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Monday, September 30, 2013

NHK: "Ainu Find Their Voice"



Via Jen Teeter and Aotearoa Ainumosir Exchange Programme アオテアロア・アイヌモシリ交流プログラム:
NHK World (日本語は以下)has put together a story about our Ainu revitalization initiatives and Erana Brewerton's visit to Japan. With the main focus of the story being scenes in Nibutani of applying the Te Ataarangi method for Maori language revitalization to the Ainu language, there are also interviews of Maki Sekine and Erana. Through this five minute story, we hope that many people will come to realize just how hard and persistently we are working at the grassroots level for Ainu language revitalization.

You can also catch glimpses of these people and more!

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/newsline/201309261624.html

私たちのアイヌ語復興の取組みがエラナさんの来日とともに、NHK 国際のニュースで取り上げられました。マオリ語復興のテ・アタアランギ教授法をアイヌ語に応用している北海道、二風谷でのシーンを中心に、エラナさんや関根真紀さんなどのインタビューを紹介してくれています。5分間のニュースですが、地道な取組みが、たくさんの方の理解につながることを祈っています

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Still Praying for Tohoku: Little Change in Yamada, Iwate...




 Yamada in September 2013.  The small town in Iwate Prefecture 
was almost completely submerged by the 3/11 tsunami.  
(Photos: Scott Ree of Namida Project)


Map of Iwate Prefecture.  (Source: JNTO)


Map of Tohoku. (Source: Web-Japan)

---

Background:

Disaster victims expressed anger when they were informed of the industry ministry bureaucrat’s remarks.

“They were uttered by someone who does not know anything about the disaster area,” said a 59-year-old man who lives in temporary housing in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. “He may be smart, but he does not have the mind and heart of man.”

A 60-year-old woman who runs a restaurant in a temporary shopping area in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, said: “We are trying to restore what we built over the years (and lost). As long as there is someone like him, reconstruction is impossible.”
With so many survivors still living in cramped temporary housing units, Yamada said, a lot of people aren’t happy to see the government spending so much cash on Olympic-related events.
But the problem of solitary deaths among survivors could be more widespread, as many moved into accommodations rented by municipal offices over a broader area, potentially severing community links, the survey suggested Wednesday.

Complaints are also being raised over the differences in assistance levels in the Tohoku region. Many survivors are stuck in temporary housing because they lack the funds to rebuild.

Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear power plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co., subsidizes payments for mortgage interest and provides assistance of up to 3 million yen to keep residents in the town.

The town’s population has fallen from more than 10,000 to around 7,700.

“The reason why we offer better subsidies than other municipalities is that we are more attentive to the issue,” a town official said

At least 81 evacuees have died alone in temporary housing in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures since the 2011 quake and tsunami, a survey says.
"Disaster areas critically short of manpower" (Jiji via JT, Sept. 10, 2013)

"Tohoku still in dire need of medical support" (Jiji via JT, Sept. 11, 2013)
Thirty months after tsunami devastated the Tohoku coast, residents are still facing a lack of medical services because of delays in restarting damaged hospitals and clinics and the closures of others.

"Trillions for rebuilding Tohoku go unused" (Jiji via JT, July 13, 2013):
The Reconstruction Agency said Wednesday that ¥3.4 trillion — 35.2 percent — of the ¥9.74 trillion in the fiscal 2012 budget slated to rebuild areas hit by the March 2011 disasters went unused.

The year before, 39.4 percent of the reconstruction budget, or around ¥5.9 trillion, went unspent, indicating the recovery effort has suffered from poor planning...

Last year, ¥4.73 trillion was allocated to rebuild roads and embankments, as well as to relocate residential areas, but 43.9 percent in this category was unused.

Of the ¥655.6 billion earmarked for washing away contamination from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 67.9 percent was unused, the agency said...

Unless rebuilding moves forward, devastated communities will keep shrinking, further slowing the process, observers said.
"Tohoku Has Been Rent Asunder for Future Generations" (引き裂かれた東北を後世に残す) (Roger Pulvers, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, March 13, 2013)

Quake victims allowed to stay in temporary housing another year" (Asahi, Feb. 25, 2013)
Victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake will be allowed to stay in temporary government housing for an additional year as new public housing construction lags in the three hardest-hit prefectures, sources said.

The central government's decision to extend the temporary housing limit to four years came after it was found that only 55 percent of the new houses planned in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2014.

The extension also means around 110,000 people still living in prefabricated temporary housing will have to continue to endure harsh living conditions.

About 300,000 people now live in temporary housing, including accommodations offered by the private sector and whose rent is subsidized by the government.
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Today is the last day of Washi Candle Garden decorated with washi (Japanese paper) 
illuminating messages from Tohoku residents and Tokyoites.
 ("Candles to remember Tohoku" by Magdalena Osumi, JT, Sept. 19, 2013)

-JD

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Naomi Toyoda: The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons



The destructive US legacy of "regime change" in Iraq has been foremost in the minds of those who joined the global outcry against the Obama administration's call to bomb  Syria.  Images of white phosphorus bombings; prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib; millions of Iraqi refugees; stories of young widows and children forced to prostitute themselves to survive; and reports of perpetual violence in Iraq are now imprinted in our collective memory.

Many in Japan are especially sensitive to the suffering caused by depleted uranium (DU) to Iraqi hibakusha: children born with mutations and Iraqis of all ages suffering from cancer.

 Naomi Toyoda has covered the human cost and environmental devastion of the US invasion of Iraq, depleted uranium weapons, Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing survivors, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. He is co-editor of The Unending Iraq War: Questioning Anew from Fukushima.

Toyoda's exhibition, The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons, toured Europe in 2006. The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons has an online gallery of the Japanese photojournalist's compassionate photographs which reflect the profound suffering caused by radioactive weapons in Iraq.










Depleted uranium (DU) is a radioactive heavy metal waste product of the nuclear power and nuclear weapons industry. Their nanoparticle fallout has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, and enters the body through inhalation and ingestion, where they pass through cell walls..  DU can cause or accelerate cancer, mutate genes, and affect the kidneys, immune system, nervous system, respiratory system, and reproductive system.  The United Nations Human Rights Commission considers DU munitions to be "weapons of mass destruction or with indiscriminate effect" incompatible with international humanitarian law.

The US is the largest producer and user of DU weapons. The US military has produced DU weapons from nuclear waste since the 1970's.  The US  used uranium weapons in Iraq in 1991; in Bosnia from 1994 to 1995;  in Afghanistan from 2001; and in Iraq from 2003. NATO used depleted uranium weapons in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro in 1999. The US tested depleted uranium in Puerto Rico and Okinawa; the UK tested it in Scotland.

The UN General Assembly has twice called for greater transparency over DU weapons use. In December 2012, 155 countries voted in favor, however the US, UK, France and Israel opposed the text, which also acknowledged public health risks from DU use.

On the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, Democracy Now! interviewed  Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail who described the legacy of the U.S. military’s use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus (a chemical weapon) in Iraq and the ongoing plight of refugees in an interview,  "Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement and an Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers":
...in 2005 we saw 1,600 Iraqis with cancer out of 100,000, so a massive escalation that continues.

 And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. There is one doctor, a pediatrician named Dr. Samira Alani, working on this crisis in the city. She’s the only person there registering cases. And she’s seeing horrific birth defects. I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.

 And so, what this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the aftermath of—in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were—that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II. So, Dr. Samira Alani actually visited with doctors in Japan, comparing statistics, and found that the amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings.

These types of birth defects, she said—there are types of congenital malformations that she said they don’t even have medical terms for, that some of the things they’re seeing, they’ve never seen before. They’re not in any of the books or any of the scientific literature that they have access to. She said it’s common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, baby’s being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye—really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects. And it is ongoing...

Stunningly, as bad as things were under Saddam—and we have to keep in mind this perspective of Saddam in the wake of a brutal eight-year war with Iran and then the genocidal sanctions for 13 years, from 1991 up until the beginning of this invasion in March 2003—as bad as it was under Saddam, with the repression and the detentions and the torture and the killings, the overall feeling of Iraqis today, in Baghdad and other places in Iraq where I went this trip, was that things are much worse now...

Doug Rokke. who has a PhD in health physics, is one of the many people who have had direct experience with depleted uranium who advocate against it.  When the Gulf War started, he prepared soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare.  In "War Against Ourselves," a 2003 interview at YES! Magazine, he describes how DU caused deaths of his colleagues:
DU is an extremely effective weapon. Each tank round is 10 pounds of solid uranium-238 contaminated with plutonium, neptunium, americium. It is pyrophoric, generating intense heat on impact, penetrating a tank because of the heavy weight of its metal. When uranium munitions hit, it's like a firestorm inside any vehicle or structure, and so we saw tremendous burns, tremendous injuries. It was devastating.

The US military decided to blow up Saddam's chemical, biological, and radiological stockpiles in place, which released the contamination back on the US troops and on everybody in the whole region. The chemical agent detectors and radiological monitors were going off all over the place. We had all of the various nerve agents. We think there were biological agents, and there were destroyed nuclear reactor facilities. It was a toxic wasteland. And we had DU added to this whole mess...

The half life of uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years. And we left over 320 tons all over the place in Iraq...

 What I saw...led me to one conclusion: uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone, not just the US...but for the American citizens of Vieques, for the residents of Iraq, of Okinawa, of Scotland, of Indiana, of Maryland, and now Afghanistan and Kosovo...

War has become obsolete, because we can't deal with the consequences on our warriors or the environment, but more important, on the noncombatants. When you reach a point in war when the contamination and the health effects of war can't be cleaned up because of the weapons you use, and medical care can't be given to the soldiers who participated in the war on either side or to the civilians affected, then it's time for peace.
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More background:

Naomi Toyoda's website (The Asahi Shimbun)

"ICBUW-Japan commemorates 10th Anniversary - U.S. March 2003 Iraq Occupation"
(Int. Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), May 9, 2013)

"A decade on and depleted uranium contamination still blights Iraq" ((Int. Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), March 7, 2013)

"1/250th of a Second — Naomi Toyoda" (Peace Boat Voyage 62, June 7, 2008)

"Iraq – A Nuclear Polluted Land" (Naomi Toyoda, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2003)

"A Speech by Naomi Toyoda at the EU Exhibition, The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons" (Int. Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, Hiroshima Office, May 14-16, 2007)

JIM-NET - Japan Iraq Medical Network (Japan-based network of NGOs, private medical clinics and private companies that provide technical, efficient and continuous support for Iraqi children with cancer)



Save the War Children: Ban Uranium Weapons (Website of Japanese photojournalist Takashi Morizumi)

"Discounted Casualties — the human cost of depleted uranium" (Akira Toshiro, The Chugoku Shimbun)

Child Victims of War (UK-based NGO that exposes the impact of modern warfare on children)

-JD

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pulling Back from Bombing Brink? Obama Face-Saving Solution on Syria Emerging...

"Obama Face-Saving Solution on Syria Emerging", via Naked Capitalism, (linking to WSJ, and Agent France Presse):
...Recall that the Pentagon Papers revealed that the US defense and intelligence communities had understood full well that America could not win [sic] in Vietnam, yet felt it could not withdraw for reasons of prestige...

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the US and Russia have agreed on a climb-down:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday backed a demand by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Syria put chemical weapons under international control and then destroy them, a rare sign of apparent agreement between Moscow and Washington…

Mr. Lavrov’s comments came hours after Mr. Kerry said Syria could prevent U.S. military action by handing over its chemical weapons to the international community, as President Barack Obama mounts an intensive campaign to promote a strike on Syria.
Agence France-Presse has tweeted that Damascus supports the proposal.

David Cameron, not surprisingly, is also on board.

While this is a very encouraging development, a sketchy proposal is a long way from a done deal...

Some background:

"The The Bill Congress Should Pass Instead of War" (David Swanson, Warisacrime.org, Sept. 6, 2013)

"Iran-Contra Redux? Prince Bandar Heads Secret Saudi-CIA Effort to Aid Syrian Rebels, Topple Assad" (Democracy Now!, Sept. 6, 2013)

"Al-Qaeda-linked rebels assault Syrian Christian Village" (CBS News, Sept. 4, 2013)

"With Focus on U.S.-Led Strikes, Global Failure to Meet Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis Goes Unnoticed" (Democracy Now! Sept. 4, 2013)

"Could U.S. Military Action Turn Syrian Civil War into a "Widespread Regional War"?" (Democracy Now! Sept. 3, 2013)

"Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side? (Robert Fisk, The Independent, Aug. 27, 2013)

"As Foreign Fighters Flood Syria, Fears of a New Extremist Haven" (Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, NYT, Aug. 8, 2013)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kelly Rae Kramer: "I am not ‘war-weary’; I’m hungry for peace."

Soulful anti-war poem by Kelly Rae Kramer via Common Dreams:
I am not ‘war-weary’; I’m angry

… angry at those who think more killing is the answer...

I am not ‘war-weary’; I’m sick

… sick at the thought of all those shot, bayoneted, bombed, gassed, and nuked in war...

I am not ‘war-weary’, but I am tired

… tired of the claim that war can be ‘humanitarian’
… tired of indoctrination into the false belief that war can bring peace...

...I am not ‘war-weary’; I am anti-war

… because war is always a failure
… a failure of diplomacy and understanding
… a failure of will and effort
… a failure of imagination and creativity
… a failure of ingenuity and investment
… a failure of compassion and morality
… a failure to invent and practice real, nonviolent humanitarian action.

I am not ‘war-weary’; I’m hungry for peace.

________________________________________

Kelly Rae Kraemer, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Peace Studies at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University in central Minnesota
Read the entire poem here at Common Dreams.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Prayer for Peace in Syria: "Let the cry for peace ring out in all the world."




Via Time.com: "WATCH LIVE: Pope Francis’s Vigil for Peace in Syria"; and Catholic World Report: "Pope Francis’ Vigil for Peace homily [Full text]"
How many conflicts, how many wars have mocked our history?  . . . Even today we raise our hand against our brother... Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests ...We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!

At this point I ask myself: Is it possible to change direction? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? ...Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it!

...This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter!

May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! … war never again, never again war!” ...Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world! Let us pray for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace! Amen.
Via AP, "100K of all faiths rally to Pope's call for non-military response to Syria":
Francis spent most of the vigil in silent prayer, but during his speech he issued a heartfelt plea for peace, denouncing those who are "captivated by the idols of dominion and power" and destroy God's creation through war.

"This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!" he said.

"May the noise of weapons cease!" he said. "War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity."

...leaders from a variety of Christian and non-Christian denominations joining cardinals, politicians and ordinary folk for the evening of prayer, hymns and meditation.

"This is already a success, the fact that all of us are here, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, atheists," a Hindu believer named Anata said. Pilgrims "made an effort to fast, not to do many things, and come here from all over Italy and Europe.
Via Waging Nonviolence, Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene, outlines the historical context of Pope Francis' appeal in "Peace on Earth lives on in Pope Francis’ call for nonviolent solutions in Syria":
John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris — Peace on Earth — was atypical in many ways, not least because it was intended not only for Roman Catholics...but to persons of good will everywhere. If peace was to be achieved, the letter implied, it naturally must be the work of everyone everywhere, and so the search for this elusive potential must include all of us. Thus the document was not weighted down with shrill dogma or theological obscurities. It was, instead, a gentle but determined plea for the world to come to its senses...

Pacem in Terris [published in 1963] was a love letter to humanity, but one that sprang, not from a sentimental naïveté or a groundless optimism, but from a profound meditation on the horrendous dangers that the Cold War in those days posed to all life, with which the pope had grappled in a direct way during the then-recent Cuban Missile Crisis...

As the historical record now shows, Pope John XXIII played a profound role in creating the conditions for an 11th hour agreement. The pope actively took part in back-channel communications, in which he agreed to deliver on Vatican Radio an urgent call for both parties to pull back from the edge. As historian Ronald J. Rychlak puts it, “With his plea, Pope John XXIII had given [Soviet Premier] Khrushchev a way out. By withdrawing now, he would be seen as a man of peace, not a coward.”

...In the spirit of the precedent of Pope John’s peacemaking during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I imagine Francis working tirelessly behind the scenes, offering his good offices to the actors on all sides of this conflict to negotiate a just and peaceful settlement.

I even dream of the pope audaciously traveling to Syria and staying put, in the spirit of spiritually grounded, nonviolent action, until this deadlock is broken and the potential for peace is established.

But I most vividly envision millions of people around the globe gathering this Saturday and beyond to say with one voice, “There are nonviolent options — let’s use them!”

We cannot predict what will transpire in the coming days. But, perhaps, the world will once again breathe a profound sigh of relief if millions of people of faith and conscience, including the pope, mobilize their spiritually-rooted people power to help create the conditions for pulling back from the brink — and for beginning to establish the foundations for a more just and nonviolent outcome.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire shares her account of what she witnessed in Syria


Via We Are Change:  Mairead Maguire tells her account of her visit to Syria where the Nobel Peace Laureate discovered that the "rebels" are mostly foreign jihadists ("terrorists who are murdering people") who do not want peace in Syria.  

Syrian Muslims and Christians are concerned that 40,000 foreign Islamist extremist "rebels" (affiliated with al Qaeda), will destroy their country. Syrians want to work towards nonviolent, peaceful resolution between the indigenous opposition and the Syrian government, which is supported by a majority of the population. 

Maguire's view is that normal political conflict in Syria is being escalated into a proxy war by outside interests (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, UK, and the US) which are financially supporting and arming the foreign jihadists.

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Some background:

"The The Bill Congress Should Pass Instead of War" (David Swanson, Warisacrime.org, Sept. 6, 2013)

"Iran-Contra Redux? Prince Bandar Heads Secret Saudi-CIA Effort to Aid Syrian Rebels, Topple Assad" (Democracy Now!, Sept. 6, 2013)

"Al-Qaeda-linked rebels assault Syrian Christian Village" (CBS News, Sept. 4, 2013)

"With Focus on U.S.-Led Strikes, Global Failure to Meet Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis Goes Unnoticed" (Democracy Now! Sept. 4, 2013)

"Could U.S. Military Action Turn Syrian Civil War into a "Widespread Regional War"?" (Democracy Now! Sept. 3, 2013)

"Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side? (Robert Fisk, The Independent, Aug. 27, 2013)

"As Foreign Fighters Flood Syria, Fears of a New Extremist Haven" (Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, NYT, Aug. 8, 2013)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mairead Maguire: "The World Should Join in Call to Stop US War in Syria"


Nobel Peace Laureate and Global Article 9 supporter Mairead Maguire, is calling for the Obama administration to rethink its plan to bomb Syria and is asking people everywhere to join her  in the September 7, 2013 worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria:
I would like to add my support to Pope Francis’ appeal and pledge to pray and fast for peace on September 7th. I encourage people of all faiths and none to join that global day of fasting and prayer for peace, and to act for peace and against U.S. military intervention by the United States in Syria.

...Every act has its consequences and every violent act, like the proposed U.S. military intervention, has its violent consequences which will cause the death of further Syrian civilians and result in many more refugees.

In the last decade, the world has watched in horror as the U.S., the U.K. and NATO have used military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and other countries. Now President Obama has promised a military intervention on Syria “with teeth.” In Iraq, we were promised military intervention with “shock and awe.” We have also been promised that he will continue to support the armed opposition in Syria (a majority of which are Jabhat al-Nusrah-Victory Front, and other such al Qaeda groups).

Such U.S. military action, which will probably involve trying to destroy the Syrian army, will leave the civilian population unprotected from the onslaught of armed opposition forces. It will embolden and strengthen the thousands of Islamic extremists from all over the world who have poured into Syria. They are financially supported and trained by some western governments, and their intent to remove the Syrian Government and kill all those who oppose them.

Their mission and aim coincides with that of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel—all of whom refuse to support Geneva II and a peaceful solution to the proxy war being perpetrated for oil, resources and control.

There is still time to stop this mad rush to war. The people of America can do it. As the British people put pressure on their members of Parliament and insisted “enough is enough” and said “No to military intervention,” so too can the American people mobilize and act to stop this proposed illegal war. (Without a U.N. Security Council resolution, any U.S. government military action is illegal.)

...Together, let us fast, pray and send a clear message to President Obama, the U.S. Senate and Congress—“No war, no military attack, no support for armed opposition, no support for al-Qaeda, no bombings.”

Give peace a chance!
Read Mairead Maguire's entire statement at the Peace People.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Humanitarian Aid or "Humanitarian Bombs"?; Pope Francis initiates interfaith, global "Prayer for Peace for Syria"

Zainah Ismail lives in a tented settlement with 3 families in Lebanon. 
We used to hear hear extremely loud sounds from bombs and firing.” 
(Photo: Luca Sola, Oxfam: Don't let Syria down: Join the call for Syria Peace Talks now)

As a result of the prolonged civil war between the Syrian government and al Qaeda-affiliated rebels, four million Syrians have fled their homes to safer parts of the country. Two million Syrians have take refuge in neighboring countries. Iraqi refugees (who left their country for Syria because of over a decade of US bombing) are now trying to return to Iraq.  However, Iraq and Turkey have set limits on the number of Syrians allowed to enter their borders.

If the Obama administration bombs Syria as "punishment", fewer Syrians will be able to escape the escalation in violence that will ensue. Many Syrian Christians say they fear becoming victims of the same kind of targeted violence that accompanied the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

At the start of Syrian conflict in March 2011, many members of Syrian minorities supported the movement for reform and more political freedoms. But the movement was hijacked by violent, radicalized members of Syria's Sunni majority and foreign jihadists (trained, armed, and paid by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, UK and the US).   The interests funding these mercenaries want to use the rebellion to destabilize and overthrow the Assad government, for selfish aims.

 There has been no evidence hat the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack that took the lives of hundreds of civilians.

David Swanson, quoting a friend who works in humanitarian aid, questions how US bombing will help Syrians  in "Who the Missiles Will Hurt" at Warisacrime.org:
"Before we contemplate military strikes against the Syrian regime, we would do well to carefully consider what impact such strikes would have on our ongoing humanitarian programs...These programs currently reach hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people throughout Syria, in areas controlled both by the regime and the opposition.  We know from past military interventions, such as in Yugoslavia and Iraq, that airstrikes launched for humanitarian reasons often result in the unintended deaths of many civilians.  The destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which such airstrikes may entail, would significantly hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.

"The provision of this assistance in regime controlled areas requires the agreement, and in many cases the cooperation, of the Asad government.  Were the Asad regime, in response to U.S. military operations, to suspend this cooperation, and prohibit the UN and Nongovernmental Organizations from operating in territory under its control, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians would be denied access to food, shelter, and medical care.  In such a scenario, we would be sacrificing programs of proven effectiveness in helping the people of Syria, in favor of ill considered actions that may or may not prevent the future use of chemical weapons, or otherwise contribute to U.S. objectives in any meaningful way."

In other words, the U.S. government is not just considering investing in missile strikes rather than diplomacy or actual aid, but in the process it could very well cut off what aid programs exist and have funding.  Humanitarian war grows more grotesque the more closely one examines it.
A nonviolent (and humanitarian) alternative to bombing and supporting rebel militias (largely comprised of radical Islamists and al Qaeda members, according to McClatchy and other media outlets): Call for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate ban of supplying arms to either the Syrian government or the rebels; close the borders to arms traders; remove foreign fighters from Syria; and spend the money the Obama administration would like to use for bombing on humanitarian assistance for refugees.

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Since the end of the Second World War, Washington has bombed one third of the world in the name of "democracy", "humanitarian" interventions, and  "peace." These bombings have never achieved professed aims. Instead they have only resulted in millions of deaths and injuries of innocent civilians; cancer and genetic mutations from nuclear radiation, Agent Orange, and depleted uranium; untold destruction; heartbreak and trauma for generations. 

China 1945-1946
Korea and China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-1961
Guatemala 1960
Belgian Congo 1964 
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70


Artwork  in Vientiane, Laos depicting a cluster bomb discharging "bombies", submunitions
(each contain enough explosive and shrapnel to kill or injure a roomful of people).
 (Photo: "HEALING CHILD VICTIMS OF CLUSTER BOMBS",



"For Laos, the secret war goes on." "Land of the Bomb" photo series by Andrew McConnell


Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Lebanon 1983, 1984 
Syria, 1983, 1984
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Iran 1987
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
Kuwait 1991
Somalia 1993
Bosnia 1994, 1995
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999
Yemen 2002
Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
Iraq 2003...


2013: Ten year anniversary of "Shock and Awe" 
The United Nations estimates that  2.2 million Iraqis have fled Iraq since 2003, 
with 100,000 fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month between 2003 and 2006.  
The civil war in Syria has forced tens of thousands of people to seek shelter in Iraq,
including Iraqi refugees who fled there after the U.S.-led invasion. 

We are dealing with a psychopathic situation. And all of us, including myself, we can’t do anything but keep being reasonable, keep saying what needs to be said. But that doesn’t seem to help the situation, because, of course, as we know, after Iraq, there’s been Libya, there’s Syria, and the rhetoric of, you know, democracy versus radical Islam. When you look at the countries that were attacked, none of them were Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist countries. Those ones are supported, financed by the U.S., so there is a real collusion between radical Islam and capitalism. What is going on is really a different kind of battle.

And today, you have the Democrats bombing Pakistan, destroying that country, too. So, just in this last decade, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria—all these countries have been—have been shattered.

- Arundhati Roy, "Iraq War’s 10th: Bush May Be Gone, But "Psychosis" of U.S. Foreign Policy Prevails", Democracy Now

Afghanistan 2001-present


"11 Afghan Children Among Dead in Latest US/NATO Bombing: 
Civilians 'killed when an air strike hit their houses' 
(Photo: Common Dreams via Reuters, April 7, 2013)


Pakistan 2004-present


(Story and 2006 Photo: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, July 22, 2013)


Somalia, 2011
Libya 2011
Yemen 2013
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Pope Francis has called for an interfaith, non-sectarian (including non-believers) Day of Prayer for peace for Syria to be held worldwide on September 7 from 19:00 to midnight:
May the cry for peace ring out loud around the world...Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake...
The Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassou, spiritual leader of the majority Sunni  in Syria is instructing his community to "welcome the appeal that the Pope extended to all religions to pray for peace" in all Syrian mosques during the Saturday vigil. 

Gregory III Laham, Melkite Greek - Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, of all the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem announced that all parishes of the Greek Melkite Church in the Middle East and around the world have  begun preparations to respond to prayer initiative." "In Syria, we will keep our churches open until midnight to allow everyone (Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims) to pray." For Gregory III , the spiritual closeness of Francis and the Church is central to all the Syrian people - Christian and Muslim - who without support are likely to lose hope.