Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Occupy Long Beach, General Strike Meeting, Iraq

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Yesterday evening I went to my first Occupy Long Beach General Assembly in a long time. I wanted to announce the meeting tonight 12/20/11 at La Placita Church 7:30 pm tonight for the May Day General Strike committee. Some persons expressed interest in going, this is the time to get involved and help determine the direction of the General Strike for Southern California. Contact me at if you want to carpool from Long Beach, CA.

I was impressed with the businesslike manner in which the GA was held. People seemed to want to get on with the projects at hand rather than grandstanding as often happens in these kind of assemblies.

The main problem in Long Beach seems to be lack of participation by the community as a whole. The Occupy movement seems to have fallen in numbers to the hard core of activists and students. This will have to change if the Long Beach movement is to grow. I would suggest that they develop some institutional changes to allow this. One reason the numbers have declined in my mind is the unwieldy nature of the decision making process. Consensus works for small groups, like what they have now, 20 or so persons. But for hundreds, it is simply not the easiest process, and demands very strict adherence to protocols if anything is to be done at all. This discipline I saw in Long Beach, the question is, will the switch to democratic decision making as they grow larger again or stick to consensus? They have a fairly stable inner cadre, now the question is will they expand again as winter turns to spring, or become another cult like leftist grouplet?

The meeting was mostly made up of reports from committees, of which there are probably too many for the number of people involved. The same 3 or 4 persons seemed to be on almost all the committees. I felt the urge to help out, they especially need outreach people, legal support and financial support. I am particularly impressed with the quality of the graphics on several of the internet posters I have seen. They don’t seem to manage to get much into print though.


International News has shifted from the Euro to the Middle East again with Egypt on the edge of exploding and Iraq facing a renewal of the civil war only days after the US troops removed. The situation in Iraq is largely dependent upon Iran. If they pressure the Maliki government to tone down the repression, they will need something from the west, mainly backing off on Syria and Iranian nuclear programs. As this is unlikely to happen, renewed warfare in Iraq may be the consequence. This might lead to the ironic situation of the USA backing the Baathists in Iraq against the Shiites. Certainly Saudi Arabia cannot be looking at this situation with anything other than horror. Will the US retain troops in Kuwait as a buffer or return to Iraq? That would certainly not be a popular move although the Obama administration did not want to leave Iraq to begin with.


From the New York Times

Arrest Order for Sunni Leader in Iraq Opens New Rift


Published: December 19, 2011

BAGHDAD — A day after the United States withdrew its last combat troops, Iraq faced a dangerous political crisis Monday as the Shiite-dominated government ordered the arrest of the Sunni vice president, accusing him of running a death squad that assassinated police officers and government officials.

On Monday, Iraqi television showed bodyguards for Mr. Hashimi confessing to running death squads and planting bombs.

The sensational charges drew a worried response from Washington and brought Iraq’s tenuous partnership government to the edge of collapse. A major Sunni-backed political coalition said its ministers would walk off their jobs, leaving adrift agencies that handle Iraq’s finances, schools and agriculture.

The accusations against Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi also underlined fears that Iraq’s leaders may now be using the very institutions America has spent millions of dollars trying to strengthen — the police, the courts, the media — as a cudgel to batter their political enemies and consolidate power.

On Monday night, Mr. Hashimi was in the northern semiautonomous region of Kurdistan, beyond the reach of security forces controlled by Baghdad. It was unclear when — or if — he would return to Baghdad.

In Washington, where officials have been quietly celebrating the end of the war, Obama administration officials sounded alarmed about the arrest order for Mr. Hashimi. “We are talking to all of the parties and expressed our concern regarding these developments,” said Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman. “We are urging all sides to work to resolve differences peacefully and through dialogue, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and the democratic political process.”

The breakdown in relations between Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and Mr. Hashimi and his Iraqiya Party arrived at an inopportune moment for the administration, coming so close to the troop withdrawal. American officials have spent years trying to urge Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government to work with the country’s Sunni minority, and are wary of having things fall apart now.

To government critics, the charges seemed to be part of a wide-reaching consolidation of power by Mr. Maliki. Amid the anxiety stirred by the American departure and unrest in neighboring Syria, Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, has tightened his grip on this violent and divided nation by marginalizing, intimidating or arresting his political rivals, many of whom are part of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

Hundreds of people have been swept up over the last two months in arrests aimed at former members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party. In recent weeks, security forces also arrested at least 30 people connected to a former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite and caustic critic of Mr. Maliki, according to Mr. Allawi’s office. And on Sunday, Mr. Maliki asked Parliament to issue a vote of no confidence in his own deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni prone to hyperbole who had compared Mr. Maliki to a dictator in an interview.

“Any leading Sunni politician seems now to be a target of this campaign by Maliki,” said Reidar Visser, an expert on Iraqi politics. “It seems that every Sunni Muslim or secularist is in danger of being labeled either a Baathist or a terrorist.”

Mr. Hashimi has not often been described as either. Sometimes abrasive and always self-interested, he was one of the first Sunni leaders to embrace the political process after the American invasion, and lost three siblings to terrorist attacks during the height of the sectarian war.

“He was someone who tried to be conciliatory with the Shiite Islamists at a time when others did not do so,” Mr. Visser said. “Now, Maliki is going after him.”

Any resolution seems a distant hope. The Iraqiya coalition, a large political bloc led by Mr. Allawi that includes Mr. Hashimi, Mr. Mutlaq and many other prominent Sunnis, stopped attending sessions of Parliament on Saturday. On Monday, there were not enough lawmakers to reach a quorum, so Parliament was adjourned until Jan. 3.

On Monday night, Iraqiya members called for the president of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, to intervene and reprise a role the Kurds played in bringing together discordant factions and helping to resolve the long stalemate that collapsed after last year’s national elections.

The recent tumult has put Baghdad’s political elite on edge.

Inside the concrete-ringed Green Zone, the heart of Iraq’s government and home to the American Embassy, Iraqi Army tanks and Humvees have proliferated. Freshly reinforced platoons of soldiers are standing guard over intersections, and security forces have pushed to the edge of the compounds of Mr. Hashimi and other Sunni leaders.

“It’s crisis after crisis,” Mr. Mutlaq, the deputy prime minister, said in an interview. “None of the political parties want Maliki to be in this position anymore, but Maliki is controlling everything. Through his police, his army, his security measures. Everyone is afraid.”



Sunni leaders warn of sectarian chaos in Iraq

Duleimi sheikhs claim marginalised Sunnis now have little input into affairs of state in post-US Iraq, Tuesday 20 December 2011 14.39 EST

Two leading members of Iraq’s largest and most powerful Sunni tribe have warned of imminent sectarian chaos in the wake of the US withdrawal, claiming that the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is promoting an anti-Sunni agenda.

The sheikhs, leaders of the highly influential Duleimi tribe, both insist that Sunnis have been increasingly marginalised over the past year to the point where they now have little input into affairs of state in post-US Iraq.

Their warnings come as Iraq’s vice-president, Tariq al-Hashimi, defended himself over claims in an arrest warrant issued for him that he had used his guards to act as hit squads to target political rivals and had ordered a recent car bombing near the Iraqi parliament.

The dramatic allegations against one of the highest ranking Sunni figures in government have sharply raised the stakes in Iraq. The crisis risks unravelling a fragile power-sharing deal among Shia, Sunni and Kurdish blocs that have struggled to overcome tensions since sectarian slaughter drove Iraq to the edge of civil war in the years after Saddam Hussein fell in 2003.

Senior Iraqi politicians have been holding talks with Maliki and other leaders to contain the dispute.

On Monday the president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan regional government, called for dialogue among the different parties.

“We call for a national political conference urgently to prevent the political process from collapsing and exposing the country to uncalled consequences,” Barzani said in a statement.

The unravelling domestic scene is in stark contrast to the portrait painted by US commanders of a representative government that has found its feet after almost nine years of war.

The claims about Hashimi, made on state television, which aired the alleged confessions of three of his guards, have inflamed already high tensions between Sunni politicians and the Shia-led government of Maliki, which last week ordered a second prominent Sunni figure, deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, to stay away from parliament.

The Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc, which has 91 seats in the 325-seat parliament, has flagged a boycott from the legislature by many of its members. Three Sunni provinces have made unilateral declarations of autonomy.

Suicide Bomber Kills 60 in Iraq, Etc…

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Iraq is in a state of transition. It is no longer the hot spot of international concern that it once was. There are still daily incidents and the occasional dramatic blast like the one in Tikrit, but for the most part it has dropped off the grid and is now just a backwater with occasional human interest stories such as the one in the Washington Post about sleepy soldiers.

Al Qaeda is still there and active along with a few hard core Bathists, but the action has moved to Afghanistan and Yemen if you can believe the notice it was given with last Sunday’s 60 Minutes and Secretary of State Clinton’s visit. Somalia seems to have dropped out of the news although last year was the biggest year yet for sea pirates. Perhaps it is just boredom.

The big attention getter is the Tunisian revolt and the subsequent unrest throughout the Middle East with people setting themselves on fire in Mauritania, Egypt and Algeria recently. The newly formed government in Tunisia does not seem to be meeting with popular approval and minority ministers have already quit. The media are excited, but what about the average Joe American? Does he/she even know where Tunisia is? I wonder sometimes if this was a sporting event if there might not be more interest.

From the

Suicide blast kills dozens of Iraqi police recruits

Suicide bomber detonates explosives-laden vest outside crowded police recruitment centre in Tikrit, killing at least 60 people

Martin Chulov, Tuesday 18 January 2011 09.17 GMT

A suicide bomber targeting a police recruitment line in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit killed at least 60 people today, with the death toll expected to rise further.

The attack is the most lethal to have hit Iraq for at least six months, and again underlines the ability of insurgents to target the country’s institutions despite much-lauded security gains.

Police and military recruitment centres have been a favoured target of Sunni insurgents and militant operatives of the former Ba’athist regime.

Tikrit was Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, and remains a stronghold of his residual support base. The Ba’athist leadership is thought to comprise a core group of around 200 former officers who direct terror attacks using operatives remaining interwoven throughout the security forces.

Ba’athists were immediately accused of playing a role in the attack. However, attention quickly shifted to al-Qaida in Iraq, which has regularly used suicide bombers to undermine the government’s security credentials throughout the past six years.

At least 150 people were injured in the attack. Many were left with serious wounds, and are not expected to survive.

The method of attack was identical to numerous previous strikes on recruitment centres, mainly in Baghdad and Mosul. The suicide bomber, with an explosive vest, was able to bypass lax security and detonate his explosives amid large numbers of men.

Tikrit’s deputy police chief, Brigadier Jassim Hamid, dismissed claims of a security lapse. “The explosion occurred outside the checkpoint,” he said.

“Three days ago, the local council called for 2,000 extra police officers, with 200 to turn up at each recruitment centre. The suicide bomber pretended to apply. Al-Qaida’s fingerprints are on this attack.”

Dr Bashar al-Duleimi, a surgeon at Tikrit hospital, said all the city’s medical centres were overrun. “We are all full of serious injuries … at least 150,” he said.

Recruitment centre bombings have regularly exacted heavy tolls. Two similar bombings in Baghdad last summer also claimed between 50 and 60 lives.

Al-Qaida in Iraq was believed to be responsible for both blasts, as well as the brutal siege of a Baghdad cathedral, which left 53 dead and scores more wounded in October.

Iraq’s government has since claimed al-Qaida is largely defeated in Iraq, echoing US military claims made in 2008. Large-scale explosions have become infrequent. However, Sunni insurgents are still credited with almost daily targeted attacks on officials, particularly in Baghdad, Diyyala and Mosul.

Iraqi security officials have told the Guardian that al-Qaida in Iraq has re-orientated towards its original hardcore ideological roots, having shed criminal elements or opportunists throughout six years of violence.

From Washington Post

The daily grind of the goodwill tour

By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AT CAMP RAMADI, IRAQ Officially, the year-long mission remaining for roughly 48,000 U.S. troops in Iraq is to “advise and assist” this country’s security forces. Unofficially, it is to fight off boredom and to stay alert and safe in the long, empty stretches that dominate their days.

Assassinations, bombings and gun attacks have killed scores of Iraqi police officers, civilians and government officials since the beginning of the year. U.S. forces have not been asked to assist in the aftermath of any of them.

Rather, from behind their concrete blast walls, in security bubbles that can seem deceptively safe, the end of the Iraq war has for most U.S. soldiers become a monotonous farewell mission of goodwill, a last good deed, impression or chance to set things right.

The front lines are mostly heavily armored office-hour visits with local security commanders and community leaders over Turkish coffee and tea, or to teach Iraqi police or army enlistees the occasional nifty trick, like karate moves or magazine-design layout.

But the exchanges remain dangerous. Two American soldiers were killed and a third was wounded near Mosul on Saturday when an Iraqi army officer receiving tactical training turned a gun on his U.S. military instructors.

“I hope before I get out of the Army I get to go to Afghanistan at least once,” said Spec. Randall Brown, 23. His mind wandered and other soldiers dozed on a recent morning as they rode along a cratered highway between Ramadi and Fallujah, a stretch where soldiers used to sit wide-eyed, in radio silence, praying that one of the day’s inevitable roadside bombs would miss their convoy.

“I hear they are losing people in Afghanistan every week - I don’t want to go because of that,” he rushed to add. “But because my job is still needed there; my job doesn’t exist here anymore.”

Trained to sneak over rocky terrain and scout bombing targets (the United States has dropped one bomb in Iraq in the past 14 months), Brown, of the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., now spends the few mornings a week that he leaves the safe confines of his base to stand in a walled-in, muddy Iraqi police compound in Habbaniyah, smoking cigarettes with a dozen other soldiers from his platoon. They’re all tasked with providing security for the day’s “mission” - a mind-numbing, 90-minute PowerPoint presentation on disaster management for three Iraqi police lieutenants inside.

From Iraq Today

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
War News for Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reported security incidents

#1: One civilian was killed by an improvised explosive device in western Baghdad, a security source said on Tuesday. “An improvised explosive device went off late Monday (Jan.18) inside a supermarket in al-Jameaa neighborhood, western Baghdad, killing the owner and damaging the supermarket,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#2: “Anti-explosives department managed to defuse another bomb, planted near al-Badiya school in al-Khaleej neighborhood in southeastern Baghdad, without casualties,” he said.

#3: An improvised explosive device went off Tuesday (Jan.
18) near a civilian vehicle, wounding three civilians in al-Iskan neighborhood in al-Doura region, southern Baghdad,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#4: “The second bomb exploded in al-Sidiya region, southern Baghdad, targeting a police vehicle patrol, injuring a civilian and a policeman and damaging the vehicle,” he added.

#5: “A Sahwa official survived an assassination attempt when a bomb exploded near his car, injuring two of his companions, who were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment,” the source noted.

#1: One civilian was killed on Monday in a bomb explosion in north of Babel, according to a security source. “An improvised explosive device went off on Monday near a civilian vehicle in a al-Aasriya region in al-Askandariya district, north of Babel, killing a civilian and damaging more than five vehicles,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#2: Two children were wounded in a bomb explosion in north of Babel on Monday, a security source said. “The two children were playing with the bomb, from the remains of the U.S. war on Iraq, near their house in al-Buhairat region in al-Askandariya district, northern Hilla, when it went off,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#1: A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vest in a crowd of police recruits on Tuesday, killing at least 45 people, officials said. The death toll was still rising more than three hours after police said the bomber joined a crowd of more than 100 recruits and blew himself up outside the police station in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Tikrit police put the death toll at 45, with 140 wounded. Dr. Anas Abdul-Khaliq of Tikrit hospital confirmed the casualty figures.

#1: Police forces found three female Yazidi bodies in north of Mosul, a media spokesman of the al-Shikhan district said on Monday. “Policemen found late Sunday (Jan. 16) three bodies of a mother, her daughter and her sister, on the road between Talkief and al-Shikhan districts, north of Mosul,” Amin Khalaf told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. “The three women are from the Yazidi sect,” he added, noting that this is the first incident of its kind in the region.

#2: Iraqi army forces found on Monday an unknown body of a young man in eastern Mosul, according to a security source. “A force from the Iraqi army found today a bullet-riddled body of a young man in eastern Mosul,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

From AFP

Iraq province cuts supplies to national grid
By Marwan Ibrahim (AFP) – 1 hour ago

KIRKUK, Iraq — Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province said it had stopped supplying electricity to the national grid on Tuesday, in a bold move to force the central government’s hand in a dispute over power rationing.

National Deputy Electricity Minister Aamer al-Duri earlier described the cuts as “illegal” as he said a ministry delegation had been sent to Kirkuk on Tuesday to try to resolve the dispute.

“Kirkuk is not the only province which suffers from power cuts,” he told AFP. “It’s the same for all provinces like Baghdad, Nineveh and others.”

Iraq’s power supply remains drastically short of demand, with homes and businesses nationwide suffering daily cuts and relying on generators to fill the gap, as the war-ravaged country struggles to boost capacity.

Yaljin Mehdi, the head of electricity distribution for the province, said the decision to cut off from the national grid would result in Kirkuk receiving all 500 megawatts produced internally.

Iraq’s electricity demand totals around 15,000 megawatts, compared with total supply of 7,000 megawatts — 6,000 megawatts produced locally, and 1,000 megawatts imported.

A senior US embassy official said on Monday that for Iraq a “big challenge going forward is the race to provide infrastructure and services to the populace and keep pace with expectations.”

“We know come next summer, there’s still not going to be enough megawatts online to provide 24-hour electricity — it’s just not in the cards,” he said at a briefing for foreign press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We saw riots last summer… that’s a concern.”

Angry Iraqis staged violent demonstrations last summer in several southern cities over power rationing as temperatures reached 54 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit).

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose electricity minister resigned following those protests, warned in June that two more years of shortages lay ahead as there was no quick fix to the problem.

Iraq’s infrastructure was devastated during the 2003 US-led invasion and more than a decade of sanctions that preceded it.

From RTT News

Sea Piracy Reaches Alarming Levels: IMB 1/18/2011 1:16 PM (RTTNews) - There has been a record number of ship hijackings in 2010 which indicates the threat posed by sea piracy had indeed reached alarming proportions, a report by the global maritime watchdog International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said Tuesday.

According to IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre which has tracked worldwide incidents of pirate attacks since 1991, buccaneers seized 53 ships and took 1,181 crew members hostage in 2010 while eight seafarers were killed in attacks by the heavily armed outlaws.

“These figures for the number of hostages and vessels taken are the highest we have ever seen. The continued increase in these numbers is alarming,” the Piracy Reporting Centre director Pottengal Mukundan said.

Of the 53 ship hijackings reported last year, 49 took place in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast which also accounted for the 1016 crew members taken hostage. The report said as of December, some 28 ships and 638 hostages were still held captive by corsairs for securing ransom.

The absence of a functional government in Somalia has contributed to the menace and unemployed Somali youth are drawn to piracy by the lure of easy money.

Besides, the IMB report said buccaneers were increasingly using fishing trawlers or cargo vessels as surrogates for mounting attacks on unsuspecting vessels. However, heightened international vigil in troubled waters off Somalia had considerably brought down incidents of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden.

Nevertheless, the success of anti-piracy operations were offset by corsairs who have lately been venturing into uncharted waters of Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean. As for weeding out the scourge, the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based IMB says effective governance in Somalia alone could provide a lasting solution to the problem.

Likewise there has been a steady rise in number of pirate attacks reported last year off Bangladesh, the South China Sea and Indonesia which in the past had witnessed several instances of sea piracy.

by RTT Staff Writer

From NPR

Tunisia’s Days-Old Government Shows Cracks
by NPR Staff and Wires

January 18, 2011 Tunisia’s newly formed unity government showed cracks Tuesday after a handful of ministers abruptly quit and an opposition party threatened to withdraw, moves that could further destabilize the North African nation days after fiery street protests toppled the country’s longtime leader.

The political pressure that brought down autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power continued Tuesday as hundreds of demonstrators massed in the capital, Tunis. Riot police in shielded helmets pummeled and kicked a protester and fired tear gas grenades into the crowd as protesters demanded that the Cabinet be purged of the old guard that served Ben Ali.

At least three ministers resigned Tuesday. The lawmakers — Junior Minister for Transportation and Equipment Anouar Ben Gueddour, Labor Minister Houssine Dimassi and minister without portfolio Abdeljelil Bedoui — were all members of the powerful UGTT labor union, which helped mobilize the protests. It was not immediately clear whether the resignations could bring down the government unveiled Sunday, which has 40 full and junior ministers.

Meanwhile, state TV reported that one of the most vocal opposition parties, Ettajdid, issued a statement Tuesday that it planned to pull out of the coalition government if ministers from Ben Ali’s party did not give up party membership.

NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi-Nelson, reporting from the capital, said most Tunisians are unhappy with the new government but that many others want to give the coalition a chance.

What Next?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

There is something to be said for the southern strategy of sinking the north, the liberals and the labor unions all at once. If they succeed they will be able to sink part of the Obama plan right at the beginning. If they succeed they will put the liberals on the defensive and they will destroy one of the last unionised areas left in private industry in the USA.
Will Obama be able to outsmart the new south and their allies? What has Bush done with his bailout of the Detroit auto industry? According to the UAW the plan has a poison pill built into it. The unions have to accept non union wages equal to those in the south. Toyota and the other foreign auto manufacturers want to put the squeeze on their workers and they know if the union workers in Detroit are broken, then the non union workers in the south will be pushovers.
It is essential that the unions hold the line. If they don’t then there will be nothing stopping the foreign companies from forcing lower wages on the non union workers and that means all over America lower wages. Already labor gets a smaller share of the wealth now than we have since the 1970’s when we reached the most equitable distribution of wealth in the country. Since then it has been down hill and in the last couple of decades debt has replaced earnings as the source of income increase for most Americans. That path has reached the end of the road. The wealthy have only one path left, that of forcing roll backs in wages and benefits. That is not something that most Americans are likely to take without resistance. Without unions how are we to resist? Complaining to the president won’t do much. We have to be organized and unions are how we fight back. Unions and direct action combined are our ways of fighting. The general strike is the ultimate weapon. If we refuse to work.. and occupy the workplace, they can’t do anything but give in and negotiate. Will we take the chance? If we don’t you know the opposition has and is. They have been all along.
The southern states have already given subsidies to these manufacturers. Southern tax payers were paying to keep Mercedes, Toyota and the others in their states. The workers had accepted lower wages already, all to keep the manufacturers from going elsewhere.
These southern governors needed to keep these corporations appeased because in their states they had no laws that would restrict their free movement. The laws that had enticed these companies also made it easy for them to pack up and leave. They had no loyalty to anything but their bottom line. The southerners will do their best to undercut the north and keep industry in their states. Will this strategy of divide and conquer work? We shall see.
As a child I had been a fan of the south in the Civil War. It wasn’t that I was in favor of anything they believed, but I had a romantic attachment to losers and since they had lost the war, I was interested in their struggle. Certainly something of the romance of the chivalry of the south as expressed in movies like “Santa Fe Trail” and the “Charge of the Light Brigade” rubbed off on me.
In fact I was fascinated by the military and as a child I was constantly reviewing and reliving wars. Civil war, World War 2, Roman battles in the Civil war between Cesar and Pompey, or Cesar vs the Gauls. Then there was the current war in Vietnam that I was studying as part of my school project.
Somehow in junior high school I began to become interested in the hippie subculture. I don’t know why, maybe it was the music, listening to songs like Hey Jude on the transistor radio, but somehow I began to change my views. Instead of being pro military I became an anti war advocate. It started in 8th grade. I was studying the effect of the bombing of the north and decided that it would not work. Johnson decided to stop the bombing in the fall of 1968. That would have been when I was in 9th grade. By then I was totally against the war. It wasn’t until the next year, in the fall of 1969 that I actively joined in protests. Prior to that I was merely opposed in the lunch room, class room and at the bus stop. Later I became aware of communism as a theory and studied Marxism, political theory, and feminism with the radicals in Connecticut over the next couple of years.
1971 I moved to Colorado where I studied communal living, construction, landscaping, organic farming, alternative healing and spiritual history with a gnostic group until 1977. We experimented with building geodesic domes, using solar power and raising our own food.
In the spring and summer of 1978 I became interested in the emerging punk scene and started a radio show with a friend of mine in Boulder. I also became interested in anarchism as an alternative to the communist states that seemed to me to be betraying communism not living it. I helped found Rock Against Racism as a means of bringing people of different races together and to counter the Nazi tendencies in punk rock scene.
After that I went to New York and ran an alternative club with the Yippies. I led demonstrations and organized press conferences in the winter of 1979-1980. This was under the auspices of Rock Against Racism which is why I went to New York, to run the chapter there.
In the spring of 1980 I went to San Francisco where I continued my work with Rock Against Racism there and anarchist activism in the community fighting against the gentrification of the Haight district. I hooked up with the Bound Together book collective and joined them.
I have lived in California most of the time since then. I made trips to India, France, back to New York and Connecticut where I grew up. I had children with my partners and even tried to make it as a businessman. At one point in the mid 1980’s I had a print brokerage, a graphic design business and was a salesman for another company. I worked 20 hours a day and made some serious money. But my wife left me, took my son and my heart was broken, I swore off capitalism. Since then I have worked, but never tried to make it rich.
When Regan was elected a darkness came over the land. The dreams of alternative energy, communal living, and coops began to die. Some thought people would rebel. But people gave Reagan a chance, even I decided to give it a try when he got reelected in 84. I quickly realized that the price was too high.
It has taken until now for the rest of America to agree. When Clinton was elected we thought it was going to change but he was simply a republican lite. So what we have now is another chance. Will the republicans pull another coup like in 94 and put the liberals on the defensive?

But now we are seeing the realization of some of our dreams from those days. Solar energy is back, the talk of high mileage cars is back and the oil industry is pulling out the stops to defeat the environmentalists. They have lowered the price of gas just as they put the squeeze on us last year now they have gas back where it was 5 years ago. This cannot be maintained for too long, but they only hope to keep it going long enough to defeat the environmental lobby in Washington. Will they be able to do it? Not this time. Not with the department of Energy in the hands of a scientist who is also a strong believer in alternative energy.
What about the rest of the administration? We have old school in the state and defence, they will probably try and win the war in Afghanistan. What they have to do is hold the line on the oil lanes for a few years and give the country time for massive infrastructure rebuilding for solar, wind and geothermal. If that can be done in the first administration then we can pull back internationally and let the rest of the world keep the oil for itself. But if we can’t build the alternative infrastructure, then we will be stuck defending sea lanes and oil overseas in an increasingly hostile and competitive world.
Why Afghanistan? It is the wedge between Iran, central Asian Oil, China and India. It out flanks Pakistan and keeps India protected. It allows for pipelines from central Asia to be built and keeps the American presence in central Asia. Will it work? Not likely. Unless we intermarry with the locals there will be resistance and those mountains are impossible to hold.
That is why we must build alternative energy here, because the plan to hold Afghanistan is not going to work and they already are planning on leaving Iraq. The pipelines are too hard to protect and too isolated. Any pipe line is going to be blown unless it is in friendly territory. That is not the case in Iraq or Afghanistan.
We need to get our act together, as workers we need to organize, as people we need to end our dependence on oil and the big corporations. Can we do it? We shall see.

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