Friday, November 20, 2015

Fwd: Paris and beyond . . . we'll get what we ask for

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "John Hemington" <>
Date: Nov 19, 2015 5:37 PM
Subject: Paris and beyond . . . we'll get what we ask for
To: "John Hemington" <>

So much has been said and written about the ISIL attack on Paris including massively intemperate assertions by American presidential candidates concerning how we and our allies should respond to the horror of the attack.  Little attention has been given to thinking about just what ISIL intended to accomplish by this action or its other terror assaults in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Few Americans seem to understand that such attacks and threats of further attacks are little more than attempts to lure the U.S. and its allies into more of the same militaristic attacks in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt and other so-called flash-points around the world.  This is an important issue so I will address it at some length here and in the attachment.

It may appear to be counterfactual, but the only way ISIL can succeed in the long-term is for the attacks of Western powers to continue in these now volatile areas.  Western bombing and military incursions increasingly lead to economic, social, and cultural devastation in the region providing almost endless new recruits for ISIL.  Beyond that, increasing hostility toward refugees fleeing from the various war zones brought to the Middle East – primarily by U.S. actions beginning with the jihadists in Afghanistan during the Reagan administration and exacerbated by the entirely illegal assault on Iraq under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney – over the past two decades or more provides convincing evidence to many Muslims (particularly those who are poor, suffering and dislocated) that the West is truly waging a war against Islam.  Admitting refugees into this country when we are largely responsible for their becoming refugees is the moral and just thing to do.  Yes, there may be some among them who want to do us harm, but there are many more non-Muslims already among us who commit heinous acts the equivalent of terrorism on a daily basis.  That a few of these refugees might act violently is no reason to turn all of them away.

Our leaders at almost all levels of the political infrastructure, the security establishment and the military all seem to be blind to this picture; and their blindness is reinforced by the steady repeating of their bleating calls for vengeance for the terror and the isolation and rejection of Muslim refugees from the wars we created and sustain.  A convincing argument can be made that this is something more than simple blindness and willful ignorance; that it is the intentional outcome of a policy designed to create and maintain chaos in the Middle East.  That it is in the interests of the military-security complex, the defense industry and contractors, and the politicians who reap enormous campaign contributions from these sources.  I have previously laid out my reasoning for believing that this is true so I won't belabor point here.

ISIL as many experts have conceded exists because Paul Bremer, Cheney's Proconsul in Iraq, elected to disband the Iraqi army and send them home with their weapons and no pay.  They were humiliated, angry and talented military strategists.  Some of them were incarcerated in Abu Gharib where they were radicalized by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi the current ISIL leader and began planning to take the region back from Western control and interference.  But ISIL has always understood what few in the West recognized, that their best hope of prevailing would come through extending the level of violence inflicted upon the region by Western powers and, in particular by the United States.  These are hard-core fundamentalists who are quite willing to sacrifice themselves for a long-term goal.  But they are a tiny minority of the Sunni Islamic world and they also understand that continued attacks on the region by Western powers are their only hope for drawing substantial numbers of new recruits to their cause.  And the West is obliging as if it were Pavlov's dog.

It is interesting to note that our government has known for quite a long time that these same terrorists and ones before them have long been funded and armed by sources from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait – all allies in the region.  Yet our leaders have steadfastly refused to acknowledge or intervene to stop this funding.  Any American concerned about this threat should demand to know how this could be and why we are not taking action to stop it.

In the United States, the conversion of our former constitutional democracy into an essentially autocratic national security state maintained by two neoliberal political dynasties supporting a thoroughly neoconservative agenda, accomplished by convincing most of a compliant population into believing that we were under constant threat of terrorist attack.  This has allowed the leaders almost a free hand to operate in the absence of any oversight whatsoever.  As a result the United States now has over 150 military bases around the world and troops stationed in 135 different countries, many operating covertly in highly secretive black-ops sites in non-belligerent nations.  And what do we have to show for it?  The answer is unfortunately too easy – nothing good.  The incomprehensible military budget and deployment of troops has not in any real sense of the word made any American citizen safer.  There are now more, not fewer, terrorists wanting to attack Americans and others around the world.  And, there are more homegrown white Christian terrorists supported by the NRA attacking us here at home.

So where do we go from here?  The simplistic answer offered by most politicians and cheered by far too many Americans is on the offensive.  But this is what we have been doing consistently for many years and the situation has only become worse.  In fact, a very good argument can be made that were we able to completely wipe ISIL off the map another ISIL would simply pop up to take its place.  This is not a way between nation states where one side can surrender and the war is over.  This is a war of destitution and despair.  It is between people who believe, for good reason, that they are being warred against because of the religion or ethnic origins.  It is people who have effectively lost hope and faith in the nation states in which they were raised and have experienced years of attacks and assaults from Western nations claiming to free them from dictatorial persecution and improve their lives.  Yet all that it has brought is death, devastation, dislocation and destitution.  What is needed is not more war, but more peace to remove the threat of ISIL.

But this is the problem.  There is no indication that Western nations in general and the United States in particular have any desire to see peace in the region.  Following the "war" in Iraq (that is the three week period in which the Iraqi army was defeated) the U.S. promised to rebuild the country's infrastructure and return the society to peaceful functionality.  But nothing like this ever occurred.  What reconstruction that did take place was largely slipshod with massive amounts of money siphoned off by corrupt American contractors.  Once the entirely predictable insurgency commenced most such efforts were abandoned.  Ditto for Afghanistan.  But in Iraq, not only did Paul Bremer fire the military; he also established a law that Bathe Party members could not be employed in infrastructure work.  So there was another impoverished and angry group of Iraqis ready to take to the streets.  Plus, there was no one left to operate the infrastructure necessary for the nation to function.  This was not some accidental bad decision, it was intentional policy designed to fragment and alienate Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq – and it worked.

So our policy in the Middle East has killed hundreds of thousands and rendered millions homeless and refugees throughout the region; and by any rational assessment has been and continues to be an abject failure.  So here we are being told by our leaders in Congress and our presidential candidates that what we need is more of the same – only with more intensity – causing ever more death and destruction.  Sure sounds like a brilliant idea to me.  Perhaps it's time the American people came to their senses and recognize the military/security/intelligence/ political/financial combine for what it is – a gigantic corrupt and immoral monster clawing out the hearts and souls of Americans and raining death and destruction wherever it goes.  Only when the American people wake up to this will we begin to see meaningful and rational policies implemented with regard to relations with the rest of the world – and only then will we once again become safe from terrorism.

I have assembled a series of articles into the attachment of this e-mail.  This is an extremely important issue and I hope that you will take the time to read through them and listen to the videos linked in them. 

There is a second attachment dealing with a closely related issue, the U.S. relationship to Russia and the extremely frightening rhetoric now being circulated suggesting that we should put Russia in its place and, if necessary, attack it.  This is a basic premise of the neoconservative agenda which included fomenting and financing the Ukrainian "color" revolution which overthrew a democratically elected government (albeit a corrupt one) to replace it with another thoroughly corrupt government which would favor Ukrainian ties with NATO and neoliberal economic policies.  The American Empire will brook no dissent and take no prisoners (well, we do take prisoners, torture them and hold them without charges as long as we choose).

My apologies for making this so long, but there is so much hateful information and misinformation circulating out there that I felt it was sufficiently important to deal with at length.





Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fwd: "Winter in the pool" for the club members

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Nikola Malezanov" <>
Date: Nov 19, 2015 12:15 PM
Subject: "Winter in the pool" for the club members
To: "TWP" <>, "" <>

Dear Tiger Water Polo Family 

I hope you are all doing well. The winter schedule is on and its updated on the website. The High School players will start next week.

I just wanted to explain the "Winter in The pool" program that you probably have seen already and our club members status.
We designed this program for NODDLE Ball and Youth players to train/play every Sunday instead of 5 Sundays a season. 

We also would like to get some NEW high School players and some NEW Middle School players that will try the sport as well.  I attached the flyer.

Our Tiger Water Polo members will be involved to train/play with their respective groups on those Sundays. They do NOT need to register nor pay for this. Only the NEW players do.

We hope to have enough interest to form 4 teams per age group towards the end of the Winter and have a league that will end with a championship on FEB 28th with a Big Water Polo Festival that will include all kinds of awards. 

We would love to get some help from you to recruit some more new faces in the sport.: school friends, neighbors, younger siblings...

The Flyer is attached

Nikola Malezanov
Tiger Water Polo
North Allegheny Water Polo
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Fwd: Register your Students for the FREE Pittsburgh Scholarship Boot Camp this Saturday!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Brown, Brian" <>
Date: Nov 19, 2015 11:39 AM
Subject: Register your Students for the FREE Pittsburgh Scholarship Boot Camp this Saturday!
To: "Brian Brown" <>
Cc: "LaTrenda Leonard" <>, "Harry Johnson" <>

Hi Everyone,

BMe Pittsburgh will be hosting a FREE Scholarship Boot Camp for high school students this Saturday, November 21, 2015 at Barack Obama Academy. 

If you work with or know of any high school students that could greatly benefit from learning about scholarship opportunities, please share this attached flyer, and have them register to attend the event on Saturday. Light refreshments will be provided for all attendees, and students will be entered into the new 'BMe Pittsburgh Raffle' for major upcoming prizes and gifts. 

Registration Link: 

Thank you, hope your students can attend! 


Brian Brown
Youth Equity & Access Associate
My Brother's Keeper 
AmeriCorps VISTA
Office of Mayor William Peduto
414 Grant Street, 5th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA, 15219 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fwd: 2015 Report to the Community on Public School Progress

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Carey Harris" <>
Date: Nov 16, 2015 12:00 PM
Subject: 2015 Report to the Community on Public School Progress
To: <>

Your guide to Pittsburgh's public schools.
Having trouble viewing this email? Click here
Read our report on your computer, tablet,or phone easily this year.
2015 Report to the Community on 
Public School Progress in Pittsburgh
Graduation and Promise eligibility up; gaps persist in achievement, attendance and suspensions

Dear supporter of public education in Pittsburgh,

Today, we released our Annual Report to the Community on Public School Progress in Pittsburgh. I wanted to share with you some progress that's been made over the past four years that are a testament to the hard work of so many in our district to focus on getting students prepared for college and career. But that joy over the progress made is also tempered with some significant challenges for our students.

Change is difficult, but not impossible. Graduation rates are up. More of our schools are showing contributions to academic growth that exceed state averages. Performance on the Keystones is improving. This is a testament to the hard work of teachers, students, and parents in the past years. 

While we commend the district for the progress it is making, there are some sobering trends in the data that call for urgent action. Sadly, half of our tested third graders, 827 students, are not reading at grade level by third grade, leaving them behind in the coming years when they need to read to learn.  

Over the next few days parents and caregivers with children enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools and under the age of five will have the report mailed directly to them. We urge you to get the facts, visit a school, and get involved to help improve our schools.

We would be happy to discuss the results with your school, community group or place of worship. Click here to request (scroll down) a presentation or call our offices at 412.697.1298



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