Thursday, August 25, 2005

The War Comes to Utah:

Or, how I learned to quit worrying, and love the police state.

Ok, this is a multi-part, directive and participatory blog posting.

First read the article posted here:

and here:

Full military combat regalia, eh? Well, why not? Perhaps the swat team was experiencing some battle envy, but since going to Iraq is, well, you know, kinda inconvenient, they could just get their war on by terrifying / bashing kids at a concert. Rave / Schmave, these are kids at concerts for christ's sake-- kids that the 90 faux soldiers were, purportedly, protecting and serving by stomping them to the ground and repeatedly kicking them in the ribs. I wonder how many kids would have been injured without the raid, and how many were injured in the raid.... I could do without that sort of protection, thanks anyways. What is up with all that cammo? What message were they (very purposefully) projecting? Is anyone else sick of "our" country declaring wars at home?

I am afraid that this is yet more evidence that we are no longer on a slippery slope to a police state--- we are within a police state, one which uses a somewhat friendlier facism than we have read about in history books or in Orwell, and yet certainly we are no longer in a state where there is pretense of tolerance for those who are "outside the mainstream".

And why target Raves anyways? Could it be because there is a definite theme of unity, bliss, ecstatic dance and sensuality? All of those things hurl rocks at the mirrored walls of a police state. Could that also be behind the war on cannabis?

I want peace, I want justice, I want love to prevail.

In the words of Umar Bin Hassan:
"Peace to those who come to understand that love is all you are and ever will be."

May we all understand this, and understand it soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Not In My Name. No More Torture.

How upside-down / inside-out can the news possibly be spun?

The story stuck in my craw today revolves around the refusal to disclose 87 additional photos & videos of "detainee abuse" under US occupation at Abu Ghraib. The following is an excerpt from an item posted on Common Dreams from the Inter Press Service:

"In response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and a number of medical and veterans groups demanding release of 87 new videos and photographs depicting detainee abuse at the now infamous prison, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said the release would result in 'riots, violence and attacks by insurgents.' "

Well, good thing that Myers is looking to de-escalate tensions, no? More from the story:

"He [Myers] believes the release of the photos would 'incite public opinion in the Muslim world and put the lives of American soldiers and officials at risk.' "

OK, correct me if I am wrong here, but the thing that is putting lives of American soldiers and officials at risk is the occupation that the US government has been engaged in since we (with manufactured provocation) trumped up a so-called "coalition of the willing" to invade and attack a sovereign nation because the US government declares it is in our national interest to lay claim to their resources as if they were our own.

” 'The situation on the ground in Iraq is dynamic and dangerous,' Myers added, with 70 insurgent attacks daily.

Dynamic and dangerous, eh? It is a war for chrissake's--of course it is dangerous!

” 'It is probable that Al Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill, which will result in, besides violent attacks, increased terrorist recruitment, continued financial support and exacerbation of tensions between Iraqi and Afghani populaces and U.S. and coalition forces,'[Myer's] said."

Hey, news flash-- you know what can also cause increased violent attacks, terrorist recruitment and an exacerbation of tensions between Iraqi & Afghani populaces and the US & coalition forces? How about the freekin' torture that seems to be pretty much a way of doing business at detention centers?!? Torture that Alberto Gonzalez can justify with the stroke of a pen-- safe, clean and very removed from the brutal and inhuman acts his work supports. He doesn't have to hear the screams. He doesn't have to see the eyes filled with torment, fear and pain.

How dare Myers frame the issue as the ACLU and concerned human rights groups are encouraging terrorism for wanting to expose what some US military and civilian contractors are doing in violation of international conventions-- or that the release of the photos (and not the actions that they depict) will bring violence and ill-will toward US and "coalition" forces.

This is, to me, the crux of the biscuit-- How disingenuous can a guy be? Seems to me that resistance fighters were, well, fighting the US occupying forces well before the first photos of torture were publicly released last year. I mean, if I was worried that seeing pictures of torture might put our troops at risk, shouldn't I be at least as concerned that the act itself might just piss an occupied people off?

Seems to me that if you were truly wanting to end violence against our troops, you would make damn sure that
1) all international conventions were followed carefully in regards to POW treatment, not targeting civilians and the like;
2) all efforts were put into finding a workable and quick exit strategy to take the troops out of harms way;
3) and, oh yeah, you wouldn't constantly expose those same troops to depleted uranium.

Of course, Myers is not in the least bit concerned over the welfare of the troops. He is concerned that the public just might catch on to the fact that the torture of prisoners is not being done by a few bad apples; that 87 additional visual images of torture done by US forces may reveal a distinct and widespread pattern of institutionalized practice.

As Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights points out:

"'The administration's response to the release of the photos is to kill the messenger, rather then to investigate and prosecute the real culprits: Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld, Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, Generals Miller and Sanchez, and others.'

He agreed that 'the photos will be upsetting to anyone who cares about humane treatment and particularly to those in the Muslim world, but the photos reflect the reality of the type of treatment detainees were subjected to.'

'Rather than suppress the best evidence of widespread torture of Muslim detainees, the Administration ought to launch a fully independent investigation and ought to see that an independent prosecutor is appointed,' Ratner told IPS.

He added, 'Ensuring accountability for the torture conspiracy is the best way of demonstrating to the Muslim world that this outrage has come to an end and will not be repeated.' "

I couldn't agree more.

Let the truth be known so that we can call for accountability.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Don't hate the media-- be the media!"

I embrace this approach to life. Indeed, I have been involved in DIY media for most of my life-- primarily at the (often) brilliant community radio station known as KBOO.

I guess that I want to try to put ideas out there in just about any medium that I can-- hence, I will try my hand at blogging. Goddess knows I have read a few.

So on this, my maiden blog post, I wanted to share my thoughts on solidarity, perhaps the most important concept to embrace at this time.

We certainly are in perilous times. Indeed, that Niemoller quote* doesn't feel very distant.

We should encourage and foster solidarity at every opportunity, because our lives really do depend on it.

Did anyone else notice that a 4-star general was fired for "sexual misconduct" of an undisclosed nature? Say what? Since when does that happen (okay, last time was 10 years ago)?

There's a whole lot of bad will between civilian and military pentagon personnel.

There's a whole lot of bad will between the current administration and the CIA (it's not nice to out your operatives).

There are some interesting high-level tensions happening in that game they play in D.C.. To bad how they play effects each and everyone of us. As for me, I want nothing to do with them. I want to see us outgrow the US government. They have a history of torture, rape, genocide and other nastiness that just doesn't stop.

Oh, and Bush's poll showings are slipping. While on the one hand this makes me ecstatic, on the other, it worries me--because this administration will stop at nothing to distract people from the evil fucking things they do. Anyone see yet another Reichstag smoldering?

We don't need them.
We need each other.

It's time to practice solidarity like our lives depend on it.

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist -- so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat -- so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist -- so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew -- so I didn't speak up.

Then when they came for me, there was no one left to speak up for me."

-- Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

(There are many versions of this quote, seems to be some arguement over the order in which the lines came... funny how much folks like to argue... still, in every version I have seen, the meaning is clear-- Why wait? Practice solidarity now!)