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A half century of US hospital bombings

Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar


“US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital.”
  -- US Commander of NATO Forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell

After weeks of lies, the Obama administration and the Pentagon, unable to find any way to explain their murderous hour-long AC-130 gunship assault on and destruction of a Doctors Without Borders-run hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, have turned to a new lie: they bombed the wrong building.

Gen. John Campbell, commander of NATO forces (sic) in Afghanistan, citing the results of a just-released Pentagon study of the Oct. 3 incident which killed 30 medical personnel and patients and left the only hospital in the region a smoking ruin, now says that the American mass-slaughter flying machine bombed “the wrong target,” hitting the hospital instead of a “nearby building,” supposedly a government structure from which Taliban were said to be firing.

Campbell said the hospital attack, which would be a grave war crime if intentional, was simply “the direct result of avoidable human error, compounded by process and equipment failure,” he said, adding, “US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital.”

Grim guffaws could be heard around the world, if not, perhaps, among the assembled hack reporters, who in dutifully transcribing the general’s remarks for their articles failed to first check their history. Had they even made a cursory search, they'd have discovered that hitting hospitals is something the US military does routinely and with alacrity.

Indeed the Kunduz attack isn’t even the first time a Doctors Without Borders hospital has been struck by US bombs. Back on July 20, 1993, when US forces were busy blowing up Somalia, they bombed Digfer Hospital, the largest hospital in the capital city of Mogadishu, seriously damaging the facility where a number of DWB physicians were working, and killing three patients. At the time, a U.N. official explained that the hospital had been targeted because gunmen loyal to warlord coup-leader Gen. Mohammad Farah Aidid were hiding there. (If that were the reason, that attack would have been a war crime.)

But it’s not just Doctors Without Borders-run hospitals that the US attacks.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s, the US was widely known to be routinely targeting hospitals. The worst example of this criminal behavior was during the notorious 1972 Christmas Bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, the two largest cities in northern Vietnam, ordered by then President Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor and fellow war criminal Henry Kissinger when peace talks with the North Vietnamese broke down. In complete disregard for civilian lives, both cities were relentlessly attacked for days, both by small planes and, carpet-bombing B-52s. A total of 20,000 tons of bombs was dropped on the two cities, leveling them. Included in the targeting of those bombs was Vietnam’s largest healthcare facility, Hanoi’s ll50-bed Bach Mai Hospital, hit by B-52s and essentially destroyed. Other hospitals were also leveled in the round-the-clock onslaught.

Bach Mai Hospital, 1972, and Kunduz Hospital, 2015. 'America doesn't intentionally bomb hospitals'?  You decideBach Mai Hospital, 1972, and Kunduz Hospital, 2015. 'America doesn't intentionally bomb hospitals'? You decide

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Good news! Some of our readers are starting to come through. We have, six months into this first-ever fund-raising effort, raised one-fifth of our goal: $4000 in mostly small donations. That is great as far as it goes, but really, people are paying into all kinds of crazy Kickstarter campaigns. Why not just support great journalism?

Think about it a second. What other news source is willing to point out that obviously, Turkey would not have dared to shoot down a Russian fighter plane using its American-supplied F-16s and heat-seeking missiles unless it first got the go-ahead from the US? And yet in a potential threat of a WWIII confrontation between the US and Russia, you and all Americans need to know that. Only TCBH! is telling you. What other news site calls out the US government and its Afghan operation commander for blatant lying about a history of US bombing hospitals deliberately?

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An invisible US hand leading to war?

Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet at the Turkish/Syrian Border was an Act of Madness


In considering the terrifying but also sadly predictable news of a Russian fighter jet being downed by two Turkish fighters, let’s start with one almost certain assumption -- an assumption that no doubt is also being made by the Russian government: Turkey’s action, using US-supplied F-16 planes, was taken with the full knowledge and advance support of the US. In fact, given Turkey’s vassal status as a member of US-dominated NATO, it could well be that Ankara was put up to this act of brinksmanship by the US.

Let's be clear, with the US the major supplier of Turkey's military, and also its major guarantor vis-a-vis Russia, there is simply no way Turkey would have taken the huge risk of downing a Russian fighter aircraft without first clearing that action with it's US master.

What makes the downing of the Russian jet, and the incendiary videotaped machine-gunning, by Turkmen or Syrian rebels, of the plane's pilot as he helplessly descended to earth by parachute, so dangerous is that, with Turkey a member of NATO -- supposedly a “mutual assistance” treaty that binds all members to come to the defense of one that is attacked -- it means if Russia were to retaliate by downing a Turkish military plane, NATO countries including the US would be obligated to come to Turkey’s defense. (The Russian plane's navigator was rescued by Russian marines via helicopter.)

Russia knows this, and that is why so far Moscow's response to the downing has been relatively measured. Had it been a Jordanian, Saudi or Kuwaiti jet that downed the Russian SU-24, Russia’s response would have been instantaneous and brutal. The guilty party would have had some of its planes shot down, or perhaps even bombed on the ground. But Russia so far has limited itself to demanding a meeting with Turkey's ambassador, and to warning that Russian-Turkish economic relations would be threatened, etc.

The Russian restraint so far is good, but clearly, President Vladimir Putin will not stop there (already, late in the day of the plane's downing, in a sign of what may be coming, Putin put the Russian cruiser Moskva, stationed off the Syrian coast and equipped with state-of-the art long-range anti-aircraft rockets, on hair-trigger alert, letting Turkey know that any planes headed its way will be presumed hostile and downed immediately, with no warnings give.). Even putting aside domestic considerations (imagine the public clamor for a military response here in the US if some small country shot down a US plane!), he will have to respond resolutely to Turkey's action or his whole project -- so far stunningly successful -- of restoring Russia to its pre-USSR-collapse position as a global power, would be a failure.

Putin’s options are actually quite broad, though some carry considerably more risk for everyone, not just for Russia and Turkey. He could have his own air force in Syria, where Russia is legally acting at the request of the Syrian government to defend it against rebel forces of ISIS and Al Nusra, some of which are backed by both Turkey and the US, calmly wait for a Turkish military jet to cross into Syrian airspace. At that point it could be downed by Russian planes or missiles. No doubt Turkey will be extraordinarily careful going forward to have its pilots keep well away from Syrian air space to avoid that happening, but it could happen nonetheless. My guess is that Russian fighter pilots and anti-aircraft batteries in Syria already have their marching orders and are itching to take that action, which probably would not activate NATO confrontation with Russia and lead to World War III, as long as there was a reasonable case to be made that Turkey’s plane was in Syrian airspace.

A Russian Sukhoi SU-24, like the one shot down yesterday along the Syrian-Turkey border by two Turkish F-16sA Russian Sukhoi SU-24, like the one shot down yesterday along the Syrian-Turkey border by two Turkish F-16s

New TCBH! poem:

Truth was everywhere

We poets take no responsibility
For the forms of civilization;
There are architects
To create the shells we leave behind.
It is our nose for truth
That makes us poets,
A requirement of human evolution
That civilization exploits,
Or straight out denies.
Truth does not build on truth.
Each generation may rightly lay claim to it!
It has to be experienced.
And truth is self-sufficient.
A good life can be built
Around some very simple truths.
Being pushed by the wind,
I once found myself caught up
In a storm of milkweed parachutes,
And truth was everywhere. . .
Architects are illusionists.
And we’re running out of toothpicks and tinsel!
Soon there will be cities built out of smoke
And reflections,
But before that happens
There may come a day
When we sit down to a dinner
Of artificial memories,
Choosing from a menu
Of long-forgotten tastes.
I remember a cover
Of a science fiction thriller in the 50s,
Depicting an alien landscape:
In the foreground, a canyon
With the rusty hull
Of a spaceship leaning
Silhouetted on a rise,
And behind that, looming
Mirage-like in the distance,
Great mountainous hives of a super city,
Which, due to its remoteness I guess,
Enhances the incorruptible romance
Of an alien dusk.
There is our future, if we’re not careful!
Form, gargantuan, cosmic,
Posing as the last, unbuildable city.
But it’s always been there!
Like a screensaver on the inner eye
Of a species that never felt at home,
Showing us what we will look like
When the simple truths are gone.
--Gary Lindorff

Where’s the truth, and how can you find it?

The US Corporate Media are Essentially Propaganda Organs of the US Government


Are the American corporate media largely propaganda organs, or news organizations?

Here are a few points to consider, and then you the reader can decide. Check out how one should objectively answer these questions below, and then check how the US corporate media generally answer them:

1. If ISIS or Al Qaeda deliberately attacks a civilian venue as in Paris, killing dozens of civilians indescriminately, is it terrorism?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

2. If the US deliberately attacks a a civilian venue as in the case of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing dozens of civilians indescriminately, is it terrorism?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

3. If the Chinese government takes control of a tiny island claimed by another nation, expands it, and puts a military installation on it, is it an example of aggression, a violation of international law, and a provocation?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

4. If the US government takes control and then refuses to relinquish a portion of a tiny
island owned by another country, in this instance Cuba, expands it and puts a military installation on it (as it has done now for decades in the case of Guantanamo Bay on the island of Cuba, is it an example of aggression, a violaton of international law and a provocation?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

5. If the leader of a party that wins a national election by a landslide is not herself elected, but announces that she will in fact be making all the important decisions for the newly elected government, as Suu Ky just announced she will do in Myanmar, is it an example of undemocratic behavior, or caudillismo?

Objective answer: Yes
US Media answer: No

6. If the leader of a party steps down as president but then continues behind the scenes to act as the real authority on important issues even though someone else (his brother) was elected president, as Fidel Castro has done in Cuba, is this an example of undemocratic behavior and a kind of caudillismo?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

 Myanmar's and Cuba's behind-the-scenes leaders, Russian missiles en route to Cuba, and US missiles in PolandTruth and Lies: Myanmar's and Cuba's behind-the-scenes leaders, Russian missiles en route to Cuba, and US missiles in Poland

Warmongers & Peacemongers

Learning How Not to Rule the World


[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.
             - John Gray, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern

Al Zarqawi ... is an example of how the west has created bogeymen. Al Zarqawi is also an example of how the bogeymen have a habit of, eventually, fulfilling the role we give them.
             - Jason Burke on the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq and, by extension after his death, ISIS

I know it’s not patriotic, but every time I hear some politico talk of bombing Iraq and Syria in response to the gruesome massacre in Paris I think of The Battle Of Algiers and the scene where a leader of the guerrilla movement is captured by the French military. A French reporter asks the man how he can justify the gruesome carnage from explosions in cafes and bars. “We’ll be glad to exchange our satchel charges for your jet bombers,” he says.

"Bomb the shit out of ISIS!", screw civilian casualties, save Christians and one of the refugees might be a bad guy

Always angling to be the farthest right of his fellow Republicans, candidate Ted Cruz honed in on the moral issue from Dick Cheney’s dark side. Cruz questioned whether a concern for civilian deaths was fitting when it came to the need to bomb ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Jeb! said we should only protect Christian refugees. Trump hollered to his fans, "We need to bomb the shit out of ISIS!" Rubio decried not having thorough dossiers on the refugees. The brilliant surgeon smiled beatifically. Pressed by the reactionary right of Marine Le Pen’s National Front, French President Hollande publicly declared war (whatever that meant in 2015) and increased the number of bombing raids on targets inside Syria provided by US intelligence. Reports suggested there were significant civilian casualties. Anti-Assad activists pleaded on Twitter for the French and other western forces to restrain their bombing, since, as Cruz understood, western bombs kill lots of people victimized by ISIS. Being caught in the crossfire between ISIS and the bomb-crazy West helps drive refugees to flee to Turkey and Europe. Sympathy for these refugees is evaporating rapidly, since fear-mongering demagogues are stigmatizing them as potential terrorists. Twenty US governors have said, "Not in my backyard. Send them back to where they came from." MSNBC's Chris Matthews got worked up into a lather and wanted all the able-bodied refugee males to return to Syria as a fighting force. Not a bully Teddy Roosevelt type, the Peace Corps veteran didn't volunteer to lead it.

It’s not a pretty picture of western humanity in crisis. Narcissism is not a wholesome trait.

No more veterans!

Time to Contemplate Peace, Not to Celebrate War and Warriors


I had two grandfathers who fought -- and I mean fought -- in World War I. Both of them were in the trenches in France. One, my paternal grandfather William Lindorff, received a Silver Star for heroism under fire. He was an ambulance driver on the front lines because although he had been in the US since he was three, he had been born in Germany, and knew German from his German mother, so the US military in its wisdom wouldn’t let him carry a gun. My other maternal grandfather, a sprinter who missed the Olympics because of the war, was hit with German mustard gas, and with his lungs permanently scarred, never got to excel as an athlete after that, but had a career as a high school coach in Greensboro, NC.

Neither of my grandfathers ever spoke about their wartime experiences.

My father and mother both served in WWII -- my dad as a Marine and my mother as a Navy WAVE. Mom found her experience doing secretarial work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to be an adventure, and talked fondly of it often when I was growing up. But my dad, who worked as a technician in the top-secret Radiation Lab crash program to miniaturize radar so it could be put on planes, hated the military and loathed the Marines as an organization. Both my parents were pacifists by the time I was old enough to be thinking about such issues.

I thought about this today, on a date that once was all about pacifism, back when it was established as Armistice Day at the end of the first World War, but which has become a day for glorifying war and the veterans who have had to fight in our nation’s countless wars.

 World War I, World War II, Vietnam War. A never-ending slaughterBodies of the dead: World War I, World War II, Vietnam War. A never-ending slaughter


Regulating trade and restricting communications

The TPP: An Attack on the Internet


The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, initialed by the delegations of the 12 participating countries in early October, is one of the most talked-about mysteries of our time. The moment the treaty was announced, there was a tidal wave of commentary and criticism: most of it based on previous versions, speculation and a few leaks. Because it won't be published for months (even years perhaps), nobody really knew what the document actually said.

Then Wikileaks, the on-line bible of revealed secrets, published several leaked sections of what its editors believe is the final edition and the collective groan morphed into an outcry. It was, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it, "all that we feared." The TPP internationalizes some of the worst inequities and abuses specific signing governments are currently committing and nowhere is that more true than with surveillance and communications repression.

We now know the answer to that question.We now know the answer to that question.

Its measures deepen the illegality of whistle-blowing and broaden who can be held responsible for it. They use copyright law to make online dissent and online scholarship and research much more difficult. And they chop away at the rights to online privacy.

The deal would fundamentally repress the Internet and, while proponents insist that the agreement would not over-ride the specific laws of each country, it allows and even encourages countries to pass more repressive laws.

It is, in short, a nightmare.

Flipped out

Last Mexican of Venice


The Last Mexican of Venice is gone. The flippers got her. Yanked her like a rotten, smelly tooth. Sent L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies to do it.

Jeannine Mendoza grew up in Venice. She and her four siblings waded in the marshes before there was a Marina, built bonfires on the beach before it was illegal, delighted in its unpretentious working-class Little Rascals streets. Her parents bought an unassuming house in what avaricious realtors would one day dub “The Golden Triangle,” but it was just a sidestreet niche in 1957. And Mom and Dad had grown up in West L.A. and Santa Monica.

For that matter, the Last Mexican of Venice was descended from the Marquez family, recipients of an 1839 land grant that included Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades.

You want your “roots?” There are your “roots.”

But Jeannine Mendoza, a great-granddaughter of Old California, has been kicked out, under threat of arrest, from the home she and her late husband, Aaron Hassman, bought back in the ‘70’s. A 500-square-foot matchbox on Superba Avenue near Lincoln where they somehow managed to raise two boys, while Jeannine’s Nana lived in a mother-in-law apartment out back. Typical circumstances of old Venice, long replaced by millennial tekkie royalty, movie royalty, developer royalty.

Royalty. I remember an old bum I met on a pier long ago, declaiming. Everything in his speech somehow came back to the word, “rat.” “Royalty!” he exclaimed, spit hanging off his white stubble. “Roy. Al. Ty. RAT!”

The RATs got the Last Mexican of Venice, which is how Jeannine wryly referred to herself in recent years, just as they have gotten countless others in her heavily white gentrified neighborhood, and flipper-infested neighborhoods everywhere. The RATs smell money, and nothing else matters. Not someone’s hard work or integrity, not suffering, not tragedy. Only money. It’s really just the old Vaudeville play, “The Drunkard,” on a huge scale. The poor widow (Jeannine lost her husband several years ago) being evicted by the rich landlord.

Jeannine Mendoza grew up believing that you should give back to the community, the world, in some way. Most people used to believe this way, before college kids answered “icon” or “rich” when polled as to their career ambition. She went to Cal State Northridge on loans and financial aid for minorities (Educational Opportunity Program) in the early ‘70’s, got a degree in education. Then a Master’s degree. Eventually, an Ed. D. Right. Dr. Mendoza.

And she taught. . .kindergarten. Occasionally first or second grade. She believed this is where she could make the most impact, and that the most impact should be made here, when brains and hearts are so malleable. She was dedicated, she was effervescent, she adored her students. Many came back years later to thank her. Radiant reviews from supervisors. Always.

And so it went. She taught, she raised a family, she paid off her gigantic student loans. Her husband taught grade school, and supplemented income by becoming a boat captain for hire, piloting outings to Catalina, Baja on weekends. The Hassmans got by. They were a happy couple, in love with each other, their kids, their home, their work.

Except. . .

Venice, California, pre-gentrification in the '70s and gentrified today. Where are the People?Venice, California, pre-gentrification in the '70s and gentrified today. Where are the People?

Trans-Atlantic abuses and protests

Police Brutality Unites Demonstrations In Paris and DC


Protests against rampant police brutality occurred recently in the respective capitals of France and the United States – two nations that proclaim strict fidelity to the rule of law yet two professed democracy-loving nations where officials routinely condone rampant lawlessness by law enforcers.

The 20th Anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March – captioned “Justice Or Else” – took place in Washington, DCk with a core complaint being police brutality. During that protest rally held outside the U.S. Capitol building and along the National Mall relatives of police brutality victims were invited speakers. Those relatives included the father of Michael Brown, killed in 2014 by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri and a sister of Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas police station this past summer following a flawed and brutal arrest for an alleged minor traffic violation.

On the same Saturday as the “Justice Or Else” rally in DC, protestors gathered outside the Gare de Nord train station in Paris to demonstrate against the death earlier this year of Amadou Koumé. That 33-year-old father of three died during an encounter with police at a bar in Paris when he was put in a choke-hold while being handcuffed. The Paris protestors demanded a judicial inquiry into the death of Koumé, rejecting what they contend has been a cover-up by police and prosecutors in Paris regarding his death.

While nearly 4,000-miles separate Washington, DC and Paris, the issue of police brutality connects the two capitals through a chain of similarities surrounding police brutality, for example the fact that the principle targets of police brutality in France and across America are persons of color.

 Amadeu Koumé in Paris, France and Tamir Rice in the Cleveland, OhioTrans-Atlantic Police Murders: Amadeu Koumé in Paris, France and Tamir Rice in the Cleveland, Ohio

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