Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Message from Tom Feeley

This heartfelt Christmas message comes from Tom Feeley, of Information Clearing House.

A Word From Tom

I care not if you are an American, Iraqi, Israeli, Palestinian or whose flag you live under. I care not that you worship a God, or what his name may be. I care not that you like or dislike me. I care not whose head adorns the money that buys your comfort.

I care that you should be treated with the same dignity and respect I demand for myself and for my family. In fact I demand it!

I demand that the rights of each person regardless of place of birth is respected, not because of their wealth or achievements but for the dignity that is the birthright of all who are born to this earth.

Life demands not that we prosper at the expense of another but that we share our humanity and call a crime a crime, regardless of who the victim is, or who the villain.

Let us not walk in arrogance across the globe speaking of freedom while our hands are stained in centuries of blood.

Let us not preach to the world as victims and use the crushed bodies of the two thousand seven hundred and fifty nine people who perished on 9/11 as a weapon to plunder a world that has long experienced the same devastation at our hands.

Our tears and screams for justice are bitter taunts to a world that has been bombed and bullied by a nation to sure of it's own goodness.

A man that has lived his life without looking at his past and identifying those sections of his character that have brought pain to others is a tyrant. A nation and its people who refuse to acknowledge its crimes and the suffering of its victims is an evil to the world and should expect only evil as its reward.

How poor we are when we consider our own pain more worthy than the suffering of others.

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws." -John Adams

Merry Christmas

Peace and Joy:

Tom Feeley

First posted 12/24/03

Copyright © Information Clearing House. All rights reserved. You may republish under the following conditions: An active link to the original publication must be provided. You must not alter, edit or remove any text within the article, including this copyright notice.

Marketing War, Selling Occupation

The mainstream news behaves as if the American mission in Iraq, as in other parts of the world, is based upon humanitarian principles of good will. They would have us believe that America is not motivated by empire but by just causes.

"The ugly truth is that our soldiers have been betrayed by the worst imaginable kind of people...." writes Charles Sullivan in this compelling article from Information Clearing House.

Please visit this exceptional news and information site if you are an honest seeker of unvarnished truth however brutal and ugly that may be. You will not find such stark honesty anywhere in the corporate, mainstream, neutered media.

Marketing War, Selling Occupation

By Charles Sullivan

12/20/05 "ICH" -- -- " It is always difficult for me to listen to the corporate news because I know and understand that they are deliberately deceiving the American people. In fact, anyone with even a modicum of self respect should only rarely pay them any mind. The corporate media are key players in the game of deceit that convinces people to do horrible things to other people. The mainstream media are a wildly successful propaganda machine for those in power. This media reports truth only when it is convenient to the purposes of empire. Regard everything they tell you with suspicion. Better yet, seek independent alternative sources of news for a more realistic picture of world events. "
Read rest of this article here

Number Of Iraqi Civilians Slaughtered In America's War 100,000 ++

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Slaughtered In America's War 2163

Cost of America's War in Iraq


Largest Collection of Ice Age Era Footprints Found in Australia

In a dry lake bed in New South Wales, archeologists have unearthed the world's largest collection of Ice Age era footprints. They date back from about 20,000 years ago, and offer a touching "prehistoric film" about the lifestyle of Aborigines. This discovery was in the same area where Australia's oldest human remains -- from about 40,000 years ago -- were found.

Ice Age footprints hold outback's clues tell a touching tale

Archaeologists have unearthed the world's largest collection of Ice Age era footprints, dating from about 20,000 years ago, in the bed of a dry lake in the New South Wales outback.
Read rest of this article here

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas Message from Jan Jacobsen of World Peace

I wanted to post something special for the holidays. Then I received this email, and since Jan Jacobsen says it so simply yet eloguently -- and I fully agree with him -- I've decided to post his message here. All I will add is that I wish everyone a peaceful, joyous holiday, whichever one you are celebrating. If you are not celebrating any holiday, then I wish you and yours all the very best. Take care, stay well, stay safe. Let us never stop working together today for a better tomorrow!

Annamarie Deneen


is the state standing without one single weapon

without one single soldier


has the state with no other defence

than the word and a united nonviolent attitude


is the state leader who once and for all

abolishes all use of force and weapons

Oslo - December 17 - 2005

Dear You,

Thank you so much for creating a good world.

I am a parent working for a world without violence.

This is an invitation to you, to put your voice to the global call - for a world without violence - a world in peace. ... in 56 languages ..

Peace on earth is not depended on miracles, but our will of action.

My wish is, that we now ...

- Bring forth the white flag,

- Stop producing and using force and weapons against each other ... simply

- Disarm !

The dream of living peacefully together, is living in everyone of us, because we all have been children once.

Then it is to bring the dream forth, and make it true.

You can put your voice to the call here ...

It is a goal to call upon all the world leaders to disarm at United Nations General Assembly

Very gratifying is it, that individuals from 91 countries, from all continents,

have given their voices to the call ...


Here you find more of some of them ...


Together we succeed ...

Merry Christmas

Peace and Love

Jan Jacobsen





"Internal peace is an essential first step to achieving peace in the world. How do you cultivate it? It's very simple. In the first place by realizing clearly that all mankind is one, that human beings in every country are members of one and the same family." -His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Iraq Dispatches: People Concerned More About Own Lives than Saddam's

Dahr Jamail shares the stories of Iraqi civilians he interviewed while spending 8 months in occupied Iraq as an independent journalist. In this report, through Arkan Hamed he reveals the opinions of some Iraqis about Saddam's trial and their feelings about the deposed dictator. On one thing Iraqis agree is the ardent wish for the U.S. to withdraw their troops from this devastated country.

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

People Concerned More About Own Lives than Saddam's

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*BAGHDAD, Dec 22 (IPS) - Most Iraqis are more concerned with finding jobs, putting food on the table, personal safety and the removal of the occupation forces than the ongoing trial of former dictator Saddam Hussein. *

Hussein, along with seven other officials have been charged with crimes against humanity, as well as being charged in connection with the killing of more than 140 Shia men in the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against the dictator failed.

"Saddam Hussein was a criminal all his life," Abdul Hussein told IPS. "He was a criminal in dealing with Iraqis and started so many wars just to kill Iraqi people."

The unemployed 43-year-old engineer added, "Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died in the Iran war, he [Saddam Hussein] killed 5,000 in Halabja. It's about time to bring him to trial, although we can't assure it will bring peace, but he should be punished. Things here may get better if Iraq stays as one unit and obtains true sovereignty and independence."

Other Iraqis in Baghdad expressed frustration with the violence and instability in their country during the U.S.-led occupation.

"At least under Saddam we didn't have terrorism," said Aziz, a 55-year-old taxi driver who refused to give his last name, "I always hated him, and it's good he is being tried, but this is not going to feed my family or make the Americans leave any sooner."

Other Iraqis, like Momtaz Abdulalah, even expressed support for the deposed dictator.

"Some think he is a murderer, but in my opinion he is a man of power and did his best for the Iraqi people," the former soldier with the Iraqi Army told IPS. "We see the Americans' man Iyad Allawi with shoes thrown on his head recently in Najaf -- this shows what Iraqis think of these new people they want to install to replace Saddam."

Speaking after prayers at his mosque, he added, "It is essential to say that we can accept his trial if it was done with justice, but definitely it is not done with justice and it will therefore bring more chaos than ever to Iraq. We don't think that [the trial] will help Iraq obtain security nor true independence from the Americans."

Questions of legitimacy continue to plague the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, who hopes to use the trial of the former dictator, along with the recent parliamentary elections, as collateral with which to justify the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq.

New challenges arose after Saddam alleged at hearings Wednesday that he had been tortured -- a charge the United States dismissed.

The United Nation's human rights chief in Iraq, John Case, has said that the trial of Saddam Hussein would never meet international standards because of ongoing violence and flaws in the Iraqi legal system.

"The legitimacy of the tribunal needs to be examined," he told reporters while citing the murders of two defence lawyers, and continued threats against judges, lawyers and witnesses. The legitimacy of the trial "has been seriously challenged in many quarters."

The remarks of the UN representative join a chorus of similar statements from human rights and justice groups who continue to express outrage about the illegitimacy of the trial.

When speaking of Syrian troops in Lebanon, Bush said, "All [foreign] military forces and intelligence personnel must withdraw before the elections for those elections to be free and fair."

When making this statement in March of this year, Bush appeared to agree with the idea that elections held in a country under military occupation are illegitimate.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 15, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice accused the international community of shirking its obligation to help prosecute Saddam Hussein by effectively boycotting his trial.

Her statements, made to a conservative think-tank in the United States, refer to a long list of countries which have chosen not to train court personnel, nor provide security or money for the trial because of international dissent over the death penalty.

Nevertheless, many Iraqis continue to express satisfaction about the 68-year- old iron-fisted dictator being tried.

"Saddam Hussein is a leader to Iraqis calling for independence, yet he didn't give independence to the Kurds," Marwan Kaka Ali, a Kurdish man, told IPS. "He was the reason why the Kurds are seeking independence and sovereignty."

But many Iraqis to believe the trial is a charade. Hussein and his half-brother Barazan al-Tikriti have openly taunted, yelled, laughed and spat in the court at judges and witnesses.

Meanwhile, one of the five judges in the trial stepped down earlier this month. The unidentified judge removed himself from the raucous trial after learning that one of the defendants may have been involved in the execution of his brother.

Thus far in the trial, which many groups feel should be moved to a safer venue such as The Hague, one of the defendants' lawyers has been assassinated and one lawyer has fled abroad.

Mortar bombs have exploded outside the building while the trial has been in progress in past weeks, and Iraqi authorities having uncovered plots by resistance groups to fire rockets at the courthouse. A suicide car bomber struck the house of Midhat al-Mahmoudi in Baghdad, a senior judge in the trial, but did not make it past the security measures.

The trial has had fitful progress since it began on Oct. 19.

Hussein and his seven colleagues will face the death penalty if found guilty of crimes against humanity.

(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 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 on this site with the kind, explicit permission of Dahr.

Skipped Lunches May Cost Wal-Mart $172 Million

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Wal-Mart, home of low prices, will apparently have to pay a high price for denying lunch breaks to thousands of its employees.

A California jury ordered the world's largest retailer to pay $172 million: $57 million in general damages and $115 million in punitive damages.

Read rest of this article here

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tomgram: Elizabeth de la Vega on Shooting the Moon in 2006

Consider this latest piece by former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega, who writes regularly for Tomdispatch on the Plame case and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation, as my way of signing off with good cheer until the New Year. In our embattled American world, De la Vega suggests just the kind of optimism that seems both possible, and possibly fruitful, to adopt. This is about as close as I can imagine to an attitude, if not a politics, that I might stand behind. It's a way to think about 2006 with hope (of a sort) and even perhaps grace. I offer my best wishes to everyone who has read Tomdispatch this year, and especially to all those of you who have taken a few heartfelt moments to write in, even when critical, in a kindly and encouraging spirit. Thank you and have a good holiday. Tomdispatch will return -- count on it --! January 2nd or 3rd. Tom

Shoot the Moon and Forget about the Bell Curve
By Elizabeth de la Vega

I have to admit that some of the responses to my recent article The White House Criminal Conspiracy (published in the Nation and posted at, in which I argued that the Bush administration should be brought to account in Congress or a court of law for defrauding the American people into war, kept me up at night. No, not the ones that questioned my sanity or sobriety. The letters that have given pause are from people who wholeheartedly agree that the Bush administration lied about the war. Yet there's "zero chance," these writers contend, that a completely Republican-controlled government will ever do anything about it, so it's pointless to pursue the matter. While lying awake beside my sleeping husband with my dog staring up at me in the dark, I've wondered, is that true? Is it futile, or foolish, to act when there is little apparent chance of success?

It was five years ago this month that George W. Bush received his best Christmas gift ever -- the presidency -- from the United States Supreme Court. And around this time every year, I've thought about the night of December 13, 2000, when he made his formal acceptance speech. I remember it well: Bush speaking from the Texas House of Representatives about a bipartisan foreign policy and his plan to reunite the country. It's not that I was particularly interested in the President or even the election at that point. I wasn't. I had taken a leave of absence from my job as a federal prosecutor in San Jose and flown 3,000 miles across the country to be with my sister. So I watched the speech while sitting on a portable cot, looking at a hospital TV suspended from the ceiling -- and my sister was lying in a bed next to me amidst a tangle of tubes. She was dying.

Kathy was thirty-eight, a small-town doctor with a three-year-old son, when she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Her prognosis was grim. Statistically, the majority of patients with her diagnosis live for only about six months. But some patients, those represented by a tiny fraction at the far edge of the bell curve, outlived the odds, and Kathy was determined to join that group. So what did she do? Everything. She had a mastectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy; she vomited, lost her hair, and her eyebrows. She took drugs that threw her into menopause, steroids that made her face swell up like a balloon, and herbs that tasted like dirt. She went to acupuncture, mind-body seminars, and Reiki treatments. She endured a cell replacement procedure that kept her isolated for 30 days. In other words, she shot the moon.

By the day of Bush's speech, Kathy's organs were failing. Her liver was, by then, so damaged that her doctors were astounded she could even talk coherently. Not only could she talk, but she had a lot to say about Bush's speech (mainly expressing her irritation that it preempted The West Wing.) She died three days later, six years after her initial diagnosis.

Throughout her ordeal, one of my sister's persistent concerns was what other people would think. Would her medical colleagues consider her irrational, if not crazy, to pursue treatments that were so uncomfortable and painful, not to say unproven or improbable in terms of success? And what would her patients think? Kathy would call me regularly and ask just these questions.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

CTV Poll: Should Canada Withdraw its Peacekeepers from Haiti?

In the aftermath of Tuesday's murder of retired RCMP officer Mark Bourque in Haiti, many Canadians are questioning our presence in that poverty-stricken, extremely violent country.

After reading more about Bourque's murder and Canada's peacekeeping role in Haiti here, please take the time to voice your opinion by voting in the poll.

Iraq Dispatches: Iraqis Reject Increased Fuel Costs

Massive demonstrations have continued across Iraq for two days, in protest against the government's decision to raise the price of fuel. Iraqis are indignant that they are "responsible for fuelling the American occupation forces with petrol...." Petrol, diesel and heating fuel prices were raised the day after the elections. Clashes between police and demonstrators ensued following the announcement of this hike.

Read more of this compelling dispatch from Dahr Jamail -- who kindly gave me his explicit permission to republish all of his Iraq Dispatches on this site.

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

Iraqis Reject Increased Fuel Costs

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*BAGHDAD, Dec 21 (IPS) - For two days demonstrations have continued
across Iraq in protest against the government's decision to raise the price of petrol, cooking and heating fuels.*

With costs increased up to nine-fold, Iraq's oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum has threatened to resign. Yet this has done nothing to quell the outburst of anger in Iraqis towards the sudden and drastic price hike.

Iraq's Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told reporters that the Cabinet raised the prices in order to curb a growing black market. Jihad said that kerosene prices were raised fivefold, cooking gas threefold, and diesel was raised nine-fold.

Iraqi response to the recent hiking of fuel prices has been one of indignation and disapproval.

''Are we responsible for fuelling the American occupation forces with petrol from our refineries?" asked Akram Mohamed, a consumer. ''Can you believe they receive our gasoline then use it to kill our people? This is something unacceptable to every honorable Iraqi!"

''It's a gift from the government after the elections," said Mohamed sarcastically, ''Nobody wants the responsibility of raising the fuel prices and they are afraid to announce it. That's why they raised it the day after the elections."

Mohamed, who told IPS he had been driving his car as a taxi for decades, believed the incoming government did not want to be responsible for raising the fuel costs and believed members in the current government were following orders from the U.S.

''This is the kind of sovereignty we Iraqis have," he added, while waiting in a fuel line.

Announcement of the price increase on the Dec. 19 brought clashes between police and demonstrators in Amarah, 290 km southeast of Baghdad. When demonstrators refused to leave the front of the provincial government headquarters, scuffles ensued.

Meanwhile in Tikrit, over 500 people protested, while demonstrators marched in the streets of Najaf, Suleiminiyah, Kut, Kerbala, Baghdad, Samawa and many smaller cities.

On the same day roads and petrol stations in Basra were blocked by hundreds of demonstrators who burned tires and protested in front of the governor's headquarters.

The price for a liter of locally produced fuel was increased seven-fold to around 12 cents per liter.

While black market prices are already eight times the amount of those at petrol stations, some stations in Baghdad were charging 11 times the amount of the normal price a phenomenon which led many Iraqis to believe some of the stations were taking advantage of the already huge price increase.

Ahmed Chalabi, accused of providing false information to the Bush Administration which led to the invasion of Iraq and who is now Iraq's deputy Prime Minister, justified the government's decision by stating that 330 million dollar of the funds generated by the increase would ''be redistributed to poor families''.

''I heard Ahmed Chalabi say that those of us who don't have cars are missing out on how the government is helping the Iraqi people," said 36 year-old Ismael Hamoudi, ''To hell with that bastard for lying about helping when so many people are now suffering; this will affect everything in the market. Now all our food will be more expensive since it is brought from outside the city and who will pay for the increased transportation cost? We will, because everything will be more expensive

The Iraqi government in Baghdad has defended the move, saying it was made in order to help jump-start the flagging economy in Iraq by generating 500 million dollars with the move.

Shortly after protesters in Basra temporarily blocked the main road between Basra, Amarah and Baghdad, the governor of Basra, Mohammed al-Waeli, called an emergency provincial council meeting. During the meeting members decided not to honor the price increases, and orders were given to petrol stations to respect the decision.

Amjad Abdul Qadr, a 21 year-old college student at Jadriya University in Baghdad, expressed deep concern over the higher prices.

''I'm filling my father's car now but we have no extra money anymore," he told IPS, ''How can we exist with prices so high?"

Since the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi government has subsidized fuel prices. However, today the U.S.-backed Iraqi government is under pressure from the World Bank, headed by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, to cut the subsidies which have been keeping the fuel prices down.

Iraq is currently importing nearly half of all its fuel, with the government spending over 6 billion dollar each year on the importing of oil products from other countries.

Amjad's father, 55 year-old teacher Mr. Abdul Qadr said, ''Those bastards ruling Iraq now are animals. I will have to keep my son from going to school so he can work with me. I have seven girls to finance, to hell with school. We can't find bread to feed them."

Qadr expressed worries common to many Iraqis since the announcement was made by the government: that he should sell his car, take another job, find a way to make both ends meet.

''We don't have our car for entertainment but for survival," he added, ''What I would like to tell the new government is that by doing this now they are digging their graves, but they should know there will be a day when everybody will have his revenge on them."

Less than three days after the initial announcement was made in Baghdad, at least two more of Iraq's 18 provinces have, like Basra, rejected the price hike.

With the southern provinces Misan, Basra and Dhi Qar having refused to implement the government increase and Iraqis around the country seething with anger, it appears likely other provinces will join in the rejection.

(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 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

Iraq Dispatches: Iraqis Glad 2005 Over, Dim Hopes for 2006

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

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*BAGHDAD, Dec 20 (IPS) - Despite the parliamentary elections last week and temporary ease in violence, Iraqis remain bitter about the outgoing year, and sceptical of 2006.*

"As a doctor I usually travel daily from home to college," said Um Feras, a doctor of physics at Baghdad University who asked that her last name be changed for her protection. "2005 was a terrible year, and now it has become unacceptable for me to leave my house to go teach due to the troops, who always wear sunglasses even on gloomy days, aiming their rifles at everyone like they are gangsters."

The majority of Iraqis in Baghdad now fear the security forces, as dozens of people each week are "disappeared" by police and soldiers around the city and new torture chambers have been discovered recently.

Dr. Feras told IPS that the daily chaos on the streets of Baghdad, such as closed roads and bridges, always caused her to be late, as well as most of her students.

"Nothing is good in Iraq now," said the doctor. "Torture, detained friends, pillaging of houses, seeing neighbors suffering from poverty, no electricity, no water and gun fights everywhere. We have no relief from this suffering now."

Electricity in Baghdad remains far below pre-war levels, with most houses enjoying 3-5 hours per day. Meanwhile, oil exports in December have sunk to a two-year low while up to 22 percent of the 21 billion dollar set aside by the U.S. government for reconstruction projects in Iraq has been diverted to security, according to Dan Speckhard, the director of the Iraq reconstruction management office, who made the
announcement to reporters earlier this month.

Asked about her hopes and expectations for 2006, the doctor says: "I only want a normal life far away from the interests of those bastards who invaded our country. I don't care about the elections and politics and the new political parties because these are just a small part of the strategy of the invaders."

The doctor began to cry then added: "My dream for the coming year is that the invaders pull out, we have Iraqis who love one another to govern Iraq, we build something related to civilization and have emotions towards our land and lives in order to get back to the situation where each of us loves the other and we feel the good will of God."

She paused for reflection before saying, "But I can't say this will happen."

Other Iraqis, like 40 year-old leather worker Ismael Mohammed feel similarly.

"2005 was worse than 2004 because the coalition forces are still handling everything tightly in their hands and nothing has changed except the faces of the governors," he told IPS in Baghdad, "They are trying to get everything they can from Iraq, meanwhile financially it is getting worse, fuel [availability] is worse and the roads are worse."

His feelings about the infrastructure are common around Baghdad, as Iraq is suffering an unemployment rate of over 50 percent, oil exports remain below pre-war levels, and the infrastructure remains in shambles amidst the broken promises of the Bush Administration.

"Democracy? Where is our democracy?" asked Mohammed who said his best day of 2005 was when one of his cousins was released from Abu Ghraib, "Freedom? People shout with no one to hear. Everything goes with a bribe now. You want to be a professor-- easy, just give me the money and you are a professor."

Mohammed told IPS he remains sad and perplexed as to why his cousin was recently killed. "We are Shia. Yet he was killed."

And he asks: "Who profits from this constitution because we already had one? Who is profiting from all of this? Iraqi leather used to be the best all over the Middle East, but now it even seems as though the rain has stopped falling in Iraq, as my trade has stopped growing. Now we even have to import leather!"

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based think tank, the value of Halliburton stock, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's old military company to which he still has financial ties, has increased 138 percent since March 2003. Halliburton has been awarded at least 10 billion dollars in contracts for their operations in Iraq.

Meanwhile, U.S. citizens aren't benefiting from the occupation either. The average monthly cost of the Iraq war for the U.S. is 5.6 billion dollar for a total of over 225 billion dollar thus far, pushing their national debt over 8 trillion dollar, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury. For 2006, Mohammed voiced the dreams of many Iraqis.

"To get rid of the invaders and have God give back blessings to the people of Iraq," Mohammed told IPS. "We want good people in positions of authority who will compensate Iraqis who have suffered. I would like to see Iraqis work as one unit, putting the good of the country ahead of divisions between them and to go on dealing as humans."

Mohammed added: "We need a lot of work to obtain true sovereignty and to cure the problems brought by the invaders, as independence isn't so easy that we can get it in one year. Democracy cannot be given as simple as that; we have to work hard for it and educate people to get it."

(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 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 published on this site with the kind, explicit permission of Dahr.

What Americanization of Health Care Really Means

Those Canadians who wish our health care system more closely resembled that of our neighbours to the south, please read this compelling article from

"Insurance companies truly drive every aspect of "care".

Dateline: Friday, December 16, 2005

by Kathy Eisner and Ish Theilheimer

What actually matters in election campaigns can get obscured by all the hubbub.

Our family got a frightening view of what, for us, is a highly motivating political issue as we watched Kathy's sister Peggy lose a two-year struggle with the US health care system and colon cancer at Christmastime last year. Dying of cancer was bad enough, but the inhumanity and downright cruelty of the American system was infuriating and shocking to us, as it would have been for most Canadians.

Most Canadians are not aware of how bad it is in the States. In America, the bottom line of the insurance companies is truly the driving force in health care. It drives everything from diagnostics to treatment to palliative care. At every point, the companies squeeze patients and doctors in ways Canadians would find incomprehensible."

The doctors and hospitals clearly passed off less lucrative procedures to one another.

Read rest of this chilling article here

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Iraq Sunnis Reject Vote as Unfair

Although the Iraqi electoral commission dismissed many complaints as pressure from the losers, officials admitted there were problems but said they would not have greatly affected the results. Nevertheless, the commission has to investigate about 700 complaints, and certified results of the election will not be announced until early January. Read more...

" BAGHDAD - Sunni Arab leaders on Tuesday angrily rejected early results of last week's parliamentary elections, saying the vote had been fixed in favor of Iranian-backed religious Shiites, and they called for an investigation into possible fraud. Secular politicians also denounced the results and demanded an inquiry.

The growing fury over the dominance of the religious Shiites could lead to a protracted confrontation over the election results, which would probably delay the formation of the new, four-year government. That process is already expected to take weeks, if not months."

Read full article

The Time of the Underdog: Rage and Race in Latin America

Evo Morales' victory in Bolivia is a sign of transformation in Latin America

The time of the underdog: rage and race in Latin America

Ivan Briscoe
19 - 12 - 2005

Latin America’s dominant political story in 2005 has been the rise of the left. But, argues Ivan Briscoe in the wake of Evo Morales’s victory in Bolivia, this political dynamic is driven and framed by an even larger one: the ascent of the underdog.

" To judge from the childhoods of Latin America’s most powerful men, the streets of the continent, much as the Spaniards dreamed, could still be paved with gold. Brazil’s Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, as he himself admitted, did not eat a solid meal until the age of 7. Peru’s Alejandro Toledo famously worked as a shoeshine boy. And Bolivia’s Evo Morales – whose decisive victory in the 18 December elections opens his route to join the exclusive presidential club – was born with the help of a witch-doctor, tended llamas on the long walk from high-altitude Oruro to semi-tropical Cochabamba, and chewed the orange peel thrown by passengers out of bus windows. "

Read full article

AI Seeks Fair Procedures in Case Against Dr. Sami Al-Arian

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

AI Index: AMR 51/204/2005 20 December 2005

USA: Amnesty International seeks fair procedures in resolution of case against Dr Sami Al-Arian

Amnesty International notes the recent acquittal by a jury of the most serious of terrorism-related charges against former Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, and urges fair procedures in the resolution of outstanding charges against him, on which the jury deadlocked.

Dr Sami Al-Arian was arrested in February 2003 charged with conspiring to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad to maim and kill Israelis, charges he has always denied. For much of his pre-trial detention, Al-Arian was held in near solitary confinement in a maximum security prison in harsh conditions. Amnesty International raised concern with the US government that the conditions under which he was held as a pre-trial detainee were unnecessarily punitive. These included heavy shackling during visits with his attorneys, denial of adequate exercise, limits on writing materials and visits with his family and other deprivations.

Amnesty International urges the US authorities to ensure that Sami Al-Arian is afforded humane treatment and due process in any further proceedings taken against him. Amnesty International notes that the jury had found insufficient evidence after a protracted trial to convict on the most serious charges, including conspiracy to maim or murder, finding no link between Al-Arian’s fundraising activities in support of Palestinians and knowledge of or intent to commit acts of violence. Noting the sweeping nature of some of the remaining charges, the organization urges the government to seriously consider whether it is in the interests of justice to retry him on those charges.

The government has indicated that it may try to deport Sami Al-Arian instead of retrying him. Should this be the case, Amnesty International urges that Dr Al-Arian be afforded a full and fair opportunity to contest any evidence used in deportation proceedings. As Dr Al-Arian is a stateless Palestinian, it is essential that the United States ensures his safety and that an appropriate host country can be found.

Given that Dr Al-Arian has not been convicted of any crime after nearly three years in prison – often in harshly punitive conditions – the government should not now leave him in legal limbo during any protracted consideration of his case.

Background Information

Dr Sami Al-Arian is former professor at University of Florida, Tampa, and was accused of using an academic think-tank as a fundraising front and cover for Palestine Islamic Jihad, which has been involved in suicide bombings in Israel. He and three co-defendants were charged with conspiring to bring about such attacks through actively supporting PIJ. The charges included operating a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to murder and maim people outside the United States and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The prosecution’s case was based on hundreds of pages of transcripts of wiretapped phone calls and faxes dating from the mid 1990s. Al-Arian and co-defendants claimed the money raised went to Palestinian charitable causes and not for violence. Al-Arian was acquitted of 8 of the 17 counts against him, the jury deadlocking on others. Two co-defendants, former Florida graduate student Sameeh Taha Hammoudeh and Chicago resident Ghassam Zayed Ballut were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted a third man, Hatim Naji Fariz, on 25 counts and failed to reach a verdict on eight others.

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Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit on the Year Goliath Took It on the Chin

The United States has always been the land of second chances and proud of it. So, in the true American second-chance spirit, Tomdispatch has given Rebecca Solnit, our favorite optimist, two shots at nailing this year to the wall -- and both have turned out splendidly. (That's not surprising, since 2005 generated enough material for twenty end-of-the-year pieces with something left over.) The early-bird version of her take on 2005, Three from Out of the Blue, focused on the surprise appearances of Cindy Sheehan, hurricane Katrina, and that back-from-extinction award-winner of the century, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Now, from a perch in distant Tierra del Fuego, she offers us 2005 as a David-and-Goliath struggle.

In the meantime, her Tomdispatch-generated book, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, is within days of being reissued (but can be preordered) in an updated edition from Nation Books. She and I first "met" at the site when she sent in a piece, Acts of Hope, that later was transformed into Hope in the Dark. Now, the book -- a paean to the unexpected, to the wonders of what we don't know is coming -- has been fortified by material from her recent Tomdispatches, whole new chapters considering hope (and despair) in the context of the reelection of George Bush and the emergence of figures like Sheehan. Think of this as the upgraded or 2.0 version of the original -- and as a must-have for the new year.

What a surprising year 2005 turned out to be! Don't expect less of 2006. So read Solnit, buckle your seatbelt, and prepare yourself for a wild ride. Tom

2005: Bad Year for Goliath
How About David?

By Rebecca Solnit

To say that it was a bad year for Goliath doesn't mean it was exactly a good one for what George Bailey, in annual holiday It's a Wonderful Life reruns, calls "the little people." U.S. public opinion has almost caught up with the rest of the world in opposing the war, but Iraqis are still being bombed and American soldiers are still dying.

I write this from Buenos Aires, which attracts activists from afar for its progressive social movements, but up close is more compelling for its armies of the poor -- such as the cartoñeros who come out after dark to collect recyclables, families pushing huge loads through the summer night toward whatever pittance a pile of old cardboard brings in. In the same way, you could focus on how Hurricane Katrina damaged the Bush administration's standing, but the suffering of people displaced on roofs, and then in sports stadiums, and now out of view (but in hardly less precarious circumstances around the country) might matter more.

The most compelling images of 2005 are those of war, flood, and riot, but perhaps the most summary one wasn't even of human beings. It was a novelty photograph that appeared in many newspapers in late September of a huge non-native python that choked itself to death trying to swallow an alligator in Florida. It proved a lasting image of overwhelming and unsuccessful greed. All around the world this year, the snake choked and the alligator refused to see itself as lunch -- if you will let "alligator" stand in here for "civil society," for all the groups, organizations, publics, and citizenries who stood up for their rights.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Note: Tom Engelhardt's Tomgrams are partially republished on this site with the kind, explicit permission of the author.

Gulf Arab Leaders Call for Nuke-free Region / Netanyahu Elected Likud Winner

Gulf leaders urge nuclear-free region
Gulf Arab leaders have called for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, singling out Israel, not Iran, despite having voiced alarm at Tehran's nuclear ambitions during their two-day meeting. In a final statement issued in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Monday, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) focused on Israel's failure to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Iran has signed.
Full Story

Exit poll: Netanyahu Likud vote winner
Former premier Benjamin Netanyahu has been elected leader of Israel's right-wing Likud party to succeed Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, according to an exit poll. The 56-year-old Netanyahu secured 47% of votes while his closest challenger, Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister won 32%, the poll carried jointly by public television and radio said. The vote was held on Monday, a day after Sharon was admitted to hospital suffering from a mild stroke, although doctors said they expected the 77-year-old to be released and resume his duties on Tuesday. The ultra-nationalist candidate Moshe Feiglin won 15% while Agriculture Minister Israel Katz trailed in fourth place with six percent.
Full Story

Remaining Debates Must Include a Focus on Fair Voting Reform

Fair Vote Canada
December 19, 2005

Call issued to TV network consortium:

Remaining debates must include a focus on fair voting reform

More than 60 prominent Canadians from a variety of backgrounds and political viewpoints have joined Fair Vote Canada in an urgent call to the network consortium and party leaders to focus a portion of one of the remaining debates on democratic voting reform.

“Last week’s debates barely scratched the surface,” said Wayne Smith, President of Fair Vote Canada, “The leaders were neither pressed nor given adequate time to tell Canadians exactly how they intend to fix our failed political system.”

Smith predicted another record low turnout for the January 23 vote, breaking the record lows set in the last two elections. “Over 70% of the citizens of Iraq just literally risked their lives to vote in their election,“ said Smith. “Will Canadians, faced only with the hazards of an icy driveway, do as well? Not likely. In the 1990s, Canada ranked 109th on turnout among democracies.”

“When record numbers of people are walking away from our electoral system, that’s a crisis,” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. “On January 23, those Canadians who still vote will be forced to use a widely discredited and antiquated voting system that distorts what we say and inflames regional tensions. Yet in the last two debates, the party leaders faced not a single question about electoral reform.”

Among those joining the call issued by Fair Vote Canada (see statement and complete list of endorsers below) are Gordon Gibson, former B.C. Liberal Party leader; Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader; Tom Kent, former advisor to Prime Minister Pearson; Lincoln Alexander, former Ontario Lieutenant Governor and federal cabinet minister; Maude Barlow, Chairperson, Council of Canadians; Senator Nancy Ruth; former Senator Lois Wilson; Rick Anderson, former advisor to Preston Manning; Alan Redway, former Progressive Conservative MP; scientist Ursula Franklin; political commentators Rafe Mair and Judy Rebick; John Trent, former secretary, International Political Science Association; Peter Russell and Hugh Thorburn, former presidents of the Canadian Political Science Association; economist Sylvia Ostry; entertainers Don Ferguson, Roger Abbott, Luba Goy and Max Ferguson; and youth leaders Nikem Anizor and Dave Farthing.

We the undersigned believe the next Parliament and Government must make Canada’s democratic renewal an urgent priority. We can no longer afford to ignore our democracy deficit or postpone substantive reform to our core democratic institutions, including voting system reform.

Therefore, we call on the broadcast networks and party leaders to dedicate a portion of one of the leaders’ debates to focus exclusively on the “Democratic Renewal of Canada”.

Roger Abbott, Royal Canadian Air Farce

Lincoln Alexander, former Ontario Lieutenant Governor, former federal cabinet minister

Rick Anderson, consultant, columnist, former advisor to Preston Manning

Nkem Anizor, Black Youth Taking Action

Harry Baglole, founding Director, Institute of Island Studies

Patricia Baird, former Chair, Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies

Maude Barlow, author, activist and Chairperson, Council of Canadians

John Beckwith, composer, conductor and educator

Avie Bennett, Chair, McClelland & Stewart

Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader

Larry Brown, National Sec. Treas., National Union of Public and General Employees

Meyer Brownstone, professor emeritus, international election monitor and advisor

June Callwood, author, former chair of Writers’ Union of Canada and P.E.N.

Barbara Caplan, former activist, political organizer and City of Toronto senior manager

John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council

Michael Cassidy, former NDP MP, former leader of the Ontario NDP

James Clancy, National President, National Union of Public and General Employees

Paul Copeland, criminal lawyer, active with Law Union of Ontario

Bonnie Diamond, Executive Director, National Association of Women and the Law

Howard Dyck, conductor & artistic director, CBC radio host

Margrit Eichler, professor, sociology and women's studies

Dave Farthing, co-founder and Executive Director, YOUCAN

Don Ferguson, Royal Canadian Air Farce

Max Ferguson, former broadcaster and satirist on the CBC

Ursula Franklin, Professor Emerita, physicist, author, activist

Margaret Fulton, educator, former President of Mount St. Vincent University

Graeme Gibson, author

Gordon Gibson, former leader B.C. Liberal Party, Fraser Institute Senior Fellow

Katherine Govier, author

Luba Goy, Royal Canadian Air Farce

Elizabeth Gray, writer

Margaret Hancock, Hart House Warden, University of Toronto

Marjorie Harris, Editor at large, Gardening Life

Mel Hurtig, author, publisher, activist

Richard Johnson, former President, Centennial College, former Ontario MPP

G. Alex Jupp, retired public affairs consultant

Tom Kent, former advisor to Prime Minister Pearson, former royal commission chair

Bruce Kidd, University of Toronto professor and former Olympic athlete

David Langille, Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice

Troy Lanigan, National Communications Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Frances Lankin, Pres. & CEO United Way of Greater Toronto, former Ont. Cabinet Minister

Jeannie Lea, former Prince Edward Island cabinet minister

Betty Lee, author, journalist, editor

Nick Loenen, founder, Fair Voting B.C.

Raif Mair, radio host and political commentator

Henry Milner, professor, author, electoral reform expert

J. Fraser Mustard, founding President, The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Nancy Ruth, Senator, feminist and social activist

John Oostrom, former PC MP 1984-88

Sylvia Ostry, economist, Univ. of Toronto, former Chair, Economic Council of Canada

Bernard Ostry, former chairman and CEO of TVOntario; former deputy minister

Erna Paris, author

Walter Pitman, former president of Ryerson Polytechnic Institute

Judy Rebick, Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University

Alan Redway, former Progressive Conservative MP, cabinet minister

Walter Robinson, former Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Virginia Rock, English professor, educator, specializing in southern American literature

Norman Ruff, political scientist and media commentator

Peter Russell, former President, Canadian Political Science Association

Linda Silver Dranoff, family law lawyer, writer, law reform activist

Hugh Thorburn, former President, Canadian Political Science Association

John Trent, former Secretary, International Political Science Association

Lois Wilson, former Senator and former chair, World Council of Churches

Fair Vote Canada
26 Maryland Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4C 5C9

Phone: 416-410-4034
Fax: 416-686-4929


Monday, December 19, 2005

Report on International Peace Conference / Latest Impeachment Polls / "End the War" Events / More Actions

Listed here are information and links to photos about an historic peace conference in London, where Cindy Sheehan was one of the participants. You will also find astonishing updated polls from AfterDowningStreet, asking the American people about Bush and Cheney's REMOVAL FROM OFFICE. Hear the Bonifaz Blog Call Audio and read about the numerous "End The War" events that are planned for January 7th.


by David Swanson

David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan in London.

" Steve Cobble and I participated in an historic international peace conference in London on December 10 and in various related events the same week. We met with several Members of Parliament and will be working to facilitate teamwork and future events with them and members of the US Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The conference, hosted by the Stop the War Coalition, was a great success. About 1,500 people packed into a large hall, including delegates from all around the UK, and from Iraq, the US, Iran, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Canada, Poland, Greece, Italy, Spain and many other European countries.

The conference passed a statement calling for an international weekend of action on March 18/19, 2006, to mark the third anniversary of the war.

The week of events included a reception with the Mayor of London, who is strongly opposed to the war and willing to say so in no uncertain terms. See report and photos here

For one whole day, Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Burgin (the organizer of the conference) and I went to Scotland and met with Members of Parliament and with anti-war activists. This was quite an encouraging series of meetings. I spoke with Alex Salmond, a Member of Parliament working hard for the impeachment of Prime Minister Tony Blair. See report and photos here

I spoke on a panel titled "Bringing Bush and Blair to Account." I discussed the work of the After Downing Street Coalition, the ways in which activists in the US and Britain have been able to work together to drive stories into the media, and the ways in which we can work together to impeach Blair and President George Bush. See my speech here

On Sunday, the day following the conference, Steve took part in a strategy meeting at the Stop the War Coalition offices, while I joined Cindy Sheehan and many others in paying a visit to Blair's residence at 10 Downing Street. See report and photos here

In the course of this trip, we made many connections, helping to build solidarity in an international movement. Our task now is to make March 18, 2006, bigger and even more successful than was February 15, 2003. "

Click for the full report and photos


Thanks to the generosity of AfterDowningStreet members, we hired Rasmussen Reports to ask Americans for the first time whether George Bush and Dick Cheney should be REMOVED from office.

In 1998, before House Republicans began impeachment proceedings for President Clinton, only 26% of Americans supported his removal.

Our new poll shows significantly more Americans believe Bush (32%) and Cheney (35%) should be removed, even before the House gets still-secret evidence that Bush Lied.

Should President Bush be impeached and removed from office?
Yes 32% No 56% Not Sure 12%

Should Vice President Cheney be impeached and removed from office?
Yes 35% No 53% Not Sure 12%

Moreover, Rasmussen's results significantly understate support for their removal, because the Rasmussen poll is always 5-10% "friendlier" to Bush than all other polls. Here is our complete analysis

This is the third poll funded by AfterDowningStreet members, and the fourth on impeachment since June. But NO mainstream media polls dare ask about impeachment, because they fear Karl Rove's wrath. We need your help to keep up the pressure on the other polls!

Also, few progressive blogs have reported on these astonishing polls. Please urge your favorite bloggers to discuss the polls YOU paid for.


On Tuesday night Joe Trippi hosted a blog call with John Bonifaz, 2006 candidate for Secretary of State of Massachusetts. Those that made the call know that it was a great discussion about voting rights and election reform. You can listen to the audio of the call here

Feel free to download, share, and host the file on your site. For more information on John Bonifaz, visit his website -



Sign up for one in your area, or help plan one!

After Downing Street and are joining with Backbone Campaign, Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy Cell Project, Cities for Peace, MilitaryFreeZone.Org, Operation Ceasefire, United for Peace and Justice, U.S. Tour of Duty, Hip Hop Caucus, Democracy Rising, World Can't Wait, Gold Star Families for Peace, PeaceMajority Report, Global Exchange, Bring Them Home Campaign, UP (United Progressives) for Democracy, 20 20 Vision, Impeach Bush Coalition, and Peace Action in asking you to help organize public meetings or smaller gatherings on Saturday, January 7, on the topic of ending the war.

The war is costing us dearly in lives, in security, and in resources. We need this national day to make our demand heard and bring the war to an end. (Events can also be held on days other than the 7th, to fit the schedules of those involved.)

Because the holidays are coming, the time to organize these events is now. Here's how:

STEP 1: Identify an individual or organization or coalition to take the lead in organizing an event.

STEP 2: Post the event so that people can sign up for it and other organizers can contact you and work together. Whoever posts the event will have control of and be able to communicate with the list of people who sign up to attend it. It is also possible to post an event without many details and fill them in later.

STEP 3: See the resources posted on that website, which include tips on contacting your Congress Member. Invite him or her to host the event or to be your guest at an event you host, whichever they and you prefer. You can also hold an event without a Congress Member, such as a panel, a discussion circle, or a house party, and it's easy to do so with the resources provided here:




If you received this from a friend, you can subscribe at:

Hostage-killing Video Released

A group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq has posted a video on a website showing a man being shot dead and claiming that he was Ronald Allen Schulz, the American adviser. The video released on Monday did not show the face of the victim, however, and it was impossible to identify him conclusively.

In an earlier internet posting last week, the group had claimed to have killed Schulz, and then later said it would show the killing.

Full Story

Washington's "Nightmare" Morales Wins Bolivian Presidency

Morales(R)won more than half the ballots in Sunday's poll

Congratulations to Evo Morales!

"Beginning tomorrow, Bolivia's new history really begins: A history where we will seek equality, justice, equity, peace and social justice" -- Evo Morales, Bolivia's president-elect

"Evo Morales, who challenges US anti-drug policies, is to be Bolivia's first Indigenous president and join Latin America's shift to the left after winning a large majority in Sunday's elections. His rivals conceded defeat when results tabulated by local media from official results showed him taking slightly more than half of the vote, much higher than predicted."
Full Story

Cat House: Cold Kitty Refuge (A Post on a Lighter Note)

In a complete reversal from my usual serious, somber and often disturbing postings --and to lighten my mood -- I've decided to post this little "Cat House" -- a cold kitty refuge -- that a friend of mine made as a rest stop for cats in his neighbourhood who may be locked outside in the cold for a few hours. He's put in nice warm carpeting, food, cat nip, and placed this 'house' on his front porch. Don did this to provide a little bit of warm refuge and food to some of the furry felines when he noticed them wandering around his street and yard. Since he has two very territorial male cats in his household, he cannot let interlopers stroll in. So he did the next best thing by providing a warm shelter and eatery. I thought this was a kind and novel gesture, especially with the cold winds which have been sweeping our region. Several 'guests' have already happily -- and probably appreciatively -- partaken of this hospitality.

The New Madness of King George

A fidgety George W. Bush used his prime-time speech to reprise many of his false or exaggerated claims about the Iraq War and the War on Terror. Yet, as Bush asserts virtually unlimited powers for himself, the question arises -- is Bush so unstable that he doesn't know what reality is anymore or is he so cynical that he thinks he can deceive the American people into surrendering their liberties and sacrificing the lives of their soldiers? Is he a new version of King George III, who lost his sanity in the years after the American Revolution, or is he a modern-day Machiavelli?

For the full story on Bush's dishonest speeches, go to at is just over halfway to its end-of-year goal of raising $20,000, having now reached $11,000. If you can help us get to our goal in the next 11 days, we'd deeply appreciate it.

You can make a tax-deductible donation either by credit card at the Web site or by sending a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Suite 102-231, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201.

(Please forward this e-mail to friends who might be interested. Thanks.)

Iraq Dispatches: Behind the Steel Curtain: The Real Face of the Occupation

Tears of outrage and helplessness blur my vision, my fingers tremble upon the keyboard. I am having a difficult time reposting this latest Dispatch from Dahr Jamail. Hopefully, I have not omitted any parts, or misplaced any of the links.

My tears and outrage are caused by the total helpless feeling in my very being, as my heart cries out for the plight of the Iraqi people. Outrage, that such inhuman cruelty is allowed to happen to innocents, and helplessness because I can do nothing to stop it. When you read this Dispatch and view the photos, you will be affected by their sheer, unimaginable misery and horror.

The Bush administration and their allies are criminals. Period. No excuses, no propagandist, patronizing speeches by Bush, Cheney, Rice can ever explain their heinous acts. Nothing will expiate their crimes. Their criminality will be remembered in the annals of history for the rest of time. I can only hope that these barbarians will depart soon, and that they will be made to face the consequences of their crimes. I pray that the people of Iraq can pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and demolished country, and perhaps with genuine help from the International Community, rebuild what has been so cruelly destroyed. The multitude of human lives lost or maimed, can never be reclaimed, replaced, rebuilt. Generations of Iraqis will bear the scars of the horrors of this insane, barbarous American war.

To those people who still believe the blatant lies of the prowar hawks, my words of disgust and disdain are unprintable.

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

December 19, 2005

Behind the Steel Curtain: The Real Face of the Occupation

/*Dirty Means, Genocide and Mass Destruction
Dedicated to the UN, UNSC and the Intel Society* /

By Sabah Ali

The Bush Administration uses double barrel propaganda today, with Mr. Bush using a prime time television address to say things like "My fellow citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war in Iraq," and responding to negative news by saying "It does not mean that we are losing." Meanwhile, Mr. Cheney, while on a heavily guarded tour of the "Green Zone" and other locales in Iraq said today, "I think the vast majority of them think of us as liberators."

While the Bush Administration portrayed Thursday's Iraqi elections as a resounding success, Iraqi political parties are complaining of violations ranging from dead men voting to murder in the streets as accusations begin to fly from all political corners of rampand fraud and violence bringing the results of the vote under suspicion.

And if you want a sampling of Iraqis who Cheney spoke of, the following is another powerful dispatch from independent Iraqi journalist Sabah Ali. -DJ

White flags on top of houses and cars, plenty of American and Iraqi military vehicles, too many check points and blocks on the road, many frightening walking patrols, curfew after sunset, heaps and heaps of destroyed houses,

shops, offices, the only bridge, hospitals,

and medical care centers, walls covered with bullets shots, and election
posters…empty faces with bleak looks wandering in the streets. This is the picture of Al-Qa’im after the “Steel Curtain” military operation which began on November 5, 2005 with 3,000 American and Iraqi troops participating in it.

“You are filming our miserable condition so that Bush would pity us?! You want to soften his heart?” asked a tiny, skinny young villager disapprovingly, with obvious resignation. She was holding a very heavy cooking gas tube, trying to climb the river bank.

After the only bridge which connects Rummana to Al-Qa’im was severely bombed, citizens had to cross by boat.

Our driver was impatient with blocked roads, he took the nearest dusty detour whenever he saw a queue. We arrived in Qa’im around six pm; the darkness was already thick. Our car was almost shot by the Americans, but the driver was very quick in going down the side road. “That’s how families get killed” said Abu Adel, a lovable old man who asked for a lift, and who was very keen on showing us his high education by using broken English phrases. Abu Adel was very angry because some Iraqis make
use of the refugees’ misfortune and ask for double or triple rents. He preferred to put his family in a hut rather than being blackmailed.

Electricity is cut for more than a month now, after the main station was bombed, and the converters were bombed and the wires were cut. In the morning Al-Qa’im looked horrible. The General Hospital was 90% destroyed, the medical care centers, the schools, shops, houses…

The Biggest Hospital in the Western Area.

Dr. Hamdi Al-Aaloossy, the director, came to meet us outside his office. He canceled a meeting with the reconstruction committee, “They are just ink on paper, those meetings,” he said. Dr. Hamdi is usually a very calm and considerate man. This time he was really sad and fed up. The destruction this time was ultimate. He was repeating a line from a classical Arabic poem about how to complete building while others destroy what is built. He showed us the gynecology, the pediatric, the emergency departments, the blood bank, the new doctors’ house. All of them completely destroyed. “They were hit by several missiles. Thanks heavens there was no one here, just a mentally retarded and epileptic cleaning worker.” Dr Hamdi was especially sad about the gynecology dept. It was newly rebuilt in record efforts and time, with the help of The German
Red Cross. It was not opened yet. All the machines and equipment were destroyed, even the ambulances in the hospital garage were bombed. They were empty. There were 5 of them. Two were destroyed in the garage.
A third was destroyed when the driver Mahmood Chiad Abid tried to rescue a family in Karabla on October 1, 2005, killing him. The rest show obvious evidences of shots.

“But if the hospital was empty, why was it bombed? Usually the Americans say that there were terrorists inside?!”

“I assure you that not a single body was found under the rubble, neither any injured person. They attacked the hospital on Nov 7, two days after the major attack on Qa’im. There were no patients, no staff and no armed men. There was one doctor, however, who decided to stay in the hospital. But during the bombing she hid in a neighboring house. 90% of the hospital was destroyed. I call upon the Health Ministry, the Iraqi Government, the Iraqi and international organizations to help us rebuild whatever we can. Of course the departments which are bombed are beyond
repair, as you see, they have to be built anew, but we can rehabilitate the other ones. The HM did not send any delegation to see the damage and estimate the expenses. It is more than a month now, and the hospital is still not working.”

Al-Qa’im general hospital is one of the most important hospitals in the far western area of Iraq. It covers the whole area from Haditha to the borders, where there are hundreds small towns and villages. There are several medical care units connected to it. In Haditha there is a similar general hospital that covers the area from Haditha city beyond till Ramadi. Both hospitals are now severely damaged and burnt.

Dr. Hamdi put 5 big tents for the medical, pediatric, and emergency consultation departments in the hospital’s garden. The other ones are for medicine and furniture store. A small bare room was used as labor room (where there were no equipments whatsoever to examine the mother or the baby, just two beds). We attended an emergency operation. The operation theater’s windows, walls, and doors were broken, but the staff did their best to keep everything clean and sterilized. Everything went
well. “You are heroes,” I said. “No, just doing our best,” the doctor replied.

But they were heroes, to work in such conditions. Many of the medical staff donated blood to patients and went back to work immediately. They have severe shortage in oxygen tubes, so they rationed it to be used only in emergency operations. They have no more than ten tubes. “With people like you, there is always hope,” we said. Dr. Hamdi smiled, “We never lose hope.” No media coverage was present to show the Al-Qa’im tragedy.

A Family of 17 killed in few seconds

Modhhir Najim Abdulla, a security officer in the hospital took us to his
uncle’s bombed house where 17 women, children, and civilians were killed. The house of Arkan was just heaps of concrete blocks; the roof was flattened to the ground. There were 5 families living there. Not one of them was a stranger or a fighter.

“I just want to know why, I want a justification” Modhhir began, “the bombing began on Nov 5, loud speakers were saying stay at home, do not move out, and we did. 15 minutes later the bombing began. They did not announce evacuation. We had no chance to leave.” On Nov 7, we heard that our uncle’s house was bombed. We could not go to check; we went to the nearest American troops and told them. They accompanied us, and this is what we found.”

Modhhir was not crying, but his voice was full of rage. His sister (Najla’) who was the wife of his cousin too, was pregnant in her 9th month. She was supposed to have cesarean operation because she was a week late for her due time. “I can not describe her and her baby when we removed the bodies.” Another cousin’s baby was only 25 days. A third child’s body was not found until 2 days later. Modhhir brought the
family’s IDs, death certificates, and photos.

They are: (name, age, relation to Arkan and cause of death)

Arkan Abdulla Family:

1-Alia Amir, 50, wife, smashed scull, broken ribs, burns and injuries in
the chest and abdomen
2- Asma’a Arkan, 23, daughter, suffocation
3- In’am Arkan, 14, daughter, smashed scull
4- Lubna Arkan, 12, daughter, injury in the head and suffocation
5- Abdul Razzaq Arkan, 10, son, broken ribs and suffocation
6- Mahmood Arkan, 22, son, broken scull and suffocation

Saddam Arkan Abdulla Family
7- Khatar Dahham, 28, daughter in law, injuries and broken scull
8- Dhuha S. Arkan, 10, grand daughter, broken scull and injuries in head
9- Abdulla S. Arkan, 9, grandson, intestine tear
10-Thammir S.Arkan, 4, grandson, broken ribs, bleeding inside chest and
broken legs
11- Amir S. Arkan, 7, grandson, smashed scull, suffocation and legs injury
12- Yahia S. Arkan, 3, grandson, smashed scull
13- Saja S. Arkan, 2, grand daughter, smashed scull, tissue tear and
broken ribs

Fanar Arkan Abdulla Family
14- Najla’a Najim, 22, daughter in law, smashed scull, suffocation
15- Leila Fanar Arkan, fetus, given birth and death certificate at the
same time
16- Ahmad Salih Amir, 25 days, nephew, injuries in head, chest and ribs.
17- Khattab Mahmood Arkan, 2, grandson, smashed scull

“Who of these do you recognize as terrorist? This one, this, or may be this?” The pictures were of women in a party, many children in different occasions…This is my sister, this is her son, this is my youngest cousin….etc. He was pointing to the faces and naming them. I felt that the list was endless. “Please stop,” I said.

“Why do you think your uncle’s house was bombed?” I asked.

“I do not know. I want them to answer this question. They bombed three houses in this street. In the other one 7 children and women were killed. It is Fuad’s house, there. The third one was empty, but it is no more than ruins. You can see it. Maybe they had wrong information about these houses, I do not know, may be they made a mistake…but these are not excuses. Even the American soldiers, the Iraqis, the CNN reporter were crying when they saw what happened to my family.” The family was
buried in the garden.

The American troops played a classical, colonial, very dirty trick of divide and conquer in Al-Qa’im. They allied with one big tribe, Al bu Mahal, against another very big one, Al-Salman. They used one as informants against the other. These people may make mistakes, or they may give wrong information for different reasons, but innocents get killed in the process. In the last “Steel Curtain” operation, thousands
were arrested, and informants from the other tribe were used to pick those who were thought to be insurgents. This story was repeated in many places: Rumanna, Karabla, and Al-Ebeidy. Of course anyone who is branded as a collaborator (traitor) is killed. Qa’im is one example of what is happening in different parts of Iraq.

Faud’s house was just across a dusty yard. Again it was no more than scattered bricks and cement blocks. Nassir, a cousin was called to describe what happened.

“We did not know, only by chance. Our house was raided, I was upset and decided to visit my uncle Faud’s house. The whole area was empty, only the American troops were filling the place. When I approached the house, it was as you see it now. I heard the voice my cousin Salaam and, and his sister Anwar calling for help. They were injured. But other 7 were killed. Cousin Isam (35), his wife (25), his children Hani (7) and Reem(3), his sister (20), Salaam’s bride, Sheima’ (20), and Quteiba were
all killed.

The stories of buried families under the rubbles became familiar in Qa’im. In Mohssin Mohammad’s house, near the electricity station, a family of 20 were killed, and in Mohssin Hommadi‘s house 35 were killed, we were told… “We used the food refrigerator to put the human bodies,” A., an employee in the hospital said.

A did not leave Qa’im during the last attack. He described what happened.

“On Nov 5, at 3 am the troops were dropped in the Railway and the Saray areas. At the same time, the bombing never stopped. Electricity was cut, and water too. The bombing was random. The tanks dashed in the street savagely. They bombed everything, even a small door. We were two families staying in the whole street. My gate was already broken because of the bombing. I crawled to open the inner doors. They were about 40 when they raided my house. They asked about terrorists and weapons. They
searched the house, and found nothing. They were attacked while they were in my house. In 6 minutes 3 houses were destroyed in retaliation. They told us to close our ears and open our mouths when they bomb. A journalist accompanying them operated my generator and began to send his story from my house. They dug trenches in the neighboring Hadg Thammer house, opened big holes in the walls, and ruined the roof.”

AM, another employee from Rummana said, “We saw 14 airplanes bombing, we heard that there is a major attack on Huseiba. 5 days later we heard that the attack was on Karabla and Ebeidy which was hit by 50 missiles from dawn to sunrise at 6 am. A man said that they used white phosphorus.

“How did he know that?”

“He said that when the dead were buried, their clothes were intact, but the bodies were like ashes when they were held. In Rummana they collected all the men, and the Iraqis who accompanied them would point to some who are then taken away. The troops are still occupying the schools and the medical center. They tell the families to leave then they blast the house. They did that with 15 houses in Rummana. In one
month, at least 150 were killed in Rummana. On Nov 15, they forced the families to spend the night outside in Ebeidy. Two newly born babies died in the cold.”

Next day we tried to go to Rummana. It was worse than AM described. The bridge, was bombed twice. First, no cars were able to cross, only on foot. Then, it was bombed again in three pieces, which raise their heads from the Euphrates as eternal witness of the American colonial barbarism.

To see more photos, click here.

(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 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: This dispatch -- as are all of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches -- is republished on my site with the kind, explicit permission of Dahr.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

If America Left Iraq: The Case for Cutting and Running

In this well-written article, Nir Rosen makes a cogent case for withdrawing the troops from Iraq, for "cutting and running", while astutely refuting each claim for 'staying the course'.

Nir Rosen, a fellow at the New America Foundation, spent sixteen months reporting from Iraq after the American invasion. His book, In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, will be published in February.

If America Left Iraq: The Case for Cutting and Running
by Nir Rosen

" At some point-whether sooner or later-U.S. troops will leave Iraq. I have spent much of the occupation reporting from Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, Fallujah, and elsewhere in the country, and I can tell you that a growing majority of Iraqis would like it to be sooner. As the occupation wears on, more and more Iraqis chafe at its failure to provide stability or even electricity, and they have grown to hate the explosions, gunfire, and constant war, and also the daily annoyances: having to wait hours in traffic because the Americans have closed off half the city; having to sit in that traffic behind a U.S. military vehicle pointing its weapons at them; having to endure constant searches and arrests. Before the January 30 elections this year the Association of Muslim Scholars-Iraq's most important Sunni Arab body, and one closely tied to the indigenous majority of the insurgency-called for a commitment to a timely U.S. withdrawal as a condition for its participation in the vote. (In exchange the association promised to rein in the resistance.) It's not just Sunnis who have demanded a withdrawal: the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is immensely popular among the young and the poor, has made a similar demand. So has the mainstream leader of the Shiites' Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who made his first call for U.S. withdrawal as early as April 23, 2003."

Read rest of this article here (from Common Dreams News Center)

Tomgram: The Forgotten Anthrax Attacks of 2001

[Note: This is the second of two pieces focused on reevaluating the costs of the September 11 attacks. In the first, Shark-bit World, I took the New York Times back to the week before September 11, 2001, time-machine style, and found a forgotten world in which the Bush administration, with its poll numbers dropping and congressional Republicans fretting, was drifting, politically challenged, and besieged -- a moment not unlike our own. I concluded: "Four long years to make it back to September 10th, 2001 in an American world now filled to the brim with horrors, a United States which is no longer a ‘country,' but a ‘homeland' and a Homeland Security State." Tom]

It Should Have Been Unforgettable
The Anthrax Attacks and the Costs of 9/11

By Tom Engelhardt

Imagine, for a moment, that someone had a finger on a pause button just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. That's not such a crazy thought. After all, most Americans watched the attacks and their aftermath on television; and, as coups de théâtre, they were clearly meant to be viewed on screen. Of course, the technology for pausing reality didn't quite exist then. But if someone in that pre-TiVo age had somehow hit pause soon after the Twin Towers came down, while the Pentagon was still smoking, when Air Force One was carrying a panicky George Bush in the wrong direction rather than towards Washington and New York to become the resolute war president of his dreams, if someone had paused everything and given us all a chance to catch our breath, what might we have noticed about the actual damage to our world?

As a start, there were those two towers and so many of the people in them (and those who came to rescue them) tumbling in that near-mushroom cloud of smoke into one of the greatest piles of instant rubble and powder in history. Even a few days later, glimpsed down various side streets, the vision of destruction at the World Trade Center site -- those gigantic, jagged shards of left-over building -- were (I can attest) more than worthy of some civilization-ending sci-fi film; of, say, the final scene in the original Planet of the Apes where the top of the off-kilter Statue of Liberty looms from the sand. So, other than the loss of lives, the initial cost of 9/11 was two large buildings and, in Washington, part of a third -- clearly stand-ins for American financial and military power. (The fourth hijacked plane, which went down in Pennsylvania, was surely on its way to the capital to add political power to the ensemble, creating the sort of triad that human beings seem eternally attracted to.)

Add four expensive planes (and their passengers and crews) to the list. Add as well, the economic impact of the downtown of a great city left in chaos; of the Stock Exchange halted; of destroyed businesses and lost business; then include the whack the travel and tourism industry took; and that's undoubtedly not a full list. None of this -- the lives lost most of all -- was in any way minor. We were hurt, that's for sure, though the economic impact of 9/11 would turn out to be closer to hiccup than earthquake.

But there were other costs, so much harder to tabulate. After all, Americans were not just hurt, but hurting. We had been robbed of something that seemed quite real (if you didn't happen to live in the vicinity of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City), something missing from the lives of so many others on this planet -- a sense of living in a safe and secure world. And the thieves had a Hollywood-inspired sense of spectacle; they were scenario producers who, with finances hardly suitable for a film noir, created the look of a large-budget extravaganza (of a sort Americans had long been familiar with in which towering infernos blazed, atom bombs went off, and volcanoes erupted in urban downtowns). They managed to mix "conventional" weaponry -- airplanes (that is, combustible fuel), box cutters, and mace -- into a brew that, whether by plan or simply luck, had the apocalyptic look of a weapon of mass destruction. Because the damage at the Pentagon didn't have that look, it never quite qualified for full membership in the 9/11 experience. On the other hand, the spot where the Twin Towers collapsed was instantly and universally dubbed "Ground Zero," a term previously reserved for the place where an atomic test or, in the case of two Japanese cities, atomic bombs went off.

Imagine, then, pushing that pause button just after the damage was done but before the "response" could begin; then look -- with as cool an eye as you can -- at the damage, wildly outsized compared to the group initiating it, but limited and not world-ending in the least (certainly not in a week in which our President estimated that 30,000 Iraqis, "more or less," had already died in the war he launched). As with the most successful terror attacks, the truly outsized thing was the response provoked. After all, a Serbian nationalist with a pistol was quite capable of assassinating an archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but not of causing World War I. Only major powers could have done that.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Bits About American Torture, including Video (ICH)

These are some of the latest interesting news items from Tom Feely of Information Clearing House (ICH), which he sends out to subscribers to his daily newsletter. For news you won't find on CNN or anywhere else on the MSM, I strongly urge you to check out this wonderful news/information site, and subscribe to the newsletter.

ICH: Fun Bits About American Torture

I believe that justice is instinct and innate; the moral sense is as much a part of our constitution as that of feeling, seeing and hearing: Thomas Jefferson : 3rd US president, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, 1743-1826.

To sin is a human business, to justify sins is a devilish business: Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy : Russian author, 1828-1910

Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere: Martin Luther King, Jr. : 1929-1968

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace: Dwight David Eisenhower : 34th president of the United States, 1890-1969

Nothing short of self-respect and that justice which is essential to a national character ought to involve us in war: George Washington: First President of the United States, 1732-1799

Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens : Plato : Ancient Greek philosopher (428/427-348/347 B.C.)

To read this newsletter online or



Number Of Iraqi civilians Slaughtered In America's War 100,000 +

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Slaughtered In Bush's War 2154

Cost of America's War in Iraq


The interrogation camp that turned prisoners into living skeletons

By Ian Cobain

Last week, Foreign Office files which have remained closed for almost 60 years were opened after a request by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act. These papers, and others declassified earlier, lay bare the appalling suffering of many of the 372 men and 44 women who passed through the centre during the 22 months it operated before its closure in July 1947.
Read full story...

Fun Bits About American Torture

In many ways, the U.S. is now just as inhumane and brutal as any Third World regime. Oh well?

By Mark Morford

Oh my God, yes, yes we do torture, America that is, and we do it a lot, and we do it in ways that would make you sick to hear about, and we're doing it right now, all over the world, the CIA and the U.S. military, perhaps more often and more brutally than at any time in recent history and we use the exact same kind of techniques and excuses for it our numb-minded president cited as reasons we should declare war and oust the dictator of a defenseless pip-squeak nation that happened to be sitting on our oil.
Read full story here

America's Own Chronicle of Its Hellish Descent

Iraq, Ourselves


"Iraq, Ourselves" traces the descent of American values into various circles of hell. The lust and gluttony for power, the greed for cheap and easy profit from Iraq's ruins, the wrath of our terrified military, of our mercenary "private security" goons, and now of Iraq's government-backed death squads and their hunt for heretics: All of it combines into a three-ring circus of violence with the Tigris for a River Styx and the Potomac for a Rubicon. Our imperial president crossed that one three years ago, with fraud on his lips and hubris in his plastic laurels.
Read full story here

Kidnap and Torture American Style

Video : Channel 4 Investigation

Kidnap and Torture American Style follows the stories of terror suspects. Some of them are British residents, who have been snatched from streets and airports throughout the world before being flown to the Middle-East and Africa. In countries such as Syria and Egypt, they undergo agonising ordeals before being incarcerated, without ever facing an open trial.

Watch it here.

Seven family members killed:

Seven family members are killed when gunmen burst into their house in town near Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, and open fire, police say. They know of no motive.
Read full story here

Iraq’s election a victory for Iran, says Rafsanjani:

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s influential former president, on Friday called Iraq’s parliamentary elections a “victory” for Iran and said the vote had shattered any US expansionist ambitions in the Middle East.
Read full story here

George Galloway: Audio: "Today London declared peace on the world."

George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, speaking on Dec 10th at the International Peace Conference in London.
Read full story here

In case you missed it:

Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war :

Secret document details American plan to bug phones and emails of key Security Council members
Read full story here

So, just who is Christian Bailey? :

A 30-year-old Oxford graduate with no public relations experience has been handed a $100m contract by the Pentagon - to plant false stories in Iraqi papers.
Read full story here

Lawmakers Back Use of Evidence Coerced From Detainees :

House and Senate negotiators agreed Friday to a measure that would enable the government to keep prisoners at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely on the basis of evidence obtained by coercive interrogations.
Read full story here

Torture Ban May Include a Backdoor:

Tom Wilner, a lawyer who represents a group of Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo Bay, told the Washington Post that the Graham amendment would make McCain's prohibition against torture essentially unenforceable, by giving U.S. troops an incentive to engage in coercive interrogations of detainees, without fear of being held liable.
Read full story here

Landmark Torture Ban Undercut :

Congress Would Allow Evidence Obtained by Torture :
Even as the U.S. Congress has passed a prohibition against the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, it is set to adopt legislation that would strip the judiciary’s ability to enforce the ban, Human Rights Watch warned today.
Read full story here

German abduction case gets murkier - did U.S. pay?:

German politicians expressed surprise on Thursday at reported U.S. comments that Washington had apologized and paid money to a German citizen it abducted to Afghanistan and held for months as a terrorist suspect.
Read full story here

Iran Warns Israel Of "Destructive" Response To Any Attack :

The defense minister , Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, said that Iran's defenses were strong enough to thwart any attack, but were Israel to try, "the answer of the Iranian armed forces to any attack would be quick, sharp and destructive."
Read full story here

Iran's President Threatens To Block Nuclear Inspections :

The new law requires the government to stop all voluntary and non-legally binding measures if Iran is referred to the UN Security Council. Fars reported that Ahmadinejad signed the law on 13 December.
Read full story here

British MP: Iran entitled to peaceful nuclear activity:

"Why should Iran be denied the right to nuclear activities for peaceful purposes, if other countries are given such a right?"
Read full story here

Iran May Buy Russian Surface-to-Air Missile Complex — Report:

Iran and Russia have prepared and approved an agreement project on the purchase of the Russian surface-to-air missile complex Pechora-2A in the second half of 2006.
Read full story here

Iran seeks to sign key oil deal with China by Jan:

The deal could draw fire from the United States. Washington has already penalised Chinese firms for working in Iran, which it accuses of seeking nuclear arms and funding anti-Israeli militia. Tehran denies the charges.
Read full story here

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