Jan 082020
 

Keith Locke: NZ’s response to Soleimani assassination is shamefully timid

New Zealand’s response to the Soleimani assassination is shamefully timid

Opinion – How can New Zealand claim to have an independent foreign policy when it won’t even criticise America’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian leader? The furthest foreign minister Winston

Peters went was to express “strong concern” at the “heightening tensions in Iraq and the region”.

Peters’ statement could also be read as a justification for the drone killing when he acknowledged “strong US concerns about Iran” and said “the US took action on the basis of information they had”.

In fact, the assassination took place against a background of falsehoods, reminding us of the lies previously peddled to justify the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. President Donald Trump even blamed Soleimani for “terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London” while Vice President Mike Pence fancifully claimed Soleimani “assisted in the clandestine travel” of those involved in the 11 September, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

All we have from the United States are vague assertions that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US interests. More credible is the assertion of the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that Soleimani was in Bagdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government – for negotiations. His visit was apparently not a secret and he was at Baghdad airport in the presence of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a pro-government Iraqi militia leader, who was also assassinated.

Considering New Zealand has soldiers in Iraq, you would think Peters might have shown some interest in what his counterparts in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry thought about the assassination. They said it was “a flagrant breach of Iraq’s sovereignty and of all international laws and norms that regulate relations between countries and prohibit the use of their lands to carry out attacks on neighbouring countries”.

The Iraqi Parliament followed this up with a resolution calling for an end to “the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil”, a resolution targeted particularly at the US military presence.

If he respects Iraqi sovereignty, our foreign minister should set in motion the quick withdrawal of New Zealand soldiers from Iraq. Or will he be supporting Donald Trump, who says that if US troops are forced out he’ll slap sanctions on Iraq, which will “make the Iranian sanctions somewhat tame”?

Add to that Trump’s repeated threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites, which is a clear war crime. How can New Zealand withhold criticism of such madness?

Read full article here

Jul 032019
 

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon

Nearly 18 years after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, a battle is being waged to replenish the fund to support emergency responders and their families.

The existing $7.5 billion fund is in danger of running out of money and there are still some 19,000 unpaid claims. Many of those who worked at Ground Zero in the days and months following the September 11 attacks have developed serious or terminal illnesses due to the toxic chemicals they were exposed to.

John Feal was a 9/11 responder who was injured at Ground Zero and has set up the FealGood Foundation to help those who went to help others in the aftermath of the attacks.

Of the tens of thousands of first responders who worked at Ground Zero, more than 32,000 have since developed respiratory or digestive diseases, more than 700 have died of these. Cancer has affected almost 9,000 people and 600 of them have died. Feal has lost a number of close friends.

“This is now going to last a generation until the very last 9/11 responder that passes away.”

The FealGood Foundation also fights for volunteers who were at Ground Zero, for the people who lived in lower Manhattan, the children in the geographic impact zone and people who worked at the Pentagon. There’s 90,000 people in the World Trade Centre health programme across the US.

“The weight of the world is on our shoulders.”

Feal recently met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to push him to get the September 11 Victims’ Fund renewed.

“On 11 September, 2001, people were told the air was safe to breathe and the water safe to drink, says Feal. “We’re fighting the very people who lied to us for legislation for their lie.”

Compensation was granted in 2015, but only for five years and Feal says he knew that it wouldn’t last until 2020. He says now the fund is running out of money and there’s more than 19,000 people who have to wait to be compensated, with another 20,000 people expected to come forward in the next few years as more and more people are diagnosed.

“We’re truly racing the clock but while we’re still going to get this done, it doesn’t save anybody’s life anymore.”

we ate there, we worked there, we slept there, we cried there, we went to the bathroom there…we did everything there 24/7
What it does do is offer the comfort and relief of financial assistance when people lose loved ones, he says

Feal says the government’s first responsibility is to serve and protect its people and if it cannot do that it shouldn’t be in a position of power.

He describes the cancers that people in the 9/11 community get as “being on steroids”. He says brain cancer usually gives someone a life expectancy of 7-10 years, but for this community it’s a year and a half.

“I know people who have been diagnosed with cancer and died 2 weeks later, they were supposed to die 2 years later.

“What we’re seeing now is that 18 years later they already have a compromised immune system, their body’s not working at 100 percent because the toxins have already crushed their insides, then these cancers pop up and it just destroys them immediately. The absorption through the nose, mouth and skin, has literally killed these men and women, we ate there, we worked there, we slept there, we cried there, we went to the bathroom there…we did everything there 24/7.”

Feal lost his foot while working at Ground Zero.

“I don’t have cancer yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get cancer.”

By 2025, 30,000 people will have cancer because of 9/11, he says.

At first they were begging officials for change, now Feal says, they shame them.

“I think the elected officials in New York City, New York State and D.C know we’re not playing games anymore, they work for us.”
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Jun 072019
 

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“In the 1970s, I met Leni Reifenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany. She told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the public. “Did this submissive void include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked her. “Of course,” she said, “especially the intelligentsia…. When people no longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. Anything can happen.”

John Pilger

Jun 062019
 

t’s been 16 years since the start of the Iraq War, and New Zealand still has troops in Iraq.

It’s far past time to end New Zealand’s military occupation in Iraq. Deployment is scheduled to end on June 30, but we’re not confident that it will. NZ has extended deployment twice already, and is currently talking about extending it again. Enough is enough.

Send an email to your elected officials to urge NZ to get troops out now!

Simply put, the invasion of Iraq has been catastrophic. Iraq lost 1.4 million lives, 5% of its population. On top of that, the war injured 4.2 million people and created 4.5 million refugees. The U.S. military and its allies have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including water supplies, hospitals, and power plants. Birth defects, cancer, and infant mortality rates have skyrocketed.

New Zealand has a responsibility to maintain its independent non-aligned status and be a leader for peace. NZ must not prop up U.S. war-making, and that starts by withdrawing troops from Iraq. Click here to send a message to your elected officials to demand an end to NZ’s military role in Iraq!
For a world beyond war,

Greta Zarro
Organizing Director
World BEYOND War
greta@worldbeyondwar.org

Aug 222018
 

chelseamanning

An Evening With Chelsea Manning

Think Inc. are excited to announce the first visit to New Zealand by the American activist, politician, former US Army Solider and now court-martialled whistle-blower, Chelsea Manning.

Found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning’s life has been nothing short of extraordinary. Set to discuss her time in prison, transgender issues, privacy, and Wikileaks, An Evening With Chelsea Manning will offer a glimpse inside the mind of one of the most controversial figures of the 21st Century.

Manning’s role in the leaking of almost 750,000 pieces of classified or non-classified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents was initially set to lead to a life in prison, before her sentence was reduced by President Barack Obama.

As a child, Manning excelled at science and computers and built her own website at the tender age of 10. She witnessed her parents share a tumultuous marriage before her mother attempted suicide. During this time, Manning was also exploring her gender identity.

Encouraged to join the Army by her father while living as an openly gay man, Manning began training in 2007. She was deployed to Iraq in 2009 where she went on to access and share an unprecedented amount of data, leading her to become one of the most significant whistle-blowers of our time. At the time, she described the data as “one of the most significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

Manning, then U.S. Army intelligence analyst, was found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison. An advocate for transparency of the American government, Manning had her sentence reduced by President Barack Obama in May 2017. Since her imprisonment, Manning has received numerous awards for her role in the leaks, and has established herself as a poster child for both whistle-blowers and transgender rights.

Named by the Foreign Press as one of 2017’s Global Thinkers “for forcing the United States to question who is a traitor and who is a hero” and blurring the line between United States hero and turncoat, it is with great excitement that we bring Chelsea Manning to New Zealand.

 

More about the speaking tour here