Sunday, January 30, 2005
Yet again, we are being told that Iraq is turning another corner...... well, you turn a lot of corners when you are walking around lost in a maze.
Heaven help the Iraqi people.
I can't help but wondering something... if the US authorities (Rumsfeld, Powell, Franks, and the Bush administration) had acted like they cared a little bit about the Iraqi people... if things might have gone better. Like, you know, saying torturing people is wrong, killing people is wrong.... but then, hey, the whole idea of war is wrong, so that would have been stupid, I guess. But the fact that they made NO ATTEMPT to ever count the Iraqis who were hurt or killed does speak volumes, does it not?
I care about Iraqis. They do not.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld continues to astound us Gold Star Families with his heartlessness, callousness and disrespect in the faces of our children who are being killed in the mindless invasion and occupation of Iraq.
I am one of the founding members of a group called Gold Star Families for Peace. Some of us families who have lost loved ones in this illegal and immoral war in Iraq have organized to use our collective voices to bring the tragedy of war to the fore front of America’s hearts and souls like it so tragically is in ours. We families are amazed that so few of our fellow citizens are touched by the horrors of the invasion and occupation of a sovereign country. It seems to us like the only people who are asked to sacrifice anything for the war effort are our brave young men and women fighting this so-called war and their families. There are some families in our nation like us, that have paid the ultimate price for the lies and betrayals of this current administration.
I, and some other Gold Star Families, have been writing and calling the Department of Defense for over three weeks. We were all meeting in DC to protest the inauguration and we thought it would be a good time to meet with Donald Rumsfeld. We have many questions to ask him about our loved ones’ deaths and we deserve to have some answers. I think it is our right as Americans and grieving families to have these answers. For example, why were the children of this country sent to fight a war without the proper training, equipment or armor? Why were our children sent to fight a war that had no basis in reality? Why are American children still over there fighting a war, and dying in a war, when all the reasons for the war have been proven false? When is this administration going to bring the rest of our children home before it’s too late for their families?
If we were granted an audience with him, we didn’t really expect Mr. Rumsfeld to be truthful with us or even polite to us considering his past history of being so sarcastically untruthful and blatantly rude. The real reason I wanted to meet with Rumsfeld was so he could see the face of my son, Spc Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Sadr City on 04/04/04. I wanted him to look me in the face and see my red swollen eyes and to see all the lines that grief has etched. I wanted him to see the unbearable pain his ignorance and arrogance has caused me and my family. I wanted him to know that his actions have terrible consequences.
Our letters, phone calls, faxes, and e-mails to the Pentagon were to no avail: we received no response. So in conjunction with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) we decided to go to the Pentagon and try and meet with someone, anyone. We were met at the parking lot by a couple of dozen of police officers blocking our way. We were told that we weren’t allowed to go into the Pentagon because we didn’t go through the proper protocol to request a meeting!!
I find it so ironic that with all the tight security for the events in DC this week that enough time and energy was mustered to stop families in mourning so forcefully at the Pentagon. I also find it ironic that if I were a wealthy Republican who had donated large sums of money for the “re”-election of the President, I could have had access to all the big wigs at the lavish parties…but I, whose son paid the ultimate price of his precious life to this country, can’t even get within a half of a mile from the man who sent him to die.
We Gold Star Families for Peace are not giving up the fight to hold someone in this administration accountable for the quagmire in Iraq and the more important struggle to bring the rest of our children home from this devastating occupation now. It takes most of our energy just to get out of our beds in the morning and mourn our horrific losses. We need all Americans to wake up and start lobbying their elected officials for an end to this immorality in Iraq and to join our voices in protest.
Gold Star Families for Peace: www.GSFP.org
I got the post below from someone who lost her son in the war on Iraq. I totally support withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. My reason for doing so stem from my belief that the US military is a destabilizing force in Iraq, and is indeed, only making the situation there worse.
Send Congresswoman Schakowsky your immediate support for her actions!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Nadeam Elshami
January 24, 2005 202/226-6903 or 703/869-9020 (Cell Phone)
Schakowsky on U.S. Troops in Iraq:
"It is time for our soldiers to start the journey home."
CHICAGO, IL - U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) today released the following statement on U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq:
"The time has come for the United States to withdraw our troops from the battlefield of a war that should never have been waged. There was no real justification for sending our brave young men a women to fight in Iraq, and there is even less reason to keep them there now to die in ever increasing numbers.
"Under false pretenses, the Bush Administration took our nation to war against a country that did not pose imminent threat to our security. In Iraq today, over 1,300 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 100,000 civilians are dead. This war is costing an average of $1.6 billion taxpayer dollars every week, while the mission remains vague, the troops overstretched and under-armored, friendly Iraqis chafe at our presence and unfriendly Iraqis bomb our convoys and enclaves. Neither democracy in Iraq nor security at home has been achieved. Instead, Iraq has become, in a gruesome self-fulfilling prophecy, the ground zero for terrorism that it was not when President Bush chose to invade.
"There are those who argue that the U.S. is obligated to 'fix' Iraq now that we have broken it. Unfortunately, the Administration has left us with no good options whatsoever. The worst choice, however, would be to continue to do more of the same, and watch the body count grow. It is clear that for stability to replace chaos, a political and not a military resolution is required.
"A political process has begun, admittedly fragile, and it is time for the United States to leave. Once the January 30 elections are concluded, the new Iraqi government takes responsibility for forging its own path toward stability and democracy. The U.S. should provide financial and material assistance for that effort and encourage the international community to help.
"The results may not be what the President envisioned or anyone wanted. Some experts warn of civil war. Many worry for the Christian community and for the women. These are very real concerns that, sadly, weren't even considered when the U.S. invaded, and even after 'mission accomplished' was declared by President Bush. We should do what we can diplomatically to address vulnerable populations, yet, as long as U.S. forces are on the ground, a lasting peace and stable Iraq cannot be achieved. All of us care deeply about our brave soldiers who are doing the very best they can under near impossible conditions. It is time to bring them home."
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
5533 N. Broadway, Chicago IL 60640
phone: 773-506-7100 fax: 773-506-9202
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
By Susan Oehler
January 25, 2005 6:00 am
I have to admit I got a real laugh out of the Asheville Citizen-Times editorial pages of Saturday, Jan. 8. Under the headline "Fake news coupled with deception is a disgraceful use of taxpayers' money," (AC-T, Jan. 8), written by the editors, this comment was made: "The newspaper reported Williams, one of those modern media creations who appears in print and is omnipresent on radio and television, is being paid by the Bush administration to the tune of $240,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind program."
No, that wasn't funny.It was sad to read that the Bush administration is using our tax money to underhandedly promote a program.One would think if the program was a good idea, then it would stand on its own merits, without this propaganda paid for by U.S. taxpayers. I agree with the Asheville Citizen-Times: we, the taxpayers should end this immediately, and we should be refunded the money handed over to this propaganda attempt.
The laugh came when I read Bill O'Reilly's syndicated column, "Right-thinking Americans hope for democracy in Iraq and easing of ridiculous culture wars at home," which had this statement: "The big difference, however, is that conservatives don't have access to the elite media, and progressives do." Well, I guess that makes President Bush a progressive instead of a conservative then. That's sure news to me. O'Reilly goes on to claim he is a "warrior" in the culture war whereas so-called progressives, who (combined with the ACLU) are out to get all good conservatives. Well, thank goodness, the progressives are not in power and using our tax dollars for these propagandistic ends. We are attempting to correct falsehoods in our media whenever we can however, - and O'Reilly presents a lot of them.
O'Reilly goes on to present in his column some of his other ideas that are truly divorced from reality. One of the most dangerous and misguided ones is the idea that "some" Americans are not hoping for a positive outcome in Iraq. I imagine that everyone hopes, and wants, Iraq to turn out to be peaceful and democratic. People who are liberal or progressive are also hoping for these outcomes, no matter how much we opposed starting this war. We want to see the violence come to an end, and our troops come home safe.
It's just that we don't think democracy can be delivered by bombs and bullets, and we think the overall Bush administration policies are the main cause of the mayhem and chaos in that country. As a matter of fact, just as we suspected there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and no connection between Saddam and Sept. 11, 2001, we today suspect that the Bush administration's real motives and objectives are not in the best interests of the Iraqi people.
We don't feel their objectives are in the best interests of ordinary Americans either. We feel our troops are being misused and mistreated on many occasions.
O'Reilly claims that it is "disgraceful that so many in the free world cannot put aside political differences and help the U.S. defeat the brutal villains who are creating mayhem." In the eyes of a lot of people in the world, it is the Bush administration policies that are creating mayhem in Iraq and allowing a climate of terrorism to flourish. I personally wonder if Bush failed to plan in Iraq, or if he planned for Iraq to fail. Many of us, but not all, therefore advocate that the U.S. get out of Iraq now, and the country be turned over to the Iraqi people, with U.N. or NATO troops to provide security, if needed. We feel this administration's policies are quite unhelpful to providing peace and security in this area of the world.
The WNC Peace Coalition is holding an organizational meeting to plan an event for the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. The organizational meeting will be tonight, Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the Asheville Friends Meeting house at 227 Edgewood Road. If you are interested in finding a peaceful solution to world problems and think this war in Iraq is not going well, then you are invited to attend.
And back to the original topic: I would like to see an end to the U.S. government using our media as propaganda tools, especially when paid for by U.S. taxpayers. This has already happened with the No Child Left Behind and with the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, and probably other Bush administration programs also. I would further like to see TV pundits stop attacking people who hold different positions on the issues, and instead listen to and try to understand their positions.
PS: We had a very sucessful meetin of the WNC Peace Coalition tonight. We are going to organize buses to Fayetteville, NC for the MARCH 19th protest, and we are going to have a protest on March 20th here in Asheville.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
This morning there were some excellent speakers. Jim Zogby (Arab American Institute) spoke well on the situation in Iraq and encouraged us to keep the pressure on our leaders. William Rivers Pitt (www.truthout.org) on getting the message out to the people, as did Jeff Cohen (www.fair.org) . Our mainstream US "news" is just pitiful. One question asked: If we had a state media here in this country, how would it have been any different (in the run up to the Iraq war)?
I really enjoyed hearing Medea Benjamin (Code Pink) and her excellent adventures on inauguration day, Amy Goodman (www.democracynow.org) and Jesse Jackson, Jr. I also really enjoyed David Cobb (Green party), and appreciate him for going after the Ohio vote count. Cobb said he sill not hold his nose and vote for someone who is the "lesser of two evils' again. Neither will I. Kerry is pitiful in how he didn't show any backbone in the Ohio voting scandal.
I had to leave to catch a flight home (it took almost 10 hours to get home) just when they were starting "Organizing Spiritual Communities to Heal a Divided Nation". I think that might have been interesting, so I'm sorry I missed it.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Mothers Mourn as the Elite Party On - by Steve Lopez
"The first mom I spoke to by phone Thursday morning was Celeste Zappala, whose sons used to hang around with my boys now and then in Philadelphia. Zappala was in Washington for President Bush's inaugural, demonstrating against the war that took her eldest boy. "I'm at Foundry United Methodist Church, where I just spoke about the cost of war," said Zappala, who carried a poster-size photo of her son, Sherwood Baker. Baker, a 30-year-old National Guardsman, was killed April 26 last year while searching for weapons of mass destruction. Baker, a husband and father, had gone to Iraq with a walkie-talkie and navigational device his family bought for him because they were not provided by the military."
And a bit on Cindy, who sent me the link:
"My son was regular Army, enlisted," said Sheehan, a full-time mom married to a hardware salesman. "We didn't want him to enlist, but he was 21 and it was something he wanted to do — to serve his country. He was always into service as an Eagle Scout, an altar boy." And yet Casey, her son, was against this war. "He didn't think it was a just war…. He didn't see Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States … but he felt he had a duty and a loyalty to his buddies. He told me he had to support his buddies by doing this job, and he told me, 'Mom, the sooner I go, the sooner I'll be home.' "
here's a link to the full article:
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Putting on this exhibit is a lot of work. Just setting it up takes 40 -50 people. I commend American Friends Service Committee for doing this. It is a worthwhile task. I hope to bring it to Asheville.
After this, I went to the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) conference. Golly, those folks are disorganized. I often wonder (when I am involved with the Progressive Democrats) if we can truly change the Democratic party here in the USA. It seems like they are just "Republican lite". I often say Clinton was the best Republican president we ever had.
Two really good experiences at this conference today was hearing Tom Hayden speak on ideas to promote getting our troops out of Iraq, and going to a discussion on blogging! This discussion was on how to promote your blog, and how to use blogs for sharing information, resources, and organizing for political reasons. I have some notes on how to connect my blog to other progressive blogs, and I think I will do this later....... I say "I think I will" because I am not totally sure I want my blog to be widely read.
But I do hope this blog promotes progressive values and peace, and an end to the war in Iraq. And I hope you, dear reader, do too. Thanks for reading.
Friday, January 21, 2005
After the counter inaugural, Linda and I had lunch, then we went to the EYES WIDE OPEN exhibit at the National City Christian Church. This was the second day I worked on the exhibit. I worked behind the table at the entrance, and spent a fair amount of time trying to straighten out the tee shirts and find the right sizes for people, and answering questions. The tee shirts had the slogan "War is costly" on the front and "Peace is priceless" on the back.
We moved some of the soldier's boots to the front steps of the church, and placed candles besides them. We handed out candles to the people gathered. Several parents of soldiers killed in Iraq spoke about their attempts to talk to Rumsfeld that day, and about their pain and loss over this war. They spoke of the senselessness of this war. While they spoke, I kept relighting the candles. I felt it was important that they be lit. I got to meet Cindy Sheehan, whom I had emailed several times over the past few weeks (her son Casey died in Iraq). Amy Goodman was there to interview the families. As they spoke, stretch limo after stretch limo after stretch limo drove by the memorial. One of the speakers commented on this... how these people are here in DC to party and live it up, while they are totally oblivious to the pain this president's policies have brought.
After the military families spoke, we started reading the names of the American troops and Iraqi civilians who have been killed in this war. The people who were doing the readings were planned in advance, but they could not find them in time, so I got to read the names of the US troops from Arizona. I did the best I could with some of the names (some I didn't know how to pronounce) but the common English and Spanish names I had no trouble with, and I acted confident on the pronunciation of the non-typical names. I read out their ages too.... age 19, age 20, age 26, age 21, age 19, .... my God, they were so young. And again, limo after limo after limo drove by.... endlessly, it seemed. Some Americans have so much wealth, and no hesitation about spending on frivolous things on themselves, while others suffer so much. And they are blind to this reality.
Then I went back to lighting the candles that had been blown out by the wind. This reminded me of the last antiwar protest before the war started. It was on Sunday evening in March, and it was a prayer vigil. I remember standing at Vance Monument and singing "Give Peace a Chance" and relighting the candles. I remember at that point in time listening to the song "Lay Down Candles in the Rain".... and feeling it was so hopeless to stop this madness.
Now, almost two years later, I mark the deaths of the US troops and the innocent Iraqis in this war. And I listen to, and cry with, the US parents who lost their young children forever..... while those children were only trying to serve their country. They were misled and misused by the current administration.
It brings tears to my eyes, as I continue to lay down candles in the rain. The rain is the tears of those who lost their loved ones.
Elizabeth came from Santa Fe, NM and she said she was marching so that she could tell her grandkids that she stood against the Bush administration. Linda, from Bloomington, came to protest the war and the cuts in social services and the damage being done to the environment. She said all we get is war and more war. Caroline is from Little Switzerland, in NC. She was in the parade because she felt that she should act on her conscience, and object to today's (events) even if it was just a symbolic gesture. Carol, from Silver City, NM. She came to the parade/rally because she wanted to do something about all the injustices in the world today. I came to protest the war, which I feel is immoral, illegal and oh-so-breathtakingly stupid.
Some of the signs said "arms are for hugging" and "Newsflash Mr. Bush: we are not all Christians" and "No pride in war, genocide and torture" and "We the people want to live in a world where all life is respected" and "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be maintained by understanding- Albert Einstein." My sign said "War is Not the Answer". Other signs said "as long as we see enemies, we will be seen as enemies" and "Not my president" and "Greed + Ego + Fear = War" and "Draft Jenna and Barbara" and "Looking for a Leader I can trust" and "Guilty of war crimes". One of the slogans chanted was "troops out - NOW!"
This rally was disappointingly small, but it had a few good speakers... like Granny D. They also had some folks selling of buttons, shirts, and passing out literature. I had received word (via email) of "Protest Warriors" who were really Bush supporters who were going to disrupt the rally and parade, but we could not identify anyone who was doing that.
The biggest problem we faced in the parade was cigarette smoke - which drove us crazy.
The parade got started about 10:30, and the sun came out and things warmed up some. As we walked away from the park, the parade grew and grew. There were thousands in the streets, all carrying signs and chanting. It was great. Linda and I stopped at a hotel to use the restrooms, and we picked one with cops every three feet in front of this hotel. They made us leave our signs at the doors. The cops were from Maryland, and I asked one of them how come they ended up there, and the cop said they got lost. I told them they should have asked for directions! Men never ask for directions!
The parade formally ended at Meridian Park, which is fairly close to the National City Christian Church where the exhibit Eyes Wide Open was being shown. There were people hanging around, and some of the local side streets were blocked to cars by buses parked sideways. Some of the protestors went on to the inaugural route to protest some more, and some went on to a die-in. Linda and I went to eat lunch, since we were cold and worn out. All in all, I felt pretty good about being there, but I didn't want to even see Mr. Bush or tangle with police.
I am hoping brainshrub sends me an email of his experiences during the counter inaugural, which were very different than mine.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
On the way back to the Wm. Penn House, I saw fireworks. I cannot believe that people are celebrating this inaugural, it strikes me as the saddest day of our countries history. Bush said yesterday to some troops "More will be asked of you". I guess that means more war.
Tomorrow is the counter-inaugeral, and I am going with Linda and Caroline from the Wm. Penn House. It is supposed to be cold again. Then I am going back to Eyes Wide Open to listen to the speakers and stay for the candle service.
I am very sad about the direction my country is headed.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
I got very lucky. I got on the elevator in the Dirkson Building to go see Senator Burr, and he got on the elevator with me. I gave him the top sheet of the packet of information (I left the entire packet with his office staff) and I had a good 3-4 minutes to tell him of my concerns about the Iraqi civilians and what they are suffering. I expressed how I think this war is wrong, and the use of torture makes us the moral equivalent of the terrorists. I told him how I would rather die from a terrorist attack than see my country engage in immoral actions (which they are doing). I told him how I feel I am being immoral when I pay my taxes. I feel I am contributing to evil. Senator Burr disagreed with me over what Senator Graham actually said to Mr. Gonzales, and one of his staff told me her brother is in the military in Baghdad, and he feels it is hard, but it is worth it. I was nearly in tears over all this concern I was expressing, but when I left the office, Senator Burr still had the sheet of paper (with the names of the Iraqi babies who had been killed) in his hand.
I think it was a success, at least to let him know that I am aware of what the Iraqi people are going through, and that I care about that a great deal.
Next I went to Senator Dole's office, and I talked to a receptionist there. She was very nice, but there were lots of people around, and Senator Dole was nowhere to be seen. I left my papers with the receptionist. I also visited Senator Graham's office to say thanks for confronting Mr. Gonzales. Someday, I will have to blog on what that Senator said.
I guess it would be redundant to say that I see my country on a very immoral course of action.... detaining people without charges, abuse, torture, murder, rape, optional war.... and not one of the higher ups ever gets punished.
I also went today to the Seawell-Belmont House, which is where the National Women's Party was founded and organized. I learn a lot about women working to get the vote (it took them forever! many of them died before they could legally vote.) and about the work done on the Equal Rights Amendment, which has still not be included in our constitution. I rather felt that maybe I should have worked harder on those issues back in the 70's and 80's.
But today, we have even more serious issues. Our country and our leaders seem to be hell-bent on starting a world war, based mostly in the middle east. Not only is war wrong and evil, we will also lose this war (we have already lost in Iraq).
So, should I pay my taxes and commit an immoral act, or should I not pay my taxes and get into big legal trouble and lose my job? I guess I will one day resolve this dilemma by moving to Canada.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The event at the National Cathedral was called SOUL FORCE, and it included EYES WIDE OPEN and several other events to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and to promote peace in the world, in ourselves and in our community.
Here is a quote from MLK: "We must find an alternative to bloodshed" and one of my favorites: "Violence is self-defeating". And here are some highlights from the program today at the National Cathedral (an amazingly beautiful building, but quite excessive, in my opinion):
(Zulu Song from South Africa)
Siyahamb'a kooka nyenih kwenkos!
We are marching in the light of God!
"We Must Dream"
(Lyrics and Music by James Selway)
We will dream of a world safe for children,
We will dream ev'ry child can be free.
Free to sleep in peace at night,
Free to wake with joy in the light.
Free to play, to dance and to sing,
Free to let their laughter ring.
(Text from Pirkei Avot - Jewish Morality Laws)
Al shlosha, d'varim haolam kayam,
Al haemet v'al hadin, v'al hashalom
The world is sustained by three things,
By truth, by justice and by peace.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Going through security, you have to take off your shoes (boots, in my case), coats, sweaters, and any jewelry (I don't wear any)...plus you have to take your notebook computer out of your case. It takes several minutes to get everything back on or put away. I guess I'm not on the "no fly" list yet, since I had no troubles with that. A connecting flight was cancelled, so I spent lots of time reading in an airport on Saturday, and got in to the Wm. Penn House after dark. I was exhausted, and I'm wondering if dragging around this computer was a good idea.
Wm. Penn House
This is a Quaker house, and overall I like it. It is rather rustic, but clean and the folks are friendly and interesting. Staying in a hostel like this really gives you the chance to meet some new and interesting folks. Only problem is... it is very cold outside, and I am very cold even when sleeping. I guess I am used to lots of heat, and I miss the electric blanket!
Nonviolent Resistance Training
A local DC group held this training yesterday, and I learned a few things...... like I think violence of any form is wrong in nearly all situations, but if I saw someone kicking a dog, I would step in and physically try to stop them.......and maybe escalate the situation. And I don't even like dogs! Imagine if it was a child getting beat on! The people running the program said at one point there were undercover cops there, and I immediately suggested we play "out the cop". They thought that was an exceedingly bad idea. I still think it would have been fun. I think I know who the cop was, too.
Eyes Wide Open
I went to help set up this exhibit, and it is a ton of work unpacking 1300+ pairs of boots, and then separating them by state. The states are in alphabetical order, and you can imagine how that gets to be a mess pretty quick when you don't allocate enough space per state (some have had more fatalities than others). They also have thousands of regular shoes to represent the Iraqi civilians who died. Some even have names attached to them. These are set up in no particular order, so it is easier to do. I put the children's shoes up front. A lot of the shoes are missing their mate, so I tried to match them up. Some of the shoes are for newborns........
It was reading the stories on the display boards that made me cry though.
I go back this evening to break down this exhibit. I'm going to the museums this afternoon, and I hope I can get this computer/internet connection to work... I was having trouble with that yesterday. (guess I got it to work!)
Saturday, January 15, 2005
I am going to DC to do my real work in life at this time: to protest the Iraq war. I believe this war is immoral, illegal and oh-so-breathtakingly-stupid. I believe Iraq is on fire, and the US troops there are fuel to the fire. I believe with every Iraqi civilian the US troops kill (accidentally or not) makes 10 new "insurgents". I believe a lot of the terrorists in Iraq right now are there because of US troops. That is not fair to the Iraqi people or even our troops.
I will be protesting on several days, and working for the EYES WIDE OPEN exhibit on several days. (more information on that exhibit at www.afsc.org ) If you have not signed the American Friends Service Committee petition to remove US troops from Iraq, please go to that website and do so!
Here are some words from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
'I still believe that we shall overcome'
Martin Luther King Jr. accepts the Nobel prize for Peace on Dec. 10, 1964. An excerpt:
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.... I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent, redemptive goodwill will be proclaimed the rule of the land....
I still believe that we shall overcome....
And this next week, I will be acting full time in the struggle to overcome.
Peace. It's worth living for, and it is worth dying for..... it is not worth, nor can be achieved, by killing or violence..
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Dahr Jamail AMMAN, Jordan, Jan 11 (IPS) -
It has been nearly two years since Fernando Suarez del Solar's son Jesus, a lance corporal in the U.S. Marines, died during the invasion of Iraq. The father's grief is still fierce, but rather than succumbing to feelings of vengeance, he has chosen instead to bring medical aid to Iraqi children and speak out against what he believes is an unjust and ill-advised war.
Suarez has every right to be angry. He was initially told that his son, one of the first U.S. casualties, was killed by a gunshot to the head on Mar. 27, 2003. Later, Suarez was informed that his 20-year-old son was killed by a landmine. Still later, based on information confirmed by an ABC reporter embedded with Jesus' unit, Suarez learned that his son died from stepping on an unexploded cluster bomb, a weapon that many argue is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. ”This has given me a lesson that we can work together, no matter if we are Arab, Mexican or American,” Suarez told a meeting of the Arab Human Rights Association in Amman, Jordan late last month. ”The blood of our people who have died should serve to unite us against this corrupt government in the U.S.” While several Arab attendees nodded in agreement, Suarez added, ”I ask for the forgiveness in the name of my people, but this is not enough. We have to do something to end this.”
Laden with three bulging suitcases of medical supplies he collected in California, Suarez had come to Jordan with his wife on a mission to help Iraqis, particularly children, who are suffering and dying amidst the occupation. Sponsored by the human rights group Global Exchange and the Los Angles-based peace group, Code Pink, the delegation included members of two other families who lost loved ones in Iraq, as well as a woman who lost her son in the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Emotions ran high at a meeting between the delegation and Iraqis who have lost relatives to the violence, and many began crying, including Suarez, a native of Mexico who moved to the United States when Jesus was a teen. ”You have to understand that our children were forced to go to Iraq, they didn't want to go,” he said. ”Sometimes it is survival, but that doesn't justify that they don't help people, or that they abuse prisoners. Maybe the medicine we bring can help 100 children survive. But we are working to help the whole country survive.”
Later, at another meeting with Iraqi families, Suarez listened to the story of a sheikh -- a religious and community leader -- from Fallujah, who said his son-in-law had been executed by U.S. soldiers in his home the previous week. Asking to remain nameless for his own safety, the sheikh took great personal risks to travel to Amman to share his story. He said his son-in-law had been executed during a home raid, while his wife was in the next room. Later, the U.S. military informed the sheikh that they had mistakenly killed the wrong man.
”This man was killed last weekend,” the bearded sheikh said, holding up a photo of his dead son-in-law in one hand and a picture of two little girls in the other. ”These two kids will not see their father again.”
”This moment should be a lesson for us all. Let us say the truth for all the people. To the people whose presidents lied to them, and the media who helps them in their lies,” continued the sheikh.
After pausing to wipe his tears, Suarez took the opportunity to address the group. ”I understand we are united here in our grief,” he said, ”The pain of having lost a part of our lives...No matter what I say, your own suffering is not going to change. But we can hopefully avoid that other people suffer what we have suffered. Thank you for being together today, my brother, and you are all part of my family.”
For a moment nobody in the room could speak, until the sheikh added, ”Thank you for these words that come from the heart.”
”I am going to try to continue the campaign to bring medicine for Iraq,” Suarez told IPS near the end of his trip last week. ”This is important because the war is not going to stop today. The victims are increasing every single day. The Iraqi children need more help.”
It is estimated that the medical supplies and funding totaling 600,000 dollars brought in by Suarez and the delegation will bring relief to at least 10,000 Iraqis, the majority of them women and children in refugee camps along the border. He knows the bond of grief between himself and people like the sheikh is a touchstone for unity and action. ”When the Iraqi families listen to my story, hear that my son died, it opens their hearts and they give me a beautiful welcome,” he explained, ”The Iraqi families see that Americans cry too, that Americans have pain, and we are humans and they see this. It doesn't matter where we come from.” (END/2005)
· Against the needless slaughter in and occupation of Iraq
· Against the assault on civil liberties, as represented by such acts as the Patriot Act and the immoral detentions at Guantanamo Bay
· Against US support of the Israeli government's denial of human rights against the Palestinian people
· Against U.S. overthrow of Aristide in Haiti
· Against U.S. attempts to overthrow any other democratically elected leader, including Hugo Chavez in Venezuela
· Against any U.S. military action in Iran.
· For a world that embraces peaceful dialogue instead of war
· For a world where we respect the liberty of all beings
· For a world that looks out for all those who are now oppressed, including the poor, women, racial minorities, workers, the disabled, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, as well as the earth and its creatures
· For a world that embraces social justice
· For democracy and the autonomy of all people to have a full say in how they are governed
· For each other.
I took the above from a emailing sent to me by the J20 Coalition. This is what they stand for, and this is what we will be demonstrating for.... A.N.S.W.E.R. is in need of $30,000 to pay for all the expenses connected with this event. If you have any money to give.... please donate.
And please sign the petition at www.afsc.org to request troops are removed from Iraq.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
(incident happened on 9/12/04, Baghdad)
They had several excuses:
to retrieve injured comrades- except there were no such there.
to return ground fire- the film shows no arms, no fire.
to destroy sensitive equipment left behind- they hit civilians instead.
Blood on the camera lens.
Thirteen dead at the end of the day.
Scores injured. Their crimes: reporting, curiosity, celebration of knocked down Americans,
or just walking down the street.
All recorded on film this time-both moving and still-
all recorded by stories, straight from those on the scene.
Three more would die of injuries in the days to follow,
All unnamed, except for one-
a TV reporter, whose last report was "I'm dying! I'm dying!"
His final act as a journalist.
His final act as a human being.
Just sixteen more civilian casualties among the unreported tens of thousands.
The cameras know what happened.
The soldiers know what happened.
The people on Haifa Street know what happened.
Blood on the camera lens.
Blood on the street.
Earlier, US troops were injured there.
Anger and a thirst for revenge pulled the trigger.
But the real fault lies in the American government's policies.
Our troops are in a country where the people are not our enemy.
We are growing our own enemies.
We sow seeds of prejudice with our failures of intelligence.
We sow seeds of hatred with our failures of compassion.
We sow seeds of rage with our failures of decency.
We sow seeds of revenge with our failures of integrity.
Blood on the camera lens.
Blood on the street.
Blood on our hands.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
These are some of the depressing incidents that happened this past week, brought to you by US government policies and actions:
- Seven US soldiers died in one sad KA-BOOM
- Iraqi insurgents killed another 100 people
- a US soldier got 6 months in prison and a demotion (that is all!) for forcing an Iraqi into the Tigris river last January. They decided this was only an assault. This Iraqi man drowned, per his family. His cousin writes a blog called "Healing Iraq".
- oh, and the commending officer of that unit told the soldiers what to say about the incident. And their stories changed several times.
- that entire incident would have never even been noticed if not for the fact that the dead man's cousin has a blog, and he got many people involved in the investigation. That's one small bright spot: several US officers demanded an investigation of the Iraqi man's death.
- in Mosul, the US forces bombed the wrong house. The US claims 5 "possibly innocent lives" were lost, but Iraqi people and the AP report 14 dead, seven of them children. They also have 14 graves to back up their claims.
- it is a war crime to bomb a residential area, no matter who is there, no matter why
- the "possibly innocent" claim is particularly evil: now the Iraqi people are "guilty until proven innocent", even if they are only sleeping inside their own homes
- also this week, the US forces killed 5 innocents (2 were Iraqi police)...(oh, and the Iraqi hospital says it was 8, not 5 dead people) after a roadside bomb went off. It is pretty well established that these were innocents killed, regardless
- FAUX news says the Americans killed 5 terrorists in "retaliation"
- US authorities say they can hold "terrorists" for life with no trial. Just because they can, I guess. Goodbye, rule of law.....
- plenty of stories of extravagant inaugural parties (why do people spend money so foolishly?)
- parts of Fallujah are being "resettled" even though they have no water, sewer, electricity, or (a lot of times) homes.... and over 700 bodies have been found. 550 are reported to be women and children.
- In Iraq, Sgt. Royd Nuckols, 30, of Folcroft, Pa., agreed: "I don't want my wife or my kids to know the stuff I've had to do or see."
- who knows what kind of shape Sgt. Nuckols will be in when he gets home.
- and the worst part of all is the Abu Gonzales thing. I'm not even going to comment on that, except I called Senator Graham (SC-R) to say thank you for speaking the truth.
The level of callousness, the level of hypocrisy, the level of true evil, is such as I have never seen before in my (almost) 50 years.
We are adrift, and seemingly without morals.
In today's local paper, a letter to the editor by a Mr. Britton said: "we are getting our red, white and blue rear-end kicked in Iraq" and for Iraqi people "democracy is found in a dictionary between damnation and devastation". I don't know this man, but he has a way with words.
I'm off to a peace vigil, one of three held ever week in Asheville. I will pray for some moral guidance for American leaders.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Also today, the soldier who pushed Zayed's cousin into a river (he drowned) last year was given six months in jail for assault. That was all. The defense even claimed that the man did not die: like a whole extended family would make such a thing up! The trial report did not mention that the US soldiers also destroyed the man's truck full of plumbing supplies. The supposed crime: out after curfew. Six months for causing the death of an innocent. This whole incident only came to light because Zayed writes a blog in Iraq (Healing Iraq).
And also today, the news services is reporting that the US "accidentally" bombed the wrong home in Iraq, and killed six people (except the Iraqis claim it was 14 people) who were innocents. However, the official US spokesman said "possible innocents" even after admitting they bombed the wrong house! Like maybe they accidentally killed an insurgent or two by mistake! By the way, half of those killed in this bombing were CHILDREN.
This all sickens me. I don't know what to say to the Iraqi people other than:
I'm so very sorry.
And to the US authorities: get our troops out of there before they kill even more innocents. And then pay up big time for all the damage and hurt you have caused... out of your own pockets, please. And Americans: be prepared to go to an antiwar demonstration somewhere on March 19th (the second anniversary of this fiasco).
Thursday, January 06, 2005
This little piece of humanity looks so perfect; it is hard to believe she is dead. I wish I could step into the picture and lift her hand, see if there is warmth there or maybe a pulse. She shows no signs of any violence herself.
This is not true of the man she is lies next too. His head is cleanly gone, and a large pool of blood surrounds him. There is no sign of any weapons near these two people, the little girl and the man beside her.
There is no way to know for sure, but the nature of the injury to the man lying dead indicates it was superior American firepower that took him down in the battle of Fallujah. The wound is not reflective of the weapons typically used by the guerrillas.
There is an American soldier in the picture also. He looks away from the little girl and the man, and his gun position indicates that he presently does not feel threatened. I wonder about him too: what is he thinking, smelling, and feeling at that moment of time? What kind of memories will he take with him? How will all of this affect him? Does he know more about the man lying there than the picture would indicate? What kind of scars and battles will he face when he returns home to the United States?
And of course, the questions unanswered by the picture: Did this little girl suffer? Did she die quickly? Did she know what was going on? Was she afraid? Was there a reason she was there, and what was the cause of her death? Was there a reason the man was shot? Was he a threat?
Do Americans even know about this little girl? Has it reached into their awareness? I saw this picture on an internet site, but I did not see it in an American newspaper or on an American television broadcast. Do Americans realize what is going on over there, and do they understand better than I do the reasons behind this continued violence? Do they realize this is the third time we have liberated the city of Fallujah and that Fallujah is now reduced to rubble? Do they know that all the water and sewer pipes will need to be replaced, due to the bombing, for a city that holds 300,000? Do they know that a significant number of the residents of this city are now living in tents? Do they know it is wintertime there?
It seems so pointless and futile to me. What a dreary and sad reality our country is creating in Iraq! We are growing enemies where we once had none. We are sowing seeds of hatred and revenge among people we are presumably there to help, people we are supposedly bringing freedom and democracy. This little girl has found the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death. She is, at least, beyond all pain and fear and suffering now.
I fear we are recruiting more terrorists every day while we are there in Iraq. Pictures such as the one of the little girl and the man besides her, and pictures that are far, far worse are being shown on Arab television every day. I saw this picture on al Jazeera website.
And this is exactly what Mr. Bush and his administration is proposing to do at GITMO! (Actually, they have been doing it all along, but now they proposed these people should be locked up for the rest of their lives, without charges and without a trial.)
This is a clear sign of the abandonment of the rule of law, it also underlines Mr. Bush's weakness. If they were truly catching the "bad guys" then they could bring them to court and find them guilty. Instead, there will be no charges and no trial. It is highly immoral.
Ever wonder just how good our Dept of Homeland Security could possibly be if they cannot even vet Mr. Kerik properly for the position of DIRECTOR? I have a picture of Bush and Kerik shaking hands, with a sign saying "Safer America" in the background. No, folks, they don't know what they are doing, and that lack of knowledge is not keeping us safe. And will not keep us safe in the future.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
The group (and the representative from Vets for Peace) agreed to help with an "EYES WIDE OPEN" exhibit in Asheville. This is an exhibit put together by the American Friends Service Committee. I am really interested in bringing it to Asheville. You can read more about this at www.afsc.org They have a petition to sign to ask Mr. Bush to remove the troops from Iraq. Of course, we all know Bush has no plans to do that. But, it is still important to sign the petition, to let the world know (and the Iraqi people know) that not all Americans support this war and occupation.
Also, a reminder that J20 (inauguration day) is also "Not One Dime" day. United for Peace and Justice is asking all peace activists to not spend even one dime on January 20th. Not for food or gas or buses or anything. They are also asking people to come to the counter-inaugural, or stay home from work or school.
I will be in DC the week of the inauguration, to protest Bush's policies and to help the American Friends Service committee on their exhibit "Eyes Wide Open". I will blog from DC.
I read today that over 700 people have been found dead in two sections of Fallujah, due to the recent military action there. Over 550 are reported to be women and children, and a lot of the men are elderly. There are 18 more sections of Fallujah to be "resettled", and fighting still goes on, sadly.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
"TVNL Editor's Comments: CNN has started running cute little TV ads that follow in the footsteps of the famous ESPN ads. They are mildly humorous and they make you like the news people in the ads. A little note to CNN….YOU ARE A NEWS NETWORK! Or at least you claim to be one. At least pretend to have some dignity. At least pretend to present what you do as journalism. This would mean treating journalism the way it deserves; as a serious vital practice and not as entertainment."
Yes, CNN, we need you to act like journalists, not infotainers. We need you to tell us who, what, when, where and why.... without your editorial comments. You do not need to be popular, you need to be accurate. You need to realize what is and what IS NOT important. You need to stop the family tragedies, celebrity crime, and nonsense reporting.
Our democracy is hurting because of your choices. Not to mention Iraq.....
Monday, January 03, 2005
"Rumsfeld is no doubt right that beheading is worse than beatings or rape. But is it worse than having a bomb dropped in your neighborhood while you are sleeping in bed? Is death by beating better than by beheading? I really won't know.
But there is one thing I do know: morality is not relative. And just because people out there do worse things, does not excuse immoral behavior on my part. If I choose to steal $20 from your wallet, while someone else chooses to steal the whole wallet, does not mean my behavior was okay."
Here's what the Washington Post wanted to publish:
"Donald Rumsfeld is no doubt right that beheading is worse than beatings or rape.
But morality is not relative. And just because people out there do worse things, does not excuse immoral behavior on my part. If I choose to steal $20 from your wallet, while someone else chooses to steal the whole wallet, does not mean my behavior was okay."
I told them they could publish the whole letter, or none of it. I really have no need to see my name in print in the Washington Post. And, I am not afraid of Rumsfeld. There is lots of things I'd like to tell him, as a matter of fact.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
It was such a pleasure just to hold these little ones. The name Malique means "king" or "leader" in Arabic. The name Malcolm means "dove"... and I forget what language that was originally from. The name Zahrah means "flower" and is also Arabic, I believe. Zahrah was evacuated from Iraq for medical reasons (not pregnancy) last summer. The army still has not found her belongings to forward them to her. I sent her a Peace Bear while she was in Iraq. I also sent a Peace Bear to Faiza, an Iraqi blogger.
I would also like to remember Zahrah Ali Sabah, a 26 year old Iraqi women who was killed by missiles on March 27, 2003 in Basrah. She is listed on Raed Jarrar's Iraqi Civilian Casualties list, and her name is in the middle of the list (when the list is put in order of ages of the deceased). I do not know if this Zahrah had children or not, but it is certain she had loved ones who grieve her death. So, one Zahrah lives and is blessed with two beautiful children, and another Zahrah dies from US missiles.
Please pray for peace tonight.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Blogging in the Fog of War
Friday, December 24, 2004; Page A16
I started reading Iraqi blogs like those that Howard Kurtz chronicled ["Iraqi Bloggers, In the News And Critiquing It," Style, Dec. 20] just after the war started. Today when I read them, it feels as if I am reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" in real time.
I see some differences, of course. Anne Frank had heat, water and lights, but she could not leave her cramped dwelling. She also knew who her enemies were.
Across Iraq, the bloggers are allowed to leave their homes (in Fallujah, they were required to leave), but they do not know who wishes them harm and so they don't feel it is safe to leave their homes. Mostly, they are without heat and water, and only occasionally do they have electricity.
The blogs make for interesting reading. I hope things turn out better for the diary writers in Iraq than they did for Anne Frank.
It was claimed that those long-haired antiwar demonstrations, “the war at home,” brought about our defeat in Vietnam. And that the press was complicit: the liberal press was defeatist, and this defeated our noble effort in Southeast Asia. And the politicians, those back-stabbing Washington politicians, they refused to allow our military to win the war. In this post-war discussion in the 1970s, not blamed: were those who advocated the failed U.S. intervention in that far-off civil war; those who failed to design a strategy to counter the political and guerrilla war of the Vietnamese and those who hubristically ignored the fact that U.S. intervention would stimulate the great power of Vietnamese nationalism, which in the end defeated our internationalism, or if you prefer our imperialism.
It was irrelevant that the U.S. military won nearly every military battle, since we lost the psychological and strategic wars to the Vietnamese, to the North Vietnamese and to the Viet Cong, It was their country and they outlasted us in their country. Never underestimate the power of nationalism, even in this global world, to ignite “rag-tag armies.”
Hope on Sri Lanka
General— Lastnode @ 10:35 am
Today, on the first day of a New Year, we grieve for our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. We grieve because we, as a country, could not save them from this terrible tragedy. We grieve, because deep inside we know that Sri Lanka will never be the same again.
But today I say to you Sri Lanka, there is hope. It may be just around the corner, it may be miles away. But there is hope. And as you stoop down to move that piece of rubble, as you cellotape that thousandth package or as your eyes close from the lack of sleep, know that there is a reason, a method to this madness. Know that what you do matters, to all of us, to Sri Lanka.
Forget the threatening calls, forget the free advice. They sit in their air conditioned rooms while we walk the field, treading over rubble they haven’t seen - not even on TV. We have witnessed with our own eyes the sorrow of Sri Lanka, and because of this, we are the most equipped to help. Let the empty vessels talk, we will not listen. We will not step down till Sri Lanka stands tall once more.
To all those who are working hard day and night to help our country at this time of need, I say well done and God Bless. This new year is far from happy, but people like you give us all hope.
Hope on Sri Lanka. Hope on.
Note from the other side of the world: many of us are grieving along with you, hold you in our thoughts and prayers and are trying to be helpful by donating money to charity. Let us know if there is something more we can do. Many of us realize that this is the worst natural disaster that we will ever see….. and rest assured, you will get back on your feet again!
Comment by Susan - USA — 1/1/2005