GI SPECIAL 4F2: 2/6/06
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“Most Iraqis Don’t Support The U.S. Presence, Talley And Other Marines Said”
Flores added that misunderstandings can lead to civilians being killed. He said that in several instances, Marines accidentally shot civilians who didn’t understand – or defied – calls to leave their homes so Marines could search them.
June 1, 2006 By Rick Rogers, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER [Excerpts]
Nearly 25,000 Camp Pendleton Marines are serving in this western, mostly desert region of Iraq. Many are on their third tour in little more than three years.
Three years of breaking down doors and rushing into small, dark rooms where Marines might encounter a man with a gun or a family frozen in terror.
Three years of chasing snipers who shoot and then fade into the crowds.
Three years of seeing buddies dismembered or killed by roadside bombs when their big hope is to go home in one piece.
“It is just so frustrating. hey hit and run and it’s all on their schedule, and then they blend in with the civilians,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Talley, who spent early 2004 in Fallujah as a platoon sergeant responsible for 65 Marines from Camp Pendleton’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
“Then you wonder: Does this guy who is smiling at me have an AK-47 behind the door that he is going to shoot me in the back with?” said Talley, who lives in Temecula and will retire in October after 22 years of service. For some of the guys, it eats them up. Until you get shot at, you don’t understand what the pressure is like.”
That pressure and those insurgents’ tactics are likely to remain for the duration of the U.S. occupation, because most Iraqis don’t support the U.S. presence or the nascent Iraqi government, Talley and other Marines said.
“When a Marine dies, all the emotions come out,” Talley said. It’s like losing your own brother. you know his mother and sister. you’ve either met them or you know them through the letters they sent, just like you’ve shared your letters.
“Maybe he has saved your life, and then he is dead.”
Each deployment and each death tends to ratchet up the stress and the potential of an incident, said Jose Flores, 23, a three-tour combat veteran with the Camp Pendleton-based 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.
“A lot of people get a lot more aggressive searching people and places after someone passes away because you might die next,” said Flores, who observed that Marines on their second and third tours tend to handle Iraqi civilians more roughly then they did the first time around.
“After someone is killed, you get real pissed off and frustrated, and you just want the search over with,” said Flores, whose unit lost seven Marines and had 90 wounded during his three tours. Sometimes you take it out on the people.”
Flores added that misunderstandings can lead to civilians being killed. He said that in several instances, Marines accidentally shot civilians who didn’t understand – or defied – calls to leave their homes so Marines could search them.
In other circumstances, nervous or inexperienced Marines burst into houses and began shooting because they were scared, Flores said. This often causes other Marines to use their weapons as well, resulting in unintended deaths.
“The Marines are taught that once the shooting starts … that house is considered a hostile house and they are to clear it as quickly as possible,” said Flores, who lives in Temple City. “And clearing a room with a hand grenade is the quickest way to do it.”
BBC Releases New Video Of Another Massacre By U.S. Occupation Forces:
June 02, 2006 BBC
The BBC has uncovered new video evidence that US forces may have been responsible for the deliberate killing of 11 innocent Iraqi civilians.
The video appears to challenge the US military’s account of events that took place in the town of Ishaqi in March.
The US said at the time four people died during a military operation, but Iraqi police claimed that US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people.
A spokesman for US forces in Iraq told the BBC an inquiry was under way.
The video pictures obtained by the BBC appear to contradict the US account of the events in Ishaqi, about 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on 15 March 2006.
The US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda supporter was visiting the house.
According to the Americans, the building collapsed under heavy fire killing four people – a suspect, two women and a child.
But a report filed by Iraqi police accused US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people in the house, including five children and four women, before blowing up the building.
The video tape obtained by the BBC shows a number of dead adults and children at the site with what our world affairs editor John Simpson says were clearly gunshot wounds.
It has been cross-checked with other images taken at the time of events and is believed to be genuine, the BBC’s Ian Pannell in Baghdad says.
[Ishikawa and Kuroshima would understand: insert troops into a hell on earth and there’s no way to prevent atrocities. Yet the real fiends in their capital suites are never spattered with a single drop of blood. Solidarity, Z]
IRAQ WAR REPORTS
Soldier’s Bluegrass Banjo Falls Silent: Hansen Lumber Workers Recall Good Times With Lufkin
May 27, 2006 By CHRIS ETHERIDGE, The Register-Mail
GALESBURG – The concrete holding up the flagpole outside Hansen Lumber was still wet Friday afternoon when employees from the office added a memorial honoring Pfc. Caleb Lufkin.
Employees of the lumber company – owned by Caleb’s father, Tammy, for six years – added the American flag and poster board sign to the graying wood of the fence around the lumber yard at Water and Academy streets.
Caleb died from heart failure Thursday afternoon during surgery on wounds sustained in a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 4.
“It’s been a tough day for most everybody here,” Hansen employee Russ Sharp said. “He’s a part of the family.”
When working for his dad, Caleb spent most of the time with his cement-pouring company, Hansen employees said, but he sometimes helped stack boards in the lumber yards at Hansen.
On Wednesdays and some Thursdays, Caleb brought his banjo to the lumber yard and “picked and grinned” with Tammy and a couple of his friends in the display room.
Caleb and Tammy liked to entertain visitors at Knoxville’s Scenic Drive weekend, Caleb’s friend Kenny Knox said. The younger Lufkin drove a pickup truck around the city while his dad sat in the bed and played with his band.
“They were real close,” Dave Marshall said of the relationship between Caleb and his father. “When he was home from Iraq, they spent as much time as they could together.”
And Chad Clevenger, a friend of Caleb’s since kindergarten who also liked to play music with him, said the two would put on concerts for the Clevenger family. Larry Clevenger, Chad’s father, said they have a tape of the two playing banjos together from several years ago when they first started.
Arkansas Soldier Killed
Injured In Iraq
June 01, 2006 By Rick A. Richards, The News-Dispatch
Local Marine suffers concussion after a roadside bomb explodes under his Humvee.
A Michigan City area Marine, serving his third tour of duty in Iraq, survived with minor injuries Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded underneath the Humvee in which he was riding.
Chris Pliske, 22, received a minor shrapnel injury, which he told his family was merely a scratch. His most serious injury was a third degree concussion, said his father, Rich Pliske.
“It looks like the concussion will get him three or four weeks off,” said Rich Pliske. “At least we can sleep at night for awhile.”
Cpl. Pliske was injured while on patrol in Habbaniyah, which is near Falluja. It is an area with which Pliske is familiar. In a previous deployment to Iraq, he fought in the battle of Falluja.
Pliske, a Humvee commander, and his machine gunner (Pvt. Luke Wallek of Texas) were airlifted to Baghdad where they received CAT scans and were treated for Class 3 concussions, said Rich Pliske.
His father said the explosion ripped the right front of the Humvee apart. As a Humvee commander, Pliske sits in the front passenger seat on the right side.
Pliske is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Weapons Company, assigned to Mobile Assault Platoon 3.
“The main road where the accident occurred has numerous observation posts manned by the Marines, however, an insurgent group periodically sneaks an IED in during the dark.”
Pliske said his son called him and his wife, Tina, at their home in Michiana Shores to tell them he was OK. Pliske said his son was most upset over losing his Humvee, which he has used since the time he arrived in Iraq.
Pliske said his son wanted to be a Marine when he was in junior high school, and as soon as he was old enough, he enlisted, graduating from basic training April 22, 2003 at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He graduated No. 1 in his company in marksmanship and was trained in the operation of the Javelin anti-tank and bunker shoulder-fired weapon.
At Michigan City High School, he was a member of the Marine Corps JROTC.
Pliske said his son told him he wants to return to his unit as soon as possible, but can’t until his equilibrium returns. He said his son’s injuries have qualified him to receive a Purple Heart. “We would like for the community to pray for our son,” said the Pliskes.
Cpl. Pliske is scheduled to return to the United State as part of his regular rotation on Aug. 2 and is set to be discharged from the Marines on Nov. 24.
He and his wife, Chardae, live in Vista, Calif. Rich Pliske said his son became a father three week ago, but has not yet seen his son, Mason.
Suburban Soldier Critically Injured In Iraq
Jun 1, 2006 Sylvia Gomez, (CBS)
GLEN ELLYN, Ill. A young suburban soldier has been critically injured in Iraq.
The 22-year-old from Glen Ellyn is in critical condition, recovering at a hospital in Germany. His family says his Humvee was attacked while on routine patrol in Baghdad on Memorial Day.
David Gonzalez and the 101st Airborne Division’s Air Assault Team was riding in a Humvee on a Baghdad highway the team routinely patrols when it was bombed. David struggled to keep the vehicle from flipping over.
“He turned to the sergeant next to him and said, ‘I’m paralyzed,’” said David’s father, Mike Gonzalez.
Added David’s mom, Katherine, “He said he reached down and put his hand on his hip and said he felt blood.”
That was on a bloody memorial day. Mike and Katherine Gonzalez got the call in the middle of the night. Their son was critically injured. It would be hours before they’d learn he’d survive.
“I’ve never been so emotional in my life, obviously,” Mike said.
“It’s been a lot of tears the last two days,” Katherine said.
Though just 22, David seemed to always know he’d be in the Army infantry. It was a goal he seemed to work towards his whole life. He enlisted before he graduated high school.
“I was a Boy Scout leader with him. He just loved that camping,” Mike said.
On Thursday, Mike and Katherine packed for their trip to Washington D.C., where David will be transported this weekend. By then, a week will have passed since the bombing. It’s been hard for mom and dad and their ailing son.
“I just had to say, ‘David, imagine my arms around you. David, imagine that I’m holding your hand,’” Katherine said.
Mike Gonzalez thought his son would be an engineer, but he was wrong. Once David gets back and through rehab, he’s ready to go to the University of Illinois and maybe become a teacher. Although, he did mention that he might re-enlist once he’s able.
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Resistance Attacks Kill 12 & Capture 40 Occupation Cops
06/01/06 Pakistan Times Wire Service
KABUL: Taliban fighters have killed at least a dozen Afghan police and captured up to 40 others in two separate attacks in the south of the country.
In the southern province of Zabul, a senior police official, Mohammad Rasoul, was killed and four others were wounded after the Taliban hit their car with a rocket last night.
The raid in Zabul came hours after the Taliban attacked a police base in Uruzgan province and captured up to 40 policemen.
THIS IS HOW BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
473 More Off To Bush’s Imperial Slaughterhouse:
June 1, 2006 The Associated Press, BOSTON
The U.S. Army Reserve is preparing to send its first combat hospital unit from New England to Iraq, calling on 473 doctors, nurses and support personnel from the region’s hospitals and medical offices.
The unit members are scheduled to leave June 10 for one to three months of training, Army officials said Wednesday. The unit then will spend about one year in Iraq, but its base of operations there has not been announced.
Officials of community hospitals that will be losing doctors, nurses and technicians say they will be able to cope by hiring temporary help.
May 31, 2006 By Tracy Vedder, KOMO RADIO-TV & AP
OLYMPIA: A protest became a melee on Olympia’s waterfront Tuesday as sheriff’s deputies arrested 22 people who stormed the port’s gate. And war protesters were back on the line Wednesday night, as are the deputies.
The protesters hope to disrupt shipments of war supplies heading to Iraq.
For more than a week, the two sides have held their ground on Olympia’s waterfront. The military transport ship Pomeroy continues to load cargo bound for Iraq, including Stryker vehicles and other military supplies for the Stryker Brigade from Ft. Lewis. Its escort of Coast Guard boats is always present.
On the other side, the protesters with their anti-war slogans and signs, keep constant vigil.
All week, there were jolts of confrontation. it Tuesday night it turned ugly. protesters pulled down the port’s front gate, then sat down with linked arms, blocking access.
Twenty-two people were arrested Tuesday and police pepper-sprayed a handful of protesters who pulled down a port fence and laid down; two others were arrested for failing to disperse and grabbing officers.
Police and protesters have different versions of what happened next. Protester Jeff Berryhill was one of the first arrested, he describes it this way: “I walked in, I let the cops know this is going to be peaceful we have no intention of doing anything of vandalizing anything of trying to be confrontational.”
“I mean, the real issue here is the occupation of Iraq,” says Olympia Councilman T.J. Johnson, “and the fact that our community is now directly connected to what is going over there.”
Port staff aren’t taking any chances this time around. They moved a heavy cargo container across the gate, and it won’t be easy to get around.
What does the rest of Olympia think? Opinions are mixed. We overheard one woman tell another she wouldn’t be voting for any councilmember who supported the protesters. Others were sorry they missed the action.
And it’s not over. As long as the Pomeroy is in port, protesters plan to camp out here. The Pomeroy could leave port as early as Wednesday evening.
The equipment it carries is in support of the Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade, which is returning to Iraq for its second tour of duty there.
Dan Kimball, Thurston County sheriff’s chief criminal deputy, said no one was seriously injured in the demonstration Tuesday night.
Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson said Wednesday he was shoved by state troopers trying to clear the area the night before. He said people were dispersing, but that pepper spray was shot off anyway.
He said county sheriff’s deputies “chose to escalate the situation.”
Authorities used pepper spray several times, including once when some in the crowd started hurling bottles and rocks at the approximately 70 law enforcement officers on scene, Kimball said.
Those arrested were released Tuesday night, but will have to go to court and will likely face fines, Kimball said.
Later Wednesday, port officials cleared the signs out of the plaza and pressure-washed chalk messages that were written by the protesters, who moved outside of yellow tape that was set up outside the plaza.
No one was arrested Monday night, but police in riot gear fired pepper spray as about 150 war protesters tried to enter a port area.
Sixteen people were arrested in three days last week, mostly for pedestrian interference, during protests against convoys through the downtown area to the port from the sprawling military post between Olympia and Tacoma.
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
Assorted Resistance Action
June 1, 2006 KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer & Reuters & By Ellen Knickmeyer and Saad al-Izzi, Washington Post Foreign Service
A mortar round landed in the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices, but no casualties were reported.
Guerrillas gunned down a policeman on Wednesday in the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) southwest of Baghdad, police said.
[In Baghdad] Sometime after 9 a.m., bullets started flying. In the official account, provided by Col. Sami Hassan at the Interior Ministry’s operations center, insurgents had attacked an army checkpoint.
The insurgents then withdrew, seeking cover “inside residential structures,” Hassan said. Soldiers chased them through the area, past shops and schools.
Hassan said three policemen and eight insurgents were killed in the fighting.
“The Resistance Is Made Of All Parts Of The Iraqi Nation”
It is not true that the Resistance only exists in the “Sunni Triangle”. It is in the North, in the Center, in the South, in the East and West. In every city and in every part of Iraq and it is growing.
May 12, 2006 An Interview with Ibrahim Ebeid, Neo-CONNED News [Excerpts]
Neo-CONNED News recently conducted an interview with Ibrahim Ebeid, an Editor with the Arab website, Al-Moharer.net.
Ibrahim Ebeid, could you tell us something about your background?
I was born in Palestine in 1935. I spent my childhood in the city of Jaffa until May 1948 when we were forced to leave under the guns of the Zionist gangs while Palestine was still under the British Mandate.
I have lived and seen the tragedy of Palestine unfolding. These bitter events shaped my life and I became activist for the Palestinian cause as the central focal point of the Arab struggle.
I am an Arab nationalist who believes in the liberation of historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. I believe in the unification of the Arab Nation and this must be achieved through continuous struggle. I was a member of the PLO offices in New York at the United Nations in the early Seventies.
Most mainstream media analysts argue that the Resistance is a purely Sunni phenomenon. Do you believe this? If not, why not?
The main stream media is very biased. It is part of the occupation forces and mostly ignorant of Iraq and its people. The media correspondents are spoon-fed by the Generals of the “Green Zone”.
They report only what is said to them and what suits the interests of the occupation. They do not see the battles; they do not talk to the people.
Not only Sunni Arabs are part of the Resistance.
The Resistance is made of all parts of the Iraqi nation.
It has Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Muslim Shias and Muslim Sunnis. It is made up of the legitimate Iraqi Army, Republican Guards, Baath Party, Saddam Fedayeen, Arab Nationalists and Islamists.
It is not true that the Resistance only exists in the “Sunni Triangle”.
It is in the North, in the Center, in the South, in the East and West.
In every city and in every part of Iraq and it is growing.
Soldiers Keep Secrets
From: Mike Hastie
The Insurgency in Iraq is the civilian population.
When the IED comes home to America.
Photo and caption from the I-R-A-Q (I Remember Another Quagmire) portfolio of Mike Hastie, US Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71. (For more of his outstanding work, contact at: (email@example.com) T)
A TIME FOR MUTINY?
To: GI Special
By Robert S. Finnegan
Robert S. Finnegan is the Managing Editor of Southeast Asia news and a former Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United States Marine Corps was already on its last legs as an elite fighting force, our reputation sullied by the dishonorable and sometimes criminal actions perpetrated by bottom of the barrel Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers in Iraq.
We are now observing the death throes of the oldest fighting force in America.
We had a good run, from November 10, 1775 to 2006. These dates may now be etched into the tombstone of an institution that has epitomized the meaning of the phrase “Duty, Honor, Country.”
Sure, we had our warts over the decades, but somehow our leaders throughout the many wars we fought managed to pull back from the brink and handle our problems internally.
From the Commandant on down, with this incident, this atrocity, the Corps has shown the world that it is now leaderless. The Marine Corps is now in the same league with the American Division in My Lai, Vietnam and a Lieutenant by the name of Calley. Murderers.
Prior to this war, we were trained to be killers, not murderers.
We killed combatants, not women and children.
Murder was not only not condoned, it was punished in the extreme as we envisioned ourselves as the “good guys” among the armed forces, at least when it came to helping and protecting civilians in the countries we fought in.
In the not too distant past, Marines died assisting civilians, as we have since our inception. The CAP (Civil Action Patrol) program in Vietnam is a prime example of Marines helping civilians above and beyond the call of duty. This is but one example, one side of the Corps that didn’t see much ink.
We took pride in our work. Many Marines died protecting civilians throughout our long history, and look at us now.
It would be easy to put the blame on the cowards, the evil bastards that inhabit the White House, Pentagon, and the “military-industrial complex” but the blame lays squarely on the shoulders of leadership of the Marine Corps, all the way from the neutered Commandant of the Marine Corps on down to the most junior Corporal.
These individuals, the supposed backbone of the Corps, have allowed themselves to become whores for the present administration and our insane, born-again Commander-in-Chief and his band of criminals.
America is not long for this world if these pukes and their robotic followers are somehow not stopped from unleashing WW III by invading Iran.
I believe that Marine Corps General Chesty Puller would have had the leaders of the debacle in Haditha Courts-Martialed and shot, and failing this remedy would have led his men in a mutiny.
It is our duty as Officers and NCO’s to disobey illegal orders.
The Corps has been ripe for mutiny for some time now and had we still leaders in our ranks, it surely would have happened in this illegal war, where illegal acts of war are now commonplace.
The junior enlisted Marines who pulled the triggers on these civilians are not responsible for their actions. The orders come from above, the leadership, or what passes for it now.
These are the individuals that are responsible, right up to the maggot that is our Commander-in-Chief.
If by some miracle we have military investigators and prosecutors who possess the integrity and courage to assure that the individuals responsible for this massacre are brought to trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, perhaps some of the stain of this crime will eventually be washed away.
As for the restoration of integrity and honor in Marine Corps, I believe it is too late.
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services. Send requests to address up top.
There Are Traitors Among Us
14 May 2006 By Frank Rich, The New York Times [Excerpt]
It’s the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press’s exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security.
That’s where the buck stops, and if there’s to be a witch hunt for traitors, that’s where it should begin.
If Democrats, and, for that matter, Republicans, let a president with a Nixonesque approval rating install yet another second-rate sycophant at yet another security agency, even one as diminished as the C.I.A., someone should charge those senators with treason, too.
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to email@example.com. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
“It’s Clear That The Future Of Guerrilla Warfare, Insurrection Against The World System, Has Moved Into The City”
11 May 2006 Interview by Tom Englelhardt, TomDispatch.com [Excerpts]
Mike Davis: The Imperial City and the City of Slums
TD: I mean if you think about Vietnam and then Iraq, the jungle quite literally becomes the slum city in the annals of modern war.
Davis: Without minimizing the explosive social contradictions still stored up in the countryside, it’s clear that the future of guerrilla warfare, insurrection against the world system, has moved into the city.
The question of the exchange of violence between the city of slums and the imperial city is linked to a deeper question – the question of agency. How will this very large minority of humanity that now lives in cities but is exiled from the formal world economy find its future? What is its capacity for historical agency?
Well, here you have an informal working class with no strategic place in production, in the economy, that has nonetheless discovered a new social power – the power to disrupt the city, to strike at the city, ranging from the creative nonviolence of the people in El Alto, the vast slum twin of La Paz, Bolivia, where residents regularly barricade the road to the airport or cut off transport to make their demands, to the now universal use of car bombs by nationalist and sectarian groups to strike at middle-class neighborhoods, financial districts, even green zones.
I think there’s much global experimentation, trying to find out how to use the power of disruption.
TD: You end Planet of Slums on this note: “If the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression, its outcasts have the gods of chaos on their side.”
Davis: And chaos is not always a force for bad. The worst case scenario is simply when people are silenced. Their exile becomes permanent.
The implicit triaging of humanity occurs. People are assigned to die and forgotten about in the same way we forget about the AIDS holocaust or become immune to famine appeals.
The rest of the world needs to be woken up and the slum poor are experimenting with a huge variety of ideologies, platforms, means of using disorder – from almost apocalyptic attacks on modernity itself to avant-garde attempts to invent new modernities, new kinds of social movements.
Bush Regime’s Choice For Local Boss Condemns U.S. Troops
June 1, 2006 By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr., New York Times [Excerpts]
Denouncing what they called repeated acts of violence by American forces against innocent civilians, Iraq’s top leaders said today that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the Iraq deaths in Haditha as they vowed to conduct their own inquiry.
The move also came as the new Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, lashed out at the American military in the harshest terms anyone in his office has so far used to condemn what he characterized as habitual atrocities against Iraqi civilians.
The American-led forces “do not respect the Iraqi people; they crush them by vehicles and kill them by suspicion,” Mr. Maliki said. “This is extremely unacceptable.”
Mr. Maliki’s comments were indication of just how much trouble the episode is now causing his two-week-old government.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
JUNE 1, 2006 By Sabrina Tavernise and Qais Mizher The New York Times [Excerpt]
In a city that welcomed the American invasion, threats against Iraqis working for the U.S. diplomatic mission are now so widespread that they have not picked up its trash or pumped its sewers for three weeks
OCCUPATION SOLOMON ISLANDS
“The Australian Government Acts As Local Sheriff For Imperialism In This Part Of The World”
May 24, 2006 By Doug Lorimer, Green Left Weekly, May 24, 2006 [Excerpts]
Newly elected Solomon Islands Prime Minister Mannasseh Sogavare hit out on May 7 at Australian leaders for interfering in the internal affairs of the archipelago-nation after they publicly criticised his decision to include two imprisoned MPs — Charles Dausabea and Nelson Ne’e — in his new cabinet. Dausabea was appointed police minister, while Ne’e was appointed tourism minister.
Last month, both MPs were charged by the Solomon Islands’ director of public prosecutions John Cauchi, an Australian, with inciting rioting in Honiara, the Solomons’ capital. The MPs were refused bail in the Honiara Magistrates Court by Australian magistrate Keith Boothman on Cauchi’s recommendation.
Since July 2003, the Solomons’ legal system, its police force and key government departments, such as the finance ministry, have been run by officials from the Australian-dominated Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
The April 18 riots, which led to the looting and torching of businesses in Honiara’s Chinatown district, were sparked by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers firing tear gas into a crowd of 200 opposition supporters outside the parliament.
The crowd was protesting the election, by 27 of the country’s 50 MPs, of Snyder Rini as the country’s new PM.
In the April 5 general election, the government coalition of PM Sir Allan Kemakeza, with Rini as his deputy, had been reduced from 33 MPs to 17. Opposition MPs and their supporters accused Rini of having bought MPs’ votes with money provided to him by wealthy Asian business owners headed by naturalised Chinese tycoon Sir Thomas Chan, the president of Rini’s party, and his son Laurie, Kemakeza’s foreign minister.
Within 48 hours of the riots, Australia dispatched several hundred heavily armed troops to Honiara to protect Rini and his big-business allies. The AFP presence in Honiara was also boosted from 282 to 350 officers.
Rini was forced to resign on April 27 after Sogavare and five other MPs from his Social Credit Party defected from the government coalition to the opposition. Sogavare, a former finance ministry secretary and PM from June 2000 to December 2001, was elected PM by 28 MPs on May 4.
During the July 2003 parliamentary debate on the bill approving the Australian-led RAMSI intervention, Sogavare had warned that it would “be nothing short of recolonising this country”.
On May 4, Sogavare told reporters he was concerned about RAMSI officials controlling the prime minister’s office, as well as the finance ministry and the Royal Solomon Islands Police.
Shortly after Sogavare announced on May 5 that Dausabea and Ne’e had been appointed to his 20-member cabinet, Australian PM John Howard declared that the appointments would have “serious consequences for the reputation and standing of the Solomon Islands both regionally and in the wider international community”.
Speaking in Auckland the next day, where he was attending a meeting of the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum, Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said the appointments were a matter of “deep concern” to Canberra.
New Zealand PM Helen Clark declared that she was “absolutely aghast” at the appointments. New Zealand has 190 troops and police serving with RAMSI.
Responding to Downer’s comments, Sogavare told the ABC’s May 7 Insiders program that RAMSI operated under the Solomons’ Facilitation of International Assistance Act 2003 and that nowhere in that act “is there a provision which allows Australia and members of the RAMSI to interfere in matters concerning appointment or removal of ministers within the government of the Solomon Islands”.
Speaking on Solomons national radio the next day, Sogavare pointed out that there was nothing unconstitutional about the appointment of the two imprisoned MPs as ministers since they were innocent until proven guilty. He also criticised the RAMSI-run prosecution case against them, saying, “We are aware of evidence taken in ways that are not acceptable in any court, and our lawyers are working on that”.
“Australia seemed to have used the provisions of the current partnership as a licence to infiltrate almost all sectors of the public sector”, Sogavare said.
“By their high level engagement in senior posts within the government we have a situation where foreign nationals have direct and unrestricted access to the nerve centre of Solomon Islands public administration, security and leadership. This is an unhealthy situation.”
On May 12, Sogavare told parliament he wanted a commission of inquiry to investigate whether Boothman had colluded with Cauchi to deny bail to Dausabea and Ne’e. Sogavare said his call for an inquiry was not about the two MPs. “Rather, it is about the claim of the judiciary to be independent, which is now called into question.”
He also called on Cauchi to step down while an investigation takes place “and suffer the same fate which his constitutional powers and office empower him to inflict on all of us”.
Green Left Weekly, May 24, 2006.
Statement issued by the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) on May 19, 2006 [Excerpt]
The Australian government acts as local sheriff for imperialism in this part of the world. Australian capitalism has plundered the region and systematically interferes in the political life of the small and impoverished nations of the South Pacific.
That’s why it sent extra troops to help prop up the corrupt Solomon Islands government, why it has sent police to PNG, and why it is also threatening to send in troops to Bougainville following a spate of attacks against police posts there.
CLASS WAR REPORTS
Capitalism At Work:
The growing inequality between the very rich and the bottom half affects every aspect of American life: healthcare, education, occupational opportunities. But those in the bottom half find it harder and harder to move out of their sorry condition, as those on the top fight to protect their position and have the assistance of the politicians who pass law after law favoring their interests.
[Thanks to Phil G, who sent this in.]
May 17, 2006 by LEON FRIEDMAN, The Nation [Excerpts]
The total net worth of all Americans in 1989 was $25 trillion (in 2004 dollars). Of that amount, the top 1 percent owned 30 percent, or $7.775 trillion. The bottom half owned 3 percent of the total, or $763 billion.
Fifteen years later, in 2004, the total wealth of all Americans had doubled to $50.25 trillion.
The top 1 percent of the population now owns 33.4 percent of the total, or $16.774 trillion. Their percentage share of the total has increased by more than 3 percent in fifteen years.
At the same time, the total wealth owned by the bottom 50 percent increased to $1.278 trillion, but its percentage of total wealth declined from 3 percent to 2.5 percent in the same time period.
Thus the wealth of the top 1 percent was ten times the wealth of the bottom 50 percent in 1989. Fifteen years later, the wealth of the top 1 percent was thirteen times the wealth of the bottom 50 percent.
Examining the type of wealth owned by each group, the SCF reports that the top 5 percent of the population owns 85 percent of closely held business assets in the country, 79 percent of the publicly traded stocks and 70 percent of mutual funds.
At the bottom of the scale, the story is far different.
While many reports have claimed that about 50 percent of households own some stocks or shares in mutual funds (either directly or through IRAs or company pension plans), the actual amount held is quite small.
According to the SCF, the bottom 50 percent own less than 1 percent of business assets, stocks and mutual funds: so much for President Bush’s claim that we need to reduce taxes on dividends and capital gains because we are an “ownership society” with so many Americans owning shares.
Where can this largesse for the wealthy come from?
If the government has a program of tax reductions for the wealthiest, necessarily this leads to budget shortfalls and then a decrease in welfare payments to the people at the bottom. Where else could this money come from?
Certainly not from military expenditures.
Congress passed a budget resolution last year that cut $10 billion in Medicaid programs, $3 billion from food stamps and $7 billion from student loan programs. The House has passed new resolutions this year calling for even greater reductions in these programs.
The growing inequality between the very rich and the bottom half affects every aspect of American life: healthcare, education, occupational opportunities.
But those in the bottom half find it harder and harder to move out of their sorry condition, as those on the top fight to protect their position and have the assistance of the politicians who pass law after law favoring their interests.
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
PENTAGON ORDERS MISSILE DEFENSE SHIELD TO PROTECT RUMSFELD
May 31, 2006 The Borowitz Report
The Pentagon has ordered what it calls “a state-of-the-art high-tech missile defense shield” to protect Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from future attacks, Mr. Rumsfeld confirmed at a Pentagon briefing today.
The defense shield, to be built at a cost of $147 billion, is believed to be the first major antiballistic missile system constructed specifically to protect an embattled Cabinet member.
Increasingly coming under fire from retired generals and congressional critics, Secretary Rumsfeld had hoped that his obfuscating use of the English language would be sufficient to protect him from further attacks.
But with more frequent calls for his resignation in recent weeks, the Defense Secretary realized that some sort of antiballistic missile shield, like the one being considered to protect NATO countries from a potential Iranian nuclear threat, was in order.
At the Pentagon briefing, Secretary Rumsfeld demonstrated how such a missile defense shield could be used to protect his job from future assaults, using miniature models of antiballistic missiles, missile silos and Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del).
“The minute Joe Biden appears on ‘Meet the Press” and starts flapping his gums about my resigning, I shout ‘incoming!’ and the defense shield knocks him off the air,” Mr. Rumsfeld chuckled. “He won’t even know what hit him.”
If the missile defense shield succeeds in protecting Mr. Rumsfeld’s position, military analysts say, similar systems could be implemented to protect the jobs of presidential advisor Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
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