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Hate for Hate: Joystick Justice

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  • Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. --Dr. Martin Luther King
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  • Justice Has Been Done?
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Gene Marx, Veterans for Peace

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Late Sunday night (May 1), with the weekend news cycle still squeezing the life out of the first royal kiss and "NATO's" targeted assassination attempt of Muammar Gaddafi, killing his youngest son Saif Al-Arab and three young grandchildren, provoking a mainstream media feeding frenzy not seen since Balloon Boy. The President would soon announce - within minutes, it was leaked - to a grateful, fearful, xenophobic nation that Osama Bin Laden had been taken out, double-whacked, by an elite team of American assassins in Pakistan.

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As a jubilant mob of flag wavers on Pennsylvania Avenue were gathering within earshot, a somber Obama took the mike and delivered the goods, short on details, long on rhetoric.

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Justice Has Been Done?  Mike Ferner, Veterans for Peace (VFP)

“Justice has been done,” said President Obama. 

“Justice has been done.” 

“Justice has been done.”

Justice has been done!?  Justice!?  Justice??  For the last ten years, we’ve been engaged in an exercise of justice?  That’s what you call what we’ve been doing? 

Are we supposed to take out a large magnifying glass and a delicate pair of tweezers and from within a bottomless pool of blood, gore, death, suffering and devastated economies, isolate one raid that killed Osama bin Laden …and then celebrate that “Justice has been done?”

Sorry.  Impossible.

Real justice and a real call for celebration would have been to treat the attacks of September 11, 2001 for what they were, a massive, international criminal act and then set about dealing with it as we would any massive international crime – using international police forces to identify suspects, apprehend them, charge them, try them and punish the guilty.  And we could have secured more than justice.

On September 12, 2001, a grieving world stood in full sympathy alongside the U.S., ready to assist.  America, looked up to by so many, could have led the world into a new day where nations work together to prove once and for all that war is not the answer.  Justice and so much more were within our reach.

Ah, but our government leaders weren’t interested in justice.  They were interested in taking advantage of a rare “opportunity” to forcibly expand the Empire into a strategic corner of the world, no matter the cost in blood or treasure.  That’s what we’ve been doing for a decade after Osama bin Laden became infamous.  Of the millions of tragedies we could count in this past decade we can now add one more: May 2, 2011 will be remembered as an historical footnote for the day bin Laden, his wife and a handful of aides were killed.  The much larger story will be that millions of innocent people were killed, wounded, orphaned and displaced; ethnic and religious hatreds were fanned into wildfires; cities and towns from Maine to California grieved the death or the disfigured crippling of a loved one; our entire economy was thrown into chaos – because we spent over a trillion dollars not pursuing justice, but empire.

Collateral damage?  That foul term, come to popularity in these wars, includes every extended family of a war casualty, every city and state struggling to forestall bankruptcy and still provide fire protection, police, schools, medical services, libraries…

In fact, it is impossible to understand the cost of a decade of Empire’s wars in the aggregate.  It is simply beyond human comprehension, and for good reason – it would send us into shock if we were to grasp it.  The only way we can get a taste of it is to stop for a moment and feel a mother’s pain as she’s handed a folded flag at graveside; visit, ghost-like, a mud-brick home in the middle of the night in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan and sit quietly with sobbing parents trying to make sense of why their youngest child was just incinerated by a drone strike and their oldest poisoned by the only water there was to drink; listen to the 50 year-old father from Ohio cry because he has just been thrown out of work and his family is soon to be thrown out of their home. 

If every American tried this exercise in the quiet of every night for only two weeks, a tsunami of grief and righteous anger would spring from every town, overcoming every political institution in its path until our country was finally set on a direction to where the needs of common people matter more than the dreams of war profiteers or craven politicians doing the bidding of Empire. 

Then we could truly say that justice was being done.

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The Disastrous Cost of Oil Addiction

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  • “Crucial mistakes, disastrous consequences, the weakness of power, unpreparedness and overreaction, the quiet dignity of everyday heroes,” he writes. “The 2010 Gulf of Mexico blowout brought more than oil to the surface.”
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  • A review of A Sea in Flames  ~ Carl Safina
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Reviewed by Douglas Brinkley, TruthDig

Not since Rachel Carson wrote her sea trilogy—“Under the Sea-wind,” “The Sea Around Us” and “The Edge of the Sea”—has a conservationist written about marine ecosystems with the factual elegance of Carl Safina. His 1997 book “Song for the Blue Ocean” jarred readers about the tragic diminution of numerous fish species: bluefin tuna, white marlin, swordfish. Safina, a marine biologist, has positioned himself as a protector of the seas, a man in communion with dolphins and whales. Other Safina books have dealt with leatherback turtles, Laysan albatross, shellfish stocks—any and everything that grapples with the health of the world’s oceans.

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In “A Sea in Flames,” his newest installment, Safina investigates the impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. There isn’t much politics in this cogent analysis. Whether the Obama administration acted quickly enough during the crisis isn’t Safina’s primary concern, though his profiles of several key players are riveting. His kinship is with two tribes of people: gulf fishermen and marine biologists. “Crucial mistakes, disastrous consequences, the weakness of power, unpreparedness and overreaction, the quiet dignity of everyday heroes,” he writes. “The 2010 Gulf of Mexico blowout brought more than oil to the surface.”

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I Remember America

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  • Absent from the debate is any meaningful discussion of the bloated defense budget and the three wars we are currently fighting, wars that have yet to accomplish anything other than bloody stalemates that look to grind on interminably.
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  • Absent from the debate is any meaningful discussion of punitive actions - both financial and criminal - to be taken against the Wall Street and bank barons who delivered us to this damaged estate.
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William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

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President Barack Obama returns to the Oval Office. (Photo: Pete Souza / White House)

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It has not always been this way. Maybe we're all suckers for the down-the-memory-hole 24-hour news cycle nonsense that has afflicted this country for far too long already, because it is getting harder and harder to remember the simple fact that it has not always been this way.
This, however, is how it is now.

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On Wednesday (April 13) , the Democratic president of the United States will stand somberly before a bank of television cameras to announce the orderly annihilation of the social contract that has guarded and sustained the American people for generations. It was a Democratic president who created that contract, followed by other Democratic presidents who defended it, and now a Democratic president is choosing to undo it.  Not all at once, of course. It will take time in the doing, but the downhill run to that dissolution begins tomorrow (April 13).

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After Bin Laden: A Reckoning and Reflection

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With our doppelganger Osama Bin Laden dead, will Americans have the courage to finally look into the mirror of U.S. State-sponsored terrorism and become active, engaged citizens who demand “no more in our name”?

Lydia Howell, Evergreene Digest

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After hearing that Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden is dead, I felt relief---and hope. Hope like light coming through the crack in a locked door. Hope that we can finally end the longest war in United States’ history.

The post-September 11th attack on Afghanistan---a country that never attacked us---was sold with two reasons: get bin Laden and defeat Al- Qaeda. The CIA says that now there are only 50 to 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. Isn’t having 1,000 U.S. soldiers for each one of these terrorists ridiculous? Continuing George W. Bush’s drone attacks--which have tripled under the current administration--has mostly killed civilians.

However, President Obama must be commended for not just bombing bin Laden’s hideout. The seriousness of his announcement of the Special Operations, SWAT-team like action contrasted with the cheering crowds outside the White House and in New York. Obama’s silent laying of a wreath at Ground Zero May 5th is the sober response that’s right for this moment. If not for the screen captions “Osama bin Laden is dead”, Sunday’s revelers could have been easily mistaken for sports fans celebrating a championship victory.

This event raises critical questions. Almost immediately some media pundits and politicians are crediting torture for gaining the intelligence that located bin Laden. This is factually wrong.

In fact, torture of Guantanamo detainees and “high-value targets” alike only led to prisoners to make stuff up, in order to stop the abuses. A near-death experience like waterboarding will do that.

For those who still agree with Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld said that the US has only engaged in “enhanced interrogation” that amounts to “fraternity hazing”, consider these facts: the U.S. Army’s Field Manual (as well as the Geneva Convention) forbids the stress positions, exposure to cold and other tactics that have been used. There should be no debate about what waterboarding is: anything invented by the Spanish Inquisition, 500 years ago, is undeniably torture.

International law and U.S. law--including the 8th Amendment of our Constitution--forbid torture of prisoners for any reason--no exceptions, in spite of what you may have learned from the TV show 24 or executive branch legal apologists.

Now, is the time for Americans to re-set our moral compass and demand an end to and accountability for torture of prisoners in the “war on terrorism”---in Guantanamo or being held for the U.S. at the remaining “black sites” in ally countries. Imprisoning people without charges, trial or conviction of any crime for almost a decade and torture are standard means used by colonial powers and military dictatorships to terrorize civilian populations.

Unlike during the Vietnam War, the U.S. doesn’t do body counts so, the only casualties we see are the American soldiers’ faces at the end of evening newscasts. However, an estimated one million Iraqis and over 100,000 Afghans have been killed since the U.S. invasions. Countless more have been wounded and disabled,; millions have been made into refugees.

Now, is the time to end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing all the troops and private contractors/mercenaries home.

Twenty-first century war must be recognized as terrorism. Instead of individual suicide bombers, the mightiest military on Earth uses the most sophisticated weaponry--including unmanned drones, depleted uranium shells and cluster bombs---on people’s schools, hospitals and homes. . As the tenth anniversary of September 11th approaches, we must see that more than that day’s 3,000 have been victims.

With our doppelganger Osama Bin Laden dead, will Americans have the courage to finally look into the mirror of U.S. State-sponsored terrorism and become active, engaged citizens who demand “no more in our name”?
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Lydia Howell is an independent Minneapolis journalist, winner of the Premack Award for Public Interest Journalism. She is producer/host of “Catalyst: politics and culture” on KFAI Radio
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Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords: Our World In Depth

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Malalai Joya comments on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden and answers other questions

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WAMM Today

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Called the bravest woman in Afghanistan, former parliamentarian and outspoken critic of NATO involvement in her home country, Malalai Joya speaks in Minneapolis. This episode includes some graphic images along with a question and answer session. (April 2011)

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Series | Rebooting the American Dream, Part 13

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  • 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country: Back to the Future
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  • Part 13: Conclusion: Tag, You’re It!
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As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. – William O. Douglas

Thom Hartmann, Ukiah Community

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Evergreene Digest Editor's Note: We presented the first ten parts this series (through Put Lou Dobbs Out to Pasture) from Truthout. Because of technical difficulties at Truthout.org, (Late night March 30 their site was attacked and content was deleted.) we're not able to bring you the final installments in this series from them. However, we are presenting the remainder of the series (continuing with Part 13: Conclusion: Tag, You’re It!) from Ukiah Community. We aplologize for any inconvenience.

Is past truly prologue? In his introduction to an 1899 English-language edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1835 classic Democracy in America, former Alabama state senator John T. Morgan describes the formative period of the “experimental” American republic:

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"Those liberties had been wrung from reluctant monarchs in many contests, in many countries, and were grouped into creeds and established in ordinances sealed with blood, in many great struggles of the people. They were not new to the people. They were consecrated theories, but no government had been previously established for the great purpose of their preservation and enforcement. That which was experimental in our plan of government was the question whether democratic rule could be so organized and conducted that it would not degenerate into license and result in the tyranny of absolutism…"

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There was considerable concern during the Robber Baron Era when Morgan wrote that the Rockefellers and Goulds and Hearsts among us would ultimately end up an overwhelming ruling class.

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Today Is Not a Day of Celebration for Me


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  • I think about the thousands of lives lost -- American, Afghani, Iraqi. I know firsthand the sorrow those families have felt. I ponder how the billions -- maybe trillions -- of dollars could have been better spent. I remain alarmed about the continued expansion of absolute Executive power in the name of fighting this seemingly ongoing and never-ending "war on terror." I worry about the further erosion of our constitutional rights. I wonder when our troops will ever be called home. I know all too well, that thousands of young American men and women soldiers will never have the opportunity to return home. And of course, I fear reprisal.
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  • Justice or Vengeance?
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Kristen Breitweiser, 9/11 widow and activist, Huffington Post

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

When my husband was killed on the morning of 9/11, television stations around the world ran split-screen video. They showed the buildings still burning juxtaposed against young Arabs celebrating in the streets. That disturbing vision left me incredulous; it was forever emblazoned on my psyche.

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Ten years later, now fully awake in the bright sunlight of the day, when I contemplate the definition of victory for our country when it comes to the death of Osama bin Laden, I can only think about the damage that has been done.

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I think about the thousands of lives lost -- American, Afghani, Iraqi. I know firsthand the sorrow those families have felt. I ponder how the billions -- maybe trillions -- of dollars could have been better spent. I remain alarmed about the continued expansion of absolute Executive power in the name of fighting this seemingly ongoing and never-ending "war on terror." I worry about the further erosion of our constitutional rights. I wonder when our troops will ever be called home. I know all too well, that thousands of young American men and women soldiers will never have the opportunity to return home. And of course, I fear reprisal.

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Justice or Vengeance? Phyllis Bennis, Common Dreams
In the midst of the Arab Spring, which directly rejects al-Qaeda-style small-group violence in favor of mass-based, society-wide mobilization and non-violent protest to challenge dictatorship and corruption, does the killing of Osama bin Laden represent ultimate justice, or even an end to the "unfinished business" of 9/11?

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Superman Renounces U.S. Citizenship in 'Action Comics' #900

After recently undertaking a journey to walk -- not fly -- across the United States in the "Grounded" storyline and reconnect with the country and everyday Americans, Superman appears to be taking another step that could have major implications for his national identity: in Action Comics #900...

Thanks to Evergreene Digest reader Tarak Kauff for this contribution

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...Superman announces that he is going to give up his U.S. citizenship. Despite very literally being an alien immigrant, Superman has long been seen as a patriotic symbol of "truth, justice, and the American way," from his embrace of traditional American ideals to the iconic red and blue of his costume. What it means to stand for the "American way" is an increasingly complicated thing, however, both in the real world and in superhero comics, whose storylines have increasingly seemed to mirror current events and deal with moral and political complexities rather than simple black and white morality.

The key scene takes place in "The Incident," a short story in Action Comics #900 written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In it, Superman consults with the President's national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

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