An extremist "pro-life" group, not content with opposing abortion, birth control and stem cell research, has attacked the family and caregivers of a Wisconsin Marine, critically wounded in Iraq, for following his express directions and allowing him to die.
The Marine, Staff Sgt. Chad Simon of Monona, suffered a severe brain injury in November when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee, injuring Simon and killing three other Marines from his Madison-based Reserve unit. Surgeons removed two-thirds of Simon's skull. He never regained consciousness.
He died nine months later, on Aug. 4, at a HospiceCare facility in Madison, after his family, following his wishes, disconnected his feeding tube.
"He did have a living will, and it was very explicit. There was nothing to question," said the Rev. Jeff Mannel, pastor at Madison Church of Christ, and a close family friend.
Jack Schuster, the family's attorney, said Chad's wife, Regina, made the decision after much soul-searching and with a judge's approval.
While the family seemed to be at peace with carrying out Chad's wishes, others who didn't know the Marine weren't happy with the family’s decision.
Pro-Life Wisconsin, which calls itself "your 100% pro-life voice," accused HospiceCare of murder.
"Sgt. Simon was rendered handicapped by the bomb in Iraq; he was murdered by those who were in charge of his medical care," the group's press release declared. HospiceCare threatened a lawsuit. Pro-Life Wisconsin withdrew and rewrote its news release, but refused to apologize.
HospiceCare decided not to pursue the matter. Its lawyer said, "Hospice regards Pro-Life Wisconsin's revised press release as a tasteless and unfounded attack on the grieving widow of a war hero, but it is not defamatory in the legal sense. … out of respect for Chad Simon and his family, we do not want to prolong this controversy."
The above is from Bill Christofferson's "'Pro-Life' Extremists Attack Family, Caregivers After Marine's Death" (Milwaukee's The Shepherd Express) and was e-mailed by Gary. Gary calls this "the continued Schiavo tactics you don't hear about but you should because what that group did to Sgt. Simon's family and HospiceCare is disgusting."
Mark e-mails to note David Enders' "We Regard Falluja As a Large Prison" (Mother Jones, July 27, 2005):
Eight months after the second invasion of Falluja, there is hardly a street that does not still feature a building pulverized during the assault. I had not been in the city since last July, when I was escorted out by three cars of mujahedeen -- that's when things were still relatively nice -- and though I had expected it, the destruction was still shocking.
The dome of one mosque I had previously used as a landmark was completely missing, large holes had been blown in others. Houses have been pancaked, it is hard to find a façade without the mark of at least small arms fire. As many as 80 percent of the city's 300,000-plus residents have returned, but the city has by no means returned to normal. On Sunday, the police were hard at work adding razor wire and new concrete blast barriers to the already sprawling fortifications around their main station in the center of town while US and Iraqi army patrols traversed the main street, the Iraqis firing their rifles in the air to clear traffic. Small arms chattered in the distance, followed by a response from a larger gun. The tension is palpable. Curfew begins at 10 p.m. but low-level fighting continues.
"They are killing one or two of us everyday," says an Iraqi soldier at one of the checkpoints into the city, a claim confirmed by local doctors.
I have heard Iraqis make comparisons between their occupation and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but it wasn't until I saw families walking through the kilometer-long checkpoint, from a parking lot outside Falluja to one on the other side, that it seemed apt. Once inside, seeing the life continuing amidst the rubble, it was harder still to ignore the physical similarities.
A child jumps into the Euphrates from a one-lane bridge, the same bridge from which angry residents hung the charred and beaten bodies of four American contractors in March 2004, the same bridge that connects the center of town to Falluja General hospital, the first objective taken by the Marines in November's invasion. Doctors Ahmed and Salam, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition that their names be changed, lamented the condition of the city and its people. In the last week, they have received three civilian casualties of US fire, and say that this week has been below average -- normally, says Ahmed, they see one or two dead civilians every day, and that hundreds have been killed by coalition forces since the city was taken over by the US.
Micah e-mailed this afternoon to note Robert Parry's "Explaining the Bush Cocoon" (Consortium News). We linked to it earlier today but we're pull quoting here in the Indymedia roundup. It's a strong piece and Micah likes to think of it as "How We Got Here, Why We Stay." Here's an excerpt:
This early example of the U.S. news media building a protective cocoon around George W. Bush's presidency is relevant again today as many Americans try to understand how Bush was able to lead the nation so deeply into a disastrous war in Iraq and why the U.S. news media has performed its watchdog duties so miserably.
The history of the mis-reported Election 2000 recount also attracted the recent attention of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. After referencing Gore's apparent Florida victory in one column, Krugman said he was inundated by an "outraged reaction" from readers who thought they knew the history but who really had learned only a false conventional wisdom about how the recount supposedly favored Bush.
In a second column entitled “Don't Prettify Our History,” Krugman argues that "we aren't doing the country a favor when we present recent history in a way that makes our system look better than it is. Sometimes the public needs to hear unpleasant truths, even if those truths make them feel worse about their country. …
"Election 2000 may be receding into the past, but the Iraq war isn't. As the truth about the origins of that war comes out, there may be a temptation, once again, to prettify the story. The American people deserve better." [NYT, Aug. 22, 2005]
Whether Americans can expect better is an open question, however.
A strong argument even could be made that Krugman is wrong suggesting that the news media just wanted to "prettify" American history or that I was wrong in speculating that the distorted reporting on the Election 2000 recount was just a case of putting patriotism over professionalism.
A harsher interpretation is that journalists put their careers -- not their love of country -- ahead of their duty to tell the American people the truth. In other words, big media personalities may have understood that challenging Bush would put their big pay checks in harm's way. [See Consortiumnews.com's "The Answer Is Fear."]
[. . .]
[Note: The above is what Micah labels as "how we got here." Below is what he's labeled as "why we stay."]
Last March, for instance, many commentators -- including New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and the Washington Post's David Ignatius and the editorial boards of the Times and the Post – were hailing Bush's new Iraq War rationale, that is was the instrument to advance "democratization" in the Middle East.
Just as the pundits had bought into the WMD claims in 2002-2003, they fell for Bush's argument that the invasion of Iraq would spread democracy across the Islamic world and thus destroy Islamic extremism. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Neocon Amorality" or "Bush's Neocons Unbridled."]
Since then, as the optimism about "democratization" has receded -- from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Iraq and Lebanon -- the Bush administration and the pundit class have shifted rationales again, this time to a modern version of the "domino theory" -- that a quick withdrawal from Iraq is unthinkable because it would undermine U.S. credibility.
Trina e-mails to note "Voices in the Wilderness: Federal Judge Orders Fine Against U.S. Citizens for Bringing Medicine to Iraq" (Chicago Indymedia):
Voices in the Wilderness Issues Press Statement
For Further Information: Jeff Leys or Kathy Kelly at 773-784-8065
Chicago - On August 12, 2005 U.S. Federal District Judge John Bates ordered payment of a $20,000 fine imposed against Voices in the Wilderness.
Voices was fined for bringing medicine to Iraq in a classic campaign of open nonviolent civil disobedience to challenge the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the U.N. against Iraq. The U.S. Treasury Department initially imposed the fine in 2002, days after Voices participated in international actions to oppose the U.S. buildup for war against Iraq.
Voices in the Wilderness issued the following statement:
"Today, the judiciary branch of the U.S. government completed a perfect trifecta of inhumanity in upholding a $20,000 fine against Voices in the Wilderness for bringing medicine to Iraqi citizens. Judge Bates agrees that it was lawful and proper for the U.S. government to deny needed drugs and medical supplies to Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, despite the evidence that several hundred thousand innocent children were dying because of brutal economic sanctions."
Voices will not pay a penny of this fine. The economic sanctions regime imposed brutal and lethal punishment on Iraqi people. The U.S. government would not allow Iraq to rebuild its water treatment system after the U.S. military deliberately destroyed it in 1991. The U.S. government denied Iraq the ability to purchase blood bags, medical needles and medicine in adequate supplies-destroying Iraq's health care system.
"We chose to travel to Iraq in order to openly challenge our country's war against the Iraqi people. We fully understood that our acts could result in criminal or civil charges. We acted because when our country's government is committing a grievous, criminal act, it is incumbent upon each of us to challenge in every nonviolent manner possible the acts of the government."
We continue to oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which continues the devastation of the Iraqi people.
Over the past two years of occupation, the health care and water systems in Iraq have not improved. Nearly 300,000 children under the age of 5 now suffer from acute child malnutrition. It's likely that over 100,000 Iraqis have died because of the occupation - either killed outright by military action or died because of the lack of safe drinking water, adequate health care, lack of food. What has our country wrought in Iraq?
"We choose to continue our non-cooperation with the government's war on the Iraqi people through the simple act of refusing to pay this fine. To pay the fine would be to collaborate with the U.S.government's ongoing war against Iraq. We will not collaborate."
We fully understand that the U.S. government may take other action against Voices in the Wilderness, or possibly us as individuals, for our continued refusal to collaborate with the government's policies. But we invite representatives from the government to enter into dialogue with us about how best to correct themisguided, ill-conceived and criminal acts of our country towards the Iraqi people. We invite all U.S. citizens to pause and consider how we might bring about an end to the blood shed and the violence in Iraq - an end to the occupation and payment of reparations to Iraq for the devastation our country has wrought upon the Iraqi people these past 15 years.
"We pause to ponder the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who asked of himself and his co-conspirators in resistance to Hitler, whether they were yet of any use. We too live in times of unspeakable peril and violence. We too live in times when questioning and resisting our government is the one path remaining toact for justice. We too have struggled and seen untold numbers of innocent people die at our government's hand. We too answer as Bonhoeffer did, that yes, indeed, our acts and fidelity to our brothers and sisters throughout the world are not only of use, but of absolute necessity. We invite all to join us in a conspiracy of life to end our country's war against the Iraqi people."
Jordan e-mails to note Dr. Glen Barry's "Stop the Lies, End the War, Save Our Climate" (Madison Indymedia):
I have just returned from nearly a week of protesting the Iraqi war with Cindy Sheehan and company at Camp Casey, Texas. This grieving yet articulate mother has captured the imagination of the American people. She speaks truth to power by strongly stating that George Bush has lied about the Iraqi War, causing soldiers and civilians daily to die for nothing. It is known from the Downing street memo and elsewhere that President Bush knew Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction or any ties to Al Qaeda. Yet he preemptively attacked Iraq, shifting attention from far more danger threats of terrorism and climate change. This essay will focus upon Bush's lies across the spectrum of war, climate, oil and terrorism --focusing upon the imperative of ending this war and saving our climate – which together threaten the very foundation of civilized life.
The nexus that unites these seemingly unrelated issues is oil. The real oil crisis is not its price but its changing of climate,and terror and war resulting from our dependence. America's insatiable thirst for oil and other resources, combined with the unjust Iraqi war's breeding of massive amounts of new terrorists, together threaten to bringa state of permanent war (perma-war) and ecological collapse upon theEarth.
In my environmental blogging, I have long highlighted that President Bush not only lies about the unjust Iraqi war -- he also constantly lies about climate change, and other issues such as forest conservation (witness the Orwellian "Healthy Forests" policies). In April of 2004 my first EarthMeanders, entitled "Today in America - Conservative Fascism andEnvironmental Decline" made the point that Americans are more than willingto use military means to access resources including oil
And in August of 2004, in "Conservative Fascism is Un-American", I go well beyond calling Mr. Bush a liar
This essay suggests the Iraqi War, repugnant in its own right, also distracts from more immediate threats to our civilization -- namely climate change and stopping religious based terrorism. It will be forcefully argued that the Iraqi war must end now -- demanding immediate phased withdrawal and adoption of better strategies to fuel our society and stop murderous fanatics of all types.
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