Thursday, April 29, 2010

Check out this stimulating web site! . . .

The Rag Blog Digest • April 28, 2010
Richard D. Jehn, founder Thorne Webb Dreyer, editor


*
And for a little light relief. . . .


Intrepid Express stories

From the weekly Intrepid Express newsletter


"Xin chao, bia hoi, hello!"

Photo: Paul Stewart

Sitting on little plastic stools and drinking from thick glasses with more imperfections and bubbles than the beer they hold, this is what Intrepid's Bruce McPhie loves about enjoying a Bia Hoi in Vietnam...

"Xin chao, Bia Hoi, hello!"

Over the non-stop horns and rumble of Hanoi's crazy street traffic, the man's voice booms out. I glance across to the other side of the road, being careful not to walk into a weaving motorbike or a street seller with loaded bamboo pole strung across her shoulders, but I already know the owner of the voice and his familiar call. With fond memories, I acknowledge his friendly smile and wave, as he stands in his old black suit on the opposite pavement.

This man's personality is even bubblier than the amber brew he and his wife serve from their wonderfully down-to-earth, simple little shop, which has long been my favourite purveyor of Hanoi's popular fresh beer from the barrel - the ubiquitous Bia Hoi.

I am not even a big beer drinker, but there is something magic about sitting down on the low plastic stool on a Hanoi pavement, surrounded by the chatter of happily imbibing locals, and filling your nose with the fresh beery smell wafting from the revelers and the stainless steel drum nearby. Even non-beer-drinkers I have brought here are surprised by the pleasantly drinkable taste. "Oh, not so bad. I can drink that!"

Vietnamese tend to eat something while they are partaking of their favourite beverage. Perhaps this helps delay the onset of red cheeks, or is just because enjoying Bia Hoi is all about enjoying the conviviality of friends. So as I sip, I enjoy cracking open roasted peanuts from the plate. Putting aside old Australian habits, I guiltlessly drop the shells on the floor or pavement at my feet, as the locals do. After all, when in Vietnam..... Anyway, later the pavements and streets will all be meticulously swept up.

The chatter and laughter may be joined by another familiar sound as the barrel is just about empty and the new one is being rolled across the footpath into position to take its place. Many hands make new tap work, and once again the icy cold fluid flows.

On the stained yellow wall inside hangs a black and white photograph I love to admire. It shows a gathering of soldiers standing proudly with their Uncle Ho. Some are in uniform, and some, like the ever-smiling man-of-the-house, are not. Is that the same black suit he is wearing, with medals, I wonder. My interest in the photograph and his past as a soldier for Vietnam's freedom and independence always seems to please him in a dignified, unassuming way. If asked, he has even been known to show me his shrapnel wounds. Another badge of honour?....

Today, as I walk that Hanoi street past my favourite Bia Hoi shop, I no longer hear the familiar "Xin chao! Bia hoi! Hello!" Sadly, the smiling ex-soldier and his wife and kids and stainless steel barrels and plastic chairs have all gone....and I know not where. I like to think he has opened another beer shop somewhere else, and one day, when I least expect it, the friendly man in the old black suit will once again call out to me from across a different Hanoi street "Xin chao! Bia hoi! Hello!"





Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Act Of War

By Congressman Ron Paul

Statement of Congressman Ron Paul - United States House of Representatives

Statement on Motion to Instruct Conferees on HR 2194, Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act - April 22, 2010

April 23, 2010 "United States House of Representatives" --

Mr. Speaker I rise in opposition to this motion to instruct House conferees on HR 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, and I rise in strong opposition again to the underlying bill and to its Senate version as well.

I object to this entire push for war on Iran, however it is disguised.

Listening to the debate on the Floor on this motion and the underlying bill it feels as if we are back in 2002 all over again: the same falsehoods and distortions used to push the United States into a disastrous and unnecessary one trillion dollar war on Iraq are being trotted out again to lead us to what will likely be an even more disastrous and costly war on Iran.

The parallels are astonishing.

We hear war advocates today on the Floor scare-mongering about reports that in one year Iran will have missiles that can hit the United States. Where have we heard this bombast before? Anyone remember the claims that Iraqi drones were going to fly over the United States and attack us? These “drones” ended up being pure propaganda – the UN chief weapons inspector concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever developed unpiloted drones for use on enemy targets.

Of course by then the propagandists had gotten their war so the truth did not matter much.

We hear war advocates on the floor today arguing that we cannot afford to sit around and wait for Iran to detonate a nuclear weapon. Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s oft-repeated quip about Iraq: that we cannot wait for the smoking gun to appear as a mushroom cloud.


We need to see all this for what it is: Propaganda to speed us to war against Iran for the benefit of special interests.


Let us remember a few important things.

Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never been found in violation of that treaty.

Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to the necessary level to manufacture nuclear weapons.

According to the entire US Intelligence Community, Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapons program.

These are facts, and to point them out does not make one a supporter or fan of the Iranian regime.

Those pushing war on Iran will ignore or distort these facts to serve their agenda, though, so it is important and necessary to point them out.

Some of my well-intentioned colleagues may be tempted to vote for sanctions on Iran because they view this as a way to avoid war on Iran. I will ask them whether the sanctions on Iraq satisfied those pushing for war at that time.

Or whether the application of ever-stronger sanctions in fact helped war advocates make their case for war on Iraq: as each round of new sanctions failed to “work” – to change the regime – war became the only remaining regime-change option.

This legislation, whether the House or Senate version, will lead us to war on Iran.

The sanctions in this bill, and the blockade of Iran necessary to fully enforce them, are in themselves acts of war according to international law.

A vote for sanctions on Iran is a vote for war against Iran.

I urge my colleagues in the strongest terms to turn back from this unnecessary and counterproductive march to war.

Statement of Congressman Ron Paul - United States House of Representatives


Comment from John S. Hatch:

Sanctions against Iraq didn't inconvenience Saddam in any way, but they killed up to a million innocent Iraqis, including a half-million children, something that ex Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared to be 'worth it'.

Iran never threatened or attacked the US, but the CIA removed a democratically elected Prime Minister in 1953. His 'crime'? Wanting control of Iranian oil for Iranians. America installed the hated Shah, who could only maintain control through the use of Savak, his savage secret police. Then America wonders why radical mullahs took over and expressed popular hatred for everything American. Who could blame them?

Now, using the same tired old lies that led to the illegal and inhuman invasion of Iraq, America, which never seems to learn anything, prepares to attack Iran, perhaps drawing China and Russia into a broader war, maybe the final one.

America remains the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. For shame.


Saturday, April 17, 2010


Viet Nam Celebrates the 35th Anniversary of National Liberation, & the end of the American War



Read more about this historic victory.
Meet some of the men & women who made it possible.
See some special photos.
Click on the links below:



Memories of 30 April

Ảnh: Đinh   Quang Thành

The day of April 30, 1975 remains for ever a memorable moment in the contemporary history of Vietnam and the world, and in the hearts and minds of every Vietnamese today, a moment of national independence and freedom of the reunified Vietnam marching on the path toward the goal of a prosperous people, a powerful nation and an equitable, democratic and civilized society.

On this occasion, Vietnam Pictorial has the pleasure to present the emotions in words and pictures of the soldiers, reporter-photographers and cameramen, who had the honour and happiness to eye-witness the historic moments in the city of Saigon then – now Ho Chi Minh City.

Detail >>



A memory that travels with the passage of time

Ảnh:Tư  liệu
In my military career, I took part in numerous campaigns, including the historic Ho Chi Minh Campaign of which I had an unforgettable memory. Joining in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign, my Regiment 66 was the reserve of the deep-thrust multi-division group of Army Corps II.

It was tasked to capture the Independence Palace, the radio station, the Navy Command and some other targets in the inner city of Saigon.

Detail >>



A great contribution to the victory

On April 30, 1975 troops marching into the last stronghold of the Saigon regime represented a magnificent and heroic picture ending the resistance war for national independence and reunification.

Yet, behind those troops millions of people quietly made their contributions to the resounding victory. Two Vietnamese heroic mothers from Cu Chi – an “ iron land”- are among them.

Detail >>



Back to the civil life

Ảnh: Văn  Chức
The four war veterans, Le Van Phuong, Vu Dang Toan, Nguyen Van Tap and Ngo Sy Nguyen, rode Tank 390 on April 30, 1975 and crashed down the main gate of the Independence Palace, the general headquarters of the Saigon puppet administration, making a contribution to the glory of the grand Spring victory of the entire nation.

At war, they were ready to take up arms to defend the Fatherland; in peace, they lead an unassuming, quiet life, without claiming rewards for their merits but returning to normal life like so many others.


Detail >>


The Innermost Feelings of an American War Veteran-Writer

Author and Professor Wayne Karlin, an American veteran who fought in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, has tried to find peace within his own soul through his own writings and by bringing the books of writers from Vietnam to the United States.

Detail >>

Friday, April 16, 2010

America and the Dictators - from Vietnam to Afghanistan

From Ngo Dinh Diem to Hamid Karzai

By Alfred W. McCoy


....To avoid this impending debacle, our only realistic option in Afghanistan today may well be the one we wish we had taken in Saigon back in August 1963 -- a staged withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Click to read the complete story


My response:

This is an interesting and timely article by Alfred W. McCoy.

There is just something important I would like to correct.

The article states that "....Diem won an absurd 98.2% of a rigged vote for the presidency and promptly promulgated a new constitution that ended the Vietnamese monarchy after a millennium."

Actually, the Vietnamese monarchy was ended much earlier than that, in 1945, when the last king, Bao Dai, handed over the royal sword and seal to a delegation from Ho Chi Minh. He pledged support for the new Republican government led by the Viet Minh and its President Ho, thus conferring legitimacy to Ho Chi Minh's government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.

As an interesting aside, rather than being decapitated or exiled, as in other revolutions, Ho Chi Minh actually invited Bao Dai, now a private citizen, to serve as an adviser to the new republican government. Bao Dai himself made a wonderful statement that he was happier to now be an ordinary citizen in a free country rather than the king of an enslaved one.

However, always the puppet, he soon chose self-exile to his preferred France. Shortly after, when France once again required him as their puppet ruler, the ex-king headed the State of Vietnam, the French-puppet government set up to rival the massively popular Ho Chi Minh.

It was this puppet State of Vietnam that later had a name-change and became the Republic of Vietnam, headed by the US-supported President Diem. It was this illegitimate government we knew as 'South Vietnam' during the years of the American War.

This was the origin of America's inevitable and humiliating defeat in Viet Nam. They backed the wrong horse.

Instead of continuing to support the overwhelmingly popular Ho Chi Minh, their loyal ally in World War 2 against the Japanese, the US government instead betrayed him and supported the return to power of the hated French colonialists, and then the equally-unwanted president Diem.

The American War against Viet Nam, just as in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere today, was an imperialist war crime to control resources.

Millions of innocent people died, and continue to suffer from Agent Orange, unexploded bombs and mines and other effects of war, just for the riches of the few.

We often overlook that horrible truth, but until we face it we will never learn the lessons of Vietnam, and we will never stop repeating the same crimes.

Bruce McPhie


Thursday, April 15, 2010

SOME BEHIND-THE-SCENES INSIGHTS INTO HOW
VIETNAM WON THE AMERICAN WAR
!



History:
“The J22” and the April 30th, 1975
QĐND - Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 22:58 (GMT+7)
Liberation troops occupied Saigon's Ministry of Defence.
Photo: phapluattp.vn


















PANO - “The J22” was the code name of the Intelligence Department under the B2 Staff of the South Liberation Army in the resistance war against the American invaders.

In the resistance war against the American invaders, especially since the mid-1965 when the US poured their troops in Vietnam, the quantity of valuable documents and materials provided by the J22 was significantly increased.

That intelligence was gathered and transferred regularly to their superiors by talented spies such as Pham Xuan An in the cover of a permanent correspondent of The Time in Sai Gon, Dang Tran Duc as a member of the Central Commission on Intelligence of Sai Gon Government, Vu Ngoc Nha as a religion consultant of the President of the Sai Gon Government and many others planted in their Ministry of Defence, General Staff and Parliament.

At that time, the American and the Sai Gon government had a series of top-secret plans marked AB. In October every year, the Commander in Chief of the American expeditionary troops in Vietnam and the Chief of the General Staff of the Sai Gon Army signed in the action program of the American-Sai Gon joint forces for the next year.

This document was named AB Plan. What magical was that annually, copies of such documents as AB 145, AB 146, AB 147 and others of the following years appeared in the offices of the Staff of the South Front and the General Staff in Hanoi after only a week from when they were signed. Other unscheduled plans, which had high strategic value, were all reported by the J22.

Consecutive military, political, and diplomatic failures, especially after their defeat in the “Dien Bien Phu Battle in the air”, over 12 days in late 1972, forced the Americans to signed the Paris Accords.

Under the Accords, the last American soldier had to be withdrawn from the South of Vietnam by March 27th, 1973. Then, only the troops of the Sai Gon Army with supports of weaponry from the America were involved in the war.

To prepare for important battles to liberate the South, some officers including Senior Lieutenant Colonel Sau Tri, Commander of J22 and I, Nguyen Van Tau, Deputy Commissar of J22, were ordered to come to the North for training courses.

Sau Tri learnt in the Military Academy, and I went to the Academy of Politics. When we had just completed half of the time of the two-year course, the situation in the war had had seen great changes.

The Central Highlands Campaign saw a victory in March, 1975, and the enemy’s troops bore a fierce mood. After that, Hue and Da Nang were liberated. A golden opportunity was generated.

The Politburo set the determination to liberate the South before the rainy season came. Due to the changes, we were ordered to return to the front. We eagerly took off to come in time to join the final battle.

Arriving at Loc Ninh Base, Sau Tri was immediately assigned to Sai Gon urban area to take over high level intelligence units there, and I was appointed as the Commissar of the 316th Ranger Brigade which was in Cu Chi and was moving to Sai Gon. At that time, many units of the brigade had penetrated to the urban area to pave the way.

The 316th Ranger Brigade, under the instructions of the B2 Staff, was founded in October, 1974 with the personnel from the J22 to prepare for taking action when opportunities generated. Its aim was to trick the enemy.

Commanders from battalion levels (also called Z) to brigade level were from the Intelligence Department of the South Front. Nguyen Thanh Tung, Deputy Commander of the J22 was appointed as the Commander of the brigade; the Commissar was Muoi Khanh, an experienced spy, who was replaced by me when we opened fire on Sai Gon.

One of the brigade’s typical battles was the attack on Rach Chiec Bridge on April 27th, late at night. The Z33 lost 50 soldiers in holding the bridge until 10 a.m. April 30th, and they won control of it that night. Another example was the Z28’s assault to the General Staff’s Headquarters of the Sai Gon Army at 9:30 a.m. April 30th, which disrupted the command of the enemy’s High Command before our major forces came. These were just some brave deeds contributing to the victory of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign of the 316th Ranger Brigade – the fighting unit under the J22.

After infiltrating into Sai Gon urban area, Sau Tri stayed at Ba Le’s home, a spy of the A.20 Intelligence Group, also a prestigious parliamentarian of the Sai Gon Government.

On the morning of April 30th, the Duong Van Minh administration was confused in their efforts at getting rid of our 5 pronged attack forwarding to Sai Gon. There were violent arguments between the warlike and peace-loving sides in Sai Gon Cabinet.

Being informed by Ba Le and To Van Cang, one of our spies, a prestigious member of the peace-loving side, Duong Van Minh knew Sau Tri was in Sai Gon. The President sent two officers to Ba Le’s house to ask for Sau Tri’s opinion about founding a 3-party joint government as they thought he was a high ranking official of the National Front for Liberating the South. Tri said that in the situation, surrender was the best choice for them.

In such a historic moment, Sau Tri, Ba Le, To Van Cang went to the Independence Palace to persuade Duong Van Minh to surrender.

While they were talking, the 203rd Brigade’s tanks rammed the palace’s gate and moved into the front yard. Then, Duong Van Minh was arrested and taken to the Sai Gon Radio Station to announce surrender while Sau Tri was asked to stay and wrote the “Military Order No1” to stabilise the situation.

There were many more silent deeds of the J22. Here are just two typical examples of them:

The first one was that in early April, 1975, when the enemy was in a tragic situation, Nguyen Van Thieu sent a delegation of Vietnam Republic Parliament to the U.S. to urge for more supports from the Congress to save Thieu’s regime.

The delegation was headed by Dinh Van De, Vice President of the Vietnam Republic Parliament. He was a spy of the J22. He is now living in Ho Chi Minh City with his brother. Both of them are now over 80.

De said, during the visit, in addition to his negotiations in official meetings, he also talked with prestigious American parliamentarians personally, following the orders of his senior officers of J22, to persuade them not to approve the American President in supporting Thieu.

As the result, the President was required to supply more money, but not to make any more military intervention.

The second one was that in mid-April, 1975, just before our attack on Sai Gon began, the Politburo asked the intelligence officers whether the American would send their troops to save the Sai Gon Government if we persevered and launched our great offensive on Sai Gon.

The right answer was given by Nguyen Van Minh, a spy from J22. Minh had been a master sergeant working in the Office of the Chief of Staff in Sai Gon, who kept their top secret documents.

He once received a copy of the letter which the American President sent to Thieu. The letter read in brief that the Vietnam War was considered to be ended to the Americans, thus they only supply 700 million dollars more and everything depended on the Sai Gon government.

Minh made another copy of the letter and sent it to the High Command of the Front. Based on the letter, the Politburo set a strong determination to launch a speedier and bolder offensive on the last base of the Sai Gon government.

For the achievements that the J22 won, this unit was granted the Hero of the People’s Armed Forces in 2000.


Colonel Nguyen Van Tau, Hero of the People’s Armed Forces.

Translated by Le Trang


Published in Viet Nam People's Army Newspaper Online:

http://www.qdnd.vn/QDNDSite/en-US/75/72/184/164/207/109192/Default.aspx



For more on the 35th Anniversary of the Liberation of Saigon & the end of the American War . . . scroll down to the next page





Tax Day and America’s Wars

If you’re an average American taxpayer, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, since 2001, cost you personally $7,334, according to the “cost of war” counter created by the National Priorities Project (NPP).

They have cost all Americans collectively more than $980,000,000,000. As a country, we’ll pass the trillion dollar mark soon....and we’ll be heading for two trillion-dollar wars.

...If someone you know well hasn’t been wounded or killed in one of them, it can be hard to grasp just how they are also wounding this society. Here’s one way....

What the Mayor of One Community Hard Hit by War Spending Is Doing

By Jo Comerford

Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, New York, is sick and tired of watching people in local communities “squabble over crumbs,” as he puts it, while so much local money pours into the Pentagon’s coffers and into America’s wars. He’s so sick and tired of it, in fact, that, urged on by local residents, he’s decided to do something about it.

He’s planning to be the first mayor in the United States to decorate the façade of City Hall with a large, digital “cost of war” counter, funded entirely by private contributions.

Click here to read more of this from Tomdispatch.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Global Economic Crisis:
Riots, Rebellion and Revolution


By Andrew Gavin Marshall


April 14, 2010 "
Global Resarch" -- April 07, 2010 --

As nations of the world are thrown into a debt crisis, the likes of which have never been seen before, harsh fiscal ‘austerity’ measures will be undertaken in a flawed attempt to service the debts. The result will be the elimination of the middle class. When the middle class is absorbed into the labour class – the lower class – and lose their social, political, and economic foundations, they will riot, rebel, and revolt.


Ratings Agency Predicts Civil Unrest: Moody’s is a major ratings agency, which performs financial research and analysis on governments and commercial entities and ranks the credit-worthiness of borrowers.

On March 15, Moody’s warned that the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain “are all at risk of soaring debt costs and will have to implement austerity plans that threaten ‘social cohesion’.”

Continue to read all this important, thought-provoking article!


Renewed focus on nuclear weapons

Dimity Hawkins ICAN

This opinion piece by Dimity Hawkins was published in the Canberra Times, 14 April 2010

Nuclear weapons have been catapulted to the top of the international political agenda as the world confronts two possible futures with or without the unthinkable nightmare of potential nuclear decimation. Having won a Nobel Peace Prize in large part for his stated aim of abolishing nuclear weapons, President Barrack Obama has played a key role in this renewed focus on nukes.

Non-government organisations and civil society groups have welcome this shift, despite reservations about how substantive government commitments really are behind the rhetoric. The Rudd Government is now dragging its feet after talking big on nukes.

The PM's decision not to attend Obama's Nuclear Security Summit this week sends a dangerous signal because as a leading uranium supplier, Australia must be seen as being proactive.

This week's summit in Washington comes hot on the heels of both the new US Nuclear Posture Review and the US-Russian agreement in Prague just last week. Moreover, it is the forerunner to the United Nations nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in May. The summit will bring together one of the largest governmental gatherings on nuclear issues outside the United Nations with over 40 nations expected to attend. From this meeting, many hope that there will be an end to the secrecy around nuclear weapons and a promotion of transparency about safeguarding nuclear materials, verifying disarmament measures and a stemming of the tide of modernisation of nuclear weapons.

Openness and transparency are vital steps towards international cooperation in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

What this week's summit is unlikely to address sufficiently is the goal of zero. Unless we aim for a pledge of zero nuclear weapons, the risks of these weapons being used by one of those nine nuclear-armed nations will increase.On top of that, the unthinkable risk of nukes getting into the hands of terrorists, or rogue states is ever-present.

In the PM's place, Australia will be represented at the summit by Defence Minister John Faulkner, who touted this week that nuclear deterrence remains central to Australian security plans while ever the US maintains nuclear arsenals. He noted Australia supported US nuclear deterrence posturing by hosting joint military facilities and that as a major uranium supplier, Australia has a particular interest in the issues of nuclear security.

However refreshing the Minister's frankness is, our Government must stop dragging its feet on disarmament measures and face responsibility for our contribution to nuclear insecurity.

The ALP, which promised in the lead up to the 2007 Federal Election to ''drive the agenda on disarmament'', has been disappointing in reiterating Cold War rhetoric even as President Obama speaks of the need for a world without these weapons.

The non-proliferation treaty review conference in May, which Rudd will attend, is the main game. It will be the place where the world will have the best opportunity in recent history to set in motion a nuclear weapons convention a verifiable timetable to abolish nuclear weapons.

While some governments question the political capital they stand to gain from pushing nuclear disarmament in highly demanding domestic settings, or even a nuclear weapons convention which would provide a solid and verifiable road map for eliminating nuclear weapons, civil society is building the momentum and raising the expectation that future generations should live without the threat of nuclear annihilation.

As we see political will on nuclear disarmament growing, there is real potential for civil society and governments to work effectively together.

We mustn't lose sight of the only real security the world expects governments to commit to - the promise of a world without nuclear weapons. In 2010, Australia cannot continue to increase uranium exports to weapons possessors who do not comply with international treaty obligations to disarm their weapons. A clear and careful plan for non- proliferation can only be achieved if it is premised on the larger goal of nuclear disarmament.

A year after winning government, in January 1973 Gough Whitlam ratified Australia's commitment to the non-proliferation treaty, setting Australia on a course as a strategically positioned middle-power country committed to the high-minded goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Given it is as impossible today as it ever was to imagine a world at peace with nuclear weapons it becomes vital to imagine a world without them. No doubt Whitlam would have expected this goal to have been achieved by now.

Dimity Hawkins is the Campaign Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

This opinion piece was published in the Canberra Times, 14 April 2010

From: Dimity Hawkins [mailto:dimity@icanw.org]

Dear friends

We are proud to share a statement on nuclear weapons from cricketing great Ian Chappell.

See his statement below or on our website:
icanw.org
Ian Chappell supports ICAN
New ICAN Supporter - Legendary Australian cricketer and sports commentator Ian Chappell writes about his reasons to support ICAN:

“When I think about nuclear weapons a few things come to mind.

We all have family or know of friends who have young ones; in what sort of world would we like them to grow up?

Certainly not one that could be devastated by the exploding of a nuclear device; the consequences are too horrible to imagine when it involves any human being let alone some one close to you.

Then, when you read exactly how much can be saved per year if we eradicated nuclear arsenals it makes sense to want a world without these devastating weapons.

The money saved each year in a world free of Nuclear weapons is enough to resolve many of the major issues that are currently troubling this planet.

If we want our legacy to future generations to be one we’re proud of, then pushing for a world that is devoid of Nuclear weapons would have an enormously positive affect on the planet our kids and their off-spring inherit.

And finally, there’s the futility of war. War kills millions of people, many of them innocent bystanders and worse still leaves behind the physically and mentally maimed, all because grown men don’t see eye to eye.

When I think of war there’s one recurring thought; if fighting is so important how come those who make the decision to engage never go anywhere near the firing line?

For all these reasons – I support the work of ICAN.”

Ian Chappell – March 2010



See more: http://icanw.org/node/5114



Dimity Hawkins
Campaign Director
ICAN Australia

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN)

ph: +61 (0)3 9347 4795

f: +61 (0)3 9347 4995

m: 0422 612 702

e: dimity@icanw.org

w: www.icanw.org

skype: Dimity_iCAN


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your US Tax Dollars at War:
More Than 53% of Your Tax Payment Goes to the Military

By Dave Lindorff


....The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation-adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out war footing.

This military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53% of total US federal spending.

It’s also a military budget that is rising at a faster pace than any other part of the budget (with the possible exception of bailing out crooked Wall Street financial firms and their managers). For the past decade, and continuing under the present administration, military budgets have been rising at a 9% annual clip, making health care inflation look tiny by comparison.

US military spending isn’t just half of the US budget, though.
It is also half of the entire global spending on war and weaponry....


What makes that staggering figure particularly ridiculous is that America’s allies--countries like France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan--account for another 21% of the world’s military spending. Fully 12 of the top-spenders among big military-spending nations are either allies of the US, or are friendly or completely non-threatening countries like Brazil and India. That is to say, America and its friends and allies account for more than two-thirds of all military spending worldwide....

China, in contrast, probably the closest thing to a real “threat” to American interests because of America’s treaty commitments to the island nation of Taiwan, and China’s counter claim that the island is a part of the PRC, spends only some $130 billion on its military....

Russia, spends less than $80 billion a year...- about one-twentieth of what the US spends--and isn’t even technically an enemy of the America anymore....

Meanwhile Iran, which the White House and Congress are portraying as America’s arch enemy, despite its not having invaded another country in hundreds of years, isn’t even on the list of the top 17 military big-spenders. Iran’s current military budget is a teensy $4.8 billion...about the same as the estimated $5 billion spent on the military by North Korea -America’s other “major enemy.”

Each of those country’s military budgets (Iran & North Korea) is about one-quarter of the military budget of Australia.....

For the average American, what all this means is that of every dollar you send to the IRS, 53 cents will be going to pay for blowing stuff up, fattening the wallets of colonels admirals and generals, bloating the portfolios of investors in military industries, and of course funding the bonuses paid to executives of those companies, and the campaign chests and private expense accounts of the members of Congress who vote for these outlandish budgets.

Your money will also be going to pay for the salaries and the bullets of those brave heroes over in Afghanistan who are executing kids, killing pregnant women (and then digging out the bullets and claiming they were stabbed by their families), and for the anti-personnel weapons that are creating legions of legless Afghani kids.

Next time you hear that the government needs to cut funds for providing medical care to the children of laid-off workers, or that supplemental unemployment funds are running out, next time you hear that federal funds that are needed to fund extra teachers at your school are being cut, or that Social Security benefits need to be cut back, or the retirement age needs to be increased to 70, next time you hear that your local post office has to be shut down for lack of funds, next time you hear that Medicare benefits need to be reduced, think about that 53% of your tax payment that is going to finance the most enormous war machine the world has ever known.

And ask yourself: Is this really necessary?
Is this really where I want my money going?
Is this really even making me safer or my country stronger?



Award-winning investigative reporter Dave Lindorff has been working as a journalist for 37 years. A regular columnist for CounterPunch, he also writes for Extra! and Salon magazine, as well as for Businessweek, The Nation and Treasury&Risk Magazine.

Visit his website: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/


Continue

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Afghan Official Says U.S. Raiders Hid Killings

By Gareth Porter

The head of the Afghan Ministry of Interior investigation said publicly for the first time his investigators had accepted the testimony of family members of the victims of the Feb. 12 raid by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) that the U.S. troops had dug bullets out of the bodies of their victims in an apparent effort to cover up the killings and that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal had agreed with the team's conclusions. Continue

*

Obama Authorizes Murder of US Citizen
Muslim cleric Aulaqi is 1st U.S. citizen on list of those CIA is allowed to kill

By Greg Miller

Because he is a U.S. citizen, adding Aulaqi to the CIA list required special approval from the White House, officials said. The move means that Aulaqi would be considered a legitimate target not only for a military strike carried out by U.S. and Yemeni forces, but also for lethal CIA operations. Continue

*

Does the Flag Condone Murder?

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow

If the killers were not waving US flags, they would be called murderers. Terrorists. Terrorizing civilians to achieve political change. Continue

*

Iran’s Calls For N-free Mideast Should Be Backed

By Linda Heard

As long as the West turns a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear arsenal the chances of regional proliferation will always exist. If the world fears Iranian nukes it must demand a nuclear-free Middle East without exception. Continue


WILL ISRAEL ATTACK IRAN?

Below, is a commentary by Uri Avnery, the well-known Israeli peace activist from Gush Shalom, which is important reading.

Uri argues against the idea that Israel can attack Iran militarily. I certainly hope he is right!

He believes that this is impossible, without the support of the USA, and without a clear provocation by Iran. (See where I have highlighted Uri's article in red).


However, for me this begs the question: "But what if Israel itself deliberately stages a 'false flag' provocation, which it then blames on Iran, and then gets US support for a devastating military attack on Iran?"


אורי אבנרי, "תחזיקו אותי", 3.4.2010

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/he/channels/avnery/1270318927/


Uri Avnery

3.4.10

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1270319001/


“Hold Me Back!”


“HOLD ME back!” is a part of Israeli folklore. It reminds us of our childhood.

When a boy has a scuffle with a bigger and stronger boy, he pretends that he is going to attack him any moment and shouts to the spectators: “Hold me back, or I am going to kill him!”


Israel is now in such a situation. We pretend that we are going to attack Iran at any moment and shout to the entire world: “Hold us back or…”


And the world does indeed hold us back.


IT IS dangerous to prophesy in such matters, especially when we are dealing with people not all of whom are wise and not all of whom are sane. Yet I am ready to maintain: there is no possibility whatsoever that the government of Israel will send the air force to attack Iran.


I am not going to enter into military matters. Is our air force really capable of executing such an operation? Are circumstances similar to those that prevailed 28 years ago, when the Iraqi reactor was successfully destroyed? Is it at all possible for us to eliminate the Iranian nuclear effort, whose installations are dispersed throughout the large country and buried far below the surface?


I want to focus on another aspect: is it politically feasible? What would be the consequences?


FIRST OF ALL, a basic rule of Israeli reality: the State of Israel cannot start any large-scale military operation without American consent.


Israel depends on the US in almost every respect, but in no sphere is it more dependent than in the military one.


The aircraft that must execute the mission were supplied to us by the US. Their efficacy depends on a steady flow of American spare parts. At that range, refueling from US-built tanker aircraft would be necessary.


The same is true for almost all other war material of our army, as well as for the money needed for their acquisition. Everything comes from America.


In 1956, Israel went to war without American consent. Ben-Gurion thought that his collusion with the UK and France was enough. He was vastly mistaken. One hundred hours after telling us that the “Third Kingdom of Israel” had come into being, he announced with a broken voice that he was going to evacuate all the territories just conquered. President Dwight Eisenhower, together with his Soviet colleague, had submitted an ultimatum, and that was the end of the adventure.


Since then, Israel has not started a single war without securing the agreement of Washington. On the eve of the Six-day War, a special emissary was sent to the US to make sure that there was indeed American agreement. When he returned with an affirmative answer, the order for the attack was issued.


On the eve of Lebanon War I, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon rushed to Washington to obtain American consent. He met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who agreed – but only on condition that there would be a clear provocation. A few days later there just happened to be an attempt on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London, and the war was on.


The Israeli army’s offensives against Hezbollah (“Lebanon War II”) and Hamas (“Cast Lead”) were possible because they were cast as part of the American campaign against “Radical Islam”.


Ostensibly, that is also true for an attack on Iran. But no.


BECAUSE AN Israeli attack on Iran would cause a military, political and economic disaster for the United States of America.


Since the Iranians, too, realize that Israel could not attack without American consent, they would react accordingly.


As I have written here before, a cursory glance at the map suffices to indicate what would be the immediate reaction. The narrow Hormuz Strait at the entrance of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, through which a huge part of the world’s oil flows, would be sealed at once.


The results would shake the international economy, from the US and Europe to China and Japan. Prices would soar to the skies. The countries that had just begun to recover from the world economic crisis would sink to the depths of misery and unemployment, riots and bankruptcies.


The Strait could be opened only by a military operation on the ground. The US simply has no troops to spare for this – even if the American public were ready for another war, one much more difficult than even those of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is even doubtful whether the US could help Israel to defend itself against the inevitable counter-stroke by Iranian missiles.


The Israeli attack on a central Islamic country would unite the entire Islamic world, including the entire Arab world. The US, which has spent the last few years laboring mightily to form a coalition of “moderate” Arab states (meaning: countries governed by dictators kept by the US) against the “radical” states. This pack would immediately become unstuck. No Arab leader would be able to stand aside while the masses of his people were gathering in tumultuous demonstrations in the squares.


All this is clear to any knowledgeable person, and even more so to the American military and civilian leaders. Secretaries, generals and admirals have been sent to Israel to make this clear to our leaders in a language that even kindergarten kids can understand: No! Lo! La! Nyet!


IF SO, why has the military option not been removed from the table?


Because the US and Israel like it lying there.


The US likes to pose as if it can hardly hold back the ferocious Israeli Rottweiler on its leash. This puts pressure on the other powers to agree to the imposition of sanctions on Iran. If you don’t agree, the murderous dog could leap out of control. Think about the consequences!


What sanctions? For some time now, this terrifying word – “sanctions” – has been bedeviling everybody on the international stage. They are going to be imposed “within weeks”. But when one inquires what it is all about, one realizes that there is a lot of smoke and very little fire. Some commanders of the Revolutionary Guards may be hurt, some marginal damage inflicted on the Iranian economy.


The “paralyzing sanctions” have disappeared, because there was no chance that Russia and China would agree. Both do very good business with Iran.


Also, there is very little chance that these sanctions would stop the production of the bomb, or even slow it down. From the point of view of the Ayatollahs, this effort is the prime imperative of national defense – only a country with nuclear arms is immune from American attack.


Faced with the repeated threats by American spokesmen to overthrow their regime, no Iranian government could act differently. The more so since during the last century, the Americans and the British have repeatedly done exactly that. Iranian denials are perfunctory. According to all reports, even the most extreme Iranian opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad support the acquisition of the bomb and would rally behind him if attacked.


In this respect, the Israeli leadership is right: nothing will stop Iran’s endeavor to obtain a nuclear bomb except the massive employment of military power. The “sanctions” are childish games. The American administration is talking about them in glowing terms in order to cover up the fact that even mighty America is unable to stop the Iranian bomb.


WHEN NETANYAHU & Co. criticize the inability of the American leaders to act against Iran, they answer in the same coin: you, too, are not serious.


And indeed, how serious are our leaders about this? They have convinced the Israeli public that it is a matter of life and death. Iran is led by a madman, a new Hitler, a sick anti-Semite, an obsessive Holocaust-denier. If he got his hands on a nuclear bomb, he would not hesitate for a moment to drop it on Tel Aviv and Dimona.


With this sword hanging over our heads, this is no time for trivial matters, such as the Palestinian problem and the occupation. Everyone who raises the Palestinian question in a meeting with our leaders is immediately interrupted: Forget this nonsense, let’s talk about the Iranian bomb!!


But Obama and his people turn the argument around: if this is an existential danger, they say, please draw the conclusions. If this matter endangers the very existence of Israel, sacrifice the West Bank settlements on this altar. Accept the Arab League peace offer, make peace with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. That will ease our situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and free our forces. Also, Iran would have no more pretext for war with Israel. The masses of the Arab world would not support it anymore.


And the conclusion: If a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem is more important to you than the Iranian bomb, the matter is clearly not really so critical for you. And that, with all due modesty, is my opinion, too.


THE DAY before yesterday a correspondent of Israel’s popular Channel 2 called me and asked, in a shocked voice: “Is it true that you have given an interview to the Iranian news agency?


“That’s true,” I told her. The agency mailed me some questions about the political situation, and I answered.


“Why did you do this?” she asked/accused.


“Why not?” I replied. That was the end of the conversation.


And indeed, why not? True, Ahmadinejad is a repulsive leader. I hope that the Iranians will get rid of him, and assume that this will happen sooner or later. But our relations with Iran do not depend on one single person, whoever he may be. They go back to ancient times and were always friendly – from the time of Cyrus until the time of Khomeini (whom we provided with arms to fight the Iraqis.)


In Israel, the portrayal of Iran nowadays is a caricature: a primitive, crazy country, with nothing on its mind but the destruction of the Zionist state. But it suffices to read a few good books about Iran (I would recommend William Polk’s “Understanding Iran”) which describe one of the oldest civilized countries in the world, which has given birth to several great empires and made a remarkable contribution to human culture. It has an old and proud tradition. Some scholars believe that the Jewish religion was profoundly influenced by the ethical teachings of Zoroaster (Zarathustra).


Whatever the rantings of Ahmadinejad, the real rulers of the country, the clerics, conduct a cautious and sober policy, and have never attacked another country. They have many important interests, and Israel is not among them. The idea that they would sacrifice their own glorious homeland in order to destroy Israel is ludicrous.


The simple truth is that there is no way to prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Better to think seriously about the situation that would be created: a balance of terror like the one between India and Pakistan, the elevation of Iran to the rank of a regional power, the need to start a sober dialogue with it.


But the main conclusion is: to make peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab world, in order to draw the rug from under any Iranian posture of defending them from us.



data & Daily updated occupation related reading

http://www.kibush.co.il

http://www.btselem.org

http://www.ochaopt.org

To receive a weekly compilation of anti-occupation articles, including oppositional articles in the Israeli media

subscribe to The Other Israel

by writing in the subject line

"Send me TOI" to: otherisr@actcom.co.il

Most recent compilation at http://toibillboard.info

Ongoing protests against the occupation photographed at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/activestills/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gush Shalom email address for correspondence,

correspondence @ gush - shalom . org

(without the spaces!)

Address for contributions:

GUSH SHALOM p.o.b. 3322 Tel Aviv 61033

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

www.gush-shalom.org

English homepage http://zope.gush-shalom.org/index_en.html

Статьи Ури Авнери http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/ru/avnery

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/ar/avnery اوري افنيري