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Trayvon Martin Nativity Display At Claremont United Methodist Church Urges Us Not To Forget Gun Violence Victims December 28, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Gun Control/Violence, Racism, Religion.
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Roger’s note: I am not that big on organized Christianity or the nativity myth, but there are some few who call themselves Christian who actually do reflect the ethic of love and peace.  And I am big on remembering Trayvon Martin and the institutionalized racism and gun industry that were responsible for his murder as much as the fool Zimmerman.

 

Posted: 12/27/2013 1:41 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/27/2013 6:02 pm EST Huff Post

Trayvon Martin hasn’t been forgotten at Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, Cali.– in fact, he appears front and center in their Nativity display. He serves as a bloody and tragic reminder of the dangers of gun violence and racial privilege in today’s America, reports David Allen of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Amongst the traditional holy family, Martin sits hunched over in his iconic black hoodie, blood pouring from his chest and pooling at his feet, reports Patch.com. The title of the scene, “A Child is Born, a Son is Given,” is outlined within the blood and evokes themes of both Christmas and Easter, according to artist John Zachary, who has been creating thought-provoking displays since 2007.

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Zachary told Allen in an interview that the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot the unarmed teenager in 2012, “struck him as a worthy subject for Christmas comment.”

“There is no better time to reflect on gun violence than advent, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus,” says a sign at the church.. “Jesus was born into a state of total vulnerability as an innocent, unarmed child during a time of great violence much like Trayvon Martin.”

As families gather together at Christmas to celebrate, Zachary hopes to get them to think long and hard about their own blessings and privileges. He told Allen that many Christmas traditions of gifts reflect “privilege, and there’s a lot of people who don’t have that privilege. Maybe I should do something that’s provocative, that’s more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.”

trayvon
Artist John Zachary

This isn’t the first time that the church has used the Nativity as an opportunity to remind people about issues of social justice and inequality, which probably would have been of great concern to Jesus himself. Past displays have included Jesus and Mary as a homeless couple struggling to feed their newborn child, as Iraqi refugees next to U.S. soldiers, as immigrants from Mexico stopped by the wall at the border, among others. In 2011, Zachary’s Nativity display was of the outlines of three couples, two of them same-sex, gathering under the banner “Christ Is Born.”

Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, lead pastor at the church, told Allen that she finds this year’s scene difficult to look at, due to its violence. “It’s hard to look at a young man who’s shot and bleeding to death,” she said. “But even though I’m uncomfortable, that’s the point. We have to take a look at the violence.”

Response to the display has been surprisingly muted. “I thought this would be more controversial, but I come to find out people don’t really like people getting shot,” Zachary told Allen. “They may not agree what to do about it, but they agree it’s a bad thing.”

Rhodes-Wickett said that her congregation is progressive, and that “Most people like something that makes us think and makes us search our hearts.”

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Also on HuffPost:

Merry Marxmas December 15, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Christmas, Economic Crisis, Republicans.
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Roger’s note: The Republicans make Scrooge look like a Philanthropist, and the enabling Democrats are not far behind.  Which reminds me to advise you to watch your behinds when it comes to your  Social Security and Medicare amongst other things such as food stamps, unemployment benefits, reproduction rights, health care, education grants, etc..  It is fun to mock the Republicans, which is why I pass this on to you, but of course the real villains are the Military Industrial Prison Security Bankster Complex who pull the strings for the puppets who operate our dysfunctional undemocratic so-called government (I only use the word puppets rather than whores to describe the president, congressman and judges so as not to insult those who work in the sex trade industry).

 

 

Scrooge Gets A Tax Cut

 

gty_john_boehner_obama_dm_111222_wblog

Santa Blown out of the Sky: World’s Children Mourn December 25, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Humor, Religion, Right Wing, War on Terror.
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Dateline: North Pole, December 25, 2012

R. Hollander reporting:

A U.S. CIA launched Predator missile went astray shortly after midnight this morning and made a direct hit on Santa and his reindeer just over the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Santa and sleigh were totally obliterated.  Locals reported finding scattered pieces of reindeer flesh and cheap plastic in fields located miles from the point of contact.  Santa had just picked up his payload from his major suppliers in China and was near the beginning of his run.  This unfortunately means that virtually none of the world’s children received Christmas presents this year.  Mrs. Claus is reported in deep mourning.

How this tragedy came to pass is just beginning to emerge.  First reports from the CIA cited Taliban hackers having found their way into the guidance system and sending the missile, originally intended to wipe out Taliban wedding guests, off its course.  President Obama, in sending his condolences to the world’s children, hinted at al Queda terrorist involvement.  This was later confirmed by an anonymous CIA spokesperson, who added that it was also likely that Julian Assange and Bradley Manning were also somehow involved behind the scenes.  When asked by a reporter how Manning could possibly be involved from his prison cell, the spokesperson responded with a wry smile and a winking gesture.

However, within the past hour a previously little known organization is claiming responsibility for the action.  In a communique singed by “White Knight,” representing Knighted Koalition of Khristians Indignant for the Lord of Lords (K.K.K.I.L.L.), details were given about the Predator’s guidance system that gave serious credibility to the claim.  His allegation that the organization recently has received the endorsement of key Republican presidential candidates has not been confirmed.  In explaining the motives for the attack, White Knight claimed that taking out Santa Claus was necessary in order to reverse the trend of children focusing on St. Nick rather than the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.  He suggested that this was an act of “tough love” toward the world’s children, who needed to learn that the worship of Jesus was more important that Chinese-made gizmos and gadgets.

The reaction of several Christianity’s leading evangelicals was echoed by the Rev. Pat Robertson who suggested that in using exclusively male elves, Santa was in effect promoting homosexuality, and that this could not be allowed to continue.

Others have taken a softer line, characterizing the hit on Santa Claus as collateral damage in the War on Terror.

In his attempt to elicit a reaction from a child to this tragedy, this reporter was unable to find a child who was not so tear ridden so as being able to make a statement.

Forget Rudolph: Get your photo taken with Santa — and a grenade launcher November 30, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in War.
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Ron Kennedy, general manager of the Scottsdale gun club, says the business got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa and other members wanted their picture taken while they were holding their guns.Ron Kennedy, general manager of the Scottsdale gun club, says the business got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa and other members wanted their picture taken while they were holding their guns.

Gordon Murray/AP

Jacques BilleaudThe Associated Press

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PHOENIX—An Arizona gun club is offering a chance for children and their families to pose for photos with Santa while holding pistols and military-style rifles.

One image shows Santa in a wingback chair with a snowflake background, a Christmas tree behind him and flanked by an $80,000 machine-gun and a tripod-mounted rifle.

Next to Santa is a man standing behind a boy, who is holding an unloaded AR-15 with an attached grenade launcher.

Ron Kennedy, general manager of the Scottsdale Gun Club, says the business got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa and other members wanted their picture taken while they were holding their guns.

He says people have used the photos for Christmas cards and Facebook posts.

Barack Obama and Langston Hughes on “Grumblers” and “Merry Christmas” December 27, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Asia, Barack Obama, Cuba, Economic Crisis, Haiti, History, Iraq and Afghanistan, Race, War.
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Posted Wed, 12/23/2009 – 17:24 by Bruce A. Dixon

When US presidents offer us their holiday greeting messages, do we know what are they really saying?  How hard can it be to figure that out?  Langston Hughes died in 1967, but he knew what every US president, including Barack Obama is really saying, underneath and behind the mask.  

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In a recent interview with one of the few black reporters privileged to be part of the White House press corps, President Obama wasasked

April D. Ryan: Speaking of the African American community, this seems to be a shift in black leadership, as it relates to supporting you. You have the CBC that’s upset with you about targeting on the jobs front — African Americans, 15.6 percent unemployment rate, expected to go to 20 percent; mainstream America 10 percent. Then you have black actors who supported you — Danny Glover, who’s saying that you’ve not changed, your administration is the same as George W. Bush. What are your thoughts about the fact that black leadership is grumbling, and the fact that people are concerned with you being the first African American President, and they thought that there would be a little bit more compassion for black issues?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, April, I think you just engaged in a big generalization in terms of how you asked that question. If you want me to line up all the black actors, for example, who support me, and put them on one side of the room, and a couple who are grumbling on the other, I’m happy to have that.

I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do. And, so, is there grumbling? Of course there’s grumbling,

Obama was referring to the relatively mild and tentative criticisms of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with other expressions of disappointment on the part of such activists as actor Danny Glover. The president can ignore, dismiss or disparage the divide between his policies and the opinions of the African American community which supported him. But it’s deep, it’s real, and it’s growing. It’s even historic.

Presidents have been issuing holiday greeting messages from their homes or cozy offices for a long time now, and Obama’s will be on line any minute now. Those interested can probably find it at JackandJillPolitics.com, at whitehouse.gov, and any number of other places. But the ironic 1930 Christmas message of Langston Hughes, the poet laureate of Black America sounds, with the most minor edits, like it could have come from the lips any US president of the past hundred years, including Barack Obama.

Sixty-nine years ago Langston Hughes began his holiday poem Merry Christmas with these lines

Merry Christmas China

From the gun-boats in the river

Ten inch shells for Christmas gifts

And peace on earth forever

At the moment, the U.S. was hip-deep in the Chinese civil war, bankrolling and advising a string of opium-soaked warlord armies against communists and agitators, and conducting naval operations in Chinese rivers and off its coasts. Today our first black president’s Pentagon, headed by the same team that ran George Bush’s Pentagon, sits atop some 800 overseas military bases in a hundred countries with more than 2 million uniformed personnel. Our president will spend more on this military machine than the all the rest of the planet combined, fighting and preparing to fight what the National Security Doctrine calls “multiple overlapping wars” to control resources in distant lands in the interest “free trade and free markets.”

Langston’s Christmas poem draws our attention to a part of the world much in today’s headlines.

Merry Christmas, India

To Gandhi in his cell

From righteous Christian England

Ring out bright Christmas bell

Under our first black president, Afghanistan and Pakistan are part of a vast law-free zone in which daily shellings and air raids go unreported and unremarked except by the families of victims. Assassinations and kidnappings to fill America’s world-wide network of secret prisons have replaced the open incarceration of real and suspected political foes. At least we knew Gandhi’s name, what he was charged with, where he was locked up, what his sentence was, whether he got a day in court and whether his keepers mistreated him. We can’t say that about hundreds or thousands of Obama’s prisoners.

Merry Christmas Africa

From Cairo to he Cape

Sing hallelujah, praise the Lord

For murder and for rape

Some things have changed very little indeed. The four part series “The Ravaging of Africa” to which a link appears in our left column, is a comprehensive indictment of US policy in Africa, which has caused the death of some 26 million Africans since the 1960s, including nearly ten million in Congo alone. America’s role as conscienceless predator was reaffirmed last week in Copenhagen, when the US categorically rejected the notion that it owed the rest of the world a debt for being the single major contributor to climate change over the last century and a half. Africans can drown or starve due to US -initiated climate change, but there will be no technology sharing, no reparations, nothing in the way of human solidarity between Africa and the West if the son of Africa in the White House has anything to say about it.

Langston Hughes draws our attention to the Caribbean, where the US has enforced its will at gunpoint for much of two centuries.

Ring Merry Christmas Haiti

And drown the voodoo drums

We’ll rob you to the Christmas hymns

Until the next Christ comes

Ring Merry Christmas Cuba

(Where Yankee domination

Keeps a nice fat president’s

in a little half-starved nation.)

In Cuba at least, Yankee domination is over. President Obama seems to resent this fact just as much as the last nine presidents, and continues to enforce a warlike economic blockade on Cuba.

And in Haiti, after more than a dozen US invasions and occupations, the US engineered the kidnapping of that country’s elected president, whom Obama will not even allow back in the Western hemisphere. In the name of international cooperation, the US pays for a multinational occupation force from Brazil and other countries to hunt down and kill members of Haiti’s Lavalas party, freeing US Marines for duty elsewhere.

Under the rules, Haiti is to be kept starving and terrorized, prevented by law from feeding or funding itself, owning its own infrastructure or employing its own people. Some things don’t change much.

The Christmas message of Langston Hughes doesn’t forget about domestic affairs either.

And to you down and outers

(“Due to economic laws”)

Oh, eat, drink, be merry

With a breadline Santa Claus–

Jobless levels are the highest they’ve been anywhere since the Great Depression, when Hughes penned his Christmas greeting. But now, just as in 1930, we have a president with an unshakable belief that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” a saying popularized by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. In this time of economic crisis, President Obama has transferred more wealth to Wall Street from the real economy than all his predecessors combined.

But hard-pressed homeowners and those with heavy debts due to unpayable medical bills remain underwater. Their bailout isn’t coming. The only ones, apart from Wall Street who’ll get anything under an Obama administration will be the military.

President Obama began this December with a belligerent address that used the cadets at West Point as human stage props. At mid-month he went to Copenhagen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and offer another bald-faced set of excuses for wars, kidnappings, secret prisons and the whole panoply of empire. He or his vice president may end it treating us to a Christmas or New Year’s message posing with the troops in occupied Iraq or Afghanistan. The more some things change, the more they stay the same.

We don’t know exactly what Obama will say in his holiday message. But Langston Hughes knew seventy years ago what he will mean.

While all the world hails Christmas

While all the church bells sway

While better still the Christian guns

Proclaim this joyous day

While holy steel that makes us strong

Spits forth a mighty yuletide song

SHOOT Merry Christmas everywhere

Let Merry Christmas GAS the air.

Presidents can always find sycophants, yes-men or yes-women eager to agree to whatever they say, often before they can even say it. All that comes with the job, along with Air Force One and that song they play every time he enters a crowded room. But the the truth is always true, no matter how hotly or how many the deniers, and most of Black America is not in denial on war, peace, mass incarceration or poverty.  The heroes, and the just plain honest will always be those who speak the truth to power.

Langston has been gone from us a long time now. We’ll never know what he might say to a son of Africa in the White House, married to a girl from the south side of Chicago. But nobody on either side of the grave speaks more directly to what our first black president has become than Langston Hughes did seven decades ago. Barack Obama is in power. He can ignore, disparage or dismiss the truth. But it’s still true.  And most of us know it.

We wish the president and first family, along with all our readers and friends around the world a joyous and fulfilling holiday.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Atlanta. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport. Langston Hughes is the poet laureate of Black America and can be reached at public libraries, and at independent and other bookstores everywhere.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 December 25, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in History, Peace, War.
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by: Paul J. Magnarella, t r u t h o u t | Report

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Christmas truce memorial. (Image: eyeSPIVE / flickr)

Although World War I ranks as one of the most horrific in history, causing about 40 million casualties and up to 20 million military and civilian deaths, it also included a famous and spontaneous peaceful interlude inscribed in chronicles as the unofficial Christmas truce of 1914.

World War I

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a Bosnian Serb in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, plunged much of Europe into war. The Entente Powers of France, Russia and Britain stood against the Central Powers of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman Empires. In mid-September, the German, British and French commands ordered their armies to entrench along a 475-mile Western Front that extended from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. Four years of brutal, stalemated trench warfare followed. Most trenches were about seven feet deep and six feet wide, topped by a parapet of sandbags. From there, barbed wire entanglements extended into no man’s land. In many places, the no man’s land separating German and British front-line trenches was only 30 to 70 yards wide.

The elements were sometimes more debilitating than the enemy. Standing in the mud and water for days often resulted in feet becoming gangrenous. Excessive exposure to wet and cold caused nephritis, which affected the kidneys. The accumulated rubbish, urine and excreta in the trenches negatively impacted on health. Food scraps and decaying corpses attracted huge numbers of disease-carrying rats. The unwashed men attracted lice that covered their bodies with bite marks and caused “trench fever.” Artillery bursts caused some men to experience shell shock.

Periodically, the aristocratic generals (safely lodged in the rear) ordered the mostly lower-class men in the trenches to make suicidal frontal assaults on enemy trenches. Machine guns and rapid fire rifles simply mowed down attacking men in no man’s land, where their bodies often remained for weeks in a decaying state. The generals never devised a sensible plan to break the cruel stalemate that trench warfare became.

On Christmas Eve, the weather cleared. Rain gave way to a clear cold that froze the mud and water, making movement easier and boots and clothing drier. Having received gift packages from home, the men of both sides were in a festive mood. That evening, along the front line, German troops sang Christmas carols. Many erected candle-lit Christmas trees on their parapets and called out season greetings to their enemies opposite them. Many Entente troops responded with applause, holiday wishes and songs of their own. Concerned, one British battalion command informed Brigade Headquarters: “Germans have illuminated their trenches, are singing songs, and are wishing us a Happy Xmas. Compliments are being exchanged, but [I] am nevertheless taking all military precautions …”

Then, an amazing series of events occurred. Along parts of the British, French and Belgian lines, men from both sides went out into no man’s land unarmed to meet, shake hands and fraternize. The First Battalion Royal Irish Rifles reported Germans calling out: “If you Englishmen come out and talk to us, we won fire.” Scotsmen in Flanders, the 2nd Queen’s Battalion near La Chapelle d’ Armentieres, and the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers also reported Germans singing “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) and extending invitations to meet in no man’s land.

Christmas Day

On the morning of 25 December, the 2nd Battalion Devons reported seeing the Germans hoist a board with the words, “You no fight, we no fight.” Opposite the 2nd Battalion Border Regiment, the process began with a German officer emerging from his trench waving a white flag. The 2nd Battalion Wiltshires reported men on both sides waving to each other, and then going out into no man’s land to meet unarmed. After initial greetings, both sides agreed to bury their dead comrades, who had been laying in no man’s land for weeks. Some Germans and British worked together in burial parties; a British soldier described a joint funeral service as “a sight one will never forget!” Members of the British Rifle Brigade gave the Germans wooden crosses to mark their graves.

The opposing sides exchanged food, drink, cigarettes, photographs, addresses and sincere wishes for peace. A British officer found the scene “absolutely astounding!” The troops found each other to be quite likable. Many men felt compelled to write home about their experience. A London Rifles Brigade officer: “They [Germans] were really magnificent in the whole thing…. I now have a very different opinion of the Germans.” A Scots Guard: “Some of them are very nice fellows and did not show any hatred, which makes me think they are forced to fight.”

Once no man’s land had been cleared of corpses, some men found areas suitable for soccer games with improvised balls. In places, British and Germans ate Christmas dinner together, sharing whatever they had. They entertained each other with singing and instrumental music.

How It Ended

Many who participated in an informal truce hoped to continue it until New Year’s Day or beyond. But the high commands sternly objected. A German Army order threatened that fraternization with the enemy would be punished as high treason. A British order warned that “Officers and NCOs allowing [fraternization] would be brought before a court martial.” In late December, the high commands ordered artillery bombardments along the front. They did the same in following years to ensure that the 1914 Christmas truce would not be repeated. Despite these measures, a few friendly encounters did occur, but on a much smaller scale than in 1914.

Soldiers Express Themselves

The Christmas truce touched the men deeply as evidenced in their letters and diaries. Various British soldiers wrote the following: “The most wonderful day on record!” “The most extraordinary celebration of Christmas any of us will ever experience!” “This experience has been the most practical demonstration I have seen of Peace on earth and goodwill towards men.”

German troops wrote: “The way we spend Christmas in the trenches sounds almost like a fairy tale.” “It was a Christmas celebration in keeping with the command ‘Peace on earth’ and a memory which will stay with us always.” “Probably the most extraordinary event of the whole year “a soldier’s truce without any higher sanction by officers or generals.”

Speaking in the House of Commons in 1930, Sir H. Kingsley Wood, a former major who had served at the front in 1914 stated: “If we had been left to ourselves there would never have been another shot fired. “It was only the fact that we were being controlled by others that made it necessary for us to start trying to shoot one another again.”

Today, the Christmas truce of 1914 is regarded as evidence of men’s natural desire for peace and friendship, even in the context of a brutal and senseless conflict. However, the 1914 Christmas truce is not unique in history. During the early 19th century, Peninsula War, British and French soldiers at times visited each other, shared rations and played cards. Periodically, during the 1854-56 Crimean War, French, British and Russian troops gathered around the same fire to smoke and drink together. In the American Civil War (1880-81), Yankees and Rebels traded coffee and tobacco and peacefully fished from opposite sides of the same rivers. Throughout history, it has been rare for men fighting at close quarters not to extend friendly gestures and establish informal truces with their enemies.

The Salvation Army: It Gets Worse December 21, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Religion.
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By Mary Shaw (about the author

www.opednews.com, December 21, 2009 

It’s that time of year again. At shopping centers everywhere, representatives from the Salvation Army, dressed in their paramilitary attire, ring their bells and aggressively invite your holiday donations. And I always see people eagerly throwing money into their big red kettles. I suspect that most of these generous individuals aren’t aware of what their dollars are actually funding.

Last year I wrote a column titled “The Salvation Army’s red kettle of trouble”, in which I outlined the Salvation Army’s long and disturbing history of religious coercion, abuse, and intolerance. An excerpt:

I have spoken with a number of people who have sought assistance from the Salvation Army in the past, particularly for disaster relief. I was told of how these people were preached to and forced into praying with the Salvation Army folks to their Christian God as a prerequisite for receiving services. If you’re Jewish, tough. If you’re Hindu, tough. Gotta pray their way, to their God, or else you’re not worthy of assistance. It’s quid pro quo. Gotta take advantage of people when they’re most vulnerable. Contrast this with the secular Red Cross, which just wants to help disaster victims, not save their souls. (In the interest of full disclosure, I personally received help from the Red Cross when my apartment building burned down in 2001. They were extremely helpful and compassionate, and expected nothing in return.) As if the religious coercion isn’t enough, the Salvation Army has also been implicated in a number of cases of alleged sexual abuse, ranging from molestation of child members of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield swim team in Seattle to pedophile rings that operated out of Salvation Army-run orphanages in Australia and New Zealand. (Yes, they like to “spread the love” worldwide.)

The Salvation Army is also homophobic — so much so that they would stop helping the poor if it meant they had to respect equal rights for gays and lesbians. In 2004, they threatened to close their soup kitchens in New York City rather than comply with the city’s legislation requiring firms to offer domestic partnership benefits to gay employees.

In the year since I wrote that piece, I have heard from several people who have shared their own negative experiences with the Salvation Army. Their stories have reinforced — and even worsened — my own impressions of the organization. A retired U.S. military officer contacted me after considering the Salvation Army for his charitable donations. He wrote:

“I’m glad I came upon your article about the Salvation Army. I have been considering leaving my worldly goods to them because I thought they did nothing but good. I had second thoughts when I was late in answering their charitable request. I have since found many disturbing facts about the Salvation Army.”

A former Salvation Army volunteer from Canada shared his experience with some ethical issues:

“Everyone [at the Salvation Army] liked me, because I also went to the service on Sundays. I am a believer in God. After 4 weeks [as a Salvation Army volunteer], I noticed whatever came in the back door for donation, for the poor, also left through the back door, and never reached the vulnerable or needy. All the good stuff the volunteers took. “I complained to one of the Salvation Army workers, That this should not be happening so close to Christmas. I was told to keep quiet, because the Major and some of the volunteers had an understanding. I was told to look the other way. I tried to ignore it, but it became very hard, especially when a local business donated six big boxes of clothes and shoes for children. All went missing.

“I complained again, and now I was labeled a troublemaker. In the end, I was told to leave.”

But by far the most compelling response I got was from an anonymous emailer who contacted me through a Yahoo account, probably accessed via a public library or other community Internet resource. This woman, who signed the email message simply as “Feeling helpless”, wrote:

“I am a homeless woman living at the Salvation Army women’s shelter. Can you help me expose the Salvation Army? I have so much to tell you but I can not do it by email.”

Unfortunately, no other contact information was included, and my attempts at follow-up seem to have fallen through, but hopefully she received my suggestion that she contact the appropriate authorities and the local media for immediate help in exposing and addressing whatever issues she was facing. This woman clearly needed more help than I alone can provide through my own writing and activism. I hope that her situation has since improved. The bottom line is this: While the Salvation Army may have done some good work over the years in providing assistance to the poor, the addicted, and the marginalized, their methods and practices are not ones that I approve of. There are many other nonprofit organizations out there that provide similar services in a more ethical manner.

And, if you’re a Christian, consider this: The ironic thing about the Salvation Army’s practices is that they do all that while labeling themselves as “Christian”. But think about it: If Jesus were here today, he surely would not approve of their methods.

So please think twice before tossing your spare change into their red kettles of trouble. Think about what you would be supporting with your hard-earned cash.

Happy holidays.

 Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more…)

Peace Grannies Invade Brooklyn’s Target Store with Song and Protest Regarding War Toys December 19, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Peace, Uncategorized, War.
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12.19.09 – 12:09 PM

by Joan Wile

Weary Brooklyn Christmas shoppers were unexpectedly enertained on Friday afternoon, Dec. 18, when a troupe of approximately 20 Granny Peace Brigade members and Raging Grannies sang revised Christmas carols condemning war toys at the TARGET Store in Flatbush’s Atlantic Shopping Center simultaneously with a serious demonstration against the toxic playthings. This was the second protest in the grannies’ recently-launched campaign called “NO MORE WAR TOYS, NO MORE WARS.” The first action took place on December 4 at the Times Square Toys “R” Us store,

Although warned by the police earlier in the day to not attempt to conduct any mischief inside TARGET, the grannies nevertheless “invaded” the store at approximately 4 p.m. and quickly went to the toy department where they filled up four carts and some baskets with the most violent toys ever conceived.

The grannies then rode them down the escalator while unfurling many bright yellow banners imprinted with the black letters, “WAR IS NOT A GAME” and “NO MORE WAR TOYS.” As they rode down to the next floor, they sang the famous John Lennon refrain, “Give Peace a Chance.”
Granny Peace Brigade singing while riding escalator with banners, TARGET, Dec. 18

They intended to leave the toy-filled carts and baskets at the check-out counter, but by the time the elderly crusaders and the carts reached the bottom of the escalator, however, a bevy of policemen was awaiting them and requested that they leave the store, which they did, singing and displaying their many banners as they wended their way outside.

The toys they gathered are disgraceful, to say the least — guns with repeat bullets, grenades and all manner of killing machines designed to arouse the bloodlust of impressionable young children and teen-agers. The grannies, who have been trying for years to end the destructive and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, feel these toys militarize America’s young and pave the way to more and more killing in the guise of protecting our homeland, a presumption the grandmothers reject.

Once outside, on Flatbush Avenue, the grandmothers opened their special songbooks and sang a number of Christmas carols which the women have revised with lyrics pleading that people not buy war toys. For, instance:

HARK, THE HERALD ANGELS SING
HARK, THE HERALD ANGELS SING
NOW, AT LAST, LET FREEDOM RING.
PEACE ON EARTH AND MERCY MILD,
NATIONS MUST BE RECONCILED.
LET US PUT THE BOMBS AWA-A-Y!
BRING OUR TROOPS HOME, NOW, TODA-A-Y
WARS ARE NOT FOR TOYS, OR A GAME.
DON’T TEACH OUR KIDS TO KILL AND MAIM!
GIVE THE CHILDREN TOYS OF PEACE,
HELP THEM TO LEARN THAT WARS MUST CEASE.

Passersby stopped to enjoy the concert, and many told the grandmothers that they agreed with them. The protesters gave out hundreds of leaflets listing appropriate toys for parents to buy rather than the horrendous ones glorifying lethal battle.

Other members of the grannies’ audience included the eight or so cops assigned to protect Brooklyn from the dangerous aged terrorists. The officers stood across from the women throughout their entire songfest trying without success to hide their delight at the grandmas’ vocal offerings.

Said the oldest singer, Lillian Pollak, hale and active at 94, “We won’t be here forever, and if we can’t stop these deplorable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in our lifetime, we must at least do all within our power to convince our grandchildren that they must end the cycle of killing and waste we have been engaging in for far too long. We’re determined to continue this struggle to bring back appropriate and healthy toys.”

Peace Granny Joan Wile is the author of, “Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies And Standing Up For Peace” (Citadel Press ’08)

Seasonal Forgiveness Has a Limit. Bush and His Cronies Must Face a Reckoning. December 25, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Torture, War.
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www.truthout.com, Christmas Day 2008

24 December 2008

by: Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian UK

Heinous crimes are now synonymous with this US administration. If it isn’t held to account, what does that say about us?

    ‘Tis the night before Christmas and the season of goodwill. The mood is forgiving. Our faces warm with mulled wine, our tummies full, we’re meant to slump in the armchair, look back on the year just gone and count our blessings – woozily agreeing to put our troubles behind us.

    As in families, so in the realm of public and international affairs. And this December that feels especially true. The “war on terror” that dominated much of the decade seems to be heading towards a kind of conclusion. George Bush will leave office in a matter of weeks and British troops will leave Iraq a few months later. The first, defining phase of the conflict that began on 9/11 – the war of Bush, Tony Blair and Osama bin Laden – is about to slip from the present to the past tense. Bush and Blair will be gone, with only Bin Laden still in post. The urge to move on is palpable.

    You can sense it in the valedictory interviews Bush and Dick Cheney are conducting on their way out. They’re looking to the verdict of history now, Cheney telling the Washington Times last week: “I myself am personally persuaded that this president and this administration will look very good 20 or 30 years down the road.” The once raging arguments of the current era are about to fade, the lead US protagonists heading off to their respective ranches in the west, the rights and wrongs of their decisions in office to be weighed not in the hot arena of politics, but in the cool seminar rooms of the academy.

    Not so fast.

    Yes, the new year would get off to a more soothing start if we could all agree to draw a line and move on. But it would be wrong. First, because we cannot hope to avoid repeating the errors of the last eight years unless they are subject to a full accounting. (It is for that reason Britain needs its own full, unconstrained inquiry into the Iraq war.) Second, because a crucial principle, one that goes to the very heart of the American creed, is at stake. And third, because this is not solely about the judgment of history. It may be about the judgment of the courts – specifically those charged with punishing war crimes.

    Less than a fortnight ago, in the news graveyard of a Friday afternoon, the armed services committee of the US Senate released a bipartisan report – with none other than John McCain as its co-author – into the American use of torture against those held in the war on terror. It dismissed entirely the notion that the horrors of Abu Ghraib could be put down to “a few bad apples”. Instead it laid bare, in forensic detail, the trail of memos and instructions that led directly to the then defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

    The report was the fruit of 18 months of work, involving some 70 interviews. Most of it is classified, but even the 29-page published summary makes horrifying reading. It shows how the most senior figures in the Bush administration discussed, and sought legal fig leaves for, practices that plainly amounted to torture. They were techniques devised in a training programme known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape or SERE, that aimed to teach elite American soldiers how to endure torture should they fall into the hands of pitiless enemies. The SERE techniques were partly modelled on the brutal methods used by the Chinese against US prisoners during the Korean war. Yet Rumsfeld ruled that these same techniques should be “reverse engineered”, so that Americans would learn not how to endure them – but how to inflict them. Which they then did, at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and beyond.

    The Senate report cites the memorandums requesting permission to use “stress positions, exploitation of detainee fears (such as fear of dogs), removal of clothing, hooding, deprivation of light and sound, and the so-called wet towel treatment or the waterboard”. We read of Mohamed al Kahtani – against whom all charges were dropped earlier this year – who was “deprived of adequate sleep for weeks on end, stripped naked, subjected to loud music, and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks”. Approval for this kind of torture, hidden under the euphemism of “enhanced interrogation”, was sought from and granted at the highest level.

    And that doesn’t mean Rumsfeld. The report’s first conclusion is that, on “7 February 2002, President George W Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban detainees”. The result, it says, is that Bush “opened the door” to the use of a raft of techniques that the US had once branded barbaric and beyond the realm of human decency.

    For this Bush should surely be held to account. And yet there is no sign that he will, and precious little agitation that he should. A still smiling Cheney denies the Bush administration did anything wrong. Note this breathtaking exchange with Fox News at the weekend. He was asked: “If the president during war decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer: “General proposition, I’d say yes.”

    It takes a few seconds for the full horror of that remark to sink in. And then you remember where you last heard something like it. It was the now immortalised interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon. The disgraced ex-president was asked whether there were certain situations where the president can do something illegal, if he deems it in the national interest. Nixon’s reply: “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

    It is no coincidence that Cheney began his career in the Nixon White House. He has the same Nixonian disregard for the US constitution, the same belief that executive power is absolute and unlimited – that those who wield it are above the law, domestic and international. It is the logic of dictatorship.

    But Nixon was forced from office, his vision of an unrestrained presidency rejected. If Bush and Cheney are allowed to retire quietly, America will have failed to reassert that bedrock principle of the republic: the rule of law.

    This is why there must be a reckoning. Bush will do all he can to avoid it: and it is wholly possible that one of his last acts as president will be to cover himself, his vice-president and all his henchmen with a blanket pardon. Even if that does not happen, Barack Obama is unlikely to want to spend precious capital pursuing his predecessor for war crimes.

    But other prosecutors elsewhere in the world should weigh their responsibilities. In the end, it was a lone Spanish magistrate, not a Chilean court, who ensured the arrest of Augusto Pinochet. A pleasing, if uncharitable, thought this Christmas, is that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush will hesitate before making plans to travel abroad in 2009. Or indeed at any time – ever again.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND PASS THE AMMUNITION December 13, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Barack Obama, About George Bush, About War, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan.
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cest-la-guerre-lawrence-ferlinghetti-oil-24-in-x-4-in-1988

(“C’est La Guerre,” Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1988)

 

War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, Pre-emptive War,

Targeted Assassination, the Bush Doctrine:

PERMANENT WAR.

 

Soon-to-be-President Obama:

 

 

“Well, maybe not such a quick withdrawal from Iraq

 

after all.”

 

“Send more to kill and die in Afghanistan.”

 

 

 

PEACE ON EARTH GOOD WILL

TOWARDS PEOPLE

 

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