Saturday, December 10, 2005

Iraq Update from the AFSC

This letter from the American Friends Service Committee was forwarded to me by another peace activist friend, Bob Wolfe. Many thanks, Bob! (I've accidentally deleted mine)

" We have been deeply saddened by the abduction of four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq. Tom Fox (U.S), Norman Kember (UK), James Loney and Harmeet Sooden (Canada), lived outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad in active witness against the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. Tom Fox is a Quaker and a member of Langley Hill Meeting in Virginia.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams, a non-governmental organization, is one of the few remaining international humanitarian organizations working in Iraq. Their presence maintains a critical, nonviolent public witness to the violence and uncertainty which persists in the country. Team members knowingly work at great risk to their own health and security.

The kidnappings have caused enormous suffering and pain to the captives, their families, associates, and friends. We have been in close touch with CPT, Tom Fox's family and other partner organizations. On Friday, we issued a joint statement with the Friends Committee on National Legislation appealing to those responsible for the kidnappings to release all four peacemakers unharmed. You can find the latest information on the evolving situation on the Christian Peacemaker Teams web site.

You can alse see the Friends United Meeting web site about the kidnapping.

In recent days, a German archeologist and a French engineer working on a water treatment center have also been kidnapped. These abductions along with the daily attacks and bombings, illustrate the insecurity that Iraqis live in every day.

While the kidnappings are deeply disturbing, I also want to share two hopeful updates about the progress of our Wage Peace Campaign.

Together, our recent email campaign asking Congress to join Rep. John Murtha in calling for a troop withdrawal generated almost 23,000 emails to Representatives and Senators in all 50 states. In the meantime, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined the call for a quick and safe withdrawal from Iraq. Pelosi's office received dozens of emails from us in the past three weeks.

Congress is clearly heading toward withdrawing some troops from Iraq. It's not enough. We need to keep up the pressure to end the war, remove all troops and bases from Iraq, and to hold the U.S. to its legal and moral obligations to reconstruct Iraq.

I also wanted to report back on the results of last month's Wage Peace Campaign survey. We've received more than 1,500 responses about next steps for the campaign. Thank you so much for your ideas. We're working quickly to update our web site to have resources available to help your local activism. Look for more material in coming emails.

You can find that we already have:
Opportunities to email Congress. (Right now, please support the End the Iraq War Act sponsored by Rep. Jim McGovern)
Downloadable fact sheets, timelines, and a petition
An online tool to write letters to your local newspapers
A blog on Iraq affairs, Current News in Context

To see the survey results, please follow this link:


Peter Lems,
Wage Peace Campaign

Forward this message to your friends.

American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Tell Congress that the pro-peace majority wants them to stop the deaths and suffering in Iraq by stopping the dollars that are funding the war.
Take Action


Watch the "Wage Peace Movie: Eyes Wide Open"

Our online movie tells the truth about the ongoing loss of life in Iraq -- and encourages viewers to sign our petition to bring the troops home. [3 min.]

View the movie by clicking here, then click on Watch it Now once you're on the site

Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s widely-acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the Iraq War, features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty, a field of shoes and a Wall of Remembrance to memorialize the Iraqis killed in the conflict, and a multimedia display exploring the history, cost and consequences of the war. Read more about the exhibit

Friday, December 09, 2005

Election Time in Canada: Time To Make Poverty History

The Federal Election

It’s election time and our message to the next government is simple:

Make Poverty History.

We call on all candidates, of all parties, to pledge to make poverty history.

Ask the candidates running in your riding if they pledge to support Make Poverty History:

More and Better Aid: Make a plan to meet the internationally agreed to target for aid spending of 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2015. Introduce legislation focusing Canada’s aid on ending poverty.

End Child Poverty in Canada: Raise the child tax benefit to $4,900 per child and ensure all children in low-income households receive full benefit of the program.

Cancel the Debt: Cancel, unconditionally, 100 % of the debt owed by the world’s poorest countries.

Trade Justice: Agree that Canada should only support a new global trade deal if it contributes to ending global poverty.

Stephen Lewis, who helped launch Make Poverty History in Canada, has called for all political leaders to support the Make Poverty History goals and for the election platforms of all the political parties to clearly state a commitment to reaching 0.7% of GNI for aid.

"We are clearly heading into an election campaign. There is every reason in the world for every one of us, including our political leaders, to embrace the targets of the Make Poverty History campaign. This issue needs to be raised at every all-candidates' meeting, in every riding, and in every possible fashion, to get Canada to embrace a schedule by which the 0.7% target will be reached. I call on all parties to explicitly state in their party platforms their commitment to reach 0.7% in the immediate future, preferably by 2010. Canadians want this. Our leaders should act."

Stephen Lewis speaking at Carleton University, Ottawa, November 22, 2005

You can help. Join Make Poverty History and Stephen Lewis.

Ask your candidates: Do they pledge to Make Poverty History?

Coming Soon:

Check back here soon for updated election information and materials including:

Sample questions you can ask your candidate in all candidates meetings, in their offices, when you see them in the mall, around town, or when they knock on your door.

Updates on party election platforms: Find out what they’ll do about ending global poverty.

Updates on candidates: Find out who’s pledged to Make Poverty History.

Contact Make Poverty History

Democracy Now! Video: Documentary 'Preventive Warriors'

This U.S. premiere of the film by Democracy Now! is hosted by Amy Goodman. Thanks again to Tom Feeley at Information Clearing House for sending me the link.

Video: Documentary 'Preventive Warriors':

The film examines a bold new foreign policy paper introduced by the White House in September 2002 entitled: “The National Security Strategy of the United States.” The document outlines a radical new doctrine in American foreign policy: one of so-called “pre-emptive warfare.” The Bush administration used this policy as a justification for the invasion of Iraq.

"The War On Terror Is Bogus" - 9/11 Special Documentary Video

My thanks to Tom Feeley at Information Clearing House for sending me this link.

9/11 Special Documentary

"The War On Terror Is Bogus"

“Was 9/11 more than just an attack? Could the Bush administration have had anything to gain from the attack? Two prominent European politicians, Michael Meacher and Andreas von Bülow, express their serious doubts about the official version of the 9/11 story.”

Watch it online. Real video

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harper, Bush Share Roots in Controversial Philosophy

Linked by Leo Strauss

I came across this very interesting article in the (But took too long to post about it, as evidenced by some activity on the Blogs.) Whether or not you agree with Donald Gutstein's connecting of the dots, he wrote a compelling piece which is sparking some blogger debate. Hopefully the Libs and NDP remember to mention it as well. Should be interesting to hear Harper's explanation..

" Close advisors schooled in 'the noble lie' and 'regime change'.
By Donald Gutstein
Published: November 29, 2005
What do close advisors to Stephen Harper and George W. Bush have in common? They reflect the disturbing teachings of Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish émigré who spawned the neoconservative movement.

Strauss, who died in 1973, believed in the inherent inequality of humanity. Most people, he famously taught, are too stupid to make informed decisions about their political affairs. Elite philosophers must decide on affairs of state for us.

In Washington, Straussians exert powerful influence from within the inner circle of the White House. In Canada, they roost, for now, in the so-called Calgary School, guiding Harper in framing his election strategies. What preoccupies Straussians in both places is the question of "regime change."

Strauss defined a regime as a set of governing ideas, institutions and traditions. The neoconservatives in the Bush administration, who secretly conspired to make the invasion of Iraq a certainty, had a precise plan for regime change. They weren't out to merely replace Saddam with an American puppet. They planned to make the system more like the U.S., with an electoral process that can be manipulated by the elites, corporate control over the levers of power and socially conservative values.

Usually regime change is imposed on a country from outside through violent means, such as invasion. On occasion, it occurs within a country through civil war. After the American Civil War, a new regime was imposed on the Deep South by the North, although the old regime was never entirely replaced.

Is regime change possible through the electoral process? It's happening in the U.S., where the neocons are succeeding in transforming the American state from a liberal democracy into a corporatist, theocratic regime. As Canada readies for a federal election, the question must be asked: Are we next?

Click here to read more of this article

Iraq Dispatches: U.S. Helps Some Iran-Backed Terror

Yesterday I watched George Bush say in his televised speech that, "..rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator takes a long time.. progress is being made...." Tonight on PBS' Newshour, when anchor Jim Lehrner asked Donald Rumsfeld some pointed, blunt, explicit questions, Rumsfeld's 'stock answer' was the same as Bush's: "much progress has been made". He also asked, quite incredulously, "why doesn't the media report all the good things being done, all that has been accomplished?", and more similar questions, then chastised the media for its "one-sided, negative" reporting of events in Iraq. He said that "e-mails sent by soldiers back home to their families [about events in Iraq] are far different, more positive, than what the media portray..."

Jim Lehrner was clearly unimpressed and somewhat perturbed by Rumsfeld's slick, glib answers delivered in an often patronizing and arrogant tone. Yesterday's Bush speech and tonight's Rumsfeld interview clearly indicate that the Bush administration lives in a fantasy world. Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches -- straight from Iraq, as recounted by the people who actually live there and are not embeds or personnel staying in the relative safety of the fortified Green Zone -- tell a chilling, horrible 'reality' that completely differs from the Bush Administration's phantasmagoric version.

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **

" U.S. Helps Some Iran-Backed Terror

Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Harb al-Mukhtar

*BAGHDAD, Dec 8 (IPS) - After the U.S. forces and the bombings, Iraqis are coming to fear those bands of men in masks who seem to operate with the Iraqi police.*

Omar Ahmed's family learnt what it can mean to run into the police, their supposed protectors.

Omar was driving with two friends in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad at night Sep. 1 when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.

"The three of them were arrested by the police even though there was nothing in the car," an eyewitness told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

They did not return home for days, and the family began to search the morgues, common practice now when someone is arrested by the Iraqi police and does not return.

"Five days after they were arrested we found Omar's body in the freezer in a morgue, with holes in the side of his head and shoulders," a friend of the family told IPS.

"We don't know if the other two men are dead or alive," he said. "But we know these men were guilty of nothing other than driving their car at night. We have no security and the problem is that police are killing and disappearing the Iraqi people every day now."

The 'death squads' as they have come to be called are getting more active with just a week to go before the Dec. 15 election.

On Tuesday this week Iraqi police said they found 20 bodies dumped at two different locations in western Iraq, according to the al-Sharqiyah television network.

Eleven bodies of men wearing civilian clothes were found dumped on the main road between Baghdad and the Jordanian border. The bodies were found near al-Rutbah city, with their hands tied behind their backs.

Police said that nine bodies, also of civilians, and riddled with bullets, were found on the side of a road near Fallujah on Monday.

Signs are emerging that such killing is the work of death squads backed by Iran-backed Shia forces that dominate the government, and therefore the police.

Abdullah Omar, a 39-year-old unemployed engineer who now sells petrol and cigarettes on the black market says he survived one such Shia squad.

"I was sleeping on the roof of my house one night because it was so hot and we had no electricity as usual," Omar told IPS. "I was awakened by a loud explosion nearby, and immediately surrounded by strange men wearing night-vision goggles."

Omar says he was thrown to the ground by the men, handcuffed and blindfolded. "They started to beat me using the end of their guns," he said. "Then they searched my house, took my gun which I told them I had, then they took me away."

His 32-year-old wife Sumia, a teacher, was also handcuffed and taken away.

Omar says he saw about ten pick-up trucks carrying at least 100 men wearing black masks before a bag was placed over his head. He was taken to the back of a truck, and beaten up until he fainted.

Sumia was beaten up too. "I received so many kicks to my stomach," she told IPS. "I heard Abdullah screaming in pain, so I fought until they handcuffed me and beat me until I couldn't do anything else."

The two were taken to the Iraqi police station in Suleakh, Baghdad, where they were interrogated and accused of owning a mortar.

"I explained to them that I don't know anything about mortars," said Omar. "And that I have never had anything to do with the resistance, but they said so many insulting words to me, and beat me further."

Sumia, who was also interrogated, pleaded with the policemen to let them return home to care for their young children. "They would not give me a headscarf to cover my head," she told IPS. "They kept asking me about mortars and wouldn't let me go to look after my children. We know nothing about any mortars.."

Omar said the next morning he was moved into another room where he saw men lying handcuffed, with their heads covered with sacks. "They were lying on the ground without a blanket or pillow."

In a while, he said he saw 14 men wearing black masks enter the room carrying whips. "I watched them beat the prisoners. They told them this was their breakfast."

Abdullah and Sumia were later taken home, and warned that if security forces were attacked in their neighbourhood, they would be detained again.

Omar said the men who detained him and his wife were members of the Shia Badr Army, a militia affiliated with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Tensions in Baghdad run high, as people who live in areas not controlled by the Badr Army face daily threats of being kidnapped or killed by members of the militia.

"The Badr Army is conducting a campaign to destroy other political parties and their electoral advertisements," said Saleh Hassir, a doctor at a Baghdad medical centre. "We see black paint and tears on ex-prime minister Allawi's posters and those of the Sunni groups, but pictures of al-Hakim remain unaffected."

The doctor says the Americans have helped bring in new Iran-backed terror.

"So many of us are against Iraq being controlled by these fundamental Islamic Iranian loyalists like al-Hakim," the doctor told IPS. "Now we are seeing the suffering and ultimate dictatorship they have brought us here with the help of the Americans."

(Isam Rashid contributed to this article)

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at

Note: All of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches are republished here with the kind, explicit permission of the author.

Tomgram: "Gone Fishing," How the President Got a Life

Shark-bit World
By Tom Engelhardt

The "usually disengaged" President, as columnist Maureen Dowd labeled him, had just returned from a prolonged, brush-cutting Crawford vacation to much criticism and a nation in trouble. (One Republican congressman complained that "it was hard for Mr. Bush to get his message out if the White House lectern had a ‘Gone Fishing' sign on it.") Democrats were on the attack. Journalistic coverage seemed to grow ever bolder. Bush's poll figures were dropping. A dozen prominent Republicans, fearful of a President out of touch with the national mood, gathered for a private dinner with Karl Rove to "offer an unvarnished critique of Mr. Bush's style and strategy." Next year's congressional elections suddenly seemed up for grabs. The President's aides were desperately scrambling to reposition him as a more "commanding" figure, while, according to the polls, a majority of Americans felt the country was headed in the wrong direction. At the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld had "cratered"; in the Middle East "violence was rising."

An editorial in the New York Times caught the moment this way in its opening sentence: "A simple truth of human existence is that it is vastly easier to amplify fear than it is to assuage it." Now, there was a post-9/11 truth -- except that the editorial was headlined "The Statistical Shark" and its next sentence wasn't about planes smashing into buildings or the way the Bush administration had since wielded the fear card, but another hot-button issue entirely. It went: "Consider the shark attacks that have occurred in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina this summer."

This was, in fact, September 6, 2001, the waning days of a man-bites-dog summer in which headlines had been dominated by the deaths of David Peltier, a 10 year-old boy in Florida, and Sergei Zloukaev, a 27-year-old in North Carolina in fatal shark attacks. Just the day before, in fact, the Times had carried a piece by William J. Broad reassuring readers that scientists did not believe the world was facing a shark "rampage." "If anything," Broad concluded, "the recent global trend in shark attacks is down."

It was just past Labor Day. Congress was barely back in session. Heywood Hale Broun, the sportswriter, would die at 83 that relatively quiet week, while Mexican President Vicente Fox swept triumphantly into Washington and a new book, featured on Newsweek's cover, would carry the title, The Accidental President. The Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure section was promoting "the new season" in entertainment, while that night a highly publicized 10-part mini-series was premiering on HBO -- Band of Brothers, a Tom Hanks/Steven Speilberg production that followed a platoon of Greatest-Generation soldiers deep into Germany. If World War II nostalgia was on the tube, war elsewhere in the American world was also largely on screen. On September 7, Times journalist Thom Shanker reported on a classified war game, a computer-generated simulation played out by "the nation's senior commanders" which determined that the U.S. military could "decisively defeat one potential adversary, North Korea, while repelling an attack from Iraq" -- even if "terrorists [attacked] New York City with chemical weapons."

All in all, that week before September 11th was a modestly uneventful one. An afternoon spent revisiting the New York Times' version of it, via a library microfiche machine, making my way through that paper, day by day, section by section, plunged me into a nearly forgotten world in which the Democrats still controlled the Senate by a single vote and key Republican senators -- it was Texan Phil Gramm's turn to announce his retirement that week -- were going down like bowling pins. (Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond had preceded Gramm "adding a new element of uncertainty to the 2002 race.") The President had been met by exceedingly gloomy economic news as the unemployment rate jumped that Saturday to 4.9% -- another 100,000 jobs lost -- a full point above election day, ten months earlier; and Wall Street responded with a sell-off that dropped the Dow Jones to 9,600. Republicans were "panicked," the administration adrift, and we wouldn't see the likes of it again for four years.

Eerie Resonances

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Climate Change Conference: U.S. Refuses to Agree to a Deal to Tackle Global Warming

Environmental activists have called for action on global warming

Corporations put the politicians into power, hence it is the corporate agenda that is advanced while environmental issues go on the back burner. No real thought is given to the future of our children and grandchildren, even though hard, scientific evidence warns about the warming of our planet. Scientists predict that in just a mere decade, we will have reached the point of irreversible damage to our environment.

We've seen record-setting weather patterns world-wide, not to mention the U.S. hurricane season which was the worst ever recorded, causing devastation from which the South still has not recovered -- and most likely won't for a very long time. New Orleans will never be the same. (40% of that city is still without electricity three months after Katrina, and gun sales are soaring as worried residents seek to protect themselves from the criminals roaming the city's dark streets.) Our polar icecaps are melting fast, warming the oceans. The effect of this will be more extreme weather, loss of fisheries, receding coastlines, loss of the way of life for many people -- the Inuit are a prime example -- and calamities heretofore unseen.

Apart from the Nordic countries of Europe, the others are not doing much more than paying 'lip service' to this dire situation. Politicians make empty election promises, only to glibly forget about them after being elected. Climatologists and environmental activists are fighting an uphill battle to show the world the urgent need to seriously address the issue of global warming in a concerted, global effort.

The U.S. did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and now it is resisting targets proposed at the conference.

This article from the BBC
UN climate talks enter key phase

Environment ministers from around the world are trying to break a deadlock over climate change policy, at a major UN conference in Montreal. Ministers want to agree a deal to tackle global warming that includes the US and developing nations.

Some countries are refusing to limit their greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

"There is an urgent need to send a signal to the world about the future," conference chairman Stephane Dion said.

The US is not a Kyoto signatory. It says it is serious on climate change, but is still resisting targets and is instead pursuing a policy of voluntary reductions through use of new technology.

Along with many developing nations, it fears its implementation of the Kyoto Protocol could harm development and economic growth. "

'Urgent action'
Read rest of article here

More on the consequences of global warming from the CBC:
2005 - A year of record climate extremes

CBC News Online | Dec. 6, 2005

Anyone who works in the business of monitoring, forecasting or reporting weather already knows that 2005 was a busy year indeed. But climate change scientists say they've got the stats to show that, when it comes to wild weather, 2005 is now the year to beat.

The World Wildlife Fund has labelled 2005 as a year for the climate-change record books. Scientists are alarmed by the long-term implications of such extremes – for farming, for fishing, for wildlife, and of course, for the six billion humans who live on the planet.

Hurricane forecasters point out that hurricanes tend to run in natural cycles of severity that tend to repeat every few decades or so – and we're in one of those stormy cycles now. But that alone may not explain why 2005 was such a record hurricane season … or why we saw so many other climate records...." Read rest of this article here

Rice Deal to Give US Bases in Romania

Rice met Romanian president Traian Basescu in Bucharest

Whoever says the U.S. does not have imperialistic intentions better think again. First come the bases in Romania, then where? (Poland already has several, which has the EU reconsidering their entry to the union.) Every country in the former Soviet bloc? We already know they have several in the Middle East. "...We do not plan a permanent presence of substantial combat forces," the[US State Department]official added." -- Yeah, right. And birds don't fly, and there really is a Santa Claus!

Read this article from
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
" US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has signed a deal with Romania allowing the United States to set up military bases in the country, the first such facilities in the former Soviet bloc.

Rice, in Bucharest on the second leg of a four-nation European tour, signed the deal on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Razvan Ungureanu at a public ceremony in the Romanian capital.

"This agreement brings Romania into the mainstream of global security," the country's President Traian Basescu said at a news conference alongside Rice. " ...Read rest of story here

Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein

From Nation Books 'The independent publishing alternative'

by Scott Ritter, with a foreword by Seymour Hersh
October 2005 - ISBN 1560258527
[buy it now online]

" Scott Ritter and his team were determined to find out the truth about Iraq's WMD. The CIA was equally determined to stop them. The truth, as we now know, is that Iraq actually had no WMD. But this information would have derailed America's drive for regime change.

Iraq Confidential conveys the disillusionment of a patriot who came to realize that his own government sought to undermine effective arms control in the Middle East. Ritter shows us a world of deceit and betrayal, in which nothing is as it seems. A host of characters from Mossad, M16 and the CIA pepper this powerful narrative, which contains revelations that will have an enduring impact on the ongoing debates about Iraq.

Scott Ritter was one of the UN's top weapons inspectors in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. Before working for the UN he served as an officer in the US Marines and as a ballistic missile adviser to General Schwarzkopf in the first Gulf War.

For more information and an exclusive picture gallery of weapons inspections, please go to"

What Happened to Iraq's WMD:How politics corrupts intelligence
by Scott Ritter

Sunday, December 4, 2005

" The recent exchange of vitriol between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and more specifically the disconnect between the intelligence data cited by the Bush administration as justification for invading Iraq and the resultant conclusion by the CIA that all Iraqi WMD had already been eliminated as early as 1991, has once again thrust the issue of the use of intelligence for political purposes front and center.

Democrats accuse the president and his supporters of deliberately misleading them and the American people about the nature of the Iraqi threat. Republicans respond that the Democrats are rewriting history, that all parties involved had access to the same intelligence data and had drawn the same conclusions. Typical of the Republican-led rebuttal are statements made by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who noted that "every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russian, French, including the Israeli, all had reached the same conclusion, and that was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." ....Read rest of this article from theSan Francisco Chronicle (

**Thanks, Lefty 100, for bringing this to my attention! -- Annamarie

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Canada's Election 2006 -- A Few of my Thoughts ...

Although the MSM pundits yesterday gave week two of the campaign to Stephen Harper, I would be more prudent in my humble appraisal. I think the Liberals and Conservatives are running fairly head-to-head with their proposed -- although different -- approaches to child care, which is a hot issue with younger voters who have small children and also with child care workers.

While Harper's proposal sounds better on the surface, I have some problems with it being a fixed $1,200 per year for each child up to the age of six ($100./month). My problem is that this is a 'blanket amount', regardless of the economic circumstances of the parents (or parent). In my opinion, those who are in the higher income brackets should be exempt. They do not need this paltry sum. Instead, those who really need it should get more, as $100./month is very little toward child care costs, although admittedly, it does help.

Martin's proposal to fund and build more day care centres makes sense also, although from what I've been hearing, people are quite cynical about "more broken promises for childcare assistance from the Liberals." More day care centres have been promised in the past, but have largely remained merely "promises".

However, not being a parent of a small child, neither proposal affects me directly, except in the pocketbook, as a taxpayer.

Jack Layton stayed away from this issue for the time being, focusing instead on the softwood lumber dispute and the environment, coming up with some good proposals to cut green-house gases. (Apart from the 'fisheries', Harper did not mention the environment, that I'd heard of anyway.)

Martin also got into the environmental act, as apparent from this CBC story:

The extreme weather in Newfoundland and Labrador should be taken as an
opportunity to study the impact of global warming on climate and
fisheries, Liberal Leader Paul Martin said on Monday."

Read more about CBC's Canda Votes: 2006 here.

Meanwhile, in my house mailbox I've received two cards in the last two days from Harper's campaign, showing his volunteers have been very diligently going mailbox-to-mailbox in the bone-chilling cold we've been having.

The motto on both cards is: "Stand up for the Trades -- Stand Up For Canada. Let's Build Canada through the Trades". Then, Harper quotes, "It's time to stand up for the trades and build a stronger Canada." He also promises to provide an "Apprentice Incentive Grant", an "Apprentice Job Creation Tax Credit" for businesses, and a "Tools Tax Deduction".

I must admit Harper's team is doing an admirable job thus far, even venturing into the skilled trades realm, not usually a Conservative stronghold. Also, I commend his tireless campaign workers. I may not agree with the Conservative Party on most of their principles, but a good job is a good job, regardless of who is doing it.

As an added note: I strongly believe that with 6% (so far) showing in the latest polls, the Green Party's Jim Harris should be allowed to partake in the debates. Not allowing him is unfair and shows a crack in the structure of our democratic, 'fair' system. Perhaps Harris and Layton should join forces? .... Just a thought :-)

Tomgram: Brecher and Smith on the Imperial Presidency

Typically, when faced with a problem, the first thing Bush administration officials do is reach for their dictionaries to pretzel and torture words into whatever shape best suits them. Then they declare themselves simply to be following precedent (which turns out, of course, to be whatever they've wanted to do all along). In this way, in the famous torture memos that flowed from the White House Counsel's office, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon, the meaning of "torture" was at one point in 2002 redefined into near nonexistence ("must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death") and then made dependent on the mind and intent of the torturer. As a result, "torture" became, by definition, a policy we didn't engage in even as we waterboarded suspects in our global network of CIA-run (or borrowed) secret prisons. In a similar fashion, this administration has managed to redefine aggressive war, kidnapping, the President's powers to detain both citizens and non-citizens, assassination, the meaning of various international agreements and American laws, and the Constitution itself. Then, definitions in hand, administration officials have marched defiantly into the world, armed to the teeth, and done exactly what they pleased.

Just this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headed for a Europe whose various publics (and media) are up in arms over CIA behavior -- the use of airports, military bases, and former compounds or prisons of the old Soviet Gulag to facilitate illegal detentions, kidnappings (called "extraordinary renditions"), and the torture and abuse of various terror suspects. Some of these suspects have been held for long periods and abused in numerous ways, only to be found innocent of any criminal acts whatsoever. This has, it seems, become common enough to gain a name of its own among CIA cognoscenti -- "erroneous renditions." Such high-handed actions, undertaken in a spirit of impunity, are today making their way to various European courts and bodies of inquiry.

Our Secretary of State, on the eve of her departure, finally offered an administration response to this and, for instance, to the recent revelation that the CIA had sent 437 flights (assumedly on various rendition tasks) through German airspace since 2001 -- some certainly carrying captured or kidnapped "ghost detainees" to secret prisons elsewhere on Earth. She essentially said: "Trust us…"; offered implicit threats to release information on what European officials may have known about our illegal activities to their angry publics ("It is up to those governments and their citizens to decide if they wish to work with us to prevent terrorist attacks against their own country or other countries, and decide how much sensitive information they can make public. They have a sovereign right to make that choice."); and emphasized that this administration always acts within the law and, as our President insists, simply does not torture -- even while our Vice President and other top officials lobby vigorously against Senator John McCain's anti-torture amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill reiterating that it is the law of the land not to offer those in our custody "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."

In a classic case of we're-innocent-and-anyway-they-did-it, Rice on departure admitted to the use of "rendition" and then painted it as a time-tested technique of practically all governments on the planet. "Torture," she added, "is a term that is defined by law. We rely on our law to govern our operations. The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances… The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture. The United States does not use the airspace or the airports of any country for the purpose of transporting a detainee to a country where he or she will be tortured." These are, of course, outright lies -- except according to the Bush administration definitions of such things -- and typical of the behavior of its officials.

In fact, those officials seem to carry handy-dandy dictionaries in their heads -- and so regularly redefine reality on the run to suit their immediate needs. How about, to take a recent lighthearted example, our Secretary of Defense Donald ("I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?") Rumsfeld, who is a walking redefinition of just about anything. According to his own account, he had a revelation worthy of the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary over Thanksgiving weekend and sent a memo around the Pentagon suggesting the eradication of the Iraqi "insurgency" by wiping out the I-word itself. Urging journalists to "consult their dictionaries," the SecDef told them: "Over the weekend, I thought to myself, 'You know, that [term "insurgent"] gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit… It was an epiphany." Instead of the label "insurgents," he suggested, why not use "enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government" or ELIG?

Behind such verbal shenanigans, as Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith make clear below, lies a deeply serious attempt to pull our government fully into the shadows, to make it a black hole into which vast amounts of information and power of every sort will flow, and out of which nothing is to come but Bush definitions of reality. This is chilling indeed. Brecher and Smith (along with co-editor Jill Cutler) have produced an indispensable paperback, In the Name of Democracy, American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond, which collects a chilling set of documents from the frontlines of administration illegality and offers striking essays about the lengths to which this administration has been willing to go and the degree to which we are living under a criminal regime. Tom

War Crimes Made Easy
How the Bush Administration Legalized Intelligence Deceptions, Assassinations, and Aggressive War

By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Baghdad: Life During Wartime / Selling Sex in Siam / More News from Toward Freedom

This is the latest newsletter from Toward Freedom, featuring these important articles:

Fund Drive, Baghdad: Life During Wartime, Selling Sex in Siam, 9-11 Truth Interview, Good Night and Good Luck Review

Please support this important independent media!

" Dear Toward Freedom Readers,

Thanks to everyone who has made a donation to Toward Freedom so far.
At this point we’ve raised $2,025.

We could reach $13,000 if everyone reading this email newsletter donated just $20 (that’s not even the price of a full tank of gas in many US states!).

If you haven’t made a donation yet and would like to, please visit:

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and more!

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Thanks in advance for your support,
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TF Editor

New this week from

Baghdad: Life During Wartime: by Brian Conley
Two and a half years into the occupation, war still rages on in Baghdad, Iraq.
Two of the deadliest attacks in the last month occurred at the Palestine Hotel
and the Hamra Hotel. Although Westerners frequent these hotels, the casualties
were almost exclusively Iraqis living and working in the area. Yet just a few hours
after the attacks, citizens were back on the streets, as if nothing had happened.

Selling Sex in Siam: by Elayne Clift
Even paradise has its seedy side, a fact that comes through clearly in Louise
Brown’s important book, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (Virago, 2000). Examining the region’s sex trade and shedding light on its abuses and exploitations, Brown’s book is a wake-up call and a condemnation. But mostly it
is a chronicle of commodification, filled with very sad stories about the lives of
innocent girls and women forced to sell their bodies as if they were just so much meat.

The Revolution May Never Be Televised: by Rob Williams
"I am entirely persuaded that the American public is more reasonable, restrained
and more mature than most of our industry's program planners believe."
- Edward R. Murrow, 1958

To say that George Clooney’s new film "Good Night and Good Luck" is one of the most important films of this year is to be guilty of significant understatement.
Not since Michael Mann’s 1999 thriller "The Insider" has a Hollywood film director made a media-focused mainstream movie this important or timely.

An Interview with 9/11 Truth Activist Carol Brouillet: by Bob Feldman
A co-founder of both the International Media Project, Making Contact alternative
media group and the Northern California 9-11 Truth Alliance, Carol Brouillet is
one of the most energetic, creative and politically productive West Coast-based
anti-war activists.

Toward Freedom: Since October 2001, you've been organizing weekly
"Listening For Peace" anti-war protests in Downtown Palo Alto, California. In what various ways have people in Palo Alto responded to your weekly "Listening For Peace" actions during the last four years?

From Between the Lines Radio: In Growing Numbers, Public Opposes Iraq War, While Most Congressional Democrats Play It "Safe"; Cuban American
Associates of Convicted Terrorist Luis Posada-Carriles Arrested in Florida;
Poor New Orleans Residents Struggle to Have Their Say on City's Reconstruction; Underreported News Summary from Around the World
Listen here

Also check out this week's Global Notebook news briefs at

Thanks for reading. Please forward these articles widely. "

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Ten Ways to Argue about the War

**This is a 'must-read' for all those who still support the war and occupation of Iraq! -- Annamarie

What a couple of weeks in Iraq (and at home): Withdrawal was suddenly on everyone's lips, while tragedy and absurdity were piling up like some vast, serial car wreck of event and emotion. Before a massed audience of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, our President announced a new war goal beyond finding weapons of mass destruction, bringing freedom to Iraqis, or liberating the whole of the Middle East; something more modest this time -- "complete victory" -- over whomever. In the meantime, ten Marines died in a trap near Fallujah. Remember Fallujah? The city we literally destroyed in order to save it and then didn't quite get around to rebuilding as the Sunni Triangle's first safe haven from insurgency and terrorism? Now, it's a danger zone again and still significantly in rubble. In these same weeks, the use of white phosphorus, a fierce burning agent, back in November 2004 to force rebels in Fallujah out of their defenses suddenly became a global news story and a scandal (though its use was actually known at the time); the Europeans began demanding explanations from the Bush administration for the kidnapping, transport, and secret imprisonment of suspected terrorists on their territory; a torture chamber/detention center run by the Interior Ministry but connected to the militia of the leading Shiite religious party in the Iraqi government was uncovered by American troops; it was evidently part of a long known-about "ghost network" of such centers linked to government and party-sponsored (and possibly U.S. backed or trained) death squads intent on intimidating or cleansing the Sunni neighborhoods of Iraq's cities. Ever more American war planes were reportedly taking to Iraqi skies and more American bombs falling on Iraq's towns and cities. Saddam reappeared in court, his hair dyed black, complaining and carrying a Koran like the good religious man he surely isn't; and it was revealed that, in the process of bringing freedom to Iraqis, a Pentagon-hired "business intelligence" firm had done its darnedest to turn a burgeoning Iraqi free press into a paid-for press. This was done in the struggle to conquer what is known in the trade as Iraq's "information battlespace." Not only that, but the story took us a full, ridiculous spin of the dial back to the earliest moments of our conquest of Iraq. At that time, administration officials arrived in Baghdad so filled with hubris that it didn't occur to them to bring along anyone who knew anything about Iraq, no less actual translators. In the case of our newspaper caper, clearly a psyops-for-dummies operation, some of the paid-for stories were written by American servicemen and then translated into Arabic. These must have been truly convincing accounts! (Imagine the opposite: Iraqi soldiers in camps in the U.S. hired to write articles translated into English to help win the war for American "information battlespace.") And believe me, that's only a bit of the week or two that was.

The President spoke of "progress" in Iraq, but who could possibly believe him at this point? A majority of Americans clearly no longer do, but a minority -- about 36% according to the polls -- seem to be hanging in there, though perhaps with difficulty, like worried Republican Congressman from Georgia, Phil Gingrey. While fretting about re-election, he was nonetheless quoted in the Washington Post, saying, "The light is there at the end of the tunnel. People need to see it." Again, you don't know whether to laugh or cry. In what follows, Michael Schwartz takes the arguments that remain for war supporters and that still can confound antiwar people and answers them one by one. Tom

Arguing about the War
The Top Ten Reasons for Staying in (Leaving) Iraq

By Michael Schwartz

I often receive emails -- pro and con -- about my postings on the war in Iraq, and I try to respond to any substantive questions or critiques offered. But when I received an email recently entitled "10 Questions" in response to a Tomdispatch commentary detailing the arguments for immediate withdrawal, I must admit my heart sank -- the questions were familiar, but the answers were complex and I was in no mood to spend the time needed to respond properly.

After a couple of days, however, I began to warm to the idea of writing short but pointed responses to these common criticisms of antiwar positions because, I realized, they are the bread and butter of daily Iraq discourse in our country. When the war comes up in the media or in casual conversation, these are the issues that are raised by those who think we have to "stay the course" -- and among those who oppose the war, these are the lurking, unspoken questions that haunt our discussions. So here are my best brief answers to these key issues in the crucial, ongoing debate over Iraq.

"I read your article on withdrawal of American troops," my correspondent began, "and questioned the lack of discussion of the following…" (His comments are in bold.)

1. Nothing was mentioned about improvements in Iraq (elections, water and energy, schools). No Saddam to fear! Water and energy delivery as well as schools are worse off than before the U.S. invasion. Ditto for the state of hospitals (and medical supplies), highways, and oil production. Elections are a positive change, but the elected government does not have more than a semblance of actual sovereignty, and therefore the Iraqi people have no power to make real choices about their future. One critical example: The Shiite/Kurdish political coalition now in power ran on a platform whose primary promise was that, if elected, they would set and enforce a timetable for American withdrawal. As soon as they took power, they reneged on this promise (apparently under pressure from the US). They have also proved quite incapable of fulfilling their other campaign promises about restoring services and rebuilding the country; and for that reason (as well as others), their constituents (primarily the Shia) are becoming ever more disillusioned. In the most recent polls, Shia Iraqis now are about 70% in favor of U.S. withdrawal.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

URGENT APPEAL: Add Your Name to this Petition to Free the Four CPT in Iraq!

An Urgent Appeal from Act Now, The Nation's activist weblog. (Click here to add your name.)

Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken this past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not spies, nor do they work in the service of any government. They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith, but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to self-determination.

CPT first came to Iraq in October 2002 to oppose the US invasion, and it has remained in the country throughout the occupation in solidarity with the Iraqi people. The group has been invaluable in alerting the world to many of the horrors facing Iraqis detained in US-run prisons and detention centers.

CPT was among the first to document the torture occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison, long before the story broke in the mainstream press. Its members have spent countless hours interviewing Iraqis about abuse and torture suffered at the hands of US forces and have disseminated this information internationally.

Each of the four CPT members being held in Iraq has dedicated his life to resisting the darkness and misery of war and occupation. Convinced that it is not enough to oppose the war from the safety of their homes, they made the difficult decision to go to Iraq, knowing that the climate of mistrust created by foreign occupation meant that they could be mistaken for spies or missionaries. They went there with a simple purpose: to bear witness to injustice and to embody a different kind of relationship between cultures and faiths. Members of CPT willingly undertook the risks of living among Iraqis, in a common neighborhood outside of the infamous Green Zone.

They sought no protection from weapons or armed guards, trusting in, and benefiting from, the goodwill of the Iraqi people. Acts of kindness and hospitality from Iraqis were innumerable and ensured the CPT members' safety and wellbeing. We believe that spirit will prevail in the current situation.

We appeal to those holding these activists to release them unharmed so that they may continue their vital work as witnesses and peacemakers.

[Click here and scroll down to see the full list of initial signers.]

For more of the Nation's Act Now campaigns, click here and look under the heading "TAKE ACTION".

American Deserter Condemns War in Iraq / CIA Aircraft Linked to Newfoundland / More HPN News

The following are important articles excerpted from the Halton Peace Network Newsletter #20, December 3, 2005:

Patrick Hart

American deserter condemns war in Iraq
American soldier Patrick Hart is seeking refugee status in Canada. After more than nine years in the United States Armed Forces, including time served in Bosnia and Kuwait, the 31-year-old left. "I don't have a problem with war, but I do with an illegal one that rapes a country of its resources. I just didn't want to be a part of the scandal,"

Between 1965 and 1973 more than 50,000 Americans made their way to Canada also refusing to participate in the Vietnam War.

Lee Zaslofsky, the co-ordinator of War Resisters Support Campaign, was among them. He came to Canada in 1970. Now, his local collective of grassroots organizations provides practical resources such as food, money, shelter and clothing to refugees such as Hart; and campaigns through petitions and public presentations for government change.

Draft dodgers were supported by prime minister of the time, Pierre Trudeau, who said, "Those who make a conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism."
Zaslofsky wants a return to that type of federal policy. The War Resisters petition asks the Canadian government to allow U.S. war objectors to find sanctuary here. About 23,000 signatures have been gathered and are in the hands of British Columbia MP Bill Siksay (who is the NDP's citizenship and immigration critic.
"This is the most practical way for Canadians to resist the war," said Lee.
The Oakville Beaver

For information about the war resisters support campaign see:

War Needs An Enemy

“Patriotism may indeed be, as Dr. Johnson said, “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” but it’s also the tyrant’s first resort. People afraid of outsiders are easily manipulated. The warrior caste, supposedly society’s protectors, often become protection racketeers. In times of war or crisis, power is easily stolen from the many by the few on a promise of security. The more elusive or imaginary the foe, the better for manufacturing consent. The Inquisition did a roaring trade against the Devil. And the twentieth century’s struggle between capitalism and communism had all the hallmarks of the old religious wars. Was defending either system really worth the risk of blowing up the world?

Now we are losing hard-won freedoms on the pretext of a worldwide “war on terror,” as if terrorism were something new. … The Muslim fanatic is proving a worthy replacement for the heretic, the anarchist, and especially the Red Menace so helpful to military budgets throughout the Cold War.”

Excerpt from A Short History of Progress
by Ronald Wright, House of Anansi Press, 2004.

What did he say? (Some more Bush malapropisms):

“ I think we agree, the past is over.”

“ There’s no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead.”

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as I’m the dictator...”

“September the 4th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I will never forget.”

“We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire.”

“…a free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of freedom.”

“We’re making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end.”

“In a changing world, we want more people to have control over your own life.”

“ Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

“ I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.”

“People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.”

“ I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.” --- George W. Bush

CIA aircraft linked to Newfoundland
© London Free Press

Sun, November 20, 2005

The private aircraft's flight raises new questions about Canada's role in the fight against terrorism.


OTTAWA -- Records show a privately owned airplane that has been linked to an alleged CIA front flew from Newfoundland to the United States on Friday, raising new questions about Canada's role in the fight against terrorism.

Flight data obtained by CP reveals the 40-seat turboprop plane travelled from St. John's, Nfld., to New Hampshire and finally on to its home base in North Carolina.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has come under scrutiny in recent months over its apparent use of civilian aircraft to ferry terrorism suspects around the globe.

A spokesperson for Nav Canada, which operates Canada's civil air navigation service, refused to confirm whether the plane landed in St. John's. He told La Presse information about private flights was confidential.

The flight data records obtained yesterday by CP indicate the N196D turboprop left St. John's on Friday for Manchester, N.H., then carried on to Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, N.C.

The airport has been identified as an alleged hub for covert American air operations.

Planes linked to alleged CIA fronts landed at Canadian airports
November 21, 2005
OTTAWA --At least six airplanes linked to alleged CIA front companies have landed at Canadian airports in the last six months, records show.

Flight data obtained Monday by The Canadian Press indicate the airports, including three in Newfoundland, have been used as stopover points for the aircraft on several occasions.
The latest information surfaced as the Bloc Quebecois called on the government to press the United States for answers about the possible presence of foreign intelligence agents.

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said she had "no reports or information regarding the allegations" that arose on the weekend. She added there was no "information nor any reason to believe that such an aircraft was involved" in transporting terrorist suspects.
From: The Boston Globe

Police stop truck carrying missile launchers on Toronto-area highway
The shipment of army vehicles was scheduled to arrive Thursday in Montreal. But after being reported stolen, it was instead pulled over travelling westbound -the opposite direction of its destination - on a major Ontario highway.

New resource on migrants; new web page on refugees and detention

is pleased to present God’s people: A People on the Move. This ten-part fact sheet series addresses hot current topics related to globalization and migration. Highlights include Refugee Rights/Migrant Rights; Canada and Human Displacement; Seasonal Agricultural Workers; Live-in Caregivers; and Living without Status. Each fact sheet includes an easy to read introduction to an issue, a bible study guide, and action ideas. The kit also includes a backgrounder for facilitators and an ecumenical worship outline. Price: $6.00

To order a complete kit, call 1-877-403-8933 X 221 or email: orders@kairoscanada
use our website order form at
Individual fact sheets may be downloaded free of charge from the KAIROS website: see
KAIROS has also added a new section to our website, featuring KAIROS’ work on detention issues:
Here you will find:
• up-to-date analysis on detention issues in Canada
• a detailed submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on detention and other concerns related to the civil and political rights of refugees in Canada
• a World Council of Churches statement on global detention concerns.
To keep up to date on new developments in the work of KAIROS’ Refugee and Migration Program, sign up for the monthly e-bulletin On the Move. Send an email to Tanya Chute Molina, Refugee and Migration Program Coordinator, at:

Security certificates
This fall, the hunger strikes of two security certificate detainees drew new media attention to one of the most problematic aspects of Canadian immigration law. Five Muslim men currently face the threat of deportation to countries where they are at risk of torture – following the issuing of “security certificates” naming them as threats to national security. Under the security certificate process, neither detainees nor their lawyers have access to the details of the allegations brought against them, making it extremely difficult to mount a credible defense.
In September, KAIROS wrote a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin calling for security certificates to be abolished and replaced with a process which conforms to international standards for fair trials. Consider writing your own letter to the Prime Minister. Consult the Amnesty International website for background information and letter writing suggestions

Vienna, 12 May (AKI) - Iraq is emerging as a transit point for drugs originating in Afghanistan and entering Jordan en route to final destinations in Asia and Europe

"Whether it is due to war or [natural] disasters - weakening of border controls and security infrastructure make countries into convenient logistic and transit points, not only for international terrorists and militants but also for drug traffickers." international)

Stressed US troops in Iraq 'turning to drugs'

Two years into the occupation of Iraq the menace of drug abuse appears to be afflicting American troops.

Since the overthrow of Saddam's regime the borders that have been so porous for insurgents have been equally open for heroin and hash smugglers from Afghanistan and Iran providing a cheap market for troops. With colleagues being killed or wounded on a daily basis, some US soldiers have turned to drugs to escape the horrors of fighting insurgents.

IRAQ: Traumatised young Iraqis turn increasingly to hard drugs

Many consumers of heroin and cocaine say they have been traumatised by the increasing cycle of political violence in Iraq as Islamic insurgents step up their fight against the US-led coalition which invaded the country in 2003 to depose former president Saddam Hussein.
And drug pushers told IRIN they had found a lucrative market amongst soldiers in the US-led occupation forces. They report strong demand from Italian troops in particular.
Many of the foreign troops ask their counterparts in the Iraqi security forces to buy on the street for them, they added."

CAW Wants NDP to Hold Balance of Power

Buzz Hargrove in early November

This is an update from the CBC: Canada Votes 2006:

Last Updated Sun, 04 Dec 2005 12:51:49 EST
CBC News
" Delegates from the Canadian Auto Workers union have voted to elect as many NDP members and as few Conservatives as possible.

The union wants the NDP to hold the balance of power in a Liberal minority government, the recommendation passed by the CAW council said.

More than 900 delegates and guests attended the council, the union's "parliament," in Toronto on Saturday.

"The best possible outcome of this federal election is another Liberal minority government, with the NDP holding a balance of power," the recommendation reads. "The worst outcome is a Conservative victory (minority or majority)."

The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to back the NDP if its candidate has a chance of winning, or the Liberal if the NDP candidate does not have a good chance of victory, the union said in a release.

The union will consult with local leaders and activists to prepare a list of endorsed candidates, which will be posted on the CAW website.

In other ridings, "individual voters will need to decide what best contributes to electing a Liberal minority with NDP balance of power, and stopping the Conservatives," the recommendation said. " Read rest of article here

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