Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Resistance to War Cannot Be Jailed--Amy Goodman

"Dissent within the military against the war in Iraq is growing. Iraq Veterans Against the War has quadrupled in size in the past year. More than 1,200 soldiers have signed on to an "Appeal for Redress," with which active-duty soldiers can appeal to Congress for an end to the war with legal protections against retaliation from the military. The appeal simply reads:

"'As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home."

"Sgt. Ronn Cantu signed the Appeal for Redress, which soldiers can do confidentially online at In a "Democracy Now!" exclusive, Cantu spoke to us over a crackly cell-phone connection from the front lines in Iraq: "I'm scared out of my mind right now. ... It's a belief of the soldiers I've talked to that any troop increase over here, it's just going to be more sitting ducks, more targets."

"Since Watada and other active-duty resisters are facing years in military prison, I recently asked two of the most progressive members of the new Senate, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, what Congress could do for the soldiers facing court-martial. Both replied, "I don't know." As Congress wrangles over non-binding resolutions condemning Bush's war-making -- or as he calls it, his "surge" -- these brave young patriots are making binding decisions.

"Without Congress taking decisive action, these soldiers are left to fend for themselves. How many must die, how many must be sent to prison or flee to Canada, before Congress ends this war?

Go to for info.

Diplomat of Death Negroponte Threatens Iran

"As expected, the attack Iran hype has slipped into overdrive.

“'The Pentagon is investigating whether an attack on a military compound in Karbala on January 20 was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, a U.S. official told CNN on Tuesday…. Some Iraqis speculate that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps carried out the attack in retaliation for the capture by U.S. forces of five of its members in Irbil, Iraq, on January 11, according to a article published Tuesday.”

"In other words, CNN, as a faithful propaganda handmaiden, is speculating, thus adding fuel to the attack Iran fire now smoldering, ready to break out into a five alarm conflagration, as planned, with the appropriate admixture of irresponsible speculation, as usual backed up with little more than thin air.

“'Some Iraqis speculate that the IRGC has already started a campaign of revenge with the killing of five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20, nine days after the arrest of the IRGC [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.] members in Erbil. As the logic of the rumor goes, five American soldiers were killed for five Iranians taken; [the attack at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in] Karbala was an IRGC message to release its colleagues—or else,” writes Robert Baer for Time Magazine, basing his story on rumor and hearsay, a common enough modus operandi for corporate journalists these days. “There is nothing the IRGC likes better than to fight a proxy war in another country,” never mind this would play right into the hands of the neocons, thus providing yet another pretext for an ultimate attack, as long planned.

"Meanwhile, the Butcher of Honduras, Order of Death alumni (otherwise known as Skull and Bones), Council on Foreign Relations member, Kissinger flunky, currently grand poobah of intelligence, John Negroponte, “told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that an emboldened Iran presented new difficulties for U.S. interests in Iraq, the Gulf region, Lebanon and in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking,” reports Reuters. Naturally, the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq, its continuing occupation, its support for reactionary and decadent Gulf monarchies, and above all else its unfailing and unconditional support for the brutal settler state of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians has nothing to do with these ostensible “new difficulties.”

"Unable to contain themselves, Democrats as well as Republicans kissed Negroponte’s hem. “Democratic and Republican lawmakers praised Negroponte’s record. The panel’s Democratic chairman, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, predicted its members would vote quickly to recommend his confirmation by the full Senate,” never mind that the “death-squad manager nonpareil” and “gangster-diplomat extraordinaire,” as Toni Solo pegs him apropos, who micromanaged the “Salvador Option” in Iraq, should be in a war crimes docket with the rest of the neocons, not taking up residence, with the profuse blessing of “lawmakers,” as deputy secretary of state.

"Iranians and Syrians, averred Negroponte, “know what they need to do,” that is they will need bend over backwards, jump somersaults, and generally act like domesticated pets, ready to grovel, beg forgiveness, and plead for their lives.

"Short of that, they are advised to build bomb shelters.

From Another Day in the Empire

Dems' Hands Are Tied (Yeah, But Their Fingers Are Crossed)

Courtesy of Stephanie McMillan at Minimum Security: (via Left I on the News)

20 Years in Immigration Limbo--But Then A Victory

"A federal immigration judge has dismissed the government's attempt to deport two men who were arrested along with six other U.S. residents because of their alleged ties to Palestinian terrorists and who fought relentless efforts to force them to leave the country for 20 years.

"Judge Bruce E. Einhorn of Los Angeles, in a ruling made public Tuesday, said the government had violated the constitutional rights of Khader M. Hamide and Michel I. Shehadeh by its "gross failure" to comply with his instructions to produce "potentially exculpatory and other relevant information."

"In a scathing decision, Einhorn said the government's conduct in the case was "an embarrassment to the rule of law" that left "a festering wound on" Hamide and Shehadeh, who have been in legal and personal limbo for two decades.

"The two men, both longtime legal residents of the United States, are part of a group that was dubbed "the L.A. 8" after the government launched attempts to deport them in January 1987. All eight denied that they were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, a radical offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization that has taken credit for airline hijackings and car bombings in the Middle East.

"Hamide and Shehadeh, as well as the others, steadfastly maintained that they were being persecuted even though their political activities — distributing newspapers, participating in demonstrations, assisting Palestinians with human rights and medical needs, raising money for hospitals, youth clubs and day-care centers — were lawful.

"Einhorn's ruling "is a great decision that really vindicates what we have said all along," a jubilant Hamide said in an interview Tuesday. "The government spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to deport us, and the only things they ever accused us of were constitutionally protected activity.

Castro Ain't Got Nothin on Bush

"EARTH – With the planet’s ecosystems and humanity’s social and economic systems seriously ill, cities and towns all over the world are making plans to throw huge parties when the wars, empire and capitalist system promoted by U.S. President George W. Bush finally die.

"The announcement of these post-war, post-empire, post-Bush, and post-capitalist parties was, experts claimed, a response to news that assorted right-wingers, gusanos, other reactionaries and assorted nihilists were planning to have a Fidel Castro “death party” at Miami’s Orange Bowl when the ailing Cuban leader passes away.

“'The Orange Bowl would never be able to fit all those who would want to celebrate the end of George Bush and his imperial wars,” explained a leading death party expert I.M Grimm, explaining the decentralized nature of the planned parties, adding that in contrast to Castro, “a massive football stadium like that would certainly never fit the hundreds of thousands of victims of Bush and his wars, nor could it possibly contain the millions that continue to live in misery or die premature deaths due to capitalism.”

"Grimm further explained that the “death watch” for Bush, war and capitalism might seem premature to many, but that is only because their newspapers, TV networks and other paid functionaries have been concealing their poor health. “No matter what the White House spokespeople say, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that global capitalism is very sick indeed. Look at the symptoms: increasing levels of inequality and poverty, all these bloody wars, and new socialist and left-wing movements rising up to kill it, especially in Latin America.”

From Marxmail List

Iraq--Ripped to Shreds by the Good Ole US of A

"This is what the US has done to Iraq. I know. I know. You call this "liberation." (This is the center of Ramadi.)."

From Angry Arab--should just tell you to go read HIS blog, huh?

Angry Arab Catches Racist Biden

Sen. Biden expresses his views on race: "“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said."

From Angry Arab Newservice (naturally)

House of Commons Committee Calls for Sanctions on Israel

"Things are indeed bad, says the committee's new report. As a result of Israeli occupation and the accompanying restrictions on movement, the Palestinian economy is in freefall. Fully 70% of Palestinians are now living in poverty, according to UN calculations, a figure which rises to 80% in Gaza. Over half of all Palestinians are now unable to cover their families' daily food needs without relying on external aid - a scandal in such a rich and fertile land.

As a first step in putting pressure on the Israeli government to end this oppression, the UK should now urge its fellow members in the EU to consider suspending the EU-Israel association agreement, the cross-party committee says.

That agreement gives Israeli exports preferential access to the markets of the European Union. Europe accounts for two-thirds of Israeli exports, and suspending the preferences those exports currently enjoy would send the first proper message to Israel that its oppression of the Palestinian people is unacceptable.

That message is long overdue. The EU-Israel agreement should have been suspended years ago, as its own text states that it is conditional upon respect for human rights. In this regard Israel has already violated the agreement many times over. The UN's own special rapporteur, Jean Ziegler, among many others, has pointed out that the agreement should already have been suspended under its own terms.

The call for suspension of Israel's trading preferences is the first in a line of sanctions which the UK could take. Suspending arms sales is another obvious candidate. The UK has been approving record levels of arms sales to Israel over the past couple of years, despite admitting that it cannot trust Israel's claims that the weapons will not be used in its military operations against the Palestinian people. The government is now facing a court case on the issue.

Today's committee report is not just targeted at Israel. It also slams the UK and other international donors for withdrawing aid to the Palestinian Authority since early 2006. Together with Israel's withholding of revenues due to the Palestinian government, this action by the international community has "increased poverty and hardship amongst most Palestinians", the report says. At least one million people have been affected by this punitive action, the least smart form of sanctions since those imposed on the people of Iraq during the 1990s.

From Angry Arab Newservice

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Israel to Buy US Bomb Kits for $100M--FROM BOEING


"The Israeli air force has decided to buy smart munitions kits from the Chicago-based Boeing aerospace company for an estimated $100 million, Israeli defense officials said Monday.

"The Jerusalem Post daily said the planned purchase was for the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, which converts conventional 2,000 pound bombs into satellite-guided, precision weapons.

"Defense officials said the acquisition was meant to replenish stores used up in last summer's monthlong war against the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and increase future stock levels.

"The Jerusalem Post said the purchase would not require Congressional approval, as it was the exercise of a previously approved purchase option.

"Congress is expected on Monday to receive a preliminary State Department report on whether Israel misused American-made cluster bombs in civilian areas of Lebanon.

"The New York Times reported over the weekend that the report would say Israel may have violated agreements with the United States by its use of American-supplied cluster munitions during last year's war.

Thanks to MVP for pointing out this story.

Can the Anti-War Movement Dismantle the War Machine?

"When one compares the anti-war movement that emerged in the 1960's with the pale imitation today, one not only recognizes the lack of real organizing and movement-building, but also the transformed historical conditions. The insurgencies that marked the 60's attack on the war machine from anti-draft activities to military mutinies to factory uprisings to blockading supply trains were part of a collective revolt against the state's colonization of the body and the mind. Alternative institutions flourished in college towns, on the outskirts of military bases, and within communities of color and young people in general. Where are those forces or sectors in the US willing to reject in the most radical way the military neo-liberalism that has become the hallmark of the latest incarnation of American imperial project?

"Have our imaginations become so impoverished and our social conditions so debased that we have neither the mental nor material capacities even to disrupt the war-machine, let alone dismantle it? Given Retort's argument that any oppositional movement in the U.S. is itself an "afflicted power" as a consequence of "weak citizenship" and the ubiquitous effects of advanced pacification and spectatorship, perhaps the only hope for dismantling the war machine is its own self-destruction through imperial over-reach.

"On the other hand, to consign our role as radical agents of social change to waiting for the inevitable demise of U. S. military hegemony or cheerleading for some external salvation from Latin America or elsewhere is another form of pacification. As Roberta Flack reminds us in her song about "letting Pharaoh go," whatever form the state takes we must refuse to be its conduits. The war machine isn't only about the military-industrial-infotainment complex; it is also about complicit bodies and co-opted minds caught in the very deep structure of a state/militarist matrix. Understanding how pervasive that matrix is and what we need to do to overcome it may enable us to begin the long and difficult task of dismantling the war machine.

Found on

Jafarzadeh -- The Chalabi for Iran

"Once again, we are subjected to the discredited accusation “Iranians are smuggling into Iraq sophisticated explosive devices, mortars, and detailed plans to wipe out Sunni Arab neighborhoods,” never mind that Pentagon has done a mighty fine job of accomplishing the latter without the help of Iran.

“'But as was also the case in the days before Saddam Hussein fell, powerful external forces, ranging from exiled Iranian opposition groups to leading Israeli politicians, appear intent on stoking the fire—and winding up the White House,” an unabashedly fair assessment, although it would help if the Guardian told us the rest of the story, namely the so-called “case” against Saddam Hussein consisted of a transparent passel of lies, fabrications, and fairy tales.

“'The al-Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards is stepping up terrorism and encouraging sectarian violence in Iraq,” Alireza Jafarzadeh—a US-based Iranian dissident who is linked to the Marxist cult Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), officially listed by the State Department as a terrorist group—told the Moonie, er Washington Times earlier this month. In essence, Jafarzadeh is but another Ahmed Chalabi, pedaling lies and exaggerations, the vile stuff of neocon pretext.

"In the not too distant past, Jafarzadeh was happy to proffer scary stories about mullahs with nukes. Now, however, as a neocon team player, he has adopted the Iran meddling in Iraq theme, apparently the emerging rationale conjured up as a flimsy excuse to be used in the upcoming effort to shock and awe Iranian school children and grandmothers.

“'There is a sharp surge in Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and sectarian violence in the past few months,” Jafarzadeh told a conference organized by the Iran Policy Committee, an organization connected at the hip to the American Enterprise Institute, a criminal operation where Bush’s get his psychopathic “minds.”

Another Day in the Empire

Angry Arab on the Start of the Election Season

"I hereby declare the official beginning of the American presidential campaign season. Here is Sen. Edwards: "The relationship between Israel and the United States "is extraordinarily important and vital to the strength of both of our countries," said Edwards. "It is a bond that can never be broken," he added." OK. Now, Sen. McCain: "Sen. John McCain prescribes strengthening Israel's ties to NATO. "American support for Israel should intensify," he says. "The enemies are too numerous, the margin of error too small, and shared values too great." And now, Sen. Obama: "Obama has cultivated a solidly pro-Israel record, and he visited the Jewish state last year." Even Gov. Vilsack of Iowa has recently visited Israel. Good night.

Rape Victim Jailed After Reporting Attack

TAMPA - A young woman was walking back to her car after the Gasparilla parade on Saturday when she says a man dragged her behind a building and raped her near the intersection of Howard and Swann.

She managed to get away and called 911. Police took her to the hospital and began a routine rape investigation.

When they started checking the victim's background, they discovered she had an arrest warrant out for her.

It was from an arrest when the woman was a juvenile and she was accused of not paying restitution. The woman says she was not aware there was a warrant out for her, and her attorney says it appears to be a paperwork error.

"They were more interested in prosecuting her for something that's a paperwork snafu from four years ago, that was juvenile. They were more interested in working on that than finding an experienced rapist," stated the victim's mother.

From Angry Arab Newservice

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Feingold Option--Justin Raimondo

Link to whole great article--portion of which below--from here:

Sen. Russ Feingold may have withdrawn from the presidential sweepstakes, but he has entered the national debate over the Iraq war in a fairly dramatic fashion. Indeed, he has matched the president's escalation with one of his own by launching hearings, scheduled to begin on Tuesday, designed to point out the obvious – that Congress has the power to cut off the funding for the war. He plans to introduce legislation doing just that. Naturally, the piece reporting this on the new Politico Web site frames the matter in terms of the "conventional" wisdom, personified by the ultra-conventional Sen. Harry Reid, who opines,

"Republicans 'would like this debate to be as whether or not we are going to be cutting off money for the troops. The logical conclusion is that a lot of things can happen. But right now, the most important thing is to tell the president that what he has done with the escalation is wrong. And that's what we are doing, bipartisanly.'"

Democratic complicity in this futile and increasingly dangerous conflict is only underscored by the weakness of the party's ostensible opposition to it: they say they're against it, but on the other hand, apart from sponsoring nonbinding resolutions and posing for the cameras, they refuse to take meaningful action to end it. They can appeal to the president until they're blue in the face, but as Dick Cheney pointed out the other day, that won't stop this White House.

What will stop them, of course, is if Congress cuts the purse strings: that's the one and only way to end this senseless policy, because not even Cheney and his pet neocons can wage war without dineros. Like a parent who cuts off an errant teenager's credit card after it's maxed out, Congress can discipline the warmakers and ensure we're out of Iraq by voting to make funds unavailable after a date certain. But Reid and his fellow enablers of Republican militarism are quaking in their boots at the prospect, supposedly on the grounds that this will leave the Democrats open to the charge that they've abandoned the troops in the field – without bullets, without body armor, and at the mercy of the enemy.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Broadbased Calition in Support of an End to Israeli Occupation Set for Launch

This looks like good news.

Record-breaking actor Emma Thompson revealed today why she is helping to make political history by supporting Britain's first broad-based alliance for a just peace in the Middle East. Ms Thompson earned her Oscars for best actress in Howard's End and for best-adapted screenplay for adapting Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility. The only person ever to have won film Oscars for acting and writing is backing a new historic drive for a just settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.

The ENOUGH! coalition, representing over three million people in charities, trade unions, faith and campaign groups has come together to mark this year's 40th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The launch will come only days after a report, funded by the British government, warned that Israel's separation wall is trapping 250,000 Palestinians. The report on Israel's separation wall was produced by the Israeli planning and rights organisation Bimkom. The report says the wall is cutting off Palestinians from employment, education, healthcare needs, undermining social and family life and isolating farmers from markets.

Ms Thompson said: "This report cites the devastating effects on Palestinians' health and livelihoods of Israel's separation wall. It shows the vital need for our ministers to make fresh moves for a just peace. It is high time the UK government matched its rhetoric with action which can save Palestinians and Israelis from another 40 years' conflict."

Electronic Intifada

Villagers Helpless in Face of Settlers' Land Grab

"READERS of Asterix comics will be familiar with the notion of the lone village surrounded by enemy encampments, holding out for survival.

"It is unlikely the people of Susya, on the southern tip of the West Bank, have heard of Asterix. But these poor Palestinian farmers are familiar with the scenario.

"For more than 20 years this small agricultural area has served as an example of how Israeli military occupation and right-wing Jewish settlement have ground away at the lives of Palestinian civilians.

"It is mainly thanks to the support of Israeli human rights and peace groups that any Palestinians are left in Susya at all. But under a petition pending in the country's Supreme Court, what is left of the Arab village may soon be bulldozed into history.

"Mohammed Nawajeh, a Palestinian lawyer whose family owns land in Susya, says the village's misfortunes began in the early 1980s when the Israeli government began planting Jewish settlements - illegal in the eyes of the International Court of Justice - on the rocky hills around the village.

"One settlement even bears the same name as the Arab village, which is mentioned in the Bible. "These settlements grabbed more and more of the village's land every time they expanded, and then they started expelling people," said Mr Nawajeh, pointing to the ring of eight Israeli-held positions on the surrounding hillsides."The whole intention of the soldiers and the settlers is to make us so frustrated that we leave the area for good."

Found on What Really

I like the way this article points out that while Israel does use its highly weaponized military to attack Palestinians, in its efforts to push them off their land--land/resource grabs being what empire and imperialism practiced by both Israel and the US are actually about--Israel also uses the slow erasure of a way of life as a tool. Linda

Friday, January 26, 2007

Iraqi Vice President: Invasion was Idiot Decision

Hope this guy has some body guards; the Decider isn't going to like this comment on his decision. Linda

"In Davos, Switzerland, Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Thursday the US-led invasion of his country was an "idiot decision" and Iraqi troops now need to secure Baghdad to ensure the country's future.

"'Iraq was put under occupation, which was an idiot decision," Mahdi said at the World Economic Forum. He said his government planned to bring troops in to Baghdad from surrounding areas and said it was "a technical question" for the US to decide whether to deploy more soldiers. "If we can win this war in Baghdad then I think we can change the course of events," Mahdi told a panel on the state of affairs in Iraq.

"'As Iraqis, we think we need more (Iraqi) troops in Baghdad, and we are calling for some regiments to come from other parts of the country," he said.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Comment from An Arab Woman Blues

"On the bottom level, where 99% of us are, we hear stuff like "dispose the brutal dictator" and "prevent WMD attack" and "liberate Iraqis" and "spread Democracy".

"Most of us on the bottom continue to argue with false choices, flase pretensees thrown at us. Bush is either stupid or smart, evil or blind... but there are 100 comprimised, co-opted, owned, controlled presidential candidates ready to take his place.

"The nature of money drives the machine. The nature of the banking system, commercialism amd oil-starved industrial systems drive it.

"While we on the bottom 99% argue and divide against each other, the banker-industrialist corporations that own our leaders come in and own the theater.

"We need to forget about the false arguments of race, religion, politics... it really isn't that difficult.

"The game right now is very simple.

Sad Events Repored in Resistance News

Bloody Bush "Security Plan" in action: massacres of civilians by US troops reported in ar-Ramadi, ar-Rutbah, al-Hadithah, Baghdad, and Bayji.

· Americans seize, lock down city of ar-Ramadi, shoot dead 32 civilians, including nine pregnant women, in 24 hours. Women appeal to tribes in al-Fallujah to break deadly US siege.· US troops in ar-Ramadi mow down men lined up for gasoline, killing four Wednesday morning.

US troops storm into ar-Rutbah at dawn, seizing public buildings, killing nine civilians.

US massacre of 16 fishermen in al-Hadithah reported.

Heavy fighting rages on Hayfa Street and in the al-Fadl district of Baghdad Wednesday morning. Two US troops, 30 local civilians reported killed. Muslim Scholars denounce "genocidal campaign" by US in the Baghdad district.

At least five US troops reported killed in Resistance bomb attacks in Baghdad Wednesday.

· US soldier reported killed by Resistance sharpshooter on Hayfa Street in Baghdad Tuesday.

· Nuri al-Maliki regime helped prominent Jaysh al-Mahdi leaders flee to Iran, avoiding US capture.

· US troops kill two civilians in Bayji Tuesday night.

· Resistance delivers deadly blow to joint force of puppet "National Guards" and Jaysh al-Mahdi militia on their way to attack Sunni neighborhood in as-Suwayrah Tuesday.

· Resistance bomb destroys British supply vehicle in al-Basrah.

What it Meant When Abortion Was Illegal

And even if abortion remains nominally legal now, there is a massive effort to make it unavailable due to lack of money or local areal providers. The story below, however, is important in showing the universal importance of women being able to control their own bodies.

"My father was a complex person who was difficult to know. He didn't become my hero until several years after his death in 1992, and for me, that carries all of the regrets that go with insight coming too late.

"He was muscular and strong, an outdoorsman and a hunter -- a man's man. The one and only time I saw him cry, I was a sophomore in high school. His lack of control was both a shock to me and a life-altering experience where my feelings for him changed in an instant. He became human.

"Dad was just home following his efforts to save a 16-year-old girl who had developed a raging infection from a "botched abortion." She was a student at the neighboring school so I didn't know her, but he knew her well.

"The shame of an unintended pregnancy had forced her to an unskilled abortionist who used dirty instruments on a table in a garage. By the time she came to my father, the infection had spread, and she died under his care. He was despondent and angry for weeks.

"With wisdom based on first-hand experience, my conservative parents breathed a sigh of relief at the Roe v. Wade decision back in 1973.

"They knew the significance of eradicating these self-righteous, mean-spirited laws. They welcomed the end of onerous, life-threatening prohibitions on women making personal decisions about childbearing.

"My dad has been gone many years, but he would not have been pleased to see science replaced by a narrow view of morality and politicians again claiming jurisdiction over women's bodies and lives a full 34 years after the Roe decision. How angry he would be to see physicians threatened and harassed for providing compassionate care to women making difficult life choices.

Found on Common

6 Yr Old Sex Slave in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- At an age when most children might be preparing for their first day of school, Srey, 6, already has undergone trauma that is almost unspeakable.

She was sold to a brothel by her parents when she was 5. It is not known how much her family got for Srey, but other girls talk of being sold for $100; one was sold for $10.

Before she was rescued, Srey endured months of abuse at the hands of pimps and sex tourists. (Watch where freed girl is found upon reunion with reporter Video)

Passed from man to man, often drugged to make her compliant, Srey was a commodity at the heart of a massive, multimillion-dollar sex industry in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

"It is huge," said Mu Sochua, a former minister of women's and veteran's affairs who is an anti-sex trade activist.

The precise scale of Cambodia's sex trade is difficult to quantify. International organizations -- such as UNICEF, ECPAT and Save the Children -- say that anywhere from from 50,000 to 100,000 women and children are involved. An estimated 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh are under the age of 18, according to the United Nations. The actual figure may be much higher, activists say.

CNN via Raw Story Via Angry Arab Newservice

100,000 in Turkey Mourn Slain Armenian Editor

I saw this in the PI and thought it was pretty amazing. The Turkish gov't is very tough on protestors and they are adamant against info about their involvement in the Armenian genocide. Linda

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- More than 100,000 mourners choked the streets of Istanbul for the funeral Tuesday of an Armenian journalist whose slaying sparked debate about freedom of expression and whether Turks of different ethnic groups can live together.

"We are all Armenians!" chanted mourners in an extraordinary outpouring of affection for editor Hrant Dink, who had made enemies among nationalist Turks by labeling as genocide the mass killings of Armenians toward the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Dink was gunned down in broad daylight Friday outside his bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper, Agos.

The throngs virtually shut down central Istanbul as they marched five miles from the Agos offices to an Armenian Orthodox church for the funeral. Many participants carried placards that read: "We are all Hrant Dinks."

Checkpoint comradeship--Amira Hass

"Anyone who wants to become acquainted with Israeli society should go to the checkpoints. Not for a quarter of an hour, under the guidance of commanders who will glory in the pavilion they built for the people waiting in line and will explain that the upgrading and the expansion of the checkpoint are intended to benefit the locals. Those who really want to know the checkpoints should rather dwell here for hours, during several days. When you observe the soldiers, you will discover many Israeli characteristics among them, characteristics in which we have always taken pride.

"Comradeship, for example. The comradeship is so strong that there are those who feel they can even deviate from the norms that have been created at the checkpoint, which are perverted in any case. At the Taysir checkpoint, for example, in two cases documented during the past two weeks, a soldier urinated in public, and in the presence of women. Perhaps it was the same soldier both times, or perhaps two different soldiers. This was but an extreme manifestation of the scorn the soldiers at the checkpoint demonstrate for the people who are at their mercy and must pass through there - teachers, farmers, merchants, schoolchildren, workers at the settlements. But this is also an expression of the soldiers' self-confidence, of the knowledge that none of their comrades will prevent them from doing things they would not do in Binyamina or Bnei Brak.

"The willingness to help is also an Israeli trait. The very same soldier helped a policeman ensconced in his jeep at this remote checkpoint, located at the end of the Jordan Valley. On Tuesday last week, this soldier collected the identity cards of a number of drivers, gave them to the policeman in the jeep and returned to the drivers with the ID cards and with traffic violation tickets and a payment of a fine of NIS 100 each, which they would have to pay for the benefit of the state treasury, for not wearing seat belts. And incidentally, they were wearing seat belts, although their cars had already been waiting for half an hour or more.

From Haaretz via ?--sorry lost original link

The Empire Turns Its Guns on the Citizenry

"In recent years American police forces have called out SWAT teams 40,000 or more times annually. Last year did you read in your newspaper or hear on TV news of 110 hostage or terrorist events each day? No. What then were the SWAT teams doing? They were serving routine warrants to people who posed no danger to the police or to the public.

"Occasionally Washington think tanks produce reports that are not special pleading for donors. One such report is Radley Balko's "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America" (Cato Institute, 2006).

"This 100-page report is extremely important and should have been published as a book. SWAT teams (Special Weapons and Tactics) were once rare and used only for very dangerous situations, often involving hostages held by armed criminals. Today SWAT teams are deployed for routine police duties. In the US today, 75-80% of SWAT deployments are for warrant service.

"In a high percentage of the cases, the SWAT teams forcefully enter the wrong address, resulting in death, injury, and trauma to perfectly innocent people. Occasionally, highly keyed-up police kill one another in the confusion caused by their stun grenades.


Aliens in an Alien Land--Iraq Through the Lens of Soldiers' Memoirs

Below, Steven Soldz of Dissident Voice introduces his article about soldiers' blogs (link to whole article

"I am, rather, referring to the two zones into which Iraq has become divided, the Green Zone and the Red Zone. The Green Zone, a.k.a. the "International Zone," the "Ultimate Gated Community," or more appropriately, the "United States of Iraq," is the place where the various would-be rulers of Iraq have congregated since the March-April 2003 invasion. The colonial administration, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), set up its headquarters here. After the June 2004 handover of "sovereignty" but little power to an Iraqi Interim Government with its Prime Minister forced upon United Nations officials nominally in charge by the United States, this government made its home in the Green Zone. The current "elected," but largely powerless, Shia-dominated government also "rules" from this zone.

"For the Americans there, life in the Green Zone resembles life in the United States, with just enough of an exotic tinge to make it interesting. Night clubs serve liquor, women jog in shorts and sports bras, and pool parties sometimes get wild. McDonalds and Burger King are available, though, just as in many modern American cities, kebabs served by real natives are available for the daring.

For the time of the CPA, the Green Zone was a nice career stop-over point for those hoping to get some attention in the modern Republican Party. A few months there helped get that coveted PR job back in the States. Of course there was the occasional mortar shell to contend with, but the hint of danger helped relieve the boredom that was, perhaps, the greater risk of service in the colonies.

"So what of the Red Zone? It is the place where those Iraqis not cleared to get near the occupation forces live. The place where people go about their lives in a situation economically much worse off than that before the invasion. In the Red Zone people die by the tens or hundreds of thousands, from bombs and bullets, yes, both Iraqi and American, but also from crime, from disease, and from lack of basic medical care. In the Red Zone clean water is scarce, electricity available but a few hours a day, if that, and doctors are increasingly rare as the few remaining flee to the safety of exile. And boredom, that plague of the Green Zone, also plagues the Red Zone as millions of women and children, and increasingly men as well, are afraid to step outside the house for months on end as fear of murder and abduction keeps them under long-term house arrest.

Letter from Baghdad

The family that are now left in Baghdad are in such a desperate hopeless situation and
still urgently trying to find ways to leave.
The fighting is all around and they just never leave their houses
or even go into their gardens! It is just so dangerous even to go outside the door.

Many people in Baghdad now pay others to take the risk of buying their shopping
and in fact doing anything outside their homes.
There are many poor who will take this risk as there is no work and many many
people are nearly starving or actually starving. It's just unbelievable that this is happening.
People are not going to work or schools.
Many cannot get to work and want to.
These are the doctors and nurses and hospital workers that are left..
Many don't even try because they are too afraid and have families
and don't want to die and leave them defenceless too.
Also patients get angry with them in the hospitals because they are afraid their loved ones will die through lack of medical equipment, and even water, and their anger is often directed at the doctors and medical staff because of their despair and grief.
My niece said doctors are afraid to give our their names to anyone now.

People are holed up in their homes in terror and fear and sit listening to the
bombing and fighting all around and are terribly afraid of what is coming.
This major ruined capitol city has been under air attack hundreds probably thousands of times and again is under daily attack by air and ground troops right now.
It must be just so horrific to actually be there with young children,and the sick and wounded unable to go to hospitals for help....and indeed what help is there?
What in God's name are we doing?

The only communication for the people with the outside world is by their mobile phones and their words and real fear and shaking voices leave us in tears.
We feel utter despair and real grief for them.

We cannot think of any way at all to stop this and indeed to our shame there is no way.
It is a living hell and nightmare and huge crime against innocent decent beautiful,
warm hearted and a most generous wonderful people.

We have reduced them to dust in their hundreds of thousands..probably at least
one million if you include those dying of lack money, of food, clean water, medicines vaccines,and the bombed sewage systems all damaged for years now etc.

Some people have forgotten the message of the Holocaust which was to remember....... That this should never be allowed to happen again!
It has and is happening now.
Shame on us as a Christian country.

We send our warmest thanks for your excellent support and best wishes to you again.
Dr and Mrs Carole A______.

Sent to Sasha who went to Baghdad before the US invasion

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Iraq Diaries--From Electronic Iraq

BAGHDAD - My name is Lina Massufi. I'm a 32-year-old laboratory assistant who works 10 hours a day just to make enough money to raise my children.

My life has been like hell over the past three months. US and Iraqi soldiers have raided my house more than 12 times.

My husband, Khalil, was killed during the US invasion in 2003 when he drove through a closed road and soldiers shot him dead.
Sometimes, when I return by taxi from my job, which is about 45 minutes from my home, I find the street closed and bullets flying around everywhere.

I live in Haifa Street, one of the most dangerous places to live in Baghdad today. The area is infamous for its huge number of insurgents. This is why Iraqi and US soldiers have increased their activity in the area, constantly raiding homes and arresting men for interrogation.

Last month, they arrested my 23-year-old brother Fae'ek, who lives with me. He is a pharmacy student but nonetheless they took him and kept him in prison for more than a week - even after knowing he was innocent. He returned with signs of torture on his body and was crying like a baby because of the pain.

At the Bottom of the Abyss (II): The Torturers Take Over

Go here and then scroll down to the title above--the author is talking about the TV show "24" which apparently deals extensively with the use of torture:

"Finally, we come to this statement from Surnow [producer of TV show "24], referring to violent and cruel acts that are committed by our own "defenders": "And I don't want to know about it. I just want to be safe." This is the ultimate plea of the abject coward: "Protect me! Keep me safe! And don't ever, ever, ever tell me what you have to do! Just keep me safe!"

"Many people in Nazi Germany said exactly the same thing. That is not exaggeration to any degree. It is literally true: watch The Nazis: A Warning from History, and you will hear people who supported the Nazis make similar statements. Such "justifications" are offered in the present day, many decades after the entire world came to know of the unending horrors perpetrated by Hitler's regime. Many (if not most) of the claims by Germans that they "didn't know" about the Third Reich's horrors during the period they were committed are not credible. Such claims cannot be credited at all now. And yet, many of the people interviewed in that documentary, interviewed in recent years, repeat the same rationalizations -- and they continue to believe them. Moreover, they expect us to accept their "explanations," and to be reluctant to condemn them. Far too many of us willingly comply.

"The human capacity for denial is limitless. We destroy an entire country that never threatened us, and commit genocide -- and we will not acknowledge what we have done. We engage in widespread torture and brutality -- and we refuse to identify the nature and meaning of our acts. Our Congress passes the torture-dictatorship law -- and we do nothing. We become increasingly accustomed to inflicting grievous injury and death upon countless people, the great majority of whom are completely innocent -- and we tell ourselves that we only do so in our own "defense," and in the name of "civilization."

"We are much, much farther down this road than most of us will acknowledge. But reality cannot be obliterated in this manner, simply because we refuse the speak the truth. In time, and if we do not radically change our course, we will all suffer the consequences of what we have done as a nation, and what we continue to do. Every day, we come closer to a nightmare world. 24 is only one of the many ways we have arrived at this moment. If enough of us don't become aware of what has happened to us and begin to change it, shows like 24 will also be a sign of the much worse nightmare that still lies ahead.

Iraqi PM told Bush to Withdraw US Troops from Baghdad

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki proposed to President George W. Bush in November to withdraw US troops from Baghdad and let the Iraqi government take over security in the capital, a US newspaper reported.

"Citing interviews with several unnamed administration officials, the Washington Post wrote that Maliki made the suggestion in a presentation to Bush on November 30 in Amman, Jordan.

"But soon after, Bush rejected the idea, the paper said.

"Instead, the president opted for a strategy announced this month to deploy an additional 21,500 US troops to Iraq, focusing on quelling sectarian violence in Baghdad and the western al-Anbar province.

"Bush and his senior aides have defended the approach as the best way of supporting Iraq's government but according to the Post's account, the Iraqi prime minister wanted US soldiers to withdraw to the outskirts of the capital and let his own government's forces handle security.

"Maliki's presentation was seen as unrealistic, but a promising sign he was taking a more bold approach to defusing the sectarian bloodshed, a White House official told the paper.

"'We all recognized it was too ambitious," Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, was quoted as saying.

"The White House did not immediately comment on the story when contacted by AFP.


MODEST PROPOSAL: Call Up the Vietnam Vets--Apocalypse Again

"LISTENING TO President Bush's speech on Iraq earlier this month, my first thought was: "Where the heck are we going to get 21,500 more soldiers to send to Iraq?" Our Reserves are depleted, our National Guard is worn out, our Army and Marine Corps are stretched to the limit.

"Then it hit me: Re-up our Vietnam War veterans and send them.

"They're trained. They're battle-hardened. Many already have post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, some have their own vehicles — Harleys mostly, which are cheap to run, make small targets and are highly mobile. I'll even bet that lots of these guys still have guns (you know, just in case).

"OK, some vets are a bit long in the tooth (or don't have teeth — because of Agent Orange?). Or their eyesight isn't what it was. Or their reflexes have slowed. But with today's modern weaponry, how well do you have to see?

"Too out of shape, you say? Listen, if Rocky Balboa can step back into the ring at age 60, all these Vietnam War vets need is a little boot-camp magic and they'll be good to go. I mean, who doesn't want to drop a few pounds?

"Don't want geezers fighting for us? Well, let's face it, our young people have greater value right here. Most of us want to retire and collect our hard-earned Social Security, and we need those youngsters here, working and paying taxes — lots of taxes.

Finally, these Vietnam War guys are hungry for revenge. After all, they fought in the only war the U.S. ever lost. And they didn't even get a parade. So this is their chance. We can throw them that big parade when they come marching home.

Carter and Camp David, Where It All Began--Electronic Intifada

"So useless were the [Camp David] Accords for the Palestinians that even Begin mocked it, saying that regarding Palestinian rights, it was "devoid of any real content ... The word 'legitimate' which is linked to rights -- as I tried to explain to my hosts at Camp David -- has no meaning, really." [16] Perhaps this was a slip, as Begin's South African-born publicity consultant, Harry Hurwitz, must have told him."

From the article linked below.

"Now it's on. The debate over President Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid has become a mainstream staple. Turn on Fox News and see resigned Carter aid Steve Berman bullied into saying that Carter is not only anti-Semitic, but supports terror. Open the New York Times,, Washington Post and find outraged columnists, petitioning consumers, D-Rep. Lady Macbeth washing her hands of that dreaded a-word.

"But like most things Israeli and Palestinian, few are taking note of history and what it might mean to an ex-president. Carter is no longer in "the game," which affords him the liberty to speak frankly, unlike Howard Dean, who once hinted at criticisms of Israel before quickly retreating to behavioral protocol. Perhaps then it is fairer to judge Carter's present in light of his past, when political cards were stacked and he spoke with another voice.

Let Our Children Live

Abir Aramin

"Bassam Aramin spent nine years in an Israeli jail for being a member of the Fatah in the Hebron area and trying to throw a grenade at an Israeli army Jeep which was patrolling in Occupied Hebron. On Wednesday morning, an Israeli soldier shot his nine-year-old daughter, Abir, in the head. The soldier will not spend an hour in jail. In Israel, soldiers are not imprisoned for killing Arabs. Never. It does not matter whether the Arabs are young or old, real or potential terrorists, peaceful demonstrators or stone throwers. The army has not conducted an inquiry in Abir Aramin's death. Neither the police nor the courts have questioned anyone. There will be no investigation. As far as the Israeli Defense Forces are concerned, the shooting did not happen. The army's official account of her death is that she was hit by a stone that one of her classmates was throwing "at our forces."

"We who live in Israel know that stones thrown by 10-year-olds do not blow brains out. Just as we see every day the Israeli jeeps circling Palestinian children on their way to and from school and greet them with stun-bombs, "rubber" bullets and riot control gas.

"A bullet penetrated Abir Aramin's skull, while she was walking to school with her sister. I saw her just afterwards at Hadassah Hospital, where she slept quietly in a huge hospital bed. Abir's face was white. Her huge eyes were closed. By then, she was already brain-dead, and the doctors decided to allow the rest of her to die. I saw clearly that her head had been shot from behind. A young student who witnessed her shooting told journalists that the Israeli border police, part of the IDF, drove up to the girls as they came out of their school examinations: "The girls were afraid and started running away. The border police followed them in the direction in which they were retreating. Abir was afraid and stood against one of the shops at the side of the road. I was standing near her. The border policeman shot through a special hole in the window of his jeep that was standing very close to us. Abir fell to the ground ... I saw that she was bleeding from the head."

"Abir Aramin is dead. The doctors at Hadassah will not disclose the cause of her death to her parents or her friends. Her family has requested an autopsy. Her father, Bassam Aramin, is one of the founders of Combatants for Peace. My son, who served as an Israeli soldier in the occupied territories, is also a member. They are friends. Bassam told us that he cannot rest until his daughter's killer convinces him that nine-year-old Abir threatened his life or the lives of the other soldiers in his jeep. I fear he will never have the chance to rest.

From Electronic Intifada

Watada Faces the Future Confident in His Actions

Remember : Feb. 5th you can show support for Lt. Watada by going to Ft. Lewis. Go to to get details. L

"Even with charges looming that could send him to prison for six years, Army Lt. Ehren Watada faces the future confident in his actions.

"'Yes, I have broken ranks. I have not been a good lieutenant ...," he said. "Otherwise, like those lemmings, we could all march off to our doom."

"Speaking Saturday before more than 70 people at the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Watada explained why he refused to go to Iraq, a decision that has him scheduled for a court martial on Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis. Since his decision last summer to purposely miss his Army unit’s deployment on June 22, the 28-year-old from Hawaii has gone from thinking he "never could or should do this" to becoming a vocal spokesman for raising public awareness against the war.

"'We all do what we believe in," Watada said.

"The odds of being convicted are likely because a judge at Watada’s Jan. 4 pre-trial hearing ruled that Watada’s lawyers cannot present arguments saying the Iraq war is illegal, which is Watada’s defense.

"'You can convict me and send me to prison," Watada said, "but in the grand scheme of things it changes nothing."

"According to his Web site,, Watada swore allegiance to the Constitution and "not to those who would issue unlawful orders." He said that he is a servant of the people and public opinion has turned against the war.

"Watada also said the war is illegal because the reasons for beginning it and continuing it have been deceptive. "All soldiers in a free society must know the true reasons for why he or she is going to sacrifice their life," Watada said. "Do you think the American military will ever leave when there are profits to protect?"

"Though he still works at Fort Lewis — and tries to stay out of public places because of the hate mail he has received — Watada is using his role to encourage others to oppose the war.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lobby Boy

Bendib cartoon from Palestinian Pundit

Americans Believe U.S. International Strategy Has Backfired

This article from World Public Opinion (who cites polling info from around the world) gives you a very different picture of American public opinion than you would expect (at least it did me). Linda (lots of good graphs if you click on the link to the article below).

"A majority of Americans believe that the way the United States has been using the threat of military force has diminished U.S. security.

"Two out of three believe that countries around the world have grown more afraid that the United States will use force against them and the same number thinks this is bad for U.S. security, according to a poll. The public believes overwhelmingly that fear of the United States has increased “the likelihood that countries will try to acquire weapons of mass destruction.”

"Large majorities also reject the idea that the United States’ military strength means it need not be concerned about international goodwill and they do not think that the U.S. government should announce that it seeks regime change in problem countries.

"The poll included interviews with a nationwide sample of 1,326 Americans conducted Nov. 21-29. It was designed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland in conjunction with the conference, “Leveraging U.S. Strength in an Uncertain World,” held Dec. 7 by the the Stanley Foundation. It was fielded by Knowledge Networks.

"Steven Kull, editor of, said Americans believed current policies had provoked fear abroad causing countries to react in ways that make the United States less secure. “Most Americans now believe that the recent thrust of U.S. foreign policy has backfired,” Kull said.

Found on World Public

Israeli Holocaust Trustee Blasts Hebron Settlers--Reuters News Service

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A senior official of Israel's central Holocaust memorial on Saturday assailed Jewish settlers who harass Palestinians in a tinderbox West Bank city, saying the abuse recalled the anti-Semitism of 1930s Europe.

The attack by Yosef Lapid, chairman of Yad Vashem's advisory council, was prompted by Israeli television footage showing a Hebron settler woman hissing "whore" at a Palestinian neighbour and settler children lobbing rocks at Arab homes.

The spectacle stirred outrage in the Jewish state, where many view the settlers as opposing coexistence with a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Lapid, a Holocaust survivor who lost his father to the Nazi genocide, said in a weekly commentary on Israel Radio that the acts of some Hebron settlers reminded him of persecution endured by Jews in his native Yugoslavia on the eve of World War Two.

"It was not crematoria or pogroms that made our life in the diaspora bitter before they began to kill us, but persecution, harassment, stone-throwing, damage to livelihood, intimidation, spitting and scorn," Lapid said, reiterating remarks made earlier this week in Israel's Maariv newspaper .

"I was afraid to go to school, because of the little anti-Semites who used to lay in ambush on the way and beat us up. How is that different from a Palestinian child in Hebron?"

Reuters via on

One Hundred Years of Jewish Solitude--Gilad Atzmon

This article really needs to be read in its entirety to understand what Atzmon is saying about Zionism being an effort to stop assimilation of Jews into world society (as opposed to what we may understand Zionism as being expansionist). Linda

"Very much like Julia Bard, David Rosenberg and Golda Meir, Rosen is rather concerned with the ‘disappearance of Jewry’. Seemingly, Rosen is far more radical than Bard. Very much like Meir, he rejects any ideological reasoning that may justify assimilation. May I suggest at this point that neither Bard, Rosenberg, Rosen or Meir are innovative here. In fact, they all explore the original Zionist fundamental instinct. Zionism was formed as a political practice aimed at confronting assimilation and the disintegration of the Jewish identity. Already in 1897 Max Nordau and Herzl raised very similar concerns to those expressed by Meir, Rosen and Bard.

"If we take the necessary step and re-define Zionism as a modern form of Jewish activism which aims at halting assimilation, we can then re-asses the entire Jewish tribal political activity as an internal debate within a diverse Zionist political movement. We should then regard the colonizing of Palestine as not more than just one single face of Zionism. In fact, Jewish Socialism fits very nicely into the Zionist project. Being an integral part of the Zionist network, it is concerned with the future of the Jewish secular tribe, it is there to collect the lost souls amongst the Jewish leftists and it brings them back to Blooms.

"The shift towards presenting Zionism in a new terminology invites us to regard Zionism as global Jewish tribal political activism. The Israeli Lobby, the Dershowitzes of the world, the Harry’s Places of the net, the David Hirshes of the Goldsmith Colleges, are there to globally spread the voice of Israel, the colonial endeavor. The 3rd category socialists, on the other hand, are there to stop proud self-hating Jews from blowing the whistle. The Jewish Socialists are there to prevent you from reading the words you are engaged with right now.

Found on

Kissinger Teams Up with the Neocons--Kurt Nimmo

"Heinz Kissinger, the Butcher of Cambodia, who essentially signed the death warrants for thousands of Chileans, Indonesians, and micromanaged the slaughter of countless Vietnamese while nodding and winking in Pol Pot’s direction, has bestowed his venomous grace on Bush and the neocons.

“'Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, an iconic conservative who continues to command the attention of the White House, praises President Bush’s moves in Iraq and says that leaving the war-torn nation is not possible under present conditions,” writes Mike Sheehan for Raw Story.

"In an International Herald Tribune op-ed, the elder Malthusian—it rings more true than “elder statesman’—praises Bush’s “bold decision to order a ’surge’ of some 20,000 American troops for Iraq,” thus providing all the evidence we need that neocons and traditional neolibs are on the same page when it comes to killing Arabs and Muslims.

From Another Day in the Empire

Citizen's Hearing Supports Watada's Indictment of War

"Also testifying were two law school professors, a retired Army colonel [ANN WRIGHT] who resigned from the State Department in protest of the war, and a former senior U.N. official [DENIS HALLIDAY] in charge of humanitarian aid to Iraq who quit in protest of the effects of economic sanctions on the Iraqi people.

"But the star witness Saturday was one who has little personal connection to Iraq. However, Daniel Ellsberg has experience in acting against a war that he came to believe was wrong.

"The former Defense Department analyst leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers to a New York Times reporter in 1971, exposing Johnson and Nixon administration lies about the war in Vietnam. He was put on trial for espionage, but the charges were eventually dropped.

"Ellsberg, 75, said Iraq, far more than Vietnam, “is clear-cut aggression, a crime against the peace.”

“'This war is almost unique among all wars,” he said. “We haven’t really had such a clear-cut challenge to us as democratic citizens and what to do when our country is engaging in such clear-cut aggression.”

"He praised Watada for figuring out his own course, even if it means prison.

“'The majority of the country is against this war. To oppose it incurs no risk,” Ellsberg said. “The only risk is in taking steps to stop it.”

Iran’s Strongman Loses Grip as Ayatollah Offers Nuclear Deal

"IRAN’S supreme leader is considering a change of policy on the country’s nuclear programme in an effort to defuse growing tension with the West, according to senior sources in Tehran.

"Alarmed by mounting US pressure and United Nations sanctions, officials close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favour the appointment of a more moderate team for international negotiations on the supervision of its nuclear facilities.

"The move would be a snub to the bellicose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose threats to destroy Israel have left Iran increasingly isolated and facing a serious economic downturn.

"Tehran sources said the impetus for a policy switch was coming from Khamenei, who has ultimate power over Iran’s foreign policy, security and armed forces.

"Khamenei is said to believe that Washington’s aim is not only to halt Iran’s nuclear programme but to overthrow the regime.

"He also considers the national interest is being undermined by an inexperienced president whose rhetoric is unnecessarily inflammatory.

"Under proposals now being debated, an international group made up of the permanent five members of the UN security council, plus Germany or a nuclear power such as India, would oversee and monitor Iran’s nuclear programme.

"Washington may judge this too little, too late. But European negotiators would be expected to regard such a move as a significant step towards reopening talks about the programme. Tehran insists it is for civilian power but the West believes it is aimed at creating nuclear weapons.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

20 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq Today

BAGHDAD, Jan 20 (Reuters) - U.S. forces had one of their costliest days in Iraq on Saturday when 20 troops were killed, including 13 on a helicopter and five in a clash in a Shi'ite holy city that the U.S. military blamed on militiamen.

The battle at a government building in Kerbala was the bloodiest for U.S. troops in the Shi'ite south in two years and occurred as President George W. Bush presses leaders of the Shi'ite majority to crack down on militias from their community. Hours after the loss of all 13 passengers and crew aboard a Blackhawk transport helicopter, the U.S. military said five soldiers were killed and three wounded in the Kerbala clash. Two other soldiers were killed elsewhere, and the deaths of two killed on Friday were also announced.

It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces since Bush said 10 days ago he was sending about 20,000 more troops to Iraq to try to prevent sectarian civil war between Shi'ite Muslims and the once-dominant Sunni Arab minority. His plans have run into resistance from opposition Democrats who now control Congress. It was unclear whether the helicopter was shot down. Residents near Baquba in violent Diyala province northeast of Baghdad said they saw a helicopter in flames in the air.

Thousands of pilgrims are thronging Kerbala, 110 km (70 miles) south of Baghdad, at the start of the 10-day rite of Ashura, a highpoint of the Shi'ite calendar and a target before for attacks by al Qaeda and other Sunnis.

"The Provincial Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) in Kerbala was attacked with grenades, small arms and indirect fires by an illegally armed militia group," the U.S. military said in a statement, apparently blaming Shi'ite militiamen rather than Sunni insurgents whom it usually refers to as "terrorists".

"Five U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded while repelling the attack." It made no mention of attackers killed or detained and officials did not immediately respond to queries on how the assailants' identity was established.

Southern Tribes Joining Armed Resistance--Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD, Jan. 19, 2007(IPS) - Violence is spreading further across Iraq, as Shia Arab tribes in the south begin to engage occupation forces in new armed resistance.

Resistance in the southern parts of Iraq has been escalating over the last three months, leading to increased casualties among British and other occupation forces.
In the last seven months, at least 24 British soldiers have been killed in southern Iraq, with at least as many wounded, according to the independent website Iraq Coalition Casualties. So far at least 128 British soldiers have died in Iraq, along with 123 of other nationalities. Most of these have been stationed in southern Iraq.
Casualties earlier were far lower.
Attacks against occupation forces appear to stem more a growing nationalism.

"This is not about vengeance," a former Iraqi army officer from Kut, 200 km south of Baghdad told IPS in Baghdad. "People have lost hope in the U.S.-led occupation's promises, and they are thinking of saving the country from Iranian influence which has been supported, or at least allowed by the Multi-National Forces."

British and U.S. military leaders tend not to say who has been targeting their forces in the south. They simply call the resistance fighters "terrorists", or they point to the Mehdi Army led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as the only source of disturbance in the south.

While members of the Mehdi Army certainly carry out attacks against occupation forces in southern Iraq, other home-grown resistance seems to have taken root, fed also by earlier memories.

"People here have always hated the U.S. and British occupation of Iraq, and remembered their grandfathers who fought the British troops with the simplest weapons," Jassim al-Assadi, a school headmaster from Kut told IPS on a recent visit to Baghdad.


[California] Area Reps. Call for Troops Out of Iraq

"One week after George W. Bush told the nation he would commit 20,000 additional troops to fight on the ground in Iraq, the Bay Area peace community got the bold response it wanted to hear.

"On Wednesday Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland-Berkeley, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-San Rafael and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act that would get U.S. troops out of Iraq within six months.

“'The longer the U.S. stays in Iraq, the worse things get,” Lee told the Daily Planet in a brief phone interview Wednesday.

"More than 3,000 U.S. troops and more than 34,000 Iraqis have died, she said. “We need to bring home our troops. We won’t leave young men and women in harm’s way like this president has done.”

"The bill, supported by 12 co-sponsors, goes beyond the bills introduced separately Wednesday by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., to halt deployment of more troops to Iraq.

"The Lee-Woolsey-Waters bill would:

• Repeal the authorization to use force against Iraq passed by Congress in 2002;

• Require the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors within six months of the enactment of this bill;

• Turn security activities and military operations in Iraq over to the elected Iraqi government within six months of enactment; military facilities built by the United States will be turned over to the Iraqi government;

• Prohibit the U.S. from establishing permanent bases in Iraq;

• Accelerate the training and equipping of Iraqi military and security forces;

• Pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy;

• Provide assistance to the Iraqi government in recovering archeological, cultural and historic artifacts that have been lost since the U.S. invasion;

• Fully fund veterans’ health care.

• Prohibit U.S. access to Iraqi oil production prior to the Iraqi government’s establishing clear rules for foreign ownership and participation.

While Woolsey and Lee are co-chairs of the 62-member Progressive Caucus and Waters is the co-chair and founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus, Lee said she and her co-authors need the help of the local community: “Contact other members of the California delegation. They need to come in as co-sponsors.”

And go to demonstrations, she said: “Keep up the street heat. E-mail. Make phone calls. Our community leads all the time.”

Soldier, Read This Before You Go to War--Peter Michaelson

"The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle.

"Meanwhile, another soldier was in the news the other night, holding his baby daughter on his arm while being interviewed on local TV about going to Iraq. He shrugged and said, “Sure, I hate to leave my wife and my daughter. But what can you do? Gotta go.”

"Gotta go? There’s nothing brave about a passive surrender to fate. This soldier is fighting because he “gotta.” Lt. Watada, in comparison, is fighting for the right to be an exemplary human being, someone brave enough to stand for truth instead of easy and blind acquiescence. He’s a patriot who believes in free speech and his right to criticize the war. Now that’s worth fighting for.

"Lt. Watada made his choice. In this war or any war, every soldier needs to make a choice, one way or the other, about going to fight. When an individual fails to make a choice concerning a major decision, but instead lets that choice be made for him, he’s not assuming enough responsibility for the outcome.

Ending paragraph:

"Those of us in the antiwar movement respect the difficult position that soldiers are in. We ask them to make the best choice they know how. It’s good to do honor to your country, and it is just as noble to do honor to yourself.

From Buzzflash