Henry Kissinger or CODEPINK: Who’s the “Low Life Scum”?


 January 30, 2015

Alli McCracken, a peace activist with CODEPINK, shows former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger a pair of handcuffs during a protest at a Senate hearing on Thursday. If there was justice in this world, argue human rights activist, Kissinger would be in prison for his role in perpetrating war crimes as opposed to sitting before the Senate Armed Services Committee to offer his assessment of world affairs. (Photo: Courtesy of CODEPINK)

A very angry Senator John McCain denounced CODEPINK activists as “low-life scum” for holding up signs reading “Arrest Kissinger for War Crimes” and dangling handcuffs next to Henry Kissinger’s head during a Senate hearing on January 29. McCain called the demonstration “disgraceful, outrageous and despicable,” accused the protesters of “physically intimidating” Kissinger and apologized profusely to his friend for this “deeply troubling incident.”

But if Senator McCain was really concerned about physical intimidation, perhaps he should have conjured up the memory of the gentle Chilean singer/songwriter Victor Jara. After Kissinger facilitated the September 11, 1973 coup against Salvador Allende that brought the ruthless Augusto Pinochet to power, Victor Jara and 5,000 others were rounded up in Chile’s National Stadium. Jara’s hands were smashed and his nails torn off; the sadistic guards then ordered him to play his guitar. Jara was later found dumped on the street, his dead body riddled with gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

Despite warnings by senior US officials that thousands of Chileans were being tortured and slaughtered, then Secretary of State Kissinger told Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”

Rather than calling peaceful protesters “despicable”, perhaps Senator McCain should have used that term to describe Kissinger’s role in the brutal 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which took place just hours after Kissinger and President Ford visited Indonesia. They had given the Indonesian strongman the US green light—and the weapons—for an invasion that led to a 25-year occupation in which over 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed or starved to death. The UN’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) stated that U.S. “political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation” of East Timor.

If McCain could stomach it, he could have read the report by the UN Commission on Human Rights describing the horrific consequences of that invasion. It includes gang rape of female detainees following periods of prolonged sexual torture; placing women in tanks of water for prolonged periods, including submerging their heads, before being raped; the use of snakes to instill terror during sexual torture; and the mutilation of women’s sexual organs, including insertion of batteries into vaginas and burning nipples and genitals with cigarettes. Talk about physical intimidation, Senator McCain!

You might think that McCain, who suffered tremendously in Vietnam, might be more sensitive to Kissinger’s role in prolonging that war. From 1969 through 1973, it was Kissinger, along with President Nixon, who oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos—killing perhaps one million during this period. He was gave the order for the secret bombing of Cambodia. Kissinger is on tape saying, “[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It’s an order, to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves.”

Senator McCain could have taken the easy route by simply reading the meticulously researched book by the late writer Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Writing as a prosecutor before an international court of law, Hitchens skewers Kissinger for ordering or sanctioning the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of “unfriendly” politicians and the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers, journalists and clerics who got in his way. He holds Kissinger responsible for war crimes that range from the deliberate mass killings of civilian populations in Indochina, to collusion in mass murder and assassination in Bangladesh, the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Chile, and the incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor.

McCain could have also perused the warrant issued by French Judge Roger Le Loire to have Kissinger appear before his court. When the French served Kissinger with summons in 2001 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Kissinger fled the country. More indictments followed from Spain, Argentina, Uruguay—even a civil suit in Washington DC.

The late Christopher Hitchens was disgusted by the way Henry Kissinger was treated as a respected statesman. He would have been appalled by Senator McCain’s obsequious attitude. “Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded,” Hitchens said. “No more dinners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers.”

Rather than fawning on him, Hitchens suggested, “why don’t you arrest him?”

Hitchens’ words were lost on Senator McCain, who preferred fawning to accountability. That’s where CODEPINK comes in. If we can’t get Kissinger before a court of law, at least we can show—with words and banners—that there are Americans who remember, Americans who empathize with the man’s many victims, Americans who have a conscience.

While McCain called us disgraceful, what is really disgraceful is the Senate calling in a tired old war criminal to testify about “Global Challenges and the U.S. National Security Strategy.” After horribly tragic failed wars, not just in Vietnam but over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s time for the US leaders like John McCain to bring in fresh faces and fresh ideas. We owe it to the next generation that will be cleaning up the bloody legacy left behind by Kissinger for years to come. Source

//

The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

July 24, 2010

By Sherwood Ross

The Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) has confirmed the worst fears of its creator President Harry Truman that it might degenerate into “an American Gestapo.” It has  been just that for so long it is beyond redemption. It represents 60 years of failure and fascism utterly at odds with the spirit of a democracy and needs to be closed, permanently.

Over the years “the Agency” as it is known, has given U.S. presidents so much wrong information on so many critical issues, broken so many laws, subverted so many elections, overthrown so many governments, funded so many dictators, and killed and tortured so many innocent human beings that the pages of its official history could be written in blood, not ink. People the world over regard it as infamous, and that evaluation, sadly for the reputation of America, is largely accurate.  Besides, since President Obama has half a dozen other major intelligence agencies to rely on for guidance, why does he need the CIA? In one swoop he could lop an estimated 27,000 employees off the Federal payroll, save taxpayers umpteen billions, and wipe the CIA stain from the American flag.

If you think this is a “radical” idea, think again. What is “radical” is to empower a mob of covert operatives to roam the planet, wreaking havoc as they go with not a care for morality or, for that matter, the tenets of mercy implicit in any of the great faiths. The idea of not prosecuting CIA interrogators (i.e., torturers), as President Obama has said, is chilling. These crimes have to be stopped somewhere, sometime, or they will occur again.

“The CIA had run secret interrogation centers before—beginning in 1950, in Germany, Japan, and Panama,” writes New York Times reporter Tim Weiner in his book “Legacy of Ashes, The History of The CIA”(Random House). Weiner has won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the intelligence community. “It had participated in the torture of captured enemy combatants before—beginning in 1967, under the Phoenix program in Vietnam. It had kidnapped suspected terrorists and assassins before…”

In Iran in 1953, for example, a CIA-directed coup restored the Shah (king) to absolute power, initiating what journalist William Blum in “Rogue State” (Common Courage Press) called “a period of 25 years of repression and torture; while the oil industry was restored to foreign ownership, with the US and Britain each getting 40 percent.”  About the same time in Guatemala, Blum adds, a CIA-organized coup “overthrew the democratically-elected and progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz, initiating 40 years of military government death squads, torture, disappearances, mass executions, and unimaginable cruelty, totaling more than 200,000 victims—indisputably one of the most inhuman chapters of the 20th century.” The massive slaughter compares, at least in terms of sheer numbers, with Hitler’s massacre of Romanian and Ukranian Jews during the holocaust. Yet few Americans know of it.

Blum provides yet other examples of CIA criminality. In Indonesia, it attempted in 1957-58 to overthrow neutralist president Sukarno. It plotted Sukarno’s assassination, tried to blackmail him with a phony sex film, and joined forces with dissident military officers to wage a full-scale war against the government, including bombing runs by American pilots, Blum reported This particular attempt, like one in Costa Rica about the same time, failed. So did the CIA attempt in Iraq in 1960 to assassinate President Abdul Kassem. Other ventures proved more “successful”.

In Laos, the CIA was involved in coup attempts in 1958, 1959, and 1960, creating a clandestine army of 30,000 to overthrow the government. In Ecuador, the CIA ousted President Jose Velasco for recognizing the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The CIA also arranged the murder of elected Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961 and installation of Mobutu Seko who ruled “with a level of corruption and cruelty that shocked even his CIA handlers,” Blum recalls.

In Ghana, in 1966, the CIA sponsored a military coup against leader Kwame Nkrumah in 1966; in Chile, it financed the overthrow of elected President Salvador Allende in 1973 and brought to power the murderous regime of General Augusto Pinochet who executed 3,000 political opponents and tortured thousands more.  In Greece in 1967, the CIA helped subvert the elections and backed a military coup that killed 8,000 Greeks in its first month of operation. “Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine,” Blum writes.

In South Africa, the CIA gave the apartheid government information that led to the arrest of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, who subsequently spent years in prison. In Bolivia, in 1964, the CIA overthrew President Victor Paz; in Australia from 1972-75, the CIA slipped millions of dollars to political opponents of the Labor Party; ditto, Brazil in 1962; in Laos in 1960, the CIA stuffed ballot boxes to help a strongman into power;  in Portugal in the Seventies the candidates it financed triumphed over a pro-labor government; in the Philippines, the CIA backed governments in the 1970-90 period that employed torture and summary execution against its own people; in El Salvador, the CIA in the Nineties backed the wealthy in a civil war in which 75,000 civilians were killed; and the list goes on and on.

Of course, the hatred that the CIA engenders for the American people and American business interests is enormous. Because the Agency operates largely in secret, most Americans are unaware of the crimes it perpetrates in their names. As Chalmers Johnson writes in “Blowback”(Henry Holt), former long-time CIA director Robert Gates, now Obama’s defense secretary, admitted U.S. intelligence services began to aid the mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet invasion in December, 1979.

As has often been the case, the CIA responded to a criminal order from one of the succession of imperial presidents that have occupied the White House, in this instance one dated July 3, 1979, from President Jimmy Carter. The Agency was ordered to aid the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul—aid that might sucker the Kremlin into invading. “The CIA supported Osama bin Laden, like so many other extreme fundamentalists among the mujahideen in Afghanistan, from at least 1984 on,” Johnson writes, helping bin Laden train many of the 35,000 Arab Afghans.

Thus Carter, like his successors in the George H.W. Bush government — Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell, “all bear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land mines that followed from their decisions, as well as the ‘collateral damage’ that befell New York City in September 2001 from an organization they helped create during the years of anti-Soviet Afghan resistance,” Johnson added. Worse, the Bush-Cheney regime after 9/11 “set no limits on what the agency could do. It was the foundation for a system of secret prisons where CIA officer and contractors used techniques that included torture,” Weiner has written. By some estimates, the CIA in 2006 held 14,000 souls in 11 secret prisons, a vast crime against humanity.

That the CIA has zero interest in justice and engages in gratuitous cruelty may be seen from the indiscriminate dragnet arrests it has perpetrated: “CIA officers snatched and grabbed more than three thousand people in more than one hundred countries in the year after 9/11,” Weiner writes, adding that only 14 men of all those seized “were high-ranking authority figures within al Qaeda and its affiliates. Along with them, the agency jailed hundreds of nobodies…(who) became ghost prisoners in the war on terror.”

As for providing the White House with accurate intelligence, the record of the CIA has been a fiasco. The Agency was telling President Carter the Shah of Iran was beloved by his people and was firmly entrenched in power in 1979 when any reader of Harper’s magazine, available on newsstands for a buck, could read that his overthrow was imminent—and it was. Over the years, the Agency has been wrong far more often than it has been right.

According to an Associated Press report, when confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA director, Leon Panetta said the Obama administration would not prosecute CIA officers that “participated in harsh interrogations even if they constituted torture as long as they did not go beyond their instructions.” This will allow interrogators to evade prosecution for following the clearly criminal orders they would have been justified to disobey.

“Panetta also said that the Obama administration would continue to transfer foreign detainees to other countries for questioning but only if U.S. officials are confident that the prisoners will not be tortured,” the AP story continued. If past is prologue, how confident can Panetta be the CIA’s fellow goons in Egypt and Morocco will stop torturing prisoners? Why did the CIA kidnap men off the streets of Milan and New York and fly them to those countries in the first place if not for torture? They certainly weren’t treating them to a Mediterranean vacation. By its long and nearly perfect record of reckless disregard for international law, the CIA has deprived itself of the right to exist.

It will be worse than unfortunate if President Obama continues the inhumane (and illegal) CIA renditions that President Bill Clinton began and President Bush vastly expanded. If the White House thinks its operatives can roam the world and arrest and torture any person it chooses without a court order, without due process, and without answering for their crimes, this signifies Americans believe themselves to be a Master Race better than others and above international law. That’s not much different from the philosophy that motivated Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. It would be the supreme irony if the American electorate that repudiated racism last November has voted into its highest office a constitutional lawyer who reaffirms his predecessor’s illegal views on this activity. Renditions must be stopped. The CIA must be abolished. Source

Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes’

The pilots waging America’s undeclared drone war in Pakistan could be liable to criminal prosecution for “war crimes,” a prominent law professor told a Congressional panel Wednesday.

It’s part of an ongoing legal debate about the CIA and U.S. military’s lethal drone operations, which have escalated in recent months…

NATO Smears a Truth-Teller in Afghanistan

When the CIA/US needed money or weapons shipped into a country they enlisted the help of Israel. Israel was the funnel tunnel used by the US.
Israel’s Latin American trail of terror

June 5 2003

By Jeremy Bigwood

“I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements” said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin. Castao, who leads the Colombian paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary force to ever exist in the western hemisphere reveals that he was trained in the arts of war in Israel as a young man of 18 in the 1980s. He glowingly adds: “I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the Israelis,” in his chapter-long account of his Israel experiences.

Castao’s right-wing Phalange-like AUC force is now by far the worst human rights violator in all of the Americas, and ties between that organisation and Israel are continually surfacing in the press.

Outside the law

The AUC paramilitaries are a fighting force that originally grew out of killers hired to protect drug-running operations and large landowners. They were organised into a cohesive force by Castao in 1997. It exists outside the law but often coordinates its actions with the Colombian military, in a way similar to the relationship of the Lebanese Phalange to the Israeli army throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

According to a 1989 Colombian Secret Police intelligence report, apart from training Carlos Castao in 1983, Israeli trainers arrived in Colombia in 1987 to train him and other paramilitaries who would later make up the AUC.
Fifty of the paramilitaries’ “best” students were then sent on scholarships to Israel for further training according to a Colombian police intelligence report, and the AUC became the most prominent paramilitary force in the hemisphere, with some 10,000-12,000 men in arms.

The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.
In May of last year, GIRSA, an Israeli company associated with the Israeli Defence Forces and based in Guatemala was able to buy 3000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 2.5 million rounds of ammunition that were then handed over to AUC paramilitaries in Colombia.

Links with the continent

Israel’s military relations with right-wing groups and regimes spans Latin America from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile, starting just a few years after the Israeli state came into existence.
Since then, the list of countries Israel has supplied, trained and advised includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
But it isn’t only the sales of planes, guns and weapons system deals that characterises the Israeli presence in Latin America.
Where Israel has excelled is in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency operations in the Latin American “dirty war” civil conflicts of Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.

In the case of the Salvadoran conflict – a civil war between the right-wing landowning class supported by a particularly violent military pitted against left-wing popular organisations – the Israelis were present from the beginning. Besides arms sales, they helped train ANSESAL, the secret police who were later to form the framework of the infamous death squads that would kill tens of thousands of mostly civilian activists.

From 1975 to 1979, 83% of El Salvador’s military imports came from Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By 1981, many of those in the civilian popular political movements who had survived the death squads headed for the hills to become guerrillas.

By 1981 there was an open civil war in El Salvador which took over a decade to resolve through negotiations.
Even though the US was openly backing the Salvadoran Army by 1981, as late as November 1983 it was asking for more Israeli “practical assistance” there, according to a declassified secret document obtained recently by Aljazeera.
Among the assistance asked for were helicopters, trucks, rifles, ammunition, and combat infantry advisors to work at both the “company and battalion level of the Salvadoran Army”.

One notable Salvadoran officer trained by the Israelis was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, who always held a high opinion of the Israelis. It was Major D’Aubuisson who ordered the assassination of El Salvador’s archbishop amongst thousands of other murders.
Later he would organise the right-wing National Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) and send his son to study abroad in the relative safety of Israel.

Dirty war

Amazingly, while the Israelis were training the El Salvadoran death squads they were also supporting the anti-semitic Argentine military government of the late 1970s and early 1980s – at a time when that government was involved_in another “dirty war” of death squads and disappearances.

In 1978, Nicaragua’s dictator Somoza was making his last stand against a general uprising of the Sandinista-led population who were sick of his family’s dynasty which had ruled and monopolised the county for half a century. The Israelis and the US had been supplying Somoza with weapons for years. But when President Jimmy Carter came into office in 1976 he ordered a cessation of all US military assistance to Nicaragua.

Filling the void, the Israelis immediately increased their weapons supplies to Somoza until he fled the country when the Sandinistas took power.

Israeli operatives then helped train right-wing Nicaraguan Contras in Honduran and Costa Rican camps to fight the Sandinista government, according to Colombian police intelligence reports Aljazeera_has obtained.
At least some of the same Israeli operatives had also previously trained the nucleus of the paramilitary organisations that would become the AUC in Colombia.

But by far the bloodiest case of Israeli involvement in Latin America was its involvement in Guatemala from the 1970s to the 1990s. As in El Salvador, a civil war pitted a populist but, in this case, mainly Indian left against a mainly European oligarchy protected by a brutal Mestizo Army.

As Guatemalan President Carlos Arana said in 1971, “If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so.”
Active involvement

The Israelis supplied Guatemala with Galil rifles, and built an ammunition factory for them, as well as supplying armoured personnel carriers and Arava planes. Behind the scenes, they were actively involved in the bloodiest counter-insurgency campaign the hemisphere has known since the European conquest, in which at least 200,000 (mostly Indians) were killed.
Like Israel’s original occupation of Palestine, several entire Guatemalan Indian villages were razed and a million people displaced. “The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea. If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea,” said Guatemalan President Rios Montt in 1982.

Guatemalan army officers credit Israeli support with turning the tide against the uprising, not only in the countryside where Israeli counter-insurgency techniques and assistance set up strategic-hamlet-like “development poles” along the lines of the Israeli kibbutz, but also in the cities where “Israeli communication technicians and instructors” working through then-sophisticated computers were able to locate and then decimate guerrillas and their supporters in Guatemala City in 1981.
From the late 1970s until the 1990s, the US could not overtly support the Guatemalan army because of its horrendous human rights record (although there was some covert support), but many in the US government, especially in the CIA, supported Israel in taking up the slack.

Wrong

But the US grew to regret its actions. On 10 March 1999, US President Bill Clinton issued an apology for US involvement in the war: The “United States… support for military forces or intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression…was wrong.” No similar statement has ever been forthcoming from the Israelis.

At the present time, the only major insurgency war in Latin America is in Colombia, where Israel has an overt involvement.
Besides the dozen or so Kfir IAI C-7 jet fighters they have sold the Colombian government, and the Galil rifles produced in Bogota under licence, most of the Israeli ties to the government’s counter-insurgency war are closely-guarded secrets.
Aljazeera’s attempts to obtain clarification on these and other issues for this story were stonewalled by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Why does Israel continue to provide arms and expertise to the pariahs of the world? Clearly, part of the reason is the revenues produced by arms sales, and part of it has do with keeping up with trends in counter-insurgent war across the globe.
But another factor is what is demanded of Israel by the world’s only superpower, the US, in partial exchange for the superpower’s continued support for Israeli dominance in the Middle East. Assistance

This relationship can be best illustrated by recently declassified 1983 US government documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based National Security Archives through the Freedom of Information Act.
One such declassified document is a 1983 memo from the notorious Colonel Oliver North of the Reagan Administration’s National Security Council and reads: “As discussed with you yesterday, I asked CIA, Defense, and State to suggest practical assistance which the Israelis might offer in Guatemala and El Salvador.”
Another document, this time a 1983 cable from the US Ambassador in Guatemala to Washington Frederic Chapin shows the money trail.

He says that at a time when the US did not want to be seen directly assisting Guatemala, “we have reason to believe that our good friends the Israelis are prepared, or already have, offered substantial amounts of military equipment to the GOG (Government of Guatemala) on credit terms up to 20 years…(I pass over the importance of making huge concessionary loans to Israel so that it can make term loans in our own backyard).”

In other words, during civil wars in which the US does not want to be seen getting its hands dirty in Latin America, the superpower loans Israel money at a very good rate, and then Israel uses these funds to do the “dirty work”. In this regard, in Latin America at least, Israel has become the hit-man for the US. Source

Israel Trains Other Undemocratic, Abusive Regimes

For years, Israeli military expertise has been shared with other abusive undemocratic regimes across the globe. In the 1980s, Israeli security forces trained a Honduran military intelligence unit, Battalion 316, that disappeared, tortured and killed Honduran citizens. Israel also trained members of the South African apartheid regime’s Inkatha hit squads that targeted ANC leaders. US aid to Israel, then, has led to the support of regimes that US taxpayers perhaps would not have otherwise aided. Source

lsrael’s ties with South Africa seem to be especially disturbing to many who follow Israel’s international activities. Perhaps it is natural that Israel has been castigated more harshly for its arms sales to South Africa than for its sales to other countries: first, because there has been for a decade an arms embargo against South Africa; and second, because of the unsurpassed criminality of the white regime and the uses to which it puts the Israeli-supplied weapons.

Also

Israel has also been involved with the Mozambican “contras,” the South African-backed MNR (Mozambique National Resistance or “Renamo”), which has brought great economic and social distress to Mozambique. Renamo has a particular reputation for ideological incoherence, being regarded by most other right-wing insurgencies as a gang of cutthroats. For several years there have been stories coming from Southern Africa of captured mercenaries of Renamo who say they were trained in neighboring Malawi-one of the four nations to maintain relations with Israel after the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared a diplomatic embargo in 1973-by Israelis. And more than one report has told of “substantial Israeli aid” to the MNR, thought to have been funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia as well as South Africa and former Portuguese nationalists. Source

Israel and El Salvador
Israel and Guatemala
Isreal and Nicaragua and the Contras
Israel and Honduras and Costa Rica

Haiti Government was also toppled by the US

Israel and US were behind the Georgian Attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos

Repression in the Dominican Republic

Another tactic used by the US

A Detailed Description of Management Strategy Fraud

Recent

US occupation not for “liberation of Iraqis

Mental illness rising among US troops

Republicans in the US House of Representatives want Israel to attack Iran

Gaza Flotilla: Lawyers from 60 Countries to Sue Israel

Hospitals in Haiti to be shut down due to lack of funds

Erroneous Reports Deny our Veterans Benefits

March 17 2010

The time is now to expedite what they so righteously deserve.

(GARDEN GROVE, Calif.) – As a member of Veterans-For-Change, an advocacy group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, my co-members and I would like to bring to your attention the ever-increasing serious problems affecting veterans and their families every day.

President Barack Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention held in Phoenix, Arizona on August 17, 2009. He stated, “Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA.”

Perhaps you are not aware of the problems affiliated with the VA and Veterans Benefits. Veterans-For-Change would like to address the following problems/issues.

Blue Water Navy & Agent Orange:

Every day, thousands of veterans who served on land and in the waters in Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and CONUS are denied benefits they are entitled to for exposure to dioxin from Agent Orange and other defoliants.

Learn more, visit:

BlueWaterNavy.org

In both S.E. Asia and CONUS Agent Orange was used at least from 1963 through 1975 although there have been reports of use and disposal activities as late as 1978 in Korea as a defoliant. In S.E. Asia, the chemicals were used to protect our troops and prevent the enemy from hiding in the foliage to kill many more of our fighting men and women.

In the CONUS, they were used to keep surroundings of various military buildings free from unwanted vegetation growth and keep it clean and neat looking.

Veterans who served not just in Korea since 1962 but also on the DMZ are denied benefits due to erroneous reports about where these chemicals were deployed and that there is a “residual life” of Agent Orange Dioxin which if this was true, then why are we in Vietnam helping the Vietnamese government to clean up the land that was contaminated some 40 years ago.

According to the reliable website, publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/, “October 13, 2009 Secretary Shinseki decided to establish service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with B cell leukemia, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease. This is based on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine showing an association with exposure to Agent Orange. Vietnam veterans with these diseases may be eligible for disability compensation and health care benefits”, however, Secretary Shinseki failed to acknowledge the recommendation for presumption of exposure for the Blue Water Navy.

Veterans-For-Change believes exposure to Agent Orange is truly exposure to a deadly chemical, regardless of the location where it was deployed. One of the chemicals in the Agent Orange herbicide combination contained contaminating traces of TCDD (dioxin). Dioxin has been shown to cause a variety of illnesses in laboratory animals. Studies also suggest that the chemical may be related to a number of cancers and other health effects in humans: publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/health_effects.asp

The research data speaks for itself – Agent Orange was and is a deadly, toxic chemical, destroying the health and lives of many Veterans, including those who served in Korea and on the DMZ.

Many of these Veterans are continuously denied as the missions they served on were, and still to this day remain, classified by the DoD even though former President Bush signed executive order 13292 on March 28, 2003 directing classified missions beyond 25 years be declassified.

Now President Obama has signed Executive Order 13526 to declassify mission orders based on the 25 year rule.

Veterans-For-Change, as an advocacy group, has as its mission to broadcast and inform all veterans about their rights concerning Agent Orange, regardless of when and where the military veteran was exposed. You, the legislators of our proud and courageous country owe a debt of not just gratitude, but benefits and care to our veterans. Please take a stand and help us to provide the best care for our veterans. Take action today

TCE/PCE Contamination, Illnesses CONUS:

Learn more by visiting:

Salem-News.com El Toro articles

For over a year now there have been media outlets such as CNN, Salem News, Veterans Today and countless local newspapers in each region of our nation telling stories of active duty military, veterans and their families all being diagnosed with many unexplained illnesses.

Studies have shown, and evidence presented by several sources showing TCE (chemical degreaser) and PCE (chemical dry cleaning solution) have been used on most, if not all military bases throughout the Continental United States dating back to the mid 1950’s and disposed of by simply dumping waste into the ground. Both chemicals are known carcinogens.

Most recently TCE has been heavily addressed surrounding the Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune, North Carolina where there was a Male Breast Cancer Cluster. According to a recent report, Camp LeJeune is where at least 40 men reported a cancer cluster in this location, all related to exposure at Camp LeJeune, according to the St. Petersburg Times. According to the report published, “A Marine Corps spokesman declined to comment on the cancer cluster, saying epidemiologists were better qualified, but the spokesman noted the Marine Corps had spent approximately 14.5 million on research initiatives regarding health issues…” Perhaps it would be of interest to you to get to the bottom of this so our military will be better protected, able to fight wars, and our Veterans will live a healthier life, proud of their military service and the actions they took to preserve and protect the freedom of American citizens, such as yourself.

Tests have proven the drinking water not only on this base, but other bases as well were contaminated, thus contaminating military personnel and their families as well as civilian personnel who worked on the bases. And let us not forget that TCE/PCE was used on board all ships as well and that cleaning clothing, showering washing hands all put this chemical into their water purification system, also contaminating all those who work and lived on board our ships!

Clear Cell Carcinoma, liver & kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, breast cancer in men and women, children with Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are just some of the illnesses veterans and their families suffer from exposure to these contaminants. Many of these cancers, such as esophageal cancer are terminal, with only a 5% survival rate!

Veterans-For-Change has drafted a bill and we are actively gathering petition signatures to get any member of Congress to sign and present to the floor for a vote and passage to give the benefits to these families who are so desperately in need of medical treatment, healthcare and funding!

Veterans-For-Change would like to know, will you be the one who steps up to the plate and will sign and present this bill?

Contracted Medical Care:

When VA Medical Centers are not readily available, or aren’t able to provide services and care needed in that region, private facilities are contracted.

Less veterans are properly and adequately served and the costs to the taxpayer is several times higher than if the VA would simply add on to a facility to meet the need and/or build a VA Medical Center where needed most to meet the veteran community needs.

Most contracted facilities aren’t even up to par with the standard of health care, charge more and offer less and there are no controls nor is there any over-sight.

A shining example of need are the 100,000 veterans of the Rio Grande Valley who are expected to drive 250 miles each way to the nearest VA Medical Center, and are only provided a very small contracted clinic which is nothing more than an industrial injury clinic, nowhere near able to handle and or understand veterans who suffer illnesses caused by Dioxins, TCE, PCE, Burn Pit fumes, PTSD, etc.

Veterans-For-Change expects members of Congress to uphold the promises of decades to care for those who fought to defend our Country, and to practice what was established by the Continental Congress in 1776 — “the United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans for any nation in the world.” Now, in the Twenty First Century, it is time to draft, sign, and present legislation to correct wrongs from centuries ago. It is time to practice what was created and promised to motivate, service and care for our veterans – ‘nothing less than a 21st-century VA.’

President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”

If our nation rescinds its promises and ignores its obligation to those who have fought to preserve freedom throughout the world, we compromise the right to ask our men and women to serve and defend our national principals. The choice is yours. With the election of 2010 in mind, please take action to defend and service our country and our proud and deserving veterans today!

Veterans-For-Change has been crying out to all 535 members of Congress going on four years this April 2010, as President Wilson said, a leader’s ears must ring with the voices of the people! Veteran’s voices will be ringing in the polling places come November! Do you hear us?

Source

Related

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Another Gulf War Syndrome? Burn Pits

Breast Cancer in Iraq leads to Gulf War Veteran News Alert and Rep Boswell Legislation

March 18, 2010 : Gulf War Veterans need to be made aware of the following articles.  Alert for all female veterans you know the drill!  Self Breast Checks often and Mammograms.  VA does provide this, so make use of that service!

Male Veterans yes you too can get breast cancer.  Again our females will have to teach you the principles of breast self exams.  Basically you work in a clockwise pattern and outward and inner in direction from the clock face.  If you palpate any lumps or bumps under the skin GET IN TO A DOCTOR for further Assessment!

Recent

Marine Current Turbine’s to power 750,000 homes

Cyclone Tomas hits Fiji 165 MPH Winds

A message From “Rachel Corrie’s” Mother

China publishes report on U.S. human rights

Tough-on-crime policies don’t work, study finds

New York Times and the ACORN Hoax

Egypt : 42 electoral candidates and 145 protestors arrested in one day

Children of Gaza are Suffering, Scarred, Trapped

Pentagon’s Role in Global Catastrophe: Add Climate Havoc to War Crimes

by Sara Flounders

December 19 2009

In evaluating the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — with more than 15,000 participants from 192 countries, including more than 100 heads of state, as well as 100,000 demonstrators in the streets — it is important to ask: How is it possible that the worst polluter of carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions on the planet is not a focus of any conference discussion or proposed restrictions?

By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy in general. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.

The Pentagon wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; its secret operations in Pakistan; its equipment on more than 1,000 U.S. bases around the world; its 6,000 facilities in the U.S.; all NATO operations; its aircraft carriers, jet aircraft, weapons testing, training and sales will not be counted against U.S. greenhouse gas limits or included in any count.

The Feb. 17, 2007, Energy Bulletin detailed the oil consumption just for the Pentagon’s aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities that made it the single-largest oil consumer in the world. At the time, the U.S. Navy had 285 combat and support ships and around 4,000 operational aircraft. The U.S. Army had 28,000 armored vehicles, 140,000 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, more than 4,000 combat helicopters, several hundred fixed-wing aircraft and 187,493 fleet vehicles. Except for 80 nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, which spread radioactive pollution, all their other vehicles run on oil.

Even according to rankings in the 2006 CIA World Factbook, only 35 countries (out of 210 in the world) consume more oil per day than the Pentagon.

The U.S. military officially uses 320,000 barrels of oil a day. However, this total does not include fuel consumed by contractors or fuel consumed in leased and privatized facilities. Nor does it include the enormous energy and resources used to produce and maintain their death-dealing equipment or the bombs, grenades or missiles they fire.

Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, reports: “The Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) from March 2003 through December 2007. … The war emits more than 60 percent of all countries. … This information is not readily available … because military emissions abroad are exempt from national reporting requirements under U.S. law and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.” (www.naomiklein.org, Dec. 10) Most scientists blame carbon dioxide emissions for greenhouse gases and climate change.

Bryan Farrell in his new book, “The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism,” says that “the greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency … the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Just how did the Pentagon come to be exempt from climate agreements? At the time of the Kyoto Accords negotiations, the U.S. demanded as a provision of signing that all of its military operations worldwide and all operations it participates in with the U.N. and/or NATO be completely exempted from measurement or reductions.

After securing this gigantic concession, the Bush administration then refused to sign the accords.

In a May 18, 1998, article entitled “National security and military policy issues involved in the Kyoto treaty,” Dr. Jeffrey Salmon described the Pentagon’s position. He quotes then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s 1997 annual report to Congress: “DoD strongly recommends that the United States insist on a national security provision in the climate change Protocol now being negotiated.” (www.marshall.org)

According to Salmon, this national security provision was put forth in a draft calling for “complete military exemption from greenhouse gas emissions limits. The draft includes multilateral operations such as NATO- and U.N.-sanctioned activities, but it also includes actions related very broadly to national security, which would appear to comprehend all forms of unilateral military actions and training for such actions.”

Salmon also quoted Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, who headed the U.S. delegation in Kyoto . Eizenstat reported that “every requirement the Defense Department and uniformed military who were at Kyoto by my side said they wanted, they got. This is self-defense, peacekeeping, humanitarian relief.”

Although the U.S. had already received these assurances in the negotiations, the U.S. Congress passed an explicit provision guaranteeing U.S. military exemption. Inter Press Service reported on May 21, 1998: “U.S. law makers, in the latest blow to international efforts to halt global warming, today exempted U.S. military operations from the Kyoto agreement which lays out binding commitments to reduce ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions. The House of Representatives passed an amendment to next year’s military authorization bill that ‘prohibits the restriction of armed forces under the Kyoto Protocol.'”

Today in Copenhagen the same agreements and guidelines on greenhouse gases still hold. Yet it is extremely difficult to find even a mention of this glaring omission.

According to environmental journalist Johanna Peace, military activities will continue to be exempt from an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that calls for federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Peace states, “The military accounts for a full 80 percent of the federal government’s energy demand.” (solveclimate.com, Sept. 1)

The blanket exclusion of the Pentagon’s global operations makes U.S. carbon dioxide emissions appear far less than they in fact are. Yet even without counting the Pentagon, the U.S. still has the world’s largest carbon dioxide emissions.

More than Emissions

Besides emitting carbon dioxide, U.S. military operations release other highly toxic and radioactive materials into the air, water and soil.

U.S. weapons made with depleted uranium have spread tens of thousands of pounds of microparticles of radioactive and highly toxic waste throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans.

The U.S. sells land mines and cluster bombs that are a major cause of delayed explosives, maiming and disabling especially peasant farmers and rural peoples in Africa, Asia and Latin America . For example, Israel dropped more than 1 million U.S.-provided cluster bombs on Lebanon during its 2006 invasion.

The U.S. war in Vietnam left large areas so contaminated with the Agent Orange herbicide that today, more than 35 years later, dioxin contamination is 300 to 400 times higher than “safe” levels. Severe birth defects and high rates of cancer resulting from environmental contamination are continuing into a third generation.

The 1991 U.S. war in Iraq , followed by 13 years of starvation sanctions, the 2003 U.S. invasion and continuing occupation, has transformed the region — which has a 5,000-year history as a Middle East breadbasket — into an environmental catastrophe. Iraq ‘s arable and fertile land has become a desert wasteland where the slightest wind whips up a dust storm. A former food exporter, Iraq now imports 80 percent of its food. The Iraqi Agriculture Ministry estimates that 90 percent of the land has severe desertification.

Environmental War at Home

Moreover, the Defense Department has routinely resisted orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated U.S. bases. ( Washington Post, June 30, 2008) Pentagon military bases top the Superfund list of the most polluted places, as contaminants seep into drinking water aquifers and soil.

The Pentagon has also fought EPA efforts to set new pollution standards on two toxic chemicals widely found on military sites: perchlorate, found in propellant for rockets and missiles; and trichloroethylene, a degreaser for metal parts.

Trichloroethylene is the most widespread water contaminant in the country, seeping into aquifers across California , New York , Texas , Florida and elsewhere. More than 1,000 military sites in the U.S. are contaminated with the chemical. The poorest communities, especially communities of color, are the most severely impacted by this poisoning.

U.S. testing of nuclear weapons in the U.S. Southwest and on South Pacific islands has contaminated millions of areas of land and water with radiation. Mountains of radioactive and toxic uranium tailings have been left on Indigenous land in the Southwest. More than 1,000 uranium mines have been abandoned on Navajo reservations in Arizona and New Mexico .

Around the world, on past and still operating bases in Puerto Rico, the Philippines , South Korea , Vietnam , Laos , Cambodia , Japan , Nicaragua , Panama and the former Yugoslavia , rusting barrels of chemicals and solvents and millions of rounds of ammunition are criminally abandoned by the Pentagon.

The best way to dramatically clean up the environment is to shut down the Pentagon. What is needed to combat climate change is a thoroughgoing system change.

Source

The US is the worst polluter on the planet, in war and their corporations.

The war machine must be ended.

Their polluting corporations must be brought under control.

At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen no once was there any mention of war pollution and it’s affects on the environment or the health hazards to people.

One of the major and morst devastaing things in the world and they neglected to consider it’s impact on the world as we know it.

I am horrifyingly disappointed their lack of concern in this area of disastrous type of pollution.

“Military emissions abroad are exempt from national reporting requirements under U.S. law and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.” 

That is just wrong! No special treatment for the war machine and it’s polluters. They leave a trail of DEATH behind them everywhere they go.  A trail that continues to kill for years if not millions of years.

Recent

Gaza Freedom March URGENT UPDATE they need your help getting into Gaza who’s up for sending a few E-mails

Israel actually wants more money from Germany over the Holocaust

Russian weather data cherry picked by UK climatologists – report

US Refuses To Allow Monitoring Of WMD, President Obama rejected inspection protocol for US biological weapons

US-NATO Using Military Might To Control World Energy Resources

‘Hush’ over Afghan mission must end

Related Articles

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Switzerland’s explosive war effort threatens environmental disaster

Aftermath of war: Drug addiction taking a toll in Gaza

Privatization, Pollution and Free Trade, WTO

A Few of the World’s most polluted places

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2008 in US

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2007 in US

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2002 in US

Pollution Costs Trillions Annually

US Air Testing Bombs

The world’s worst radiation hotspot

How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster

Uranium Mining, Grand Canyon now at Risk, Dangers, Pollution, History

Depleated Uranium Information

Israel’s Dirty Nuclear Secrets, Human experiments and WMD

New US gov’t study shows mercury in fish widespread

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Gaza (1): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

EU member states urged to sign, ratify, implement cluster bomb ban treaty

December 1 2008

OSLO: Some 100 countries will ban the use of cluster bombs with the signing of a treaty Wednesday in Oslo but major producers such as China, Russia and the United States are shunning the pact.

The treaty, agreed upon in Dublin in May, outlaws the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions which primarily kill civilians.

“It’s only one of the very few times in history that an entire category of weapons has been banned,” said Thomas Nash of the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) umbrella group that comprises some 300 non-governmental organisations.

It’s unlikely now that you’re going to see large scale use of cluster bombs,” he said.

Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, cluster bombs explode in mid-air to randomly scatter hundreds of bomblets, which can be three inches (eight centimetres) in size.

Many cluster bomblets can fail to explode, often leaving poverty-stricken areas trying to recover from war littered with countless de-facto landmines.

According to Handicap International, about 100,000 people have been maimed or killed by cluster bombs around the world since 1965, 98 per cent of them civilians.

More than a quarter of the victims are children who mistake the bomblets for toys or tin cans.

“This is not about disarmament, this is not about arms control. This is a humanitarian issue,” said Annette Abelsen, a senior advisor at the foreign ministry in Norway which played a key role in hammering out the international agreement.

In Laos, the most affected country in the world, the US Air Force dropped 260 million cluster bombs between 1964 and 1973, or the equivalent of a fully-loaded B52 bomber’s cargo dropped every eight minutes for nine years.

Dispersed in fields and pastures, the weapons make it perilous to cultivate the land and can claim numerous lives for decades after the end of a conflict.

On Wednesday, France and Britain will be represented by their foreign ministers, Bernard Kouchner and David Miliband. Japan, Canada, Germany and Australia will also sign the treaty.

But, as was the case with the Ottawa Convention that outlaws landmines, key countries such as the United States, Russia, China and Israel have objected to the ban and will not sign it because they are the biggest producers and users.

The election of Barack Obama as president may however bring about a change in the US position, activists hope.

“Obama has voted for, previously, a national regulation in the US for cluster ammunitions,” said Grethe Oestern, a policy advisor at the Norwegian People’s Aid organisation and a co-chair of the CMC.

“So that’s not just a theoretical possibility at all that we could see the US onboard this treaty sometime in the future,” she added.

In 2006, Obama voted in the US Senate to ban the use of cluster munitions in heavily populated areas, but in the end the motion was rejected.

The Oslo Convention is nonetheless expected to stigmatise the use of the weapon even by non-signatory countries, according to activists.

While the United States, Russia and China “seem to have an allergy to international law in general,” there are signs that “the stigma against this weapon is already working,” Nash said.

NATO’s decision not to use cluster bombs, including in Afghanistan, and the lightning-quick denial from Moscow when it was accused of using the munitions against Georgia in the August war shows that these countries also find the weapon “morally unacceptable,” Nash said.

“Even big countries like Russia don’t want to be associated in the media with having used cluster bombs.”

Source

November 21 2008

BRUSSELS,

The European Parliament on Thursday urged European Union (EU) member states to sign and ratify the Convention of Cluster Munitions (CCM) as soon as possible and to take steps toward implementation even before it is signed and ratified.

The resolution was adopted with 471 votes in favor, 6 against and 21 abstentions in Strasbourg, France.

The European Parliament requests EU member states not to use, invest in, stockpile, produce, transfer or export cluster munitions even though the CCM has not entered into force.

EU member states which have used cluster munitions are called on to provide assistance to affected populations and to provide technical and financial assistance for the clearance and destruction of cluster munitions remnants.

The European Parliament urged the European Commission to increase financial assistance through all available instruments to communities and individuals affected by unexploded cluster munitions.

Cluster bombs scatter over a wide area when dropped from the air or used in artillery shells. Many do not explode and it is often children who pick them up, with devastating consequences.

The charity Handicap International estimates that 98 percent of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians, of whom 27 percent are children.

EU member states are also requested to refrain from taking action, which might circumvent or jeopardize the CCM and its provisions. In particular, the parliament called on all EU members not to adopt, endorse or subsequently ratify a possible Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Protocol allowing for the use of cluster munitions which would not be compatible with the CCM.

Source


How Big is the Problem?

Timeline and Use


Laos still paying the price of Vietnam war
November 5 2008

Cluster bomb survivor Ta with examples of the weapons that maimed him. Photo by Stanislas Fradelizi.

Cluster bomb survivor Ta with examples of the weapons that maimed him. Photo by Stanislas Fradelizi.

Xieng Khouang, Laos –

Imagine growing up in a country where the equivalent of a B52 planeload of cluster bombs was dropped every eight minutes for nine years. Then imagine seeing your children and grandchildren being killed and maimed by the same bombs, three decades after the war is over.

Welcome to Laos, a country with the unwanted claim to fame of being the most bombed nation per capita in the world. Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped more than 2 million tons of explosive ordnance, including an estimated 260 million cluster munitions – also known as bombie in Laos.

To put this into perspective, this is more bombs than fell on Europe during World War Two.

The U.S. bombing was largely aimed at destroying enemy supply lines during the Vietnam war which passed through Laos. The war ended 35 years ago, yet the civilian casualties continue.

According to aid agency Handicap International, as many as 12,000 civilians have been killed or maimed since, and there are hundreds of new casualties every year.

Take Ta, a father of seven who lives in a remote village in Khammoune Province in southern Laos. One morning four years ago, he saw something that looked like a bombie. He knew it was dangerous, but he had also heard that the explosive inside could be used for catching fish, so he decided to touch it with a stick. That one small tap cost him both arms and an eye. Ta had to travel nine hours to get medical help. He sold his livestock to pay hospital bills, and when he ran out of things to sell, he went home.

Ta says he had to ‘eat like a dog’ for four years, before non-governmental organisation COPE provided him with prosthetic arms. Now he is able to help in small domestic chores.

When $50 is too much:

Then there is 31-year-old Yee Lee. He was digging around in his garden in August when suddenly his hoe came down hard on a bombie. He lost both legs and two fingers.

I met Lee at Xieng Khouang provincial hospital where he was having a moulding done for prosthetic legs. He was unsure and worried about what the future held. “I have five very young children, and my wife is six months pregnant,” he said. For now, his elderly parents and younger brother help his family. “I hope, with the prosthetic leg, to get back to work either in the field or around the house.”

Unfortunately, most survivors are unable to continue physical work, even if, like Lee, they receive free treatment and prosthetic limbs from agencies such as COPE and World Education . A prosthetic leg that can last up to two years costs as little as $50, yet in a country consistently ranked one of the region’s poorest and where almost 30 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day, this is more than most families can afford. Worse, loss of a breadwinner means loss of income and increased poverty.

Cluster bombs are dropped by planes or fired by mortars. They open mid-air releasing multiple explosive sub-munitions that scatter over a large area. These bomblets are usually the size of tennis balls.

Aid agencies say the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and the fact many bomblets fail to go off mean they have a devastating humanitarian impact.

On December 3 this year, over 100 nations will sign an international treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs.

Legacy of Vietnam War:

In Laos, it’s thought that around 30 percent of bombies failed to explode on impact, leaving about 80 million live munitions lying on or under the soil which has posed a serious threat to people’s lives and livelihood.

So far, fewer than 400,000 bombies have been cleared, a meagre 0.47 per cent. The United Nations estimates almost half of all cluster munition victims are from Laos.

Even with community awareness programmes run by national authority UXO Laos, with support from numerous aid agencies, the injuries and deaths continue. Sometimes people touch the bombies out of ignorance, other times it’s out of curiosity (children) or for economic reasons (adults).

With scrap metal going at $1 to $3 a kilogramme, some people collect war remnants to sell, and this includes unexploded ordnance.

In a private foundry on the outskirts of Phonsavanh, the capital of Xieng Khouang, the humanitarian organisation Mines Advisory Group (MAG) sorted through five years’ worth of scrap metal, and discovered over 24,000 live items, including 500 cluster munitions.

Xieng Khouang, in northern Laos, is one of the most affected areas – more than 500,000 tons of bombs were dropped here.

The mountainous and beautiful terrain is marred by craters of all sizes – locals liken it to the surface of the moon – and littered with metal shrapnel.

Children are at constant risk. In a small village school 20 minutes from the provincial capital, 248 bombies were found in a 4,200 sq metre area.

The province is also famous for the Plain of Jars – a vast plateau of ancient stone jars whose origins remain a mystery. But the amount of war debris scattered between the giant jars has seriously hampered archaeologists’ efforts to find out more about them.

David Hayter, country director of MAG, says the sad truth is that Laos will never be 100 percent rid of cluster bombs. “The priority is in clearing the land where people are living and working,” he said. “We are teaching them to learn to live safely within the environment. It’s a mixture of education and clearance.”

Source

Cluster Bomb

Thursday, 29 May 2008

cluster_big.png

More than 100 nations have reached an agreement on a treaty which would ban current designs of cluster bombs. Diplomats meeting in Dublin agreed to back an international ban on the use of the controversial weapons following 10 days of talks. But some of the world’s main producers and stockpilers – including the US, Russia and China – oppose the move. Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it a “big step forward to make the world a safer place”.

He announced earlier that Britain would be taking cluster bombs out of service. The final draft of the treaty went before delegates from a total of 109 countries on Wednesday afternoon.

How a Cluster Bomb Works (Source: Handicap International)

Cluster bombs are complex weapons. The following sequence explains its functioning and why bomblets cover a large area.

cluster1.pngStep 1: The cluster bomb CBU-87 is dropped from a plane. It weighs about 430 kg and carries about 200 bomblets. This bomb can be dropped from a wide range of aircrafts from many different countries. The bomb can fly about 9 miles by itself before the bomblets are released.


cluster2.pngStep 2: A short time before the bomblets are released the cluster bombs begin to spin. The canister opens at an altitude between 100m and 1000m. The height, velocity and rotation speed determine what area will be covered by the bomblets.


cluster3.pngStep 3: Each bomblet is the size of a soft drink can. They deploy a little parachute that stabilizes them and makes sure that they descend with their nose down. Each of the bomblets holds hundreds of metal pieces, which can pierce armour.


cluster4.pngStep 4: Depending on the altitude from which the bomblets were released and on the wind conditions, the bomblets can cover an area of up to 200m by 400 m. When the bomblets explode, they cause injury and damage across a wide area. The blast of one bomblet can cause deadly shrapnel injuries of in a radius of up to 25 metres.


cluster5.pngThis map shows the area of Trafalgar Square, London. It illustrates the radius of the bomblets. One cluster bomb could spread bomblets covering the red area. The green area shows the radius in which the bomblets could cause fatal injuries.

‘Bomblets’

Cluster bombs have been used in countries including Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon.They are made up of a big container which opens in mid-air, dropping hundreds of smaller individual sub-munitions, or “bomblets”, across a wide area.

Source


All politicians around the world should be “Urged” to sign and ratify this Treaty.

Don’t hesitate to give your “Government” a call or e-mail them.

Some times a bit of encouragement is needed.

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007

Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply

By Julian Borger

November 22 2008

Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of “neo-colonialism”, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second “scramble for Africa”. This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.

“These deals can be purely commercial ventures on one level, but sitting behind it is often a food security imperative backed by a government,” said Carl Atkin, a consultant at Bidwells Agribusiness, a Cambridge firm helping to arrange some of the big international land deals.

Madagascar’s government said that an environmental impact assessment would have to be carried out before the Daewoo deal could be approved, but it welcomed the investment. The massive lease is the largest so far in an accelerating number of land deals that have been arranged since the surge in food prices late last year.

“In the context of arable land sales, this is unprecedented,” Atkin said. “We’re used to seeing 100,000-hectare sales. This is more than 10 times as much.”

At a food security summit in Rome, in June, there was agreement to channel more investment and development aid to African farmers to help them respond to higher prices by producing more. But governments and corporations in some cash-rich but land-poor states, mostly in the Middle East, have opted not to wait for world markets to respond and are trying to guarantee their own long-term access to food by buying up land in poorer countries.

According to diplomats, the Saudi Binladin Group is planning an investment in Indonesia to grow basmati rice, while tens of thousands of hectares in Pakistan have been sold to Abu Dhabi investors.

Arab investors, including the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, have also bought direct stakes in Sudanese agriculture. The president of the UEA, Khalifa bin Zayed, has said his country was considering large-scale agricultural projects in Kazakhstan to ensure a stable food supply.

Even China, which has plenty of land but is now getting short of water as it pursues breakneck industrialisation, has begun to explore land deals in south-east Asia. Laos, meanwhile, has signed away between 2m-3m hectares, or 15% of its viable farmland. Libya has secured 250,000 hectares of Ukrainian farmland, and Egypt is believed to want similar access. Kuwait and Qatar have been chasing deals for prime tracts of Cambodia rice fields.

Eager buyers generally have been welcomed by sellers in developing world governments desperate for capital in a recession. Madagascar’s land reform minister said revenue would go to infrastructure and development in flood-prone areas.

Sudan is trying to attract investors for almost 900,000 hectares of its land, and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has been courting would-be Saudi investors.

“If this was a negotiation between equals, it could be a good thing. It could bring investment, stable prices and predictability to the market,” said Duncan Green, Oxfam’s head of research. “But the problem is, [in] this scramble for soil I don’t see any place for the small farmers.”

Alex Evans, at the Centre on International Cooperation, at New York University, said: “The small farmers are losing out already. People without solid title are likely to be turfed off the land.”

Details of land deals have been kept secret so it is unknown whether they have built-in safeguards for local populations.

Steve Wiggins, a rural development expert at the Overseas Development Institute, said: “There are very few economies of scale in most agriculture above the level of family farm because managing [the] labour is extremely difficult.” Investors might also have to contend with hostility. “If I was a political-risk adviser to [investors] I’d say ‘you are taking a very big risk’. Land is an extremely sensitive thing. This could go horribly wrong if you don’t learn the lessons of history.”

Source

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 1:18 am  Comments Off on Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,