31 August 2007

Bleak News from Iraq

I can't imagine the psychological trauma that those who are living this conflict on the ground, living in Iraq, are experiencing. The US is unjustified in its military occupation of Iraq. And the occupation is breeding terrorism. The "surge" - or escalation of military hostilities - is only serving to increase the death toll and casualties for ordinary Iraqis.

The US owes Iraq reparations. But I don't think the current military (or the current government) is capable of delivering on that debt. It's a nasty crux. But there is hope. By holding prominent Bush Administration accountable for this wrongful military action, the US can send a clear message that it is serious about seeking justice - that it is serious about making amends for the wrongs of the invasion and occupation.
by William S. Lind
As good news continues to flow from the "surge" – some of it true, some of it false and all of it spun – it is easy to forget the bottom line. The bottom line is whether or not we are beginning to see the re-emergence of a state in Iraq. Three recent news stories throw some light on that question, and it is not a favorable light.

The first, by Steven Hurst of the AP, ran in the August 26 Cleveland Plain Dealer under the title, "Sectarian violence in Iraq nearly double '06 level." Relying on the AP's own figures, the story reported that:

* Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths throughout the country compared with last year – an average daily toll of 33 in 2006 and 62 so far this year.

* Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006…

* Baghdad has gone from representing 76 percent of all civilian and police war-related deaths in Iraq in January to 52 percent in July, bringing it back to the same spot it was roughly a year ago.

29 August 2007

The News is What is Not in the News

One of the biggest news stories these days is everything that doesn't make the mainstream news headlines. The threats to ecological systems and the environment in general; The massive and unwarranted disparity in wealth between the rich and poor; The mindless enabling of a wasteful military industrial complex that seems to be bent on sowing the seeds of destruction, etc.

We hear stories of corruption occasionally, but these stories are not linked to each other. The overall patterns of corruption and abuse of power are not clarified and held up for public scrutiny. It's the job of the press to connect the dots.

One way to clean up the problems in our political system would be to provide mandatory and full public funding for elections. This would eliminate the unfair advantage of candidates who are more friendly with the financial-elite than with the public at large.

A photo to share (in contrast):
Pink and White

25 August 2007

Truth and Justice Will Prevail

I've been thinking about all of the horrible things happening in the world recently. The Bush Administration's trampling of civil liberties and human rights. The demonization of certain ethnic populations, the name-calling - labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as 'terroristic.' It's down-right scary and disturbing.

And on top of all the oppressive political violence you can add the environmental problems we face. And the American Media just doesn't want to give it the time of day. Predictions are for a significant rise in sea-level over the next 100 years. Many species are suffering declines in population. More and more species go extinct every day. Humanity is tossing the natural environment out of balance. And the consequences could be quite severe. One bright side to this phenomenon is that our own actions will likely result in the limitation of future success - as the natural environment, upon which humanity depends, systematically becomes less and less able to accommodate humanity's wants and needs...

But, I think that ultimately, truth and justice and peace, and what is good will prevail.

Let's go forward into tomorrow and all tomorrow's with inspiration in our hearts, as well as inspiration to share with others, to keep fighting the good fight - to keep the goal of a better world, of better selves, better families, better neighborhoods, better relationships...alive and high in our hearts.

A photo to share:

24 August 2007

War Made Easy, with Norman Solomon

More information: warmadeeasythemovie.org

Orange Orchid

I had a good time taking pictures at the Capitol Campus Conservatory, here in Olympia Washington. It's a greenhouse, and it has some amazing and beautiful plants. I posted a few of the pictures that I took on my flickr account.

21 August 2007

Working for Peace

Working for peace in the future is to work for peace in the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hahn

Moss and Lichen (comparison with contrast)

19 August 2007

Evolution Toward Nonviolence

I just finished reading the most recent Notebook, "Files in Amber," by Lewis H. Lapham, from Harper's Magazine. In it, he talked about the idea that humanity is evolving away from the violence of war.

He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, and I think it bears repeating: "it is the ignorant and childish part of mankind that is the fighting part."

I am not sure that I like the condescending tone of "childish." Fighting may be immature. But I don't think that approaching someone with the judgment that he is childish would suit me. Even to approach someone with the accusation of ignorance can be disabling toward future understanding. However, I do agree with the sentiment - that fighting is often due to ignorance, and certainly misunderstanding.

Anyway, I also whole heartedly agree with Lapham's conclusion that there are better ways to resolve our differences than by waging wars!

Let's look to each other, our fellow humans, and resolve not to hurt each other!

This photo is from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park, California.
Big Trees

17 August 2007

Impeachment Basics from Phil Burk

[edit 8/18:] In a nutshell, there are a few arguments for impeachment. One is war fraud; deliberate deception about the threat to US security from Iraq. Two is warrantless wiretaps, and three is condoning torture.

For example, in the case of leading the nation to war under false pretenses. Burk describes two possibilities. One is that Bush et al. genuinely believed that Iraq had WMD and threatened the peace and security of the US. Possibility two is that Bush et al. never really believed that, but used the notion of a WMD threat from Iraq (coupled with the fear generated by 9/11) to market and promote the invasion of Iraq.

Unfortunately for the Bush Administration, the evidence suggests possibility two. It seems that there was a clandestine effort to invade Iraq for several years - even before the Bush Administration secured the office of the executive. It is also readily obvious that Bush and (especially) Cheney took advantage of the post-9/11 climate to promote an invasion of Iraq based on the faulty connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism.

There was no terrorism in Iraq prior to the unilateral decision of the USA to invade. There was certainly no connection between Iraq or Hussein and Bin Laden's "al Qaeada."

But there was oil in Iraq, and there was also all of the Bush Administration cronies who stand to benefit from the exploitation of the Iraqi oil resource. There were also all of the Bush Administration cronies who stood to benefit from years of increased military spending.

It is clear that leading the USA into an unnecessary, unethical, unjust, immoral and (most likely) illegal military action was the wrong thing to do.

Let's make it so our elected officials have consequences for making the wrong decisions. Please, push for impeachment. Contact your representative today.

Hope for the Best (Satire)

Nasa has decided not to repair a hole in the Space Shuttle Endeavor prior to its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Instead, Flight Engineers at Ground Control have advised the crew of the Endeavor to have a few drinks and hope for the best.

15 August 2007

How to Avoid War with Iran

The news that Bush Administration officials are considering the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (a 125,000 strong force that is also well connected inside and outside of the Iranian political and business communities) as "terrorist" is disturbing news. Will Iranians see this as a standard diplomatic move? Or will it be interpreted as an act of provocation? If it was me, I might be inclined to interpret it as an aggressive maneuver.

Under this type of thinking couldn't certain branches (for example the CIA or Navy Seals) of the US government and military be designated as terrorist in terms of the historical (and current) funding and provision of material support to various criminal regimes?

So, the Bush Administration considers might to be right.

But they are wrong. And the way to fight terrorism is not through escalation or provocation or threats.

The way to fight terrorism is by adhering to the Golden Rule. The way to fight terrorism is to make justice and equity priorities. The way to peace is to protect the innocent.

The Bush Administration needs to get its concepts of appropriate means washed out in a truly public and honest forum. It is not okay to selectively and arbitrarily label political opponents as terrorists and target them militarily.

[edit: photo credit Alex Fonseca]

14 August 2007


This is from my photo"stream" on Flickr (a Yahoo! company):
I hope that all is well with you and the ones that you love.

13 August 2007

May You Have True Peace

In a world that is increasingly filled with chaos and violence, the prospects of true peace become all the more appealing. May you find and have true and genuine peace.

Peace Flower:

Pink Flower

11 August 2007

True American Terrorism

Robert Scheer has a reminder that the United States government itself is guilty of what can easily be considered one of the most extreme single (double really) acts of terrorism yet known to man.

Nuclear Weapon DestructionWhen US military strategists targeted Japanese Civilians (twice) for assault with a nuclear weapon, they committed what was then amongst the very grossest of violations against humanity.

Worst of all, historical analysis suggests that the bombs were dropped because of an American (Governmental and Corporate) desire for global military and economic hegemony. The bombs most likely did not substantially promote an expedited surrender - because the Japanese were virtually exhausted militarily prior to the bombing. It seems that it was an American quest for dominance and conquest which led to the nuclear annihilation of such a large number of people.

go to original
By Robert Scheer

During a week of mayhem in Iraq, in which terrorists have rightly been condemned for targeting schoolchildren, it is sobering to recall that this week is also the 62nd anniversary of a U.S. attack that deliberately took the lives of thousands of children on their way to school in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As noted in the Strategic Bombing Survey conducted at President Harry Truman’s request, when the bomb hit Hiroshima on April 6, 1945, “nearly all the school children ... were at work in the open,” to be exploded, irradiated or incinerated in the perfect firestorm that the planners back at the University of California-run Los Alamos lab had envisioned for the bomb’s maximum psychological impact.

The terror plot worked all too well, as Hiroshima’s Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba recalled this week: “That fateful summer, 8:15 a.m. The roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast—silence—hell on Earth. The eyes of young girls watching the parachute were melted. Their faces became giant charred blisters. The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails. ... Others died when their eyeballs and internal organs burst from their bodies—Hiroshima was a hell where those who somehow survived envied the dead.”

Like most of the others killed by the two American bombs, neither the children nor the adults had any role in Japan’s decision to go to war, but they were picked as the target instead of an isolated but fortified military base whose antiaircraft fire posed a higher risk. The target preferred by U.S. atomic scientists—a patch in the ocean or unpopulated terrain—was rejected, because the effect of hundreds of thousands of civilians dying would be all the more dramatic.
Just exactly what distinguishes the United States’ use of the ever-so-cutely-named “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” atomic bombs on cities in Japan from the car bombs of Baghdad or the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center? To even raise the question, as was found in one recent university case, can be a career-ending move.

Of course, we had our justifications, as terrorists always do. Truman defended his decision to drop the atomic bombs on civilians over the objection of leading atomic scientists on the grounds that it was a necessary military action to save lives by forcing a quick Japanese surrender. He insisted on that imperative despite the objections of top military figures, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who contended that the war would end quickly without dropping the bomb.

The subsequent release of formerly secret documents makes a hash of Truman’s rationalization. His White House was fully informed that the Japanese were on the verge of collapse, and their surrender was made all the more likely by the Soviets’ imminent entry into the fight.

10 August 2007

Harry Potter Fan Club

I want to join the Harry Potter Fan Club and be in Dumbledore's Army. I finished book six today and I am about to start on book 7. Whence upon completion of which I will be able to commence upon the rest of my life.

Harry Potter Fan

09 August 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright was an interesting man. Here are some quotes of his that I like:

"Freedom is from within."

"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."

"Space is the breath of art."

"There is nothing more uncommon than common sense."

"Youth is a quality, not a matter of circumstances."


Mr Wright's signature (on a mug:)
Frank Lloyd Wright Mug

08 August 2007

Never Throw Out Anyone

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” - Audrey Hepburn

Clover Sunset

05 August 2007

The Death of Pat Tillman

Alan Bock has an interesting article about an ongoing investigation into the unusual circumstances surrounding ex-NFL star Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan.

Reports have it that Tillman had become disillusioned about the reality of the war - that the US military was unwelcome and far from pursuing the altruistic goal of bringing democracy and a better way of life. He had allegedly talked about his plans to go public upon his return from deployment.

The circumstances of his death are suspicious. Was there enemy fire in the vicinity at the time? Some say yes, some no.

But it is certainly worthy of investigation, if someone in the Army decided that it would be better not to have a high-profile and highly credible witness testify to the reality of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

To learn more about Tillman's death, here is a good place to start: http://www.antiwar.com/bock/?articleid=11401

03 August 2007

Not Enough Water in Baghdad

The People of Iraq are SufferingReports have surfaced this week of a severe water shortage in Baghdad. Some have blamed insurgent activity for preventing repairs and maintenance to vital water systems and electrical systems (which support the water system.) However, the real failure is on the part of the occupying military force. The occupying military of the USA has not made it a priority to restore the civilian infrastructure in Iraq. The Iraqi people are paying the price and suffering horribly as a result of this "mismanagement." But more than a simple mismanagement it is. Because under rules imposed during the Geneva Convention, of which the USA is signatory, it is the responsibility of the occupying force to provide for the basic needs of the civilian population.

The US military is responsible for providing "security" in Iraq. The military is still an occupying force. Therefore the rules of the Geneva Convention are binding. And the US government and military is in breach of contract.

But even more so, this is a gross and heinous humanitarian. The situation in Iraq is deteriorating. And the blame can be placed on the US government.

01 August 2007

Cost of War

Besides the most obvious cost of war - the casualties and loss of life - there are also the financial, and the material economic costs that can be associated with waging a military campaign overseas.

The war in Iraq has cost a lot. By some estimates it is likely to end up costing over $2 Trillion, when all the externalities, like cost of health care for war related casualties - for example, are figured in.

Astoundingly, if the government were to turn around and give the money that has been spent on the invasion and occupation to the American people - if the money was distributed equally, each American would stand to gain approximately $1,500. Now that would make a hell of a lot more economic sense than throwing money at an enemy that only stands to grow stronger as a result of current US foreign policy (exploitation of Middle East Oil Resources.) Instead of trying to chop the heads off of hydra, I would recommend that we stop pissing her off.

I want to make my government clean up its act and stop behaving like the global bully who thinks its okay to take whatever from whomever, whenever it pleases. It's time for our government to start treating others the way we wish to be treated. With respect and consideration and love.

The cost of this war has been, and continues to be, too much.

Lily in Sunlight

A beautiful flower. Dedicated to the ones I love:
Yellow Lily