My New Year's Message: Despair and Hope
In the part of the globe where I have my abode, the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 is fast approaching. The new year is a scant two-and-half hours away. I was going to write a short message of good wishes to my fellow bloggers and weblog readers. However, after reading and posting my friend Dahr Jamail's last two Iraq Dispatches
, I am not feeling very well disposed toward some of my fellow human beings.
Reports from Iraq are true evidence of the escalating violence, terror, "ethnic cleansings", kidnappings, rape, torture and more brutalities, perpetrated by some factions against others, with the complicity of the Iraqi government and occupation forces.
The unimaginable horror of it all fills me with despair, and leaves me feeling less hopeful for a better year in 2006. But in my heart I know that tears of frustration and despair will not help end the Iraqis' ordeal, or make our wounded world a better place. What is
needed is a concerted effort by all people of conscience, everywhere, regardless of race, religion, political ideologies. We must set our differences aside and unite in a global effort to be proponents and voices of peace.
"Peace" is not a mere slogan used by wild-eyed 'hippies' or naive 'leftist' visionaries. Judging by the increasing numbers of 'propeace' websites, correspondence and emails I receive, "peace" is alive and well. The global Peace Movement is growing exponentially and gaining ever more highly-credible, respected, astute adherents from diverse backgrounds and age groups. Governments and high-profile politicians are beginning to take notice of the importance
of working toward global peace, realising that this is the only
viable way for humankind to sustain life on this planet. Wars in one part of the world create such a rippling effect that everyone is affected.
This growing global Peace Movement gives me hope, as it should to all people of conscience everywhere. The reign of the hawks is drawing to a close as we learn that wars are barbaric relics of the past and have no place in the world of the future. War and terrorism do not resolve conflicts, whatever these pro-war hawks may say to the contrary. In the same vein, 'democracy' can not be foisted upon people at gunpoint (or bombs) by outside forces, it can only be achieved by the natural progression of a society by its inhabitants, if they want it and work toward it themselves. This is why Bush's war on Iraq is so illogical and insane (not to mention immoral and criminal). One does not have to be a student of political science to see the obvious oxymoron in "bringing democracy by waging war". (Wage war to bring peace?) I would like to see Bush and his pro-war buddies call this gross abuse by a world superpower what it really is, instead of cloaking it in falsehoods that fool no one but the most gullible of their sheep-like followers. Those hawks who have uttered the words "regime change" were closer to the truth, although they do not admit the real reasons Bush and his cronies wanted this "regime change". I will not go into that now, as much has been written about the real
reasons for waging this war, and it is available to those who wish to read it.
The hour is now soon approaching midnight, and the dawn of a new day, a New Year, is almost here. In closing, I would like to ask all those who read this to please look inside your soul and search for your conscience. Once you find that 'inner voice' you will heed the call for peace, and join the millions of voices worldwide. You will write, phone, email your politicians and will raise your voices for peace. You too, will realise that without global peace our civilisation is doomed. We will have no world left to leave our descendants.
For the New Year, I would like to wish you and yours happiness, health, safety and peace. To learn more about the global peace movement
Please read: G.D. Paige, Nonkilling Global Political Science, available in text.pdf at: www.globalnonviolence
Glenn D. Paige is president of the Center for Global Nonviolence; professor emeritus of political science, University of Hawai'i; author of The Scientific Study of Political Leadership (1977), and of Nonkilling Global Political Science (2002).
Center for Global Nonviolence Founding Vision:
" Amidst continued killing at the end of history’s most violent century, the Center for Global Nonviolence arises out of faith that a nonviolent world is possible. It is possible for humans to stop killing each other from the family to the global community."... Read more
Read Background, Directors, more information about the Center for Global Nonviolence here
Anis Online webjournal:
This is a trilingual webjournal Anis Online
produced by German born Palestinian Anis Hamadeh. It has an interview on the Peace Department (Nov01, 2005) and has interesting links including the url for an interview with Peace Magazine on the same topic. URL: http://www.anis-online.de/
Department of Peace Canada: (Working Group for a Federal Department of Peace)
The Propeace Community Site: (evolving from antiwar to propeace)
Iraq Dispatches: Statement of the Council of Nineveh Province Notables, Sheikhs and Uleima
This open letter describes the terrible crimes committed by some Iraqi groups, condoned by the government. It mentions sectarian crimes and rape of Iraqi women; ongoing "ethnic cleansing" carried out by Beshmarga militias in Tel Afar and Mosul; massacres, kidnappings, use of poison gases, napalm, cluster and microwave bombs; crimes by the occupation forces; and more such heinous acts, and charges that the Iraqi Government is complicit in these atrocities. The writers call upon the UN, League of Arab Nations, Human Rights organisations, and others to heed their call for justice.
In light of this -- and previous reports from Dahr Jamail and others who are actually there on the ground in Iraq -- I am afraid that Iraq is on the brink of civil war. Bush and Blair indeed unleashed havoc of heretofore unimagined magnitude upon the people of Iraq. It makes me wonder how those two mindless chicken-hawk warriors and their legions can so insouciantly sleep at night, and parrot their inane platitudes by day. It also makes me wonder why the International Community is not reacting to this ongoing mayhem, and why people everywhere are not marching en masse
to bring about a stop to this violence. Has the world become so complacent to the deaths, cries, pain and suffering of our fellow human beings? Have we lost all sense of civil decency? In this fifth year of the new millenium, have we travelled back in time instead of forward? Why do we condone barbarous acts perpetrated upon a segment of our fellow inhabitants on this planet? Is it not up to each and every one of us to do our utmost to bring this barbarism to its end?
" Statement of the Council of Nineveh Province Notables, Sheikhs and Uleima.
In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful
A memorandum from Nineveh Province Dignitaries, Sheikhs and Uleima to:
General Secretary of the United Nations
General Secretary of the League of Arab Nations
General Secretary of the Organisation of Islamic States
Kings and Presidents of the Arab and Islamic States
All Humanitarian and Human Rights Organisations
In the light of the difficult circumstance that our country and people in general and the Province of Nineveh in particular are going through, a number of dignitaries and tribal chiefs from the Nineveh Province have met to discuss the tragic condition of the people of the Province under the shadow of the deficiency and absence of legislative and executive authorities and their security and military authorities which have changed to become tools for the oppression of the people of the Province
and to add further to their misery.
After discussions, it was decided to raise the following memorandum in the hope it may find some response to this call to protect this Arabic Islamic city and to assist our people in the Province of Nineveh.
We demand an International Committee of Enquiry in addition to an Iraqi committee formed by representatives of Uleima, Sheikhs and Notables drawn from central and southern Iraq to investigate the crimes committed by the American occupation forces assisted by members of the Interior Special Forces and National Guard. We especially point to the sectarian crimes and the rape of Iraqi women which count as grave precedent in Iraq. The Iraqi Government is partner to all of these crimes in the
absence of the media and in particular the killing and kidnapping of journalists by mercenaries of the occupation after terrorising and excluding satellite stations and Arabic and International media preventing the coverage of what is going on to enable the slaughter of Iraqi people without witnesses.
As we lay before the international public opinion and international human rights organisations the truth of what is happening in Tel Afar of the extreme use of force and the use of internationally forbidden weapons of poison gases, cluster, microwave and napalm bombs, we demand autopsies be carried out on the corpses of our sons who fell in the barbaric aggression by international medical bodies to verify the
inhuman practices carried out by the American forces of occupation and to expose the stooge militias that participated in the massacre of Tel Afar.
We warn as responsible people of the dangers of the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Tel Afar and the left bank of the city of Mosul and surrounding villages carried out by Beshmarga militias of the Kurdish parties and Badir Brigade “which are acting as regular forces of the National Guard” aided by the silence of the government where in
particular the homes of the Sunna in the city of Tel Afar are destroyed after the men are arrested and women and children are forcibly evicted under threat of death and rape.
We demand an end to the organised campaign of arrest against the Sunna. About fifty to a hundred sons, sheikhs and teachers of the Province are arrested only to be released days later after the payment of bribes which exposes how low the perpetrators are and their aim of breaking the morale of the people of the Province.
We demand the trial of the ministers of defence and interior for what they have caused to our people in Tel Afar and Mosul as a result of crimes rejected by human conscience. We also hold the government responsible for the exterminations and bloody butchery which took place in the city of Tel Afar and the extreme cruelty meted out to Sunna civilians both Arab and Turcoman.
We also demand the removal of the Governor of Nineveh Duraid Kashmoola who was too weak to do anything to assist the people of the Province and for keeping silent about all the assassinations and arrests carried out the Kurdish gangs and the Forces of Badir against the sons and notables of the Province. We also site his silence and failure to put a stop to Kurdish expansion which has encompassed all the villages of the Province. Kurdish gangs have abrogated the right to the control of all towns and villages surrounding Mosul where they treat all non Arabs even though they are not Kurdish such as Yezidis, Assyrians and Shabak, as Kurds by force. They also appointed party functionaries over such villages, took down the Iraqi flags and raised Kurdish flags instead.
Kurdish militias have in fact occupied the left bank of the city of Mosul itself and took down the Iraqi flags then raised Kurdish flags instead. The Governor has not stirred because the Province is lead by the Kurdish deputy Governor Khisro Kolani. He is the very person responsible for leading all of the extermination and assassination
operations against the Uleima, the sons of the Province, its sheikhs and teachers. All of the people of Mosul know that he is the person responsible for the assassination of the previous Governor Dr. Osama Yousif Kashmoola because he made a stand against the Kurdish tide.
While we warn of the gravity of the security situation in the Province in general and Tel Afar in particular we lay the responsibility for the latest sectarian escalation upon the party militias working as regular forces such as the National Guard as represented by the wolf and thunder brigades. In addition to arbitrary arrests, inhuman treatment, violation of residents’ rights and the theft of their belongings they shout upon entering towns in the Province “The army of AlHusain is here to break
the noses of the Sunnis”. This is a simple indicator of the sectarianism and hatred of such groups which was not familiar to either Sunni or Shia Iraqis and is a further clear indicator of the treachery of the parties that entered from beyond the borders of the Iraqi people.
We demand the withdrawal of all militias and all armed manifestations from the city of Mosul where these militias have established check points and distributed weapons to young militia men in an effort to terrorise the residents of Mosul. They have cut off roads arbitrarily while the Governor does nothing; in fact he is the last to know. They have hoisted Kurdish flags over buildings in order to establish a de
facto state as if we live in a country that is not Iraq. Every one knows that Mosul (despite our belief that all Iraqi cities are for all Iraqis) is an Arab city from old while the Kurdish residents in the left bank are those who migrated in last few years under pressure of difficult circumstances encountered in their areas. The people of Mosul opened their arms to their brothers and embraced them not to turn their city Kurdish because they believed in the unity of this country. This is in
sharp contrast with the banning of Iraqi Arabs from owning, building or investing in the northern areas. In addition there is a campaign of harassment to non Kurdish travellers to the north of Iraq.
We protest at the news blackout and total silence practiced by international organisations and human rights organisations towards what is taking place in Tel Afar and Mosul.
We protest at the news blackout and total silence practiced by Arab satellite stations towards what happened and is happening in Tel Afar and Mosul.
We protest the Arab, Islamic and International silence towards the use of weapons of mass destruction against our people in Tel Afar and demand an International Committee of Enquiry similar to the one investigating the death of Al-Hariri or is the blood of the people of Iraq in Tel Afar does not warrant investigating?
With God’s Peace and Blessings
The Council of Nineveh Province Notables, Sheikhs and Uleima.
Mosul 22/12/2005 "
(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://dahrjamailiraq.com
website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . 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 http://dahrjamailiraq.com
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website
** Website by http://jeffpflueger.com ** All of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches are republished on my site with the kind, explicit permission of Dahr.
Iraq Dispatches: Open Letter From an Iraqi
This is an impassioned open letter from an Iraqi to Pres. Bush in which the writer is highly critical of the situation in Iraq, and castigates Bush for the Iranian-backed Shia majority government which will most likely be formed soon. In the writer's words: "Finally, nothing seems positive now after the fraudulent ballots of the last elections. After all, the biggest winner is Iran and the Kurds. So you might go and sleep well tonight."
It was sent to me by Dahr Jamail in his Irag Dispatches
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website http://dahrjamailiraq.com
** Website by http://jeffpflueger.com ** Open Letter From an Iraqi
/I recently received this letter from an Iraqi friend who lives in
Baghdad. It is written as an open letter to Mr. Bush. -DJ/
" While there is deep concern about the possibility of civil war, the
common talk between all groups now in Iraq is the poor infrastructure, poor electricity, deficiency of fuels, bad drinking water, poor health services, poor education and extensive unemployment.
Unemployment doesn't mean that young men don’t have jobs, because you can hardly find a young man who sits in his house. Instead, they will sell cigarettes, for example, or they work as taxi drivers or in the weapons trade, etc. This kind of way of living will not improve Iraq.
I want to ask Mr. Bush…do you think that Iran is a democratic country? With freedom and liberty? Do you?
If your answer is yes, then we can understand what is going in our country.
But if your answer is no, then let me ask you again…are you insane?
Because now you have let those people and their followers have the power and drag us 100’s of years backwards.
Do you know, Mr. Bush, that Shia students in Iraqi Universities are making these mass self-punishments: weeping and crying marches on the university campus instead of doing useful research? Are you happy with this Mr. Bush? Well, we are not.
I am not against the Shia, as they are my friends and my neighbors. But I am against this retarded ideology brought to this 21st century from ages back and supported by the head fundamental Islamists who want people to continue following them for good.
The very same who want to cut the body of Iraq into pieces so that they can rule their way, or should I say the Iranian way? It’s the same.
Well Mr. Bush, I shall tell you that your troops invaded Iraq in three weeks. But that was easy for you because many Iraqis, including myself believed you. Let’s say that we had a dream. We believed that you are going to take us to the real freedom.
And as I am writing a vision flashed in my mind, drawing back these nice, hopeful dreams. I miss that dream I had from when I saw first an American soldier with my eyes, and knew that Saddam’s era; war era, sanctions era and suffering era had gone.
In this moment, now I wish that your era had not come. Because of you, we have witnessed horrible days and the future is a gloomy one.
Mr Bush, be acknowledged that the Iraqi police and Iraqi army are not dealing or treating Iraqi citizens as citizens should be dealt with. They humiliate them, insult them with bad words and aim their guns toward people without a reason. They have limited everything in our lives; they have limited our roads, they have limited our freedom to go on the streets after 8 pm, they have limited our feeling of security,
they have limited our hopes, our dreams and our social life.
Do you know that the government you installed has increased fuel prices five fold? It has failed to provide the minimum power to people and failed to supply water (Even if not good to drink. In addition, water is not available for the last days in Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq).
Mr. Bush, you must be proud of your new icon of democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Let me assure you that today there is no one in the world who wants to be in your icon of democracy, and not one country would want to be like Iraq. You know why? Because you have turned our lives into a seemingly endless series of crises and our suffering is day and night.
Finally, nothing seems positive now after the fraudulent ballots of the last elections. After all, the biggest winner is Iran and the Kurds. So you might go and sleep well tonight.
An Iraqi citizen who believes in freedom and democracy, and who is craving them."
(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com
website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . 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 http://dahrjamailiraq.com*Note:
This dispatch -- as all of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches -- is republished on my site with the kind, explicit permission of Dahr.
Stomach Bug Mutates into Medical Mystery
During this cold season, use antibiotics and strong heartburn medications with caution, and only on the advice of your doctor.
A mutated stomach bug Clostridium difficile
-- or C. diff
-- appears to be spreading rapidly among a growing number of otherwise healthy, young Americans, causing unusually severe, sometimes fatal illness. It has gained the attention of the CDC after it was reported in other countries.
Last year in Quebec, health officials reported that perhaps 200 patients died in an outbreak involving at least 10 hospitals. Similar outbreaks were reported in England and Holland.
First came stomach cramps, which left Christina Shultz doubled over and weeping in pain. Then came nausea and fatigue -- so overwhelming she couldn't get out of bed for days. Just when she thought things couldn't get worse, the nastiest diarrhea of her life hit -- repeatedly forcing her into the hospital.
Read more here
Iraq Dispatches: Coalitions Reject Election Results
Notwithstanding the glowing praises by Bush and his minions about Iraq's nascent "democracy" which will be emerging from the December 15 elections, the 'real' situation is quite the opposite. In Baghdad, the most important district with more than a fifth of the seats in parliament, the Iranian-backed Shia religious alliance took a surprising 57 percent of the vote, amid complaints of false ballot box stuffing and voter intimidation. The number of cases of fraud constituted the largest fraud in a "new democracy", and "led to at least 42 Sunni and secular Shia political parties demanding a review of complaints by an independent international body."
Arabs are also disputing the results in Kirkuk to the north, alleging Kurdish parties brought in voters from other areas to vote for them.
Meanwhile, tensions are rising, mass demonstrations continue and violence shows no signs of abatement.
Yes, Bush and Blair did a wonderful job of delivering the previously secular Iraq into the hands of Iran-backed theocrats.
To better comprehend this volatile situation, read this dispatch by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed:
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website http://dahrjamailiraq.com
** Website by http://jeffpflueger.com **
Coalitions Reject Election Results
*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed
BAGHDAD, Dec 30 (IPS) - Many Iraqis are demanding a new poll after more than 1,500 cases of election fraud and forgery were reported in the Dec.15 elections, at least 30 of them "extremely serious".*
The results so far indicate a strong win for Shia religious groups. There are widespread complaints that many of the instances of fraud favoured Shia religious groups that led the interim government which conducted the poll.
In Baghdad, the most important district in the poll with more than a fifth of the seats in parliament, the Iranian-backed Shia alliance took a surprising 57 percent of the vote, as opposed to 19 percent for the Sunni coalition.
With final election results expected next week, the number of cases of fraud constituting the largest fraud in a new democracy to date led to at least 42 Sunni and secular Shia political parties demanding a review of complaints by an independent international body.
Many complaints relate to false ballot box stuffing and intimidation of voters.
After the United Nations rejected a review, the coalition of Sunni and secular Shia parties, al-Maram, issued a joint statement threatening to boycott the new legislature. Large demonstrations are continuing across Iraq.
Tens of thousands of worshippers who support al-Maram gathered at a Sunni mosque in Baghdad Tuesday this week. The Imam called for a protest demonstration after busloads of people from across the capital city arrived to attend his sermon.
"Please God remove the invaders from Iraq with the hands of the mujahideen," he said. "And honourable prayers, we call for you to deny the elections, which were a fraud.."
He appealed against any domination of Iraq that would separate Sunnis from Shias. "Iraqis don't support separation of their citizens," the Imam said. "My tribe (al-Jabouri) is both Sunni and Shia. We are all cousins and are not separated by these elections."
Concern is rising among these groups over Iranian domination. "We ask almighty God to save us from being under the control of the Iranians," 45-year-old Baghdad resident Nadham al-Doury told IPS. Al-Douri who joined thousands of others in a march after the sermon said the election results would be forged, and that the current leaders of Iraq were "fascists".
Some banners at the rally read, 'Yes to Real Nomination...No to False Nomination' and 'We are Calling for Re-Elections'. Demonstrators in the mile-long procession chanted slogans like 'Baghdad Will Be Free...Iran Should Stay Out' and 'They are Playing with a Flame Which Must Burn Them'.
With the main Shia coalition rejecting calls for another poll, tensions across Iraq are rising.
Many parties are asking for the Independent Higher Commission for Elections in Iraq (IHCEI) to be replaced with a new commission whose members have no ties with the parties in power. Some Sunni and secular Shia political parties have renamed the IHCEI the 'Independent Higher Commission for the Islamic Revolution' that is biased towards the dominant Shia party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Demonstrations began Dec. 22, a week after the elections. Countless mosques across Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq called for demonstrations against widespread fraud. Tens of thousands came out to protest in the days following.
"I have won my seat in the parliament, but we don't accept it," Salaeh Al-Mutlak, head of the secular National Dialogue Front told IPS. "The elections should be cancelled because they were not legitimate."
Sheikh Mahmoud al-Sumaidaei, spokesman for the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told followers, "You have to be ready during these hard times, and combat forgeries and lies for the sake of Islam." The elections, he said, were "a conspiracy built on lies and forgery."
Arabs are disputing the results also in Kirkuk in Kurdistan to the north. They say Kurdish parties brought in voters from other areas to vote for them.
The United States and Britain, who wanted the election to install a secular, pro-Western democracy in Iraq, are now left with what looks more and more like a pro-Iranian, anti-Western Islamic state.
(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . 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 http://dahrjamailiraq.com
US: Justice Department Suing for White Voter Rights
There are no limits to the absurdities taking place in the country of our southern neighbours. This time, the DoJ alleges that the local Democratic party chairman and election officials "disenfranchised whites - challenging their voting status, rejecting their absentee ballots and telling voters to choose candidates according to race. "
Wednesday 28 December 2005
For the first time, justice department alleges voting disenfranchisement against whites.
" Macon, Miss. - In overwhelmingly black and Democratic Noxubee County, Miss., everybody knows local Democratic Party chairman Ike Brown.
Officials at the U.S. Justice Department know Brown too; they're suing him. Using the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the government has alleged that Brown and local elections officials discriminated against whites. It is the first time the Justice Department has ever claimed that whites suffered discrimination in voting because of race.
"When I read the letter, it was junk, you know, bogus," Brown told ABC News.
The Justice Department says Brown and local elections officials disenfranchised whites - challenging their voting status, rejecting their absentee ballots and telling voters to choose candidates according to race. "
Read rest of this article from Truthout.org
India Stopping Theft of Ancient Knowledge
For thousands of years Indian villagers have used an extract from seeds of the neem tree as an insecticide. So when a US company patented a process for producing the substance in 1994, India reacted with outrage. India's government now is creating a 30-million-page database of traditional knowledge to fend off entrepreneurs trying to patent the country's ancient lore.
" Protection: The nation is building a database of indigenous knowledge to keep entrepreneurs from making a profit from it.
New Delhi - For thousands of years Indian villagers have used an extract from seeds of the neem tree as an insecticide. So when a US company patented a process for producing the substance in 1994, India reacted with outrage.
After spending millions of dollars in legal fees to successfully overturn the patent, India's government now is creating a 30-million-page database of traditional knowledge to fend off entrepreneurs trying to patent the country's ancient lore. "
Read rest of article from Truthout.org
Slowly, Cancer Genes Tender Their Secrets
To their own amazement, scientists are now finding that untangling the genetics of cancer is not impossible. In fact, they say, what looked like an impenetrable shield protecting cancer cells turns out to be flimsy. And those seemingly impervious cancer cells, a researcher said, "are very much poised to die."
" Jay Weinstein found out that he had chronic myelogenous leukemia in 1996, two weeks before his marriage.
He was a New York City firefighter, and he thought his health was great.
He learned that there was little hope for a cure. The one treatment that could save him was a bone marrow transplant, but that required a donor, and he did not have one. By 1999, his disease was nearing its final, fatal phase. He might have just weeks to live.
Then, Mr. Weinstein had a stroke of luck. He managed to become one of the last patients to enroll in a preliminary study at the Oregon Health & Science University, testing an experimental drug."
Read rest of this article from Truthout.org
Racing Toward Climate Disaster
Several climate research studies released in December show that the impacts of climate change are coming faster than predicted. This suggests that the worst case disaster scenarios may be the most likely unless there is concerted global action to reduce emissions.
" Brooklin, Canada - With 2005 the warmest year in modern times and new research confirming scientists' worst fears, most experts agree that urgent and innovative international action on climate change is needed.
But neither action nor urgency was in evidence earlier this month in Montreal, Canada when 189 nations spent two weeks attempting to deal with climate change. Although the United Nations sponsored-talks were widely seen as an international success, they accomplished little beyond supporting the Kyoto Protocol and an agreement for more talks.
"As usual, national self-interest dominated, but at least the whole process wasn't derailed," said Dale Marshall, a climate change policy analyst with David Suzuki Foundation, a Canadian environmental NGO, who attended the meetings. "
Read rest of this article from Truthout.org
Suicides up in New Orleans as Further Toll of Katrina's Fury
I have read in yesterday's Truthout
(originally published in the New York Times by Adam Nossiter
) that the suicide rate in New Orleans is up, double or more the national and regional average. This is also the case for evacuees in cities such as Houston. Mental health professionals facing this growing tide of despondency see it as one more sign that New Orleans, with its miles of destroyed neighbourhoods, "moribund downtown and enclaves of semi-normality", is far from recovery. Many people returning for the first time to see the devastated remains of a life that once was, become so despondent that they lose the will to live.
We may possibly never really know how many hundreds, or thousands, of lives were forever ended or tragically shattered by the unprecedented fury of the hurricane that was Katrina. Her imprint will be felt in the Gulf region for a very, very long time. Meanwhile, outside of New Orleans people still live in tents -- or those 'lucky' enough in small, inadequate trailers -- four months after this most tragic of natural disasters in America's history.
" Hurricane Takes a Further Toll: Suicides up in New Orleans
New Orleans - Mental health professionals say this city appears to be experiencing a sharp increase in suicides in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and interviews and statistics suggest that the rate is now double or more the national and local averages.
At least seven people have killed themselves in the four months since the storm, officials say, here in a city whose population is now no more than 75,000 to 100,000. That compares with a national rate of 11 suicides per 100,000 for all of 2002, and a rate in New Orleans of about nine per 100,000 for all of 2004. There is broad agreement that the problem is likely to get worse. " Read rest of this article
Cindy Sheehan: "2006: The Year the Chickenhawks Will Go Home to Roost"
In this impassioned BuzzFlash
Guest Contribution, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan has this -- and more -- to say: "On January 31st, we will be in Washington, DC for the State of the Union address when George gets in front of Congress and the world and lies through his teeth about how great everything is going in Iraq and here at home. His idiotic policies have ruined Iraq and New Orleans and made the world a more dangerous place...allowing that terrorist attacks have tripled world wide since he decided to "fight them over there."...."
"2006: The Year the Chickenhawks Will Go Home to Roost"Fight ignorance! Read BuzzFlash!
December 28, 2005
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Cindy Sheehan
"Since hot, hot Camp Casey in August, some amazing grass roots actions have taken place all over the country. People are starting to speak up and Congress has begun to take action against the criminal and neo-Fascist regime that tried to take over America.
From Camp Casey to Katrina to use of chemical weaponry and extraordinary rendition to illegally spying on American citizens without due process, Bushco has miserably failed our country and the world. We as Americans said "enough is enough." We sacrificed a lot when we showed up in DC and other cities around the country in the hundreds of thousands to protest against and show that we withdraw any consent to be governed by murderous thugs. We started to peacefully, but forcefully resist the notion that this government has any right to govern us when they have betrayed their offices and their sacred trusts as "defenders" of the Constitution so horribly." Read the rest of Cindy Sheehan's article here
Scales of Justice Tipped
" PRESIDENT BUSH'S SECRET authorization of wiretapping of US citizens, revealed earlier this month, was shocking enough to derail renewal of the USA Patriot Act, at least temporarily. Could it be enough to deny the appointment of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court? The limits of presidential power should be at the center of questions for Judge Alito when he appears before Senate confirmation hearings Jan. 9."
"....the American people need independent thinkers on the court who will continue to assert the judicial role of checking presidential power."Read rest of this Boston Globe editorial
The Department of Peace Story
Yesterday I posted some info about a movement to create the Department of Peace. I posted it under the heading: "Help Create a Federal Department of Peace". I have just received more detailed information about this from the Ottawa chapter, and have posted it here in its entirety to help spread this important message. I firmly believe that in our chaotic world such "harmony brigades" are desparately needed, to work jointly toward the promotion of peace, both here at home and world-wide. With our election drawing near -- and politicians debating about spending more for our military -- it behooves all of us to bring the subject of peace to the attention of our politicos. It is time for Canada to go beyond traditional peacekeeping, and undertake -- indeed, be a world leader -- in the complex work of peace-building and conflict resolution. Already, citizens of 11 countries including Canada are lobbying their governments for such a change in the traditional way defence and foreign affairs are organized.
After reading this article, please visit the Department of Peace website: www.departmentofpeace.com
and sign on to help in the creation of this important effort.
Link to yesterday's post: Help Create a Federal Department of Peace
" Lowering our defences
Instead of keeping peace, how 'bout making it with harmony brigades?
By PAUL WEINBERG
You can count the minutes before calls for more military spending join the general clatter in the current election.
But what if there were a countervailing set of pressures? What if instead of demanding a boost for defence, pols felt obliged to press for the diversion of funds to a Department of Peace?
It's a scenario many anti-war theorists believe is not only credible but critical. It's time for Canada, they believe, to go beyond traditional peacekeeping and undertake the sophisticated work of conflict resolution and peace-building. These are skills that can't be learned on the fly but require a department dedicated to nurturing them.
In fact, citizens in 11 different countries including Canada are lobbying their governments for such a change in the traditional way defence and foreign affairs are organized, reports Bill Bhaneja, a retired Canadian diplomat and senior research fellow at the University of Ottawa.
He recalls being embarrassed when European Union NGOs asked him if Canada could contribute a few thousand trained professional peace workers to go abroad. "I said I am not aware of any such Canadian government program,'' he says.
Bhaneja believes there's wide agreement in the conflict-resolution community that what we do with our defence money is obsolete and out of touch with Canadians' desire to be true global mediators. It's also partially responsible for botched post-war reconstruction.
"Countries with economic dependence on weapons development and war machinery will instead have to start working for demilitarization, focusing on ways to champion human rights and justice for the marginalized within and outside their borders," says Bhaneja.
Although the government currently dispenses international aid and promotes disarmament, democracy and human rights, he says, the problem is that these are "buried and accorded low priority" in eight separate federal departments, including Foreign Affairs, National Defence, the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Development Research Centre.
"In each of these there is a range of activities, and not all of them are carried out. Foreign Affairs thinks it does peace-building; Defence thinks it does peace-building. Even CIDA thinks its poverty alleviation mandate is peace-building. But there is no focal point, no coherent framework, no integrated approach."
Organizing a campaign for a bureaucratic change in Ottawa may be a tall order, but Bhaneja has managed to gather some high-powered support. Former Liberal Foreign Affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy is on board, along with ex-senator, writer and chair of the Middle Powers Initiative Doug Roche.
"It's time to give peace a profile in Canada and concentrate government's attention on the fundamental values of this country, which are building the conditions for human security and peace,'' says Roche from his home in Edmonton. "There is a considerable amount of work being done, but it is time to focus it and channel it.''
Meanwhile, among some non-governmental organizations on the front line of peace lobbying in Ottawa, there is hesitation. Ernie Regehr, a senior policy adviser at Project Ploughshares, worries about the isolation of peace-building in a single department. And he notes that "peace-building and human security have a kind of profile in government that they haven't had for a long time."
He concedes, however, that the current impetus for peace promotion in Ottawa may not be strong enough – but wonders whether centralization is the way to go: "Is the pace going to be changed by reorganization, and is that going to galvanize some political will? That is a difficult judgment to make, I think."
At the same time, Regehr and others have noted that Canada's self-image as a world peace broker has been tarnished by our counter-insurgency operations with U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
A report written by Regehr and Peter Whelan argues that our level of military expenditure is excessive. Of our $16.3 billion spending on international peace and security, 76 per cent is devoted to defence. "The most prominent threats to [people's security] come from non-military sources such as unfavourable economic, social and political conditions,'' the report asserts.
Bhaneja does not see a Canadian department of peace duplicating the diplomatic activities and programs of his former employer, Foreign Affairs. He describes the latter as largely "reactive" to crisis points in the world and not set up to do the kind of long-range planning, research and education required for institution-building in troubled or failed states.
Rather, the former diplomat wants Canada to follow the example of Germany, where the government-supported civilian peace service is funding the training of peace workers in conflict resolution. These people are sent into the field in countries like Colombia to work with such grassroots groups as Peace Brigades International, the Nonviolent Peace Force and the Christian Peacemaker Teams.
The difference is that a national government can train and export non-violent peace workers on a scale that would not be possible with these kinds of volunteer-based organizations, he explains.
Although Bhaneja would not comment on the NATO-led, military-based development missions in Afghanistan (the so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams), he questions the ability of soldiers anywhere to engage in peace-building. "They are in the business of fighting and winning wars,'' he says.
Veteran peace worker and trainer Lyn Adamson says peace-building work would receive a major boost with the establishment of a government peace department. "I could certainly see a role for that, absolutely.''
Adamson was formerly with Peace Brigades, which primarily uses small teams of visible international volunteers to accompany local activists in potentially violent circumstances. She's now on the international board of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, an NGO that envisions sending thousands of experienced, salaried peace workers, not volunteers, into conflict zones instead of troops.
The uncertain fate of the Christian Peacemaker workers taken hostage by an unknown group in Iraq should not be used to dismiss the value of peace-builders in countries that have invited them, says Adamson. "It is inevitable that there will be some loss of life in the non-violent alternative. But to put it in perspective, it should be noted that PBI has sent well over 1,000 team members into the field in such places as Colombia, Indonesia, Haiti and Mexico's Guerrero and Chiapas regions since 1981 and has not suffered a single fatality."
NOW | DECEMBER 22 - 28, 2005 | VOL. 25 NO. 17
'The Nation's' List of Most Valuable Progressives of 2005
Who are the Most Valuable Progressives of 2005 in the opinion of John Nichols, in his Online Beat for The Nation
? For readers of this intelligent, out-spoken Magazine who may have missed it, I have reposted the link here, and also a few more interesting items from The Nation
This year that began with George W. Bush bragging about spending the "political capital" he felt he had earned with his dubious reelection is ending with the president drowning in the Nixonian depths of public disapproval. And, as John Nichols reminds us in The Online Beat, a handful of elected officials, activist groups and courageous citizens had much to do with the unraveling of the Republican program in 2005. So check out Nichols' list of Most Valuable Progressives of the year.
And don't miss "Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy," Nichols' new book with co-author and Nation contributor Robert McChesney. http://www.buzzflash.com/premiums/05/10/pre05143.html
Katrina vanden Heuvel says that the I-word has moved from the marginal to the mainstream. http://www.thenation.com/blogs/edcut?bid=7&pid=45006
Robert Scheer asks why it's not bigger news that "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax" have been quietly released from imprisonment without any charges being brought by their US captors?
Daphne Eviatar looks at Bolivia's new homegrown president.
John Nichols remembers the Christmas Truce.
Joshua Freeman argues against the lie that abstract, neutral economic necessity, not the ideas and interests of the rich and powerful, are driving the demolition of what remains of social solidarity. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060109/freeman
David Corn says Bush becomes a liberal when it comes to claiming existing laws grant him king-like powers, such as snooping on Americans without a warrant.
Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (DVD) Reviewed
For a belated Xmas gift -- or for your own DVD library -- check out this beautifully-photographed, extraordinary, profoundly political documentary film about Tibet. You can view the trailer and read more of BuzzFlash.com's review here. And by purchasing this DVD you will also help support the independent media of BuzzFlash.com
Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (DVD, 2003)
Director: Tom Piozet
SEE THE TRAILER: Click Here.
BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
We would recommend "Tibet-Cry of the Snow Lion" for the exotic images of the nation and its culture itself: the mountains, the clothes, the costumes, the people, the monasteries. We can go on and on, but this is a technically dazzling film in terms of vibrant colors and landscape.
But that's only the secondary reason to watch "Cry of the Snow Lion." This is a profoundly political film. It details the brutal, genocidal actions of the Chinese government against this peaceful Buddhist nation and its tradition of monastic study and contemplation. What is more galling is that the Western world, including "Mr. Faux Democracy" himself, George W. Bush, are more interested in China's financial trade than in freeing Tibet from its suppression by Beijing.
Read the Complete Review>>>
"A passionate, well-made documentary."
-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Documentaries can be informative, entertaining and provocative, but rare is the documentary that makes you feel so engaged (and enraged) that it prompts you to action somehow. Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion is that kind of film."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"Historical footage charts Tibet's encounter with its Communist neighbor, but the doc also provides a National Geographic kind of pleasure."
-- Village Voice
Order Today and Support Independent Media>>>
Funny Short Video of Bush Making a Speech
I just received this short video link from MediaChannel.org
and thought it funny in its parody of Bush making a speech. (It is
really Bush making the speech, but his voice is on slow play, making it look/sound like the prez is drinking again.) I thought I'd share it with readers here. Have a good laugh!
IS HE ALL THERE?
" Was the President having an episode or is he just unable to handle rejection? As talk of impeachment becomes more serious in serious circles, it's not surprising that the less serious among us are becoming more, shall we say, vicious in making fun of the leader supremo. Check this video out. It was on CBS and appears on a porn-friendly site:"
www.flurl.com (George Bush drunk)
MAKE MEDIACHANNEL.ORG YOUR HOME
on the Web for news, analysis, resources and more.
How Many Countries has the U.S. Bombed Since the Second World War?
Take a guess. Don't know? Not really sure? Read here to find out how many and which countries. The answer may surprise you.
Since the Second World War
THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
has bombed 21 countries
China 1945-46, 1950-53
Guatemala 1954, 1960, 1967-69
El Salvador 1980s
Former Yugoslavia 1999
Afghanistan 1998, 2001-??
IRAQ: The End of the Beginning Click here to read more...
Michael Ignatieff: An In-depth Profile
Who is this man? "Michael Ignatieff, who calls himself a liberal and a human rights campaigner, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing."
"According to rumour, he’s plotting a run for the leadership of Canada’s ruling Liberal party, hoping to become Prime Minister."
Status: Human rights campaigner, Harvard professor and Canadian political wannabe.
Reputation: Tough-minded liberal. Intellectual defender of the national security state. Apologist for empire.
Michael Ignatieff, who calls himself a liberal and a human rights campaigner, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
This past January, in an article for Britain’s Observer, he deplored Western indifference to the Iraqi election. Ignatieff, who supported the invasion of Iraq, lamented: ‘The Bush Administration has managed the nearly impossible: to turn democracy into a disreputable slogan.’
Ignatieff, meanwhile, has helped turn human rights into a ‘disreputable slogan’, posing as their standard-bearer while condoning imperialism and equivocating on torture. His politics amount to a slippery slope, with nuanced arguments at the top and the horror chambers of Abu Ghraib below. Ignatieff, born and raised in Canada, has an impressive CV. The Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, he has also been a professor at Oxford, a prize-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, a prolific print journalist and a BBC broadcaster – a well-established pop intellectual.
Like many of his kind, he was transformed by 9/11. He started advocating a more muscular protection of human rights and ended in the embrace of US imperialism. While criticizing various outcomes of Bush’s policies, he endorses their essential parts – scraping off the icing before eating the cake.
Read more about this Liberal candidate
Fear Destroys what bin Laden could not
Thanks to Tom Feeley of Information Clearing House
for these thought-provoking article excerpts which are a sampling from today's email newsletter. For more, please visit his informative site.
" One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.
By Robert Steinback
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
Read rest of article
Telling it like it isn't
By Robert Fisk
I FIRST REALIZED the enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East when I went some years ago to say goodbye to a colleague from the Boston Globe. I expressed my sorrow that he was leaving a region where he had obviously enjoyed reporting. I could save my sorrows for someone else, he said. One of the joys of leaving was that he would no longer have to alter the truth to suit his paper's more vociferous readers.
Read rest of article
Israel and the Neocons, The Libby Affair and the Internal War
By James Petras
Who were the fabricators of war propaganda, who was Libby protecting? And not only the "fabricators of war", but the strategic planners, speech-makers and architects of war who acted hand in hand with the propagandists and the journalists who disseminated the propaganda? What is the link between all these high- level functionaries, propagandists and journalists?
Read rest of article
UK: Cross-party support for war probe
More than 100 MPs from across the Commons have backed a call for an inquiry by senior MPs into the handling of the Iraq war and its aftermath. The MPs include 49 Lib Dems, 26 Conservatives and 20 from Labour.
Read rest of article
"War is like a big machine that no one really knows how to run and when it gets out of control it ends up destroying the things you thought you were fighting for, and a lot of other things you kinda forgot you had." : Anonymous
....most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right. Ralph Waldo Emerson - Self Reliance - 1841 - From 'Essays", First series
"For in every city these two opposite parties [people vs aristocracy] are to be found, arising from the desire of the populace to avoid oppression of the great, and the desire of the great to command and oppress the people....For when the nobility see that they are unable to resist the people, they unite in exalting one of their number and creating him prince, so as to be able to carry out their own designs under the shadow of his authority." (Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. IX)
"Protest that endures...is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence." Wendell Berry
For the saddest words of tongue or pen these are : " It might have been". John Greenleaf Whittier
Bush Delivers Iraq on a Silver Platter Into the Epicenter of the 'Axis of Evil'
hard-hitting News Analysis for today is so good that I have decided to post it here in its entirety. (Of course, Buzz gave me his kind, explicit permission to do this.) He writes about Bush liberating Iraq from a dictator, only to put the country into the hands of Iran's Shiite rulers. As always, Buzz pulls no punches in his heartfelt castigation of the bungling Bush.
Be sure to visit the BuzzFlash site
for more, regularly updated news and analysis, guest and readers' contributions, editorials. All interesting reads!
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
"Well, here's a little stream of thought for today...
We were watching that Hollywood epic "Lawrence of Arabia" last night and thinking how the Arab states are really an artifically imposed post-colonial era construct of the Western powers after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WW I. That, of course, includes Iraq.
In reality, Iraq is three ethnic/sectarian nations (at least): Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish. Right now, the Busheviks have delivered Iraq into the hands of the Shiites, and in particular, the faction aligned with Iran's hardline, whacko fundamentalists.
Now, isn't that emblematic of "Baby Doc" Bush's lifelong history of incompetence? He starts a war based on lies, gets rid of a secular (albeit ruthless) leader, has thousands of Americans and Iraqis wounded or injured, spends America into bankruptcy fighting an unnecessary conflict, and -- here's the coup de grace -- he ends up handing the nation that he invaded in the name of breaking the back of the axis of evil into the clutches of the axis of evil, the medieval Shiite rulers of Iran!
Now, we got ourselves a Colonel Klink in the White House to be sure! You couldn't screw this up more if you were a plumber with Parkinson's disease. (No offense to anyone who has the ailment.)
On top of that, the real reason that the Busheviks wouldn't let Iraq become a federation after the invasion, with the type of solution Bill Clinton achieved in the former Yugoslavia, is that the Turks won't allow an independent Kurdistan. They fear that such an entity would eventually fight to annex the eastern Kurdish portion of Turkey.
All we can say is that the Keystone Cops look like the Einstein Corps compared to the incompetent Busheviks, who threaten our national security and world peace everyday.
Remember again, John Murtha, urging the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, is speaking out on behalf of the military brass who can't publicly say that the war in Iraq is ill-conceived, unwinnable and deteriorating our military capability.
Those Democrats that continue to support Bush on the Iraq War put themselves at odds with the military, the rank and file of the CIA, and the national security interests of the United States of America.
How long can you timidly make excuses for the master at creating disaster?
Apparently, for the Democratic Leadership Council and the Democratic senators who support that sad, misguided entity, the answer is a long, long time.
Unsecured Chemical Plants: Just One More Example of How Bush Has Failed to Make America More Secure.
Bush Lied, Soldiers Keep Dying.
2,172 U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq (thru today)
15,955 U.S. Military Maimed in Iraq (Last DoD Update: 21-Dec-05)
31,115 Iraqis Reported Killed (thru today)
Consortium News Editor Parry's Year-End Letter
In his year-end letter, Robert Parry, the Editor of ConsortiumNews.com
, sums up the political crisis facing the U.S. He writes about the failure of the U.S. media to do its job. Reporters failed to ask the tough questions, failed to hold dishonest leaders accountable, and did not show enough courage to report the truth. Parry contends that this 'taming of the media' has been a longtime goal of the neo-conservatives. He also states that the U.S. government has "veered off into delusions of empire".
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. In this letter, he also mentions some of the achievements made through his new medium, ConsortiumNews.com
Read his interesting letter here:
" Dear Consortiumnews.com Readers,
The United States is facing a political crisis almost unparalleled in our history, a crisis uniquely dangerous because at its center it is not about a loss of power but about a loss of principle -- and even morality.
Instead of following the guideposts of a democratic republic, the U.S. government has veered off into delusions of empire. Instead of promoting international law, it has adopted theories of "preemptive" war. Instead of standing for human rights, it has become known for torture techniques, detentions without trial, and secret prisons.
Yet, this American crisis is also about the manipulation of information and the failure of the U.S. news media to do its job. Indeed, it is hard to envision that the United States would be in this fix if reporters had asked the tough questions, if they had held dishonest political leaders accountable, if reporters had shown more courage.
But this failure of the U.S. media wasn't an accident or simply a reaction to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Taming the news media has been a longtime goal of the neoconservative operatives who now dominate George W. Bush's administration.
For years, these neoconservatives have understood that before they could transform the United States into their dream of a uni-polar empire, they had to gain effective control of the information that flows through Washington -- and they had to neutralize the honest journalists who got in the way.
The neoconservatives knew the power that would come from controlling how Americans saw the world, a process they called "perception management". So, over the past quarter century, the neocons and their political allies invested heavily in building their own news media and intimidating the mainstream press.
That is where our Web site, Consortiumnews.com, comes in.
A decade ago, after working many years as an investigative reporter for mainstream news outlets, such as the Associated Press and Newsweek, I felt that a new kind of media institution was needed, one with the courage to resist the pressures brought to bear on journalists. (I had experienced that pressure in the 1980s and early 1990s while investigating what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal.)
So, in 1995, on the advice of my oldest son, Sam, we turned to a new medium, the Internet. I cashed in my Newsweek retirement account to raise the money to get started and we began building our Web site as a home for well-researched journalistic stories that had no place in the sensationalistic, trivialized news media of the mid-1990s.
Since then, we have produced hundreds of important stories that illuminated how our nation drifted into the predicament it's in today. Among our investigative projects:
--We traced the origins of Republican contacts with Iran's Islamic fundamentalist regime back to secret meetings during the pivotal 1980 presidential campaign.
--We exposed the hidden history of covert arms deals between the Reagan-Bush administration and Iraq's Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.
--We showed how international money-launderer Sun Myung Moon used his mysterious wealth to corrupt the American conservative movement and build the Right's media.
--We laid out the real story behind the myth of Colin Powell, a man whose sterling reputation masked a long record of opportunism.
--We explained how Election 2000 was distorted first by bad reporting, then by inaccurate vote tallies, and finally by more bad reporting.
--We questioned George W. Bush's case for war in Iraq and his risky military strategy that was based on dangerous wishful thinking. By contrast, most of the U.S. news media was wrapping itself in the American flag and doing features on "freedom fries".
While we've accomplished much with our decade-old Web site, we've been hobbled by a chronic shortage of money. At a crucial juncture in early 2000, I had no choice but to make the Web site part-time and take a decent-paying job as an editor at Bloomberg News. (In 2004, I left that job to write Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and try to rebuild Consortiumnews.com.)
For our survival, we remain dependent on the generosity of our readers. (We have appealed to many large funders for help, but they have not been supportive. They don't seem to understand the need.)
So, if you can, we would deeply appreciate your help.
You can contribute either by credit card online or by sending a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Suite 102-231, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. For contributions of $100 or more, you can get an autographed gift copy of Secrecy & Privilege or one of my other books. Also, since we are a non-profit 501-c-3 organization, your contribution is tax-deductible.
Thank you -- and best wishes for the New Year."
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq
, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com
. It's also available at Amazon.com
, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
Help Create a Federal Department of Peace in Canada
"The very agonies of war and the dark night of suffering that has lasted for centuries are awakening civilization to a new understanding: the peoples of the Earth have a sacred right to peace." - Senator Douglas Roche
WHO WE ARE
The Victoria chapter was formed in Fall 2003 in Victoria by a group of interested citizens who had independently considered that a Minister of Peace would be a timely addition to the federal cabinet, given the conflicted state of the world. The Ottawa chapter was struck in February 2005, following the International Consultation on Civilian Peace Service held at St. Paul University. We have enormous respect for those who have been engaged in peace work all along and look forward to working with them.
The Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada and President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Winnipeg, Dr. Paz Buttedahl, Director, Human Security and Peacebuilding Programme, Royal Roads University and Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, past President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, are acting as advisors to this group. In Ottawa, the group is being advised by: Murray Thomson, O.C., Co-Founder, Project Ploughshares; Hans Sinn, founding member, Peace Brigades International (PBI) and Chair, Civilian Peace Service Canada; Dr. Peter Stockdale, President, Global Bridge, Ottawa. After discussion it was agreed that Victoria and Ottawa groups would merge their proposals into a single effort. This new proposal is the outcome of our collaboration.
OUR OBJECTIVE: TO CREATE A FEDERAL DEPARTMENT FOR PEACE
WITH THE MINISTER OF PEACE AS A SENIOR MEMBER OF CABINET
Victoria Chapter: Saul Arbess
Ottawa Chapter: Bill Bhaneja
Vancouver Chapter: Deen Selwood
TAKE ACTION: Participate in the creation of a Federal Department of Peace
FIND OUT MORE: Department of Peace Canada website
May Peace Prevail On Earth!
Internet Fosters Local Political Movements in the U.S.
Thanks to the explosion of the Internet and online blogging, grassroots political movements are growing exponentionally in the U.S. People who otherwise would not be heard are organizing, supporting candidates, removing others, and letting their voices be heard. They are proving to be a force for change, and their actions are starting to make a difference. In this era of people-driven politics, these newly empowered constituents are using technology to send a message to politicians. Had the Internet existed in the 1960's, the anti-war movement would have gained momentum much sooner.
The same holds true for Canada, as evidenced by the recent "Klandergate". Mike Klander's disparaging, nasty comments made on his blog about Olivia Chow and Jack Layton would have gone unnoticed, had it not been for an observant Canadian blogger who posted about it. After it exploded over the Canadian blogosphere, the CBC had no recourse but to finally issue a report
about it late on Monday. As a consequence, Klander stepped down from his volunteer position as executive vice-president of the Liberal Party's Ontario wing. His blog has been taken off line, and he apologized to Olivia Chow. Klander also made some very rude comments about other politicians, but so far, he has not aplogized to anyone else.
Hence, it is high time that all politicians start paying attention to bloggers, and regard them as a serious source of disseminating information, and pay heed to their voices and opinions.
Read more about the American political movements fostered by the Internet:
"Politicians who pay little heed could find frustrated voters banding together and creating a third-party movement.
"At some point this has got to reach critical mass," Kofinis said. "Nobody knows when that will happen or how that will happen, but it will literally explode into a movement."
" Frustrated by government and empowered by technology, Americans are filling needs and fighting causes through grass-roots organizations they built themselves — some sophisticated, others quaintly ad hoc. This is the era of people-driven politics.
From a homemaker-turned-kingmaker in Pittsburgh to dog owners in New York to a "gym rat" here in southwest Florida, people are using the Internet to do what politicians can't — or won't — do.
This is their story, but it's also an American story because ordinary folks are doing the extraordinary to find people with similar interests, organize them and create causes and connections.
"People are just beginning to realize how much power they have," said Chris Kofinis, a Democratic consultant who specializes in grass-roots organizing via the Internet. "
Read rest of this article here
Silent Nights on the Gulf Coast
The media has lost interest in the victims of Katrina, who are living in small tents four months after the devastation caused by this hurricane. Young and old, rich and poor, black and white, all live in unimaginable squalor in the so-called richest country on earth, the U.S. of A. Thousands still live in tents, as there is a huge backlog for trailers promised by the government, and at least 10,000 more are needed. Progress is maddeningly slow, with most of the aid being provided by American and Canadian relief agencies.
Magna Corporation built a small village of houses, using the local people to help build them. I heard no mention anywhere in the U.S. mainstream media about this.
The tragedy of Katrina will worsen if the Gulf Coast is forgotten. People can not survive in tents. And FEMA trailers are not meant to be longtime homes, yet even for these there is a long waiting list.
Best-selling author John Grisham toured the area and writes about this American tragedy in an impassioned article which is excerpted here:
"This year, the great Christmas wish in the Village was to finally get a trailer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency."
" CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia In the harrowing days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the shellshocked and homeless survivors strung up tents and tarps wherever they could find standing shelter, anything to hide from the sun.
Now, four months later, many of the tents remain: in the front lawns of once fine houses now gutted and unlivable, in small clearings between mountains of rubble, beside camping trailers too cramped for entire families, on concrete slabs wiped clean by the storm surge, even in the living rooms of houses with few walls but intact roofs.
The sun is no longer the problem: instead, the most desperate of the hurricane's victims have stuffed tents of every imaginable make and model with Salvation Army blankets and mattresses to try to stay dry and warm.
There is the dismal feeling that some of these tents may not be so temporary. One tent city built by the army, dubbed "the Village," sits in the center of Pass Christian, a small town 30 miles, or 50 kilometers, west of Biloxi, at ground zero for Hurricane Katrina.
The Village is a gloomy grid of 70 tents, 10 numbered rows of seven each, housing about 150 people - old, young, black, white, poor, middle-class, some so ill that their tents are marked "Oxygen in Use." After four months, some of the shock of loss has worn off, and the people go quietly about the daily challenges of securing a warm, private shower, washing whatever clothing they have left, and hoping that their children do not fall ill."
Read rest of this article here
Schwarzenegger's Death Penalty Stance Causes Backlash in Austria
Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in a tiny village near the picturesque town of Graz, Austria, to a poor farmer. He attended school in Graz, and the town was proud of its native son after his achievements in America. However, this hero worship turned to swift indignation over the California Governor's refusal to commute the death sentence of Crips gang founder-turned-youth-peace activist Stanley Tookie Williams. Over the Christmas holidays, the town of Graz removed his name from the "Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium".
Graz designated itself via unanimous vote of the City Council, to be Europe's first official city of human rights, and created the European Training Centre for Human Rights five years ago. It is a human rights academy designed to promote respect for the rule of law, especially among the new democracies of Eastern Europe. Even the conservative mayor of Graz is against the death penalty, which is seen as a "medieval atrocity".
Kudos to the authorities and people of this lovely town, which I had the pleasure to visit several years ago. I was impressed by this pristine, clean place of museums, old onion church steeples, art nouveau architecture, good food and friendly people -- where one can stroll around in complete safety at any hour enjoying the sights and peaceful ambience.
" Sometime over the Christmas holidays, the authorities of Graz, a classically pretty Austrian town, took down the sign that for the past seven years has identified the local 15,000-seat sports arena as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium, and as they did so, a rare combination of local hero worship, European indignation at the death penalty, and provincial Austrian politics came to a climax.
The stadium had been named after Schwarzenegger in 1997 as an act of a kind of fealty toward the poor farmer's son and international celebrity who, though born in a little village nearby, was educated in Graz and has always readily identified it as his native place.
But when Schwarzenegger, now governor of California, declined to commute the death sentence for Stanley Tookie Williams, the former Los Angeles gang leader who was executed in California two weeks ago, the reaction in Graz, where the death penalty is seen as a medieval atrocity, was swift and angry."
Read rest of article here
Why Many European Women Are Turning to Islam
Since 9/11, Europeans' curiosity about Islam has grown, prompting many, especially women, to convert. Although there are no precise figures, observers who monitor Europe's Muslim population estimate that several thousand men and women convert each year.
Why European women are turning to Islam
" PARIS – Mary Fallot looks as unlike a terrorist suspect as one could possibly imagine: a petite and demure white Frenchwoman chatting with friends on a cell-phone, indistinguishable from any other young woman in the café where she sits sipping coffee.
And that is exactly why European antiterrorist authorities have their eyes on thousands like her across the continent.
Ms. Fallot is a recent convert to Islam. In the eyes of the police, that makes her potentially dangerous. "
Read rest of this article here
BuzzFlash Special Holiday Message and Headlines
Thanks to BuzzfFlash
for today's wonderful commentary and headline links. I especially like the BuzzFlash special Holiday Message, where they answer the question: "Does BuzzFlash believe in God?" It is a sage, heartfelt, poignant message and for those of you who missed it yesterday, it is held over and republished again today. Whatever faith you do/don't profess, I suggest you read this message linked below.**
If any of the headline links below our daily commentary don't work, just go to: http://www.buzzflash.comRead more from BuzzFlash
" Santa's elves may be done for the year, but the Mayberry Machiavellis in the White House are still hard at work trying to amass unprecedented, UnConstitutional powers in the hands of the mediocre.
The faux propaganda diversionary non-existent "War on Christmas" is over, but we need a war of courage in defense of the American Constitution against those who would betray it -- and they are the ones who have seized America.
Liberty has its price. It's time we paid it. Our freedom is at stake. It's like the "F" students have taken control of America's strongest nation and don't plan on giving it up.
By, the way, now that Christmas is over, is Bill O'Reilly going to start a campaign that claims the "liberals are conducting a war on New Years"?
Many years ago, people like O'Reilly would just be found muttering to themselves on a barstool after a few round of drinks in a dim, shabby bar in Queens. Now, he's a star on the FOX GOP propaganda network.
If ever there was a symbol of the decline of morality and the impoverishment of our thought under the Republican tide, it's Bill O'Reilly and his female alter-ego, Ann Coulter. They are like performing bears in a circus -- without the muzzles.
Can we run this FOX Republican News circus out of town? It certainly isn't something you would take your kids to. It's definitely harmful to children, plants, and other living things, particularly democracy."
The top US military commander admitted Sunday that Iraqis wanted US and other foreign troops to leave the country "as soon as possible," and said US troop levels in Iraq were now being re-assessed on a monthly basis.
Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security [excuse us, which he considers damaging to his poll numbers] -- and -- The admission by two columnists that they accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be the tip of a large and rather dirty iceberg.
Companies will get federal windfalls to keep drug plans for retirees
**Held Over: Remember this and you will truly celebrate this holiday season as it should be celebrated -- a celebration of a life and love that does not live in the shadow of fear and darkness. A BuzzFlash Holiday Message in Which We Answer the Question, Does BuzzFlash Believe in God?
Chicago Tribune Conservative Columnist Steve Chapman Tells It Like It Is: "What we have now is not a robust executive but a reckless one. At times like this, it's apparent that Cheney and Bush want more! power not because they need it to protect the nation, but because they want more power. Another paradox: In their conduct of the war on terror, they expect our trust, but they can't be bothered to earn it." 12/26 * Note: If this headline link doesn't work, please go to: http://www.buzzflash.com
World Vision's Life-changing Work in Southeast Asia
Five-year-old Idawati, carried by a World Vision worker, has received care and counselling.World Vision
began its work in Southeast Asia in the 1960's. When the tsunami struck, being in the community enabled staff to respond quickly.
December 26, 2005
See footage of World Vision’s life-changing work in Southeast Asia.
On this, the one-year anniversary of Southeast Asia’s deadly tsunami, I want to share with you how World Vision is helping turn an unthinkable tragedy into a story of hope. Because World Vision has been working in this area for over 40 years, we were able to respond immediately to help children like 5-year-old Idawati .
After losing her parents and sister to the tsunami, Idawati was lonely, scared, and cried often. But because so many people reached out with their prayers and support, World Vision was able to provide this little girl with ongoing counselling and loving care.
We’ve also helped over a million other children and families in the year since the tsunami—and we’re still working to rebuild lives. Altogether, we’ve:
* Set up 250 Child Friendly Spaces where the littlest victims of the disaster could feel safe, play, and begin to heal from their trauma.
* Housed 39,000 people in transitional shelters.
* Provided food aid to 560,000 children and adults.
* Set up 170 school feeding programs that reached 38,000 children in Sri Lanka.
President, World Vision Canada
Harsh Reality for Iraq's Christians
Bassem Khedhr danced with his daughter, Nuna, while celebrating Christmas Eve with his family in Baghdad. (Hadi Mizban/ Associated Press)
Often ignored by the mainstream media, the plight of Iraq's Christians goes under-reported, if reported at all. Christians (Chaldeans) make up 3% of the population. Many have left their homeland in fear for their safety, as the predominantly Shiite fundamentalist majority is set to shape the new face of Iraq.
Violence mars holiday season
By Mariam Fam, Associated Press | December 26, 2005
" BAGHDAD -- At first glance, it seemed like a regular Christmas at Bassem Khedhr's home yesterday -- a green tree with flickering lights stood in the living room, everyone was dressed in new clothes, and the women baked holiday pastries.
But the hardships of daily life dampened the festivities. Khedhr missed Christmas Mass because he had to fix the house's generator, and his mother was jolted awake in the morning by four explosions. " Read rest of this article here
“Peace on Earth” Means “No More War”
by John Dear
" The story goes that when the nonviolent Jesus was born into abject poverty to homeless refugees on the outskirts of a brutal empire, angels appeared in the sky to impoverished shepherds singing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth!” That child grew up to become, in Gandhi’s words, “the greatest nonviolent resister in the history of the world,” and was subsequently executed by the empire for his insistence on justice.
This weekend, as tens of millions of Christians across the country celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, the U.S. wages war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia and elsewhere; crushes the hungry, homeless, elderly, imprisoned and refugee; and maintains the world’s ultimate terrorist threat--its nuclear arsenal. "
Read rest of this article here
John Dear is a Jesuit priest, peace activist, and the author/editor of 20 books on peace and nonviolence, including most recently “The Questions of Jesus” and “Living Peace,” both published by Doubleday. He is the coordinator of Pax Christi New Mexico. For information, see: www.fatherjohndear.org and www.paxchristinewmexico.org
A Christmas Message from the Green Party
Love and Friendship are sustainable.
The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of the
future. The fulfilling pleasures of sharing with
friends and family are good for the Earth.
Conversation, song and laughter, dance and games
consume no resources and create no waste. May
your holiday activities bring you joy and peace.
In the New Year the Green Party invites you
to join with us to help make decisions for a healthy
planet. Together, we can ensure that quality food
and shelter allow our childrens' childrens' children
to celebrate with each other in warmth and security,
as they too wait for the days to grow brighter.
Best wishes for the Season.
from Mike Nickerson and
* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - *
Please pass this greeting forward.
The goals we pursue are the seeds
from which our future grows.
See "The Challenge and the Goal" at:
* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - *
"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
Brotherhood: 'Myth Does not Mean Denial'
The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has said that when he called the Holocaust a myth this week, he did not mean to say it never happened but wanted to highlight the West's attitude toward democracy. The office of Muhammad Mahdi Akif, the "general guide" of the Islamist opposition group, said in a statement on Saturday that his remark on Thursday was meant merely to make a point about the West's attitude towards democracy and the Palestinians.In a message on Thursday, Akif said: "Western democracy has attacked everyone who does not share the vision of the sons of Zion as far as the myth of the Holocaust is concerned."He cited as evidence of Western intolerance the cases of Roger Garaudy, the French writer who was convicted of questioning the Holocaust in France in 1998, and David Irving, the British historian who faces similar charges in Austria next month.But on Saturday, his office said: "Some media gave this a meaning which he [Akif] did not intend [and read it as] a denial that the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis during World War Two happened. The fact is that he did not deny that it took place."West's double standards"He [Akif] brought up the case of Garaudy ... to contrast it with the West's disregard for the victims of the Zionist state and its daily crimes against the Palestinians."He cited that as evidence of the West's policy of a double standard and of the democracy of exclusion which it practises on a wide scale."Full Story
By Jack DaltonNote:
12/24/05 "ICH" -- -- It wasn’t that long ago that the military command in Iraq started pulling computer access to various units. Seems some of the troops were writing emails home to family, to friends, to various anti-war groups and the like, and the military was getting a bit disconcerted by that. After all, can’t have your own troops pretty much turning the “official news” on its head now can you? So what do you do? You shut them up and any way that you can. Let them know they are monitored works pretty good.
But, what about the “moms” back home that are writing on the internet? Moms like Robin Vaughan, whose letter detailing her recent experiences with the Department of Defense and the Army is below.
Moms writing back and forth to “sons and daughters” in Iraq, who might “slip” and tell “mom” what life is really like in Iraq; Can’t have that now, can we? What if the “moms” start telling others what their sons and daughters are telling them (at least the ones that are still able to access a computer). Can’t have that people might turn against the war ON Iraq. I guess we better threaten and intimidate the moms so they’ll keep their mouths shut, stay off the internet and just go home and be a mom. Doesn’t matter to the military these moms only wanted to do what moms do, especially military moms, worry and take advantage of the internet to chat with sons and daughters.
This is pretty much what has happened to Robin Vaughan, the mother of a young man who was in Iraq. We have a DoD and Pentagon (military) that has become the foreign policy ‘setter’, and enforcement arm for the Bush/Cheney cabal--(you know, the guy who said, with a smirk, that he broke the law then pretty much asked, what are you going to do about it?)--that is now attempting to eliminate the rights, the very speech of a group of mothers with sons and daughters in Iraq.
Read Robin’s letter. Write her. Give her your support—what has been done to her and the other mothers in her group cannot go unanswered! This will only get worse the longer we delay in taking this nation back from the crooks, thugs in whose hands it now is in. Too many Iraqi’s; too many of our own; just too many, period have been killed and maimed already! Now moms are being threatened…what next? (Definitely a rhetorical question)
Robin’s letter came to me thru VAIW (Veterans Against the Iraq War). I have since exchanged a couple of emails with Robin and phone calls, and plan on helping her get this story out—read her letter and join me. –- Jack Dalton
Letter From A Military "Mom": Domestic Spying & Incident of Intimidation of Military Families
By: Robin Vaughan
I am sending this letter to you in hope of finding a source to hear my concerns. It is something that has bothered me since the occurrence, and I know it is not something that should have happened, and I worry for my family's safety as I step out to speak about this.
During my son's deployment to Iraq, February 2004-February 2005: I created a small group website on MSN, for families and friends of our soldiers’ deployed unit. It was a membership only site, and we were a tight group of mostly "Moms", from all over the United States, just trying to make it through each day. The support and help we gave one another is a singular experience of grace, I will never forget.
During the first few months of our site, the Army decided to call every single family on the site, informing them, that the site was not to be used by any of the families. The Department of Defense called families in the middle of the night to notify them to not use the web site. Most of the families were near tears, thinking they were getting "THE" call telling them their child or loved one had been killed or injured.
The information received via the phone call was to inform the families that the base did not condone the site, nor [did] the Army, and that it was not to be used; the gist was, families were not allowed to use the site, or they could get into "trouble". Some members reported their soldier calling from Iraq, telling them to be careful about using the site as the Army was monitoring it.
As Web Mistress of the site, I needed to respond and qualify this information, as well as to educate this commanding officer as to the rights and liberties of a private web site; which I did. I was told I would have to let a commanding officer on the site to monitor the messages; I did allow this, but I also informed the officer that this was a courtesy, as there is no such law, or right of the military to monitor, shut down or exclude our web site.
I believe we received this order, and treatment for a couple of reasons.
Occasionally we would voice our concerns publicly over what our government was failing to do to help our soldiers, or we would share or argue political opinion as well. The second reason may be: the armed services all have a group of their own family type support (FRG); as we were not local to the base our soldiers deployed from, the site was a means to provide that support, as best as we could.
The support group at our base, tried to force the site to be given over to them, which I refused. At this time I was told, I might want to be careful, as the government was monitoring the site as well. Soldiers in our unit, while in Iraq, were telling their parents to stay off of the site, or to be very careful of what they wrote. This came from a rear detachment officer in charge, and members on the site.
I reminded the Army I am a private citizen, not on base, with a private site making no claims to have any affiliation with any branch of service, but clearly stating we were families and friends of our unit in support of one another. We were treated to power by intimidation. It isn't hard to make that work, when you have someone's child in a war zone.
We were a group of 77 families from all over the country, at the time of the call. Every single family was phoned and told not to use the site; and I believe some 150 other families were phoned as well, as it was an official order from a commanding officer.
I have waited to speak of this situation until my son was home safe and sound, and also after his transfer to another base. Yes, I was afraid of repercussions that could have harmed him, one way or another. I called my local senator's office, 4 months ago, following up every 10 days to 2 weeks, and still have no answers or support.
I admit I am not comfortable writing this, as required to, as I am still concerned for my son and the other soldiers and families involved on the site. We didn't endanger them by means of displaying their photos with their names, giving up information about their location and actions. We were very careful to not breach Intel protocol, learning Ops protocol, as well as respecting and complying with it. We simply were at times, vocal about our displeasure with our president and government for how our military was being treated, or how the presidential election was being handled.
There are literally hundreds of military family, private support groups on the Internet. I truly believe we were singled out because of my refusal to hand the site over to the local F.R.G., as well as [my] outspoken political beliefs.
It's simply amazing that my son and others risk their lives for ”Freedom" in Iraq, when his own mother's civil liberties are threatened, and families are intimidated into silence, by the very same Army he is serving. I am hoping after reading this you may direct me as to where I can at least have this concern heard. Basically, are the following common practice, and legal?
**The Armed services can order families from communicating in a private forum?
**The Armed services can threaten private citizens’ first amendment rights?
I want to make sure this is not happening to other service member's families. We live in a hell everyday during the deployment of our loved ones; we don't need the added bullying or stripping away our means of helping one another.
Any idea or direction you can point me in would be greatly appreciated. Also, this problem can be corroborated by other families if need be.
Why did it take so long for me to step forward?
Originally I contacted my Senators office, with no reply for six months, and have also spoken with the A.C.L.U; (with little hope of action due to the length of time that has passed) but until now was not willing to come forward in a public way. It took until September for my son to be safely stationed at another base, and other family's service members to either be out of the service all together, or be transferred as well.
We were afraid for their safety, our own, our relationships with them and their future in the service, all of these things could have been affected, and we couldn’t chance one more problem or pressure being added to the already heavy load the families and soldiers live with. The intimidation worked. Is this just something silly I should let go?
It doesn't seems trivial to me, but I am learning unless it happens to someone personally, no one seems to care.
Thank you, for your time
Due to the urgent need to get Robin Vaughan's story out, I have posted the above two articles in their entirety, unabridged and unedited, as they appear today, December 24th, 2005 on Information Clearing House
, published by Tom Feeley.