Noble wars of liberation cost a fortune

How many in the US know this?

If you’re an average American taxpayer, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, since 2001, cost you personally $7,334, according to the “cost of war” counter created by the National Priorities Project (NPP).  They have cost all Americans collectively more than $980,000,000,000.  As a country, we’ll pass the trillion dollar mark soon.  
These are staggering figures and, despite the $72.3 billion that Congress has already ponied up for the Afghan War in 2010 ($136.8 billion if you add in Iraq), the administration is about to go back to Congress for more than $35 billion in outside-the-budget supplemental funds to cover the president’s military and civilian Afghan surges
When that passes, as it surely will, the cumulative cost of the Afghan War alone will hit $300 billion, and we’ll be heading for two trillion-dollar wars.

Visiting Sri Lanka as a war crimes investigator not tourist


Sri Lanka is now promoting itself as a wonderful holiday destination, filled with natural wonder, peace, harmony and white beaches:

In fact, the Global Tamil Forum has called for a worldwide boycott of Sri Lankan products and services in protest at Colombo’s shocking violations of human rights.
Don’t visit Sri Lanka on your next holiday.

We’re Jewish and we would like to ban this

Is the Zionist Diaspora somehow pre-programmed to try and censor anything that mildly challenges Israeli policies?
The latest madness:

How to fight the occupation with a few good men and women

Israeli peace group Ta’ayush – not just talking but doers against the occupation – on another week in the West Bank:

As in every week of the year, we woke up at 07:00 on a Saturday morning to oppose injustice. We, is a group of about 15, mostly Israeli and some International Activists lead by Ta’ayush, a Jewish-Arab organization opposing the occupation and trying to promote equality.
The South of Hebron Hills is one of the most difficult regions in the West Bank. Much of the native population of this area is Bedouin, a minority in Palestinian society to begin with, and generally invisible to the Israeli occupation authorities.
We first arrived to a location which became a focus of attention in recent weeks – the lands of Umm Zaytouna, near the village of Tuba (not that you could know, since the road signs only name the Jewish settlements in this area – did we say invisible?). Tuba’s misfortune is its neighbors. About 1km the east and north lie two Israeli settlements – Ma’on and Carmel. We will talk about Carmel later on.
The story here is quite simple. The whole land area around Ma’on is either private Palestinian land or “state lands”. This means of the settlers have no ownership rights over them. But, of course this doesn’t concern those whose land ownership is god-given. They don’t want Palestinians damaging the view.
But Tuba’s residents need to make a living, and their Shepherds want to feed their herds on the land. When they do, they are expelled by the army – normally by shouting, threatening and sometimes even by taking a goat hostage (yes, that’s right).
If the shepherds demand their rights on their own, they would be imprisoned and harassed in the better scenario, or physically hurt in worse scenario. Needless to say that all of this is illegal, either by international law (the mere existence of Ma’on) or by the occupation laws (forbidding the shepherds).
The Israeli supreme court and legal adviser ordered the army that an area can be closed for Palestinians only if one of two conditions applies: an immediate security threat or immediate negative interaction with settlers. None of these exist here.
That’s where the activists come into the picture. We accompany the shepherds, demand their rights be realized and confront the army and police if they are not. The goal is to allow the herds to feed.

Sri Lanka kills and tortures journalists


A strong article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald by Matt Wade outlines the reasons Sri Lanka remains a brutal country with little interest in addressing human rights concerns:

The treatment of journalists is one bellwether of the human rights climate in Sri Lanka. But the Australian Government doesn’t seem to be paying attention. It’s decision to decision to suspend the claims of Sri Lankans seeking political asylum is at odds with the plight of media workers there.
Despite the end to the country’s civil war 10 months ago, voicing a critical opinion in Sri Lanka remains very dangerous. In recent weeks, several journalists have fled the country fearing for their lives. They have joined scores of others living in exile because they feel it is too dangerous to report independently in their country. These include several Sri Lankan journalists I have encountered while reporting there over the past 18 months.
One media activist who worked for me as an interpreter in January has since fled Sri Lanka with his wife, also a journalist, and their small child. He found himself in a ”life-threat situation” after the presidential elections and decided it was time to leave. The family is now in a European country that still accepts Sri Lankan asylum seekers. ”I have no idea when will I be able to come back home,” he says.
Last year, a professional photographer who had taken pictures for The Age escaped to India after being accused of sympathising with the Tamil Tigers. Poddala Jayantha, editor of the Sinhalese newspaper Silumina, which has published stories critical of the government, was abducted and severely beaten last June.
He was left permanently disabled by the attack. Despite his injuries, Jayantha remained in Sri Lanka for more than six months hoping to continue his journalistic career, but gave up recently and left the country. Last week, another long-time journalist activist left the country in fear for his life.
Meanwhile, there is grave concern for the wellbeing of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who has been missing since the evening of January 24.
According to some, the situation has become worse since recent elections.
The editor of the Sinhalese-language Lanka Irida Sangrahaya newspaper, Chandana Sirimalwatte, was arrested soon after Sri Lanka’s presidential poll in January and held for several weeks. His newspaper, which is affiliated with an opposition party, has since reopened but with restrictions.
Sirimalwatte fears media freedoms will deteriorate further following this month’s parliamentary elections, which were won convincingly by the coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
”We are hoping for things to get better but we are ready for the worst,” he told The Age on Sunday.
Last month, the International Federation of Journalists wrote to the President raising concerns about a list of journalists, human rights campaigners and other prominent individuals in Sri Lanka that was reportedly compiled and possibly circulated by state intelligence agencies.
The federation’s Deborah Muir says the climate of intimidation in Sri Lanka now is as bad as it has ever been for journalists, and self-censorship rules the media across the island. ”For the Australian or other governments to say that there is no problem in Sri Lanka, and to accept the claims of a regime notorious for its efforts to undermine independent media voices and to stamp out free expression, appears to completely overlook the reality for people in Sri Lanka,” she said.
”How can anyone claim the situation is acceptable when just last week a long-time journalist activist finally had to flee the country in fear for his life?
”We fear more may be forced out in the next weeks or months as the regime cements its grip and seeks revenge on those it deems to be its enemies.”

Remind us why America can solve the Middle East crisis, again?

Daniel Pipes reminds us that Washington’s supposed attempts at peace are really counter-productive:

….The “peace process” is in actuality a “war process.” Diplomatic negotiations through the 1990s led to a parade of Israeli retreats that had the perverse effect of turning the middling-bad situation of 1993 into the awful one of 2000. Painful Israeli concessions, we now know, stimulate not reciprocal Palestinian goodwill but rather irredentism, ambition, fury, and violence.

Pipes is right with one thing. The last 20 years has seen a lot of talking but massive increases in Palestinian dispossession. And America has simply watched.

The striking beauty of Nepal


Muslims allowed to throw shoes in protest (and Jews want to throw something, too)

This story may need no introduction (except to say that I wonder what, say, Jews, Christians and Hindus would like to throw, just to make things fair, of course):

Scotland Yard has bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest — which could have the unintended consequence of politicians or the police being hit.
News of the concession by the Metropolitan police has come to light amid a series of trials of more than 70 mostly Muslim demonstrators who were charged with violent disorder after last year’s Gaza protests outside the Israeli embassy in London.
Aquib Salim, 21, an IT student at Queen Mary, London University, who was involved in a shoe-throwing incident, is almost certain to avoid a prison sentence as a result.
Chris Holt, Salim’s solicitor, said he was likely to get a suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to a single charge of throwing a stick at police lines.
“The court accepted that the earlier shoe-throwing incident was simply a ritual form of protest and therefore not a criminal act of violence,” Holt said.
Judge Denniss agreed that the act of shoe-throwing should not be considered in a charge of violent disorder against the student because it was “a symbolic” political gesture.

Any chance of Kissinger not being invited to Christmas this year?

With yet more evidence linking Henry Kissinger to war crimes, perhaps now the political and media elites will regard him as the pariah he should be (yes, I know, wishful thinking):

As secretary of state, Henry Kissinger canceled a U.S. warning against carrying out international political assassinations that was to have gone to Chile and two neighboring nations just days before a former ambassador was killed by Chilean agents on Washington’s Embassy Row in 1976, a newly released State Department cable shows.
Whether Kissinger played a role in blocking the delivery of the warning against assassination to the governments of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay has long been a topic of controversy.
Discovered in recent weeks by the National Security Archive, a non-profit research organization, the Sept. 16, 1976 cable is among tens of thousands of declassified State Department documents recently made available to the public.
In 1976, the South American nations of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay were engaged in a program of repression code-named Operation Condor that targeted those governments’ political opponents throughout Latin America, Europe and even the United States.
Based on information from the CIA, the U.S. State Department became concerned that Condor included plans for political assassination around the world. The State Department drafted a plan to deliver a stern message to the three governments not to engage in such murders.
In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as “Operation Condor,” preceded by the words “(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN.” The cable states that “secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo” Uruguay “and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter.”
“The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger’s role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots,” Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive’s senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday. Kornbluh is the author of “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.”
See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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