DAVID’S NOTES:

>>>There are a number of new people on the Emailite list this time, so, as usual, if you do not want to receive THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE please reply simply with DELETE.

>>>On this Thanksgiving Day: a sobering reminder. This issue of THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE is one short essay written by Carl Maugeri, an American Friends Service Committee staff member, about his visit to Iraq, which I came across in the AFSC QUAKER SERVICE BULLETIN. The article moved and upset me so much I wanted to share it with you. Maugeri writes about five U.S. doctors who recently visited medical schools, centers, and clinics in Iraq. I’ve written a little introduction to Maugeri’s article called “Bridges.”

>>>Today as we gorge ourselves, it seems a good time to send out this sobering reminder of, as Jacob Riis put it, “how the other half lives.”

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BRIDGES by David Budbill

Maybe it’s because I’m a poet, because I know that the Greek word from which “metaphor” comes means “a bridge from this to that, from here to there,” or maybe its just because bridges are so exciting, useful and beautiful, whether it’s the little foot-bridge I built out of red Spruce pole stringers and two-by-six Hemlock planking to span the stream out back in my woods here in the mountains of northern Vermont or the awesome Golden Gate bridge looming over San Francisco Bay or the lovely, stately and elegant Brooklyn bridge linking Brooklyn to Manhattan. Whatever the reason, bridges are both alluring and functional, and they are mysterious also; they beckon to us to cross them to see what is on the other side just as those other bridges: metaphors, call to us as well, helping us make a connection between two things we might not have thought possible, for example: “burled up like a cat who’s seen a fox” or “glad of spring as a phoebe in the sugarhouse.”

Maybe it’s for these reasons that this past spring I couldn’t stop thinking about all those bridges lying in ruin in the Danube in Belgrade put there by American bombs dropped in the name of “peace and stability.”

For THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #13, sent out on 18 May ’99, “The Littleton/Yugoslavia Issue,” I was going to write an essay called “Bread Trucks Use Bridges Too,” but the response from readers with essays of their own about both Littleton and Yugoslavia and how the two were connected, was overwhelming and I decided to forgo my essay on bridges. I more or less forgot about it until recently as I read what follows here.

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DOCTORS WITNESS IRAQIS’ NEEDS By Carl Maugeri

THE SUN IS SETTING over the old city section of ancient Basra, and the tan brick of the buildings captures the changing hues of desert twilight–the rose and salmon reds melding into soft purple and finally charcoal. The heat of the day is gone.

We walk along narrow streets bordering what was once a canal crossed by now-ruined Venetian-style bridges. The intricate decorative carvings of Ottoman architecture strain above passages now filled with old tires and concrete debris. A stream of sewage runs by. Old city contains mosques, a thriving Chaldean church, and a small Jewish quarter. It is just above Basra that the two rivers that traverse Iraq, the Tigris and Euphrates, join as one waterway leading to the Persian Gulf.

In many ways, this battered city is a microcosm for all we have observed in Iraq these two weeks: a once thriving society, rich in culture and diversity, crumbling under an economy devastated by war and economic sanctions. Our delegation consists of three AFSC staffers: Bill Pierre, Bahiya Cabral, and myself; and six medical specialists: doctors Kwasi Dgubatey, Steve Wall, Ramona Sunderwirth, Richard Garfield, Chris Hansen, and Leila Richards.

The goal of this delegation, AFSC’s fifth within the last year, is to examine the UN’s Oil for Food program. Oil for Food is touted as a humanitarian measure to ease the most severe malnutrition problems of Iraqis. The program’s authors admit it was never meant to solve the impact of sanctions, which has left the majority of Iraqis living on the edge of starvation.

This delegation is especially interested in the embargo’s effect on medical education and training, and so we spend most of our time visiting hospitals and medical schools. However, our interaction with Iraqis has the greatest impact.

There is an understated sense of indignity among the Iraqis, even as they welcome us: What is the basis for the continuing animosity from the West, they ask? Why the heavy heel upon our necks, why the continued sacrifice of the elderly, and, most poignantly, what is the purpose for the deaths of 500,000 children under the age of five?

Yet, just as apparent is the geniality of the Iraqi people in shops, restaurants, and on the streets, even toward Americans visiting their country while U.S. bombs fall on military and nonmilitary targets alike.

The walk through old city caps a day of hard travel and many stirring impressions.

Earlier this day, we passed through the city of Nassariya and saw the ruins of a bridge, which have become something of a monument. Several hundred people, no one knows for sure how many, hid under this bridge during the Gulf War bombing, unaware that bridges were prime targets.

A direct missile hit destroyed most of the bridge, killing all under it and changing this city forever. While massive efforts went into repairing the country’s bridges after the war, this bridge was left as is, a stark reminder. It is forbidden in Iraq to take photos of bridges, but this one nonetheless leaves an indelible picture in my mind.

One of the most hopeful signs is the many people working to heal the country.

Hassan, a man in his early twenties, an engineer working for the Middle East Council of Churches, is in many ways representative of the hope of Iraq. Proud of his role in creating a water treatment plant, Hassan is young, educated, and socially conscious, resolute but not angry, determined to use his skills to rebuild his country. His quiet, understated humor is also a great resource. When our twelve-year-old Oldsmobile breaks down between Baghdad and Mosul in the north, Hassan, in the back seat, shakes his head and mutters, “Ah, these American cars. . . .”

Perhaps the strongest and most lasting impression, as I sort through the many contradictory and disturbing images of this trip, is the ease with which our Iraqi hosts seem able to forgive. One of our guides, Mazin, works with the Iraqi chapter of the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent. He and I talk easily about our families, our concerns as fathers, even our careers and hopes for the future. It is a conversation I could have with an old college friend. When I mention that I wanted to take home a tape of Iraqi folk music, Mazin takes me to a store and finds just the right recording.

It is only later that he mentions he was a soldier stationed in Baghdad during the Gulf War. He recalls being one of the first soldiers to arrive at a bunker where hundreds of Iraqi civilians were incinerated when U.S. “boring missiles” penetrated the underground shelter. He found a scene of unspeakable horror. His only comment to me is that he decided never to carry a gun again, but instead to work for change through the Red Crescent.

His life has followed a route much closer to the worst of what warring people can do to each other than has mine. Yet here, on a Basra street corner at dusk, not far from long lines of mothers with children at feeding and rehydration centers, near the haunts of begging street children, between the violated waters of Iraq’s great rivers, is the most certain statement of peace that I have ever heard. * * * * * * * * * *

Editor’s Note: The delegation mentioned in this article was one of five this year sponsored by AFSC in which professionals from the United States investigated conditions in Iraq. For information on this and other AFSC work in the Middle East, visit: http://www.afsc.org/iraqhome.htm. For more general information about AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE and how to make gifts to AFSC visit: AFSC]

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[This article was reprinted with permission from QUAKER SERVICE BULLETIN, Fall 1999, published by the American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, phone: (215) 241-7100, AFSC]

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DAVID’S NOTES:

>>>Tomorrow is the 54th anniversary of the day we dropped the first atomic bomb in human history on Hiroshima, Japan. This issue of THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE therefore is dedicated, as Lois Eby puts it in her editorial, “in memory and honor and shame for Hiroshima” and to a couple of the issues the nuclear age has left us.

>>>First a comment from the Editor on two articles sent in by Emailite Rob Faivre, as follow-up to JME #14, about the environmental damage from the bombing of Yugoslavia and how the legacy of nuclear war is with us still in so-called conventional warfare.

>>>Second, Rachel Axelrod, the CEO of our vast research staff down there “inside The Beltway,” sends us a sobering, post-Chernobyl report from her recent visit to Ukraine.

>>>Finally, we send out Vermont Public Radio commentator, Lois Eby’s most recent on-air editorial about nuclear disarmament and the Abolition 2000 movement. Lois’ commentary aired yesterday on WVPR.

>>>If you do not want to receive THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE please simply reply with DELETE.

 


MORE ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION RESULTING FROM NATO’s BOMBING OF YUGOSLAVIA

by David Budbill

Emailite Rob Faivre has send in two articles about the bombing in Yugoslavia that I recommend to everyone.

First, an article from THE NEW YORK TIMES (July 28, 1999, p. A6) by Steven Erlanger headlined: “Team Finds NATO Bombing Left Few Environment Woes.” After saying that a United Nations environmental team “found no evidence of a major ecological catastrophe in Yugoslavia” the article goes on to detail one horrific incident after another.

The article mentions especially Pancevo–which you will remember was the subject of a piece in JME #14–as needing “immediate attention to protect the health of ordinary citizens.”

This is an especially interesting article for how radically the content of the article contradicts the headline.

I was able to go to THE NEW YORK TIMES on-line archives and download this article free.

And as a companion piece and contrary view to that article, read an article in THE PEOPLE–(July 1999, Vol. 109, number 4, p. 8), a newspaper published by The Socialist Labor Party–headlined “NATO Bombings Pollute Balkans Environment.”

This article is interesting for its attack on a Rand Corporation report that says the use of depleted uranium in weaponry has minimal effect on human health, also for the news that U. S. veterans organizations are now expressing deep concerns for the health and safety of the American peacekeepers who will have to live in and patrol the environment where depleted uranium bombs have fallen.

This article is available at The Socialist Labor Party’s webpage: www.slp.org.

Rob Faivre also recommends other periodicals such as:

WORKERS’ WORLD = www.workers.org

INT. SOCIALIST = www.internationalsocialist.org

MONTHLY REVIEW = www.igc.apc.org/MonthlyReview

Z MAGAZINE = www.zmag.org

 

 


REPORT FROM UKRAINE
by Rachel Axelrod

My brother Sam is a Peace Corps volunteer in Yaremcha, Ukraine, in the Karpathian National Nature Park. This Park used to be a thriving vacation destination with about 1 million tourists a year, but since the fall of the Soviet Union attendance has dropped to about 50,000 visitors annually. The drop in attendance is attributed primarily to the fact that the price of accommodations is no longer subsidized by the government, [Now that free market Capitalism has taken over. Ed.] so Ukrainians either cannot afford to go there anymore, or they choose to spend their money elsewhere.

Aside from the personal discomfort I had adjusting to the lack of certain services that we Americans take for granted (hot water – or in some homes, any running water at all, reliable phone service, reliable electricity) this region of Ukraine is absolutely beautiful. Young, green, dramatic mountains, with fantastic hiking trails; clean sweet air that was a pleasure to breath compared to the air in my city (Washington, DC) this time of year.

I was therefore upset to learn that, due to the Chernobyl disaster, we could not trust our eyes. We were told not to eat the ripe wild blueberries that grew on the hills, not to drink ANY non-distilled water, even the cold, seemingly clean water that flowed down from the highest mountain around–water that had yet to flow through anything other than a forest.

A Peace Corps staff mandate requires that all vegetables be peeled carefully and thoroughly. When my brother told me this I at first assumed it was because there are few or no regulations on the type and quantity of pesticides used in Ukraine. After all, this is a country that has no regulations on car emissions, and has only leaded fuel at its gas stations.

Although pesticides were indeed a concern, the primary reason for fastidiously discarding all peels and rinds was the on-going and obviously long-term effects of the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster.

While horrified, I could somewhat understand how blueberries, tomatoes, etc. might be hot (radioactive)–but what about potatoes? They grow underground! My brother explained that the dirt itself is still hot and thus, so too are the root vegetables.

As we probably all know, it is impossible yet to gauge the full impact of the Chernobyl disaster. One can only hope that removing the peels and rinds is sufficient–that it is not, in fact, the actual cell walls of the vegetables and fruits that are affected as well.

I do not have an organic garden like David Budbill, our emailite creator, but I do have in Washington, DC, Fresh Fields Whole Food Market, a huge supermarket that carries only organic, natural products.

As I shopped for provisions upon my return to America, I looked with an entirely altered perspective at the aisles filled with pesticide free vegetables, free-range chicken, homemade cheeses, pastas, breads, etc. Not only did the wealth of food choices seem embarrassingly extravagant, I realized that I didn’t have to worry about removing radioactive casings, shells, rinds.

I stood there amongst all that food thinking how some people have to live in an environment where they cannot trust their eyes, where a seemingly plump, red, juicy tomato could actually wind up killing them.

 

 


ABOLITION 2000

by Lois Eby

August 6 is Hiroshima Day, the anniversary of the American bombing of the city of Hiroshima in Japan. That one nuclear bomb devastated a city and its inhabitants. It also ushered in the Nuclear Age. We often forget that we are living in the Nuclear Age. There are so many other things to worry about, so many day to day struggles, so many local and global economic, political and environmental problems. 1945 seems a long time ago. And Hiroshima seems so terrible. Surely it could not happen again.

In memory and honor and shame for Hiroshima, I want to remind you that we ARE still living with the threat of nuclear weapons, a threat that is now worldwide. At least half a dozen countries possess nuclear weapons. These weapons are more than enough to destroy civilization and the earth as we know it.

For Hiroshima Day, I want to tell you about Abolition 2000, the international movement to achieve a firm treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. I first learned about Abolition 2000 last winter when a friend from Norwich, Connecticut, wrote to me that she had given up almost all her usual pastimes outside of work to campaign for it.

She had successfully led a campaign in her town with the result that the Norwich City Council unanimously endorsed the Abolition 2000 Campaign. This friend is the most private, solitary person I know. What had brought her to speak before the Norwich Town Council?

With my attention alerted by my reclusive friend, I learned that Abolition 2000 was already very active in Vermont as The Vermont Campaign to End Nuclear Weapons. Vermonters can be proud that this group, made up of several Vermont organizations and funded in part by several foundations, placed resolutions on over 35 Town Meeting agendas last March calling upon “all nuclear weapons states to secure . . . a nuclear weapons abolition treaty.”

The treaty is to arrange for a time table for the elimination of nuclear weapons “in a manner that is mutual and verifiable among all nations.” Citizens of 33 towns in Vermont passed this resolution. At Town Meeting Day, 2000, The Vermont Campaign hopes to have this resolution on the agenda in 190 additional towns. The Vermont House and Senate have now passed a similar resolution.

Could such a treaty succeed? Humans have rarely given up their weapons of destruction. They want to keep them, if only as a deterrent to other countries who also possess them. These thoughts went through my mind when I first learned about this campaign.

Then I read a speech by retired General Lee Butler. General Butler states, “I have made a long and arduous intellectual journey from staunch advocate of nuclear deterrence to public proponent of nuclear abolition.” He goes on to speak of the terrific cost of nuclear arsenals, the tangled web of systems, oversight policies and strategies, and the dangers of nuclear destruction through conflict or accident that have in fact increased, not decreased, since the end of the Cold War.

The growing number of nuclear powers, the little understood horror of the scale of destruction that would be unleashed with their use, and the realization that the only way to be nuclear safe is to be nuclear free, all constitute part of General Butler’s arguments. We should all be listening.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

Against the nuclear arsenals of many countries, what is one town’s vote, one state’s vote? It may seem insignificant, but it is very important that we speak out. We have seen too often how quickly conflicts can erupt and reason and peace can be left behind.

Let us remember Hiroshima, and find our own way to join Abolition 2000. Together our voices CAN be heard.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

For more information about joining Abolition 2000 contact:

PEACE ACTION, Nuclear Disarmament Campaign, 1819 H Street, NW #640, Washington, DC 20006-3603, ph: (202) 862-9740.

Or serach the web with “nuclear disarmament campaign” There may be something in your state.

In Vermont contact Joseph Gainza, American Friends Service Committee, 73 main Street, Box 19, Montpelier, VT 05602, (802) 229-2340,

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DAVID’S NOTES:

>>>It’s been a long time since the last Emailite, May 18th, when THE LITTLETON/YUGOSLAVIA ISSUE went out. I’d promised myself to keep these short, but the overwhelming response from readers to Littleton and the war in Yugoslavia created, almost overnight, a gigantic issue. With #14 I return to the shorter epistle.

>>>This issue of the JME could be called: THE CHEMICAL AND RADIOACTIVE RESIDUE OF OUR COUNTRY’S WAR GAMES ABROAD.

>>>Two articles this time and an editorial. First, an article about the chemical chaos our NATO bombs caused in Yugoslavia. Second, an article about the use of Depleted Uranium in the Gulf War preceded by a wry news item repeated from JME #13. Finally a comment from The Editor.

>>>If you do not want to receive THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE please simply reply with DELETE.

* * * * * * * * * *

NATO BOMBS LEAVE TOXIC SLOUGH

by William Booth

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 21, 1999

PANCEVO, Yugoslavia, July 20:

 

The largest petrochemical complex in the Balkans now feels like a post-industrial ghost town, scarred by hellish fires and choked with twisted debris. No one works here, except the U.N. inspectors who arrived today, and they are very careful where they step.

Just as the scorched and looted landscape of Kosovo is a legacy of the late war, so too are the oil refinery, fertilizer plant and petrochemical complex of Pancevo, which were heavily and repeatedly bombed by NATO warplanes. From their ruptured storage tanks, they bleed a toxic witch’s brew of ammonia, crude oil, liquid chlorine, hydrochloric acid, mercury and vinyl chloride monomers–a component of industrial plastics. The chemicals, some of them highly carcinogenic, burned out of control for days, drifting through the city of 130,000 in clouds of white mist and black smoke, spreading across the landscape and drooling into the canals and rivers that feed the Danube River.

Officials reported “black rain” falling in nearby regions. Teams of technicians and inspectors from the U.N. environmental agency and from FOCUS, a similar group composed of Swiss, Russian, Austrian and Greek members, entered the complex today to scratch in the dirt and dip vials into canals to see what the NATO bombardment wrought. The samples are being sent to laboratories around the world, and recommendations and reports will be issued soon.

Roland Wiederkehr, a member of the Swiss parliament and of FOCUS, said he saw droplets of mercury spattered around the site, while the transport canals beside one of the plants were filled with crude oil. “It was just amazing to see,” Wiederkehr said. The environmental damage at the site will take months, and perhaps years, to assess–along with its potential threat to human health.

Moreover, it will be difficult to determine specific effects of the bombings here, since Pancevo has had problems with lower-level pollution for years. The city itself–about 10 miles from Belgrade on the north side of the Danube–was spared a good measure of the airborne fallout from the air strikes, because prevailing winds blew most of the smoke to the west. But in the days after the initial bombings, government officials suggested that pregnant women leave the city, and some physicians have since suggested that women early in their pregnancies seek abortions.

Before dawn on April 18, NATO bombs hit a storage tank containing vinyl chloride monomers (VCM)–a notorious carcinogen–which burned and produced a white fog that spread across Pancevo. Around sunrise, the Pancevo Institute for Health Protection recorded concentrations of VCM moving through the town that were 10,600 times more than safe industrial levels.

Pancevo Mayor Srdjan Mikovic recalled how the cloud rolled across the city and how people ran into the streets, some wearing masks, to watch it pass. Mikovic said it seemed like something out of a horror movie. “We made a videotape,” he said. “You can see the gas floating through our town.” On June 5, Mikovic sent an urgent appeal to humanitarian and environmental groups around the world, warning them of the cost of bombing the city’s petrochemical plants. “Pancevo has become a ghost city covered with black clouds on the sky and mixed poisons, which rolled through the streets trying to find its victims,” he wrote in an e-mail that day. “The surroundings of Pancevo turned into a huge refugee camp”–a reference to the tens of thousands of people who fled the city because of the smoke.

Mikovic appealed to NATO to stop bombing the chemical facilities. “I am sorry that when I began to warn authorities here and in Europe how dangerous it was to bomb Pancevo that nobody paid any attention,” he said. At his office today, Mikovic offered his guests postcards of Pancevo that showed burning refineries and black smoke floating over the city. “I am sorry I cannot be more merry,” he said. “But look at these.”

During the war, NATO spokesmen described the plants as legitimate military targets, and few allied officials seemed to consider the possible environmental hazards of bombing the petrochemical and fertilizer facilities. The complex was built in consultation with engineers from the United States and Europe, and Mikovic said NATO air strike planners should have known what was in the storage tanks.

Simon Bancov, Belgrade’s inspector for the protection of the human environment, has warned against eating vegetables produced in the immediate area of Pancevo. He also has issued a temporary ban on fishing in the nearby Danube because of the potentially large quantities of toxic chemicals that continue to seep into the river–already one of the most polluted in Europe.

Mikovic said he does not want to sound too sensational about the environmental and health impacts of the bombing. He welcomed the U.N. and FOCUS groups to do their testing and write their reports. “Then the world will know what is the truth,” he said.

© 1999 The Washington Post Company

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: You will, I am sure, remember OAF (Our Anonymous Friend) who was so helpful to THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE during its issues concerned with the Impeachment of the President. OAF has just returned from a couple months in Italy where some ex-patriot artists he met one day over lunch weighed him down with stories about how NATO’s USA supplied weapons containing depleted uranium had been used extensively in the bombing of Yugoslavia and have permanently irradiated that countryside. The folks in Italy were amazed that OAF knew nothing about this. [This is a commentary, alas, on how limited, selective and chauvinistic our news media, including National Public Radio, really is.]

You will remember also a little item from THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #13 which went:

 

NEWS ITEM:

April 21st, 1999 12:25 GMT – NATO officials have confirmed that NATO forces have used depleted uranium ammunition in air strikes against Yugoslavia.

From OAF then comes the following investigation of the use of depleted uranium in the Gulf War.

 

 

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THE CONTROVERSY OVER DEPLETED URANIUM
by Emily E. Skor,
 Research Intern, Center for Defense Information
eskor@cdi.org (mailto:tfking@aol.com)

[This article has been abridged by The Editor]

The National Gulf War Resource Center (NGRC) released a report March 2, 1998, estimating that as many as 400,000 service men and women involved in Desert Storm may have been exposed to depleted uranium (DU) during or immediately after combat.

Responding to the NGRC report, DoD [Department of Defense] officials denied that the numbers were anywhere near 400,000 people. While admitting that there is “a certain amount of danger associated with it [depleted uranium] from very long-term or careless exposure,” the DoD refuted the allegation that DU exposure can be linked to any post-Gulf War illnesses. . . .

Depleted uranium (DU) is a waste by-product of the uranium enrichment process in which the highly radioactive U-235 isotope is separated from the uranium ore for use in nuclear weapons and reactors. Depleted uranium is 60% as radioactive as natural uranium and has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. The U.S. military became interested in using DU in weapons systems in the 1960s because it is cheaply available in large quantities and outperforms tungsten, the heavy metal the military had been using prior to discovering DU. . . .

DU is particularly effective as an armor penetrator due to its high density and pyrophoric nature (capable of igniting spontaneously). A DU projectile has a higher velocity and greater range than non-DU projectiles. Rather than explode, the DU penetrator will fragment and burn on impact, melting the metal surface and producing a smoke cloud with high concentrations of toxic DU particles. Once oxidized, some DU dust particles remain suspended in the air, others settle around the impacted vehicle. Airborne particles can be carried by the wind for miles before eventually settling on the ground, and any movement through a contaminated area can stir up the particles, re-releasing them into the air.

Depleted uranium is radioactive and has chemical effects on the body similar to those from other heavy metals such as lead and mercury. It is most dangerous when inhaled or ingested — particles smaller than 5 microns in diameter can become permanently trapped in the lungs. Once trapped, a single particle can expose the surrounding tissue to radiation 800 times the annual dosage permitted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the entire body. Depleted uranium has been implicated by medical research with lung cancer, kidney disease, and damage to the liver, respiratory and immune systems.

Depleted uranium was first used in battle in the Gulf War. A 1995 United States Army Environmental Policy Institute (USAEPI) report stated that “more than 14,000 large caliber DU rounds were consumed during Operation Desert Storm.” DoD representatives boast that DU ammunition destroyed a significant number of enemy tanks . . . .

Since 1991 numerous veterans groups have pressured the U.S. government to address the issue of veteran’s illnesses due to DU exposure, but with little to no avail. The government, in a series of studies from 1992-1997, repeatedly declared that only 35 soldiers were wounded in friendly fire involving DU ammunition and “about two dozen” members of a clean up crew were known to have been exposed to DU dust particles.

The DoD denied the possibility of further exposure and denounced arguments that DU exposure had caused illness in some of the Gulf veterans.

In November 1997, the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight released a report concluding, among other things, that DoD efforts to investigate DU exposure have been flawed. . . .

Then, on January 8 of this year, in a dramatic change of policy, the Pentagon admitted for the first time that “thousands” of veterans were exposed to DU particles during and after the Gulf War. This is the first time the DoD has acknowledged the scope of the problem and assumed responsibility for not properly warning Gulf troops of the dangers associated with DU prior to being deployed in the Gulf. . . .

Through various Pentagon sponsored reports, the DoD has denied any existing DU-related illnesses, thus putting off any public discussion concerning the hazardous nature of depleted uranium. . . .

 

 

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READING AI QING

by David Budbill

I’ve been reading the Chinese Communist poet, Ai Qing, this summer. Ai Qing was born in 1910. In 1939, when he was 29 years old, in a time of war, he wrote a poem called “Street.” Part of it goes like this:

I once lived on this street–
Those who lived there have been driven off by the alarms of war:
Child bearing women, sick men, asthmatic old men,
Old ladies raising little babies . . .

Every day was spent in bedlam,
Numberless the people who were shipped in trucks to this small town;
The street teemed with refugees, wounded soldiers, youths dropped out of school,
The ears buzzed with a variety of different dialects.

The street changed, the war made it flourish:
On both sides, vending booths of all types cropped up,
Beancurd shops turned into restaurants, groceries into hotels,
The house opposite my home became a temporary hospital.

One day, the skies above this little town were blotted out with black wings,
One bombing run sent cataclysms through this little town;
The enemy rained down deadly fire and destruction on the street–
Half of the town was left in ruins.

Look: the roof of that house has been ripped off,
Walls don’t come together any more,
The wells are choked with debris,
The rafters have been fired into charcoal.

People have all fled in this disaster
(who’s interested in where they all went?)
. . .

Ai Qing wrote that in the city of Guilin 60 years ago. Those were Japanese bombs falling on that Chinese town.

This summer as I read Ai Qing’s poem, it made me think of the terror and destruction with which the Serbs devastated the Kosovos. It made me think of the terror and destruction we rained down on the Yugoslavs.

Ai Qing’s poem makes me understand once again how–no matter when it happens and no matter how noble somebody says the cause of the war is–the victims of war are always the hapless and helpless and hopeless common people, the ordinary and passive victims of someone else’s hatred and political ambitions.

It must also be said, however, that in places like Kosovo and Rwanda it is the common people and their ethnic hatreds who contribute much of the violence. [How those hatreds get started and are maintained is a question for another time.] The butchered Serb farmers in today’s news sent to their deaths by ethnic Albanians are evidence enough that not all violence in war comes from the hands of the political leaders however much they may encourage that hatred and violence and take advantage of it.

Yet, these massacres notwithstanding, there has been, since August 6th, 1945, a categorical shift in the nature of war, and that shift is almost exclusively the creation of The United States of America.

Until August 6th, 1945, the incomprehensible carnage of war was at least limited to the millions of rotting corpses filling the streets and rivers of a war torn land. It was at least limited to ruined buildings and roads, croplands and factories. With the advent of the atomic bomb, and now the use of depleted uranium in weapons and the bombing of toxic chemical plants, the effects of a particular war fan out genetically over generations.

Every summer here in the mountains of northern Vermont I have a big garden full of organically grown vegetables. I delight in their delicious and salubrious goodness. It’s my guess that almost all the readers of THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE try to eat good food, carefully grown; you all are conscious of the need to put into your body what is good for you–at least some of the time.

Yet while we attend to such things as whole wheat bread and organically raised spinach, chicken and potatoes, our government uses the rest of the world, as it has since August 6th, 1945, as its testing ground for all manner of genetic evil and it does all this in the name of freedom, democracy and most especially free market capitalism.

This evening as I harvest my organically grown collard greens, Swiss chard and Italian kale, which I will blanch and pack into freezer containers and freeze for this coming winter, I will do so sickened and furious that my self-indulgent privilege to put up my organic vegetables stands on the back of the my country’s willingness to lay waste to anything and anyone–including its own soldiers–in the name of it’s own political and economic ambition.

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We are planning to issue JME #15 on August 6th in memory of Hiroshima Day and send you all an editorial by Vermont Public Radio commentator Lois Eby on the world wide disarmament movement. It, unfortunately, seems fitting, appropriate and depressingly relevant to the issues raised here in JME #14.

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If you do not want to receive THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE please simply reply with DELETE.

 

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THE LITTLETON/YUGOSLAVIA ISSUE
 
 
Quote of the Month:

“We must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

William Jefferson Clinton

DAVID’S NOTES:

>>> We have been overwhelmed with comments and referred articles since the last EMAILITE mentioned that this one would attend to Littleton and Yugoslavia. Both “events” are deep in peoples’ minds and heavy on their hearts.

>>> I’ve always tried to keep J.M.E. brief; this one will be an exception. I’ve read more than 150 pages of comments and articles for this issue. I’ve pared this mass down to what I think are the most various, provocative and interesting, giving priority always to comments from individual Emailites.

>>> Following these notes is a Table of Contents with a phrase about each article or comment. At the end of J.M.E. #13 are numerous links to articles read for this issue but not included here.

>>> SPECIAL NOTE: This will be the last EMAILITE for some time. I will be away from the vast and palacial offices of THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE from the middle of May to the middle of June, first in New York City for a week of performances at The Fourth Annual Vision Festival of Avant Garde Jazz, Poetry and Dance on New York’s Lower East Side and then for two weeks as Writer-in-Residence at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.

>>> Keep those emails, articles, comments and suggestions coming in but PLEASE DO NOT expect to hear anything back until sometime after June 15th.

***********************

TABLE OF CONTENTS: A Baker’s Dozen of Opinions

1. African American Courtland Milloy looks at Littleton from her “parallel universe.”

2. Michael Ventura writes about American hypocrisy and the “war against ourselves” in Littleton.

3. Gwynne Dyer compares the habit of wife burning in Pakistan with children murdering children in the United States.

4. Coloradan Ron Chacey posses many troubling questions.

5. Lorna Chafe finds the year-long Littleton plot “chilling to say the least.”

6. Serbian Marija Marjanovic sends an open letter to the world.

7. A brief news item.

8. Teresa Williams writes about the U.S.A. as “international watchdogs and humanitarian hypocrites.”

9. James K. Galbraith points out that no war has ever been won by air power alone and wonders what the real motivation behind all this is.

10. Peter Smyth points to a blind spot in all the looking at Littleton.

11. Mumia Abu-Jamal compares the bombing in Yugoslavia to the end of World War Two.

12. Vaclav Havel says the Kosovo fight is “the first ethical war.”


 

A LOOK AT TRAGEDY IN BLACK, WHITE

By Courtland Milloy

Let me tell you about my parallel universe.

It may exist in the same physical space as, say, my racially desegregated world of work. But it is a separate emotional place shared almost exclusively by other blacks. We may see the same things as whites, but we often experience them quite differently.

Take the shootings at Columbine High in Littleton, Colo. In my parallel world, you hear comments like, “I’m so glad those killers weren’t black. You know we’d all be in trouble if they were.” This is not just to say that a certain shame is associated with black misbehavior. In the parallel universe, there is acute awareness that white America responds differently when killers are black and that its police apparatus can easily become a Gestapo-like operation-as occurred in the aftermath of Susan Smith’s claim that a black man had kidnapped her two white toddlers in South Carolina.

In that infamous 1994 case, black men were being detained in six states while Smith’s boys sat strapped in a car at the bottom of a pond where she’d left them.

In Columbine, the parents of the killers were not questioned by police for several hours after the crimes, even though police knew that bombs had been made in their homes. Had the killers been black, the parents would no doubt have been hauled off in handcuffs in front of television cameras, and everybody who knew them would be under suspicion.

In my world, you also hear, “The chickens have come home to roost.” There is a feeling that if more attention had been paid to America’s “culture of violence” when it appeared to be confined to the inner city, these rural and suburban school shootings might have been prevented.

“Why are all the mass murderers middle-class white men and boys?” Apart from the notion that black and white boys have different styles of aggression due to different ways of being socialized, there is a belief in the parallel universe that as America loses its “status” as a white nation in the next century, more and more white people will be going insane.

In Columbine, a TV reporter actually referred to one of the killers as “a gentleman who drove a BMW.” The shooters also were referred to as members of a “clique,” not a gang, and they were-we were reminded again and again-so full of academic promise.

This obvious identification with the killers, and the reluctance to demonize them as blacks would have been, did not go over well in the parallel universe.

“As the media tries to soften the racist element in this tragedy,” came an e-mail from Asiba Tupahache, in New York, “one student in the library said she heard them laugh after shooting the black young athlete and said, ‘Oh, look! You can see his brains.’ With that kind of attitude, these guys could have had lucrative careers in the NYPD.”

Writing for the Baltimore Afro American newspaper, columnist Wiley A. Hall 3rd recalled America’s knee-jerk response to gun violence when it was being portrayed as unique to urban areas. “Politicians talked about the need to crack down on what they described as tough young urban hoodlums who are terrorizing the city,” he wrote. “Sociologists blamed negligent urban parents who fail to instill civilized values in their children. Police promised to make more arrests. Prosecutors promised more convictions. And judges promised to send more teenaged offenders to do hard time in adult institutions.”

Now, in the aftermath of Columbine, the finger is being pointed at “a culture of alienation,” and there is talk of improving school curriculums, controlling guns, regulating the Internet and Installing V-chips in our TVs.

It’s not just that it looks like excuses are being made for the killers at Columbine; it’s that some of them are the same ones that were so roundly rejected when used to explain violence among blacks. The one about how the killers’ status as outcasts was to blame really struck a nerve.

“Those of us whose high school experiences also included being racialized have a more compounded view of this kind of labeling, discrimination and outcasting,” Tupahache wrote. “Only our visible resistance made them drug us, call us troubled, got us abruptly reprimanded, kicked out with no questions asked. Others can wear swastikas, make disturbed videos and show it in class and all is quiet.”

Such feelings and concerns from the parallel universe occasionally break out into the other world.

In the New York Times on Friday, Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson lamented that “there is a disturbing double standard in the way we discuss the problems of different groups of people and in the way we label deviant behavior. If the terrorist act of white, middle-class teenagers creates an orgy of national soul-searching, then surely the next time a heinous crime is committed by underclass African-American or Latino kids, we should engage in the same kind of national self-examination.”

His was an eloquent appeal for love and understanding in a world where justice is truly colorblind. In my parallel universe, however, we aren’t holding our breath.

************************

Sunday, May 2, 1999, © Copyright 1999, The Washington Post Company Circulated in the interest of Black folks by BlackNews(tm). Opera Singer, San Franciscan and Emailite, LINDA YOUNG sent us Courtland Milloy’s essay.

 

PAYMENT IN BLOOD

by Michael Ventura

[The Austin (Texas) Chronicle, © 1999]

In one afternoon at a suburban high school in Colorado, more Americans were killed than during one month of war in Yugoslavia. The same was true of the Gulf War: Many more American children died of gunfire during those weeks than did our soldiers in combat. These days it is safer to be an American soldier in a war zone than an American child in a high school. What fact could shame us more? Yet every voice of government and the media joins in a shrill chorus constantly repeating that we are the greatest nation in history. Would we need to boast so often, every day, so many times a day, if we really believed it?

The bodies of the children in Colorado were still warm — literally –when various gun advocates went before the cameras to say such an event need not and should not mean that our gun laws must be changed. Several suggested that the massacre wouldn’t have happened if teachers and guards had been armed. Their solution is more guns! But we have failed utterly as a civilization if for the first time in history schoolteachers need to pack weapons. And if we demonstrate such fear of our children, then our children have no choice but to fear themselves and to fear us, to fear and fear and fear, until fear eats away every value that education is supposed to stand for.

In fact, there was at least one armed guard at that suburban high school; he exchanged a couple of shots and then retreated to wait for reinforcements; the SWAT teams arrived while the massacre was still going on, reports now say, and they conferred for over an hour before going in. At least one person who might have been saved bled to death during their conference. So much for men with guns.

Our American infatuation with guns is our admission of cowardice; because if you need a gun to feel secure you are really saying that you feel no inner strength with which to confront a stranger. One set of numbers says it all, as reported in The New York Times: “In 1996, handguns were used to murder 2 people in New Zealand, 15 in Japan, 30 in Great Britain, 106 in Canada, 213 in Germany, and 9,390 in the United States.” There is no conceivable argument against those numbers. The other countries have strict laws about handguns; we don’t. Let’s see, we lost roughly 50,000 soldiers during 10 years of war in Vietnam; so in 1996 Americans at “peace” suffered, from handguns alone, roughly 18% of the casualties of 10 years of war.

What conclusion can be drawn but that we are at war with ourselves? That we have driven ourselves so crazy that no enemy is as dangerous as our neighbor — and our neighbor’s children? How does one stop this domestic war? With whom does one negotiate? What are the terms of a cease-fire, much less of peace? As for disarmament: The so-called “gun lobby” is financed by arms manufacturers and by men too frightened to feel strong without a weapon nearby, and we endure a political system in which legislators can be bought with “donations”; guns are in massive supply on our streets and in our homes because greed and fear are built into our system of governance. The result: The only countries with yearly casualty rates that approach or exceed ours are Third World countries in states of civil war.

How can we justify ourselves? How can we call ourselves “great”? How can we see American civilization as anything but demented and out of control when compared to any place but a Third World country ravaged by poverty and internecine strife?

The President spouts platitudes, the high school principals sputter helplessly, the parents walk in dazed horror, the gun lobby is stern and shrill–and commentators indulge in hours of blab, saying nothing because that is precisely what they’re paid for, so that viewers will be numbed by a constant spew of televised ineffectuality. After all, if the highly paid thinkers on the tube are ineffectual, how can we blame ourselves for our own helplessness? And all of this is done to mask the truth that we, as a culture, cannot face, a truth articulated by James Baldwin years ago: “We, the elders, are the only models children have. What we see in the children is what they have seen in us.”

What the children see is not hard to figure out. By and large, they see this: People who say one thing, but do another. People who profess beliefs that they do not, in any way, live by. People living a lie. For instance: in a country that overwhelmingly and stridently calls itself “Christian,” what could be more contradictory, more self-defeating, more of a lie, than a Christian with a gun? The thing children hate more than anything is being lied to, being faked. And our children are lied to every day, everywhere they look, by almost every television show and advertisement — and they know it. They’re lied to by adults who demand that their kids live by ideals while preparing these same kids, in countless ways, to live only by money. And what our kids hate and fear most is that their “education” consists largely of lessons in how to buy into the biggest lie of all: the lie that if only you have enough money you’ll be alright.

Some kids can’t bear being lied to on such a massive scale. And some, a very few, do awful things. At which the rest of us pretend to be shocked. But we’re not really shocked. We’re revealed. We sell these children the means to insulate and corrupt themselves, and we market the means by which they can kill themselves and each other, and then we blame the kids for our terror when a few are driven mad by this virulent mixture of our lies and of what we’ve enticed our children to buy.

Several weeks ago I quoted a 15-year-old student, Morgan Whirledge in another context, but his writing is well worth quoting again, because I’ve found no more cogent commentary or explanation for what those murderous boys did in Colorado, and why they did it: “What’s in? Why? The image, the look, the personality, the surface. It’s in you, whether subconsciously or consciously, it’s there. I think everyone knows and deals with this every day, minute, second of their lives.” Morgan goes on to speak of children assaulted by television, media, technology, abuse, ignorance, disrespect, and lies, and then he writes: “And so the kid sits, silent, in a mess of artificially inseminated thought. A shattered life around him, as easy to break as a mirror. He grows and eventually sees himself. A reflection. He is holding a sledgehammer, given him by his world. It is for mending the shattered pieces of fragile glass.”

In Colorado, the “sledgehammer” those boys picked up was a gun — many guns and bombs. They were not going to be able to mend anything. They had been given no hope of escape but to join a world they saw no possibility of joining. So, laughing as they killed, they murdered those whom they could neither emulate nor befriend.

Were they responsible? Of course. Were they what we made them? Of course. It is too simplistic to say it is either one way or the other; it is, most awfully, both. Their parents, their teachers, and their society, were not strong enough to give those boys the strength to stand either with or against the collective lie that is America. Their morality dissolved. They chose to join the ranks of the unspeakable. They made us feel their horror by enacting their horror. By becoming their horror. What could be a more terrible fate for a child? The others at least died innocently. That is horrible too, but not as horrible as dying stained with the greatest and most heartless sin there is.

What can we do? That’s what everybody is asking, but nobody wants to face the answer–especially because the answer is fragile and uncertain and difficult. Still it is the only answer there is: Stop living your lie.

Live in your truth, that your children may live in theirs. Your children can’t respect your truth all the way unless you’re willing to live it. The people you have to lie to, own you. The things you have to lie about, own you. When your children see you owned, they can’t help but feel owned by what owns you. When your children see you owned then they are not your children anymore, they are the children of what owns you.

If money owns you, they are the children of money. If your need for pretense and illusion owns you, they are the children of pretense and illusion. If your fear of loneliness owns you, they are children of the fear of loneliness. If your fear of the truth owns you, they are children of the fear of truth.

I say this in grief, as a sinner and a liar and a failure–my truth, like yours, is always more than I can bear. But there are two kinds of failures: the failure of honest effort, and the failure of avoidance and denial. In the failure that always accompanies honest effort, there are lessons and courage and dignity. In the failures of avoidance and denial, there is only more failure. When we choose, we are also choosing for our children. It is they who must pay for every one of our evasions.

And now, in America, the payment is often in blood.

************************

MARGO BALDWIN sent us Michael Ventura’s article. Margo is a co-founder of Chelsea Green Publishing Company. She is currently writing a book on her year in Mexico with family, dog and parrot. She lives in Vermont. This piece came to Margo via NATURAL STEP.

 

 

 

 

BURNING WIVES AND CHILDREN WITH GUNS

By Gwynne Dyer

Most Americans, trained from infancy to regard their country as unique, tend to lurch directly from thinking that things in the United States are uniquely wonderful (when they go right) to believing that they are uniquely dreadful (when they go wrong).

Thus the Vietnam War, for those who opposed it, was not just a stupid blunder by bumbling officials; it was the most evil war ever waged. And the Colorado school massacre, coming on top of half a dozen similar incidents in the last two years, is not just the result of stupid laws and bad behavior; it is a metaphor for the decay of the American soul.

Let us pull back and consider the horrors that happen in societies made up mostly of decent people.

Between September and December of last year, for example, 87 cases of women being horribly burned by “stove-bursts” were recorded by two major hospitals in the neighboring Pakistani cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The woman’s husband, frequently aided by his mother or other relative seizes his wife, pours oil over her, and then sets it alight.

The motive is usually financial: She has not paid enough dowry, or her husband has gotten a better offer. And whether she dies or survives to live out a life of mutilation and perpetual pain, she will almost never blow their cover story that the stove exploded and burned her. Even if survivors knew how to complain, the police and the courts are unlikely to listen.

Wife-burning is a plague in Pakistan, with 1,600 cases reported in the last 10 years. Yet everybody would agree that Pakistan, like the United States, is inhabited mainly by good and moral people. How, then, can this sort of thing happen?

The roots of the problem clearly are in a culture that holds women to be inferior. Most Pakistani men, not being monsters, both subjugate and “protect” the women in their families. But for the tiny proportion of men who are capable of monstrous acts, the laws and customs of Pakistan are a murderers’ charter.

Now bring it all back to the United States, where practically nobody burns their wives. Why not? One reason is that women are now regarded in the West as independent individuals. American society does a better job of protecting women than Pakistani society.

But it does a much worse job of thwarting children bent on destruction. U.S. police and courts take a much more relaxed view than those in Pakistan of houses stuffed full of guns. Americans believe that freedom of speech is so important that even Web sites peddling racist hate propaganda and telling you how to make terrorist bombs must be protected (which Pakistanis would regard as stark, raving lunacy).

The clear result: Heavily armed teenagers (and even sub-teenagers) massacring their schoolmates has become a feature of contemporary American life.

Now, if you were really serious about ending wife-burning in Pakistan, you wouldn’t wait generations for attitudes toward women to change. You would immediately pass and enforce laws that required all wife-burnings to be investigated by special prosecutors. Over the longer run, you would try to suppress the custom of giving dowries that provides the motive for most of these crimes.

Similarly, if you were really serious about ending school massacres, you would not begin by trying to reform the family. You would pass laws that make it very hard for private individuals to own guns. And you would work on ways of redefining free speech so that you can ban the kinds of films, video games and Web sites that desensitize impressionable children to the point where horrific deeds like the massacre in Littleton can seem like fun.

If you were really serious about it.

**********************

Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist based in London. RALPH FLOOD who teaches English at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia sent us this. Ralph first read it in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.

 

 

QUESTIONS FROM COLORADO

by Ron Chacey

Kosovo, for me, is far away, as I refuse to watch or read the news on a daily basis. It is a conflict that has been going on for centuries, and has many complexities. Kosovo and Littleton certainly have much in common, including the ultimate underlying cause. However, Littleton is close, and I have friends who have taken children to Littleton this past weekend to visit with and support the survivors. Littleton is also a very straight forward situation with so little complexity that everyone can only say, “Why? How can this happen?” My personal response, which is different from most, is that, as much as it shocks me, it does not surprise me. I experience Littleton as the crying out of the soul of the community. I hope that it will be heard, and I fear that it will not be. Can we have the compassion to gain wisdom from the martyrdom?

Part of our community believes that the parents should be held fully responsible. Certainly our society often does not hold the family sufficiently responsible for the actions of its members, but are not children also the product of a community and a culture? Others believe that the teachers, police, and other people who are often erroneously designated to perform the control in our society are to be held responsible. Even if it were possible for these people to control and prevent such outbreaks, would it be healthy or would we care to live in a society that was so totally controlled?

Are we only looking for scapegoats so that we will not have to face the reality of the condition of our culture and our communities? The only person that I have so far encountered who would talk of the community’s responsibility was a wealthy man who was quick to note that Littleton shows that the problem is not one of poverty. While it may be true that poverty is only one of the “symptoms” of the ultimate problem, is focusing upon ones pet agenda going to uncover lasting solutions that address the underlying forces?

When the great ball of the repressed collective soul has been pushed deeply beneath the waves of our being, it will rebound to great heights. The more we repress, the more horrendous the repercussions. As a culture, over the past many centuries we have been gradually losing contact with and neglecting to nurture our collective soul, which includes our humanity as well as the world in which we live.

I am often very optimistic when I experience the great rebirth of spirituality taking place in our society. We are thinking more and more about alternative ways to understand, different ways to treat the world, and various ways of being. I start to think that we are really on the right path; we are finding the way, and then along comes a Littleton.

Spirituality is not enough; we can lose ourselves in Narcissism. The soul is earthy and not high in the sky. It appears that to discover the soul, we must grovel in the dark recesses of our being, in Littleton. Many of those who live in Littleton are being subjected to one of those dark recesses, and hopefully they will gain in wisdom. But we need more than that. Do the rest of us have the cultural beliefs that will make it possible for us to learn without having to directly experience a Littleton?

Have our many material and technological gains been at the expense of losing our soul, our humanity? Can we now find a way to learn to once again nurture our soul?

***********************

RON CHACEY lives in Colorado, decorates fine musical instruments, visits the high country often, and works to protect open space and wildlife habitat. He and The Editor of the EMAILITE went to high school together.

 

 

CHILLING TO SAY THE LEAST

by Lorna Chafe

I’ve been ambivalent on Kosovo, but generally think that we have done far more damage than might have occurred via Milosovich, and yet he had to be stopped. My thinking is that we need to use the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and we need to fund them. WE NEED TO PAY OUR DUES!!! These bodies need to be working all the time, doing conflict resolution and teaching the ideals and techniques of listening and understanding and respecting and compromising with each other, and we need a good dose of that right here at home, a la Littleton.

Granted there are in Littleton also problems of raging adolescent hormones, and moving a kid too many times, and maybe a military approach to child-rearing as well. And I think that the Harris’s may not have accepted their son for who he was, and their denial fed his pretense. But I am struck by the possibility that it was the persecution of the athletes and the “in” kids that sent him over the edge, and into the pit of our violent media and war games.

And the idea of these kids plotting this rampage for a year or so, acting their everyday selves, is chilling to say the least.

***************************

LORNA CHAFE is a an early childhood educator, child advocate, and peace activist. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

 

 

A LETTER FROM SERBIA

by Marija Marjanovic

Dear friends!

Just after the war in Yugoslavia have started, I wrote a letter named “My side of the story”. I sent it to my friends from Brazil (where I spent two months taking a part in the student exchange program), and to several other friends from all over the world. This letter seems to be traveling all around the world and by this time, I have already received about 350 replying letters (maybe more). They are from Brazil, USA, Spain, Germany, Greece, France, Great Britain, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Austria, Finland, etc. I am very happy that we can make this beautiful contact, thanks to the modem communication. I am really touched with your reactions….Even though we may have different opinions of this situation (but I must emphasize that we most basically agree) it seems that you can all feel the empathy for the innocent people from Yugoslavia, whatever nation they belong to.

Thank you very much for your concern. You are so far away and still so worried about the situation in my country. I am also surprised with the fact that you are mostly very well informed about this war. I am grateful to the people who are spreading my letter….

I did not mention the refugees problem which made a lot of you think that I support this ethnic cleansing idea. On the contrary, I strongly condemn it. I do not have to tell you that we hear nothing about that on our local tv, but as I told you I have the possibility to watch many foreign tv stations so I am aware of it. I must also say that there are (not only now, but long before this war started) a lot of Albanian separatistic groups in Kosovo. They are armed (UCK), therefore dangerous and determined to realize their dream of “Great Albania” by adding Kosovo to the state of Albania. They attack Serbian citizens from Kosovo, and they also attack Albanian Kosovars that don’t share their separatistic ideas. How do you think any country should solve this problem?

Our government is obviously not capable of solving this problem (because it was always occupied only with the idea of gathering money for its members). I agree that this problem has to be solved with the international intervention. I also agree that Albanian women, children and men from Kosovo which are not acting aggressively and separtistically did not deserve to suffer. Therefore I condemn the aggression against them. On the other hand, I do not approve the methods of NATO. I will not discuss (this time) my opinion that NATO (with the USA on its top), hidden goals (spreading the market, strategic reasons, selling old weapons and testing the new ones). I honestly don’t believe that destroying factories, bridges, roads, even homes, will solve any problem. For example, some days ago, the building of the state television, situated in the down town was hit. There were a lot of civil victims (workers). To tell you the truth, this tv station was never correct. It was conducted by the government, it produced lies not only now, but long, long time before. I would be happy if this tv station would stop with its work. But what did NATO achieve by hitting it? It killed innocent people, it ruined the expensive building and technology. Who is going to pay for that? NATO could simply destroy the main antenna which is located on the hill twenty kilometers away from the down town.

This antenna is away from civilians, very expensive, even for the state fund and therefore not likely to be soon changed by the new one. The goal would be completely achieved–without human losses.

Now, the state tv is broadcasting again, it has just changed its down town office–so we’ll have the down town explosion again. We are just praying for pilots to be extremely precise.

You keep asking me about the way I spend my ordinary day under this strange conditions. In the first days of the war we could not actually realize what was going on. The alarms announcing the alerts from the sky were very frequent so people stayed in their homes or shelters, being afraid to get out. Another thing happened. When this first (psychological) shock has passed everybody started to buy everything in the supermarkets. We were frightened, that, like in any war, we are soon going to stay out of food, water, pharmaceutical products, detergents etc. Unfortunately people from here are mostly poor, so one can not buy a lot of things. The prices had increased, but not so much, at least not like I expected. After few weeks, we seemed to get used to the situation. Alerts (in Belgrade) are every evening. So by the daytime we visit each other, people go to work (there is usually nothing to do but people keep on sitting in their offices trying to make things look like “nothing’s going on”).

Now, no matter how strange it can appear to you, I am totally used to the situation. But I have fears about several things. First fear: the ground troops–I am aware that I am not a target, but let’s remember Sarajevo (Bosnia), when innocent people got killed (not deliberately, but killed anyway) while they were standing in the line waiting for bread, water, medicines. Second thing I am afraid of is the use of depleted uranium by NATO. This is a sad fact and it is just being discussed about the level of its bad influence. The third thing I am afraid of is: How this is going to end? When is this going to end? I am also afraid that we are soon going to loose these contact, because there are rumours that the main post office is going to be hit as a strategic target (unfortunately these rumours have rarely failed not to be true). If this happens, we well be completely lost in the dark.

It is 02:13 in the morning, while I am writing this, and of course, it is the alert time. Just an hour ago I heard very strong explosion (my windows have slightly opened because of the strength of the air pressure caused by the detonation). I am listening to the news but nobody has reported yet about the location of the explosion. I assume it is the main bridge or the Police Headquarters. I hope again that there are no civil victims. I have phoned to the closest family and several friends, they know nothing (just like me) and they are ok (first thing I usually do after the explosion: I call my family/friends to check out if everything is all right).

You might wonder why don’t I go to the shelter during the alert. A lot of us don’t. I hate the atmosphere of massive panic, so I prefer to stay in my house. I am also trying to study a little bit. Schools are not working. Universities do. I am writing an essay about a contemporary architecture. It is very nice to do anything else but thinking about problems. It can retain one’s mind healthy, I suppose.

You have noticed that in this letter I have not written much about the political aspect. That is because I have recently found out a web site named “Free Serbia” made by Serbian students. I find it very interesting, and by now, I can say that I agree with most everything that I have read on this site. I hope it will remain that fair. This site is full of pictures (while some of them are really disturbing). I am enclosing parts from this web site, which I hope that you are going to visit soon. I will keep on writing. Hoping that we’ll not loose this contact.

Sincerely, Marija Marjanovic

*************************

for more go to: http://welcome.to/freeserbia. This web site is maintained from Yugoslavia, under constant threat of NATO bombs and the Milosevic regime. So, please understand if it is not updated from time to time! TOM YOUNG, graduate student in dance at the University of Claifornia at Riverside, sent us Marija Marjanovic’s letter.

 

 

NEWS ITEM:

April 21st, 1999 12:25 GMT – NATO officials have confirmed that NATO forces have used depleted uranium ammunition in air strikes against Yugoslavia.

 

T.O.C.
 

LETTER FROM TERESA WILLIAMS

by Teresa Williams

“At the Center of Non-Violence Stands the Principle of Love”

—“Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.”

As an American Citizen, I firmly oppose the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia that continues to murder innocent civilians (mostly women and children) and destabilizes the Eastern Bloc countries. Violence begets violence and there must be a space established for a dialogue of peace and non-violence. I oppose the U.S. destructive engagement of these bombings, these senseless “mistakes” on proposed NATO targets (that seem to increase weekly), the billions of dollars being spent on missiles and bombs while neglecting the issues at home regarding jobs, education, community development, health, crime, poverty, violence by American youth and the structural-institutionalized violence in our society.

I am strongly opposed to ground troops being sent to Yugoslavia as proposed by the Pentagon to President Clinton. I will continue to vocalize my opposition to the United States government being the international watchdogs and humanitarian hypocrites while tolerating social injustices within this society such as police brutality, racial profiling, the rise of the prison industrial complex that is designed to incarcerate people of color at alarming rates for the 21st century and this perpetuation of the culture of violence within American society and abroad.

I encourage family, friends and colleagues to become more engaged in opposing this war and its atrocities and to support the international call for peaceful negotiations and peaceful solutions by becoming more involved with your community’s anti-war/anti-violence efforts.

There will be a major demonstration at the Pentagon in D.C. on Saturday, June 5. Let us not forget Vietnam.

In The Spirit of Peace,

Teresa Williams

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TERESA WILLIAMS lives in Cambridge (MA) and is currently a graduate student at the Boston campus of Springfield College’s School of Human Service. Her focus is on prison justice issues as an extension of slavery. She is also currently involved with the American Friends Service Committee’s Coalition of Friends and Families of Prisoners.

 

 

WAR IS HELL

by James K. Galbraith

General William Tecumseh Sherman had a clear legal right to repress the armed rebellion his armies encountered in Georgia and the Carolinas. This right was based on the authority of the United States to preserve the Union. That Sherman did so violently, that he seized civilian property and burned houses, did not diminish this. Nor did it give England or France or anyone else any legal or moral standing to intervene in our Civil War.

By what standard does the United States now claim standing to prevent the Yugoslav National Army from repressing armed rebellion in Kosovo?

In Bosnia, an independent country, we had a legal right to bomb. We were invited by the government to do so. We also had a moral imperative; in fact, our intervention there came too late. Kosovo, on the other hand, never has been independent. That its population happens to be 90 percent ethnic Albanian is irrelevant. An ethnic enclave has human rights but not national rights, and cannot invite us to intervene on its side in a civil war.

But had the war turned to something much graver, namely genocide? In Bosnia, Serb forces caused 200,000 civilian casualties in the first year of that war. That was genocide, directed against Muslims by militias that wanted them off the land. In Kosovo after one year, until our campaign started, there were about two thousand casualties, about one percent as many. The Serb strategy in Kosovo was harsh. But it was not genocidal up to the point where the bombs started to fall.

NATO’s case thus depended on the assertion that genocide would occur in the absence of our bombing. This would justify our actions –if it were true. But what was the evidence? Did we intercept plans, orders? If we had, Clinton and Albright would have said so. They have not. Instead, they refer back to what did happen in Bosnia, to crimes committed years ago, principally by Bosnian Serbs. And yet that Bosnian Serb political entity, the Republika Srpksa, continues to exist because we protected it, in the Dayton Accords, from military defeat! As an explanation for our conduct in Kosovo today, this story does not parse.

If we had evidence of plans for genocide, then we could have sought international legal authority for our actions. The correct forum for this is the United Nations Security Council. The UN did give us the authority we needed to conduct, for instance, the Gulf War. But NATO did not seek such authority for Kosovo. Why not? Perhaps the evidence was not good enough.

And perhaps our true motive is closer to what is quite openly stated: our frustration that Yugoslavia would not agree to diktat on the matter of a Kosovo peace settlement. But why should it? Agreements, by definition and by international law, cannot be forced. We have not sought, and certainly have not achieved, a settlement acceptable to Serbia.

So now we see the failure of diplomatic bluster–of Richard Holbrooke’s view that he personally could handle Milosevic by entreaty and threat; of Madeleine Albright’s effort to gain glory at Rambouillet. False routes failed, and now “our” credibility is at stake. God save us from such diplomats.

But will the war work? The first-in-history successful achievement of a political objective by air power alone has not yet occurred. In this instance, all signs are bad. Bombing was supposed to prevent genocide, but once the monitors withdrew, nothing protected the civilians, and the Serb policy became dramatically more brutal. Today, the burning villages belong to Albanians. The floods of refugees are Albanian. And the bodies are mainly Albanian. Our air attacks accelerated, and did not retard, the Yugoslav military campaign.

In response, our bombing will not remain confined to bloodless targets like airfields and TV towers. We will send in the close-support jets, looking for jeeps and armored cars. At that point, two things will happen. First, more of our aircraft will get hit, by rifles and cannon and shoulder-fired missiles. Second, even more civilians will get hurt.

Slobodan Milosevic thus has a clear strategy (while we do not). He can disperse his forces, hold his anti-aircraft fire, press his gruesome ground campaign, push out more refugees, and wait for us to start killing civilians. Soon after, international public opinion and NATO itself will begin to crack. This is not, as it were, rocket science.

Our policy in Kosovo is not only wrong. It is not only illegal. It is also not very bright.

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James K. Galbraith teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. This article is distributed by The American Prospect Syndicate. Our old pal, OAF, Our Anonymous Friend, who was so helpful during the Impeachment issues of the J.M.E. sent us Galbraith’s essay.

 

 

A BLIND SPOT

by Peter Smyth

There is a remarkable blind spot in the public analysis of the shootings in Colorado. As the media rakes over the ashes of this disaster, again their is NO attention paid to the FACT that in all of these school massacres the perpetrators are male. The unrestrained urge to acquire wealth, to pursue power, to dominate women, children, other men and control one’s environment to the point of killing are all behaviors of males. I suspect that between the hype and the accepted “truth,” there is a very real possibility that non-psychological environmental factors, (what kids are listening to, seeing or even living at home), are eroding whatever mechanisms human males possess to manage inner aggressive tendencies.

Whether it is a mutation of testosterone by some chemical process, or a reaction to greater amounts of ultra-violet radiation due to the destruction of the ozone, or exposure to something in our diets, we are experiencing increases in bizarre and very violent behavior, while we are ignoring the dynamics of the phenomenon. Coupling this with THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE’S (#12) observations that our society and our orientation toward wealth and individualism [cf. “What Confucius Said”], the future looks bleak.

Hang close to your friends and neighbors.

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PETER SMYTH lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and is a graduate student preparing to become a high school teacher at Johnson State College.

 

 

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL FROM DEATH ROW: “U.S. OUT OF YUGOSLAVIA”

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

As a deadly rain of high-tech bombs falls on Yugoslavia, a deadening rain of propaganda falls on Americans–media-manipulated lies designed to prime the populace into supporting harsher military measures against a sovereign nation, in the name of protecting human rights.

NATO is but a fig leaf for American “interests,” and the bombing of Yugoslavia is but a global demonstration of the ruthlessness of the American empire. A demonstration? The monstrous atomic bombing of Japan, after it was virtually beaten in World War II, was not a military necessity, but a political one, designed to demonstrate to the Russians that the U.S. was, and would ever be, boss. It was a massive, deadly demonstration.

So too, the Yugoslavia bombing treats Serbs as the U.S. treated Japanese during the war–as props to demonstrate the power of the empire. Let us consider the claims that the U.S. is concerned about “human rights” or about the “rights of ethnic minorities,” as the corporate press projects hourly. What of America’s largest national minority–African Americans? The world-respected Amnesty International group, speaking through its secretary general, Pierre San, announced just days before the bombing, “Human-rights violations in the United States of America are persistent, widespread and appear to disproportionately affect people of racial or ethnic minority backgrounds.” San, was critical of police violence and executions in the U.S. Further, internationally, let’s see how the U.S. responds to “liberation movements” of the oppressed. When fighters for Puerto Rican independence began to raise their voices, the U.S. didn’t support this “ethnic minority,” they sought (and continue) to crush, incarcerate and silence them.

Consider the case of the Palestinians, the Kurds, the East Timorese, the Colombian rebels–who has the U.S. consistently supported, the oppressed or the U.S.-armed governments? This isn’t about “human rights.” It isn’t about “ethnic minorities.” And it also isn’t about “genocide.” It’s about establishing who’s “boss” in the next century. It’s about keeping Russia in its place. It’s about keeping the European Union under the thumb of Wall Street.

The bombing of Serbia is an echo of the bombing of three other countries in the past six months–of Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan. And for precisely the same reason–to show that it can be done, no matter what so-called “international law” states. It is to instill terror through out the world, in order for U.S. capital to institute what former President George Bush tried to do, but failed: to establish a New World Order.

Days before the bombing, NATO signed up Poland, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) as its newest members, thereby virtually isolating Russia. Only Serbia and the Yugoslav states have refused to join NATO–their bombing is their punishment. Our brilliant, revered nationalist leader, Malcolm X, taught us to examine history. If we look at history, the bombing of Yugoslavia becomes clear. Empires are maintained, not by reason, but by ruthless terror. It was so in Rome. It is so in the U.S. The brilliant revolutionary, Dr. Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party, explained: “The United States was no longer a nation. … We called it an empire. … An empire is a nation-state that has transformed itself into a power controlling all the world’s lands and people.” (1973)

Huey was right then, and our response then was to oppose the empire. We must do that now. Down with imperialism! Stop the bombing! NATO/U.S. out of Yugoslavia!

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Mumia Abu-Jamal has been convicted of murdering a police officer and is on death row in Pennsylvania prison. NADINE BUDBILL, sent us Mumia’s essay. Nadine is also the source of our Quote of the Month at the head of this issue. Nadie lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works for The Network of Cultural Centers of Color.

 

 

HAVEL LAUDS KOSOVO FIGHT AS FIRST “ETHICAL WAR.”

BATTLE “GIVES HUMAN RIGHTS PRECEDENCE OVER RIGHTS OF STATES, CZECH LEADER SAYS.

by Juliet O’Neill

In an address to Parliament, a rare honour for foreign leaders, Mr. Havel distinguished NATO’s military intervention against the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as the first war ever fought on behalf of the interests of human beings rather than national state interests.

Introduced by Prime Minister Jean Chretien as “a poet, a dreamer, a statesman,” the 62-year-old Mr. Havel delivered the kind of philosophical address expected from the writer and former political prisoner acclaimed for his role in toppling communism and for eloquently advocating morality in politics.

The war over Kosovo foreshadows a future, he said, in which the nation-state no longer holds cult-like status, state sovereignty is no longer idolized and the principle of non-intervention in another state will be antiquated. “This war gives human rights precedence over the rights of states.”

The Kosovo conflict is not a war waged over oil fields or territorial claims by any NATO country, or other national interests that have traditionally driven foreign policies, he said, but “because decent people cannot sit back and watch systematic, state-directed massacres of other people.”

On top of offering comfort to NATO — an alliance the Czech Republic joined only a dozen days before the current air war began — he called for United Nations reforms, and urged Russia to accept that the quests by such small nations as Estonia to join NATO or the European Union are not “an expression of enmity.”

His repeated theme of humans before states stirred applause several times from the audience of MPs, senators, diplomats and other guests assembled for a special joint sitting of the Commons and Senate. It was a rare occasion; the most recent was an address last year by South African President Nelson Mandela.

“There is a value which ranks higher than the state,” Mr. Havel declared. “This value is humanity. The state, as is well known, is here to serve the people, not the other way around.” In an apparent reference to the lack of Czech public support for the NATO bombing campaign and the deep divisions over it within the Czech government, Mr. Havel admitted that the alliance action is neither easy nor popular, and said there can be different opinions on strategy and tactics.

“But no person of sound judgment can deny one thing: this is probably the first war ever fought that is not being fought in the name of interests, but in the name of certain principles and values. If it is possible to say about a war that it is ethical, or that it is fought for ethical reasons, it is true of this war.”

While Yugoslavia has been attacked without a direct UN mandate for NATO, he said the alliance had not acted out of aggressiveness or disrespect for international law but “out of respect for the rights of humanity as they are articulated by our conscience as well as by other instruments of international law.

“I see this as an important precedent for the future,” he added. “It has now been clearly stated that it is not permissible to slaughter people, to evict them from their homes, to maltreat them and to deprive them of their property. It has been demonstrated that human rights are indivisible and that if injustice is done to some, it is done to all.”

A tiny cluster of protesters, one holding a sign saying “Decent Czechs stand against bombing. Decent Czechs stand by Serbs,” gathered on the lower steps of Parliament as Mr. Havel gave his address. However, Mr. Havel’s line of sight to them, as he left the Centre Block, was blocked by a crowd of thrilled fans, some of whom took snapshots as he and his wife Dagmar came out with Mr. Chretien and his wife, Aline.

At a formal state luncheon later at Rideau Hall, residence of Gov.-Gen. Romeo LeBlanc, Mr. Havel gushed over the welcome he received during his first trip to Canada in 1990, shortly after he had become the elected president of what was then Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Velvet Revolution that brought about the end of Communist rule.

“I will never forget the way I was welcomed in your country,” he said in a toast to his hosts. “This kind of welcome has helped me overcome a few uneasy moments during my presidency.”

He paid tribute to Czechs who had emigrated to Canada and fought for the re-establishment of democracy from abroad, saying they had significantly contributed to achieving new freedom and civil dignity.

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© Copyright 1999 Ottawa Citizen. For more articles on Havel’s visit to and speeches in Ottawa and for an interview with him from Prague, go to: http://www.ottawacitizen.com and search April 30, 1999. HOWARD NELSON, Upstate New York poet, teacher and Emailite was in Ottawa, Ontario, celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary and saw this article in THE OTTAWA CITIZEN.

 

 

LINKS FOR FURTHER READING:

LINK: for more “alternative” comments on Kosovo go to: madcow and look for Mad Cow Digest #85

LINK: from Saratoga, NY, poet and teacher ROB FAIVRE, a recommendation to read Michael Moore’s essay “To Be Dead in Denver & Downtown Pristina.” This is the Michael Moore of ROGER AND ME fame. To read this piece go to: theawfultruth.com

LINK: for another fiercely anti-bombing position go to: The Progressive Review, 1739 Conn. Ave. NW Washington DC 20009, 202-232-5544 Fax: 202- 234-6222, E-MAIL: news@prorev.com,

INDEX : http://prorev.com,

NEWS : http://prorev.com/indexa.htm,

HEADLINE NEWS: http://prorev.com/altnews.htm,

ALTERNATIVE NEWS SOURCES: http://prorev.com/hot.htm,

FORUMS: http://dejanews.com/~prorev

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COMING IN THE JUDEVINE EMAILITE #14:

Greed: The Equal Opportunity Destroyer–or–How The Cuban Baseball Team Whopped The Baltimore Orioles.

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DAVID’S NOTES:

>>>With this issue of THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE we’ve added some new people to the list of those who receive this. If you are one of the new ones, or one of the old ones for that matter, and DO NOT WANT to receive this occasional, on-line and on-going cyberzine PLEASE go to REPLY and send the simple message DELETE. I will take you off the list.

>>>First up in this issue is a special report from our Chief Washington Correspondent and Director of our Vast Network of Inside-the-Beltway Researchers, Rachel Axelrod, who offers us an update on what is happening in the campaign for the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by the adulterous and resigned Bob Livingston.

>>>Second, as promised in J.M.E #11, this issue’s feature essay is the quotation from the base of the Statue of Confucius in New York’s Chinatown and some comments on that quotation.

>>>Finally, we offer two responses, one from magazine editor, Steven Sass, the other from a poet, Hayden Carruth, to our question: “Now that it is over what does it all mean?” which we posited in J.M.E #11. For those who are new, “it” is the impeachment and acquittal of The President.

AMONG THE OTHERS,

A VIRGIN’S VIRGIN RUN FOR OFFICE

by Rachel Axelrod

[with contributions from THE WASHINGTON POST and David Budbill]

Nine candidates vie for the House seat of adulterous representative Bob Livingston (R-La.), the first speaker-designate of The House of Representatives in history to resign for infidelity before becoming Speaker. The special election is scheduled for May 1st.

Among the nine candidates–eight Republicans and one Democrat–are Ex-Governor David Treen, New Orleans Zephyrs owner Rob Couhig, Klu Klux Klansman David Duke, Orthopedic Surgeon Santos LoCoco, Electrician Patrick Landry and an eye doctor whose name is–no, really, it’s true–Monica Monica.

A few weeks ago Monica Monica, having spent $226,000.00 on her campaign, was at the head of the spending surge.

As you can see, former Klansman David Duke is not the only unusual character in this crowded field. Duke, by the way, who is forever showing up and claiming fraternity with The Grand Old Party, is lagging way behind in the polls, meaning perhaps finally the Republicans will be rid of their constant need to publicly disassociate themselves from Duke and his past.

But perhaps most unusual is the candidacy of electrician Patrick Landry, a first-time candidate, who’s provided a unique reason for voters to send him to Washington. Landry promised that he would stand out when he arrived in scandal-ridden Washington.

“I’m a virgin at age 33,” he said, “and that should say something about my integrity.”

It says somethin’ about somethin’!

WHAT CONFUCIUS SAID

by David Budbill

Most people who know anything about Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.) or the ideas for the governance of human society he devised think of him as the perpetrator of a set of rigid, hidebound, legalistic, restricting rules and regulations for every imaginable human encounter, relationship or event. And certainly that is what “Confucianism” became over the centuries in ancient China. But just as there is no necessary relationship between the teachings of Buddha and Buddhism or the teachings of Christ and Christianity so it is also with Confucius. Confucius’ initial vision of a good society, “The Great Harmony,” as he put it, is a vision of societal peace, cooperation and understanding unsurpassed in the history of human contemplation.

Which is why I urge you to go to New York City. Get yourself to the intersection of Canal and Bowery down on the Lower East Side in Chinatown. Brace yourself if you are from the country or the suburbs because this is going to be a scene from Beijing, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Great waves of humanity, mostly Chinese–But not all. I was there.–surge back and forth packing the sidewalks and spilling out onto the streets. The streets likewise also overflow with cars and trucks of every description all of them blowing their horns all at once or so it seems and the traffic so congested the cars and trucks spill up and onto the sidewalk. Yet–in a wonderment that never ceases to amaze me every time I’m there–of all these cars and trucks and people mixed together in this chaos of noise–this halting, stalled, horn-blaring, weltering confusion–none is injured and all somehow progress, albeit slowly, toward wherever it is each is intended.

Go south now on Bowery about a block, for this is your intention. Already now you can see him just ahead, over there on your left, rising above the cars and trucks, out there in the middle of the traffic where Division Street splits into a Y and joins Bowery. In that triangle of asphalt and concrete created by the forking Division Street, on a pedestal about seven feet high stands a ten foot bronze and therefore green statue of Confucius.

He’s looking southeast and stands there in his robes, still as a statue, deep in his meditative calm amidst the noise and chaos of commerce.

On the base of the statue chiseled in the stone is the following quotation from his writing called The Great Harmony, the TA TUNG.

“When the great principle prevails the world is a Commonwealth in which rulers are selected according to their wisdom and ability. Mutual confidence is promoted and good neighborliness cultivated. Hence men do not regard as parents only their own parents nor do they treat as children only their own children. Provision is secured for the aged till death, employment for the able bodied and the means of growing up for the young. Helpless widows and widowers, orphans and the lonely as well as the sick and disabled are well cared for. Men have their respective occupations and women their homes. They do not like to see wealth lying idle, yet they do not keep it for their own gratification. They despise indolence, yet they do not use their energies for their own benefit. In this way, selfish schemings are repressed, and robbers, thieves and other lawless men no longer exist, and there is no need for people to shut their outer doors. This is the great harmony. ”

Imagine such a society. Imagine leaders in a society even having this as the ideal toward which they strive.

A few months ago I saw a program on one of the TV networks about and called GREED. It was an open and unabashed defense and promotion of pure and simple greed. Ted Turner–not exactly Mother Teresa himself–was on the show as a kind of straw man, a fall guy, to be ridiculed for giving away a few million of his dollars, by other corporate CEO’s who argued that the best thing for everyone in American is for people like themselves to make as much money as possible and keep it all for themselves or use it to generate greater profits for their businesses.

I’m sure you think I’m exaggerating. I am not. The program posited the idea that any notion of anything even remotely approaching something like the idea of “the public good” is not only laughable but, in fact, bad for the economy and therefore evil.

These words from Confucius about the nature of the social contract and the public good, about how to be just and caring with your neighbors–even THE LONELY are cared for!–and how unchecked greed and the profit motive will destroy anything and everything, seem surreal in the middle of modern American life.

How far have we as a people strayed from the kind of Confucian humanism presented by this quotation from the TA TUNG?

When self-aggrandizing greed and personal gratification are all that matter, when Money and Me stand at the center of a society’s profoundest philosophy of life what can we expect from the future?

TWO RESPONSES TO

“NOW THAT IT IS ALL OVER, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?”

From magazine editor, Steven Sass:

“Clinton’s great political success–aside from restoring economic health and attempting to include the bulk of the American people in this prosperity–was to halt the right-wing surge of the 1992 elections. He castrated their revolution. They grew enraged, and they crucified Clinton.”

From poet, Hayden Carruth:

“Your emphasis on the prototypical emergence of a police state [referring a piece in J.M.E. #11] in Starr’s persecution of the President is clear, trenchant, and absolutely right on. . . . As in the past, I do have a small further contention in my own mind, however, which is actually not small but very large, viz., that although Starr is the particular villain in this case, along with his backers in and out of Congress, he is not the originator of this impetus in American public life during recent decades; on the contrary, he is the virtually inevitable outcome of a course of thought and feeling in this country that has been evident since the post-World War Two period.

“Myself, I blame corporate capitalism, fundamentally and primarily. Eisenhower was not a great President and of course I didn’t vote for him, but his warning against the “military-industrial complex” years ago was perspicacious and sound. What he did not say and perhaps was not smart enough to say is that actually, naturally, it is bigger than that, it is a military-industrial-political-cultural complex and it is driven by material greed and lust for power, motives so compelling and so effectively and forcefully implemented by the corporate apparatus that no merely constitutional restraint can stop it. This would require the will of the people, but the people has become only more and more demoralized.

“Corporate quantification, manipulation, and brainwashing have destroyed the sense of individuality that is prerequisite to common strength of mind. The public will is flabby and inactive. In the present instance, what this leads me to think is that if the roles had been reversed in the Clinton-Lewinsky fiasco, i.e. if Clinton were a Republican and Starr were a liberal Democrat, exactly the same thing would have happened. The historically fundamental political and constitutional processes would have been subverted. And corporate money would have fueled it. The whole evolution of political life since the end of World War Two would have ensured it.

“Well, I agree that if a coup d’état occurs it is more likely to come form the right than from the left. Almost always the right is better organized. And even if it came from the left I am cynical enough to believe that it would turn into a basically rightist dictatorship in a short time anyway, as it did in Russian and Cuba.

“John Locke and Thomas Jefferson had a beautiful idea, and it was embodied quite well, everything considered, in the American constitution. The question is: can any constitution as such stand up against corporate greed and public ignorance. De Tocqueville foresaw what ignorance would do, Marx foresaw what capitalism would do. They are joined now, and we are observing, all too clearly, the correctness of their predictions.”

Finally, we are thinking a lot these days about the Kosovo War and about violence in American life, most recently in Littleton, Colorado.

At the moment we plan for THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #13 to address these topics. Any of you out there with thoughts to offer to the rest of us please feel free to write.

We have in the works here an essay about Gandhi and NATO and another about Chief Left Hand, a native American who suffered great violence near Devner, Colorado, more than 100 years ago.

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