Monday Reads

Happy Memorial Day!

While this is the usual time to remember America’s war dead from past wars, it’s good to remember that we still have  two wars going on today.  As the saying goes, War is Hell.  The BBC reports that Afghan leaders have put NATO on warning for recent ‘collateral damage’.

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville said villagers brought their dead children to the governor’s office shouting: “See they aren’t Taliban”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has forcefully condemned the killing of 14 civilians in the south-west of the country in a suspected Nato air strike.

Mr Karzai said his government had repeatedly asked the US to stop raids which end up killing Afghan civilians and this was his “last warning”.

A Nato spokesman said a team had been sent to Helmand province to investigate the attack carried out on Saturday.

Afghan officials say all those killed were women and children.

The strike took place in Nawzad district after a US Marines base came under attack.

The air strike, targeted at insurgents, struck two civilian homes, killing two women and 12 children, reports say.

“The president called this incident a great mistake and the murdering of Afghanistan’s children and women, and on behalf of the Afghan people gives his last warning to the US troops and US officials in this regard,” his office said.

The White House said it shared Mr Karzai’s concerns and took them “very seriously”.

A group from Sera Cala village travelled to Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, bringing with them the bodies of eight dead children, some as young as two years old, says the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul.

“See, they aren’t Taliban,” they chanted as the carried the corpses to local journalists and the governor’s mansion.

While insurgents are responsible for most civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the killings of Afghans by foreign soldiers is a source of deepening anger, our correspondent adds.

In other Afghan war news, a Nato commander was injured in Taliban suicide attack in Afghanistan.  This is from the UK Guardian.

A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a provincial governor’s compound in Takhar, killing the police chief of northern Afghanistan and seriously injuring a top Nato commander. Two other Afghan officials were also reported to have died in the attack. Several international servicemen were reported injured by eyewitnesses.

German officials confirmed to Spiegel magazine Major General Markus Kneip, who commands NATO  forces in the north Afghanistan, had received wounds that were “severe” but not life-threatening.

A Nato spokesman in Kabul confirmed western casualties but was unable to provide details.

The Taliban, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for the attack and pledged that “killing high ranking officials will continue.”

Mujeebullah Rahman, the deputy director of the local council in Takhar province, said the attack took place at about 4pm when a meeting to discuss local security operations was ending.

“The bomber was waiting in the corridor, wearing the uniform of an Afghan policeman,” Rahman said.

The attack capped a bloody 48 hours in which seven Americans, two British and two other Nato servicemen were killed by roadside bombs or by insurgents in the south of the country. So far 44 Nato soldiers have been killed this month, and .nearly 200 have died in the year.

While we continue to fund these wars, Republicans are demanding that any relief to tornado-wrecked Joplin Missouri must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.  Congressman Eric Cantor–house majority leader–has joined in the call first sent out by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week.  Talk about kicking people when they’re down!

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) continued to stress Sunday that disaster relief funds for tornado-ravaged Missouri would have to be offset in the federal budget with cuts elsewhere.

The House majority leader added on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that there was a certainly a federal role in helping to rebuild Joplin, Mo., and that Congress would move after getting a request from President Obama.

But, he said, the government needs to act in this case like a family who faces an unforeseen expense and has to cut elsewhere.

“Because families don’t have unlimited money,” Cantor said. “And, really, neither does the federal government.”

Cantor began calling for offsets last Monday, the day after the tornado that has killed well over 100 struck Joplin. On Tuesday, a House appropriations subcommittee found a $1.5 billion offset to help finance an aid package.

Somebody needs to remind these guys that the government can raise revenues via taxes for legitimate expenditures.  That’s something families don’t have the ability to do.  There’s also printing money and borrowing money at nearly zero interest via Treasury Auctions. Cantor was honest enough to admit that Medicare played an “undeniable” role in the recent election in NY 2 6.

“It’s undeniable that it played some role in the election. Any time you have one side demagoguing and frankly, accusing the other side in a way that’s not factual of trying to reform the program, certainly that’s going to influence the electorate,” Cantor said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “As far as Medicare is concerned, there’s a simple choice here – either we’re going to save the program or let it go bankrupt.”

Wasserman Schultz, who appeared just after Cantor said, “Coming from the majority leader,” who was one of the “architects” of a 2010 midterm congressional election victory “focused on scaring seniors about what Democrats were doing with Medicare, he would know.”

“What we’re doing is making sure we can prevent Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it,” she said. “That’s what Kathy Hochul ran on leading up to her victory this Tuesday in New York 26.”

Voters were making it clear that they didn’t support the GOP’s budget plan, Wasserman Schultz asserted.

So, I thought I’d offer up some history of Memorial Day for you.  One of the things that I learned moving down here was that much of the south does not really celebrate the holiday and refer to it as a Yankee holiday even though it was supposed to be in remembrance of all civil war dead.  Many southern cities actually claim to have started the holiday.  I guess Mississippi sees things a little different. The holiday originated after the Civil War as “Decoration Day”.  It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

So, it’s not all about mattresses and sales tax holidays!!!  My mother used to tell me that all the relatives would go clean up the family cemeteries on memorial day in Missouri and Kansas.  They would all have huge picnics along with trimming the overgrown bushes or flowers.  We used to continue the tradition when I was very young until most of the cemeteries started using huge mowers and removed all bushes and flowers.  As I recall, we had an ongoing battle in one cemetery with massive and profuse peony bushes.

So, that’s my offering for the day!  Have a really wonderful holiday!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


13 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Joplin, MO must have done something to anger God and therefore do not deserve any federal help to rebuild!

    These “family value Christians” have no idea what government actually represents other than feeding the military machine and funding “private armies” in the name of “security”.

    So sick of listening to morons tell us what government is all about as they sit on their fat bums and pontificate their “concerns”.

    • paper doll says:

      family value Christians

      that term always cracks me up because the only family these folks make me think of is the Manson family.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The cemetery in my town doesn’t allow flowers or plants on the graves at any time other than Memorial Day. People leave flowers and they can either come back and get them or the town will pick them up. Years ago, my husband worked for the town and we used to get some of the plants that no one picked up.

    Memorial Day is big here, but I don’t recall much about it growing up in the Midwest. Before they got rid of the blue laws Memorial Day was one of the three days you couldn’t buy liquor.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I do remember when I was in high school, this was the day you could start wearing white. No white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. So silly.

    • Seriously says:

      My great-grandparents’ grave is right at the back of a cemetery in front of the fence, and right behind the fence is a house. The stone used to have two bushes beside it, but they disappeared a couple years ago, and now the house has two *very* similar looking bushes in
      the yard.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says

    Robert Fisk says

    President Obama has shown himself to be weak in his dealings with the Middle East, says Robert Fisk, and the Arab world is turning its back with contempt. Its future will be shaped without American influence

    • dakinikat says:

      Yup. He is Mia on jobs too.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Paul Krugman doesn’t understand what “learned helplessness” means, but he’s right about elites not caring about unemployment.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/30/opinion/30krugman.html

      • paper doll says:

        but he’s right about elites not caring about unemployment.

        … now that they don’t care so much if we buy, we are on the curb. One only has to look at how laid off people have been treated for the last 30 years to know the plans for the US peon …the US consumer has been pink slipped…They found a way to by pass us and buying stuff was our ace card! We are now like a gamer whoes electricity was shut off…alot of dazed blinking going on

      • foxyladi14 says:

        to busy insulting the Queen 😆

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Gaddafi snatch squads took hundreds of men and boys from Misrata

    A desperate search has begun for “the disappeared”, many of whom were reported to have been taken away to regime prisons or killed during some of the fiercest fighting of a three-month rebel uprising that has reduced parts of the city to rubble.

    Witness accounts gathered by The Independent and rights groups indicate that there was a systematic attempt to kidnap men from parts of the city.

    [….]

    The full extent of the missing has only been revealed as the city slowly comes back to life following the ferocious bombardment by forces loyal to Col Gaddafi.

    Many families were unable to leave their homes after regime tanks entered the heart of the city and snipers took up positions on roof tops. Rebel fighters backed by Nato airstrikes forced regime forces to the outskirts of the city two weeks ago, allowing families to venture out again.

    A newly opened missing persons office has registered 1,020 people with the number rising every day, said lawyer Tarek Abdul Hadi, organising the piles of forms detailing those missing. Families yesterday were pushing photos of their loved ones into the building. “These just arrived in the last hour,” said Mr Hadi, indicating a pile of passport photos of Misrata’s lost men, women and children on his desk.

    Most of the missing are men between the ages of 20 and 40. More than 40 children, some as young as six, and elderly people between 60 and 85 years are also missing, he said. “Fighters report seeing some being used as human shields on the front lines, others have been taken away to fight for Gaddafi,” he said. “But many, many are presumed dead.”

  5. Peggy Sue says:

    Memorial Day weekend was the first ‘official’ opening of the shore for Jerseyites. At least when I was a kid.

    Anyone who owned a summer cottage, invited friends and family for a rousing barbeque, lots of beer and a dip in the surf [although the water was often freezing]. Before hitting the beaches, there were parades, cemetary visits, lots of flags and bicycles decorated with red, white and blue crepe paper. Don’t see that much any more.

    But the shore was King and Memorial Day ushered the short summer season in with lots of excitement, flags and fireworks.