Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness

Fifty Iraq War veterans have gone on the record with The Nation Magazine about their experiences in Iraq. It is a very disturbing and telling piece about why our presence there is fueling an insurgency that grows daily. Convoys run by private contractors and guarded by Humvees race through crowded streets at sixty miles an hour running over pedestrians, crushing cars and firing on anyone and everyone deemed dangerous. When an IED goes off every armed soldier in the convoy fire at everything they see. Houses are raided and men of “military age” are rounded up and sent off to jail. While raiding a house the homes are ransacked and furniture smashed. Patrols are sent out and according to the article, “…many veterans said the killing of civilians deeply disturbed them, they also said there was no other way to safely operate a patrol.”

Many veterans said racism is rampant. Soldiers are bunkered down and separate from the Iraqi population unless out on patrol or escorting a convoy where apparently their only contact with Iraqis is at the end of an automatic weapon. The civilians are dehumanized in the eyes of the soldiers and thus easier to kill. Most interviewed said the guilt did not start until they had returned home.

What choice do our soldiers have? They are sent out into an environment where an attack can come from any direction. I have heard this referred to as “360/24/7.” Three hundred sixty degrees, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Every day it just gets worse.

We are terrifying and killing innocent Iraqi civilians on a daily basis. It is routine. It is systematic. It makes no sense. The only way to stop it is to withdraw our troops. Even if the “surge” were to somehow work this would not change how we are conducting an immoral and unjust war.

Here is an animated map that shows only coalition deaths in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


With all the crap we have to cope with these days it is important to note the beauty that surrounds us despite the best efforts of the Bush Administration. Earlier today Janet became a Great Grandmother and Trevor is a beautiful baby boy. He is why we fight for our future.
No cracks about Kojack, he is too young for lollipops.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Racism Does Exist!

I want to tell you a story that may remind you of what happened way back in the 1950’s but it is actually happening right now. It seems that there is a high school down in Jena, Louisiana that has a nice big shade tree. Now even though Americans fought a long hard battle to rid ourselves of the Jim Crow laws (the laws that said blacks could not sit in the front of the bus, drink from the same water fountains as whites, use the same bathrooms as whites or eat in “white only” restaurants) it seems that Jena High School had a “whites only” shade tree.

In the courtyard of the high school in the center of the yard stands a very large shade tree. The only other shade in the yard is near one of the walls of the school. The white students claimed the tree for themselves. One day last year a black student, Robert Bailey decided to go stand under it. The next day when the black students went to school they found three nooses hanging from the tree. The white students who had hung the nooses were not disciplined and were allowed to continue to go to school.

A few days later the entire black student population decided at the spur of the moment during lunch hour to go stand under the tree. The police were called. The school had an assembly and the District Attorney, Reed Walters; flanked by armed police, addressed the students. A black substitute teacher, Michelle Rogers, one of the few black teachers at the school described what happened. Reed Walters looked at the black students and held up a pen and said, “I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen.”

Later, in October, a black student was beaten for entering an all white party. Then later that month a white student pulled a gun on a group of black students at a gas station. The black students wrestled the gun away from him and called the police. They were charged with assault and robbery of the gun. No charges were filed against any of the white students in either of these incidents. In November the school was set on fire. A few days later a white student was attacked in a school fight. He was treated at a hospital for a concussion and bruises and released. He attended a school function later that evening.

Six black students were then charged with Attempted Second Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder. Their bonds were set at $75,000 to $100,000. The six range in age from 15 to 17 years of age. They are facing sentences from 20 to 100 years without the chance for parole.

The six are:

Theodore Shaw

Carwin Jones

Mychal Bell

Ryan Bailey

Bryant Purvis

Jesse Beard

The local paper wrote the incident up as fact and Reed Walters stated, “When you are convicted I will seek the maximum sentence allowed by law."

Mychal Bell has already been convicted by an all white jury and is facing a sentence of up to 22 years. He will be sentenced July 31st.

The Sheriff’s department, the Chief of Police and the school superintendent all claim that the nooses had nothing to do with Robert Bailey standing under the tree.

Barbara Murphy, the town librarian says, “We don’t have a race problem in Jena, its all about crime…the nooses? I don’t even know why they were there…what they were supposed to mean. There’s pranks all the time of one type or another going on and …um…it just didn’t seem to be racist to me.”

The student’s parents have rallied to their defense and the NAACP has become involved.

Marcus Jones, father of Mychal Bell. His son was recently convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. He faces up to 22 years in prison.

Caseptla Bailey, mother of Robert Bailey Jr., one of the Jena 6. Her son is facing charges of attempted second degree murder and conspiracy.

Tina Jones, mother of Bryant Purvis, one of the Jena 6. Her son is facing charges of attempted second degree murder and conspiracy.

Catrina Wallace, Robert Bailey's stepsister and the secretary of the LaSalle Parish chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Jena 6 Defense Committee
PO BOX 2798
Jena, LA 71342
Jena High School
243 E High School Dr
Jena, LA
(318) 992-5195

La Salle District Attorney

1050 Courthouse Sq,

Jena, LA
(318) 992-8282

The Press is ignoring this story.

Scooter Libby will be drinking Martinis tonight.

You can watch this story on Democracy Now!

Also a piece on NPR on July 5.