26 March 2008

Queen's Entrance

Me and Ana standing in front of the Queen's Entrance to the British Columbia legislative buildings:
Queen's Entrance

25 March 2008

Victoria B.C. and Olympic Peninsula Travels

I spent last weekend traveling to Victoria B.C. and the Olympic Peninsula with Ana. Here are some photos from the trip:

link to set

24 March 2008

U.S. Global Dominance and the National Interest

Is global dominance in the national interest of the USA? I wish there was consensus on what constitutes the national interest, because it seems that for some, wars of aggression can be fought in the national interest. After all, there are people who justify the invasion, conquest and occupation of a foreign country (which posed no threat to the USA) as part of the national interest. For example, let's say that Iraq has mineral resources, the control of which is necessary to the maintenance of US global dominance. Does the control of those resources justify aggression toward Iraq (keep in mind the consequential suffering of the civilian population of Iraq)? Is global dominance necessary to maintain the US lifestyle? - Maybe it is just that wars of aggression are the "American way." I don't think so.

There are those who will attempt to obfuscate the facts and say that the reason for the US occupation of Iraq is because of the terrorists. Well, don't let them fool you! The reason that there is terrorism in Iraq is precisely because Iraq is occupied by the US!

Port Militarization ResistanceSo, what is the national interest? For me, the national interest is having a healthy population; it is living in a sustainable and conscious manner. It is in the national interest to demonstrate respect for all life, for diversity and for future generations. For example, how better can we demonstrate respect for future generations than by living sustainably?

For President Bush, the national interest appears to be promoting and maintaining global dominance, including the ability for [the ultra (monetarily) wealthy] [changed to] prominent decision makers and powerful individuals to dominate discussion of what is in the national interest, and to dominate the global environment of finance and trade. (For President Bush, a smaller government comes with the price of corporatism...)

The People of Iraq are SufferingI am frustrated. Invading Iraq was not in the national interest; at least it was not in my national interest. Maintaining global dominance is also not in my lexicon of national interests. What would be in my national interest? How about fostering a cooperative and friendly, or neighborly, relationship with international partners? That would be interesting. But to play the part of an international bully is not for me, nor for the USA that I love. Woe that my country does such grievous harm in my name. Woe that people suffer for the sake of a supposed US "national interest."

Please see Bill Moyers Journal | Body of War
[full video available online]

20 March 2008

Defining the Discourse

I recently signed up to receive email updates from Jewish Peace News. JPN is a spin-off of Jewish Voice for Peace. I like the letters that I have received so far. They are thoughtful, and well composed. The following is no exception:
This article by Noam Chomsky raises the important but extremely difficult problem of comparing “intentional” and “unintentional” civilian casualties. Can we equate American troops who accidentally kill Iraqi civilians with foreign terrorists who intentionally kill American civilians? Can we compare the deaths of Palestinian children caught in the line of Israeli fire with the deaths of Israeli child victims of suicide bombers?

The occasion for Chomsky addressing these questions is the assassination of Imad Moughniyeh, a senior figure in Hizbollah who was linked to several terrorist attacks on Americans and Israelis. Chomsky notes the hypocrisy apparent in the US media and government, which condemned Moughniyeh’s crimes on the one hand while remaining silent about much more serious crimes committed by the US or Israel, although these crimes were often what prompted Hizbollah’s retaliatory actions.

But is it really hypocrisy? Apologists for the US and Israel explain that unlike Hizbollah, the US and Israel do not intentionally kill the civilians who die as a result of their actions (for instance, the Palestinians who die as a result of Israel bombing Gaza’s power supply).

No, says Chomsky: the US and Israel (generally) do not intend the deaths of these civilians. Rather, the civilians die because the US and Israel often barely notice, much less care, that our actions will kill people. We hold the lives of these victims too cheaply to even register them. As Chomsky writes: “We are aware that it is likely to happen (if we bother to think about it), but we do not intend to kill them because they are not worthy of such consideration.”

This aggressively and viciously dehumanizing attitude might be distinguishable from a specific intention to kill, but is it really any better?

Judith Norman [of Jewish Peace News]

Noam Chomsky: The Most Wanted List
February 28, 2008
Source: TomDispatch


On February 13, Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander of Hizbollah, was assassinated in Damascus. "The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said: "one way or the other he was brought to justice." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell added that Moughniyeh has been "responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden."

Joy was unconstrained in Israel too, as "one of the U.S. and Israel's most wanted men" was brought to justice, the London Financial Times reported. Under the heading, "A militant wanted the world over," an accompanying story reported that he was "superseded on the most-wanted list by Osama bin Laden" after 9/11 and so ranked only second among "the most wanted militants in the world."

The terminology is accurate enough, according to the rules of Anglo-American discourse, which defines "the world" as the political class in Washington and London (and whoever happens to agree with them on specific matters). It is common, for example, to read that "the world" fully supported George Bush when he ordered the bombing of Afghanistan. That may be true of "the world," but hardly of the world, as revealed in an international Gallup Poll after the bombing was announced. Global support was slight. In Latin America, which has some experience with U.S. behavior, support ranged from 2% in Mexico to 16% in Panama, and that support was conditional upon the culprits being identified (they still weren't eight months later, the FBI reported), and civilian targets being spared (they were attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by "the world."

[... read more]

19 March 2008

Five Years of Lies on Iraq

On the occasion of the 5th year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq:
How President Bush and his advisors have spent each year of the war peddling mendacious tales about a mission accomplished.

By Juan Cole

Mar. 19, 2008 | Each year of George W. Bush's war in Iraq has been represented by a thematic falsehood. That Iraq is now calm or more stable is only the latest in a series of such whoppers, which the mainstream press eagerly repeats. The fifth anniversary of Bush's invasion of Iraq will be the last he presides over. Sen. John McCain, in turn, has now taken to dangling the bait of total victory before the American public, and some opinion polls suggest that Americans are swallowing it, hook, line and sinker.

The most famous falsehoods connected to the war were those deployed by the president and his close advisors to justify the invasion. But each of the subsequent years since U.S. troops barreled toward Baghdad in March 2003 has been marked by propaganda campaigns just as mendacious. Here are five big lies from the Bush administration that have shaped perceptions of the Iraq war.

Year 1's big lie was that the rising violence in Iraq was nothing out of the ordinary. The social turmoil kicked off by the invasion was repeatedly denied by Bush officials. When Iraqis massively looted government ministries and even private shops, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joked that U.S. media had videotape of one man carrying off a vase and that they kept looping it over and over again. The first year of the war saw the rise of a Sunni Arab guerrilla movement that repeatedly struck at U.S. troops and at members and leaders of the Shiite-dominated Interim Governing Council appointed by the American government.


...Bush set the tone for Year 3 with a speech at Fort Bragg on July 28, 2005, in which he said, "The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11 ... if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi .. and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like bin Laden." The previous week, Bush had said that the U.S. was in Iraq "because we were attacked." Zarqawi was the perfect plot device for an administration who wanted to perpetuate the falsehood that the Iraq war was directly connected with Sept. 11 and al-Qaida...

[...read more]

18 March 2008

16 March 2008

Never Again: Nazi Germany and Iraq

The Legacy of Oppression and The Legitimacy of Resistance

by Dahlia Wasfi

The following remarks by Dr. Wasfi were given at the March and Rally For Peace held in Kennebunkport, Maine on Saturday, August 25th:

I speak to you today on behalf of relatives on my mother’s side-Ashkenazi Jews who fled their homeland of Austria during Hitler’s Anschluss. It is for them that we say “Never again.” I speak to you today on behalf of relatives on my father’s side who are not living, but dying, under the occupation of this administration’s deadly foray in Iraq. From the lack of security to the lack of basic supplies to the lack of electricity to the lack of potable water to the lack of jobs to the lack of reconstruction to the lack of education to the lack of healthcare to the lack of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they are much worse off now than before we invaded. “Never again” should apply to them, too.

There has been debate recently within the American peace movement on the issue of support for the Iraqi resistance. The argument has been made by some that we don’t support the resistance in Iraq because it’s different than it has been for other countries we’ve invaded. That “what is understood to be ‘the Iraqi resistance’ is a disaggregated and diverse set of largely unconnected factions…There is no unified leadership that can speak for ‘the resistance’…There is no unified program, either of what the fight is against or what it is for…(Bennis, 2007)”

Well - judge not lest we be judged, for this is an offensive display of the arrogance of empire.

We sit here 8000 miles away with our luxuries of electricity and water, while Iraqis suffer in the desert heat with no relief, and we tell them they are disorganized. This is fiddling while Iraq burns. People are dying; the question is moot.

We are not fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq; we are slaughtering people’s children. We went in to liberate Iraqis from a ruthless dictator we imposed upon them who allegedly killed 300,000 during his 30 year reign of terror. We’ve accomplished more than triple that in a fraction of the time.

If ever there were legitimate resistance to illegal occupation, it is in Iraq.

If ever there were a people struggling for democracy and independence, there are Iraqis.

If ever there were a people who have known suffering at the hands of bloodthirsty American imperialism, there are Iraqis.

Through the last 400 years, the European immigrants who landed on these shores have raped and pillaged millions in the name of empire. They followed the call to “Go West, young man,” slaughtering 95% of the indigenous population along the way. In the late 1800’s, sights were set on the Caribbean, and through the last 2 centuries, we have had a hand in creating colonies in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast and Western Asia. After all, what is the Middle East, but the Arab World and America’s colonial outpost Israel, according to their geographic position relative to Western powers?

But now there is a wedge in this imperial path, driving the American neo-conservative empire to a screeching halt. The Iraqi people - who are, in fact, the Iraqi resistance - are succeeding where we could not. What’s not to love?
We cannot start examining history from September 11th, 2001. Since WWI, Arabs have been lied to, manipulated, and used by the U.S., Great Britain, and other colonial powers. Next year will mark the 60th year of Al Nakba in Palestine-the Catastrophe. Iraqis have now seen that illegal occupation extended to include the Fertile Crescent, their land between two rivers, their Mesopotamia. Iraqis see the close to 6 million Palestinian refugees, illegally denied their right of return. Iraqis see the U.S. Army building walls to make impoverished ghettos, like the Nazis did, and like the Israelis are doing with their apartheid wall. Iraqis see the open-air prison that is Gaza, strangled and starving as we speak because of our political agenda. The crime of these prisoners? They were born Palestinian. Iraqis are living under occupation tactics such as daily house raids, uprooting of trees, looting of property, psy-ops death squads and the use of depleted uranium - all of which they know too well by watching our joint actions with Israel in Palestine.

And do you know what Iraqis are saying? I don’t speak Arabic, but I can translate for you. They’re saying, “Get out!” They’re saying, “NO way - you’re staying for 60 years.” They’re saying, “Get your oil the old-fashioned way - pay for it!” And why are they saying this? Because they have a dignity and self-respect rooted in 7000 years of civilization.
Iraq is the center of Arab nationalism. Actually, this is what my father says, and I would argue that my father is the center of Arab nationalism. Modern-day Iraqis are the descendents of ancients who devised the first system of writing, the 24-hour day, the bases of mathematics, law, science and medicine. Once corrupt American corporations, the U.S. military, and its death squads, prisons, and bombings are out of the picture, true reconstruction by Iraqis can and will begin.

Perhaps we don’t embrace the Iraqi resistance because its fighters are killing American soldiers. What other choice have we given them? From Vietnam to Lebanon to Somalia to Iraq, we have taught our victims around the world that the only way to effect a change in American foreign policy is to spill American blood.

Thousands died in Chile during the CIA led coup on Sept. 11th, 1973. But we only remember 3000 Americans who died on the 28th anniversary of that massacre. Grenadans in 1983 and Panamanians in 1989 were buried in mass graves by the thousands after the U.S. assaults, but the stories of these victims go untold. Between 1,000 and 10,000 Somalis were killed when our humanitarian mission in 1993 turned into military aggression. (We will never know the exact number of our innocent victims, again because of mass graves.) But we left Somalia because 19 Americans fell victim to their system and were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Time and again, it doesn’t matter how many “others” die. The outrage comes when the victims are American.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “silence is betrayal.” In these times, remaining silent on our responsibility to the world and its future is criminal. And in light of our complicity in the supreme crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing violations of the U.N. Charter and international law, how dare any American criticize the actions of legitimate resistance to illegal occupation? How dare we condemn anyone else as “violent” or “disorganized?” Our so-called “enemies” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, our other colonies around the world - and our inner cities here at home-are struggling against the oppressive hand of empire, demanding respect for their humanity. They are labeled “insurgents” or “terrorists” for resisting rape and pillage by the white establishment, but they are our brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice.

Last Sunday, my family’s luck ran out, and one of my cousins in Iraq was killed in the violence we have brought upon Iraqis and their children. He leaves behind a wife; a 2 year old son who keeps asking “Where’s Daddy?”; a heart-broken mother and brother; and an entire family devastated by grief for whom life will never be the same. If there are political differences, then whatever they may be, there’s nothing complicated about fighting for Iraqi women and children, who are the majority of the suffering population. And if we respect their humanity, can we not respect their grief as they lose their brothers, fathers, husbands and sons, the same way we mourn with and share the pain of American military families?

I close with the words of a man of peace, El Hajj Malik Al Shabazz, Malcolm X, vilified and ultimately assassinated because he spoke freely. Though condemned as violent, he lived for peace, and for love and brotherhood. I very humbly offer his wisdom.

We declare our right on this earth to be … a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.


Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else...

It’s been an honor to share this time with you.

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi is a speaker and activist. Born in the United States to an American Jewish mother and an Iraqi Muslim father, she lived in Iraq as a child, returning to the U.S. at age 5. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Biology in 1993 and earned her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. Dr. Wasfi has made two trips to Iraq since the 2003 “Shock and Awe” invasion to visit her extended family. She returned from a three month stay in Basrah in March 2006. On April 27, 2006, she testified at a Congressional Forum to provide her eyewitness account of life in Iraq. Based on her experiences, Dr. Wasfi is speaking out in support of immediate, unconditional withdrawal of American forces from Iraq and the need to end the occupation “from the Nile to the Euphrates.” Her website is www.liberatethis.com.

13 March 2008

The Right to Engage in Civil Resistance to Prevent State Crimes

This article is a detailed review of Francis A. Boyle's new book, Protesting Power: War, Resistance, and Law. It's by Stephen Lendman. I originally found it on the BaltimoreChronicle.com, but I will link to the version posted on Lendman's own blog here:
go to original

Francis A. Boyle's "Protesting Power - War, Resistance and Law"
Reviewed by Stephen Lendman

Francis A. Boyle is a distinguished University of Illinois law professor, activist, and internationally recognized expert on international law and human rights. From 1988 to 1992, he was a board member of Amnesty International USA. He was a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee. From 1991 to 1993, he was legal advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and currently he's a leading proponent of an effort to impeach George Bush, Dick Cheney and other key administration figures for their crimes of war against humanity and other grievous violations of domestic and international law. Boyle also lectures widely, writes extensively and authored many books, including his latest one and subject of this review: "Protesting Power - War, Resistance and Law."

Boyle's book is powerful, noble and compelling, and he states its purpose upfront: Today, a "monumental struggle (is being waged) for the heart and soul of (America) and the future of the world...." It matches peacemakers on one side, war makers on the other, and all humanity hanging in the balance. The book provides hope and ammunition. It's an urgent call to action and demonstrates that "civil resistance (is) solidly grounded in international law, human rights (efforts), and the US Constitution." It "can be used to fight back and defeat the legal, constitutional, and humanitarian nihilism of the Bush administration" neocons and their chilling Hobbesian vision - imperial dominance, homeland police state, and permanent "war that won't end in our lifetimes," according to Dick Cheney.

Boyle has the antidote: "civil resistance, international law, human rights, and the US Constitution - four quintessential principles to counter....militarism run amuk." Our choice is "stark and compelling." We must act in our own self-defense "immediately, before humankind exterminates itself in an act of nuclear omnicide." The threat today is dire and real, it demands action, and civil resistance no longer is an option. With survival at stake, it's an obligation.
The Right to Engage in Civil Resistance to Prevent State Crimes

Post-WW II, US foreign policy adopted the political "realism" and "power politics" principles that Hans Morganthau explained in his seminal work on the subject - "Politics among Nations: the Struggle for Power and Peace (1948)." For decades, it was the leading international politics text from a man eminently qualified to produce it and whose experiences under Nazism influenced him.

His cardinal tenet was darkly Hobbesian - that international law and world organizations are "irrelevant" when it comes to conflicts between nations on matters of national interest. Ignore "reality" and perish, but consider the consequences. They've has been disastrous for America, at home and abroad, in a world of our making where life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." No law or justice exists, no sense of right or wrong, no morality, just illusions of what might be, and a "struggle for survival in a state of war" by every nation against all others for one unattainable aim - absolute power and national security at the expense of other states and most people everywhere.

Political "realists" believe that when nations respect international laws and norms and ignore the "iron law" of "power politics," they invite disaster at the hands of aggressors. Boyle believes otherwise and eloquently states it: "Throughout the twentieth century, the promotion of international law, organizations, human rights, and the US Constitution has consistently provided the United States with the best means for reconciling the idealism (and aspirations) of American values....with the realism of world politics and historical conditions."

It can work the way Boyle documented it in his 1999 book, Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations, 1898 - 1922. In it, he offers a comprehensive analysis of US foreign policy achievements through international law and organizations to settle disputes, prevent wars and preserve peace. It included:

* an obligatory arbitration system for settling disputes between states - the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 1899 that's still operating at The Hague as the oldest international dispute resolution institution;
* the Permanent Court of International Justice (World Court) in 1922 that was replaced by the International Court of Justice in 1946 after the UN was established in 1945;
* the codification of important areas of international law in treaty form;
* promoting arms reduction after relaxing international tensions by legal techniques and institutions; and
* convoking periodic peace conferences for all internationally recognized states; the League of Nations was established for this purpose and later the United Nations with its functional agencies like the International Labour Organization, WHO, UNESCO, and IAEA. Other affiliated institutions included the IMF, World Bank, GATT, WTO and regional organizations like the OAS, Arab League, African Union, ASEAN, OSCE and EU. To these add NATO, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Pact), SEATO, ANZUS and various bilateral self-defense treaties under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

These organizations should have worked. In practice they don't, and Boyle explains why: compared to America's early "legalist, humanitarian, and constitutionalist approach to international relations, geopolitical (realpolitik) practioners of the Hobbesian" school prevailed - men like Johnson, Kissinger, McNamara, Nixon, Byzezinski, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, GW Bush, his neocon ideologues and countless others. They disdain democracy, constitutional government and their essential principles: commitment to the rule of domestic and international law, human rights, equal justice and peace.

Consider the cost. It's beyond measure and even worse looking back, in spite of all efforts toward conflict resolution. Since the nation's founding, America has been at war with one or more adversaries every year in our history (without exception), and note the consequences:

* we glorify wars and violence in the name of peace;
* have the highest domestic homicide rate in the western world by far;
* our society is called a "rape culture" and three-fourths of all women are victims of some form of violence in their lifetimes, many repeatedly;
* millions of children are violence or abuse victims and get no help from the state;
* in a nominal democracy under constitutional law, aggressive wars and domestic violence are normal and commonplace; peace, tranquility and public safety are illusions and so are human rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, and common dignity, and the reason it's so is simple - it benefits the privileged few at the expense of the greater good.

What can be done? Plenty, according to Boyle. "Concerned citizens" and people of conscience are obligated to use our available tools - domestic and international law and human rights as "checks and balances against" government abuses of power in the conduct of domestic and foreign policies. Otherwise, administrations can run amuck and literally get away with murder and other major crimes of war, against humanity, peace and the general welfare.


...Civil resistance is our only hope "to prevent WW III and an (inevitable) nuclear holocaust....Toward that end this book has been written." Read it and act. Apathy isn't an option.
Steve LendmanStephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com, and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM - 1PM US Central time.

AUDIO: The Global Research News Hour on RBN

This long article by Stephen Lendman gives a good idea of the topics covered in Boyle's new book.

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Thou Shalt Not Kill: so whatever happened to that?
March 12th Olympia Walkabout
"The number one book
George Bush
& Dick Cheney

Dear Violet
letter from a desert grave

by N. Sigafoos

"Question for George W. Bush:
If you're such a devout Christian, what happened to Thou Shalt Not Kill ?
Is it okay if you just order other people to kill for you ?"

"To Whom It May Concern:

"I'm dead. 26 years old and deader than dead. My last memory being a face full of sand as the truck rolled over and threw me alongside the road. The last thing I heard was the snap of my neck, and that was it for me. New flash: there is no 'heaven, There is no hell. There's simply another layer where your energy goes without your body. My name is Charlie Day. The late Charlie Day, which is ironic, since during my life, I could never be anywhere on time."

11 March 2008

Protesters Stop Transport of Military Cargo

video by Zoltan Grossman

That's Mean!

There is this mean guy who posts on OlyBlog a lot. His name is Chris Brownell.

Here's an interaction between him and myself on his blog, tifosi1f1.blogspot.com:

http://tifosi1f1.blogspot.com/2008/02/buy-mac.html [see original post with leotard]

Blogger Robert Whitlock said...

Nice leotard, Chris.

February 13, 2008 2:11 PM

Blogger Chris said...

It is not me, but I am glad you like it. You're not too sharp are you Robert?

[Notice I never said anything about whether I thought it was him in the leotard.]

February 13, 2008 4:44 PM

Blogger Robert Whitlock said...

Quite to the contrary, dear Chris, my intellectual equipment is certainly adequate.

February 17, 2008 1:20 PM

Blogger Chris said...

Hmmm, evidence would suggest otherwise.


February 17, 2008 7:34 PM

Comment deleted

This post has been removed by the author.

March 11, 2008 6:23 PM

Blogger Robert Whitlock said...

Is that how you treat people and speak to people in person?

March 11, 2008 6:24 PM

To be completely fair, what occurred was miscommunication. My initial comment, "nice leotard Chris" was attempt to be humorous. Maybe it was passive-aggressive. But I wasn't expecting Chris to belittle my intelligence. It's an important lesson. One that is difficult learned. Humor - especially dry humor - is difficult to communicate via written message.

There is something about Chris that rubs me the wrong way. If you're interested, check out his blog and maybe you'll understand.

Rain Forest in Sunlight

I love how the moss catches the sunlight. This is a "mouseover." To see a larger version, place your mouse on the image without clicking. You can also click it to go to flickr and see a larger version there:

Rain Forest

10 March 2008

KBR Water in Iraq Makes US Soldiers Sick

I have heard that since the Bush Administration has been in office, the stock of Vice President Cheney's former company, Halliburton, has risen by almost 800%. This figure seems to be substantiated by a quick fact check, which showed Halliburton stock to be worth about $6 in November of 2001. Today it is worth nearly $40. I wonder if the Vice President owns any shares, and if so, how many...

Anyway, a report has been issued that KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root), a subsidiary of Halliburton, is responsible for providing water to US Soldiers in Iraq. According to the report, many US Soldiers have been made ill by using this water for cleaning purposes. Here's an article about it:
go to original

AP: Water makes US troops in Iraq sick

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Mon Mar 10, 4:21 AM ET

Dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq fell sick at bases using "unmonitored and potentially unsafe" water supplied by the military and a contractor once owned by Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, the Pentagon's internal watchdog says.

A report obtained by The Associated Press said soldiers experienced skin abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections, diarrhea and other illnesses after using discolored, smelly water for personal hygiene and laundry at five U.S. military sites in Iraq.

The Defense Department's inspector general's report, which could be released as early as Monday, found water quality problems between March 2004 and February 2006 at three sites run by contractor KBR Inc., and between January 2004 and December 2006 at two military-operated locations.

It was impossible to link the dirty water definitively to all the illnesses, according to the report. But it said KBR's water quality "was not maintained in accordance with field water sanitary standards" and the military-run sites "were not performing all required quality control tests."

The report said KBR took corrective steps and was providing adequate water quality by November 2006. But military units at the two sites they controlled were still failing to perform required quality control tests and maintain appropriate records by that time.

"Therefore, water suppliers exposed U.S. forces to unmonitored and potentially unsafe water," at the military sites by late 2006, the report said.

The problems did not extend to troops' drinking water, but rather to water used for washing, bathing, shaving and cleaning. Water used for hygiene and laundry must meet minimum safety standards under military regulations because of the potential for harmful exposure through the eyes, nose, mouth, cuts and wounds.

The KBR sites were Camp Ar Ramadi, Camp Q-West and Camp Victory. The military sites were Logistics Support Area Anaconda and Camp Ali.

The inspector general's study confirmed AP reports on the contaminated water in early 2006 and provided additional details on the scope of the problem at the Iraq bases. In January that year, interviews and internal company documents disclosed the problems at Ar Ramadi and showed that KBR employees could not get the company to inform base residents.

Halliburton Co., then KBR's parent company, disputed the allegations even though they were made by its own employees and documented in company e-mails. In March 2006, the AP obtained an internal Halliburton report that, in one instance, the company missed contamination that could have caused "mass sickness or death" at Ar Ramadi.

The report said the event at Ar Ramadi could have been prevented if KBR's reverse osmosis units on the site had been assembled, instead of relying on the military's water production facilities.

Halliburton is the oil services conglomerate that Cheney once led. Congressional Democrats long have complained that KBR has benefited from its former ties to Cheney.

KBR, responding to the inspector general's report, said its water treatment "has met or exceeded all applicable military and contract standards." The company took exception to many of the inspector general's assertions. "KBR's commitment to the safety of all of its employees remains unwavering," the company said in a statement to the AP.

KBR provided water treatment to U.S. troops under a large-scale defense contract that also included housing and food to soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Djbouti and Georgia.

The military has "taken the appropriate measures to correct the problem and ensure we provide the appropriate oversight of the system," said Navy Capt. James Graybeal of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. troops in the Middle East.

North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, who has led Democratic inquiries into contracting abuses in Iraq, said the inspector general has backed up what those earlier hearings uncovered. "KBR was not doing its job" and U.S. forces had water that did not meet Army standards, Dorgan said.

"I think it's outrageous that KBR tried to deny that there was a problem, especially when it turned out that there were dozens of U.S. troops reporting water-related illnesses," he said.

The inspector general investigated the 2006 reports at Dorgan's request.

The inspector general's report said some troops noticed problems with the water. Between October 2004 and May 2005, troops at Camp Ar Ramadi said bathwater was discolored and had an unusual odor. The report said KBR failed to treat the nonpotable water and monitor water quality during the same period.

At Camp Q-West, KBR inappropriately delivered chlorinated wastewater for showers and latrines without informing military preventive medicine officials, the report said. "KBR did not monitor or record the quality of water at point-of-use containers before April 2006, even though the ... contract required the company to do so," the report added.

Medical records for troops at Camp Q-West indicated 38 cases of illnesses commonly attributed to problem water. These include skin abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections and diarrhea. Doctors diagnosed 24 of the cases in January and February 2006, the same period when medical officials warned of a rise in bacterial infections at the base.

In addition, military medical records — tied to no particular base in Iraq — showed 26 cases of food and waterborne diseases, including hepatitis, giardiasis and typhoid fever.


On the Net:

U.S. Central Command: http://www.centcom.mil/

KBR Inc.: http://www.kbr.com/

09 March 2008

The Role of Media in Human Rights Disasters

I received the following in an email from Jewish Peace News. It is a stark reminder of the critically important role that the media and news outlets play in disseminating information about human rights disasters. Whether in Israel, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, The USA, China, South or North America, Asia, or Africa, investigative journalism can have a major impact on the conduct of governments in regard to military action and other matters of humanitarian concern. From The Jewish Peace News Network:
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One morning, in 1992, when I was working on the staff of Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, we received notice from our contacts in Gaza of a new tactic adopted by the Israeli armed forces. After numerous court cases had stalled (though not prevented) their use of home demolitions in retaliation for Palestinian individuals' alleged involvement in attacks against Israelis, the army experimented with the following alternative: claim that persons wanted for perpetrating alleged attacks are hiding in their family homes, notify the families (at about 5am) that they must evacuate immediately and use tanks to shell the homes, supposedly in order to "flush out" the wanted persons. At the time, this was a highly significant development because it trashed even the meager (and in hindsight largely misplaced) hope of defending human rights through recourse to Israel's High Court of Justice.

After formulating a press release, we spent the day negotiating with the Hebrew press, trying to get it to report this information coming only from Gazan sources (which we knew to be reliable). One of our contacts, at the news desk of a major evening paper, was closely related to a government minister and she immediately called him to verify. His answer was brief and dismissive: "I don't believe it." Not only did the paper shelve the item but over the next few days it did not report on any of the developments following the shelling which---in this newspaper's version of reality---had never taken place.

In the following piece from Haaretz, Gideon Levy describes the version of reality currently being produced by Israel's media, one which is totally devoid of direct reports from the Gaza Strip.

For me, in 1992, knowing and understanding what was really going on meant finding, following and assessing an array of alternative sources. While Levy is totally justified, in my view, for exposing and condemning the passive and perhaps criminal collusion of Israel's media, many non-government and alternative organizations continue today, as then, to publicize directly what the established media fails to report. Aside from giving a sense of the slanted UN-reality presented by Israeli media coverage and consumed by most Israelis, Levy's article underlines the importance of the wide scope of activism collecting, reporting and transmitting systematically hidden information.

Rela Mazali

Racheli Gai added:

It's very common (almost a cliche) to point out how open Israeli newspapers are, and how so much stuff which one dares not mention in the U.S., for instance, gets discussed in mainstream Israeli media. While this has a grain of truth - it's mostly limited to opinion pieces, and - as Levy's piece shows - isn't particularly true of ongoing coverage (or lackthereof) of the "facts on the ground".


Twilight Zone / A great darkness has fallen

By Gideon Levy
Last update - 23:35 08/03/2008

Operation Warm Winter ended without a single Israeli journalist setting foot on the Gaza side of the Erez border crossing with Israel. Even the military correspondents, who usually recount the brave acts of our forces from inside their jeeps and armored vehicles, were not taken this time to report on the raids in Jabalya and Sajiyeh. A handful of other correspondents, those who are still interested in what the Israel Defense Forces leaves behind after its campaigns of killing and destruction, stayed home. They have been holed up in their houses for over a year and a half already.

Don`t believe the microphones you sometimes see in TV reports on Gaza, adorned with the logo of the Israeli television channels. They are meant only to deceive us. Don`t believe the meager reports in the press from Gaza that are written by Israeli correspondents. They are all done by phone, with all the limitations that involves. Not one local journalist, neither Jewish or Arab, neither Shlomi Eldar nor Suleiman al-Shafi, neither Amira Hass nor this writer, has passed through the Erez terminal since the end of November 2006.

The press in Israel is under a major blackout: The IDF is not allowing it to do its job. Gaza, an hour-and-a-half drive from Tel Aviv, is outside the range of journalistic coverage. Daring Israeli correspondents have traveled to Iraq and Lebanon, Syria and Iran, to report to their readers what is happening there - but not to Gaza. It`s as though the Strip, which is central to our diplomacy and security, and where everything that happens affects the Negev and the rest of the country, has been declared a closed military zone, as though it were beyond the Mountains of Darkness.

We were in the refugee camp in Jenin during the height of Operation Defensive Shield, we were in Bethlehem when it was besieged, we were in Gaza when armed gangs walked around on every street corner, we were in Beit Hanun when Israel shelled it with artillery, we were in the home of Salah Shehadeh the day after the one-ton bomb was dropped on it, we were in the house of the paralyzed girl on a respirator, Maria Aman, the day after most of her family was killed by a criminal missile. One stormy summer`s day IDF soldiers even fired at our car in Tulkarm. But we haven`t been in Gaza for months.

This blackout on the actions of the IDF and the Shin Bet security services, and the fact that the Israeli press is forbidden to cover what is happening in the Strip, has been accepted with exemplary silence. The press bowed its head, submissive and obedient, as in the bad old days when it maintained other disgraceful silences, from Qibya to Kafr Qasem.

Was it too much to expect some signs of protest on the part of the media regarding the ongoing closure, whose end is not in sight? Should it accept as self-evident the explanations of the defense establishment to the effect that it is `dangerous` in Gaza and that there are warnings about journalists being kidnapped? Can anyone determine that Nablus, which can still be covered, for example, is less dangerous? How much less? And why not close the West Bank to coverage as well, and forget about journalism?

Doesn`t the powerful press have means of democratic protest at its disposal, to use to fight the evil decree? Apparently this decree is not evil in the eyes of most leading media figures. A rare coalition, almost wall to wall, seems to be very pleased with Gaza being closing off to coverage: When the readers don`t want to read, the government and the defense establishment don`t want things to be read or broadcast, and the reporters, editors and publishers don`t want to anger anyone either. They are all very pleased with the fact that Gaza is beyond the pale. Thus Israel has covered its eyes and looked away from what is happening on the other side of the fence, and a great darkness has fallen on the abyss.

The exclusion of Gaza from Israeli coverage is critical. Just when millions of viewers and readers the world over are having their perception of the country shaped by the terrible pictures being broadcast from Gaza, occasionally in an exaggerated manner, they are witnessing an almost total absence of coverage from the Israeli side. It is one thing to hear or read that the IDF killed, assassinated and prevented some action, and another thing to see the results on the ground. Someone - and it must be an Israeli journalist - also has to reach the stricken and bleeding places after the missile has fallen, the shell has landed, the bulldozer has destroyed, the water has run out, the fuel is finished and the electricity is turned off. Someone has to tell the Israeli reader that when the IDF announces that it dropped a bomb on `unoccupied huts,` as it did the day after the assassination of Shehadeh, it was in fact a house of several stories filled with residents, including many child!

The need to see and to know the results of Israel`s activity in Gaza as well as the terror of the Qassams, in which the local press incessantly wallows, does not have to be related to one`s political views - not at all. The need to know should be a natural need for both the right and the left. Yes, sometimes it is not easy to look at the results of our actions, but if we don`t know what has gone on, how will we judge and assess? Do we accept the idea that an average newspaper reader in Oslo and a TV viewer in London will see more than we do about what is being done in our name? Is it enough to cover Sderot while blatantly ignoring what is happening in Gaza, in order to satisfy the needs of the wise media consumer?

But the prevention of Israeli coverage of Gaza and the acquiescence of most local media to this situation, with almost no sign of protest, are only one part of the picture, the less serious part. The deliberate covering of our eyes has gone even further this time.

This past Sunday something important happened. Part of the local, popular press that shapes mass opinion - the Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv dailies, to be specific - decided that the killing of over 60 residents of Gaza in one day by our soldiers is not a story. The proof: There is no mention of it, not even implied, on the first pages of these two newspapers, their obvious showcase.

One`s eyes refused to believe it. Not a single word. Maariv`s first page showed a huge picture of a wounded IDF fighter, a threatening headline stating, `In the cross hairs: Hamas` leaders,` plus information about the number of Qassam and Grad missiles that fell on Sderot and Ashkelon, and a promise: `It`s not war yet.` As if to say: We`re only in the `promo` stage. Only on the margins of page 3, in tiny letters, was there a first mention: About 95 Palestinians killed since Wednesday. A first picture of the killing and the outcry in Gaza on page 6.

Yedioth goes even further, as if to say: Everything that Maariv can do, we can do better. Not a word on the first page about the dozens of Palestinian dead. Only a huge picture of a wounded soldier being evacuated by helicopter (when in Gaza the ambulances do not even have gas to allow them to evacuate their wounded). The headline: `Hundreds of fighters deep in Gaza,` a promise that `this is not `the` major operation,` a confession from the mother of one of the two soldiers who were killed (`I dreamed that they were informing me that my son had been killed`), and the number of rockets landing in Sderot and Ashkelon. The first mention of Palestinian dead appeared only on the margins of page 3, in small letters.

`A city without defenses` - that is, of course, Ashkelon. There is nothing else in the region, and not a single picture, please note, not a single image in Yedioth of the killing and suffering in Gaza in all the pages of the newspaper - except for a tiny photo of a demolished house. Among all the photos of Sderot and Ashkelon, the heart-rending confessions and the human-interest reportage about the fear and the relatively light destruction in these two cities, there was no room to print even one photo of bleeding Gaza? Of one wounded child? Of one fearful mother, as in Sderot? One picture that would illustrate to some degree, at least, the dimensions of the mass killing we have sowed? One picture like those that adorned the first pages of most of the newspapers in the world that day? No. Not here. Not in `the newspaper of the country.`

These two newspapers now boast new, relatively young and promising editors. The days of Rafi Ginat at Yedioth and Amnon Dankner at Maariv are over. Instead we have highly regarded editors who give us reason for hope: Shilo De-Beer at Yedioth, and Doron Glazer and Ruti Yuval at Maariv. What did they think when they opened their papers on Sunday morning? That this is professional journalism? That this is the proper service they owe their readers? That they don`t deserve to see with their own eyes at least a hint of what happened in Gaza?

This is how one shapes the opinions of the public - and also how one brainwashes it. Penetrating op-eds convince the already convinced, and only the flow of information determines one`s awareness. The local popular press, almost free of censorship, highly professional and in part also selling well, opted for the gravest thing of all: self-censorship, of the kind that will never arouse any signs of opposition.

One day, when the historian or researcher burrows in the archives of these newspapers and tries to understand what happened here, he won`t be able to understand a thing. He will only know that we had a press here that betrayed its role.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Alistair Welchman

Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to www.jewishpeacenews.net

07 March 2008

Why We Resist

go to original
by Chris Hedges
We face a crisis. Our democratic institutions are being dismantled. We are headed for a state of perpetual war. We are paralyzed by fear. We will be stripped, if we do not resist, of our few remaining rights. To resist, while there is still time, is not only the highest form of spirituality but the highest form of patriotism. It is, if you care about what is worth protecting in this country, a moral imperative. There are hundreds of thousands who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This number would be dwarfed by a war with Iran, which could ignite a regional inferno in the Middle East. Not a lot is being asked of us. Compare our potential sacrifices with what is being inflicted on and demanded of those trapped in the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon, perhaps, Iran. Courage, as Aristotle wrote, is the highest of human virtues because without it we are unlikely to practice any other virtue. Once we find courage we find freedom.
[May 14, 2008: Perhaps, not a lot is being asked of us, in comparison to those who feel the most severe effects of an oppressive and exploitative U.S.A. foreign policy. But, that does not mean our task of resistance and working for change is, or will be, in any way easy or simple. No, it will take great acts, courage, dedication and persistence in the face of what might, at times, seem like an insurmountable wall of the establishment - and an ingrained and habitual (perhaps mostly unconscious) societal appetite for destruction. It won't be easy. Perhaps the sacrifice won't be great, in comparison. But don't underestimate the "power of the darkside" (so to speak.) It won't be easy. Change won't arrive on the night train. It will require overt and principled, difficult, yet nonviolent confrontation and resistance. May 14, 2008/]




03 March 2008

Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

From Wikipedia:
In the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term military-industrial-congressional complex, and thus indicated the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry. But, it is said, that the president chose to strike the word congressional in order to placate members of the legislative branch of the federal government. The actual authors of the term were Eisenhower's speech-writers Ralph Williams and Malcolm Moos. [source]
Here's the complete text of the address that Dwight D. Eisenhower gave to the nation as it was televised on January 17, 1961:
[go to source]

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and television networks for the opportunities they have given me over the years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go to them for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.

Three days from now, after a half century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen. Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nation good, rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with Congress ends in a feeling -- on my part -- of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts, America is today the strongest, the most influential, and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace, to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of threat and stress.

But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. Of these, I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or, indeed, by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent, I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So, in this my last good night to you as your President, I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and in peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy. As for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I, my fellow citizens, need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations' great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; and that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth; and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it.

Thank you, and good night.

01 March 2008

Orca Tears

Orca Tears, Mural in Rain
Tree Street Orca Wall
Orca whales in the Puget Sound are threatened due to environmental degradation: toxic contamination, and depletion of food sources.