Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sunni Baghdad Becomes Land of Silent Ruins

Why the US must leave Iraq. The logic displayed in this NYTimes article--that the government is a puppet of the US occupier, and therefore must be resisted at the cost of the civilian population--means that until the occupation ends, that punishing dynamic will continue to be played out. Linda

"BAGHDAD, March 25 — The cityscape of Iraq’s capital tells a stark story of the toll the past four years have taken on Iraq’s once powerful Sunni Arabs.

"Theirs is a world of ruined buildings, damaged mosques, streets pitted by mortar shells, uncollected trash and so little electricity that many people have abandoned using refrigerators altogether.

"The contrast with Shiite neighborhoods is sharp. Markets there are in full swing, community projects are under way, and while electricity is scarce throughout the city, there is less trouble finding fuel for generators in those areas. When the government cannot provide services, civilian arms of the Shiite militias step in to try to fill the gap.

"But in Adhamiya, a community with a Sunni majority, any semblance of normal life vanished more than a year ago. Its only hospital, Al Numan, is so short of basic items like gauze and cotton pads that when mortar attacks hit the community last fall, the doctors broadcast appeals for supplies over local mosque loudspeakers.

"Here, as in so much of Baghdad, the sectarian divide makes itself felt in its own deadly and destructive ways. Far more than in Shiite areas, sectarian hatred has shredded whatever remained of community life and created a cycle of violence that pits Sunni against Sunni as well as Sunni against Shiite.

"Anyone who works with the government, whether Shiite or Sunni, is an enemy in the eyes of the Sunni insurgents, who carry out attack after attack against people they view as collaborators. While that chiefly makes targets of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Army and the police, the militants also kill fellow Sunnis from government ministries who come to repair water and electrical lines in Sunni neighborhoods.

Income Gap Growing--Must Be Really Bad--Even NYTimes Noticed It

"Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

"The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.

"While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

"The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

"The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

"Prof. Emmanuel Saez, the University of California, Berkeley, economist who analyzed the Internal Revenue Service data with Prof. Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, said such growing disparities were significant in terms of social and political stability.

“'If the economy is growing but only a few are enjoying the benefits, it goes to our sense of fairness,” Professor Saez said. “It can have important political consequences.” [WELL, GEEZ, I SURE AS HELL HOPE SO!]

Friday, March 30, 2007

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Still Committing War Crimes in Occ. Terr.

"Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue to Commit War Crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

"4 Palestinians killed by IOF and settlers in the OPT; including a sheep herder in Bethlehem and 3 Palestinian resistance activists killed in Nablus and Jenin.

"10 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children were wounded by IOF, including 4 wounded in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah, and 3 children wounded by IOF bombardment in the northern Gaza Strip.

"IOF conducted 21 incursions into Palestinian communities in the OPT; 37 Palestinians, including 5 children, arrested in the West Bank.

"IOF continue the construction of the Annexation Wall; 80 dunums of land confiscated for the Wall in Azzoun and Jayyous near Qalqilya, and tens of dunums razed in Wadi Rahal village near Bethlehem.

"IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; IOF positioned at a checkpoint in the West Bank arrested 8 Palestinian civilian, including 1 child; The Gaza Strip has suffered from shortages in fuels and basic goods.

"IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank; Settlers return to the evacuated settlement of Homesh; 2 houses were demolished by IOF in Bal’a to the northeast of Tulkarm; 10 dunums confiscated by IOF in Bal’a to the northeast of Tulkarm.


"Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law continued in the OPT during the reporting period (22 – 28 March 2007):

From Voices of Palestine

Iraqis--Are You Better Off Now....

[ANGRY ARAB'S COMMENTS] Look at this. (Click to enlarge, NOW). So 62% of all Iraqis think that things now are either the same as under Saddam or (50%) think they are worse. Take your "liberation"...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Congress--Always More Time for Corporations Killing Children

"Children are being forced to work on cocoa farms in west Africa despite a pledge by the chocolate companies more than five years ago to start eradicating child labour.

"Travelling deep into the cocoa belt of Ivory Coast - the country that produces half the world's chocolate - children carrying cocoa machetes are a common sight. They are kept out of school and many have untreated wounds on their legs. "I used to go to school," said Marc Yao Kwame, who works with his brother Fabrice on a remote farm. "But my father has no one to work on the farm, so he took me out of school. My mother's a long way from here. I haven't seen her for 10 years - since I was two years old."

"In 2001, after an international outcry and a warning from the United States Congress, the global chocolate industry signed an agreement known as the Cocoa protocol. At first they promised to have made serious inroads towards ending the problem by July 2005. But they missed their targets, and Congress gave them three more years.

"'That deadline came and went and we were very unhappy," said Eliot Engel, the Democrat congressman who initiated the protocol. "They now need to live up to that agreement. If they don't we'll make a decision in 2008.

Found on Angry Arab Newservice

Omar Is Dying--U.S. Democracy in Iraq

"BAGHDAD, Um Mustafa Bakr is a 33-year-old mother-of-three who is desperately looking for treatment for her son, Omar. The two-year-old has been suffering serious bouts of epilepsy-induced convulsions for the past year.

"I’m tired of going to public hospitals in search of treatment for my son. He’s just a baby and is suffering from a condition that could kill him. Basic medicines can keep him alive. Omar has to take a drug called carbamazepine, which is used for the treatment of anxiety, epilepsy and convulsions.

"Each time he has a bout of convulsions, I get scared that it’s going to be the last day of his life. Initially, we were getting free treatment in public pharmacies, but for the past six months the situation has changed and we don’t get free treatment any more."

My husband’s been unemployed for the past two years. We’re only able to survive because some relatives are helping us with food and clothes for the children. We don’t have money to buy medicines from private pharmacies for Omar, especially after a medicine shortage has made pharmacy owners raise their prices.

"I asked two local NGOs for help but until now they haven’t given me any medicine for his treatment, saying that none of the drugs in their stores can be used for the treatment of my child.

"I don’t know what else to do to get help for my son. I can’t buy the tablets from private pharmacies, which sell 10 tablets for nearly US $10. This money’s enough for my family to eat for the whole week. But I don’t want my son to die from a condition that can be simply treated.

Free Sami Al-Arian

"After 60 days without food, an ailing Sami Al-Arian called off his hunger strike last week at the urging of his wife and children. But just hours later, a federal appeals court upheld a civil contempt ruling that could keep Al-Arian behind bars indefinitely.

"Al-Arian has been imprisoned since 2003 on trumped-up charges of supporting terrorism--even though a Florida jury acquitted him or deadlocked on all counts in 2005.

"Faced with the possibility of a retrial, Al-Arian agreed to plead guilty to a single count of supporting the nonviolent activities of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The deal specified that Al-Arian would be given a short additional sentence, followed by voluntary deportation--even though Al-Arian has lived in the U.S. since 1975, and his five children are all U.S. citizens.

"Instead, the U.S. government continued its witch-hunt.

"First, a Florida judge imposed the maximum sentence, despite the recommendations of federal prosecutors in Florida for a lesser sentence. Then, federal prosecutors in Virginia demanded that Al-Arian testify in an investigation into Muslim charities in that state--despite a verbal agreement, recorded in court transcripts, that he would be exempt from future testimony.

"The appeals court's decision last week upholds the contempt ruling against Al-Arian for refusing to testify--claiming that the plea agreement "contains no language which would bar the government from compelling appellant's testimony before a grand jury."

Found on

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Medea Benjamin: Battered Wife [Whole Entry From Left I on the News]

After the House voted $100 billion more for war against Iraq, Medea Benjamin from Code Pink addressed the Progressive Democrats of America. Her speech is on YouTube (Part 1 and Part 2), but I took the time to transcribe the first part of it because it was an extraordinary statement (and a wonderful analogy) about the relationship of some progressive activists (like Benjamin) with the Democratic Party:

"I feel like a battered wife tonight. And I feel like a battered wife because I'm right like on the outskirts of the Democratic Party. And I keep coming back to the party. I keep coming back. I keep coming back. I keep thinking, 'There's something good there. There's something good there. I'm gonna' go back, I'm gonna' find something good.'

"Like all of you, I worked hard in November 2006 to get the Democrats back in power, and like all of you, I got my hopes up. And I feel tonight like I got beat up again. And I do that because I did get my hopes up.

And I had a vision that the Democrats finally understood that the American people were so way ahead of them on this war in Iraq that they were going to catch up...."I had a vision that something like that was going to happen. And now I feel like an absolute idiot battered wife. How could we have let ourselves be so deceived? But you know what? We worked hard. And the thing is that we're going to keep working hard."

And so, in the end, fully realizing that she and others like her who place their faith in the Democratic Party are like battered wives, she acts like so many battered wives and announces she's going back for more, hoping once more that this time it won't happen again. Unfortunately, it will.

Battered wives, just like progressives who must eventually come to the realization that it is necessary to break with the Democratic Party, face a dilemma. In the short term, things may get worse. A battered wife may go from a nice home and a husband who supports her to a battered women's shelter and having to go out and get a low-paying job just to keep going. But ultimately, it's the only way she's going to escape from being battered, time and time again. Because it's in the nature of her husband to be a batterer.

And it's in the nature of the Democratic Party to be one of the twin parties of imperialism. Yes, they like to play the "good cop" to the Republican Party's "bad cop," but, as the attitude of virtually every leading Democrat towards Iran demonstrates, they view the world through precisely the same prism as the Republicans and have precisely the same goals in mind; only their methods differ. The Democratic Party will not be changed by Medea Benjamin and other sincerely progressive people like her repeatedly banging at the door, and the more people that Benjamin and others like her persuade to keep banging at that door instead of trying another door, the longer it's going to take for real change to occur.

Great entry from Eli at LeftIontheNews

Neglect in Gaza Causes Flood of Sewage; 4 Killed

At least 4 people were killed today in the northern Gaza Strip and more than 30 injured when a sewage system collapsed, flooding a village with waste water, according to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.

The agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which helps Palestinian refugees and their families, posted photographs on its Web site showing Palestinians wading through the muck, and waters rising about half way up structures in the area known as Um al-Nasr.

The local Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported that at least nine people were killed and scores wounded. Hundreds of houses were flooded or damaged, the U.N. agency and Wafa said.
“The waters destroyed houses, tents, shelters, everything in its way,” Musa Jaber, a 28 year-old Palestine refugee and father of five, told the U.N. agency. “It was very high, more than a meter. And horrifying! Women and children were screaming at the top of their lungs for help.”

The U.N. agency estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000 inhabitants would evacuate as the flood waters spread to outlying areas. The agency dispatched staff to the area, as well as water and food supplies. Bulldozers were sent to create earth barriers. [USUALLY BULLDOZERS IN GAZA ARE KNOCKING DOWN HOUSES OR PEOPLE]

Village children clung to wooden doors floating on the putrid waters and rescuers paddled through the village in makeshift boats in search of victims, Agence France-Presse reported. It said Palestinian television called the flood a “sewage tsunami.”

George Galloway: Resist the War Drive Against Iran

RESPECT Party MP George Galloway of Britain:

"It is not the business of Western governments and the corporations that back them, steeped in the blood and sweat of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, to bring "order" to the "savages".

"It is the business of those of us who live in those imperialist states to do all in our power to stop their militarism and to act in solidarity with those around the globe fighting for a better world.

"Everywhere you go this week, make sure people are asking: what on earth are British gunboats doing in Iraqi or Iranian waters in a place called the Arabian or Persian Gulf thousands of miles from home?

"It is up to all of us to oppose the war drive against Iran. Can you start a discussion at work or college, arrange a Stop the War meeting, get a letter into your local paper, petition on the streets?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Collective Punishment In Iraq--Inspired by Israel in Palestine?

March 25, 2007

As I showed you before the US soldiers shooting civilians, here I am showing other crime.

Inspired by Israel actions against Palestinians, US occupation forces using the same methods of collective punishment against Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.

Last Friday US occupation forces destroyed civilians houses in Raghba-Katoon -Ahdamiya neighborhood.

I bet houses owners if they fought against the occupation forces they will called terrorists.

Video in English

:: Article nr. 31638 sent on 26-mar-2007 00:40 ECT

Monday, March 26, 2007

The U.S. Spreads Dark Ages in Iraq

"Iraq once was a modern society, with well-developed infrastructure and health and education systems. All that is in pieces now, and a generation of technical expertise has been ravaged with no prospect of filling the vacuum.

"Attendance at Iraq's schools and universities has plummeted as campuses have become battlegrounds in the war between Shiite Muslim and Sunni Arab Muslim militants. University lecturers are afraid of their own students, some of whom report to militant groups."They want a people who can't think," said Abu Mohammed, head of Iraq's Assn. of University Lecturers.

"Abu Mohammed's predecessor, a geology professor, was killed in a drive-by shooting after he campaigned to keep religion and politics off Iraq's campuses. Fearful for his own life, Abu Mohammed asked to be identified by a traditional alias based on his son's name.Many students and lecturers, meanwhile, are translating their resumes into English and applying for posts abroad."

"In a few years, I think you will see the middle class will have disappeared," Abu Mohammed said. "The guns, the bad people will control everything in our lives."

Senior Peace Marchers Dragged Out of St. Pat's Parade by Police

[COLORADO SPRINGS] "Kyndra Wilson, a Springs resident and witness stunned by how police responded, says the parade's policy appeared hypocritical.

"There were Hooters girls there," she says, raising concern for her daughter. "Don't get me started on the social message there."
"A Colorado Springs police officer points a Taser stun gun in an apparent crowd-control effort. Though paradegoers claimed to have heard clicking noises from the gun, a police spokesperson says the officer never fired.

"My goodness gracious, who are they kidding?" Cordaro asks. "They had Democratic and Republican candidates in the parade. More than that, they had uniformed military personnel representing armed forces. They even had young children dressed in military clothing. So if pro-war is a non-political statement and peace is a political and social statement, then there is something very, very wrong with the cultural climate of Colorado Springs."
Fineron worries about the broader message.

"There's something in this town that we can't say the word "peace,'" she says. "We heard a policeman — I don't know who it was — say that it was very inappropriate. What do you mean, the word "peace' is inappropriate? People can differ on how they want to get there, but isn't that why the soldiers are there — to bring peace to the Middle East? To bring peace in the world?
"Don't we all hope for peace eventually?"

Have Americans Outsourced Their Antiwar Feelings?

This is the last paragraph of a very long article from Tom Dispatch. I didn't get where he was going until I got here. If you check my recent blog entries, you'll see that privatization of war-making is big big business in America. Perhaps the public HAS learned from this example. Linda

"It was a mad dream, now in ruins. In response -- and this is just my own hunch -- Americans performed their own acts of privatization, even as they came to reject this administration, its war, and the way it was gambling with all our lives. That's not so surprising. After all, we really do all breathe the same air, live in the same world. And so, while they were at it, many Americans may have subcontracted out their war protest to others, to the pros maybe (even if those pros were actually dedicated amateurs, some of whom really were sacrificing something in their place). That, I think, is the forest I see."

200,000 Homeless Vets On the Streets of U.S. Every Night

"They train you to transfer from a civilian to a killing machine," said Elgoarany. "When you get out they should have trained me to go back into being a civilian."

The Army says one in three Iraq veterans will return home with mental health issues. Sooner or later, caring for them will become another cost of war.

CBS News via What Really Happened

Sudan: Make-Work for Military Contractors?

"Blackwater has big plans for Sudan, and wants to use the situation in Darfur to prove its ability to operate in a "peacekeeping" capacity. It has been pushing the idea for sometime to members of Congress and high-ups in the military, saying it can send in a large ground force aided by gunships for air support in a moment’s notice. Gary Jackson, Blackwater’s CEO, seems pretty confident about their future in Darfur. "We are going to field a brigade-sized peacekeeping force," he says. "You can quote me on that."

"While Blackwater soldiers begin to operate in Sudan, their deployment will likely increase in the Middle East as well. Their 2004 "diplomatic security" contract with the State Department was part of much larger plan called the Worldwide Personal Protective Service (WPPS) program, characterized as designed to protect US officials as well as "certain foreign government high level officials whenever the need arises," according to official documents. Other than Blackwater, several other high profile private military firms are included in the WPPS, such as DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

"Blackwater’s contract under the WPPS is for five years and the payment is supposed to be a total of $229.5 million. However, after only two years in the program it had received a total of $321,715,794. The State Department has not been able to provide an answer as to why the firm has received almost $100 million more than required for only half the work that is due. And the contract still has two and a half years left.

Found on

Wondering What's Happening in Zimbabwe? Interpress News Service Reports

"Right now some 2,000 people are dying in Zimbabwe every day. They die of AIDS and of malnutrition," Tendai Biti, an opposition member of parliament in Zimbabwe, said at the briefing in response to a question by IPS.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS puts adult HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe at just over 20 percent. Anti-retroviral drugs that prolong the lives of those who have contracted HIV are scarce.

"Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is now 35 years…Eighty percent of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line of one dollar a day. An average family affords only one meal a day," Biti added, as Ncube chipped in to note: "Our church clinics say a lot of (people) die of malnutrition. The doctors are not there and the nurses have taken off (for posts overseas)."

Hundreds are said to have been killed in the political violence that has wracked Zimbabwe since 2000, when the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front faced its first credible challenge at the polls, from the MDC. The latest victim is Gift Tandare, a pro-democracy activist who died Mar. 11 when police shot him during a prayer meeting organised by the opposition in the capital -- Harare. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten during the gathering by police, who reportedly fractured his skull. The abuse meted out to the opposition leader and other activists elicited global condemnation.

Iraq's Mercenary King: Politics and Power--Vanity Fair

Robert Baer is a former C.I.A. officer. His most recent book is Blow the House Down, a novel. A portion of the article from Vanity Fair is below. Whole article at:

"It's easy to imagine how a young man in Fallujah, where the unemployment rate is now perhaps 70 percent, views private military contractors. They arrive in the form of an armored GMC Suburban, with smoked windows, bearing down at high speed. The closest thing to a visible human being is the turret gunner. But in his Kevlar helmet and blue-mirrored wraparound Oakleys, the gunner doesn't seem all that human. The young Iraqi knows that the gunner makes more money in a year than he will in a lifetime, that he is effectively immune from prosecution, and that he won't hesitate to shoot if people don't get out of the way fast enough.

"One of the first things on the new Democratic agenda in Congress will be to get a grip on military contractors. [Really????] The question is: How tight will that grip be? A five-word change in a federal provision, slipped into recent Pentagon legislation, has the effect of bringing contractors for the first time under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (Up to now, as one industry newsletter has noted, "not one contractor of the entire military industry in Iraq has been charged with any crime.")

We'll see what happens. Private military companies—companies providing security in the field—make up a $30-billion-a-year industry globally, and with all the lobbying clout that comes from that kind of money, getting any kind of grip won't be easy. And the mercenaries have many friends, who move in and out of government. The current deputy director of the C.I.A., Steve Kappes, came from ArmorGroup, a private military company that has security contracts in Iraq. Before Kappes was at ArmorGroup, he was at the C.I.A. Cofer Black, a former counterterrorism chief at the C.I.A. and then the coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department, with ambassadorial rank, left to become the vice-chairman of Blackwater, which does much of its business in Iraq. The pieces all fit a little too snugly.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

3-4 Vets A Day Being Cheated Out of Benefits by VA's Ch. 5-13

"In the Army's separations manual it's called Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13: "Separation Because of Personality Disorder." It's an alluring choice for a cash-strapped military because enacting it is quick and cheap. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't have to provide medical care to soldiers dismissed with personality disorder. That's because under Chapter 5-13, personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. The VA is only required to treat wounds sustained during service.

"Soldiers discharged under 5-13 can't collect disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, which must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast with a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days.


"Russell Terry, founder of the Iraq War Veterans Organization (IWVO), says he's watched this scenario play itself out many times. For more than a year, his veterans' rights group has been receiving calls from distraught soldiers discharged under Chapter 5-13. Most, he says, say their military doctors pushed the personality disorder diagnosis, strained to prove that their problems existed before their service in Iraq and refused to acknowledge evidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and physical traumas, which would allow them to collect disability and medical benefits.

"'These soldiers are coming home from Iraq with all kinds of problems," Terry says. "They go to the VA for treatment, and they're turned away. They're told, 'No, you have a pre-existing condition, something from childhood.'" That leap in logic boils Terry's blood. "Everybody receives a psychological screening when they join the military. What I want to know is, if all these soldiers really did have a severe pre-existing condition, how did they get into the military in the first place?"

"Terry says that trying to reverse a 5-13 discharge is a frustrating process. A soldier has to claw through a thicket of paperwork, appeals panels and backstage political dealing, and even with the guidance of an experienced advocate, few are successful. "The 5-13," he says, "it's like a scarlet letter you can't get taken off."

"In the last six years the Army has diagnosed and discharged more than 5,600 soldiers because of personality disorder, according to the Defense Department. And the numbers keep rising: 805 cases in 2001, 980 cases in 2003, 1,086 from January to November 2006. "It's getting worse and worse every day," says the official who handles discharge papers. "At my office the numbers started out normal. Now it's up to three or four soldiers each day. It's like, suddenly everybody has a personality disorder."

"The reason is simple, he says. "They're saving a buck. And they're saving the VA money too. It's all about money."

From The Nation via What Really

Anger at US 'Rendition' of Refugees Who Fled Somalia

U.S. figuratively starts house on fire and then shoots at people fleeing...

"At least 150 people arrested in Kenya after fleeing violence in Somalia have been secretly flown to Somalia and Ethiopia, where they are being held incommunicado in underground prisons, human rights groups say.

"It is alleged they were questioned by US and British officials.

"Flight manifests seen by The Independent show that three charter planes left Nairobi for Somalia's capital Mogadishu, and Baidoa, the seat of parliament, in January and February, carrying around 80 people suspected of links with al-Qa'ida. The flights left at night, and the manifests appear to have been filled in hastily with many of the details, including the plane's destination, left blank.

"Several of the suspects are understood to be held in underground prisons at Mogadishu airport where they are held shackled to the wall. Most have since been sent on to two detention facilities in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has been accused of routinely torturing political prisoners. A further 50 or 60 people accused of belonging to Ethiopian rebel groups fighting alongside Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts were sent directly to Ethiopia.

"Fighting has reignited in Mogadishu this week following Ethiopia's lightning offensive at the end of last year, which drove the Somali Islamists from the capital. On Wednesday at least 21 people were killed and more than 120 wounded in clashes that led to the burning of five uniformed soldiers, who were either Somali or Ethiopian.

"The televised incident was reminiscent of events of 1993 when Somalis dragged the corpses of US soldiers through the streets, hastening the US withdrawal from the country.

"The suspects deported from Kenya were interrogated beforehand by American FBI officials in Kenyan prisons, where they were accused of having links with al-Qa'ida.

CNN Defends Chiquita's Business Dealings With Right-Wing Terrorists

"On Monday the iconic banana company Chiquita pleaded guilty in Washington to one count of doing business with a terrorist organization after, it says, it was forced to pay millions to paramilitary groups in Colombia to protect its operations and workers in that violent country.

"According to prosecutors Chiquita paid more than $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (or AUC) from 1997 to 2004 -- a right-wing group that the AP reported "has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia's civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country's cocaine exports" -- and also made payments to other such groups (including the leftist FARC) when they controlled Chiquita's banana-growing area. The U.S. government declared the AUC a terrorist organization in September 2001, and in its plea deal Chiquita agreed to pay a $25 million fine.

"That would leave us with nothing to say -- if not for the jaw-dropping defense of Chiquita that CNNMoney's Allen Wastler gave in a video on the site Tuesday, as he smugly vented about how Chiquita had been wronged.

"Talk about a raw deal," Wastler began, adding that "this is a screaming example of how unfair our government and the whole international marketplace is to U.S. businesses." Wastler reasonably argued that "to protect their employees, they essentially have to pay off the local thugs to leave them alone and give them a little bit of quote-unquote protection against Marxist rebels who probably would hit them too if they weren't paid off." But then his counterintuitive take slid off a cliff:

"So that's how you do business. And there's plenty of places around the world where this is what you got to do to do business. You want to protect your employees, you want to get the product, okay? So because we pass a law saying you don't deal with terrorist groups and we designate these paramilitary groups as terrorist groups, all of a sudden Chiquita's on the hook when all they were trying to do was protect their employees and bring you bananas for your breakfast cereal.

From Angry Arab Newservice--NYTimes Seeing Occupier as Victim (Again!)

"Those poor Israeli occupation soldiers." Under this picture, the New York Times had this caption: " Israeli soldiers check the IDs of Palestinians at a West Bank checkpoint near Nablus, a task that troubles some soldiers." Those poor Israeli soldiers. They shoot at little children. Those poor Israeli soldiers. They enforce a brutal occupation, and point their guns at toddlers. Those poor Israeli soldiers. They implement the racist rules of Zionism. Those poor Israeli occupation soldiers.

I lifted this entire entry from Angry Arab Newservice--please visit it often

UN Secretary General Says Koreans Are the Jews of Asia

March 23, 2007

Pity that the Iraqi resistance missed him, Al-Akhbar newspaper translated parts of Y’Net Israeli newspaper [Hebrew edition] interview with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

For 60 years the United Nations didn’t witness a secretary-general so sympathize with Israel as Ban Ki-Moon revealing that he gave the the Israeli representative to the United Nations "Dan Gillerman" his private mobile phone, so they can talk in the evenings and in the weekend.

During the interview, Ki-Moon said that his love to Israel is similar to South Korea, pointing out is that Koreans are the "Jews of Asia".

Also he said that he was impressed with achievements of a small country as Israel and it is similar to the achievements of South Korea, both undergone many wars and difficult enemies.

The newspaper said that Ki-Moon put in his office photos of his meetings with families of Israeli soldiers prisoned by Hizballah.

Found on

Shortage of Safe Water Risks Cholera in Iraq - U.N.

"AMMAN, March 22 (Reuters) - United Nations agencies working in Iraq warned on Thursday a chronic shortage of safe drinking water risks causing more child deaths and an outbreak of waterborne disease such as cholera during the summer.

"Four years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, millions of Iraqi children still find that safe water is no easier to access, said a statement issued by leading U.N. aid agencies operating in Iraq.

"The agencies, whose offices are based in Amman, issued the statement to mark World Water Day.

"The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said shortages of drinking water threatened to push up diarrhoea rates, particularly among children. Diarrhoea is already the second highest cause of child illness and death in Iraq, it said.

"'Latest reports suggest we are already seeing an increase in diarrhoea, even before the usual onset of the diarrhoea season in June," said Roger Wright, UNICEF representative in Iraq.

"Efforts to repair Iraq's damaged water networks have been hampered by electricity shortages, attacks on technicians, infrastructure and engineering works and underinvestment in the water sector, the agencies said.

Reuters; Found on

Friday, March 23, 2007

Husaam's Story--From "A Family in Baghdad"

"Then they told me that Husaam loves the daughter of the mosque's imam, of a village near Fallujah, and his mother went to ask for her hand in marriage, at his request, because he loved her for a year now, and he heard in the neighborhood that someone else intends to ask for her hand, so he decided to go first…I laughed when I heard the story; this means that people there in Fallujah, in spite of the misery, the poverty, the devastation, the killings and the explosions, that they still had hearts for love?

"By God I felt very happy for them; I learned that his mother bought candles, Henna and chocolates in preparation for the weeding, after the girl's father, (her name is Nadda), agreed to her marriage to the groom, Husaam…Husaam was very happy; he decided to start a carpenter's shop, after the marriage…When I heard the news I laughed, my heart filling with joy. I said to them: well, well, thank God we can hear news of love, engagements, and happiness in Fallujah. I always hear only the sad stories about you; this person died, that person's house fell on top of him…all stories of disasters…

"Well, well…They bought new bed-room furniture for Husaam, I am sure his mother borrowed money to buy it, for I know for sure she hasn't enough for these new expenses. And I learned she emptied one of the house rooms for him to live in with his bride…The wedding was supposed to take place two weeks ago, but it was postponed. The American troops bombarded a house of Husaam's relatives in Anbar Province; the family settled for the night as a whole; a father, a mother, and six sons and daughters. Then, in the morning, the house was already bombarded under suspicion of terrorism. The father, the mother, and a number of the boys and girls were dead. Only three orphaned girls remained, crying, not knowing what to do?

Their aunt came and took them to live with her, for they no longer had a family or a home…Husaam's wedding was postponed because of that incident… he couldn't get married and be happy, while his relatives were dead…I kept thinking; what gift should I send for him? And at last, I sent him a book of the Holy Quran, with two bottles of perfume, one for him, and one for his bride…

To find out the end of the story, go to the linked blog and scroll down to Husaam's Story

Deaths In Iraq Have Reached One Million


Grim claim on fourth anniversary of conflict
By Alan Jones

THE number of deaths in Iraq since the start of the conflict could be as high as one million, it was claimed yesterday.

On the fourth anniversary of the invasion by Allied troops, an Australian scientist insisted the true death toll dwarfed previous estimates.

Dr Gideon Polya said: "Using the most comprehensive and authoritative literature and UN demographic data yields an estimate of one million post-invasion excess deaths in Iraq."

His figure is far higher than the biggest previous estimate of 655,000.

A spokesman for the Stop The War Coalition said the figure was "astonishing", adding: "Four years after the start of the conflict in Iraq, we can now see what a disaster the war has been.
"Everything we predicted would happen has taken place, but it has been far worse than we feared."

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has hit back at Hans Blix. The former UN chief weapons inspector had claimed that, aside from Saddam Hussein's fall, everything in Iraq since the invasion had been a disaster.

Yesterday, Beckett said: "It's complete nonsense. I'm surprised at Hans Blix saying something so foolish and so negative."

She insisted there had been "a massive amount of change" in Iraq, including elections.
President George Bush came under more pressure after seven US troops were killed in Iraq at the weekend.

And the US military blamed al-Qaeda for chlorine bomb attacks that killed two people in Anbar province.

Found on

Deaths In Iraq Have Reached One Million


Grim claim on fourth anniversary of conflict
By Alan Jones

THE number of deaths in Iraq since the start of the conflict could be as high as one million, it was claimed yesterday.

On the fourth anniversary of the invasion by Allied troops, an Australian scientist insisted the true death toll dwarfed previous estimates.

Dr Gideon Polya said: "Using the most comprehensive and authoritative literature and UN demographic data yields an estimate of one million post-invasion excess deaths in Iraq."

His figure is far higher than the biggest previous estimate of 655,000.

A spokesman for the Stop The War Coalition said the figure was "astonishing", adding: "Four years after the start of the conflict in Iraq, we can now see what a disaster the war has been.
"Everything we predicted would happen has taken place, but it has been far worse than we feared."

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has hit back at Hans Blix. The former UN chief weapons inspector had claimed that, aside from Saddam Hussein's fall, everything in Iraq since the invasion had been a disaster.

Yesterday, Beckett said: "It's complete nonsense. I'm surprised at Hans Blix saying something so foolish and so negative."

She insisted there had been "a massive amount of change" in Iraq, including elections.
President George Bush came under more pressure after seven US troops were killed in Iraq at the weekend.

And the US military blamed al-Qaeda for chlorine bomb attacks that killed two people in Anbar province.

Found on

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Where Are the Democrats?" [Where They Always Were, I Say]

The Dems are where they always are: waiting in the wings to pick up the cudgel when the Repubs overstep. People who think it's always the Repubs...William Blum has news for them:

"They are mistaken. All this wickedness has been exhibited before, regularly; if not packed quite as densely in one administration as under Bush, then certainly abundant enough to reap the abhorrence of millions at home and abroad. From Truman's
[Dem] atom bomb and manipulation of the UN that spawned bloody American warfare in Korea, to Clinton's [Dem] war crimes in Yugoslavia and vicious assaults upon the people of Somalia; from Kennedy's [Dem] attempts to strangle the Cuban revolution and his abandonment of democracy in the Dominican Republic, to Ford's giving the okay to Indonesia's genocide against East Timor and his support of the instigation of the horrific Angola civil war; from Eisenhower's overthrow of democratically elected governments in Iran, Guatemala and the Congo and his unprincipled policies which led to the disaster known as Vietnam, to Reagan's tragic Afghanistan venture and unprovoked invasion of Grenada.


But anyway, here is Journalist Terry Michael in Reason:

"But like millions of other Americans, I can no longer contain the primal scream I want to direct at the members of my party who declined to engage in a real debate in the run-up to this completely avoidable misjudgment of old men and women. Nonexistent, and certainly nonthreatening, WMDs. A secularist paper-tiger dictator, despised by the Islamist lunatics behind the September 11 attacks. A tribal culture with zero indigenous movement for pluralistic democracy.

"All of those things were knowable when congressional Democrats such as Biden had an opportunity to stop this madness before it started. Some of them actually shared the neoconservative pretensions of a new American imperialism. But most just quaked in their permanent campaign boots, fearing being labeled Cold War-style liberal wimps. They averted their eyes and closed their mouths instead of acting like a responsible opposition party.

"Now, trying to finesse their way out of their Faustian bargain, Democrats engage in a transparent anti-war vamp, with limp proposals to implement the 9/11 commission report and half-measures opposing escalation. And they receive aid and comfort from misguided and timid editorial pages, like those of The Washington Post and The New York Times, which also colluded with power in the run-up to the Iraq war instead of challenging it and which now circumscribe discourse with the narrow frame of how best to muddle through rather than promote an honest debate about whether to stay or go.

"Where are the Gordon Smiths in the Democratic Party? Where are the politicians of conviction? Where are the institutions of media power with the courage to say the emperor has no cowboy boots, no jeans, no garments at all-just a hideous, stubborn smirk that is making this country ill and squandering our reputation around the globe?

"The only place I can find truth speaking to power is on a cable TV comedy channel, not in the chambers of what used to be called the greatest deliberative body in the world. Is anybody out there willing to lead?

Ron Paul: Defund the War--From

"We won't solve the problems in Iraq until we confront our failed policy of foreign interventionism. This latest appropriation does nothing to solve our dilemma. Micromanaging the war while continuing to fund it won't help our troops.

"Here's a new approach: Congress should admit its mistake and repeal the authority wrongfully given to the executive branch in 2002. Repeal the congressional sanction and disavow presidential discretion in starting wars. Then start bringing our troops home.

"If anyone charges that this approach does not support the troops, take a poll. Find out how reservists, guardsmen, and their families – many on their second or third tour in Iraq – feel about it.

"The constant refrain that bringing our troops home would demonstrate a lack of support for them must be one of the most amazing distortions ever foisted on the American public. We're so concerned about saving face, but whose face are we saving? A sensible policy would save American lives and follow the rules laid out for Congress in the Constitution – and avoid wars that have no purpose.

"The claim that it's unpatriotic to oppose spending more money in Iraq must be laid to rest as fraudulent.

"We should pass a resolution that expresses congressional opposition to any more undeclared, unconstitutional, unnecessary, preemptive wars. We should be building a consensus for the future that makes it easier to end our current troubles in Iraq.

"It's amazing to me that this Congress is more intimidated by political propagandists and special interests than the American electorate, who sent a loud, clear message about the war in November. The large majority of Americans now want us out of Iraq.

"Our leaders cannot grasp the tragic consequence of our policies toward Iraq for the past 25 years. It's time we woke them up.

In Memoriam: Tanya Reinhart--From Electronic Intifada

On Saturday, 17 March 2007, Israeli linguist and activist Tanya Reinhart passed away in New York at the age of 63. Tanya's was a vital and rare Israeli voice that never wavered when it came to criticizing Israel's systematic violations of Palestinians' rights, including making a professional sacrifice by contributing to the discourse over the academic boycott of Israel. The following article, penned by Tanya and published by EI on 25 May 2005, reminds us what a void she leaves behind. [follow the above link for article]

The above picture reflects my idea of Tanya Reinhart's age; I thought she was a youngster (well, gee 63 is not that old, I guess). I'm very sad that she died soon after she fled to NY from the fierce firestorm that is Israel/Palestine. She didn't get to live in peace very long--if it is even possible for a person of conscience to find peace anywhere these days. Linda

Unity Gov't: The Struggle for Freedom Will Go On

From the Blog Desert Peace, which talks about the Quartet's gesture of respect for the unity government in Palestine. I'm not sure about anything the Quartet does, but I do like the image.

Poll: Support for Military Action Down (& Support for Helping Needy Up)

Link to whole NYTIMES article is in first paragraph.

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- After four years of an increasingly unpopular war, public support for an assertive military is down sharply, while support for helping the needy and concerns about the stark differences between rich and poor are on the rise, a poll found.

****also later in article

"The Pew poll that looks at public values over time found that the public's priorities have been shifting in a variety of areas over the last decade.
Among the shifts from 1994 to now:

--The number of people who believe government should help the needy has increased from 57 percent to 69 percent.

--The number who say they have ''old-fashioned values about family and marriage'' has dipped from 84 percent to 76 percent.

--The number of people who feel intensely religious has dropped -- both those who say prayer is an important part of their daily life (down 7 points to 45 percent) and those who say they never doubt the existence of God (down 11 points to 61 percent.)

"The poll of 2,007 adults was taken from Dec. 16 through Jan. 9 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

"These shifts come at a time that the Republican Party has seen its popularity slip -- with 41 percent now having a favorable view, compared with 56 percent at the start of 2001. More than half see the Democratic Party favorably, but Democrats have lost some ground over the last six years as well.

'''The public likes Republicans less,'' Kohut said. ''It's not a matter of liking Democrats more.'' (gee i wonder why) And people have lost some confidence in their ability to handle whatever challenges they face. Not quite six in 10 now feel they can always find a way to solve their problems. Five years ago, three-fourths felt that way.

From Angry Arab Newservice

An Israeli occupation dog attacking a Palestinian woman in `Ubaydiyyah (thanks Eyas)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

US Envoy Defies Israel by Holding Talks with Palestinian Minister

Wonder what the US is up to now?

"The US has opened contacts with a senior Palestinian minister in a move which underlined a difference between Israel and its closest allies over their approach to the new coalition government.

"Salam Fayyad, the moderate Finance minister, disclosed that he had held a meeting in Ramallah with Jacob Walles, the US consul general in Jerusalem.

"Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a policy of having no contacts with ministers in the new "national unity" Palestinian Authority whether they were in Hamas or not. Raymond Johansen, deputy foreign minister of Norway, which has said it will end its boycott of the PA because of the new coalition, said yesterday that Israel had declined to meet him in protest at his meeting in Gaza on Monday with the Hamas Prime Minister, Ishmail Haniyeh.

"The US had already indicated that it was prepared to meet members of the new government like Mr Fayyad, a former World Bank official with whom it has already had regular contacts. But it has stopped well short of suggesting it would resume direct aid or seek to lift US banking restrictions on the PA without the new government meeting the internationally agreed conditions. These are recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and agreement to honour previous agreements between the two sides.

"Meanwhile, a number of European countries, including Britain, are arguing that the EU - of which Norway is not a member - should have contacts with a range of non-Hamas ministers and consider ways of co-ordinating aid with Mr Fayyad.

Darfur and Iraq: Worthy and Unworthy Victims--Anthony Arnove

"In an ongoing crisis, in which hundred of thousands of Iraqis have already died, the last few months have proved some of the bloodiest on record. In October alone, more than six thousand civilians were killed in Iraq, most in Baghdad, where thousands of additional U.S. troops had been sent in August (in the first official Bush administration "surge") with the claim that they would restore order and stability in the city. In the end, they only fueled more violence. These figures -- and they are generally considered undercounts -- are more than double the 2005 rate. Other things have more or less doubled in the last years, including, to name just two, the number of daily attacks on U.S. troops and the overall number of U.S. soldiers killed and wounded. United Nations special investigator Manfred Nowak also notes that torture "is totally out of hand" in Iraq. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

"Given the disaster that Iraq is today, you could keep listing terrible numbers until your mind was numb. But here's another way of putting the last four years in context. In that same period, there have, in fact, been a large number of deaths in a distant land on the minds of many people in the United States: Darfur. Since 2003, according to UN estimates, some 200,000 have been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan in a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign and another 2 million have been turned into refugees.

"How would you know this? Well, if you lived in New York City, at least, you could hardly take a subway ride without seeing an ad that reads: "400,000 dead. Millions uniting to save Darfur." The New York Times has also regularly featured full-page ads describing the "genocide" in Darfur and calling for intervention there under "a chain of command allowing necessary and timely military action without approval from distant political or civilian personnel."

"In those same years, according to the best estimate available, the British medical journal The Lancet's door-to-door study of Iraqi deaths, approximately 655,000 Iraqis had died in war, occupation, and civil strife between March 2003 and June 2006. (The study offers a low-end possible figure on deaths of 392,000 and a high-end figure of 943,000.) But you could travel coast to coast without seeing the equivalents of the billboards, subway placards, full-page newspaper ads, or the like for the Iraqi dead. And you certainly won't see, as in the case of Darfur, celebrities on Good Morning America talking about their commitment to stopping "genocide" in Iraq.

"Why is it that we are counting and thinking about the Sudanese dead as part of a high-profile, celebrity-driven campaign to "Save Darfur," yet Iraqi deaths still go effectively uncounted, and rarely seem to provoke moral outrage, let alone public campaigns to end the killing? And why are the numbers of killed in Darfur cited without any question, while the numbers of Iraqi dead, unless pitifully low-ball figures, are instantly challenged -- or dismissed?

"In our world, it seems, there are the worthy victims and the unworthy ones. To get at the difference, consider the posture of the United States toward the Sudan and Iraq. According to the Bush administration, Sudan is a "rogue state"; it is on the State Department's list of "state sponsors of terrorism." It stands accused of attacking the United States through its role in the suicide-boat bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. And then, of course -- as Mahmood Mamdani pointed out in the London Review of Books recently -- Darfur fits neatly into a narrative of "Muslim-on-Muslim violence," of a "genocide perpetrated by Arabs," a line of argument that appeals heavily to those who would like to change the subject from what the United States has done -- and is doing -- in Iraq. Talking about U.S. accountability for the deaths of the Iraqis we supposedly liberated is a far less comfortable matter.

Found on Feral Scholar and Tom Dispatch

Survey Paints A Devastating Portrait of Life in Iraq

Go to Talking About Iraq to read more about this horrible graphic.

Four Years Later, the Annihilation of Iraq is Still on Course

I highly recommend this whole article from the Daily Star of Egypt:
Portion below:

"Some $18 billion in reconstruction funds, comprising both US and Iraqi monies, are unaccounted for.

"Raw sewage is pumped into Iraq’s rivers and streams, streets and neighborhoods. And in these neighborhoods, one now finds torture havens, homes converted into dungeons, mosques converted into arms warehouses, ministries converted into modern-day gulags. No, there aren’t any concentration camps in Iraq — there are concentration facilities. Jails are overcrowded with men and women waiting to be “disappeared”.

"Estimates today indicate some 40,000 Iraqis are languishing in US-run facilities — the equivalent of 100 Guantanamo prisons. In 2004, some 5,000 Iraqis were incarcerated. Is progress measured by the increase in the numbers of those detained and jailed?

"Of course, the above numbers are not reflective of the numbers of Iraqis held in Interior Ministry detention and torture dungeons.

"Iraqis flee all this while world powers debate whether to call the carnage in Iraq a civil war. Civil war or not, Iraqis are dying by the busload. The use of that metaphor is not inappropriate given that buses carrying ordinary Iraqis to and from their jobs are coming under routine attack. They are stopped, the occupants lined up, questioned, names checked. Then the occupants are separated into two groups, Sunnis on one side, Shias on the other. One day, it is the Shias who are executed, on other days the Sunnis.

"In more troubling cases, dozens of government employees are kidnapped en masse as are members of the national chess, ping pong, and tennis teams. Those of particular sects are released while the corpses of those not are found later dotting Baghdad's streets and alleys with visible drill holes and other signs of torture.

"Four years ago, I watched as “Shock and awe” went into full effect. The Hollywood title applied to one of the most barbaric assaults in recent history was designed to describe the bombings which the US Air Force unleashed on Iraqis.

"They were meant to be shocked by the ferocity of US weaponry. Then they were expected to be in awe of the might of US willpower.

"Iraqis are shocked that their country is utterly destroyed. There is nothing that holds their awe.

"Four years ago, the breaking of Iraq and its people began. Some 1,461 days later, the world community is still bickering over the words to describe the situation.

Found on Today in Iraq

Left I on the News Nails Mainstream Media Iraq Poll Coverage

"A lot of people, politicians and pundits and "regular" people, take the attitude that "we" just can't leave Iraq, because we'll be abandoning the Iraqi people to chaos, and the occupation is the only thing preventing that from happening. This is something you hear from people who supported the war but now say they realize it was a bad idea (but they still don't think we can actually leave) as well as from people who were opposed to the war from the start. This line is said with absolute authority - the speaker knows this is what will happen if U.S. forces leave Iraq.

"Even if this conventional wisdom were true, it wouldn't justify an illegal occupation. But there's one more little problem though - by a 2-1 margin, the Iraqi people, who are in a lot better position to know than American politicians and pundits, don't think it's true! This is what I think is the key result of a new poll (pdf link) that the media are writing and talking about. The question was, "do you believe that the security situation in Iraq will get better or worse in the immediate weeks following a withdrawal of Multi National Forces?" 29% said it would get "a great deal better," 24% said "a little better," and 6% said "stay the same." Only 26% thought it would get a little or a lot worse. So that's three out of five Iraqis, a clear majority, who think that the security situation in Iraq will not get worse, and only one in four who think it will get worse.

Found on Today in Iraq

Spanish Judge Says Bush and Iraq War Allies Should Face War Crimes Charges

"Tuesday, March 20, 2007Spain judge says Bush and Iraq war allies should face war crimes charges Katerina Ossenova at 2:16 PM ET

"[JURIST] Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], an investigating judge for Spain's National Court [official website, in Spanish], said Tuesday that President George W. Bush and his allies eventually should face war crimes charges for their actions in Iraq. In an opinion piece [text, in Spanish] for El Pais, Garzon called the war in Iraq "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history." Garzon also criticized those who joined the US president in the war against Iraq as having equally responsible for joining the war effort despite their doubts. In 1999, Garzon tried to extradite former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archive] from Britain and try him for crimes against humanity. Reuters has more.On Sunday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile; BBC profile] said President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair may one day face war crimes charges [JURIST report] before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST news archive] at The Hague. Moreno-Ocampo said that the ICC could investigate allegations of war crimes stemming from the conduct of coalition forces in Iraq [JURIST news archive], so long as Iraq agrees to ratify the Rome Statute [text, PDF] and accede to ICC jurisdiction.

Found on What Really

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Atheism: Not As Scary As You Thought

(03-17) 14:35 PDT NEWARK -- Atheism might be the last political taboo, but it doesn't seem to have hurt Rep. Pete Stark in his East Bay district.

In town hall meetings in Newark and San Leandro today, the 35-year congressional veteran received only cheers and applause when a speaker brought up a survey this week that named Stark as the highest-ranking politician in America who was willing to admit he doesn't believe in God.

Stark waved away any suggestion that he was being courageous when he described himself to the Secular Coalition for America, an association of atheist and humanist groups, as "a Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being.''

"It's not courageous to make a simple statement about personal beliefs,'' he told about 70 people at the San Leandro City Hall. "What is courageous is to stand up in Congress and say, 'Let's tax the rich and give the money to poor kids.' Now that's courageous.''

Since the survey results were released, Stark has been bombarded by letters, phone calls and e-mails, and almost all thanked him for making his position public.

Nancy Pelosi: AIPAC Girl

"This episode, wherein liberal Democrats scuttled a bipartisan effort to require Bush to abide by the Constitution before taking us into a third war in the Middle East, speaks volumes about who has the whip hand on Capitol Hill, when it comes to the Middle East.

"Pelosi gets booed by the Israeli lobby, then runs back to the Hill and gives Bush a blank check for war on Iran, because that is what the lobby demands. A real candidate for Profiles in Courage.

"As for the presidential candidates, it is hard to find a single one willing to stand up and say: If Bush plans to take us into another war in the Mideast, he must first come to Congress for authorization. And if he goes to war without authorization, that will be impeachable.

"All retreat into the "all-options-are-on-the-table" mantra, which is another way of saying, "It's Bush's call."

"The corruption of both parties is astonishing. Republicans used to be the party of the Constitution: "No more undeclared wars! No more presidential wars!"

"Democrats used to be the party of the people. The people don't want this war. They don't want another. The Jewish community voted 88 percent for Democrats in November, and 77 percent oppose Iraq.

"So says Gallup. Yet, just because the Israeli lobby jerked her chain, the leader of the Peoples' House has decided she and her party will leave the next war up to Bush.

From Information Clearinghouse via Dorli
"Sam Rayburn must be turning over in his grave.

State of Iraq Today--(Hint-It Isn't Good)

Click to Enlarge--State of Iraq Today. Stolen from Angry Arab who stole it from somewhere else (probably).

Psychology Legend Blasts Detainee Torture

The retiring psychology professor who ran the famed Stanford Prison Experiment savagely criticized the Bush administration's war on terrorism and said senior government officials should be tried for crimes against humanity.

In his final lecture at Stanford University on Wednesday, Philip Zimbardo said abuses committed by Army reservists at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison were not isolated incidents by rogue soldiers. Rather, sadism was the inevitable result of U.S. government policies that condone brutality toward enemies, he said.

Individual military personnel -- those who stripped prisoners and leashed them like dogs -- are only as culpable as the people who created the overall environment in which the soldiers operated, Zimbardo told undergraduates enrolled in introductory psychology.

"Good American soldiers were corrupted by the bad barrel in which they, too, were imprisoned," said Zimbardo, 73. "Those barrels were designed, crafted, maintained and mismanaged by the bad barrel makers, from the top down in the military and civilian Bush administration."

The professor blasted President Bush, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other senior officials who said al-Qaida and Taliban captives would be considered "unlawful combatants" rather than "prisoners of war," a designation that would invoke the Geneva Convention.

Zimbardo said those officials "should be tried for the crimes against humanity."

Found on Angry Arab Newservice

Something Weird About Smiling While You Get Arrested

These guys were really scared of me, huh?

Getting arrested at the Port of Tacoma protests to stop the Stryker Brigade vehicles being sent to Iraq. March 11, 2007

Troops: Bush can come fight here. He can take my 1,000 dollars a month and I'll go home.

"The expletives during the four-hour night patrol turned the air in the Humvee, already thick with cigarette smoke, a dark shade of blue.

"'We just want to get out of here as soon as possible," said one vehicle commander in one of his few printable comments.

"'It's because the Iraqi army is so scared that we have to come here to die," he added, asking not to be named.

"'Ninety-five percent of Iraqis are good but five percent are bad. But the 95 percent are too weak to stand up to the five percent."

"'Bush should send all the Death Row prisoners here and they can be killed fighting the terrorists. We've had enough," said another soldier, as the Humvee accelerated past a roadside car in case it exploded.

"Added yet another, "Bush can come fight here. He can take my 1,000 dollars a month and I'll go home."

"Commander of the night operation, Lieutenant Brian Long, said the anger was understandable.

"'One of the men has five children, another has three. Another has a boy aged four -- he's missed two of those years. He'll never get them back," said Long.

"'It is like the movie 'Groundhog Day'. Each day is the same and nothing ever changes," he added, referring to the 1993 movie in which the principal character is doomed to repeat the same day endlessly.

"'It's tough. Everyone just wants to get home to their families," said the officer.


"Platoon commander of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, Captain Christopher Dawson, said he understood the need for troops to stay in Iraq.

"'We are starting to make a difference," he said. "The violence is dropping. We are training Iraqis to take over responsibility for their own security. We are helping them see their future ahead of them. It is in their hands."

"But the lower ranks were in rebellious mood, especially after publication of a poll on Monday, commissioned by the BBC, ABC News, ARD German TV and USA Today, which showed only 18 percent of those questioned had confidence in US and coalition troops, while 78 percent opposed their presence.

"'If no one wants us here we are quite ready to get out tomorrow," said the outspoken vehicle commander.

"One of the few Iraqis the troops met during their night patrol -- most stay indoors once the 8pm curfew kicks in -- said he feared the day the US forces pulled out.

"'They can stay for 100 years if they want," said Salam Ahmed, a security guard at a shoe warehouse on the outskirts of the city. "If they go, the bad guys will certainly come for me."

I think this was from

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Israel's Right to Be a Racist State

"The problem now was Hamas, who, while willing to recognise Israel, still refused to recognise its special needs to be racist inside the Green Line and to set up an apartheid system inside the occupied territories. This is where Saudi Arabia was brought in last month in the holy city of Mecca. Where else, pondered the Saudis, could one broker an agreement where the leadership of the victims of Israeli racism and oppression can be brought to solemnly swear that they recognise their oppressor's special need to oppress them? Well, Hamas has been resisting the formula, which Fatah has upheld for five years, namely to "commit" to this crucial recognition. Hamas said that all it could do was "respect" past agreements that the PA had signed with Israel and which recognised its need to be racist. This, Israel and the United States insist, is insufficient and the Palestinians will continue to be isolated despite Hamas's "respect" for Israel's right to be racist. The condition for peace as far as Israel and the US are concerned is that both Hamas and Fatah recognise and be committed to Israel's right to be an apartheid state inside the Green Line as well as its imposition of apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza. Short of this, there will be no deal. The ensuing summit between Condie Rice, Ehud Olmert and the exalted PA President Abbas was spent with Olmert interrogating Abbas on how much he remains committed to Israel's need for apartheid in the occupied territories. A minor replay summit was concluded on the same basis a few days ago. Abbas had hoped that the two summits could coax Israel to finalise arrangements for the Bantustans over which he wants to rule, but Israel, understandably, felt insecure and had to ensure that Abbas himself was still committed to its right to impose apartheid first. Meanwhile, ongoing "secret" Israeli-Saudi talks have filled Israel with the hope and expectation that the Arab League's upcoming summit in Riyadh might very well cancel the Palestinian right of return that is guaranteed by international law and affirm the inviolability of Israel's right to be a racist state as guaranteed by international diplomacy. All of Israel's efforts to achieve peace might finally bear fruit if the Arabs finally concede to what international mediation had already conceded to Israel before them.

"It should be clear then that in this international context, all existing solutions to what is called the Palestinian-Israeli "conflict" guarantee Israel's need to maintain its racist laws and its racist character and ensure its right to impose apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza. What Abbas and the Palestinians are allowed to negotiate on, and what the Palestinian people and other Arabs are being invited to partake of, in these projected negotiations is the political and economic (but not the geographic) character of the Bantustans that Israel is carving up for them in the West Bank, and the conditions of the siege around the Big Prison called Gaza and the smaller ones in the West Bank. Make no mistake about it, Israel will not negotiate about anything else, as to do so would be tantamount to giving up its racist rule.

"As for those among us who insist that no resolution will ever be possible before Israel revokes all its racist laws and does away with all its racist symbols, thus opening the way for a non-racist future for Palestinians and Jews in a decolonised bi-national state, Israel and its apologists have a ready-made response that has redefined the meaning of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is no longer the hatred of and discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group; in the age of Zionism, we are told, anti-Semitism has metamorphosed into something that is more insidious. Today, Israel and its Western defenders insist, genocidal anti-Semitism consists mainly of any attempt to take away and to refuse to uphold the absolute right of Israel to be a racist Jewish state.

Proud to be a Norwegian: Norway Recognizes Palestinian Unity Gov't

"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The new Hamas-Fatah coalition won overwhelming parliamentary approval Saturday, clearing a final formal hurdle before taking on the challenge of persuading a skeptical world to end a crippling yearlong boycott of the Palestinian government.

"After the 83-3 vote was announced, lawmakers jumped up for a standing ovation. In all, parliament has 132 members, but 41 are in Israeli detention.

"Presenting the government's program ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said the coalition wants to set up a Palestinian state in the lands Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War. He said the Palestinians affirm the right to resist occupation, but will also seek to expand a truce with Israel.

"The platform fell short of international conditions for acceptance, including explicit recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence.

"Israel reiterated Saturday that it will not deal with the new government, while a senior U.N. official signaled flexibility. "This is a significant step in the right direction," said Alvaro de Soto, special U.N. coordinator for the Middle East, who attended the session. "We will be watching with interest to see how this program is implemented."

"Moments after the new government was approved, Norway — a key player in Mideast peacemaking and a steadfast contributor to the Palestinian Authority — said it would normalize relations with the Hamas-Fatah coalition.

Tens of Thousands Denounce Iraq War at Washington Rally

"Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Washington against the Iraq war Saturday, taking their message on placards, "US out of Iraq now," to the Pentagon's doorstep ahead of the fourth anniversary of the US invasion.

"Demonstrators from across the United States gathered in a cold winter day to descend on the US Defense Department offices and decry the conflict that has killed more than 3,200 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

"As war opponents trickled into downtown Washington for the rally, organized by the peace group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), Vietnam war veterans wearing black leather jackets and their families gathered nearby for a counter-demonstration.

"Some war supporters confronted the peace activists, tearing up and spitting on anti-war signs while chanting: "USA! USA!"

"Washington police do not give crowd estimates, but an AFP correspondent said tens of thousands of people could be seen at the march.

"War opponents have organized a series of protests against the conflict that started March 20, 2003.


Shiites Protest Baghdad Crackdown

Very interesting since last I heard the US was claiming they had Sadr's support for the crackdown. Could he be playing games w/them? Linda

"Shiite protesters Friday demanded the removal of a US military base from Sadr City in east Baghdad as US commanders reported a surge of attacks on troops in a province near the capital.

"More than a thousand unarmed but angry Shiites spilled out of mosques after Friday prayers to demand the base be removed from their Sadr City bastion, in the first sign of Shiite opposition to a new security plan.

"The protests came a day after one of Sadr City's two mayors who negotiated with the Americans and welcomed the creation of the fortified base was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen. A policeman travelling with him was killed.

"'No, no to America. No, no to Israel. No, no to Satan," the protesters chanted, their voices reverberating across the vast slum district in east Baghdad, a stronghold of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"US and Iraqi forces have been setting up joint security stations across Baghdad as part of the new plan to rein in the violence in Baghdad, including in Sadr city where US troops in 2004 fought bitter street battles with Sadr's black clad militias.

"Since the crackdown began on February 14, however, the militia fighters have melted away offering no resistance.

"But since the attack on the mayor, tension has begun to rise and a tract distributed among the crowds by Sadr's office denounced what it described as "bases for the occupier on the lands of Sadr City."

"Sadr himself was not present -- the US military believes he has gone to ground in Iraq's Shiite neighbour Iran -- but supporters carried his portrait and read out a statement he had apparently sent to them.

"'The occupiers wanted to distort the reputation of the city and issued propaganda saying there are talks and cooperation between you and them. I am confident that you regard them as your enemy," he said.

"'Don't surrender to them. You are their betters," he added.

Found on

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thousand Protest Airbus Job Cuts in Europe

Protest over Airbus job cuts

Protests took place across Europe [Reuters]

Thousands of European workers have staged rallies during a strike to protest against 10,000 proposed job cuts at the European aerospace firm Airbus.

Mass protests were under way on Friday from northern Germany to southern Spain, from Britain to the company's headquarters in Toulouse, south-west France.

Protesters waved flags, blew whistles, blared out rock music as they marched outside Airbus facilities.

Peter Scherer, head of the European Metalworking Federation, said in Paris: "It's important to show that European workers stand together ... and that we are all against job cuts."

Unions warned of tougher action, including the halting of production lines, if Airbus and its parent EADS did not back down on their "Power8" restructuring plan to save 5.0 billion euros ($6.6 billion) by 2010.

Saving cash

The job cuts come as part of the firms response to delays to the A380 superjumbo project.

Airbus says it must urgently save cash to compensate for a weak dollar, which benefits arch-rival Boeing, and boost market hopes for its next model, the mid-sized A350.

On Thursday, Qatar Airways said it planned to buy 80 A350 jets for $17.2bn at catalogue prices, one of the biggest orders in the history of Airbus.

Police in the northern German city of Hamburg, where Airbus has one of two assembly lines, said the protest drew 8-10,000 people.

In Toulouse, where the other Airbus assembly line includes final construction of the A380, an estimated 7,000 people stopped work at Airbus and its suppliers.

In Paris, about 100 people read tracts and played loud music in front of the EADS offices.

Tough measures

Airbus has ruled out forced lay-offs for now but left the door open to tougher measures should the company's fortunes not improve within 12 to 18 months.

A lengthy strike in any of the four Airbus countries - France, Germany, Britain and Spain - would quickly cripple aircraft assembly, which is timed to the minute.

On average one narrow-body aircraft rolls off the line every 9.3 working hours.

In Spain and Britain, which have a smaller share of Airbus construction work, protests were relatively muted, although 500 workers reportedly went on strike in Toledo, central Spain.

Found on Al-Jazeera

"Surge" Doomed to Final Failure--H.D.S. Greenway in Boston Globe

"But aren't the American soldiers there to stop sectarian violence -- to stop Iraqis from killing each other? Colonial powers, when they take over a foreign land, can keep the remaining power structure, as the British did in Iraq by ruling though the Sunnis, or they can upset the existing order and empower the previously down trodden, as the Americans did with the Shia. In America's case, the United States now doesn't like what it wished for, and has decided to fight both the Sunni insurgents and the Shia militias, inserting itself into a civil war.

"In the end, however, both the Shia and Sunnis will oppose us because they don't want foreign soldiers in their land. As the occupation enters its fifth year, the Iraqis on America's side, or working for Americans, are seen increasingly as collaborators.

"The longer American troops stay the longer they will be seen as oppressors, and because they have to do their job, the more pictures we will see of cowering, frightened, and humiliated Iraqis. The British have domestic reasons for beginning their pull-down, but they also realize that they are now more part of the problem than the solution. The coalition of the willing is becoming increasingly unwilling as it sees that foreign troops just aren't the answer.

"To say American soldiers are creating stability in the cause of Iraqi national reconciliation doesn't wash. All the Iraqi political leaders live near or in the Green Zone, and they could cut their deals in perfect security anytime they wanted. The point is they want power not reconciliation.
Found on

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Filipino Military Butchers the Left--Glenda Gloria

"The Right is ascendant in Southeast Asia, and the Left is being pummeled -- literally, to death -- in the Philippines.

"When the military seized power in Thailand last year, some pro-coup Filipinos in neighboring Manila were green with envy. The Thai coup came months after young Filipino soldiers botched a mutiny to oust Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges that she cheated her way through the 2004 presidential race. It was the second failed coup since Arroyo became president in 2001 through a military-backed revolt.

"The rebel soldiers’ failed experiments pushed the Arroyo government to the right. Battling a four-decade communist insurgency -- the longest in Asia -- and faced with intermittent grumbling from the army, President Arroyo found a way to keep her soldiers preoccupied: She has given them a hefty budget to crush the communist rebellion within the next two years.
Is it by coincidence then that for the last two years, at least a hundred Leftist activists have been gunned down by unknown and unpunished assailants? For a time last year, one activist was being killed every single day. The Left is accusing the military of masterminding the killings, while the government is insisting that the Left is killing its own. The government line is a hard one to bite.

"Last month, Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights, spent 10 days in the Philippines listening to both sides. He left with a stinging report against the government and the military, and asked the President to take more decisive steps to look into the soldiers’ involvement in the extrajudicial killings.

"Yet, while the deaths have had a chilling effect on older activists, they have galvanized the youth on the Left.

"The party-list group, Bayan Muna, which is being linked to the communist party, remains the most popular party-list group in the upcoming May elections. This is out of a list that includes groups created by the government and its politicians.