Heberle, former national board member, Veterans for Peace
Chris Hedges, author, Death of the Liberal Class
Dud Hendrick, Maine chapter president, Veterans for Peace
Steve Hendricks, author, A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial
Martha Hennessy, Catholic Worker
John Heuer, chair and national board member, NC Peace Action
Herbert J. Hoffman, vice president, Maine Veterans for Peace
Connie Hogarth, Cofounder WESPAC (Westchester Peoples Action Coalition)*
Will Hopkins, executive director, NH Peace Action, national board member, Veterans for Peace, member, IVAW
Lydia Howell, writer and host, "Catalyst", KFAI Radio
Sam Husseini, activist
Hugh Iglarsh, writer/editor
Rick Jahnkow, Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft*
Dahr Jamail, journalist/author
Mark C. Johnson, executive director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Larry Kalb, former Democratic congressional candidate
Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace
Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence*
Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation
Joey King, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Howie Klein, publisher,
Michael Knox, professor and clinical psychologist
Georg Koszulinski, filmmaker
Joel Kovel, author, The Enemy of Nature, Overcoming Zionism
Andrew Kolin, author, State Power and Democracy: Before and During the Presidency of George W Bush
Steve Lane, activist
Jesse Lemisch, Historian, Emeritus Prof, John Jay Coll of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun/Network of Spiritual Progressives
Linda LeTendre, LMSW Christian Peace Witness
Dave Lindorff, editor,
Erik Lobo, Veteran For Peace
Ralph Lopez,
Jan Lundberg, independent oil industry analyst
David MacMichael, Ph.D., former CIA analyst
Karen Malpede, playwrite
Bruce Marshall, ACT Independent: Antiwar Coalition for Truth, Independent
Sarah Martin, subpoenaed antiwar and international solidarity activist
Gene Marx, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Ethan McCord, IVAW, VFP, former army specialist from "collateral murder" video
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst
Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Nominee for U.S. President
David McReynolds, Socialist Party USA*
Bob Meola, War Resisters League National Committee* and Courage to Resist Organizing Collective*
Michael T. McPhearson, co-convenor United For Peace and Justice, former executive director of Veterans For Peace
Camilo E. Mejia, activist, resister
Linda Milazzo, activist, writer
Dede Miller, activist
Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor
Nick Mottern, Consumers for Peace
Gael Murphy, co-chair, Legislative Working Group, United for Peace and Justice*, co-founder, Code Pink*
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy*
Tom Neilson, folk musician
Bruce Nestor, past president, National Lawyers Guild
Brad Newsham, activist
Georgianne Nienaber, activist and author
Stirling Newberry, former military contractor
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Jeanne Olson, veteran, activist
Paul Ortiz, Veterans for Peace, author
Michael Parenti, author and activist
Cynthia Papermaster, director, National Accountability Action Network*
Judith Mahoney Pasternak, War Resisters League*
Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
Marc Pilisuk, author, Who Benefits from Global Violence and War: Uncovering a Destructive System
Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid of NC
Gareth Porter, author and journalist
Bill Quigley, Center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law, Loyola University New Orleans*
Jesselyn Radack, former Department of Justice legal adviser
Garett Reppenhagen, chair of the board of directors, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Ward Reilly, advisory committee member, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, VVAW
Jill Richardson, author
Katie Robbins, national organizer, Healthcare-NOW!
Stephen Roblin, Pledge of Resistance Baltimore, Baltimore Indypendent Reader
David Rovics, singer/song writer
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent, one of TIME's 2002 Persons of the Year
Richard E. Rubenstein, author, Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War
Stephanie Rugoff, project coordinator, War Criminals Watch
A.F. Saidy, M.D., Coalition for Peace in M.E. in L.A.
Nicole Sandler, radio host
Lisa Savage, Code Pink Maine*
Linda Schade,
Bill Scheurer, PeaceMajority Report
Sue Serpa, coordinator,
Jamilla El-Shafei, Peace Action Maine, Code Pink
Joanne Sheehan, coordinator, War Resisters League New England
Robert Shetterly, artist, Americans Who Tell the Truth
Gar Smith, Environmentalists Against War
Michael Steven Smith, Law and Disorder Radio; board member, Center for Constitutional Rights*
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Democracy Unlimited
Jeffrey St Clair, CounterPunch
John Stauber, author, Weapons of Mass Deception
Josh Stieber, conscientious objector
John Stockwell, former intelligence officer, author
David Swanson,
Rev. James L. Swarts, professor, Veterans For Peace, Progressives In Action Peace Committee Chair
Dennis Trainor, Jr.,
Diane Turco, Cape Codders for Peace and Justice
Sue Udry, Defending Dissent Foundation*
Jose N. Vasquez, executive director, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Elizabeth De La Vega, former assistant U.S. attorney, author
Robert C. Walter, Peace Action Maine, associate member of Veterans for Peace
Harvey Wasserman, author
Janet Weil, military family member
Alison Weir, president, Council for the National Interest
Beverley Whipple, Fla. chapter leader, Military Families Speak Out
Paki Wieland, activist
S. Brian Willson, Viet Nam Veteran, activist
Diane Wilson, shrimper, activist, author, Veterans for Peace
Marcy Winograd, former Democratic congressional candidate
Ann Wright, US Army Reserve Colonel and former US diplomat
Bill Wylie-Kellermann, pastor, St Peter's Episcopal Church - Detroit
Dan Yaseen, Peace Fresno
Charles M. Young, contributing editor,
Kevin Zeese, Voters For Peace
Maggie Zhou, Climate SOS

*for identification purposes only

ADD YOUR NAME GO here - Also GO here for updates on items related to War - USA:
Today's US Vote in the House to a large degree in favor of war $ is delineated further:

Voting recorded
Nuanced commentary and possible glimmers of light from FireDogLake

Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.

3 min - Aug 4, 2006 - Uploaded by RobUniv
Dwight D. Eisenhower exit speech on Jan.17,1961. Warning us of the military industrial complex. here See many comments -

A good day to listen again to this message - to question where it left off and where it needs new additions - especially today - such understanding all the lawyers of war and how it goes hand and hand today with surveillance and injustices - Click here

To Add your opposition to Obama and all the designs toward ongoing war - GO here

US Vote on War: A Sad, Sad day...

Detainee Amendments Sent midday Thursday May 26 2011

Find items related directly to detainees below: Note Amendment #43 passed evidently.

The War Vote May 26, 2011 here

Also related to Renditons/detainees see how complicit the US/Obama still is with Shannon Airport - see esp. May 23, 24, 25th here

You can find documents on some of the rendition flights which have come through Shannon Airport and find most credible witnesses to these travesties by going to and look for articles about and by Edward Horgan articles: here and also here See the ShannonWatch reference material page here - esp. the "Killing machines as usual refuelling at Shannon" article on - Indymedia Ireland - Jan 10, 2011 by Edward Horgan - ===============
Some key amendments affecting detainees & results in the House (as I understand these)

Amendment 42 by Adam Smith, which allows detainee transfers to the US for prosecution, makes the restrictions on transfers to foreign countries less stringent, and strikes the ban on DOD spending on domestic facilities to imprison Guantanamo detainees (such as Thomson). Failed

Amendment 43 by Vern Buchanan (R-FL), which would prohibit the prosecution in federal criminal courts of all terrorism suspects who are not US citizens. Passed

Amendment 50 by Amash, Lee, Conyers, Jones (NC), Nadler, Paul to strike section 1034, the worldwide war authority provision. Failed

What a sad, sad day we have come to see. Yet there is more need than ever for our increasingly unified efforts - nationally and globally - among all citizens of the Human Family for peace with and thru justice, truth, beauty and various forms of actual compassion....

To Add your opposition to Obama and all the designs toward ongoing war - GO here


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Draconian Anti-Immigration Laws Passed (ACLU files)

ACLU and NILC File Lawsuit Challenging Indiana’s Draconian Anti-Immigrant Law

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666;

INDIANAPOLIS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the law firm of Lewis & Kappes, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit today challenging a discriminatory Indiana law inspired by Arizona’s notorious SB 1070. The lawsuit charges the law authorizes police to make warrantless arrests of individuals based on assumed immigration status and criminalizes the mere use or acceptance of the commonly used consular ID card. The groups charge that the law will lead to racial profiling and trample upon the rights of all Indiana residents.

“Indiana has created a law that not only tramples on the constitutional rights of Hoosiers, but also improperly involves Indiana in areas that are clearly of federal, not state, concerns,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana.

Some state lawmakers oppose the extreme law, saying it will increase law enforcement costs and deter both employers and employees from coming to the state. Indiana University has also expressed concerns that the law will discourage enrollment and academic participation, noting that the institution hosts thousands of foreign national students, faculty members and visitors each school year.

“Indiana has unwisely chosen to follow down Arizona’s unconstitutional path,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This law marginalizes entire communities by criminalizing commonly accepted forms of identification. The law also undermines our most cherished constitutional safeguards by putting Indiana residents at risk of unlawful warrantless arrests without any suspicion of wrongdoing, much less criminal activity.”

Immigration bills inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070 have been introduced across the country this legislative season, but Indiana is only the third state to pass the controversial legislation this year. The state becomes one of only four, along with Arizona, Utah and Georgia, to enact draconian state-based immigration laws. The ACLU, NILC and a coalition of civil rights groups filed lawsuits in Arizona and Utah. The most troubling provisions of SB 1070 have been blocked by a federal appellate court, and the Utah law has been blocked by the U.S. district court for the District of Utah, pending further review of the Utah district court.

The lawsuit charges that the Indiana law is unconstitutional in that it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and authorizes unreasonable seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“By cutting off the use of secure foreign photo identification, the law has effectively denied foreign visitors, scholars and immigrants in general the ability to engage in important commercial activity,” said Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center. “These secure forms of official identification, which can be used by a visiting professor to open a bank account or by a foreign national to provide proof of identification in a wide variety of settings, are vital to both immigrants and society. This provision, like the rest of the law, is misguided and will undoubtedly have unintended social and economic consequences.”

The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of three individual plaintiffs who would be subject to harassment or arrest under the law.

Attorneys on the case include Falk, Jan P. Mensz and Gavin M. Rose of ACLU of Indiana; Segura, Lee Gelernt, Omar C. Jadwat, Cecillia D. Wang and Katherine Desormeau of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin and Shiu-Ming Cheer of NILC; and Angela D. Adams of Lewis & Kappes, P.C.

The complaint can be found at: or CLICK here

Also, download »
Urtiz, et al. v. City of Indianapolis - Complaintcase »
Urtiz, et al. v. City of Indianapolis
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5/25/2011 | Georgia | Immigrants' Rights

Georgia Strikes Out on Civil Rights »download »
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Urtiz, et al. v. City of Indianapolis - Complaint »case »
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5/24/2011 | Due Process, Immigration Detention

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Written Statement of Ahilan T. Arulanantham, Deputy Legal Director ACLU of Southern California, For a Hearing on “Providing for the Detention of Dangerous Aliens” »


Recently, I attended a conference in Atlanta a day after the same ruling was passed in Georgia:

Carlos Santana Denounces “Cruel” Anti-Immigrant Law (recently passed, signed by Governor Deal) at Atlanta - On May 15, 2011 ... Carlos Santana told 60000 baseball fans in Atlanta that Georgia and Arizona need to repeal anti-immigrant laws.

A father's touching question and stopping the moving train....

NOW, can my son come home? father of John Walker Lindh asks SEE my other blogsite for May 25, 2011 here

I've also decided to add the post about famous historian Cornel West's anger at Obama and why both the personal and public gestures and traits of a person matter in leadership after much hesitation at the above blogsite.

Just as I'm leaving my internet work for the day (and possibly for the week), a thought keeps occuring, is our US leadership opposed to or OBSESSED with TOTAL WAR POWER? What do you think? Feel? Sense? Look over what's been happening in the US Congress and in Ireland and see if you yourself have similar questions, wonderings, doubt about the way the US and the West is headed ... still?

Hard indeed to stop a moving train...yet...we've more peacemakers who genuinely want to connect, grow, learn and understand one another than ever before across the world. We're connecting more than ever across many traditions and on many issues.

We can create OUR OWN MOVING TRAIN worldwide for peace via justice and without the absence of beauty and truth.

This is What a Police State Looks Like

Rania Khalek a young activist/journalist who's articles are more mature and nuanced than many twice her age. She seems to continually be getting huge response for her work. See this photo on Common dreams.

Originally published on Saturday, May 21, 2011 - reposted by where you can find over 140 Comments by now (reposted May 28, 2011)

This Is What A Police State Looks Like
by Rania Khalek

The late Chalmers Johnson often reminded us that “A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.” His warning rings more true by the day, as Americans watch the erosion of their civil liberties accelerate in conjunction with the expansion of the US Empire.

When viewed through the lens of Johnson’s profound insights, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Kentucky v. King makes perfect sense. On May 13, in a lopsided 8-1 ruling, the Court upheld the warrantless search of a Kentucky man’s apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared those inside were destroying evidence, essentially granting police officers increased power to enter the homes of citizens without a warrant.

Under the Fourth Amendment, police are barred from entering a home without first obtaining a warrant, which can only be issued by a judge upon probable cause. The only exception is when the circumstances qualify as “exigent,” meaning there is imminent risk of death or serious injury, danger that evidence will be immediately destroyed, or that a suspect will escape. However, exigent circumstances cannot be created by the police.

In this case, the police followed a suspected drug dealer into an apartment complex and after losing track of him, smelled marijuana coming from one of the apartments. After banging on the door and announcing themselves, the police heard noises that they interpreted as the destruction of evidence. Rather than first obtaining a warrant, they kicked down the door and arrested the man inside, who was caught flushing marijuana down the toilet.

The Kentucky Supreme Court had overturned the man’s conviction and ruled that exigent circumstances did not apply because the behavior of the police is what prompted the destruction of evidence. Tragically, an overwhelming majority of the Supreme Court upheld the Conviction. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that citizens are not required to grant police officers permission to enter their homes after hearing a knock, but if there is no response and the officers hear noise that suggests evidence is being destroyed, they are justified in breaking in.

In her lone and scathing dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the Kentucky Supreme Court, arguing that the Supreme Court’s ruling “arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases. In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, nevermind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant.” She went on to stress that “there was little risk that drug-related evidence would have been destroyed had the police delayed the search pending a magistrate’s authorization.”

Not only did the police instigate the destruction of evidence by banging at the door and shouting “Police, police,” but they could have easily obtained a warrant since they likely had probable cause. There is no reason to believe that delaying the search to obtain a warrant, as legally required, would have led to the destruction of evidence. This was pure laziness and contempt for the constitution on part of the officers.

An argument could be made that entering without a warrant saves money, time, and resources, especially if it’s obvious that a crime is being committed. However, the protection of our rights is worth the money, time, and resources. Living in a free society requires that we make these sacrifices, even at the peril of our safety if need be. In fact, I would argue that the wasting of money, time, and resources is the fault of a deeply flawed drug policy, not the protection of those pesky civil liberties always getting in the way of law enforcement.

As for the implications of such a ruling, arming the police with more power will have serious consequences for an already institutionally biased criminal justice system in regards to the “war on drugs.” Jordan C. Budd notes the existence of a “poverty exception” to the Constitution, particularly the Fourth Amendment, a bias that renders much of the Constitution irrelevant at best, and hostile at worst, to the American poor. While attacks on the Fourth Amendment negatively affect all members of society, minorities and the poor, generally the targets of the drug war, are more vulnerable to the abuse of power that follows.

Chief Judge Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit recently decried this “unselfconscious cultural elitism” in a case upholding the ability of police to clandestinely attach a GPS tracking device to the underside of a car parked in the driveway of a modest home:

Poor people are entitled to privacy, even if they can’t afford all the gadgets of the wealthy for ensuring it. . . . When you glide your BMW into your underground garage or behind an electric gate, you don’t need to worry that somebody might attach a tracking device to it while you sleep. But the Constitution doesn’t prefer the rich over the poor; the man who parks his car next to his trailer is entitled to the same privacy and peace of mind as the man whose urban fortress is guarded by the Bel Air Patrol. . . .We are taking a giant leap into the unknown, and the consequences for ourselves and our children may be dire and irreversible. Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we’re living in Oceania.

The same holds true in the context of warrantless door-busting. In the Kentucky case the police smelled marijuana in the hall of the apartment complex that the initial suspect they were tracking had taken refuge in. An apartment hall is a common space shared by many people, who could be emitting various odors from inside their homes, such as cooked onions or fresh paint. Had this been a single-family home in the suburbs, there is no way the smell of pot would have been detected from the doorway of the house across the street.

Scott Lemieux made this point well when he wrote:

As with the broader drug war, civil-liberties violations have a disparate impact in terms of race and class. It is generally not wealthy white suburbanites who have to worry about being stopped and frisked on the streets or having their doors broken down. Like the grotesquely harsh sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine possession, this erosion of Fourth Amendment rights has persisted because wealthy people are largely insulated from its effects.

The failure of society at large to secure the rights of all segments of the population, has resulted in what can only be described as a nail in the coffin of our right to privacy, at least for those who can afford it.

In her dissent, Ginsburg went on to ask, “How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and, on hearing sounds indicative of things moving, forcibly enter and search for evidence of unlawful activity?” While I agree with Ginsberg’s premise, I would go further in arguing that the war on drugs has created a dangerous precedent where even when a search warrant is obtained, we are far from secure in our homes.

For example, about a week prior to the Kentucky ruling, police authorities in Pima County, Arizona, fired 71 shots in seven seconds at 26 year old Jose Guerena, a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq. Guerena was murdered in the middle of the night while his terrified wife and 4-year old son hid in the closet. The SWAT team that killed him was there to serve a narcotics search warrant as part of a multi-house drug crackdown. As Guerena lay dying with his wife pleading for help, the SWAT team barred paramedics from entering the home.

Guerena’s wife asserts that her husband grabbed his gun because he thought his family was the victim of a home invasion, not a police raid. This is understandable given the family’s location in Arizona, a state where anti-immigrant militants are notorious for the cold-blooded murder of hispanic families. Deputies initially justified their actions by claiming that Guerena fired at officers but later said he kept the gun safety on and never pulled the trigger.

As it turns out, Guerena’s murder is just the most recent in a long line of botched paramilitary operations. According to an investigation carried out by the CATO Institute, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement over the last 25 years, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units for routine police work. In fact, the most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

The CATO study found that some 40,000 of these raids take place every year, and are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers.

These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

Those who suggest that the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Kentucky is ‘no big deal’ or that it’s ‘alarmist’ to think otherwise, must not understand the extent to which the boundaries are pushed when the Court makes exceptions to our rights. Nor do they comprehend that once lost, civil liberties are impossible to reclaim. With SWAT teams already injuring and at times killing the wrong people to serve warrants, just imagine the abuse to come given the increased power the Court has bestowed upon the state.

Considering the level of brutality we have been dishing out around the world, from the “war on drugs” to the “war on terror,” the erosion of our civil liberties is sadly inevitable. Did we really think that we could wage war and occupy other nations with checkpoints, invasive surveillance, and brutal violence without these same policing tactics spreading to our country?

After sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers abroad to terrorize people in their homes around the world, we shouldn’t be surprised that our government would eventually employ the same actions against its own citizens. Just as Chalmers Johnson predicted, our imperialism abroad is destroying what is left of our democracy at home. From warrantless wiretapping to warrantless door-busting, this is what a police state looks like.

Rania Khalek is a young, progressive activist with a passionate dedication to social justice. Check out her blog Missing Pieces or follow her on twitter @Rania_ak. You can contact her at


References to related...leaving for simple cut/paste:

Here are some references on the above issues or related:

Find this at my other blogsite nomorecrusades:

ACTION Added: Obama Opposed to Being Given Total War Power

Article just in below...Action on top for easy access:

Quick simple ACTION (regardless of the outcome in congress or the WH, YOUR voice counts: PLZ read the helpful background on the current debate in the US House and act accordingly:

ACT NOW: This will take only a few minutes - plz personalize. For example, I noted at top my short indignation and why. I added at the end how the legislator's conscience, Muslim neighbor,children and grand-children(grownup) might vote.

CLICK here

Cut/paste/edit and get out to your contacts the following link/info:

Helpful commentary (the US - ACLU is highlighted as the FIRST to be aware of the layered and worrisome issues.)

Whether too late or not, Obama may pay attention if we contact WH to let him know we like the way he's thinking on this one? And let's remember his words and HOLD him to this. AND, foolproof by calling legislators and getting out the word in whatever way works best for us on several levels (Connie)

For signs Obama may be talking from both sides of his mouth, see the UPDATE on Monday's post for and related see earlier post or simply go to for May 25th

SEE David Swanson's post today:

Obama Opposed to Being Given Total War Power Wed, 2011-05-25 04:21 — davidswanson
Peace and WarThe White House has put out a statement expressing its disapproval of various bits of H.R.1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Here's the most interesting, if not the most adamant, objection:

"Detainee Matters: The Administration strongly objects to section 1034 which, in purporting to affirm the conflict, would effectively recharacterize its scope and would risk creating confusion regarding applicable standards. At a minimum, this is an issue that merits more extensive consideration before possible inclusion."

And here's Section 1034:

"Congress affirms that--
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note);
(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization, and persons who--
(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
(B) have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and
(4) the President's authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities."

This is language that would allow presidents to make war almost anytime anywhere. Obama's disapproval raises some interesting questions:

Will the Democratic leadership whip hard against this language, and against the bill if it is left in? Has Obama told them to?

Will Obama veto the bill if it is passed including this biggest ever unconstitutional reshaping of government powers, a move he "strongly objects" to?

If he doesn't veto it, will he signing statement it away? And if he does that, what will be the legal status of a piece of legislation that unconstitutionally gives congressional powers to the executive, a piece of unconstitutional legislation that has been unconstitutionally erased by a signing statement?

Will Libya and dozens of other current military operations be legal because signing statements are unconstitutional or illegal because Section 1034 is unconstitutional?

Does it matter, since the wars roll along regardless and impeachment is reserved for sex?

And, last but not least, if a member of the White House Press Corpse ever asks about this during a press conference, what size cell will that lucky person be locked up in?

Monday, May 23, 2011

UPDATE/ACTION: Spotlight on Human Rights - Ireland/US - May 23, 2011


See various items related to Shannon Airport/US complicity on Shannon Watch dot org and below this update just added...

NO MATTER WHAT YOUR COUNTRY, here is the urgently needed petition on top. Sign on ith your group or organization - getting the word of this one action can be a public awareness tool globally:

The Shannon Watch petition says :" We support the Irish peace movement’s campaign to terminate the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to and from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

So far 51 organisations have signed up ...

More info here where you can easily find links to Rendition documentation and to this petition.)
Also see Worthington's site for May 23rd: During State Visit by Barack Obama, Amnesty I Asks...(for Return of Shaker Aamer) GO here See the post just below that on Andy's site on the "mistaken identity - tragic suicide"

We need many links beyond the US and the West with Peace, Justice, Rights groups abroad.

This just in: Messrs Kenny and Obama - Stop Making Deals over Shannon without the Irish People's Consent Shannonwatch statement, 25 May 2011

According to newspaper reports, including one in the Irish Examiner, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that he and U.S. President Barack Obama had "agreed there would be no change in respect of the US forces using Shannon Airport as a stop-off". The Taoiseach has no mandate or right to enter into such an agreement, and it flies in the face of the programme for government he signed up to just a few short months ago.

The current programme for government, which one can read on the Taoiseach's own official website, says "We will enforce the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law". But the agreement made with Barack Obama suggests that the Taoiseach wants to redefine international law. We have not heard any official statements from the government in relation to the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace by rendition planes, but we now know from its leader that they are not bothered about possible breaches of human rights and humanitarian law by U.S. forces, or about neutrality laws, or about UN mandates for that matter.

No change in respect of U.S. forces using Shannon means that it could be used for another illegal invasion - like Iraq in 2003. In other words, Shannon Airport might well be part of an ill-advised and destructive attack on Libya, or whatever country the U.S. selects next for regime change.

It also means that they can continue to take dangerous military equipment through the civilian airport without adequate oversight or safety procedures. It could mean that Special Forces assassination teams pass through the airport, or that planes used to transport prisoners to places where they are illegally detained and maybe even tortured can come and go as they please. In effect it gives carte blanche to the U.S. forces to do as they please at Shannon.

The issue of neutrality is one that does not seem to bother the Fine Gael government very much either, but it should. The Hague Convention on Neutrality states that “belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power”. Ireland has in the past allowed military aircraft of various nations to refuel at Shannon but this was normally on the basis that they were carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives and that the flights in question were not part of military exercises or operations. But since a previous government agreed to make Shannon available for an invasion of Iraq we have been in breach of the Hague Convention.

Finally it is worth reminding the Taoiseach and Fine Gael of a sentence in their 2003 document on neutrality (Beyond Neutrality: Security, Social Justice and Responsibility) which says: "Let us be open with the people and let us put the issues clearly before them" (p.5). Its time to to start doing what your party say you should do, Mr Kenny. Start a proper debate on Irish foreign policy. Focus on providing genuine humanitarian support for victims of war, violence and natural disasters. And stop making foreign policy by stealth, in your chats with visiting presidents.

To contact Shannonwatch, call (+353) 87 8225087 or email


Following posted Monday on this oneheartforpeace site:

IHRC tells UN Ireland not meeting it's obligations (on complicity with rights abuses such as extraordinary renditions/ dispatching people to b e tortured or ill treated: GO here

...the Irish Human Rights Commission has repeatedly advised the Irish Government that the only effective way of ensuring that it does not become complicit in dispatching people to be tortured or ill-treated is through establishing an effective regime of monitoring and inspection.

Also see a similar call from Andy Worthington below...

Since 2001 the Peace & Neutrality Alliance (PANA) has campaigned against the use of Shannon Airport by US troops. NC Stop Torture Now has highlighted US/Irish & Shannon Airport's complicity with extraordinary renditions for quite a few years.

TODAY- the 23rd of May President Obama is visiting Ireland. PANA and its member organisations, including Shannonwatch, are using the visit to highlight international support for their campaign. They are
inviting organisations around the world to confirm their support by adding their signature to this statement:

SIGN ON to the petition repositioned above...

More info here where you can easily find links to Rendition documentation and to this petition.)
Also see Worthington's site for May 23rd: During State Visit by Barack Obama, Amnesty I Asks...(for Return of Shaker Aamer) GO here See the post just below that on Andy's site on the "mistaken identity - tragic suicide"

Plz consider informing your other groups about this way we can link to our Rights advocates abroad. We need many links beyond the US and the West with Peace, Justice, Rights groups abroad.

Also JUST IN Monday on the US Patriot Act - Huff Post is also following this GO here

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bill Moyers: Time is Running Out (for our US Democracy)

Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Peter Scheer with Robert Scheer, and we are speaking with the legendary Bill Moyers, whose newest book is “Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues.” Thanks so much for making the time.

Bill Moyers: I’m glad to be with you.

Robert Scheer: You know, let me begin—this is Robert—ah, with a sort of longer-run question. I know things are pretty bad now in terms of deception, and so forth, but hasn’t it ever been so? And particularly in the area of foreign policy, I was thinking of the warning of George Washington and his farewell address, where he said “beware of the impostures of pretended patriotism.” And coming down through the years, we generally have been lied to about foreign policy, national security matters. Is it really much worse?

Bill Moyers: I don’t think so, except it’s just—there’s just more of it. We have, now, not only the government lying, but we have 24-hour media; you’ve got Fox News, you’ve got Rush Limbaugh, all dealing in misinformation—disinformation. And there’s just an incredible fog—a smog, you might say—surrounding us now.

Robert Scheer: Yeah, but you know, we on the Internet—and this is what Truthdig is all about—we’ve had about 60 million people come to our site, and we’re by no means one of the larger ones. But we think there’s a redeeming quality to this new, new form, that people can weigh in—professors, experts, whistleblowers. Do you see a positive side to it?

Bill Moyers: Oh, yes. I think it’s our last, our last hope, actually, is a free Internet with democratic, small “d” democratic access. I think that our administration—the Johnson administration, in which I served for the first 2 ½ years—would not have gotten away with a one-sided explanation of Vietnam if we’d had the Internet at that time. There were, as you know, brave reporters out in Vietnam trying to get back to the public with news, but they had to work through their organizations; it took a while; and too many of their bosses in Washington were comfortable with the administration’s propaganda line. So yes, I think the Internet is the best hope we have, if we can keep it. And of course, as you know, as we speak, the Internet … net neutrality is under siege from powerful corporate forces.

Robert Scheer: You know, let me ask you about those corporate forces. One of the great promises of the Johnson administration was the War on Poverty, and the hopes of redressing some of the class imbalances in this society. They’ve gotten much more intense. And we now have a situation where, according to [Joseph] Stiglitz, the top one percent of the wealthy control 40 percent of the wealth in this country. What do you think Lyndon Johnson would make of this current situation?

Bill Moyers: Well, of course, that’s impossible to say. But at heart he was a populist. When he started out as the son of a man who’d been laid low by the Great Depression of ’29, Lyndon Johnson—and populism had been held hostage by corporate power, and railroads [affecting] the farmers, as we know, at that period—he, his heart was populist. He was elected in a field of 11 candidates for Congress by saying, I’m the only one of the 11 who will be 100 percent for Franklin Roosevelt. So he was a New Dealer, a populist at heart. Of course, as he rose in power, representative of the Senate—which … of a state that’s very conservative, as opposed to his populist district in central Texas—he became friendlier with the interests of oil, the interests of construction, the predecessor to Halliburton, Brown & Root. But at heart remained with … you know, with the folks he had taught when he was a schoolteacher for one year in a town, at a high school of Mexican students in Cotulla, Texas. I think he’d be astonished and saddened by the fact that the difference today between the top and the bottom in America is greater—in income and wealth—is greater than it’s been since the Depression. I think he’d be—I think he’d be indignant about that.

Peter Scheer: Do you see a parallel there with Barack Obama, who started also as a populist working in communities with working people, who now seems to be more interested in corporate power, influence?

Bill Moyers: Well, I’ve seen this with most Democrats since Johnson’s time, who have bought into the system as it is…and I think that’s Barack Obama’s greatest problem, is that he’s bought into America as it is, and therefore he can’t lead us out of the crisis the way most people thought he could. Yes, he’s a good servant of corporate interest, despite some of his rhetoric. He accepts the system now as it is. He’ll take secret money next year if he has to; he refused to participate in public funding for the election in ’08. And he understands where the deck is stacked, and where the money comes from. No question about it.

Robert Scheer: So where did we liberals go wrong? You know, it’s sort of an irony. You mentioned conservative Texas, but you know, I kind of like the fact that Ron Paul from Texas is at least … [Laughter] raising some questions, you know. And what happened to the sort of liberal outrage, and liberal populism …?

Bill Moyers: I think we thought that we could negotiate, and civilize the corporate power. … We thought that they would respond responsibly to the pleas for equality, justice, or at least fairness. We thought we could … you know, and then Johnson’s great quote from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible: “Come now, and let us reason together.” And I think liberals thought that you could regulate these predatory powers so that they would foam less at the mouth, consume less at the meal, and sleep a little easier at night. But they’re restless; you know, money is restless for more. And we have discovered, too late, that they refuse to be reasoned with.

Robert Scheer: Not just reasoned with, but they don’t seem to have any sense of being accountable to future generations. At least with the old moneyed elite, the Rockefellers and so forth, there was some sense of leaving something, of worrying about how you’d be perceived 50 or 100 years up the road. This new crowd just seems to be, you know, get in and get out, and grab what you can.

Bill Moyers: It’s more “now,” and therefore there is no governance; there is no balance wheel. I’ve been doing deep research, forensic research, into the period between 1860 and 1912, the period that followed the Civil War, saw the populist movement in an effort to tame the growing powers of great wealth—the railroads, the trusts, the monopolies. And we’re seeing the same thing now that we saw then, only more so. There was a period of time when the populace and the progressives—William Jennings Bryan…people like that, frontier champions of the people—thought that they could regulate these powerful economic interests, and discovered that they couldn’t. Liberals came along after the New Deal, thought we could regulate capitalism, and it turned out capitalism was regulating … capitalism captured the regulatory state. I think we have to go back to what Jim Hightower, the great populist from Texas, present populist from Texas, says about the populists: that they didn’t want to criticize the government, they wanted to own the government. And I think that’s exactly what’s—I mean, democracy is in trouble. We’re almost out of time. It’s always a series of narrow escapes, representative government, and we just—we may be running out of luck right now.

Peter Scheer: Do you think we have a bias of the present? I mean, you’re talking about this broad swath of history, and you were in the White House during the civil rights movement, the great achievements of that era. And now we live in a situation where, you know, we often say well, things have been much worse; and yet at the same time we have more people in prison now in the United States than any other country in the world, and many of them people of color. Are we better off, are we worse off? And do you think we’re in—we’re always moving from crisis to crisis, whether it’s nuclear weapons or global warming, or—are things really moving in the wrong direction, the right direction, are we somewhere in between?

Bill Moyers: Well, in some respect, there are great advances. I mean, with gay people and women and African-Americans. Even in this regard: Look at what’s happened here in New York with the alleged, with the arrest of the head of the IMF, a rich powerful white man who allegedly tried to take advantage of a poor working immigrant from Africa who was coming in to clean his room. If there’s ever a metaphor for how the rich and upper class regard their servants, you’ve got it right there. But now, she can file a suit, has filed a suit; and he’s been arrested, he’s being held. Once upon a time, where I grew up in the South—once upon a time anywhere in this country—a servant, household help would, if they made a charge against a rich powerful white man like this, it would, nothing would happen. So in that metaphorical sense, and in a real sense, there have been some changes. But in terms of the distribution of wealth, in terms of equality of opportunity, in terms of a decent wage, living wage, in many respects we are losing ground rapidly. I just saw a piece about some new jobs being created out in the Midwest with the return of some manufacturing functions, but they’re jobs paying a third of what the old jobs that were shipped abroad are paying. So, you know, I think comparisons are somewhat misplaced. Going back to Robert’s original point, from the very beginning this has been a tempestuous journey. As I say in the opening of the foreword to my new book, when de Tocqueville got off of the boat coming for his celebrated visit in New York in the 1830s, he was greeted by what he called a “mighty tumult.” And that’s what democracy is. But there have been periods in our history when organized people—that is, operating through their government—have been able to check and balance the power of organized money. At the moment, organized money is winning. And with serious consequences for working men and women and for the poor.

Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio and we’re speaking with Bill Moyers.

Robert Scheer: Let me ask you a question—you know, you came from the South and I came from the Bronx [Laughs], and we had the conceit that we needed national politics to straighten you people out, you know; civil rights, and so forth. And I increasingly feel that this preoccupation with the federal government has been a mistake, that maybe there’s something to states’ rights. We’re broadcasting from California, where actually we ran against the national trend in our election; where there seems to have been a rejection of kind of the tea party populism; there’s a recognition that government is needed. And increasingly, I wonder whether the federal government is really the indispensable agent of liberal change.

Bill Moyers: It certainly isn’t right now; it could be, and its tax policies and … look, what’s the one thing the federal government has done well in the last 15 years? Get bin Laden. But it took 10 years, $2 trillion, two wars, and a lot of lives before we did. That’s about the only thing you can claim that the federal government has got right in the last 12 or 15 years. It has fallen into a relationship with corporate money that has rendered it largely inoperative when it comes to the real lives of ordinary people. But you know, Robert, there was no states’ rights before the Civil War; there were no states before the Civil War, as such. It was only when Lincoln organized the federal government to defend the Union that we got a federal government that was actually doing things for people, like … homeland, railroads, all of that. The federal government’s not working right now. And out of 2008 came an actually interesting contradiction of forces. A lot of people emerged from that saying, the market has failed us; and then with the bailouts and all of that, a lot of other people emerged and said, we ought to go back to the traditional state. So if you don’t want the markets to govern your lives, and you don’t believe that the traditional state can, you’ve got to go local. And to me, that is where there is hope right now for some change. I mean, you’ve got some conservative change; look at South Carolina, look at Mississippi, look at places like that; you’re going to get some progressive change elsewhere.

Robert Scheer: You know, it’s a point of focus, I think. Because I covered—I was working for the Los Angeles Times as a reporter—and I covered the deregulation under Bill Clinton. And it just was so obvious to me that there was no consumer presence, no popular voice; that the banks were going to rewrite these laws and reverse the New Deal, in just the way they wanted, and get what they wanted. And so—and in the process, we took away the power from the states to regulate usury, to protect consumers, to govern the banks. There had been, I think, 23 states that had, in their constitution, restrictions on interest rates and, you know, serious rules about the banks. And I wonder whether as a sort of liberal standard now we should be saying, hey, the federal government—we can agree with the right wing, some of the principal libertarians—the federal government is out of control. We really can’t control it; the powerful interests do. And that’s the sense in which I bring up states’ rights; that maybe the battlefield is to—as some of these state attorney generals, now the attorney general of New York, who is going after Wall Street—maybe these are the people who … this is the battlefield.

Bill Moyers: Well, many of the states’ attorneys general are one hope. They—27, 30 of them have organized on various issues to protect the consumer, consumer rights. It all depends on what—anywhere you have representative government, the powers-that-be are going to try to take over, buy out, buy off that government. If you go to Texas, my home state, of course it’s the business interests that run the state of Texas now, with [Rick] Perry, who was George Bush’s successor. You really can’t get anything done if you’re a consumer advocate, an advocate of the poor in Texas, because it’s run by the landed and vested interests in that state. So without a populist, progressive citizens’ muscle of some form or another, if you go to only the states’ rights, you’re going to get a lot of oppressive reaction in the government.

Peter Scheer: You’ve been an ardent defender of the press, or of good press, for many, many years. And making that connection with the decline of our—of how desperate our situation is with respect to our democracy, we’re in the middle of a fund drive here at KPFK, and I wonder … you know, I find that as an editor at Truthdig, whenever we post stories about the decline of the media, it’s like—people just don’t care. They never click on them, they sort of ignore them. And there’s a small sort of intellectual group that has active discussions about it, but by and large, it’s just frustrating to … I guess I’m asking, can you make the case for people, why they should care about the decline of media, and make that connection with our situation.

Bill Moyers: Well, I think it’s one of the oldest arguments in our democracy. That, you know, for all of his flaws, I think Thomas Jefferson was right when he said that an informed public is to be preferred to an uninformed public. And I think that is generally the case now. There’s an interesting study out from the University of Michigan about how people don’t want to listen to the facts. Even if they know a fact is authentic, if they know it’s true, but if it offends their—or insults or undermines their belief system, they don’t want to, they don’t accept it; they reject it. That’s one reason, the explanation for the solid support the right-wing and conservative media have. Unless there’s an alternative to Fox News, to Rush Limbaugh—unless there are guys like you, Thom Hartmann and Amy Goodman out there, continuing to press the evidence to the contrary, continuing to do forensic journalism, deeply researched journalism—really we’re going to live in that smog of propaganda, sentimentality and frankly, pornography, which has—political pornography has transformed our discourse into an ugly and grotesque version of what should be a good conversation of democracy. So the artists may be small, the artists may be underfunded; without these alternative voices, we are left to the mercy of the state and to the big, powerful corporations that control much of the media now. I mean, if you’re listening to this broadcast or going to Truthdig, imagine what happens if this channel goes silent and Truthdig disappears. What is your life like? Where do you go to compare what you’re hearing here, and reading on Truthdig, to what you’re getting from talk radio—85% of whose hosts are right wing—or from Fox News, where large numbers of people get their news? So without these independent voices, without the Tom Paines, without the William Allen Whites, without the Iconoclast—which was an independent newspaper in Texas many years ago—without these, we’re beholden to the propagandists.

Robert Scheer: You know, I’d like to—this is Bob Scheer—I’d like to end on a more positive note [Laughs] than my son Peter seemed to be going. You know, we’ve been doing this a long time; you’ve been doing it a lot more effectively than I have. But still, you know, it’s great—it’s great to rebel; it’s great to challenge. It’s great to seek the truth. And as I look around, I think we have—there’s one saving grace to this society, which has sort of manifested in the Internet. You know, yeah, there’s a lot of noise; there are special interests. But the basic values of the country remain surprisingly noble. And I think people really want to do the right thing at the end of the day. And I think that’s why we keep doing what we’re doing. We do find an audience. You have found an incredible audience. You, through public radio and everything else you’ve done, you’ve been able to reach tens of millions of Americans. And we see it now with someone like Chris Hedges that we publish on Truthdig, who brings up sort of a prophetic voice—there is an audience, and it does cut through the clutter. So do you have a …

Bill Moyers: Well, I have to say that—you’re kind in those remarks, but I have to say that people like me depend on people like you. I’m serious, Bob. Your columns cut through the fog, as I call it; they are courageous; they’re bold; they’re grounded in evidence. And I live off of them, and so do a lot of other people I know. When you recently published that—after the killing of bin Laden, you published that quick piece by Chris Hedges, it went viral. I know; I was getting it sent, hundreds of people were sending it to me. I’m just supporting what you say by saying it’s not one, it’s not two; it’s all of us trying to create a domino effect of alternative journalism. And I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. People used to say, why don’t you go into politics; and I’d say, are you kidding? The life of the journalist, for all of its frustrations, is a deeply rewarding one. And I think if we can figure out how to make a living at it, what you’re doing is the future for the next generation coming along. Young journalists come to me and say, what should I do? Should I go into television, should I go into newspapers? Television seems so trivial; newspapers seem so endangered. And I say, look, if you’ve got a fire in your belly, you’ll find a place; you’ll find a venue. And go to the Internet and look at the places like Truthdig and Amy Goodman and Josh Marshall, at There are a lot of places where you can still signify as a journalist today, and we need every one of them and more.

Peter Scheer: What a great note to end on. Bill Moyers, thanks so much for making time for us.

Robert Scheer: Thank you.

Bill Moyers: My pleasure. Thanks to both of you.

Peter Scheer: Take care.

Bill Moyers: Goodbye.

Peter Scheer: “Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues” is his latest book. That was Bill Moyers, the legend.
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Peter Scheer:… That’s it for this week’s episode of Truthdig Radio. Thanks for listening.

US No More Victims: Helping Children Injured in US War

Interview with Cole Miller, who is the founding director of NO MORE VICTIMS

EXCERPT: (No More Victims encourages independent offshoots similar to their work. The first is this one): Healing Children of Conflict, in Grand Rapids, Mich., a boy whose leg was blown off by a U.S. bomb just arrived there last's replicated completely based on our model, for the first time...the middle class is being destroyed in this country [the United States] before our very eyes. Now they’re going after Medicare; they’re going after Medicaid; they’re going after Social Security. We are being victimized by this war system as well, in a little bit different way. Now, that model—help the victims and tell the story—could be applied domestically as well as internationally. So let’s just take one instance. Supposing you have a veteran who’s come back and who discovers that there are no jobs for him, or that he’s lost his job. And that a corrupt bank is going to foreclose on his home. So he and his family are about to be evicted from that home. What would happen if some vets who are opposed to the war realize they were duped into it, got together and said, we’re going to get together with some other just everyday citizens who are of like mind, and we’re going to put our bodies between the people who are coming to foreclose on this veteran’s home, and the people who come to take it away from him. Now, if hovering in the background is some phony paperwork, you know, is some fraud on the part of the bankers, so much the better. But that kind of initiative, where you intervene to help the victim and you tell the story—I mean, I think you could get coverage for that in the mainstream media here.


Here's the full interview via transcript:

Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Peter Scheer in studio with Josh Scheer and Cole Miller, who is the founding director of No More Victims, a grass-roots organization that connects American communities with war-injured Iraqi children and their families. Thanks for joining us.

Cole Miller: Thanks for having me.

Peter Scheer: And I should say, we spoke earlier about a rather dark vision of how human rights groups are exploited in the pursuit of war. And we’re now moving to a more positive vision of how human rights groups try to address some of the tragedies of war. Can you just sort of sum up what your organization does?

Cole Miller: Well, what we’ve done for the last—well, actually, since 2002, is identify children who are injured by U.S. forces—that’s an important element; by U.S. forces—and then we connect their medical reports with communities in the United States that have expressed an interest in organizing medical relief for those kids. Then we work to evacuate the children, bring them to the United States, where they get medical care that is unavailable to them in Iraq. And of course, things are changing; it’s changed a lot since we started, back before the invasion. But it’s still an urgent, urgent need that the Iraqi people have in the face of what we’ve done to their country. And so I—we encourage people to become involved.

Peter Scheer: How difficult is it to get people here? I mean, I guess it’s—I would guess it’s expensive and difficult to deal with visas, and that kind of thing.

Cole Miller: Well, it’s expensive; it’s less expensive now than it was previously, because there were no consular services in Iraq, so people couldn’t go to the U.S. Embassy, for example, in Iraq and get visas; now they can. So we would have to evacuate them to a third country—usually Jordan, once Kuwait—and then bring them to the United States. It is expensive; it’s time-consuming; it takes a lot of dedication. But the benefits are that children—let me just tell you a little story about, you know…

Peter Scheer: Sure.

Cole Miller: … your father was mentioning that he wanted this story told. That there’s a little boy named Mustafa Abed. And on November 3rd, 2004, one day before our election, in softening up bombing in Fallujah, he was hit and he lost about a quarter of his body. He was about 2 years old at the time; blew off his leg, his hip, most of his pelvis. And when they walked into the hospital with him, one person was carrying a bundle of his intestines in a blanket, and another person was carrying the boy’s body. And they were walking as close together as they could. Now, they thought that the boy had no chance of survival. But miraculously, they managed to save his life.

Over the course of the intervening period before we got to him he had, also, nerve damage that caused him to develop kidney stones and bladder stones. And when we got him here, he had a bladder stone the size of a large egg. Now, a kidney stone—a tiny kidney stone will put a linebacker on his back screaming in agony. This kid, for four years, had to endure incredibly intense pain, periodic pain, ALL THE TIME. You know? Until we got him here.

We got him here; he had to receive emergency medical treatment up in Portland, Ore.; they had to remove one of his kidneys, which failed; they managed to save his other kidney; and he has been pain-free ever since. And he’s learning how to walk on a prosthetic. But if you think about the magnitude of what was done to that boy, first we go in and we blow a quarter of his body off. And then, in the intervening four years, nobody provided for that child. Not the Iraqi government; not the American military; not the American authorities. Nobody provided for that child. So he had to suffer that agony for those four years, and would have died in agony had it not been for the concern and generosity of that community in Portland. So that’s just one of the kids. And you know, you ask yourself how many thousands of children are there out there in just that situation? How many thousands have been left to die in excruciating pain, when just—you know—OK, let’s say that the damage is done, the bomb’s been dropped, the kid’s been hurt. Then you might try to alleviate that suffering by intervening, medically. Didn’t happen.

Peter Scheer: Well, so, how do you find the communities? Who are the people who are providing this care? And how do you find, I guess, the people that you are trying to help, at the same time?

Cole Miller: Well, it’s all grass roots. So basically, we put together a couple of demonstration projects to show that people in ordinary circumstances could do it. And then I knew there would be news reports, because we do pretty aggressive media outreach, and we have been able to successfully penetrate quite a bit of mainstream media with these stories. And we knew that people would see it, and like-minded people would get in touch with us. At least, that was my assumption, and that’s exactly what happened. So a community gets in touch with us, expresses an interest in putting together a project, and we assist them in doing it. Now we’re—we’ve moved into phase 3, and it’s kind of an exciting time for us, because I always envisioned this as something where we put together demonstration projects, then we hook up with communities, with like-minded people and we bring children here and get those stories told. Because the basic premise is, if you object, help the victims and tell the story, and a lot will come from that. But I always thought that we would help communities to do that. And then at a certain stage, we would help communities to form it independently—use it as a model. In other words, do it themselves, raise the money themselves. And the first group, Healing Children of Conflict, in Grand Rapids, Mich., a boy whose leg was blown off by a U.S. bomb just arrived there last week.

Peter Scheer: Oh, good.

Cole Miller: So that after all of these years, we have our first—it’s been replicated completely based on our model, for the first time. Now, I … just want to say, really quickly, that we’re in the cross hairs as well. It’s not just the Iraqi people, you know—although they’ve been made to suffer savagely, obviously, things that we can’t even imagine. But the middle class is being destroyed in this country [the United States] before our very eyes. Now they’re going after Medicare; they’re going after Medicaid; they’re going after Social Security. We are being victimized by this war system as well, in a little bit different way. Now, that model—if you object, help the victims and tell the story—could be applied domestically as well as internationally. So let’s just take one instance. Supposing you have a veteran who’s come back and who discovers that there are no jobs for him, or that he’s lost his job. And that a corrupt bank is going to foreclose on his home. So he and his family are about to be evicted from that home. What would happen if some vets who are opposed to the war realize they were duped into it, got together and said, we’re going to get together with some other just everyday citizens who are of like mind, and we’re going to put our bodies between the people who are coming to foreclose on this veteran’s home, and the people who come to take it away from him. Now, if hovering in the background is some phony paperwork, you know, is some fraud on the part of the bankers, so much the better. But that kind of initiative, where you intervene to help the victim and you tell the story—I mean, I think you could get coverage for that in the mainstream media here.

Peter Scheer: We’re speaking in studio with Cole Miller, who is the founding director of No More Victims, a grass-roots organization that connects American communities with war-injured Iraqi children and their families, and is …

Josh Scheer: … I just want to say, very quickly, part of that is that you can go to to find out more. And also you’re selling a book too, right, that one of your volunteers wrote, for …?

Cole Miller: It’s “The Lioness, the Rich and the Humvee.”

Josh Scheer: … yeah, the Humvee.

Peter Scheer: There we go.

Cole Miller: This wonderful woman, Beth DeLap, wrote that book after meeting one of the children—Russell, who’s the sister of Sally, who you can see in the Mother’s Day video at the site. That little girl—we brought, we then brought her sister, and Beth DeLap met her and brought her over. So yes, people can purchase copies of the book there; it’d be helpful to us. She’s donated all of the proceeds to help us with No More Victims work.

Josh Scheer: And—one quick question. You’ve been doing this, sadly, for nine years. I say sadly, obviously, for obvious reasons. How many children like the ones we’ve been discussing—how many have you met? How many have you helped, and then how many …

Cole Miller: Well, we’ve helped … (an) incalculable number. And it’s really hard to get good information about the number of wounded. They—you know, we don’t do body counts; it—what is it, how many hundreds of thousands, is it a million, is it a million and a half; we don’t know. You know? And if you ask—like it’s, the mean estimate of the number of people that the United States killed in Vietnam is a hundred thousand. Well, we know it’s somewhere between 2 or 3 million … so it’s always much larger. It’s always much larger. But we have brought 10 children to the United States. They’ve been treated from coast to coast. We’ve brought a couple of the children multiple times; Sally was just here for her third trip to get prosthetic legs this year …

Peter Scheer: And this is all grass roots. This is all …

Cole Miller: This is all grass roots. And, you know, we’re in a privileged position, but see, that’s … it’s much, much harder to do now. I mean, since Obama got elected, he was the progressive’s hope, it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn’t going to end any wars. But people thought that he was going to, and then kind of went to sleep. And with the—that combined with the economic implosion has made it really, really difficult to put these together. We managed to meet all of our obligations to all the kids who were already in process. Now it’s beginning to pick up a little bit again, as people realize that this war system is not going to end simply because we have a smiley face in the White House that can pretend to be a progressive. So I think things are going to pick up, and I really do hope that people will think about ways that they can apply this model domestically. Because, you know, what does solidarity really mean? You know, what does mutual aid really mean? Unless we’re getting out there. And if you do assist somebody who’s being victimized by this system, and tell the story, it can pack a punch. And the other people out there who are frightened of losing their jobs, or who have just lost their jobs, they’re going to be in a lot of need. So the question then becomes, how do we within local communities actually create genuine community, where we look out for each other and we assist each other? And where we actually defy and point an accusing finger at the people who are taking advantage. The people in privileged positions who want to squeeze every last drop of sweat and blood out of the public that they can. And I think …

Peter Scheer: And actually do something about it, actually …

Cole Miller: … and actually do something about it …

Peter Scheer: … not just complain, not just, you know, write a blog post about it, but actually get—help someone, and then get the story out. I think this is a great model.

Josh Scheer: Well, yeah, I’d love to get more foundation support, you know. The problem is that a lot of these—not just human rights groups, but all these groups, is that they—you get these, you know, big foundation checks and everything else, and you know, a lot of these foundations could do probably a lot more for smaller human rights groups that are doing grass-roots stuff, right?

Peter Scheer: But what’s so great about this is … you’re connecting people. You’re not just—you know, it’s not institutional; it’s not, like he’s saying, bogged down in this stuff. But it sounds like you could use some help.

Cole Miller: Well, no, we definitely could use some help. Now, we focus on children who have been hurt by U.S. forces. And for that, I think for a lot of corporate money and probably foundation money too, that’s going to be a bit of a problem. We haven’t had anybody step forward and offer, you know, that kind of assistance to us. We did have an interesting experience with CNN. We went over to—it was a long, you know, all of these projects take a good long while, especially earlier on when it was so hard to move people around in Iraq and get people into other countries. But there was a little boy who was traveling with his family from Mosul to Baghdad to be with the family for Eid. And they passed an American convoy; the convoy opened fire on the car; the mother was burned to death, the boy was burned really terribly, the father was shot a couple of times. We brought that little boy to the United States for medical care, and he was treated in Boston. And at that time, we had two contacts on the inside at CNN, two senior producers, segment producers. One in New York and one in Los Angeles. The one in Los Angeles had already done a couple of segments based on, you know, about No More Victims and its work. And so they were pitching on the inside, and could get no takers. And they were very eager to tell the story, but they just could not get any takers. About a month and a half later, you saw the story of a boy named Youssef—who of course deserved assistance—but he was hurt by bad guys.

Peter Scheer: Oh …

Cole Miller: So, suddenly, he’s all over CNN.

Peter Scheer: That’s terrible.

Cole Miller: And they’re running, you know, and … they’re fundraising … et cetera, et cetera, which I don’t begrudge; I think that that’s fine. But look what happens if that’s the story, and that’s the story that CNN and the mainstream wants to tell. It’s a story about why we have to stay there. To protect these poor Iraqi children from these monsters, right?

Peter Scheer: Right.

Cole Miller: When, if you just telescope out a little bit and look at it, we’re the monsters. Why did those guys hurt that kid Youssef? Because we initiated a war of aggression. We created the circumstances … within which that sectarian strife took off. You know. And so you’re never going to get an explanation about that. I mean, every—Youssef as well—we’re responsible for them. That’s the amazing thing. We’re responsible for all the harms that are being suffered by these kids, because we initiated the war that created the circumstances that created the injury.

Josh Scheer: You have a YouTube channel where you can see a lot of these videos.

Cole Miller: Yeah, we have a YouTube channel. I just started it about last year, and haven’t pushed it at all. Bu t…

Josh Scheer: Push it here, push it here.

Cole Miller: … you type in NoMoreVictims—with no spaces or anything—and it will pull up that station.

Josh Scheer: OK. Great. And it’s—it’s pretty, I mean, heart-wrenching stuff.

Cole Miller: Yeah, and we’re … going to be posting more of it; you know, there’s a lot; we have a backlog of stuff that we’re getting together, and we’re going to put it out there.

Josh Scheer: OK, great. Thank you.

Peter Scheer: Thanks for being with us.

Cole Miller: Thank you.

Peter Scheer: Cole Miller is the founding director of No More Victims, a grass-roots organization that connects American communities with war-injured Iraqi children and their families. Find out more at
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