Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GAZA: In Their Words, Through Their Eyes

Salwa El Tibi, Save the Children UK's Gaza programme manager, is in the Gaza Strip with her four children aged seven, 14, 15 and 19. She writes:
The situation is terrible. We haven't been out of our home since the bombing started on Saturday. We hear the F16s coming in and the bombs fall. The Apache helicopters are precise but the F16 fighters cause widespread damage to buildings around their targets. It goes on day and night.
We are all scared. My youngest daughter is panicked, talking in an agitated voice and has started to wet the bed. None of us are sleeping properly.
We have to keep all the doors and the windows of our home open otherwise they could get blown in by the bombs. That means it is very cold. We have long periods without electricity. The children are complaining.
I stocked up on food because we expected an attack and have enough for another three days or so. After that I don't know. I might be able to get to the market but many bakeries have stopped producing bread because there is a severe shortage of flour. We are living from day to day.
There is no milk available for children. Shortages of essential drugs for children also mean that they are not getting the health care they need.
The television is full of stories about children being killed and families destroyed. It is really very sad. They are all traumatised.
There is no escape for them or for their families. The air strikes began just as children were leaving school, exposing them to horrific scenes of violence. They just want to be like children in other countries.
Save the Children has lots of food parcels for families in desperate need, but we cannot distribute them until the bombing stops.
I don't know how we got into this situation but my message to the Israeli government is to stop what is going on. Negotiation is the best way. I request world leaders stop what is going on. Killing people will not help.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Israel Pounds OPT. Worldwide Protests; US, Not So Much.

The Horror

The Protests

Go here for info about protests planned around the U.S. Several Israeli embassies are slated to be picketed Tuesday, 12/30.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

al Zaidi Torture Confirmed by Brother

Raed in the Middle reports that al Zaidi's brother visited him today and told the following to al-Baghdadia:

...Montather told him that he was tortured with electric shock after being stripped naked, and that he was continuously humiliated and tortured throughout the period of detention, and that he had bruises all over his face and body, and that members of the Iraqi security forces disfigured his face through beatings and cigarette burns. Montather also told his brother Uday that confessions were extracted from him by force, and that he would like to bring a lawsuit against everyone who participated in his torture. Montather told Uday that he did what he did for all the Iraqi orphans, widows, children and for all the Iraqi people who where wronged.

Raed wrote to the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for an independent site visit to al Zaidi to evaluate his health. You can see his letter at his website by clicking on his name at the top of this article. He provided these addresses; I hope you'll join me in requesting the ICRC's participation:
Contact Mr Hisham Hassan at iraq.iqs@icrc.org and Ms. Dorothea Krimitsas at dkrimitsas.gva@icrc.org

Raed also posts that al Maliki visited Iraqi journalists today and claims that al Zaidi has revealed that his shoe-throwing was instigated by "a well known murderer who is linked to beheading people." Hmmm. Think there's any link between the news of his being tortured and Maliki's claim? Yeah. Me, too. Please write now.

Ring the Bell for Peace 12/21/08

Sorry to post this so late, friends. But folks West of the Rockies can do this on time: ring a bell for peace at noon today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not Going To Take It Any More: Rebellion at Baghdad's 14th St. Bridge

McClatchy reporter Dulaimy writes of witnessing Baghdad drivers refuse to allow a road to close, preventing an official convoy near the Green Zone to pass as usual. For four years, he writes, drivers have tolerated delays; this time they refused. Horns honked, drivers yelled, soldiers brandished weapons and even fired shots overhead; ultimately, this time, the drivers won. Was it the shoes, Dulaimy wondered? Seems so.

Raed in the Middle notes the Reporters Without Borders has issued a statement in support of Muntadar al Zaidi. Aswat al-Iraq reports there were demonstrations in support of al Zaidi in Fallujah, Kut, al-Qaim and Samarra. Law students in Anbar marched to demand his release. His family reports that al Zaidi is in hospital with a broken arm and ribs, and injuries to an eye and leg. He reportedly faces seven years in prison for "offending the head of a foreign state."

Now is the time to speak up. Please add your voice to those calling for leniency and support:
Call the White House: - 202-456-1111 ; Fax the White House: 202 456-2461 (you'll be speaking to volunteers. Kindness, please!)

the Iraqi Embassy (202) 742-1600.

Monday, December 15, 2008

al Zaidi Update

Word from Raed in the Middle and Siun at Firedoglake suggest that Muntazir al Zaidi is being held at Camp Cropper and likely has been tortured. Please add your voice to those calling on President Bush to request leniency for al Zaidi, and on the Iraqi government to release this reporter. Call here: White House - 202-456-1111 ; the Iraqi Embassy (202) 742-1600.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Soleful Send Off

You've seen the act: now the reviews. I'd say there are many happy people around the world feeling that Muntazir al Zaidi speaks for them. Gorilla Guides reports he said this as he threw the shoes, a parting shot heard round the world:
First Shoe: "This is the gift from the Irakis this is the farewell kiss you dog." Second Shoe: "This is from the widows, the orphans and those killed in Irak. "

Bloggers respond: Raed in the Middle: Message from the Iraqi People :)
A Star from Mosul: This Made My Day
3eeraqimedic: Cold Water on My Heart!!!!

I'm sending a shoe to the White House, myself. A perfect ending gesture (not farewell) to the Worst. President. Ever.

UPDATE: Go here to sign a petition supporting the release of Mr. Al Zaidi.

UPDATE II: Send shoes to:
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

and to:
George W. Bush Presidential Library
c/o SMU
6425 Boaz Lane
Dallas TX 75205

Reportedly, al Zaidi was beaten badly after he was removed from the pressroom. Please, if you can, send shoes in solidarity.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Israeli journalists rescue Palestinian family from "pogrom." Israeli extremists egged on by crowd

Haaretz journalist Ari Issacharoff describes what he terms a "pogrom in the worst sense of the word" during which dozens of Israeli extremists stoned the house of a family of 20 Palestinians, and set it afire. Hundreds of others Israelis watched and encouraged the mob; police and army forces failed to intervene. Ultimately, Issacharoff and other journalists intervened to save the family. He concludes:

Tess, the photographer, bursts into tears as the events unfold around her. The tears do not stem from fear. It is shame, shame at the sight of these occurrences, the deeds of youths who call themselves Jews. Shame that we share the same religion. At 5:05 P.M., a little over an hour after the incident commenced, a unit belonging to the Yassam special police forces arrives to disperse the crowd of masked men. The family members refuse to calm down. Leaving the home, one can hear a settler yell at a police officer: "Nazis, shame on you." Indeed. Shame on you.

Al Jazeera reports more on the news of how the eviction of Israeli settlers from a house in Hebron has resulted in extremist assaults on Palestinians and police:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spreading Light in Dark Times: Gifts that Give

(Photo uploaded by Citril and originally posted at Scotland in the Gloaming)

It's that time of year again, when celebrations of light will soon be shining out through the long, dark nights and we warm ourselves and others by giving gifts. For those of you looking for creative ways to give to others (and get the most out of the dollars you have to spend), here are a few places to consider, either to find gifts or to give a donation in honor of someone you love. If you have other ideas, I hope you'll add them in the comments.

Spare the air, avoid the crush and find unique gifts that give and give again by shopping on line through the Greater Good store. The Greater Good.org partners with many different charities, both national and international. Enter through a listed charity's site and find your way into an online store that supports them all; your purchases benefit the site through which you entered. (From what I can tell, not all items are sold through all sites--you might want to wander around through the different charities.) In addition to benefitting good causes, many of the products for sale are organic, or green, or fair trade--and quite a few are made by organizations that are themselves charities. Your dollars spread out like bread on the water here. Greater Good also has a program called Gifts That Give More: 100% of your tax-deductible contribution passes through to the charity of your choice. Downloadable certificates are available to give to your loved ones that support charities or causes they're interested in. Sleep nets for Burma, Africa or Haiti; chemotherapy for one week for an American with breast cancer; child nutrition kits; needlework lessons and materials for an Afghan widow: all that and more are available through this store. (Be sure to check out the sales items!)

Fair Trade Resource Network is just that. Want info about the concept? Events in your area? Stores and eshops? Employment or business ops? They'll link to helpful sites.

The Link Center Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Colorado which provides emergency heating and utility assistance to the Elders, disabled and ill who live on the Lakota reservations of South Dakota. Winters there are long and very cold (they had their first blizzard already in November); unemployment is 85% on the res, and the average monthly income is reported as $350. LCF notes that nearly 60% of Elder households are caring for grandchildren or great grandchildren.

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest) has been providing food and enriching lives in the U.S. for thirty years. If you don't know how to get in touch with your local foodbank, click on their name; their food bank locator will zip you to the one nearest you.

Heifer International has a lovely catalog that allows you to 'buy' a flock of chicks, a hive of bees, or even an ark of beasties to benefit people round the world. Oxfam has a similar, albeit smaller program of animal donations. Or how about botanicals? Pom354 is a UK-based nonprofit that is helping Afghani farmers switch from poppy to pomegranate production. Global ReLeaf is a US project that has planted trees all over the US and in 21 other countries. They've recently started some new projects which you can find at their website, Global ReLeaf International and Wildfire ReLeaf.

Kiva and the Grameen Foundation are two wonderful microfinance organizations that enable you to lend a hand up to someone living in poverty. Your dollars will teach someone to fish (so to speak) and send ripples out into a community.

I can't finish this post without linking to my personal favorites: the International Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union can always use a hand.

Finally, find charities or vet ones you're interested in at the Charity Navigator

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Child Soldiers Transforming to Peace Makers

These former child soldiers of Liberia are working to become peace makers. As part of the process, some are making films of their transformation, with the help of Everyday Gandhis:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Stand By Me

This aired on Bill Moyers' Journal last month. The organinzation, Playing for Change, is dedicated to promoting peace around the world through music and art. A little healing for us all....

Ben King's lyrics:
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah

Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darlin', darlin', stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Pause

To think of the people of Mumbai, of all of India, and especially for those in pain and mourning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gaza Blockade Endangers Lives; Puts 500,00 Without Power

Per BBC, the only power plant in Gaza has shut down, due both to fuel shortages and the lack of parts needed to make repairs. Israel's blockade continues to prevent the flow of food, medicines and fuel from reaching the 1.5 million residents of Gaza. In addition, banks are running out of cash, leading them to limit withdrawals. From AP
[M]ost banks have sharply curtailed withdrawals over the past two weeks and some have posted signs telling customers they cannot take out any more money. The U.N. stopped distributing cash handouts to Gaza's poorest last week.Economists and bank officials are warning that tens of thousands of civil servants will not be able to cash paychecks next month."No society can operate without money, but that's the situation we are reaching in Gaza," said economist Omar Shaban.

While Israel ostensibly is blocking currency from reaching Gaza to limit Hamas' ability to fund attacks, the article further notes that Hamas does not use the banking system, but smuggles funds through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Oh, and collective punishment is still a violation of the fourth Geneva Convention.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Open Letter to President-elect Obama

UPDATE 11/25/08 Mr. Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for any post in the Obama administration today.

EVEN UPDATIER : LA Times credits letter below as effecting Brennan withdrawal decision!
AND the International Herald Tribune!

Stephen Soldz

November 22, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama,
We are writing to urge you not to select John Brennan as Director of the CIA. We are psychologists and allies who have long opposed the abuses of detainees under the Bush administration. We are just concluding a successful several-year struggle to remove psychologists from their roles in aiding or abetting these abuses. It has been a distressing fact that, while the Bush administration resorted to abuse and torture of those in our custody, often psychologists have been put in positions to use their psychological expertise to guide these unconscionable practices.

We look forward to your administration as an opportunity for genuine change – in this case for our country to take a new direction in its treatment of prisoners. We applaud your commitment to closing Guantanamo and are encouraged by your clear statement from your 60 Minutes interview last Sunday, “America doesn’t torture, and I’m gonna make sure that we don’t torture.” This fuels our hope for a decisive repudiation of the "dark side" — the willingness to use or abet illegal and unethical coercive interrogation tactics that sometimes amount to torture and often constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
We are concerned, however, by reports that you may appoint John Brennan as Director of the CIA. Mr. Brennan served as a high official in George Tenet's CIA and supported Tenet's policies, including "enhanced interrogations" as well as “renditions” to torturing countries. According to his own statements, Mr. Brennan was a supporter of the "dark side" policies, wishing only to have some legal justification supplied in order to protect CIA operatives. In describing Director Tenet's views he stated during a March 8, 2006 Frontline interview:
I think George [Tenet] had two concerns. One is to make sure that there was that legal justification, as well as protection for CIA officers who are going to be engaged in some of these things, so that they would not be then prosecuted or held liable for actions that were being directed by the administration. So we want to make sure the findings and other things were done probably with the appropriate Department of Justice review.

We know, of course, that "the appropriate Department of Justice review" means that torture was authorized and conducted by our government.

The use of these tactics goes against the moral fiber of our country and is never justified. This is true whether these "enhanced interrogation" techniques are used directly by U.S. forces, as in the CIA's "black sites," or by other countries acting as our surrogates, as in the "renditions" program where individuals are taken to countries practicing torture, resulting in suffering inflicted by that country's forces.
We are well aware that these techniques are ineffective as well as immoral. There is extensive evidence that abused detainees are likely to say anything, true or false, to make the pain stop, leading to faulty intelligence. Furthermore, use of torture and other coercive techniques alienates our allies, strengthens the commitment of our enemies, and puts our own captured soldiers at risk.

Earlier this year Mr. Brennan argued in a National Journal interview that a new administration will have great continuity with the Bush-Cheney administration in its intelligence policies:

Even though people may criticize what has happened during the two Bush administrations, there has been a fair amount of continuity. A new administration, be it Republican or Democrat -- you're going to have a fairly significant change of people involved at the senior-most levels. And I would argue for continuity in those early stages. You don't want to whipsaw the [intelligence] community. You don't want to presume knowledge about how things fit together and why things are being done the way they are being done. And you have to understand the implication, then, of making any major changes or redirecting things. I'm hoping there will be a number of professionals coming in who have an understanding of the evolution of the capabilities in the community over the past six years, because there is a method to how things have changed and adapted.
In order to restore American credibility and the rule of law, our country needs a clear and decisive repudiation of the "dark side" at this crucial turning point in our history. We need officials to clearly and without ambivalence assert the rule of law. Mr. Brennan is not an appropriate choice to lead us in this direction. The country cannot afford to have him as director of our most important intelligence agencies.
As psychologists and other concerned Americans, we ask you to reject Mr. Brennan as Director of the CIA. His appointment would dishearten and alienate those who opposed torture under the Bush administration. We ask you to appoint a Director who will truly represent "the change we need."
We eagerly await your administration and the new spirit it represents.

Best wishes for a successful administration,


* Affiliations for identification purposes only *

Stephen Soldz, Ph.D., Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis & Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
Lorri Greene, Ph.D., Psychologist, San Diego, CA

Frank Summers, Ph.D., ABPP, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Medical School

Ruth Fallenbaum, Ph.D., Berkeley, CA

Neil Altman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York University
Dan Aalbers, Nevada

Martha Davis, Ph.D., John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NYC

Robert Parker, Ph.D., Member American Psychological Association since 1985

Member Washington State Psychological Association since 1991

Jancis Long, Ph.D., President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Member, APA Division 39 Section 9 Psychoanalysts for Social Responsibility, Berkeley, CA

Jean Maria Arrigo, Ph.D., Project on Ethics and Art in Testimony

Steven Reisner, Ph.D., NYU Medical School & Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
Brad Olson, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Ellen G. Levine, Ph.D., M.P.H., San Francisco State University, Hayward, CA

David Sloan-Rossiter, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Psychoanalysis & Boston Institute of Psychotherapy

David Ramirez, Ph.D., Swarthmore College

John M. Stewart, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Northland College, Washburn, WI

Susan Herman, Ph.D., ABPP, New York University Postdoctoral Program, Little Falls, NJ
Susan Phipps-Yonas, Ph.D., L.P., Minneapolis, MN

Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
Muriel Dimen, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Joe Gorin, Ph.D., Washington, DC

Leigh Messinides, Ph.D., Long Beach, CA

Alice Lowe Shaw, Ph.D., San Francisco, CA

Laura L. Doty, Ph.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Susan Rosbrow-Rieich, Ph.D., Psychoanalyst and Psychologist, Faculty Psychoanalytic Institute of New England East, Mass Institute for Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England, and Member, Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
Judie Alpert, Ph.D., Faculty and Supervisor, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and Professor of Applied Psychology

Department of Applied Psychology, New York University

Donnel B. Stern, Ph.D., William Alanson White Institute

Johanna Tiemann, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program

Julie Gerhardt, Ph.D., Palo Alto, CA

Ronna Friend, M.A., Eugene, OR

Susan Reese, Ph.D., Arizona Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, Tucson, AZ

Larry Welkowitz, Ph.D., Prof. of Psychology, Keene State College, Keene, NH

James Hopper, Ph.D., Arlington, MA

Philip V. Hull, Ph.D., Psychologist (HI, CA, New Zealand), Faleola Pacific Island Mental Health Services, Otahuhu, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Nancy Hollander, Ph.D., Psychologist & Professor Emeritus of Latin American history at California State University
John P. Neafsey, Psy.D., Chicago, IL

Ronnie C. Lesser, Ph.D., Dartmouth Medical College, Hanover, NH

Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D.
Kathleen Malley-Morrison, Ed.D., Boston University, Boston, MA

Irwin Z. Hoffman, Ph.D., Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL

David G. Byrom, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Co-Director, Family Therapy Institute of Suffolk, Smithtown, NY

Claudia Luiz, M.Ed., Cert. Psya.

Milton Strauss, Research Psychologist, Corrales, NM

David DeBatto, Author/Speaker, U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent (ret.), Tampa, FL
Katie Gentile, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Gender Studies, Women's Center Director, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY
Laurel Bass Wagner, Ph.D., Dallas, TX

Abram Trosky, B.A., MALA., Ph.D. candidate, Boston University, Presidential Teaching Fellow, Political Science Department, Boston, MA

Cynthia Colvin, Ph.D., Oakland, CA

Kathy French, Ed.D., Professor, Behavior Science Department; Coordinator, UVU Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration; Utah Valley University

Stefan R. Zicht, Psy.D., Co-Director, Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis and President, NY State Psychological Assn Division of Psychoanalysis

Thomas Rosbrow, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., San Francisco, CA

Norbert A. Wetzel, Th.D., Licensed Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist, Director, Princeton Family Institute, and Director of Training, Center for Family, Community, and Social Justice, Inc., Princeton, NJ

Rachael Peltz Ph.D., Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, Berkeley, CA

Lawrence O. Brown, Ph.D., Fellow, Teaching Faculty and Supervisor of Psychotherapy, William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology, New York, NY
Drew Tillotson, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, San Francisco, CA

Lynn Perlman, Ph.D., Newton, MA

Luisa M. Saffiotti, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Chevy Chase, MD

Barbara Eisold, Ph.D., New York, NY

Sharon Gadberry, Ph.D., San Francisco, CA

Anne M. Downes, Ph.D., Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

Arthur J. Eccleston, Psy.D., Chapel Hill, NC

Mark S. Kane, Ph.D., Big Rapids, MI

Cornelia St. John, M.A., MFT, Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, Oakland, CA
Kristi Schermerhorn, Ph.D., Redmond, WA

Amal Sedky Winter, Ph.D., American University in Cairo

Sarah R. Kamens, M.A., European Graduate School, New York, NY

Sonia Orenstein, Ph.D., New York, NY

Samantha Hoyt, Boston, MA
Melanie Suchet, Ph.D., Executive Editor, Psychoanalytic Dialogues

Dr. Trudy Bond, Private Practice, Toledo, OH

Mary Pelton-Cooper, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, Associate Professor, Northern Michigan University
Peter Gumpert, Ph.D., Brookline, MA

Michael O'Loughlin, Ph.D., Adelphi University, NY

Thomas S. Greenspon, Ph.D., LP, LMFT, Minneapolis, MN

Rivkah Lapidus, Ph.D., Somerville, MA

Lynne Layton, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Brookline, MA

Patricia Sherman, Ph.D., LCSW, Long Valley, NJ

Elizabeth Hegeman, Ph.D., John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and William Alanson White Institute, New York, NY

Kathleen H. Dockett, Ed.D., Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Herb Gingold, Ph.D., Psychologist, New York, NY

Wes Alwan, Somerville, MA
Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., Past President (2007-2008), Psychologists for Social Responsibility (Washington, DC), Alpharetta, GA

Leila F. Dane, Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Victims of Trauma, McLean, VA
Elaine Gould, Ph.D., Member, APA

Marc Pilisuk, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, The University of California and Professor, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, Berkeley, CA

Dori Smith, Producer, Talk Nation Radio in CT

Ann D’Ercole, Ph.D., ABPP, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Andrea Cousins, Ph.D., Psy.D., Pioneer Valley Coalition Against Secrecy & Torture, Western Massachusetts & Albany Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology (Local Chapter, Division 39, APA)

Carolyn Hicks, Ed.D.

Frank Marotta, Ph.D.

Thomas Greening, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School and Clinical Professor, UCLA, Private Practice

Barbara Pearson, Ph.D., Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

Barbara C. Greenspon, M.A., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Minneapolis, MN
Virginia S. Elliott, Cert. PsyA, Brighton MA

Milton Schwebel, Ph.D., Rutgers University

David Lotto, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Pittsfield, MA

Colleen Cordes, Executive Director, Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Martha A. Nathan, M.D., Baystate Brightwood Medical Center, Springfield, MA

Nina K. Thomas, Ph.D., ABPP, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
Stuart A. Pizer, Ph.D., ABPP, Cambridge, MA

M. Brinton Lykes, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Associate Director, Center for Human Rights & International Justice, Boston College

Gemma Marangoni Ainslie, Ph.D., ABPP, Austin, TX

Elaine Gifford, LICSW, Sudbury MA

Virginia Goldner, Ph.D., Adjunct Clinical Professor, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, New York University, New York, NY

Lisa Sutton, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Training, Boston Institute for Psychotherapy, Brookline, MA

Polly Scarvalone, Ph.D., New York, NY

Jay Frankel, Ph.D., Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, New York University
Sue A Shapiro, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis, New York, NY
Caryn Gorden, Psy.D., New York, NY

Nancy Atlas, Ph.D., New York, NY

Helaine Gold, Ph.D.
Bruce Berman, Ph.D., New York, NY

Andrea Remez, Ph.D., New York, NY

Steven Botticelli, Ph.D., New York, NY

Adrienne E Harris, Ph.D., New York, NY

Lisa Lyons, Ph.D., Teaneck, NJ

Susan Parlow, Ph.D., New York, NY

Jill Salberg, Ph.D., New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York, NY

Mary Pike, B.A. Art Institute, ESL Resource Room Supervisor for Highland Park High School, Highland Park, IL

Zeese Papanikolas, M.A., Retired Professor of Humanities

Stephanie Noland, Ph.D., New York, NY

Helaine Gold, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis
New York, NY

Steven Cooper, Ph.D., Joint Chief Editor, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Cambridge, MA
Laurel E. Phoenix, Ph.D., Public and Environmental Affairs, UWGB, Green Bay, WI

Elizabeth Kandall, Ph.D., New York, NY

Anita R. Herron, Ph.D., New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York, NY

Lynne Kwalwasser, Ph.D., Supervisor, NYU Postdoctoral Program, New York, NY

Lynn Leibowitz, Ph.D., New York, NY

Latika Mangrulkar, MSW, ACSW, Steering Committee, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Santa Rosa, CA

Mary Libbey, Ph.D., New York, NY

Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D., Founding Executive board member, Division on Addiction and Co-directer, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy and Training Associates

Roanne Barnett, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, New York, NY

Margaret White, Ph.D., Upper Montclair, NJ

Candy Siegel, Ph.D., Tucson, AZ

Zeborah Schachtel, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, New York, NY

Elizabeth Wolfe, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, Westport, CT

Judith Merbaum, Ph.D., Great Neck, NY

Amy Schwartz, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, New York, NY
Cathy S Nelson, MSW, LISW, Ames, IA

Martin Devine, Psy.D., New York University

Amy Schaffer, Ph.D., New York, NY

Nancy Caro Hollander, Ph.D., Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies

Michèle Bartnett
Kate Dunn, Psy. D., Brooklyn, NY

Nancy Freeman-Carroll, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, William Alanson White Institute, NYSPA, APA, New York, NY

A. Raja Hornstein, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, San Rafael, CA

Catherine M. Rossiter, LMT, Sayre, PA

Meg Sandow, Psy.D., CA
David Lichtenstein, Ph.D., New York, NY

Richard Reichbart, Ph.D., Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR)

Ann Marie Truppi, Ph.D.
Evelyn Pye, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis, American Psychological Association
Carol Wachs, Psy.D., New York, NY

Katharine G. Baker, Ph.D., Northampton, MA

Judith G. Pott, Ph.D., New York, NY

Glenys Lobban, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, New York, NY

Lisa Fliegel, ATR-BC, LMHC, Boston Institute for Psychotherapy School-based program
Helen Brackett, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, New York, NY

Dara Lyn Petersen, Psychology Student, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
Christine Girard, Ph.D., New York, NY

Andrew Phelps, Ph.D. (mathematics), San Jose City College

Jane Brodwyn, Psy.D., Northampton, MA

Jeanne Wolff Bernstein, Ph.D., PINC

Stephen Benson, Ph.D., Blue Hill, ME

Kirsten Lentz, Ph.D., Candidate, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York, NY

Francia White, Doctoral Candidate, Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, and Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies

Neville D. Frankel, Newton, MA

Arthur J. Lebow, Ph.D., St. Paul, MN

Luise Eichenbaum, LCSW, The Women's Therapy Centre Institute

William Auerbach, Ph.D., Psychologist
Ken Corbett, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, The New York University Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Carol Smaldino, LCSW, Port Washington, NY

Angelo Smaldino, LCSW, Senior Member of National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, Port Washington, NY

Susan Gutwill, MS, LCSW
Brigitte Ladisch, Ph.D.
Connie Evert, Ph.D., Philadelphia, PA

Quotation Sources:
60 Minutes (November 16, 2003). Obama On Economic Crisis, Transition. Downloaded November 23, 2008 from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/16/60minutes/printable4607893.shtml

Frontline. (March 8, 2006). The Dark Side. Downloaded November 23, 2008 from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darkside/interviews/brennan.html

National Journal (March 7, 2008). Q&A with John Brennan: The Counterterror Campaign. Downloaded November 23, 2008 from http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/080307nj1.htm

A Poet and the Words She Lives By

Palestinian-American Suheir Hammad speaks of her poetry, of prejudice, peace and Palestine.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sloth, Pride and Palestine: What Is In Us That Keeps Us From Seeing Reality?

"'I did this', says my Memory. 'I cannot have done this', says my Pride and remains inexorable. In the end, Memory yields."


Last week, President-elect Obama stated again that "the United States does not torture." We know that is not a factually true statement, but it is one we would like to believe and certainly expresses the hope many of us have that we will BECOME a country that does not torture. While the Bush administration has without doubt trampled on our illusions (and disillusioned many the world over) with its ruthless abuse of others and self-righteous rationalizations of this abuse, the truth is we have a long history of harming civilians, of torturing and training others to torture. And while the mainstream media has had a hand in stifling the truth, the hands we use to cover our own eyes have participated as well. Nietzshe's quote above applies to most of us: it is very hard to stay mindful of things we don't like about ourselves. When Obama says we don't torture and we know that isn't true, we look beneath the statement to what we hope for: that we will soon NOT BE a country that tortures. But in looking underneath, we ignore reality. We HAVE tortured, we DO torture and saying we don't is a lie. Pride wins over Memory, again.

So what's that got to do with the title of this thing? Why am I invoking two deadly sins and Palestine in the same breath?

I've been thinking a great deal about what is happening in Gaza right now, and about the strange silence around the blockade. 1.5 million people are being denied food, electricity, water, a working sewage system and medical supplies. Access to medical treatment in Israel (most cancer treatments and other medical specialties are not available in Gaza) is also being blocked. Foreign journalists are being prevented access to Gaza, as are European diplomats. Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency said Friday that the situation "will be a catastrophe if it persists." Ban Ki-moon has called for the blockade's end. But where are we? Why aren't we standing up, as a nation, and as individuals?

I suspect our lack of response, our failure of compassion has to do with our pride and, under that, our shame. As a nation, we have not yet confronted our bigotry sufficiently that we can be mindful in the present moment. We don't acknowledge what we do to abet prejudice, as we wish to be seen as unprejudiced. We do not intervene when allies are abusive, because we don't wish to admit that we abuse and that we associate with those who do. Our history of anti-Semitism clouds the issue as does our fear of Islam and our prejudice against Arabs. Our pride defeats our memory; our intellectual laziness completes the job. We don't inform ourselves, or share what we know, or demand that our press do a better job.

Tomorrow, 11/24, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel are holding a solidarity gathering for the people of Gaza. I suggest we join their gathering, at least in spirit, by speaking out. Talk to someone about the Gaza blockade. Write a letter to the editor, send a fax to your rep. You can send an email to the Israeli DC embassy here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Activist Sentenced to 65 Years in Prison

Al Jazeera is reporting that Ko Thura, the comedian known as Zaganar, has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for his activism in organizing private aid for victims of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the Irrawaddy Delta in Burma last May. He has been held since June. Family members report that he was sentenced on only three charges; sentencing on four others is set for this Monday.

Trials of aid activists, monks and dissidents have been in secret court; Al Jazeera notes that many are held in closed sessions, and that defendants may not have access to attorneys. In addition, "the most prominent activists have been sent to the furthest corners of the country, making it almost impossible for relatives to deliver food and medicine to them, raising the possibility of the prisoners dying behind bars." Radio Free Asia noted that, in some cases, defendants were not allowed to call witnesses. Information on the excessive sentences meted out to other dissidents can be found here.

These organizations are among those standing up for justice in Burma: Aavaz; Amnesty International; Burma Campaign UK.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hate is Not a Family Value


My better half and I joined at least 2500 other Sonoma County citizens standing against bigotry and hate today, at the Santa Rosa Join the Impact event. A peaceful crowd filled at least seven blocks, and threaded its way to City Hall, where drummers beat out a tattoo, a brass band played and passing cars honked out support. The just-married and the long-married, families of all sizes, kinds and ages, a small herd of Australian shepherds and a basset announcing his opposition to h8 joined together on this beautiful day to re-affirm our commitment to social equality. A good day.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Confronting Racism In and With Our Hearts

Let's talk about racism, shall we? And, to make it easy, I'll tell you what. I'll go first. And you, dear reader, you do not even need to leave a comment. What ever you think, well, it can be just between you and you--no hidden catches.

I grew up in the ranchland of California, outside a little town of 1500 people. There were two grocery stores, one liquor store, two restaurants and a ton of churches, each a kingdom of its own. The Catholic church had two masses on Sundays; the morning mass, attended by mainly fair-skinned people, and one in the afternoon, when those who worked on the fair skinneds' property went. As a kid, I was unable to hear the word "Mexican" without perceiving the adjective "dirty" in front of it, for, whether spoken aloud or no, there was something in the speaker's voice tone, a special slur over the "x" in Mexican that clued me to the contempt embedded in the word. To this day--yes, today, as a woman in her fifties, I cannot say "Mexican," but must instead say "person from Mexico," for that phrase, to me, doesn't bear the hatred I always sense in the former word.

To be an Anglo person in the community I grew up in, to be a sensitive human being in my decades, meant always to be monitoring one's own thoughts and feelings, looking for inadvertent or unexamined prejudices for, inevitably, I would discover--or have revealed to me--my assumptions and biases, always to my personal disappointment and, often, to my shame. It's been a lifelong struggle for me, parsing out my assumptions, examining my heart, to weed out hateful misapprehensions before my infantile thoughts harm someone else. It isn't conscious, it's isn't intentional, but it's there all the same, and I've hated that part of me, all my life.

Please understand: I am not a flaming racist. I am not a person who consciously looks down on anyone. But I am, by heredity, class, fate, what have you, someone who has received automatically privileges that some others have not had access to--and I have developed a set of assumptions, out of those experiences, a feeling of entitlement to which I truly have neither right nor claim.

This is one of the reasons why I so celebrate Barack Obama's win. I see his victory as an invitation for us tear down our biases and rip them out. Let us destroy our misassumptions and entitlements, each and every one, shall we? And let's, please, start having conversations about our prejudices, so that we can, together, help one another past the private barriers that keep us from seeing each of us as fully human.

Palestinian-American Jackie Reem Salloum's art is one way of doing just that. Her nine minute film below, Planet of the Arabs, reveals the poisonous assumptions and bias regarding Arabs and Islam rampant in American film. Her most recent effort, Slingshot Hip Hop (trailer is second clip below), shows us life in occupied Palestine, giving us a chance to weigh our assumptions against a wider, less biased view. Please take a look at these films, and see, too what they spark in your heart.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Help Close Guantanamo

From Anthony D. Romero of the ACLU:

We’re hosting an open Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, November 13, when concerned citizens from all across the nation will gather via teleconference to brainstorm how we help Barack Obama take the steps we all want towards freedom on Day One. We can help him do the right thing, we can give him cover and we can respond to his advisors that it not as hard to close Gitmo and shut down Bush’s military commissions as we’re being told. We can’t wait. The world can’t wait. Our America can’t wait. We want it back and need him to get us back on track.

Go here to sign up for the telephone Town Hall Meeting, Thurs, 11/13, 8 pm, EST.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time to Put Our Shoulders to the Plough

As friend Al says: "The reward of a job well done is another, harder job." Time to roll up the sleeves; our real work begins now!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"...there has never been anything false about hope." Time to breathe out and then, back to work!

Time For Change

Out poll watching today. Here's to hope and change.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Looking Over--Instead of Overlooking--This Week's News Of Gaza

It would be convenient to blame the compelling and imminent US presidential election for the lack of attention to news of Gaza. But how, then, to rationalize the other 51 weeks of the year?

The "Dignity" docked at Gaza on Wednesday, bearing medical supplies, Israeli lawmakers, and human rights activists (including 1976 Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire). The International Red Cross reported last week that no medications have been reaching Gaza, due to the blockade on food, fuel and medicine imposed by Israel since June, 2007. Organizers report they hope to make monthly supply trips to help Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

Israel barred 100 international health workers and academics from entering Gaza to attend a medical conference organized by the Gaza Community Mental Health program, focusing on the effect of the blockade on mental health needs of residents. They coped by holding a virtual conference: video linking between Gaza City and Ramallah.

Finally, Toronto has just concluded its first Palestine Film Festival yesterday. It featured the first film written and directed by a Palistinian woman, Annemarie Jacir. The interview below is of Suheir Hammad, star of the film (and herself a poet), who speaks of her thoughts of Palestine and Israel, and the many worlds contained in that locale:

"I am an Orphan and No One Cares For Me"

says the sign she holds.

Please, can you give? International Red Cross Red Crescent Society (please specify Iraq humanitarian response).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rogue Nation Invades Syria

U.S. declares it will take "matters into its own hands." More civilian blood shed in the name of all Americans. (And, perhaps a little more pressure placed on the Iraqi govt to sign the SOFA, as they are made to feel their vulnerability?) As our attention is riveted on the election, the Bush administration persists in its onslaught of murder and intimidation. See markfromireland's diary here for more thoughts on SOFA. (And please consider giving him a thumbs up on the recommendation widget, to keep his article spiraling through the ethers. 'kthanx.)

Please Add Your Name

To This Petition to Ban Cluster Bombs.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Countering Arabnoia and Islamophobia, A-GAIN...

Odd, isn't it, how lovable and loving babies are, but how intransigent and primitive the human capacity for hate is in adults...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"There are Only Two Ways To Live Your Life...

...One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." (A. Einstein)

Having written and erased too many preambles, I'm giving up and just jumping into the middle of this post.

December 10 marks the 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights that drafted this declaration, which lists the basic rights and protections guaranteed to all people, regardless of "race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." The American Civil Liberties Union has drafted a petition affirming our recommitment to these principles and calling upon the next U.S. president also to reaffirm that the U.S. endorses and upholds the declaration. (The same website also includes a video contest for activist youth. The winner will receive a trip to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly session on 12/10, celebrating the UDHR.) Given our state-endorsed actions over the past eight years, I think we could do with a recommitment ceremony.

Did you know that in Afghanistan a woman dies in childbirth every 28 minutes? Midwifery training is making a difference. And speaking of education, if you're still putting off reading Three Cups of Tea, time to put off the procrastination! Greg Mortenson is proof that change happens not because we're perfect or superhuman, but when we care enough to just keep Showing Up.

Speaking of showing up, they're packing 'em in at the Baghdad National Theater right now, the first time in four years they've had evening performances. Playing is "Bring the King. Bring Him" by Haider Munathir, a political satire of current Iraq. BBC News quotes him: ""A true artist must be a mirror to the people...and we must not be afraid of the authorities."

Apropos standing out, women in Guinea are agitating for change. In a country in which only 20% of women can read, activists are fighting for better educational opportunities and fuller inclusion in the political system. I'm the National Network of Young Women Leaders of Guinea's newest fan.

(Cross-Posted at Relaxed Politics)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Building Peace in Iraq

by David Smith-Ferri

A Careful Reordering of our Priorities and Assumptions

Recently I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the state of Colorado, giving poetry readings and speaking to communities about a unique American-Iraqi partnership called Direct Aid Iraq (www.directaidiraq.org). In Durango, a mountain community of 16,000 in the northwest corner of the state, I read a poem to audience members at Ft. Lewis College. The setting of this poem is Samawa, a predominantly Shiite city south of Baghdad. And the dramatic situation in the poem is an actual interview, at three in the morning, with Suad, a Sunni mother of four, as she is packing her belongings and preparing to flee with her children at dawn.
I’d read the poem in public many times before, and my main purpose was to share Suad’s experience and perspective. Her hope:

My dreams for my children are simple dreams,
the same as other mothers.
To live in safety and security
in a country where they can be educated…

And her fears:

Of course I’m afraid for my children.
Their future is uncertain now.
I’m afraid they will be kidnapped, or maybe they will die from a bomb…
It’s everyday. Everyday we see killing.
What did we do?

The poem suggests that Suad’s words are jagged and sharp enough to lacerate the paper and cause it to bleed, and that that blood will mark the hands of everyone who reads this book. During an open comment and question period after the presentation, a college student referenced the poem and asked if I thought we all had Suad’s blood on our hands. I responded that my point in using the image was different: I wanted to signify that encounters with Iraqis, with their stories, words, and perspectives, would mark us and could, if we were open to them, transform and inspire us. He wasn’t, however, willing to let me off the hook so easily. “Don’t you think our consumptive lifestyle—especially our enormous energy use—drives this kind of war?” he asked. “Don’t you think it makes us partners in crime?”

I’ll leave the question there, unanswered, and I’ll reframe and ask it in a different form: Five and a half years into this festering invasion and occupation, what is our responsibility to Iraq and to Iraqis? What is our responsibility to Suad and her family? To Mustafa, whose back was broken in a US missile attack in the first weeks of the war, who needs physical therapy and social support if he is ever to walk again? To Hussein who lost his eye and part of his skull, barely surviving the explosion of a car bomb while walking to classes at a university? To eight year-old Lateifa who lost her entire family—both parents, three sisters, and three brothers—when a bomb exploded during their visit to a holy site in Najaf? To nine year-old Leila whose legs were run over by a US Humvee?

Every day in the Middle East, a team of Iraqi refugees asks themselves these same questions. Their particular answers give flesh and bone, breath and life to the humanitarian aid and peacebuilding program, Direct Aid Iraq (DAI). They asked themselves these kinds of questions recently when they met Haifa, a fifty year-old Iraqi woman, who had been shot in the face by a militia using phosphorous munitions most likely made in the US. These hideous munitions are designed to cling to and burn a person’s flesh. The munitions that struck Haifa’s face, burned out not only her left eye but the bone structure around it, leaving a gaping hole where her eye had been. They also damaged Haifa’s remaining eye, blinding her.

Two years later, under the auspices of an international NGO, Haifa came to Amman for medical care. She would need at least three operations: to rebuild the bone structure in her left eye socket; to insert a prosthetic eye; and to attempt to restore sight to her remaining eye. Operating with a mandate to cover only the first of these surgeries, the international NGO referred Haifa to DAI for the other two. Raising the funds and arranging these operations would be one challenge, but Haifa would need to remain in Amman for a number of months, waiting for and then recovering from surgeries. Because Haifa was blind, she would need full-time care—someone to cook, clean, and shop for her, someone to help her with a hundred things she previously did for herself. And how would she manage travel back and forth to medical appointments? Haifa would also need social support to help her ongoing efforts to deal with both the trauma of losing her eyesight and the challenge of facing an uncertain future. When Najlaa Al-Nashi, DAI’s coordinator in the Middle East, visited her, Haifa would always cry. “I can’t do anything,” she would say. “I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself.” Najlaa stepped in and became an important part of Haifa’s social support.

These kinds of medical social work considerations and the tasks they engender may not be glamorous or newsworthy, but they are an essential component of peace-work among Iraqis displaced by violence, an essential part of helping people maintain intact lives. This, after all, is the goal: how to support people so that they can participate in building Iraq’s future.

Let’s return to the question of responsibility that the Ft. Lewis College student rightly posed. How do we evaluate our responsibility to Iraqis? I believe that we can’t evaluate it fully or forcefully unless we position ourselves alongside Iraqis, unless we are somehow in relationship with Iraqis, aware of their experiences and the hopes and fears those experiences engender, attentive to what they say they want and need.
This does not mean we must relocate to the Middle East. Being “in relationship with Iraqis,” however, may mean a careful reordering of our priorities. It means seeking opportunities to expose ourselves to Iraqi stories and perspectives, through firsthand accounts of encounters with Iraqis, public presentations, face-to-face meetings with Iraqis in our communities, and so on. It requires cultivating an openness. It means listening to Iraqis’ stories, and carrying them with us. It means a willingness to be “drawn in,” not uncritically, but in such a way that we grant the “inside” perspective the validity and centrality it deserves.

Being “in relationship with Iraqis,” may also mean a careful reordering of our assumptions. It means learning to trust that Iraqis are the best source for information about their own experiences. It means shedding the notion that the US somehow knows best what Iraq needs. No, Iraqis are the best source of information about how peace can be achieved and sustained in their country. It means shedding the notion that the US is going to rebuild Iraq. No, it is Iraqis who will rebuild their country. Do they need and deserve assistance? Of course. Does the US bear enormous responsibility to support that rebuilding? Certainly. Does the international community bear responsibility? Yes—at the very least for not mounting a stronger and more effective opposition to the invasion in the first place, a charge, in fact, that can be laid at all of our feet.

If we want to support Iraqis in building peace, we can start by genuinely facing the same difficult questions they are facing: what is my responsibility to Iraqis? How can I live it out? My own effort in this respect has lead me to conclude that Americans are best cast in a supportive role. The question for us as individuals and as organizations is the same question that our government should be weighing: who are the wisest Iraqis? What are the best plans and efforts among Iraqis, and how can we support them?

Direct Aid Iraq is one such program lead by Iraqis, with Americans in a supportive role. It began a year and a half ago, out of conversations between Americans and Iraqis in which the Iraqis were asked: if Americans could do something, what would you have us do? “We need medical care, in order to survive, in order to hold our lives together,” these Iraqi refugees told us. “We need money to pay for it.”
The Iraqis we’ve met through DAI want us to listen and to care. They want us to care enough to look closely at our lives, and yes, as the Ft. Lewis College student suggested, to examine our lifestyles. They want us to care enough to reorder our priorities, to be smart and strategic so that we are in a strong position to support them. They want us to ask some obvious questions about the ways we use our resources and to act on the answers: Do we really need the new furniture, the new wardrobe, the new entertainment center? They want us to learn to live with less so that we have something to share with them. They want us to be generous. They want us to take some risks, to trust that generosity now will not condemn us to poverty in the future.

Here’s a slightly different angle on it. The Iraqis we’ve met through DAI don’t want charity. They want justice. These aren’t people who have been injured and displaced by a natural disaster, but by war—by human folly, greed, violence, and criminality. They want actions that will help restore their capacity to build a productive future. For Americans who also want justice, the question becomes: what are we willing to risk, change, sacrifice in order to be a part of this restoration?

David Smith-Ferri (smithferri [@] pacific.net) is author of Battlefield without Borders (battlefieldwithoutborders.org), and a member of Direct Aid Iraq and of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
This article was posted October 3, 2008 at Yes magazine. Reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Steal Back Your Vote

This is NOT a parody. It's for real. Don't let them steal ANOTHER election!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wall Street Bailout is Chump Change (Compared to the Cost of Iraq)

Congress approved $68.6 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this week--but that's only the iceberg's tip. As has been the case all along, the bulk of the year's cost for waging on Iraq--a country that has never posed an imminent danger to us--will be paid for by supplemental bills throughout the year, just as it's been funded in years past. TomDispatch today notes that a week of war in Iraq costs an estimated $3.5 billion.
Sometime in 2009 the direct costs of the war the Bush administration once predicted would cost perhaps $50-60 billion in total will stand at more than $800 billion, or $100 billion above the cost (if all goes well, which it won't) of the bailout of the financial system now being proposed in Washington.
When true long-term costs (including health care and veteran's benefits) are added in, estimates range in the trillions of dollars, overall.

The money quote from Chalmers Johnson:
Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on present and future wars that have nothing to do with our national security is simply obscene. And yet Congress has been corrupted by the military-industrial complex into believing that, by voting for more defense spending, they are supplying "jobs" for the economy. In fact, they are only diverting scarce resources from the desperately needed rebuilding of the American infrastructure and other crucial spending necessities into utterly wasteful munitions. If we cannot cut back our longstanding, ever increasing military spending in a major way, then the bankruptcy of the United States is inevitable. As the current Wall Street meltdown has demonstrated, that is no longer an abstract possibility but a growing likelihood. We do not have much time left.

Meanwhile, Back in Iraq...

Photo: Reuters

This week news from Iraq had a harder time getting space: even the vanguard McClatchy News dropped Iraq from its homepage navigation spot, at least for the next few weeks (Mark Seibel of McClatchy assured me, when I queried, that it will be returning to the homepage soon. Until then, you can reach the McClatchy Iraq Bureau here).

So what news might you have missed? Bombings have increased since Ramadan began; evening assaults hit civilians out grocery shopping. 12 people were killed by one Baghdad bomb today (Sunday) and 35 injured. UPDATE: 2 more bombings later this evening killed 19 and injured 70 per BBC.

Cholera is on the rise; note that Gorillas Guides editor says the IRIN figure is out of date. Even so, IRIN indicates at least 150 new cases this week.

Can't have clean water without electricity. Arkan Hamed and Dahr Jamail start their latest article with the news that only one of Baghdad Medical City's ten elevators works. (Have you been in a hospital lately? Picture the wheel chairs, the gurneys, the elderly...). But that news pales when we read that it is not safe to drink the hospital's tap water, and that "sometimes doctors cannot find water even to wash their hands. Equipment is often not sterilised." Worse still:
"Most of the medicines we have here are out of date, and we lack almost all basic antibiotics," says Dr. Saad Abu Al-Noor, a pharmacist at the supply warehouse at Baghdad Medical City. "We cannot get medicines from the stores because of lack of security, and because there is just too much corruption all over."
Patients in need or their family members are sent out to the shops to buy catheters, disposable syringes and essential medicines, Dr. Noor said. "If the patient is lucky, he can find the items on the black market. And then the question is if they can afford these things. The price is ten to 20 times higher than it should be."

Sunshine, a teenager blogger in Mosul, records her thoughts about the Ramadan bombings, life without electricity and the rise in kidnappings in a new entry this week. Her cheery news: she's finished her book and has an agent. Here's hoping this strong young voice finds a publisher.

In sports, Rasool Khadim took the silver medal at the Beijing Paralympics for weight lifting, marking Iraq's first win there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update on Hate

Now we know who's funding the anti-Islamic hate DVD making its way into family homes in swing states across the U.S. Inter Press writers Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton have learned that a group called the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) has partnered with an Israeli organization Aish Hatorah which has apparently created a shadow company, the Clarion Fund (the DVD creators).

EMET is loaded to the gills with neo-conservatives, including former CIA director James Woolsey, the late former U.N. ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and Meyrav Wurmser, wife of Dick Cheney's former top Middle East advisor. Advisors to EMET include three Israeli diplomats, among them Ambassadors Yossi Ben Aharon and Yoram Ettinger. They lobbied hard against the Oslo Accord, as did the group's head, Sarah Stern.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Appointment for Samarra

The Iraqi government announced Tuesday that the Universal Heritage Committee of UNESCO has added Samarra to its list of world heritage sites, the second place in Iraq to receive this designation this month (earlier, the Basrah marshes were added, following years of restoration efforts. Plans are afoot to make that area a national park.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why is Hate Propaganda Being Delivered to Swing States?

And why did the New York Times deliver 145,000 copies of this dreck in national editions of its paper in 11 U.S. markets?

Kudos to Ali Gharib and Inter Press Service for catching this story. 28 million homes in swing states are receiving a copy of the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" this month, as an advertising insert in their hometown papers. Writes Gharib:
The documentary, despite an initial disclaimer that the material covered applies only to radical Islamists and not all Muslims, has drawn fire from critics for conflating mainstream Islam with violent and militant tendencies of a smaller subset of the religion. Critics argue that it makes little distinction between the religion of Islam and the political realities that inform terrorism....

"We're getting many concerned calls and emails from Muslims around the country who see this as an attempt to not only marginalize and demonize the American Muslim community, but also to sway the election by targeting swing states," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told IPS. "People are outraged. I haven't seen this kind of outrage in a long time. It's coming to their homes, it's coming to their neighbors and they believe its going to impact their lives and their children's lives negatively."

One big question is: who's paying to have this slime distributed? One estimate places the distribution costs at 50 million dollars. The makers of the film and its distributor/producer are known to have borrowed the half mil it took to create it. Who's their 'angel' now?


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why Does John McCain Hate POWs and Their Families?

An ugly story is revealed by Sydney H. Schanberg in the Nation. Please follow the embedded link: it is well worth your time. How 'bout we all just say no to more liars and bullies in the White House?

Million Doors for Peace

9/20/08: Help end the war.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome to the World, dear Haneen!

An e-mail from Baghdad:
dear Friend
I just would like to tell you that my wife gave birth. We have now a new daughter. we gave her the name Haneen which means yearning. We still yearn for some peace. I didnt see her yet because I spent the night in the office. They told me she smiles when she was born. I may leave the office any moment. Just would like to let you know the good news
Say Hi to All Yr Family.

Dear Haneen:

Welcome to the world. I know you have been greeted by a mother and father who love you and your older brother very much. You have a beautiful name, dear child who Yearns, and I suspect you have already embodied it with the smile you gave upon your arrival. For to yearn is not only to desire or even ache for something, but to seek it, to look with hope. Your parents expressed hope at your birth: hope for peace, for kindness to one another, for living together in care and harmony. And you answered them with hope of your own, smiling as you were delivered into your mother's arms.

Such a gift your parents gave you, this name! To yearn is to believe that there is something beyond us to look for. Knowing your father's passion for truth and justice, I feel certain you, too, will always have in your heart a picture of the world as it could be, a picture of us all as we could be to one another, and that this vision of what is good and truest about humanity will continue to call to you--and guide you--through out your life. This is my wish for you: that hope will always keep your heart light, that hope will be a light unto your feet. May love of justice and kindness always guide you. May your days be filled with peace. Blessings to you and your family, Haneen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

U.S. Retired Military Officers Speak Out Against Torture

Please join them. Tuesday, 9/16, the Senate will vote on Amendment Number 5369 to the Defense Authorization Bill. This would require that the International Committee of the Red Cross have access to all US detainees, INCLUDING those held in secret prisons by the CIA or other intelligence agencies. Documents released or leaked in recent years have shown the administration has been systematically hiding certain detainees from the ICRC, apparently in order to cover up the use of harsh interrogation techniques (torture).

You can lend your support by calling the Capitol Hill switchboard — 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 — and ask for your two Senators by name or by your state, or click here for a database of direct contact info.

Thanks to Human Rights First for their efforts in this regard (click on link for text of the officers' letter, and for further info re: HRF).

Stop Republican Efforts to Cage Votes

The push is on to steal the election. Voter caging and other tricks (for example, telling college students--falsely-- they can't register to vote in the communities where they attend school or requiring identification from elderly citizens) are some of the tricks Republicans in some swing states are starting to implement. In Michigan, the party wants to use foreclosure lists to prohibit people who've lost their homes from exercising their right to vote. You can sign a petition here expressing your disagreement with this Republican plan to disenfranchise citizens who have lost their homes due to the failed economic policies of the Republican administration.

Senator Whitehouse Gets It

At a Senate hearing last week:

"Not Fit to be President"

From one who knew him well:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This Makes Sense

We have a right to know the health histories of presidential candidates.

The Ugly of War

The War-Monger party is fussing about lipstick. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Friend Writes a Letter

To a McCain supporter and allows me to post it here:

Dear --------:

You're incorrigible! Sarah Palin has been quoted as saying we should teach Adam & Eve creationism along side evolution in science classes in public schools. Need I say more? The fact that she doesn't have much experience in government doesn't bother me. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had tons of experience and look where that got us. It's her political opinions and record that bother me greatly. Take a look at what a Wasilla, AK resident, Anne Kilkenny, has to say about Sarah whom she has known since 1992 (Google her). I didn't see Sarah's entire interview last night but the excerpts were troubling... like suggesting we should potentially attack Russia. Oy!

You always profess to being a Republican because you don't like to be overly taxed and you don't like wasteful government spending. Then you go on to negate the last point by acknowledging that Republicans are as guilty of wasteful spending as Democrats. So that leaves taxation but that's not all this election is about. By voting for John McCain, you are also voting against a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion. Republicans would have us go back to the days of back alley abortions that almost killed [mutual friend's name removed] when we were 18. By voting for John McCain, you are saying that gays and lesbians are not normal manifestations of the human condition and should not have all the rights and privileges of heterosexuals.

By voting for John McCain, you are echoing Rudy Giuliani at the Republican Convention, "drill baby drill". I heard someone say that's like yelling "Smith-Corona baby Smith-Corona" at the beginning of the technology revolution. A vote for John McCain is a vote against promoting and developing renewable energy as the way to save our economy and our planet. By voting for John McCain you are siding with the NRA and helping the spread of handguns and assault weapons in this country. By voting for John McCain you're saying that warrantless wiretapping, torture, and the suspension of writ of habeas corpus and various other human and civil rights are all OK. You are saying that an endless War on Terror is OK. You're saying that singing "bomb, bomb, bomb...bomb, bomb Iran to the tune of Barbara Ann is a funny joke.

The Republican Party today is not the Republican Party of our fathers. While they were both military men, John McCain is not Dwight Eisenhower who, by the way, warned us of the military/industrial complex that now runs our country. John McCain may be a "maverick" (in '00 he was a "maverick", then he was in lockstep with Bush for 8 years, now he says he's a maverick again) but you know he's not going to change anything substantially. It will be 4 more years of the same thing. Maybe that's OK with you but when I look around at the environment, the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, the economy, the deficit, the crumbling state of our financial institutions, our energy policy, unemployment, human rights, civil rights, our status in the world, our morality as a country...it literally turns my stomach. Republicans today are not conservative, they're radical and don't deserve to be in power. The last 8 years have been an outrage and a disgrace.

You and your wife are two of the nicest people I know...kind, loving, generous and more. The idea that you can either ignore or support the overwhelmingly negative aspects of the Republican agenda really, really makes me sad and scared. If good people like you can live through the last 8 years and not want to see meaningful change in this country, we're in bad shape.

Sorry to rant.

I love you both.