Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years! Did 2008 Get You Down? Wait Until 2009 Unfolds!

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2008: The Year of the Bizarre
By Arthur Weinreb
Monday, December 29, 2008
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/7198
Some years are more memorable than others. For example, the year 1969 is often referred to as “The Year of the Impossible”. On January 20th of that year Richard M. Nixon, who famously told the press that they wouldn’t have Nixon to kick around anymore after losing the California gubernatorial race two years after losing the presidency to John F. Kennedy (aka Caroline’s dad), was sworn in as the 37th president of the United States. In July 1969, the world watched while a couple of guys took and walk on the moon and if that wasn’t enough, in October the then-hapless New York Mets won the World Series.
If 1969 was the Year of the Impossible, 2008 has to be the Year of the Bizarre. The year began normally enough. The United States still believed in capitalism and the markets were chugging, if not running, along. Hillary Clinton was set to demolish other Democratic rivals and clinch her party’s nomination by Super Tuesday on February 5th. She was then going to go on and beat either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani in November to become the first woman president of the United States.
In Canada, Stephen Harper was leading a minority government; the type we have seen since 2004 and with no hope in sight that Canada would ever see a majority government. If anything exciting or important happened at the beginning of the year in boring Canadian politics it can probably be found by doing a Google search.
By the time the summer ended, everything has turned upside down. The markets crashed in mid September and the United States, once known as the land of the free became the land of the freebee as a panicked George W. Bush began throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at banks, other financial institutions and finally the big three auto makers. Unfortunately this began a trend that is likely to extend throughout 2009. Meanwhile Barack Obama, who most people outside of his immediate family had never heard of five years ago, beat not only Hillary but the entire Clinton machine to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination by essentially saying nothing but using the word “change” in every other sentence. And while Republican candidates battled it out in the caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, Rudy, a true New Yorker, did what many others in his state do and retired to Florida. Mitt never really caught on and the Republican nominee became John McCain, the first choice of the New York Times, moderates and everyone else except the base of the Republican Party. Obama easily won the presidency and began to put his “change” into practice by filling his administration and his cabinet with retreaded Clintonites. This was also the year the mainstream media died as they went from having a liberal bias to becoming cheerleaders for Barack Obama.
In Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper, often referred to by the opposition parties as a George Bush clone, angered these same parties when he didn’t follow Bush’s lead and throw money at the auto companies fast enough. The opposition then decided to join forces and bring down the Conservative government. The Liberals and the NDP formed a coalition with the support of the separatist sovereigntist separatist Bloc Quebecois and planned a non confidence vote. Stéphane Dion, who had already been found not fit to lead the Liberal Party, was suddenly the only man who could lead the country through these tough economic times. The Libs didn’t seem to mind that Dion had led the party to its worst election defeat since Confederation; Dion was suddenly their boy. Harper outsmarted the coalition by convincing the governor general to prorogue Parliament, avoiding an opportunity to defeat the Conservative government in the House. Then some Liberals, who made the argument that Harper’s government was somehow illegitimate because more Canadians voted against them than voted for them, didn’t seem to mind choosing a new leader in a process that denied the vote to the party faithful. Suddenly, Canadian politics was boring no more.
Much like 1969, 2008 is likely to be remembered for years to come. It really was the Year of the Bizarre.
Arthur Weinreb is an author, columnist and Associate Editor of Canada Free Press. His work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Men’s News Daily, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck.
Arthur can be reached at: aweinreb@rogers.com
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Top 10 dud (warming) predictionsAndrew Bolt
December 19, 2008
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24820442-5000117,00.html
Global warming preachers have had a shocking 2008. So many of their predictions this year went splat.
Here's their problem: they've been scaring us for so long that it's now possible to check if things are turning out as hot as they warned.
And good news! I bring you Christmas cheer - the top 10 warming predictions to hit the wall this year.
Read, so you can end 2008 with optimism, knowing this Christmas won't be the last for you, the planet or even the polar bears.
1. Our Cities Will Die of ThirstTim Flannery, an expert in bones, has made a fortune from books and lectures warning that we face global warming doom. He scared us so well that we last year made him Australian of the Year.
In March, Flannery said: "The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009."
In fact, Adelaide's reservoirs are now 75 per cent full, just weeks from 2009.
In June last year, Flannery warned Brisbane's "water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months".
In fact, 18 months later, its dams are 46 per cent full after Brisbane's wettest spring in 27 years.
In 2005, Flannery predicted Sydney's dams could be dry in just two years.
In fact, three years later its dams are 63 per cent full, not least because June last year was its wettest since 1951.
In 2004, Flannery said global warming would cause such droughts that "there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis".
In fact, Perth now has the lowest water restrictions of any state capital, thanks to its desalination plant and dams that are 40 per cent full after the city's wettest November in 17 years.
Lesson: This truly is a land "of drought and flooding rains". Distrust a professional panic merchant who predicts the first but ignores the second.
2. Our Reef Will DieProfessor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of Queensland University, is Australia's most quoted reef expert.
He's advised business, green and government groups, and won our rich Eureka Prize for scares about our reef. He's chaired a $20 million global warming study of the World Bank.
In 1999, Hoegh-Guldberg warned that the Great Barrier Reef was under pressure from global warming, and much of it had turned white.
In fact, he later admitted the reef had made a "surprising" recovery.
In 2006, he warned high temperatures meant "between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland's great Barrier Reef could die within a month".
In fact, he later admitted this bleaching had "a minimal impact".
In 2007, he warned that temperature changes of the kind caused by global warming were again bleaching the reef.
In fact, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network last week said there had been no big damage to the reef caused by climate change in the four years since its last report, and veteran diver Ben Cropp said this week that in 50 years he'd seen none at all.
Lesson: Reefs adapt, like so much of nature. Learn again that scares make big headlines and bigger careers.
3. Goodbye, North Pole
IN April this year, the papers were full of warnings the Arctic ice could all melt.
"We're actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time," claimed Dr David Barber, of Manitoba University, ignoring the many earlier times the Pole has been ice free.
"It's hard to see how the system may bounce back (this year)," fretted Dr Ignatius Rigor, of Washington University's polar science centre.
Tim Flannery also warned "this may be the Arctic's first ice-free year", and the ABC and Age got reporter Marian Wilkinson to go stare at the ice and wail: "Here you can see climate change happening before your eyes."
In fact, the Arctic's ice cover this year was almost 10 per cent above last year's great low, and has refrozen rapidly since. Meanwhile, sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been increasing. Been told either cool fact?
Yet Barber is again in the news this month, predicting an ice-free Arctic now in six years. Did anyone ask him how he got his last prediction wrong?
Lesson: The media prefers hot scares to cool truths. And it rarely holds its pet scaremongers to account.
4. Beware Huge WindsAL Gore sold his scary global warming film, An Inconvenient Truth, shown in almost every school in the country, with a poster of a terrible hurricane.
Former US president Bill Clinton later gloated: "It is now generally recognised that while Al Gore and I were ridiculed, we were right about global warming. . . It's going to lead to more hurricanes."
In fact, there is still no proof of a link between any warming and hurricanes.
Australia is actually getting fewer cyclones, and last month researchers at Florida State University concluded that the 2007 and 2008 hurricane seasons had the least tropical activity in the Northern Hemisphere in 30 years.
Lesson: Beware of politicians riding the warming bandwagon.
5. Giant Hailstones Will Smash Through Your RoofROSS Garnaut, a professor of economics, is the guru behind the Rudd Government's global warming policies.
He this year defended the ugly curved steel roof he'd planned at the rear of his city property, telling angry locals he was protecting himself from climate change: "Severe and more frequent hailstones will be a feature of this change," he said.
In fact, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits "decreases in hail frequency are simulated for Melbourne. . ."
Lesson: Beware also of government advisers on that warming wagon.
6. No More SkiingA bad ski season three years ago - right after a great one - had The Age and other alarmists blaming global warming. The CSIRO, once our top science body, fanned the fear by claiming resorts such as Mt Hotham and Mt Buller could lose a quarter of their snow by 2020.
In fact, this year was another boom one for skiing, with Mt Hotham and Mt Buller covered in snow five weeks before the season started.
What's more, a study this year in the Hydrological Sciences Journal checked six climate models, including one used by the CSIRO.
It found they couldn't even predict the regional climate we'd had already: "Local model projections cannot be credible . . ."
It also confirmed the finding of a study last year in the International Journal of Climatology that the 22 most cited global warming models could not "accurately explain the (global) climate from the recent past".
As for predicting the future. . .
Lesson: The CSIRO's scary predictions are near worthless.
7. Perth Will Bake Dry
The CSIRO last year claimed Perth was "particularly vulnerable" and had a 90 per cent chance of getting less rain and higher temperatures.
"There are not many other parts of the world where the IPCC has made a prediction that a drop in rainfall is highly likely," it said.
In fact, Perth has just had its coldest and wettest November since 1991.
Lesson: As I said, don't trust the CSIRO's model or its warnings.
8. Islands Will DrownThe seas will rise up to 100m by 2100, claims ABC Science Show host Robyn Williams. Six metres, suggests Al Gore. So let's take in "climate refugees" from low-lying Tuvalu, says federal Labor. And ban coastal development, says the Brumby Government.
In fact, while the seas have slowly risen since the last ice age, before man got gassy, they've stopped rising for the last two, according to data from the Jason-1 satellite.
"There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rises," the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute declared last month.
Lesson: Trust the data, not the politicians.
9. Britain Will Swelter
The British Met Office is home to the Hadley Centre, one of the top centres of the man-made global warming faith.
In April it predicted: "The coming summer is expected to be a 'typical British summer'. . ."
In fact, in August it admitted: "(This) summer . . . has been one of the wettest on record across the UK." In September it predicted: "The coming winter (is) likely to be milder than average."
In fact, winter has been so cold that London had its first October snow in 74 years -- and on the day Parliament voted to fight "global warming".
Lesson: If the Met can't predict the weather three months out, what can it know of the climate 100 years hence?
10. We'll Be HotterSpeaking of the Met, it has so far predicted 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 would be the world's hottest or second-hottest year on record, but nine of the past 10 years it predicted temperatures too high.
In fact, the Met this month conceded 2008 would be the coldest year this century. That makes 1998 still the hottest year on record since the Medieval Warm Period some 1000 years ago. Indeed, temperatures have slowly fallen since around 2002.
As Roger Pielke Sr, Professor Emeritus of Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science, declared this month: "Global warming has stopped for the last few years."
Lesson: Something is wrong with warming models that predict warming in a cooling world, especially when we're each year pumping out even more greenhouse gases. Be sceptical.
Those, then, are the top 10 dud predictions of that hooting, screaming and screeching tribe of warming alarmists. Look and laugh. And dare to believe the world is bright and reason may yet triumph.
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The Worst Predictions About 2008By Peter Coy
Mon Dec 29
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bw/20081229/bs_bw/dec2008db20081224028134
Editor's Note: This new version of the "ten worst predictions about 2008" changes three of the ten based on feedback from online readers and BusinessWeek editors. CNBC's Jim Cramer and President Bush are still on the list, but with different predictions. Author Shelby Steele is off the list, replaced by a pair of BusinessWeek writers.
Here are some of the worst predictions that were made about 2008. Savor them -- a crop like this doesn't come along every year.
1. "A very powerful and durable rally is in the works. But it may need another couple of days to lift off. Hold the fort and keep the faith!" -- Richard Band, editor, Profitable Investing Letter, Mar. 27, 2008
At the time of the prediction, the Dow Jones industrial average was at 12,300. By late December it was at 8,500.
2. AIG (NYSE:AIG - News) "could have huge gains in the second quarter." -- Bijan Moazami, analyst, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, May 9, 2008
AIG wound up losing $5 billion in that quarter and $25 billion in the next. It was taken over in September by the U.S. government, which will spend or lend $150 billion to keep it afloat.
3. "I think this is a case where Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE - News) and Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM - News) are fundamentally sound. They're not in danger of going under. I think they are in good shape going forward." -- Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Financial Services Committee chairman, July 14, 2008
Two months later, the government forced the mortgage giants into conservatorships and pledged to invest up to $100 billion in each.
4. "I'm not an economist but I do believe that we're growing." —President George W. Bush, in a July 15, 2008 press conference
Nope. Gross domestic product shrank at a 0.5% annual rate in the July-September quarter. On Dec. 1, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that a recession had begun in December 2007.
5. "I think Bob Steel's the one guy I trust to turn this bank around, which is why I've told you on weakness to buy Wachovia." —Jim Cramer, CNBC commentator, Mar. 11, 2008
Two weeks later, Wachovia came within hours of failure as depositors fled. Steel eventually agreed to a takeover by Wells Fargo. Wachovia shares lost half their value from Sept. 15 to Dec. 29.
6. "Existing-Home Sales to Trend Up in 2008" -- Headline of a National Association of Realtors press release, Dec. 9, 2007
On Dec. 23, 2008, the group said November sales were running at an annual rate of 4.5 million -- down 11% from a year earlier -- in the worst housing slump since the Depression.
7. "I think you'll see (oil prices at) $150 a barrel by the end of the year" -- T. Boone Pickens, June 20, 2008
Oil was then around $135 a barrel. By late December it was below $40.
8. "I expect there will be some failures. I don't anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system." -- Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, Feb. 28, 2008
In September, Washington Mutual became the largest financial institution in U.S. history to fail. Citigroup (NYSE:C - News) needed an even bigger rescue in November.
9. "In today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules." -- Bernard Madoff, money manager, Oct. 20, 2007
About a year later, Madoff -- who once headed the Nasdaq Stock Market -- told investigators he had cost his investors $50 billion in an alleged Ponzi scheme.
10. "There's growing evidence that parts of the debt markets…are coming back to life." —Peter Coy and Mara Der Hovanesian, BusinessWeek, Oct. 1, 2007.
Oops.
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Wall Street Faces Worst Yearly Drop Since 1931JOE BEL BRUNO
December 28, 2008
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/28/wall-street-faces-worst-y_n_153816.html
NEW YORK — Investors are preparing to close out the last three trading days of 2008, a year in which Wall Street has logged its worst performance since Herbert Hoover was president.
The ongoing recession and global economic shock pummeled stocks this year, with the Dow Jones industrial average slumping 36.2 percent. That's the biggest drop since 1931 when the Great Depression sent stocks reeling 40.6 percent.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index is set to record the biggest drop since its creation in 1957. The index of America's biggest companies is down 40.9 percent for the year.
With these statistics ready to play out this week, it is little wonder why investors are all too happy to close the books on 2008. Analysts are already looking toward January as a crucial period for the market as it tries to recover some of the $7.3 trillion wiped from the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, the broadest measure of U.S. stocks.
"It is hard to gauge a recovery because there's so many things out there that are interactive with each other," said Scott Fullman, director of derivatives investment strategy for WJB Capital Group in New York. "Nothing is in a vacuum. Anybody who is managing money has to be on the cautious side for at least the first six months of 2009."
He said many analysts are jumping past this week and focusing on next month, especially with Barack Obama set to be sworn in as president on Jan. 20. There is hope that the new administration will deliver another stimulus package, which along with December's interest rate cuts, might help quell the financial crisis.
Trading is expected to remain volatile with many market participants on the sidelines during the holiday-shortened week, but that doesn't mean investors won't be kept busy. With no Santa Claus rally last week, economic data slated for the coming days could sway the market's mood going into 2009.
Late Sunday, traders began to pull back slightly in early futures trading. Dow industrials futures fell 36 points, or 0.42 percent, to 8,436. S&P 500 futures fell 3.40, or 0.39 percent, to 865.50, while Nasdaq-100 futures dropped 5.00, or 0.42 percent, to 1,183.50.
Investors will be awaiting details about how retailers fared in the post-Christmas sales period, especially since consumer spending drives more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy. The main question is if bargain prices at the malls will be enough to rescue retailers from a bleak holiday shopping season.
Meanwhile, another gauge of how Americans feel about spending money will be released on Tuesday. The Conference Board will issue its December index of consumer confidence, which is expected to rise to a reading of 45.2 for this month, up slightly from 44.9 in November.
The Labor Department will report on weekly jobless claims Wednesday, after a 26-year high of 586,000 initial filings in the week ended Dec. 20.
But the most anticipated economic data will be delivered Friday when investors get a fresh reading on the manufacturing sector. The Institute for Supply Management releases its December survey of purchasing managers.
The index is expected to show a reading of 35.5, down from November's 36.2, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. A reading above 50 points to expansion, while a reading below 50 shows a contraction.
There is little in the way of corporate news slated. Though, the final week of the year _ when volume is slow and many money managers are on vacation _ is often a time when companies slip through lower quarterly forecasts.
Investors were still waiting word if GMAC Financial Services, the financing arm of General Motors Corp., will be eligible for a government bailout. GMAC received the Federal Reserve's approval to become a bank holding company last week, but that was contingent on putting into place a complicated debt-for-equity exchange by 11:59 p.m. EST Friday.
That deadline passed with no word from the company. Analysts have speculated that if GMAC doesn't obtain financial help it would have to file for bankruptcy protection or shut down, which would be a serious blow to parent GM's own chances for survival.
Both General Motors and Chrysler LLC on Monday will receive the first part of the $13.4 billion in emergency loans from the government. Each will receive about $4 billion, then receive the second payment of $5.4 billion on Jan. 16. GM gets a third installment of $4 billion on Feb. 17.
Ford Motor Co. did not participate in the government rescue plan.
IndyMac Bank, one of the most high-profile financial institutions to fail because of the financial crisis, might be close to getting a new owner. The buyers include private equity firms J.C. Flowers & Co. and Dune Capital Management, according to The New York Times, which cited unidentified people close to the matter.
The proposed sale could be announced by Monday morning, the report said.
Meanwhile, Kuwait's government on Sunday scrapped a $17.4 billion joint venture with U.S. petrochemical giant Dow Chemical Co. after criticism from lawmakers that could have led to a political crisis in this small oil-rich state.
The Cabinet, in a statement carried by the state-owned Kuwait News Agency, said the venture, was "very risky" in light of the global financial crisis and low oil prices. Dow Chemical said it was "extremely disappointed" with the Kuwaiti government's decision and was evaluating its options under the joint-venture agreement.
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People I Don’t Want to Hear About in 2009By Alan Caruba
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/7237
If I had the power, there are any number of people from whom or about whom I would not want to hear, see, or read anything in 2009. Here’s a short list!
Al Gore
This pusillanimous fraud, a leftover from the Clinton administration who was defeated for president in 2000, has devoted his time to issuing warnings against global warming, the greatest hoax of the modern era. He tends to be most vocal during blizzards.
Dr. James Hansen
Right behind, with his nose deeply buried in Al Gore’s posterior, is the man who started the global warming hoax when, in the 1980s, he testified to Congress that the whole world is doomed. To his name I add the hundreds of other alarmists.
Rep. Nancy PelosiThe Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is quite possibly the most stupid person to have ever held that post.
Sen. Harry ReidThe Senate Majority Leader, like his counterpart in the House, holds a lot of idiotic ideas and beliefs. He continues to oppose the opening of Yucca Mountain, a multi-billion dollar repository for spent, but radioactive nuclear fuel.
Bill ClintonHaving cost Hillary a shot at the presidency and failed in so many ways during his own two terms in office, one fervently hopes he will busy himself giving million dollar speeches in Abu Dhabi and other venues far from the U.S. This is the man who once said, “We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.” Well, he got his wish; the economy is slowing to a crawl. Happy now?
Jimmy CarterThis friend to every dictator on Earth was once elected President of the United States. Mistakes happen.
Barney FrankDon’t hold your breath waiting for this House of Representatives’ Elmer Fudd impersonator to take responsibility for the nation’s financial crisis. He spent the last few years defending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while both purchased billions in sub-prime mortgage loans.
George W. BushI have had to listen to President Bush for eight years and that is quite enough.
John McCain
America has voted, but less than half for you and most of them held their nose when they did.
Keith Olbermann & Chris MatthewsThese two alleged political pundits so thoroughly embarrassed themselves and MSNBC during the campaigns that their co-workers refuse to sit at their table in the company cafeteria.
Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson
The next President of the United States of America is an Afro-American. Millions of white people voted for him. Now go away.
Mahmoud AmadinejadThis loony is convinced that millions must die so that a mythical Twelfth Imam can return to bring Islam to all mankind. Meanwhile, Mahmoud and the ayatollahs have been busy destroying Iran when not taking hostages.
Hugo Chavez
This Fidel Castro wannabe has managed to destroy Venezuela’s economy with his communist ranting. I miss the good old days when the CIA was encouraged to rid us of such pests.
Osama bin LadenWith any luck, this sucker is dead.
The United Nations
Anything that comes out of this institution should be treated like toxic waste.
So many annoying, deranged, and stupid people; we can be assured that the mainstream media will hang on their every word.
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A New Year's Wish for Citizens of the United States
By Frosty Wooldridge
January 1, 2009
NewsWithViews.com
http://www.newswithviews.com/Wooldridge/frosty429.htm
The New Year provides all of us with a new beginning. Many of us make resolutions to lose weight, earn a degree or find a better job. Others vow to get rid of their current spouse! Give their kids to the Salvation Army! Or, buy a Harley and ride the wild wind to Sturgis!
What about our country? What resolutions would you make for America? Let’s find out!
America faces daunting challenges in 2009 and beyond. After eight years of treading water at the federal level with a totally inept president--we drown in debt, muddle through endless war, stagger under environmental calamities and find our economy punched in the nose with a sledge hammer.
We face millions of Baby Boomers retiring which means they tap into an already delicate Social Security system. Our environment suffers under devastating onslaughts of air pollution suffocating our cities; 80,000 chemicals injected into the water, land and air daily; species extinction accelerating, climate change and dozens of other problems.
We discover energy demand rising while availability descends. We witness the housing bubble bursting while foreclosures explode by the millions. We watch our 14 million unemployed citizens struggle while our Congress substitutes them with millions of imported of unemployed immigrants.
From the world’s largest creditor nation, we now suffer horrific international debt as well as our own $10.1 trillion federal debt.
Like a 400 pound fat man at an “all you can eat” buffet, the citizens of this country continue devouring their resources, land, water and energy like tomorrow won’t arrive! Not only that, they (we) added 3.1 million of humans to this country this year and every year via immigration—to accelerate those consumption levels.
To show you what our actions mean to future generations, I invite you to visit www.storyofstuff.com with Annie Leonard. Take 20 minutes to educate yourself as to what we face in 2009 and the long term—stemming from mindless consumerism for decades.
In addition to her brilliant rendition of America’s profligate and wasteful ways, she empowers you to take action toward a more sustainable future.
Beyond that, in 2009, we face quickening damage to our planet home on a scale that escapes most Americans.
“The damage to global ecologies by human activity accelerated rapidly with the onset of industrialism,” said James Howard Kunstler, author, The Long Emergency. “The twentieth century, with its oil-nurtured bloom of human population, was especially harsh. Everywhere, biological complexity was compromised or reduced to monoculture. Habitats were wrecked. Species exterminated. Terrain and water were poisoned. The amount of asphalt paving alone in the United States represents an ecological insult beyond calculation. These man-made environmental catastrophes will combine with and be reinforced by the new problems of climate change in this Long Emergency [we all face].”
To give you a visual on our condition, you may visit “Planet in Peril” on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling.
By viewing any portions of the series, you will see what kind of havoc humanity forces onto this planet and billions of its creatures. For instance, we slaughter 100 million sharks annually for nothing more than their fins—for shark fin soup no less—while we toss them back into the water alive to die an agonizing finality. We kill 1 million animals that cross our roads in the USA every 24 hours=365 million vertebrate deaths annually, i.e., hawks, eagles, dogs, cats, mice, gophers, foxes, horses, deer, blue birds, armadillos, sheep, etc. They go about their business when they get whacked by our vehicles. What right do we possess to kill THAT many fellow creatures year after year?
By visiting this website, you will enjoy a compelling audio-visual book that you will find entertaining and educational. Visit this web site by Chris Martenson.
He will guide you toward enlightenment and action to make for a better future for all creatures on this planet including humanity.
Why? If you look around the planet via these websites, folks, we fail ourselves as a species. We separate ourselves spiritually and physically from nature. We fail our personal accountability and responsibility on a scale that defies understanding.
What wish enthralls me for the New Year of 2009? I wish for humanity, especially its leaders and educators, to move toward a sustainable future by addressing the core problems we face and creating ideas that rationally, logically and methodically move civilizations and nature herself toward what Thomas Jefferson inspired, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We stand at the brink of a new beginning. Your efforts count big and small. Let’s get busy!
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Another brutal year for libertyThe good news is that it's clear what the Obama administration must do to end the decade-long war on the Constitution.
By Glenn Greenwald
Jan. 01, 2009
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/01/01/civil_liberties/
Befitting an administration that has spent eight years obliterating America's core political values, its final year in power -- 2008 -- was yet another grim one for civil liberties and constitutional protections. Unlike the early years of the administration, when liberty-abridging policies were conceived of in secret and unilaterally implemented by the executive branch, many of the erosions of 2008 were the dirty work of the U.S. Congress, fueled by the passive fear or active complicity of the Democratic Party that controlled it. The one silver lining is that the last 12 months have been brightly clarifying: It is clearer than ever what the Obama administration can and must do in order to arrest and reverse the decade-long war on the Constitution waged by our own government.
The most intensely fought civil liberties battle of 2008 -- the one waged over FISA and telecom immunity -- ended the way most similar battles of the last eight years have: with total defeat for civil libertarians. Even before Democrats were handed control of Congress at the beginning of 2007, the Bush administration had been demanding legislation to legalize its illegal warrantless NSA eavesdropping program and to retroactively immunize the telecom industry for its participation in those programs. Yet even with Bill Frist and Denny Hastert in control of the Congress, the administration couldn't get its way.
Not even the most cynical political observer would have believed that it was the ascension of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that would be the necessary catalyst for satisfying Bush's most audacious demands, concerning his most brazenly illegal actions. If anything, hopes were high that Democratic control of Congress would entail a legislative halt to warrantless eavesdropping or, at the very least, some meaningful investigation and disclosure -- what we once charmingly called "oversight" -- regarding what Bush's domestic spying had really entailed. After all, the NSA program was the purified embodiment of the most radical attributes of a radical regime -- pure lawlessness, absolute secrecy, a Stasi-like fixation on domestic surveillance. It was widely assumed, even among embittered cynics, that the new Democratic leadership in Congress would not use their newfound control to protect and endorse these abuses.
Yet in July 2008, there stood Pelosi and Reid, leading their caucuses as they stamped their imprimatur of approval on Bush's spying programs. The so-called FISA Amendments Act of 2008 passed with virtually unanimous GOP and substantial Democratic support, including the entire top level of the House Democratic leadership. It legalized vast new categories of warrantless eavesdropping and endowed telecoms with full immunity for prior surveillance lawbreaking. Most important, it ensured a permanent and harmless end to what appeared to be the devastating scandal that exploded in 2005 when the New York Times revealed to the country that the Bush administration was spying on Americans illegally, without warrants of any kind.
With passage of the Act, Democrats delivered to the Bush administration everything it wanted -- and more. GOP Sen. Kit Bond actually taunted the Democrats in the Times for giving away the store: "I think the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get." Making matters much worse, by delivering this massive gift to the White House, the House undid one of its very few good deeds since taking over in 2006: its galvanizing February 2008 refusal to succumb to Bush's rank fear-mongering by allowing "The Protect America Act" to expire instead of following the Senate's lead in making it permanent.
Adding the final insult to this constitutional injury, Barack Obama infamously violated his emphatic pledge, made during the Democratic primary, to filibuster any bill containing telecom immunity. With the Democratic nomination fully secured, Obama blithely tossed that commitment aside, instead joining his party's leadership in voting for cloture on the bill -- the opposite of a filibuster -- and then in favor of the bill itself. The photographs of the celebratory, bipartisan signing ceremony that followed at the White House -- where an understandably jubilant George Bush and Dick Cheney were joined by a grinning Jay Rockefeller, Jane Harman and Steny Hoyer -- was the vivid, wretched symbol of what, in 2008, became the fully bipartisan assault on America's basic constitutional guarantees and form of government.
The FISA fight was the destructive template that drove virtually every other civil liberties battle of the last year. Time and again, Democrats failed to deliver on a single promise. They failed to overcome a GOP filibuster in the Senate to restore habeas corpus, which had been partially abolished in 2006 as a result of the Military Commissions Act that passed with substantial Democratic support and wholesale Democratic passivity. Notably, while Senate Democrats, when in the minority, never even considered a filibuster to block the Military Commissions Act, it was simply assumed that the GOP, when it was in the minority, would filibuster in order to prevent passage of the Habeas Restoration Act. And filibuster they did.
A similar scenario played out with the attempt in February to redress America's torture crisis by enacting an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act compelling all government agencies, including the CIA, to comply with the Army Field Manual when interrogating detainees. The most immediate effect of such a law would have been to impose an absolute ban on the use of waterboarding, along with any other coercive tactics -- torture techniques -- which the Manual does not explicitly authorize.
Knowing that the president would veto the bill, the GOP allowed a floor vote on the Army Field Manual amendment. Signaling what would be his year-long, soul-selling captivity to the far right of his party, John McCain -- despite years of parading around as a righteous opponent of torture -- voted against the torture ban. The bill passed both houses largely along party lines, President Bush vetoed it as promised, and the House then failed to override the veto. The path taken was slightly different, but the outcome was the same: total failure in reining in Bush's abuses. Indeed, by the end of 2008, civil libertarians could point to many defeats suffered in the Democratic-controlled Congress, but not a single victory.
The fate of civil liberties in the judiciary was much more mixed, punctuated with several significant victories. Undoubtedly the most important win was the Supreme Court's June decision in the Boumediene case, which struck down as unconstitutional one of the worst constitutional assaults of the Bush era: Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act, which had purported to abolish habeas corpus for Guantánamo detainees and prohibited them from challenging their detention in a federal court.
The Court ruled, by a precarious 5-4 margin, that Guantánamo detainees could not constitutionally be denied the right to have their detentions reviewed by an American federal court. That seminal ruling paid quick dividends for some of the detainees. Last month, a Bush 43 federal judge -- the same jurist who had originally upheld the Act's abolition of habeas review for Guantánamo detainees and was ultimately reversed by the Boumediene court -- conducted a habeas hearing for six Algerian-Bosnian detainees imprisoned without charges at Guantánamo for the last six years.
The judge concluded that the Bush administration had no credible evidence to justify the detention of five out of the six detainees and thus ordered them released immediately. Four of the five are now back in Bosnia, while the fifth awaits release. Without the Boumediene ruling, the truly heinous provisions of the Military Commissions Act would still be operative and would continue to empower the government to hold those detainees -- along with dozens if not hundreds of others -- indefinitely and without charges. Boumediene is one of the few civil liberties bright spots of this decade.
The Bush administration, also earlier this year, suffered another judicial defeat at the hands of a very conservative, Bush 43-appointed federal judge, when that judge emphatically rejected the administration's claim that Bush aides Harriet Miers (former White House counsel) and Josh Bolten (former White House chief of staff) are entitled to absolute immunity from Congressional subpoenas. That dispute, which arose from the House Judiciary Committee's efforts to investigate the notorious firing of nine U.S. attorneys, dispensed with one of the administration's most radical tools -- a claim of absolute, unconstitutional executive privilege -- for shielding itself from accountability.
One of the most potentially damaging judicial developments of the year was a horrendous ruling issued in July by the conservative Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. The al-Marri court actually upheld the president's claimed authority to detain legal residents and even U.S. citizens in a military prison as "enemy combatants," rather than charge them in a civilian court with a crime. But the damage done by that ruling was mitigated substantially when the U.S. Supreme Court announced just two weeks ago that it has agreed to review the al-Marri ruling, and civil libertarians are cautiously optimistic that the Court will likely reverse it.
For the last seven years, Democrats have repeatedly cited GOP political dominance to excuse their wholesale failures to limit, let alone reverse, the devastating war waged by the Bush administration on America's core liberties and form of government. With a new Democratic president and large majorities in both Congressional houses, those excuses will no longer be so expedient. As dark and depressing as these last seven years have been for civil libertarians, culminating in an almost entirely grim 2008, there is no question that the Obama administration and the Democrats generally now possess the power to reverse these abuses and restore our national political values. But as the events of the last 12 months conclusively demonstrate, there are substantial questions as to whether they have the will to do so.
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This Depressing Year
Ron Fraser, Columnist
December 22, 2008 From theTrumpet.com
http://www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?q=5765.4125.0.0
A well-known magazine tries to put “this depressing year” into perspective.
Things are grim when one of the world’s quality periodicals seeks to “put this depressing year into perspective by focusing on some cheerful, abstruse yet fascinating aspects of life.” Economist editor in chief clarifies “the cheerful, abstruse and fascinating” subjects covered in the magazine’s year-end issue as being “Why we love music; the rise of the Chinese birdwatcher; explaining Tintin to baffled non-Europeans; how chilies are heating up the world’s food.”
Perhaps a lot more abstruse than this baffling list of the sublime is the notion that serious-minded people would be really interested in such subjects at a time when the world faces an even more depressing year in 2009 than that which we have just endured over the past 12 months.
How Chinese birdwatching and hot tamales are going to prepare our minds for that which 2009 portends is anyone’s guess, unless the Economist is encouraging its audience to do a Timothy Leary—“tune in” to the cheerful and abstruse and “drop out” of 2009!
But the reality is that in a matter of days we shall all face a year during which one seen by many—even outside of the United States—as a messiah taking over at the helm of America—one whose promises engendered “hope” through “change”—will be brought to account. Either those grand hopes for “change” must be realized by the upcoming Obama administration—and in the present dismal climate, realized quickly—or the new president will soon feel the dogs barking at his heels.
President-elect Obama has been elected to the leadership of a nation that is clearly descending into extreme financial, economic and social chaos. It is a nation in increasing and accelerating crisis.
At the time of Britain’s greatest crisis, Sir Winston Churchill did not promise the British people any groundless “hope,” or any empty promises of “change.” He promised them nothing more and nothing less than “blood, toil, tears and sweat.” And the British responded with set jaw and stiff upper lip. For two whole years under Churchill’s leadership, Britain held the tyrant at bay until America, as President Roosevelt said, was literally bombed into the Second World War.
Seventy years later there are no Churchills, no Roosevelts. But there are plenty of terrorizing petty tyrants baring their fangs and baying for British, American and Jewish blood!
To the realist, the scene that is set for the opening of 2009 could be pretty depressing. It will be a year during which we shall continue to reap the consequences of our past sins—a past of consumerist profligacy, of endemic fraud in politics, business, banking and commerce, of the continuing societal fallout from decades of experiments by our social engineers, of the overstretching of our military forces, of decline in morals, of the consequent lowering of national morale, and of the politically correct drumbeat that has led us all up the garden path to inevitable national decline.
Together with this ongoing mountain of woes, the U.S. will face tremendous pressure for foreign-policy trade-offs as a penalty for its past blindness, neglect and plain orneriness in the conduct of its international relations. For those with eyes to see, the signs are glaringly apparent which indicate that the year 2009 will simply advance the steady tread of those whom the Prophet Isaiah foresaw as “the alien” who is destined to “rise higher and higher above you; and thou shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but thou shall not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44; New King James Version).
Yet America and the world have been warned that today’s gloomy scenario would one day become a reality.
For a period approaching 75 years’ duration, there has been a specially commissioned ministry preaching the original true gospel of the coming Kingdom of God to this world (Mark 1:14). It is the same original message that Jesus Christ preached, declaring the prophecies of the Eternal God for the times (Matthew 24) and tracking their steady fulfillment through a regular and close monitoring of world events (Mark 13:33) heading toward the time of His return (John 14:3).
For half a century that message was preached and published by Herbert W. Armstrong with increasing power, from early beginnings on a small, low-wattage local radio station on the West Coast of the United States until the World Tomorrow program became the most significant televised religious broadcast worldwide.
His magazine, the Plain Truth, grew from a “grain of mustard seed” beginning as a small, hand-mimeographed periodical of minimal distribution to a magazine of world class, with a subscription list of over 8 million by the time of his death.
By the end of his life on Jan. 16, 1986, many world leaders had met with Mr. Armstrong, some even regarding him as a true friend, a genuine ambassador for world peace.
Today, our editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, carries on that same ministry of preaching the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God, yet with a more powerful edge. That message today contains a powerful warning (Ezekiel 3:17). It is a warning that God prophesied must go especially to His Church and to the Anglo-Saxon nations. A warning of the dangerously disruptive times in which we live and of what they portend for the future. With the Worldwide Web at our disposal, this message now reaches into all corners of the Earth.
The weeks and months ahead are going to be replete with Bible prophecies for these dark days leaping into perspective in timely fulfillment of the events that God forecast through His prophets of old and embedded in the scriptures of your Bible millennia ago. If a world-class magazine can reflect on 2008 as being a depressing year, wait till we look back on 2009 and reach for words to describe a year that goes beyond the depressing to the downright dangerously disruptive!
Forewarned is to be forearmed, as they say. Our job is to proclaim the warning in the hope that you will be stirred to be forearmed with the provable truth, so that you may understand the prophesied relevance of world events as they happen. The truth that not only explains the meaning of today’s world news in the light of Bible prophecy, but which shows you the only real hope for real and lasting change in the governing of the affairs of man, destined to bring real and lasting peace and genuine goodwill to all men!
It’s the only true gospel message! A message of ETERNAL hope!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Iraq - What has the Bush Administration Done to You?

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After Downing Street, July 6, 2007 Title: “Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?” Author: Michael Schwartz
AlterNet, September 17, 2007 Title: “Iraq death toll rivals Rwanda genocide, Cambodian killing fields” Author: Joshua Holland
Reuters (via AlterNet), January 7, 2008 Title: “Iraq conflict has killed a million, says survey” Author: Luke Baker
Inter Press Service, March 3, 2008 Title: “Iraq: Not our country to Return to” Authors: Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail
Student Researchers: Danielle Stanton, Tim LeDonne, and Kat Pat Crespán
Faculty Evaluator: Heidi LaMoreaux, PhD
Over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion, according to a study conducted by the prestigious British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB). These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the mass killings of the last century—the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia’s infamous “Killing Fields” during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s.
ORB’s research covered fifteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. Those not covered include two of Iraq’s more volatile regions—Kerbala and Anbar—and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work. In face-to-face interviews with 2,414 adults, the poll found that more than one in five respondents had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, as opposed to natural cause.
Authors Joshua Holland and Michael Schwartz point out that the dominant narrative on Iraq—that most of the violence against Iraqis is being perpetrated by Iraqis themselves and is not our responsibility—is ill conceived. Interviewers from the Lancet report of October 2006 (Censored 2006, #2) asked Iraqi respondents how their loved ones died. Of deaths for which families were certain of the perpetrator, 56 percent were attributable to US forces or their allies. Schwartz suggests that if a low pro rata share of half the unattributed deaths were caused by US forces, a total of approximately 80 percent of Iraqi deaths are directly US perpetrated.
Even with the lower confirmed figures, by the end of 2006, an average of 5,000 Iraqis had been killed every month by US forces since the beginning of the occupation. However, the rate of fatalities in 2006 was twice as high as the overall average, meaning that the American average in 2006 was well over 10,000 per month, or over 300 Iraqis every day. With the surge that began in 2007, the current figure is likely even higher.
Schwartz points out that the logic to this carnage lies in a statistic released by the US military and reported by the Brookings Institute: for the first four years of the occupation the American military sent over 1,000 patrols each day into hostile neighborhoods, looking to capture or kill “insurgents” and “terrorists.” (Since February 2007, the number has increased to nearly 5,000 patrols a day, if we include the Iraqi troops participating in the American surge.) Each patrol invades an average of thirty Iraqi homes a day, with the mission to interrogate, arrest, or kill suspects. In this context, any fighting age man is not just a suspect, but a potentially lethal adversary. Our soldiers are told not to take any chances (see Story #9).
According to US military statistics, again reported by the Brookings Institute, these patrols currently result in just under 3,000 firefights every month, or just under an average of one hundred per day (not counting the additional twenty-five or so involving our Iraqi allies). Thousands of patrols result in thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths and unconscionably brutal detentions.
Iraqis’ attempts to escape the violence have resulted in a refugee crisis of mammoth proportion. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration, in 2007 almost 5 million Iraqis had been displaced by violence in their country, the vast majority of which had fled since 2003. Over 2.4 million vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq, up to 1.5 million were living in Syria, and over 1 million refugees were inhabiting Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Gulf States. Iraq’s refugees, increasing by an average of almost 100,000 every month, have no legal work options in most host states and provinces and are increasingly desperate.1
Yet more Iraqis continue to flee their homes than the numbers returning, despite official claims to the contrary. Thousands fleeing say security is as bad as ever, and that to return would be to accept death. Most of those who return are subsequently displaced again.
Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail quote an Iraqi engineer now working at a restaurant in Damascus, “Return to Iraq? There is no Iraq to return to, my friend. Iraq only exists in our dreams and memories.”
Another interviewee told the authors, “The US military say Fallujah is safe now while over 800 men are detained there under the worst conditions. . . . At least 750 out of the 800 detainees are not resistance fighters, but people who refused to collaborate with occupation forces and their tails.” (Iraqis who collaborate with occupation forces are commonly referred to as “tails of the Americans.”)
Another refugee from Baghdad said, “I took my family back home in January. The first night we arrived, Americans raided our house and kept us all in one room while their snipers used our rooftop to shoot at people. I decided to come back here [Damascus] the next morning after a horrifying night that we will never forget.”
Citation1. “The Iraqi Displacement Crisis,” Refugees International, March 3, 2008.
Update by Michael SchwartzThe mortality statistics cited in “Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month?” were based on another article suitable for Project Censored recognition, a scientific investigation of deaths caused by the war in Iraq. The original article, published in Lancet in 2006, received some dismissive coverage when it was released, and then disappeared from view as the mainstream media returned to reporting biased estimates that placed Iraqi casualties at about one-tenth the Lancet estimates. The corporate media blackout of the original study extended to my article as well, and has continued unabated, though the Lancet article has withstood several waves of criticism, while being confirmed and updated by other studies (Censored 2006, #2).
By early 2008, the best estimate, based on extrapolations and replications of the Lancet study, was that 1.2 million Iraqis had died as a consequence of the war. This figure has not, to my knowledge, been reported in any mass media outlet in the United States.
The blackout of the casualty figures was matched by a similar blackout of other main evidence in my article: that the Bush administration military strategy in Iraq assures vast property destruction and lethality on a daily basis. Rules of engagement that require the approximately one thousand US patrols each day to respond to any hostile act with overwhelming firepower—small arms, artillery, and air power—guarantee that large numbers of civilians will suffer and die. But the mainstream media refuses to cover this mayhem, even after the Winter Soldier meetings in March 2008 featured over one hundred Iraq veterans who testified to their own participation in what they call “atrocity producing situations.”
The effectiveness of the media blackout is vividly illustrated by an Associated Press poll conducted in February 2007, which asked a representative sample of US residents how many Iraqis had died as a result of the war. The average respondent thought the number was under 10,000, about 2 percent of the actual total at that time. This remarkable mass ignorance, like so many other elements of the Iraq War story, received no coverage in the mass media, not even by the Associated Press, which commissioned the study.
The Iraq Veterans Against the War has made the brutality of the occupation their special activist province. The slaughter of the Iraqi people is the foundation of their demand for immediate and full withdrawal of US troops, and the subject of their historic Winter Soldier meetings in Baltimore. Though there was no mainstream US media coverage of this event, the live streaming on Pacifica Radio and on the IVAW website reached a huge audience—including a vast number of active duty soldiers—with vivid descriptions of atrocities committed by the US war machine. A growing number of independent news sites now feature regular coverage of this aspect of the war, including Democracy Now!, Tom Dispatch, Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches, Informed Comment, Antiwar.com, and ZNet.
Update by Maki Al-Nazzal and Dahr JamailThe promotion of US general David Petraeus to head CENTCOM, and General Raymond Odierno to replace Petraeus as commanding general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, provoked a lot of anger amongst Iraqis in both Syria and Jordan. The two generals who convinced US and international society of improvement in Iraq do not seem to have succeeded in convincing Iraqi refugees of their success.
“Just like the Bush Administration decorated Paul Bremer (former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority), they are rewarding others who participated in the destruction to Iraq,” stated Muhammad Shamil, an Iraqi journalist who fled Iraq to Syria in 2006. “What they call violence was concentrated in some parts of Iraq, but now spread to be all over the country, thanks to US war heroes. People are getting killed, evicted or detained by the thousands, from Basra (South) to Mosul (North).”
Other Iraqi refugees seem to have changed attitudes regarding their hopes to return. Compared to when this story was published in March 2008, the refugee crisis continues to deepen. This is exacerbated by the fact that most Iraqis have no intention of returning home. Instead, they are looking for permanent residence in other countries.
“I decided to stop dreaming of going back home and find myself a new home anywhere in the world if I could,” said thirty-two-year-old Maha Numan in Syria, “I have been a refugee for three years now living on the dream of return, but I decided to stop dreaming. I have lost faith in all leaders of the world after the surges of Basra, Sadr City and now Mosul. This seems to be endless and one has to work harder on finding a safe haven for one’s family.”
Iraqis in Syria know a lot more of the news about their country than most journalists. At an Internet café in Damascus, each of them calls his hometown and reports the happenings of the day to other Iraqi refugees. News of ongoing violence across much of Iraq convinces them to remain abroad.
“There were four various explosions in Fallujah today,” said Salam Adel, who worked as a translator for US forces in Fallujah in 2005. “And they say it is safe to go back! Damn them, go back for what? For roadside bombs or car bombs?”
It has been important, politically, for the Bush administration to claim that the situation in Iraq is improving. This claim has been assisted by a complicit corporate media. However, the 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria, and over 750,000 in Jordan, will tell you differently. Otherwise, they would not remain outside of Iraq.
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Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or is it More?Submitted by david swanson on Thu, 2007-07-05 00:17.
By Michael Schwartz
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/24310
A state-of-the-art research study published in October 12, 2006 issue of The Lancet (the most prestigious British medical journal) concluded that—as of a year ago—600,000 Iraqis had died violently due to the war in Iraq. That is, the Iraqi death rate for the first 39 months of the war was just about 15,000 per month.
That wasn’t the worst of it, because the death rate was increasing precipitously, and during the first half of 2006 the monthly rate was approximately 30,000 per month, a rate that no doubt has increased further during the ferocious fighting associated with the current American surge.
The U.S. and British governments quickly dismissed these results as “methodologically flawed,” even though the researchers used standard procedures for measuring mortality in war and disaster zones. (They visited a random set of homes and asked the residents if anyone in their household had died in the last few years, recording the details, and inspecting death certificates in the vast majority of cases.) The two belligerent governments offered no concrete reasons for rejecting the study’s findings, and they ignored the fact that they had sponsored identical studies (conducted by some of the same researchers) in other disaster areas, including Darfur and Kosovo. The reasons for this rejection were, however, clear enough: the results were simply too devastating for the culpable governments to acknowledge. (Secretly the British government later admitted that it was “a tried and tested way to measuring mortality in conflict zones”; but it has never publicly admitted its validity).
Reputable researchers have accepted the Lancet study’s results as valid with virtually no dissent. Juan Cole, the most visible American Middle East scholar, summarized it in a particularly vivid comment: “the US misadventure in Iraq is responsible [in a little over three years] for setting off the killing of twice as many civilians as Saddam managed to polish off in 25 years.”
Despite the scholarly consensus, the governments’ denials have been quite effective from a public education point of view, and the few news items that mention the Lancet study bracket it with official rebuttals. One BBC report, for example, mentioned the figure in an article headlined “Huge Rise in Iraqi Death Tolls,” and quoted at length from President Bush’s public rebuttal, in which he said that the methodology was "pretty well discredited,” adding that “six-hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just... it's not credible.” As a consequence of this sort of coverage, most Americans probably believe that Bush’s December 2005 figure of 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths (less than 10% of the actual total) is the best estimate of Iraqi deaths up to that time.
Counting How Many Iraqis the Occupation has Killed
These shocking statistics are made all the more horrific when we realize that among the 600,000 or so victims of Iraqi war violence, the largest portion have been killed by the American military, not by car bombings or death squads, or violent criminals — or even all these groups combined.
The Lancet interviewers asked their Iraqi respondents how their loved ones died and who was responsible. The families were very good at the cause of death, telling the reporters that over half (56%) were due to gunshots, with an eighth due each to car bombs(13%), air strikes (13%) and other ordinance (14%). Only 4% were due to unknown causes.
The families were not as good at identifying who was responsible. Although they knew, for example, that air strike victims were killed by the occupation, and that car bomb victims were killed by insurgents, the gunshot and ordinance fatalities often occurred in firefights or in circumstances with no witnesses. Many times, therefore, they could not tell for sure who was responsible. Only were certain, and the interviewers did not record the responsible party if “households had any uncertainly” as to who fired the death shot.
The results are nevertheless staggering for those of us who read the American press: for the deaths that the victims families knew for sure who the perpetrator was, U.S. forces (or their “Coalition of the Willing” allies) were responsible for 56%. That is, we can be very confident that the Coalition had killed at least 180,000 Iraqis by the middle of 2006. Moreover, we have every reason to believe that the U.S. is responsible for its pro rata share (or more) of the unattributed deaths. That means that the U.S. and its allies may well have killed upwards of 330,000 Iraqis by the middle of 2006.
The remainder can be attributed to the insurgents, criminals, and to Iraqi forces. And let’s be very clear here: car bombs, the one source that was most easy for victims’ families to identify, was responsible for 13% of the deaths, about 80,000 people, or about 2000 per month. This is horrendous, but it is far less than half of the confirmed American total, and less than a quarter of the probable American total.
Even if we work with the lower, confirmed, figured of 180,000 Iraqi deaths caused by the occupation firepower, which yields an average of just over 5,000 Iraqis killed every month by U.S. forces and our allies since the beginning of the war. And we have to remember that the rate of fatalities was twice as high in 2006 as the overall average, meaning that the American average in 2006 was well over 10,000 per month, or something over 300 Iraqis every day, including Sundays. With the surge that began in 2007, the current figure is likely even higher.
How Come We Don't Know About This?
These figures sound impossible to most Americans. Certainly 300 Iraqis killed by Americans each day would be headline news, over and over again. And yet, the electronic and print media simply do not tell us that the U.S. is killing all these people. We hear plenty about car bombers and death squads, but little about Americans killing Iraqis, except the occasional terrorist, and the even more occasional atrocity story.
How, then, is the US accomplishing this carnage, and why is it not newsworthy? The answer lies in another amazing statistic: this one released by the U.S. military and reported by the highly respectable Brookings Institution: for the past four years, the American military sends out something over 1000 patrols each day into hostile neighborhoods, looking to capture or kill insurgents and terrorists. (Since February, the number has increased to nearly 5,000 patrols a day, if we include the Iraqi troops participating in the American surge.)
These thousands of patrols regularly turn into thousands of Iraqi deaths because these patrols are not the “walk in the sun” that they appear to be in our mind’s eye. Actually, as independent journalist Nir Rosen described vividly and agonizingly in his indispensable book, In the Belly of the Green Bird, they involve a kind of energetic brutality that is only occasionally reported by an embedded American mainstream journalist.
This brutality is all very logical, once we understand the purpose and process of these patrols. American soldiers and marines are sent into hostile communities where virtually the entire population supports the insurgency. They often have a list of suspects’ addresses; and their job is to interrorgate or arrest or kill the suspect; and search the house for incriminating evidence, particularly arms and ammunition, but also literature, video equipment, and other items that the insurgency depends upon for its political and military activities. When they don’t have lists of suspects, they conduct “house-to-house” searches, looking for suspicious behavior, individuals or evidence.
In this context, any fighting age man is not just a suspect, but a potentially lethal adversary. Our soldiers are told not to take any chances: in many instances, for example, knocking on doors could invite gunshots through the doors. Their instructions are therefore to use the element of surprise whenever the situation appears to be dangerous—to break down doors, shoot at anything suspicious, and throw grenades into rooms or homes where there is any chance of resistance. If they encounter tangible resistance, they can call in artillery and/or air power rather than try to invade a building.
Here is how two Iraqi civilians described these patrols to Asia Times reporter Pepe Escobar:
“Hussein and Hasan confirm that the Americans usually ‘come at night, sometimes by day, always protected by helicopters.’ They "sometimes bomb houses, sometimes arrest people, sometimes throw missiles’”
If they encounter no resistance, these patrols can track down 30 or so suspects, or inspect several dozen homes, in a days work. That is, our 1000 or so patrols can invade 30,000 homes in a single day. But if an IED explodes under their Humvee or a sniper shoots at them from nearby, then their job is transformed into finding, capturing, or killing the perpetrator of the attack. Iraqi insurgents often set off IEDs and invite these firefights, in order to stall the patrols prevent the soldiers from forcibly entering 30 or so homes, violently accosting their residents, and perhaps beating, arresting, or simply humiliating the residents.
The battles triggered by IEDs and sniper attacks almost always involve the buildings surrounding the incident, since that is where the insurgents take cover to avoid the American counter-attack. Americans, therefore, regular shoot into these buildings where the perpetrators are suspected of hiding, with all the attendant dangers of killing other people. The rules of engagement for American soldiers include efforts to avoid killing civilians, and there are many accounts of restraint because civilians are visibly in the line of fire. But if they are in hot pursuit of a perpetrator, their rules of engagement make it clear that capturing or killing the insurgent takes precedent over civilian safety.
This sounds pretty tame, and not capable of generating the statistics that the Lancet study documented. But the sheer quantity of American patrols—1000 each day—and the sheer quantity of the confrontations inside people’s homes, the responses to sniper and IED attacks, and the ensuring firefights add up to mass slaughter. [Read the entire article at: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/24310]
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Iraq Death Toll Rivals Rwanda Genocide, Cambodian Killing Fields
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on September 17, 2007, Printed on January 8, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/62728/
According to a new study, 1.2 million Iraqis have met violent deaths since the 2003 invasion, the highest estimate of war-related fatalities yet. The study was done by the British polling firm ORB, which conducted face-to-face interviews with a sample of over 1,700 Iraqi adults in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Two provinces -- al-Anbar and Karbala -- were too dangerous to canvas, and officials in a third, Irbil, didn't give the researchers a permit to do their work. The study's margin of error was plus-minus 2.4 percent.
Field workers asked residents how many members of their own household had been killed since the invasion. More than one in five respondents said that at least one person in their home had been murdered since March of 2003. One in three Iraqis also said that at least some neighbors "actually living on [their] street" had fled the carnage, with around half of those having left the country.
In Baghdad, almost half of those interviewed reported at least one violent death in their household.
Before the study's release, the highest estimate of Iraqi deaths had been around 650,000 in the landmark Johns Hopkins' study published in the Lancet, a highly respected and peer-reviewed British medical journal. Unlike that study, which measured the difference in deaths from all causes during the first three years of the occupation with the mortality rate that existed prior to the invasion, the ORB poll looked only at deaths due to violence.
The poll's findings are in line with the rolling estimate maintained on the Just Foreign Policy website, based on the Johns Hopkins' data, that stands at just over 1 million Iraqis killed as of this writing.
These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the great crimes of the last century -- the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia's infamous "Killing Fields" during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s.
While the stunning figures should play a major role in the debate over continuing the occupation, they probably won't. That's because there are three distinct versions of events in Iraq -- the bloody criminal nightmare that the "reality-based community" has to grapple with, the picture the commercial media portrays and the war that the occupation's last supporters have conjured up out of thin air. Similarly, American discourse has also developed three different levels of Iraqi casualties. There's the approximately 1 million killed according to the best epidemiological research conducted by one of the world's most prestigious scientific institutions, there's the 75,000-80,000 (based on news reports) the Washington Post and other commercial media allow, and there's the clean and antiseptic blood-free war the administration claims to have fought (recall that they dismissed the Lancet findings out of hand and yet offered no numbers of their own).
Here's the troubling thing, and one reason why opposition to the war isn't even more intense than it is: Americans were asked in an AP poll conducted earlier this year how many Iraqi civilians they thought had been killed as a result of the invasion and occupation, and the median answer they gave was 9,890. That's less than a third of the number of civilian deaths confirmed by U.N. monitors in 2006 alone.
Most of that disconnect is probably a result of American exceptionalism -- the United States is, by definition, the good guy, and good guys don't launch wars of choice that result in over a million people being massacred. Never mind that that's exactly what the data show; acknowledging as much creates intolerable cognitive dissonance for most Americans, so as a nation, we won't.
But there's more to it than that. The dominant narrative of Iraq is that most of the violence against Iraqis is being perpetrated by Iraqis themselves and is not our responsibility. That's wrong morally -- we chose to go into Iraq despite the fact that public health NGOs warned in advance of the likelihood of 500,000 civilian deaths due to "collateral damage." It's also factually incorrect -- as Stony Brook University scholar Michael Schwartz noted a few months ago, the Johns-Hopkins study looked at who was responsible for the violent deaths it measured and found that coalition forces were directly responsible for 56 percent of the deaths in which the perpetrator was known. According to Schwartz's number crunching, based on the Lancet data, coalition troops were responsible for at least 180,000 and as many as 330,000 violent deaths through the middle of last year. There's no compelling reason to think the share attributable to occupation forces has decreased significantly since then.
Like the earlier study in the Lancet -- one that relied on widely accepted methodology for its results -- this new research is already being dismissed out of hand. The strange thing is that common sense alone should be enough to conclude that the United States has killed a huge number of Iraqi civilians. After all, it's become conventional wisdom (based on several studies) that about 90 percent of all casualties in modern warfare are civilians. We know that the military, in addition to deploying 500 missiles and bombs in the first six months of this year alone, has had trouble keeping up with the demand for bullets in the Iraqi theater. According to a 2005 report by Lt. Col. Dean Mengel at the Army War College, the number of rounds being fired off is enormous (PDF):
[One news report] noted that the Army estimated it would need 1.5 billion small arms rounds per year, which was three times the amount produced just three years earlier. In another, it was noted by the Associated Press that soldiers were shooting bullets faster than they could be produced by the manufacturer.
1.5 billion rounds per year … more bullets fired than can be manufactured. Given that the estimated number of active insurgents in Iraq has never exceeded 30,000 -- and is usually given as less than 20,000 -- that leaves a lot of deadly lead flying around. Everyone agrees that the U.S. soldier is the best-trained fighter on earth, so it's somewhat bizarre that war supporters believe their shots rarely hit anybody.
If it weren't for the layers of denial that have been dutifully built up around the American strategic class, these figures might put to rest the notion that U.S. troops are preventing more deaths than they cause.
Recall that the stated reason for the invasion was to reduce the number of countries suspected of having an illicit WMD program from 36 to 35. Amid all the talk of troop deaths and the billions of dollars being thrown away in Iraq, it's important to remember that it is the Iraqis that are paying such a dear price for achieving that modest goal.
With a Congress frozen into inaction, all that remains to be seen is what the final death toll from the Iraq war will be. The sad truth is that we may never know the full scope of the carnage.
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Top Ten Myths about Iraq, 2008posted by Juan Cole
Friday, December 26, 2008
http://www.juancole.com/#Gaza
1. Iraqis are safer because of Bush's War. In fact, conditions of insecurity have helped created both an internal and external refugee problem:

'At least 4.2 million Iraqis were displaced. These included 2.2 million who were
displaced within Iraq and some 2 million refugees, mostly in Syria (around 1.4
million) and Jordan (around half a million). In the last months of the year both
these neighbouring states, struggling to meet the health, education and other
needs of the Iraqi refugees already present, introduced visa requirements that
impeded the entry of Iraqis seeking refuge. Within Iraq, most governorates
barred entry to Iraqis fleeing sectarian violence elsewhere.'
2. Large numbers of Iraqis in exile abroad have returned. In fact, no great number have returned, and more Iraqis may still be leaving to Syria than returning.
3. Iraqis are materially better off because of Bush's war. In fact, A million Iraqis are "food insecure" and another 6 million need UN food rations to survive. Oxfam estimated in summer, 2007, that 28% of Iraqi children are malnourished.
4. The Bush administration scored a major victory with its Status of Forces Agreement. In fact, The Iraqis forced on Bush an agreement that the US would withdraw combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, 2009, and would completely withdraw from the Country by the end of 2011. The Bush administration had wanted 58 long-term bases, and the authority to arrest Iraqis at will and to launch military operations unilaterally.
5. Minorities in Iraq are safer since Bush's invasion. In fact, there have in 2008 been significant attacks on and displacement of Iraqi Christians from Mosul. In early January of 2008, guerrillas bombed churches in Mosul, wounding a number of persons. More recently, some 13,000 Christians have had to flee Mosul because of violence.
6. The sole explanation for the fall in the monthly death rate for Iraqi civilians was the troop excalation or surge of 30,000 extra US troops in 2007. In fact, troop levels had been that high before without major effect. The US military did good counter-insurgency in 2007. The major reason for the fall in the death toll, however, was that the Shiites won the war for Baghdad, ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from the capital, and turning it into a city with a Shiite majority of 75 to 80 percent. (When Bush invaded, Baghdad was about 50/50 Sunni and Shiite). The high death tolls in 2006 and 2007 were a by-product of this massive ethnic cleansing campaign. Now, a Shiite militiaman in Baghdad would have to drive for a while to find a Sunni Arab to kill.
7. John McCain alleged that if the US left Iraq, it would be promptly taken over by al-Qaeda. In fact, there are few followers of Usamah Bin Laden in Iraq. The fundamentalist extremists, if that is what McCain meant, are not supported by most Sunni Arabs. They are supported by no Shiites (60% of Iraq) or Kurds (20% of Iraq), and are hated by Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Jordan, who would never allow such a takeover.
8. The Iraq War made the world safer from terrorism. In fact, Iraq has become a major training ground for extremists and is implicated in the major bombings in Madrid, London, and Glasgow.
9. Bush went to war in Iraq because he was given bad intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. In fact, the State Department's Intelligence & Research (I & R) division cast doubt on the alarmist WMD stories that Bush/Cheney put about. The CIA refused to sign off on the inclusion of the Niger uranium lie in the State of the Union address, which made Bush source it to the British MI6 instead. The Downing Street Memo revealed that Bush fixed the intelligence around the policy. Bush sought to get up a provocation such as a false flag attack on UN planes so as to blame it on Iraq. And UN weapons inspectors in Feb.-Mar. of 2003 examined 100 of 600 suspected weapons sites and found nothing; Bush's response was to pull them out and go to war.
10. Douglas Feith and other Neoconservatives didn't really want a war with Iraq (!). Yeah, that was why they demanded war on Iraq with their 1996 white paper for Bibi Netanyahu and again in their 1998 Project for a New American Century letter to Clinton, where they explicitly called for military action. The Neoconservatives are notorious liars and by the time they get through with rewriting history, they will be a combination of Gandhi and Mother Teresa and the Iraq War will be Bill Clinton's fault. The only thing is, I think people are wise to them by now. Being a liar can actually get you somewhere. Being a notorious liar is a disadvantage if what you want to is get people to listen to you and act on your advice. I say, Never AGain.See also my article in The Nation, "Iraq: The Necessary Withdrawal," and this piece in the Toronto Star.
posted by Juan Cole @ 12/26/2008
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Drug Smuggling and Narco-Terrorism in Iraqposted by Juan Cole
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
http://www.juancole.com/#Gaza
Iraq's parliament accepted the resignation of speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani on Tuesday, and then promptly voted on a bill that provides a legal framework for 4000 British troops and a few other small multinational contingents to operate in Iraq until this summer, when they likely will leave.Aljazeera English reports on the Iraqi drug smugglers moving Afghanistan's drugs from Iran into the Gulf and Europe. The reports says the Afghans produce 8200 tons of heroin every year. 2500 of that goes into Iran. Iranians consume 500 tons, and the Islamic Republic's security officials confiscate 500 tons. The remaining 1500 tons goes to Iraq, where 500 tons are consumed or intercepted. Some 1000 tons is then shipped to Europe and the Gulf. It has been alleged that some of these drugs are smuggled by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) into Turkey for transshipment to Europe, so that the Afghanistan heroin moving through Iraq is helping fuel terrorism in eastern Anatolia.Given the rising drug problems of soldiers in the Iraqi army, if they turn from prescription drugs to Afghan heroin, it could affect the ability of the Iraqi state to keep order in the country. Aljazeera English then follows the Iraqi drug smuggling operation from Amara to Samawa and thence across the border to Saudi Arabia. The reporter alleges that camels are being used as involuntary mules, with the drugs surgically inserted in their humps!The report says that Iraqi authorities are not unduly concerned about the drug smuggling, since Iraq is not for the most part a consuming nation. But the trade must be worth billions of dollars a year, and it is likely going not just to criminal elements but to militias such as the Mahdi Army, thus strengthening a challenger to the state.Given what has happened to poor Mexico, where 4000 people were killed in drug-related violence last year and major cities such as Tijuana and Juarez are being turned into economic ghost towns, the danger to Iraq of narco-terrorism is great. Ironically, the Mexican drug-smuggling gangs are adopting some of their repertoires of violence from what they have seen on t.v. of Iraqi insurgents!
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Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Testify
Sources: Iraq Vets Against the War, March 13–16, 2008 Title: “Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations”
War Comes Home, Pacifica Radio, March 14–16, 2008 Title: “Winter Soldier 2008 Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations” Co-hosts: Aaron Glantz, Aimee Allison, and Esther Manilla
One World, March 19, 2008 Title: “US Soldiers ‘Testify’ About War Crimes” Author: Aaron Glantz
The Nation, July 30, 2007 Title: “The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness” Authors: Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian
Student Researchers: April Pearce, Erica Elkington, and Kat Pat Crespán
Community Evaluator: Bob Alpern http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/9-iraq-and-afghanistan-vets-testify/
Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are coming forward to recount the brutal impact of the ongoing occupations. An investigation by the Nation (July 2007) and the Winter Soldier hearings in Silver Spring, Maryland, in March 2008, which was organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War and brought together over 300 veterans, have made their experiences public. Soldiers’ harrowing testimony of atrocities they witnessed or participated in directly indicate a structural problem in the US military that has created an environment of lawlessness. Some international law experts say the soldiers’ statements show the need for investigations into potential violations of international law by high-ranking officials in the Bush administration and the Pentagon. Though BBC predicted that the Winter Soldier event would dominate headlines around the world that week, there was a near total back-out on this historic news event by the US corporate media.1
Dozens of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupation publicly testified at the four-day Winter Soldier gathering about crimes they committed during the course of battle—many of which were prompted by the orders or policies laid down by superior officers. Such crimes include targeting innocent, unarmed civilians for murder and detention, destroying property, desecrating corpses, severely abusing detainees (often torturing to death), and using corpses for medical practice.
Winter Soldier 2008 was organized to demonstrate that well-publicized incidents of US brutality, including the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha, were not isolated incidents perpetrated by “a few bad apples,” as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the organizers said, of “an increasingly bloody occupation.” The veterans also stressed the similarities between the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, “. . . units that are getting the exact same training and the exact same orders are being sent to both Iraq and Afghanistan,” explains a former US Army Medic.
The Nation investigation vividly documents the experiences of fifty combat veterans of the Iraq occupation. Their testimonies reveal that American troops lack the training and support to communicate with or even understand Iraqi civilians. They were offered little to no cultural or historical education about the country they control. Translators are in short supply and often unqualified. Interviewed vets said stereotypes about Islam and Arabs that soldiers and marines arrive with tend to solidify rapidly in the close confines of the military and the risky streets of Iraqi cities into a crude racism. Veterans said the culture of this counterinsurgency war, in which most Iraqi civilians were assumed to be hostile, made it difficult for soldiers to sympathize with their victims—at least until they returned home and had a chance to reflect.
Former US Army Sergeant Logan Laituri argues, “The problem that we face in Iraq
is that policymakers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we
don’t abide by the rule of law, we don’t respect international treaties, so when
that atmosphere exists it lends itself to criminal activity.”
International law expert Benjamin Ferencz, who served as chief prosecutor of Nazi War Crimes at Nuremberg after World War II, told OneWorld that none of the veterans who testified at Winter Soldier should be prosecuted for war crimes. Instead, he said, President Bush should be sent to the dock for starting an “aggressive” war. “Nuremberg declared that aggressive war is the supreme international crime.” He said the United Nations charter, which was written after the carnage of World War II, contains a provision that no nation can use armed force without the permission of the UN Security Council.
Many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the occupations and the way they are portrayed by the US government and American media. The occupation the vets describe is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Although international and independent US media covered Winter Soldier ubiquitously, there was an almost complete media blackout on this event by US mainstream media.
Citation1. “Why Are Winter Soldiers Not News?” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, March 19, 2008.
Update by Aaron Glantz, Aimee Allison, and Esther Manilla
The veterans who spoke at Winter Soldier could have stayed silent. They could have accepted parades and accolades of heroism and blended back into society, and the world would have never known about the terrible atrocities they committed or witnessed in Iraq or Afghanistan. By coming forward to share their stories at considerable risk to their honor, however, these veterans have done a great service, permanently changing the historical record of “what happened” in the war zones.
While their testimony continues to be largely ignored by the mainstream media (to date the New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS have failed to cover it), their words were not in vain. Our three-day broadcast lead to a Capitol Hill hearing in front of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. During our March broadcast, we brought on the Caucus’s co-chair, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, as a guest by phone from California and allowed two veterans to join us in conducting the interview. In opening remarks at Winter Soldier on the Hill, Lee referenced that interview.
“I remember one of the persons I talked with wanted to know why there weren’t any members of Congress there,” she said. “And someone asked me over the interview ‘Well, what about having a hearing in Washington, DC?’ And I said ‘Right.’”
On May 15, 2008, nine Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans stood before the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is co-chaired by Lee and Congresswomen Lynne Woolsey. A half dozen other Congress members also participated and or listened to the three-hour testimony. Many of the representatives in attendance were visibly moved by it and Congresswoman Maxine Waters applauded the veterans for their bravery. KPFA and Pacifica Radio broadcast the hearing live.
Just as importantly, our three-day live broadcast showed many veterans they were not alone. During the course of both broadcasts, we were deluged with phone calls, e-mails, and blog posts from service members, veterans, and military families thanking us for breaking a cultural norm of silence about the reality of war. Since then, we have heard from many veterans about the importance our broadcast and how it impacted them personally. One soldier, Sergeant Matthis Chiroux, said learning about Winter Soldier caused him to refuse his orders to deploy to Iraq.
Before Winter Soldier, Chiroux said he was suicidal. “I just sat in my room reading news about Iraq and feeling completely hopeless, like I would be forced to go and no one would ever know how I felt,” he said. “I was getting looped into participating in a crime against humanity and all with the realization that I never wanted to be there in the first place.”
The turning point, Chiroux said, came when one of his professors at Brooklyn College in New York suggested he listen to a broadcast of March’s Winter Soldier hearings. “Here’s an organization of soldiers and veterans who feel like me,” he said. “All this alienation and depression that I feel started to ease. I found them, and I’ve been speaking out with them ever since.”
Since Silver Spring in March, regional Winter Soldier hearings have been organized across the country. New veterans are stepping forward to tell their stories and those who spoke in Maryland are revealing more about the reality of their service. To date, regional hearings have been held in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Gainesville, Florida. In Seattle, 800 people gathered to hear veterans’ testimonies. Many more are expected to be organized in the future. With their continued testimony, veterans’ stories have become their most powerful weapon.
For more information and to listen to the testimonies from March and May 2008, please visit http://www.warcomeshome.org or http://www.ivaw.org.
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