Saturday, January 29, 2005

Houzan Mahmoud: Why I am not taking part in these phoney elections

Comment: "I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting Sunday's elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?
In reality, these elections are, for Iraq's women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and US-led military assaults of the 20-odd months since Saddam's fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women's empowerment." Iraq to Vote Shadowed by Threat of Bloodbath

Top News Article "BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents threatened a bloodbath on Sunday when Iraqis go to the polls in an election intended to unite the country and quell violence but which could instead foment sectarian strife.
Iraq was under security lockdown for Iraq's first multi-party elections in nearly half a century.
Borders were sealed, airports closed and only official vehicles allowed on the streets after heavy bloodshed on the eve of voting, including a bold rocket strike that killed two Americans at the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad's Green Zone.
Insurgents also killed 17 Iraqis and an American soldier on Saturday.
A suicide bomber struck a U.S.-Iraqi security center in the town of Khanaqin, northeast of the Iraqi capital. The U.S. military said three Iraqi soldiers and five civilians were killed in that incident.
The embassy attack deepened fears of an insurgent blitz on election day and demonstrated their ability to strike at the heart of the interim government and American power in their vast fortified complex on the west bank of the river Tigris. "

Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam to record “Indian Ocean” for tsunami victims

"The British singer Yusuf Islam – who flew into the tsunami-hit Indonesian province of Aceh on Saturday will briefly step back into the spotlight recording a charity single “Indian Ocean” and heading a benefit concert in Jakarta on Monday.

The single was recorded with Indian composer and producer AR Rahman, Travis drummer Neil Primrose and A-HA band member Magne Furuholmen. It will be released in February to raise money for children who were left orphans by the deadly waves which wiped out parts of the region.

The track includes the use of instruments, which Islam has avoided since embracing Islam, but he cautioned: “It's not a return to Cat Stevens, I see it more as a natural response to express my concern as a Muslim and as an artist; I believe both can exist side by side particularly when the cause is right.”

Democracy Now! | Seymour Hersh: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult" (Audio)

Democracy Now! | Seymour Hersh: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult": "AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, author of the book, Chain Of Command: The Road From 9-11 to Abu Ghraib. He spoke recently at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York.

SEYMOUR HERSH: About what's going on in terms of the President is that as virtuous as I feel, you know, at The New Yorker, writing an alternative history more or less of what's been going on in the last three years, George Bush feels just as virtuous in what he is doing. He is absolutely committed -- I don't know whether he thinks he's doing God's will or what his father didn't do, or whether it's some mandate from -- you know, I just don't know, but George Bush thinks this is the right thing. He is going to continue doing what he has been doing in Iraq. He's going to expand it, I think, if he can. I think that the number of body bags that come back will make no difference to him. The body bags are rolling in. It makes no difference to him, because he will see it as a price he has to pay to put America where he thinks it should be. So, he's inured in a very strange way to people like me, to the politicians, most of them who are too cowardly anyway to do much. So, the day-to-day anxiety that all of us have, and believe me, though he got 58 million votes, many of people who voted for him weren't voting for continued warfare, but I think that's what we're going to have. "

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Aljazeera.Net - Violence continues on eve of Iraq polls

Aljazeera.Net - Violence continues on eve of Iraq polls: "Seventeen people were killed on the eve of Iraq's poll as fighters opposed to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq continued their campaign to disrupt the elections
As security forces barricaded streets, sealed Iraq's borders and closed Baghdad airport, more than a dozen polling stations were attacked and bloodshed continued to stain the electoral countdown.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi appealed to Iraqis to defy violence 'trying to break us and to break our world' and exhorted voters to cast ballots in Iraq's first multi-party election for half a century.

Secret candidates
The climate of intimidation has been so prevalent that most candidates have kept their names secret.

There are fears that the turnout will be lowest in Sunni Arab areas, where violence has been bloodiest. Sunnis make up 20 percent of the population.

Iraq's 60 percent-majority Shia, oppressed for decades under Saddam, is expected to dominate the polls.

Many people vowed to brave the threats, but others were afraid of being targeted at the polls or afterward, when indelible blue ink daubed on their index fingers to prevent multiple voting could mark them for death."

Reuters AlertNet - Indian village beats tsunami with tree power

Reuters AlertNet - Indian village beats tsunami with tree power: "NALUVEDAPATHY, India, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Two years ago, drought-stricken farmers in a village on the southern coast of India walked into the Guinness Book of World Records by planting the highest number of saplings in a 24-hour period.

On Dec. 26, as the killer tsunami struck down thousands of people and homes in Tamil Nadu state, the casuarina and eucalyptus trees which had been planted to appease the weather gods saved the lush green village of Naluvedapathy.

Of the nearly 8,000 people who died in the state, including 6,000 in one fishing village, only seven were from Naluvedapathy.
'We knew the trees would be a good wind barrier but never thought it would work one day as a water barrier as well,' said Sudeep Jain, a top local government official.

'We planted trees for invoking rain gods as this area had faced drought for several years. No one ever imagined it could save the village from a disaster like a tsunami.'

The casuarina trees, which numbered more than 60,000, took the brunt of the tsunami waves as they swept Naluvedapathy."

Friday, January 28, 2005 RSS Must Read News Feed

Welcome to!: "CLICK HERE for the link to the 'MMMust Read' RSS Feed" WebChat with Michael Moore - Transcript "Chat Ed : After Fahrenheit 9/11 had its UK premiere on Channel 4 this evening, the director, writer and producer Michael Moore joined us for an exclusive webchat. The chat happened an hour later than publicised due to forces at work in the US trying to silence Michael's opinions. Here’s what happened…

Michael Moore : Channel 4 innocently thought "Wouldn't it be nice if we had a film-maker do a webchat?" but unfortunately you don't live here.Certain Americans, when they learned of this webchat, did not see it as a webchat with a film-maker but as an interview with the devil himself. And they discussed throughout the week how and what they could do to stop it. So my apologies to the British audience who logged on Thursday night to have this chat (the only one I have agreed to this past year) only to be prohibited from having this discussion with me thanks to the lunatic Right Wing in the United States.

Listen to an audio clip of Michael's response here.

Jeremy Dumkrieger : Michael At what point did you say to yourself, I have to make Fahrenheit 9-11, I have to tell the American people the truth.

Michael Moore : It was probably on a drive back across the country the week after September 11th whilst listening to Talk radio and hearing peoples’ responses to it across the country and realising that Americans didn't quite understand how the world felt about us.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005 Kennedy - The Time Has Come To Leave Iraq

US News Article | "The United States should start to withdraw militarily and politically from Iraq and aim to pull out all troops as early as possible next year, Sen. Edward Kennedy said on Thursday.

After Sunday's Iraqi elections, Kennedy said President Bush should state he intends to negotiate a timetable with the new Iraqi government to draw down U.S. forces.

At least 12,000 U.S. troops should leave at once, Kennedy said, 'to send a stronger signal about our intentions to ease the pervasive sense of occupation.'

The Massachusetts Democrat, who opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, became the first senator to lay out a plan for Bush to start withdrawing troops a day after the Pentagon warned lawmakers that strikes by insurgents may increase after Sunday's elections. "

Yahoo! News - Vote Casts Spotlight on Iraqis in Tenn.

Yahoo! News - Vote Casts Spotlight on Iraqis in Tenn.: "NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For years, the thousands of Kurds living in Nashville have blended into the city's immigrant community in relative anonymity.

But now they are in the spotlight with Iraq's national elections that begin Friday and run through Sunday. Nashville is one of five American cities where Iraqi expatriates can vote, and nearly 4,000 of them are registered here - more than Los Angeles and Washington. Detroit and Chicago have more.

There are an estimated 8,000 Kurds living in Nashville, which they call 'Little Kurdistan.' It is the largest community in the United States of Kurds, an ethnic minority that has long been persecuted by Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

In 1975, the United States allowed about 2,000 Kurdish refugees to emigrate after an uprising failed to establish their own country. Many of those refugees chose Nashville because of its similar climate."

Baghdad Burning: Water Anxiety...

Baghdad Burning: "I have to make this fast. We have about two hours of electricity- hopefully. The water came back yesterday evening. It's just a little drizzle but it's certainly better than nothing.

E. was the first to hear it. We were sitting in the living room and he suddenly jumped up, alert, 'Do you hear that?' He asked. I strained my ears for either the sound of a plane or helicopter or gun shots. Nothing... except, wait... something... like a small stream of... water? Could it be? Was it back? We both ran into the bathroom where we had the faucets turned on for the last eight days in anticipation of water. Sure enough, there it was- a little stream of water that kept coming and going as if undecided. E. and I did a little victory dance in front of the sink with some celebratory hoots and clapping.

This was followed by a lot of work. We spent the rest of the evening filling anything that was fillable- pots, pans, cups, bottles and buckets. The formerly empty area under the staircase is now filled with big pots of water covered with trays and mismatching pot covers to keep out stray bugs and dust. "

Baghdad Burning
... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation.

Telegraph | News | Top Pentagon policymaker to step down

Telegraph | News | Top Pentagon policymaker to step down: "Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy who helped plan the American invasion of Iraq, has decided to resign after a four-year term, Pentagon officials have said.

Donald Rumsfeld, the American defence secretary, said Mr Feith told him after the November elections that he would step down before summer 2006 to return to private life.

Mr Rumsfeld said: 'I'm hopeful he'll stay until we find an appropriate successor. We have not started looking for one.'

Mr Feith, a former lawyer, has been an influential adviser to Mr Rumsfeld and played a part in America's strategy of preemptive war and its withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

Retired general Tommy Franks, who commanded the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, memorably referred to Mr Feith in a pep talk with military planners as 'the dumbest ******* guy on the planet.'"

Tonight: Join Mike for a live webchat! (3:30pm pst)

Channel 4 Film - film reviews, dvd, cinema listings, interviews and clips:

Michael Moore

Michael Moore be chatting on the web tonight at 6:30pm (est).

Enter webchat - 6:30pm
Fahrenheit 9/11- C4 tonight at 9pm
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Democrats & Liberals:: Judiciary Democrats Unite Against Gonzales

Democrats & Liberals:: Judiciary Democrats Unite Against Gonzales: "Judiciary Democrats Unite Against Gonzales

In a new display of backbone, every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against forwarding Alberto Gonzales' name to the whole Senate for confirmation.

The equally united Republican contingent overtook the nays, so that by a 10-8 vote Gonzales will go before the Senate for consideration.

That's right, the author of the apologia for the relaxation of the definition of torture who referred to the Geneva Conventions as quaint, now will be judged on whether he is qualified to serve as our nation's chief law enforcement officer."

The Speech Bush Should have Given

Informed Comment: "This is the speech that I wish President Bush had given in fall, 2002, as he was trying to convince Congress to give him the authority to go to war against Iraq.

My fellow Americans:

I want us to go to war against Iraq. But I want us to have our eyes open and be completely realistic.

A war against Iraq will be expensive. It will cost you, the taxpayer, about $300 billion over five years. I know Wolfowitz is telling you Iraq's oil revenues will pay for it all, but that's ridiculous. Iraq only pumps about $10 billion a year worth of oil, and it's going to need that just to run the new government we're putting in. No, we're going to have to pay for it, ourselves. I'm going to ask you for $25 billion, then $80 billion, then another $80 billion. And so on. I'm going to be back to you for money more often than that unemployed relative that you don't like. The cost of the war is going to drive up my already massive budget deficits from about $370 billion to more like $450 billion a year. Just so you understand, I'm going to cut taxes on rich people at the same time that I fight this war. Then I'm going to borrow the money to fight it, and to pay for much of what the government does.

And you and your children will be paying off that debt for decades.

In the meantime, your dollar isn't going to go as far when you buy something made overseas, since running those kinds of deficits will weaken our currency. (And I've set things up so that most things you buy will be made overseas.) We'll have to keep interest rates higher than they would otherwise have been and keep the economy in the doldrums, because otherwise my war deficits would cause massive inflation."

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Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan - Way Too Much God

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike. Rhetorically, it veered from high-class boilerplate to strong and simple sentences, but it was not pedestrian. George W. Bush's second inaugural will no doubt prove historic because it carried a punch, asserting an agenda so sweeping that an observer quipped that by the end he would not have been surprised if the president had announced we were going to colonize Mars.

A short and self-conscious preamble led quickly to the meat of the speech: the president's evolving thoughts on freedom in the world. Those thoughts seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty.
No one will remember what the president said about domestic policy, which was the subject of the last third of the text. This may prove to have been a miscalculation.

It was a foreign-policy speech. To the extent our foreign policy is marked by a division that has been (crudely but serviceably) defined as a division between moralists and realists--the moralists taken with a romantic longing to carry democracy and justice to foreign fields, the realists motivated by what might be called cynicism and an acknowledgment of the limits of governmental power--President Bush sided strongly with the moralists, which was not a surprise. But he did it in a way that left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance.

The administration's approach to history is at odds with what has been described by a communications adviser to the president as the "reality-based community." A dumb phrase, but not a dumb thought: He meant that the administration sees history as dynamic and changeable, not static and impervious to redirection or improvement. That is the Bush administration way, and it happens to be realistic: History is dynamic and changeable. On the other hand, some things are constant, such as human imperfection, injustice, misery and bad government.

This world is not heaven. "

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News & Features | God and guns

News & Features | God and guns: "George W. BUSH’S breathtaking arrogance and dangerous simple-mindedness may have reached new heights — or depths — in his Inauguration Day speech. On the surface, his call for " freedom " and " liberty " across the world sounded like lofty rhetoric, the sort of ceremonial hot air likely to be forgotten soon after it’s delivered. But if we have learned nothing else about this president, we certainly should know that when he lectures other countries on what he expects them to do, that generally is just a first step.

Bush delivered his speech at a time when 150,000 American troops are risking (and losing) their lives in Iraq, and just hours after Vice-President Dick Cheney rattled his saber at Iraq’s giant neighbor, Iran. So when Bush says that " it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world, " it would seem to make eminent good sense to try to figure out exactly what he means — and to stop him before he can act.

Times Online - Bush uses deadliest day to beg Iraqis to turn out for the polls

Times Online - World: "AMERICAN forces yesterday suffered their worst day of losses in Iraq in nearly two years when a US Marine helicopter crashed, killing thirty-one people, and five other troops were killed by insurgents.
With only four days to go before Iraq holds elections, the death toll dealt a heavy blow to American efforts to establish security over the country and encourage the participation of as many as possible.

Election workers and local politicians bore the brunt of the latest violence. In Arbil, northern Iraq, a truck bomb exploded outside the headquarters of a Kurdish party, killing 15 people and injuring 80 others.

In Mosul, another northern city, insurgents released a video showing three Iraqi electoral officials who had been taken hostage at gunpoint. "

AP - Democrats Say Rice Misled About Iraq War

Democrats Say Rice Misled About Iraq War: "WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats said Tuesday that Condoleezza Rice lied to them, misled Americans about the Iraq war or served as an apologist for Bush administration failures in Iraq, but she remained on track for confirmation as secretary of state.

Rice, who has been President Bush's national security adviser for four years, was one of the loudest voices urging war, Democrats said. She repeatedly deceived members of Congress and Americans at large about justifications for the war, said Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.

"I don't like impugning anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to," Dayton said in opposing Rice's nomination on the Senate floor. "Repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally."

Rice is expected to win confirmation on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., predicted that Rice would have "an overwhelming majority" of votes."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005 Oscar Snubs Michael Moore, Mel Gibson

Entertainment News Article | "Michael Moore's attempt to turn voters against President Bush failed and on Tuesday he lost his gamble as well for a coveted best-picture Oscar nomination for his incendiary documentary 'Fahrenheit 9/11.'
The omission from the coveted category marks a major misfire for the liberal firebrand who withdrew his anti-Bush polemic from contention in the documentary category, which he won two years ago with 'Bowling for Columbine,' in order to focus on the big prize. No documentary has ever won the best picture Oscar.
Conservative filmmaker Mel Gibson, who performed a miracle by turning an Aramaic-speaking Jesus into a worldwide box office star with 'The Passion of the Christ,' also was shut out of the major award categories. "

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | George Bush is up for worst actor

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Alexander on movie stinkers list: "Oliver Stone's Alexander and Catwoman, starring Halle Berry, have been handed the leading places in the annual US awards for worst movies of the year.
Catwoman has seven nominations for the Golden Raspberries, or Razzies, while the much-maligned Alexander has six.

Organiser John Wilson said: 'Catwoman is the cinematic equivalent of a clump in the cat-litter box - a sad little thing lying there stinking.'
The New York Post called Alexander, starring Colin Farrell, a 'travesty'.

US President George Bush's Fahrenheit 9/11 appearance is up for worst actor.

Halle Berry is nominated for worst actress for her role in Catwoman.

The president was the subject of Michael Moore's controversial documentary, while Condoleezza Rice and Britney Spears are both in the worst supporting actress category for cameo appearances in the film. "

Monday, January 24, 2005

Evan Greer - Love Me, I'm a Liberal (Song)

Evan Greer - free MP3 music downloads on SoundClick: "Love Me, I'm a Liberal"

A complete re-write of an old Phil Ochs tune. He stole the melody from some Irish dude. (click title to hear)

Phil Ochs was born in El Paso, Texas on Dec. 19. 1940. He grew up in a non-political middle class family. While in college at Ohio State University, he met Jim Glover who became his roommate and whose father was Phil's political teacher. It was during this time, while he was majoring in journalism, that Phil formed his political beliefs and started putting them to music.

After 3 years of college, Phil dropped out and went to New York City. This was during the early '60's when things were booming in Greenwich Village. Phil started out singing at open mikes and passing the hat. By 1964 he was well enough established to release his first album, "All the News That's Fit To Sing". His second album, "I Ain't Marching Anymore", was released in 1965, and by 1966 he was able to sell out Carnegie Hall for his solo concert.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

News Hounds: News Hounds Manifesto

News Hounds: News Hounds Manifesto: "Like many projects, this one started out as something else. In early 2004, eight middle-aged citizens from different backgrounds and locations around the USA teamed up via and the internet (thank you, Al Gore!) to volunteer our services for OUTFOXED, a documentary film by Robert Greenwald regarding Fox News Channel. For approximately three months, each of us watched FNC conscientiously for five or more hours a week and posted our findings regarding Fox's self-proclaimed mission of fair and balanced reporting.

Appalled by our results, we, who would not meet in person until months later, banded together in cyberspace in concern and outrage over the failure of American media, and Fox News in particular, to relate the news properly. Rather than serve as the public's eyes and ears, Fox and other media conglomerates have become echo chambers for the rich and powerful with whom they have become all too cozy. This blog is an attempt to counter that alarming condition. We believe that a viable democracy depends upon viable media. We invite you to join us in our efforts here and elsewhere to make a difference in the future of our country. "

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News Hounds: Quinn-Bachrach Face-Off by Popular Demand (Reader Comments)

News Hounds: Quinn-Bachrach Face-Off by Popular Demand: "Some of our alert readers have pointed out the great job Judy Bachrach from Vanity Fair did on Fox News yesterday (Jan. 20) challenging the inappropriateness of the excesses of George Bush's $40 million second inaugural held during a time of war. The video link of the Bridgette Quinn-Judy Bachrach debate is priceless.

Bacharach faces down Quinn, who abandons all pretense of objectivity, to argue with the guest she is supposed to be interviewing. Bacharach objects to Bush's spending $40 million for parties at a time when our soldiers are scrounching for scrap metal to protect themselves in the Humvees they ride in. "

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