Monday, April 30, 2012

McCarthy's Weekly--None today--see you next week--eagle picture below.

Out watching eagles with my wife Ande, from a canoe in the backwaters of the dam at Beards Hills {N of Port Huron}.

Mom [or Dad] leaves nest, with two eaglets looking on from nest.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Castle of Tal Afar - Road to Peace yet to run through it.
This week’s writing makes me feel like a college professor issuing his syllabus, but I can see no other way.  You need to see for yourself.  Please read through this offering, and then trouble to open and read as many of the listed articles as you are able.  As Paul Harvey said, you will find in the cumulative details, “the rest of the story.”  [Colored highlighted titles are links to the articles.]
The information taken together is valuable, and if I were a confessor, I would recommend all this reading {and much more, including the four Gospels} as partial penance for this unjust war.  We must name and recognize the evil before we can correct it.

March 08, 2012 -AP { a little over a month ago}  “14 killed in Iraqi bombings that echo violent past.”
"Two bombs that exploded in swift succession killed 14 people Wednesday near a crowded restaurant in a city in Iraq's north, officials said.
Officials said the blasts may indicate that the town of Tal Afar, a hotbed of insurgency during the years that Iraq teetered on the edge of civil war, may again be experiencing an influx of extremists due to the uprising in neighboring Syria."

The war in Iraq is not over—witness again continued carnage in Tal Afar, one of our erstwhile model cities there.  And if you take time to read the articles in the links to follow, you’ll learn just how mired we are in the violence we help maintain, to keep our foot in Iraq’s black fools’ gold quicksands.

A chronology of the futile violence in Tal Afar.    [click on title highlights for stories]
Second in line is the photo {and its story} seen round the globe in 2005, but little seen in the USA of little girl whose parents had just been mistakenly shot and killed by U.S. soldiers at aTal Afar checkpoint.
9-9-04   Operation Black Typhoon
"A major military operation was launched against Tal Afar on September 9, 2004. Terrorists had displaced the local Iraqi Security forces and the city had become a suspected haven as well as staging grounds for insurgents. Many foreign fighters originating from Syria were believed to be in Tal Afar conducting anti-coalition activities."

1-19-05 One Night in Tal Afar « Iconic Photos1-19-05 Tal Afar girl photo in NYT version, article titled—“Archbishop Freed in Iraq, but 8 Chinese Are Captives”
9-22-05 Washington Post, “Iraqi Forces Show Signs Of Progress In Offensive.”
"One year ago this month [Sept 2004], U.S. and Iraqi forces swept through Tall Afar, but when the Americans largely withdrew from the region, the insurgency returned, stronger than ever.
'If the Americans leave, the chaos will come back. The bad people will come back again, just like before,' said Abdullah Wahab Muhammed Younis, one of the city's most prominent Shiite sheiks, who said insurgents have killed 14 members of his family and wounded 33 in the past year."
3-12-06                 Tal Afar Al Qaeda's Town - CBS News
4-1-07                   Deadliest bomb in Iraq war kills 152 -  Reuters
4-11-07                 Myth of Tal Afar, beacon of American 'success' - The Independent
4-29-07                 Police accused in sectarian revenge killings -
8-30-07                 Road leads to success, confidence restored in Tal ‘Afar -  United States Forces – Iraq
11-15-8                 At least 9 killed by suicide car bomb in Iraq - CNN
7-9-09                   Dozens killed in Iraqi bombings - BBC NEWS
5-4-10                   Iraq football stadium hit by deadly suicide bombing - Tal Afar-BBC News
5-8-11                   Iraqi Child in Acclaimed War Photo Tries to Move On – NYTimes
12-14-11               Three killed in Iraq bomb - The Irish Times
3-8-12                   14 killed in Iraqi bombings that echo violent past  (back to above)

U.S. M1 Abrams battle tanks patrolling Tal Afar on February 3, 2006

This is the small list I’ve investigated.  Wikipedia has a good page on Tal Afar also {well referenced credible sources}, with many more instances of the violence there.

 Tal Afar girl in NYT--Chris Hondros-Getty Images, 1-19-05

We beat no swords into plowshares in Iraq.  Instead we brought imported swords aplenty – a multiplication of swords and violence, and ignored the chaos of civilian casualties.  We did count our soldiers deaths, but not theirs.  The lesson of Vietnam was well-learned.  No more comparative body counts on the nightly news, even if the score overwhelmingly favors your side, there is no consolation in the killing having the advantage.

You’re not winning, just killing.  This lesson has not been learned.  The surge in the swords of violence plaguing Iraq persists.  How to now put away this sword?  What to replace it with?  Not with F-16s and new missiles pointed at Iran as is some strategists’ plan.
“It ain’t over till it’s over.” – Yogi Berra
                “Love your enemy;  pray for those that persecute you.” – Jesus Christ  {Mt 5:44}

ampling the persistent firestorm of violence throughout Iraq, from the present, looking back just to our latest publicized “mission accomplished” at the end of 2011.
3-20-12   Bomb Attacks in Iraq - NYTimes
3-6-12      Militants Raid Iraqi Town, Kill Police -
2-23-12   Deadly series of attacks strikes targets across Iraq - IRAQ - FRANCE 24
1-27-12   Suicide Bomber Kills 32 at Iraq Funeral Procession - ABC News
1-5-12     BBC News - Iraq Bombings in Baghdad and Nasiriya kill scores

We have nourished them with nine years of bombs and bullets.  What are our plans now?  Our concerns?
12-16-11  Iraq oil security tested as U.S. forces withdraw--Reuters
12-15-11  Big Adjustments at Baghdad Base -  [We’re not completely closing our network of bases in Iraq, just mothballing, to be ready for any required future use.]
11-16-11  Iraqi Town [Sokur] Falters as U.S. Troops Exit - NYTimes
12-14-11  U.S. F-16 Sale to Iraq Remains a Distant Target

Now our diplomats travel with hired guns, based in Baghdad’s still fortified Green Zone within the world’s biggest most battle-hardened embassy.
12-26-11  Soldiers gone, but contractors remain in Iraq—Houston Chronicle
"But remaining behind are thousands of civilian contractors — about half of them armed.
State Department officials have said they expect that 5,000 security contractors will be needed in Iraq next year to protect U.S. diplomats.
A “life support” team of an additional 4,500 contractors will cook, clean and provide transportation and other services."
 Curious medieval theme of the hunters becoming the hunted.

Happy day after EARTH DAY!

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Monday, April 16, 2012


For more detailed map click on here

With the Blue Water Bridge Plaza project we have a never-ending playbook for the keystone cops methodology of hyper-protection that strangles our international city Port Huron.  At every turn it is the Department of Homeland Security controlling its Customs Border Protection agency, and not common sense that rules.  Michigan Department of Transportation follows their lead.   Let me recount some of the ways. 

        N  April 1, 2012 the Times Herald ran an editorial which cited one of the Blue Water Bridge Plaza’s many shortcomings, “Inspection booths were decade late.”  They rightly explain how delays, especially post 911, have greatly increased bridge plaza wait times, and point out the obvious solution which has always been there--more plaza booths that are adequately staffed to meet traffic demand.  Finally, Blue Water Bridge Canada has pushed for this remedy by donating the booth structures to our US side well over a year ago, and it appears now that MDOT and CBP have come on board.  The booths are to be installed by mid-summer.   Perhaps that is all the Blue Water Bridge Plaza has ever needed.

  • In its plans for the new bridge now being built over the Black River, engineers in some Washington think tank bunker must have decided that underpass dimensions make the existing exit portal of eastbound I-94 into north Port Huron & Fort Gratiot vulnerable to a Ryder truck bomb attack.   So it’s mothballed, and a weird “T” intersection south of the bridge now takes its place.  Whether you like traffic artificially channeled a bit more towards downtown Port Huron or not, common sense lost this battle before it was ever publicly engaged.
·         The whole knock-the-plaza-down-closer-to-ground-level initial Blue Water Bridge Plaza design was predicated in a significant way, to this same need to protect from “small tunnel” Ryder truck bomb vulnerability, where Pine Grove underpasses I-94.  Somehow the excessive expenses involved finally now preclude whatever runaway risk managements led to this boondoggle bridge plaza master plan.

·         After ten years of experimental “outbound {and inbound} inspections” the only “potential terrorist” caught has been an irate long haired Canadian science fiction author, returning home to Ontario after a long cross-country trip helping a friend move to state of Washington, USA.  A whole new set of these type booths was another major reason for the initial large-footprint dimensions of the Blue Water Bridge Plaza.

·         In addition to losing a whole neighborhood and its tax base to this project, a group of area businesses are now caught between its Water street freeway construction and a city street project, which may force many of them to close shop.  [see 4-10-12 Times Herald, “Businesses plead to MDOT”].  More collateral damage, with outside interests running our town.   Let’s hope something can be worked out.

Port Huron has almost no seat at the table of DHS/MDOT decision making.   Our Port Huron is only a small part of the DHS puzzle. 
What is the economic basis of terrorism 101 that brought DHS into existence?  One attack on 9-11-01, and then a succession of cheap threat events spurs our massive fear-based funding of multiple projects:  underwear bomber air traffic protections, whole body scanners sold to DHS by a company owned by the ex-DHS chief administrator, Yemini & worldwide heightened package and freight surveillance measures, and the Patriot Act with its renditions to torture without trial, wiretaps and surveillance of US citizens without warrant, targeting citizens for sting operations and worse.  Locally we have never-ending and shifting plans for border protection with knock down rebuild Blue Water Bridge plaza schemes, a fleet of brand new CBP vehicles parked at our St. Clair river scenic turnouts, and millions of dollars networks of Boeing border camera towers erected from Port Huron to Algonac.  We hobble our international commerce and connectedness, by instituting unproven techno security solutions, sold to us by a few government & private insiders, who have proved only to benefit their own maximized profit margins.

The real cost benefit of all this?  I recommend reading three articles from Slate’s online magazine, the summation article entitled, “Homeland security spending--We'd have to foil 1,667 Times Square-style attacks every year to justify current spending on homeland security.”  [Click on.]

Why should we continue to fill the coffers of the super-rich, in vain effort to maintain the myth of super-security they try to sell us.   This they can never provide, with these bombs bullets and techno walls they build to surround us.  Better to certainly hire more customs employees at these new booths, donated by the Canadians, and fully train many of these employees in the languages and cultures of the countries with whom we have problems.  Beyond this, we need an engaged competent and completely-funded Peace Corps, bigger than the Marine Corps, to be our forward bases in a true effort to bridge our differences--resolve conflict without repetitious murder and mayhem.   This is our calling, those of us who form this nominally Christian nation—Easter promises we can live up to it.

From this week's Gospel--Sent out from behind locked doors.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said,   And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit."   Jn 20: 12-22

Widow's Mite--by James Christensen
Port Huron Widow in midst of Outside Authorities who profit much from generalized insecurities, but give little to meet real needs of local people.  May our Widow's mite of genuine small truthful contribution become the mighty mite that helps convert the politically powerful back to serving the common good.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, April 9, 2012


A society that spends one half of its income tax revenues on warfare follows the path of Roman Empire plutocracy, not the way of Jesus.   He has conquered death by dying, and being raised up a hundredfold.  Train with swords guns and bombs to fight for the Kingdom?  Heap up an arsenal of Christian democracy?  This is heresy, teaching as Gospel truth, the opposite of what Jesus said and did.  And it takes the Word of God in vain.  God tells us in the life death and resurrection of the Son, to forgive even our executioners, pray for our persecutors.  “Put away the sword” even when threatened with death. 

We have invested our country so heavily in the ways of war that we’re destroying true charity that begins at home---an even chance to succeed for all, and providing for the needs of the poor.  War has become so much business as usual, that our leaders have started, and can’t really finish, two unnecessary unjust wars—Iraq and Afghanistan.  And, like it or not, the common citizen continues to pay for, and contribute to, this most misguided and wasteful bureaucracy of our national government—a military industry now run in tandem by private defense companies, and Pentagon generals.

As we watch an unprecedented amount of money poured into our present national political campaigns by all our profits-maximizing corporations, it’s time for a national examination of conscience.   What would Jesus do?  Heal the sick, or put the enemy to the sword?  Does my vote count?  Does my tax dollar matter?  To whom?  Am I rendering to Caesar what is his?  What’s left for the creative life-giving works of God?  Can we continue to praise the Lord as we pass the ammunition? [World War II song that I listened to on my mom’s little box phonograph*]  How high the munitions stockpile before we’re safe?  Can we still feed the hungry?  Let them eat bullets?
As we sit down to our IRS tax computations this year, we should have questions that return to the center.  How to be a patriotic citizen of the USA, the world community, and a faithful child of God’s kingdom?  May everyone be inspired to find new and better answers to replace this system that now promotes war and greed.

Tax Day can become the new popular Election Day.  Our 1040 used truthfully and openly becomes our new ballot.  Vote as the super-wealthy do [more so since the Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision]---with your dollars.  Design your own pie chart of extra-governmental tax distribution, not for self-interest, but for the common good.  Until one person one vote is re-established, withhold what the national government is misusing, let the IRS know, and direct that amount to a good community project.  This requires wisdom to develop, and time to implement, as a civil disobedience--with the help of friends and neighbors. So I recommend starting now, in work & prayer, looking ahead towards next year’s Tax Election Day.

Total Outlays (Federal Funds): $2,650 billion
MILITARY: 54% and $1,449 billion
NON-MILITARY: 46% and $1,210 billion
Federal Income Tax spending --- 2009
Jesus doesn’t appear compelled by tax systems.  When He and Peter were asked to pay a tax, they had an interesting discussion that somewhat resonates with today’s 1% - 99% dichotomy.  Jesus indicates that the sons & daughters of God’s kingdom are free of such world kingdom taxes, and then casts off this small concession.  "But so that we may not offend them [Capernaum’s earnest tax collectors], go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Mt 17:26

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms in not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”  President Eisenhower “Cross of Iron” speech April 16, 1953

“The armaments race is to be condemned unreservedly. It is an act of aggression which amounts to a crime, for even when they are not used, by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.” --Vatican statement to the U.N., 1976

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."   Mother Theresa
                Speaking of abortion.  Rings true for war also.

 “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”-- composed by Frank Loesser, 1942