Floods and Drones: Natural and Man-Made Disasters in Pakistan

“Wars based on principle are far more destructive…the attacker will not destroy that which he is after.”
~ Alan Watts, “The Way of Zen”

Yesterday, a US drone strike in Pakistan destroyed a home of “suspected militants” killing 20 people among them at least four women and three children.

Instead of humanitarian aid, the US government is bombing the country. Why isn’t this on the mainstream media? Is Tiger Woods’ divorce is more important to Americans than the lives of millions of Pakistanis facing the worst natural disaster in recent history?

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is worse than anything he had ever seen:

“Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away. Roads, buildings, bridges, crops – millions of livelihoods have been lost. People are marooned on tiny islands with the floodwaters all around them (without food, sanitation, medical help, or shelter). They are drinking dirty water. They are living in the mud and ruins of their lives. Many have lost family and friends. Many more are afraid their children and loved ones will not survive in these condition.”

20 million Pakistanis are affected as one fifth of their nation is under water and spreading. This is the US equivalent of the entire states of Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, and Oregon combined. Americans cannot even imagine anything like ever that happening. Katrina was nothing compared to this tragedy.

But how sad and pathetic is it that our government is ordering bombing of Pakistan using drones while the country is drowning, homeless, starving and suffering? These are war crimes being committed.

There are people in America who still worship our Nobel “Peace” Prize winning leader and blindly support his policies of bombing innocent people in places most Americans cannot even point to on the map. War as it is does not bring peace, only misery and these wars against nations that pose no threat to us will only create more angry terrorists bent on killing us (for more on this read Robert Pape’s book “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”.


www.bendib.com – America’s Most Wanted Cartoonist.
The pen is funnier than the sword. Cartoons that speak truth to power.

The American Inquisition: Religious Intolerance at Ground Zero

“Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.” – Thomas Jefferson (Author of the Declaration of Independence)

By now, almost everyone’s aware of the NYC mosque controversy has made its way to mainstream news media, Twitter, Facebook and talk radio. It is breeding a rising hysteria against Muslims. Many protests have gathered now against proposed mosques around the country – in other parts of NYC; Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and Midland Beach, Staten Island and in other states – California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin to name a few mosques that are being opposed.

The big issue in the news this time is a building of an Islamic community center aimed at multi-faith dialog called Cordoba House, open to all faiths in Lower Manhattan more than two blocks away from “Ground Zero” where the World Trade Center once stood. It will house an auditorium, spa, basketball court, swimming pool, classrooms, exhibition space, community meeting space, 9/11 memorial, and, yes, a prayer space for Muslims. That is what the bigots of America find objectionable.

I lived in NYC for 13 years. In this frenzy what people seem to miss is – there was actually a “mosque” (prayer hall) in the World Trade Center itself where people gathered for Friday prayers. Every year Ramadhan is still celebrated in the Pentagon where 184 people died on 9/11. Ramadhan is also observed in the White House every year when the President hosts Iftar dinner. But since this is an election year, politicians have tried to build up the extremist hysteria further – Sarah Palin (on Twitter), Newt Gingrich, Rick Lazio (campaigning to be the next Governor of New York) and others are joining the frenzy of Islamophobists and bigots. On the other hand, I applaud CNN’s Fareed Zakaria for his actions. He returned a medal and award he got in 2005 back to the Jewish Group ADL for their opposition to the community center.

The Cordoba House (the “mosque” as our biased media calls it) is named after the city of Cordoba, Spain – which was capital of Muslim Spain. Around the 10th century that was the most populated and coolest city in Europe.

The Muslim period in Spain (Here’s an article on the subject http://tinyurl.com/2eykgqt) is remembered as a “golden age” – where Muslims, Jews, and Christians living in peace built a vibrant and extraordinary civilization. It had universities and libraries, public baths, roads with street lamps. Literature, poetry and architecture flourished. They had built a flourishing culture and prosperous civilization during a period when London was still a mud hut village and most of Europe was still in the “Dark Ages”.

The Muslim period in Spain began in 711 AD and ended in 1492 AD with the Spanish Inquisition (religious persecution of Muslims, Jews, non-Catholic Christians by the Catholic Church which had banned all other religions). If anyone was found believing in Judaism or Islam, they would be called “heretics” and burnt at the stake.

The founders of America did not declare this a Christian nation but one for any believer or non-believer of religion. Read Thomas Jefferson’s Bill of Religious Freedoms. Jefferson wrote in his Autobiography, in reference to the Bill of Religious Freedoms:

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

The US Constitution guarantees that Muslims in this country have as much rights as do Jews, Christians, Hindus to live or worship freely as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others to do the same. Muslim heritage in this country goes back to Christopher Columbus and his famous voyage of 1492. Columbus’ pilots were Muslim.

What is today happening in America, where Muslims are being prevented from building a place of worship, is just plain hatred, bigotry and racism and nothing but the Spanish Inquisition all over again.

President Obama made a statement in his Ramadhan Iftar Dinner speech which I highly recommend reading – here’s an excerpt:

“But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.”

Read President Obama’s full speech at:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/08/obama-ramadan-iftar-remarks-text.html

http://www.bendib.com - America's Most Wanted Cartoonist. The pen is funnier than the sword. Cartoons that speak truth to power.

Film Review: Green Zone

“Green zone” is an intelligent and gripping thriller. It is loosely based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s non-fiction book “Imperial Life In The Emerald City: Inside Baghdad’s Green Zone”.

The film stars Matt Damon and is directed by British director Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum). Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller whose job is to find the WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq after the invasion. That was the whole reason the US went to war with Iraq in the first place. Going from site to site and finding them empty, he can’t help asking why? Where is the intelligence coming from? Who is telling them that the WMDs are hidden in an abandoned toilet factory? He wants to do the right thing and so searches for the truth.

The film has so many true-to-life in Iraq moments – An Iraqi man approaches the US soldiers to tell them something and gets slammed to the dirt, Iraqis without water and electricity (even today electricity and water is not restored completely – our bombs destroyed the plants), the Bush speech “Mission Accomplished” (after that is really when the war began – over four thousand US soldiers have died since that speech). In the film, the US officials are seen lazing around the pool in Saddam’s palace after the invasion.

Miller finally discovers the truth about the WMDs -they are really lies which isn’t what anyone — the military, the administration, even the public — want to hear.

“Green Zone” is a brilliant film and much better than the “The Hurt Locker” (winner of 6 Oscars).“The Hurt Locker” is really a war propaganda film that does not examine the reasons for the war, or even the fact that the war was based on lies and therefore the soldiers are not fighting for the truth – they are only puppets of the military industrial complex.

“The Hurt Locker” shows how “brave” the US soldiers are (yup – very brave ….they have committed many war crimes – tortured people, raped 14 year old girls, shot innocent families in minivans, and incinerated women and children with white phosphorus violating the Geneva Conventions) and how difficult and valuable their lives are while completely dismissing the lives of the Iraqis whose land they invaded and occupy (British Journal “The Lancet” and America’s top research center John Hopkins estimate that 1.3 million Iraqi lives have been lost due to the US invasion of Iraq. – Source: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq).

Green Zone is more realistic, more hard-hitting, than the typical war movie and is both a slam-bang thriller and a remarkable assessment of the American government’s failures in Iraq, and I completely recommend it.

Watch the Trailer below:


www.bendib.com – America’s Most Wanted Cartoonist.
The pen is funnier than the sword. Cartoons that speak truth to power.