Sunday, June 19, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

9 US soldiers have died this month in the Iraq War. Matthew England was one of them. Ozarks First reports, "Miles of cars, emergency vehicles and veterans line up to pay tribute to England." And his aunt Susan Vuyovich remembers her nephew, "Matt was just all over the woods and playing in the water. Matthew was just full of life and full of spunk." Mike Landis (KY3 News -- link has text and video) quotes Dorris Sayles who knew Matthew from his job at a grocery store, "He always had a beautiful smile, he was friendly to everybody." Landis notes, "England will be laid to rest Monday in Veteran's Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood." Missouri's Governor is Jay Nixon. His office issued the following on Friday:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered that the U.S. and Missouri flags at state buildings in all 114 counties and the City of St. Louis be flown at half-staff on June 20 to honor the bravery and sacrifice of Private First Class Matthew Joseph England. Private First Class England, age 22, of Gainesville, was a soldier in the United States Army serving in support of Operation New Dawn in Iraq. He died on June 8 of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in An Najaf Province, Iraq.
In addition, Gov. Nixon has ordered that the U.S. and Missouri flags at all state buildings in Ozark County be flown at half-staff from June 21 to June 26.
"The lowering of the flags will honor Private First Class England and remind Missourians of his bravery and sacrifice," Gov. Nixon said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they mourn for him."
Private First Class England was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge (Bar, Weapon: Rifle (Inscription: Rifle), Expert), and the Overseas Service Bar.

Yesterday the Dept of Defense announced Spc Marcos A. Cintron died. He had been injured in the June 6th attack that claimed the lives of 5 other soldiers. Natalie Sherman (Boston Herald) quotes his father, Wilfrido Cintron, stating, "He wasn't conscious, but I know that he knew that his family were there and that we were struggling for him. The family, we remember him as happy. We remember him as a hero." Along with his father, his survivors include an eleven-year-old daughter and a thirteen-year-old daughter.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4463. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD still lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4466.

Reuters notes that today's violence included a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left another injured while a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad.

Last week, Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) reported that $6 billion was missing in food-for-oil money that was supposed to have been used for reconstruction. Al Jazeera reports (link has text and video), "Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn - three times more than the reported $6.6bn. Just before departing for a visit to the US, al-Nujaifi said that he has received a report this week based on information from US and Iraqi auditors that the amount of money withdrawn from a fund from Iraqi oil proceeds, but unaccounted for, is much more than the $6.6bn reported missing last week." In other ominous news, Monday's big meet-up? Aswat al-Iraq reports Ayad Allawi has told Jalal Talabani he won't be attending due to "health problems."

We'll move over to England for another death. Activist Brian Haw is dead. Mark Wallinger (Independent of London) explains:

Brian showed us what a quiescent and supine country we've become. After two million came out to protest against the Iraq war it was as if everybody decided to give up. But Brian never gave up. Then they brought in laws trying to curtail his/our right to protest outside Parliament and very few lifted a finger to do anything about that.
He was a unique and remarkable man. Earlier, I was asked how to describe him and the first words I came up with were tenacity, integrity and dignity. And then Michael Culver, an old colleague of his, said rage, and I think that is absolutely right. That's not to say he wasn't a funny man. He was self-aware and could be ironic or sarcastic. What Brian was saying was never really reported properly, nor was the depth and heroism of his struggle. People who should know better would describe him as a crank and wouldn't bother to hear what he had to say.

Rebecca Camber (Daily Mail) adds, "This month he marked ten years living on the square.
The protester died in Germany on Saturday where he had been receiving treatment. Yesterday his devastated family paid tribute to the father of seven, releasing this statement: 'It is with deepest regret that I inform you that our father, Brian, passed away this morning'." Rachael Brown (Australia's ABC News) reports, "Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn has praised Mr Haw for his daily demand for peace and reminder to MPs about the consequences of their decisions." Robin Beste of Stop The War Coalition (link has text and video) explains:

Brian became such a thorn in the side of the establishment that MPs introduced a law excluding protests within one mile of parliament without permission, failing to anticipate that their restriction could not be applied retrospectively to Brian, who carried on his highly visible protest in Parliament Square regardless.
Brian's courage and persistence was an inspiration to peace campaigners across the world, and his highly visible encampment became a focus for vistors to London, wishing to register in person their admiration and support.
In January 2007, artist Mark Wallinger recreated Brian's Parliament Square protest in its entirety as an exhibition at Tate Britain. Titled State Britain, it was a painstaking reconstruction of the display confiscated by the Metropolitan Police in 2006, and included 500 weather-worn banners, photos, peace flags, and messages from well-wishers collected by Brian over the duration of his peace protest.
In December 2007, Mark Wallinger was awarded the prestigious Turner Art Prize for his State Britain commemoration of Brian's iconic presence confronting parliament day and night.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Bill Gates' billionaire philanthropy won't solve poverty

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by Ken Olende

Billionaire Bill Gates has been praised for his philanthropic acts. Last week he promised $1 billion to pay for vaccinations in poor countries.

Gates set up the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) in response to outrage that so many children die of preventable diseases.

Children need vaccinations, but it is outrageous that we should have to rely on the mega-rich.

That removes any democratic control that can make sure the best health policies are carried out.

High-profile projects like this are no substitute for the health infrastructure of hospitals and clinics that are needed in poorer countries that have been ravaged by neoliberal policies.

Many children are not immunised simply because the few multinationals that control the pharmaceutical industry, such as Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), keep the cost of vaccines artificially high.

And these companies, including GSK, are represented on Gavi’s board.

Crucell—a subsidiary of GSK and Johnson & Johnson—sells some vaccines at profits of up to 180 percent. This is a disgrace.

Schemes like this act as cover for the profits of multinational companies and allow them to squirrel away more cash.

A billion dollars sounds like a lot—until you hear that Gates’ firm Microsoft made profits of $4.5 billion in the second quarter of 2010 alone.

Gates is praised by governments for giving his fortune away to charity. But he is still the second richest person on the planet, with an unimaginable fortune of $56 billion.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has set up schemes to avoid paying even the minimal taxes in the state of Washington, where the corporation is based.

But Gavi also actively subsidises drugs firms. Daniel Berman of NGO Médecins Sans Frontières told the Mirror newspaper, “Under the Advance Market Commitment, GSK and Pfizer are selling 30 million doses of pneumococcal vaccine annually to Gavi for £2 each.

“In addition to the per unit price they are each getting a subsidy of

£137 million. I don’t think they ever dreamed they would get it this good but they did.”

We need to outlaw multinationals profiteering from poor people’s misery and tax the smug rich until the people we have elected control their wealth.

We should use that wealth to establish proper health services across the world.

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