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.


Friday, September 12, 2008

What Does She Know?

Pundits opine today that it doesn't matter if Palin understands what the Bush doctrine is; after all, many Americans don't know it. Of course, most Americans are pig-ignorant about geography, innumerate and clueless about history. Shouldn't the leader of the most powerful country in the world have some idea about the conditions under which the U.S. will go to war? Shouldn't s/he also know how the current doctrine varies from the policies of most of the world's nations?

McCain Lies like a Rug

Please pass this on:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Happened in Sadr City?

Thanks to Alive in Baghdad and Real News.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Spot of Silliness

I thought we could all use a bit of a laugh...(h/t Valley Girl)

Monday, September 8, 2008

"So Much for the Fourth Estate."

Real News was told by Minneapolis police that they could safely cover news stories, EMBEDDED with the police department. Does FREEDOM of the PRESS mean nothing these days?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Strong, Like Water

(Basrah marshes Aug. 3, 2008. " Sun on Wake," from Gorilla's Guides)

What a week it has been. George Bush was upstaged by a storm McCain stagecrafters hoped would give them an opportunity to look like Americans instead of Republicans (an odd difference, but a true one). Gustav didn't deliver; instead we got to watch the RNC try to reap the wind, as they clamored about some teenager's right to make choices about her pregnancy in private.
We saw reporters arrested for covering stories, citizens tear-gassed for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly, and learned that VP candidate Palin won't accept interviews with the press until she's assured they'll treat her with "deference." In my world, my nearly-90 year old mother-in-law suffered a stroke. (She's on the mend now in an acute rehab center.) Following her admission to the hospital, my husband and I spent a very special evening with her, flying in the way-back machine to her grandmother's farm in Port Hope, MI. Helen was ten years old that night, learning to knit while tending the cows with her granny. It was, as she exulted, falling asleep, "the best place we could have visited." That trek, in the interstices of memory and delirium, gave the Laurascope a good re-calibration. Want to take a peek?

Wide view first. Water. John McCain didn't get the photo-ops he craved this week, but there were still a lot of sad pictures to see. 3 million people in the state of Bihar (India) are homeless, after monsoon rains caused flooding in regions that do not normally flood. Thousands are cut off from aid, which has been slow to arrive. Flooding in Nepal has ruined important croplands and cut off the East-West highway.

In Haiti, hundreds have died and 650,000 more affected by three successive storms in the past few weeks: wind, rain, floods and mudslides have killed people and livestock, destroyed homes and crops and impede aid work. Cuba, the Bahamas and other islands, and the Gulf of Mexico now are threatened by Hurricane Ike. And there are more tropical storms in the wings. Why looky here. Great minds and all. While researching this post, I discover that tomorrow's TIME magazine will tell us that a new report published in Nature indicates rising ocean temperatures, caused by global warming, is a "main cause" of the "more intense" hurricanes.

Of course, water has other forms, and ice, too has been in the news this week. Researchers in Canada announced that the 4,500 year old Markham Ice Shelf "disappeared" last month: a chunk of ice the size of Manhattan is now drifting in the Arctic Ocean. More evidence, scientists say, of how warmer temperatures are affecting the region. In a related vein, legal experts meeting in Iceland (seriously!) are advising the United Nations to consider creating a "global framework" of laws governing not just arctic oil, but fisheries and other concerns. It will be interesting to see if nations such as the U.S. and Russia will recognize the need for international governance of the region.

Let's not overlook that many places on the earth are suffering from severe drought, including especially the Middle East, Australia and Africa. And let's remember, it's not just water supply, water safety is an issue, too. Cases of Cholera have been reported in Baghdad and Maysan province, and cholera-contaminated water has been found in Kirkuk.

Pardon the blur, please, while I rotate the focus wheel on this scope to the narrow. Back to us. Global warming is real, caused by our energy consumption. Energy wars are happening now, and, like this hurricane season, there are more looming. Thanks to Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth we know that massive changes to the earth and to human life will happen, if we fail to take responsible action now. For those of us who are U.S. citizens, a big part of the change entails sweeping Republicans out of office, up and down the line. For all of us, though, it also involves personal changes in our daily as well as political lives. Many of these changes having effects too subtle for our eyes to see; we make them knowing that the smallest stone creates a wide ripple, just as small acts of kindness to a lonely ten year old reached through eighty years to people then undreamed of.

I end with a spot of bright water news. The United Nations announced Friday that it will seek to designate Iraq's marshlands a World Heritage site, following a four-year effort to restore these beautiful waters (see picture above).

(Cross-posted at Relaxed Politics.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Free Press? SHUT UP! #2

Real News Interviews Amy Goodman on her arrest:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Protecting and Defending the Constitution


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Peace One Day

It's something we all bring about:

9/21/08: What will you be doing?

Learn more here. (I made commitment. I hope you will, too.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Amy Goodman and Other Journalists Arrested in MN

UPDATE: Amy Goodman and her two producers were released after two hours' detention. At least 184 other people have been arrested today.

From Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman’s office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).
Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amenmdent rights of these journalists.
During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Read the full story here.

I sense Karl Rove's feel for theater in all this. Salt the mine with a few "anarchists," swoop down and arrest journalists, attorneys and citizens and make the gullible very, very afraid. Please folks, make calls, write letters, sing out.