Monday, April 30, 2007

Letter about Dole and Hypocrisy

Subj: letter to the editor

Date: 05/15/04


Senator Dole is quoted in the paper as saying "the acts depicted in these photographs do not in any way represent the values of the United States or her armed forces". In another report this past week, the International Red Cross reports that abuse is widespread, and most of the Iraqi detainees are arrested by mistake. They claim the abuse was "not individual acts". Those photographs may not represent our values, but they do represent some American's behavior, of that there is no doubt.

Senator Dole used to head up the American Red Cross. The NY Times reported on abuses from the International Red Cross in October 2003. The Associated Press reported on abuses on August 28, October 6, October 19 and December 17 of last year. In looking at the website Human Rights Watch, there is mention of Senators Leahy and Specter addressing this issue with the President and the Department of Defense. I can find no report that Senator Dole raised any concerns about this issue at all. How come she, who used to work for the Red Cross, did nothing? How come she did not raise concerns?

This left me wondering: is hypocrisy an American value for Senator Dole?

And how come nothing is being done about the abuses and lawlessness of Guantanamo Bay?

UPDATE: So, two years later - still nothing done about Guantanamo Bay, and all the other hypocrisies of the current US government.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I am so ANGRY

(cross posted to Daily Kos earlier this week.)

I am so angry.

Today, I read a WaPo writer who made fun of someone trying to impeach our criminal vice-president. I saw the wife of the CHIEF criminal talk about how she and her criminal husband are “suffering”. I saw a TV special by Moyers on how these jackals in the press and in our elected offices sprout off one damn stupid lie after another.




How is this possible?

Why are they not being laughed out of town or off the podium? How dare they even show their faces without showing a deep sense of shame and embarrassment?


How can they live with themselves? How can they sleep at night? How can they look in the mirror and not puke?

MY GOD, it was quite a crowd of them too – all the neocons, the bush administration, and a great number of the Democrats in the US Senate! So called “journalists” in the WaPo, NYT, CNN, FAUX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS!

How is it that they are not locked up in jail or a mental hospital? Or, at least, laughed out of town? Why are they still around?

And what will become of the children who were forced to live though this evil they visited on them?

How will they overcome this tragedy that has fallen on their country and their lives?

How can we ever make it up to them?

What about all the other people in that country that we invaded and occupied and brutalized?

The French have at least written a song for them, what have we done?

Our country not only does war, we allow others to do it and get away with it also!

From the song BAGHDAD, DON’T HURT come these lyrics:

The children of sad Baghdad are asking
For what reason they are being killed?
They are staggering on top of the ruins of hunger
They share the bread of death, then they die

God is Greater than the war's destruction, Baghdad
And this unfair world full of hatred
God is Greater than those who start those wars on the innocents
And greater than all those blood traders
Baghdad don't hurt...
Baghdad you are in my blood
Baghdad ... Baghdad...

Shame upon this civilized age... what shame!
Has scaring nations become a slogan for glory and victory?
Has killing innocents become a sign of honour and pride?


Monday, April 23, 2007

"America At A Crossroads" review

Review of “America At A Crossroads” – Gangs of Iraq

First, one event that they made claims about that are not proven: Sunni extremists bombed Hakim in August 2003 in Najaf. This bombing was similar to the UN bombing, but no one has claimed doing this bombing and no one has been proven to have done this bombing, or the UN bombing either. This film made no mention that Hakim (the one now running the Iraqi government via Maliki – and who visited the White House) has more blood on his hands than Sadr. (A rumor I heard recently is this Hakim was behind the bombing of the other Hakim in August 2003. They were brothers. The reason given is that the Hakim in power now wanted his brother out of power back in 2003. His brother was more popular than he was at that point.) No mention is made that Sadr worked with Sunnis in Fallujah in April 2004. No mention of how the death squads started when Negroponte showed up. No mention that Americans ran the Interior Ministry even while they claimed that those not loyal to particular Shia group were fired.

I can attest that the US Congress showed no concerns about these death squads in 2005 and 2006 while I tried to lobby them to look into these atrocities. In the summer of 2005, the Interior Ministry was under US direction, per eyewitness reports. No mention of the fact that the Sunnis who were discovered at a compound in Baghdad in November 2005 (with many signs of torture) were turned back over to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Samarra bombing in February 2006: There is no proof as to who did this bombing, and al Qaeda has not taken credit for this horrible event. It is known that it was a professional demolition job, and that the city was under curfew until just before it blew up. Also, there are eye witness reports of American military being on the scene until just before it blew up.

The US military in Iraq had to take away cell phones so the Iraqi cannot tell their buddies where US military will be – shows how well all this will work. The abductions from the Minister of Education earlier this year – well planned, well organized – and the Sunnis kidnapped are still missing.

This documentary does show how hopeless this whole situation is. One US service man said that he thought that we were just equipping Iraqis for an upcoming civil war. That, of course, is the bush/cheney plan all along. Civil war is an old counter-insurgency technique. So is genocide.

Petraus was presented as being a success up there in Mosul back in 2003 and 2004 – but it was a mirage. And, as anyone who regularly listened to Democracy Now, we knew it was a mirage. And when they attacked Fallujah in November 2004, it all fell apart in Mosul. The entire police force melted away – since they were all part of the insurgency.

America At A Crossroads – The Case For War

This episode was almost total bullshit. It featured Perle, the Prince of Darkness. It was one lie after another, one line of bullshit after another. Perle claimed that we will only be in Iraq long enough to get the Iraqis to the point where they can defend themselves – from other Iraqis, I guess. Perle claims death squads are run by Iran, which is a lie. Perle said that Saddam was involved with al Qaeda – another lie. Perle said that if the US leaves Iraq, the government there will fall. This is probably true, since the government is seen as puppets of the US without legitimacy. The longer the US military stays there, the more likely this is to happen. Perle is delusional to think otherwise.

Perle used Democrats to further his lies. He claims he is a Democrat (if so, we should evict him!). He said that Clinton believed Saddam was a threat also. Clinton did make such stupid claims, which shows he is either stupid or a liar also. Perle went on about Kennedy and how he stood for freedom. Well, Kennedy did the Bay of Pigs fiasco and nearly brought us to a nuclear war with Russia. When Kennedy started seriously talking about peace, he got murdered – as did his brother after him and Martin Luther King.

Perle failed to mention the countries that harbor terrorism – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He failed to mention that the Taliban in 2001 said they would hand over bin Laden and his group, and he failed to mention the US history with bin Laden and his group. Perle talked about Afghanistan – but his idea of what is going on there is a fantasy or a lie. He also conflicts what is happening in Iraq with what is happening in Afghanistan.

Perle mentions that what the Taliban do is violent. He fails to mention the violence of dropping bombs and busting into homes in the middle of the night and other acts by the US military. It is like Perle is walking around with the idea in his head that whatever the US does is all sweetness and wonderful – and any violence we enact is “restorative violence” – meaning that it makes people somehow “better” to go thorough hell on earth from the US violence. And the majority of the US population is blind to the violence, and some of them are so delusional themselves they think only guilty people are killed by the violence.

Perle claims we are facing a terrorist threat of huge proportions. Yes, the terrorists killed less than 5,000 Americans and we have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqs and Afghans. So, who’s the real threat here? Perle stated that Saddam started two wars and killed over a million. Bush started two wars and will kill way more than a million. Perle also said that it seemed Saddam was hiding something because he would not let UN weapons inspectors in to the country – ANOTHER BIG LIE. Perle noted that Iraqis voted enthusiastically – he fails to note that they voted for us to LEAVE IRAQ.

Delusional or evil or both? My vote goes to just evil. An opinion piece in Salon had something to say about Perle and his world view and the series in general, and here are a few clips:

America At A Crossroads” Veers To The Right

“If anyone still believes that PBS has a left-wing bias, "America at a Crossroads," the $20 million, 12-hour series about Islam, terrorism and the post-9/11 world that kicked off Sunday night, should shut them up once and for all. "Crossroads" proves yet again that five years after the 9/11 attacks, the mainstream American media still can't bring itself to talk about the real causes of Arab and Muslim rage at the West.”

“The real problem is "Crossroads'" almost complete failure to explore the history of the Middle East, the effect of Western policies on its people, and the political and historical grievances that are largely responsible for Muslim and Arab rage at the West.

Intellectually, historically and journalistically, this is inexcusable. It's outrageous to devote this much time and money to a subject and never deal directly with one of the central issues. It's as if someone made a 12-hour series about the Civil War and decided to omit slavery.”

One episode, a virtual infomercial for Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative theorist and architect of the Iraq war, is so laughably biased -- and so unbalanced by any film giving equal time to a corresponding perspective on the left -- that it taints the entire series. Suffice it to say the Perle episode, which airs Tuesday night, is almost worth viewing just to see the opening, in which Perle pays specious karmic penance as he is confronted by angry antiwar protesters. In fact, the setup, like the entire film, is completely canned -- the filmmakers obviously made Perle do it to make him a more sympathetic figure. (If you think that Perle chose to leave his house in France to confront an antiwar demonstration while the cameras just happened to be rolling, I have one of his old Chalabi-for-President-of-Iraq stickers I'd like to sell you.)

……………Americans may not like to admit it, but ignoring the truth about what people in the Middle East actually think is a big part of the reason we're bogged down in Iraq. Collapsing distinctions between groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, on the one hand, and ones like al-Qaida, on the other, is a key part of the neocon agenda. It underlies Bush's whole approach to the Middle East in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. It allowed Bush to paint Israel's war against Lebanon, which further eroded America's already dismal standing in the region, as part of his "war on terror." And it has gone unchallenged in Congress and the American media, in large part because to challenge it is to venture into the political minefield surrounding anything having to do with Israel. But it simply does not jibe with the realities or beliefs of the Middle East. Documentary films that uncritically repeat these conventional pieties reveal themselves to be either ignorant or biased. They shed no light on their subjects and tacitly support the neoconservative approach to the "war on terror" -- the very issue that they are supposedly examining.

As long as the US goes on inflicting violence on other countries and peoples, we will have terrorism. As long as the general public is ignorant (and for some of them, long after they are informed) of the US sponsored violence, these US policies will continue. This few parts of this series I did see on PBS was a very mixed bag on informing the US public on what is going on and what is happening. This Wednesday night, April 25, Bill Moyers will do a report on the lies that lead us to war – and this will likely be much more informing that the America At A Crossroads series.

So, here’s a link from a US soldier of a drive through Ramadi in April 2007. That will help inform you! And for daily updates on Iraq, go to Iraq Today blog.

Friday, April 20, 2007

“Hubbly Bubbly” – Hometown Baghdad

Prog Dems of Buncombe County Meeting

Minutes from the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County meeting on 4/10/07

Eight people attended the meeting. Susan shared with the group that she bought a small banner and supplies (bumper stickers, buttons, stickers) from PDA since the last meeting, out of her own pocket. She represented PDA at the Fayetteville Rally, and Isaac Coleman represented PDA, PD North Carolina, and PD of Buncombe at the Asheville Rally. Susan said she spent $100 and recouped $60 so far. PD of Buncombe also had a movie night last week, and The Road to Guantanamo was shown. We decided not to elect officers at this meeting because the group is so small. The financial update showed that $65 was on hand at the last meeting, and two people contributed a total of $10. Our expenses were $10 rent for the room for the meeting and $10 rent for the room for the movie showing. That leaves a balance of $45.

We discussed upcoming events and possible tabling at Earth Day (at Center for Unlimited Possibilities, All Souls, and Greenlife) and possible tabling at Montford Arts Festival. No one was able to volunteer for tabling at these events. We also discussed other upcoming events, including STEP IT UP campaign (1 PM in front of city hall), Rove coming to town on the 28th, and Kucinich coming to town on the 29th.

We discussed the endorsement from United for Peace and Justice on ending the Israeli occupation and the group did not want to endorse this position. We also discussed many issues facing our country and world, including Aero Contracting and the arrests yesterday in the eastern part of the state yesterday.

This group at the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County meeting had very differing backgrounds and felt various issues were more important than others. We discussed having progressive Democrats elected to County Commissioner and other local positions would be a worthwhile goal. Several people felt we should join with the local DFA group. The only concern raised about this was that the DFA group was not connected to the US House of Representatives Progressive Caucus. DFA seems to be better organized and much better at campaign and election training (which is done via the national group).

We decided to support three movie nights at the North Asheville Library. Susan will make arrangements for this and make up a flyer for the upcoming Buncombe County Democratic Party convention on Saturday. The movies that will be shown are The Fog of War, Why We Fight and The Road to Guantanamo.

The next meeting will be July 10, 2007.

Monday, April 16, 2007

In Memory of Marla Ruzicka

In Memory: Marla Ruzicka

Marla was killed by suicide bomber on airport road in Baghdad two years ago today. Marla was working to bring attention to the Iraqi civilians killed in this war. She was working to bring them some compensation for their losses, by pressuring the US government officials. She felt that they had a legal and moral responsibility to compensate the families of civilians killed or injured by military conflicts. She founded an organization called CIVIC (Campaign For Innocent Victims in Conflict) to achieve this goal.

She was a good person, and she inspired me. The photo came from CIVIC's website.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

He claims he is a Democrat. I think he is a jackass.

At the local Democratic Party county convention yesterday, we said the pledge of allegiance. I mentioned after words that we are falling a bit short in the “liberty and justice for all” part. Just yesterday, I read about children now in jail because their parents are undocumented immigrants. These children do not have educational and play opportunities while in prison – and sometimes they are separated from their parents completely, sometimes just separated at night.

The guy at the convention who gave the invocation prayed for aliens. I didn’t know we had outer space visitors on our planet! He also prayed to keep our military safe and no mention of the rest of the world. TYPICIAL. The “aliens” he was referring to are undocumented immigrants – showing his racism!

Prior to the start of the meeting, I was handing out papers on an upcoming speech by an Iraqi American (now living in Najaf) at UNCA. This man is going to speak on what is really going on in Iraq. Some walking piece of shit at the convention said to me “Does he have a bomb in his pocket?” I nearly started crying. Just that morning I had heard that a car bomb went off in Karbala and that the locals there went crazy and started attacking the government offices and were so out of control they would not allow ambulances to get to the injured people. And of course, the Iraqi-American (Sami Rasouli) is risking his life to help the Iraqi people. He is part of the Muslim Peacemakers Team. To talk so disrespectfully about him really, really upset me.

I told this man that what he said was disgusting and that I did not want him talking to me EVER again. After I calmed down a bit, I thought about what I might do if he did come up to me to speak to me. I thought I would stand on a bench there in the court house room and yell at him what a walking, talking piece of garbage he is and that he should stop breathing and start his eternity in hell as soon as possible. Well, he never talked to me again, so I never did that drama bit.

But today, I started thinking about racism and what the appropriate response should be when people make such racist statements. It is of course, important to speak up, to let people know that what they said is not okay. But how do I take my hurt and outrage and open their eyes so that they can see? Because accusing a group of people of the violence that some of the group has exhibited is very sick and very racist – PARTICULARLY in light of the fact that this violence sprung from a total break down in their society caused by the illegal invasion and occupation coming from our own country.

I imagine this Democrat thinks that our society would never break down like that under similar circumstances. Based on the fact that every society breaks down when the whole population is put under such stress and violence themselves, this is a false belief. In light of the fact that we are the most violent developed country on the planet ALREADY, it is a sure thing that we would only get vastly more violent under a foreign occupation (that left us without electricity, water, safety, and all normal functions of government) than the Iraqis did. Put even a small part of our population through the violence that we have put Iraqis through over the past four years, and we would have total melt down of our society also.

While the media had a fit this week over what some old white guy said on the radio that was racist – what do we do about racism among our own circles? How do we open their eyes?

And what kind of world are we headed to if we fail to open their eyes?

Friday, April 13, 2007

"The Nazis - A Warning From History"

“The Nazis: A Warning from History” by Laurence Rees

This is a short book review, with some comparisons to today’s reality in the USA. We do have some of the tendencies and behaviors that the German population exhibited in the 1930s and 1940s. However, I would say the biggest difference between their population and our population today is that a large majority of Americans are very unhappy with their leadership. In Germany, a large portion of the population idolized Hitler. I won’t go into reasons for that idolization, but the book does cover it somewhat.

One factor that really made Germans ready to accept Hitler and his programs was the after effects of World War One. Germany surrendered, and then the ensuing ‘peace’ did not do anything to help the German people out, leaving them with economic problems for years.

This is what the book had to say about the German response to the surrender at the end of World War One:

“We did wonder,” says German war veteran Herbert Richter, “because we didn’t fell beaten at all. The front line troops didn’t feel themselves beaten, and we were wondering why the armistice was happening so quickly, and why we had to vacate all our positions in such a hurry, because we were still standing on enemy territory and we thought all this was strange.” Herbert Richter’s memory of how he and his friends felt about the surrender is still vivid: “We were angry because we did not fell we had come to the end of our strength.”

And it turns out that a large portion of the population blamed this on the Jews in power at the time. They felt it embarrassed Germany, and was a shame that needed to be overcome.

Rather like the “Vietnam Syndrome” here in America.

Even before the Germans moved on to the invasions of other countries, they started up programs of getting rid of the ‘undesirables’ among them and promoting of the ‘Master Race’. This all sprung from the idea that they were “EXCEPTIONAL” people, superior to others by nature of their genetic background. And the ones among them that did not measure up needed to be eliminated.

Here in America, we have racism, but no organized group in power that thinks they are genetically superior to others. We do have a class of people who feel superior due to their greater wealth. (Oddly, many of the same group follow Christianity – which is based on the teachings of a man who told people to give away whatever they had to the poor. Go figure.)

What we do have, pretty much across America, is the firmly held belief that we are the best country in the world. And this belief does not come from rational study and examination of other cultures and countries, but rather in a conviction that we have a superior government which sprang from a superior stock of people (many of whom no longer seem to realize that they descended from immigrants). Plus, we are the richest country on the planet, even if the wealth is not always shared among us.

So, we have our own brand of “EXCEPTIONALISM” which is not genetically based or racially based, but culturally based. And a great number of Americans who believe this have no real knowledge or appreciation of what other cultures may have to offer. And, we have this in common with other groups in other times and cultures. Lots of examples in history of people setting themselves apart from common humanity, instead of noticing the commonality of our lives on this planet.

I think this idea of “EXCEPTIONALISM” was behind the statements so many Americans have made saying that they felt we should stay in Iraq until we “fix it” or “stabilize the country” for the Iraqi people. (These are not necessarily the same people who wanted the invasion, and they are not the people who planned the invasion and occupation for greed and profit and control of the oil resources.) No, these are people who think that Americans are SO EXCEPTIONAL that we can ‘fix’ other countries by the application of our redemptive violence. They don’t seem to get it that we are not wanted in Iraq and that we are not helping the situation in the least. They don’t seem to be able to understand what this occupation would feel like from the Iraqi’s perspective, since they think everyone in the world wants what we have, no matter what they have to suffer to get it.

But, back to the Nazis, and their euthanasia policy. This was not a policy that was thought out and sent down from a higher level of government, but rather a policy that was suggested and then left to lower level employees to implement as they saw fit. This is how the policy started:

….it originated not just out of Nazi racist ideology, but from the chaotic manner in which decisions were taken in the Third Reich. A chance letter to the Fuhrer on a subject dear to his heart resulted eventually in the deaths of more than five thousand children.

And this is how it was implemented:

In an typical example of how policies could spiral out of control, staff independently selected the children they wanted to kill. The chaotic radicalism inherent in the Nazi system meant that, unlike in the Fascist states of Italy and Spain, German Fascism could never settle to a status quo, however dreadful or repulsive. Any idea, given a leader who spoke in visions and enthusiastic supporters anxious to please, could grow radically to an extreme in almost an instant.

And, a review of how Hitler operated was in the book also:

Even in these few brief lines, one experiences the authentic sense of Hitler’s political character – his distrust of cabinet meetings, his fear of an early death which would cheat him of glory and his own belief in himself as a major figure in world history.

Remind you of anyone?

I guess there is an upside to being incompetent.

So, what was really behind the decision to invade and occupy other countries in the Nazi government? Even if they did not implement a lot of polices on their own, this military action had to come from the commander in chief and needed lots of planning. But, why did they feel the need to do this? The answer is EXPANSIONISM. Hitler felt he needed more land to grow food to feed his superior race. And since they were EXCEPTIONAL and SUPERIOR, he felt they deserved to take it any way they could.

….Hitler went on to outline how he believed it was impossible for Germany to maintain self-sufficiency “in regard both to food and the economy as a whole” within her current borders.

I think the reason behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq is to control the area and the resources – the energy resources. And the planners of this invasion and war felt that they were entitled to grab this resource for fun and profit, since Americans are so EXCEPTIONAL on this little planet of ours. The basic idea behind the invasion and continued occupation is EXPANSIONISM of American power – and, it didn’t hurt that they were going to make a huge profit while they and theirs did not bleed. Hitler was expanding for land, today the expansion is to get control of the Middle East oil.

I think every word ever said about ‘freedom and democracy’ for the Iraqi people from bush was a lie. Same for cheney, rumsfled, and the rest of them. They don’t give a damn about the Iraqi people. The observable reality of what has happened in Iraq proves that over and over again. It is all a whopper of a lie - just like the WMDs crap.

One thing the Nazis did after going into a country was get the locals to help them kill any Jews they could find. It was all routine for them to go out and round up people and then kill them in cold blood. They just did not care, and neither did many of the natives of the countries they invaded, many of whom seemed to be very willing to help out.

Here’s something the book said about that:

Regarding killing of Jews in Lithuania ….. Felix Landau’s diary shows a man to whom remorse is an unknown emotion. He is a selfish and base human being, but not a madman.

And another one:

Another one of the killers was asked: “What does your conscience say?” He said “I do not know. I am not going to answer such questions….. I am not going to explain or tell you any more.”

No evidence of rounding people up just to kill them in our occupation of Iraq. But a total lack of concern for the well-being of the people there is plainly evident. Remorse, however, is plainly unknown to the ones who started this occupation of Iraq. Pictures of the concentration camps for Russian prisoners (page 196 in the book) looks exactly like the prison camps the US military is running in Iraq.

It is speculated that Hitler had such hatred of Jews because he felt they were responsible for betraying Germany during the last great conflict (World War One). He seemed to think that they were responsible for the deaths of two million people that did not result in victory for the Germans. It is also speculated that the starting of this mass murder of Jews was not designed by Hitler, but enthusiastically suggested by him. The Nazis went on to develop more efficient killing methods though, and they put thought and planning into it. Extermination was determined as a policy by the Nazis. And that was implemented.

There is no indication that anyone in power in the USA is following that kind of policy, in spite of the fact that some agents of our government are rounding people up and shipping them to camps (in America) or making neighborhoods into camps (in Iraq).

Why did the Germans fight on until the end? This book claims because it was an ideology that would sooner destroy itself rather than surrender. Furthermore, Hitler had designed a system were there were NO avenues for Germans to come together and question the conduct of the war. Hitler was not only constitutionally protected from being removed from office, but from any serious criticism at all. (And it seems bush/cheney somehow enjoy the same privileges. Go figure. No impeachment started yet.) So, eventually, the Germans came to experience the pain and horror they had inflicted on others.

But the fact that they continued fighting until the end did have one benefit.

Says Han von Herwarth: “The new Dolchstosslegende (stab-in-the back legand) would otherwise have come true…..Many of the women in Germany had lost their sons or their brothers and they couldn’t imagine that all this was in vain, that they were killed for the wrong reason, they couldn’t believe it.” If Hitler had been assassinated in 1944 and peace had immediately followed, in later years it would have been possible to argue that Germany Would not necessarily have lost the war if she fought on. Conterfactual history by definition unprovable and the speculation would have been intense…….. the debate would still be raging, especially in the ultra-right-wing circles. Ironically, the fight to the end may have prevented another Hitler being born from this war.

And that leaves me to wonder about the future of America. Will we only learn not to do war when it comes to our shores and front yards and inflicts the horror on us that we inflicted on others? Is this the only way to stop the military-media-industrial complex from the path it is on?

I don’t know.

And I don’t know if there will be enough tears in America to wash away the shame of this illegal, immoral, and very stupid occupation of Iraq.

I just don’t know.

But I do believe that we have two things in common with the Nazis: Exceptionalism and Expansionism. And no real collective self-reflection that goes beyond the surface.

Finally, I will leave you with a statement by Kurt Vonnegut, 2005:

“In case you haven't noticed, we are now as feared and hated all over the world as Nazis once were. And with good reason.”

"Something Inside So Strong"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 9, 2004 Protest in Baghdad

Update on Iraqi Bloggers

Photo is of the shine in Samarra - before some wicked evil person blew up the dome.

This is a short roundup of Iraqi blogs - well, some of them anyway. There are over 200 Iraqi bloggers today, and I wish to thank them all for their contribution.

Sahar was held up from leaving her parents home one evening from a very long American convoy. She re-discovered the beauty of Baghdad at night:

Finally, at a little past eight, the convoy ended and I was free to leave. As I stepped out onto the night street, I involuntarily drew in my breath. Dulaimy was right! The sight was indeed breathtaking! The long stretch of the four roads separated by narrow pavements with big leafy trees had never looked more beautiful! The street lights (that I have not seen for years now) were on; and to me, it looked like an enchanted land of sweet and bitter memories that came flooding back to me in such force, I was overwhelmed, and cried hot tears of … what? I don’t know. A few minutes later, after having regained my composure, I turned on the car, fumbled for the long forgotten light switches, and drove very slowly, very silently, and very uneasily home in the forbidden night of my city.

Laith, meanwhile, writes about his birthday in a land of violence and grief. You can stop by and say Happy Birthday if you feel inclined.

But for me, here I am in spending the night in the office because I have to do the violence report. Can you imagine a guy doing VIOLENCE report during his BIRTHDAY! I have to do that because I dont have internet at home and the violence report is my job today. There is also one more reason, beleive me, I dont exaggerate if I say we have no time for happiness in this country. With all this killing and destruction, we lost even the feeling of happiness and the only happiness for Iraqi families is when all the family members return back home safe. My mother’s face looks much vivid when I return back home because of my deadly work (Im only a journalist but its enough to be targeted by the insurgents and accuse you that you work for teh enemy).I’m the last member of the family who enter the house and when I retun back home, she and my dad receive me as if I'm a soldier who just returned back from the battle feild.

Saad Eskander, director of the Iraq National Library and Archive, started keeping a diary on what was happening to his staff and the library in Baghdad. He started this at the insistence of a British professional in his field. He says that he does not report all the violence his staff faces because it would be too frightening. Here are some excerpts from just three days in late March 2007.

Thursday, 29 March
Usually on Thursdays, the traffic will not be heavy. This Thursday was not an exception. There were sporadic exchanges of fire. US planes were flying low in the area.

The INLA's nominated five women went to the Melia-Mansur Hotel, where the Ministry threw a party for all nominated women from its directorates. The Minister is expected to award the nominated women. Only God knows why the Ministry of Culture celebrated the Woman Day 19 days late!!

I learnt after I returned home that the neighborhood was shelled by mortars. As a result, one of the Ministry of Culture's mini-buses was hit directly. Its driver and the passengers were sent to the nearest hospital.

Friday, 30 March
I was alone in the flat, as my wife took our son with her to visit her parents. I spent most of the day writing and reading. My secretary rang my at 9.30, informing me that her son was arrested by a US army unit based in al-Karradah. Her son was arrested with some of his close friends on Thursday night. Fifty minutes later, she called me to say that her son and his friends were all released without a charge.

At 20.00, a friend of mine rang me, saying that Ib., who is one of my closest friends, disappeared without a sign. He left his sister's house at 11.00, and did not come back. My other friends and I tried to call him on his two cell phones. The first phone was switched off, whereas the second one was not. But no one answered our calls on the second cell phone. At 20.45, I found out that the second cell phone was switched off.

Saturday, 31 March
From 8.00, one of my friends and I began to search for our missing friend. We went from one area to another and from one police station to another, until we found him. We were quiet relief to see him alive, although he was arrested by the police. Clearly, it was a question of a mistaken identity. I was extremely exhausted when going home, and I slept quite early.

Sahar, again, talks about being woken up before dawn by US troops who want to search her home:

I awoke to the sound of furious barking. What time is it? Looking at the window I could see that day had not yet dawned– before six in the morning. Why was Suka – our tiny doggie – barking madly at the entrance window?? Apprehensively, I get up and run to look outside. I could see shadows moving about in the garden. What to do?? Do I call out?? Do I pretend not to be at home?? Which is the safest move?? Have “they” come for me?? Good God, spare us – My kids!! Suka continues to bark madly, and I hear a chuckle from outside, “They have a dog!” “Not a very large one, judging by its bark!” English! I hesitate, then call out in Arabic: “Who is outside?” Arabic, “We are here to search the area, house by house. We are the Army” “Please wait until we get dressed.” “Very well.” Quickly I call both my daughter and son, “Get dressed! Quick!”

Read, meanwhile, has something to say to John McCain:

Dear John, I read about your latest trip to Baghdad in articles like McCain, in Baghdad, says city is safer than before, McCain lauds security during Baghdad visit, and McCain Sees Improvement in Iraq. I'm sure you wanted to stage a "shopping in baghdad" spree to show us how great and safe baghdad is, and to encourage more Americans to go do their Shopping in downtown baghdad, but I'm not sure your plan has worked.

It doesn't seem like good security to me when One shop-owner in Shorja, which was closed to traffic after the February bombings, said there had been a heavy security presence, with many U.S. soldiers on the ground and U.S. helicopters overhead. I don't think many Iraqis can afford to hire some hundreds of bodyguards and a few helicopters to protect them while they are shopping. Do you realize how would it be for a regular Iraqi to go shopping without the US army's protection, do you realize how your shopping spree would have looked like if you went to a real market with cars driving around?

How does it feel when you can't stop lying? Don't you think that a better way to support the US, the President, the Republicans, or even yourself is to tell the truth and end illegal interventions in other countries?

Hometown Baghdad is a video blogger website. They are amazing and brave too. Adel decided to film the streets of Baghdad with a hidden camera. Go watch on Healing Iraq blog. See the garbage of Baghdad, the burnt out cars, the city that the US occupation has destroyed!

And here’s a link to Nabil’s audio blog, where he tries to play the song “Peace Train” on his guitar. He was unhurt when all was said and done, just so you know.

He says in his blog:

It's like no one should be happy in this country, because if you say that you're happy, a bullet will come and smash your head right away. …..maybe this country is cursed, because it's a really funny incident.

A Citizen of Mosul just has some pictures on his blog – that reflect badly on US troops in Iraq.

Treasure of Baghdad is separated from his parents, and he writes about what it is like to live so far away from someone you love who desperately needs help and needs you:

It is very hard to see your mother crying. Really crying. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine you being far away unable to wipe her tears? Unable to compensate her? Make her happy? I couldn’t even see her tears. I heard her crying in the phone. She was speaking and speaking and then burst into tears. Tears that became the only companion of her after I left. I tried to calm her down, but can a crippled voice do that? Was it really helpful? My voice thousands of miles away? Was it really able to wipe at least one tear from the tear streams that flowed down her cheeks like the Tigris and the Euphrates?

When my father was abroad, I was there for her. I was the stick she could lean on. I was the smile that she always wanted. I was the shelter that secured her. Today, I left her and my father by themselves imprisoned in the house. She missed everything. She lost everything. She lost her precious life. She is deprived from seeing her granddaughter. She can’t take my father to the hospital. She felt humiliated because there was no one there to take care of them. No one. No fucken one. Everyone said no. Everyone said, “We can’t. We’re afraid.” Everyone prefer seeing him crippled, disabled but to take him to the hospital. Even those whom he helped his entire life turned their faces.

Mama writes about what she used to have before the Americans showed up:

Four years ago I had a very different life , peaceful one ,I could celebrate my and my kids birthdays ,the feast with my parents and my only sister, I used to visit my parents in Baghdad from time to time, in a safe way and never had problem in traveling, we used to have lots of plans together ,parties ,picnics ,visit friends and neighbors, do lots
of shopping, walking and have family gatherings. we had a wonderful life ,among family ambiance.

And she reflects on what the Americans brought her:

What life did America give us?
-non secured life even when you say nothing with or against the many many political components.
-non secured life at home ,at work, in the street, in the hospital , in the church, in the mosque.
-neither the children nor the olds feel safe from so many's harm, from all sources of mischief's.
many innocents Iraqis are under arrest. -
-the number of the widows and orphans highly increased. And we lost so many citizens.
But we now have internet connection to communicate with our faraway families.-
we have mobile phones to check our family members if they were still alive.-
-I have a job now ,the road by which I reach home is now called " the road of death" it's unsafe road full of mines and ambushes.

And Mama’s daughter, Sunshine, all of 15 years old, writes about what it is like to have a suicide car bomber go off nearby:

At about 1:15 I was preparing to go back , when mama called she said that a car exploded in the street lead to my house , I use this road almost everyday , I felt really worried …
I was stuck in the street the policemen and US soldiers locked all the streets leads to my house! I saw the exploded car , it was burning , and people everywhere , one was injured in his head, shrapnels were in the street and the rest of the terrorist's body (not good view, I couldn't sleep well at nigh) .. 3 mines and two cars exploded but thank god we didn't get hurt ..
When I reached the house, I knew that mama and dad were in that street when the car exploded , their windows were opened that's why they didn’t break , thank god they are safe and alive … I can't thank god enough.

And this is what Sunshine says about life today under US occupation:

Now , when I see a tank I go as far as possible , when a tank come the cars go aside , and after they pass we drive as fast as we can , so that we don’t get hurt when some one attack the troops, I feel unsafe now , I worry about my family members , relatives and friends , I miss my aunt , I live in destroyed country full of terrorists , explosions , shootings , I don’t' go out as I used before , I see people I love leaving Iraq , I see my country bleeding and I can't do anything about that , I don’t trust the governments nor the presidents , I try to keep my spirit high , and say all of the darkness in the world can't blow my candle , but it is hard , I don't have enjoyable life , I miss picnics and fun , I miss the safety and security ,I miss a lot of things , I feel like a stranger in my country.

Yet, she thinks the US troops should stay:

If the US troops will leave, a carnage will happen, they should stay I think and fix my country .. But as I say I am too young to talk about policy I might be wrong , that's just my opinion ..

I wrote a letter to the WaPo in December 2005, saying that reading Sunshine (and other young female Iraqi bloggers) was like reading The Diary of Anne Frank in real time. Anne Frank knew who her enemy was, Iraqis face unknown enemies from all directions. Hiding won’t keep one safe either. I do hope things work out better for Sunshine. Sunshine, by the way, does not see the similarity because Anne Frank was a few years older when she was keeping a diary – isn’t that just like a teenager to make such a claim? I really admire Sunshine’s spirit and courage.

There are many more Iraqi bloggers out there, but I am wrapping this up in the interests of time and readability. I am grateful there are Iraqi bloggers out there giving us some important information on what is happening in their country.

May God bless them and keep them safe.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Main Protest in Najaf


Iraqis demonstrate against the US occupation on Monday in Najaf, bearing Iraqi flags and banners reading "No, no America!"

Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty.

April 9, 2007

Yes, it was a whopper of a protest, and it surely reflects the general feeling in Iraq - that the US and UK troops MUST LEAVE NOW. They carried signs that said US GO OUT and END THE OCCUPATION. They made their feelings and desires clear to one and all who will listen. Yet one US General said that it was great that they were having a peaceful protest, and that they could not have done that four years ago. He was wrong - they sure could have had a protest saying DEATH TO AMERICA under Saddam if they had wanted to. By ignoring the requests of these peaceful protests in Iraq and (prior to the war) around the world, violence is being reinforced as the only solution to problems. If peaceful protests will not get the changes that people want, they are forced to resort to violence, even if this is a very poor choice. I think, however, if the Iraqis did this every single week - it would finally make a difference to the idiot vampires in DC by the name of bush, cheney, rumsfled, and all the rest of the murderous vampires.

If you scroll down on this link to THE RAW STORY, you can see some video of the protests.


Protests in Iraq

Demonstrators carry empty coffins of victims killed in mortar attacks during a protest in Baghdad, April 7, 2007.

About 3000 people held a rally on Saturday demanding the government put an end to mortar attacks in their area.

REUTERS/Namir Noor-Eldeen (IRAQ)

This was the PRE-PROTEST PROTEST on April 7, 2007. Next post will be the main protest on April 9, 2007.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


From Daily Kos website: State-based impeachment: Now Wisconsin and Hawaii

For those of you keeping score at home, the ninth and tenth state legislatures to enter into the impeachment sweepstakes are: Wisconsin (thanks to State Rep. Frank Boyle of Superior) and Hawaii (thanks to State Senator Les Ihara, Jr. of Kapahulu). Wisconsin and Hawaii join eight predecessors: California, Illinois, Vermont, Minnesota, New Mexico, Washington, Missouri, and Texas.

That makes 10 states and 80 state legislators cosponsoring the call to impeach since bills began being introduced last year. Word is that New Jersey and Maine are on the cusp. One more state after that would put it at 1/4 of the states in the country. But as you know, Joe Klein says that while the president is "clearly unfit to lead," actually doing something about it is "counterproductive and slightly nutso."

Local NC Legislators:

Susan Fisher

Martin Nesbitt

Bruce Goforth

What I sent to Susan Fisher, Bruce Goforth, and Martin Nesbitt: Just a reminder: NC Democratic convention passed (easily) a resolution calling for the NC legislature to file articles of impeachment. I think it is way past time...... we need to stop these killers, any peaceful way we can. New Jersey and Maine will soon join the group above, and I want NC to be the first southern state to do this, and make it 1/4 of all US states to call for impeachment.

thanks, Susan


Photo was taken by Emily M. at the protests in DC in January. The sign was made by the local Vets for Peace chapter.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Peace Rally in 2007

On March 24, 2007, the WNC Peace Coalition held a Peace Rally. The theme was “Building Peace”, and this was the 4th Peace Rally to mark the start of the occupation of the country of Iraq by the US military and US government agents. The estimated number of people at the rally was 550, which is about the number we had last year. We estimated the number of attendees by handing out stickers that said “End the Occupation of Iraq”. These came from Progressive Democrats of America.

Overall, it was a successful rally. We had great weather, great speakers, and great music. However, I did not feel really good about this rally for two reasons: one, we had about the same number of people as last year and I was expecting more; and two, I felt that the Asheville Parks and Recreation department was hassling me. I don’t think they did this because of who I was or the group I was with, I think they just do this when they can so they can feel important. I guess they think it is their job. Give some little people a little bit of authority and they feel very self-important, I guess.

One of the things I had to do was contact the police and fire/EMS guy. It is really silly when you have a city official who asks you to draw the layout of the street in front of city hall so that the fire and police can find you in an emergency. If you know downtown Asheville at all, you would know that the police and fire department can walk outside their front doors and look to the right and see the street in front of city hall. Drawing them a map is an exercise in stupidity. And, if they really need a map to find the front of city hall, then god help us in a real emergency!

Asheville Parks and Recreation (the person of Janet Dack) had told me, from the very first phone call, that our costs to use the street in front of city hall would be $75. She made me come to visit her twice (I guess wasting time is a job priority for her), and on the second visit, Dack said that we would need a Building Safety Permit if we built risers higher than 8 inches. We decided against such risers. A week before the rally, someone from the Building Safety Department called and said our permit was now ready, we had to pay $75 to pick it up. I did not know what they were talking about, since we never had that before. I left a message saying that I was confused by the charge, but would come the following week and pay it and pick it up. I said that they should check with Dack at Asheville Parks and Recreation, since this seemed to be a duplicate charge. I received the Asheville Parks and Recreation permit in the mail just before that pick up day and thought the issue was settled. The night before the rally, she called me at 5:30 and said that we could not set up our “structures” at the rally and that we would have to call the whole rally off because we had not paid for the extra permit (which we never needed before). She would not say what “structures” were exactly, but implied that the shade tents would be considered “structures”.

Also, I and several other people who worked on this rally are really questioning if these type of activity is helping to end the occupation of Iraq. We are now at a point where the majority of Americans are against this occupation, yet our elected and selected officials still allow it to go on. Nothing has caused them to stop the occupation or even scale it back.

But, this is a report on what happened at our rally on March 24, 2007. We started the day with the news that the flat-bed truck we were planning on using as a stage had broken down. This meant we had to find some other way of getting the tables we need to the rally area. We did solve this problem (found someone else with a truck) and we had the performers and speakers just stand on the blacktop.

It was a beautiful day in Asheville, as it has always been at our rallies. We had alternating MCs - myself and Stack. We had a pre-rally drum circle. Our speakers included Robert Thomas (Department of Peace campaign), Errington Thompson (Author, Radio Host, Physicians for Social Responsibility), Emily M.(high school student), Rev. Sarah York (UU church), Don Richardson (Physicians for Social Responsibility, Common Sense at the Nuclear Crossroads), and Jimmy Massey (Iraq Veterans Against the War).

And music acts included Daniel Barber, Kuumba Zuweena and the Ancestral Ryhthm, Stack Kenny, Shawn Adinolsi and Pure Energy. We had a poet also, DeWayne Barton.

The Raging Grannies also did some songs, and they were likely the most popular part of the overall program. The Raging Grannies are mainly from Burnsville. We had a beautiful dove release at the very end.

The week after the rally, we were told that we had to pay an extra $75 to the Building Safety Department or we could not have any further rallies on public property. We were charged $25 for a "Level 1 Small Project, including: tents and temporary permits" under Zoning Permit Fees. And we were charged $50 for "Minimum Permit/Inspection Fee: Includes 1 to 2 Family electrical, mechanical, plumbing, storage tank installations, underground storage tank removal)." This was under Inspections Division Building Permit Fee. So, that is what the Building Safety Permit was all about - this year was the first we were charged for these items and the first year we needed a Building Safety Permit. We paid the fees, all for the sake of setting up a couple of tents and plugging in the sound system. The Peace Coalition is not pursuing any further action or communication on this.

I just have a chip on my shoulder. Which is why it took me so long to write this up. The picture above is thanks to David I., and I have downloaded all his pictures, but failed to save the link (sorry!). This post was written on June 23, 2007.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Toy Soldiers - from Code Pink

Still bombing homes and killing civilians....

Photo: People search for bodies in the rubble of a house destroyed in an air strike in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Wednesday, April 4, 2007. US forces who came under an attack by gunmen in the area responded with air strikes that hit four houses from were they were taking fire Tuesday night. 12 civilians died in the bombing and 15 were wounded, according to medical staff of the Ramadi hospital. (AP Photo)

This is making me so sick. We are still, after four years, bombing the homes in a country that never attacked us and never threatened us. We are still, after four years, killing off civilians. This is wrong. This is evil.

Last night, a local candidate for the local Democratic party made the statement that "America is the best country in the world." He is wrong, wrong, wrong. Maybe it was true when he was a kid, but it is true no longer. Now we are a country that does wars of aggression, occupations of countries that did not hurt us, failure to take care of the people whose lands we are occupying, torture, rape, kidnapping, disappearing, covert terrorism on foreign soil, gulags, concentration camps in the US, and total disrespect for the rule of law and any standard of human decency. That is America today. And we are the most hated country, the most vilified country, on the planet.

And while we can pin the blame on bush, cheney, rumsfled, wolfowitz, perle, leedeen, colter, o'lielly, judith miller, and a whole host of others -

It would NOT have happened without the support of the American people and the Democratic party.

This makes me so sick.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Iraqi Civilian Flags 2007

Photo was sent to me by Virginia at a local website run by women about local issues. This photo was published on the website, and I want to thank whoever took the picture for sending it in to website.

This is what I wrote for them:

I thought of making the Iraqi Civilian Casualties flags because it seemed to me that the general population was unaware of the true cost of this ongoing occupation in Iraq. The WNC Peace Coalition helped with financial support and assistance in making the flags. The spikes for the flags were donated by a friend. Originally, I had thought of making one flag for every hundred fatalities in Iraq, with white flags for the Iraqi civilians and blue flags for American fatalities. However, the death toll among Iraqis is now so high that we gave up on that ratio of flags to fatalities, although we still have one American
flag for 100 American fatalities. My wish is for the country of Iraq to find peace and for Americans to walk the path of peace and cooperation in this world.

The sign on the yard says "With these flags we sadly commemorate Iraqi war deaths". This display was at Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville. Later this month, they will be displayed at Unitarian Universalist Church in Clemson, South Carolina. These flags have been displayed at other churches over the last couple of years also. They are laminated white paper, that has a picture of the peace dove with the words "This is for the Iraqi Civilian Casualties. May they rest in Peace. May their country find peace."

That is my wish.