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Bombing Afghanistan = Making More Terror * Shame in the House * GMO Alert!

29 October 2001

As winter closes in for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and the bombing continues in Afghanistan, it is getting more and more evident that bombing this starving nation, and harming more innocent people, is counterproductive. A primary concern must be of humanitarian interests, and learning more effective ways for justice and peace to co-exist. Item four is a follow-up article on the Flyby News previous issue on the House of Representatives' shameful vote last week. Item five is an alert for a toll free call to try to stop the House from passing legislation this week, which would not allow the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

1) Starvation in Afghanistan Will Produce 1,000 Bin Ladens
2) 10 Reasons to Stop Bombing Afghanistan
3) U.S. Planes Bomb a Red Cross Site for Second Time
4) Shame in the House of Representatives
5) Labeling Under Attack in Fast Track Legislation


1) Starvation in Afghanistan Will Produce 1,000 Bin Ladens

by Stanley Heller

The Bush Administration is not taking the threat of Afghan starvation seriously. On October 17 six respected aid agencies begged for a stoppage in the bombing until they could supply the destitute Afghans for the winter. Their request was turned down. James Dao in the New York Times [October 20] stated that "as many as 7.5 million people could be at risk for starvation by the end of the year".

What will the long term consequences be if 100,000 or 500,000 Afghans die this winter? Will the universal reaction be, "It's all Bin Laden's fault"? Not a chance. President Bush will be sowing a hatred that will come back to haunt us. We will be killing one Bin Laden and growing 1,000 new Bin Ladens in his place.

Jonathan Schell reported in The Nation [11/5/2001] that on October 12 Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and now the United Nations commissioner for human rights, sounded a sharp, warning. She called for a halt to the bombing of Afghanistan in order to permit humanitarian aid--above all, food--to be sent into Afghanistan before the winter snows cut off access to the population. "It is a very, very urgent situation," she noted. "It is very hard to get convoys of food in when there is a military campaign.... You have millions of people, they say up to 7 million, at risk." And she asked, "Are we going to preside over deaths from starvation of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people this winter because we did not use the window of opportunity?"

On the 17th Oxfam International, Islamic Relief, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Tear Fund and Action Aid called for the bombing halt. In their press release they noted:

* Some 400,000 people are thought to be already having to survive on wild vegetation and essential livestock

* Two million people do not have enough food aid to last the winter, and of those, 500,000 will be cut off by snow by mid November

* Millions more are on the move and we just do not know the scale of their need. The UN says 5.5 million people are short of food

* UN food stocks within Afghanistan are now down to just two weeks' supply (9,000 tonnes).

The Guardian (UK) [10/14] reported that A "climate of fear" prevents truckers and labourers loading or unloading food, driving deep into Afghanistan, or staying overnight in Afghan towns.

"We have 1000 tonnes of food stuck in Quetta in Pakistan," said Islamic Relief director Dr Hany el Banna. "It is enough for 50,000 people but we need 60 trucks and we cannot find truckers to take it in because of their fears."

The worst affected area, Hazarajat, in the central highlands of Afghanistan, had received none at all and people would start dying soon said Sam Barratt spokesman for the of the humanitarian organization Oxfam.

The Bush Administration has turned down the pleas of the aid agencies and has instead launched air drops of ready to eat meals. But that's no solution. The amounts that could be flown in can't possibly match what was trucked in. On October 10 the Nobel Peace Prize winning Doctors Without Borders said in a statement, "What is needed is large scale convoys of basic foodstuffs, rather than single meals designed for soldiers." Dr Jean-Hervé Bradol, speaking from Pakistan for the group said the affects of the airdrops would probably be "minimal".

The Clinton administration was blind to the effects on civilians of it sanctions on Iraq. The hundreds of thousands of deaths were explained away as "Saddam's fault". Americans bought it. It didn't seem to matter that the deaths caused intense anger in Arab and Muslim countries. They were powerless, so who cared. Then comes the 911 catastrophe. Looking back at Bin Laden's videos we notice that mixed in with his religious rantings are angry comments about the deaths in Iraq. Was he sincere? Who knows? Does what happened in Iraq justify the atrocity against the Twin Towers? Absolutely not. But we are fools if we think U.S. actions in Iraq and other Mideast hotspots didn't help produce the rage which Bin Laden harvested for his own sick plans.

It's a law of human society that massive injustice creates a powerful reaction, some wise, some confused, some heroic and some monstrous. If the U.S. war on Afghanistan leads to widespread starvation we will be planting the seeds of future and momentous grief not just for Afghanistan, but for America and the world.


2) 10 Reasons to Stop Bombing Afghanistan
by Don Hazen, AlterNet
October 19, 2001

Despite almost universal agreement that America "needs to do something" in response to terrorism, our heavy bombing of Afghanistan increasingly looks like a bad idea. While virtually all of us feel that strong steps should be taken to apprehend anyone behind the massive murders on September 11, when you add up all the facts, the pulverizing of a battered country just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Instead, by bombing Afghanistan, we are ...

1. Creating new terrorists. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent civilians have already been killed by U.S. bombing in pursuit of Osama bin Laden. The Pentagon has confirmed numerous instances of "collateral damage," including a 2,000-pound bomb that struck a residential area near Kabul.

The United States' perceived disregard for collateral damage may lead many to conclude that we are waging a war against Muslims writ large. In so doing, we are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of people who are necessary in the fight against terrorism.

2. Generating refugees. Our attacks on population centers are causing a huge refugee problem that neighboring countries can't handle. By October 12, 350,000 people had amassed in the northern Panjsher Gorge and over 150,000 had fled to the provinces of Tahor and Badakhshan. United Nations officials predict that 1.5 million will leave their homes, risking mass starvation in the brutal Afghan winter to escape the bombings.

Moreover, the U.N. refugee agency has been forced to halt work at six planned refugee camps on the Pakistan border because of opposition from Afghan tribal groups. Food convoys that previously entered Afghanistan by truck have been forced to indefinitely halt their shipments.

3. Ushering in regime as bad as the Taliban. The bombing campaign may well usher into power the Northern Alliance, a group some say is even more brutal than the already brutal Taliban. To many, this is a proposition fraught with peril. During their brief time in power from 1992 to 1996, the Northern Alliance scored poorly in the peaceful governance and human rights departments. And while intense efforts are underway at forming a broad pan-Afghan political coalition of anti-Taliban parties, some veteran diplomats and intelligence officers are skeptical that such a confederation would survive after a victory over the Taliban.

4. Increasing drug flow from Central Asia. A corollary to #3 -- if the Northern Alliance takes power, experts predict a new flood of heroin across the globe. According to U.N. officials, Afghanistan produces about 75 percent of the world's opium, which is used to make heroin.While the Taliban government attempted to slow down heroin production in large parts of Afghanistan (and largely succeeded), the Northern Alliance has continued to distribute heroin to help fund their efforts. If our bombing campaign helps ousts the Taliban, opium growth and sales will instantly soar.

5. Aiming at the wrong target. The suicidal hijackers who crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon where all from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan. Rich Saudis fund and encourage the violent, fundamentalist breed of Islam from which the hijackers came. The religious schools that breed the radical mujahdeen, including many who have joined the Taliban Army, are mostly in Pakistan. Iraq and Iran fund and support terrorists. In other words, the terrorists are spread across many nations and not all harbored in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, numerous experts link the September 11 hijackers to an Egyptian group, Gama'at al-Islamiyya. Founded by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, currently serving a life sentence for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Gama'at al-Islamiyya is best known for the November 1997 massacre of 62 tourists at the Temple of Luxor in Egypt and the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981.

6. Destabilizing Pakistan. Our bombing raids are destabilizing Pakistan, our reluctant ally with nuclear capabilities to the South and East of Afghanistan. Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, has presented his country as wholly allied with the U.S. against terrorists, but in fact many of his top officials remain dependent on a little-known but powerful fundamentalist party called Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam. Known more simply as JUI, this group helped incubate the Taliban -- and it may now spark civil war in its home country.

7. Turning bin Laden into a media superstar. By focusing huge amounts of energy on demonizing and pursuing one person (despite the existence of thousands of terrorists in the al Queda network), we have made Osama bin Laden larger than life.

Among many groups, bin Laden is viewed as a strong and powerful person who has evaded U.S. capture in the three years following his suspected involvement in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. People's affection for him lies not in his alleged terrorist activities, but in the strong anti-American sentiment that grips this part of the world. If our bombs finally strike him, or he is otherwise killed, he will become a celebrated martyr of the Muslim world.

8. Unfairly punishing a helpless population. To bring one man and his small band of followers to justice, we are heaping devastation on a powerless population that is already completely impoverished by war. Nobody in Afghanistan voted the Taliban into power in 1994; they seized and now maintain power by force. To "pressure" the Afghan people with a deadly bombing campaign, when they have no political power anyway, defies America's sense of fairness.

9. Being lured into a trap. Afghanistan is historically a quagmire, the only Central Asian country never conquered by Europeans. From 1979 to 1989, the Soviet Union poured untold monies and lives down the drain in an unwinnable guerilla war against Afghanistan. By being sucked into investing huge resources to find bin Laden, we could find ourselves stuck, ambushed and preoccupied, while terrorists go on with their work from many other Muslim countries.

10. There are smarter ways of fighting terrorism. Call it what you want -- "blowback," the law of unintended consequences, bad karma -- but we continue to dismiss the long-term impact of our powerful desire to find bin Laden. Lots of smart, experienced people suggest that the large-scale, clumsy, overkill approach of the U.S. military is the opposite of what we need to contain terrorism and find bin laden.

Why not treat terrorists like the criminals they are, building a long-term, world-wide coalition to stop terrorism that includes the U.N. and world court? If we use the media more effectively instead of operating in secret, and invest the billions of dollars we are spending to pulverize Afghanistan to address social and economic needs around the globe, we will be on a more productive path toward making the world safer from terrorism.


3) U.S. Planes Bomb a Red Cross Site for Second Time

October 27, 2001- NYTIMES


U.S. Planes Bomb a Red Cross Site for Second Time


WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 — American warplanes bombed and largely destroyed the same Red Cross complex in Kabul that they struck 10 days ago, an error the Pentagon admitted tonight, saying it occurred because military planners had picked the wrong target.

The bombing took place just after a detailed review by Pentagon and Red Cross officials of the places where the relief agency has installations in Afghanistan. That meeting, which followed the first bombing of the Red Cross compound, was designed to prevent exactly what happened today.

One of the American aircraft that had been ordered to hit the Red Cross supply warehouses missed its target and hit a residential neighborhood instead. The attack on the Red Cross buildings by two Navy fighter-bombers and two B-52's, came in two waves today, first in the early morning darkness and again shortly before noon, using satellite-guided bombs that wrecked and set ablaze warehouses storing tons of food and blankets for civilians.

The Pentagon said tonight that it "sincerely regrets" the strikes on the neighborhood and the Red Cross complex, which had been put off limits by military planners after the bombing of the same complex on Oct. 16. At that time, the Pentagon said it was unaware that the buildings were used by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

But since then, the Pentagon sent a representative to the relief organization's headquarters in Geneva to ensure that such mistakes would never happen again. They exchanged detailed information on Red Cross' sites in Kabul and on the movements of relief trucks that might look like military targets.

A statement issued by the United States Central Command Tampa, Fla. which is in charge of the war and manages the selection of targets, attributed the latest mistake to "a human error in the targeting process."

In other words, the pilots dropped their bombs where they were instructed, and the bombs mostly hit the targets at which they were aimed. The bomb that struck the residential neighborhood did so, the Central Command said, when the guidance system malfunctioned on an FA-18 jet.

The Red Cross seemed stunned by the Pentagon's admission today. "Whoever is responsible will have to come to Geneva for a formal explanation," said Kim Gordon-Bates, the Red Cross spokesman there. "Firing, shooting, bombing, a warehouse clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem is a very serious incident. It is a serious thing. It cannot be accepted, especially since we went through the notification of our facilities twice. Now we've got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all. Recognizing an error does not exactly solve the humanitarian problem."

Red Cross officials said there were no casualties from the attack on the Kabul complex. But it all but wiped out the relief agency's sole complex with supplies of food and blankets for 55,000 disabled Afghans in Kabul.

The United States has said that the Afghan people are not the enemy, and that it is taking great pains to strike only military targets.

Strikes on military targets entered their 20th day today, with bombers operating in and around Kabul and Kandahar.

Every day the Pentagon reports how many food rations it has air- dropped into Afghanistan. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that 800,000 of these packets had been dropped so far.

This bombing of the Red Cross complex has renewed fears that relief agencies are losing the race to bring in food and medicine to stave off a crisis this winter.

It has also reopened questions for these groups about their ability to work in the middle of war.

In a statement issued in Geneva, the Red Cross said that shortly before noon on Friday, its Afghan staff members saw the attack, which it said directly hit two buildings and started a fire at a third.

As was the case in the previous incident, it said the buildings had been marked with large red crosses on white backgrounds, about 10 yards square, on each roof.

The Red Cross also said it was alarmed by seizures of its supplies by armed groups, evidently associated with the Taliban government. Armed men occupied and looted its offices in Mazar-i-Sharif three days ago, stealing computers and vehicles, the Red Cross said. Complaints to local authorities and to Taliban representatives in Pakistan have gone unheeded, it said.

"It was already nearly impossible to reach the hungry people in Afghanistan," said Abby Spring of the United Nations' World Food Program. "Now we'll have to move heaven and earth to bring in enough supplies to reach the central mountains before the snow falls."

It is just such confusion that led Oxfam America, a relief organization that is working inside Afghanistan, to renew its call today for a halt in the bombing.

All relief agencies were asking both sides in the conflict to respect international law, which guarantees safe passage for relief supplies and protection for workers distributing the food, blankets and medicine.

At stake is not only the welfare of some 200,000 Afghans in the mountains, but the success of the American war strategy to convince the Afghan people that the United States does not view them as the enemy.

"There has got to be ways to move supplies through, or the humanitarian crisis will overwhelm our military achievements," said Kenneth H. Bacon, president of Refugees International and a former Pentagon spokesman.

Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, said, "The issue of humanitarian access is critically important now and all we see is piecemeal attempts to get food to different areas, no overall system for getting food distributed around the country where it's desperately needed."

Earlier predictions of a vast refugee crisis have proved incorrect because Afghans either do not have the wherewithal to flee or have concluded from experience in earlier wars that abandoning their homes for camp in Pakistan can be worse than staying put.

Farmers in particular have much to lose now. October is harvest time for fruit orchards and planting season for winter wheat. Even if they have little food or fuel, by abandoning their fields and homes they could jeopardize their livelihood for years to come. "Many Afghans have already gone through the ordeal of leaving for Pakistan, staying and then coming back, said François Grunewald, an agronomist with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. "The most difficult part is coming back and finding your house, your fields in miserable condition, and you have re-create your life out of nothing."

Neighboring nations like Iran and Pakistan are cooperating in attempts to get food into Afghanistan to make sure that they too do not face a refugee crisis.

But the relief agencies say the problems are inside the country, where they say they feel under siege on all sides. The Taliban, the agencies say, is confiscating warehouses, food, medical supplies, jeeps, trucks and radios in Kandahar, Mazar-i- Sharif and Jalalabad.

Cooperation with the United States to open new routes for food — by river barge or through airlifts depends on the military's ability to guarantee safe passage.

Pentagon and State Department officials met with relief agencies this week to discuss airlifts and airdrops.

Taliban officials in some Afghan cities have returned a few confiscated buildings and some supplies.

"It's very challenging, but it's not hopeless yet," said Nicholas de Torrente, president of Doctors Without Borders, the international relief agency.


4) Shame in the House of Representatives

NY Times
October 29, 2001
Shame in the House
Ask not what your country can do for you . . ."

It has been 40 years since John F. Kennedy, standing hatless and coatless in the bitter cold of a snow- covered capital, delivered the lines that turned out to be the most stirring and most famous of his presidency.

If you listened closely last week, you could hear an echo of that moment on the Senate floor. On Wednesday morning, in an address to his colleagues, Senator Edward M. Kennedy said: "Now we have seen, perhaps more clearly than ever before in our lives, how we are all in this together - how if even one of us is hurting, all of us hurt. Our first thoughts on September 11 were about others, not ourselves."

Senator Kennedy, now 69 years old, spoke movingly of the acts of extraordinary bravery and selflessness exhibited by Americans both at home and abroad in this sudden war against terrorism. And he called on the nation as a whole to adopt that spirit of selflessness as the new standard "by which we measure everything we do."

"The standard is clear," he said. "To seek what is right for our country, and not just for ourselves." He said it is essential that Americans not "strive for private advantage in a time of national need."

Not everyone is listening.

Senator Kennedy's speech was, specifically, a call for fairness and common decency as Congress moves ahead with its effort to help revive an economy that was faltering before Sept. 11, and has since been thrown into very serious trouble by terrorism and war.

But last week, as the House narrowly passed its version of an economic stimulus package, the dominant motive at work appeared once again to be greed. The Republicans who control the House thumbed their noses at the ordinary Americans who will absorb the brunt of the economic downturn and shamelessly gift- wrapped yet another bundle of tax cuts for the very well-to-do.

In Senator Kennedy's words, the House proposal, which contains more than $100 billion in tax cuts for corporations and individuals, "merely repackages old, partisan, unfair, permanent tax breaks - which were rejected by Congress last spring - under the new label of economic stimulus. The American people deserve better."

With Americans fighting and dying both at home and abroad, we are understandably in a season of patriotism. That patriotism should not be soiled by wartime profiteering.

The House package is a breathtaking example of cynicism and chutzpah. The bill's primary author, Representative Bill Thomas, a Republican from California, piously proclaimed that there is an urgent need to help businesses because they are the nation's employers. "They're the hardware store," he said, "the diner down the street, the gas station on the corner."

And then you look closely at the legislation and find that it overwhelmingly favors the giant corporations, with tax breaks approaching $1.4 billion for I.B.M., more than $800 million for General Motors and $670 million for General Electric.

It's a stimulus package in name only because the Americans who are the most strapped - the consumers who would take any relief that they received and immediately pump it right back into the economy - get the least. The package has very little to do with economic recovery. It's about using the shield of war and economic hard times as a cover for the perpetual task of funneling government largesse to the very rich.

Nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts were passed just a few months ago, but that was not enough.

True greed knows no bounds.

The political analyst Kevin Phillips, in a commentary on National Public Radio, said: "Neither house of Congress has ever passed this kind of major tax bill in wartime, and no one in the House assumes that the Senate will accept it in whole. But the more extreme the House bill, the further that will drag the eventual compromise in that same inexcusable direction. The only real solution is a public outcry, tens of millions of pointing fingers and voices saying, `Shame.' "

Forty years after the inauguration of President Kennedy, the most favored and least needy among us are proving themselves to be masterful at finding what their country can do for them.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company


5) Labeling Under Attack in Fast Track Legislation

Please take action on this urgent issue which among other things will make all GMO labeling illegal! HR 3005 Sec 2 b) (9) (viii) (II).

GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) LABELING UNDER ATTACK IN FAST TRACK!
Call Congress TODAY -- Use the AFL-CIO toll-free number to call Congress 800-393-1082 and ask your Representative to oppose HR 3005.

Pro-GMO legislators have sneakily put in language in HR 3005 that would make GMO labeling ILLEGAL as well as eliminating the precautionary principle for GMO regulation. (The Democratic "alternative" to this bill, though better in some aspects, has the EXACT SAME LANGUAGE regarding GMOs.) If either bill passes, then the US would be able to force European countries to accept unlabeled US GMO products!

Bill HR 3005 "Trade Promotion Authority" is currently being considered in the US House of Representatives. It is also known as Fast Track. Fast Track is Bad for Workers, Bad for Consumers, Bad for Family Farmers, Bad for the Environment! We need to have ALL our grassroots out in force calling people telling them to vote against this bill. A VOTE IN THE CONGRESS IS LIKELY THIS WEEK!

If passed, Fast Track would allow the President to negotiate trade pacts like the Free Trade Area of the Americas without any input from Congress. Congress would tie its own hands and would not be able to criticize the absence of labor, human rights or environmental provisions in the final pact! But if Fast Track fails, we have a good chance of stopping the FTAA!

*****Please Take action Today on This Urgent Issue. *****

What can you do?
Use the AFL-CIO toll-free number to call Congress 1-800-393-1082.

Please call your legislator using the toll-free number and ask your representative to oppose Fast Track and to especially oppose section 2 b) (9) (viii) (II) which would make GMO labeling a trade barrier.

Manufacturers should be allowed to label food GMO-free!!!

For more information and to send a message to Congress: or or contact OCA at

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