Tuesday, April 28, 2009

War/No More Trouble

Playing for Change, which promotes peace around the world through music and other arts, has just released its CD/DVD. Here's another beaut from this superb organization.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Breathing Out

On Saturdays afternoons when I was a kid, my mother had the television on to watch old movies. A single network reached the little canyon we lived in and as far as I can recall, the fare was unvarying: either science fiction or a musical. As terrifying as the sci-fi flicks were, I knew THEY weren't real: somehow, though, I got it in my nut that people really did sometimes break into song and dance at the oddest times, making the mundane wondrous.

Today I learned of the death of a very special, dear woman. "Persiflage" was her internet monniker: a lovely, witty, caring soul who lived with her husband and cat in Perth. She was vivid and passionate and loved justice. I can't say in words what I feel about her: just that Persi was someone who could make the mundane very wondrous indeed. In that spirit, then, is a little silliness just because I think it would have made her laugh. Thanks Persi. I hope your family and friends feel your presence for a very long time.

"It's Wrong. That's It."

It doesn't take a lawyer's advice or a doctor's or a shrink's to know what torture is and to know it's wrong. All it takes is a beating heart and the willingness to be concerned about others. That and basic decency. It's looking more and more as though the basis for all these lies and coverups and tortured excuses to torture people was to cover up the reasons for the invasion of Iraq: to extract false confessions to justify a wrongful war. It's nothing short of sickening that, as this all is breaking, there is actually a debate going on in this country about whether torture is justified. Have we no decency? Have we no shame?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Palestinian Physician Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

There have been many wonderful Nobel Peace Prize nominees, and my comments are not in any way meant to diminish the achievements of them. But there is a tremendous difference between our civic lives and our private ones--and when someone lives his principles in the paroxysms of grief--and in the face of one of the worst losses imaginable, well, he sets an example well worth aspiring to. I'm liking this nomination very, very much. And whether you win or lose, Dr. Abu al-Aish, thank you, sir, for showing us the quintessence of compassion. Few deserve this award as much that he does.

On and On and On and On...

Yesterday the bombs blew up in Sadr City. And Dora. Husseiniya, Malif. A man lost a hand, another man a leg. A woman, both hands, a child, his life. Over one hundred and sixty people dead or injured in a single day, a single city. Today, a different neighborhood, Kadhimiya, eight dead, twenty wounded. And in New Baghdad, a grocery store burnt down when someone lobbed a grenade at it: in that instance, thank goodness, no one was harmed.

Glass and steel and fire and pain. Flesh and blood and hearts and minds. A bit of rain, a rush of wind. Blossoms falling, the scent of a rose petal. Friends in Mosul get engaged and a pal in Baghdad gets a holiday when traffic stops in his neck of the woods, due to Obama's visit. Life is so precious, so full of the unexpected. So fragile. Sami has this song going through his head. I post it here for him, for all of us: it is about us all.

Journalist's Prison Sentence Cut

His family declared it a "victory for the Iraqi people," his attorneys exclaimed that it indicated the "independence and the integrity of the Iraqi judiciary system." The Federal Appeals Court today cut Muntathar al Zeidi's prison sentence from three years to one. His attorneys believe that, with time already served, he may be released in five months. Good news.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Pause

Seven explosions wreaked devastation on Baghdad today, killing at least 32 and wounding over 130. Many of the victims were women and children. It is so easy to become numb to the concept of a bombing: Laith restores us to our senses with this vivid post about another, very recent bombing in his native city.

We brought this havoc to Iraq. And our actions still perpetuate these horrors.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

President Obama: Let Us Build a Lasting Peace, Not Perpetual War

On this day set aside for blogging to Get Afghanistan Right I add my quiet voice to others far more eloquent than I to say this: Mr. President, please stop digging the hole of war. It is an endless pit, a fathomless grave that adds nothing of value to our people, our era, our Earth. Instead of more destruction, please, let us be builders and farmers and healers and, most of all, listeners. Let us bring ploughshares, not swords or cluster bombs or drones that turn wedding songs into dirges. We have had enough years of war: its futility is clear. Please, a set a new course, instead of sending more people down a tunnel of hate.