Thursday, August 30, 2007

3 Palestinian Kids Killed by Gunfire--No Rocket Launcher Found

This story mentions rocket launchings as the target, but I've since read other stories that says none were found near these dead children.
What is Israel doing to its own young people--making them into killers of babies. Linda

"Three Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli gunfire after soldiers shot at them near a rocket-launching site in the northern Gaza strip.
"A doctor at the Palestinian health ministry said cousins Mahmoud Ghazal, 10, and Yehiya Ghazal, 12, were killed on Wednesday. Their cousin, Sara Ghazal, 10, was injured and died later in hospital.

"An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops hit unidentified figures spotted near rocket launchers that were aimed at Israel. She voiced regret at the deaths of children.


Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, Nour Odeh, said the children lived in the area and were members of the same extended family.

'War crime'

Witnesses said they were playing and collecting scrap metal in the area, which could have included rocket launchers left by armed Palestinian groups.

A relative of the children, Wasfi Ghazal, said he heard the sound of an explosion and then children screaming. He held both Israel and the militant rocket squads responsible.

"We are victims of the occupation and victims of the misbehaviour of some of the fighters who are randomly choosing our area to target Israel," he said.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, also an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said the killing of children is unjustifiable, and condemned it in the "strongest possible terms".

"I think violence breads more violence, and hatred. This will add to the complexities and feed the fire," he said.

In Gaza, Taher Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, called the Israeli attack a "war crime" and called on Abbas to halt his meetings with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister. The two met on Tuesday.

Palestinians Being Tortured in Israeli Prisons

Portion of article below; link to whole here:

"Today, more than 8,000 Palestinians are locked in Israel's prisons, most without due process. For the majority, their crime is resisting a nation that violently stole 90 percent of their parents' and grandparents' land and possessions and expelled them to wretched detention camps in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon. (See, The Simple Explanation for Mid-East Strife) These sons and grandsons were imprisoned for crimes ranging from stone-throwing at Israeli tanks to violent terrorist activity. As prisoners, they have virtually no rights. Many are held without charge or trial. They can be legally tortured without restraint. Since at least 1967, the government of Israel has vehemently denied that it uses torture, and Israel signed the 1987 Landau Agreement banning most forms of torture. [1] But in 1995 a secret government report (not released until 2000) admitted Israel does torture. [2] In 1999 Israel's Supreme Court ruled that torture can be employed as a "necessity" in exceptional cases when officers have reason to believe they can prevent a crime. This has created a loophole, exempting interrogators/torturers from punishment as long as they claim they tortured in the national interest. [3]

"Since every Palestinian prisoner may be viewed as possessing information valuable to preventing terrorist attacks, virtually all have been tortured. The Palestine Monitor reports that since 1987 the Israeli Security Agency has tortured at least 850 Palestinians a year during interrogations. Since the Supreme Court ruling in 1999, according to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselm, 85 percent of Palestinian prisoners are still subjected to torture. The Monitor asserts that during the first Intifada (1987-1993), Israeli security "interrogated approximately 23,000 Palestinians." The Public Committee Against Torture (PCAT) estimates that almost all suffered some torture during interrogation. [4]

"The Palestine Monitor says that methods of interrogation and torture frequently used by Israeli security service include:

"Tying up detainees in painful positions for hours or days.
Containment in tiny cramped spaces (for days, prisoners have been stuffed in boxes about 2 feet square and 5 feet high, often with spiked floors).
Prolonged beatings.
Enclosing the detainee's head in a sack (often soaked with urine and feces). Violent "shaking" (Physicians for Human Rights says this has caused brain damage, even death). [5]
Bending body in extremely painful positions.
Prolonged exposure to extreme cold or heat.
Sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse.
Threats against the individual's life or family members' lives.
Playing extremely loud music.
Choking and pulling out hair (prisoners have been forced to swallow hair).
Intentional tightening of handcuffs (According to Amnesty International, the handcuffs used by the Israeli Security forces are in themselves a form of torture, "the plastic handcuffs tighten on the detainee's wrist, causing intense pain; former detainees describe their wrists becoming blue as a result of their tightening and adult men screaming with pain as they begged to be taken off."
Putting head of prisoner in toilet bowl. [6]

"Some prisoners are guilty of terrorist acts, including attempted suicide bombings. As victims of injustice, they have also committed injustice. Yet international law forbids torturing prisoners, military or civilian, even to obtain vital information. The Old Testament, ostensibly respected by Israel's government, also gives no sanction to torture, even of Israel's bitterest enemies. The implicit message of the Old Testament is that torture is barbaric, unthinkable among God's chosen people.[ 7]

Monday, August 27, 2007

Depleted Uranium Probably Suspect in Iraq Troop Cancers

Portion below; whole article here:

"He got so sick, so fast"

Jim Lauderdale was 58 when his National Guard unit was deployed to the Iraq-Kuwait border, where he helped transport arriving soldiers and Marines into combat areas.

He was a strong man, say relatives, who can't remember him ever missing a day of work for illness. And he developed a cancer of the mouth, which overwhelmingly strikes smokers, drinkers and tobacco chewers. He was none of those.

"Jim's doctors didn't know why he would get this kind of cancer — they had no answers for us," said his wife, Dixie.

"He got so sick, so fast. We really think it had to be something he was exposed to over there. So many of the soldiers we met with cancer at Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) complained about the polluted air they lived in, the brown water they had to use, the dust they breathed from exploded munitions. It was very toxic."

As a mining engineer, Lauderdale knew exactly what it meant when he saw the thick black smoke pouring nonstop out of the smokestacks that line the Iraq/Kuwait border area where he was stationed for three months in 2005.

"He wrote to me that everyone was complaining about their stinging eyes and sore throats and headaches," Dixie said. "For Jim to say something like that, to complain, was very unusual.
"One of the mothers on the cancer ward had pictures of her son bathing in the brown water," she said. "He died of kidney cancer."

Stationed in roughly the same area as Lauderdale, yet another soldier — now fighting terminal colon cancer — described the scene there, of oil refineries, a cement factory, a chlorine factory and a sulfuric acid factory, all spewing unfiltered and uncontrolled substances into the air.

"One day, we were walking toward the port and they had sulfuric acid exploding out of the stacks. We were covered with it, everything was burning on us, and we had to turn around and get to the medics," said Army Staff Sgt. Frank Valentin, 35.

Not long after, he developed intense rectal pain, which doctors told him for months was hemorrhoids. Finally diagnosed with aggressive colorectal cancer — requiring extensive surgery, resulting in a colostomy bag — he was given fewer than two years to live by his Walter Reed physicians.

He is now a couple of months past that death sentence, but his chemo drugs are starting to fail, and the cancer is eating into his liver and lungs. He spends his days with his wife and three children at their Florida home.

"I don't know how much time I have," he said.

Suspect: depleted uranium

None of these soldiers know for sure what's killing them. But they suspect it's a cascade of multiple toxic exposures, coupled with the intense stress of daily life in a war zone weakening their immune systems.

"There's so much pollution from so many sources, your body can't fight what's coming at it," Valentin said. "And you don't eat well or sleep well, ever. That weakens you, too. There's no chance to gather your strength. These are kids 19, 20 and 21 getting all kinds of cancers. The Walter Reed cancer ward is packed full with them."

The prime suspect in all this, in the minds of many victims — and some scientists — is what's known as depleted uranium — the radioactive chemical prized by the military for its ability to penetrate armored vehicles. When munitions explode, the substance hits the air as fine dust, easily inhaled.

9/11--Embrace the Ju-Ju (Manuel Garcia, Jr.)

Sum up of conspiracy theory explanation below; whole article:

"What I have come to realize from my entire 9/11 experience, and also from the tepid reception of my "physics explanation" articles (like New Orleans dikes) is that the public is basically irrational. It is ultimately pointless to worry about Bush and global warming and fascism and the rest, because they will always win. It has to be this way, because people are fully in the grip of fantasies they would rather die to preserve than become aware of factual reality. Those who do have some sense use it to manipulate the public mind for the benefit of the exploitative systems. We are doomed. When I began writing for a public audience, my naive technical idea was that if people understood the facts, they would move out of superstition, and we "all" could agree on the nature of "the problem" and then it would be almost obvious what actions to take to fix it. But, people live for their superstitions. We are no better than the caricatures of natives in 1930s jungle movies, hopping about in crazed deadly frenzy because of our "ju-ju". That is what 9/11 conspiracies are, our ju-ju. As crazy a ju-ju as any of our fundamentalist religions (the non-fundamentalist ones are just clubs). So, it is pointless for me to engage in any 9/11 talk, because there is no other mind there to engage, just a ju-ju crazed being. I could make a lot more money writing ju-ju channeling flak for some neo-con outfit -- but I hate those kind of people. Still, they'll win, because ju-ju is better than sex. Global warming?, no problem, buy coal-burning SUVs to extinction; loss of Constitutional rights?, no problem we're beating Islamofascism; no health insurance?, no problem, ESPN [sports] on plasma TVs is getting cheaper; no education? no problem, it's free from the Army; it all doesn't make sense? no problem, embrace the ju-ju!

Andrew Bacevich on Bush's "Iraq is Vietnam" Speech

Portion below; link to whole article (via below:,0,3818643.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

"With regard to Iraq, Bush persists in making an analogous error. In his remarks to the VFW, the president described Iraq as an "ideological struggle." Our adversary there aims to crush "freedom, tolerance and dissent," he said, thereby "imposing this ideology across a vital region of the world." If we don't fight them "there," we will surely have to fight them "here."

"Radical Islamists like Osama bin Laden do subscribe to a hateful ideology. But to imagine that Bin Laden and others of his ilk have the capability to control the Middle East, restoring the so-called Caliphate, is absurd, as silly as the vaunted domino theory of the 1950s and 1960s.

"Politics, not ideology, will determine the future of the Middle East. That's good news and bad news. Good news because the interests and aspirations of Arabs and non-Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis, modernizers and traditionalists will combine to prevent any one faction from gaining the upper hand. Bad news because those same factors guarantee that the Middle East will remain an unstable mess for the foreseeable future.

"Sometimes people can manage their own affairs. Does the U.S. need to attend to that mess? Perhaps not.

"Here the experience of Vietnam following the U.S. defeat is instructive. Once the Americans departed, the Vietnamese began getting their act together. Although not a utopia, Vietnam has become a stable and increasingly prosperous nation. It is a responsible member of the international community. In Hanoi, the communists remain in power. From an American point of view, who cares?

"Bush did not even allude to the condition of Vietnam today. Yet the question poses itself: Is it not possible that the people of the Middle East might be better qualified to determine their future than a cadre of American soldiers, spooks and do-gooders? The answer to that question just might be yes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Christian Science Monitor Nails U.S. Military for PTSD Treatment Boondoggle


Portion of article below; whole article linked here:

"The high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among soldiers returning from Iraq is one of the many "inconvenient truths" of this war. Inconvenient largely because it is costly: The most effective and humane means of treating PTSD are time-intensive and long-term.

"The military, however, has changed the terms and given many thousands of enlisted men and women a new diagnosis: "personality disorder." While the government would be obliged to care for veterans suffering from combat-related trauma, a personality disorder – defined as an ingrained, maladaptive way of orienting oneself to the world – predates a soldier's tour of duty (read: preexisting condition). This absolves Uncle Sam of any responsibility for the person's mental suffering.

"The new diagnostic label sends the message: This suffering is your fault, not a result of the war. On one level, it's hard not to see this as another example of the government falling short on its care for Iraq war veterans. Yet there's another, more insidious, bit of sophistry at work. The implication is that a healthy person would be resistant to the psychological pressures of war. Someone who succumbs to the flashbacks, panic, and anger that haunt many former soldiers must have something inherently wrong with him. It's the psychological side of warrior macho: If you're tough, you can take it. Of course, we know this is not true. Wars forever change the lives of those who fight them and can leave deep scars.

"Now is not the first time that psychiatric diagnoses of returning soldiers have been altered apparently for reasons of political expedience. During World War I, countries in Europe were overwhelmed with men coming home complaining of paralysis, confusion, insomnia, and other unexplained symptoms. The disorder came to be known as "shell shock" – a term the British War Office banned in 1917 because it asserted a direct connection between the war and the problem, which meant those suffering were eligible for treatment.


"The switch in terms from trauma to hysteria (during World War I) or PTSD to personality disorder (today) is far from trivial. Rather, the new labels allow the government and society at large to do two things: 1) attribute symptoms after serving to individual psycho-pathology; and 2) disown the problem of the former soldiers' suffering. We needn't question the system that sends young people to war – merely the stability of those who bear the emotional brunt of battle.

"Politicians have a vested interest in sidestepping the high price soldiers pay for their service. But we know better, and at the very least owe them appropriate medical and psychological care and the acknowledgment of their wounds.

Two Palestinian children killed in IOF missile attack

BEIT HANUN, (PIC)-- IOF troops stationed north of the Gaza Strip fired a land-to-land missile at a group of children playing in Beit Hanun city, north of the Strip, killing two of them.

The missile exploded in the midst of those children tearing the bodies of two of them into pieces while three others were wounded including one who is reportedly in a critical condition.

Eyewitnesses said that the two children, both 13 years old, were of one family and were playing with a group of children in the area where past IOF shelling had killed many children.

Israeli Occupation--Stealing Water from Palestinians for Swimming Pool

Portion below; whole article here:,2506,L-3439192,00.html

"Residents of the settlement of Elon Moreh in the West Bank have cut a pipe carrying drinking water to a nearby Palestinian village, and are using it to fill a small swimming pool located at a picnic site, which was itself built on land owned by the village.

"The Civil Administration has issued a demolition order for the picnic site following complains by the Palestinian residents, and stated that the order would be carried out in the coming days.

"The pipe, which carries water to the village of Dir al-Khatab, was rerouted in order to fill the pool. The pipe channels fresh drinking water into the pool and drains dirty water back into the village's water system.

"'They not only use water that doesn't belong to them, but they also pollute the drinking water of some of the village residents," said Yoel Marshak, head of the Kibbutz Movement's Special Assignments Branch. "The little kids pee in the water, which flows straight to the taps of the Palestinian school."

"The small swimming pool was built at the settlement's picnic site, which is located less than a mile from Dir al-Khatab and on the village's lands.

"'The settlers of Elon Moreh behave like landlords on our private land," said Jafar Shatai, deputy chairman of the neighboring village of Salem.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Write Off Your Congressman--Fred Gardner

This article (portion below) indicts the NGO email campaign racket. Fred Gardner also cites direct education and organizing as a more effective means of affecting policy; I think he has a point. Linda Whole article here:

"Last month Kampia [Exec. Dir. of one NGO for Medical Marijuana] got a $400,000 grant from Soros, who, till then, had donated exclusively to Ethan Nadelmann and the Drug Policy Alliance. There's no apparent ideological difference between the two brands.

"Both were busy during the 2006 campaign voicing support for the "War on Terror" and kissing rightwing butt (hobnobbing with Grover Norquist, etc.), which may explain why they've made so little headway with the new members of Congress. They zigged when they should have zagged.

"The real meaning of "write your member of Congress" is "pull your pud." The concerned citizen gets the satisfaction of having taken political action and thanks the reform group for enabling him or her to do it with just a few keystrokes. The implicit premise, reinforced with every pitch to write your member, is that we live in a functioning representative democracy -which we don't. Approximately one in 30 "representatives" is swayed by their mail on one in 30 votes -in other words, it's only one in 900 emails that might have any impact whatsoever. (Margin of error = ±2%)

"The medical marijuana movement would be much stronger today if a fraction of the money Kampia's MPP pissed away in Nevada alone -millions on failed ballot measures!- had been spent in California organizing teach-ins on every campus and bolstering the credibility of our serious pro-cannabis MDs. Sour grapes from the editor of the doctors' unfunded journal? Yes, but true nonetheless.

America's Tin Leaders on Parade--George Strauss

I am now retired. Instead of blogging more, I'm blogging less.

Found this (another, I know) rundown of the militaristic cast of our society. We need to keep reminding ourselves. Portion below; whole article by PoliSci prof George Strauss, here:

"Of the 100 largest U.S. defense contractors, the top six – Lockheed, Boeing, Northrup, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Halliburton – collectively receive some $80 billion annually from the federal government. A leading contractor in Iraq, Blackwater USA, holds contracts worth about $800 million a year.

"Between 1990 and 2006, American defense contractors contributed a total of $111 million to Democrats and Republicans, with 60 percent going to the GOP. In 1990, $7 million was contributed to the two parties. In 2006, the defense industry gave $16 million total – from individuals, political action committees, soft money – with $6 million going to Democrats and $10 million to Republicans.

"A bleak nightmare now engulfs our mighty republic. The land is awash in guns, with thousands killed by bullets every year. Thousands more Americans and others die in Iraq from bullets and shrapnel as images of fallen heroes and grieving families blink on nightly television. Political phantoms chasing money and votes are silent about the prospect of gun control or moving billions from the Pentagon to help fund health care and Social Security. With megaphones blaring, America’s tin leaders are on parade, marching in unison in the “war on terror” while the Founding Fathers shriek in the night.