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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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“A Lake of Blood and Destruction” – The Voices We Never Hear From America's Wars


Branfman's book "Voices From The Plain Of Jars: Life Under An Air War" brings us face to face with the almost unimaginable atrocities committed by the U.S. Military.

“A Lake of Blood and Destruction” – The Voices We Never Hear From America's Wars
By Fred Branfman
May 7, 2013 |

Voices From The Plain Of Jars: Life Under An Air War, “arguably the most important single book to emerge from the Vietnam war” according to historian Alfred McCoy, has just been reissued by University of Wisconsin press. The book is the only one of 30,000 Vietnam-era books written by Indochinese villagers, who comprised most of the population, suffered most, and were heard from least. But though unique, these voices also speak today for the countless unseen civilian victims of U.S. war-making in the Muslim World and beyond, and graphically describe the human consequences of U.S. Executive Secret war-making executed by Henry Kissinger from 1969 until 1975, and the dominant mode of U.S. warfare today.

Below please find excerpts from writings by Lao villagers from the Plain of Jars in northern Laos, who were bombed for 5 years from 1964 to 1969. The bombing, which eradicated the 700 year old civilization and turned the survivors into penniless refugees, was quadrupled after a November 1968 U.S. bombing halt over North Vietnam. It leveled every village and burned, buried alive, maimed and drove underground tens of thousands of civilians, where they lived like animals until evacuated to refugee camps in the capital city of Vientiane where they wrote this material.

When asked to explain the U.S. bombing escalation, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Monteagle Stearns testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn't just let them stay there with nothing to do." (1)

N.Y. Times columnist Anthony Lewis has written, “the most appalling episode of lawless cruelty in American history (is) the bombing of Laos (and is) described without rancor—almost unbearably so—in a small book that will go down as a classic. It is "Voices From the Plain of Jars," ... in which the villagers of Laos themselves describe what the bombers did to their civilization. No American should be able to read that book without weeping at his country's arrogance.” (2)
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 14, 2013, 08:32 AM (0 replies)

Pentagon grapples with sex crimes by military recruiters


Pentagon grapples with sex crimes by military recruiters
By Craig Whitlock, Published: May 12 E-mail the writer

Military recruiters across the country have been caught in a string of sex-crime scandals over the past year, exposing another long-standing problem for the Defense Department as it grapples with a crisis of sexual assault in the ranks.

In Alaska, law enforcement officials are fuming after a military jury this month convicted a ­Marine Corps recruiter of ­first-degree sexual assault in the rape of a 23-year-old female civilian but did not sentence him to prison.

In Texas, an Air Force recruiter will face a military court next month on charges of rape, forcible sodomy and other crimes involving 18 young women he tried to enlist over a three-year period. Air Force officials have described the case as perhaps the worst involving one of its recruiters.

In Maryland, Army officials are puzzling over a murder-suicide last month, when a staff sergeant, Adam Arndt, killed himself after he fatally shot Michelle Miller, a 17-year-old Germantown girl whom he had been recruiting for the Army Reserve. Officials suspect the two were romantically involved, something expressly forbidden by military rules.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 14, 2013, 07:36 AM (0 replies)

Former Drone Pilot Talks Candidly About Attacks


Former Drone Pilot Talks Candidly About Attacks
Posted on May 11, 2013

A veteran Air Force drone pilot has opened up about his unsettling experiences killing alleged militants and probable civilians from an air-conditioned trailer in the American West.

Brandon Bryant, 27, operated drones for several years. He now lives in Montana where he sleeps on the couches of friends and acquaintances while attending college. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.


“We fired the missile, and 1.2 seconds after the missile fires, it sonic booms,” Bryant said. “And so the sonic boom gets there before the missile does. And the guy in the rear hears this, and he runs forward to the two guys in the front, and then the missile hits. And after the smoke clears, there’s a crater there. You can see body parts of the people.

“But the guy who was running from rear to the front, his left leg had been taken off above the knee, and I watched him bleed out,” Bryant continued. “The blood rapidly cooled to become the same color as the ground, because we were watching this in infrared. Then I eventually watched the guy become the same color as the ground that he died on.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 14, 2013, 07:32 AM (1 replies)

Leaving Afghanistan Is a $7 Billion Moving Task for U.S.


Leaving Afghanistan Is a $7 Billion Moving Task for U.S.
By Gopal Ratnam - 2013-05-13T00:00:02Z

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan more than 12 years ago with a contingent of special forces and Central Intelligence Agency officers, some of them on horseback, armed with laser pointers to direct air strikes against al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts.


While the fighting continues, the U.S. is mounting what may become a $7 billion effort to withdraw most of its forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year. It will require sending Humvees, helicopters, drones and 12 1/2-ton mine-resistant vehicles home by rail and truck networks stretching from Karachi to ports in the Baltic Sea.


About 80 percent of the war gear, including Blackhawk helicopters, radios, trucks and remotely piloted aircraft, will return to the U.S., Estevez said. Most of the equipment that supports U.S. bases, such as air-conditioners, construction material and furniture, will be left behind or destroyed, he said.

Few military items will be left for the Afghans to use, U.S. Army Brigadier General Steve Shapiro, deputy commander for theater sustainment, told reporters in Kabul in March. The military gear Afghanistan needs will be provided through the Pentagon’s foreign military sales program, Shapiro said.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 13, 2013, 09:23 AM (1 replies)

Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians


Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians
Published: May 12, 2013

MAIDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan — The authorities in Afghanistan are seeking the arrest on murder and torture charges of a man they say is an American and part of a Special Forces unit operating in Wardak Province, three Afghan officials have confirmed.

The accusations against the man, Zakaria Kandahari, and the assertion that he and much of his unit are American are a new turn in a dispute over counterinsurgency tactics in Wardak that has strained relations between Kabul and Washington. American officials say their forces are being wrongly blamed for atrocities carried out by a rogue Afghan unit. But the Afghan officials say they have substantial evidence of American involvement.

They say they have testimony and documents implicating Mr. Kandahari and his unit in the killings or disappearances of 15 Afghans in Wardak. Mr. Kandahari is of Afghan descent but was born and raised in the United States, they say. Included in the evidence, the Afghan officials say, is a videotape of Mr. Kandahari torturing one of the 15 Afghans, a man they identified as Sayid Mohammad.

Mr. Mohammad was picked up by the unit in Wardak six months ago and has not been seen since, the officials said. The partial remains of Mohammad Qassim, another of the 15 Afghans, were found in a trash pit just outside the fence around the unit’s base in the Nerkh district, according to Mr. Qassim’s family and Afghan officials.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 13, 2013, 07:12 AM (0 replies)

Ronald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide


More than any recent U.S. president, Ronald Reagan has been lavished with honors, including his name attached to Washington’s National Airport. But the conviction of Reagan’s old ally, ex-Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt, for genocide means “Ronnie” must face history’s judgment as an accessory to the crime

Ronald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide
by Robert Parry
Published on Sunday, May 12, 2013 by Consortiumnews.com

The conviction of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide against Mayan villagers in the 1980s has a special meaning for Americans who idolize Ronald Reagan. It means that their hero was an accessory to one of the most grievous crimes that can be committed against humanity.

The courage of the Guatemalan people and the integrity of their legal system to exact some accountability on a still-influential political figure also put U.S. democracy to shame. For decades now, Americans have tolerated human rights crimes by U.S. presidents who face little or no accountability. Usually, the history isn’t even compiled honestly.


Yet, while Guatemalans demonstrate the strength to face a dark chapter of their history, the American people remain mostly oblivious to Reagan’s central role in tens of thousands of political murders across Central America in the 1980s, including some 100,000 dead in Guatemala slaughtered by Rios Montt and other military dictators.

Indeed, Ronald Reagan – by aiding, abetting, encouraging and covering up widespread human rights crimes in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as Guatemala – bears greater responsibility for Central America’s horrors than does Rios Montt in his bloody 17-month rule. Reagan supported Guatemala’s brutal repression both before and after Rios Montt held power, as well as during.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 13, 2013, 06:54 AM (6 replies)

Ted Rall Toon: Rapist Nation


Cartoon for May 11th, 2013: Rapist Nation
by Ted Rall | May 11, 2013 - 9:31am

Posted by unhappycamper | Sun May 12, 2013, 10:19 AM (1 replies)

Lawmakers call for VA hospital changes following fourth suicide


Lawmakers call for VA hospital changes following fourth suicide
By Misty Williams
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Posted: 6:38 p.m. Friday, May 10, 2013

The head of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said Friday that top leaders at the Atlanta VA Medical Center clearly had “something to hide” after failing to reveal the suicide of a Georgia veteran at the hospital last fall.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and four Georgia congressmen toured the 405-bed facility in Decatur on Monday in response to recent federal inspection reports linking the deaths of three veterans to pervasive mismanagement of the hospital’s mental health unit.

When Miller asked hospital officials whether there were any other patient deaths Congress should know about, he said he was told, “No.” But last November, hospital staff discovered Army veteran Joseph Petit, 42, locked in a hospital bathroom dead in his wheelchair, a plastic trash bag tied over his head with a blue cord around his neck, a medical examiner’s report shows.

Petit’s suicide was not included in two audits released last month by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun May 12, 2013, 09:58 AM (0 replies)

Vietnam veterans' new battle: getting disability compensation


Behind John Otte is a picture of him receiving his second Purple Heart. The Vietnam veteran gets $1,900 a month for post-traumatic stress disorder and diabetes, and he has applied for full disability benefits; that filing has been pending since 2010.

Vietnam veterans' new battle: getting disability compensation
By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times
May 11, 2013, 6:10 p.m.

Vietnam veteran John Otte did his best to forget the war.


But as Otte neared retirement, memories of combat flooded back. Starting in 2005, he filed a series of claims with Veterans Affairs for disability compensation, contending that many of his health problems stemmed from the war.

The VA agreed, and now the 65-year-old with two Purple Hearts receives $1,900 a month for post-traumatic stress disorder and diabetes — and for having shrapnel scars on his arms. His payments will rise to about $3,000 if the VA approves a petition to declare him completely disabled and unemployable.


Otte is among hundreds of thousands of veterans from the Vietnam era filing for damages four decades after the war. They account for the largest share of the 865,000 veterans stuck in a growing and widely denounced backlog of compensation claims — some 37%. The post 9-11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq account for 20%. The remainder are from the 1991 Gulf War, Korea, World War II and times of peace.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun May 12, 2013, 09:19 AM (0 replies)

Navy carrier jets (F-35) 'can't land in hot weather'


Navy carrier jets 'can't land in hot weather'
Nick Hopkins
The Guardian, Thursday 9 May 2013

The hi-tech jets that will be flown from the Royal Navy's two new aircraft carriers cannot land on the ships in "hot, humid and low pressure weather conditions", a report warns today.

The version of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) that has been bought for the £5.5bn carriers is still in development but currently cannot land vertically – as its predecessor the Harrier jump jet could – in warm climates without jettisoning heavy payloads, the National Audit Office says.

Though the Ministry of Defence insists the problem will be overcome by the time the first carrier is ready for service in 2020, it is one of a number of concerns pointed out by the NAO over a project that has been bedevilled by delays and cost increases.

The spending watchdog says the early warning "Crowsnest" radar needed by the carriers will not be fully operational until 2022, meaning the ships will need protection from other navy vessels for two years while trials are completed.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun May 12, 2013, 08:13 AM (2 replies)
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