Friday, February 25, 2005

Rape as a Weapon -- What's New?--SPEAK UP!

February 22, 2005 Mother Jones

Why are we so complacent about Africa, but organize worldwide "celeb" concerts for Tsunami victims? We are global citizens, family members of what Dr. King called a "World House," so we must not look away from any of our sisters. Speak up -to everyone you know--to every woman you know--to every voice you know. Call, Write, March, and Resist complacency.

Read this essay in its entirety :

Rape As a Weapon

By Lisa Katayama

"Recent reports have called attention to the widespread rape of Sudanese women and girls in Darfur by janjaweed militiamen intent, according to some of the women, on populating the western region with Arab babies. Rape is often seen as a side effect of war, a function of the chaos created by conflict, and an individual, personal tragedy. But, as this example shows, rape on a large scale can function as a weapon of war – in this case a tool for ethnic cleansing; a war crime."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Social Security Calculator---really find out!

Dear Friend,

People have been saying for weeks that the president's privatization plan will cut benefits. Now all Americans can log onto and find out how true this is

So how much you will lose under Bush Privatization:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


You haven't heard the last of me. I am the one who speaks for the spirit of freedom and decency in you. Shit. Somebody has to do it.
--Hunter S. Thompson


Subject: Scott Ritter says US attack on Iran planned for June

NEWS: Scott Ritter says US attack on Iran planned for June

Written by Mark Jensen
Saturday, 19 February 2005

On Friday evening in Olympia, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott
Ritter appeared with journalist Dahr Jamail. -- Ritter made two
shocking claims: George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran
in June 2005, and the U.S. manipulated the results of the Jan. 30
elections in Iraq....

By Mark Jensen

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
February 19, 2005

Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in
Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered
to a packed house in Olympia’s Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned
UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on
plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the
results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

Olympians like to call the Capitol Theater "historic," but it's
doubtful whether the eighty-year-old edifice has ever been the scene of
more portentous revelations.

The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans’ duty to
protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the
illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons
inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said
plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George
W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted
that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of
the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and
signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June
2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program
to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the
administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a
chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70
million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W.
Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in
the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that
U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce
the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from
56% to 48%.

Asked by UFPPC's Ted Nation about this shocker, Ritter said an official
involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon
be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major
metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter
Seymour M. Hersh.

On Jan. 17, the New Yorker posted an article by Hersh entitled The
Coming Wars (New Yorker, January 24-31, 2005). In it, the well-known
investigative journalist claimed that for the Bush administration, "The
next strategic target [is] Iran." Hersh also reported that "The
Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions
inside Iran at least since last summer." According to Hersh, "Defense
Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been
working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine
potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran. .
. . Strategists at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, in
Tampa, Florida, have been asked to revise the military’s war plan,
providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran. . . . The
hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that
the Europeans’ negotiated approach [to Iran] cannot succeed, and that
at that time the Administration will act."

Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the
war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other
nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the
Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded
an even greater conflagration.

Scott Ritter's talk was the culmination of a long evening devoted to
discussion of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. Before Ritter spoke, Dahr
Jamail narrated a slide show on Iraq focusing on Fallujah. He showed
more than a hundred vivid photographs taken in Iraq, mostly by himself.
Many of them showed the horrific slaughter of civilians.

Dahr Jamail argued that U.S. mainstream media sources are complicit in
the war and help sustain support for it by deliberately downplaying the
truth about the devastation and death it is causing.

Jamail was, until recently, one of the few unembedded journalists in
Iraq and one of the only independent ones. His reports have gained a
substantial following and are available online at

Friday evening's event in Olympia was sponsored by South Puget Sound
Community College's Student Activities Board, Veterans for Peace, 100
Thousand and Counting, Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace, and United
for Peace of Pierce County.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Nabil Al-Tikriti's Article

1) Published this past week:

>From Showcase to Basket case: Higher Education in Iraq

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Iraq’s academic professionals continue to face an
uphill struggle to maintain standards following years
of sanctions and months of social chaos. Although
some may remain optimistic about a future free of
centralized ministerial oversight and autocratic
governance, many more feel bitterness for the lack of
international support offered since the beginning of
the US/UK invasion and subsequent occupation. As with
so much of post-war Iraq, the higher education sector
is yet another area where US military, political, and
bureaucratic intervention has proven more damaging
than revitalizing.

Times are hard for professors in Iraq today—very
hard. Since the US/UK “coalition of the willing”
invaded the country in March 2003 and forcibly evicted
the country’s sovereign government, an estimated
10-15% of Iraq’s 16,500 instructors spread across some
20 universities have left the country. In addition to
facing bitterly disappointed expectations of US
institutional support in the past 20 months,
professors have been forced to cope with widespread
looting, targeted violence, campus politicization, and
institutional uncertainty. Although some actors
remain optimistic about a future for a higher
education sector liberated from a stifling and highly
centralized state control, most remain apprehensive
about the same sector liberated from sources of
funding, professors, and campus civility.
Times were not always so bad. Iraq’s universities
were a proud part of the national patrimony from the
1950’s to the 1980’s, and were widely considered among
the region’s best throughout this period. Observers
recall a vibrant and exciting 1970’s, when the
university sector engaged in international research
ventures, published top-flight journals in the
humanities and the sciences, surveyed the country’s
unrivalled archaeological sites, catalogued Iraq’s
impressive manuscript holdings, and sent its best
graduates to earn Ph.D.’s at the foremost research
universities in Europe and North America. Many of
those internationally educated graduates returned home
in the 1980’s and provided the scientific expertise
needed to build the state’s advanced arms programs in
that time of war.
Although the growth and elaboration of higher
education continued through much of the 1980’s, the
twin effects of state Saddamization and compulsory
fiscal restraint during the long and difficult
Iran-Iraq War began to sap the energy and vibrancy of
the universities. By the end of the decade, the good
times had clearly passed as state monitoring of campus
politics began to negatively affect retention of
academic talent. Yet, by the war’s end education
professionals could still hope to be optimistic about
a long-waited post-war future.
The beginning of the end for Iraqi higher education
dates to the government’s ill-advised hostile takeover
of Kuwait in 1990. After the international community
mobilized to enforce the illegality of an unprovoked
and unsanctioned invasion of one sovereign country by
another, Iraq found itself facing a crushing sanctions
regime and hefty reparation requirements vis-a-vis
Kuwait. Iraqis initially expected to endure a few
months of financial difficulty until the UN Security
Council disarmament protocols could be carried out.
Instead, the sanctions regime continued for nearly
thirteen years, primarily due to US and UK insistence.

Trapped in a formerly affluent society now forced to
prioritize procurement of basic necessities, Iraq’s
universities faced gradual decline throughout the
1990’s. Higher education suffered not only from
internationally enforced neglect, but the sector also
found itself physically and intellectually cut off
from the rest of the world. Under sanctions,
international exchanges ended completely, journal
subscriptions were prohibited, high technology
purchases were forbidden, and spare parts for
previously purchased equipment were halted. Famously,
even pencils were embargoed due to the “dual use”
capability of lead. Combined with the continuing
strictures on intellectual curiosity springing from an
increasingly apprehensive and insecure authoritarian
ruling elite, many of the country’s most talented
academics found the situation unbearable and
emigrated. An estimated 10,000 instructors left the
country in the 1990’s. In spite of such adversity,
those professors who remained managed to maintain
academic standards through increasingly desperate
forms of improvisation. For example, in order to keep
up with scientific advances, medical school
instructors annually obtained from Jordan a single
copy of relevant medical textbooks, which were then
provided to photocopiers for class distribution.
Although scientific research ground to a halt,
university instruction continued.

Looting strips the campuses
The final coup de grace for Iraq’s academe occurred in
the chaos which followed the fall of the Ba‘athist
government in April 2003. Expressing anger,
frustration, and consternation about a suddenly fallen
state sector, various elements took privatization of
government institutions—like universities—into their
own hands with a wave of mass lootings. It has been
suggested that officials carried out some of the
looting to erase a contentious past. Although that
may be true for several sensitive state facilities,
the university looters seem to have largely consisted
of urban poor. While the effect of the looting was
spread unevenly throughout the country, the damage to
many facilities was devastating. Various library
facilities were looted and/or burned, as were much of
the holdings of such cultural repositories and
research institutions as the Baghdad Museum, National
Archives, Awqaf Library, Iraqi Academy of Sciences,
and Bayt al-Hikma. The looting of campus offices
destroyed much of the institutional memory of Iraq’s
universities. Student records, personnel records,
faculty files, and many other sorts of records which
provide the “nuts and bolts” of education
administration were lost -- as they were in so many
other sectors. To Iraqis, the looting of April 2003
was only the most recent act of a long-term conspiracy
to “keep Iraq down” rather than an unfortunate example
of “stuff happening” when an authoritarian regime
collapses. As one Iraqi saying had it when the
government fell and the former president disappeared,
“now the student has left—and the master has arrived.”

University life in occupied Iraq
Iraqi professors, students, and administrators had
reason to hope that their situation might improve.
Unfortunately, the period following the establishment
of the US/UK occupation can largely be characterized
as “one step forward, two steps backward” and has only
served to confirm Iraqi suspicions concerning US
motives. The anticipated reconstruction support from
US institutions never materialized on a scale capable
of restoring the tattered glory of Iraq’s universities
due partly to policy choice, and partly to
The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific
Research has calculated that $1.2 billion is needed
for university rehabilitation. Against that need, the
ministry has been allocated approximately $20 million
in benefits from USAID contracts awarded to American
universities, and $20 million from other international
donors. Not only is that amount tiny compared to the
estimated required amount, it is also a drop in the
bucket against the $18.6 billion total funds approved
by the US Congress for Iraqi reconstruction in
November 2003. In one sense, it has made little
difference—only an estimated 20% of such
reconstruction funds had been disbursed by June 2004
in any case.
>From the beginning, US administrators allocated
funding in accordance with short term US interests
rather than long-term Iraqi interests. The Republican
party apparatchiks sent by the Bush Administration to
staff the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) did
the best they could, but the strictures of
neo-conservative policy goals designed to “spread
democracy” seriously undermined any efforts to remedy
the situation at hand. For example, it was felt to be
of the highest priority to ensure that every primary
school student in the country received new textbooks,
complete with USAID-approved re-interpretations of
Iraqi, Arab, and Islamic history. Combined with a
widely-advertised initiative to leave no primary or
secondary school unpainted, the pre-university sector
received an estimated 7-8 times more funding support
than higher education from the US government and the
World Bank—betraying a prioritization of the mass
indoctrination of Iraqi youth through new textbooks
over the restoration of Iraq’s regional pre-eminence
in higher education.
As with other Iraqi state assets, there was briefly
some discussion of setting up private “international”
educational institutions to compete with, and perhaps
supplant, state higher education facilities. However,
like so much else that has been envisioned since the
spring of 2003, this idea has yet to materialize
beyond a couple of pilot efforts. These institutions,
the “American Liberal Arts University of Iraq” in
Arbil and the “College of Democracy,” are both located
in Northern Iraq and are closely identified with
former CPA Higher Education Advisor John Agrestos.
Another priority of US administrators appears to have
been providing corporate welfare to US companies in
the form of reconstruction contracts. This mode of
funding has so far led to a uniquely American brand of
corporate corruption, whereby US taxpayers pay top
dollar to US companies for basic jobs like painting
primary schools. In turn, the US companies hire local
subcontractors at pennies on the dollar to physically
fulfill the contracted work. The leakage implied in
such a contracting protocol would rival any patronage
system of the type routinely condemned by World Bank
and IMF investigators in less wealthy societies.
Although this sort of structure has been somewhat less
in evidence in the higher education sector than in
other sectors, the overall effect has been to bleed
the US economy while robbing Iraqis of sovereignty
over their own institutions.
One of the most damaging CPA decisions concerning the
universities sprung from the wider US goal of
“de-Ba‘athification.” In May 2003, newly-appointed
CPA head Paul Bremer announced a comprehensive policy
of de-Ba‘athification for state employees above the
middle ranks. Even prior to Bremer’s announcement,
Iraqi public opinion—and a couple of targeted
assassinations—forced many unpopular campus Ba‘athist
apparatchiks into hiding. However, after this
wide-ranging decree, public education institutions
found themselves robbed of much of their best talent,
as CPA Advisor and education commissar Andrew Erdmann
oversaw the expulsion of an estimated 1,400 university
instructors for Ba‘ath party membership. Although
many of these professionals were later rehired, the
institutional damage has been considerable.
Research professionals associated with the former
government’s weapons development program found
themselves detained by US officials in prison camps.
The most notable example is Amer al-Sa‘adi, an Iraqi
scientist who became famous before the war for
denying, accurately, that Iraq had any weapons of mass
destruction (WMD). Anticipating a quick release once
Iraq’s lack of WMD became known, Dr. al-Sa‘adi turned
himself in to US forces immediately after Baghdad’s
fall. He remains in detention, and repeated calls for
his release through an international petition drive
led by his German wife, who survived the August 2003
Canal Hotel bombing while arguing his case to UN
officials, have to date failed to sway US authorities.

In addition to the physical damage endured in the
wave of looting and the staff depletion caused by
Bremer’s decree and other US actions, the universities
have faced serious issues of campus and personal
security. Since March 2003, at least 200 academics
have faced violent attacks, the fate of 75 kidnapped
instructors remains unknown, and at least 14
professors have been murdered in a targeted fashion.
In light of such danger, it should come as no surprise
that an estimated 1,600-2,000 university instructors
have left the country. Those professors remaining
behind have been obliged to face the inevitable
politicization of campus life that followed the
collapse of a system designed to carefully channel
political energies towards centrally-mandated goals
for more than a generation. Campuses quickly became
arenas for intense political competition between
groups affiliated with various factions of the Iraqi
political scene. While public political discussion
was a welcome change for many in the new order, such
politicization has proved disruptive to campus
civility and intimidated many. A recent academic
visitor from Jordan was warned against visiting
campuses because there were “spies” who might inform
on the stranger’s presence.
Against all odds, Iraq’s university staff carries on:
physical plants have been repaired, new structures of
institutional governance have been established, and
library collections have been re-organized with the
addition of some book shipments. However, such
activities continue in the face of a shoestring
budget, meagre international support, and a myriad of
security problems. The combination of staff shortfall
and financial constraints has grown so dire in recent
months that 134 Ph.D. programs have been eliminated
throughout the university system. As a sign of just
how precarious the security situation has become for
government officials, the Ministry of Education was
hit by a car bomb in the first week of November 2004.
In light of all the obstacles, in some sense it is
remarkable that higher education continues at all in
Iraq. The fact that it does is a tribute to the

courage and pride of Iraq’s educators.

Nabil Al-Tikriti is Assistant Professor of Middle East
History at the University of Mary Washington in
Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Peace Tax--and resistance to IRS payment for WAR

If you wish to not pay for the war by not paying income tax, or if you want to register your objectin to the war and pay taxes (but request taxes apply to non-Iraq budget items) see the following posts from Nabil...very interesting:

Contact: Ruth Benn, National War Tax Resistance
Coordinating Committee or 800-269-7464


Thousands of U.S. taxpayers opposed to the war in Iraq
are expected to use a new "Peace Tax Return" as a
means to protest-or even resist-the spending of their
federal tax dollars for the war.

The "Peace Tax Return 2004," produced by the
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
(NWTRCC), has two options, either of which would be
sent to the IRS or an elected official. The first
option (Part A) is for people who will be paying their
taxes but want to make a protest. For those who
willing to go further, the second option (Part B) is
for taxpayers who will be refusing to pay some or all
of their federal income taxes, despite possible
consequences from the IRS.

A third part of the peace tax form, which is to be
returned (anonymously if desired) to NWTRCC, will
allow the organization to track its use, thus
measuring the extent of the protest.

The Peace Tax Return is modeled on a return produced
by Conscience, The Peace Tax Campaign in Britain, one
of many groups around the world who are lobbying for
legislation that would allow conscientious objectors
to war to pay their taxes into a special fund that
would not be used by the military. Copies of the Peace
Tax Return can be obtained by downloading from the web


by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to
NWTRCC, PO Box 150553,
NY 11215.

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating
Committee is a 22-year-old coalition of groups who
provide information about war tax resistance and
support for those who refuse to pay some or all of
federal income and excise taxes because they help pay
for war.

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
PO Box 150553
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 768-3420 * (800) 269-7464
Fax: (718) 768-4388

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What Next?

What Next?

This simple question can ask for the next step, the next task, the next treat or even surprise. Unfortunately, What Next often means “What else could possible be worse than what has just occurred?”

I have been shocked and awed by the lengths to which this presidency will go to pursue its complete takeover of this country.

First, of course, was the switch and bait substitution of “evil doers” targeting oil rich Iran while losing track of the perpetrator of the 9/11 attack. The bait—Fear of Terrorism—the switch –Patriotism equals unquestioning support of warfare and lies that support it.

Second, was, and is, the continual erosion of civil rights in this country. Free speech is considered unpatriotic. Religious freedom is only guaranteed to Christian Fundamentalists. The right to gather means only in fenced pens or in the company of FBI cameras or permits. Privacy is no longer a right, not even for children whose lives and social security numbers can be called up by any recruiter or government official. The Internet and the Media are under ever increasing restriction—sometimes in the name of safety, other times in the name of “commerce.” The right to a fair trial, to fair treatment, to speedy justice – all have fallen into disfavor under the current administration. What is the excuse? Fear. The first freedom we lost was the right to believe in our own ability to survive without extreme government protection. Ironically, the fear of government control is what moved the founders of this country to enact the Bill of Rights—a document that seems to be headed for the endangered list faster than the Bald Eagle.

Third, the United Stated of America has always represented a future, a land of opportunity, a place where every man, woman and child could hope for better. Now, the talk in Washington and throughout this country reinforces despair—except if you happen to count yourself in the upper 10% of the country. The President’s new Budget tells the tale:
New money for War and the Pentagon—but less money for the Veterans here and the Veterans who will come back to a country they believe they are fighting for. More money for Halliburton and Homeland Security, but cuts in education, literacy, police officer programs, health programs, and farm subsidies. Even Social Security and Pell grants—money that even middle class America can appreciate—have been cut or are being “played” like monopoly dollars in some game where every decision is one that is labeled “good or bankrupt” – a most horribly evident false dilemma—again meant to intimidate voters in this country—especially young people who find little to believe in—much less their own government.

What Next? Iran? Food Stamps? Walking down the Streets without a permit?
What Next for those of us who want to do something—anything?
March up and down the street with more signs?
Call more answer machines of senators and White House Staffers?
Register Voters?
Write letter to the Editors?
Spray paint trash cans or leave the country?

I can’t say I know if any of these ideas is the answer. But I believe we ALL must speak up, and we ALL must ACT UP. Choose your level of comfort and rise to it.
Here are some links to follow—from softly active to "Won’t take it anymore!"

The League of Pissed Off Voters
Radio Left -- Blog
The Feminist Majority



Air America Radio Network - Liberal Radio Network - Online Magazine
The American Prospect - Magazine
Americans for Democratic Action - Organization
BAGnewsNotes - Graphic Artists Activists
Ballot Initiative Strategy Center - Organization
Brookings Institution - Think Tank
Campaign for America's Future - Organization
Center for American Progress - Organization
Center for Economic and Policy Research - Think Tank
The Century Foundation - Think Tank - Organization
Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX) - Organization
Common Dreams - Online News/Resource
CounterPunch - Online Magazine
Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute - Labor Party Think Tank
Democracy For America - Howard Dean's Organization
Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) - Centrist Democratic Organization
Democratic Socialists of America - Organization
Democratic Underground - Online News/Resource - Online News/Resource
Dissent - Quarterly Magazine
Economic Policy Institute - Think Tank
The Experiment Network - Online News/Resource
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) - Media Watch Organization
Al Franken (The O'Franken Report) - Radio Talk Show Host & Author - Liberal Index/Resource
Jim Hightower - Populist Radio Talk Show Host
Independent Progressive Politics Network - Organization
Institute for Global Communications - Organization/Network
Institute for Policy Studies - Think Tank
Institute for Public Accuracy - Think Tank
In These Times - Magazine - Online Resource & Community
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights - Organization
Liberal International - Index/Resource
Link Crusader - Liberal Index/Resource
LiP Magazine - Online Magazine - Online Resource
Monthly Review - Leftist Policy Review Magazine
Michael Moore - Liberal Activist/Filmmaker
Mother Jones - Monthly Magazine - Organization
The Nation - Weekly Magazine
National Committee for an Effective Congress - Organization
National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) - Organization
National Lawyers Guild (NLG) - Leftist Organization
New Democrat Network - Centrist Democratic PAC
Online Journal - Online Magazine
People For the American Way - Organization
Physicians for Social Responsibility - Organization
Policy Action Network: Moving Ideas - Index/Resource
The Priorities! Campaign - Organization
The Progressive - Magazine
Progressive Majority - Liberal Democratic PAC
Progressive Policy Institute (DLC) - Centrist Democratic Think Tank
Progressive Punch - Online Resource/Database
Progressive Populist - Newspaper
Progressive Portal - Online Activism - Direct Action Resource
The Raw Story - Online Newspaper
Tikkun - Jewish Magazine - Online Magazine
True Majority - Organization
TruthOut - Online Newspaper
2030 Center - Organization
United for a Fair Economy - Organization
We The People - Organization
Wellstone Action - Organization
Peter Werbe - Radio Talk Show Host
Working For Change - Index/Resource

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