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Topics - Phil Talbot

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The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and MP for South Shields David Miliband has invited his New Labour mentor 'Lord' Peter Mandelson, 'Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills' to deliver the annual 'South Shields Lecture' at Harton Technology College, Lisle Road, South Shields on Friday 23rd October 2009 at 7pm.

South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition is supporting a protest (between 6pm and 7.30pm) at the event on the theme 'Jobs Not Bombs' and to demand particularly an end to occupation of Afghanistan by NATO forces, including about 10,000 British troops.

48
South Tyneside Stop the War / Forum: Questions We Could Consider
« on: October 01, 2009, 04:43:47 PM »
The American General in charge of NATO troops in Afghanistan - Stanley McChrystal - gave a speech in London today.
During the speech General McChrystal posed seven questions which he then attempted to answer:-

1) 'What is the right approach to use in Afghanistan?'
2) 'What is the environment we're operating in?'
3) 'What is the current situation?'
4) 'Who's winning?'
5) 'It's been 8 years, why isn't it better?'
6) 'Can we succeed?'
7) 'Why bother?'

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Afghan war won't remain winnable forever: US commander
(AFP) – 2 hours ago

LONDON — The conflict in Afghanistan is deteriorating in some ways and will "not remain winnable indefinitely," the top US military commander in the country warned Thursday.

General Stanley McChrystal added that forces would be in a much stronger position once US President Barack Obama decides on troop levels in Afghanistan, while saying that it would be wrong to rush to make a decision.

"The situation is serious and I choose that word very, very carefully ... neither success nor failure can be taken for granted," said McChrystal, who has asked for up to 40,000 more troops to fight the Taliban.

"The situation is in some ways deteriorating but not in all ways," he told the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank in London.

"Waiting does not prolong a favourable outcome. This effort will not remain winnable indefinitely."

McChrystal, who is also the International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan, warned in a report leaked last month that the conflict could be lost within a year without more troops.

He reportedly wants up to 40,000 more US troops in Afghanistan.

The US general said Obama led talks in the White House this week "very effectively" but declined to give any further details on the decision-making process.

"I think that is a necessary process we go through so we come to a clear decision... Once he makes that decision I think we'll be in a much stronger position," he said.

Asked if he was worried that the political debate was holding up military action, he said: "I think the more debate we have the healthier this is going to be."

"I don't think we have the luxury of going so fast we make the wrong decision," he added.

The White House says Obama will only decide on whether to accept McChrystal's request for more troops -- as part of a rigorous counter-insurgency push -- after first arriving at a new US strategy.

The process could take weeks, officials say, warning that past conflicts like the Vietnam war have shown the folly of throwing thousands of men into a fight that is not properly defined.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.


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South Tyneside Stop the War / 'War Is A Racket'
« on: July 14, 2009, 03:19:40 PM »
Below is full text of the little booklet 'War Is A Racket' that has featured regularly in our weekly discussions.
I thought it might be useful to add a copy to our online archives.
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(P.S. I presume I am not the only one to be deeply disturbed by the way BBC, etc, are using the bodies of the recently killed British soliders to stir up 'militaristic'/'nationalistic' sentiments - and other war-mongering propaganda purposes.
Particularly insidious is the way they are suggesting that 'respect' for the war dead is identical to 'support for the war mission'.
And there is also all the stuff about the alleged 'equipment deficiencies' being the main reasons for the soldiers' deaths - not the warmongering policies - which surely mostly serves the vested interests of the arms corporations, etc, which will make more profits from any 'equipment upgrades'.)
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War Is A Racket  
By Major General Smedley Butler  

Contents  
        Chapter 1: War Is A Racket          
        Chapter 2: Who Makes The Profits?          
        Chapter 3: Who Pays The Bills?          
        Chapter 4: How To Smash This Racket!          
        Chapter 5: To Hell With War!          

Smedley Darlington Butler

Born: West Chester, Pa., July 30, 1881
Educated: Haverford School
Married: Ethel C. Peters, of Philadelphia, June 30, 1905
Awarded two congressional medals of honor:
capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914
capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti, 1917
Distinguished service medal, 1919
Major General - United States Marine Corps
Retired Oct. 1, 1931
On leave of absence to act as
director of Dept. of Safety, Philadelphia, 1932
Lecturer -- 1930's
Republican Candidate for Senate, 1932
Died at Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, June 21, 1940
For more information about Major General Butler,
contact the United States Marine Corps.

CHAPTER ONE

War Is A Racket

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish Corridor.

The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each other's throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people -- not those who fight and pay and die -- only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.

Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:

"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. . . . War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."

Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war -- anxious for it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.

Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.

Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war -- a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit -- fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people -- who do not profit.

CHAPTER TWO

Who Makes The Profits?

The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits -- ah! that is another matter -- twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent -- the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket -- and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people -- didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump -- or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather.

For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company -- and you can't have a war without nickel -- showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public -- even before a Senate investigatory body.

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought -- and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it -- so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches -- one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 -- count them if you live long enough -- was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them -- a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers -- all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment -- knapsacks and the things that go to fill them -- crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them -- and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up -- and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee -- with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator -- to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses -- that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.

CHAPTER THREE

Who Pays The Bills?

Who provides the profits -- these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them -- in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us -- the people -- got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par -- and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men -- men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement -- the young boys couldn't stand it.

That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead -- they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded -- they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too -- they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam -- on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain -- with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.

But don't forget -- the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.

Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share -- at least, they were supposed to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.

Napoleon once said,

"All men are enamored of decorations . . . they positively hunger for them."

So by developing the Napoleonic system -- the medal business -- the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.

In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn't join the army.

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our side . . . it is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the allies . . . to please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill . . . and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance -- something the employer pays for in an enlightened state -- and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

Then, the most crowning insolence of all -- he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back -- when they came back from the war and couldn't find work -- at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly -- his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too -- as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.


CHAPTER FOUR

How To Smash This Racket!

WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit -- and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation -- it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted -- to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages -- all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers -- yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders -- everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't hungry. The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket -- that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people -- those who do the suffering and still pay the price -- make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying. There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant -- all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war -- voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms -- to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected. Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power to decide -- and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.

The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.


We must take the profit out of war.


We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.


We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.


CHAPTER FIVE

To Hell With War!

I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.

Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?

Money.

An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:

"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.

If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money . . . and Germany won't.

So . . . "

Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly chemicals and gases.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war -- even the munitions makers.

So...I say,

TO HELL WITH WAR!



51
You Tube footage of Saturday 16 May 'Remember Gaza' march (selections of speeches to follow later)  - filmed by Alan Trotter ... boisterous and colourful ... filling gaps left by BBC (and just about every other mainstream media outlet) ...

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjf2lRvcpGg

52
From the STSTWC Web Archive 'shit-list' of the 'Dirty 400' (or so) '(right)honourable' (sic) British MPs who voted for the illegal attack on Iraq in March 2003...

...
Elliot Morley (Scunthorpe)
...
Andrew Mackay (Bracknell)
Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove) (aka Mrs Julie Mackay)
...
(to be continued ...)

53
South Tyneside Stop the War / Against 'Demonization'
« on: April 05, 2009, 06:17:20 PM »
Transcript below - from STSTWC archives - provides
some contexts / alternative perspectives [of a sort
not much to be found in mainstream media] relating to
recent events re 'North Korea' / DPRK.
It records, as factually as possible, what was actually said by
DPRK envoys talking openly in North-East England.
Phil (a 'friend' of - but not an 'apologist' for - 'North Korea'/DPRK, which, the (unfriendly-seeming) BBC informs me today, 'has few friends')

On Thursday, 26 May 2005 Nader A-Naderi, Roger
Nettleship, Alan Newham and Philip Talbot, of South
Tyneside Stop The War Coalition, attended a meeting at
Newcastle University with Mr Ha Sin Guk, Second
Secretary of the Embassy of the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea [DPRK] in London, and Mr Ri Kwang
Nam, another member of the DPRK embassy staff.

Mr Ha [speaking in English] gave a talk in which he
started by speaking about the development of
diplomatic relations between Britain and the DPRK
since 2001, when the London embassy was established.
He said that no one from the DPRK embassy had been to
Newcastle before, or indeed to the North East – a very
important area of England. He spoke about the visit in
the afternoon to the Redhills Miners' Hall in Durham
and its great importance in the history of the working
class movement, and the rooms and banners that reflect
how the workers have lived and campaigned to defend
their rights.

He then said that because of articles published in the
newspapers many people misunderstand and mistrust the
DPRK on nuclear issues and on human rights abuse, and
are disinformed on the internal situation on the
Korean peninsula. Therefore, he said, he would like to
mention specific issues and then to give some answers
to people’s questions.

Mr Ha said that 15 June 2000, was a very important
occasion for Korea. This was the date of the historic
meeting between Chairman Kim Jong Il, from the north,
and the former President Kim Dae-jung, from the south,
in Pyongyang. This, he said, declared the
determination of the Korean people to unify their
country by themselves peacefully and democratically,
without interference from other forces, principally
the US. Mr Ha said that all the Korean people were
very excited by the fact that unification could come
finally in our generation. After the 15 June
declaration, very positive events had happenined. He
said there were all kinds of bi-lateral cabinet,
ministerial, economic, cultural and other meetings.

He said Korean families have been divided since the
Korean war [early 1950s], and millions of people have
not been able to meet their parents, sister or
brothers and, even though they live in the north and
south of Korea, they cannot exchange letters or
telephone each other. It is a big national tragedy
that because of the intervention in the Korean War,
the people cannot meet each other. Therefore, he said,
it is the entire Korean people’s natural desire to
unify their country
peacefully and democratically as soon as possible.

Mr Ha then said that following 11 September 2001, and
the Bush administration's declaration of a 'war on
terrorism', George W Bush pinpointed the DPRK as part
of an "axis of evil" and targeted it for pre-emptive
nuclear strike.

The first term of the Bush administration discouraged
the South Korean authorities from engagement with the
north, so this did not bode well for the historic
declaration due to this American intervention. In its
second term, the Bush administration resumed the
argument that the DPRK is once again an "outpost of
tyranny". He said they do this even though they
sometimes acknowledge the DPRK as a sovereign state
demanding that they come to the table on the nuclear
issue.

Speaking about the nuclear issue, Mr Ha said the DPRK
was determined to solve this issue and had already
declared that it wants to make the Korean peninsula
nuclear free. He said the DPRK had  suspended uranium
enrichment and the development of its nuclear
programme for the talks. But the Bush administration
had destroyed the Framework Agreement which was signed
between the US and the DPRK under the Clinton
administration in 1994. In this agreement, the
Americans had guaranteed to build Light Water Reactors
to produce electricity in the DPRK, which in return
would suspend and would finally destroy all its
nuclear activities.

He said that in spite of their best efforts the DPRK
had been unable to solve the nuclear issue, mainly
because of the hostile policy of the US towards a
sovereign country the DPRK. So, he said, it was a very
difficult prospect to solve this issue unless the Bush
administration dropped their hostile policy towards
the DPRK.

He said that because of the rumours in the western
world, in Britain because of the disinformation put
out by the BBC and the newspapers, as well as in the
US, North Korea is blamed for pushing to protect its
nuclear weapons programme and other nuclear
activities.

Mr Ha suggested that a sovereign country has the right
to develop any kind of weapons, or forces, for its
defence. When such a superpower as the US threatens to
destroy their country, a people cannot accept such a
threat of nuclear war and they must have their own
forces for deterrence and to defend their sovereignty
and the system that they have chosen.

For centuries, Mr Ha said, Korea had been oppressed by
other countries like Japan. In three years during the
Korean war, the American side destroyed all of the
country. So, he said, people’s feelings are very
strong that they will never be occupied again and
oppressed by foreign forces.
Mr Ha said that the US still has 43,000 occupying
troops in south Korea and more than 1,000 nuclear
weapons stationed there. Therefore, the DPRK cannot
live peacefully without any preparations or
development of deterrent forces to confront the
American threat. So, he said, the people of the DPRK
are determined to defend their sovereign rights to
fight against possible American intervention.

Mr Ha then stressed that whilst he wanted to clarify
the background to the "nuclear issue", it is also the
case that the DPRK would like to make the Korean
peninsula a nuclear free zone. He said, therefore,
that if the circumstances are met and America drops
its hostile policy and has genuine intentions to show
us, to negotiate the fundamental issues on the Korean
peninsula, the DPRK is ready to go to the table at any
time, whatever the format of the negotiations.

He said that the DPRK wants to solve the outstanding
issues such as the nuclear issue and other related
issues. He said that if the American side listens to
our concerns we are also ready to listen to their
concerns. If both sides trust each other and drop
their suspicions and hostile policy then we think
there are possibilities.

He said that the DPRK has already shown in February
2005 that the country will defend itself against
American nuclear threat and that it will not go to the
six-party negotiations unless America has shown
genuine intention to solve this issue.

Concluding his remarks, Mr Ha said that on the 5th
anniversary of the joint North-South Declaration there
will be meetings held in Pyongyang and Seoul, with
celebrations in Pyongyang attended by representatives
from authorities and organisations from north and
south Korea and organisations from all over the world.

He then pointed out that Kim Jong Il is the National
Defence Commission Chairman of the DPRK, the leader
guiding the party and country, and that 19 June would
be the 41st anniversary of the commencement of his
work in the Central Committee of the Workers Party of
Korea.

Mr Ha and Mr Ri then answered questions.

The following are some of the remarks made by them in
the question and answer session:

Speaking about the allegations of famine in the DPRK,
Mr Ha said that there were many rumours in the western
mass media that 3 million people died during the
famine. He said that while this was quite false, they
are not hiding that there have been some problems and
difficulties and shortages of food. He said that from
1994-5 there were consecutive natural disasters of
flood and drought in all of the north of Korea.
Therefore, he said, our agricultural production
dropped rapidly. He mentioned the added factors of the
economic sanctions and blockade by the Americans and
that the socialist countries had collapsed. Before
this calamity, the system in the DPRK had been that
the government distributed food – mainly rice and corn
– but with this situation they were not able to
distribute the same proportion of food, and therefore
some families suffered to get proper food and there
were some difficulties. He said they had called this
period "the arduous march" because the society lacked
food and the economy lacked raw materials, especially
lack of electricity. DPRK had suffered this period for
five or six years he said, the hardest period in our
nation’s history to date, but now we have overcome
these difficulties, and food production has improved
radically and there is no famine at this moment
although there were still some food shortages. So they
had appealed to the world to donate food to their
country he said, and many bodies as the United Nations
World Food Programme have donated large amounts of
food and medicines, and many international
organisations are operating in Pyongyang and helping
us to provide the food. He said that the lack of food
and protein affected some elderly people and some
babies, possibly causing some deaths, but that 3
million people died, as the western media say, with
starvation in the whole of the country, is simply not
true.
He said that they don’t hide that this was a very
difficult period for 10 years which they have now
gradually overcome. From 2002 they have changed and
improved their economic management introducing some
farmer markets to the commodity market. They have
given the initiative to the cooperative farms to farm
more themselves so that the largest sector of the
economy, the agricultural sector, is gradually
improving. But, at the same time, they are still
cooperating with other countries for assistance and
sustainable development he concluded.

Asked about the geo-political situation and the aims
of the US in the region Mr Ha said that the DPRK had
lived with economic sanctions for over half a century.
He said the US regards the Korean peninsula as of
strategic importance to achieve American influence in
this very important area because the Korean peninsula
is surrounded with large countries. China has the
largest population in the world, Japan is the second
biggest economic power in the world and Russia is the
biggest country in the world with regard to territory.
With that, the Korean peninsula is in the middle of
the three countries. He said that the US wants the
Korean peninsula as their pro-American state to deter
and to influence China, Russia and this area. He said
they want the Korean peninsula as their own back yard.
Therefore, he said, the US wants to create every day
some nuclear issues, or on another day some
allegations of human rights abuse as a way of
provocation to keep their military presence in south
Korea. So, he said, if there is no confrontation, if
there is a peaceful situation there, then there is no
justification or argument for the US to keep their
military presence in south Korea. Of course, he said,
the US is cooperating now with China and Russia but
still China and Russia are their strategic enemy in
the long term. So, the US wants to maintain its
influence in this area but they want the Korean
peninsula as their forward base.

Speaking further about the nuclear issue, Mr Ha said
that because the US has declared the DPRK as a nuclear
pre-targeted country, the question arises as to how
the country can be defended from these huge military
arsenals? He said they only accused Iraq of having
weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to invade and
occupy Iraq. Therefore the DPRK has already proclaimed
that they have a nuclear deterrent.

Mr Ri then added that the nuclear issue is not the
main issue for the US. The only issue for the US was
to overthrow the socialist system in the DPRK in what
they call regime change. He then went on to detail
evidence the US provided themselves for this
conclusion.

Asked a question about China, Mr Ha said they are
their friendly neighbours and historically they have
had good relations with China and Russia. He said that
since Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule
in 1945, China has supported Korea and we have
supported China, and he went on to speak about their
support in the 6-party talks.

Answering a question about unification, Mr Ha said
that before 2000 there were bad feelings among the
people of south Korea about the north because of the
strong propaganda in south Korean media and newspapers
and under the American influence for more than fifty
years. However, since the historic meeting in
Pyongyang and the North South Declaration there have
been long talks with journalists of the south Korean
newspapers and the realisation that the north Koreans
are normal human beings! There have been dramatic
changes in the opinions of the south Korean people. Mr
Ha said that the Korean people have the same language
and a common history and the realisation has been
growing that we can now live peacefully together. He
said that the south Koreans don’t want to give up
their own political system and their own ideas. He
said this was the same for the north Koreans. He
explained that unification will only come about by
creating a confederation of the two Koreas that
respected the two political and economic systems. He
said that the economic cooperation between North and
South was going well and there had been some close
contact. He said that now tens of thousands of
tourists were being sent to the DPRK. However, he
warned that the
Americans don’t want this to go well and have no
intention to facilitate peaceful unification on the
Korean peninsula.

Answering a question about the apparent policy of the
British government to use its diplomatic relations to
demonise the DPRK as an "outpost of tyranny", Mr Ha
said that it is true 'they' [the British authorities]
want to have 'critical engagement' with 'us' [DPRK].
They have diplomatic relations with us, so why should
this mean 'critical engagement'? he asked. He said
that DPRK had sent many high-ranking delegations from
their side to visit Britain to promote diplomatic
relations – the Speaker had visited Britain, the
Deputy Foreign Minister had visited three times, as
well as the Prime Minister. From the UK side, only a
Minister of State in the last year had for the first
time visited the DPRK to discuss a number of issues,
but he had made a great show of concern about alleged
human rights abuse. Mr Ha said that it is completely
unfair that Britain, or other visiting countries, wish
to force them to follow the agenda and example of the
western world. He said each country is a sovereign
state, and has its own system and its own traditions.
How can they follow a British standard and or allow
Britain to regulate such things? He said that each
country has its own sovereign right to make people
more free and give people more democracy and realise
more harmony in society in its own way. He said all
systems and rules and regulations emerge from the
people’s desire and intentions and their traditions.
Mr Ha said that these visitors don’t care what our
people think, what their country’s situation is but
only they see the human rights situation in Korea with
their own views and their own standards. Mr Ha said
this is a blind policy. He said they must see it in
the context of historical background and cultural
traditions. He said that Korea is divided between
North and South and always threatened and pressured
from the American side, creating a dangerous
situation. The DPRK cannot only give the individual
rights and freedom but must think first of the
society, first of the state and then individual
interests. They are facing the threat of nuclear war
from the US, so how can they say that there should be
only individual freedom? He said the individual
interest should be combined with the state survival
because without the state how can individual people
make themselves exist freely if their country becomes
a colony again? Mr Ha said that under Japanese
colonial rule we cannot say anything of human rights
at that time because the people were oppressed by the
Japanese. He said they don’t look at the rights and
freedoms that exist now in the DPRK, but say that
there are no political rights and freedoms. They do
not look at the historical background and our
political situation, he said. He said we must put the
national interest first, but must make all the
society, all of the people, more happy he concluded.




54
South Tyneside Stop the War / SilenceIsShameVolume10_DraftArticle
« on: March 24, 2009, 04:19:45 PM »
'Modern (Re-)Arrangements' & 'Blocking Pro-War Governments' - Notes Towards A Sketchy Review
 
By Phil Talbot

+

Tuesday 23 March 2009

As I was sitting writing these notes, the background mainstream media chatter (as represented by the BBC) included yet another government-inspired 'al Qaeda' bogey-men scare story (with 'dirty bomb' nightmare fantasies added, as if as a bonus distraction from bankers' bonuses).

They were also plugging a ridiculous seeming (to me) scheme to recruit and train '60,000' (or make up your own number - all government numbers being dubious these days) amateur spooks to counter (the supposed) 'dangers of radicalization'.

How these '60,000' amateur spies were to be trained in 'radical spotting' was for some reason not reported by the BBC - though one can only imagine them using the standard Muslim bogey-men mug-shots (which we have all seen all too often).

People who questioned any of this stuff, it was suggested, were 'terrorists' or 'terrorist supporters' or 'dangerous radicals', or 'nutty conspiracy theorists' - or else 'well-meaning but naive trojan horses' (who would let in the 'bogey people').

Also on this day the British police announced they had done some early morning door knocks and arrested some 'violent extremists' in connection with events at protests in Britain earlier this year against the mass murder of Palestinian civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza.

The BBC, parroting police statements rather than actuallly reporting, mentioned reported injuries to police officers at these events, but not injuries sufferred by protestors - even though, in fact, evidence strongly suggests that more protesters were injured by police than police were injured by protestors at the Gaza protests.

Such 'dubious' - and perhaps even 'outright dishonest' - stuff reinforced my belief/fear that the 'establishment' (for want of a better expression) having nearly bankrupted the economy and being almost bankrupt of ideas, could think of nothing better to do than to spread distracting scare stories, narrow the range of debate - and stifle 'opposition' by all available means (while still prentending to be 'democratic').

In the Stop The War movement - which is not ashamed to call itself 'radical' - we work with this sort of 'mass distracting' babble going on in the mainstrem media backgound - while we are trying to do something different ... and more positive ...

In fact we have already championed the idea of 'democratic intelligence' - which is not a '60,000' force of volunteer spies snooping on 'radicals' on behalf of the state, but the pooling - by better informed debate - of the millions of human intelligences - of the majority of people who are anti-war and against 'terrorism' (including 'state terrorism').

+

One of the features of the modern day anti-war movement, and this is increasingly apparent in the South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition and many other anti-war groups in North-East England, is the growing awareness that the anti-war struggle cannot be continued in the old way and that a fresh approach is required.

This is not just some future prospect, but something actually in the making - a genuine 'work in progress', as it were.

Of course it is not easy - especially in a world in which the elected British government never stops attempting to narrow the range of public discourse ... and even attempting to make 'being radical' a forbidden concept (or 'thought crime').

One of the greatest achievements of the anti-war work so far is that up and down the country there are numerous genuinely radical and free-thinking groups of activists thinking in unorthodox and fresh ways.

In South Tyneside, and other districts in the region, there are now anti-war groups where nothing existed before.

We are 'radicals', but we are not 'terrorists', nor 'terrorist supporters' - we are opponents of 'terrorism', especially organized 'state terror'.

Numbers of activists locally are still small, relative to the numbers that become involved in the movement when the threat of war is greatest, but it is clear that a shift is taking place.

Things are shifting from a conception of the anti-war movement as a pressure group aimed at persuading those in power to cease their warmongering activities to a conception of the movement that engages in serious discussion and actions as to how the people can empower themselves and to unite around a programme to defeat the warmongers once and for all. 

This first became evident in the small conference that the South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition organised at the beginning of the occupation of Iraq by US and Britain in 2003.

One speaker reflected the seriousness of the work that our movement is undertaking for the future of humanity when he said: 'Wars of the 21st century are in fact an all out assault on the rights of people around the world. “Rights” that must remain sacred if we are to subscribe to notions of civilised transaction, with a view to stability of our societies, ultimately leading to a life free from molestation, threat, and danger for all the human family."

Another suggested: 'People have to do their own thinking and organising and create new arrangements to give this movement for peace permanent life.'

Another pointed to developing alternative bodies such the Peoples Assembly along a truly democratic path that empowered people from below and also standing anti-war candidates in the public elections.

The important thing is that today people are seriously searching for ways to develop the movement in order to defeat the warmongers.

There is also a growing realisation that the key to achieve this is to unleash the people's initiative by organising in such a way that the people consciously participate in decision-making at every level.

+
 
Still Waiting For David to do the Decent Thing ...

Letter to Shields Gazette, 04 December 2003

In a letter to the Shields Gazette on Wednesday, 3rd December, Mr. G Smith of Kensington Court, South Shields, called for the resignation of David Miliband (MP for South Shields and Minister of State for School Standards) because of his support for tuition fees.

We consider that there are also other grounds for Mr. Miliband’s resignation. In March this year, shortly before the war with Iraq, the Gazette asked him a number of questions on the Iraqi crisis, one of which was “Is there any scenario in this crisis where you may resign on principle as Clare Short and Robin Cook have threatened to do?” Miliband stated that his “bottom lines are that the Government acts in accordance with international law, pursue international cooperation at every stage……”  Shortly afterwards, Britain joined with the US in a war against Iraq, without a fresh UN resolution (which it had tried, and failed, because of international opposition, to obtain), and thus condemned by the great majority of international lawyers as illegal. Both Clare Short and Robin Cook resigned. We still await any action by David Miliband, or even a defence of his conduct. Perhaps voters will remember this at the next General Election.

Alan Newham and John Tinmouth

+

In February 2009 South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition continued its work with a discussion forum on the topic: 'Block the Plans For Another Pro-War Government'.

The forum focussed on making preparations to block new arrangements for another pro-war government in Britain and, more postitively, on our agenda of an anti-war government and standing anti-war candidates.

Despite President Obama being elected in America on the promise of ‘change’ there are many reasons for fearing new forms of pro-war government here and abroad.

The present pro-war British government has in recent months enabled the Israeli state to launch a murderous offensive against the civilians of Gaza.

Our local MP David Miliband, who is also the British foreign secretary, has played a key role in defending the Israeli zionists' war crimes against the Palestinians.

He also visited the Congo on behalf of the British government to support stepped up interference in Africa.

Mr Miliband and his friends have also plans for further militarisation in Afganistan and Pakistan.

And they have ongoing plans to suppress the population here - using the economic crisis (which they have responsibity for) to futher privatize public services, further impose economic bondage on people, while they continue to protect the wealth and interests of the very rich.

We have all seen how they are nationalizing debt and privatizing profit - allowing the rich to get richer (and escape all responsibility for the present economic crisis), while everyone else gets poorer.

All of these reasons increase the danger of more wars - and should encourage people bring forward their own anti-war candidates and build on their experience and make preparations to block the plan to elect another pro-war government.

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In our work, South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition keeps in mind a simple (seeming) proposition: 'A World Without War Is Possible'.

To 'knowing' and 'worldly wise' people - who might also be described as 'cynics' (such as those in charge of the New Labour Party and 'New' Conservative Party, and too many others) - this is 'hopelessly naive unworldly idealism'.

In response to such 'cynicism', we might modify our 'simple' proposition to: 'A Genuinely Anti-War British Government Is Possible'

The carpers might sneer back words to the effect of: '... aren't we all anti-war? ... or rather wouldn't we all be against war ... if THEY - THE ENEMY - weren't such a THREAT to OUR WAY-OF-LIFE ... WE WANT PEACE! ... THEY DO NOT! ... so unfortunately ... WE have to go to war with THEM ...'

And so 'unfortunately' ... to such people as Mr David Miliband, a self-proclaimed 'progressive' (sic) New Labour Foreign Secretary, would have it ... 'We HAD to invade Iraq ... and we now HAVE to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan ... and we HAVE to ... etc etc etc ...'

Faced with such 'spinning gimmicks'... it is useful to back-track ... return to the facts ... (not mere speculations) ... of Mr Miliband's own record in his 'home' South Shields constituency.

When he was parachuted in by the New Labour machine, against the wishes of the local Labour Party, he was presented to the local people as 'the Bright Young Man' of 'modern' New Labour. His 'intelligence' was spun to the people at every possible opportunity. Some even believed such spin.

As a matter of fact, this 'intelligent Bright Young Thing' of New Labour has proved himself spectacularly unintelligent in some significant respects.

As a matter of fact, early in 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, Mr Miliband was asked a straight question by his local newspaper, the Shields Gazette, to which he gave a straight answer (which he has ever since wanted forgotten).

He was asked whether there was 'overwhelming evidence' that Iraq had 'weapons of mass destruction'.

He said, without qualification: 'yes' (there was 'overwhelming evidence').

This was a false statement. Either he was lying, or he did not know what he was talking about.

To repeat, on 15 March 2003 the present British Foreign Secretary told the Shields Gazette that 'yes' there was ‘overwhelming evidence' that Iraq had 'weapons of mass destruction'.

He has never had the honesty or decency to concede that he was mistaken - nor to retract his gross over-statement.

He further told the Gazette as reported on 15 March 2003:  ‘A week ago in New York the Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix published a 170-page dossier that detailed Iraqi stockpiles of weapons of banned material that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.  This includes athrax and nerve gas which has been missing since the 1990 Gulf War.’

He has never conceded that this was a distortion of Mr Blix’s careful and thoughtful report to the United Nations - and nor has he acknowledged what Mr Blix maintained, then and since, that ‘unaccounted for’ ('weapons of mass destruction') material does not mean the same thing as ‘still existing’ material.

When a Foreign Secretary has behaved in such a reality-distorting way, he does not deserve trust or respect.

In our reply to Mr Miliband's statement of 15 March 2003, which was published in the Gazette a few days later, we said:
‘In June 2002 the Director of the International Atomic Energy Authority, Dr Mohamed El Baradei, wrote “There are no indications that Iraq has nuclear weapons-usable material of the practical capabilities to produce them.”  Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter claims that most chemical-biological weapons were destroyed along with their production facilities during the 1990s.  Ritter states that “liquid bulk anthrax, even under ideal storage conditions, germinates in three years, becoming useless.”  So, if the hidden weapons exist, it may be their numbers would be small and most probably redundant.  At present we see no “overwhelming evidence”.

Mr Miliband (now with all the resources of the British Foreign Office behind him) has never had the guts or decency to acknowledge that the statement of our small town anti-war group was a more honest and accurate appraisal of the then available evidence than his own at that time.

He hoped it would all be forgotten.

It has not been forgotten.

It is illustrative of the arrogant elitist contempt New Labourites like Mr Miliband actually have for the 'intelligence' of the people of their 'home' constituencies.

With the fog of the false 'weapons of mass destrustion' claims blown away by reality, Mr Miliband and his New Labour cronies attempted to justify the illegal attack on Iraq by reference to getting rid of the tyrant Saddam Hussein.

Unfortunately the 'intelligent' Mr Miliband did not seem to know much about Saddam - or the rest of modern Iraq - which is one of the reasons the whole enterprize has been a literally bloody disaster.

In a statement of principles first published in 1997  and signed by, among others, Dick Cheney, the Bushite U.S. Vice President, Donald Rumsfeld, the Bushite U.S. Defence Secretary and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz - this group calls on Americans to support an increase military spending and attempts to ‘rally support for American global leadership’.

Mr Miliband seemed happy to be a supporter of this NeoCon project - which was not in the best interests of Britain and the wider world.

The invasion of Iraq was an example of a new aggressive style of American imperialism - which, at best, Mr Miliband tamely supported, at worst he actively supported - and the world is a much more dangerous place as a result.

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David Miliband: Ignorant Fool? and/Or Dangerous War-Monger? (Or The School Minister's School-boyish's Howler)

In the Shields Gazette, Saturday, 16 August, Mr Miliband, then minister for 'school standards' was reported as having responded to an open letter we had written to him.

His reported response included the following statement attributed directly to his mouth: ‘Saddam was in power for over 40 years, ...’

Question for general review: as a matter of fact, how long was Saddam in power in Iraq?

More matters of fact: In 2003 David Miliband M.P. was the British Government’s ‘schools standards’ minister.  He has a first class honours degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University.  He was a  friend and ally of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair - and formerly part of the PM’s team of personal advisers inside 10 Downing Street - and one would assume that he has fairly high level access to the very latest ‘intelligence’ reports. 

Question: should not the British people be entitled to expect from their ‘school standards’ minister - who has a high standard of tax-funded education himself, and a privileged access to up-to-date ‘intelligence’ - a better informed understanding of basic matters of historical fact?

In other words, should they not be entitled to expect that their ‘school standards’ minister has a better awareness of how long Saddam was actually in power in Iraq?

As if as a reward for getting that sort of 'international intelligence' so wrong, Mr Miliband was promoted to Foreign Secretary - and seriously touted by his friends in the mainstream media as a future Prime Minister.

During his time as British Foreign Secretary Mr Miliband seems to have been keener to be seen 'acting tough' (or warmongering in an adolescent manner) rather than done responsible and respectable diplomacy.

He has been spotted on television screens ... picking fights with Russia and Pakistan among other countries, and also stirring imperialistic things up in Africa ...

During the Olympic Games last year, when he might have been expected to have worked to improve British-Chinese relations (given that the Olympic torch passed from China to Britain) Mr Miliband spent his time picking a fight with Russia - and directly/indirectly supporting the massacring of civilian children, women and men by Georgian paramilitary forces in Ossetia.

(And, incidentally, the children of his 'home constituency' have been wondering why their M.P. failed to get them a panda out of that Olympic hand-over - which amy half-decent 'international statesperson' could surely have managed.)

Four days before the end of the Bushite administraion, Mr Miliband finally started to distance himself for the Bushite 'war on terror' - publically renouncing the phrase, and even having he impertinence to suggest that he had for a long time not believed in it.

It seemed, to me, too little - and too late.

The Stop The War Coalition contains people of diverse views. Many were never supporters of Labour. Some, like myself, used to be Labour supporters but never will be again.

I did not vote in a Labour government to launch illegal attacks on other countries - and although they deny that, (in an almost pantomime 'oh ho we didn't' manner) that is in fact what they did.

I did not expect a Labour government to persecute Muslim people at home - and although they deny that, that is in fact what they are doing.

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Returning to the proposition: 'A World Without War Is Possible.'

It can be supported with two further propositions:

1. A World without War becomes more possible when governments deal in truths rather than bad faith and reality distortion.

2. A World without war becomes more possible when governments do not invade, occupy and plunder other countries illegally - and on the basis of such false claims as Mr David Miliband the 'right honourable' Member of Parliament for South Shields made to his own constituents in March 2003.

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We all have 'bogey-people' we dislike of course.

For a libertarian leftie like me they include:
right-wing war-mongers;
military corporations;
racists, especially 'white-supremacists';
... and my local New Labour MP David Miliband (who I believe has 'betrayed' Labour values).

+

Notes Towards A Clearer Understanding Of 'The New Face' Of '(The Project For) The American Century' ...

Aristotle, Politics:
'Our observations tell us that every state is an association of persons formed with a view to some good purpose. I say "good" because in their actions all people do in fact aim at what they THINK is "good" ...'

Contrasting with the mostly unimpressive leading characters of modern British politics, like Mr Miliband, is the rather more impressive and genuinely progressive-seeming Mr Obama in America.

Mr Obama, unlike Mr Miliband, consitently opposed the illegal NeoCon adventure in Iraq, and has spoken convincingly - unlike Mr Miliband - of his revulsion at the torture of 'terror suspects'.

The New Face Of The American Century?

In 2000, a year before the violent events of 11 September, a ‘think-tank’ called the ‘Project for the New American Century’ published the
latest of what had been a long-running series of policy statements. This one was called ‘Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategy, Forces
and Resources’. It was a grand sounding document by a grand sounding group, but was, in fact, essentially, a statement of the right-wing war-mongering prejudices of a small group of men, including: Richard Cheney, who went on to become U.S. vice president; Donald Rumsfeld, who went on to become U.S. defence secretary; Paul Wolfowitz, who was Rumsfeld’s deputy and then director of the World Bank; and Richard
Perle, ostensibly a private businessman with oil, arms and media interests, in fact a major U.S. foreign policy decision maker with a
direct ‘hot-line’ to the White House.

In their 2000 document, these men called for a massive increase in U.S. arms spending, so that American could ‘fight and win multiple, simultaneous, major theatre wars’.

They acknowledged, however, that the American People were not then willing to support such action, nor to pay the taxes required to buy the military equipment and fund the wars. What was needed to change minds, they said, was ‘some catastrophic and catalysing event – like a new Pearl Harbour’. It was actually rare to see such machiavellian calculations stated so openly. But it is a fact that these people put their aims - and one might even say hopes - quite openly on the public record – in advance of 11 September.

The events of 11 September 2001 were ‘opportunities’ for such people – something they had been waiting for … for quite some time.

It would be absurd, of course, to suggest that the new U.S. President Mr Obama was a right-wing neo-conservative reactionary like these people.

But he is does believe, and has regularly restated, that the world 'needs American leadership' - and he is the new face of the attempts to create an 'American Century'.

I do believe, and have regularly restated, that it is not anti-American not to want to live in an 'American-led Century'.

And it is a matter of fact that the same warmongering forces that used the previous American President Mr Bush as a willing front man would also use Mr Obama for similar purposes, even if he was unwilling front-man, given the chance.

With this in mind, it is instructive to look back at some details of the early days of Mr Obama's campaign to win the American presidency ...

On 20 May 2007 the British Sunday Times made what was almost like an official announcement on behalf of the NeoCons: 'Paul Wolfowitz's departure from the World Bank signals the end of an ideological era in Washington'.

In the same month, Robert Kagan, who was, with Mr Wolfowiz, one of the founders The Project For The New American Century, emerged as a surprizing seeming cheer-leader for Mr Obama (who had always opposed such Project-inspired schemes as the illegal attack on and plundering of Iraq).

Mr Kagan, it might be added, was not a man not to not hedge his bets ... because also at that time he was acting as an informal foreign policy adviser to the man who would emerge as the main Republican challenger to Mr Obama, John McCain.

In an article in the Washington Post, Mr Kagan wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by Mr Obama at the Chicago Council On Global Affairs was 'pure John (F.) Kennedy' (who, despite being a Democrat, and despite being regarded as a 'liberal hero', was also a neo-con hero 'for services to the Cold War'.

(It is also worth noting that at the same time Mr Obama was getting his first heavyweight Secret Service 'protection' - much earlier than was usual for presidental candidates 'after fears were raised of a white supermacist plot to kill him'.)

In that speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in the spring of 2007, Mr Obama, whether he intended to do so or not (and it cannot be denied that he is a skilled politician - who knows 'how to hit the marks') ticked many of the 'American Century' tick boxes:
* He called for an increase in 'defense' spending;
* He Called for an extra 65,000 U.S. soldiers and 27,000 U.S. Marines so that America could 'stay on the offense' against 'terrorism';
* He said said American had to 'ensure' that it had 'the strongest best equipped military in the world';
* He talked about 'building democracies', 'stopping weapons of mass destruction' and 'the right to take unilateral action to protect U.S. "vital interests" if necessary';
* He stressed the 'importance' of 'building alliances' against America's 'enemies'.

'Personally I like it,' wrote the Neo-Con Mr Kagan of this speech, not surprizingly perhaps.

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Follow The Money ... Towards A Better Understanding Of Power Structures ... and (Their) Re-Arrangments ...

Much play was made in the later stages of Mr Obama's election campaign of the reportedly many 'small contributions' which, added together, had, apparently, funded it on a large scale.

Earlier on in the campaign he seems to have been more reliant on 'usual suspects' big donors.

One of these was Mr John Canning a Chicago investment banker.

Mr Canning had previously funded the 2004 Bush campaign.

He said in May 2007 that he was 'disenchanted' with the Bushites.

He added: 'I know lots of my friends in this business are disenchanted and are definitely looking for something different.'

In other words: the money-people can be spotted both following and directing the drift of power ...

In a word: a 're-arrangement' was going on ...

By the summer of 2007 the head of fund-raising for Mr Obama (whether officially or unofficially is not entirely clear) was a woman named Penny Pritzker.

On the evidence that she voted against Mr Bush and for the defeated Democrat candidate John Kerry in the 2004 Election, Ms Pritzker might be thought a 'faithful' Democrat.

In fact she was the head of her family firm, the Hyatt Hotel Chain, which had also donated in 2004 to the Bush campaign. (This might be known as 'hedge(-fund)ing)one'sbets'.)

Another prominent pitch-hitting-(playing it both ways) 'switcher' was Mr Tom Berstein. He was to Yale with Mr Bush. He formerly co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team with Mr Bush. In 2004 he donated heavily to the Bush campaign. In the spring of 2007 he joined the ranks of the Bushite 'disenchanted' ... and prominently switched his support to Mr Obama.

As did One John Martin, founder of a militaristic seeming lobby group called 'Republicans For Obama'.

Mr Martin was a reservist in the American Military who had joined the forces AFTER the attack on Iraq - which Mr Obama always opposed.

He said in the spring of 2007: 'I disagree with Obama on the war, but I don't think it is a test of his patriotism. Obama has a message of hope for the country.'

This sort of endorsement from unlikely seeming supporters was crucial to Mr Obama's 'coalition building'.

As the film maker Spike Lee (a man with a keen eye for detail) noted, there was a striking contrast between the Obama rallies and the McCain rallies in the subsequent election campaign. Mr Obama's rallies were 'multi-coloured', varied, representing an obvious broad-coalition. Whereas Mr McCain's were 'all white'. It was like a modern 21st century vision of America contrasted with something from the 1950s. There could only be one winner if America wanted a future ...

For those of us in other parts of the world who welcomed Mr Obama's victory (as something genuinely 'progressive' seeming) ... welcoming his victory was not the same as giving him unqualified support ...

And to be sceptical about his statements of 'the world needing American leadership' is not to be anti-American ...

+

Reference Texts Include:
Sunday Times, 06_05_2007 'Republicans Defect to the Obama Camp'
Sunday Times, 06_05_2007 'Security Net For Democrat with Rally Appeal'
Sunday Times 20_05_2009  'Decline and Fall Of The Neo-Cons'
Silence Is Shame, Volume 1, 2003 'The Plot of the Project: A Review'

55
Oxfam International Women's Day Report

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/iraq-in-her-own-words.html

In her own words: Iraqi women talk about their greatest concerns and challenges

The plight of women in Iraq today has gone largely ignored, both within Iraqi society and by the

international community. For more than five years, headlines have been dominated by political and

social turmoil, the chaos of conflict and widespread violence. This has overshadowed the abysmal state

of the civilian population’s day-to-day lives, a result of that very turmoil and violence.

Behind the headlines, essential services have collapsed, families have been torn apart and women in

particular have fallen victim to the consequences of war. The specific hardships that some of Iraq’s

most vulnerable individuals cope with on a daily basis, as told by them, have overwhelmingly gone

unheard.

Introduction
As an international humanitarian agency working with Iraqi non-governmental organisations that help

civilians on the ground, Oxfam last year conceived the idea of conducting a survey of women in Iraq who

have been affected by the conflict, many of who represent some of the most at risk families in the

country. The largest group of women interviewed who are deemed especially vulnerable, consists of those

widowed by conflict who are now acting as the head of her household, and who have been driven deep into

poverty. This survey is a follow up to Oxfam’s 2007 report ‘Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in

Iraq,’ which found that one-third of the Iraqi population was in need of humanitarian assistance and

that essential services were in ruins.

At the time, there was a striking absence in the public sphere of a collective female voice from the

cities, towns and villages of Iraq about the specific challenges women and their families face on a

daily basis. In fact, there was very little comprehensive, detailed information available about the

daily challenges of the Iraqi civilian population as a whole and their struggle to make ends meet –

largely due to rampant insecurity. So a team of Oxfam-supported surveyors last year fanned out across

the country, knocked on doors, and unlocked hundreds of women’s voices that, until that point, had

found nobody to listen.

Oxfam and the Al-Amal Association, the Iraqi partner organization that conducted the survey in the five

provinces of Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk, Najaf and Nineveh, do not claim that the information they gathered

from 1,700 respondents represents the situation facing all Iraqis, or even all women in Iraq. However,

it does provide a disturbing snapshot of many women’s lives and those of their children and other

family members. The information presented in this paper was collected over a period of several months,

starting in the summer of 2008.

The women revealed that their families’ everyday lives had worsened in many cases since Oxfam released

its humanitarian report – and despite the improved overall security situation in Iraq that began in

mid-2007. Not only did a large proportion of women say that access to basic services had grown more

difficult, but they also told surveyors that they had become more and more impoverished over the past

six years, and that their own personal safety remained a pressing concern.

Some of the survey results were:
Nearly 60 per cent of women said that safety and security continued to be their number one concern

despite improvements in overall security in Iraq
As compared with 2007 and 2006, more than 40 per cent of respondents said their security situation

worsened last year and slightly more than 22 per cent said it had remained static compared to both

years
55 per cent had been a victim of violence since 2003; 22 per cent of women had been victims of domestic

violence; More than 30 per cent had family members who died violently
Some 45 per cent of women said their income was worse in 2008 compared with 2007 and 2006, while

roughly 30 per cent said it had not changed in that same time period
33 per cent had received no humanitarian assistance since 2003
76 per cent of widows said they did not receive a pension from the government
Nearly 25 per cent of women had no daily access to drinking water and half of those who did have daily

access to water said it was not potable; 69 per cent said access to water was worse or the same as it

was in 2006 and 2007
One-third of respondents had electricity three hours or less per day; two-thirds had six hours or less;

80 per cent said access to electricity was more difficult or the same as in 2007, 82 per cent said the

same in comparison to 2006 and 84 per cent compared to 2003
Nearly half of women said access to quality healthcare was more difficult in 2008 compared with 2006

and 2007
40 per cent of women with children reported that their sons and daughters were not attending school
After analysing the survey results, it was also found that 35.5 per cent of participants were acting as

head of the household, primarily as a result of conflict. Nearly 25 per cent of women had not been

married. If this reflects Iraq as a whole, it is the highest rate in the larger region, a result of the

loss of men of marrying age as a result of the conflict. 55 per cent of women said they had been

displaced or forced to abandon their homes at least once since 2003. Nearly half reported sharing their

homes with other families.

In early 2009, reports of improved security in Iraq, and even a return to ‘normality,’ began appearing

in the media. Similar reports of diminished suicide bombs and other violent indiscriminate attacks

emerged at the time of the initial data collection last year. However insecurity remains in many

provinces including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Nineveh where small-scale attacks, assassination and

kidnappings continue. Women in particular are less safe now than at any other time during the conflict

or in the years before.

Beyond security, the overwhelming concern women voiced was extreme difficulty accessing basic services

such as clean water, electricity and adequate shelter despite billions of US dollars that have been

spent in the effort to rehabilitate damaged or destroyed infrastructure. Availability of essentials

such as water, sanitation and health care is far below national averages. Both the Iraqi organisation

and researcher that carried out the survey and analysed its findings corroborated that the overall

challenges facing women and the Iraqi population as a whole remained the same in early 2009 as they did

in the second half of 2008 when the data presented in this paper was collected.

Women especially appear to have been hard hit by the crippled essential services sector because many

have also been driven into debilitating poverty since 2003. The survey and more detailed interviews

revealed that a large number of women have been left unable to earn an income because many of their

husbands or sons – the family breadwinners – had been killed, disappeared, abducted or suffered from

mental or physical illness. Although there are no precise figures, it is estimated that there are now

some 740,000 widows in Iraq.

Many of the women interviewed reported that they have been unable to secure financial assistance, in

the form of a widow’s pension, or compensation from the government for the loss or debilitating injury

of family members during the current conflict or previous ones. Of the widows that were surveyed (25

per cent of respondents), 76 per cent said that they were not receiving a pension from the government.

As a result, women who are now acting as head of household are much less likely to be able to afford to

send their children to school, pay fees to access private community generators or buy clean water and

medicines.

In summary, now that overall security situation, although still very fragile, begins to stabilise, and

as the Iraqi government is now benefiting from tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues (despite

falling global prices), countless mothers, wives, widows and daughters of Iraq remain caught in the

grip of a silent emergency. They are in urgent need of protection and – along with their families – are

in desperate need of regular access to affordable and quality basic services, and urgently require

enhanced humanitarian and financial assistance. Considering recent security gains, it is in the best

interest of the Iraqi government to now begin robust investment into the lives of the war-battered

civilian population, with the support – including technical support – of the international community.



56
South Tyneside Stop the War / Diabolical Liberty-Taking(s) ...
« on: March 08, 2009, 04:54:25 PM »
Diabolical Liberty-Taking ... even the tamed NewLabour Stooges at the Guardian, etc, seem to be beginning to notice it ...

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/07/surveillance-police-politics

Politicised prying

Editorial The Guardian, Saturday 7 March 2009

Yesterday the Guardian reported that firms were buying information about which workers are active in unions. Today we expose how the police monitor protesters, and upload their details on to a central database. And their own films from last year's climate camp, which can be seen on the Guardian website, show that while they are at it, they also take the chance to pry on journalists who are covering the story.

Taken together, these stories provide a reminder of why last weekend's Convention on Modern Liberty was so timely. There are those, well represented in the government, who argue that the great eye of surveillance is a hallucination of the paranoid middle class. For most voters, certainly, paying the bills and being safe on the street are more pressing concerns than the proliferation of CCTV. The deep worry, however, has never been mere discomfort at the idea of being filmed or otherwise tracked. Rather, it is the potential for abuse that comes with the electronic logbooks. The lesson of history is that the powerful cannot be relied on to use the information they possess for the public good, as opposed to their own convenience.

The dangers are most obvious when the prying has a political dimension, as it does in the case of today's story. The police will first have to explain how collating details on protesters - and holding them for years - tallies with their recent claim in a separate court case that such evidence is only kept as an insurance policy against being sued. They said then that they kept the material on CD in case it one day proved useful in their defence. Next they will need to establish how the secretive transfer of such data to a central system is compatible with the right to privacy enshrined in the European convention, which could well prove to be difficult to do. Legal niceties aside, the fundamental question is what the service thinks it is doing keeping tabs on the political activities of individuals who are not suspected of any crime, or indeed spying on journalists who are doing their job.

If today's revelations underline the perils surveillance represent for democracy, the employer-funded blacklist of supposedly awkward workers, which the information commissioner exposed yesterday, illustrates how it also affects the bread and butter of life. Two electricians who fear they are on the list, whom we interviewed yesterday, believe it was employers' improper knowledge of their working history that left them unable to find work. The black mark was given for having taken bad bosses to tribunals; in other cases, past union activism may have had the same effect. Rights at work count for little when the right to confidentiality is trampled on. The public interest thus requires respect for private lives.

57
News Items / American Nuke Jobs For British Workers!
« on: February 10, 2009, 02:28:22 PM »
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/09/us-uk-atomic-weapons-nuclear-power

US using British atomic weapons factory for its nuclear programme• Joint warhead research carried out at Aldermaston • Work breaches nuclear treaty, campaigners warn

Matthew Taylor and Richard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, Monday 9 February 2009 Article history

The US military has been using Britain's atomic weapons factory to carry out research into its own nuclear warhead programme, according to evidence seen by the Guardian.

US defence officials said that "very valuable" warhead research has taken place at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire as part of an ongoing and secretive deal between the British and American governments.

The Ministry of Defence admitted it is working with the US on the UK's "existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available" but declined to give any further information.

Last night, opposition MPs called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the extent of the collaboration at Aldermaston and campaign groups warned any such deal was in breach of international law. They added that it also undermined Britain's claim to have an independent nuclear weapons programme and meant British taxpayers were effectively subsidising America's nuclear programme.

The US president, Barack Obama, while on the campaign trail said he wanted to eliminate nuclear weapons and that one of his first actions on taking office would be to "stop the development of new nuclear weapons". But the Pentagon is at odds with the president. The defence secretary, Robert Gates, and other senior officials argue that the US's existing arsenal needs to be upgraded and that would not constitute "new" weapons.

Kate Hudson, of CND, said: "Any work preparing the way for new warheads cuts right across the UK's commitment to disarm, which it signed up to in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. That this work may be contributing to both future US and British warheads is nothing short of scandalous."

Nick Harvey, defence spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said parliament and the country would react with "outrage" at the prospect of British taxpayers funding a new US nuclear weapon.

"All this backroom dealing and smoke and mirrors policy is totally unacceptable, the government must open the Aldermaston accounts to full parliamentary scrutiny," he added.

The extent of US involvement at Aldermaston came to light in an interview with John Harvey, policy and planning director at the US National Nuclear Security Administration, carried out last year by the thinktanks Chatham House and the Centre for Strategic Studies.

Referring to "dual axis hydrodynamic" experiments which, with the help of computer modelling, replicate the conditions inside a warhead at the moment it starts to explode, Harvey said: "There are some capabilities that the UK has that we don't have and that we borrow... that I believe we have been able to exploit that's been very valuable to us."

It is unclear whether the experiments are still being carried out but, in the same interview, Harvey admitted that the US and UK had struck a new deal over the level of cooperation, including work on US plans for a new generation of nuclear warhead known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). He said: "We have recently, I can't tell you when, taken steps to amend the MDA [Mutual Defence Agreement], not only to extend it but to amend it to allow for a broader extent of cooperation than in the past, and this has to do with the RRW effort."

Campaigners said the comments represent the first direct evidence that the US is using UK facilities to develop its nuclear programme. Lawyers acting on their behalf said the increasing levels of cooperation and the extension the MDA breach the non-proliferation treaty, which states: "Each nuclear weapon state party to the treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices indirectly or indirectly."

The MoD admitted the two countries are working together, "examining both the optimum life of the UK's existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available to inform decisions on whether and how we may need to refurbish or replace the existing warhead likely to be necessary in the next parliament".

Congress has stopped funding research into RRW but campaigners believe the US military may have used facilities in the UK to get around the restrictions at home.

"Billions of pounds have been poured into the Atomic Weapons Establishment over recent years to build new research facilities," said Hudson. "If these are being used to support US programmes outside Congress's controls on spending, it raises even more serious questions about why the British taxpayer is paying for a so-called 'independent deterrent'."

58
http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/news/north-east-news/2009/01/04/north-east-bears-the-brunt-of-war-deaths-79310-22600474/

North East bears the brunt of war deaths

Jan 4 2009 by Phil Doherty, Sunday Sun

THE North has paid a heavy price for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, suffering more deaths per head of population than anywhere else in the country.

According to Ministry of Defence figures there have been 316 fatalities in the two conflicts, of which 34 involved troops from the region.

That equates to nearly 11 per cent of the death toll in a population that makes up just six per cent of the entire country.

Families who have lost loved ones in the wars are divided as to whether the cost in lives has been worth it.

John Miller, father of Simon Miller, one of six Royal Military Police personnel killed in Iraq in 2003, said: “I’m shocked at the level of casualties from the region.

“It looks like our region is bearing the brunt of it. Lives are being ruined for nothing and it’s not been worth one life. The soldiers signed up to protect Queen and country and not some foreign land like Iraq or Afghanistan.”

The latest soldier to be killed was sergeant Chris Reed of the 6th Battalion, The Rifles, who was blown up by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on New Year’s day. He came from Plymouth and planned to marry after his tour of duty..

His death was the first casualty of 2009 and follows a year in which Britain lost 51 troops in Afghanistan.

However, John Hyde, whose son Ben Hyde died alongside Simon Miller, believes the sacrifices made have been worth it.

He said: “I’m very proud of what Ben and his colleagues have achieved. That Britain will pull its troops out of Iraq by March and the Americans have handed security of the Green Zone to the Iraqi security forces shows there has been significant improvement in the security in the country.

“We have stabilised the country, although it was never going to be easy.

“I would like to see a peaceful and democratic Iraq because that would be a fitting memorial for all those who have lost their lives.”


59
For Your Information / Newcastle Rally 03_01_2008: Sunday Sun Report
« on: January 04, 2009, 04:35:48 PM »
http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/news/north-east-news/2009/01/04/gaza-raids-spark-anger-on-north-streets-79310-22600607/

Gaza raids spark anger on North streets

Jan 4 2009 by Ian Robson, Sunday Sun

 
THOUSANDS took to the streets yesterday to protest against Israeli military action in Gaza.

Demonstrations in Newcastle and York were among 18 across the country.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Grey’s Monument, Newcastle to show support for the Palestinians.

Supporters, including children, waved flags and banners during the event, organised by the protest group Fight Racism Fight Imperialism North East.

A spokesman said: “The initiative has come from Palestinians living in Newcastle. Let’s make this just the beginning of a renewed wave of resistance on the streets of Britain. In Palestine there has been talk of a third intifada. We have a duty living in a heartland of imperialism to also play our role.”

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said the official attendance figure was 150.

She said: “There were no arrests and it went off peacefully.”

A protest in York at the city’s St Sampson’s Square was followed by a march.

The London protest was supported by singer Annie Lennox and Bianca Jagger.

Police put the numbers at Trafalgar Square at 5000 to 6000 but organisers said that figure was a gross underestimate. Ms Lennox, formerly part of Eurythmics with her ex-partner Dave Stewart, of Sunderland, called for a ceasefire.

She said: “I’m here today as a mother, not as a politician. I’m not pro anybody, I’m here for human rights. We are looking at a huge human rights tragedy in front of us. The idea of an air assault combined with a ground war in such a tightly packed area as Gaza is unimaginable.

“There are 2000 people injured already. It will be a bloodbath.

“The turnout today is absolutely incredible . . . it shows that so many people really care about the issue. Hopefully, now, we will see dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.”

She said President George Bush, who has described Hamas’s rocket attacks as an act of terror, was not helping the situation.


60
South Tyneside Stop the War / WhiteWash(ed) News ... Latest ...
« on: December 02, 2008, 03:18:19 PM »
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7760684.stm

Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008
 
Menezes verdict choice limited 
 
The jury at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes will not be able to consider a verdict of unlawful killing, the coroner has said.

Sir Michael Wright said that having heard all the evidence, a verdict of unlawful killing was "not justified".

Lawyers for the de Menezes family are now going to the High Court to apply for a judicial review of the decision.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was shot dead by police after he was mistaken for one of the failed 21 July 2005 bombers.

Sir Michael's ruling came as he began his summing up of the case on Tuesday and leaves the jury to choose between an open, narrative or lawful killing verdict.

"In directing you that you cannot return a verdict of unlawful killing, I am not saying that nothing went wrong in a police operation which resulted in the killing of an innocent man," he told the hearing.

But in narrowing down the choice of verdict, he added: "All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to you if you could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime - murder or manslaughter."   

Sir Michael also warned jurors that they must not attach any criminal or civil fault to any individuals.

A spokesman for the Justice4Jean campaign said: "It is essential in a case of this significance that a jury is given the widest opportunity to comment on all the evidence they have heard.

"We await the decision of the High Court and hope a just outcome will prevail."

The 11-strong jury has heard from 100 witnesses since the inquest began at the Oval Cricket Ground in September. Among them were the two firearms officers who shot Mr de Menezes, known only as C2 and C12.

The coroner told the jury that the verdict they chose depended on whether they felt that those two officers honestly believed the Brazilian represented an imminent, mortal threat and whether lethal force was justified in those circumstances.   Put aside any emotion

Reminding them that the Brazilian's mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, had heard much of the evidence, Sir Michael said: "I know that your heart will go out to her.

"But these are emotional reactions, ladies and gentlemen, and you are charged with returning a verdict based on evidence.

"Put aside any emotion - put them to one side."

The jury can choose to deliver a narrative verdict if they believe their conclusions require detailed explanation.

A narrative could also be attached to any lawful killing verdict if the jury felt it would help explain their decision.

In 2007, the Metropolitan Police was fined £175,000 over the shooting of Mr de Menezes, after it was convicted under the Health and Safety Act of "endangering the public".

But the trial concluded that police chief Cressida Dick, who led the operation, bore "no personal culpability", and Sir Michael told the inquest jury that their verdict could not be inconsistent with that decision.

The jury was also given a series of questions to consider based on what they have heard.

These included whether C12 shouted a warning - "Armed police" - before opening fire, and whether Mr de Menezes stood up and moved towards officers as they approached.

Jurors were also asked to consider which of a number of factors contributed to the Brazilian's death.

Among those were:

'The pressure on police after the 7 July London bombings'
'A failure by police to ensure that Mr de Menezes was stopped before he reached the Underground'
'The innocent behaviour of Mr de Menezes increasing suspicion' (??????????????!!!!!! {this apparently is what the coroner actually said!})
'Shortcomings in the communications system between various police teams involved in the operation'
 

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