Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Healthcare for ALL kids! --From John Kerry

Dear Friend,

Please join me in co-sponsoring the Kids Come First Act on johnkerry.com.

http://www.johnkerry.com/KidsFirst

Every parent knows the fear of waking up to the cries of a sick baby or a child with an ear infection that will not go away. As parents, we both remember the countless times we called that first pediatrician to get answers to every last question.

But far too many parents have another fear, on top of their child's health. They worry that a sick child means financial ruin. There are more than eleven million uninsured children in our nation. These children are less likely to get a routine checkup, or to get treatment for common ailments like asthma. They miss more days of school. It is a disgrace that eleven million children lack health insurance in the richest nation on earth.

On Monday, the first legislative day of the new Congress, I introduced, S.114, the "Kids Come First Act of 2005." It's a bold plan to provide health insurance for every child in America. Under this proposal, the federal government will pay the full costs for all poverty-level children enrolled in Medicaid program. In return, we will ask states to expand coverage to children in families with higher incomes than are currently eligible, as well to make enrollment into these programs simpler, automatic, and more continuous. This plan will expand coverage to as many as eleven million children and will provide much needed relief for states that are struggling under persistent growing budgetary pressures.

But if we are to be successful in covering every child in America, we must also help families meet their parental obligation and responsibility to get their children insured. My bill requires parents to insure their children and show proof of their coverage each year when they file taxes if they want to keep the full amount of their federal child tax credit. But in addition to this requirement, the bill sets forth meaningful policy changes to help families achieve these goals by: allowing higher-income parents an option to buy-in to the state child health insurance program; allowing some parents to get a state subsidy to help pay the premiums on their employer's health plan for children; and providing tax credits to maintain coverage affordability by assuring that no family pays more than 5 percent of their annual income on health care for their children.

Many of you have already joined me in signing an on-line pledge of support for this program. And for that I am truly grateful. Now that we have legislative language and a bill number, I have another request for you. We need to build grassroots support and momentum behind this bill. George Bush and his Republican colleagues in the Congress already stole more than $1 billion in child health funding that was promised to the states late last year. That would have been enough funding to cover an additional 750,000 children, yet Bush turned a blind eye to Democrats' requests to extend the funding.

We can only break through with the help of your voices. Please call your Senators today and ask that they cosponsor S. 114, the "Kids Come First Act of 2005." Every additional name we add on to this bill is just one step closer we get to putting it on the President's desk for signature.

Thank you in advance for sharing with me the common vision that there no longer be any uninsured children in America.

http://www.johnkerry.com/KidsFirst


Monday, January 24, 2005

When There Was No Choice--by Sharon Lerner

Let us all remind each other what women did for each other and had to suffer before abortion was legalized. Remember criminalizing abortion does not eliminate abortion--it kills women and forces abortion underground. If religious people want to argue against abortion, they need to work in their churches and communities with men and women, not in the legal system.

When There Was No Choice
On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the memory of illegal abortion fades
by Sharon Lerner


From Nabil--a Field report from Fallujah

 Ein Tamr Field Report on Falluja Refugees:


Jan 13,2005

> Ein Tamor (Spring of Dates) is a small picturesque

> spot in the western Iraqi desert, 90 kilometers to
> the west of the sacred Karbala. It is part of a
> bigger oasis that contains the Razzazah Lake, many
> smaller towns, date palm and fruit thick orchards
> surrounding the lake, and a very important
> historical fortress called Al-Ekheider Castle. In
> the seventies, this area was developed as a resort;
> a tourist complex was built in Ein Tamor.
>
> The tourist complex was fifty small flats
> surrounding the lake and the colorful natural
> springs. After the 1991 war, and during the UN
> economic sanctions against Iraq through the nineties
> until 2003, this tourist area was neglected, like
> many other similar places all over Iraq. During this
> period, when tourism was not a priority in Iraq, the
> complex was mainly visited by newly wed couples who
> spent their honey moon there. In April 2003, after
> the occupation of Iraq, the complex was looted and
> damaged, nothing remained except the walls.
>
> Now it is a refugee camp for more than 50 Fallujan
> families, who fled the bombing and killings last
> October. It is like Habbaniya, another refugee camp,
> which was a tourist complex 40 kilometers to the
> north, near the Habbaniya Lake.
>
> Obviously, Fallujans fled to these places because
> there were walls and roofs which can be used as
> better shelters than tents in the cold season. Ein
> Tamor, once one of the most beautiful areas of Iraq
> where picnics were made especially in winter, is now
> one of the saddest places. To go there, one has to
> go through the Triangle of death south of Baghdad,
> where many attacks against the occupying troops take
> place daily.
>
> Usually it takes an hour to go to Karbalaa. It took
> us 3 hours, because of the check points, a bombed
> car that was still on fire, and traffic jam due to
> fuel (kilometers-long) queues. The roads are not the
> same. I used to go there to visit my grand mother.
> These are not the roads I used to go through; they
> are not roads at all, nothing is straight, just
> snake-like curves in the dusty wilderness.
> Paradoxically, the way from Karbalaa to Ein Tamor
> was calmer, better, and easier to go through,
> although the Iraqi Human Rights Watch members who
> accompanied us to the refugee camp warned us of
> looters.
>
> The refugee camp was a club of sadness. Every one
> there had a story, even the children.
>
> "No one visited us, except these people" said Sabiha
> Hashim, pointing to the Iraqi HRW members who
> accompanied us. She is a crippled widow in her
> fifties, and a mother of two young boys. She was
> burnt two years ago, and was handicapped since.
> Wrapped in a blanket, she was sitting in the middle
> of her miserable properties. Few dirty dishes, a
> blackened broken oil lamp that has not been cleaned
> ever, small primitive oil stove…etc. There was a new
> electric heater donated by some generous donor, but
> there was no electricity. Sabiha was silent," why do
> not you talk to this lady" Sami of the Iraqi HRW
> asked her, pointing to me," she came from Baghdad to
> see you".
>
> "She did not ask" replied Sabiha.
>
> "How did you come here?" I asked looking for some
> thing to say, after I saw her inhuman, totally
> unacceptable situation.
>
> "The neighbors brought me when the bombing began"
>
> " She promised to give me a dinar for every joke I
> tell her" said Sami, trying to lighten the very
> gloomy atmosphere " she is my fiancée now"
>
> "poor Sami" I said, "now you have to look for 1000
> jokes to get 1000 dinars" ($ 0.7)
>
> "What do you need", I asked Sabiha
>
> "My medicine"
>
> "What is it?"
>
> "I do not know, I did not bring the doctor's
> receipt, there was no time. It is unfair" that was
> the only thing Sabiha said about her tragedy.
>
> I looked for my friend Dr. Intisar, she is a
> pharmacist who is working with me and other Iraqi
> doctors to help Falluja refugees with medicines and
> supplies. I could not see her any where, but I could
> see a big crowd of women and children near the gate.
>
>
> "Your friend, Dr. Intisar, is examining the children
> and giving medicines", said Ismael Chali, a man in
> his fifties who is helping in running the camp.
>
> It was not raining that day, Ein Tamor was sunny and
> warm. The gardens are no more than dusty yards now,
> few dry trees scattered, the once beautiful tourist
> flats are just walls, with hanging sheets of cloths
> serving as doors and windows. Falluja women did
> amazing job keeping the whole place clean.
>
> "May be you want to see this old man" Sami said and
> pointed to a man sitting in the sun, two crunches in
> his hands. Hussein Abdul Nabbi, had an accident and
> broke his thighs. He is the father of a family of
> 18; two of them are young and very healthy looking
> men.
>
> "What are you doing here?" I asked them, in a rather
> criticizing tone.
>
> "Waiting for God's mercy" one of them replied," we
> are cotton carders, our shop was burnt, three
> electric sewing machines, cotton and cloths that
> worth 2 million dinars, and other equipments ,all
> are gone"
>
> "But staying here does not help, does it" I insisted
>
> "We went to Falluja a week ago; we waited the whole
> day but could not pass through the check points.
> Next day we went at 3 am, it was not before 3 pm
> that we could pass through the third sonar check
> point. Our house was destroyed, there is a huge hole
> in the ceiling, the fence is totally ruined, and the
> furniture damaged. The soldiers told us not to move
> out side the house or open the door after 6 pm. We
> are not supposed to make any noise; there is no
> electricity, no water, no shops, no hospitals, and
> no schools. How are we supposed to live there with
> our families? There are no families there, only men,
> those who can not live in tents any longer."
>
> Other Fallujans told us that burning houses, bombing
> and looting are still going on until now.
>
> Mustapha, 20 years, a student, said that he found
> his house, the furniture, the door, and the car
> destroyed and burnt. But the American soldiers told
> him not to use any thing from Falluja, not to use
> the sheets and blankets for example, not to drink
> water, and that if he does, it is his own decision
> and he has to take the responsibility for that.
>
> "What does that mean?"
>
> It means that everything in Falluja is contaminated"
> "
>
> Ahmad Hashim, a guard in the Falluja sewage station,
> and a father of 3 children, found his house, which
> was no more than a room under the water tank,
> burnt." If a child gets ill, he simply dies, it is
> suicide to decide to go back to Falluja now"
>
> Alahin Jalil, a young beautiful wife and a mother of
> 4 children, decided to go back home , no matter
> what. She was too tired of difficulties in the
> refugee camp, "I have to go to Karbalaa for
> medicines, there is no water here, no fuel, no
> money" . When she went to Falluja, she found out
> that her house which was in Nazzal district, one of
> the most bombed areas in Falluja, was totally
> destroyed. She decided to return back to the refugee
> camp, but it was not a better option. "For the whole
> family we get half a sheet of ampiciline
> (anti-biotic)
>
> Money was the most difficult problem in the camp.
> These families consumed all their savings, if they
> had any. Food is given according to the food ration
> ID. Many of them fled Falluja without bringing their
> documents. Those get no food.
>
> "What about the 150.000 dinars that are given to
> each Falluja family that we read about in the
> newspapers this week?"
>
> "We never heard about them" every body replied.
> Where is UN, the Iraqi government, the humanitarian
> orgs, the Red Crescent, the Red Cross…they asked.
>
> Darawsha is a small village 5 kilometers to the west
> of Ein Tamor. The Iraqi HRW in Karbalaa told us that
> its villagers share their houses with Falluja
> refugees. When we entered Darawsha, I remembered
> what James Baker said before the 1991 American
> attack on Iraq. "We will return Iraq to the middle
> ages" he said. This is not even the middle ages. The
> narrow muddy streets, small clay huts were dark,
> cold and crowded with big families. The smoky
> burning wet branches are not giving warmth to the
> damp cottages, more than the thick suffocating smoke
> .
>
> Sheikh Farhan Al-Duleimi, the local council head,
> said" my name is Farhan (happy), but I am very sad
> for what happened to Falluja… at the same time this
> is a good example of the Shiite-Sunni unity in Iraq.
> Darawsha families are all Shiite, but they are
> welcoming Sunnis from Falluja as if they are one
> family, despite the fact that they are poor, and
> already in need of much help themselves.
>
> We decided to stop in the middle of the village, and
> to donate the medicines and financial help to the
> families, promising them and ourselves to come back
> again to listen to their stories. It was already 4
> pm, we need to hurry back because it is too
> dangerous to be on the highway after sunset. There
> are at least 85 Falluja families here. Dr. Intisar
> opened the car box and began to donate medicines. A
> young, shy girl approached her and said "do you need
> help, I am a pharmacist". We asked the villagers to
> form a committee with at least one woman in it, to
> receive the money and distribute it on the Falluja
> refugees.
>
> "You need to go to Rahaliya and Ahmad bin Hashim
> villages" said Abbass, from the Iraqi HRW, who was
> accompanying us all the time," the situation in
> those refugee camps are much more difficult, and
> they rarely get any help, because they are too far
> away"
>
> "Then we need to come back again soon", I replied
>
> "Yes, you have also to visit refugees from Basra,
> Amara and the marshes"
>
> "What are you talking about?"
>
> "There are refugees from the south, fleeing from the
> worsening security situation"
>
> The way back to Baghdad was the most difficult part
> of the trip. At 5.30 it was deep dark. No lights on
> the way, no moon and too much dust. Some of the
> check points were already deserted by security men.
> The highway was almost empty except of us. "If you
> were men I would not worry "Ahmad, our driver said.
> We could tell that he was very tense, reading lines
> of the Holy Quran all the time, and smoking too
> much. "Those looters are the worst of criminals".
>
> Dr. Intisar was very calm and exhausted "I love you"
> she suddenly said.
>
> I was too tired to ask what made her say so.
> Surprisingly, we were not afraid at all, of any
> thing.
>
> To be continued...





Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another view from M.L.

Here are my thoughts on the past week.  I may be nuts, but I feel more hopeful than I have in a very long time.  Mainly, I realize that the peace movement is now mainstream.  Even in the 60s, in the very height of the equal right/peace movement, I felt like I was on the fringe.  In the big demonstration before the invasion, I sensed so much hostility from the people in the streets.  But I have a strong sense that this has all changed.  For one thing, I teach in the most conservative place in the world, but our campus minister asked me to do the homily for our MLK mass.  She told me to take the opportunity to tell the kids the truth--everything they should know, and  that if I used the gospels and MLK to make the point, then I could say pretty much anything.  So, I was able to tell the kids quite a bit, and not one of them complained, and most came up to thank me.  They all came up to ask me about the protest on Thursday, and they also asked their religion teacher if they could have an elective where they could hear about the stuff that is going on in the world that they don't hear about. I think that is really a big step forward.  Also, most of the faculty has come out of the closet about being liberal, whereas a few months ago, they were all very quiet, and I felt that I made them uncomfortable just by being there.  Now, they come up to me and ask what is going on.

I remember in the 70s, there was a time when it was obvious that equal rights was an issue that had come to stay. It was no longer a fringe issue. While there is still a long way to go on that issue, there is no doubt that it won't go away. I think the peace movement has been moving into that position since Nov 2. When this many folks stand up for something, you know it isn't going away. We will still have to fight, and it is going to take a long time, but the fact is, no one can dismiss us as simpletons anymore.
Also, I think that depending on any elected official to "make it OK", like we did with Kerry, was really dumb. I think most of us have learned that we have to do it ourselves, and we're ready to roll.
So, anyway, that's what I think, for what it's worth.
M.L.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Reflections on the next 4 years

The past 3 days have been phenomenal.
1. On one hand, I felt the comfort of finding myself with nearly 1500 people who believe the way I do and who are willing to stand together to make sure the Consitutional rights we had before the Bush Administration are restored, and our government returned to the people. I witnessed Greens, Christians, Atheists, Anarchists, working men and women, children, lawyers, college students and unemployed young people, business men and women in suits--all came together to say Bush is not OUR president.

2. I have thought and felt a lot about the people who fight our wars--those young men and women who sacrifice all--sanity, freedom, and their lives--for what they are told is the freedom and "right" cause. I know many of these young people still in Iraq, back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and back from other wars---Can we look them in the face honestly and tell them their service was needed, that they have made a difference, and that they (and their families) will be forever honored and taken care of by a grateful country? I have seen no evidence that we care about them or about their spouses and children who willl live with the wars for the rest of their lives.

3. I wonder how we are going to feed our poor children, the poor children of the the countries we have destroyed, the poor all over the world (like in Africa where Aids has left more than 15 million children orphaned and desperate).

4. Each of us in the counter-inaugural marches asked the other how we could continue to believe that grassroot efforts--food drives--action for living wages and against the human and ecomonic wastes of war--can impact any of the overwhelming misery we witness city by city, state by state, country by country. We are called names, or our friends and families call us "idealistic crusaders" not in touch with reality--well who will answer those who call out to us for help when those who speak with power refuse to answer? I may be a dreamer---but I'm not the only one.

5. I am tired. I took yesterday off--an R&R from truth. I am back. I will speak whenever I can, whenever I have the strength, whenever I can repeat the truth I find or hear from others. I can't promise I will write every day, but I will be here at least twice a week.

SO,
If you have news, information, observations, hopes, even dreams, e-mail me and let's speak out together. Let's be loud, and let's work together wherever --starting today.

paulette

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New Orleans Counter Inaugural

"A Wake for Peace" Jazz Funeral for Democracy

New Orleans, Louisiana January 20, 2005 @ 11:00 A.M.
(starting at Congo Square leading to Jackson Square)
Speakers include Howard Zinn and Kathy Kelly, to be covered by Air America and other news and internet media.

http://www.jazzfuneralfordemocracy.com

WHAT: Traditional New Orleans jazz funeral entitled "A Wake for Peace": Jazz Funeral for Democracy timed to coincide with the inauguration of George W. Bush. Street theater encouraged. March, rally and inaugural ball featuring local New Orleans musicians.

WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana. Meet at 10:00 at Congo Square (Armstrong Park) located just outside of the French Quarter on Rampart Street. 11:00 AM march down Rampart to Canal Street to N. Peters/Decatur to Jackson Square where a rally will be held. The march will then continue down Decatur Street, on to Frenchman via Esplanade before settling down at which time our "Inaugural Ball" will commence for a block party on Frenchman.

WHEN: Thursday, January 20, 2005 @ 11:00 AM (CST). (Meetup at 10:00 AM)

WHO: A coalition of groups and individuals distressed about issues including, but not limited to, the occupation of Iraq and other instances of US military aggression, the mistreatment of "detainees", corporate control of America, the rollback of individual liberties, state sponsored homophobia, election fraud, the poisoning of the environment, and the class warfare instituted by the Bush Administration. Groups include military veterans, civil rights organizations,
theater groups, regional peace coalitions, and gay rights activists. Individuals involved are good, patriotic Americans who come from all walks of life.

WHY: Because we still can. Organizations and individuals wishing to participate can contact: BUDDY SPELL at 2spells@bellsouth.net


Saturday, January 15, 2005

For those who remember when Abortion was illegal

When There Was No Choice
On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the memory of illegal abortion fades
by Sharon Lerner

from Nabil..On Iraq and Much more..Read on

www.truthtalkziraq.blogspot.com


1) Let's unpack this story a bit, avoiding the US
media's placid "there's nothing new here" spin to the
import of the story. Remember two years ago, when the
Iraqi government, through Amer al-Sa'adi (the credible
one, NOT "Baghdad Bob," who is now reportedly in the
Gulf somewhere), stated that they absolutely had no
WMD's and were providing every shred of information
available, and that the UN weapons inspectors had
carte blanche to inspect every space in the country?
Remember when they provided the UN with 12,000 pages
of documentation on CD-ROMs? Remember when the Bush
Administration insisted that there was no time, that
the threat was imminent, and that the weapons
inspectors would be completely unable to find anything
while the current government was in power? Well, I
remember.

This story carries even stronger implications,
however. According to Duelfer's report, Iraq had
destroyed all of its WMD stocks nearly 10 years ago --
just as Amer al-Sa'adi claimed in 2002. What does
that say about the sanctions regime following roughly
1995? Who on the Security Council insisted that they
remain in place, besides the US and UK? Basically,
this report provides a strong legal argument that the
US and UK owe Iraq compensation not only for the
widespread destruction, cultural looting, and
estimated 100,000 deaths of the past two years -- but
also owes compensation for the years of sanction
following 1995.

If I were the Iraqi Government, I would simply state,
"That'll be 500 billion USD, cash up front, please.
You can post your USAID staff to another country.
We're not interested in their program."

Bush's justification? "I felt like we'd find weapons
of mass destruction..." Would that stand up in any
court of law? Still, he feels "absolutely" justified
in launching this war that is bleeding America dry
financially, killing an awful lot of American kids
(six last week from Louisiana alone), and destroying
Iraq for yet another generation. This is a perfect
parallel to The Onion's portrayal of WWII's beginning:
"Hitler saves Europe from Polish aggression!"

And what about Amer al-Sa'adi? He's still in prison,
asking for more books. His German wife, who was at
the UN HQ appealing for his freedom when it was bombed
in August 2003, is still trying to get him free. I
believe they've got two teenage German Iraqi children,
living in Germany. I wonder what their opinion of US
Liberation is? I know what mine would be, in a
similar situation.

Nabil

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1389145,00.html

US gives up search for Saddam's WMD

Iraq Survey Group concludes dictator destroyed weapons
years before invasion

Julian Borger in Washington and Jonathan Steele
Thursday January 13 2005
The Guardian

The US investigators searching for Saddam Hussein's
alleged weapons of mass destruction have given up the
hunt and left Iraq with an appeal to the Pentagon for
the release of several Iraqi scientists still being
questioned, it was reported yesterday.

Charles Duelfer, who led the Iraq Survey Group, has
returned to the US and will deliver a final report in
the spring that will be almost identical to the
interim assessment he delivered to Congress last
October.

That assessment found Saddam had destroyed his last
weapons of mass destruction more than 10 years ago,
and his capacity to build new ones had been dwindling
for years by the time of the second Gulf war.

"Charlie has left Iraq," an intelligence official said
yesterday. "In terms of the weapons hunt in a
proactive sense, it has concluded, and the report is
being tweaked a bit but it will be largely unchanged."
But he added: "There is a considerable amount of
document exploitation to be done that will continue to
occur and leads that come out of the exploitation will
be followed up."

The Washington Post said the ISG had made "several
pleas" to the Pentagon to release the Iraqi
scientists, who have been held for nearly two years
and who have been interviewed extensively.

The scientists include General Amir al-Saadi, who
negotiated with UN inspectors on behalf of the Saddam
regime; Rihab Taha, a biologist also known as Dr Germ;
her husband, Amir Rashid, a former oil minister; and
Huda Amash, a biologist nicknamed Mrs Anthrax by UN
inspectors.

Gen Saadi's German-born wife Helma told the Guardian
last night that she had heard from US sources that
Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, had
approved her husband's release some weeks after the
October report was submitted. He had checked with the
Iraqi justice minister who said he had no objection.

"I understand the matter is with the prime minister,
Ayad Allawi, now. I don't know why it is taking so
long," she said.

By chance, the Red Cross arranged yesterday for Gen
Saadi to make a rare phone call to his wife. "He
didn't sound optimistic," she said. "He said he's kept
in the dark. No one tells him anything. He asked for
more books."

Last night the White House press secretary, Scott
McClellan, said there no longer was an active search
for weapons. "There may be a couple, a few people,
that are focused on that," he said, "but it has
largely concluded." He added: "If they have any
reports of [weapons of mass destruction] obviously
they'll continue to follow up on those reports.

"A lot of their mission is focused elsewhere now."

He said the final Duelfer report "is not going to
fundamentally alter" the earlier findings, which said
Saddam not only had no weapons of mass destruction and
had not made any since 1991, but that he had no
capability of making any either.

Many thousands of pages of Saddam-era documents are
still being translated and analysed, but most weapons
experts believe they are unlikely to change the
fundamental ISG assessment that the former regime had
rid itself of weapons of mass destruction many years
before the invasion.

After Mr Duelfer's presentation to Congress in
October, a senior ISG official said he was only
returning to Baghdad "to tie up odds and ends", with
no real expectation of further discoveries.

US officials said the operation was being wrapped up
because there was little expectation of finding any
substantial new evidence and the hunt could no longer
be justified in view of the rising danger to the
investigators.

Despite the end of the search, President George Bush
last night said he remained convinced that he was
right to go to war on Saddam.

In an interview with ABC television's Barbara Walters,
Mr Bush admitted: "I felt like we'd find weapons of
mass destruction, or like many many
here in the United States, many around the world, the
United Nations, thought he had weapons of mass
destruction."

But asked directly whether the invasion of Iraq was
worth the cost of an increasingly violent war, Mr Bush
said: "Oh, absolutely."


2) On Iraqi Elections:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1389292,00.html

This election could plunge Iraq further into the abyss
Rigged polls held under foreign occupation have a
notorious pedigree

Seumas Milne
Thursday January 13 2005
The Guardian

They are routinely described by the BBC as Iraq's
first free and democratic elections - sometimes for
half a century, sometimes in the country's history.
During his lightning stopover in Baghdad last month,
Tony Blair insisted that whatever you had thought of
the war, no one could now avoid taking sides in what
had become a simple "battle between democracy and
terror" in Iraq. And even if enthusiasm for the
elections scheduled for January 30 is usually tempered
by an admission that they are bound in practice to
prove "imperfect", there is a widespread view in the
occupying countries that they offer the best chance to
begin to lift the country out of its current misery.

We have, of course, been here before. Every landmark
since the US and British invasion nearly two years ago
has been claimed as a turning point for the
occupation, the moment when support for the resistance
would start to recede and a new, showcase Iraq emerge
from the blood-drenched devastation. And no doubt for
those who thought Iraqis would welcome their invaders
with flowers, that they wouldn't resist foreign
occupation, that Saddam Hussein's capture would take
the wind out of the fighters' sails, that last June's
handover of sovereignty would be seen as genuine and
that the punitive destruction of Falluja would break
the back of the insurgency - for them, this month's
planned ballot will surely seem to be the crucial
event that must at last deliver legitimacy to the
puppet regime holed up in Baghdad's infamous green
zone.

But, in reality, the elections are likely at best to
be irrelevant, at worst to plunge Iraq deeper into the
abyss. Both common sense and first principles dictate
that no election in a country invaded and controlled
by foreign troops can conceivably be regarded as free
and fair. The poll due on January 30 is part of a
process imposed by Bush's proconsul Paul Bremer,
transparently designed to entrench US plans for Iraq
and the wider Middle East; all the main politicians
and parties taking part owe their position and
physical survival to US protection and power; and
voting will take place in a country under martial law,
where a full-scale guerrilla war is raging and whose
heartlands are under daily bombardment.

Falluja, a city of 350,000 people, has been razed to
the ground in the past couple of months and its people
expelled to refugee camps, where they have less chance
to vote (even if they wanted to) than Iraqi refugees
living in Britain. The US-appointed government has
cracked down on the recalcitrant press and expelled
the independent al-Jazeera TV station, while the hands
of any future administration have been tied by a
US-imposed neoliberal economic programme.

Add to that the fact that major political groups and
politicians are boycotting the elections (including
the popular Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr) as
illegitimate under occupation - while security is so
bad in four of the country's provinces (accounting
for more than half the population) that both the US
ground forces commander and US-installed prime
minister Ayad Allawi said this week it would be too
dangerous for many people to vote. And just as
intimidation is expected to enforce a boycott in some
Sunni-dominated areas, pro-regime militias are
expected to dragoon Shia voters to the polls in parts
of the south. Without election observers, the scope
for fraud is clearly extensive. Most candidates' names
on party lists have been withheld - giving new meaning
to the term "secret ballot" - while voter registration
forms are being widely traded for dollars.

But most crucially of all, whatever the turnout and
relative votes for the different lists, the result
cannot and will not reflect the popular will over the
most important issue facing the country: the
occupation. Opinion polls show most Iraqis want
foreign troops to leave now. But none of those with a
chance of being elected - all compromised by their
links to the current administration - supports such a
demand. Without foreign troops, they would fear for
their own skins.

None of this should come as much of a shock. We are
familiar with "managed" elections the world over. And
phoney polls under foreign occupation have a long
pedigree. Take the US client regime in South Vietnam,
where fraudulent but contested elections were held
from the 1950s to the 1970s, including at the height
of the American war. Just as in Iraq, newspapers were
suppressed and parties staged boycotts or were banned,
while polling was often suspended in
Vietcong-controlled areas - or alternatively the
government won a miraculously high vote. Then there
were Iraq's own rigged elections under the
British-installed regime before 1958: as in Iraq
today, thousands of prisoners were held without trial,
newspapers and parties were banned and torture was
rampant.

The credibility of Iraq's January 30 poll is so
flagrantly in doubt, it is no wonder that there is
pressure both from within the US administration and
prominent Iraqi politicians for a postponement. The
danger is that the election won't simply lack
credibility, but could actually intensify Iraq's
crisis by fuelling sectarian divisions. The
combination of the effective truce with Sadr's Mahdi
army while the US military concentrates its fire on
the Sunni-based resistance, lack of Shia support for
Fallujans during November's onslaught and the
commitment to the elections by the governing Shia
parties has strained relations to the limit. There are
increasing fears among Iraqis that the US is
deliberately fostering sectarian tension to divide and
rule - or even open the way to the de facto partition
of the country. When the New York Times's Thomas
Friedman argues that "we have to have a proper
election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war"
and Charles Krauthammer suggests in the Washington
Post that we should "see Iraqi factionalisation as a
useful tool", it's hardly surprising such ideas
flourish.

The US-British occupation has failed to deliver
Iraqis' most basic needs and security, let alone their
freedom. The resistance, dismissed as "dead-enders"
and "remnants" after the fall of the Saddam regime,
has mushroomed to the point where Iraqi intelligence
puts it at 200,000-strong, a senior US military
officer has told Newsweek "we are losing" and the
Pentagon is reaching into the sewer of its history for
the "Salvador option": the use of local paramilitary
death squads to wage a dirty war against the
guerrillas.

Britain's small band of occupation cheerleaders, who
comprehensively lost the argument about the war, are
now taking refuge in self-righteous denunciations of
the Iraqi resistance, the very forces they helped
bring into being by supporting the unprovoked invasion
of an independent state.

They would do better to remind their friends that
there can be no democracy without genuine sovereignty
and self-determination. The only way to hold free and
fair elections in Iraq - and draw the sting of mass
resistance - is for the aggressor states to withdraw
their forces and let the Iraqis run their own affairs.


s.milne@guardian.co.uk


3) Louisiana National Guard losses:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4730712,00.html

La. Mourns for Soldiers Killed in 1 Day

Thursday January 13, 2005 3:16 PM
By DOUG SIMPSON
Associated Press Writer

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Six members of the Louisiana
National Guard were killed last week in a single bomb
blast in Iraq. They came from the same company and
grew up in towns along the bayous of southeast
Louisiana. Now they've come home - together - to a
heartbroken state.

In civilian life, Bradley Bergeron was an air
conditioning technician. Kurt Comeaux was a probation
officer and Warren Murphy a tugboat deckhand. You
could find Christopher Babin behind the wheel of his
truck. Armand Frickey and Huey Fassbender III worked
in restaurants....


4) Pipes applauds Hollywood's whipping up fears of the
populace from "everyday Muslims". Sometimes these
plots become self-fulfilling prophecies, life
imitating art. Also, I think it would be fair to
label this article the "Protocols of the Elders of
Pipes":

http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/9442.html

Daniel Pipes: Hooray for Fox for Running a Prime Time
Show that Deals with Islamist Terrorism

Daniel Pipes, at FrontPageMag.com (1-6-05):


The war on terror has not been the subject of a single
American feature film nor, so far as I know, is there
one in the works. But television is proving a bit
braver and things should get interesting on Sunday,
Jan. 9, when Fox begins a new season of its action
show, called 24.

Why the absence of movies on the current war? Jack
Valenti, then-head of the Motion Picture Association
of America, once replied with questions of his own:

Who would you have as the enemy if you made a picture
about terrorism? You'd probably have Muslims, would
you not? If you did, I think there would be backlash
from the decent, hard-working, law-abiding Muslim
community in this country.

That's what some call a pre-emptive cringe. Others
call it dhimmitude.

In any case, the most recent big-budget movie to deal
with terrorism was 2002's Sum of All Fears ("27,000
Nuclear Weapons. One Is Missing"), based on a Tom
Clancy novel of the same name. The novel had Arab
terrorists setting off a nuclear device at football's
Super Bowl but the movie, under pressure from Islamist
organizations, features neo-Nazi terrorists. ("I hope
you will be reassured," Director Phil Alden Robinson
wrote in early 2001 to the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, "that I have no intention of promoting
negative images of Muslims or Arabs, and I wish you
the best in your continuing efforts to combat
discrimination.")

In an review of recent movies, Jonathan V. Last finds
that, "If anything, the PC pressure has been upped
since the war on terror began." The first break in the
silence came in mid-2004, when The Grid, a TNT
mini-series, took on radical Islam. Last termed it
"the bravest, most-daring piece of entertainment in
years," precisely because Tracey Alexander and Brian
Eastman, its executive producers, did not whitewash
all forms of Islam.

An excerpt from The Grid's second episode, concerning
a Lebanese national named Fuqara, arrested as he tries
to flee the United States after trying to murder an
FBI agent, gives its flavor. Fuqara is interrogated by
Agent Canary while his attorney tries to stop the
proceedings:

Agent Canary: Mr. Fuqara, who ordered you to commit
the assassination?

Fuqara: (Mutters in Arabic.)

Fuqara's Attorney (to Agent Canary): Can we have a
moment outside? (The two exit the room.) Don't you
dare threaten him with a rend writ.

Agent Canary: He has information about planned attacks
here that could threaten thousands of American lives.

Fuqara's Attorney: And that gives you the right to
summarily dismiss Mr. Fuqara's rights? Hey, why stop
there? Deport all the Muslims in America to win your
war!

Agent Canary: I might suggest some rights stop at mass
murder.

Fuqara's Attorney: They don't. And until there is an
amendment to the constitution to that effect, I will
protect Mr. Fuqara's rights.

A second break will come in a few days, when the Fox
Channel's 24 shows four episodes depicting a Muslim
family as coming to the United States solely to
implement attacks against Americans. To do so, they
masquerade as just folk. Here is how Jim Finkle of
Broadcasting & Cable describes them: "One of the
villains is a Walkman-toting, bubble-gum-chewing
teenager who fights with his conservative Dad about
dating an American girl and talking on the phone."

But this is a disguise.

The young man also helps his parents mastermind a plot
to kill large numbers of Americans that begins with an
attack on a train. Over the breakfast table, the
father tells his son: "What we will accomplish today
will change the world. We are fortunate that that our
family has been chosen to do this." "Yes, father," his
son replies.

The terrorists manage to take the secretary of defense
as a hostage; and the movie climaxes with the
secretary shown on a gruesome Internet video like
those coming out of Iraq, then tried for "war crimes
against humanity."

Predictably, 24 has the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, the country's lead Islamist outfit, in a
tizzy. CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed complains that
"They are taking everyday American Muslim families and
making them suspects. They're making it seem like
families are co-conspirators in this terrorist plot."

Melanie McFarland, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's
television critic, has no patience for such whining:
"this is 24, OK? Anyone who watches it knows the show
borrows aspects of real nightmares to drive its plots,
paying little attention to political correctness."

But there is another reason to stick with the plot as
it is. Nearly every terrorist suspect in the West is
said to be a regular guy or a wonderful gal, as I have
previously shown. The adjectives applied to Sajid
Mohammed Badat, a Briton, are typical: "a walking
angel," "the bright star of our mosque," "a friendly,
warm, fun-loving character," "a friendly, sociable,
normal young lad, who had lots of friends and did not
hold extreme views in any way." Despite those raves,
he has been indicted for helping shoe-bomber Richard C
Reid attempt to blow up an airliner and will face
trial on conspiracy charges (he was found with parts
for more shoe bombs like those Reid used).

Just last week, the Seattle Times reported on a Saudi
now being deported from the United States:

To his co-workers at the University of Washington
School of Nursing, Majid al-Massari was a happy guy
who bounced down the halls and seemed like a "big
teddy bear." What his friends didn't know about the
burly, bearded 34-year-old computer-security
specialist was that he had helped set up a Web site
for a group linked to al-Qaida, quoted Osama bin Laden
in his own Internet postings, lashed out against
American policies on his father's London-based radio
show and had landed in the sights of U.S. terrorism
investigators.

This sort of surprise happens with such consistency
that I am tempted to generalize: On arrest, every
single Islamist in the West is initially hailed as a
delightful person, and never as a hate-filled brooding
loner.

So, hooray for Fox for portraying reality; and may it
not cave to the Islamists.

Posted by Editor on Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 3:40
PM


5) Social Security Petition, Move-0n:

http://www.moveon.org/socialsecurity/






This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?