Category Archives: Vietnam War

Breaking: Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

Note: Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project had the privilege to see one of Pete Seeger’s last concerts in Buffalo, NY on November 9th.  Orin took photos of the event which he posted on his website.  You can view them here.  Pete Seeger was a powerful voice for change and part of the incredible uprising of the 1950s-1970s that helped end a war and stop some of the worst racist abuses in this country.  ¡Pete Seeger Presente!

–The GJEP Team

By JON PARELESJAN. 28, 2014, Source: New York Times

Pete Seeger performs in Buffalo, NY in November 2014.  PhotoLangelle.org

Pete Seeger performs in Buffalo, NY in November 2014. PhotoLangelle.org

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y.

His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.

Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Politics, Vietnam War

“Democracy” needs whistleblowers. That’s why I broke into the FBI in 1971

By Bonnie Raines, January 7, 2014. Source: The Guardian

J Edgar Hoover helped Richard Nixon gain power in the US. Photo: Bettmann/CORBIS

J Edgar Hoover helped Richard Nixon gain power in the US. Photo: Bettmann/CORBIS

I vividly remember the eureka moment. It was the night we broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in March 1971 and removed about 1,000 documents from the filing cabinets. We had a hunch that there would be incriminating material there, as the FBI under J Edgar Hoover was so bureaucratic that we thought every single thing that went on under him would be recorded. But we could not be sure, and until we found it, we were on tenterhooks.

A shout went up among the group of eight of us. One of us had stumbled on a document from FBI headquarters signed by Hoover himself. It instructed the bureau’s agents to set up interviews of anti-war activists as “it will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.”

That was the first piece of evidence to emerge. It was a vindication.

Looking back on what we did, there are obvious parallels with whatEdward Snowden has done in releasing National Security Agency documents that show the NSA’s blanket surveillance of Americans. I think Snowden’s a legitimate whistleblower, and I guess we could be called whistleblowers as well.
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Four decades on, US starts cleanup of Agent Orange in Vietnam

Note: Too little, too late, indeed.  Today, August 10, is Agent Orange Day.  Time for the US government and Dow Chemical to fully admit guilt and implement a serious cleanup program for the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam and the US.

-The GJEP Team

By Thomas Fuller, August 9, 2013. Source: NY Times

Against the backdrop of a field contaminated by Agent Orange in Da Nang, Vietnamese military officers attended a ceremony on Thursday to mark the United States' first big cleanup of war chemicals in Vietnam. Photo: Maika Elan/AP

Against the backdrop of a field contaminated by Agent Orange in Da Nang, Vietnamese military officers attended a ceremony on Thursday to mark the United States’ first big cleanup of war chemicals in Vietnam. Photo: Maika Elan/AP

Forty years after the United States stopped spraying herbicides in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the hopes of denying cover to Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops, an air base here is one of about two dozen former American sites that remain polluted with an especially toxic strain of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases.

On Thursday, after years of rebuffing Vietnamese requests for assistance in a cleanup, the United States inaugurated its first major effort to address the environmental effects of the long war.

“This morning we celebrate a milestone in our bilateral relationship,” David B. Shear, the American ambassador to Vietnam, said at a ceremony attended by senior officers of the Vietnamese military. “We’re cleaning up this mess.”

The program, which is expected to cost $43 million and take four years, was officially welcomed with smiles and handshakes at the ceremony. But bitterness remains here. Agent Orange is mentioned often in the news media, and victims are commemorated annually on Aug. 10, the day in 1961 when American forces first tested spraying it in Vietnam. The government objected to Olympics sponsorship this year by Dow Chemical, a leading producer of Agent Orange during the war. Many here have not hesitated to call the American program too little — it addresses only the one site — and very late.

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Four decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese

By Drew Brown, July 22, 2013. Source: The Sacramento Bee

Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. Photo: Drew Brown/MCT

Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. Photo: Drew Brown/MCT

In many ways, Nguyen Thi Ly is just like any other 12-year-old girl. She has a lovely smile and is quick to laugh. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She enjoys skipping rope when she plays.

But Ly is also very different from other children. Her head is severely misshapen. Her eyes are unnaturally far apart and permanently askew. She’s been hospitalized with numerous ailments since her birth.

Her mother, 43-year-old Le Thi Thu, has similar deformities and health disorders. Neither of them has ever set foot on a battlefield, but they’re both casualties of war.

Le and her daughter are second- and third-generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. Air Forcesprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over parts of southern Vietnam and along the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a deadly compound that remains toxic for decades and causes birth defects, cancer and other illnesses.
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Filed under Politics, Pollution, Vietnam War, War, Women, Youth

Whistleblowers blast NSA programs, award Snowden

July 8, 2013. Source: Institute for Public Accuracy

cdn-media.nationaljournal.com

Edward Snowden has been named recipient of this year’s “award for truth telling” given by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. The following are members of the group or past recipients of the award. The group’s statement is below.

DANIEL ELLSBERG
Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. He wrote an op-ed that was published today in theWashington Post, which notes that “for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. … There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era … There is zero chance that [Snowden] would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado….”

Ellsberg concludes: “What [Snowden] has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.”
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KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: The ecological and human cost of the Iraq War

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ten Years After, Vietnam War, War

The cost of war includes at least 253,330 brain injuries and 1,700 amputations

By Spencer Ackerman, February 8, 2013.  Source: Wired

Neuroimaging techniques like this Siemens software display are used by Army doctors to examine and diagnose traumatic brain injuries. Photo: Siemens, via U.S. Army

Neuroimaging techniques like this Siemens software display are used by Army doctors to examine and diagnose traumatic brain injuries. Photo: Siemens, via U.S. Army

Here are indications of the lingering costs of 11 years of warfare. Nearly 130,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and vastly more have experienced brain injuries. Over 1,700 have undergone life-changing limb amputations. Over 50,000 have been wounded in action. As of Wednesday, 6,656 U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians have died.

That updated data (.pdf) comes from a new Congressional Research Service report into military casualty statistics that can sometimes be difficult to find — and even more difficult for American society to fully appreciate. It almost certainly understates the extent of the costs of war.

Start with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Counting since 2001 across the U.S. military services, 129,731 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with the disorder since 2001. The vast majority of those, nearly 104,000, have come from deployed personnel.

But that’s the tip of the PTSD iceberg, since not all — and perhaps not even most — PTSD cases are diagnosed. The former vice chief of staff of the Army, retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, has proposed dropping the “D” from PTSD so as not to stigmatize those who suffer from it — and, perhaps, encourage more veterans to seek diagnosis and treatment for it. (Not all veterans advocates agreewith Chiarelli.)
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Obama: I have a drone vs. MLK: I have a dream

January 18, 2013.  Source: Institute for Public Accuracy

MLKWhile many are drawing parallels between Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, some activists and analysts state that many of Obama’s policies run totally counter to King’s activism.The group RootsAction states: “Meticulous researchers have documented that U.S. drones are killing many innocent civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Drones are making the world less stable and creating new enemies. Their remoteness provides those responsible with a sense of immunity.”

The Washington Peace Center has a list of protests and other events around the inauguration.

In King’s 1967 book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? he wrote: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” That same year In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech [see text and audio], King said: “What of the National Liberation Front, that strangely anonymous group we call ‘VC’ or ‘communists’? … Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

“I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. … When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. …
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US begins Agent Orange clean-up in Vietnam

Note: Words fail here. Forty years after the damage was done, three generations of destruction…

August 9, 2012. Source: Sydney Daily Telegraph

THE United States has started its first clean-up to eliminate dangerous levels of the carcinogen dioxin left over from the war in Vietnam.

Plans are in motion to excavate and clean 73,000 cubic metres of soil and sediment at Da Nang airport, a former air base in central Vietnam contaminated by the defoliant Agent Orange, the US embassy says.

The chemical was used to clear cover providing sanctuary to communist troops during the Vietnam War. Da Nang airport was used as a storage area for the herbicide.

The soil is to be heated to destroy the dioxin and should be safe to use by 2016, the embassy said on Thursday.

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Kent State survivors seek new probe of 1970 shootings

Note: Forty-two years ago today, US National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University who were protesting the Vietnam War and its expansion into neighboring Cambodia.  Four were killed and nine wounded.  Justice has never been served to the victims of this atrocity.

Four decades later, the US is sending men and women overseas to fight wars for oil at the same time that the very life-support systems of the planet are on the verge of a complete meltdown from fossil fuel-induced global warming and its resulting climate chaos.  These wars enable the 1% to continue their grossly unsustainable lives of privilege at the expense of the rest.

After the Kent State massacre, students rose up across the country.  Hundreds of colleges and universities were shut down by student protests and outrage.

Today the stakes are higher than ever.  Can we share and  learn from the experiences of the movements from the 1960s and encourage a new era of global direct action–a new era of outrage?

The 1% will not change with niceties, permitted marches or orchestrated mass-arrests.  They will not change through the corporate-owned electoral process.  As Frederick Douglass pointed out:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I would add to this that it is not enough merely to demand.  The demands must be backed up by action: action in the form of general strikes, student shut downs and the total obstruction of business as usual.  After all, it is literally our future that is at stake.

–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Reuters

FILE PHOTO 4MAY70 - Students dive to the ground as the Ohio National Guard fires on faculty and students at Kent State University in this May 4, 1970 file photo. MMR/AA
 By Kim Palmer

KENT, Ohio | Thu May 3, 2012 11:23pm EDT

(Reuters) – Survivors of the shooting of 13 students by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970 called on Thursday for a new probe into the incident that came to define U.S. divisions over the Vietnam War.

Four students were killed and nine wounded in the shootings on May 4, 1970 that followed days of demonstrations on the campus after disclosures of a U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia that signaled a widening of the war in Southeast Asia.

Kent State was shut for weeks after the shootings and student strikes closed down schools across the nation.

On the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the shootings, four students wounded that day asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate digitally enhanced audio evidence they believe proves an officer ordered the guardsmen to fire on the unarmed students.

A command to fire has never been proven and guardsmen said they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges were brought against eight guardsmen, but a judge dismissed the case. Wounded students and families of those slain later received a total of $675,000 after civil lawsuits.

The shootings also spawned an investigative commission, numerous books and Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” which became an anti-war anthem. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a teenage girl kneeling over the body of one of the slain students became an enduring image of the tragedy.

In 2010, Alan Canfora, one of the wounded students and director of the nonprofit Kent May 4 Center, asked the Justice Department to review the enhanced recording, which was taken 250 feet from the guardsmen when they fired their shots in 1970.

Canfora and other audio specialists say the enhanced recording shows a clear military order to fire seconds before the shooting. The troops fired 67 shots over 13 seconds.

A Justice Department official closed the matter last month, finding the recordings were still inconclusive.

Canfora, and other wounded students Dean Kahler, Thomas Grace and Joe Lewis, asked Holder on Thursday for a new probe, saying anyone involved in the shooting should be offered immunity to provide information. They asked any surviving guardsmen to come forward with information.

“I was an angry young man for a number of years,” Canfora said. “We have to work within the system. I’ve learned a lot since we were younger. I believe they were ordered to shoot us.”

Kahler, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the shooting, told Reuters: “We want justice in a sense, to have the truth. It would be nice to know what actually happened.

If the United States does not open a new investigation, the May 4 group plans to appeal to the International Court of Justice, the U.N. Human Rights Council or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Canfora said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Peter Cooney)

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