Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes it takes a Flood

Inspiration and a little humor (at last) on World Wide Global Warming Efforts

Youth blogs on Global Warming (with a smile) GO here

Swimming at the Top of the World GO here

The Moral Math of Climate Change - from Speaking of Faith GO here

Monday, December 14, 2009

Supreme Court rejects Guantanamo torture case | Reuters

Defense attorney: "Future prospective torturers can now draw comfort from this decision." Touche!

Dec 14, 2009 ... WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The US Supreme Court said on Monday that it rejected ... WASHINGTON. Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:31am EST .... here

For Those Who Died Loving the Powerless

Monday, December 14, 2009
For Those Who Died Loving the Powerless
A Poem to be Written Collectively...

There has been a terrible accident and so far at least four people, friends of my friends have died. I'm feeling SO deeply for all involved. The partial line which keeps coming to me is just the beginning of a poem...

I'm wondering if this poem might best be written COLLECTIVELY with various here who are activists and have a poetic-bent? - or even those with deeply-feeling hearts and souls - those who's own memories of loss are still unresolved or resolved or freshly remembered? Other activists who happen to come by today? Any who have gone through losing sisters, brothers, companions on this journey? Maybe we would write this together in a universal manner without details except the most common and without any nationality or religion or even ideology specified in this one case.

Here's the repeating line...

For Those Who Died Loving the Powerless...

Send your feelings and memories in ANY of the following languages as I now have people I know in each of them willing to translate:

French, German, Urdu, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Teso (Ugandan), and some languages from other African nations...

Or even others for which together we might find translators?

No need even to send full lines or stanzas...just analogies, feelings, a line remembered from powerful literature or film, a partial line which comes to you with depth and emotion startling memory of your own?

I will try my best to somehow form what I am able to do - with or without the help of other poets - into One Poem or some sort of unified form...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boeing Bounces Back to Court December 15

See other newer references below

December 11, 2009
12:24 PM

Rachel Myers, ACLU National, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org
Rebecca Farmer, ACLU of Northern California, (415) 621-2493 x374

ACLU In Court Tuesday In Extraordinary Rendition Case
Government Claiming "State Secrets" To Have Case Against Boeing Subsidiary Thrown Out
SAN FRANCISCO - December 11 - The American Civil Liberties Union will be in federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 15 at 10:00 a.m. PST to argue that a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. for its role in the Bush administration's unlawful "extraordinary rendition" program should go forward. The government has repeatedly misused the state secrets privilege in an attempt to have the case thrown out. To this day, not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture policies has had his day in court.

The ACLU and the ACLU of Northern California brought the lawsuit in May 2007 on behalf of five men who the CIA kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas, where they were interrogated under torture. The lawsuit charges that Jeppesen knowingly participated in the forcible disappearance and torture of the men by providing critical flight planning and logistical support services to the aircraft and crews used by the CIA to carry out their "extraordinary rendition." The Bush administration intervened in the case, improperly asserting the state secrets privilege to have the lawsuit thrown out, but in April a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the government can only invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence – not to dismiss an entire suit. The Obama administration's appeal of that decision will be now be heard by an en banc panel of 11 judges.

Arguments in Mohamed, et al. v. Jeppesen, the ACLU's lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the Bush administration's "extraordinary rendition" program. The government is appealing an earlier ruling allowing the case to go forward.

Ben Wizner, staff attorney for the ACLU National Security Program, will argue before an en banc panel of 11 judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
10:00 a.m. PST

James R. Browning Courthouse, Courtroom 1
95 7th Street
San Francisco, California 94103

The ACLU conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Rendition Lawsuit Against Boeing Subsidiary Grows -Re-filed to include two more victims of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's extraordinary rendition program. Friday, December 18, 2009 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm. Change That Works http://www.prwatch.org/node/6348 or GO here

Can't Hide Now: Blackwater, Contractors & Related

Watch for more here on ongoing on this site and references listed. Fortunately, the world over, reliable witnesses are watching. Of course there will be some damage control.

Watch for plenty of change in disguises, including more "dressing like"
US military as well as disguises with other cooperating nations.

But a rose or a skunk by any other name still lets off a peculiar and unmistakable odor which in this case is neither pretty nor good for anyone's well-being. (Including the war criminal). Yes, I hope some of you young and old contractors and the like have a change of heart, mind, soul and GET out before you forever regret how you've sold yourselves and ruined so many lives. If so, you can make amends and turn around with help from your highest SOURCE and people who care. You can give your life to doing the right thing and helping a cause in the RIGHT way.

No matter how corrupt and murderous an "enemy" is no invitation to become the same.

While the exact details have yet to be sorted out...more and more reports are pouring in. This item below relates older and unknown details and is quite comprehensive...let's see how the details are corroborated or adapted in days ahead.

Talking Points Memo (TPM)

Blackwater Predator Missile-Load Contract Ending


Visit TPM here

Also see Jeremy Scahill (who's being informed by MANY unnamed authorities who should know)- Find him in his Rebel Reports, The Nation, Facebook - really ALL over now

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nicolas J. S. Davies Discusses Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Speech (Whitewash)


"Obama's claim that there is something morally superior about the way the United States fights its wars is either an extremely dangerous illusion or a cynical smokescreen. [You can find more details of the deadly consequences of American violations of the laws of war in my previous article." Davies

'Whatever Mistakes We Have Made'

By Nicolas J S Davies
December 11, 2009

Editor’s Note: Though eloquent and nuanced, President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech whitewashed the post-World War II history of U.S. military interventions and covert actions that have killed millions of people and overthrown democracies that have resisted U.S. dictates and desires, from Iran to Chile.

Facing political criticism from the Right for having apologized at all for past U.S. transgressions, Obama circumscribed the bloody truth within a five-word clause, “whatever mistakes we have made.” In this guest essay, Nicolas J S Davies expands on that phrase:

The history of war has long included that of politicians who justify war in the name of peace.

After ordering the deaths of thousands or millions of people, they insist on tormenting the distraught survivors with disingenuous hand-wringing, mythological history and self-congratulation.

They demonize their victims, marginalize their suffering, and never apologize.

On Thursday in Oslo, after less than a year in office, President Obama took his place among this parade of the most cynical of historical figures.

Before directly addressing the specific role of the United States, Mr. Obama framed the history of warfare in the context of "just war" theory.

What he did not explain was that it was the bloody and catastrophic results of such "moral" justifications for war that brought the modern world to the brink of destruction and led it to instead adopt explicit international treaties and the binding prohibitions on the "threat or use of force" contained in the United Nations Charter.

As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told Congress on his return from the Yalta conference, his proposal for the United Nations "ought to spell the end of the system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the spheres of influence, the balances of power, and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries - and have always failed. We propose to substitute for all these a universal organization in which all peace-loving nations will finally have a chance to join."

Or, as Richard Barnet wrote in Roots of War in 1972, "It is exactly because moral standards are so difficult to apply wisely to foreign policy issues that it becomes necessary for survival to submit to objective, even arbitrary standards. There are some things that should not be done, whatever the circumstances or however plausible the provocation.

“The rules of war and the limitations on national sovereignty in the United Nations Charter were developed out of the shared experience of nations that a world where everything is permitted is not worth living in."

History of U.S. Wars

After taking up a third of his Nobel speech with his elaborate effort to dangerously reframe the whole question of war and peace, Mr. Obama finally addressed the history of war-making by his own country, the United States.

"Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms," Obama said.

"We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity."

But this claim of selfless American nobility is contradicted by analysts and historians of all political stripes, even on the Right and among the most aggressive neoconservatives.

Jonah Goldberg of National Review quotes his neoconservative colleague Michael Ledeen describing U.S. interventions as the necessary coercive component of a gangsterish foreign policy based on unequal economic relationships:

"Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."

Or, when confronted with U.S. responsibility for the Kurdish refugee crisis in Iraq and Iran in 1975, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously told investigators from the House Intelligence Committee that, "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

William Blum provides exhaustive detail of 55 U.S. military and CIA interventions since 1945 in his excellent book Killing Hope. This or any other thorough review of the historical record makes it clear that most of these interventions brought neither freedom nor prosperity to their victims.

On the contrary, they were mainly designed to overthrow governments that were too responsive to the needs and will of their own people and insufficiently responsive to American geostrategic and commercial interests.

Motivations may sometimes be subject to interpretation, but open violations of international law and the deaths and suffering of billions of people speak for themselves.

Ghosts of War Crimes Past

Was Mr. Obama really unaware of the millions of ghosts standing as silent witnesses to his empty words, whispering in Vietnamese, Arabic, Spanish, Haitian Creole and a dozen other languages?

Obama also claimed that U.S. interventions in other countries are designed to bring “stability” and “security.” But killing people and blowing up their homes and infrastructure does not bring stability or security.

On the contrary, those acts of violence bring death, terrible injuries, devastation and chaos. The use of military force is destructive by definition.

The fact that people and societies eventually recover from war does not mean that war or those who engage in it deserve credit for their victims’ recovery.

Only a drunk driver who is still very drunk would take credit when a person he injured finally emerged from the hospital and rehabilitation. U.S. claims for the benefits of military occupation and aerial bombardment rest on the same absurd and faulty logic.

President Obama went on to expound on one of the central myths of the American way of war. He claimed, "I believe that all nations, strong and weak alike, must adhere to standards that govern the use of force."

He went on later, "we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct... I believe that the United States must be a standard bearer in the conduct of war."

Last week, in Obama with Blood on his Hands, I described how, contrary to Mr. Obama's posturing, the United States is far behind the rest of the world in its commitment to the standards and conduct required by the Geneva Conventions and other binding treaties on the conduct of war.

U.S. military commanders consistently fail to make the most fundamental distinction between combatants and civilians that is at the heart of the laws of war.

They issue a wide variety of illegal orders that include "weapons free" (formerly "free fire") rules of engagement; orders to "kill all military age males"; air strikes on buildings where combatants have taken cover among large numbers of civilians; and brutal collective punishment of civilian populations.

U.S. forces are trained to "dead-check" or kill wounded resistance fighters, and prohibitions on torture are consistently ignored.

Dangerous Opinions

The People on War survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1999 demonstrated that American war crimes are rooted in the attitudes of the general population.

Whereas 75 percent of people in other countries understand that military forces "must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone", as required by the 4th Geneva Convention, only 52 percent of Americans accept this position.

The ICRC report found that, "Across a wide range of questions, in fact, American attitudes towards attacks on civilians were much more lax" than those of people in other countries.

People on War found similar disparities in American attitudes to torture, the treatment of prisoners of war and disrespect for the value of the Geneva Conventions themselves.

Obama's claim that there is something morally superior about the way the United States fights its wars is either an extremely dangerous illusion or a cynical smokescreen. [You can find more details of the deadly consequences of American violations of the laws of war in my previous article.

President Obama did offer a constructive suggestion on how "nations that break rules and laws" like the United States should be dealt with:

"I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior - for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure - and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one."

Of course, the problem is that, when the world does stand together as one, as in opposing the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq for instance, the present structure of the U.N. Security Council permits one or two of its permanent members to veto any effort to constrain them.

In contrast with their leaders, a majority of Americans have long believed that the U.N. Charter should be amended so that no one country, not even their own, can veto a resolution that is supported by a super-majority of the other 14 members.

This would be a valuable step toward a more representative international order and the kind of "alternative to violence" that the President claims to seek.

Real Accountability

And, because "regimes that break the rules must be held accountable", the United States should restore its recognition of the binding jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The U.S. withdrew from the jurisdiction of the ICJ after it ruled that the United States was engaged in aggression against Nicaragua in 1986. Nobody can simultaneously claim to uphold the law and to be unaccountable to it.

If Mr. Obama wants to take meaningful steps on the question of accountability for war crimes, there are several other important steps he can take:

The U.S. Justice Department and military Judge Advocates General should initiate serious investigations of American war crimes. And the United States should ratify the Treaty of Rome that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), instead of scheming to undermine it.

President Obama finished his speech with a long and quite eloquent plea for peace that might have been inspiring coming from someone other than the President of the world's most aggressive military power and biggest weapons manufacturer.

The world already has billions of such pleas for peace, coming from the hearts of people all over the world. What we need from the President of the United States is not another hypocritical speech but action to respond to those pleas.

This means ending U.S. wars and occupations, radically reassessing the genuine defense needs of his country, bringing his government into compliance with its international treaty commitments and enforcing its own laws.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood on our hands: the American invasion and destruction of Iraq, due out in March. He is a writer and activist in Miami, where he coordinates the Miami chapter of Progressive Democrats of America.


OTHER Commentary on the Oslo speech
Obama's Nobel Speech, Just Wars And Just Stop It!
By Eileen Fleming


In Oslo, President Obama espoused the first heresy of Christianity in his Nobel speech when he cited the concept of a "just war" furthering the fallacy "that war is justified."

Alfred Nobel Is Turning Over In His Grave!
By Ammar Abu Arqoub


President Barack Obama disappointed the Nobel Peace Prize givers on Thursday. Instead of talking about peace and forgiveness, the man of peace delivered a war speech in which he borrowed quotes from the so-called just war theory in order to justify the current US warfare

Introduction and Food for Thought

For several weeks I have been mulling over what would be on the sign I would hold this Saturday, in solidarity with the many people around the globe who would be saying NO to the surge planned by our US leaders. I had mentioned to just a few that the sign would be NO MORE CRUSADES.

Thus, I took as confirmation of my choice of signs the following blogpost from online friends in another part of the world. This world of Pakistan is much larger and holds so many keys to our world's well-being then many in the US appear to know.

Since there are dynamics today which bring the US and Pakistan into increasingly painful connections, I am introducing this my new blogsite with a post from a favorite site (or cluster of sites) which is both rare in insight and culture as well as universal in awareness and values.

(I will tell more about how I found this site and why I continue to read it soon enough.)

From: "The Republic of Rumi"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No more crusades?

Some time ago, Mauj Collective organized an event where dancers from Lyari (a neighborhood in Karachi) were going to offer Pakistani folk dance on Western tunes being broadcast live from North America through the Internet. I was quite amused to notice that actually such a thing had been envisaged by the Urdu fiction writer Ibne Safi (1928-1980) in the early 1970s. In Bamboo Castle, Ali Imran danced a Pakistani folk dance on Western pop music in an Italian disco.

As I revisited that novel, I was struck by another detail whose symbolism had escaped me earlier. Imran's host in Italy is his friend from the Oxford days, an Italian count who is now a police commissioner threatened by a local drug overlord. As part of a plan to help his friend, Imran borrows the sword with which the friend's ancestor had fought against Saladin during the Crusades. "By the will of God, I shall slay your enemy with this same sword," says Imran to his Italian friend.

I interpret this symbolism at two levels. Firstly, the work of Imran itself is symbolically about a world which is moving on from hostilities of the past, and joining hands on fighting common enemies, such as crime and drugs in this instance. As a foriegner, Imran has no business fighting Italian mafia in their homeland, and hence his using the sword of an Italian crusader becomes an act of courtesy to the host country, giving him legitimacy in a deeper sense.

Secondly, just as Imran is helping his Italian friend to get rid of local mafia, so Ibne Safi can lend a helping hand to foreigner readers in warding off those yarns of literature which glorify crime. Very interestingly, his novel came out just when Mario Puzo's Godfather had started a new cult.

Posted by Khurram Ali Shafique at 7:42 AM
Labels: Literature etc, Regional Studies

2 comments placed at RR blogsite:
Connie L. Nash said...
Thank you for so often and so clearly pointing our where story can be metaphorical yet also have direct bearing on our own current history in-the-making. Which of Ibne Safi novels should I try to translate with the help of my Urdu-speaking friend?

Yes, so interesting on all these levels with food for thought for our "fights" today all around the spectrum and our long-standing and sometimes changing allegiences. Or perhaps more often these are "widening" loyalties when several principles are mixed. I.e.- the helping in warding off present local evil facing a friend in another locale or culture -with the purest and most beautiful value I'm sure seldom nearly as developed as among Pakistanis: courtesy.

Meantime, the title of this post with this perfect story you've chosen - leads to important inner reflections and to great conversations. I am askng a lot these days: how is who we are becoming as nations and as individuals influenced by who we are with, what we do, read, study and whom we are willing to help and even HOW we do THAT? I look forward to more comments, maybe even from a friend from my home town?

December 10, 2009 8:48 PM
Akhtar Wasim Dar said...
Ibne Safi was a visionary and a seer. Like all great artists he had the vision and imagination to see tomorrow, posterity and the world to come. Khurram Sahib as always” breaking codes”and deciphering metaphors.

The world to come is going to be an exciting one, no need to feel jittery, as all shall be well. The Creator has taken all necessary precautions to see the world go into the direction of perfection that it has to go. The winds are conducive and all our sails are in right direction. Always the few will disagree, jostle and create hurdles, but the majority although being disillusioned, will always wait for the miracle that happens and will continue to happen, though few understand its real implications.

December 10, 2009 10:39 PM


So few people here in the US, I'm discovering, know or care WHO the people of Pakistan are and HOW many work day and night in various peaceful ways to improve their country from within and without. Why, then, are we sending over more challenges and turning the nation against the US which was there as a friend early in their founding and to which they have turned in the forming of their own democracy?? (The drones and the variations from Blackwater are only a few of the challenges we have sent their way.)

So then, how can our nation's leaders - who, given their knowledge of law, history and military engagements past (as well as recent Nobel PEACE Prize) dare to begin what looks like another crusade? Watch for more to follow or easily google to see how so much to come out of Blackwater uses crusade mentality. How could our leaders NOT know this?

Connie, blogger of No More Crusades