On Friday, April 12, 2002, there was a military coup in Venezuela. The army installed a new "leader," a man who is transparently representative of big business. The new "leader" immediately placed the democratically elected president Hugo Chavez under arrest, and abolished the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the constitution of Venezuela.
If we apply a smell test, this is obviously a movement from democracy towards fascism. Yet George Bush greeted this event with the statement, "Now the situation will be one of tranquility and democracy."
To applaud a military coup, and the abolition of the existing democratic institutions in Venezuela, as a step towards democracy, shows a new height of hypocrisy and double-speak by our government. The news that this new dictatorship is opposed by all of the19 countries in the Americas (all other than the U.S.) is either omitted or buried in small print on the inside pages of the newspapers.
And as always, the U.S. mass media dutifully passed along blatant propaganda from George Bush and the State Department without correction. The unbalanced press coverage of this military coup (dutifully following the lead of the Associated Press and the New York Times) is yet another beautiful illustration of the insidious role of the U.S. mass media in contributing to mass ignorance.
With us or against us
I just read a letter written by a person decrying America's war on terrorism. As President Bush said, "You either stand with us or you most surely stand against us." This is true for individual people as well as countries.
I cannot understand how any sane person can commit an act of terrorism and kill thousands of unsuspecting, innocent people and I cannot understand how any sane person can condone such actions by objecting to our wanting to stop them by any means possible. He asked for a further reduction of our military budget with funds directed toward human needs -- translation: more welfare at the cost of national defense.
Clinton gutted our armed services to the point that people like bin-Laden thought we were so weak and lacking in resolve that we would not defend ourselves. September 11 is the results of such thinking.
Yes, people of the world should cry out for peace and the only way that peace will ever be known is to let terrorists, and those who support them, know that their actions will not be tolerated. Thank you.
Nothing but trouble
Headlines, all on the same Page 8 (May 2 Dispatch) read: "Israeli troops kill Palestinians at Church of the Nativity," "Arafat's months of virtual captivity has ended," and "Onnan says he's calling off Jenin investigation" (due to Israelis fearing the world learning what went on, plus the behind-the-scenes threat the United States will veto such U.N. inspection.
The U.S. is plainly anti-semitic, although we support Israel financially $14 million per day or $3 billion per year, depending on the source, to protect our option to bring troops into the Middle East to fight for the oil we feel "rightfully" belongs to us. ("How did our oil get under their sand, anyway?")
Israel has a population of about 6 million. We're subsidizing every Israeli man, woman, and child to the tune of $500 to $850 per year. No wonder they have such a good standard of living! Many families here could use that.
Who's starting the trouble, Israelis or Palestinians? I'm not sure. I have my strong suspicions. Anyway, the U.S. has been supporting Israel for 50 years, and there's been nothing but trouble..
Maybe we should support the Palestinians for a while and see what happens.
I understand why the Israelis have been creating new settlements on Palestinian lands. Israel has 733 people per square mile (China only 346, the U.S. 77-2000 census).
Not all the Jews of the world can fit into Israel.
For the U.S. and Israel, it's been, "You scratch my back; I'll scratch yours," although deep down the countries don't like each other.
Is the media pro-Palestinian? Come on! Israelis are always labeled "soldiers," even when in someone else's house. Palestinians are always labeled "gunmen, terrorists, thugs," or worse even when defending their own house.
Wake up, U.S.
Unhappy with coverage
The International Day of Protest Against War and Racism took place on April 20. Three Minnesota busses arrived in Washington, D.C. at 10 a.m., and the gathering of people continued until, what was expected to be a crowd of 15,000, became upwards of 100,000 people. In San Francisco the turnout was upwards of 35,000 people. Planned demonstrations of protest happened in cities throughout the United States and the world. In urgency, citizens of our planet gathered in solidarity to protest against Bush's 'war without end' campaign.
The Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace notified all local media, yet there was no coverage of the local demonstration, and silence about the International Day of Protest. There is world wide alarm concerning the current administration's offensive posture toward the use of nuclear weapons, which threatens all of humanity. Why no coverage? Am I the only one not satisfied with, or interested in reading, the filtered mis-information and propaganda that comes out of a common spout for the purpose of promoting Bush's military agenda? We would have made room on the bus for a news reporter.
Concerned citizens joined others to demand the United States stop all aid to Israel until they end their illegal occupation of Palestinian homeland and massacre of civilians in towns and refugee camps. A poster that haunts me is a picture of what the military calls, "collateral damage." The picture is of a Palestinian baby girl, laid out, with a bullet hole through her stomach. The bullet that killed that baby girl was "made in the USA," and was purchased by Israel with money borrowed from the USA. Who shares the cosmic karma for the murder of that child?
I love my country. I protest a government that no longer serves my interests.
Peace is costly
Sane people always select peace over conflict. It has been so since recorded history began.
The sad fact, however, is that war and conflict seem to be ingrained in our nature. Wars are inevitable and ignoring that fact can lead to great disaster, especially in a world awash with nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities.
The twentieth century alone has shown the utter futility of peace and non conflict as an only option. A people and country must always be prepared for wars and conflicts in the hope and desire that preparation is all we will ever need.
As the only superpower in the world our country carries an added burden of responsibility to exert our influence and considerable pressure to stop wars and conflicts. This requires us to spend money, lots of it, and to maintain a strong and effective military.
The amount we spend on our security has dropped significantly over the past 30 years or so as measured as a percentage of our country's wealth.
"If onlys" are not the answer to the many problems facing this twenty first century world. We must face reality and approach problems with a clear focus based on the sad fact that there are evil-bad people who would gladly destroy all we have and kill as many of us as possible.
The only way to stop that possibility is to keep vigilant and maintain a strong, well trained, fully funded and committed military force, structured under civilian political control, so as to always answer to the American people.
With all my heart and soul, I wish for peace, harmony and love for all humanity.
But I understand that my wishes can only come true if I plan for them!
As it stands now I am not in fear that my children might need to go to war but as Teddy Roosevelt was paraphrased "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
So I hope my country continues to carry a big stick and I will still go to bed each night praying for peace and preparing for war.
Long live the burger
There's no way to describe the letter ("Hazards of meat" April 23, 2002) other than absurd and ridiculous.
His letter makes ridiculous leaps in logic, there is no scientific foundation for his misleading allegations, and it suggests a lack of understanding of diet, nutrition and health.
Contrary to his assertions, eating meat is not the problem. If we follow the advice of the American Dietetic Association (all foods fit in a diet of balance, variety and moderation) we'll be healthy. Oh, but you have to get some exercise, too, no matter how sensibly you eat.
We have become very cautious about fat but may have forgotten about calories, and low-fat foods are not low-calories foods. The basic rule about calories is, if you take in more than you burn off through physical activity, you're going to end up sitting on the excess.
The public health concerns he raised are related to obesity. So, if he is looking for something to tax, how about the major contributors to obesity -- too many calories and too little physical activity.
Red meat is an important part of a healthful diet. For example, beef is the number one source of protein, vitamin B-12 and zinc in the diet, and the number three source (behind fortified cereals and bread) of iron. You would have to eat more than three cups of spinach to get the same amount of iron in three ounces of beef.
Not only that, but two major studies in the past few years have shown that lean beef works as well as chicken and fish in diets designed to lower serum cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Long live the burger and the steak!
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