No to War Crimes

Between December 18 and 29, 1972, the US carried out an intense bombing campaign over North Vietnam (it would later become known as the ‘Christmas Bombings’). At least 20,000 tonnes of explosives were dropped, mostly on the city of Hanoi.

While bombing was halted on Christmas Day, on the days both before and after the celebration, the US Air Force (USAF) saw fit to fly 729 night-time sorties, bringing death and terror (just as designed) to the civilian population of North Vietnam. Communist officials at the time said the dead numbered about 1,600, but many believe the actual death toll was much higher.

On the day after Christmas, December 26, 1972, Captain Michael Heck, airborne commander for a group of three B-52s, was informed that bombing raids over North Vietnam were to recommence. It was at this time that he notified his commander that he would be refusing to take part in the bombing of North Vietnam.

On 175 previous occasions, Capt Heck had flown his missions without question or incident. But this day would be different. Capt Heck told his superior officers that he would not be taking part in any more bombing missions and that this refusal was based on “moral considerations and matters of conscience.” When asked by his commander if he was a conscientious objector he confirmed that he was. For his actions Capt Heck would be charged with ‘refusing to obey a lawful order’. He was eventually discharged from the USAF under less than honourable terms.

Captain Heck was believed to have been the first USAF pilot to refuse to take part in a bombing mission in America’s war in South East Asia. He said, “I came to the decision that any war creates an evil far greater than anything it is trying to prevent” and that “the goals do not justify the mass destruction and killing.” “I’m just a tiny cog in a big wheel. I have no illusions that what I’m doing will shorten the war, but a man has to answer to himself first.”

Since America was attacked on September 11, 2001, it has been engaged in a global war on terror (GWOT), a war that is, conveniently, undeclared and has no end date. A major component in this ‘war’ is the use of attack drones. And while President Obama assures us that drones are not being used “willy nilly,” facts on the ground might lead one to another conclusion.

On December 12, 2013, it was reported that 15 people were mistakenly killed in a drone attack in Yemen. The victims were on their way to a wedding. This is not the first mistake, nor the most serious. Back on October 30, 2006, at least 82 people were killed, many of them young children, when a madressah (i.e. school) was attacked by a drone on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In March of 2011, a series of attacks were carried out that killed between 26 and 42 people in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, during a jirga (tribal council). Even more disturbing are reports that first responders and rescuers have themselves been targeted in immediate follow up attacks on the same location (a practice known as a ‘double tap’).

Th Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that up to 951 civilians (including up to 200 children) have been killed in Pakistan by CIA drone attacks alone between 2004 and 2013.

Human Rights Watch has said that the US killing of civilians with drones is a violation of international law. Of this there can be no doubt. One only has to ask, ‘What would we say if China, Russia or Iran were engaging in the exact same behaviour, but closer to American shores – say in the jungles of Central or South America?’

One can only hope that the day will come when the US servicemen and women who are taking part in these actions will realise this for themselves, and refuse to take part in these crimes. Just as one man courageously did 41 years ago this week.

Excerpted from: ‘Saying no to war crimes’.

By: Tom Macnamara

How the nations end ?

An economics teacher at a local school made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Gillard/Brown socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The teacher then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on the Gillard/Brown plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the teacher told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, and gives to those who do nothing, no-one will try or want to succeed.

It could NOT be any simpler than that.

Remember, there is a test coming up.—>> The next election.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you will ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You can not legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

How Blessed you are

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‘If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy .’

‘And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity.’

Also ……

‘ If you woke up this morning with more health than illness … You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day .’
‘If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation .. You are ahead of 700 million people in the world.’
‘If your parents are still alive and still married…you are very rare .’
‘If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you’re unique to all those in doubt and despair.’

Traders of Death

India, the second-largest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the United States, is coming under increased scrutiny by American regulators for safety lapses, falsified drug test results and selling fake medicines.

Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, arrived in India this week to express her growing unease with the safety of Indian medicines because of “recent lapses in quality at a handful of pharmaceutical firms.”

India’s pharmaceutical industry supplies 40 percent of over-the-counter and generic prescription drugs consumed in the United States, so the increased scrutiny could have profound implications for American consumers.

F.D.A. investigators are blitzing Indian drug plants, financing the inspections with some of the roughly $300 million in annual fees from generic drug makers collected as part of a 2012 law requiring increased scrutiny of overseas plants. The agency inspected 160 Indian drug plants last year, three times as many as in 2009. The increased scrutiny has led to a flood of new penalties, including half of the warning letters the agency issued last year to drug makers.

Dr. Hamburg was met by Indian officials and executives who, shocked by recent F.D.A. export bans of generic versions of popular medicines — like the acne drug Accutane, the pain drug Neurontin and the antibiotic Cipro — that the F.D.A. determined were adulterated, suspect that she is just protecting a domestic industry from cheaper imports.

“There are some people who take a very sinister view of the F.D.A. inspections,” Keshav Desiraju, India’s health secretary until this week, said in a recent interview.

The F.D.A.’s increased enforcement has already cost Indian companies dearly — Ranbaxy, one of India’s biggest drug manufacturers, pleaded guilty to felony charges and paid a $500 million fine last year, the largest ever levied against a generic company. And many worry that worse is in store.

“If I have to follow U.S. standards in inspecting facilities supplying to the Indian market,” G. N. Singh, India’s top drug regulator, said in a recent interview with an Indian newspaper, “we will have to shut almost all of those.”

The unease culminated Tuesday when a top executive at Ranbaxy — which has repeatedly been caught lying to the F.D.A. and found to have conditions such as flies “too numerous to count” in critical plant areas — pleaded with Dr. Hamburg at a private meeting with other drug executives to allow his products into the United States so that the company could more easily pay for fixes. She politely declined.

India’s drug industry is one of the country’s most important economic engines, exporting $15 billion in products annually, and some of its factories are world-class, virtually undistinguishable from their counterparts in the West. But others suffer from serious quality control problems. The World Health Organization estimated that one in five drugs made in India are fakes. A 2010 survey of New Delhi pharmacies found that 12 percent of sampled drugs were spurious.

In one recent example, counterfeit medicines at a pediatric hospital in Kashmir are now suspected of playing a role in hundreds of infant deaths there in recent years.

One widely used antibiotic was found to contain no active ingredient after being randomly tested in a government lab. The test was kept secret for nearly a year while 100,000 useless pills continued to be dispensed.

More tests of hospital medicines found dozens more that were substandard, including a crucial intravenous antibiotic used in sick infants.

“Some of the fake tablets were used by pregnant women in the post-surgical prevention of infections,” said Dr. M. Ishaq Geer, senior assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Kashmir. “That’s very serious.”

Investigations of the deaths are continuing, but convictions of drug counterfeiters in India are extremely rare.

Courtesy: N Y Times