Reporting from Lebanon

This blog contains Dan Winter's live reports from Beirut Lebanon. Dan is a long time peace activist from Boulder Colorado.  He has been to Iraq 3 times and Palestine once.  He is  opening a non-profit office in Beirut to provide services for volunteers and the media.  Contact him for assistance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fw: Global War Between Finance & Democracy



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You can bomb the world to pieces but you can not bomb it to PEACE.


--- On Sun, 6/13/10, Dan Winters <dancwinters@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Dan Winters <dancwinters@yahoo.com>
Subject: Global War Between Finance & Democracy
To:
Date: Sunday, June 13, 2010, 7:03 PM

Hi folks.  Periodically I send out items of interest to my entire email list.  I realize that some of you may not be interested.  Please excuse and feel free to hit the delete button
Dan Winters,  Boulder, Colorado
 
Published on Sunday, June 13, 2010 by Huffington Post

Is there a Global War Between Financial Theocracy and Democracy?

by Les Leopold
Senate and House conferees are about to reconcile a financial reform bill that is virtually designed to institutionalize "too big to fail." And when they do we'll lose another battle in the ongoing war between global financial markets and democratic nation-states.
This war has been going on for decades -- but democracy hasn't always been in full retreat.
The New Deal Conquest: During the Great Depression democratic forces gained the upper hand in the war. We realized that financial markets, which are driven by the largest banks and financiers, had to be tightly controlled. We knew that global speculation on currencies only deepened the Depression and had to be strictly limited. We knew that an iron curtain was needed between commercial and investment banking to protect Main Street depositors from market madness (that was the Glass-Steagall Act). And most importantly we knew that the key to preventing economic upheaval was to limit the wealth of the super-rich and to increase the wealth of working people through progressive taxes, Social Security, wage and hour laws, and the promotion of unionization. The Bretton Woods agreements forged by the Allies during WWII set up strict rules for global finance, rules that kept financiers in check for more than a quarter century.
And it worked pretty damn well. As economist Joseph Stiglitz points out, this era saw only one financial crisis (Brazil, 1964), and working people in western democracies made huge gains. Since the era of deregulation took hold in the late 1970s, the world has suffered over a hundred financial crises and middle-class incomes have stagnated.
The Deregulatory Counter-Offensive: By the late 1970s, bankers regained the advantage through the spread of a new faith in self-regulated markets. The economic apostles of unfettered markets lobbied against progressive taxes, unions, and social welfare programs. The new orthodoxy was: Let the elites collect the money--they'll invest wisely (instead of consuming), and all boats will rise. This near-religious revolution rapidly spread through the economic and policy establishment. Regulations were dismantled right and left, and the revolving door between government and Wall Street started spinning. The American financial catechism ruled the world. And on Wall Street, the money tap was open. It did not trickle down.
Then, suddenly, in 2008, the market gods destroyed themselves as the unregulated financial casinos crashed and burned, just like they did in 1929. For a few months, it seemed like the deregulatory theology become a global heresy. It was obvious that Wall Street's reckless speculation and its bold new wave of financial engineering had caused the Great Recession. (See The Looting of America for an accessible account.). It was also clear that if government didn't come to the rescue, Wall Street would lay in ruins, along with the rest of the economy. This was the perfect moment for democracy reassert democratic control on financial markets, just as we did during the New Deal. We blew it.
The Victory at Too Big to Fail: At the moment when Wall Street was on its knees, we decided to bypass serious reform. Instead, we rebuilt Wall Street, using taxpayer money and guarantees - more than $10 trillion worth. We let bankers use our bailout money to pay themselves $150 billion in bonuses -- at a moment when over 29 million Americans were jobless or forced into part-time jobs. We allowed the top hedge fund managers to walk off with over $900,000 an hour (not a typo) in 2009. Windfall profits taxes? No. In fact we let hedge fund honchos pay an extra-low tax rate by calling their income "capital gains." We didn't restore Glass-Steagall, we didn't break up "too big to fail" financial institutions. In fact the biggest banks became even bigger, courtesy of the U.S. government.
The Invasion against Democracy: The war is escalating. Right now, financial elites aren't just fighting a defensive battle against new regulations. They're playing offense: They're whipping up deficit hysteria around the globe and calling for drastic cuts in middle class programs. Why? They want to ensure that their loans to governments aren't threatened by rising public debt. Ironically, the public debt they're so worried about was created in large part by them -- the result of huge bailouts and other expenses stemming from the crash they caused. Although the bankers want us to dismantle what remains of our worker-oriented policies, welfare for the financial elites is still fine and dandy.
This is the most dangerous counter attack in the history of finance. We had better know a great deal more about the attackers. Who makes up this shadowy force called "global markets"? Who fights their battles? Do they have a high command?
Not really. There is no executive committee of financial elites. There's no international conspiracy, no Elders of Zion. Instead these markets are pulled and pushed by about 50 very large banks and financial institutions. This is where much of the nation's $2 trillion in hedge fund money roams. This is where the top six US banks frolic. They don't have to sit around a table strategizing. They instantly sense threats to their power. They instantly smell profitable openings and they're poised to grab what they can, whenever they can. They thrive on turmoil, which gives them new "proprietary" trading opportunities to exploit. Volatility means big bucks, especially now that the largest players know that the government will back up even their wildest gambles. History has just proven that they are way too big to fail.
Of course they still have to lobby government officials--many of whom either were bankers, or will be once they leave office. But their most powerful lever on government is through the market itself: Here, by moving vast quantities of money around, they can instantly veto policies they don't like. If the EU talks seriously about financial transaction taxes, the markets go down the Euro grows weaker, and interest rates rise--making it more expensive for governments to borrow the money they need to operate. Politicians have learned to "listen" to the markets and are conditioned to placate them.
Should a nation state get out of line (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc), the markets slap them silly. Politicians rush to the scene and start slicing social spending. If instead they demand new taxes on financial elites to reduce public debt, the markets respond with even more fury. Money flees.
All the external machinery of democracy still clanks along. We still pull the levers in the voting booth. But the decisions that affect us the most are made in a profoundly undemocratic way. Faceless financial markets exercise far more control over politicians than the voters who elected them.
So the problem isn't just the corporate campaign contributions, or corporate media control or the academic consensus supporting our financial theocracy. It's the raw power of the markets. They've been roaming free and virtually unregulated for more than a generation, and now their power is unparalleled. Just months after they brought our economy crashing down, they're right back to their old tricks, setting the stage for the next crash and the next bailout while getting filthy rich along the way.
Bill Clinton nailed it on the head when he reportedly said:
"You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my reelection hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fxxxing bond traders?" (See Agenda by Bob Woodward)
No Retreat, No Surrender? There's no room for pacifists in this war. Clearly, Wall Street and its global minions are not seeking a truce. Instead, they're coming after our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. They want us to work longer before we retire and get less when we do. They want us to pay more for health care and get less of it. They want less public money to go to schools, teachers and public infrastructures. And they want us to get used to a jobless recovery with double digit unemployment rates. (And when millions and millions of people are unemployed, we can't maintain high labor standards, and our wages and benefits erode.) In short, they want to undermine all the policies and programs that have built and sustained middle class life.
Already government officials in the UK, Germany and here are telling us we must endure austerity for "decades to come." As Fed Chair Ben Bernanke candidly put it:
"We can see what problems can arise in a country if investors lose confidence in the fiscal position of that country, so it is very important that we address this problem."
Of course, he's not going to point out that this austerity is only for the masses, definitely not for the financial elites. Or that the underlying cause of the debt investors are so worried about is the giant economic crater caused by the very same financial elites who now might "lose confidence" in financing a middle class society.
We shouldn't kid ourselves about the pitched battles ahead. Fighting back won't be easy, and winning will be even harder. People in country after country will have to mobilize themselves in defense of real democracy, in defense of each nation's right to provide its people with a decent quality of life. In my opinion, that includes sustainable jobs with decent benefits and a solid public infrastructure that promotes equity, protects the vulnerable and enriches the environment.
Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that democracy will prevail in the war against financial theocracy -- just recall the totalitarian chaos in Europe during the Great Depression. But don't count it out, either. It's true that many of us regular folks have been diverted by the media, distracted by the Internet or lulled into a stupor by pharmaceuticals. But when we realize that we've been shoved into a corner with no way out, we'll act. A popular struggle will begin. And when it does, we'll at least have a fighting chance to recapture our democratic souls.
© 2010 Huffington Post
Posted in financial reform

15 Comments so far

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redwriteman June 13th, 2010 6:13 pm
There is a time coming that will define which way we will go.
Right now, the media elites primary mission is to keep us diverted from going after the corporate scum that infests society and government at all levels.
Led by Fox News, they are using the divide and conquer stategy (as if those at CD don't know). They have us fighting each other over immigration, abortion, evolution vs creationism, etc. They need any "populist" movement to be the tea partiers and their ilk.
They need to keep us divided and distracted by race, religion, economic tribalism, and false outrage.
Concurrently they have to tighten the economic screws ever tighter so we have to spend all our time scratching out a subsistance living, leaving us little time for political organization.
Its also no coincidence that governments at all levels are aquiring greater and greater police powers in order to nip any real threat to the status quo in the bud.
The question is, when the day of real reckoning comes, will we take a path out of the wilderness like we did with Franklin Roosevelt, or will we follow latter day versions of "populist" corporate fascists like Hitler and Mussolini (inspired by the talking heads on FOX)?
One has to wonder if its already too late and that the government RIGHT NOW has an "emergency" plan ready to activate at any time that would impose martial law "for the protection of the people".
I would like feedback on these observations from the CD community. Thanks.
jj apple June 13th, 2010 5:54 pm
There is certainly a sustained global attack against Democracy by Financial Theocracy -- but I wouldn't call it a war in the US theatre of operations.
War, by standard definition, is suposed to mean two or more organized, actively opposing forces, each fighting the other for supremacy and victory.
In the US, Financial Theocracy is obviously organized, active, and making immense headway -- but it's doing so without any organized opposition.
So here, in the alleged Land of the Free/Home of the Brave, where this Theology has already -- long ago, really -- intellectually/politically/spiritually disarmed its opponents, you'd have to call what's happening a Juggernaught, not a war.
Maybe in Venezuela it could still be called a War.
But definitely not Here.
ardent1 June 13th, 2010 5:43 pm
'No Retreat, No Surrender? There's no room for pacifists in this war. Clearly, Wall Street and its global minions are not seeking a truce. Instead, they're coming after our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.'
It's off the topic some, but really there's really no room for pacifists in the antiwar movement either, if I may say so? Unfortunately we all sat back and let them have the reins on that issue and the result has become continuous Pentagon war. And the National Security State is coming after our SS, Medicare, and Medicaid programs because of that.
gregsdiary June 13th, 2010 5:52 pm
When it comes right down to it--and in light of recent world events--it's really not about "negotiation" and "compromise"--that yeah, you really do have to fight.
gregsdiary June 13th, 2010 5:53 pm
I agree that at heart it's a "war" between those in power (Financial Theocracy) and justice for people (democracy).
But I would add that the greatest obstacle or Achilles' heel--in relation to people mobilizing to challenge those in power--is internal.
It's the so far unquestioned, undisturbed, unrefuted acceptance of injustice by most people--but especially including liberals and progressives.
In fact, when it comes to learning not to challenge those in power, liberals and progressives have not only been excellent students--but expert instructors as well.
In other words, everything this author writes here--each and every convincing argument and insightful point--can all be easily circumscribed or short-circuited by the all pervasive notion--a cult at this point--that people need to be "realistic," "negotiate" and "compromise" when it comes to the prerogatives of power.
bgcd June 13th, 2010 4:36 pm
"This was the perfect moment for democracy reassert democratic control on financial markets, just as we did during the New Deal. We blew it."
What do you mean 'we'? Our elected "leader" did it intentionally.
JenniferBedingfield June 13th, 2010 3:34 pm
"By the late 1970s, bankers regained the advantage through the spread of a new faith in self-regulated markets. "
Actually, there was never such a thing as "self-regulation". It was a matter of changing the wires on who to over-regulate vs who to under-regulate. The change was from regulated capitalism to disaster capitalism. Government has since then oversubsidized their businesses with our taxpayer money and crushed the small banks policy after policy.
Unlike Europe, the USA refuses to do away with "too big to fail" and those of us who are fighting to go small and local are forever facing confrontations and persecutions from our very own brothers and sisters on Main Street who should be fighting with us against Wall $treet. Getting people to think like Europeans is a difficult task especially when our society is so individualist by nature that it would be vulnerable to allowing the "too big to fail" ideology to ruin our society and invade other nations just as it is continuing to do. People can talk crap about Europe failing but looking up closer, one would find that they have the collective efforts and thinking to prevent "too big to fail" from completely taking over even though it will be a bloody battle kicking that ideology off completely. I am optimistic that in the end, Europe will prevail while the USA will be further set back until it changes its attitudes from individualism to collective thinking and actions in conjunction with individual ideas and actions.
Earthian June 13th, 2010 3:27 pm
This is a superb article.
I think to bring about a democracy, it is important to understand the forces and groups who have made our federal government a corporate, militarist, totalitarian plutocracy.
Only then can we oppose those forces with our rights as a sovereign people to govern our nation according to our wishes.
When public policies—domestic, foreign and electoral—come to match public opinion, we'll know that we have created a democratic republic. Until then, we have work to do as citizens.
ubrew12 June 13th, 2010 3:18 pm
Benito Mussolini: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power."
This is a useful quote the next time someone from GlennBeckistan makes the argument that liberals are fascists. Nothing like getting it from the source.
FastEddie75 June 13th, 2010 2:42 pm
"Is there a Global War Between Financial Theocracy and Democracy?"
There was... Democracy lost...
Mordechai Shiblikov June 13th, 2010 2:33 pm
The banks are too big to fail and Obama is too small to succeed.
adnoseum June 13th, 2010 2:32 pm
"Is There a Global War Between Financial Theocracy and Democracy?
DUH! Absolutely. This article is spot on.
But do enough Americans have the audacity to ever come together and unite in countering the massive and intricate offensive being waged against them in a culture so highly divided, individualized, militarized and policed? The social cohesiveness of American society has been ripped to shreds and it will take a multi-generational effort over a protracted long haul to help repair the damage inflicted to it by the global corporatocracy and its economic weapons of mass destruction.
Mordechai Shiblikov June 13th, 2010 2:36 pm
" . . . do enough Americans have the audacity to ever come together and unite in countering the massive and intricate offensive being waged against them . . . "
At this moment, the answer is no. What it will take to make the answer "yes" is beyond me.
wantrealdemocracy June 13th, 2010 3:47 pm
The only way we the people can have the audacity (I would say guts) to come together in fighting back to regain what democracy we had and restore our Constitution is to stop voting for the paid lackeys of the corporations who now hold elected seats in Congress.
If we had representatives who heed the voice of the people,instead of obeying their paymasters, we could take control of our economy from the banksters and put it back with the Treasury Dept as is stated in our Constitution. We must repeal the Federal Reserve Act and establish state banks in each of our united states.
These public banks could lend to busineses that will improve the lives of the people of that state. We, the people, would loan our future tax funds to people living in our state to finance a plan approved by the state as being of use to the people of the state. Borrowing from ourselves could be at very low interest.
Most of our tax funds now go to the banksters to cover the money they create out of smoky hot air in the back rooms at the Federal Reserve. The banksters gamble and if
they lose, we pick up the tab. If they win, they happily continue to screw us.
When one percent of the people have nearly 98% of the money; democracy can not exist. What we have now is a plutocracy. Want democracy? Kick the corrupt out of Congress. Vote out the incumbents and let a fresh breeze blow through those chambers. Get rid of both corporate parties. A 'D' and/or an 'R' is the same carnivorous beast. (and it is your flesh they are eating)
lord_buckley June 13th, 2010 2:27 pm
In the May issue of the International Socialist Revue, there is an article by Arundhati Roy describing her time with the Maoists of the Dandakaranya in central India. These are people who have so far staved off plans by the government of India to commit what can only be called genocide against them on behalf of globalist mining corporations. The Maoists are tribal people that have lived on the land for countless generations - and their resistance has not been peaceful. But is has been successful enough so far to be notable.

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You can bomb the world to pieces but you can not bomb it to PEACE.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fw: VIPs See 'Collapse, Riots' soros & volker



--- On Sat, 2/21/09, cord macguire <cordymac@hotmail.com> wrote:
From: cord macguire <cordymac@hotmail.com>
Subject: VIPs See 'Collapse, Riots'
To: "cord macguire" <cordymac@hotmail.com>
Date: Saturday, February 21, 2009, 8:03 PM

likened to demise of Soviet.  -Cord   Soros Sees No Bottom For World Financial "Collapse" ///////////////////////////////////////// Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE51K0A920090221 February 21, 2009    NEW YORK - Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.  Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.  He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system.  "We witnessed the collapse of the financial system," Soros said at a Columbia University dinner. "It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."  His comments echoed those made earlier at the same conference by Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman who is now a top adviser to President Barack Obama.  Volcker said industrial production around the world was declining even more rapidly than in the United States, which is itself under severe strain.  "I don't remember any time, maybe even in the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast, quite so uniformly around the world," Volcker said.   ***  Brzezinski Warns Of Riots in US  ////////////////////////// by Press TV http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=86350&sectionid=3510203 February 21, 2009    Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has warned that the US could witness riots if economy continues its downward spiral.  "There's going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots!" said Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, in a recent interview with NBC.  "In 1907, when we had a massive banking crisis, when banks were beginning to collapse, there were going to be riots in the streets," he added.  At least 3.6 million jobs have been wiped out throughout the US since the recession began in December 2007. The jobless rate officially reached a 16-year high of 7.6% (11.6 million people) last month.  Earlier this week, a new Federal Reserve report said that US unemployment could increase to 8.8%, causing the economy to contract for a full calendar year for the first time since 1991, when a contraction of 0.2% was registered.  The Obama White House has put forward an array of measures, including a $787 billion stimulus package, in the hopes of reviving the flagging economy.  Brzezinski, meanwhile, made some recommendations to the young administration.  He proposed the creation of a voluntary national solidarity fund, whose contributors would be those who became wealthy in recent times.  "Where is the moneyed class today? Why aren't they doing something: the people who made billions, millions. I'm sort of thinking of Paulson, of Rubin [former treasury secretaries]. Why don't they get together, and why don't they organize a national solidarity fund in which they call on all of those who made these extraordinary amounts of money to kick some back?" he argued.  "I was worrying about it because we're going to have millions and millions of unemployed, people really facing dire straits. And we're going to be having that for some period of time before things hopefully improve," said Brzezinski.   ***

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Money due


Date Borrowed

Principle Borrowed

Interest as of 2/28

12/5/2006

$2,000.00

$27.95

 

1/3/2007

$16,000.00

$149.92

 

2/6/2007

$3,000.00

$11.34

$21,000.00

$189.21

       

Date Borrowed

Principle Borrowed

Interest as of 12/31/07

Total Owed

3/1/2007

21,189.21

1,065.85

 

4/1/2007

10,000.00

452.05

31,189.21

1,517.90

32,707.11


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You can bomb the world to pieces but you can not bomb it to PEACE.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

test



Just trying to make an email list.  No message follows.  Dan
 



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You can bomb the world to pieces but you can not bomb it to PEACE.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I have Left Lebanon

I have left Lebanon and will be in the US on October 18.

Disarm Hezbollah ? - aint gonna happen

A few days ago I went to a massive ralley to hear Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, speak in Beirut. I was somehow able to get into the press box so that I was only about 50 feet from the podium.

I got the full effect of his dynamic style of speaking as well as the immense roar of perhaps 300,000 people behind me.

There was no question as to the approval he was receiving from the mass of people behind me. I will guess that the only reason Israel did not bomb - glad of that- was that such a killing of civilians would be over the top even for them.

In talking with ordinary people, and others, in the south of Lebanon there is no discussion about even thinking of disarming. When I asked a local if there were Hezbollah near by he laughed and asked - is anyone here not Hezbollah - but never really answered the question.

In the local press, just the day prior to Nasrallah speaking, General Alain Pelegrini, the head of the UN forces implied that the UN will disarm Hezbollah if the Lebanese Army did not (the main battle tank for the Army is the old Russian T54 or T52 tank - which was 10 years obsolete during the first gulf war of 1991).

As I read what Pelegrini said I thought this was an excellent way to go to war. The only way to disarm Hezbollah would be to break into civilian houses and point weapons at the families = a sure way to win hearts and minds. You can imagine that the response would be immediate and fierce. I could not believe he would imply such a dangerous course of action.

I guess I was not the only person to wonder about what Pelegrini was thinking of, if in fact he was thinking at all. The very next day, in large type, was another newspaper statement, from Pelegrini, saying that \the mission of the UN was NOT to disarm Hezbollah/. He probably got a very quick call from UN headquarters.

About what the Christian and some other sects think of Hezbollah is a bit hard to quantify. I did ask the question of a number of people in the mostly Christian area of Beirut. I got a general feeling - very unscientific- that perhaps fifty percent, or more, did not approve. I also asked if they thought there might be another civil war. Perhaps 10 per cent said yes. This did not take in areas north of Beirut which also have heavy Christion and Druz populations.

In conclusion, the UN will be there for a long time. If Israel finds itself under what it perceives as a threat from Lebanon (read Hezbollah) it will attack right over the UN. This will, of course, put the US in a difficult position. What will Syria do if this happens? Unless Israel hits Syria I do not think they will fire anything but words. Syria does not pose a serious military threat to Israel. Iran, on the other hand, is well Iran ...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cluster bombs - the gıft that keeps gıvıng

I wrote the followıng pıece, to the Denver Post, about cluster bombs.

Senators Allard and Salazar recently voted not to prohibit the United States from continuing to manufacture cluster bombs. I write from Lebanon to express total dismay at their vote. If they had sufficient information they would have voted otherwise.

Cluster bombs or cluster munitions spread bomblets - small bombs - over a wide area, many of which do not explode on impact but remain live, and lethal. When they strike the ground they explode and release deadly shrapnel. However, over 25% of the bomblets do not explode but remain live.

The live bombs, the size of cell phones, are an especial problem for civilians who work or live in the area. Children are prone to see them as attractive nuisance and kick them or try to pick them up Even to touch a bush, on which they are hung up, can make one explode. The damage is extreme or deadly to that person and others nearby. Therefore, these weapons are deadly in three ways: first, they explode in the air, second, they explode upon contact with anything and third they act as land mines when they do not explode. Some of these cluster bombs have been found, still live, from their first use, by Israel in Lebanon in 1978.

The United States manufactures and sells tens of thousands of cluster munitions. The United States conditions the sale of these munitions, to foreign countries, with the provision that the purchasing country not to use them in civilian areas. Israel has not abided by these conditions.

Shortly after the cease fire went into effect, in August, the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Israel of "completely immoral" use of cluster bombs in Lebanon. He also said that 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 sites have been found. As of September 24 the Mine Action Coordination Center, in South Lebanon, told me that the updated numbers are now one million cluster bombs at 590 sites. So far 104 have exploded kıllıng 14 and woundıng 90 - civilians.

Human Rights Watch executive director, Kenneth Roth, said "they should never be used in populated areas". There are documented cases of cluster bombs found in the middle of civilian areas ? far to numerous to be random accidents or collateral damage ? they are the result of, at best, a disregard for where they are used.

Amnesty International has called for the US to halt selling cluster weapons.

I visited a facility in the ancient city of Sidon, where they make artificial arms, legs, hands and feet. The facility produces very basic prosthesis; however, they are of great benefit to a child who had both legs amputated. The center has lost its funding, from the Lebanese government, for staff and material. The staff has been reduced from 12 to 3 and must now charge for a service they previously provided for free. I was told that they expect a large influx of patients due to the continued explosions from cluster bombs.

The victims are still in hospitals recovering from the amputations. What seems particularly grievous, on the part of Israel. is that over 80% of the bombs were dropped in the last 3 days prior to the cease fire - after it was known that a cease fire would be in effect. In addition the United Nations has repeatedly asked that Israel turn over maps detailing the areas it targeted with cluster bombs. Israel has not complied in any meaningful manner. A good source of information can be found at www.stopclustermunitions.org

The United States is just one of just one of less than ten countries that have refused to sign the International Land Mine Treaty. This is indeed interesting given that an American received the Nobel Peace Prize for her world wide work on the issue. The production, sale and use of cluster munitions must be included in future discussion of the land mine issue.

I sincerely hope that Senators Allard and Salazar will not only change their vote on prohibiting cluster munitions but will now lead the United States senate in such an endeavor.

Dan Winters is in Lebanon representing The Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center and the Colorado Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. He has a blog at www.daninlebanon.blogspot.com

Dan C. Winters; 1450 Ithaca Dr; Boulder, CO 80305 303 444-8405
Carolyn Bninski of the Rocky Mtn Peace & Justice Ctr can verify that I am in Lebanon

Monday, September 18, 2006

TELL US OR WE KILL YOU AND YOUR FATHER

I went to the ancient city of Baalbek deep in the Bekaa Valley. Baalbek was, and is, the seat of the Hezbollah party. There were 7 of us in a mini-van from Beirut - about a two hour drive. 3 Dutch human rights observers, an American-Palestinian, and 2 women from the International Action Center (IAC) of Ramsey Clark. I knew one of them, Sara Flounders, with whom I had been in Iraq in 2001with a Ramsey Clark delegation. The main reason was to see and talk with ordinary citizens and anyone else about their experiences.

We did spend one hour at what The Lonely Planet guide calls "Baalbek, Is the most impressive ancient site in Lebanon and arguably the most important Roman site in the Middle East. Its temples were built on an extravagant scale that outshone anything in Rome".

We arrived in Baalbek in mid-morning. We saw some of the damage inflicted by the Israeli Army. By comparison it was nothing like what we saw in other towns (I previously described the total destruction of Aaita Al Shaeb in my blog at http://www.daninlebanon.blogspot.com/ titled The Painted Lady). 'Nothing like' is a rather strange term when describing the destruction of people's lives and property. But in war we often use relative terms.

For background: About 10 days into the war the Israeli military surprised everyone with a raid, by helicopter, on Baalbek. They entered a hospital, searched homes and took five men to Israel. At the time it was thought that Israel was looking for high officials in Hezbollah or even for Nasralla himself.

When we got to Baalbek 75 year old Hajj Abrahim Jamal would translate at the home of Mr. Hassan Nasralla (not THE Nasralla). Mr. Nasralla had his eldest son taken to Israel during the raid.

I will now write what Mr. Nasralla said via Hajj Jamal (Hajj is a prefix of honor or to designate someone who has been to Mecca - he said he had been there).

"American F16 planes fired on the town and then the helicopters landed. The F'16's continued to circle above the city. Perhaps 200 soldiers left the helicopters and some surrounded our small section of the town. They told all 14 of us to get out of the house and stand in the street with our hands in the air. They asked where is Nasralla - and I answered I am Nasralla. But they were not looking for this Nasralla.
I have three sons - the 5 year old - with his hands in the air cried don't kill me.

Next they put plastic handcuffs on five men including my eldest son (not sure of his age - Dan) and also our 13 year old son. The marched them up the mountain. We did not know if we would see them again. They walked the men for over an hour and then halted. My 13 year old son was pulled aside and a soldier put a rifle to his head and demanded to know where Nasralla was. My son did not respond. The soldier, still with the rifle at my sons head again demanded to know where Nasralla was and said if you do not tell me who is Hezbollah I will kill you and then go back and kill your father. My son said I am not Hezbollah. (my thoughts > it is not possible for me to put myself in the boys place - just consider that the boy had every reason to believe that he would be killed and still kept quiet - Dan).

At this point the soldier told my 13 year old to go back down the mountain, still with his hands behind his back. On the way home an Israeli drone flew overhead. A few minutes later the road in front and behind was struck by some kind of explosive from the drone. My son was not injured and returned to us.

The 5 other men including my older son were taken to Telavive (bad spelling) in Israel.
They were released about 21 days later and returned via the UN forces and then the Lebanese Red Cross. My son said he hardly slept during his captivity because of worries for his wife and child. My son said that they were subject to repeated interrogation but they were not otherwise ill treated.

We did not get to the hospital; however, we were told that some of the equipment had been destroyed by the military; however, the damage was 'light'. We were not able to confirm this.

In conclusion, he said, most Lebanese Shiites like Americans but not George Bush.
I was shocked, simply shocked at this view of our beloved president (just in case there is an unauthorized reader of my emails !!!).
Peace, Dan