Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Iraq: A Twenty Two Year Genocide

Iraq: A Twenty Two Year Genocide

by Felicity Arbuthnot / January 17th, 2013

It is the first genocide of the 21th century. Poor Iraq and Iraqis. The silence of the world pushes me to lose faith in humanity.

– Anonymous

Incredibly it is twenty two years to the day since the telephone rang in the early hours and a friend said: “They are bombing Baghdad.”

It was not alone Baghdad, of course, Iraq was being systematically destroyed, from ancient southern Basra to haunting, historic Mosul in the north – in the West destruction was such that it was not even noticed by the outside world that about seventy miles of Iraq had been entirely illegally donated to Jordan, the border was simply “moved.” Kuwait, bordering of Iraq’s southern border benefited similarly illegally.

Then Secretary of State James Baker’s vow to “reduce Iraq to a pre-industrial age” was being minutely executed over what was to become a forty three day blitz, which morphed in to a thirteen year, vicious, murderous, one sided war of attrition and ultimately illegal invasion and occupation.

Of the 17th January 1991 onslaught, Media Lens pointed to French diplomat Eric Rouleau who observed that Iraqis:

… had difficulty comprehending the Allied rationale for using air power to systematically destroy or cripple Iraqi infrastructure and industry: electric power stations (92% of installed capacity destroyed), refineries (80% of production capacity), petrochemical complexes, telecommunications centers (including 135 telephone networks), bridges (more than 100), roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies.

Further, ‘Former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark said that: “U.S. planes flew more than 109,000 sorties, raining 88,000 tons of bombs, the equivalent of seven Hiroshimas …”

Moreover: Eric Hoskins, a Canadian doctor and coordinator of a Harvard study team on Iraq, reported that the allied bombardment: “… effectively terminated everything vital to human survival in Iraq – electricity, water, sewage systems, agriculture, industry and health care. Food warehouses, hospitals and markets were bombed …” Hoskins’ team asked themselves: “if these children are not the most suffering child population on earth.”

A UN team called the devastation: “near-apocalyptic.”

Invasions are, of course, a tragedy — unless it is the US-EU-NATO’s slaughterfest, then it becomes “The Right to Protect”, “Humanitarian Intervention” and of course “Liberation.” Iraq’s actions towards Kuwait were complex and Saddam Hussein was led to believe his action was US thus Western sanctioned. Iraq was, in fact, subject of an epic proportioned, historic, stitch up.

Academic, Dr Gideon Polya, author of Body Count – Global Avoidable Mortality since 1950, calls Iraq’s subsequent plight a “Holocaust” and a “Genocide.” He is less than impressed by “liberations” stating in the Preamble that his research: “… documents the … avoidable death of 1.3 billion people since 1950 on Spaceship Earth, with the First World in control of the flight deck.” That was to 2007.

Dr Polya has now researched attacks on Muslim countries. Given today’s anniversary this is “stolen” wholesale from his Iraq website “dedicated to informing” of the enormity of what has befallen the people of Mesapotamia (note, figures so far, to 2011.)

“The ongoing Iraqi Holocaust (1990-2011) involves 1.7 million violent deaths, 2.9 million non-violent excess deaths, 4.5 million violent and non-violent excess deaths, 2.0 million under-5 infant deaths, 1.8 million avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths and 5-6 million refugees. An Iraqi Genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention definition of: ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.’”

Dr Polya, who has filed a Formal Complaint with the International Criminal Court, states: “The Iraqi Genocide — still continuing under Nobel Peace Laureate Obama — is of a similar magnitude to the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million killed, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation.) “

On this anniversary of a night of terror and tears which set the stage, the war “theatre” or threat of it — with Muslim countries the target — this is dedicated to the people of Iraq – and their neighbours in Syria, in Iran, to the decimated of Afghanistan and Libya and to the people of Palestine. To all those victims of “Spaceship Earth with the First World in control of the flight deck.”

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.

 

DJango Unchained: Through the eyes of American Black Men…

 

Mining Companies Coverup Safety Violations— 29 Dead

Charges filed in W.Va. mine disaster
Massey ex-executive expected to enter guilty pleas to federal counts
Thursday, November 29, 2012
By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette
Shortly after the mine disaster, this temporary memorial to the victims went up along Route 3 in Whitesville, W.Va., with their names on lumps of coal.

A former key executive of the company that owned the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia where 29 miners were killed in an underground explosion in 2010 has been charged with violating mine safety laws and conspiring to impede federal mine inspectors.

David Hughart, 53, of Crab Orchard, W.Va., former president of Massey Energy Co.’s Green Valley Resource Group, was charged Wednesday in federal district court in Beckley, W.Va.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Hughart, the highest-ranking official charged to date in an ongoing investigation, has agreed to plead guilty and is cooperating with the investigation spurred by the Upper Big Branch tragedy, the nation’s worst mining disaster in four decades.

Mr. Hughart’s plea agreement may indicate prosecutors are targeting officials higher on the Massey executive chain, possibly including controversial former CEO Don Blankenship, whose critics said valued profits at the expense of safety. He retired at the close of 2010. His Washington, D.C., attorney was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Four investigations into the Upper Big Branch disaster concluded that poorly maintained machines used to cut into sandstone caused a spark that ignited methane gas. Broken water sprayers then failed to stop the fire, which set off a series of explosions fueled by coal dust.

Those investigations concluded that Massey systematically covered up problems at the mine through an elaborate scheme that included sanitized safety-inspection books and a system providing advance warnings of surprise inspections by federal mine safety officials.

The wide-ranging probe of Massey has found that the company’s actions that compromised safety weren’t confined to Upper Big Branch.

“Mine safety and health laws were routinely violated [at coal mines] owned by Massey in part because of a belief that consistently following [mine safety] laws would decrease coal production,” according to the information filed against Mr. Hughart.

Authorities accuse Mr. Hughart of working with “known and unknown” co-conspirators to ensure that miners underground at Massey-owned operations received advance warning about surprise federal inspections “on many occasions and various dates” between 2000 and March 2010. The advance warnings provided them the time to conceal violations that could have led to citations, fines and costly production shutdowns.

The United Mine Workers of America, which consistently has criticized Massey’s safety record, was quick to react to Mr. Hughart’s charges.

“We’ve been saying for years that Massey Energy was a company that put production first, with safety being an afterthought,” UMWA International president Cecil E. Roberts said in a statement. “We look forward to the U.S. Attorney continuing his investigation, with a special emphasis on all Massey officials, regardless of title, who formulated and implemented criminal behavior, like Mr. Hughart.”

In December, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration officials announced a $209.5 million settlement agreement with Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, which took over Massey and the mine in a June 2011 merger. The firm has since announced it will seal the mine.

The settlement prevented criminal charges against the company, but did not preclude charges against individual employees. Federal authorities said the firm is assisting in the investigation, in which three former Massey employees have been charged thus far.

Gary May, the former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch mine, pleaded guilty in March to a federal fraud charge. Prosecutors said Mr. May manipulated the mine ventilation system during inspections to fool safety officials and disabled a methane monitor on a cutting machine a few months before the explosion.

In February, Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, the former security chief at Upper Big Branch mine, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy documents following the deadly explosion.

 

Michael A. Fuoco: mfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1968.

Read more: http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/12334/1280356-84.stm#ixzz2Dco70L79

 

Romney for president? Look deep into his eyes…

Romney is one crazy mother fucker

Romney is one crazy mother fucker

 

Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested after being denied entrance to the US presidential debates

“Corporate-sponsored American politics have stifled true democracy,” says Cheri Honkala, Green Party vice-presidential candidate. “We really need the outside help” to ensure fair debates and return democracy to America, she told RT.

­Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested Tuesday after being denied entrance to the US presidential debates, despite being on 85 per cent of the ballots. “Democracy was taken away from us,” Honkala, told RT.

“Jill and I had decided to go before the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), we wanted to go in [to the debates], we’re on 85 per cent of the ballots in this country, and so we thought it should be up to the American people, so that they could listen to us and decide who they wanted to have as their president and their vice-president,” Honkala said.

The CPD was established in 1987 to monitor the presidential debates. CPD regulations stipulate that in order to be represented at the debate, a candidate must have at least 15 per cent support across five national polls and have the mathematical possibility to win the election. Tuesday’s debates were held by the CPD at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

“We’ve done our homework, it’s mathematically possible for Dr. Jill Stein and I to win the presidency, so we should be a part of the debates,” Honkala said.

However, despite being on 85 per cent of the ballots, Stein and Honkala were not invited to the big debate that took place Tuesday night.

“We thought it should be up to the American people, so that they could listen to us and decide who they wanted to have as their president and their vice-president.”

However, after being denied entry, Stein and Honkala were arrested for blocking traffic.

“We didn’t block traffic. We were at a stand-still because we were greeted by tons of officers who did not let us go in to the CPD, did not let us talk to somebody from the CPD.”

“We were then arrested by the police officers and then we were taken by secret service to a secret location and we were handcuffed to metal chairs for eight hours in a very cold warehouse,” she said.

“It just seemed like an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars. Homeland Security is continuing to be used to preempt the civil liberties of people here in this country.”

­

Mainstream media silence

Honkala told RT that she and Stein have been charged and will have to face trial for what they say is a fight to bring real democracy to America.

“We will have to face trial. We were charged with disorderly conduct. It became very clear to the both of us that this was very political and they wanted us to be silenced,” she said.

“Jill and I, we speak to the 99 per cent in this country. We have a program that’s about eliminating the student debt, it’s about taking money out of politics, it’s about making sure that everybody has access to a job; it’s about ending climate change and it’s about ‘greening’ America,” she told RT.

Mainstream media seems to have mostly turned a blind eye to the arrest of the US presidential and vice-presidential candidates, as well as to their party platform, as the airwaves continue to be dominated by the two-party system in America.

“We have a problem with a small number of corporations owning most of our major media outlets here in this country and we really need the outside help from different international media outlets to tell the real story of the American people. We are fighting for democracy here – it doesn’t exist. We do not have fair elections. We need elections monitors here and we need help from the international community,” she says.

Should the system change and Americans elect Green Party candidates, democracy would come to America, Honkala believes.

“Not only people in the US would  benefit, but people throughout the entire world, because no longer we would have a foreign policy that would be about bombing and killing people in other parts of the world just for oil and for the 1 per cent [the wealthy few]. The international community would benefit as well from our foreign policy, which would be about other countries’ need to police their own countries, and work on their own democracies. We need to bring democracy back here to the United States, we need access to the media, and we need fair elections and debates.”

 

NYPD Arrests Veterans Reading the Names of Afghan War Dead.

Nypd-arrests-veterans-reading-the-names-of-afghan-war-dead

NYPD arresting veterans as they read the names of the dead

Video streaming by Ustream

 

Military Veterans and Soldiers Against the War

2012-09-09

As the war in Afghanistan drags through its eleventh year, discussion of U.S. occupation has been forgotten in election cycle discourse.

Yet in Fort Hood, Texas, a community of military veterans, soldiers, and allies who are unable to forget are organizing their community in response to the widespread trauma that underlies U.S. policies of endless war. Calling their campaign Operation Recovery, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and The Civilian-Soldier Alliance are working with Under the Hood Cafe and Outreach Center to demand service members’ right to heal.

Even as the U.S. military claims to draw down its forces, suicide rates among active duty service members and veterans continue to climb. According to the Army’s own studies, the year 2011 set a record for the highest number of Army suicides in military history. That same year also marked a spike in sexual assaults within the ranks of the military. While comparable studies of trauma in occupied populations do not exist, the death count in the “Global War on Terror” continues to rise, with over 12,000 Afghan civilians killed since 2006 and more than 185,000 Afghan civilians displaced in 2011 alone, marking a 45 percent jump from 2010.

War trauma is acutely felt at Fort Hood, the largest military base in the country that houses many soldiers on their way to and from war zones. The Army reported in 2010 that the base’s suicide rate was double the national average, and today the base’s sexual assault counselors and healthcare providers cannot meet the swelling need for help. Military communities have decided to take matters into their own hands by organizing within this sprawling military installation for the right to heal from war’s trauma and an end to the dehumanization and abuse that underwrites U.S.-led occupation.

Maggie Martin is a two-time Iraq War veteran and a Field Organizer for Iraq Veterans Against the War, currently based at Fort Hood. In this interview, Maggie discusses campaign strategy, talks about Fort Hood military communities, and explains how healing is a force against war.

Can you tell me what you and other IVAW members are doing at Fort Hood?

We’re here organizing an active duty outreach drive for Operation Recovery. We’re trying to get the word out about the work we’re doing at Fort Hood around the right to heal. We’re also collecting stories and information from soldiers here about the situation on the ground, particularly around issues of access to mental and physical healthcare.

People are experiencing things like stigma for trying to seek care. People are having profiles violated. Medical profiles are from doctors and healthcare workers to put restrictions on certain kinds of work for service members related to what they’re capable of due to their mental health status. Violating a profile means assigning service members work that is unsafe for them.

What kind of response have you been getting from active duty service members?

Most people who have experience with traumatic injuries are able to tell us some of the things that have been difficult for them around getting treatment. A lot of people are still afraid to get help because of stigma. There are also issues of unofficial punishment where there is not necessarily a paperwork trail but people are getting disrespected and treated badly for seeking care. This is not necessarily across the board – we’ve heard from some folks that their command and leadership are doing the right thing and really encouraging soldiers to get care and help. It is important that everyone get the care they need and deserve, and we are trying to figure out how to ensure that.

What is the focus of the campaign right now?

We’re trying to set up interviews, do house visits, and have one-on-one conversations with new members at the Under the Hood Cafe and Outreach Center, both IVAW members and potential members. This includes people who come to our ribs and rights events, as well as different trainings we put on, including Warrior Writers and G.I. rights trainings. We are trying to solidify people’s roles in the community and understand more about why they came into the community and why they’re interested in Operation Recovery as well as what they want to see for the future. Next Saturday, before I leave, we’re going to have a larger IVAW chapter meeting for the Fort Hood chapter and the Austin chapter that’s forming. We’ll invite potential members as well, both active duty and veterans. That should help us get a sense of where the community here wants to take the campaign and how they see themselves continuing as an area of operation for the campaign.

Have you found that talking about trauma is an effective starting place to relate to service members?

Yeah, it is. I think that our one-on-one conversations with people show us that the reason they came to Under the Hood is because of the injustices that are happening around service-members’ care, and they feel really betrayed that they have given so much and their comrades have given so much but can’t even get decent healthcare. It is an important issue to people. It is something that can be seen as a really blatant disregard for the dignity and respect of soldiers. With the reduction of the military, we are seeing so many more folks being forced out and not allowed to re-enlist. Many of them are people who have been deployed repeatedly and are now struggling with their own physical and mental health issues and are now being disregarded and discarded.

As a veteran, how does it feel to be organizing active duty service members at a massive military base like Fort Hood?

I think one thing that’s really interesting for me about going back to a military base is remembering where I was when I was in the military, what was important to me, what issues I thought about, and what power and control over my own life I thought I had, which was pretty much none when I was in. Going back, I feel like I know a lot more about how widespread the issues are that service members are facing. I know more about service members’ rights. I think it is really helpful to remember back to where I was and try to be a bridge for people to understand more or to explore their own ideas just by inviting them to Under the Hood Cafe and Outreach Center, asking questions, and making space. It’s also cool being able to organize around service members’ rights while not being in the military anymore because there is a lot more freedom and less fear of the military legal system.

How is Operation Recovery an anti-militarist campaign?

Militarism and dehumanization go hand in hand and really work off of each other. Operation Recovery is predicated on reclaiming our humanity through talking about human rights. I think that if people and soldiers see themselves as people worthy of dignity and respect and healthcare, then that’s a step in the direction away from the dehumanization that happens to soldiers in their training that is carried on to the work they do overseas.

That reminds me of this quote we used as a prompt for our Warrior Writers workshop yesterday from Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk: ”Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation. If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.” I think that the military is so separated from the rest of American culture, and people believe that the military is happy to participate in these things and that everything we engage in is for this greater just cause. The reason I joined IVAW is because I believe that it is powerful for people who have been immersed and participated in the military to counter the popular belief that the military is a separate group of heroic people carrying out the needs of our country. I think that soldiers speaking out creates a shift in the American consciousness.

 

How does the trauma that service members face relate to the trauma faced by those living under occupation?

I think that we see cycles of trauma repeat themselves within families and communities with service members here in the States. We know a lot less about this trauma in occupied countries because we are so separated from what is happening in occupied countries. People in the military aren’

t getting care, they’re struggling with drugs and alcohol and prescription drug abuse, they can’t sleep at night, they’re having nightmares and flashbacks, they have a hard time distinguishing when they’re safe and in danger. You add some hardcore weaponry to that equation, and it is pretty obvious this is a recipe for disaster.

What was Ft. Hood like under Fort Hood Commanding General Donal Campbell? General Campbell has been tapped for the role of new commander of U.S. Army Europe, which amounts to a promotion. Can you tell us a little about his track record so far?

General Campbell was a target of Operation Recovery because he was in control of such a large military installation that had been repeatedly deploying many soldiers since the early stages of the war. Soldiers at Fort Hood have been through a lot of serious combat, a lot of multiple deployments, and a lot of traumatic injuries. In 2010, this base had the highest suicide rate of any military installation. It is important for us to identify and hold accountable the military leaders who are responsible.

General Campbell recently held a Facebook “town hall” meeting that purportedly aimed to get feedback about base policy from the Fort Hood community. In reality, it seemed to be more about public relations than about how to help service members. We got a lot of political non-answers to tough questions we were asking. In response to questions highlighting lack of access to care for service members, General Campbell responded by telling people to contact his office if they are having problems. We really think that’s ridiculous. If someone gets turned down from help from their supervisor, if they get told they are weak and need to suck it up, they are not going to feel comfortable going to the post commander to ask for help. The town hall responses were disingenuous and lacked any concrete solutions or steps for improvements. We also know that one of the active duty service members we have been working with is being targeted and penalized by his command for demanding his right to heal at that Facebook town hall meeting.

What does General Campbell’s promotion say about the values of the U.S. military?

I think it shows that they want these tough leaders who are going to carry out orders and make hard decisions and be willing to put soldiers’ welfare second to the needs of the military. It shows that the military has no accountability to the community or even to the soldiers under their command, and the only way we’re going to be able to make a difference is to go to the people who control their promotions and cash flow.

What’s next for Operation Recovery?

We’re going to release an Appeal for Redress for service members’ and veterans’ right to heal. IVAW members and other veterans and service members across the country will be invited to sign on to the Appeal for Redress and engage with their congressional representatives. An Appeal for Redress is a protected form of communication for active duty service members to resolve an issue and seek redress through their congressional representatives. It is protected under the Military Whistle-Blower Protection Act that is supposed to keep service members safe from reprisals from command and leadership that they’re trying to address. We’re in the process of figuring out what we want to come out of this and what local campaigns will be happening under the larger umbrella of Operation Recovery. I think there will be specific demands for specific local targets. Our overall goal will be to put pressure on congressional representatives and build up to open hearings for service members and veterans to be able to share their stories about dealing with traumatic injuries in the military and VA system. The hope is that congress will put pressure or force military and VA to give proper care.

Why is this organizing relevant now?

I think it is crazy that we’re in the eleventh year of the war in Afghanistan, in a presidential election year, and the war is not even an issue in the presidential campaigns: it’s not even being discussed. Soldiers coming home from Afghanistan, and soldiers who have come home from Iraq, are starting to see mental health issues surface in their lives. More and more service members and veterans are dealing with the consequences of traumatic injuries, yet this issue is getting less and less coverage and spotlight in the political arena. We think it is really important to keep standing up for service members and let people know that the wars are not over for those who participated and for those who were and are occupied. We need to remember these things and learn from mistakes as we move into the future.

 

After NATO Strike Kills 8 Afghan Women, Pundits Still Wonder: Why Do They Hate Us?


The protests and violence in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have caused a notable uptick in media discussions about, as Newsweek’s cover puts it, “Muslim Rage.”A Washington Post headline illustrates which lives are more valuable.

Part of the corporate media’s job is to make sure real political grievances are mostly kept out of the discussion. It’s a lot easier to talk about angry mobs and their peculiar religion than it is to acknowledge that maybe some of the anger has little to do with religion at all.

Take the news out of Afghanistan yesterday: A NATO airstrike killed eight women in the eastern province of Laghman who were out collecting firewood. This has happened before. And attacks that kill a lot of Afghans–whether accidental or not–tend to be covered the same way–quietly, and with a focus not on the killing but on the ramifications.

So yesterday if you logged into CommonDreams, you may have seen this headline:

NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills 8 Women

Now look for the same news in the New York Times today (9/17/12). It’s there–but the headline is this:

Karzai Denounces Coalition Over Airstrikes

The Times gave a clear sense of what was important: “Mr. Karzai’s condemnation was likely to rankle some Western officials…” the paper’s Matthew Rosenberg explained, who went on to explain that

the confrontational tone of the statement was a sharp reminder of the acrimony that has often characterized relations between Mr. Karzai and his American benefactors.

In the Washington Post, the NATO airstrikes made the front page–sort of. Readers saw this headline at the website:

4 troops killed in southern Afghanistan insider attack

As you might have already guessed, the killings of Afghan women are a secondary news event:

Four U.S. troops were killed Sunday at a remote checkpoint in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them, military officials said. The attack brought to 51 the number of international troops shot dead by their Afghan partners this year. The insider attack came on the same day that NATO warplanes killed nine women gathering firewood in the mountains outside their village in an eastern province, according to local officials.

One has to wonder whether, absent the deaths of U.S. troops, the airstrike would have made the news at all.
© 2012 Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Peter Hart

Peter Hart is the activism director at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). He writes for FAIR’s magazine Extra, and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR’s syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly” (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

 

Is the U.S. Government at War with the Muslim World?

The massive, angry demonstrations and attacks on U.S. embassies sweeping through the Muslim world comes in the context of a campaign against Muslims carried out by the U.S. government in an attempt to justify their wars against Muslim countries. This campaign includes preemptive prosecutions where FBI agents create phony plots and encourage behavior that can be prosecuted and attacks on civil liberties at home; the Peter King hearings; NYPD spying on Muslims; raids and detentions; and states that have passed anti-Muslim laws. It includes the physical attacks on Muslims, on mosques and on people who racist whites think are Muslims, like Sikhs, and opposition to Muslim building projects like Park 51 and much more.

This atmosphere encourages the kind of hateful anti-Muslim video that was produced. At some point, it had to be expected that Muslims around the world would react. The U.S. will spin this by focusing on the film and implying that all Muslims are crazy and do not support freedom of speech. However, this is a self-serving lie and a diversion from the real root causes. Humiliation is a necessary component of the cycle of abuse. It should be noted that similar attacks on Judaism and the Holocaust are prosecuted as hate crimes and that artists and musicians who have created work offensive to many Christians have been vilified and threatened.

We need to put the blame squarely where it belongs — on the U.S., which has been at war with the Muslim world in order to dominate and control resources and power. We have seen the utter destruction of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan; drone attacks on Muslim countries we are not at war with, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; and the persistent economic starvation and political suffocation of the Muslim people in Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and other countries by US backed dictators enforcing Western dominance in the region. So-called “targeted assassinations” kill many innocent non-combatants and are viewed simply as “collateral damage” rather than murders, demonstrating how little the U.S. government values non-Western lives.

The fact that these protests came as a surprise to the U.S. State Department is a reflection of the arrogance and stupidity of a government that claims it is bringing freedom and democracy to the region through drone missiles, sanctions, assassinations, and occupations and expects the people to be grateful.

The unfortunate deaths of the American Ambassador in Libya and members of his security team are the direct result of violent, hypocritical, internally conflicted US policies in the region, whether the unanticipated result of the rioting triggered by the film or blowback for longstanding U.S. atrocities rooted in the ongoing wars. It is long past time to reject those policies and begin a new era based on respect for the dignity and humanity of every individual and of all the various cultures and religions of the world.

We must stand in solidarity with all the victims of U.S.-sponsored violence and repression.

END THE WARS & OCCUPATIONS! BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

NO DRONE ATTACKS! NO SANCTIONS! HANDS OFF SYRIA & IRAN!

END RACIST REPRESSION, RAIDS, FRAME-UPS & ISLAMOPHOBIA AT HOME!

 

Mourning Keeper of the Mountains Larry Gibson, and the Appalachians He Defended

More than four years ago, decked out in his trademark yellow cap and shirt, Larry Gibson famously waited his turn at a political rally in Beckley, W. Va., and finally got the chance to ask then-presidential candidate Barack Obama whether he would defend the land and people of central Appalachia.

Few people in our country were so fearless in the face of political pressure, bankers, Big Coal backlash and even death threats; and fewer people had the inspiring impact of this determined mountaineer, who had spent the last two decades crisscrossing the country, leading protests and beseeching power brokers to defend his Appalachian mountains from reckless strip mining operations.

His message was simple and to the point: Love them or leave them, just don’t destroy them.

Today, working on his beloved Kayford Mountain homeplace — the symbolic sky island surrounded by nearly 8,000 acres of mountaintop removal devastation that has served as an important training ground for a generation of activists, educators and chroniclers — 66-year-old Larry Gibson reportedly died from a heart attack, as committed as ever as one of the most indefatigable, cherished and courageous spokespeople in the movement to abolish mountaintop removal mining.

And still waiting for Washington, D.C. to end to one of the most egregious human rights and environmental crimes in the nation.

And still waiting for an uprising in the hills of Appalachia, and the halls of Congress and the White House to join him on the frontlines of social justice.

2012-09-10-LarryGibson.jpg Larry Gibson, photo courtesy of Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

“I never wanted to become an activist, but I had to,” Gibson told interviewer Taylor Lee Kirkland in 2009. He continued:

If I hadn’t I would have been torn off this mountain a long time ago. There are thousands of people around the world who have heard me speak since I started this work, but honestly I wish to God no one knew my name. I wish I didn’t have to leave my home and talk to people about mountaintop removal. Last year I traveled eight months out of the year talking to people about this stuff. But I know I have to bring this message to the world and I’m gonna fight for justice in every way I can. We have to have an uprising. This isn’t an uprising that can be bought with money, but one that’s coming from the hearts of honest and hardworking people.

As the news of Gibson’s tragic loss spreads tonight, thousands of students, educators, activists, Washington wonks and policy analysts, and journalists and filmmakers from around the nation and world continue to release statements and post photos of how one mountaineer changed their lives in his pursuit for justice on Kayford Mountain, and his patience in greeting everyone at this homeplace.

“I spent the day with Larry on Thursday,” acclaimed photographer Paul Corbit Brown emailed me. “To say he had an enormous impact on all of our lives wouldn’t be enough. To say he was a hero wouldn’t be enough. To say he changed our lives wouldn’t be enough. To say has was deeply loved and will be missed wouldn’t be enough. But let me tell you what was on his heart just days ago. He stressed that this fight was never about him or his mountain alone. It was, and is, about all of us and our shared future. It is about the thousands of young people that he called his kids. It is about those not yet born. It wasn’t about Larry Gibson and a mountain. He wanted to be a voice for all people and the mountains and homes they love. He wanted to speak for Justice and to inspire those too frightened to speak. And even those who called Larry an enemy and wished to do him harm, he spoke of them, still, as “his People.” Rest in Peace, Larry. It was only appropriate that you should be on your mountain when you left this world. You can rest assured that we who you left behind will not rest until we finish the work you so passionately and courageously began.”

“Larry was one of the strongest, kindest, most dedicated peaceful warriors for justice I’ve ever known in my life,” said Rory McIlmoil, a West Virginia-based coal and clean energy analyst. “And that no matter who you were, or which side you were on, Larry’s smile, his laugh, and his compassion would remind you that we’re all human and that we should care and fight for each other. I’m definitely going to miss Larry Gibson.”

“The world is better for all Larry did to try to ensure a future hope for besieged and blasted generations of Appalachia,” said Bob Kincaid, president of the Coal River Mountain Watch board. “At Kayford Mountain, he was among the first to show the world the ravages of Mountaintop Removal, making real and immediate and undeniable the coal industry’s most dirty secret. Where I’m sure he is, I know the waters run clear and cool, and the air is no longer choked with dust, and Larry smiles in leisure well-earned.”

“For those who love mountains, Larry was a god,” wrote Rob Perks, with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. “There was no one like him, a man who literally put his life on the line to keep the coal industry from stealing our shared legacy. His spirit will live on in our continued fight to end The travesty of mountaintop removal.”

“Larry’s endlessly inspiring efforts and words are exemplary of a true hero,” noted Chelsea Marie Ritter-Soronen, a St. Louis-based artist who took part in Mountain Justice and direct action protests in West Virginia. “Like many, I’ll never forget the first time I heard him speak about mountaintop removal, it simply changed my life.”