Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Protest in London against the G20 meeting

The demonstration has been organized by a 'rainbow alliance' of more than 150 unions, environment, charity, faith and development groups assembled under the Put People First banner. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Young World Vision supporters from Luton and Milton Keynes gather with Yes You Can placards at Westminster Bridge, before joining the Put People First march through London.
Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

I like the “Yes, you can” signs a lot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Protests in Hollywood

Anti-war demonstrators place flag-draped coffins outside an armed forces recruitment center during a protest to mark the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war in Hollywood on March 21, 2009. The end of the war beckons, but six years after the US-led invasion, Iraqis are still struggling with daily hardship and the fear of deadly, indiscriminate attacks. Despite such precariousness, US and Iraqi officials offer repeated assurances of a smooth transition as American troops pull out and fledgling Iraqi forces take control. In just three months time, US forces are to withdraw from major cities and towns in a prelude to a total pullout from Iraq in 2011. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Protests Mark 6th Anniversary Of War In Iraq

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 21: Demonstrators carry model coffins past the El Capitan theater and the stars on the Walk of Fame sidewalk in front of the Kodak Theatre during a protest march on Hollywood Boulevard to mark the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war ground invasion on March 21, 2009 in Hollywood, California. An estimated 91,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the invasion. The US has lost more than 4,200 military service members. While violence is reportedly at its lowest point since the US invasion, suicide bombers still terrorize the people of some regions of Iraq. President Barack Obama has ordered US combat troops home by September of 2010 and all US forces out by 2012. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Protest in San Francisco

Veterans of the Iraq war block Market Street in San Francisco in protest of the Iraq war.

March 19, 2009


Recent coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

From Los Angeles Times website.

To note one death

A 12 year old Iraqi girl was shot and killed by US troops in Mosul on March 17, 2009.
Although violence is down in Iraq, there is still plenty of killing going on.

The US military said this:

The US military says a 12-year-old girl has been killed when American soldiers fired at a vehicle speeding toward them and Iraqi police near the northern city of Mosul.

The military says the Americans fired two warning shots when the vehicle ignored signals for it to stop near the Hurriyah Iraqi police station.

The military says the girl was standing about 100 yards (meters) behind the vehicle and was struck by one of the rounds.

The local police said this:

Iraqi police say the girl was shot while in a car with her father near an American base.

Hard to say exactly what happened, all we know for sure is that US troops killed a 12 year old innocent, and her family is surely devestated by loss and grief. And we know she was killed in an illegal and immoral war of aggression, nearly six years after the US troops first arrived. Some US politicians called this a 'preventative war'. This war and occupation were widely supported by the US public in 2003.

May she rest in peace

May God forgive America.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Earth is wounded.....

"Our earth is wounded. Her oceans and lakes are sick; her rivers are like running sores; the air is filled with subtle poisons. And the oily smoke of countless hellish fires blackens the sun. Men and omen scattered from homeland, family, friends, wander desolate and uncertain, scorched by a toxic sun......

In this desert of frightened, blind uncertainty, some take refuge in the pursuit of power. Some become manipulators of illusion and deceit. If wisdom and harmony still dwell in this world, as other than a dream lost in an unopened book, they are hidden in our heartbeat. And it is from our hearts that we cry out. We cry out and our voices are the single voice of this wounded earth.

Our cries are a great wind across the earth. - From The Warrior Song of King Gezar

The above quote came from the book "Three Cups of Tea".

Earth Hour!

Tonight, at 8:30 PM local time, the World Wildlife Federation is asking everyone to turn out their lights for one hour.

They call it Earth Hour.

The purpose is to raise awareness of global climate change, and how we need to act to save our planet.

This is a photo of the front yard at Asheville Friends Meeting House. I took it in the spring of 2008. Life on this planet is too beautiful to allow it to be wrecked by climate change. And, the less electricity we use the less coal we burn and the less air pollution we cause, and therefore the less asthma kids get. I am not sure that my turning out my lights will make a difference (I only have one light on at a time, and I use energy efficient bulbs), but I will turn out the lights anyway for at least an hour tonight.

Protests from South Korea

South Korean protesters march with flowers near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 20, 2009, marking the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war on Iraq. They demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korean protesters stage a rally near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 20, 2009, marking the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war on Iraq. They demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The banner held by protesters reads: 'Six years of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. But our resistance will continue.'

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Anti-war protesters holding chrysanthemums take part in a rally denouncing the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in front of the U.S. embassy in Seoul, March 20, 2009, on the anniversary of the Iraq war which began March 20, 2003.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Protest in Tokyo

Activists hold placards during a protest march in Tokyo to mark the 6th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Hundreds of Japanese demonstrated in Tokyo to call for an early withdrawal of US troops from Iraq on Friday, the sixth anniversary of the US-led invasion.

(AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Protests in New York City

Bottom: US anti-war demonstrators stage a rally in New York. The end of the war beckons, but six years after the US-led invasion, Iraqis are still struggling with daily hardship and the fear of deadly, indiscriminate attacks.

(AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

Top: Anti-war demonstrators stage a rally in New York to mark the anniversary of the 2003 start of the Iraq war. From Los Angeles Times website.

March 19, 2009


Recent coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

From "They Thought They Were Free"

A few excerpts from Martin Mayer's book, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45:

"Yes," said my colleague, shaking his head, "the 'excesses' and the 'radicals.' We all opposed them, very quietly. So your two 'little men' thought they must join, as good men, good Germans, even as good Christians, and when enough of them did they would be able to change the party. They would 'bore from within.' 'Big men' told themselves that, too, in the usual sincerity that required them only to abandon one little principle after another, to throw away, little by little, all that was good. I was one of those men.

"You know," he went on, "when men who understand what is happening--the motion, that is, of history, not the reports of single events or developments--when such men do not object or protest, men who do not understand cannot be expected to. How many men would you say understand--in this sense--in America? And when, as the motion of history accelerates and those who don't understand are crazed by fear, as our people were, and made into a great 'patriotic' mob, will they understand then, when they did not before?

"We learned here--I say this freely--to give up trying to make them understand after, oh, the end of 1938, after the night of the synagogue burning and the things that followed it. Even before the war began, men who were teachers, men whose faith in teaching was their whole faith, gave up, seeing that there was no comprehension, no capacity left for comprehension, and the thing must go its course, taking first its victims, then its architects, and then the rest of us to destruction. ..."


"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . .

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Protests from Manila

Protesters wear masks during a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila March 21, 2009 to mark the sixth anniversary of the United States invasion of Iraq and to demand the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which allows the presence of the U.S. forces in the Philippines and gives them certain special privileges when it comes to criminal prosecution, according to their press statement. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco (PHILIPPINES POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)
REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Same caption for both photos.

Clearly, the Philippines is another place we need to get US troops out of.

Michael Franti and Spearhead : Time To Go Home

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Protests from Madrid

These are photos from last week of the protest against the continuing occupation of Iraq. Photos from Madrid. Same caption for both photos.

People form a human chain during a rally in Madrid March 17, 2009. The rally was held ahead of the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, which began on March 20, 2003. REUTERS/Andrea Comas (SPAIN CONFLICT POLITICS ANNIVERSARY)
REUTERS/Andrea Comas

People form a human chain during a rally in Madrid March 17, 2009. The rally was held ahead of the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, which began on March 20, 2003. REUTERS/Andrea Comas (SPAIN CONFLICT POLITICS ANNIVERSARY)
REUTERS/Andrea Comas

Iraqi Refugee Crisis 2009

This video discusses the impact of all the Iraqi refugees on Syria, and how the refugees themselves are suffering. One in five Iraqi people are now refugees.

Second video:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday's Rally in DC

On Saturday, I went to the ANSWER coalition march on the Pentagon and war profiteers. I met up with some UNCG students at 5 AM (brutal) and got in a van to go to DC. The van was late and it was freezing out there! But we finally got to DC around noon and took the metro to the rally point on the National Mall. It was clear that they expected more people, since they had lots of extra signs. (I hope they can save the signs for the next rally, since this ain’t over!) There were thousands of people there, but it was the smallest rally in DC that I have been to, so far.

After the speeches, some protestors picked up fake coffins and we took off on the march. It went over the river and past the Pentagon, into Crystal City. The first stop was Boeing, and then we went to Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and KBR. We made a stop at each of these merchants of deaths and chanted ‘how many kids did you kill today?’ among other slogans. My favorite is ‘from Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime’. They dropped off the fake coffins at each stop.

I talked to a German TV news on the march, and one question they asked is ‘do you think this is doing any good?’. I had to answer ‘no, but elections have not solved these problems either’. I just feel that I have to stand up for what I think is right and speak the truth. I wished I would have thought of Sophie Scholl of the White Rose Society and pointed out to them that what she did was not effective, but she still did what was right. She paid for that with her life, and I surely will never have to pay such a price!

One thing that disturbed me on the march was the group of young African American boys dressed in military fatigues. They were marching with a pro-Palestine group and appeared to be Muslims. I just think it is very, very sad to orient children towards using force as a way to address problems. I think our society is much too militarized already.

After the march, we all meet up at the Metro station and headed back to the vans to go home. Dinner was at the Cracker Barrel, and we got back into Greensboro at 1:30 AM. A very long day, but then DC is quite a distance from my home. I am glad I went. I had some great company too.

These are pictures that I took during the rally and march, and below is a short piece about some troublemakers at the march.

Some pictures from ANSWER are here.

Troublemakers at the ANSWER rally

Just as we left the first stop at the war profiteers (Boeing), I noticed these folks who had on bandanas, were dressed mostly in black, and were covering their face. I instantly thought that they were trouble. Half way down the street, they blocked the march with some signs. They also were busting up some sticks, and one stick was about 8 feet long. I picked this up, along with a shorter one, and took them to the building where they were stopped. There was a security person there, so I let him know what I was doing and what I suspected was happening. I also took these photos.

I went and walked away from this area, as the people in the march were doing chants about ‘stand up, sit down’ and making the corresponding movements. As I walked to the next stop at the war profiteers, I spoke to every police officer who looked approachable and let them know what I suspected was happening. A bit later at the next stop, the speaker from ANSWER spoke to say that people who are doing violence or destroying property are not part of ANSWER.

By the way, this rally was far from “all white”. In our group of 26, we had five people of color, two of them born in foreign countries.

On the way home, another women who was traveling with us said that she saw a guy with a bandana on, and dressed in black, throw a hammer at a window and broke it (the hammer fell to the outside of the window). She said there was an old man with a walker on the other side of the window. She looked at the pictures on my camera and could not identify the hammer thrower, but she said he was dressed in a similar manner.

I guess there always has to be someone to disrupt a non-violent protest.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Display at UU church in Asheville 2009

These are the Iraqi civilian peace flags, and they have gone up every year since 2005 on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. There are a few blue ones in there to represent US deaths, but since the majority of war death are civilians, most of the flags are white. They say: "this is a remembrance of the Iraqi Civilians Casualties. May they rest in Peace. May their country find Peace.

I have written the names of Iraqi academics killed by violence since 2003 on the back of some of them. I think I will add the names of the Iraqi journalists and media workers who were killed also.

This will come down on 3/22/09.

Looking back

The Washington Post decided to reprint (in January 2009) some columns as part of a series that shed light on current events. They re-published a piece written by Senator Byrd on 08-23-03. It is called Unprepared for Peace in Iraq and starts with this paragraph:

As the situation in Iraq continues to spiral out of control, an anxious nation watches. Despite assurances to the American people that our troops would be welcomed with open arms as liberators, U.S. soldiers are increasingly being met with guns and car bombs. The bombing at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad has clearly exposed our vacant policy in Iraq. The American people are told to be patient, that winning the peace will take time. Meanwhile, the frustration of the Iraqi people grows by the day, as does their anger. The inability of the United States even to restore basic amenities further fuels the fire.

It seems that no one paid much attention to the re-posting of this article – maybe it does not matter much to Americans any more what was said five or six years ago. Maybe they think things are just fine in Iraq. Maybe they are as uninformed as they were when we invaded Iraq. I was the only one to post a comment on this article, and this is the comment I posted:

The war on Iraq was a war of aggression. They did not bomb us, shot at us, or even threaten us until the US troops were sent in there.

And today, Iraq is destroyed. About 20% of the population is either dead or a refugee - having fled for their lives and leaving their homes behind. And probably about 70% of the rest of the population has been badly damaged form this war and invasion.






And I would also like to know why the WaPo and other corporate media did not expose the truth that there were no WMDs in Iraq. I work as a pediatric audiologist, and I figured it out in my free time on a six year old computer with a dial up internet connection. SO ARE YOU REALLY THAT STUPID?



The only difference between Hitler's wars of aggression and Bush's war of aggression is the number of people dead. Hitler, it appears killed 50 times more than Bush did.

And, in regards to that war in Afghanistan - that also IS A VERY STUPID WAR.


Is it because we are too d*mn stupid to figure out how to solve a crime without turning into mass murderers?

Sometimes, I think I could cry and cry for days for the evil that I have seen this country do in the last few years.

1/15/2009 7:47:32 PM

Link to full article.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Banner drop and protests.....

Photo: The banner hangs on the VA building.
Photo: U.S. Army National Guard veteran Forrest Schmidt is handcuffed and detained. From Bill Hackwell, AnswerCoalition.org

From ANSWER email:

Iraq War veterans carried out a dramatic banner drop at the headquarters of the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., on the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

A U.S. Army National Guard veteran scaled the facade of the VA building and dropped a 25 foot-long, 6 foot-high banner that read "Veterans Say No to War and Occupation, March 21st - March on the Pentagon." He was handcuffed and detained.

The dramatic banner drop was carried out in front of a well-attended press conference organized by the Veterans and Service Members Task Force of the ANSWER Coalition.

"This is the beginning of three days of sustained activities timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. On Saturday, March 21st, veterans and service members will be the lead contingent in the National March on the Pentagon," stated James Circello, an Iraq War veteran and a spokesperson for the group.

Other speakers at the press conference included representatives from Iraq Veterans Against the War. Also present were delegations from Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

From United for Peace & Justice:

Six years ago today, the Bush administration launched its 'Shock and Awe' assault on Iraq, thus beginning what has turned into one of the longest and most costly military engagements in U.S. history.

We know what the war and occupation in Iraq has cost: more than one million Iraqis killed; five million Iraqis displaced from their homes; over 4,000 U.S. service people killed and tens of thousands wounded; more than $600 billion of our tax dollars spent; one of the oldest civilizations on earth brought to ruins. Six long years of a war that never should have happened, a war based on lies and corporate greed. It is enough -- it is too much.

Today, our hearts are heavy as we remember all who have died and suffered. At the same time, today, we reflect on all of the tremendous and positive work we have done. The consistent hard work of the antiwar movement was crucial in turning public sentiment against the war. For several years now, the majority of the people of this country have said they want the war to end and for the troops to be brought home. We kept public debate, as well as public protest, going through the roughest years, and we forced the country to think about alternatives to war and occupation.

From MAS:

On Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 12:00 Noon, MAS Freedom (MASF), as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), together with tens of thousands of peace and anti-war activists, will descend upon Washington D.C. to stage a demonstration and anti-war march on the Pentagon – the first major anti-war demonstration under the Obama Administration.

The event, sponsored by MAS Freedom, ANSWER Coalition, NCAA, American Muslims for Palestine, Veterans for Peace National, and a broad-based peace and anti-war coalition, commemorates the 6th Anniversary of the U.S.-Iraqi Invasion.

Saturday's rally and march will also focus on the recent lethal Israeli invasion of Gaza, other concerns facing the Obama Administration, including troop withdrawal in Iraq and military escalation in Afghanistan.

"While we recognize the historical significance of President Obama's election and subsequent unprecedented outreach in the Muslim community abroad, we are hitting the streets to raise concerns that exceed symbolic outreach," stated MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray.

I will be marching with ANSWER on 3/21/09 to protest the wars and occupations.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Protestor of the Iraq War

A protestor of the war on Iraq holds a No War on Iraq sign and an American flag in Washington, D.C.. Thousands of protestors gathered together on March 15, 2003 to protest against the war the US is leading against Iraq.
© Todd A. Gipstein/CORBIS

And on March 21, 2009, we will gather in DC again to protest.

Iraqi bloggers on the sixth anniversary, part two

Yesterday, I posted part one of this series (see below). Here are some more clips from Iraqi bloggers on the sixth anniversary of the US invasion and destruction of Iraq.

Chikitita, who has just returned to Baghdad, has this to say about her return on her blog “first words, first walk, first….. in IRAQ”:

I could feel the bad vibes the moment I set foot on Baghdad International Airport. First time in my life I’m treated like a criminal on my own turf. The guy behind the booth seemed to have smelled a rat once he browsed my passport; called a man in a suit, who looked like his supervisor, whispered something and then the latter asked me what I do for a living, I didn’t know whether I should lie, but I thought it’s better to say the truth and come what may, if they’re militiamen so be it, I was too exhausted anyway and getting killed sounded like a perfect idea at the time, I was in a very bad need to sleep. Finally they asked me to pose for their security camera, so I did, not knowing whether it’s just routine procedure or I just looked familiar, as in a wanted terrorist maybe!

My early nights in Baghdad were the hardest; It’s been almost a year since I last had a fitful sleep over possible 2:30-a.m.-break-ins. “Those days are gone,” says my family. I wish I could be as relaxed as they are or explain that terrible premonition that’s washing over me.

The above was posted on March 13, 2009 and so far no updates on whether the premonitions are true or not.

Mohammed Al-Saedi is not currently in Iraq, but he still writes on his blog called “I Love You Iraq”. Recently he wrote about (and included pictures) of the reopening of Al-Shabandar café and Al-Saray Market on Al-Mutanabby Street. This area had a horrific bombing several years back, and it was clear that this was a great loss to the people of Baghdad. It was known for it’s bookstores, and this was dear to the heart of the people of Iraq who love to read. Many people commented that they felt a part of them died when this area was bombed. Mohammed comments on the re-building and re-opening of this café and street:

This place, as I consider it, is the single most important historic/contemporary spot in Baghdad. Not the ruins of Babylon, neither the old walls of Baghdad. These might show how great it was, but they are completely worthless otherwise. Places like Shabandar café are places that we need to work on so that 500 years later it would still be standing as a gem of culture and tradition.

Reading the news, seeing that this place has reopened its doors, and that the street is paved with books once again was the single best thing I’ve ever heard in years. This is not a post to support Maliki or anything, but I'm not sorry to admit it, I'm actually starting to like that guy!

Despite the death of the owner’s five sons who ran the place, and despite the death of their mother due to the severe shock she was in. Their father whom I consider a hero, reopened the place, preserved the old decoration, and is running the place once again.

Another important Iraqi blogger is Dr. Mohammad who writes the blog “Last of Iraqis”. He still lives in Baghdad, but recently went with his wife to Amman so that she could have her baby with adequate medical care. Things did not go well with the delivery and aftermath, although mother and baby did survive and mother is doing better. He writes about the birth of his daughter:

I heard the first cry of Looli (that's the nickname of my baby girl)…I can't describe the feeling, no words can describe it, I'm sure it's the best feeling a human can feel…I cried from happiness and it was a really really great moment that I will never forget, Looli was crying and the brought her near to us and it was another moment that I have been long waiting for, I sang the song that I have been singing for her during the pregnancy and she immediately stopped crying, even now if she cries for a reason that we don't know I just sing to her and she stops, by the way the song is my creation.

And the health problems his wife soon faced:

she must do the surgery within two days as maximum and my love needs to be hospitalized for one day, most probably we will do it tomorrow.

I wish this time things will work well, I’m really sad and really confused of the reason…the obstetrician is one of the best in the Middle East; could it be because of her? I don’t think so…she said that each human has a different healing abilities, and such things might happen without a reason that we have control on…God, let this hard time pass easily on our family, let my wife get out of this surgery without complications and let the chain continue…

Dr. Mohammed (a dentist) is accepting donations to help pay for the added medical expenses that he did not anticipate. There is a donate button on his blog.

Iraqi Mojo writes a post called “Iraq has come a long way, has a long way to go” in which he quotes a recent poll about conditions in Iraq. Here is a clip:

"While deep difficulties remain, the advances are remarkable. Eighty-four percent of Iraqis now rate security in their own area positively, nearly double its August 2007 level. Seventy-eight percent say their protection from crime is good, more than double its low. Three-quarters say they can go where they want safely – triple what it’s been.

Few credit the United States, still widely unpopular given the post-invasion violence, and eight in 10 favor its withdrawal on schedule by 2011 – or sooner. But at the same time a new high, 64 percent of Iraqis, now call democracy their preferred form of government.

And Mosul 4 all” writes about a recent bombing in front of Mosul Medical College. This happened on March 11, 2009, and she was at the college:

Wednesday was horrible day to me, every thing was going mad .I woke up early and went to the college, we had quiz and and I did well, then we went to the cafeteria to eat , then we had a histology lab to see the slides and every thing was good till here ,,,



this was the most horrible sound I was ever heard, I never heard something like this before and next the steel fall toward us , the windows broken on the ground, someone lying on the ground, I put my hand over my ear and screamed, dust, and more of glass on the ground.

Free Iraq decided to copy Juan Cole’s comments on why Cheney is a war criminal. Some of the factual reality covered by Juan Cole includes an estimated 4 million Iraqis have been made homeless; the Iraqi economy is devastated; hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women are now widows; and the occupation has destabilized the entire region.

The blogger known as “I MISS IRAQ” is no longer in Iraq, but he has fallen in love. I am not going to quote him, but you can read about his romantic interests at this link. I wish him the best!

The next blogger is An Arab Women Blues, who is an Iraqi women living in the Middle East. She has a very sharp tongue for western powers, and recently she was discussing an Arabic TV show on the ‘objectivity’ of western media. She has this to say:

They keep pictures of tiny dead bodies away from your o'so sensitive eyes...now that you have tucked your own babies to sleep... we don't want to disturb them.

And don't let us spoil your lovemaking, your once a week (hardly) love making, because sights as these may "negatively affect your desire for love". And surely, with your ever dwindling populations, we don't want that to happen, do we now ?

Oh! so it is "la Crise"...
"La Crise, la Crise"...I have known "la Crise"...
Millions of corpses on a merry go round shout as they are being whirled - "la crise"
What "crise" ?
The millions of martyrs of your "crise" (crisis-- for those who do not wish to joogle)

I am a woman on the edge of a nervous crise...so bear with me. And no, it's not "the wrong time of the month" either.
Please help me stay focused...I am on a merry go round...on a carousel...
I am being assaulted by too much reality.

I don’t read this blogger (An Arab Women Blues) much, mainly because she is very much into blaming the Iranians, the Americans, the Israelis, and the ‘Jews’ for all the problems found in the Middle East. I find I sometimes do agree with her assessments, but they are so often hateful that I loath to spend time reading her. She seems to be unable to see that all groups of people have good and evil people among them.

On a much more positive note, an Iraqi psychiatrist in Baghdad writes of his life in these times and manages to find beauty around him. He calls his blog 'Skies'. He wrote a piece called “I believe” and here is some of his blog:

I believe in Hera, the queen of heavens. Her chariot was pulled by a peacock through the skies.

I believe that Aphrodite made a fault when she hided Adonis in a coffer. Another goddess took him out heralding the end of heaven and start of day and night, spring and autumn.

I have to admit – I don’t know what he is talking about. There is a video with the post that has pictures of peacocks and an Arabic song….. maybe if I could understand the song, I would understand the post? Anyway, he has another post further down, with pictures, of his trip on the Tigris river, his visit to some old buildings in Baghdad, and his appreciation of poetry and art.

And the blogger Mosul is in heart” wrote a picture diary on one way that Iraqis cook fish. It is very interesting, even if (like me) you don’t like fish. Earlier this year, he posted about life in Mosul:

There was a curfew in Mosul this morning. All the roads were closed. We heard a heavy shooting yesterday. The situation has been fluctuating between chaos and relatively calm indeed. !!

Four explosions occurred almost at the same time in Al-majmoa' last week. Two doctors and a student in the pharmacy college were killed yesterday, the dean of the medicine college was attacked and seriously injured few weeks ago and etc.

It is really unbearable. Please pray that our suffering would be ended.

Baghdad Connect, who lives in Baghdad of course, recently wrote this piece:

One well-respected businessman was killed in Al Mansour district two weeks ago in a car bomb that meant to kill the head of the interior ministry – south region. A car bomb in Al Karada claimed the live of a loved teacher and children are again being the victim of kidnapping in Al Dawadie area. The madness returns in the aftermath of the elections and the announcement of Obama’s ‘reasonable’ withdraw from Iraq.

The latest news of Ezzat Al Douri’s (Saddam’s vice president) open letter to the ex-Baathists army officers (24000 nos. of which 9000 nos. of highly paid) to heed to Al Maliki’s call to return to their previous jobs is a living proof that a plan is under way to strengthen the Baathists. This plan will rely solely on the out come of Obama’s direct talk with the Mullas of Iran.

The Iraqi blogger “Violet for Peace” wrote a recent piece that is somewhat cryptic. It is titled “Laugh till death” and here is part of the post:

yes, i have learned this from you my friend... i wasn't used to laugh alot .. i don't know why .... maybe it's the nature of life or friends i used to know... but now with out you .. life is not life ... and the college is not college ... i don't know if we are the only group that laugh in the college and make fun of life -coz our college is a little SERIOUS :D...
Touta, who writes on Fog el Nakhal blog, has a way with words…. And she likes to use a lot of them! Her recent post was on a trip to visit relatives in Rumadi:

I've typed this from my mobile, as my cousins watch in amazement. I'm in Rumadi now. The trip to here from Baghdad is a story in itself.

My cousins who live here visited us to our house, but we never visited them. Now I sit comfortably on a recliner that is only a few centimeters of the floor, making it quite difficult to actually get up once you've sat down.

To transport us from our house, we hired one of thos cars with black windows and large tyres, driven by a tall, quite intimidating guy.It really comfortable and large, and he bellows in laughter as he talks about the rumadi stereotype. I think we had to pass three checkpoints through the whole journey, and I didn't really do anything apart from stay seated as soldier after soldier would peer in suspiciously before exclaiming 'Family!' and letting us pass.

And there is one Iraqi blogger that is not with us on this anniversary. His blog was called “Blog Iraq” and he was killed in May, 2008 in Baghdad. Here is the notice of his death:

There is not one family in Iraq that has been untouched by the violence that gripped our country and Iraqi bloggers are no different. His friend, Mohammed Alani, who helped set up the blog, wrote on BlogIraq: “Ahmed (BlogIraq) is dead. He was killed in Baghdad on April 11th, 2008… He had an appointment that day with a guy he knew. This guy was supposed to get him some documents that prove corruption in some USAID office back in Baghdad. I don't have complete details about it. Anyway, he and the guy bringing the documents were killed at their meeting place in Mansour district in Baghdad

His brother in-law found him dead with his friend in Mansour district in one of the small streets there. Thank God his body was found, unlike many of our friends who were killed or just vanished without a trace.”

I have not heard anything further on this murder or who might be behind it. The writings of Blog Iraq are here at this link. Here is part of what he wrote on last year’s anniversary of the invasion:

This day marks five years since the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Five years full of death and suffering to Iraqis. What is even more sad, is that the suffering of the Iraqis did not start only five years ago. It started a long long time before that. Saddam and his entourage caused pain, agony, and death to an enormous number of people. Some people thought it would end by the occupation of Iraq by the US and life will flourish again. How wrong were they.

How very sad that he died, while apparently trying to uncover corruption. He had a young daughter…. And she is now one of Iraq’s orphans. Any child who has lost their father is an ‘orphan’ in Iraq even if their mother is still alive. Today, there are millions of orphans in Iraq, and there are hundreds of thousands of widows. Jobs are scarce for Iraqi men, and almost nonexistent for Iraqi women. It is a huge humanitarian crisis.

McClatchy’s Newspaper asks Is the Iraq war over? Iraqis, Americans see it differently.” And here is a bit of that story:

Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Americans and Iraqis for the first time have starkly different views about the country's future. Americans are ready to close the book on the war, but Iraqis say the story is far from over.

As the war enters its seventh year this week, Americans are winding down their military presence. Violence, while not over, it is at its lowest levels since the war began, and Iraqi forces, U.S. officials say, are better able than ever to secure their nation. The U.S. and Iraq have agreed that most U.S. troops must withdraw by the end of 2011.

Iraqis, however, worry that their war may be just beginning. January's provincial elections stoked tensions between Sunni Muslim Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq that could spill over into central Iraq.

McClatchy’s also tells us Baghdad’s water still undrinkable 6 years after invasion.” Here is a clip from that article:

The stench of human waste is enough to tell Falah abu Hasan that his drinking water is bad. His infant daughter Fatma's continuous illnesses and his own constant nausea confirm it.

"We are the poor. No one cares if we get sick and die," he said. "But someone should do something about the water. It is dirty. It brings disease."

Everybody complains about the water in Baghdad, and few are willing to risk drinking it from the tap. Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, 36 percent of Baghdad's drinking water is unsafe, according to the Iraqi Environment Ministry — in a good month. In a bad month, it's 90 percent.

I don’t have an up-to-date source on other conditions in Iraq – like the lack of electricity, the effects on mental health, the degraded status of women since the invasion, the millions of displaced inside Iraq, the millions of refugees in foreign countries, the lack of health care, the children not attending school any more, the potential for ethnic violence between Arabs and Kurds, and the ongoing violence in general.

Iraqis are more certainly more optimistic, and their levels of optimism are almost back to where they were in 2005, before the really horrible stuff started. They are also concerned that they have not seen the end to the violence unleashed by the US invasion and occupation of their country.

I expect I will be putting up another blog post of Iraqi bloggers on the SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ILLEGAL AND EVIL US INVASION OF IRAQ, unfortunately. This ain’t over. One last link: “In Iraq, a boy named ‘War’ turns 6" from McClatchy Newspapers:

Nothing was easy that night. Kadhim heard the baby's first cry before dawn and held him in her arms. Then they heard the first explosions that heralded the arrival of the U.S. military. She named him Harb, Arabic for war. His full name, Harb Zaid, translates as Zaid's War. Neighbors joked that the child named War would only bring damar, or destruction.

…… His favorite game is "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." He hijacks cars, steals motorcycles, shoots pedestrians and runs over bystanders on the street. Digital blood seeps from the bodies. Most 6-year-olds aren't allowed to play "Grand Theft Auto." It's too graphic. But War has seen real blood.

In 2006 he went with his brother to pick up kebabs when an explosion tore through the market. People ran from the bakery next door burning alive. But he wasn't scared, he said. His father ran to the market when he heard the blast, barefoot and frightened. A neighbor saw the two boys and pulled them away from the carnage. War recounted the tale to his father, Mohammed Abd Badr, without a trace of fear.

That same year, War sat in the car as his dad drove down the dark streets of his neighborhood one night. A car stopped in front of them, and members of the Shiite militia, the Mahdi army, pulled a man from the trunk of the car and shot him. They left him on the street and drove away.

Small protest at UNCA

There was a very small protest at UNCA today against six years of occupation of Iraq. The one who ran this are part of "SDS" which is Students for a Democratic Society. They are really cool folks, but they did not get much attention or much of an audience for this rally.

And that is because most Americans feel the war is over. They are wrong.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Iraqi bloggers on the sixth anniversary

Several Iraqi bloggers have quit blogging over the years. Riverbend became a refugee in Syria and has not published a blog since October 2007. Zeyad (Healing Iraq) has not posted since December 2008. He was located in the US at that time. His brother Nabil is in Jordan when he last wrote in October 2008. And Salam Pax is back blogging (on a new blog) in his typical irreverent way:

For just US $170 you can have Saddam’s room at the Babel resort!
The report is in Arabic but it has some fantastic photos, click on the link above to see them.. I think he liked gold and frilly thing just a tiny little bit too much.

But I like the balls on the person responsible for this PR stunt.. using saddam now as a marketing pull!

Raed in the Middle is working in the USA for American Friends Service Committee. He last blogged in early March 2009, and he is impressed with Obama’s pledge to bring all US troops out of Iraq by 2012. Here’s a clip:

wow! I am really impressed.

Obama's speech on frieday was pretty significant. He pledged for the first time to bring all troops out of iraq. In addition, he promised to comply with the deadline agreed upon on in the bilateral withdrawal agreement (aka sofa).

Raed’s mother, Faiza, has been working in Jordan in a program to help Iraqi refugees there. She is currently taking a break from her job in Egypt, where she is visiting another son. She said this about her recent work:

I don’t like the idea of dismissing any employee unless she committed a serious transgression; like a clear theft or a transgression against her colleagues so they would complain against her, or maybe a transgression against the Iraqis who are beneficiaries of the program. I usually prefer the method of giving notices, warnings, and a time limit to change the conduct, and usually, the results come out positive...

......I also will peruse completing some small projects by e-mails, through the Net, like sending water purifying sets to hospitals, clinics, or schools in Iraq, or collecting donations for a project to buy sewing machines for displaced women in various locations in Iraq, like Baquba, Al-Anbar, Karkook, the southern Marshlands,....

These projects remain with me even if I go on holiday, because I see them as a moral obligation I cannot give up, or throw behind my back. I cannot let down those poor people who need a helping hand to save them from the ordeal they face, to ease some of life’s burdens they are carrying, while they are away from their towns and homes, until things will settle down in all Iraqi areas, and every displaced family will go back to its original house to live a peaceful, safe life. This is a big dream that no Iraq-loving Iraqi will abandon, as much as I think...and believe.

Faiza has a lot more words of wisdom about running aid programs for refugees, and what needs to happen in Iraq for recovery to occur. The first thing is that the US occupation has to end.

Another blogger in this Jarrar family is Khalid, who recently posted this:

A Freaking Awesome Saying

"War does not determine who is right – only who is left." – Bertrand Russell.... Whoever that is.

And the last blogger in the Jarrar family, Majid (who is in Egypt), wrote this in January about Obama’s statement at AIPAC one month before Israel started its massacre in Gaza. He titled it "Did He Not Know?"

I am truly puzzled, how could Obama still say that he will 'seek a new way forward' with the Muslim world when he promises Israel a military support of 30 Billion Dollars over the next decade, and that no other nation will get as much aid from America as Israel will?!

that's what he calls politics?

I call hypocricy.

I am guessing that Majid is not as impressed with Obama’s pledge to withdraw from Iraq as his older brother Raed is.

Treasure of Baghdad is currently in the USA, and his recent post was on a NYT documentary on Pakistani girls being banned from going to school by the Taliban. He included the video of this documentary on his blog, and it is worth watching, but clearly, not about Iraq.

Mama, an Iraqi dentist in Mosul, recently posted on her blog "The Iraqi Resistance Responds to President Obama". I recommend reading what they have to say, but I will share with you the only part of this blog post that is Mama’s original writing..... that is, the title:

How do you spell "GET THE HELL OUT"?

I think that is pretty clear.

Mama’s daughter, Sunshine, is my favorite Iraqi blogger. She is finishing up high school, and I hope to write another post about her blog and it’s impact on me. But for now, I will share a bit of what she wrote recently, where she lives up to her sunny name:

In spite of the unbearable situation, I feel very optimistic and positive this week, because I didn't hear TV or radio news at all, whenever someone starts to complain about the situation and hard life I go away, when I feel stressed a little bit I put headphone and enjoy my new MP4,I read at least one page of the gorgeous book ( la tahzan= don't be sad), I try to create good things, instead of waiting for good things to happen to enjoy myself and everyone around me ..

And what is this "unbearable situation"? Well, just a few days after she posted this blog, a 12 year old Iraqi girl in Mosul was shot by US troops as she walked down the street.

And a Mosul University student was shot and killed by unknown gunmen. This is the current situation that the people of Mosul are dealing with at this time.

And here is today’s list of security incidents in Mosul, which I pulled from the Iraq Today blog:


#1: An employee from the Displacement and Migration Department on Wednesday was shot by unknown gunmen in northern Mosul city, according to a local police source. "The employee was shot while he was leaving his work in al-Arabi neighborhood, northern Mosul," the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#2: Gunmen killed a civilian in a drive-by shooting, south of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, on Wednesday, police said.

#3: A roadside bomb wounded two civilians when it struck a U.S. patrol in eastern Mosul on Wednesday, police said. The patrol escaped unharmed.

#4: Unknown gunmen on Thursday killed the mayor of Doberdan village of Baasheqa district, east of Mosul city, said a security source from Ninewa province. "The armed men shot dead Khalil Dhahir Abdilrahman, and then escaped," the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#5: Police found the body of a man shot in the head and chest in a town near Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

There is plenty more of this type of information on the blog Iraq Today.

And pictures of what is happening in Iraq can be found at this blog.

And one more Iraqi blogger clip, from McClatchy Newspapers:

country of orphans

I was reading an article about Iraqi orphanages and I shocked when I knew that the government has allocated only 2000 dinars (1.50 $) per a month for each orphan in these orphanage.

Can you imagine, with the explosive budget that reached to 71 billion dollars last year, the share of the orphan is 1.50 $ monthly? What a justice, that we live under this national government which promised to end the years of lack!

Islam, the official religion for Iraq state and customs emphasize the importance of caring the orphans and most Iraqi officials reach to authority by using Islamic cover to convince voters. Iraq the country of orphans (there are more than 3 millions orphans in Iraq) only 469 orphans of them distribute on 15 orphanage are living under the care of the state. Iraq government ordered to close all private orphanages for vague reasons. This issue reminded me of the displaced issue when the government decided to close one of displaced camp just to say we are not have displacement problem any more.

Tomorrow I will post some more of Iraqi bloggers on the Sixth Anniversary of the beginning of the destruction of their country! This is getting too long.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Iraqi child has a message for us

Telling us what it is like to see your father and brother killed right in front of you, and to be shot yourself. This video is from No More Victims.

Noam Chomsky on No More Victims

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More violence in Palestine

Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie. She died in Gaza trying to stop the destruction of an innocent family’s home. Her parents have taken up her cause, and I heard them speak at a rally in 2005. They are remarkable.

Unfortunately, another American has been seriously hurt while engaging in non-violent protest against the apartheid wall in the West Bank. The Israeli Defense Forces shot a teargas canister at him, and it hit him directly in the forehead. He is in stable condition and on a respirator. His name is Tristan Anderson, and his picture in on this blog post. Here is the latest report on his condition.

And two Israeli police officers were killed. They were on patrol in the West Bank, near Israeli settlements near the border with Jordan. They were shot, and then reportedly lost control of their police vehicle and overturned. The full story is here.

And there is a call to action on stopping night raids by the IDF in the West Bank. That is fully explained by Jewish Voices for Peace here.

I hope Tristan recovers soon. I hope the violence in Israel and Palestine stops now.