The Pentagonization of US life + Obama and the national security system + Cold War mentality

Dandelion Salad


Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt of on the system of militarization.

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Friendly fire killed soldier: Khadr defence – Testimony points to U.S. grenade

Dandelion Salad

by Steven Edwards
Canwest News Service
Saturday, July 19, 2008

Omar Khadr’s defence team says it has expert testimony indicating the soldier he is accused of killing died as a result of injuries inflicted by an American grenade.

The lawyers say the evidence will be added to the results of the defence’s wider investigation of the July 2002 firefight, and show the American assault was a “botched operation.” The claim follows the lawyers’ release of videotapes of Canadian officials interrogating Khadr that include statements he made that the prosecution in his war crimes case will have analyzed.


h/t: CLG

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


First Guantanamo Bay Video Released

Jailers at Guantanamo urged to destroy interrogation notes: lawyer

Free Energy and the Open Source Energy Movement (Part 3)

by Steve Windisch (jibbguy)
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
July 20, 2008

Part One of the series:

Free Energy and the Open Source Energy Movement (Part 1)

Part Two of the series:

Free Energy and the Open Source Energy Movement (Part 2)

This article, the two previous ones in this series, and those yet to come are dedicated to discussing the over one hundred year-old phenomena known as “Free Energy”; as well as the relatively new phenomena known as the Open Source Energy Movement. Continue reading

Reality Check – The Democrats Are The Real Problem By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

Hmm, Mike is just figuring this out now?  There are other candidates to support such as Nader and McKinney.  ~ Lo

By Mike Whitney
07/20/08 “ICH”

Obama’s candidacy is over; kaput. He’s already stated that he has no intention of stopping the war, so he has disqualified himself. That’s his prerogative; no one put a gun to his head. His op-ed in Monday’s New York Times just removes any lingering doubt about the matter. What Obama proposes is moving the central theater of operation from Iraq to Afghanistan. Big deal. Why is it more acceptable to kill a man who is fighting for his country in Afghanistan than in Iraq? Continue reading

The Real News Network: Would Iran give nuclear technology to Hezbollah?

Dandelion Salad

The Real News Network

Prof. Sahimi: Iran provides aid, but it’s against their interest to provide advanced weapons (5 of 6)


Is Iran a “threat to peace and security”?

War on Iran: Keep watch on the hawks

Chossudovsky: Iran: All Out War or Economic Conquest

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran


Afghan resistance grows in response to U.S. war crimes

Dandelion Salad

By Deirdre Griswold
Jul 18, 2008

Having rendered much of the country of Iraq virtually uninhabitable, the destructive forces of U.S. imperialism are now being focused more intensely on Afghanistan and Iran.

The pressure against Iran is still in the threat stage, but Afghanistan has been suffering terrible devastation delivered by high-tech weaponry against small villages. The attacks by the U.S./NATO forces are now spilling over into the border areas of neighboring Pakistan. The most atrocious acts of aggression are being committed against rural people in the name of fighting “terror”—a formulation that could have come right from Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

The corporate media are virtually silent on the immense suffering being inflicted on the Afghans. It is only when U.S. troops are killed there that the war in Afghanistan makes it into the headlines here—as happened in mid-July, when nine U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

Until now, the war in Afghanistan has been one in which the forces of resistance to foreign intervention have not been strong enough to take on frontally the U.S. and NATO troops. These intruders are armed to the teeth with high-powered weapons, night-vision equipment, satellite communications and guidance systems, and death-dealing aircraft that they call in to launch missiles or bombs whenever the forces on the ground feel threatened.

The resistance, on the other hand, has relied mainly on “suicide bombers”—that is, individuals so motivated that they knowingly sacrifice their lives in order to inflict casualties on the occupiers and the puppet forces allied with them.

The latest attack, however, was different.

It was, according to the U.S. military, a coordinated assault by some 200 “Taliban” and their supporters on a recently built U.S./NATO base in Kunar province, near Pakistan. The insurgents actually penetrated the base, killing the soldiers and wounding 19 more, 15 U.S. and four from the so-called Afghan army.

According to Western accounts, the insurgents had covertly occupied the hamlet of Wanat next to the base, first sending the inhabitants to other towns, and then launched their attack from there. The battle lasted for hours. They were repulsed only after the base called in strikes from U.S. warplanes, attack helicopters and long-range artillery.

“American ground commanders immediately called in artillery and airstrikes from a B-1 bomber, as well as A-10 and F-15E attack planes. Apache helicopter gunships and a remotely piloted Predator aircraft fired Hellfire missiles at the insurgents, military officials said.” (New York Times, July 15)

The daring shown by the resistance fighters in actually attacking a U.S. base must have shaken up not only local U.S. commanders but the top brass back at the Pentagon. However, what makes this battle a much bigger nightmare for them is that it proves conclusively that the people of Afghanistan are overwhelmingly with the resistance and opposed to the Western occupiers.

Some time ago, it was first mentioned in the corporate media that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan hand-picked by Washington to become the U.S. puppet president of Afghanistan, was derisively known in his country as “the mayor of Kabul,” meaning that his influence extends no further than the privileged enclaves set up for him and his apparatus in the capital city.

This contempt among the people for those selected by the invaders to rule over them has only deepened as the pain and suffering caused by this war have spread.

Tamim Nuristani, the former governor of Kunar province, “said some local people might have joined the militants since a group of civilians were killed in American airstrikes on July 4 in the same area. ‘This made the people angry,’ he said. ‘It was the same area. The airstrikes happened maybe one kilometer away from the base.’

“Mr. Nuristani strongly criticized those airstrikes, saying that 22 civilians had been killed. … Days after his comments, Mr. Nuristani was removed from his post.” (Times)

In May and June, some 69 U.S. and NATO soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest month since the war began and higher than the casualties the U.S. “coalition” sustained in Iraq.

What do they want from Afghanistan?

What makes the U.S. military and the politicians of both capitalist parties think that, by sending more troops there, they can subdue Afghanistan, whose fierce resistance to Western domination has been recognized ever since the British tried to conquer them in the mid-19th century and finally left with their tails between their legs?

The rhetoric coming from the U.S. government and foreign policy establishment explains this huge military operation in ideological terms—a “war on terror.” This phrase has been wearing thin for a long time with the U.S. public, as it has been used to justify the most atrocious war crimes and assaults on human rights.

There is a much more plausible reason. Those who cannot entertain the notion that the U.S. world empire is declining and who feel that military force is justified see Afghanistan as occupying a key location.

It is near the oil-rich Middle East and Iran. Near former Soviet republics that also are rich in natural resources to exploit. Near the South Asian subcontinent, where hundreds of millions of impoverished people in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries may take their destiny into their own hands. And near the People’s Republic of China, which has become a dynamo of economic development and is therefore seen as more and more of a challenge and a competitor by the corporate ruling class in the U.S.

In other words, Afghanistan has enormous “geostrategic” value to the imperialists, in addition to its own exploitable resources.

None of this will help the working people of the U.S. in their struggle for jobs, decent wages and conditions, or social justice. On the contrary, opposing imperialism’s dirty wars everywhere will elevate the struggle at home against the evils right here.

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, now running for president on several independent tickets, recognized this when she said recently about her congressional record: “I consistently opposed every regular and supplemental appropriation meant to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”


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Army court-martials resister for blowing whistle on ‘bait-and-kill’

Dandelion Salad

By Dee Knight
Jul 19, 2008

Private First Class James Burmeister faces a Special Court Martial at Fort Knox on July 16. The charges are AWOL and desertion. He returned to Fort Knox voluntarily in March, after living 10 months in Canada with his spouse and infant child. He refused redeployment to Iraq while on leave in May 2007.

In most such cases at Fort Knox, the Army has in recent years quietly dismissed the resister with a less than honorable discharge “for the good of the military.” This time it’s different. The brass “offered” Burmeister a year in military prison and a dishonorable discharge if he agreed to plead guilty.

Burmeister refused the offer. His father, Erich, says the Army is making an example of James for denouncing a secret “bait-and-switch” program he was forced to participate in while in Iraq. In media interviews last year in Canada, James described the program as a war crime he was forced to commit. Shortly afterward, the program’s details came out in the Washington Post.

“Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy,” the Post quoted Capt. Matthew Didier, leader of an elite sniper scout platoon. “We would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual.”

The Post reported that “Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said such a baiting program … raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items. … ‘You might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back,’ Fidell said.” (Sept. 24, 2007)

James had asked to be classified as a conscientious objector following his training in Germany, but his request was ignored by his commander. Instead, he became a machine gunner. “Our unit’s job seemed to be more about targeting a largely innocent civilian population or deliberately attracting confrontation,” he wrote in his deposition seeking asylum in Canada. “These citizens were almost always unarmed. In some cases the Iraqi victims looked to me like they were children.” (Eugene Weekly, May 22)

In Iraq, Burmeister had been knocked unconscious and his face filled with shrapnel when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. The shrapnel wounds left him with a traumatic brain injury, and he suffers from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His parents insist that he urgently needs medical and psychological help, not jail time.

His parents have waged an unceasing struggle for the Army to release him. They called on their representative, Peter DeFazio, to launch a congressional inquiry into James’s case, but have so far heard nothing. James’ mother, Helen Burmeister, flew to Fort Knox in June, with help from anti-war ex-Colonel Ann Wright. Helen spoke directly to the base commander there, demanding that her son be discharged in lieu of a court martial. She then joined supporters from Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Vets Against the War demonstrating outside.

On July 8 the Army invited Helen to attend her son’s court martial on July 16. This time both she and her husband Erich are going. They’re determined to keep James out of jail. “I bought a one-way ticket,” Erich told Workers World. “I’m not leaving without my son. If I have to sit outside the base and wait for him, I’ll do it. Even if I have to go on a hunger strike, that’s what I’ll do. My son does not deserve another day in jail.”

In an interview with Courage to Resist, Erich said: “[James] struggles with PTSD, yet he is quartered within earshot of the shooting range and tank training area, daily hearing the gunfire and explosions. He has been prescribed a dangerous cocktail of anti-psychotic drugs and sleep aids by Army doctors, while the command decides if they want to send him to prison, as a coward, a soldier who faced death, and followed orders to ‘shoot to kill.’ The cowards—George Bush and Dick Cheney, those in Congress and the generals with the blood on their hands—why are they the punishers instead of the punished?” (, May 12)

Supporters can contact the Fort Knox post commander, General Campbell, to demand a speedy discharge and no further punishment for James. Send email to, or call the Fort Knox public affairs office at 502-624-7451. Ask that they discharge PFC James Burmeister now so that he can get the help that he needs.


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The Adventures of the Parasite Army – Why Afghanistan is Not the Good War

Dandelion Salad

By Ron Jacobs
07/19/08 “Counterpunch

It’s the perennial thorn in the colonialist’s side. It’s the war that won’t go away. It’s a wasp sting that swells, slowly choking the life out of the sting’s recipient. It is the nearly seven-year old occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and various NATO allies. Nearly forgotten by most Americans, the situation in that country has taken headlines away from the occupation of Iraq because of the resurgence of the anti-occupation forces. Nine US troops were killed in one day, easily topping any recent US fatality figures coming out of Iraq in recent months. The growing ferocity of the resistance was brought home to me when a young man whom I have been close to since he was three years old was removed from the battle zone with wounds serious enough to send him stateside for surgery and recovery. (He’s scheduled to get out of the Marines in October–hopefully he won’t get stop-lossed and sent back over there).

Like that wasp mentioned above, the Afghani resistance is not necessarily anything a Westerner can support wholeheartedly. Almost all of its elements, Taliban and otherwise, have a history of misogyny and antagonism toward values we consider essential to freedom. However, also like that wasp, their resistance to those attacking their lives and their homes is seen by them as essential to the survival of both. To carry the analogy a step further, the imperial forces arrayed against the Afghani resistance are like a predator insect that sets up a parasitic home on the host and then attempts to take over the host. There are those wasps that fight the invading parasite and there are those who merely exist within their nest. The US and NATO occupiers are the parasites hoping to install their host–represented in the person of Unocal president Karzai–on the people of Afghanistan. At this point the parasites have failed to achieve their goal. Because of this failure, the parasite army is planning to intensify their assault.

This is where we leave the analogy and ask why Washington thinks it can achieve what the British and the Soviets could not? The Afghanistan region has always been the piece of the puzzle known as the Great Game that refuses to fit into the proscribed plans of any colonial power. It is as if this particular puzzle piece was cut from another die. No matter how much firepower is brought upon the Afghani people, they have been able to resist any type of lasting fit into any of the pictures hoped for by the colonial power of the day. They have done so by manipulation of the invader’s desires and by playing the various invaders off each other; and they have done so through sheer determination and the unforgiving nature of the land. Most recently, they used the US secret services to fend off the domination of their capital by the Soviets, and now they are using their own devices to fend off the domination of their country desired by Washington.

Despite what the majority of the western media tells its readers and viewers, there is more to the Afghani resistance than the Taliban. In fact, according to a recent report in the US News and World Report, U.S. forces are facing an increasingly complex enemy here composed of Taliban fighters and powerful warlords who were once on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency. As a military official stated in the aforementioned article “You could almost describe the insurgency as having two branches. It’s the Taliban in the south and a ‘rainbow coalition’ in the east.” Add to this the various armed drug traders and their backers and you have a mix at least as volatile as that in Iraq during its worst periods over the last five years.

Despite the apparent failure of the armed approach taken by Washington in Afghanistan, both presidential candidates and the majority of Congress support not merely continuing this approach but intensifying it. McCain and Obama are not only in agreement that the Pentagon needs to send more troops into Afghanistan, they are also in agreement that it is the war that the US must win. Operating under the pretext that killing more Afghanis is somehow going to end the desire of Washington’s Islamist enemies to attack it has not only created the current stalemate in Afghanistan, it has also spread the anti-American resistance into the tribal areas of Pakistan and threatens to engulf the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The recent killings of civilians by US and NATO forces only adds to the resistance, especially when the US denies the killings ever happened.

As hinted at above, the Taliban and other resistance forces are difficult for most Westerners (and many others, as well) to support. Their stance against women and their distaste for certain values we consider essential to the human experience creates a quandary for some of us who understand the imperial nature of the US/NATO presence but find the fundamentalist society created by the Taliban in the wake of their defeat of the Soviets an undesirable alternative. Without going into the role the CIA and Pentagon played in the rise of the Taliban, suffice it to say they continue to exist primarily because they resist the imperial aggressor, not because the Afghani majority necessarily agrees with their understanding of Islam. Apparently less sophisticated than other religiously oriented anti-imperialist movements like Hamas and perhaps the Sadrist movement in Iraq that also feature a political wing more inclusive of those who don’t share either organization’s religious viewpoints, the Taliban would probably have no more political power than the polygamist Mormon sects in the US west if it weren’t for the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Back to US politics and Afghanistan. This is not the “good” war. It is just as wrong as the US adventure in Iraq. Likewise, it can not be won, no matter what the politicians and the generals say. The government put in Kabul by Washington is comparable to a new branch head of a multinational corporation. Its power is dependent on the whim of corporate headquarters and will never garner the support of those not on its payroll. There are clearly human rights being abused in Afghanistan, but those abuses are committed as much by the occupying forces as they are by the forces opposed to the occupier. The solution to Afghanistan begins, just like in Iraq, with the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the US military.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Squabbling Over the Pigeon Bill: PA Legislature Won’t Be Able to Soar Like Eagles Until It Shoots Down Animal Cruelty

by Walter Brasch
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Walter’s blog post

July 20, 2008

Dave Comroe stepped to the firing line, raised his 12-gauge Browning over and under shotgun, aimed and fired. Before him, a pigeon fell, moments after being released from a box less than 20 yards away. About 25 times that day Comroe fired, hitting about three-fourths of the birds. He was 16 at the time.

“It’s not easy to shoot them,” he says, explaining, “there’s some talent involved. When a live pigeon is released, you have no idea where it’s going.”

Where it’s going is usually no more than five to ten feet from its cage. Many are shot on the ground or while standing on top of the cages, stunned by the noise, unable to fly because of being malnourished, dehydrated, and confined to a small space for hours, often days.

Nevertheless, even with “expert” shooters on the line, only about one-fifth of the pigeons are killed outright, according to Heidi Prescott, senior vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States. About a tenth of the birds usually escape. But about two-thirds are wounded.

“There really isn’t much you can do for a wounded pigeon except put it out of its misery,” says Comroe. Prior to an order in 2002 by the Court of Common Pleas in Berks County, most of the wounded were picked up by trapper boys and girls, some as young as eight years old, who killed the birds by stomping on their bodies, hitting them against structures, stuffing them into sacks, and dumping them, some still breathing, into large barrels. Some also wrung the birds’ necks or ripped them from their bodies. Since that order, the “trappers” are at least 18 years old and have gone “high-tech”; they now use garden shears to sever a bird’s head.

Trappers can’t get all of the birds. Hundreds at a large shoot will fly to surrounding areas and remain untreated as long as several days to die a painful death, says Johnna Seeton, Humane Society police officer. Pigeon shoot organizers do their best to keep observers from the scene, and don’t allow volunteers to pick up and treat wounded birds unless they fly off the property, even if there’s no shooting at the time. “We have only been able to rescue a few birds,” says Seeton.

Dave Comroe, now 32 years old, had begun hunting when he was 12 years old. That first year he killed his only deer. Although he has been deer hunting many times, he says he has “only taken a shot once.” He has gone pheasant and dove hunting about a half dozen times.

“Fathers take their sons out,” he says, noting that hunting is “a “bonding experience.” That “bonding” continued through his teens and early 20s when he went to pigeon shoots. “I went as a spectator,” he says, “and to hang out with my friends.” He was 14 when he attended his first pigeon shoot, and remembers he didn’t compete until a year or two later. Comroe says he competed in five shoots, “but attended 10 or 12 overall,” including two or three at Hegins.

That shoot, at one time the largest and most controversial in the nation, brought as many as 250 shooters and as many as 10,000 spectators, from animal rights activists to neo-Nazis and skinheads, to the community park every Labor Day. The organizers claimed they only wanted to raise money for the town park. But they refused an offer by the Fund for Animals, which later merged into the Humane Society, to buy traps, clay pigeons, and ammunition for a non-violent event. Confrontational protests, begun in 1991 under the direction of the Fund for Animals, were abandoned two years later in favor of a large-scale animal rescue operation. Each Labor Day, more than 5,000 birds were killed and thrown away.

The organizers of the Hegins shoot finally cancelled the contests in 1999, 66 years after they began. It had nothing to do with a realization that killing domesticated pigeons is cruel. It had everything to do with a unanimous ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that humane society officers could arrest participants and organizers under state anti-cruelty charges.

Comroe, a Syracuse graduate and instruction technology specialist, is pleasant, soft-spoken, and definitely not violent. Some who attend pigeon shoots aren’t. Heidi Prescott, who has been to more than 50 shoots, has seen “Children ripping the heads off live birds or throwing them into the air like footballs, adults cheering and laughing when crippled birds flop up and down in pain, and spectators parading around the park with pigeons’ heads mounted on plastic forks.”

It’s hard to reconcile the compassion seen in Comroe’s eyes with the reality that he calls pigeon shooting a sport. “There’s no pretense about it,” says Comroe, “It isn’t hunting. It’s a sport.” Pigeon shoots, claims the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, “are a traditional and international shooting sport.” But, killing trapped pigeons isn’t a sport, according to the International Olympic Committee which banned pigeon shooting after its only appearance in the 1900 Olympics. The reason why pigeon shooting isn’t recognized as a sport was best explained by the IOC. “It’s cruelty,” it said after thinking about the Olympics’ only bloody “sport.”

Sensitive to the public outrage, almost every shooter and the organizers of the gun clubs that sponsor the events refuse to talk to the public or the press. But, in private, the shooters claim not only are they sportsmen, but they hold a high moral code. The NRA claims the participants “are law-abiding, ethical shooting enthusiasts, hunters, and sportsmen.” However, there appears to be a different morality for pigeon shooters than allowed under state and federal laws. Like dog fights and cock fights, participants and spectators make money not from the prizes, which are usually belt buckles, trophies, and purses that average $20–$100 per event, but from an extensive underground in gambling. Comroe acknowledges “a lot of money trades hands” at pigeon shoots. In addition to tax fraud, money is also made by the illegal capture, interstate transportation, and sale of pigeons, also a violation of federal laws.

Pennsylvania is the only state where people openly kill live pigeons in organized contests. Every other state, with the exception of Tennessee, which has no law against it but also no shoots, has either banned the practice by law or by court action, or it is covered under the state anti-cruelty statues. The actions of pigeon shoot organizers “is clearly animal cruelty, and the Pennsylvania legislature needs to finally address it,” says Johnna Seeton. Several bills have failed to gather majority support in either house of the Pennsylvania legislature.

Current bills in the state legislature not only ban shooting any captive bird at a trap or block shoot, they extends to a little-known practice of tying turkeys to hay bales and then shooting them, often with arrows. In the Senate, SB 1150, introduced by Patrick Browne (R-Lehigh Co.), has languished in committee since November. The Senate Judiciary committee was scheduled to vote on the bill in March, but pulled it to deal with an equally controversial gay marriage amendment. The pigeon shoot bill has not come up for a vote since.

The history in the House of Representatives to enact legislation has been more contentious. In 1994, the year after State Police arrested 114 persons at the Hegins pigeon shoot, the House of Representatives voted 99–93 to ban all pigeon shoots. Supporters, however, needed 102 votes, a majority, for passage. Subsequent bills have been blocked by the Republican leadership, aided by Democrats from the more rural parts of the state.

In the House, HB 2130, introduced by Rep. Frank Shimkus (D-Lackawanna), is also stalled in the Judiciary Committee. Rep. John Pallone (D-Armstrong), chair of the subcommittee on crime and corrections, said in February he would “convene hearings [on the bill] at the earliest convenience.” There have been no hearings. Pallone says he just doesn’t think a law is necessary, “because we do have animal laws relative to domestic and wild animals.” Heidi Prescott disagrees.

“Although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rightfully termed these shoots ‘cruel and moronic’ and allowed humane officers to prosecute participants for animal cruelty, this narrow procedural ruling did not stop live pigeon shoots,” says Prescott. The Humane Society, she says, “has tried in court to apply the cruelty law to shoots, but without success so far.”

Pallone says the bill, now with 51 co-sponsors, one-fourth of the House membership, an abnormally large number of co-sponsors for any piece of legislation, “is not a legislative priority.” Rep. William DeWeese (D-Waynesburg), majority floor leader, sets the legislative priority. According to insiders in the House, DeWeese, like Pallone, vigorously opposes legislation to ban the state’s pigeon shoots. Pallone claims that “it couldn’t be any further from the truth” that DeWeese is blocking the bill from coming to the floor and has influenced the subcommittee. DeWeese, who has been in the House 32 years, twice before voted against bills that would ban pigeon shoots.

Records filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State reveal that DeWeese’s campaign committees have accepted significant political contributions from organizations that oppose the ban on pigeon shooting. State records reveal that his committee has received $750 from the Flyers Victory Fund, the political action arm of the Pennsylvania Flyers Association, an organization of about 300 members who are dedicated to promoting live pigeon shoots. His campaign committees the past four years, according to Department of State records, have also received $6,500 in contributions from the NRA Political Victory Fund.

When Sen. Roy Afflerbach first introduced an amendment in 1998 to ban pigeon shooting, only about five senators supported it but, says Afllerbach, “the Senate has come a long way since then.” A poll of Senate committee members, conducted in February and March, revealed a majority of committee members, including both the committee chair and minority chair, support the bill. An informal and confidential poll of House committee members in March revealed that 14 of the 29-member House committee would probably vote for the bill; nine were undecided and only six were firmly opposed.

“It does not require any courage to shoot a pigeon launched from a box, and it shouldn’t require much more for a legislator to decree that it is wrong to do so,” says Prescott, who is acknowledged even by opponents as one of the most effective lobbyists in the state capitol. But, Prescott is facing a formidable opponent.

“Banning pigeon shoots would be a first step in advancing [the] agenda [of animal rights activists], and they won’t stop there,” wails an alarmist message on the NRA website. “It’s the first step in an agenda that would prohibit all hunting,” NRA spokesperson Rachel Parsons told the Pittsburgh City Paper in February.

“That’s a ridiculous argument, and nothing less than a scare tactic,” says Karel Minor, executive director of the Humane Society of Berks County, Pennsylvania. Roy Afflerbach, who grew up on a farm, says he hunted “from the time I was old enough to walk into the field.” He says, “We grew up with a reverence for life, and never shot anything that we couldn’t eat, that gave us sustenance for life.” Opposing pigeon shoots “is not a firearms or hunting issue, but an issue of violence and animal cruelty, the mass killing of animals and birds solely to award prizes,” says Afflerbach, now president of the Afflerbach Group after serving four years in the state House of Representatives, 12 years as a senator, and as Allentown mayor.

“Only the most extremist hunters would defend launching, shooting, and then dumping animals into a trash bag as hunting or as a sport,” says Heidi Prescott. Jerry Feaser, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, agrees. Pigeon shoots, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “are not what we would classify as fair-chase hunting.” Rep. Shimkus told the Scranton Times-Tribune, “I do not support gun control,” and vowed to “never allow this bill to go forward if it had to do with gun control.” The bill specifically excludes legitimate hunting activities.

Karel Minor says his organization became involved “because reasonable hunters,” including those on his board of directors, “deem pigeon shooting is so far out of the mainstream.” Reasonable hunters, he says, realize that “it’s cruelty in order to make money from shooting animals that are catapulted.”

If Pennsylvania hunters are really worried, says Heidi Prescott, “they can look at other big hunting states—like New York, Texas, Montana, West Virginia, and Michigan.” These states, says Prescott, “have outlawed captive bird shooting, but hunting continues unaffected.”

While the NRA is expending considerable time and resources to block the bills, most of the state’s sportsmen’s organizations, says Afflerbach, “recognize that this ‘sport’ is indefensible.” The 4,000-member Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania (USP) has not devoted resources to trying to quash the bills; only a one-line notice in a list of bills USP opposes indicates that organization opposes the ban on pigeon shoots.

There were about two dozen shoots during the past year at the Pikeville Gun Club, Strausstown Gun Club and Wing Pointe in Berks County, as well as one at Valley View in Schuylkill County and Erdman in Dauphin County. At each shoot, more than 1,000 pigeons are killed and thrown away.

Dave Comroe no longer goes to pigeon shoots. “It’s not too exciting for me,” he says. “It’s not something I’m interested in. It’s not my thing,” he says. His “thing” is competitive trapshooting. Comroe now kills inanimate clay pigeons made of tar and pitch, hitting about 96 percent from the 16 yard line, occasionally busting a perfect 100 to earn championships.

Heidi Prescott and the 11.6 million members of the Humane Society, about 7.3 million more than the NRA, wish the few hundred Pennsylvanians who are active pigeon shooters would follow Comroe’s example and stop participating in the cruelty of pigeon shoots—either voluntarily or by force of law.

[Dr. Walter M. Brasch is an award-winning social issues columnist, former newspaper and magazine reporter and editor, and professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. He is president of the Pennsylvania Press Club, and former president of the Keystone state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist. He is also the author of 17 books, including America’ s Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Giovernment’s Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights (January 2005) and Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush (November 2007), available through and other bookstores. He frequently writes about the media, social and political issues. You may contact Brasch at or through his website at:]

War on Iran: Keep watch on the hawks

Dandelion Salad

by Abbas Edalat
Global Research, July 18, 2008

US policy on Iran seems to be softening, but the world must stay vigilant to avert the threat of war

President Bush’s decision to send William Burns, his third-ranking diplomat, to observe nuclear negotiations in Geneva with Iran, represents a long-overdue shift in American policy – underlined by plans revealed in yesterday’s Guardian to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran. Hitherto, the US had demanded that Iran must concede the main point of negotiations, namely suspension of its uranium enrichment programme, before talks begin. Iran has responded positively to negotiations, but ruled out the US precondition of suspension. The US still states that it will only enter into dialogue with Iran if it halts its enrichment programme.

Iran’s nuclear plants are all under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has stressed consistently that there has not been any illicit diversion of declared nuclear material. Despite no evidence of a nuclear weaponisation programme, the US pressured the member states of the governor’s board of the IAEA to report Iran’s file to the UN security council in February 2006. Three rounds of resolutions and sanctions followed.

The Bush administration’s policy towards Iran was inspired initially by its quick success in regime change in Iraq. It has pursued the dual strategy of demonising, isolating and pressuring Iran while trying to destabilise the country by covert operations in order to prepare the ground for a military attack.

However the hawks, led by Dick Cheney, have failed to make any headway. In December 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate reported with high confidence that Iran does not have a military nuclear programme, disarming the principal allegation against it. For a time, a concerted attempt was made to create a casus belli by accusing Iran of arming the militants who are “killing our soldiers” in Iraq. But no real evidence for this charge was ever produced, the Iraqi government refuted it and the allegations have not been trumpeted by the US in recent months.

In Iran itself, the US pressures have backfired and radicalised large sections of the population – including those opposed to the government – in defence of Iran’s rights under the non-proliferation treaty. According to public opinion surveys, the overwhelming majority has supported the government in resisting pressure to halt enrichment.

These failures of US policy coincide with the high sensitivity of the price of oil, the background to a recent report by the Rand Corporation for the American air force warning against any military attack or inflaming ethnic tensions and proposing reconciliation with Tehran.

While the positive shift in policy is a setback for them, the hawks are by no means defeated. We have been in this position before. The US and Iran had three rounds of negotiations about stability in Iraq last year, which only led to a new hype in US accusations against Iran. On Monday, Israeli military adviser Amos Gilad said that Israel is preparing to attack Iran if diplomacy fails, and that the US would not veto it. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has warned of an October surprise – a massive US bombing campaign in Iran – triggered by a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to boost McCain’s electoral chances if Obama maintains his lead in the opinion polls.

In this volatile state, the international peace movement should multiply its efforts to avert war in the remaining six months of Bush’s term. The resolution in Congress for what amounts to a naval blockade of Iran is, in effect, an act of war. The EU and the international community should call for the military option to be ruled out, and for the US to drop its precondition and enter into direct, comprehensive negotiations with Iran.

Abbas Edalat is the founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran

© Copyright Abbas Edalat, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:


Chossudovsky: Iran: All Out War or Economic Conquest (audio)

Iran: War or Privatization: All Out War or “Economic Conquest”?

NYT Op-Ed: Israel Will Attack Iran

Israel’s War with Iran and The Zionist Power Configuration in America

Kucinich Decries Iran Saber Rattling in House Legislation

Israel threatens to wage illegal, pre-emptive military attack on Iran

Will Israel And/Or The U.S. Attack Iran? By Uri Avnery

War, war, war or jaw, jaw, jaw? by William Bowles

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran


Ralph Nader: What’s left ‘on the table’? + Attn: Musicians

Dandelion Salad

Updated: July 24, 2008 Replaced the video


Ralph Nader describes what’s “On the Table” For the Nader/Gonzalez Presidential Ticket versus everything that’s “OFF the Table” for Obama and McSame.

Santa Monica, CA, May 10, 2008

Video Shot and Edited by Dutch Merrick.

Edit Supervisor: James Legoy

For More information, Go to

The one consistent Champion for the rights and protections of the American people is Ralph Nader. Together with Human Rights Attorney Matt Gonzalez, Mr. Nader will put the most pressing issues of our day back into the public discourse.

While the two Corporate-chosen candidates bicker over “Hope” vs. “Change”, Ralph Nader will discuss concisely the ramifications of continuing our present course in the Middle East and the results of our “For-Profit/ Not for People” Healthcare system.

Give him your support. Send in a few bucks!

The Planet you save might be your own!


From an email a few days ago:

If you are a musician who owns rights to original music, you can help us with soundtracks for our web videos. If you would like for your music to be considered for use in a Nader/Gonzalez video, please send an mp3 to All musical styles are welcome.


Ralph Nader: Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz

Ralph Nader Tony Serra’s

Nader on Obama and Israel (video)
Nader for President 2008

The Termi-Nader

Ralph Nader Posts & Videos

Chossudovsky: Iran: All Out War or Economic Conquest (audio)

Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, July 19, 2008
Guns and Butter, KPFA (Pacifica)

Radio Interview

Audio link

Interview with author and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, Michel Chossudovsky.

We discuss Iran’s privatization program, U.S. war propaganda, Plan TIRANT, Congressional Resolution 362, the National Intelligence Estimate, dissent within the military, currency speculation, Russia, China, the police state and the war agenda.

At first sight it appears that Tehran is caving into Washington’s demands so as to avoid an all out war.

Iran’s assets would be handed over on a silver platter to Western foreign investors, without the need for America to conquer new economic frontiers through military means?

But there is more than meets the eye.

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Guns and Butter, KPFA (Pacifica), 2008

The url address of this article is:


Iran: War or Privatization: All Out War or “Economic Conquest”?

NYT Op-Ed: Israel Will Attack Iran

Israel’s War with Iran and The Zionist Power Configuration in America

Kucinich Decries Iran Saber Rattling in House Legislation

Israel threatens to wage illegal, pre-emptive military attack on Iran

Will Israel And/Or The U.S. Attack Iran? By Uri Avnery

War, war, war or jaw, jaw, jaw? by William Bowles

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran