Saturday, July 09, 2005
Date: 07/09/05 18:07:58
Subject: Statement from United for Peace and Justice on the July 7th Bombings in London
ACTION ALERT * UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE *
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United for Peace and Justice is horrified by the senseless death and destruction caused by the bombings in London on July 7, 2005. Our hearts go out to the people who have lost loved ones and those who have been wounded, as well as the countless people whose lives have been forever shaken by these events. UFPJ opposes terrorism - acts of violence against innocent civilians - in all its forms: bombs on public transportation in London, planes flying into buildings in New York City, or the armies of the United States and Great Britain waging war on the people of Iraq.
As we write this statement, there is no certainty as to who who is responsible for the London bombings. UFPJ hopes that as those who committed criminal acts are brought to justice there is no rush to judgment or assumption of guilt. It is in these moments that smear campaigns against individuals and whole communities can easily take hold, often shaped by and feeding racist stereotypes. We must counter those who will claim that the bombings reflect the supposedly violent nature of Muslims or the religion of Islam.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's comments that this was an attack on our values and way of life echoed much of the language George W. Bush used to justify his war on Iraq. We were told by the Bush Administration that our nation had to go to war in Iraq in order to fight terrorism, to make us and the world safer. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, none of us is more secure since the Bush Administration launched its so-called war on terror. The war on Iraq and the military occupation of that nation has certainly not made the Iraqi people any safer, nor has it lessened the risk of future terror attacks elsewhere around the world. Instead of feeding the cycle of killing it is time for a new direction in our policies. It is time for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, time to end U.S. support for Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, time to stop supporting repressive regimes in the Middle East and other places, and time to remove U.S. military bases from oil-rich countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Just as we mourn the loss of life in London, we mourn the daily loss of life in Iraq. We use this occasion to re-commit ourselves to doing all that we can to end the war in Iraq, including building a massive anti-war march in Washington, DC on Sept. 24th. We will also be vigilant in ensuring that this new round of violence is not used by the Blair and Bush administrations as an excuse either for new military attacks in foreign lands or for domestic policies that scapegoat Muslims, immigrants and people of color.
ACTION ALERT * UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
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Doug Clifton, The Cleveland Plain Dealer's editor, characterized the two investigative articles as "profoundly important," adding, "They would have been of significant interest to the public." Asked if they might be published at some later date, he said, "Not in the short term..... Because talking isn't an option and jail is too high a price to pay, these two stories will go untold for now. How many more are out there?"
How many more indeed.
**To read the complete article, please go to: The New York Times website. Free Log-In is required.
One Soldier’s Fight to Legalize Morality
by Monica Benderman
On July 28, 2005, in a small non-descript courtroom on Ft. Stewart, Georgia, a Courts Martial is scheduled to begin. Again. One Army NCO who decided that he had no choice but to make a conscious choice NOT to return to war is being put on trial for caring about humanity.
This soldier fulfilled his commitment, he kept his promise to his enlisted contract, and when ordered to deploy to Iraq at the start of the invasion, he went, not because he wanted to “kill Iraqis” or “destroy terrorist cells,” but because he wanted the soldiers he served with to come home safely. He returned knowing that war is wrong, the most dehumanizing creation of humanity that exists. He saw war destroy civilians, innocent men, women and children. He saw war destroy homes, relationships and a country. He saw this not only in the country that was invaded, but he saw this happening to the invading country as well – and he knew that the only way to save those soldiers was for people to no longer participate in war. Sgt. Kevin Benderman is a Conscientious Objector to war, and the Army is mad.
Sgt. Kevin Benderman, after serving one tour of duty in Iraq, filed for Conscientious Objector status, his Constitutional right. His commander refused to accept his application and one called him a coward. One chaplain was ashamed of his lack of moral fortitude, another, of higher rank, testified to the true sincerity of Sgt. Benderman’s beliefs, in writing. A military intelligence officer decided that he knew matters of the soul better than a man of God, and recommended to deny the CO claim. Five commissioned officers who had never met Sgt. Benderman agreed with the “intelligent officer” and the claim was denied, twice.
More than two weeks after my husband was placed in the Rear Detachment unit here at Ft. Stewart, charges of Missing Movement and Desertion were filed against him, even though he has never missed a single day of duty in almost ten years. At the first Courts Martial proceedings, the investigative hearing was over turned. According to the judge’s decision, the presiding officer had shown implied bias toward Sgt. Benderman, and a new hearing was ordered. As the session adjourned, the same command that brought the first charges were marching up the aisle in the courtroom to file a new charge, larceny, against Sgt. Benderman. The command that brought the charge, had erroneously ordered combat pay to be paid to Sgt. Benderman, along with 7 other soldiers in their unit. Rather than accept their responsibility for the error, these leaders chose to punish Sgt. Benderman for the mistake, and have yet to discipline any of the remaining soldiers for the officers’ gaffe.
The new investigating officer strongly recommended dismissing this larceny charge, but the convening authority, Ft. Stewart’s garrison commander, pressed on and filed the charges anyway, along with desertion and missing movement. The Courts Martial is scheduled to begin on July 28. The games began in January.
At the conclusion of the first hearing, I returned to the courtroom briefly for some things I had forgotten. The lights were dimmed, and no one was there. This small dark room, vintage WW II, had a reverent calm. Desks and chairs sat waiting, slightly turned, empty jurist panel, attorney’s podium – the stage had been set. I look back on it now, and the feeling is strangely surreal.
Last week we learned that the United States Supreme Court allows itself to keep the Ten Commandments hanging on the walls of its chambers, as a testimony to another form of law. The guardian of the Constitution of our country, presiding over the human rights of our people, maintains that the Ten Commandments, religious context aside, represent a form of law that is powerful enough to occupy a place in its chambers.
In a small, quiet courtroom, on the Ft. Stewart military installation, the stage is set. One soldier who, after firsthand experience with the destructive force of war, decided to take the Ten Commandments at their word – “Thou Shall Not Kill” – and use the rights given to him to declare his conscious objection to war, to no longer be in a position to voluntarily have to kill another human being, is now on trial for not wanting to kill.
The Army has removed itself so completely from its moral responsibility, that its representatives are willing to openly demand, in a court of law, that they be allowed to regain “positive control over this soldier” by finding him guilty of crimes he did not commit, and put him in jail – a prisoner of conscience, for daring to obey a moral law.
It is “hard work” to face the truth, and it is scary when people who are not afraid to face it begin to speak out. Someone once said that my husband’s case is a question of morality over legality. I pray that this country has not gone so far over the edge that the two are so distinctly different that we can tell them apart.
A sixteen year old in New York, was charged with involuntary manslaughter yesterday for stabbing another teen in the chest twice, over a computer game. There is no question of why. He broke a law – a legal, MORAL law – “Thou Shall Not Kill.”
After seeing war firsthand, Sgt. Kevin Benderman chose to follow a legal, MORAL law – “Thou Shall Not Kill.” A form of law significant enough to be represented on the walls of our Supreme Court. The US Army cannot let him go. I have to ask – “WHY?”
Monica Bendermen is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman. Kevin is stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. He has served on combat tour in Iraq. After seeing war firsthand, he made the decision to file for Conscientious Objector status in December, 2004. His command refused the request, and filed charges of Missing Movement and Desertion against him. They have since added a charge of Larceny. Sgt. Benderman is scheduled to face a second attempt at Courts Martial for these charges on July 28, and Ft. Stewart. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit: www.BendermanDefense.org.
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Last Updated Thu, 07 Jul 2005 18:36:04 EDT
Canadian officials have denied a visa to allow an outspoken Iraqi critic of the U.S. to visit Ottawa, local peace activists who invited him said.
The Canadian Peace Alliance invited Dr. Salam Ismael, 29, to Canada later this month to speak about his experiences as a doctor during both sieges of Fallujah. However, he was denied a visa by Canada's embassy in Jordan.
Salam heads a group called Doctors for Iraq Society and has frequently travelled abroad to raise money for food and medical supplies. He's known for speaking about the suffering of Iraqi civilians during the war.
He has also written articles and given photo presentations accusing the U.S. forces in Iraq of committing atrocities.
Salam said he was told he had failed to convince the visa officer his trip was legitimate, and that there were fears he might try to stay in Canada because there are few job opportunities in Iraq. He also said his credentials for his hospital job were not persuasive.
A spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration refused to discuss the case, citing privacy laws, but said that visa officers have discretionary powers to turn down any applicant.
A member of the Ottawa-based peace alliance said the doctor had already been to several other countries – including Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – and always returned home to his family and his hospital job in Iraq.
"All of us know that there are many little ways in which our government tries to help the United States under the radar of Canadian public opinion," said Jo Wood. "I think this is one example of that."
I did not know that Canada was such a strong proponent of the Bush Doctrine! By denying a visitor's visa to Dr. Salam Ismael of Iraq, the Canadian government has clearly stated that any critic of the U.S. is unwelcome to our fair, free, just, 'liberal' country. Canadian visa officials have come up with lame, transparent reasons for denying Dr. Ismael's entry. How dare anyone shed some light on what is really happening in Iraq? Our government is no better than its American counterpart. Will a Canadian 'Patriot Act' be next? I, for one, will definitely not be voting for this purportedly 'Liberal' government in the next election, and will urge everyone I know to do likewise.
Friday, July 08, 2005
More than 100 members of the Iraqi parliament are now officially calling for the US to withdraw its troops from Iraq. They are demanding that the National Assembly adopt a resolution cancelling the request made by the Iraqi government to the UN Security Council to extend the presence of multinational forces. They also call on the government to set a timetable for withdrawal.
For this article and more important news, including the London bombings, please go the Democracy Now website.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
The Zarqawi Phenomenon by Dahr Jamail, July 6, 2005, from his Iraq Dispatches Digest, Vol. 11, Issue 1The Zarqawi Phenomenon
By Dahr Jamail
A remarkable proportion of the violence taking place in Iraq is
regularly credited to the Jordanian Ahmad al-Khalayleh, better known as
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq. Sometimes
it seems no car bomb goes off, no ambush occurs that isn't claimed in
his name or attributed to him by the Bush administration. Bush and his
top officials have, in fact, made good use of him, lifting his reputed
feats of terrorism to epic, even mythic, proportions (much aided by
various mainstream media outlets). Given that the invasion and
occupation of Iraq has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be
based upon administration lies and manipulations, I had begun to wonder
if the vaunted Zarqawi even existed.
Continue reading by clicking on the bold headline at top.
About Dahr Jamail:
Weary of the overall failure of the US media to accurately report on the realities of the war in Iraq for the Iraqi people and US soldiers, Dahr Jamail went to Iraq to report on the war himself.
His dispatches were quickly recognized as an important media resource and he is now writing for the Inter Press Service, The Asia Times and many other outlets. His reports have also been published with The Nation, The Sunday Herald, Islam Online, and the Guardian to name just a few. Dahr's dispatches and hard news stories have been translated into Polish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. On the radio, Dahr is a special correspondent for Flashpoints and reports for the BBC, Democracy Now!, and numerous other stations around the globe.
Dahr has spent a total of 8 months in occupied Iraq as one of only a few independent US journalists in the country. Dahr uses the DahrJamailIraq.com website and his popular mailing list to disseminate his dispatches.
Please visit Dahr Jamail's website for honest news from Iraq and the plight of the Iraqi people.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Words of Wisdom to Live By, from His Holiness the Dalai LamaInternal peace is an essential first step to achieving peace in the world. How do you cultivate it? It's very simple. In the first place by realizing clearly that all mankind is one, that human beings in every country are members of one and the same family.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America
NEW YORK, JUNE 27, 2005 — Mainstream media is the term often used to describe the collective group of big TV, radio and newspapers in the United States. Mainstream implies that the news being produced is for the benefit and enlightenment of the mainstream population-the majority of people living in the US. Mainstream media include a number of communication mediums that carry almost all the news and information on world affairs that most Americans receive. The word media is plural, implying a diversity of news sources.
However, mainstream media no longer produce news for the mainstream population-nor should we consider the media as plural. Instead it is more accurate to speak of big media in the US today as the corporate media and to use the term in the singular tense-as it refers to the singular monolithic top-down power structure of self-interested news giants.
A research team at Sonoma State University has recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. This is a small enough group to fit in a moderate size university classroom. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other. NBC and the Washington Post both have board members who sit on Coca Cola and J. P. Morgan, while the Tribune Company, The New York Times and Gannett all have members who share a seat on Pepsi. It is kind of like one big happy family of interlocks and shared interests. The following are but a few of the corporate board interlocks for the big ten media giants in the US:
New York Times: Caryle Group, Eli Lilly, Ford, Johnson and Johnson, Hallmark, Lehman Brothers, Staples, Pepsi
Washington Post: Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Dun & Bradstreet, Gillette, G.E. Investments, J.P. Morgan, Moody's
Knight-Ridder: Adobe Systems, Echelon, H&R Block, Kimberly-Clark, Starwood Hotels
The Tribune (Chicago & LA Times): 3M, Allstate, Caterpillar, Conoco Phillips, Kraft, McDonalds, Pepsi, Quaker Oats, Shering Plough, Wells Fargo
News Corp (Fox): British Airways, Rothschild Investments
GE (NBC): Anheuser-Busch, Avon, Bechtel, Chevron/Texaco, Coca-Cola, Dell, GM, Home Depot, Kellogg, J.P. Morgan, Microsoft, Motorola, Procter & Gamble
Disney (ABC): Boeing, Northwest Airlines, Clorox, Estee Lauder, FedEx, Gillette, Halliburton, Kmart, McKesson, Staples, Yahoo
Viacom (CBS): American Express, Consolidated Edison, Oracle, Lafarge North America
Gannett: AP, Lockheed-Martin, Continental Airlines, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, Target, Pepsi
AOL-Time Warner (CNN): Citigroup, Estee Lauder, Colgate-Palmolive, Hilton
Can we trust the news editors at the Washington Post to be fair and objective regarding news stories about Lockheed-Martin defense contract over-runs? Or can we assuredly believe that ABC will conduct critical investigative reporting on Halliburton's sole-source contracts in Iraq? If we believe the corporate media give us the full un-censored truth about key issues inside the special interests of American capitalism, then we might feel that they are meeting the democratic needs of mainstream America. However if we believe - as increasingly more Americans do- that corporate media serves its own self-interests instead of those of the people, than we can no longer call it mainstream or refer to it as plural. Instead we need to say that corporate media is corporate America, and that we the mainstream people need to be looking at alternative independent sources for our news and information.
— Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored a media research organization. www.projectcensored.org Sonoma State University students Bridget Thornton and Brit Walters conducted the research on the media interlocks.