Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘U.S.’

He Spoke Up About Bombing

Excerpt from Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism & Protest.

arnieinuniformudorn1969074In late 1969 and early 1970, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base was the second busiest airport in the world, next to Tan Sim Nhut Air Force Base in Saigon. It wasn’t the second busiest with the number of people passing through, but with the number of flights taking off and landing. They weren’t flying for recreation or sightseeing; they were reconnaissance planes and bombers – lots of bombers. They left the field weighed down like heavyweight fighters and returned like featherweights. It was methodical, like clockwork: day in and day out, hour after hour.

A few weeks after his arrival at Udorn, Dr. Leff began to get a feel for his clientele. There were three groups he attended and with whom he became intimately acquainted. The first was the United States Air Force personnel, which numbered about 5,000. The second group was the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and contract personnel (mercenaries) who were employed by Air America. The third contingent consisted of Royal Laotian Army soldiers who were wounded in the war against the communist Pathet Lao across the border in Laos, protected by the Thai military and treated at Udorn.

The U.S. was supposedly not at war with Laos, but was nonetheless bombing their villages, giving their government military weapons and ammunition and supporting the Royal Laotian Army with money, surveillance, and medical care. The U.S. Air Force was bombing villages that contained nothing but villagers. Intelligence officers ordered changes in the captions on reconnaissance pictures. When questioned, pilots would quote the party line and say they were bombing communist strongholds.

It was common knowledge on the base that their primary mission was to destroy any communist stronghold in Laos. Legality, civilian deaths, and the Geneva Convention were all collateral damage to the mission. The goal was the priority, not the process.

Captain Leff couldn’t help but get a strong whiff of these realities. His patients told him what was going on. He had eyes and ears and could see and hear the stories, the bravado from the pilots; the detached, cold expressions of the Air America personnel. On the rare occasions he visited the officer’s club, his ears were bombarded with the sickening boasts of pilots talking about how many people they had killed that day and how many bombs they had dropped on the bastards. He heard stories from the flight surgeons that did air time over Laos that made his skin crawl. He had arrived in August as a patriotic serviceman; by September, his patriotism had been bruised, bloodied and battered.

“Within three months time, I knew the war was all hocus pocus,” Captain Leff recalled. “People were lying left and right. It was all so obvious. By that time, I had made friends with a number of GIs, both stripers and officers, who had the same hit on this mess as I did. So, I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter to the Chairman of the foreign relations committee of the U.S. Senate, J. W. Fulbright. It wasn’t complicated; it just said, ‘I don’t understand. What is this war in Laos all about? How can we have this secret war?’ I never expected to hear from him. Even though military personnel are allowed to write congressional letters, I had a strong feeling that the Air Force was reading my mail and wasn’t sure if he’d even get it. I didn’t give any details. I sent it on November 11, 1969. On December 10th, I received his reply. I was shocked. It was a personal reply, not a form letter. He said he was doing all he could to stop the war on Laos and appreciated my concern. In the beginning of 1970, I sent him another letter with more detail and said I’d be glad to speak to his commission. Again, he replied and said they would take me up on my offer when I returned to the States.”

Dr. Leff had just opened a Pandora’s Box of deceit, corruption, and legitimate paranoia.

More at Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism & Protest

Memorial Day “Holiday”

Memorial Day – “a legal holiday in the U.S. in memory of the dead servicemen of all wars.”

That’s how Webster’s defines Memorial Day, but is that what takes place? Has this day of remembrance become just another holiday; another three-day weekend; a day of forgetting?

Memorial Day can be a powerful reminder and opportunity for honoring and remembering our dead; for paying homage to those who died believing that their lives made a difference; that their lives were sacrificed for the benefit of others.

In many respects, those who have died for this experiment in democracy are still living. They’re living in the water we drink, the food we grow, the ballot we cast, the policies we protest, the pains, sorrows and struggles of everyday life.

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I respect the men and women who fought to end slavery in the Civil War and those, like my grandfather William, who fought in World War I, believing it would be “the war to end all wars”. I remember and give thanks to my father-in-law, who fought during World War II against the Nazis and lost his parents, grandparents, family and friends in the concentration camps. I thank my father, who went away for years to an unknown fate to stop the dictatorships of German and Japanese governments during the second world war. And I remember and honor all those who died in Lebanon, Panama, Viet Nam, on 9-11, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who returned from those conflicts and died from resulting disease, addiction or suicide.

Though Memorial Day honors those who have died during wartime, let us not forget the military women and men who have died outside of conflict; those who have died while training; while in transport; during missions of peace and rescue; and at home from illness, accident, governmental disregard or neglect.

Before we can ever proclaim, “Never again!” we must exclaim, “Never forget!” Never forget the soldiers and civilians who have perished. Let us honor they’re memory, by keeping them in our hearts and doing everything possible to prevent and end the wars that have caused such great sorrow and suffering. Take some time to bring out pictures, tell stories, make a toast, thank those still living and recommit our selves to the peaceful resolution of conflict.
Memorial Day reminds us that blood and tears are the same in any language. Every life is precious and every loss must be remembered, mourned and honored.

These thoughts and reflections are an excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

Also see: Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism and Protest.

Women Come Marching Home

Service_DVDinhouse_V2.inddService: When Women Come Marching Home
A film by Marcia Rock and Patricia Lee Stotter
US, 2012, 55 minutes, Color, DVD, English
From Women Make Movies

Women make up 15 percent of today’s military. That number is expected to double in 10 years. SERVICE highlights the resourcefulness of seven amazing women who represent the first wave of mothers, daughters and sisters returning home from the frontless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Portraying the courage of women veterans as they transition from active duty to their civilian lives, this powerful film describes the horrific traumas they have faced, the inadequate care they often receive on return, and the large and small accomplishments they work mightily to achieve.

These are the stories we hear about from men returning from war, but rarely from women veterans. Through compelling portraits, we watch these women wrestle with prostheses, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. The documentary takes the audience on a journey from the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq to rural Tennessee and urban New York City, from coping with amputations, to flashbacks, triggers and depression to ways to support other vets. An eye-opening look at the specific challenges facing women veterans with a special focus on the disabled, SERVICE can be used for courses in military studies, women’s studies, peace and conflict courses and veteran support groups.

See more about women making movies at: Women Make Movies

Every 60 Seconds

Every 60 Seconds

In the last decade, the U.S. has led the way in the movement to end malaria. And our efforts to fight the disease are having a real impact in a cost-effective way.

Two years ago, a child in Africa died every 30 seconds from malaria. Now, it’s a child every 60 seconds.

But just one death from a preventable disease is too many.

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We can’t back down now. It’s more important than ever that Congress fully support programs that provide simple, affordable solutions to prevent malaria before it can take children’s lives.

Send a message to Congress today: If we fully support simple, effective anti-malaria programs, we CAN end preventable deaths around the world!

Thank you for taking action,

Ellen B.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Don’t Abandon Wolves

Don’t Abandon Wolves

The Obama Administration is on the verge of stripping most Endangered Species Act protections away from gray wolves. If this happens, wolf management will be turned over to the states — something that’s already proven itself disastrous!

Please help wolves in their 11th hour!

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State management for wolves already happened in the Northern Rockies, and it’s been a disaster. Over 1,700 wolves have been ruthlessly hunted down and killed in just the last two years. If the federal government goes through with their plan to strip wolves of ESA protections, this could happen in part of the U.S. where wolf populations are even more fragile than in the Rockies.

Don’t let the Obama administration abandon wolves! Sign the petition urging the Obama Administration to keep wolves fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Thank you for taking action,

Kayla C. c
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

The Picasso

The Picasso
by Gabriel Constans

As Picasso’s paintings fill your eyes with images of color, this smoothie will fill your mouth with an array of flavors and inundate your taste buds with a splash of brilliance. I had to travel by time machine to meet Picasso in person and obtain this recipe from his private diary.

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Yield: 5 cups

1 cup filtered water
2 large bananas
1/2 cup raspberries
6-10 seedless grapes
1/4 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup firm tofu
1 tablespoon protein powder
1 teaspoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on high speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tall glasses and let your creative juices flow.

Grandy’s Cranberry Crunch

Grandma Grandy’s Cranberry Crunch
by Gabriel Constans

This smoothie is not for the faint of heart; it is a sweet and tart elixir with a very strong flavor. Cranberry juice is excellent for relief of urinary tract and yeast infections. Make sure you use 100 percent pure cranberry juice, not the watered-down cranberry blends often sold in supermarkets.

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Yield: 5 cups

2 1/2 cups pure cranberry juice
2 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate or 2 cups fresh lemonade
1 cup apple juice
2 ripe bananas
1 cup seedless grapes
3/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal
3/4 cup honey

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and puree on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tall glasses and serve up one of Grandma’s treats.

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