Sunday, August 31, 2008

Upcoming events - 08/31/08


Please go to the WNC Peace Coalition blog to see upcoming events. This is a quiet week in Asheville, but starting next Sunday things will get quite busy.

Have a peaceful week!

Pictures of the House Party








Cathy Scott held a house party for Rusul on Saturday evening. Cathy has a lovely home up in the mountains, but not far from Asheville itself. It seemed like there was tons of people there, but in actually, I guess it was about 40 or 50 people. Rusul really liked the trampoline, and she was really into jumping as high as she could on this! She was also fascinated by the young girls who were playing and singing music (pictures in the next blog post). I thought that was very nice, but the song "Blowing in the wind" nearly did me in..... anyway, hope you enjoy this photos, and the ones below.

Pictures of the musicians/singers








Pictures Rusul Took


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where is our shame?


“So how, exactly, did the United States come to slaughter nearly a hundred Afghans, two-thirds of whom were children aged three months to sixteen years, while they slept?”

Yes, how did we come to slaughter so many children for no reason? Where is our shame? All the evidence points to 60 children killed, along with 30 adults, by a US bombing run on August 23, 2008. Please note - they live in MUD huts. How could these people be any threat to us?

Where is our shame? Meanwhile, the women are still wearing burqas, the poverty is immense, and the entire country is protesting the presence of foreign troops. Mission accomplished for the asshole in the White House. Where is our shame? Why haven’t we impeached these mass murderers?

Photo: A woman wearing a burqa begs for alms in the streets of Kabul in late June. Five million Afghans face serious food shortages with winter drawing near, but donors have put forward less than a fifth of the money needed to cope, development charity Oxfam has warned. (AFP/File/Shah Marai)

Photo: Afghan women stands next to the remains of her home which was destroyed in a US airstrike at Azizabad village in Herat province. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says it has has found "convincing evidence" that 90 civilians -- including 60 children -- were killed in US-led air strikes last week. (AFP/Reza Shirmohammadi)

Friday, August 29, 2008

It has been three years now

It has been three years since bush stood by and let New Orleans drown. As this picture shows, he was busy partying with McCain on this date.

And three years later - they have done very little to rebuild the city or improve the leeves. I sure hope that the US does not have a major earthquake or major hurricanes again - we are in no shape to take care of our citizens if this were to happen. I am writing this blog post on June 9, 2008 - I wanted to save this picture. It will be interesting to see if there are major changes between now and then. I am writing this while Rep. Kucinich is reading all the major crimes bush has committed in the impeachment article. I predict that bush will not be impeached, because most of our politicians are complicit.

Also - I want to predict that Sanford and Sebelius will be the vice presidential candidates. The Bilderberg Group picked them. Let's see if I got that right or not..... UPDATE: Well, the Democratic one was wrong.... but I would guess the Bilderberg group is happy with Biden. I was wrong about the Republican pick too - someone I never heard of before.... Palin. Hey, if you take the 'l' out of her name, you get: PAIN. How appropriate.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Iraq - Let me be your freedom!

Let the games begin!

As the Olympic games come to an end, the political games in the USA are ramping up. This week, it is the Democratic Party National Convention. Want a good seat? Well, the hottest seats will be in the skyboxes at the convention center, and those are going to the corporate powers that be, who made lots of donations!

>"It's a bigger than the Super Bowl," said Texas lobbyist Ben Barnes, a convention veteran who'll be in one of the boxes on Thursday's final, historic night.

He'll be in good company. Xcel Energy, Pfizer and Molson Coors, which each have given more than $1 million, will be among scores of deep-pocket donors with their own private luxury suites. Home of the Denver Broncos, the football stadium's 131 skyboxes, seating 14 to 20 people, are mostly going to the party's biggest backers and political VIPs.

A few thousand of Mr. Obama's closest fiscal friends also are being offered club-level seats – with 8,300 primo spots available – some going to deep-pocket donors and others sold for $1,000.<

Well, I guess you have to pay to play here in the land of the free. I am so sick of it, and sick of the dog and pony shows that these two major parties produce on a regular basis. It is a total waste of money, and sinful in light of the fact that so many people are homeless and hungry right here in America. And from that same article:

>Four years ago, Ameriquest Mortgage Co., the nation's largest subprime housing lender which resisted tighter government regulations, was a $5 million donor and a major presence at the 2004 GOP convention. The company isn't around anymore, a casualty of excesses in the home mortgage industry.<

It is all just so sickening. Kos wrote up a report on the various PACs who are hosting a big party at the convention, and the amount of their donations to the Democrats and to the Republicans.

And this past weekend, we heard that Obama picked Biden as his running mate. Personally, I have a huge chip on my shoulder towards Biden. He proposed chopping Iraq up into three parts, he voted to allow bush & cheney to go into Iraq, and then he voted for funding this mass murder for oil. On top of that, I believe he voted for the FISA bill, and the Military Commissions Act in 2006.

So, I voted for Obama in the primary because I thought he was the best Democratic candidate for peace. Since then, he has made more and more belligerent statements about Iran and Pakistan and Russia. He has also sucked up to AIPAC. I finally have figured out who I will vote for in the general election: Cynthia McKinney. I am sick to death of voting for “the lesser of two evils”. I have voted for the Democratic candidate since 1976, and the votes I cast for Carter and Gore were the only ones that I felt were not “the lesser of two evils” and now, at middle age, I am going to vote for the candidate who represents my values and beliefs. This year, that will be Cynthia McKinney.

Go McKinney!!

Photo: The Pinwheel galaxy, otherwise known as Messier 101, sports bright reddish edges in this new infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope released by NASA July 21, 2008. Research from Spitzer has revealed that this outer red zone lacks organic molecules present in the rest of the galaxy. The red and blue spots outside of the spiral galaxy are either foreground stars or more distant galaxies. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/Handout (UNITED STATES).

In spite of what the US population and US politicians have done to the plant, it is still a beautiful world out there. Go NASA!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Protest in Denver

This protest is prior to the start of the Democratic convention on Sunday August 24th. But the great part is that this is a FAUX News reporter and they tell him where to go and how to get there. Plus they have an idiot reporter commenting at the end. I agree with the protesters - and I think this is a wonderful piece!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Upcoming events in the area this week


The events for this week are posted on the WNC Peace Coalition blog. Hope to see you at some event soon!
Peace!

Another day with Rusul

I will try to write up a report on my day with Rusul on August 23, 2008 - maybe later this week.









Friday, August 22, 2008

A day with a war-injured child

I awoke this past Saturday morning (08/16/08) at the Asheville Friends Meeting House, and then went upstairs to wake up the dozen or so college students who had spent the night there. They were in town for a regional meeting of the Students for a Democratic Society, and were busy planning their trip up to St. Paul to protest the Republican Convention. I then went to pick up Adrianne and her daughter Willa – we had a big day planned for Rusul and her dad.

Rusul, which I have written about in the past, here, and here, was in Greenville getting medical treatment for her war injuries. She and her father, Abu Ali, were staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Just the day before, Rusul had her cast removed from her right leg. Her right foot had been badly damaged in a US missile strike while she was playing hopscotch outside her home in Fallujah. Rusul’s sister, Salee, had lost both of her legs above the knees in the same attack, and Rusul’s brother and a neighborhood child had been killed. Abu Ali has pictures of the body parts of his son, but I have not yet asked to see them. He only shows them to people who ask. All of this happened in November 2006.

The day started out well, but about half way down to Greenville, Adrianne started getting calls about problems in the apartment complexes she is managing. One of the problems was a flea infestation, another was someone was locked out, and Adrianne made dozens of calls to try and resolve these issues. We were well on the way to Greenville at this point, and I did not want to be REALLY late, so we kept going and decided that we would get Adrianne back to her apartment building after we got Rusul and her dad and took them to the Islamic Education Center in Asheville. On the way down to Greenville, Adrianne talked about ‘bombing’ the apartment with fleas, which is a standard way of talking about fumigating for bugs. But on the way back to Asheville, with Rusul and Abu Ali in the car, it started to bother me that she was saying “bomb” so much on the phone….. and that I could not fully explain to Abu Ali what exactly we were talking about. Adrianne also said she would like to “shoot” her husband – which is, of course, just an expression. But it got me thinking about how violent our language is here in the USA, and how little we really think about that. Anyway, I was stressing about that, and stressing about leaving Abu Ali and Rusul at the Nature Center by themselves while I took Adrianne across town, but that turned out to be fine with Abu Ali.

On the drive up, Abu Ali communicated “nice” at all the beautiful vistas we saw. We did manage to communicate that Kurdish areas of Iraq also have beautiful mountains. He also said that Bush-bad, McCain-bad, Obama-hope good. He rather liked Obama. His English is far better than my Arabic.

Anyway, I dropped them at the Islamic Education Center, drove Adrianne to her home and came back. Abu Ali took to this Center like a fish to water, but Rusul seemed bored in the children’s education class. There were 15 children in the class. They told a long story in English, which she did not understand. They also covered a few words in Arabic and did the Arabic alphabet, which I think Rusul found too easy to be interesting. Willa, however, really likes this class – so this child of a Quaker may take up Islamic studies. Rusul, however, does not complain. Abu Ali was in worship, which was part in English and part in Arabic. Someone there made a point of thanking me for bringing him.

We were due to meet a local man who would be an interpreter for our trip to the WNC Nature Center at 2:30, so I got Abu Ali out of worship and into the car. When I got there, I called Wail (interpreter) and he said he would not get there for another 20 minutes. So we went inside, and Rusul discovered that if she stood on the air conditioning vent in the gift shop, it would blow up her dress. This was probably the highlight of her day – she thought it was very funny. There are pictures of her doing this, and other pictures from the day, on my blog.

One thing I had not counted on – I was told that the Islamic Center would serve pizza for lunch. It turns out they didn’t, and that meant all of us were getting hungry. In retrospect, we should have eaten before going to the Nature Center. However, I felt we need to be there on time for the interpreter, who came an hour late!

Anyway, we went ahead into the Nature Center and walked on down to the butterfly exhibit. Willa really was into trying to get the butterflies on her hand, which they use sugar water to attract them. Abu Ali was into this too, but Rusul did not know what to make of the butterflies, so she was leery of them. I have some pictures of her making faces on this blog.

This was when Rusul started getting worn out. It is hard work to hop everywhere you go, using a walker. So we went into the log cabin and waited for the interpreter and his daughter to show up. As we were sitting there, it is easy to see the shrapnel wounds that Rusul has in her arms and legs. At this point, we pretty much decided that we all were starving, and we needed to eat! Abu Ali wanted ‘hamburger’ and Rusul likes potatoes. Neither one seems to like sweets.

As we were leaving the area, Abu Ali kept saying “nice” which was his way of saying the scenery was beautiful. Both the Islamic Center and the Nature Center are close to my condo, and this made me think of the time, about six years ago, when I was camping out on top of Rich Mountain in Madison County (NC). I was asking myself why I was so upset and so concerned about the talk and the plans to invade and occupy Iraq….. I had a history of opposing all prior wars, including Afghanistan, but the injustice and utter stupidity of what our leaders were proposing with an invasion of Iraq really took me by storm. And, on top of that mountain in the middle of the night, all I could come up with was “It is a beautiful world. I don’t want to see it wrecked.” Little did I know that six years later I would be escorting a war-injured child and her father, who had paid a horrible price for this illegal invasion and occupation.

And it ain’t over.........................

As I drove them back to Greenville, Rusul slept soundly in the back seat. Adrianne and Willa had gone home, so it was a quiet drive. I got back in time to run home, take a shower, and head back to the Asheville Friends Meeting House for my chaperon ‘duties’. While I was waiting for the SDS students to arrive I took a book off the shelves in the library, and opened it randomly to this:

“Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminates even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good. If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survivial, then we must find an alternative to war. …..Our world is threatened by the grim prospect of atomic annihilation because there are still too many who know not what they do.” (Martin Luther King, Jr in “Strength to Love”)

Yes, there are many who “know not what they do”. And little children playing hopscotch outside their homes end up paying the price – with their lives, their body parts, their health, and their future. It is the vastly ignorant ones, sitting in the middle of this land of plenty and astounding beauty, who do not see what they have done and make no effort to even become aware of the cost that innocent children have paid.

And in the middle of this land of plenty and astounding beauty, we spend our time making weapons to visit horror on other people (and in the anthrax attacks, we visited it upon ourselves) and making plans to obtain what is not ours to feed an addition to oil. We seem to know no bounds on our not knowing what we are doing, and no ability to see what we are headed towards.

And this ain’t over..........................

If you would like to help a war-injured child and their families, please go to No More Victims website.

And if you are coming through western North Carolina, check out the WNC Peace Coalition blog for peace and social justice events. Our downtown is very torn up, but the mountains here are NICE.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"This is Baghdad"

This is a video of pictures from July 2008 that were taken in Baghdad. It gives an idea what life is like in Baghdad now.......

Sunday, August 17, 2008

WNC Peace Coalition Reminder

The WNC Peace Coaliton will meet on August 19, 2008 at Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville. All are welcome.

There is a blog post of upcoming events in the area on the WNC Peace Coalition blog. The link is here.

Visit to the Nature Center 08/16/08

These are some photos from our visit to the WNC Nature Center. Rusul and her dad, along with me, Adrianne and her daughter Willa, spend an hour or so checking out the Nature Center. Rusul did not know what to think of the butterflys, and you can see her here making funny faces towards them. What Rusul really enjoyed was the air conditioning duct in the visitor's center, which blew up her dress. The pictures are fuzzy, but she had a big smile on her face when she was doing this!








Lebanon/Israel war - war's lasting damage

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lebanon/Isreal war - two years ago

and what did anyone gain from this hideous war? Civilians killed: Lebanon 2,000 Israel 43.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Video from Fox News

They had a 12 year old American girl on their show, and she was caught up in the violence in South Ossetia recently. She says she was saved by the Russian troops. Her aunt in on the show also and she firmly puts the blame on the government of Georgia.

Getting rid of nuclear weapons

Photo: This advertisement was from the 1950's when the USA was supporting the Shah of Iran and thought that having nuclear power would be a good thing for Iran. Today, the bushies think that Iran has no right to nuclear power, and they accuse them of making nuclear bombs. No evidence that they are building nuclear bombs. I forgot to note where I found this photo, but it was with an article on American hypocrisy.

I think we should get rid of nuclear power, but I think getting rid of nuclear bombs is vastly more important. And, in light of that, I decided to write letters to candidates about nuclear weapons via Friends Committee on National Legislation website. Link to the website at the end of this blog post. But I wanted to share with you the answers I got from this email, so here is my letter and the response:

Message sent to the following recipients:
Mr. Mumpower
Representative Shuler
Mr. Smith
Mr. Cole
Senator Dole
Mrs. Hagan

Letter to all candidates for Congress:

In 1945, the US dropped nuclear bombs on Japan. Today, we have more than 6,000 nuclear weapons (some report over 10,000 nuclear weapons). Right now, the world has enough nuclear weapons to do 400,000 Hiroshimas. This is ridiculous, but also very obscene.

I think we are on a dangerous and unproductive path here - we need to work to abolish all nuclear weapons, not maintain (at a cost of over $17 billion per year!) the ones we have. We need to work for total nuclear disarmament.

I would like to know if you support this position and, if elected, you would advocate cutting the size of the US nuclear arsenal by at least 50 percent. I look forward to hearing from you on how you would advance a world free of nuclear weapons in Congress. - END -

One person responded: Come back to the world of reality. The world is never going to be free of nuclear weapons. - from KSLUVBEACH@aol.com

My response to the above: Then that means the world will never be free of nuclear war. I would not call that reality - I would call it a nightmare.

Further response: Nuclear war??? You really are living in a world of non-reality... You want to cut our arsenal in half and then eliminate it..

Well, let me put an end to your supposed safer world... We once only had two nuclear bombs..Yea the whole world only had two..We used one on Hiroshima..so then in all the world there was only one..we used it on Nagasaki.

So the number of bombs has absolutely nothing to do with if they are used or not.

And by the way, by using those bombs Truman saved millions of lives.. Yes, saved millions. If you knew how Iwo Jima or some of the other Jap island strongholds fought you would understand what a blood bath and meat grinder the mainland of Japan would have been.

But naive Peaceniks that have never thought about how the reality of a nuclear retaliation threat allowed Germany to live in peace and not be invaded by Russia worked.

Snap out of your delusion if we got rid of nuclear bombs the world would be safer. It wouldn't. Poison gas, biological weapons, and all of the rest would still make it not only just as dangerous but really even more dangerous. Without the threat of being taken care of in a single strike nut case countries wouldn't fear launching an attack on us or any other peace loving country.

Don't go around worrying about some might be, could be fear of the future. Peace through strength really does work... You don't see big strong guys being picked on, just little wimpy ones.

Have a nice day, hug a tree, go save some whales, yada yada

[It is, of course, speculation as to how many lives were ‘saved’ by using nuclear bombs on Japan. But one thing we know for sure – the final toll is not known yet, and we will not know until all nuclear bombs are gone. – dancewater]

I responded: I thought Germany was occupied by the USSR for quite some time - and I thought they were invaded by Russia, back in the 1940's. By the way, who are you exactly? I sent out emails from a web page, but your email does not match any of the names of recipients.
Thanks, Susan

Further response: I was talking about post WW2 Germany when it was only our nuclear arsenal that kept West Germany free and not a Russian puppet like East Germany. And that spam from a web page is what's wrong..people send out the same old form letter when they don't even know who they are sending it to.

I responded: It was not a form letter, and I know who I sent it to - Dole, Hagen, Mumpower, Shuler, Smith, and Cole. I just don't know which one of those people you happen to be, since you didn't state your name.
Susan

NO ANSWER TO THAT! I think it is safe to assume that this did not come from Dole, Hagen, Shuler, or Mumpower. And I think it is safe to assume that we will go on spending $17+ billion per year to maintain our nuclear weapons. And it is also safe to assume that, if we ever have a nuclear war, it may end life as we know it.

If you would like to join in the fun and email your candidates, go to this website and compose a letter! It’s free, and who knows who is reading!

Lebanon/Israel war - rockets hit Haifa

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Network of Spiritual Progressives

Photo: Northern Lights. Photographer unknown.

I wanted to share some suggested planks for the Democratic Party Platform. These were sent on to the meeting of the Democratic Party Platform committee, which met recently.

Suggested Democratic Party Platform Planks - Network of Spiritual Progressives,
Black Mountain, N.C. Chapter

1. Health Care

We deplore the fact that tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance, especially the working poor and children. We strongly support a single payer universal health care plan as a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT of the citizens of the United States as public education is a right.

A health system which emphasizes prevention and wellness would streamline care and cut costs. The current health insurance ?non-system? rakes in an annual profit of $100 billion dollars with an overhead of 20%. In stark contrast, overhead for Medicare is only 3%.

2. Foreign Policy, Poverty and Economic Development.

We support House Resolution 1078 which calls for establishment of a New Global Marshall Plan. This plan, which would commit the United States and other industrialized nations to an annual contribution of one to two per cent GDP for a period of twenty years, would help stimulate the economies of developing nations. It would also provide universal education and health care. This bold initiative would change significantly the world?s perception of US foreign policy from one of military domination to one of constructive cooperation.

3. The Environment

We are profoundly concerned that, though we represent only 4% of the world?s population, we are consuming 25% of the earth?s resources. We believe that we need to promote actively a shift in values from self-interest, free market materialism, and consumerism to an emphasis on interdependence, sustainability and global well being.

Because of the overwhelming scientific evidence of global climate change, it is imperative that the US support the creation of alternative sources of energy and aggressively promote wide spread conservation measures.

SUGGESTED DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM PLANKS

Social Security
Social Security is our most important safety net for seniors and the disabled. In order to protect the solvency of Social Security in the future we recommend the following actions:
1). Gradually increase the tax base from 85% to 90% of total wages,
2). Allow the Social Security Administration to invest no more than 20% of the total assets of the Trust Fund in equities,
3). Allocate a portion of the Estate Tax to Social Security, and
4). Protect the Social Security Trust Fund from being used to cover other government expenses.

Foreign Policy
We are profoundly disturbed by the militarization of the U. S. foreign policy. We support the establishment of a U. S. Department of Peace that would help to peacefully resolve all international conflicts between the U. S. and other countries. We are also deeply troubled by our current unilateral nationalism (opposition to the Kyoto Treaty and the World Court). We must continue to promote the values of world citizenship among our people, especially among our young people.

The Environment and the Economy
Let the challenges of the energy crisis, climate change and the current economic downturn become opportunities to come together as a country. We must make a national commitment to achieve energy independence within 10 years through a shift away from the use of petroleum products to completely clean, alternative energy sources. To accomplish this shift we recommend the following:
1). Provide tax incentives to individuals and businesses to create conservation and energy efficiency projects,
2). Invest in the infrastructure that supports the development of new, clean energy technologies, and
3). Inspire and educate the American people on how to reduce their use of petroleum products and shift to alternative, clean energy.
We believe that these actions will fuel the creation of many new jobs in a growing green economy.


Planks from the Values Dialogue Group, Buncombe County (N.C.) Democrats

1. Sustainability for Our Children?s Future

We Democrats want our children and all our descendents to have a sustainable future. We are conservative in supporting a shift from narrow self-interest, "me-first-ism", hyper-materialism, uncontrolled growth, and obsessive consumerism toward community, interdependence, sustainability, neighborly care, and global well-being. That shift is long-term, but starts from the fact that, though we Americans are only 4% of the world's population, we consume 25% of Earth's resources.

2. Universal Health Care

We are ashamed that Americans die from poor access to health care. We deplore the fact that tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance. To include all citizens, streamline, simplify and control costs, a single-payer universal health care system that emphasizes prevention and wellness is needed. The current health insurance "non-system" takes in over $100 billion in profit each year and has an overhead of some 20%, while Medicare has an overhead of only about 3%. We cannot control costs while paying the oppressive overhead costs and profit margins of the private health insurance industry.

3. Foreign Policy and Homeland Security

We support a new Global Marshal Plan that will pull our foreign policy strategies away from dominance, and toward generosity and non-violence. Some 2% of the GDP of the U. S. and other advanced industrial countries annually for 20 years would finance the elimination of U.S. and global poverty, improve health care, establish universal education, and heal environmental damage. Our own security will be advanced as we seek the well-being of everyone else on the planet.

4. Repowering America

We endorse and commit to Al Gore's Challenge to produce 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and other clean sources within ten years. It is do-able. It will help lead toward a stable climate. Complementing this, we support renewed railroads and mass transit, user-friendly bike trails, and imaginative full-cycle systems utilizing animal waste, plant debris, and other biological refuse sources for energy.

5. A Healthy Democracy

Fundamental to true democracy are an engaged, informed citizenry and leaders not dependent on corporate interests to fund their campaigns. We commit to deep reform of the political process to break the grip of "big money" interests that twists problem-solving from the common good to selfish interest. We will promote democratic media and require that TV and radio licensees serve the public need for factual information as a priority. In lieu of paying for licenses, in exchange for using the public airwaves and rights-of-way, those media shall provide free airtime for candidates. This will remove a key cost that traps office-seekers in an endless, distracting money chase to fund campaigns, often leading to corruption.

6. Improved Education

We support enlightened public education, and will move to minimize differences in quality due to differences in wealth among communities. We support flexibility to attune educational approaches to the learning differences of individual students, including structured alternatives to conventional schools. Grants and loan programs paid off by public service will help realize this democratic dream of education for all, until our goal of free education through the college level is realized.

7. Full Employment

We will support full employment and economic justice for workers. Given the cyclical nature of the national economy, public works programs should be planned and "on the shelf" to promptly implement during times of economic downturn and high unemployment.

8. The Empire

Increasingly, war and domination strategies, with consequent "blow-back", human tragedy, economic and moral corrosion that accompany them, have become obsolete. We will seek alternatives to war and empire, and will once again restore America to being a law-abiding nation among nations, a friend to the oppressed, a beacon of hope and inspiration, a reliable world citizen.

9. Banking, Finance, and Speculation

We will restore proper regulation of financial markets, and will reform those schemes that have lead to excesses like the mortgage crisis, oversized institutions out of touch with the world of ordinary citizens, and speculation-driven increases in the cost of oil (that have made gasoline cost about a dollar per gallon more).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Report on an afternoon in Greenville

Last week, I finally got a chance to go and visit with Rusul. Beth and I drove down there, getting totally confused by Beth’s GPS system, but we did find the Ronald McDonald house – which I thought was very nice. We had decided to take Rusul somewhere and give her father (Abu Ali) a break. When we got there, Abu Ali recognized me from last year when Salee came up to Asheville. He does not know a lot of English, and I know less Arabic, but he smiled and said “Salee, Salee” it got the message across that he remembered me. Ted was there with Abu Ali, trying to install a translation program on his computer, and not having much success.

Beth, Rusul and I went to Reedy Falls Park, which is in downtown Greenville. We parked in one spot that was further out, walked out onto a bridge over the river and then realized that it would be a mile or so to walk to the main part of the park. Rusul has a hot pink cast on her right leg, and has this little walker so she can get around. We thought this might be too much walking for Rusul, so we got the car and went in closer to the main part of the park. Beth offered a piggy back ride to Rusul, and Rusul cooperated, but she really wanted to do it on her own! So, we climbed up stairs, walked across bridges, hiked around and Rusul did it all on her own with her walker. She is quite the little trooper, and tries hard to be self-sufficient.

Rusul is also quite the little ham for the camera. The photos from our outing is posted on my blog, so go and have a look at them. We walked across the Liberty Bridge, and then we went into a café at the park and had some ice tea. It was a lot of fun hamming around with Beth and Rusul.

We went back to Ronald McDonald house, and there I showed Abu Ali my photos from the day and from the airport arrival and from last fall when Salee came to Asheville. He wanted copies, but my computer does not burn photos into CDs, and emailing them all would be rather slow. I decided to download them all unto my blog, and that way he can download them from the blog.

When we were going through the pictures from last fall, we got to one (very fuzzy) photo that I took when Jason stood up to talk to Abu Ali in front of the whole group. When Abu Ali saw that, he said ‘good soldier, good soldier’. Jason had stood up and formally apologized for the damage that the US invasion and occupation had done to Iraq, and apologized for his part in that (Jason was a medic in the US Army in Iraq). It really left an impression on Abu Ali.

I also showed Abu Ali my most recent video of pictures from July 2008 that were taken in Baghdad. The piece is titled “This is Baghdad” and you can find it here. This also impacted on Abu Ali, and he managed to tell us that the Shi’ites had run all the Sunnis out of Baghdad and shot a great number of them. Even so, he felt sympathetic towards the Shi’ites living behind walls and getting scared by US military actions. Abu Ali also managed to tell us that Maliki is just like Bush, and that Sadr and Sistani are bad, because they are working for Iran. When a picture of Sadr’s father came on the screen, he said that Sadr’s father were good.

Writing these words, though simple and short, is so very difficult….. because it is difficult to come face to face with the grievous injuries that innocent people have suffered due to this illegal war of aggression and occupation. On the drive back home, Beth and I speculated on the causes of violence in our country, and what inspires that. Beth thinks that people who are violent are mentally ill. If that is true, we have a lot of mentally ill people in this country, both now and in the past.

If you can, please donate to No More Victims to help cover the expenses for Rusul and Salee and their family.

Monday, August 11, 2008

This is Baghdad

Yes, the violence is down in Baghdad. The photos that are in the You Tube video were taken in July, 2008. They show what is really happening on the streets of Baghdad, and it is not good.....not at all.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Upcoming events




This is a quiet week in Asheville, as far as peace and social justice events go. But there are some upcoming events later after this week, and some information on actions that you could take if you like, at the WNC Peace Coalition blog. And here are some more pictures of Rusul (with me, in black - I am not wearing this tee shirt again for pictures!) taken last week in Greenville. These photos were taken by Beth. There are some photos that I took in the next blog post.

I hope to be able to visit Rusul again this week.