U.S. State Department: United States Uses Casualties to Support Military Action; Pentagon Declined to Count Civilian Casualties Caused by U.S.’s War Conduct
Military action is wasteful in terms of human lives, lost potential, and money. The focus should be on uniting as human beings for the good of human beings, not endless wars waged on poor countries by rich countries. Military action is not justified in Syria; reliance on body counts to justify action is also hypocritical when the U.S. government refuses to count the people killed as a result of its own military actions.
Today, U.S. State Department provided a count of the casualties caused by the chemical weapons attack in Syria–1,429:
A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information. (page 1)
Yet, when the United States was asked to provide a count of civilians killed in its military action waged in Iraq, U.S. General Tommy Franks said, “We don’t do body counts.” Yet, the United States government is conducting a body count today.
The chemical weapons attack in Syria is offensive, but there are judicial bodies set up to bring people to account for their wrongdoing. Bombs and military action are blunt instruments; no one can control the devastation they cause. How accurate are these bombs? Can all people be convinced that this proposed bombing will only hurt the targets of the operation? Suppose the bomb goes astray and kills innocent civilians instead. What would be the response of those who dropped the bomb?
The United States must avoid taking sides in a civil war. Instead, it should focus on getting the disputing sides to peacefully negotiate their differences and end the bloodletting.
David Ignatius: Military Action Against Syria Not Justified; Statement to Support Warmongering Deceptive
In a column, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius mentioned a disagreeable statement:
“Among Egyptian generals, Saudi princes, Israeli politicians, and other conservative players in the Middle East, the consensus seems to be that [U.S. President Barack] Obama is a weak president–and that they need to rely on themselves for security.”
This statement is disingenuous because it assumes that power to strike militarily is equally shared. It is not; thus, Ignatius is putting forth an argument that is meant to encourage yet another misadventure in the Middle East. The United States has long had sanctions against Syria, yet now is the time for another regime change operation, after the Pyrrhic victories of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, an objective look at the facts shows that Ignatius’s intentions with his column are less than pure and, thus, are best to be ignored.
|State||United Nations P-5 Member||Population (in millions)||Nuclear Weapons||Gross Domestic Product (in U.S. dollars)|
|United States||Yes||313.9 (2012)||Yes||14.99 trillion (2011)|
|United Kingdom||Yes||62.74 (2011)||Yes||2.445 trillion (2011)|
|Russia||Yes||143.0 (2011)||Yes||1.858 trillion (2011)|
|Israel||No||7.766 (2011)||Yes||242.9 billion (2011)|
|Egypt||No||82.54 (2011)||No||229.5 billion (2011)|
|Saudi Arabia||No||28.08 (2011)||No||576.8 billion (2011)|
|Syria||No||20.82 (2011)||No||59.15 billion (2010)|
|Iran||No||74.8 (2011)||No||331.0 billion (2010)|
|Lebanon||No||4.259 (2011)||No||40.09 billion (2011)|
|Iraq||No||32.96 (2011)||No||115.4 billion (2011)|
|Afghanistan||No||35.32 (2011)||No||19.18 bilion (2011)|
Source: For population and gross domestic product, Google. For nuclear weapons, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat. For United Nations, www.un.org/en/sc/members/.
In this post, I am updating the tables in a previous post with 2012 and some 2013 numbers.
The first chart below shows the amount of subsidy funding that Metro receives from Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. The second chart shows Metro’s income from fares and parking fees. It seems that the states and the passengers essentially share equally in paying for the operating expenses of Metro.
The third chart shows the number of trips taken in Metro vehicles. Rail trips declined, while bus trips increased. It would be interesting to find out reasons for these numbers.
|State||Amount of Funding|
|(components are rounded; in millions of dollars)|
|FY 2010||FY 2011||FY 2012||FY 2013|
|District of Columbia||201.6||214.15||233.3||249.1|
*Actual amount comes from Metro’s statement of cash flows.
|Passenger Fares and Parking Fees|
|(rounded; in millions of dollars)|
|FY 2010||FY 2011||FY 2012||FY 2013|
|Actual*||727.8 (6/30/10)||804.5 (6/30/11)||816.7 (6/30/12)|
*Actual amount comes from Metro’s statement of revenues, expenses, and changes in net assets. This statement does not identify parking fee revenue; I used the total revenue amount in the table.
|(in number of trips)|
Data for 2010 comes from Metro’s 2010 Media Guide. Data for 2011 and 2012 comes from Metro’s Metro Facts.
Private meetings with Investment Professionals Inappropriate; Attendees Acquire Valuable Nonverbal Information
The Washington Post had an article describing how political intelligence firms are setting up meetings with staff members of the White House in order to provide ostensibly public information to interested persons in private meetings. These meetings also occurred with congressional staff. All of it is inappropriate, as nonverbal information is also given out at these meetings; information that would not show up on transcripts, yet is very valuable to these elites. No normal citizen, without significant personal wealth or political connections, would be able to have such access.
These private meetings with investment professionals with congressional staff and now White House staff are not innocent or just taxpayers seeking information. These meetings are an thinly disguised effort to gain nonverbal information not available to the public. If all these Wall Street staff wanted is public information, why do the appropriate press offices of the various government offices just provide a link to the information on their websites? Why are not these discussions of public information video recorded and posted publically so that all taxpayers may benefit?
This type of meetings must end because the information provided at the cost of the taxpayer is only provided to a select few elites to make a huge profit or gain advantage over others.
President Barack Obama and “Colorblindness”: Disappointing, Unfair, and Harsh Statements concerning Blacks Made in His Morehouse College Graduation Speech
President Barack Obama made statements at the Morehouse College graduation that immediately caused concern upon hearing him state it. I am disappointed with this speech in general as a result. Apparently, the President attempted to cover-up these thinly veiled attacks with feel-good stories in the speech. Hence, I was initially on the fence about it. But once I applied questions to the statements, the speech started to fall apart (to my dismay).
The statements to which I refer follow.
“I understand there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: “Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.” Well, we’ve got no time for excuses. Not because the bitter legacy of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they have not. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; we know those are still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil** — many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did — all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything that you have not earned. (Applause.)
Nobody*** cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and they overcame them. And if they overcame*** them, you can overcome them, too. (Applause.)”
My comments for the asterisked (mine) words indicated in the quotes are below.
**First, what Black person ever expects that he or she will be given anything in the United States of America, where for many of them their ancestors were in bondage as slaves or suffered under the Jim Crow policies? Spreading this idea worldwide with the insertion of students from BRIC countries does not make the assertion any more apt because those students are likely to find jobs in their own countries. Brazil, in particular, has its own issues with race, so easily glossed over with the President’s broad-brush statement. Black (and mixed-race) people in Brazil face the same systematic discrimination issues as Blacks in the United States. The college students in the jobs competition President Obama speaks of in his speech are very likely to be light skinned and wealthy.
”Going to university in Brazil is not a mass experience, as in the United States. And only a quarter of places are in public institutions. Other government education programmes, such as creche-building in poor neighbourhoods, better literacy training for teachers and subsidies for poor students who attend private universities, will improve the lives of many more black Brazilians than the quota programme. But public universities are more prestigious—and barred from charging fees by the constitution. That their places have long gone disproportionately to the 12% of Brazilians who are privately educated, most of them rich and white, is hard to swallow.”
***This paragraph of the President’s speech is exceptionally harsh, especially considering the fact that no matter how hard a Black person works individually, that person (being a college graduate is understood to be hard working) will not be able to overcome the disproportionate distribution of social power (which heavily favors the White population). This reality has been covered many times in this blog. The words “nobody cares” and “overcame” in light of the racial reality being discussed is therefore excessive.
“Colorblindness”: Without Clear Explanation of the Hegemonic Power Structure in the United States, Blind Use of Initiatives to Determine Human Rights Can Have Unfair Results for the Minority Group
The use of ballot referenda to amend the definition of rights that primarily affect a minority group should not be allowed. (I have argued this position before in the blog.) This issue was somewhat hinted at in the majority opinion of Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by any Means Necessary (BAMN) v. Schuette (6th Cir. Nov. 15, 2012).
United States (population: 308,745,538) (2010 Census)
|Race||Percentage of population||Number|
While the majority opinion had a similar argument as on this website, it is hard to see the specific issue raised without the Census data describing the population of the state of Michigan. Without this critical piece of information, the argument defaults to a “majority wins” argument (that is, presuming the racial categories have equal social power (which is not the case within the United States of America), which prevails in the dissenting opinions.
Michigan (population: 9,883,640) (2010 Census)
|Race||Percentage of population||Number|
Also disconcerting was the low attention placed on the effect of ballot referenda on protected groups. Given Michigan’s population, opponents to Proposition 2 were effectively shut out of the process.
The ballot referendum being examined in this case, Proposition 2, was a Ward Connerly initiative that was funded by right-wing groups. (I have analyzed the Connerly’s wording of the initiatives earlier in the blog.)