Friday, December 22, 2006
Once again, Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Kellemes Karácsonyi Ünnepeket és BUÉK, Bon Natale, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Eid, Fröliche Weinnacht, etc., etc. (Please excuse any spelling errors:)
I will be spending Christmas with my family so will not have time to post much here. Whatever you are doing, enjoy the beauty and spirit of the season, and take care. My best wishes to you and yours.
Seasons Greetings - Peace and Cairns of Hope
I wish a very merry Christmas to all those visitors to my site who are celebrating this Christian holiday. To all of you who are celebrating Hanukkah, Eid ul-Adha or any other seasonal celebration, I extend my sincere best wishes. And to those people who are not celebrating anything special, I wish you happiness and peace.
May all of you have love in your heart and peace toward your fellow human beings. And may you also love and respect our Earth, our home.
Please remember all those thousands of people who are living in conflict zones whose lives are torn apart by war, and those who are poverty stricken, sick or alone. Reach out and help someone in any way you can. A kind word or a caring gesture can make a difference and bring a ray of hope...
I am also asking you to reflect upon "Peace on Earth", what it means to you, and how you can do your part in helping achieve it...
Read: Peace On Earth: Cairns of Hope (CommonDreams.org, December 23, 2004)
Here is an excerpt:
Peace on earth. The empty words bounce off department store walls and dribble from mailboxes translating themselves in the lexicon of consumer language as - let’s go shopping. Now more than ever “Peace on earth” ought to be our collective prayer. It is a prayer which crosses all religious, ethnic and social boundaries. Who among us does not desire peace? This seems a rhetorical question but sadly there are those who fear peace and desire war. In the United States we have seen that mammon and the sword are the capital being spent to buy an empire. This is a small powerful minority but, around the globe there is a mighty majority who call for peace. Power and greed fuel war and consumerism distracts from the simple message of “peace on earth .“ How can we humbly unite and stand in solidarity?
Some of us connect on the internet through various forums as the world wide web links us and allows us to understand how similar we are. All of us value our families, our traditions, our landscapes, and our understanding of the Creator. Mothers stay up at night nursing their ailing children, fathers are concerned for the safety of their families, children are learning to walk and talk and become members of their communities. We laugh, we cry, we pray, we dance, we bury our dead and we seek peace on earth. So how can we come together across the globe to publicly proclaim our desire for peace? We need a way to identify ourselves to one another, a way that transcends our differences , a movement that does not rely on media or politics and can not be bought or manipulated. A movement of simple people with a common goal of living daily in support of peace.
Read rest of this wonderful article by Karen Horst Cobb here.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Iranian Trade Union Leader Freed!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, End of the Year Review, 2026
[Note for Tomdispatch readers: With this post, I'm following so many of you offline for the year. I thank each of you who hung in there with TD through 2006. Have a recuperative holiday season. Let's hope for a distinctly better 2007. You can count on TD returning early in the New Year.]
2006 was a year just grim enough that a bit of perspective seemed a necessity. So Tomdispatch ordered up a little dose of the recent past from the distant future -- a trick not normally easy to accomplish, but just about nothing is beyond Rebecca Solnit, this site's resident historian of hope and author of the remarkable book Hope in the Dark (now in a new, expanded edition) -- not even a Tomgram from 2026. I look forward to the more modest future -- the future of the small and innovative -- that she promises. Enjoy. Tom
The Age of MammalsLooking Back on the First Quarter of the Twenty-First Century
By Rebecca Solnit
[For Solomon Solnit (b. Oct. 18, 2006)]
The View from the Grass
I've been writing the year-end other-news summary for Tomdispatch since 2004; somewhere around 2017, however, the formula of digging up overlooked stories and grounds for hope grew weary. So for this year, we've decided instead to look back on the last 25 years of the twenty-first century -- but it was creatures from sixty million years ago who reminded me how to do it.
The other day, I borrowed some kids to go gawk with me at the one thing that we can always count on in an ever-more unstable world: age-of-dinosaur dioramas in science museums. This one had the usual dramatic clash between a tyrannosaurus and a triceratops; pterodactyls soaring through the air, one with a small reptile in its toothy maw; and some oblivious grazing by what, when I was young in another millennium, we would have called a brontosaurus. Easy to overlook in all that drama was the shrew-like mammal perched on a reed or thick blade of grass, too small to serve even as an enticing pterodactyl snack. The next thing coming down the line always looks like that mammal at the beginning -- that's what I told the kids -- inconsequential, beside the point; the official point usually being the clash of the titans.
The statistics show a grim picture, with 15.5% Canadians overall living in poverty. That is one out of every six Canadians, amounting to 5.3 million people, who struggle to survive at low-wage jobs, or on disability benefits, social assistance or limited pensions. Of the overall figure, 16.6% are women and 17.7% children.
The call for a national strategy comes in the wake of two Council reports last summer that showed the poverty rate in Canada has not budged in a generation. The poorest among us are getting even poorer!
A comprehensive plan with clear goals and funding to meet them is needed to combat poverty. The goal of a national anti-poverty program must be to to create a national system that provides a decent level of income for ALL families and individuals in need.
Please act now to add your voice to the call, and fill in the National Council of Welfare Anti-Poverty and Income Security Questionnaire. The last day is tomorrow (Dec. 20)!
Canadians must send a clear picture to politicians that we care about this important issue!
Whether you are fairly well off, poor, or somewhere in between, you are affected by poverty, directly or indirectly. Keep in mind that most of us are but a paycheque or two away from poverty ourselves!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Murray Dobbin is a Vancouver-based writer and political commentator, and founder of Word Warriors (http://list.web.net/lists/listinfo/word-warriors).
He writes a regular column for the on-line journal theTyee.ca.
Terry Glavin's editorial question sparked an ongoing debate. An excellent response was written by Idealistic Pragmatist. You can read it here.
If you would like to follow this debate, and perhaps voice your views, check out the Tyee.ca website and follow the links to sign in/up for comments.
Vote NDP to Keep Libs Honest
But Jack, lay off Dion. Here's a better way.
By Murray Dobbin
December 18, 2006
The Tyee debate about who to vote for in the next election is missing an important piece of the puzzle: the nature of political power.
Far too often the analysis of elections and politics in general focuses almost exclusively on who "wins' formal power -- that is, the biggest number of seats and the right to form a government. This kind of limited assessment leads to putting all the analytical eggs in one basket by asking which leader is (in the case of those who want to defeat Stephen Harper) the best -- the most progressive, the most trustworthy, the most charismatic, the most visionary.
But it is always much more complicated than that because the actual exercise of power is extremely complex, involving a usually entrenched bureaucracy that can facilitate or hobble any particular initiative and divisions within the governing party.
It also involves the key constituencies of power that each party has historically relied upon.
Lastly, it involves the major media players -- as important in the exercise of power, and the restraints on it, as either politicians or bureaucrats.
Shoot for a Liberal minority
What does this mean for advocates for social justice and for environmentalists in the next election?
It means, realistically, doing everything they can to elect a minority Liberal government, with the NDP holding a real balance of power -- in effect, an informal coalition.
...Read rest of article here.
"The War in Space Has Already Begun"
Sun Dec 17, 2006 11:54 am (PST)
Talk of Satellite Defense Raises Fears of Space War
U.S. Says Attacks on Crucial Systems Are Possible,
Warns It Would Respond Forcefully
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 17, 2006; A12
For a U.S. military increasingly dependent on sophisticated satellites for communicating, gathering intelligence and guiding missiles, the possibility
that those space-based systems could come under attack has become a growing worry -- and the perceived need to defend them ever more urgent. And that, in turn, is
reviving fears in some quarters that humanity's conflicts could soon spread beyond Earth's boundaries.
...Read rest of article here.
Blogger ProblemsI have been having lots of problems with Blogger lately, probably because I do not have time to switch to their new Beta version now. My posts take a very long time to publish, and when they finally do, there are multiple posts of the same article. I have to go back and delete them, but sometimes I can't even do this, as was the case with the Asia Times post. (When I click to Delete it, it takes me to the article at the Asia Times Online site, instead of deleting. So now it's on here, in multiple copies.) I just wanted everyone to know and apologise for the inconvenience...
Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment
By MICHAEL MOSS
One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.
American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.
....Read rest of this latest NYT article here.
** If you have problems viewing the above link due having to login, try this link for the NYT Homepage: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/index.html?th&emc=th
France to pull elite troops from Afghanistan
Last Updated: Sunday, December 17, 2006 | 1:54 PM ET
France will withdraw its 200 special forces troops from Afghanistan within weeks, authorities announced Sunday.
The elite soldiers have been serving under U.S. forces in the southeast, battling Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.
The rest of France's contribution in Afghanistan - about 1,100 troops - have been under NATO leadership and stationed in the relatively safe capital, Kabul. French authorities have resisted repeated calls from NATO leaders and individual countries in the coalition, including Canada, for the troops to be deployed in more volatile
....Read rest of this article here.
In the plains of southwestern Afghanistan, confident Taliban move around openly with their weaponry, to the frustration of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops who can see them, but seem helpless in containing them. Indeed, foreign troops are mostly held hostage in their bases, and their alternatives are stark: conduct aerial bombings in which civilians would surely be heavy casualties, or pull out.
The mood on the ground in Afghanistan is that the latter option will prevail.
Certainly, the present Afghan resistance against foreign troops and the administration of President Hamid Karzai is undoubtedly led by Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Islam is unquestionably the binding force. Nevertheless, at ground level the field command is in the hands of seasoned commanders who fought against the Soviets and who are driven more by Afghan traditions than by ideology. The Afghan battle strategy has always been based on preserving strength by appearing to give way to the enemy by letting them parade through the country in search operations that only upset the population. For the invaders, this is exhausting and brings small results
"They used to carry out air strikes. Now this has come to an end. They did have an effective network of informers, but we have successfully eliminated it and therefore they do not have any knowledge of our bases, so the air strikes stopped. They have
conducted limited ground operations, but they came under attack. So they stopped. We do not attack their base because they would retaliate with air strikes,..... and they are bored in their bases with no chance to do any activities," "We are not in any haste. Since the masses invited the Taliban to come down [from the
mountains] to their areas, our strength is increasing with every passing day. Six months ago, groups of Taliban were operating with about 10 people. Now they have 50 members and growing. So we have enough time till next spring, and they [NATO] know what will happen until next year," said Qari Hazrat.
(Qari Hazrat who was interviewed in this article is the commander of the Gerishk district and a part of the Taliban movement -Parts of Sangin also fall under his jurisdiction. They met with him there, just a few kilometers from a NATO base.)
Read full article: The vultures are circling", by Syed Saleem Shahzad here.
December 14, 2006
Child Victims of Violence
Here is the text and photos I just received from a doctor friend in Baghdad:
"This is 20 month-old Iraqi baby girl, who was severely injured and mutilated, in a blast by a car bomb in Al-Sadr City 21 days ago,she lost her two eyes.
"Her name is Shams-means sun in Arabic-... well not anymore, her mother was killed during the accident. Shams lies now in surgical specialty hospital in Baghdad, and as we live in these terrible conditions in Baghdad she has not much chance to get any proper medical care...
"She is an innocent element amid this turmoil. I have a kid almost the same age and I feel aching pain inside for her. Shams was sent for my consulatation for her but I could do nothing. If she could make it she would live with a broken soul forever. Who could bring back her cherubic childish smile again? I hope that the criminal who did this sees part of his accomplishment."
(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
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Sunday, December 17, 2006
'It's about the many wresting power from the few.'-Lev Grossman,
Time's technology writer
'[The internet is] a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.'-Lev Grossman
Grossman also pointed out that blogs are "often more immediate and authentic than traditional media."
The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.
...Read "Person of the Year: You" here.