Archive for February 22, 2010

The Accidental Terrorist

This morning I awoke to the image of a little girl in Afghanistan.  I don’t know her name, let’s call her the Accidental Terrorist–she had the prettiest dark eyes, wide open staring sightless at the sky, her body mangled and bloody, a victim of one of the recent U.S. bombing attacks. She was just a little girl.

She must have run outside to play despite warnings from the soldiers to stay inside and keep her head down.  She wasn’t a terrorist, and we are not safer for her death.  Instead, we have destroyed a piece of the future of the world.  It was not ours to so wantonly dismiss.

I wonder–did the young soldiers who dropped the bomb know that children would be killed?  Can they live with that?  What will they tell their children about the day they killed a little girl who  ran out to play in Afghanistan?

Meanwhile back in this country it seems that a Saudi prince known for financing terrorism is now the 4th largest voting shareholder at Fox News’ parent company.  You’ve got to admit, where Bin Laden left off, Glenn Beck has carried on quite nicely with his inaccurate, incendiary spew. Ingenious really.

We’ve gotten to a point in this country where it is almost like a case of mass assisted suicide.  Jonestown without the koolaid.  Our schools and roads are in disrepair. Sick, broke, unemployed and foreclosed have become our public lack of options.  Our air is unbreathable and our water undrinkable, our press corp spends countless hours reporting on Tiger Woods’ apology and boys who don’t go up in balloons and teabag rallies and whether Sarah Palin is a creditable candidate for President.  And in the name of ending terrorism, we send our children to kill other children half way around the world.

If Bin Laden is high-fiving somewhere out of sight, who can blame him for we have become the destructive force that he aspired to be.

She was just a little girl.

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Chase CHASE Away From Our Mountains

Today, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) hosts PUT CHASE ON THE RUN, a social media day of action, to convince Chase bank to stop funding mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains.

JP Morgan Chase is the biggest U.S. financier of Mountaintop Removal (MTR). Mountaintop removal is the highly destructive mining practice that blows apart the tops of mountains in order to access coal in the cheapest way possible. MTR has buried over 2000 miles of rivers and streams and destroyed nearly 1.2 million acres of the Appalachian range. MTR has severely contaminated the air and drinking water, causing increased rates of mortality and disease for local people in the mountains of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

Join dozens of organizations and thousands of online activists in convincing Chase to stop destroying American mountains. Take a simple action on your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, blog or email to end mountaintop removal in 2010. Go to www.DirtyMoney.org for instructions and PUT CHASE ON THE RUN!

  • MTR has destroyed nearly 1.2 million acres of Appalachian forest and mountains
  • MTR has buried over 2000 miles of rivers and streams with debris and pollution
  • Tap water in many Appalachian communities is not safe to drink due to coal contamination
  • MTR techniques resulted in a 29% loss of jobs from 1987-1997, even as coal production rose 32%
  • JP Morgan Chase is the biggest funder in the U.S. of mountaintop removal coal mining

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This story is personal for me.  Aside from the fact that I can think of few things more heinous than cutting off the top of a mountain and dumping it in a stream along with all the  pollution of land, air and water that goes with it, not to mention the horrendous economic damage done, I have an account at JP Morgan Chase.  I didn’t used to.  When I moved to Louisville 20 plus years ago, I opened an account at a branch of Liberty National Bank that was just down the street. And check out this lovely picture of their downtown office. It was sort of like the bar in Cheers–everyone knew your name.  Then Liberty was bought by Bank One and that in turn was swallowed by Chase.  It never occurred to me to look into the politics of what they do with money until now, but I am deeply offended and angry.  You are not being a good citizen of this state if you are destroying it.  The little branch office where I go still maintains the Cheers-like familiarity but when you look beneath the surface, it doesn’t feel so friendly anymore.

It is a major pain in the ass to move your bank account, especially when you have things on auto-pay as I do.  I would prefer  not to have to waste my time with all that.  What I do plan to do is take a copy of this post with me the next time I go to the bank and give it to the branch manager and if you have an account at Chase, I urge you to do the same.  It is not okay for big banks to come into our communities and destroy them (and Chase has a pretty nasty record with home foreclosures too), and they don’t need our loyalty, even after 20 plus years, if they do so.

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Unspeakable–U.S. Military Advises Afghans To Keep Their Heads Down To Avoid Being Killed By Bombs. They Died Anyhow.

Those of you of a certain age will remember those grade school Armageddon drills where we we were instructed to get under our desks and put our heads between our knees in case of a nuclear attack, a tactic that served no purpose and certainly wouldn’t have saved us if the Commies attacked.

Now the U.S. military has a new version of this callously useless advice that they are using in Marjah, Afghanistan:

Afghan villagers should stay inside and “keep their heads down” when thousands of U.S. Marines launch a massive assault on a densely-populated district in coming days, NATO’s civilian representative to Afghanistan said Tuesday.

The results are predictable, here is Robert Naiman‘s well-worded summary of the results:

Civilian casualties are inevitable,” said U.S. officials before launching their weekend military assault on Marja in southern Afghanistan, and in this case, they were telling the truth. Yesterday, the New York Times reports, a U.S. rocket strike “hit a compound crowded with Afghan civilians… killing at least 10 people, including 5 children.”

What justification has been provided by the government of the United States for its decision to kill these five children?

It will be argued that the government of the United States did not decide to kill these five children specifically, and that’s absolutely true. The U.S. government did not decide to kill these particular children; it only decided to kill some Afghan civilians, chosen randomly from Marja’s civilian population, when it decided to launch its military assault. These five children simply had the misfortune of holding losing tickets in a lottery in which they did not choose to participate…

…NATO forces have decided to advise civilians in Marjah not to leave their homes, although they say they do not know whether the assault will lead to heavy fighting.

These five kids were staying inside, as instructed. It didn’t save them from U.S. rockets. Perhaps they weren’t keeping their heads down.

You can read the rest of Naiman’s commentary here.  Suffice it to say, “Duck” is not an acceptable strategy for protecting civilians and should be seen as a gross violation of international law.

Billions of dollars spent killing children.  How dare we talk about winning or honor.

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