September 17, 2004

Meaningless like when two fireflies fluoresce

* Howard Zinn on the war in Iraq, written in February 2003, a few weeks before Bush invaded. excerpt:

"At some point in this coming war, and no one can say when, the lies coming from the administration - 'the death of this family was an accident,' 'we apologize for the dismemberment of this child,' 'this was an intelligence mistake,' 'a radar misfunction" - will begin to come apart.

"How soon that will happen depends not only on the millions now - whether actively or silently -- in the anti-war movement, but also on the emergence of whistle blowers inside the Establishment who begin to talk, of journalists who become tired of being manipulated by the government, and begin to write to truth. And of dissident soldiers sick of a war that is not a war but a massacre --how else describe the mayhem caused by the most powerful military machine on earth raining thousands of bombs on a fifth-rate military power already reduced to poverty by two wars and ten years of economic sanctions?"
...
"There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies, however wealthy they are, however they control the information given to the public, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists and writers and teachers and artists. When these people begin to suspect they have been deceived, and withdraw their support, the government loses its legitimacy, and its power."
...
"If Bush starts a war, he will be responsible for the lives lost, the children crippled, the terrorizing of millions of ordinary people, the American GIs not returning to their families. And all of us will be responsible for bringing that to a halt.

"Men who have no respect for human life or for freedom or justice have taken over this beautiful country of ours. It will be up to the American people to take it back."

* U.S. casualties have been under reported. excerpt:

"Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International. Most don't fit the definition of casualties, according to the Pentagon, but a veterans' advocate said they should all be counted.

"The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded from Iraq.

"The military has evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for the medical evacuations. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"The Pentagon's public casualty reports, available at www.defenselink.mil, list only service members who died or were wounded in action. The Pentagon's own definition of a war casualty provided to UPI in December describes a casualty as, 'Any person who is lost to the organization by having been declared dead, duty status/whereabouts unknown, missing, ill, or injured.'

"The casualty reports do list soldiers who died in non-combat-related incidents or died from illness. But service members injured or ailing from the same non-combat causes (the majority that appear to be 'lost to the organization')are not reflected in those Pentagon reports."

* New York judge, citing US Supreme Court, says its ok to be high or drunk while on jury duty. excerpt:

"New Yorkers dreading jury duty take note: it's OK to be drunk on booze or high on pot or cocaine while doing your civic duty.

"So said a New York judge on Wednesday, who refused to set aside the verdict on a retired city firefighter convicted of swiping souvenirs from Ground Zero, citing the U.S. Supreme Court to back her ruling."

"Samuel Brandon, 61, found guilty in March of petty larceny for stealing personal items from the ruins of the World Trade Center, asked for a new trial after a juror told him after the verdict that he had been drinking during deliberations.

"But Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Ellen Coin cited a 1987 Supreme Court decision which rejected the argument that jurors consuming alcohol, smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine and falling asleep constituted an 'outside influence' on jurors.

"Coin said being drunk on jury duty was 'reprehensible,' but that there was little she could do about it given the Supreme Court ruling.

"However severe their effect and improper their use, drugs or alcohol voluntarily ingested by a juror seem no more an 'outside influence' than a virus, poorly prepared food, or lack of sleep," the Supreme Court said in its decision.

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