Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Uncle Sam: Git out of Gitmo

Most folks know the US controls a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, commonly know as Gitmo. They also know we've used a detention camp there to house alleged terrorists scooped up in America's berserk war of conquest in the Middle East following 911. We've housed 780 detainees there, all without charges or trial. The majority were simply handed over to the US by Afghan allies for a $5,000 bounty. Eight have died, of which six were suicides. Most suffered some form of deprivation including enhanced interrogation (a.k.a. torture), forced feeding, solitary confinement, indefinite and illegal detention; all in violation of international law. Obama announced the closure of our Gitmo Gulag in week one of his administration but Congress said 'Nyet'. Trump has doubled down on his bleeding heart predecessor saying "Load it up with some bad dudes". Just 40 lost souls remain in a facility  falling apart from lack of funding to maintain, living out the real like saga of Kafka's Joseph K.

But most likely don't know the entire naval base of 46 square miles on Cuba's eastern coast represents a crime of conquest against the people of Cuba. When the US booted Spain out of Cuba in the Spanish American War of 1898, we used Guantanamo Bay to land the Marines and support the invasion. The US ruled Cuba for four years before allowing them their freedom in 1902 with seven conditions, one of which was Cuba had to lease the US the naval station there forever. Cuban presidents in bed with US business, both legal and criminal, loved the arrangement. Castro didn't, demanding his land back; even tearing up the $4,085 check we send Cuba yearly. Wouldn't any tenant love such power over their landlord?

January 11 marks the 17th anniversary of our ghoulish gulag in Gitmo. But March 2 will mark the 118th anniversary of America's land grab of Gitmo when setting Cuba somewhat free. That's now illegal in international law which America routinely thumbs it nose at. First, we must free the remaining hapless souls languishing in the shame of America. Then its time for Uncle Sam to do the right thing and Git out of Gitmo.

Let convicts vote

Even with Florida's new law re-enfranchising about 1.5 million felons who have completed their sentences, millions of ex-cons don't have the right to vote in America. But two states, Maine and Vermont, allow every eligible adult to vote, including big house residents. Many argue the incarcerated have forfeited their right to vote as just punishment for their anti-social behavior. Yet, if the goal of justice is to protect the public and rehabilitate the incarcerated for eventual return to society, convict voting serves both purposes. It has no adverse effect on public safety and may have a positive effect on rehabilitation by encouraging voters to re-engage with society.
 in Maine and Vermont? FBI violent crime statistics place Vermont 49th and Maine last in violent crime per 100,000 residents. . The reasons must be many, but convict voting certainly doesn't hurt.

A political saying, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation,” was popular at one time, reflecting Maine's reputation as a bellwether state for predicting presidential elections. When it comes to convict voting, we should update that to: “As Maine and Vermont go on convict voting ... so should the nation.”
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Monday, January 21, 2019

Four Americans killed in Syria victims of supreme US international crime

It Is the height of US arrogance, stupidity, indeed international criminality that congressmen, the military and the pundit class are using deaths of 4 Americans in Syria as a reason to keep troops there rather than withdraw them as Trump announced December 19. Alas, Trump gave the perpetual war proponents the ammo they needed to demand US canon fodder stay in Syria by foolishly declaring the reason: the US had defeated ISIS in Syria. There are two problems with that non-starter reason. First, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Al Nursa Front or whatever you call the rag-tag insurgents fighting established governments in the Middle East can never be wiped out; they simply recede from areas where US bombs drop and fight somewhere else. They blew up a restaurant with 4 Americans to make that point. Second, and more important, the US has no congressional authorization or justification under international law to be fighting ISIS or anyone else in Syria. Our presence constitutes an illegal act of criminal war against a country neither attacking nor even threatening our precious homeland. How convenient the US ignores the dictate of the Nuremberg war crime tribunals which we set up after WWII to prevent future criminal wars by declaring unjust war "the supreme international crime".

Trump might have gotten less pushback from the US war party if he simply declared we're withdrawing from Syria to end our criminal involvement and to comply with international law. He's too ignorant and immoral to even consider that.

Using American deaths to continue illegal, perpetual war is disgusting. Tragically for mankind, there is no check either at home or abroad to end US perpetual war in the Middle East and Africa. The proponents of perpetual war might as well be saying 'we've got to keep Americans dying overseas to keep the power and profits from perpetual war rolling in.'