Archive for September, 2012

Hope for bees — 48 hours to act!

A pesticide called Clothianidin is potentially killing bees and threatening our food supply. An EPA consultation on whether to suspend the use of these toxic pesticides closes on Tuesday. Let’s seize this opportunity to save the bees and flood the EPA with public support to stop these pesticides! Send an urgent message to the EPA now

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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).

 

Children and Women Killed as “Collateral Damage” – U.S. Out of Afghanistan!

Plans by the U.S. to maintain a Special Forces occupation of Afghanistan until 2024 are being severely tested. But only press from other countries reports what the two main reasons why the people of Afghanistan demand that U.S. forces just leave are: • Continued aerial bombing by NATO/US forces. Sunday, NATO claimed it killed 45 “insurgents” in an airstrike in a remote province east of Kabul. But villagers brought the bodies of 8 women, including a girl 10 years old, to the governor’s office. They were shouting “death to America. They were condemning the attack,” said an Afghan official, according to Agence France Presse. How many times has this happened in almost 11 years? The U.S. NATO commanders dismiss it as necessary “collateral damage.” People who are allegedly being “saved” are expendable.

• An Afghan court has found that administrative detention (indefinite and without charges) violates Afghan law! The Obama–Karzai agreement that Afghan prisoners now being held by the US would be transferred to custody of the Karzai government for indefinite detention is in danger. One might think that it violates U.S. law, but not according to the Obama administration. So which country is more “civilized?” Thousands of Afghan men have been seized by the U.S. over 11 years, most charged with nothing.
STOP U.S. Aggression and Continued War on the World! Not in Our Name!
This war MUST end now, not in 2024, a date arrived at by Obama and Karzai, and not on an obscure date in the future!

Saturday/Sunday, October 6/7, falling one month before the election where the war is talked about only as “over,” must be marked by actions protesting the U.S. war on the world.

by Debra Sweet, Director World Can’t Wait

 

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.”