Saturday, December 30, 2006

Justice for Saddam?




This trial was a farce - much like trials in Stalin's Russia. For starters, they went after Saddam for signing the death warrants of people who were convicted in a trial. I am opposed to the death penalty, but I cannot help but notice that Saddam has now been executed for signing less Death Penalty cases than Bush did while governor of Texas. (Not to mention the fact that more than 148 people are now getting killed everyday in Iraq, thanks to Bush's invasion and occupation. Pretty sad when Saddam looks better than Bush to the Iraqi people.) Now, the actual hanging, however, really fell below Nazi standards. They used to use piano wire, which was slow and painful. Saddam died almost right away. In the Nazi cases, they also taped them. Today, they not only tape them - they go and broadcast it on the TV and print up pictures of the hanging in the papers and on the internet. I find that barbaric.

I think Saddam should have been tried on ALL the crimes he was involved with - which would have exposed quite a few other people as complicit in those crimes - like Rummy above. Then, I think Saddam should have been forced to watch videos of the crimes, the aftermaths, the victims statements for 10 hours a day for the rest of his life. Death brings relief from earthly pain, so killing someone (besides being immoral and barbaric) just lets them off the hook.

Of course, I think the same standards and treatments should be given to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Franks, Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Pearle, and anyone else who was involved in the crimes on Iraq. It would be quite a list.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Protest in Kufa

Iraqis attend a protest gathering in Kufa, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 29, 2006. The al-Sadr movement organized a demo in Kufa to protest the death of Sahib al-Amiri, a top aide to the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and a prominent figure in his movement, who was killed in a joint U.S. and Iraqi army raid Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

Protest in Diwaniya

Protesters hold a anti-U.S. banners and a poster of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration condemning the killing of Saheb al-Amiri, a senior Sadrist official in Diwaniya, 180km (112 miles) south of Baghdad December 29, 2006. REUTERS/Imad al-Khozai (IRAQ)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

WAR IS OVER by John Lennon

WAR IS OVER if we do more than want it to be...

So this is Christmas.

And that old John Lennon song keeps playing in my mind: “War is over, if you want it.”

I’ve always puzzled over this song, though—especially that lyric.

War isn’t over just by wanting it to be so.

A majority of Americans want it over now, but the war keeps going.

We’ve got 140,000 U.S. troops over there, and it looks like Bush and Cheney and Gates are going to send 20,000 or more.

So John Lennon’s wrong, in a literal way.

The war clearly isn’t over.

But maybe he’s saying, if we really want it to end, and (here’s the implied kicker) if we back that sentiment up with sufficient action, then we have the power to end this war.

Well, we’re not close to that point yet.

Some courageous members of the Armed Services are refusing to report for duty, some courageous peace activists are engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, but on this Christmas Day, it’s clear that we haven’t done enough, besides wanting this war to end, to bring it to an end.

It’s not enough to want war to be over.

It’s not enough to vote for war to be over, which is what America did on November 7.

No, we need to make it impossible for the war to go on, using every creative bit of nonviolence we can come up with.

At that point, we can rejoice that war is over now.

Monday, December 25, 2006

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Like a lot of other bloggers, I felt compelled to note this song on this day. This song was written during the American Civil War. Normally today, the 4th, 5th and 6th verses are not sung. It is these verses that reflect the despair that the writer felt during these times, even though he finally ended the song on a positive note. Today, America is not really at war - even though we have two wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. But these wars do not affect most of the population here. Our pResident told us to 'go shopping' just the other day. There is no shortage of anything here, no violence beyond the normal level.

This is not true in Iraq, where we started a war where none existed. Most of the people in that country are in mortal fear of their lives and suffering great deprivation.

How did we get to this point? Well for starters, those who dissented from starting this war were labeled the "looney left" and ignored or dismissed. Today, the same people who got it wrong (in a SPECTACULAR fashion) are still calling the shots. And they are still getting it wrong.

Today, Saddam was sentenced to death. Now, I have no doubt he did many horrible things and deserves to spend his life in prison. I don't believe in the death penalty, and in this case, it will only stir up more violence in the country of Iraq. But I have no doubt that is just what they will do and no doubt as to what the result will be. But, I suppose, there is no stopping this train wreck.

But the ironic thing is that Saddam is sentenced to death for a retaliation effort in response to an attempt on his life. He retaliated by killing about 140 people from the town where they tried to kill him. The first ironic thing is that the US/CIA had been trying to kill Saddam for years, sometimes undercover, sometimes not. Reportedly, the CIA help set off car bombs in Baghdad in the 1990's with Allawi. Bush did it quite publicly with the "Shock and Awe" obscenity. They surely killed more than 140 people who had nothing to do with keeping Saddam alive in that one. Then the US military invaded and killed even more people, and while the claim was to get the WMDs, that was just a pack of lies. They wanted to get rid of Saddam - and they killed many, many, many more people than 140.

And today, anybody even slightly threatens or appears to threaten US troops get killed immediately. No trial like Saddam gave the people from the town that tried to kill him. Drive too close to an American checkpoint without slowing down - they shoot. They kill. They bomb towns in the effort to free them from "anti-Iraqi" forces - which really means they kill Iraqis who don't want Americans running their country.

Today, Bush has killed more Iraqis than Saddam. He has not killed more people (yet), but I think he will beat him at that one too.

It is so depressing to me that the American people let him get away with all this murder, torture, kidnapping, and all the other evil things Bush and his Republican government has done.

Here is a quote I picked up in the comment section of a blog:

”I don't know about the mainstream media's courage or independence, but the insight they all seem to lack is the ability to see the US as "deceitful and manipulative and callous and contemptuous of the rest of the world." Those of us who could recognize those traits had little trouble figuring out where the war was going or why. Those who didn't were easy suckers. It's important to understand that long before Iraq was attacked, the first preemptive attack was against the "blame America first" crowd on the "looney left" -- and that clearing out the critics most sensitive to what would go wrong was the essential first step toward such a disastrous war." - Tom Hall

And I have to say he nailed it. They went after the "looney left" before they did any attack on Iraq. And never mind that the anti-war crowd was correct all along. Most of the American public is not against this war because they are now anti-war; it is because they are anti-losing. And we have lost this war in Iraq, which overall is a good thing, I guess. Better for idiots who start up wars for no reason to lose than to win and keep on doing it.

But it sure sucks for the Iraqi people.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Press Release from Rep. Price and Rep.Miller

Price-Miller Letter to Bush: Initiate Regional Diplomacy

Washington, Dec 11 - Reps. David Price (NC-04) and Brad Miller (NC-13) led a group of 26 Members of Congress today in sending a letter to the President in support of expanding regional diplomacy to promote stability in Iraq and prevent a broader regional conflict. Such an effort, the North Carolina Democrats and their colleagues wrote, should “ensure the active participation of Iraq’s neighbors in promoting stability [in the region].”

The letter draws on several key recommendations from the Iraq Study Group report, which calls for “a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region.” The Price-Miller letter also calls attention to the Senate testimony of Robert Gates, the President’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, who warned of the danger of an escalating regional conflict.

The letter argues that the best way to avert such an outcome is for the President to dispatch Iraq Study Group Co-Chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton as Special Envoys to spearhead a robust diplomatic initiative, beginning with a regional diplomatic conference. The conference would seek to engage Iraq’s neighbors in stabilization efforts, press the international community to fulfill its pledges of support for Iraq’s reconstruction, and jumpstart talks for resolving conflicts elsewhere in the region.

The text of the letter follows.

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Dear President Bush:

We believe the release of the final report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) offers an opportunity for bold bipartisan consensus for action in Iraq. A key component of such action must be the revitalization of regional diplomacy aimed at stabilizing Iraq and preventing the spread of the conflict beyond Iraq’s borders.

As you know, the ISG, chaired jointly by former Secretary of State James Baker III and former Representative Lee Hamilton, underscored the necessity of expanding regional diplomacy and bringing all involved parties to the negotiating table. Indeed, the first priority expressed in the ISG report reads: “The United States should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region. This support structure should include every country that has an interest in averting a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq’s neighbors.”

The importance of regional diplomacy has been underscored in recent days by the remarks of incoming Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who stated in testimony before the Congress, “My greatest worry, if we mishandle the next year or two and if we leave Iraq in chaos, is that a variety of regional powers will become involved in Iraq, and we will have a regional conflict on our hands.” Our best hope for preventing such a regional conflict is to bring all those parties with a stake in Iraq’s future together to fashion an integrated, united approach to the crisis.

To jumpstart regional diplomacy, we urge you to immediately name Secretary Baker and Representative Hamilton as dual Special Envoys to the region, with the mission of organizing and representing the United States at a regional conference convened to discuss Iraq’s future. These envoys could use a regional conference as platform for pursuing three goals the ISG identified as critically important, namely:

• To begin forming an international Iraq Support Group to ensure the active participation of Iraq’s neighbors in promoting stability;
• To press the international community to fulfill unmet reconstruction pledges; and
• To lay the groundwork for discussions on broader regional issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the fragile peace in Lebanon.

Appointing these diplomats, who would be charged with obtaining commitments from Iraq’s neighbors and other stakeholders to help contain the conflict, would provide a strong indication of your commitment to regional diplomacy.

We stand ready to support your leadership to diplomatically engage Iraq’s neighbors. Members of both parties have repeatedly endorsed such a course. As the ISG report noted, “The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out.” Bold steps must be taken now to stem the rising tensions in Iraq and prevent the conflict from spreading into the broader region.


Rep. Brad Miller, Rep. David Price, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, Rep. John Olver,
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Timothy Bishop,
Rep. Lois Capps, Rep. Charles Gonzalez, Rep. Rick Boucher, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest,
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, Rep. Rush Holt
Rep. Sam Farr, Rep. Vic Snyder, Rep. Ron Kind, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Jim Marshall
Rep. John Lewis, Rep. John Spratt, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. John Larson, Rep. Jay Inslee, Rep. Jim McDermott

I certainly support this effort to find solutions to our world problems and world conflict via diplomacy. I hope these Representatives are successful in their efforts, and I feel they should move ahead without the Cheney administration, if that is necessary. On top of diplomacy, we also need to clearly state we will not build permanent bases in Iraq, stop the building of the huge US Embassy there, and start to withdraw our troops NOW.

Press Release from Rep. Price

Congressman Price’s Statement on the Iraq Study Group Report

Washington, Dec 6 - Rep. David Price (NC-04) today issued the following statement in response to the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which was released earlier this morning. The report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group confirms what has been clear for quite some time: the situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating,” staying the course in Iraq is no longer an option, and the President must take our Iraq policy in a new direction. Our country’s challenges in Iraq are daunting, and this dire situation calls for bold action to change our course. I applaud the ISG for recognizing the need to begin bringing our troops home, to enhance diplomatic engagement with Iraq’s neighbors, and to act more assertively to achieve a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a priority which has been neglected far too long. The panel also calls on the President to publicly disavow plans for permanent military bases in Iraq, a pledge I have long believed to be imperative for our government to offer the Iraqi people and their neighbors.

While I support many of the recommendations for changes to the President’s Iraq policy, I know that the question foremost on many Americans’ minds is ‘how do we bring our troops home?’ The ISG proposes some worthy goals for transitioning our troops out of combat involvement in Iraq. But it is now incumbent upon the President to translate these goals and recommendations – in consultation with Democrats and Republicans in Congress – into a responsible, detailed exit strategy for Iraq. The most important conclusion the Iraq Study Group reached is that our presence in Iraq cannot be open-ended. The President should now respond to this message by beginning an immediate, initial drawdown of combat forces in Iraq.

I agree with many of Rep. Price's statements, however, I am of the opinion that the Iraq Study Group will amount to nothing in the Cheney administration. They have no plans for ever leaving Iraq, most surely not before the end of Bush's term in office. This ongoing slaughter in Iraq is making me sick

Press Release from Rep-elect Shuler

Congressman-Elect Heath Shuler Promises Support of Minimum Wage Increase in First 100 Hours of New Congress

Asheville, NCCongressman-Elect Heath Shuler said today he will vote to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 within the first 100 hours of legislative business when the 110th Congress begins this January at a news conference with community and labor leaders from across Western North Carolina. “It has been ten long years since Congress last raised the minimum wage for our working families,” said Shuler. “That is the longest period between raises in the minimum wage since it was first enacted in 1938. The time has come for Congress to stand up for our working families by raising the minimum wage, and that will be one of my top priorities after I am sworn in to the 110th Congress.” Shuler, who campaigned heavily on the issue of raising the minimum wage, pointed out that due to inflation the minimum wage is worth less now than at any time during the past 51 years. “Our working families are being squeezed,” Shuler said. “They are paying more at the gas pump, more for child care, and more for health care, while we ship jobs oversees and wages are stagnant. North Carolina, along with many other states, has already taken a lead on this issue. Now, it’s time for Congress to raise the minimum wage for all of America’s working families. North Carolina raised the state minimum wage $1.00 in 2006. Currently twenty-eight states have minimum wages that exceed the federal minimum. States with minimum wages above the federal level have seen small business employment and employment overall grew faster than in other states. States with higher minimum wages have also shown higher wages and equal employment levels to states with the federal minimum wage. Shuler also reiterated his support for closing the “doughnut hole” in the Medicare Prescription Drug plan which is forcing 245,000 North Carolina seniors to pay full price for the prescriptions, while still paying their plan’s monthly premium. “The Medicare Prescription Drug plan should be focused on helping our seniors, not protecting the profits of the big drug companies,” Shuler said.

I have decided to post press releases from NC congressmen on this blog. I certainly agree with this press release, and feel it is a step in the right direction.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 16

U.S. Must Prove It's A Staying Power”

“On the radio a couple of weeks ago, Hugh Hewitt suggested to me the terrorists might try to pull a Spain on the U.S. elections. You'll recall (though evidently many Americans don't) that in 2004 hundreds of commuters were slaughtered in multiple train bombings in Madrid. The Spaniards responded with a huge street demonstration of supposed solidarity with the dead, all teary passivity and signs saying "Basta!" -- "Enough!" By which they meant not "enough!" of these murderers but "enough!" of the government of Prime Minister Aznar, and of Bush and Blair, and troops in Iraq. A couple of days later, they voted in a socialist government, which immediately withdrew Spanish forces from the Middle East. A profitable couple of hours' work for the jihad.” - Mark Steyn

Mr. Steyn would be mistaken. The Spaniards booted out their current government because they did not want their troops in Iraq, and their current government ignored that fact totally. They said “enough” because they believed that making war on Iraq increased the terrorism in the world, and the reason that terrorism came to Spain. But most of all, they said ENOUGH to all the lying of their current government – like blaming the bombing on the Separatists (Batistas) of Spain.

As we all now know, there was no terrorist attack in the USA to influence the elections (if the al Qaeda terrorists even do that – there is no clear indication that they do, in spite of the bombings in Madrid). Yet this writer thinks we should continue bombing and fighting in Iraq to bring them “freedom and democracy” while he belittles the government democratically elected in Spain – because he sees it as “socialist”. Note how he equates this with what the so-called jihadis want. Pretty amazing to me to think if al Qaeda and bin Laden are promoters of socialism!

But it is totally hypocritical to say you want democracy in one country while you belittle or insult or undermine or overthrow democracy in another country.

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 15

Today's DEMOCRACY HYPOCRISY comes from Lebanon. Last year, during the "Cedar Revolution" the Bush administration and Bush supporters were GUNG-HO on this display of the democratic process..... because it served their overall goals and objectives. Today, the demonstrations in Lebanon are even bigger than the "Cedar Revolution" - but the Bush administration, Bush supporters, and even the corporate media are ignoring them....... since this is headed in a direction they do not like. This clip is from a blog called "The Non-Arab Arab":

The opposition protests in Beirut are absolutely massive, far bigger than the vaunted "Cedar Revolution" protests of not so long ago which the Bush Administration hailed. Suddenly now though, the exact same peaceful tactics when employed by political parties the Bush Administration and the West doesn't like, are "an attempted coup" or some other hogwash. Bald-faced open hypocrisy which proves that Arabs are right when they say Bush is a liar when he claims to want democracy. He wants only pro-US stooges, if they can get there via democratic means then great for the propaganda, but if they need to be kept in power via undemocratic means then the propaganda needs to be flipped in their service.

You can read more of what that blogger has to say HERE.

Yes, it is having a US-compliant governments that is their focus, not having a democratic governments. And by US-compliant means very friendly to corporations and corporate interests. And that is today's installment in the Democracy Hypocrisy series.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 14

Recently, the democratically elected governments in Thailand and Fiji have been overthrown. The Bush administration and all their supporters say nothing. They do nothing to restore the elected governments. And how do they react to the democratically elected government of Palestine? Well, read on…….


We Overcame Our Fear

Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week. It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine. We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.

It’s Only Democracy when you elect who we want. - Bush supporters

We Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us. Nothing undermines the west's claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine.

Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas. She led a women's protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday. (This was published last month. - dancewater) Her email:

What Is It Like To Have Your Home Demolished: 8 Minute Video:

Israeli Occupation Forces Demolish Palestinian Homes

Today, Rice wants to give more money to Fatah - and promote civil war in Palestine.

More on the apartheid wall in Palestine.

Also on that page, a story about undercover Israeli troops who start firing in Ramallah, and the people caught in the middle.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Yes, back in 2002 and early 2003, MILLIONS of us said this war against Iraq was a total disaster of an idea. I specifically said it was immoral, illegal and very, very stupid. (I was wrong on that last part: it was oh-so-breathtakingly-stupid.) I lost friends over that, and I lost respect for a lot of people who swallowed the idiocy that the Bush administration and the corporate media was putting out. I will always remember the idiots on CNN going to the anti-war protests and reporting that the protestors were saying “NO BLOOD FOR OIL” and that the protestors could not explain it better than that! One guy even said he wasn’t sure what they were protesting against! Well, I wish the CNN guy would have PRETENDED that he was a reporter and gone and ASKED THEM!

Today, the same idiots who got it all wrong on WMDs and the danger of terrorists in Iraq are the same ones who get to be experts on what we should do now! As a matter of fact, the longer you have been wrong, the more they listen to you!

Krugman address this issue of who was right and how we should treat them today:

“We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn’t raise questions about the war — or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly — should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.”

Yes, anyone in public office who said that they believed in the WMDs in Iraq is either A TOOL OR A FOOL.

Either way, we should not re-elect them to office.

And any media person who said that they believed in WMDs in Iraq is also either A TOOL OR A FOOL.

Either way, they should shut up.

And yet, today, rather than listen to the ones who got it right, they only listen to those who got it wrong and who consistently get it wrong. And therefore, this hideous and illegal and immoral and oh-so-breathtakingly stupid war drags on.

THEY TOLD YOU SO! And so did I.

"They Share the Bread of Death, Then They Die"

“They share the bread of death, then they die” is a line from the song presented on YouTube below. I closely follow the news about Iraq, and blog on it on my blog News About Iraq and occasionally on the Today In Iraq blog. Before I blogged, I read extensively and nearly daily on the news in Iraq. I have no trouble believing that 655,000+ Iraqis have died since the start of the war in March 2003. I know that Iraqis are suffering horribly, and I want to present some of their stories, from their own blogs. I want more Americans to fully understand just what horror these people are living under at this time. I hope you will watch the video below and read the words from Iraqis themselves.

The first two pieces are from the post Tales from Mesopotamia, from the Treasure of Baghdad blog.

From Zeyad:

As the exchange became more intense, there was a scream of “Allahu Akbar!” followed by four consecutive gunshots that pierced our still street. I had ducked instinctively, but in a split-second I was running downstairs and outside, wearing just my shorts and flannel. A car screeched away, and my immediate thought was that a friend or a neighbor was either shot or kidnapped. The street was dark and almost deserted; storeowners were hurriedly locking their stores, while others pointed to a spot across the street from where I was standing. I saw a guy, who is a bit mentally challenged, and who works with the local generator owner, pacing around in circles and muttering “Abu Hassan, Abu Hassan, Abu…” Abu Hassan is the generator owner. I had a vague notion of what might have taken place, but I hoped I was wrong. I found myself rushing across to the spot that people were still pointing at. There was indeed a body, lying face down in a pool of blood. It was Abu Hassan. I crouched next to him and tried to check his pulse, but my hands were shaking and I couldn’t feel a thing. His neck was still warm and moist with sweat. Some familiar faces from the area cautiously approached me. “Is he still alive?” they asked. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” I nervously shot back. “But do something. Take him to the hospital. Now.”

They tried to find a car, but it seemed that no one wanted anything to do with it, or were trying to make excuses. Someone stopped a taxi but the driver said no when he saw the corpse. I was still next to Abu Hassan’s body, trying to make sense of what just happened. Even now, when I try to remember those traumatic moments, I get a hazy picture, as if the whole incident was taking place in a dream, and that I would suddenly wake up and go out to find Abu Hassan in his mechanic’s overall, smiling under his big gray moustache as he poured oil into the generator.

From Chickitita:

To me the night the Iraqi commandos raided my house was the most horrific of the lot. The way they stormed into my room caused me a lifelong phobia of anyone in khaki, camouflage or any type of military uniform and any machinegun that looks exactly like the ones they pointed at my family and me. The sight of them makes my heart pound so fast, my tummy hurt, my whole body shake and my mouth parch. The sound of mum's pleas to those horrible thugs to leave step dad alone and have mercy on him is still echoing in my ears. And the way he was dragged to their vehicles bound and scared with eyes downcast trying to assure us all that he will be back soon is still haunting me. After 12 hours of detention and humiliation, step dad was back home baffled, tired and unable to say a word, and to this day he has no idea why he was taken in the first place.

The following is from Sunshine, a 14 year old girl in Mosul. This happened last week!

A bullet entered his leg, he fell down on the floor , my grandma went inside the house to call his family , no one was in the street , I got panicked and started to cry and shake hysterically, I ran and brought handkerchiefs , and started to put them on his leg , he was bleeding , the driver came to drive me to school , I told him to wait , I put my bag in the car and ran back to my injured neighbor , I went to bring my mom I was out of breath , and couldn't talk , I was terrified " I was , a man , a bullet , the car , blood , neighbor , bandage , cotton, come please " I couldn't create a sentence , she didn't understand me but she came and brought medical cotton and bandage with her , she ran wearing her pajamas ! anyway she tied his leg so hard , to stop the bleeding , and I kept crying shaking and spreading so many handkerchiefs on the floor to cover the blood, I don’t know why !. Then his wife , kids , brothers , sisters , cousins , and nephews came running toward our house , and one of his relatives took him to the hospital by his car , I went to school , and kept crying all the way long , and when I reached there , I was shaking so badly, even the teachers were worried about me , my mom called the headmistress and told her what happened , when I arrived school the headmistress asked me to sit in her room, the teachers were around me , trying to calm me down , after an hour I stopped shaking , but kept crying , I missed 2 classes and did so bad in geography exam , I wrote " the running winds" , and I did very silly mistakes ..

"R" my dearest friend came while I was in the headmistress room, she was crying and shaking too, a mine exploded in front of their car , !!!! the car's windows were broken , then US soldiers started to shoot their car !. Then our friend "Sh" came crying , because she heard about me and "R" . Then our teacher Mrs. E came to the headmistress with tears in her eyes because her aunt died. Then Mrs. S she is another teacher came and said quickly "excuse me, I have to go, 3 of my neighbors were killed". At last Mrs. "A" came and said "did you know about the Arabic teacher, her nephew was killed". Suddenly the headmistress fell down , we ran to her desk to see what happened , she fainted because of all what was going on in her room ,as well as she was tired from taking care of her sick mother ,and from being awake all the night. so many events , and so many bad news … After I calmed down I went to the class , I was trying to understand what happened , I was hoping that it is just a nightmare , but unfortunately it was true , horrible but true , this is my life. No one should go through that , but what can I do except praying and hoping that we will remain alive. I've seen so many views in TV., In movies and news channels , but is different and scary too see that on real.. My life is turning from worse to worst .

The following is from HNK, another teenage girl in Mosul:

With tears and emotions we have to say Good bye for the people we love,even we don't want to leave each others...We have to say good bye... Good bye with no reply but only good bye. "H", My christian friend and one of my best friends. I don't know what to say except I think I was lucky to have such a beautiful friend like you...I truly love you from the deep of my heart and I didn't know that I loved you that much.I thought that my friend are the same, And I didn't think that I love one from them more than the other. But Today I found out that I was wrong. "H" was special. I can't remember that she hurt me someday or said something bother me. She was quite and silent. to better or worse this life will lead us I don't know, But I swear by the name of God I will never forget you my sister... It's the life who judged to us to suffer and separated. Who was thinking that you will leave.. Leave me , leave Iraq and leave your past life and everything. I don't know what to say. but I know that today I see my friend for the last time and only God know if I will see her another time or not. She and her family are leaving to Syria for the moment and then they are going to move to Canada. They received a threat and they have to leave Iraq. I know it's better for them to leave but ..... It's my friend.

Finally, the video below is called “Baghdad.... Don't Hurt” and was written for the children of Baghdad. Translation of the Arabic is on the video (and also a commenter posted the translation in the comments). I cannot watch this without tears.

I posted this on Daily Kos earlier in the week.

Kucinich, Paul, and the Lancet Study

This type of bipartisan action I approve of. There needs to be much more attention paid to the Iraqi civilians and the massive suffering the US invasion and occupation has caused them.

In a bipartisan Congressional briefing hosted by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) the authors of the Lancet Study, which found that as many as 650,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the war, will present their full findings to Congress. The briefing will take place Monday, December 11th from 10:00am - 12:00pm in 2247 Rayburn House Office Building.

Congressional Briefing on Lancet Study

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)
Gilbert Burnham Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response at Johns Hopkins, co-author of the Lancet Study

UPDATE: A Link to the Congressional briefing.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

December 8 to 10 - Days of Action

These days of action are to show support for Lt. Watada and all GI resisters. There is a website to show your support (listed at the bottom of the blog post). I got this in an email announcement the other day:

"In a pre-trial victory for Lt. Watada, the Army has retreated on all counts of “content towards government officials” – specifically President G. W. Bush. The last known prosecution of this article was in 1965 resulting from Lt. Henry Howe’s opposition to U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War. Lt. Watada’s defense team believe the military favors the conduct unbecoming charges for their overly broad nature, versus the more controversial “contempt of officials” that would have opened the door to the obvious question, “can speech be contemptuous, if it is factual?” Lt. Ehren Watada responds: "The referral of the charges was not unexpected. I'm moving forward as I always have with resilience and fortitude to face the challenges ahead . . . I think the recent elections show more and more Americans are opening their eyes, but we aren't there yet. I hope that actions such as mine will continue to help expose the truth behind the fundamental illegality and immorality of the war," said Lt. Ehren Watada. December 8-10 days of action to support Lt. Watada and all GI resisters. Visit for up-to-date information for the campaign to support Lt. Ehren Watada."

Real Christians

PHOTO: Former hostages Norman Kember (L), James Loney (C) and Harmeet Singh Sooden listen to a question during news conference in central London December 8, 2006. The British man, Kember, and two Canadians freed from captivity in Iraq said on Friday they forgave their captors and had not decided whether to testify at the trial of the men accused of the kidnap. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)

Report from The Independent Online Edition:

Freed Iraq hostage Norman Kember and two other men held with him today announced that they "unconditionally" forgave their captors and wished them no "retribution".

……Mr Kember said the only way he would testify would be to plead for mercy. He told the press conference: "If it was necessary to take part in a trial to plead for clemency and that was the only way we could come to it, then we would take part, but that would be the only reason to take part." Neither he or his fellow hostages have seen photographs gathered as evidence against their captors although they know they exist.

……….Asked if he had been naive to go into the heart of a war zone, Mr Kember replied: "Yes we were naive if Jesus was naive, if Martin Luther King was naive, if Gandhi was naive." The former hostages said their murdered colleague, Mr Fox, was not far from their thoughts but they could not speak for his family as to whether they agreed with their position against giving evidence. Suggesting that Mr Fox would have approved, Mr Loney said: "Tom was very clear about his opposition to the death penalty. "He signed a statement saying that if he was to be murdered that he would not want his murder to be revenged with the death penalty." Mr Kember praised him as "the most compassionate of the four of us". He said: "From time to time we would hear explosions, obviously a bomb had been let off in Baghdad. Tom would immediately pray for both the victims and the perpetrator."

I have to admit, they are way better persons than I am. I would be very angry with someone who had put me through such hell. However, I recognize on an intellectual and spiritual level, that what they are doing IS in the best interests of the entire human race. It is a position of forgiveness that is hard to achieve, even harder to maintain, but they did it both in words and in example.

Quote of the Day: Well, it was a grim 118 days. We suffered from the deprival of our freedom, and we were given very little food. We were in a constant state of fear and anxiety about what was going to happen to us. But, yes, it was an awful experience, but we really desire that we want good to come out of this. And we are very, very concerned that the death penalty is on the table for these men. They could face execution, and that would be the worst possible outcome for us. We -- you know, Bishop Tutu has this phrase, you know: there’s no future without forgiveness. And for us, forgiveness opens up possibilities. It opens up the future, that something different can happen than what happened in the past. And what happened in the past was -- it was awful. And Tom was killed in that. And we want something different. We don't want more people to be killed. We want the possibility of restoration and a justice that is about healing the relationships that have been broken.” – James Loney, one of the Christian Peacemakers Team members kidnapped in Iraq. For the rest of the interview, go to Democracy Now!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 13

MoD Targets Libya and Iraq as “Priority” Arms Sales Targets

Countries with poor human rights records and those on the front line in the war on terror, including Iraq, have been targeted by the Ministry of Defence as the most lucrative places for British arms companies to sell weapons. A confidential report obtained by The Observer under the Freedom of Information Act reveals for the first time that Iraq and Libya are 'priority' markets. Also new on the list are Colombia and Kazakhstan, both criticised for human rights violations. The document has been prepared by the Defence Export Services Organisation (Deso), the agency that promotes the export of military equipment. It was sent to arms contractors last year detailing the countries that the government believes offer the best opportunities.

This example comes from the country of Britain. They supposedly want peace and stability and an end to terrorism in the world – or so they say. This is exactly what the US authorities say also. Yet they go around the world selling arms of all kinds to people of all kinds and countries of all kinds – without consideration for how those weapons may be used. They don’t care AT ALL if they weapons are used for human rights abuses, except when it is human rights abuses against someone (like a person from their own countries) who can provide for them some POLITICAL reasons for revenge or retaliation. Then, they act like they care…… but I do not believe they really care, they just want to use if for an excuse for more violence. And that leads to more retaliation, which means more arms sales around the world, which means more profit for the weapons making industries.

And the makers of the weapons don’t care who gets killed. They just care about making profit. Nothing else matters to them – least of all the death of innocent foreigners.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Wishes

Since it is so small, I will retell the above cartoon from December 2004. It is from a comic strip called GET YOUR WAR ON.

The first guy says "And what do you want for Christmas, my grumpy little friend?"

The second guy says "What do I want for Christmas? I want to be wrong. I want to be totally wrong about everything. And I mean embarrassingly wrong. I want Iraq to be a flourishing, humane, free-market democracy this time next year, and to actually turn to me and say "In your face, cynical New York man! Your visionary president sowed the seeds of democracy in me while you stood around and belly-ached!" And then I'll be like "Damn, I guess I never really did have any idea what the Cheney I was moaning about, huh? My bad, Mr. President."

The first guy then says "Doesn't it get old, wishing for the same thing every Christmas?"

And my answer to that question is "Yes, it does."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stopping Rendition in North Carolina

No, this blog is not about rendering citizens of North Carolina into US custody – that is not happening, as far as I know. But there is a company in North Carolina that is participating in the CIA sponsored “rendition” program. And there is an ever-growing group of NC people who are trying to stop them.

The group that is trying to stop this company is called “STOP TORTURE NOW” and the company that they are going after is called Aero Contractors, Ltd. Here is what the ACLU had to say about Aero Contractors:

Aero Contractors, Ltd., headquartered at the Johnston County Airport in North Carolina. Aero was contracted by PETS to operate the Boeing jet; the company handled the transport of Khaled El-Masri from Skopje to Afghanistan. According to The New York Times, Aero Contractors is "a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency's secret air service. The company was founded in 1979 by a legendary CIA officer and chief pilot for Air America, the agency's Vietnam-era air company, and it appears to be controlled by the agency, according to former employees." ("CIA Expanding Terror Battle under Guise of Charter Flights," The New York Times, May 31, 2005).”

The Charlotte Observer had this to report about the Aero Contractors and their operations inside North Carolina:

“From the Johnston County airport in Smithfield and Global TransPark in Kinston, Aero Contractors has operated as a CIA front. Evidence exists that Aero flights have taken suspects to CIA-run hideaways, where the president now admits such techniques as waterboarding were used to extract confessions. Waterboarding, or pretending to drown a person, is one of the classic torture techniques that the president now says we won't use in our official Department of Defense prisons, like Guantanamo.”

I have only been in contact with the group STOP TORTURE NOW by email. Since I am on the far side of the state from Johnston County Airport, I have not gone to any of the protests. These protests are held at regular intervals, with the last one held just yesterday on December 2, 2006. Since I cannot join the protests without burning a lot of gasoline, I am writing this blog post to inform the world of the work they are doing.

As Barbar Zeiter further states in the Charlotte Observer:

“Several N.C. organizations have been asking Gov. Mike Easley, the N.C. General Assembly and Global TransPark leaders to have the state SBI examine the Aero situation. Evidence gathered by the N.C. chapters of Code Pink, Peace Action and Stop Torture Now reveals that our tax dollars are being used to provide sites where state and national laws and the Geneva Convention are being broken, through CIA flights from our soil.”

How the torture and rendition flights are organized is reported by Consortium News:

“Aero’s planes stop first at Dulles or at CIA facilities in Virginia to pick up flight plans, then fly to Ireland to refuel, and from there to countries such as Britain, Italy, Sweden, Pakistan, Germany, Bosnia, Macedonia, Morocco and Turkey to collect the suspects. On the final lap, they deliver the human cargo for interrogation to countries such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan and until last year, Uzbekistan—all cited in U.S. State Department reports as having unclean hands when it comes to human rights.”

“the CIA uses civilian charter airlines because, under international law, private companies don’t need to reveal the nature of their trips to the countries where they refuel or fly over, while military planes must declare the names of their crews, flight plans, passengers and cargo. As a civilian charter, Aero is not asked for this information.”

Besides the group STOP TORTURE NOW, there are several other groups involved: Code Pink in NC, NC Peace Action, the NC Council of Churches. The spokesperson for NC Council of Churches, Barbar Zeiter, states this in the Charlotte Observer:

“We believe the people of North Carolina want no part of this travesty, no matter what our opinions about war and terrorism. As someone said, "If they were dealing drugs out of Global TransPark and Smithfield airports, we'd be on them in a minute. Torture taxis are against the law, too. Let's stop this mess."

I second that opinion!

The group tried at first to get Senator Dole to take action on Aero, but this produced no results. They then contacted Rep. Etheridge, but there was no interest from that office to take any actions. They then contacted Governor Easley to attempt to stop the torture flights by Aero Contractors, but that attempt did not produce results either. Currently, they are lobbying the NC House to attempt to address this issue through them, and now have over 12 legislators signed on to a letter to the Director of the State Bureau of Investigation. The letter reads in part:

“We write as concerned State Representatives to ask you to investigate the actions of Aero Contractors, a contract air carrier that uses the facilities of the state-funded Global TransPark (GTP).

Aero Contractors has been identified in the media as a participant in the CIA-sponsored "rendition" program, which has flown persons detained in various countries, including the United States, to other countries. There, the suspects were held incommunicado and tortured, using methods that would not have been legal in the United States. President Bush, on September 6, 2006, acknowledged that such "renditions" had occurred.

It appears that Aero Contractors, in flying suspects to overseas torture sites, violated North Carolina and federal laws concerning conspiracy to commit torture (See especially the New York Times article of May 31, 2005). If this is the case, Aero should no longer be permitted to be a client of the GTP Authority.”

I am very proud that NC legislators are stepping up to try to stop this hideous practice of “disappearing” people into a legal black hole that produces torture, murder, misinformation and a whole host of freedom-destroying activities. I am very proud that they are attempting to hold a company operating out of North Carolina to the standards of North Carolina’s laws and to the standards of human decency and human rights. And I am very proud of the work being done in the eastern part of our state to educate people on what is happening here, and I am very proud of their attempts to stop this ongoing human rights abuse by our federal government agencies and companies they contract with.

The STOP TORTURE NOW group have been working on this issue for well over a year, and have tried various approaches to various elected officials. They have held numerous protests and have had several arrests during the protests. I will continue to follow their work and wish them total success.

The website for contacting NC House Representatives is HERE.

Picture of Baghdad today

The Saddest Thing – poem by an anonymous Iraqi from May 2005

Looking up

Seeing hate

Who's slowly becoming life's mate

People talking about the lost lives

About the disturbed hearts and sickened minds

So many innocent lives buried

So many hopes and dreams shattered

So many sleepless nights from now until forever

By the casket tears fall

Losing friend after friend

Time after time

It's getting old

We lost the faith and hope of the world

We lost love and replaced it with violence and harsh words

Wishing danger wasn't in the day

Wishing people would simply walk away

News keep on coming out

Another got shot

Another committed suicide

We'll never see what's going on

Until the days end and everyone is gone.............?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Letters to WaPo

Sent on 11/23/06

I was appalled to read "I thought the prudent use of violence could be
therapeutic" in Cohen's article on November 21, 2006.

How can any decent person think that visiting violence on innocents is
"therapeutic"? I would say that Mr. Cohen has a lot in common with Osama
bin Laden. Please stop publishing such evil comments.

Sent on 12/2/06

I got a chuckle out of the report "Remark By Webb Arouses Passions"
and it's near complete missing of the entire point of the reactions to
Mr. Will's comments.

Will stated that the exchange was "a subtraction from the city's
civility" which strikes me as quite unlikely in light of the exchange
a few short years ago where Mr. Cheney said a cuss word to a senator
on the senate floor itself! And Mr. Bush has been caught on tape
saying a few choice cuss words himself. In light of those comments,
the exchange between Webb and Bush was quite civil indeed!

But the Washington Post article by Mr. Shear claims that the reaction
stems from a longing for someone to challenge Mr. Bush's bravado.
Well, I can only speak for myself, but my reaction stemmed from the
clear double standards in covering politicians in Washington DC.
Apparently Mr. Will is more disturbed by the fact that Mr. Webb would
not answer a rude question directly, and instead offered his position
on the ongoing disaster in Iraq. I don't recall Mr. Will getting
disturbed by Mr. Cheney's comments on the senate floor, or of Mr.
Bush's choice words.

All in all, considering what a monstrous disaster Mr. Bush has created
in Iraq, and the repercussions from the fallout of that failed policy,
I don't think a loss of decorum is too terribly important at this
time. I do wish the folks in DC would refrain from saying cuss words,
however. Of course, now we don't really have to use them. Everyone
knows what you mean when you say "Go Cheney Yourself." And that is
basically what I would like to say to Mr. Will.

Paper Ballots

This past election in NC seemed to go pretty smoothly. We now have a paper trail for our ballots, and 75% of the state has optical scan readers for the paper ballots. We had a close race in the eastern part of the state, but once all the votes were counted, a winner was declared. This is very different from the 2004 election, where we had two state races still undecided months after the November election - because of voting problems.

So, today I got this request from Democracy for America:

The Pennsylvania State House switched from Republican to Democratic this week thanks to the careful counting of absentee and military ballots in one close race. This powerful victory happened because every paper ballot was counted. But across America votes are increasingly being cast electronically with no paper record. Had the election in Pennsylvania been conducted electronically there is no saying how the race might have been decided.

We helped elect a new Democratic House and Senate in Washington, D.C. It's time to put our majority into action. Join me in asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put paper ballots on the agenda in the new Congress's first 100 hours.

I support this totally. We have to be able to count our votes. So, please send a note to Speaker Pelosi. Thanks!