29 March 2006

Iraq Better for Women Under Saddam

This article speaks for itself:

Saddam Better for Women
Sanjay Suri

LONDON, Mar 29 (IPS) - Women were far better off under former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein, a women's group has found after an extensive survey in Iraq.

''Under the previous dictator regime, the basic rights for women were enshrined in the constitution,'' Houzan Mahmoud from the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq told IPS in an interview. The group is a sister organization of MADRE, an international women's rights group.

Under Saddam, she said, ''women could go out to work, university and get married or divorced in civil courts. But at the moment women have lost almost all their rights and are being pushed back into the corner of their house.''

The recent constitution which was written under the U.S. government's supervision is ''very backward and anti-women,'' Mahmoud said. ''They make Islam the source for law making, and the main official religion of the country. This in itself means Islamic Sharia law and according to this women will be considered second-class citizens and will have no power in deciding over their lives.''

The whole of Iraqi society has been subjected to ''chaos and brutalisation,'' she said. ''Security is absent, all basic services, and above all the protection for women's rights is in no way on the agenda of any of the political parties who have been hand-picked by the U.S. administration in the installed so-called parliament.''

MADRE is calling for the deployment of a United Nations-led peacekeeping force and an immediate end to the U.S. occupation. As the crisis in Iraq intensifies, the group says women and their families in Iraq face an urgent need for security, functional government, and the provision of basic services within a human rights framework.

Women would first like to see ''an end to the military occupation which has created chaos and destruction of Iraqi society and also resulted in the daily mass killing of ordinary Iraqis.''

Women particularly would ''want to see security restored so at least they can go out freely without being attacked, kidnapped or having acid thrown on their face,'' Mahmoud said. ''In addition, women want equality, freedom and their rights to be recognised in the constitution, and above all to be treated as equal human beings.'' (END/2006)

28 March 2006

Plastics in the Marine Environment

The following information is from the Blue Ocean Society:
Plastic Facts:
  • Marine litter can be defined as any man-made object present in the marine environment
  • 50% or more of marine litter is in some form of plastic. Examples include: raw plastic pellets, plastic bags and sheeting, monofilament fishing nets and multi-pack soda can holders
  • Plastics have been extremely beneficial for humans in that they are more durable, lightweight, cheap and versatile as opposed to traditional materials such as wood or glass. However, it is exactly the lightweight nature of plastics which can make them deadly in the marine environment, as plastic items can float on the surface of the ocean or within the water column
  • Plastics are composed of long chains of hydrocarbons, which are hydrogen and carbon atoms that are bound together very tightly. Micro-organisms such as plankton do not have the ability to break down these bonds and therefore plastic does not decompose easily.
  • Plastics are the most common man-made object sighted at sea. During a 1998 survey, 89% of the trash observed floating in the North Pacific Ocean was plastic
  • The raw form of plastics, called resin pellets, constitute a large part of marine debris, but unfortunately they are relatively unnoticed.
  • Many common plastic objects such as bottles, sheeting and Styrofoam cups were found on remote Arctic beaches of the southern Beaufort Sea.
  • In 1960, almost 6.3 billion pounds of plastic was produced in the United States. By the early 1970's the figure had tripled and continued to increase to a volume of approximately 50 billion pounds in 1988. This is more than 10 pounds of plastic for every person on earth!
  • The packaging industry used more than 14 billion pounds of plastics in 1987 with nearly all of that ending up as waste.
  • Plastic sheeting has been documented in the stomachs of sperm whales, round-toothed dolphins and a Curvier beaked whale.
  • Many sea turtles frequently swallow plastic bags when they mistake them for jelly fish, which is one of their favorite foods.
  • One turtle found in New York had actually consumed 590 feet of heavy duty fishing line!

27 March 2006

Coffee Obsession

Look at this weird guy with the funny hat! Although he had a good cup of hot chocolate with whip cream at "Coffee Obsession," he still feels that "Pie in the Sky" has more to offer the average customer.

Lunch at Pie in the Sky is definitely in order. More to come!

Abramoff to be Probed in Murder Investigation

The Jack Abramoff story is getting more and more disturbing as time goes on. The fact that Tom DeLay is still playing politics in Washington D.C. is a perfect example of how the national political scene has degenerated into a corrupt and deviant system of power players. Considering the scandalous connections between Abramoff and DeLay is a frustrating and demoralizing project for me.

It is time to take the corrupting influence of money out of politics. How about this for an idea: Let's convert to a fully public funded electoral system!

March 24

A judge has approved subpoenas for ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former business partner to answer questions about the mob-style slaying of the owner of a gambling fleet they bought.
Abramoff and Kidan are not charged in the slaying. Their attorneys did not return telephone calls or e-mails seeking comment Friday.

25 March 2006

Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder

Swelling tides of will for impeachment are rising across America. The curtain has been pulled back and W's lies are being exposed. The Administration's fraudulence is being revealed. American's are finally standing up and speaking out in dissent against the Bush Administration's misuse of the executive office.

By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 25, 2006; Page A01

HOLYOKE, Mass. -- To drive through the mill towns and curling country roads here is to journey into New England's impeachment belt. Three of this state's 10 House members have called for the investigation and possible impeachment of President Bush.

Thirty miles north, residents in four Vermont villages voted earlier this month at annual town meetings to buy more rock salt, approve school budgets, and impeach the president for lying about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and for sanctioning torture.
It is argued that Bush and his officials conspired to manufacture evidence of weapons of mass destruction to persuade Congress to approve the invasion. Former Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill told CBS News's "60 Minutes" that "from the very beginning there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go . . . it was all about finding a way to do it." And a senior British intelligence official wrote in what is now known as the "Downing Street memo" that Bush officials were intent on fixing "the intelligence and the facts . . . around the policy."

Critics point to Bush's approval of harsh interrogations of prisoners captured Iraq and Afghanistan, tactics that human rights groups such as Amnesty International say amount to torture. Bush also authorized warrantless electronic surveillance of telephone calls and e-mails, subjecting possibly thousands of Americans each year to eavesdropping since 2001.

24 March 2006

9/11 & Bush's 'Negligence'

By Robert Parry

March 24, 2006

In the U.S. government’s pursuit of the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI officials have inadvertently revealed how an even mildly competent George W. Bush could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people – and set the country on a dangerous course for revenge.

FBI agent Harry Samit, who interrogated Moussaoui weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, sent 70 warnings to his superiors about suspicions that the al-Qaeda operative had been taking flight training in Minnesota because he was planning to hijack a plane for a terrorist operation.

But FBI officials in Washington showed “criminal negligence” in blocking requests for a search warrant on Moussaoui’s computer or taking other preventive action, Samit testified at Moussaoui’s death penalty hearing on March 20.

Samit’s futile warnings matched the frustrations of other federal agents in Minnesota and Arizona who had gotten wind of al-Qaeda’s audacious scheme to train pilots for operations in the United States. But the agents couldn’t get their warnings addressed by senior officials at FBI headquarters.

Another big part of the problem was the lack of urgency at the top. Bush, who had been President for half a year, was taking a month-long vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and shrugged off the growing alarm within the U.S. intelligence community.


22 March 2006

Hello From Massachusetts

The Main Building

Harbor View


It looks like we have some good cooks amongst our small group. Our first dinner was fresh scallops, pasta with portobellos, and a big green salad. Time to get some reading done before bed!

Weather is cool, no precipitation with a gentle breeze. More pictures to come!

20 March 2006

Death Squads on the Prowl; Iraq Convulsed by Fear

Counter Punch
Irbil, Iraq.
Iraq is a country convulsed by fear. It is at its worst in Baghdad. Sectarian killings are commonplace. In the three days after the bombing of the Shia shrine in Samarra on February 22 , some 1,300 people, mostly Sunni, were picked up on the street or dragged from their cars and murdered. The dead bodies of four suspected suicide bombers were left dangling from a pylon in the Sadr City slum.

The scale of the violence is such that most of it is unreported. Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, said yesterday that scores were dying every day. "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more," he said. "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."
link: http://www.counterpunch.org/patrick03202006.html

Also, check out today's Paul Craig Roberts article: "A Collapsing Presidency"

March 12th Sunset

19 March 2006

Consequences of a War State

by Charley Reese
It's ironic that the president likes to claim to be promoting peace, when we are the most warlike nation on Earth and the one with the largest war-department budget. We are also the biggest arms peddler in the world. It seems there is no country on Earth that's immune to U.S. officials telling it how to run its internal affairs.

The problem is that war, except in self-defense, is a total waste. Human lives are wasted. Accumulated wealth is wasted. The results of war are debt, taxation, human sorrow and human bitterness. The billions of dollars we spend killing other people and destroying their property are billions that can't be spent on improving education, America's infrastructure, the health of our people and preserving our land, water and air.

17 March 2006

Reprogramming the Infinite Loop

The NSA Spying Debate
By Elizabeth de la Vega
It has now been three months since the Bush administration reluctantly admitted that it has been conducting warrantless surveillance on American citizens, despite the explicit prohibitions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Since then, the public has been treated to endless and, unfortunately, fruitless discussion about the issue. We have experts and scholars earnestly responding, and responding yet again, to administration arguments (both legal and factual) that can best be described as protean, internally inconsistent, and occasionally evanescent. We have the administration refusing to explain the program, but enjoining everyone to "trust them." And we have legislators trying to "fix" a problem that is undefined by proposing new laws that the administration doesn't want. We are, in short, trapped in an infinite loop.

In computer parlance, an infinite loop is a coding sequence that has no effective exit because of a flaw in the program. It's a bit like trying to call your HMO with what you think is the flu and having a recording guide you through a series of numbers that land you back at the initial message welcoming you to the system. Of course, you can end that phone loop simply by hanging up. The only way to permanently extract yourself from an infinite loop in a computer program, however, is to find the programming defect. Press the refresh key, check the power chord, buy a new computer -- none of these fixes will work as long as the fundamental flaw in the program is ignored.
[edit:] The fundamental flaw in this case is the "theory of executive powers." Under Bush, a notion that the president has broad sweeping and virtually unlimited reign is the culprit for our nation's current distress.

It is about time for Congress to do something about this problem. It is up to us, "we the people," to encourage Congress to take the necessary steps to ensure accountability from the Bush administration.

16 March 2006

How to Lose Friends and Encourage Extremists

By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 16 March 2006
One of my proudest moments as an American working in Egypt always came at about this time of year, when the US State Department issued its annual report on the state of human rights around the world.
When this year's Human Rights report appeared last week, I e-mailed it to six of these old friends and asked them for their reactions "off the record."

They had a lot to say, but it all came down to this consensus: The United States had forfeited its right to report on abuses committed by others by committing its own, failing to correct them, and then holding no one in authority accountable. They said they would have expected this behavior in their own countries, but not in mine.
One of the young women I wrote to summed it up this way:

"We're used to the iron fist of government in Egypt. We expect it. We used to have someone we could count on to show our leaders how to lead by setting an example of good governance without the iron fist. It was America. Now that's gone. Now, the only people who are motivated by what America is doing are the very people it's trying to defeat - Muslim extremists."

15 March 2006

Senator Feingold, You Kick Ass

Currently, I am thinking about raising Feingold's personal esteem up to that of Conyers. Way to go Feingold. You and the ball are still completely in bounds. You can be sure that the republicrats who are trying to tell you to back down are going to have their butts handed to them the next time they are up for re-election.

It's time to confront the Bush administration for its various illegalities and immoralities. Seize the Day! Thank you Sen. Feingold (WI).

Here are some of your comments (feingold.senate.gov)
Mr. President, when the President of the United States breaks the law, he must be held accountable. That is why today I am introducing a resolution to censure President George W. Bush.

The President authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program. It is up to this body to reaffirm the rule of law by condemning the President’s actions.

All of us in this body took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and bear true allegiance to the same. Fulfilling that oath requires us to speak clearly and forcefully when the President violates the law. This resolution allows us to send a clear message that the President’s conduct was wrong.

And we must do that. The President’s actions demand a formal judgment from Congress.
The Constitution looks to the Congress to right the balance of power. The American people look to us to take action, to speak out, with one clear voice, against wrongdoing by the President of the United States. In our system of government, no one, not even the President, is above the law.

Amen! Now that's Strength!

14 March 2006

An Upside-Down Media

This is especially true after the Prudhoe Bay oil spill and the massive protests in Chicago, both of which occurred in the past several days and received insufficient attention in the national media...

By Robert Parry
February 18, 2006
The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter – yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day.

Nor does the press corps tie Bush’s remarkable abrogation of both U.S. and international law together in any coherent way for the American people. At best, disparate elements of Bush’s authoritarian powers are dealt with individually as if they are not part of some larger, more frightening whole.

What’s even odder is that the facts of this historic power grab are no longer in serious dispute. The Bush administration virtually spelled out its grandiose vision of Bush’s powers during the debates over such issues as Jose Padilla’s detention, Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination and the disclosure of warrantless wiretaps.
the danger is the media’s failure to react to Bush’s unprecedented assertion of power inside the United States.

Just as the nation’s elite editorial pages misunderstood the reality in the Middle East, most columnists are missing the extraordinary transformation now underway toward a system of American authoritarianism.

The pundits would rather bathe in the feel-good rhetoric about Bush spreading freedom and democracy around the world than face the harsh reality of Bush eradicating constitutional safeguards at home.

13 March 2006

Iraq: Permanent US Colony

Is it time to call for the induction of the 52nd state?
By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 14 March 2006

Why does the Bush Administration refuse to discuss withdrawing occupation forces from Iraq? Why is Halliburton, who landed the no-bid contracts to construct and maintain US military bases in Iraq, posting higher profits than ever before in its 86-year history?

Why do these bases in Iraq resemble self-contained cities as much as military outposts?

Why are we hearing such ludicrous and outrageous statements from the highest ranking military general in the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, who when asked how things were going in Iraq on March 9th in an interview on "Meet the Press" said, "I'd say they're going well. I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at."
I decided that someone who was in the US Army for 26 years and who worked in eight conflict areas, starting in Vietnam and ending with Haiti, would be qualified. If he had served in two parachute infantry units, three Ranger units, two Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force that would be helpful as well. And just to make sure, if he taught tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, thus knowing a thing or two about training soldiers, that would be a bonus.

That person is Stan Goff.

"This is utter bullshit," was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of having 100 Iraqi battalions when I asked him to comment, "He must be counting the resistance among his forces."

Goff adds, "That dip-shit [Pace] is saying he has 60,000 trained and disciplined people under arms ... 65,000 with all the staffs ... and almost 100,000 with the support units they would require. To train and oversee them would require thousands of American advisors. It must suck for a career Marine to be used so blatantly as a PR flak."

[And what about leaving Iraq when the mission's (presumably securing the WMD proliferation threat and Saddam's Rule) are accomplished? - read on.]

The US has at least four of these massive bases in Iraq. Billions of dollars have been spent in their construction, and they are in about the same locations where they were mentioned they would be by military planners back before Mr. Bush declared that major combat operations were over in Iraq.


by Kazuaki Tanahashi
From: Imagining Peace

10 March 2006

Mismanagement and Permanent Ruin, Ernest Hemingway

"The 1st panacea of a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the 2nd is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; a permanent ruin."
– Ernest Hemingway

06 March 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006 Tacoma WA

March and Rally to Promote Peace and Human Rights Instead of Unjust Detention Policies and Militarism

Join us as we call for an end to discriminatory immigration and deportation policies that target people of color and Muslims in particular. We will start at the Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats and then march to the Tacoma Sheraton, location of the Pacific Northwest National Security Forum, which is bringing together military commanders to chart the course of US foreign aggression “beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.” We will connect the dots between unjust domestic practices and the wars being waged against the countries of the Mideast. We will call for an end to war and the planning of war, and for the inalienable rights of all members of the human family to be recognized and respected.

05 March 2006

Religion and Violence in Israel

Why does a state, that prides it self on religious devotion, have such an epidemic of violence? This story from the BBC illustrates some of what I mean.
Israel church attackers 'sorry'
An Israeli couple who triggered riots after discharging fireworks in a revered church in Nazareth have expressed remorse for their actions.

"Haim Eliahu Habibi told a court he did not hate Christians or Muslims, saying he targeted the church to draw attention to a child custody issue."
"I have nothing against Muslims or Christians. It is not logical for me to do such a thing to them, on the contrary. The only thing I want to do is get my children back," he said."
Thousands of Israeli Arabs marched through the town on Saturday, accusing Israel of mistreating its Arab minority."

"The Israeli Arab public is at the edge of its patience and it is time for Israel's leaders to do something about it," Shawki Khatib, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, told Israel Radio, Reuters news agency reported."

Israeli Arabs form about 20% of Israel's population and have frequently complained of discrimination."

04 March 2006

Iraq: Preparing For The Worst

Robert Dreyfuss
February 28, 2006
With 1,300 dead Iraqis— and counting — since the bombing of the Golden Dome last week, Iraq remains poised at the precipice of destruction. It's anyone's guess as to whether the crisis will revert to its previous state of mere insurgency and grinding daily violence, or plunge into a multi-sided religious civil war. If the latter, a thousand more dead Iraqis each week — or more— might be a routine occurrence. Either way, however, one thing is clear. Already dead is the Bush administration's hope for a neat drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq as Election 2006 approaches. Voters who go to the polls in the United States in November will be staring directly into the face of the catastrophe of the Bush-Cheney Iraq policy.

03 March 2006

Bush Visit to Gandhi Memorial

Too often we get caught in talking wars - when we should be working actively to remove, (in this case through the impeachment of the Bush administration) the problem factor's foundation of power.

I think it will be beneficial to control my emotional response to provocation, and instead, dedicate that energy to concrete actions to promote change.

01 March 2006

Prevention Against Lockjaw

Although I received Tetanus shots and boosters when I was a kid, it's been about 13 years since my last one. That was, until yesterday. I remember the ones I got when young were rather innocuous. Sure, there was some pain, but it was more like a finger prick. Well, now I know the pleasures of growing up. Like the adult Tetanus vaccination - that is - the "big boy" shot.

When I saw the needle, I felt instantaneously apprehensive. I remember the injection from my youth being dispensed from a tube, which had a multi-needle spread that barely broke the surface. Well this was drastically different from that. This was a majorly hypodermic experience.

The attendant was great at putting the needle in. And all was fine, muscle relaxed, needle embedded in my soft tissue. Until she pushed the concoction into my shoulder muscle.

The pain subsided rather quickly. But it came back. A couple hours later it felt sore, but still localized in the shoulder muscle. But now, although the intense pain is still local to the shoulder, it has spread throughout my body, and I have a range of symptoms, including unsettled digestion (atrocious gas), and general body aches, fever, mild headache. If it's worse by tomorrow morning, I am going to get it checked out. But right now, I feel like crap.

Tetanus "Td" vaccine safe? Bullshit!

I guess it will be worth not getting lockjaw?

Oh sure...

Next time - I will ask for the waiver, thank you. I'll take my chances with lockjaw. If it's meant to be, then hey, I guess it's just meant to be. You know what I mean?

Okay. Change the subject. Have a good rest of the week.