Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iraq - peace begins with justice!

These are the names of the children who were killed early in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The names came from the work of CIVIC, who did a survey of civilian deaths in 2003 and has since worked to provide aid to civilian victims of war. Obviously, these little ones are beyond needing help.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This past week and next...


This past week saw some movement on the impeachment front. There was a hearing in Congress on Friday. I didn't see any evidence that this will make a difference, which is really sad because we need to hold the criminals to account.

How much longer are American pundits, politicians, and "journalists" going to pretend that all the stuff they said about WMDs in Iraq was "just us folks being dumb" instead of a pack of lies?

And there is an update on upcoming public events this week (not a lot happening locally on the peace and social justice scene, at least for public events) over at the WNC Peace Coalition blog. There are things happening behind the scenes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Iraq - 7 days in the real Iraq

I recently did my first You Tube video on Iraq - there will be more coming - but I found out recently that a guy named Tom, who lives in Australia, has been using the photos I put on Faces of Grief blog to make videos, too. He has actually made quite a few of them. Here is one, and I will be posting more on this blog. They will all start with the word "Iraq".


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The world's biggest asshole......

At the end of the G8 summit in Japan earlier this month, bush had a special statement to the rest of the world’s leaders as he was leaving:

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He’s not only the world’s biggest polluter; he’s the world’s biggest asshole too. And apparently, he is proud of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The International Criminal Court

An Open Letter to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Information and Evidence Unit
Office of the Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague
The Netherlands
Fax: +31 70 515 8555
Email: otp.informationdesk@icc-cpi.int

July 15, 2008

Dear Chief Prosecutor,

Congratulations on your request for an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan. When the rule of law cannot be justly enforced within a nation, it must be enforced internationally. In that regard, I would like to recommend that you seek an arrest warrant for the president of my nation, the United States of America. I have read your letter of February 9, 2006, in which you decline to seek prosecution of George W. Bush, and I believe new evidence compels another review.

With all due respect for the difficulty of your work, the case you have brought against the president of Sudan has followed quite different standards than those applied in your refusal to prosecute the president of the United States. In fact, you have refused to consider prosecution of George W. Bush because the United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court. But Sudan is also not a member of the International Criminal Court. Were you to consider the evidence of international crimes in Iraq as it exists today, and to consider the crimes committed on behalf of the president of the United States by members of the United States military and mercenaries employed by the United States, I believe you would find a case for prosecution that met the standards you applied, and applied well and admirably, to the president of Sudan.

While there is good reason to expect multiple prosecutions of George W. Bush and of his Vice President and top advisors by individual nations, the rule of law would benefit were the International Criminal Court to take the lead. Should it fail to do so, the entire idea of international law will suffer seriously.

In the time since your 2006 letter, Judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain, on March 20, 2008, has written these words in El Pais:

"Breaking every international law, and under the pretext of the war against terror, there has taken place since 2003 a devastating attack on the rule of law and against the very essence of the international community. In its path, institutions such as the United Nations were left in tatters, from which it has not yet recovered....We should look more deeply into the possible criminal responsibility of the people who are, or were, responsible for this war and see whether there is sufficient evidence to make them answer for it....There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation and inquiry to start without more delay."

……………. In order to prosecute crimes against humanity, you write that you need to identify "widespread or systemic attack directed against any civilian population." The civilian population of Iraq has suffered as a result of the US-led invasion and occupation in numbers and proportion that can only be called widespread and systemic. Iraqi deaths as a result of the invasion and occupation, measured above the high death rate under international sanctions preceding the attack, are estimated at 1.2 million by two independent sources (Just Foreign Policy's updated figure based on the Johns Hopkins / Lancet report, and the British polling company Opinion Research Business's estimate as of August 2007). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Iraqis who have fled their homes has reached 4.7 million. If these estimates are accurate, a total of nearly 6 million human beings have been displaced from their homes or killed. Many times that many have certainly been injured, traumatized, impoverished, and deprived of clean water and other basic needs.

ALL THE ABOVE came from After Downing Street and was written by David Swanson, who has never quit and never given up - in the effort to bring the bushie criminals to justice. He has my respect.

Asheville Bloggers Roundup

Straight from Blog Asheville

It's On - Friday, July 25th

We bloggers of Asheville have been getting together erratically for going on three years now. With our 3rd Annual Extrava only a couple of months away, I thought it would be good to collect ourselves to see what's up.

Friday, July 25th - The Wedge Brewery - 5pm until 8ish.

151 Roberts St., in the lower back level of the Wedge Gallery building, along the railroad tracks in the French Broad River Arts District.

All you veterans invite a noob. And all you noobs come out to see who you've been reading!

Thanks to Gordon for pointing it out! The photo above is a partial eclipse of the moon at UNCA... sometime this year (I forget when it happened!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Send Karl Rove to jail!

From MoveOn.org: We call on the the House Judiciary Committee to cite Rove with contempt for failing to comply with a Congressional subpoena. Since Rove regards the law with such contempt, it's high time the law and Congress hold him in contempt as well. We demand the HJC let Rove know he can't decide which subpoenas he obeys and which he ignores.

Add your name to the petition here!

And here is a video they put together with Brave New Films:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Events in Asheville This Week


Photo is of Rusul, in Shriner's Hospital in Greenville. It was taken right after her surgery on Thursday, and she is talking to her friend Noor who is in Portland, Maine. She is just beautiful, and I hope to get to visit with her next weekend.

Upcoming events for this week is posted on the WNC Peace Coalition blog. Not a lot going on this week, but there are some actions that can be taken on line and on the phone.

Update on Rusul and her surgery


Photo: Rusul and her dad at the Greenville Airport.

On Wednesday this week, I posted (on Daily Kos) a diary about Rusul and her upcoming surgery. I am happy to say that all went well! Rusul is now back "home" - that is the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville, SC. She reports no pain at this time, but she did say the IV hurt her arm. I have an update from Ann Cothran, who is the National Community Coordinator for No More Victims.

Ann wrote this in her email report yesterday evening:

"Hello everyone! Just wanted to give you the update on our little girl! She went through the surgery yesterday with flying colors; they removed her foot and the bottom bone of her ankle and she's in a neon pink full leg cast. Today, she's happy and laughing and has already been discharged from the hospital! Can you imagine? Foot cut off one day and home (she and Abu Ali definitely consider Ronald McDonald House "home") the next! She amazed the doctors and nurses at Shriners by never asking for pain medication; she says she has "no ouch"! Her only complaint was the IV and she loves to show off the bandaid where the IV needle was. I said, "This little pinprick had pain, but THIS (tapping her leg cast) is no ouch?" But, just like her big sister, there hasn't been a word of complaint and she points to the "no pain" smiley face if they ask for her pain level."

Rusul is not due back at Shriner's Hospital until mid-August. She will start on the fitting of a foot prosthetic and physical therapy at that time. Ann told me that Rusul was sent home early from the hospital because of a planned power outage. Rusul's father found that hysterically funny, and said that in Iraq no one tells them in advance when the power will go out!

Ann also sent an update on Salee, who is Rusul's sister. Salee was also injured in the US missile strike, and lost both of her legs above the knees. Salee was in Greenville last year and got double prosthetics. She is back in Iraq now and going to school. As per Ann's email (Abu Ali is the father):

"Abu Ali says that his wife is going to send photos of Salee and the rest of the family to Jordan and I should receive them via e-mail soon, so I'll share those when I have them. He was telling me today about how happy Salee is, putting on her backpack for school in the mornings and rushing off to walk to school, no crutches and moving fast! He said it's just amazing how well she walks! He said that every morning Rusul would put on her backpack too, hoping that she could go as well, but of course, she couldn't. I can't imagine how happy she'll be when she gets home and can go to school! She's an amazingly smart little girl and so longs for an education!"

I have to admit that I don't understand why Rusul could not go to school. She did manage to hobble around on her damaged foot - so clearly she could not walk far or get involved in sports - but don't kids spend most of the time sitting on their behinds at school? I sure did when I was a child.

Anyway, No More Victims is still in need of donations to help Rusul and Salee and their family back in Iraq. There are other medical problems in the family - one child has diabetes and the baby has a heart condition (which is reportedly not serious, thank goodness!). The child with diabetes does have some serious medical issues, and No More Victimshas provided the family with a generator to keep the insulin he needs cold. They also help with the cost of fuel.

In short, they are in need of funding and fund raising ideas! If you can help out, that would be great!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

News from Palestine

Photo: Maria Amin, a six-year-old Palestinian paralysed from the neck down when the car she was travelling in was caught in a missile attack on a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza, is accompanied by her father Hamdi (L) to a hearing at Israel's Supreme Court in Jerusalem July 8, 2008. Amin is fighting an order to move her from a rehabilitation centre in Israel to the occupied West Bank. The Defence Ministry, which has covered Maria's medical expenses and sponsored her father and younger brother to live with her at a Jerusalem hospital, has been seeking since last year to send her to Ramallah's Abu Raya Rehabilitation Centre. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte (JERUSALEM)

Some news from Gaza:

The Israeli Siege

“Medical sources reported that the number of patients who died due to the Israeli siege on the Gaza strip reached 208 as three patients were announced dead on Monday morning.”

Israel Targets Hamas Orphanages

Since the Israeli military officials have figured out that a lot of the support for Hamas comes from their charity work and civilian infrastructure work. So, they decided to shut them down. (Too bad they didn’t decide to compete with Hamas on the humanitarian helpfulness front. That might have actually worked and cost way less money.)

Last week, troops focused their efforts in Nablus, raiding the city hall and confiscating computers. They also stormed into a shopping mall and posted closure notices on the shop windows. A girls' school and a medical centre were shut down in the city, and a charitable association had its computers impounded and documents seized.

This policy, officials say, is meant to deny the Islamic group, which is committed to Israel's destruction, the ability to use these institutions as a pipeline by which money is channelled to finance attacks on the Jewish state. But the main goal of this campaign is to stem Hamas's growing popularity in the West Bank, and ensure it does not seize control of the area as it did in Gaza a year ago, when its forces vanquished the more moderate Fatah movement headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”

And: “In recent months, the army has also closed down an orphanage, a bakery and other institutions in Hebron, which Israel believes are associated with Hamas.”

Yeap, that’s the Israeli military – getting people around the world to hate them, one girl’s school, orphanage or terminally ill patient at a time. Yeap, that’ll work.

And how come there is no outcry here in the USA? Well, this author has a clue:

American Israel-firsters have long since dropped any pretense of loyalty to the United States and its genuine national interests. They have moved brazenly into the Israel first, last, and always camp. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Norman Podhoretz, Victor Davis Hanson, the Rev. Franklin Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Rudy Giuliani, Douglas Feith, the Rev. Rod Parsley, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Bill Kristol, the Rev. John Hagee, and the thousands of wealthy supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) appear to care about the United States only so far as Washington is willing to provide immense, unending funding and the lives of young U.S. service personnel to protect Israel. These individuals and their all-for-Israel journals – Commentary, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal – amount to nothing less than a fifth column intent on involving 300 million Americans in other peoples' religious wars, making them pay and bleed to protect a nation in which the United States has no genuine national security interest at stake.

The Israel-firsters' success is, of course, the stuff of which legends are made. Most recently, for example, we heard President Bush echo Sen. Lieberman's insane and subversive contention that the United States has a "duty" to ensure the fulfilling of God's millennia-old promise to Abraham regarding the creation and survival of Israel. Bush told the Knesset all Americans are ready to endlessly bleed and pay to ensure Israel's security. And where does the president derive authority to make such a commitment in the name of his countrymen? From the Constitution? On the basis of America's dominant religion? From – heaven forbid – a thoughtful, hardheaded analysis of U.S. interests?

No, Bush's pledge was based on none of these. Bush's decision to more deeply involve America in the eternal Arab-Israeli war was based on nothing less than the corruption wrought on the American political system by the Israel-firsters, AIPAC's enormous treasury, and the lamentable but growing influence of America's leading evangelical Protestant preachers.”

Some solutions offered by this author are: end taxpayer funding for the National Endowment for Democracy and other such organizations, do not vote for any candidates who accept AIPAC funding or other Israel-first organization, and pressure normal religious entities to denounce the evangelical preachers who support religious wars on behalf of Israel.

And I try to do my part by pressuring Democrats (elected and not yet elected), buy being informed on what is going on, by reading news reports such as these on The Global Report radio show, by blogging about it, and by deleting comments from anyone who promotes these horrible policies by the Israeli military or politicians.

Oh, and one more thing I do – I follow the Jewish peace movements, both in the USA and in Israel. They are inspiring.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mendela's birthday today


Photo: The stars turned out in droves, but Nelson Mandela was by far the biggest attraction at a concert in London's Hyde Park to mark his 90th birthday. The anti-apartheid crusader spent 27 years in prison before going on to become South Africa's first black president. Dave Hogan, Getty Images

A birthday party was held in June for Nelson Mandela. Here is some info on the event:

Acts including Queen, Razorlight, Leona Lewis and a host of African stars joined more than 40,000 music fans for the outdoor show in London's Hyde Park, hosted by movie star Smith and held to mark Mandela's birthday on July 18. osh Groban and the Soweto Gospel Choir also performed at the event, which comes 20 years after a 70th birthday concert for an absent Mandela at London's Wembley Stadium. Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, had at that point been imprisoned in South Africa for 25 years. He told Friday's crowd that that concert made a big difference in his eventual release and the fight against the racist system, which was dismantled in the early 1990s.

"Your voices carried across the water to inspire us in our prison cells far away," said Mandela, who received the biggest cheers of the night. "We are honored to be back in London for this wonderful celebration.

"But even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete."

Mandela was released from prison in 1990 after spending 27 years behind bars. He was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994 and retired from politics in 1999. He has since campaigned to prevent the spread of AIDS. Proceeds from the show -- for which there were 46,664 tickets -- are going to 46,664 -- the AIDS charity named for the number Mandela wore in prison.


I share his birthday….. but I am a few years younger, well, like 37 years younger. Hope I never spend time in prison, and I hope I promote the ideas of freedom and justice like Nelson Mandela has.

And, just last month, the bushies took Mandela off the terrorist list. He has been on that list all these years. Unfortunately, they forgot to put THEMSELVES on the terrorist list.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Language Lessons


This story was written by my friend, Beth:

"When my own daughter Sara was 7, we went to the pet shop for a filter for the goldfish bowl. While we were there, we encountered a blue-eyed baby Springer Spaniel puppy for sale. Not what we came for. This was a hard time in our family's life. Sara never said a word, but she looked at me in a certain way, you might be able to imagine it. "I know," her eyes seemed to say, "It's too much to hope for." We took the puppy home that day. So many things are said by not saying them. I'm coming to think, more and more, that we give words way too much credit, and sometimes they just get in the way.

I couldn't digest my food Monday night; it sat in my stomach, even though I ordered the lightest of vegan meals from the noodle place menu. It had nothing to do with the food. My spinach pancake was excellent. I loved it. I adored it. I am so glad I ordered it. It was affordable, too. I will get it again next time. My stomach was uncomfortable about something else, and it was letting me know.

During dinner, behind a backdrop of street music and a crying baby, I tried to reach Abu Ali to let him know Ken and I wished to visit that night, but all I could get was voice mail. Ann Cothran, National Community Coordinator for nomorevictims.org, had given me his direct number.

I felt shy and nervous, in spite of the delicious pancake, the sunny Asheville evening, our pretty indoor table. I felt sad and distressed to have learned that Rusul, Abu Ali's daughter, will have her foot amputated (there'd been a little ray of hope they might save it). And I don't speak Arabic; I was pretty sure that Abu Ali and Rusul did not speak English. Could we get along without an interpreter? I had a package for them and I wanted to get to know Rusul and her father, to have a small connection on a quieter level, before everything started happening. I wanted to give Rusul something soft, knowing her upcoming surgery would be so hard. In the back seat of my car I had a brand new light blue blanket made of the plushiest plush for her to wrap around her whole entire little 7-year-old self.

Maybe she already had a plush blanket. That didn't matter. She could have two.

Monday evening was balmy, sunny; a good night for a walk around town, maybe even get to bed early. I couldn't reach Abu Ali on the phone. Ken and I debated our options. A walk? A movie? Was it not meant to be? Should I go anyway? Did Ken still want to go with me? Should I go alone? It was getting late. I dialed Ann Cothran to tell her we weren't coming but she said, "Oh, it's okay, I've let them know you are coming. They'll be watching for you. "

"It won't be too late? " I asked.

"It won't be too late, " Ann replied, her voice kind and happy.

We'd left the GPS at home, no maps in the car, but of course we had some idea how to get to Greenville, so in the end we just went—and in the end, the kind desk clerk at the Ronald McDonald house spent 20 minutes on the phone directing us in. She did a far more excellent (and friendly) job than any GPS could.

I gave Rusul the plush blanket. And some little-girl magnetic paper dolls: she giggled at the underwear beneath their fancy Victorian dresses. Abu Ali and Ken sat together, talking, miming, pausing, trying again, simply regarding each other, two men conversing about their loved ones. Abu Ali says: "Americans are good!" He repeats, he insists: "All American people are good, all the people themselves are good!" Abu Ali is strong, graceful, grateful, with a firm handshake and a ready laugh. Rusul wears a glowing smile; she's all music and energy and open-heartedness.

For just a brief moment, Abu Ali's smile faded; it would be lost on a television screen, but there in the softly lit sitting room, a few feet from one another, I saw, just for a moment, somewhere behind his eyes, packed deep and close: the traumatic, instant loss of a son; two daughters' horrific injuries; running with Salee in his arms, her legs gone; those threatening airplanes still flying overhead keeping him awake night after night; his inconsolable wife. What strength, what faith, what love keeps him going?

Fourteen years later, our Springer Spaniel is now blind and beloved. I can still see my daughter's quietly hopeful face, and I would buy her that puppy all over again. It's such an imperfect analogy, but in Abu Ali's face, I glimpsed the face of war, all wars, and I heard the unspoken, pressing request: Can we not put an end to this nightmare? "I know, " his eyes seemed to say, "It's too much to hope for." I want to purchase peace for him, send it home with him, wrap him and his family in its soft plush folds.

We stand up to go. Heart-felt hugs and handshakes. Abu Ali thanks us for our gifts and our visit, asks us please to come again. Please, please come back soon, Abu Ali says, smiling. Come back. His eyes seem to say: We'll be watching for you. It won't be too late."

TODAY IS THE DAY THAT RUSUL HAS SURGERY. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I will update when I know something. No More Victims website may have information too, and if you can make a donation, that would be much appreciated.

The end of the wonderful license plates


The other night, I went to Music on the Quad at UNCA. A co-worker was there, and gave me a delicious brownie. Afterwards, one of her friends asked me what I was doing with the little red cup that I held in my hands and stared into. I told her that it had small beads in it, and I was stringing them on a fishing line. It is for a memorial for all the Iraqis killed in this illegal invasion and occupation. She said to me "I thought you were mentally disturbed!" Well, I told her I am mentally disturbed, because I know what my government has been doing, and one day she would join me - only she would be shocked along with being mentally disturbed.

For the past three years, I have had a license plate on my car that says IMPEACH. That is all it says, and I have really enjoyed having them on my car. I have gotten tons of positive feedback, including people who nearly had wrecks to tell me they liked my plates. Only twice did I get negative feedback, in three years time.

This month, I have to replace my plates. I did not want IMPEACH on the car after Obama is elected, because I think he deserves a chance before I (or anyone) calls for him to be impeached. And frankly, if we are not going to impeach bush & cheney for their crimes, I don't see where impeachment would be applicable to anyone else in our country, no matter what they do or don't do.

So now I have some dumb letters on my car license plates. I miss the IMPEACH plates already. The picture above is Col. Ann Wright standing by my car last May.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh dear God, what have these monsters done?

Who are the people responsible for treating this child like this? where did they leave their decency and morality? I used to think that if I moved to Canada, I would be among more educated and decent people. Looks like there are some Canada who are just as evil as the bushies.

THEY SICKEN ME! The Canadian Security Intelligence Services SICKEN ME!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Iraq's female bombers

Photo: More than 20 bombings were carried out by women in Iraq this year. (Google photo)

There has been quite an increase in female suicide bombers in Iraq this year. As the caption said, more than 20 in Iraq in the first six months of the year.

Pretty unbelievable. Pretty unbelievable that someone would be willing to commit suicide in order to hurt other people. This article takes a look at what some of the reasons for a suicide bombing. One major reason would be revenge.

Um Mustafa, 41, is training to become a bomber to revenge the killing of her husband and two children by US occupation forces. "US troops destroyed my life, killed thousands of Iraqis and have support from many who also are betrayers," she told IslamOnline.net. "I lost my children and husband and have no reason to be in this world anymore." Um Mustafa's husband and her two children were killed during a US blitz in the western city of Fallujah in 2004. Since then, her desire for revenge has never died down.

Some are doing it to free their country of the occupiers:

Shamis Muhammad [not her real name], 19, is training to become a bomber to help free Iraq from the US occupation. "When I told my parents that I was going to become a suicide bomber, my mother got desperate and tried everything to make me to desist from this idea," she told IOL. "However, my heart was clean and telling me that I had to defend my religion and country from invaders. "My father had a long conversation with me when I told him my decision and the only thing he did was take the holy book, put over my head, pray for me to succeed and ask me to be careful.

It is horrible that these women (or men, for that matter) feel they need to do this kind of violence on themselves and on their fellow humans. I personally feel that the Iraqis have every right to kick the occupiers out of their land, but I also believe the only way to effectively do that without destroying their own country, is to do it by non-violent resistance.

As to the women who feel compelled to commit a suicide bombing because of grief and a desire for revenge – I think they just went crazy from the stress of their losses – the deaths of their loved ones, the destruction of their homes and towns and country, the loss of a regular life and the loss of their own mental health.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Helping the children of Iraq


Photo: May 31, 2008 file photo of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. May 31, 2008 file photo of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the new owners of the Miraval property in Correns, near Brignoles, southern France. French law is tough on paparazzi, especially when they snap stars' children. The law might come in handy after the birth of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's twins _ particularly if, as reports say, they hope to turn the tables on the paparazzi by selling rights to the first baby pictures for millions of dollars. Collapse

(Matt Sayles / AP Photo)

Recently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt decided to donate one million dollars to help the children of Iraq. They are doing this via the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. Not too long ago, Angelina went in front of a UN group to appeal for aid for Iraqi children, and got some publicity out of that. I applaud her efforts, and I wish I had a million dollars to give to children in Iraq. This money will be directed towards the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, and will help Iraqi children who have lost parents, homes or educational opportunities.

I hope others will follow their example in being generous and in adopting children. I rather hope others will not follow their example in having three children of their own – and I feel that way because the world is very much over-populated. They just had the birth of their twins, and I am very happy that the twins are healthy. I bet they are awesome too! But, we need to limit the number of people on this planet........

Anyway, back to the children of Iraq:

UNICEF is also working to help the children of Iraq – specifically, those in Sadr City. During April and May of this year, the children of Sadr City were trapped inside their homes in the middle of a battlefield. UNICEF stated that this meant one million children were not able to go to school or go out to play. It also meant limited access to any health care. The article about this says that two hospitals were closed, as were local clinics.

Now, in light of a million children impacted from the recent fighting in Sadr City alone, the million dollar donation from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt does not look like it will go very far. It sure will go further than the much, much smaller amount that I am able to give, that’s for sure!

UNICEF is trying to restore services and routines in Sadr City, and they are tanking in water and trying to establish child-friendly spaces there. I cannot imagine trying to tank in water for over 2 million people, but I guess there is no other way to get clean water to these folks.

I wonder if the evil fools who started this war, and the evil fools who voted for it in the US Congress, and the evil fools who cheered it on in America, even realize (even a little bit) just how bad things are in Iraq.

Tens of millions of lives have been destroyed.

Likely over a million are now dead.

Over four million are refugees – either inside or outside the country. There are estimates of 2.8 million displaced inside the country, with very marginal improvement seen in the last year or two. Oftentimes, those displaced children end up begging or going through garbage to survive. Access to health care or even food is often very limited, and the living conditions are dire.

Amnesty International recently had this to say:

The displacement crisis caused by the US-led invasion of Iraq and the subsequent internal armed conflict has reached shocking proportions. Millions of people at risk – Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, Christians, Mandean-Sabeans, Palestinians and others – have fled their homes and most are now struggling to survive.

The crisis for Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced is one of tragic proportions. Despite this, the world’s governments have done little or nothing to help, failing both in their moral duty and in their legal obligation to share responsibility for displaced people wherever they are. Apathy towards the crisis has been the overwhelming response.

They say this problem will require attention for years and years to come, but the international community, especially the US, is ignoring the problem. There have been reports of “voluntary returns” but these are insignificant to the enormity of the problem. They also say that the improvement in the security in Iraq has been slight, and Iraq remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Overall, the situation for Iraqi refugees, both internal and external to Iraq, has deteriorated since last year. Iraqis constitute the largest group of asylum-seekers in the world today.

And no end in sight.

And these evil people have the nerve to claim that we are, or will, “succeed” in Iraq.

This is a monstrous evil. And many of our troops, who were pushed into being the actual people to carry out this evil, will pay a price for as long as they are alive. But the ones who started it – the politicians of the United States and other countries – will only grow more rich.

I don’t know how they can look in the mirror and not throw up. Or worse.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Updates and Events


I have started posting the week's upcoming events in the WNC Peace Coalition blog. There is a list of events and actions that may be of interest to activists in the area..... or visiting activists.

This is another picture of Rusul. It is clear that she is a beautiful child. We have been informed that she will have her right foot amputated on Thursday at Shriner's hospital in Greenville. She is taking it in stride, from what I have heard. She will be in a wheelchair for awhile after her surgery.

Our theme has been "A Rose for Rusul" so we had lots of roses there for her when she arrived at the airport. Here is a link to some more photos that I took, and here is a link to Naomi Johnson's photos (which are much better than mine!). And here is a link to a news video of her arrival. The name "Rusul" is a masculine name and means "messenger" - or so I have been told.

Please keep little Rusul in your thoughts and prayers this week, as she faces surgery.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rusul arrives at airport!

July 10, 2008
This photo was taken this afternoon at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport. Rusul is the little girl in the brown dress, Ann C of No More Victims is in the white pants besides Rusul. Rusul's father is in the black shirt with stripes on it, and as you can see, there is plenty of media around.

This photo was taken before we handed Rusul a bunch of flowers. Here in Asheville, we adopted "Roses for Rusul" as a campaign theme, so we brought a bunch of peach colored roses to the airport. There were eight of us from Asheville, and one women brought a bunch of flowers from her garden. Many people also brought toys for Rusul.

Rusul is a beautiful child. Her right foot and bottom leg were damaged in a US missile strike while she was playing in her back yard. This happened in November 2006, just outside of Fallujah. Rusul has beautiful eyes and a warm, quick smile. She walks on the ankle of her right foot.

As we were welcoming Rusul at the airport, a man came up to me and asked who she was. I told him the story, and he said "I guess this is what they call collateral damage." He said that he noticed Rusul on the plane (he was on the same flight) because she was such a beautiful child. He did not notice her injury until she started to walk off the plane.

I heard that Salee, Rusul's sister, wanted to come with her sister and dad to the US. Salee was here in the US for surgery and prosthetics last year. Salee lost the both her legs (above the knees) in the same missile strike. Salee was really attached to Ann C. of No More Victims.

The same missile strike killed their older brother and another neighborhood child who was friends with Salee. We are still raising money to help pay for the care of these children and to take care of their family back in Iraq. Please go to No More Victims if you can help.

I will be updating Rusul's visit to the US on a regular basis.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rusul arrives at the airport












Speakers from Hiroshima Peace Museum

Ms. Watanabe Speaks - photo from last night's event.

Last night was the opening reception for the exhibit of “Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Image and stories from eyewitness accounts”. It was also the time for Ms. Watanabe, a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima, and the peace delegation from Hiroshima, to speak. This happened at UNCA in Karpen Hall.

On our seats in the room for the presentation, there were tiny folded paper cranes, with two in a small bag. They were left there to promote peace and were made by the residents of Hiroshima. I ended up with four of them, in pink, purple, light green and dark green. The first speaker was from the Hiroshima Peace Museum.

He talked about the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which was established 40 years ago to eliminate nuclear weapons. It was re-promised in 2000 under Clinton and in 2005, the current president of the US said “no” to this treaty. This speaker said that we are on track to let everyone have nuclear weapons, which means that they are likely to be used. He also said that the people of the US make up 4% of the world’s population but use up 25% of the world’s oil, and we are destroying our world’s ecosystems. He said that we have to decide between solving problems in the world by violence or by rule of law. The people at the Hiroshima Peace Museum are very worried about the possibility of using nuclear weapons and feel that the peace community is not doing enough.

They are only here on tour as a warning to the future.

Ms. Watanabe is a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima 63 years ago. She showed a photo of her family – mother, father, two brothers and grandmother. She said it was the first photo of the family all together, and was also the last. She showed a diagram of the city of Hiroshima and how it was affected by the bomb. Her home did not burn, but it partially collapsed. She had left the house on an errand, but returned home to get a parasol, since it was hot. This likely saved her life. She said the sky was bathed in an indescribable light that was yellow and orange. She crouched into the protective posture that she was taught at school, and she said she did not get scared until after the blast. Her mother came out of the house bleeding from her jaw (from glass from the windows) and they could not get her mother to a hospital, since it was burning. She saw people walking around with the skin from their arms hanging off of their hands. They were walking around with their hands out in front of them, with the skin dangling from their hands, held on only by the finger nails.

Her neighbor’s house was standing, but the glass from the windows had cut the 2 month old baby’s throat. That child died quickly. No one was in any shelters at the time of the blast, because they had been declared ‘all clear’ earlier. A neighbor’s son had his stomach outside his body, since it had exploded. People were trying to get out of the city crying ‘water, water, water’ while they were walking. Her father came home burned all over, and burned people laid in rows in the hospital. Her family took shelter a bit further out from the city where they knew people who would take them in. As they got there, the sky over Hiroshima was bright red. Her father asked for water, which they were told not to give to him. He died a few days later. Her brother was at home at the time of the explosion, but he had got into the city to look for his father. He was exposed to the radioactive ashes, and died of leukemia in middle age. When he first got sick, they said he had “A-bomb disease” which made many people sick.

Hiroshima bomb was small compared to today’s bombs. If we had nuclear war today, it could mean the annihilation of the human race. The Hiroshima Peace Museum is popular for school trips in Japan, and there are 32 survivors who work there and speak to the school children every day. Ms. Watanabe said that she was angry with the presidents who gave orders to drop the bombs, not with the military people who followed the orders.

The delegation from Hiroshima felt the best vehicle or organization for disarmament was the Majors for Peace project, and that they have a petition to sign to support this. They are also working on Parliamentarians for Peace. The World Court Project is asking if nuclear weapons states are acting in good faith. October 24, 2008 will be the first day of nuclear disarmament week. The speaker stressed that much grassroots work needs to be done since UN ambassadors say their population would not support or understand if their leaders took a stand against the US. They are putting a lot of pressure on Obama to get rid of all nuclear weapons.

A local veteran (former Marine) got up to speak. She said that she had rung the Peace Bell in Hiroshima and she gave a peace button to Ms. Watanabe. Then she said that we have to stop forgiving our military, since they are following unlawful orders (a violation of article 15 of the Code for Military Justice, I believe). She said it used to be honorable to get out and fight and kill our enemies, but that today we are advocating the death of others just because they are different, and this is not honorable or just. Ms. Watanabe said that if a Japanese soldier had said that during the war, he would have been killed immediately.

Another speaker pointed out that we can no longer solve problems by war (power) but will have to solve them by love.

The exhibit will be up until August 8, 2008. This has been sponsored by the Center for Diversity Education at UNCA and other various peace groups in the area.

On July 11, 2008, there will be two movies shown at UU church in Asheville on nuclear weapons and the human future. This starts at 7 PM.

On August 6, 2008, there will be a movie shown at UNCA called “White Light/Black Rain” about the bombing of Hiroshima.

On August 9, 2008, there will be a peace lantern ceremony at Sequoyah Hills Park in Knoxville Tennessee at 8:15 PM. I have heard that this is beautiful.

Please sign the petition for the Cities Are Not Targets project, that is part of the Mayors for Peace.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

CAPITULATION!

On July 9, 2008, the Democrats in the US Senate showed (just like the Democrats in the US House did a couple of weeks back) that they can CAPITULATE!

So, now we get headlines like this:

"Senate bows to Bush, approves surveillance bill"

And good-by to the Fourth Amendment! Hey, we didn’t need that Constitution anyway! Laws, and the rule of law, are for wimps!

Gee, I am so glad we elected those Democrats!

Not.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lost Unto This World

I was inspired to make this video when I heard this song used in a tribute to Marla Ruzicka. I got the pictures from my Faces of Grief blog, and the song from Emmylou Harris. It took me a while to get this together - thanks to Kindra for helping me get the movie started on Windows Movie Maker and thanks to Robyn for showing me how to post to You Tube.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hero



This is a photo of Antonia Taguba, who did the investigation into torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. He recently stated that it was clear that directives to engage in torture came from our executive branch and White House, and the only question left was if those responsible will be brought to justice.

I sure hope so, but it is looking doubtful. And I rather doubt President Obama will bring them to justice either.

I am on the road right now, visiting family, so posting may stop for a couple of days.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Vets for Peace and Impeachment

Photo is from Vets for Peace vigil at Pack Square sometime in the last few years.

I got this in an email from them:

Sign this NEW Declaration by copying and pasting the text below to a new email, or by printing it out on paper. Then send it to your U.S. congressperson, senators, and all others who have the ability to bring Dennis Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment forward. You can find links to their email and snail mail addresses at www.wethepeopleforpeace.org . If you live outside the U.S., send it to your government representatives. The full text of the Articles of Impeachment can be found at http://impeachment.kucinich.us/ .

Then, send this email to all your friends and email lists and ask them to pass it around the world NOW!

+++++++++++++++++


JULY 4, 2008.
THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE WORLD.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have bound them, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Humankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all People are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among People, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown, that Humankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these United States and the World; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of President George Bush and his Government is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these United States and the World. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

Articles of Impeachment
as presented to the US Congress
by Dennis Kucinich of Ohio In the United States House of Representatives
Monday, June 9th, 2008
A Resolution

Resolved, that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors.

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the following abuses of power.

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.
Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.
Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.
Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.
Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.
Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.
Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.
Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.
Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor.
Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes.
Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq.
Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources.
Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries.
Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq.
Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors.
Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives.
Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy.
Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture.
Article XX
Imprisoning Children.
Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government.
Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws.
Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.
Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment.
Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens.
Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements.
Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply.
Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice.
Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare.
Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency.
Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change.
Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.
Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001.
Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE WORLD do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these United States and the World, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United States and the World are Free to enjoy all of the benefits guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the United States of America, and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT PEOPLE, they have full Power to authorize their justly elected Governments to conclude Peace, and to do all other Acts and Things which are in the Highest and Best Interests of the People.

And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Support of our Divine Creator, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.