Light posting next 2 weeks

while I take care of personal stuff and upgrade.

Currently I am using AOL dial-up and Windows ME on a four-year-old laptop that didn't work well even when it was new, and now barely functions. Needless to say, using the internet is simply painful.

Fortunately a favorable change in circumstances will allow me to upgrade to a brand-new Mac, and get broadband from a more reliable IP while I'm at it. I expect the whole process to be complete by about June 15, after which I'll be able to get a lot more done, faster, with less headache and heartbreak. Until then I will be posting occasionally; Morning Report will be on light duty.


IRI Offensive: That Link

Complete article at MEMRI can be read here.

Iran Regime Readies Bombing Wave Against Iraq, West

From MEMRI, courtesy of FreeIran:

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Official Threatens Suicide Operations: 'Our Missiles Are Ready to Strike at Anglo-Saxon Culture… There Are 29 Sensitive Sites in the U.S. and the West…'

More info, link to follow.

Building the Future: Women for Women

Women for Women, founded by a refugee, works to empower women in developing countries.

"Women for Women International was founded in 1993 to help women overcome the horrors of war and civil strife in ways that can help them rebuild their lives, families, and communities. Women for Women International’s tiered program begins with direct financial and emotional support; fosters awareness and understanding of women’s rights; offers vocational skills training; and provides access to income-generation support and microcredit loans that together can help women restart their lives in ways that are independent, productive, and secure.
Women for Women International has direct experience in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Colombia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We have assisted more than 21,500 women, distributing $9 million in direct aid and microcredit loans."

Now go check out their site.

Building the Future: Mercy Corps

Portland's own Mercy Corps helps people in places as far away as Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Guatemala. Check out their site, and make a donation if you can.

Calling Planet Earth: Sudan Needs You

How many people have to die before the world takes Sudan seriously?

Jane writes:

Where is the noise, the rumbling, the Al Gore outburst regarding the Sudan? Where's the vocal, blustering intellectual-academic-media contingent? Where are the Arab Street and Rush Limbaugh? As the world averted its eyes from the hacking machetes in Rwanda, we turn our back again on Africa. A half a million Sudanese people may die at the hands of their own government within short months and there's little screaming; we barely hear a word. Sudanese sovereignty will not be breached.

In the last year the Sudanese government has been killing its own people systematically. ...

Today's CNN story says:

For several months my colleague, Dr. Camilo Valderrama, has been raising alarm about the need for regular food distributions in this area, where nearly a fourth of the refugees that fled to Chad are seeking shelter.

It's May 12 and Camilo is attending to Hadiya Beshir Issa, 25, and her 15-month-old daughter Munira at an IRC health facility in Bahai. They are recent arrivals in a seemingly endless stream of refugees fleeing brutal attacks in Darfur, Sudan.

Munira hardly has the strength to open her eyes and her skin is shriveled from dehydration. Camilo says the tiny girl is severely malnourished and he instructs Hadiya how to administer oral re-hydration solution and antibiotics.

Hadiya is from a village near Kutum in northern Darfur, where the IRC is also providing humanitarian aid. She told me that a militia attacked her village last August and that her family fled to the town of Orshi, on the way to Chad.

But that town was ransacked by gunmen last month and in the chaos, Hadiya became separated from her husband and the rest of her family. She told me that she has no idea if they are still alive. After an eight-day trek, she crossed into Chad with her baby, arriving in Bahai with 17 other families.

As Hadiya recounted her story, Camilo continued to treat Munira. But in the next couple of hours, the little girl's condition rapidly deteriorated. We quickly took her to the hospital in Tine, two hours away, but doctors there couldn't even find the child's veins in order to administer intravenous liquid. She was beyond help. ...

In the BBC:

UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Jan Egeland said many donors failed to realise that the crisis was the biggest humanitarian drama of our time.

He said the UN still only had a 20% of the resources needed to help 2m people.

Mr Egeland criticised the Sudanese government for making it difficult for them to bring in trucks and medicines. ...

A report last month by the UN human rights commissioner described systematic attacks on villages by the Sudanese government and the militias, known as the Janjaweed, who killed, raped and looted.

Here's the link to donate to UNICEF-USA.

One of my favorite humanitarian organizations is American Jewish World Service. Information on their Sudan appeal is here.

If there's another humanitarian group that you prefer, donate to them. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.

Morning Report

is on a 72 for Memorial Day. Back Tuesday, 6/1.


In Memoriam

My unit, the 1st Light Armored Infantry Battalion, 1st Marine Division, lost several men in January and February of 1991. We took the first combat-related losses of the ground offensive in Desert Storm. Please take a moment to visit the memorial page of the unit veterans' website:

1st LAI fallen comrades

Thank you.

Mayfield's Faith

CORRECTION: In an earlier post, DiL incorrectly reported that Brandon Mayfield's Muslim religion was not mentioned on the FBI affidavit. In fact, as the Portland Tribune discloses, the affidavit showed more interest in Mayfield's religion than in his fingerprints (8 paragraphs to 3, respectively). Read Ben Jacklet's article at the link.

Bridge and Roses: May 28, 2004 - New Feature!

BRIDGE AND ROSES: News and Views from the Center of the Known Universe

Cleric wanted to start terrorist camp in Southern Oregon. Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was arrested in London Thursday, is accused of trying to set up a “real live” terrorist training camp in the remote town of Bly, according to Portland-based FBI agent Robert Jordan.
Oregonian: Arrest for Bly camp

Appeals court ruling: kiss of death for Ashcroft’s intervention? Oregonians are known to be an independent-minded lot, and in 1997 they asserted the right to exit life in a peaceful and dignified manner with the nation’s first and only law legalizing physician-assisted suicide. In 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft pitted the Federal Government against the State, declaring assisted suicide “not a legitimate medical practice”. But Ashcroft received a smackdown from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, which ruled 2-1 that Ashcroft had overstepped his authority.

FBI case against Mayfield dissected. Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer wrongly accused by the FBI in connection with the Madrid bombing, was charged on the basis of a fingerprint that FBI investigators never looked at, according to the Portland Tribune. The article suggests that zealous Federal investigators found what they believed to be a strong match based on a computerized fingerprint, and then, on April 21, traveled to Madrid to pitch their case to the Spanish authorities, who were already expressing doubts about Mayfield. This stands in contrast to the Bureau’s more circumspect actions after a more recent, and perhaps more credible, suspect (Ouhnane Daoud) was identified by the Spanish police: this time, agents traveled to Madrid to see “exactly what the Spanish National Police were looking at”, according to the FBI’s Bob Jordan.
Tribune: Mayfield

Ameri sweeps GOP primary for House. Iranian-American businesswoman Goli Ameri won a decisive victory in the GOP primary for Oregon’s First Congressional District, where she will face Democratic incumbent David Wu in the main election. Ameri is running on a pro-business, pro-technology platform.
Goli Ameri

Sudan progress: thanks to you, it's working.

Thanks to all those who have been participating in the Sudan campaign. According to this CNN report:

"A spokeswoman for Kofi Annan said the U.N. secretary-general will focus on stemming the fighting in western Sudan, where the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are threatened.

Annan has been flooded with requests from people across the world beseeching him to provide emergency assistance to end the killing in Darfur, spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters Thursday.

"The secretary-general fully shares the concerns of the public at large. ... He is following the situation in Darfur very closely and with great concern," she said.

Thanks, Jane, and all who are helping. Keep spreading the word.

Morning Report: May 28, 2004

- Sudan: North/South accord brings hope for Darfur as well. (various) According to Sudan’s vice president Ali Osman Taha, the signing in Khartoum of a power-sharing agreement between government forces and rebels in the south of the country will also pave the way for peace in the western Darfur region, where ethnically motivated atrocites have led to a humanitarian disaster. The BBC report notes that northern and southern Sudanese mingled freely at the signing ceremony, something previously uncommon in Sudan. In the wake of the accord, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated his intention to involve the United Nations in Darfur-related negotiations and humanitarian aid. Annan said he was responding to a flood of requests from around the world for the UN to intervene. However, the Head Heeb warns that “atrocities are still continuing in Darfur”.
BBC News: Sudan
CNN: Sudan
Head Heeb: Sudan
- Najaf accord doesn’t stop Kufa attack. (Fox) Despite an agreement between Shia leaders and Muqtada al-Sadr to stop hostilities, Americans came under small-arms fire in Najaf’s twin city of Kuja, and mortar shells struck a US base in Najaf.
Fox: Kufa attack
- Earthquake strikes Sari, Iran. (various) A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the northern Iranian city of Sari on Friday. More details will be posted upon availability.

SUDAN UPDATE. My Pet Jawa stresses that the recent peace accord will have "no impact" on the Darfur conflict (contrary to what was suggested by the BBC report).


I never

post after I've had a couple of beers.

I'm just too mellow to be effective.

See you in the morning.

The New York Times Takes DiL's Advice

... well, sort of.

This blog recently offered the traditional media several pieces of advice on at least two points: (1) to pay more attention to the phenomenon of blogging; and (2) to readily admit one's past errors. It appears the New York Times has followed this advice, albeit in its own fashion. (Of course, it is just possible that these articles were in the works anyway. But I say, think positive.)

Ah, but let's look at how the Dame Grise has seen fit to interpret our sage counsel.

Shall we begin with Katie Hafner's blogging article? The Times seems to think that it can counter the threat of blogging (and make no mistake, we ARE a threat to the NYT) by writing a derisive article on it. Could the Times possible acknowledge the relevance of blogging for an audience disillusioned with the manipulations of the media? Too much to expect, I suppose. I'll have more to say on this later.

And then there was the Times' so-called "correction" of its Iraq coverage. Well, it would be nice if this "correction" included a re-assessment of the Times' anti-American bias, but that, too would be asking too much.

The Zionist Conspiracy

wants you.

Department of Flying Pigs

... from Little Green Footballs. Can they really mean that they want to invite ... a ... THIRD PARTY to that Muslim-Christian conference in Qatar?

And then there's this from MEMRI:

second thoughts about jihad

The end is near, people.

Two Speeches

Jessica's Well from Midland, Texas compares notes from Bill Cosby's speech and E.L. Doctorow's. Worth reading.

Gay Muslims

Excellent piece by Johann Hari on gay Muslims. Expect more posts from me on gay and transgender issues soon.


Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler has the news on our so-called "catastrophe" in Iraq. Go check it out.

How to help Iraq

Fayrouz has a new post listing humanitarian organizations that need your support. Go check it out.

Your attention, please.

This blog will not be carrying any coverage of VV0nk3tt3 or VV@$h1ngt0n13nn3.

Just so's you know.

Zeyad's Original Post on Zaydun

Please go here to read the whole story from the beginning.

Zeyad's follow-up at the end of January may be found here.

Excerpts from Slate Article on Zaydun

SAMARRA, IRAQ—On the night of Jan. 3, Marwan and Zeidun, two cousins, drove a small white flatbed truck carrying ceramic floor tiles and toilets into Samarra. The truck had broken down on the way, and they were late. The curfew that day was 11 p.m., and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps manning the checkpoint into town waved them through probably just before 11. Inside the town, close to the famous spiral minaret, they were stopped by an American patrol as curfew violators.

What happened next is disputed. But two things are clear: The truck they were driving was destroyed, and the two cousins went off a bridge into the Tigris and one of them drowned.


Marwan told me his story with a mixture of misery and diffidence. On the table in front of us was a photograph of him and Zeidun. They were inside a car, and Marwan, big and chubby, was laughing at something with his mouth open and his eyes merrily screwed up. The man in front of me had a different face altogether.

"They just stopped us and put us in their car. It was five minutes before curfew. Usually, missing curfew just means detention for a short time. We didn't feel strange, we had no weapons, they had just checked us. We had no idea why we were being taken."

He says they were driven to the edge of the bridge.

"We pleaded. We said we didn't know how to swim. My cousin tried to hold onto one of the soldiers. He was just laughing as he pushed him in. Two of them were pointing rifles at his forehead and chest. Four of them pushed me off toward the dam, toward the current. I only had my nose and mouth sticking out of the water. I could see the Americans standing there, pointing their guns. They wanted us to die, but I survived to testify against them. My mind was in chaos, but I remember I was very concerned about my cousin. We shouted back and forth to each other. I did as much as I could, but it was God's will. I tried to swim to him. I got hold of his hand, but he slipped away in the current. Everything moved so fast, I don't know how long I was in the river. From the shock I didn't even feel the cold."

- Read the whole thing at the link.

For those of you just joining us ...

... Zeyad is the Iraqi blogger responsible for the "Healing Iraq" blog. He is also responsible for helping start several other Iraqi blogs, including "The Mesopotamian", "Iraq at a Glance", and "Iraq the Model". In other words, he is the main reason we can get information about Iraq that's not distorted by the moonbat media.

Early this year, four American soldiers stopped Zeyad's cousins Zaydun and Marwan on the street shortly before curfew. They detained the two Iraqis, and then forced them at gunpoint to jump off a bridge into the Tigris - despite their protests that Zaydun couldn't swim. Zaydun's body was recovered ten days later.

Zeyad isn't anti-American (in spite of everything) but he is mad as hell. You should be too.

Slate Story on Zaydun

Slate story on Zaydun

This can't wait.

Four soldiers implicated in the drowning death of Zeyad's cousin Zaydun in the Tigris have gotten off with a reprimand. The Army is claiming they're not certain if there WAS a death in the case, even though Zaydun's body washed ashore 10 days later.

Read the post here and don't forget to follow the comments.


Happy Shavuot

No posting for the next two days due to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Regular posting will resume around 10pm Pacific Time, Thursday night. Chag sameach.


“When I say that I am a Jew, I affirm the following ...”

by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
in I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl
edited by Judea and Ruth Pearl

1. The only sound my God utters is alef – the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which has no sound, the sound of nothing. The Hebew word for “I”, anochi, begins with alef.
2. My God is not visible; my God is not invisible. My God looks like Nothing. There is Nothing to see.
3. The Name of my God is made from the root letters of the Hebrew verb to be, which are themselves vowels. It probably meant something like The One who brings into being all that is. It is the sound of Nothing – only breathing.
4. One day each week I try to pretend that the universe is done, finished, that it (and I) need nothing more to be complete.
5. My parents are the instruments God used to bring me into being. Through trying to understand and listen to them, I begin to comprehend myself.
6. Life in all its forms is sacred; in the face of each creature I see my Creator.
7. The relationship I share with my life-partner is sacred and ultimate. She is my Only One.
8. You are other than me and your things are extensions of who you are. I may not appropriate your things for myself; they are yours.
9. I respect society’s mechanisms for resolving disputes; I renounce perjury.
10. To the extent that I can rejoice in and want nothing more than what I already have, I begin to resemble my God who has, wants, and is Nothing.

UN: Sex for Food in DR Congo

By Cahal Milmo
25 May 2004

The Independent (UK)

Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering. ...

Read the rest of this repulsive story here. Thanks, again, to K-Lo at The Corner.

Letter to the New York Times: President Bush's Speech

There may be grounds to criticize President Bush's speech (and his policies), but insufficient multilateralism is not one of them. Military assistance from more countries would be helpful, but the imprimatur of the United Nations is not, and should not be, an end in itself. The UN is not the utopian "government of mankind" that liberals like to imagine it to be; it is a corrupt, reactionary, and profoundly anti-democratic organization. The UN's emerging role in Sudan is a step in the right direction, but many more such steps will be needed to establish the UN's credibility as a force for good. Iraq cannot afford to wait.

And who decided that the situation in Iraq had become "disastrous"? That does not sound like the assessment of a US Marine officer currently serving in Iraq, who states:

"The enemy is confused right now. He goes to bed convinced he is going to win because he watches the Al Jazeera and then the US media and believes that we are a weak willed people who can be terrorized and who have a penchant for self-loathing. Then, he wakes up and he comes across a coalition check point and he sees a young Soldier or Marine who stands there like a rock and exudes strength and conviction."

Nor does the Times' gloomy picture of Iraq accord easily with the latest post from Omar, who relates:

"I wanted to share with you some of the opinions of Iraqis about their daily lives that I read on the bbc. arabic.com There were more than many comments and about 70% of them were positive. Here are some examples:

What happens these days in Iraq is a natural process as a result from the transfer from dictatorship to democracy.
Ali Ahmed-Baghdad.

I'm an Iraqi citizen and I want to thank president GWB from all my heart for the great service he's done to the Iraqi people by freeing us from one of the worst tyrants in history. ...
Kamal-Adhamya-Baghdad. ...

I had to leave Iraq because I didn't want to be one of Saddam's slaves. After so many years, I'm back to my country and I saw that people are not as nervous as they used to be. I saw hope in their eyes despite the security problems. All I have to say to our Arab brothers is,"We are practicing democracy. You keep enjoying dictatorship"
Ilham Hussain-Baghdad"

Should the President admit he made mistakes? Well, as your own William Safire wrote some weeks ago, that would be a nice gesture from all parties concerned. I'd really like to hear the press admit that it was wrong to oppose the liberation of Iraq - but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.

As one who served with the Marines in the first Iraq war, I am immensely pleased that our forces are now finishing the job and helping the Iraqi people build a better future. It would be nice to get a little support from the media.

Letter to the New York Times: Editorial Policy

Dear Mr. Feyer:

I read your essay on the role of the Letters Editor with some interest. Please allow me a few brief comments.

You note that "liberal opinion seems to dominate", at least in readers' perceptions. Remember that there's a "chicken/egg" factor at work as well: readers who see the NYT as having a "liberal bias" will be less likely to read it.

Also, the issues of today's complex world do not always reduce to a "liberal/conservative" paradigm. I'm a lifelong liberal, and - like Sen. Lieberman, the editors of The New Republic, and NYT's own Thomas Friedman - I have strongly supported the Iraq liberation. At the same time, I find that listening to conservative voices often broadens my understanding immensely - which is why I regularly read Safire, Brooks, and the National Review. And don't assume that all who support Bush's policies in the Mideast are "conservatives" and therefore (for example) oppose gay marriage, because that's simply not true.

I cringe when I hear complaints of the media's "liberal bias" because I know these complaints are partly justified - and at the same time, the "liberalism" of the media is too often a corruption of true liberalism (which was supposed to have something to do with freedom) and is instead merely an irrational anti-government vendetta.

I get most of my information from the internet nowadays, partly, as you've said, because we live in a fast-changing world. But it is also a matter of credibility. I have little reason to listen to a New York -based editor's interpretation of the supposedly "disastrous" course of events in Iraq when I can get much more detailed and relevant information from Iraqis like Zeyad and Omar. While they are sometimes critical of certain aspects of US policy, their attitude is: "This is a good thing. Let's make it work." I don't get a similar impression from the press.

There are also a few anti-American blogs like Riverbend and Salam Pax (although Salam is no longer as anti-American as he used to be). These have generated discussion and debate on sites like "Up A River" and "Cry Me A Riverbend II". If you spend some time here, you will see that most Americans genuinely want to help Iraq and are receptive to constructive criticism of Government policies - but we are also able to distinguish that from anti-American propaganda.

So these are some of the reasons why I get most of my information from the internet rather than the traditional press. And by the way, your article came to my attention through my fellow blogger Jane.

(By the way, the perceived hostility of the press to the struggle for freedom is not a product of the imagination of disguntled neocons. There has been very harsh criticism of the Western press from the Iraqi sites mentioned above, as well as the Iranian dissident website and many other international sources.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this message. I do keep a blog of my own, but I am a fan of print media and I believe that fine newspapers like the Times can continue to be relevant in today's world. But in order to retain their audience, they must demonstrate that they are in touch with the world.

Asher Abrams
Portland, Oregon

Best of Blogdad

from Iraq the Model, November 2003

on the media:
"To be honest, I won’t say that the media are lying but they are telling only one side of the truth.
This side usually reflects the attitude of the funding source of that particular station or journal towards the events in Iraq.
So I’ll try to show you the naked truth about daily life in Iraq.
And I will try to show you the difference between pre. And post. Liberation Iraq.
I will put it in some form of a series, discussing one aspect of life in each post.
Let’s talk first about security and order in Iraq, as this is a major point of concern.
Some TV channels try to show our streets like battlefields, actually they are not. the streets are relatively safe and one can walk in the streets with no fear greater than the one he feels if he was in any other country. People go to work regularly, stores and restaurants are open even to a late hour in the night. crime levels in Iraq according to IP reports are declining and they’re now much lower than they were In April or May this year.
The main point that satisfies me is that I no longer fear the risk of death penalty because of something I said.
Do you imagine that someone could get tortured and executed just because he laughed at a joke about Saddam or the Baath ?
Statistics from the reports of the red-cross and the IP state that approximately 1570 Iraqis were killed in violent accidents in Baghdad during the first 5 months following the liberation.
Some would say, well , this is sad. This is a large number of casualties. And this is true.
But if you take any 5 months during the reign of Saddam you will find that the number will reach to an average of 30 000 kills in Baghdad alone , I don’t want to bother you with math.work but if someone thinks that I’m lying then I can show you the whole calculation steps.

On health care:
I promised to tell you about different aspects of life in Iraq before and after the liberation, so today I'll be writing about another aspect (HEALTH CARE)
To those who think that conditions in Iraq nowadays are worse than they were under Saddan's regime, here are some notes involving the Medicare in Iraq before and after the war based on the events and facts I had witnessed during my 5 year service in the medical field before and after the war:-
1-before the war there was a system called "self financing" that was applied in almost all the hospitals and health centers. As one may imagine that the term must mean that each hospital should be responsible and independent in its financial affairs, actually what it meant was a much different formula.
Each hospital charged high prices for medications and medical services as compared to the average income of the Iraqis at that time, but this is not the major problem, as this system is used in many countries, the problem was that 20 % of these funds were taken to cover the defect in the military budget and 40 % were taken back to the treasury (Saddam's pocket) and this was the regular and officially documented system.
The remaining 40 % were supposed to cover the expenses of the hospital and to pay for the medical staff and other employees.
Today, the (self financing) system no longer works in pediatric hospitals( children under the age of 12 are treated without charging any fees). For older patients, however the system still works but after a 50 % discount of the prices and the funds no longer related to the salaries of the staff.
The whole money goes back to the treasury and the whole needs of the hospital is provided by the treasury, taking in consideration the 6-10 folds rise in the salaries of most employees and with the exchange value of the Iraqi Dinar to the Dollar being 1: 2000 which is very close to that before the war you can see the benefit for both the patients and the health workers, the former paying less and the latter getting more.

2- the most important change is that most of the emergency medications were provided in an amount that was far from being adequate. I used to go to the hospital for my night calls and the pharmacist comes and gives me the list of the remaining drugs, and I find that it contained only a single diazepam injection, three or four ampicilline injections with a few syrups and some times a single injection of hydrocortisone. This was not the case always, but this was the usual condition with very few exceptions.
I had to turn into a magician or a warlock to treat all the patients who come to the hospital, the no. of whom was by no way small knowing that it was the major hospital in al -Kut , one of the 18 Iraqi governorates in which over a 100 thousand people live.
The similar condition applied for most hospitals in Iraq with few exceptions.
Most of the chemotherapeutics used for treating malignant tumors were not available in hospitals and they were sold in the black market with prices reaching a 100 $ for the single injection (a fortune for most Iraqis at that time) forcing some families to sell their cars, furniture and sometimes their houses to keep the faint flame of life in their loved ones' hearts.
Today almost all of the emergency medications are available in all the hospitals and in more than a sufficient amount.
Almost all the chemotherapeutics are available for free for all age groups in most of the major Iraqi hospitals.

3- every one or two months we (the junior doctors) were forced to spend a week or two in Saddam's fedayeen camps and the so-called al-Quds(Jerusalem)army camps to supervise their (Dobermans’) health.
I recall when of my colleagues didn't show for 1 day, a military police unit was sent to his house where he was dragged (still in his pajamas) to the camp, he was told to choose between wearing a military uniform, holding a rifle to guard a spot for 24 hours, and spending 3 days in jail.

4- The police protection was near to nil. When a patient dies due to the lack of drugs or any other natural cause his shocked relatives would find no one but the poor doctor in duty to throw all their anger and frustration on, a phenomena mounted in numerous cases to the use of fists and boots and sometimes knives.
Today the junior doctors are free as all Iraqis are and no one compels them to do anything beyond their legal and moral responsibilities. The military service has become voluntary and even started to gain some appeal, after it was considered for along time as hell on earth for most Iraqis.
In every hospital there's a full FPS(facility protection service) unit to keep order and peace and to protect all the hospital employees.

5- The salaries of dentists rose from approximately 5 $(no, there are no missing digits!) to about 120 $ and those of the junior doctors and nurses from approximately 20 $ (again, no missing digits) to 120-180 $.
I know it's still a very low figure, but it's a good step forwards, putting in mind that most of the prices are still the same, with imported goods getting cheaper and local goods rising about 1.5 - 2 times the price before the war, and we were promised a big raise with the beginning of the next year. Besides we're not in a hurry, as we know that our country is passing through a very difficult economic distress, with all the huge debts, their interests and the money needed for reconstruction which demands some sacrifice and patience on our side.

And in case the GC do not fulfill their promises, well, we're not afraid any more and we will demonstrate, protest and keep the pressure until we get what we deserve.
There are no more torture rooms, no more mass graves and we will make sure that it remains so.

The Iraqi Holocaust


by Dr. Firas M. Yaqub
posted on Iraq the Model

-"Al-Dujaile is my home town, I always looked at it as god's heaven on earth, it's about 60 kilometers to the north of Baghdad, on the bank of al Ishaki river (a branch of Tigris), inhabited by few thousands, most of whom are farmers, our village is well known by its date palms and grapes, a fascinating nature that takes your breath away, its people are related by strong tribal relations that keep them as one large family.
- Date: 7/8/1982, Saddam decides to visit the village, the Ba’ath party in the region prepared the people to make a big reception, they took us out of the schools(I was 7 years old). They made us line in a row on both sides of the road to wave for him and cheer his name. It never occurred to me that it would be my last day in the childhood world. I was forced to skip that period of my life with such cruelty that I can not explain.
-17 of the finest young men in the village had decided to put an end to the tyrant's life at that day, they had the courage to face him, we didn't know about their intention.
The brave men set an ambush among the palm trees, they couldn't tell which car was his, there were dozens of cars, all identical in model and color.
-The attack starts, the brave young men open fire from their simple weapons, some of the body guards get killed, others wounded, the tyrant get panicked, imagine that (Saddam is afraid) the man who enjoyed terrorizing people lives a moment of fear with all its details, he was so close to death this time.
8 of the attackers were killed, the rest fled out of the country.
(Woe to the sinners) who dared to make him scared, you should fear his revenge, you should learn the lesson so that it won't happen again, you should bow more and more and fear more and more, you should be scared to death so that you don't dare even to think of harming him; the shadow of god on earth.
-The answer was fast, one hour after the escape of the tyrant, we had to face his anger, I heard the sound of helicopters over our heads wreaking their vengeance upon our small village, backed later with shovels that leveled the trees with the ground, the order was clear(the terror should be great) so that the others would learn.
I ran away to my home into my mothers' lap, my younger brother and sisters gathered around me, I realized something huge has happened and anticipated the eminent evil. it didn't take long for the security to get to our house, we were taken to the unknown, me, my mother(who was 4 months pregnant), my sisters Einas(5 years), Zeina(3 years)and my brother Mohammed(1 year).
-The first station in our long journey was Al-Hakimiyah prison that belongs to the intelligence, I found hundreds of my village people, old, young, men, women and children, we were 480 there. Out of whom 80 were relatives of mine.
It was enough to say the word Hakimiyah for any Iraqi to be completely paralyzed(the one who gets in is a missing-the one who gets out is reborn-this was what we used to say about this prison, the walls of which tell thousands of horror stories that you refuse to believe.
I was too young to know why we were treated like that, but I sure knew the meaning of being scared to death. The sound of foot steps that stops by the door was enough for every one to freeze, as after that the door would be opened, a name of one of the men would be announced and he would be dragged to the interrogation room to return few hours later unconscious, covered by blood, wrapped in a blanket, and would be thrown on us.
The women and children had their share, and this is what saw: extraction of nails and teeth, electric shocks, whipping with lashes, using razors to tear the skin into shreds, my aunt was left hanging from the roof after her clothes had been wrapped of her in front of her brothers to force them to talk. Do you know how much pain we suffered? Can you imagine? I doubt it.
We stayed at Al-Hakimiyah for one month, the space was too small for all of us to sleep, some of us had to stay on their feet so that the others could sleep.
-After that we were transferred to Abu-Ghraib prison, where we met the men for the last time, after that, the 143 men separated from us and then transferred to another place, as for the rest of us, we were kept in Abu-Ghraib prison for six months, during that time, the day for my mother to deliver her baby came, she had complications and they didn't take her to the hospital until it was too late, the baby died. my mother never if it was a boy or a girl.
In the prison, 4 people died, my grandfather(Yousif Ya'koob), my uncles wife(Noofa Hasan), the old man(Abdul Wahab Ja'far) and his wife (Sabreya), after that we were transferred to a camp in the desert, near the Iraqi-Saudi borders, 400 kilometers south-west to Baghdad(Leeah camp).
We spent four years there.
Four years in hell, we were isolated from the world, all we could do is stay alive and pray for the men whom their destiny was unknown to us.
We were released in 1986, only for another journey of pain and suffering. We had to start a new life as all our properties were confiscated and we still don’t know anything about the men.
The other good people in our village helped us, offered us jobs in their lands and a place to stay in. I had to work -with my little brother and sisters- to earn our living and to continue with our study. Farming is too hard a job for children of our age, but we had already passed that stage.
It’s hard to explain what life is when you're a suspect with the eyes of security agents following you, stifling your breath, making your life even harder and harder, we had to give them all the pennies we could save to get some information about the missing ones, and they always promised us good news, and that our beloved ones were alive and being treated well. we didn't believe that, but what is life without hope!?
-Sixteen years later...October/2002. I finished medical school and started to practice my job as a doctor in Baghdad. The same year, Saddam suffers a hard time, the USA and the allies tighten the circle around him, he decides to set all prisoners free, including the political. That was what he said, the fact; he released only the murderers and the thieves.
Our cries lost their way trying to find our relatives among the thousands of faces, each time they reassure us that there would be another group to be released the next day, but all our efforts were in vain, we had no one but god to pray to and seek his help to show us the way.
Date: 4/9/2003, I can’t believe it, the tyrant falls, is it a dream?
Does it mean no more fear, no more terror, and no more death? We jumped into the streets wreaking our vengeance on his pictures and statues that surrounded the village he raped in a dark night.
The towns and villages expelled him and expelled his name……..WE WERE SAVED.
I took a deep breath, the air had the scent of freedom, nothing can be more beautiful, it’s difficult to describe, but we were overwhelmed by happiness, with only one distress: where had our beloved ones gone?
We started to search the security departments in Baghdad,- like thousands of Iraqis- looking for a trace, I didn’t take a long time, we found what we were looking for. The documents of the crime, I read with tears in my eyes; the presidency order dated: 7 /23 /1985, signed by the tyrant, ordering the execution of 143 men from Al-Dujaile, the youngest one (Najeeb Abd Kadim) 11 years old. Among these, 35 were relatives of mine.
God bless your souls martyrs, may you have peace in heaven, if it wasn’t your courage and blood we wouldn’t be proud.
This is the story behind these photos, my friend. It’s time they have a decent funeral. We haven’t found their remains yet, but they will always remain in our hearts”

My friend surprised me saying” we don’t regret what happened, and yesterday, when the nine remaining heroes returned to Iraq, we met them with flowers, as the heroes of all the Iraqis, and we will never blame them, as they’re the ones who kept our chins up

The Iraqi Holocaust


“In his last dark meditation, just before taking his own life, Primo Levi wrote of the people who have survived unfathomable acts of cruelty:

Almost all the survivors [of the Holocaust], orally or in their written memoirs, remember a dream which frequently recurred during the nights of imprisonment, vaied in its detail but uniform in its substance: they had returned home an with passion and relief were describing their past sufferings, addressing themselves to a loved one, and were not believed, indeed were not even listened to. In the most typical (and cruellest) form, the interlocutor turned and left in silence.

If cruelty is individual, then silence is collective. It arises from the actions of many individuals working, consciously or unconsciously, as a group. Breaking with silence as a way of dealing with the legacy of cruelty is thus itself necessarily a collective act. While the cruelties described ... were going on, the Arab intellectuals who could have made a difference if they had put their minds to it were silent.”

- Kanan Makiya, Cruelty and Silence

Bush Speech "Less Than Expectations" - GC Members

This AP article reports that GC members were unimpressed by President Bush's speech on the future of Iraq:

"We found it less than our expectations," Iraqi Governing Council president Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer (search) told reporters after a gathering to discuss the resolution.

Council member Ahmad Chalabi (search) went further, saying the draft resolution "will fail the test for Iraqi sovereignty."

Iraq's defense minister, Ali Allawi (search), said he expects Iraq's security forces to be ready to replace foreign soldiers within a year.

"The timing of a presence of a multinational force, it is a question of months rather than years," Allawi said in London at a news conference with British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon. "The multinational force will need to be replaced by an indigenous force, an Iraqi force, in the course of a year."

He said an Iraqi security force should be in place "by and large" before national elections set for January. ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

"Secret Watchers" series - Portland Tribune

Read it here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Secret Watchers - Portland (Oregon) Tribune

This story appeared in the Portland Tribune in 2002 and is particularly relevant today. While the agency involved was the Portland Police Bureau, rather than any Federal organization, it's a sobering reminder of how power can be abused. (One amusing sidenote: a "suspicious" young woman whose photograph appeared in the secret files - her offense was supporting the grape boycott in 1968 - was none other than Vera Katz ... by now the mayor of Portland!)

Mayfield Link - Portland Tribune

A very fine twice-weekly local newspaper, the Portland Tribune covers the Mayfield story here. In 2002, the Tribune exposed the excesses of a clandestine surveillance program by the Portland Police Bureau in an award-winning series of articles.

"Why didn't somebody do something?"

The Question

My mother grew up in the 1930s and '40s, and she could always remember watching the newsreels that came out after WWII. The pictures of the death camps, and the emaciated prisoner, and the stacked bodies, and the crematoriums. She would ask aloud, "If we knew all of that was going on, why didn't we stop Hitler sooner? Why didn't somebody do something?"

We had Hitler. In our own day, in our own time, in our own generation, we had Hitler. We had Saddam Hussein. And somebody "did something": President Bush, despite strong opposition at home and abroad, overthrew the Ba'athist Reich in Iraq and captured Saddam and his henchmen.

Had the "peace movement" had its way, Saddam would still be filling those mass graves. People would still be dying slow and horrible deaths in torture chambers, women and men would still be traumatized for life by sadistic rapes and disfigurements. And yet these things have ended in Iraq, precisely because of the war that the "peace" activists so strenuously opposed.

And even now, some people are unmoved by three hundred thousand bodies in mass graves. These are the same people who would have cared nothing about dead and dying Jews in concentration camps sixty years ago. I don't get it. Do they not see Arabs and Jews as human?

"The day we found the mass grave is vivid to me still. ... "


"We found it up near the Iranian boarder. Very quickly people came from miles and miles away. We stood and watched the family members digging up bones and clutching remains as they sat in the dirt, rocked back and forth and cried. They were adamant that we should come over and look as they dug them up. Every single body had its hands and feet wired together with ROMEX. Each skull had a bullet hole in it except for a few that were smashed with a club or rifle butt. There were clearly men but also women and children. The grave never made the news as there were no media with us and it was small by Iraq standards. One detail that I found particularly outrageous was that the assassins left the identifications on the bodies as if they were so arrogant that it never occurred that someday, someone would dig up the bodies and hold them accountable. I will never forget it."

- Quoted by Zayphar from a US serviceman's letters home. Read the whole post. Thanks to Jane.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Wedding Party

... may be found at Belmont Club.


Morning Report: May 24, 2004

- The three tribes fight over Iraq. (Safire/NYT) William Safire analyzes the power play behind the Chalabi raid.
- How do you tell when spies are lying? (Ledeen/NRO) Stealing a page from Safire’s script, Michael Ledeen consults with a departed counterterrorism expert on the question of Chalabi’s alleged duplicity.
- Do all roads lead to Tehran? (Ackerman/TNR) The New Republic’s Spencer Ackerman maintains that Chalabi bit off more than he could chew by courting the Iranian regime, alienating even his former supporters in Washington.
- Beyond Chalabi. (Ali / Iraq the Model) In perhaps the most sensible response to the Chalabi debacle, Ali argues that the whole affair has been given too much prominence. Chalabi’s legitimacy derived from his support for the cause of freedom; having abandoned that cause, he lost his base of support both in Iraq and in Washington. He was “just a man who had some chance to play a role in the future of Iraq and blew it away,” Ali writes. “Chalabi was not really pro-American because he was not pro-Iraqi in the first place. He was just pro-Chalabi.”


At last!

No event of recent days has been more eagerly anticipated by DiL than William Safire's Monday column, explaining the mechanics and machinations of the Chalabi raid. Safire reveals the roots of both State's and Agency's animus towards Chalabi, as well as the role of Robert Blackwill in advancing Brahimi - who demanded the withdrawal from Falluja as well as the blacklisting of Chalabi. I'm too tired to post in detail tonight, but it's worth reading.

Jane is commemorated

with a square in central Kablogh (holy city of Blogistan)!

Reader Participation: Chalabi Raid and Iran Regime

Rubin and Ledeen are furious.

Wretchard cites the Telegraph's article linking Chalabi with the UN scandal and Brahimi.

Who's right? Is Chalabi guilty as charged? Or is he the scapegoat in some power struggle?

If anyone has new information, insights, or clues about the background and implications of the Chalabi raid, I'd love to hear it. Post to comments.

Baghdad Photos

Asmar has sent in a link to this wonderful site with pictures of Baghdad. There are many photos on one page, so be advised (especially if you use low-end gear like I do) that it takes a while to load.

But it's worth the wait! There are many beautiful photographs (flowers, artwork, architecture, monuments) and some not-so-beautiful (explosion that killed GC member, Iraqi children maimed by Allied bombing). A very fine collection - please visit this site.

UPDATE: Apparently Asmar is an Iranian trying to pass as an Iraqi blogger. See Tom Villars' notice in the "Donation Info" section of ITM.

Morning Report: May 23, 2004

- US forces enter Kufa. (Fox) American forces battled the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr in Muqty’s stronghold of Kufa on Sunday night, with 18 known fatalities. Fox reports that there was also fighting in Najaf, but Karbala was quiet.
- Ali on “real Iraqis.” (Iraq the Model) Ali ponders the meaning of an anti-American demonstration in Lebanon, organized by Hezbollah, which drew a half-million people purportedly in solidarity with the “oppressed Iraqis”.
- Bush and the three elephants. (Belmont Club) When President Bush addresses the Army War College tomorrow (Monday), he will do so in the shadow of three “elephants in the living room”, Wretchard says. These are the unacknowledged proxy war with Syria, that with Iran, and the UN corruption scandal. The last item is the most interesting, because the BC cites a claim that Chalabi “is in possession of ... documents with the potential to expose politicians, corporations and the United Nations”. More on this angle to follow.
- Bush and the three blunders. (Ledeen/NRO) Michael Ledeen looks at events of recent weeks, and he’s not happy with what he sees. “We have adopted our enemies’ view of the world,” this article begins. Referring the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, Ledeen writes that “torture, and the belief in its efficacy, are the way our enemies think.” Fallujah was “a strategic retreat,” which will embodeden our enemies to attack us again – while some “crackpot realists” in the military and senior officials in State and Defense propose adopting the “Fallujah model” in the future. Finally, Ledeen says that Chalabi was “an Iraqi leader of unquestioned democratic convictions”, who was seen as a threat by both our enemies and the CIA and State Department, precisely for that reason: “he is independent and while he is happy to work with [CIA and State], he will not work for them.” Ledeen argues that only a firm commitment to democratic ideals, and not appeasement (or emulation) of our enemies, will win this war.
- Arab summit: road to nowhere? (Debka) As reported here on May 4, the Arab League looks to be headed for the dustbin of history. The summit, finally getting off the ground in Tunis after being rescheduled, is proving to be less than the impressive show of unity its supporters might have hoped for. Debka now reports that only 13 of 22 leaders showed up, and Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi walked out after a half-hour.


That Wedding Party

Washington: US helicopter strike alleged to have struck wedding party was directed against safe house in al Qaim 25 km from Syrian border occupied by foreign Arab fighters infiltrating Iraq from Syria, who fired at helicopter. Coalition ground forces found quantities of explosives, foreign passports, 2 m Iraqi and Syria dinars and satcom radio. Iraqi sources claimed more than 40 killed. International Red Cross condemns US military for using excessive force in incident.

- source: Debka


Apocalypse Averted

A Small Victory reports that, contrary to some expectations, the world did not come to an end as a result of a certain development in Massachussetts.

Imagine my relief.

Armed Forces Day


Early last year, Anthony Swofford, the author of Jarhead, gave a reading at Powell’s on Hawthorne. In the standing-room-only audience waiting for the reading to begin, I found myself next to an attractive, nicely dressed, fiftyish woman and we struck up a conversation. No doubt mistaking me for a fellow member of the anti-war crowd (I do tend to look like a hippie), she offered her observations on how “those people see everything in black and white”. Those people? “The right-wingers, the Bush crowd.” It was good to know who “those people” were; but what of the fighting men? “Well, you know, when you take some 19-year-old kid from Nebraska who doesn’t have any choices, and tell him ‘This is what it means to be a man’, I guess it must sound pretty appealing.”

I spent ten years in the enlisted ranks of America’s armed forces: six years in the Air Force, mostly as a communications specialist and later four years in the Marine Corps as a missileman in an armored infantry unit. My liberal parents did not, I am quite sure, ever picture me in the Marines, but they were quite supportive when I enlisted at age 26 ... at least, once they got over the initial shock.

The Air Force hitch came right after high school: I had really good test scores, and I went in on a contract enlistment to become a translator (a “208” in Air Force jargon). I finished the rigorous Korean Basic program at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, but wasn’t quite equal to the advanced training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, which involved long, tedious hours of listening to ... well, never mind, you’re not missing anything. The Government had already spent tons of money getting me a secuirty clearance, so I was reassigned to a job in telecommunications – and that was what I did for the rest of my six years in the USAF.

After hanging up my blue shirt I moved to San Francisco, where I made a living – barely – as an office clerk. I struggled to make ends meet, living in a ten-foot hotel room with a bathroom in the hall, roaches on the floor, and crackheads roaming the halls. The cost of living in San Francisco kept going up, and my paycheck didn’t, so in 1989 I found myself in the recruiter’s office once again, and this time – sort of on a dare to myself – I enlisted in the Marines.

I’ve written elsewhere about my experiences in Desert Storm. Here I’ll just say that I’m proud of my role in liberating Kuwait, and sorry only that we did not finish the job and liberate Iraq then. But my four years in the Marines were among the most rewarding of my life, and I regret none of it.

What I wish is that our well-dressed, well-educated liberals would make the effort to get rid of their stereotypes about who joins the military and why. By dismissing me as “some kid from Nebraska” or whatever part of the country you consider to be where the hicks and rednecks live, you only betray your own ignorance and prejudice. After all, "those people" don't really believe in working for the greater good, do they?

This is for you, the lady who holds me and my fellow veterans in contempt: How dare you? How dare you imagine that your university degree and your liberal credentials give you the right to think for me?

The Iraqi Holocaust

THE IRAQI HOLOCAUST: More from Sam's charge sheet:

13. Burning body by Cigarettes
14. Hanging body from the arms which are tied to the back and hanging a heavy stone in the penis and the testes which could be increased until he confesses.
15. Udy and Qusay Saddam and Some other relatives like the brothers of Sajeda Telfah Saddam's wife used to go to Abo Ghareeb Prison and select haphazardly a group from the prisoners and execute them while laughing in front of the others.

This is what the peace protesters marched to defend. Let's think about that for a moment. These are the things that the "Don't Attack Iraq" crowd devoted their energies to preserve. But wait; it gets better.

16. Decapitating children in front of their mothers.

Are you proud of yourselves, ANSWER, for defending this?

Chemical Weapons Found in Iraq

I know. I'm as shocked as you are.

A Small Victory is on the case.

Oh, and don't miss this. Have you ever - well, never mind, I won't ask. I'll just confess for myself: Yes, I do admit to occasionally, still, even now, humming the tune to Neil Diamond's "America". OK, now stop laughing and go read ASV. This post is magnificent.

Taheri: Say No to the UN

"From 1990 to 2003, the U.N. was officially at war against Saddam Hussein; it passed 18 mandatory resolutions on Iraq. But it did nothing to implement any of those resolutions, except through the Oil-for-Food scam in which $4 billion disappeared in corrupt deals that involved senior U.N. officials.

So what is the rationale for putting the U.N. in charge in Iraq, even for a single day?"

This from the latest article by Amir Taheri. Taheri, who recently told us more than we really needed to know about the long history of decapitation, brings us up to speed on the battle between Iraq's people and its would-be occupiers. The skinny: don't let the UN take over. Read the whole article at the link.

Shy No More

Recently returned from an idyllic spring vacation in Shiraz, one of the writers at View From Iran notes that "it's fun not to be shy" among the outgoing Iranians. She also describes her encounters with the numerous Western tourists, including a Dutch lad named Joop.

A Day in the Life

Ginmar prefers to avoid explosions. (Really, what's WRONG with her?!)

Also don't miss her latest posts at A View From A Broad.

Hope for Seven Iraqi Amputees

The indispensable Fayrouz brings us news of seven Iraqi men whose hands were amputated by Saddam's regime. Why doesn't their story interest the media?

The L Word: Are you a lberal?

Are you a liberal?

Do you believe in freedom?

Do you believe in a future where women, gays, and people of all faiths and traditions are free to be who they are without fear?

Do you believe in the beautiful and infinite diversity of humankind, our cultures and our individual lives?

Do you reject the failures of the past, and do you despise the regimes that keep entire nations in chains?

Do you believe that the smiling, clean-cut collaborators share the perpetrators’ guilt?

Do you hold a healthy skepticism for the institutions of “culture”, and do you yet believe that the richness of our lives comes from the wealth of culture, high and low, that is available to us?

Do you chafe at the pretensions of the elite classes, and do you still believe that all people, mighty and humble, may partake of the humanity that makes us divine and the divinity that makes us human?

Do you rebel against the abuse of power, and do you still believe that power may be used wisely and justly?

Do you believe that we can change for the better, that with good will, faith, careful thought, and courage we can build the world we want?

And do you remember that the word “liberal” means a believer in freedom?

Excellent Abu Ghraib article

by Jane Novak, in Arab News. Read it here.

Upcoming Events

As noted below, I'm going to be taking a short break from writing Morning Report. Sifting through the news headlines on a daily basis is more gruelling than you might think. Nevertheless I consider MR an important part of this blog and intend to continue posting it regularly, resuming on Sunday.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing posts on the following topics:

- gay marriage
- Armed Forces Day
- the continuation of my series on Kabbalah
- liberalism and the freedom movement
- Oregon events, including the Spain suspect and the Goldschmidt scandal
- and of course, unfolding events in the Mideast and around the world.

If I can get all of that under control by the end of the week, I may even take a short break from blogging.

Stay tuned.


The Kabbalah


When I was in my mid-teens, my mother gave me my first book about Kabbalah. It was “The Book of Letters” by Lawrence Kushner. You have to see this book: it’s bound in natural colored cloth, printed on cream-colored paper; it’s not typeset, but written in the author’s hand in plain and elegant English and Hebrew calligraphy. There is a copy of the book on my lap, next to my computer keyboard, as I write this. I cannot imagine being without this book.

“Alef is the first letter. It has no sound ...” So begins the book, quietly, like the first letter. “Open your mouth and begin to make a sound. STOP! That is Alef.” At once, intuitively, you know where Kushner is taking you. You’re going to go to the beginning, the place before sound, the place before thought. You’re going to learn new words – and not just the words themselves, or even just their meanings, you are going to learn a new way of thinking.

Over the next fifty-five pages (it is a short book) we learn more than 200 Hebrew words: words like echad (one), bayit (house), hinneni (here I am), sefer (book), and tzedek (righteousness). We also learn that “you cannot pronounce the letter Tet until you go out early in the spring morning and see the dew (tal). Only when you secretly confess to yourself that you really do not understand how the tiny droplets of water have come to be, are you permitted to be cleansed in them.”

Growing up in Rabbi Kushner’s New England, I knew well the chill of the dew on bare feet in the morning, at that time in spring when school is not quite over, but you can at least forget about it long enough to watch the shimmer of the early sun on those droplets. And maybe you weren’t happy in school, and maybe your home life wasn’t so good either, but could put it out of your mind when you saw the dew glistening on the blades of grass.

What was I feeling at those moments? I don’t know. I know that at other times, I was feeling “Shevirat ha-Kelim. The discord and confusion which is the beginning of growing. And then trying to get it all back together again.” So life was not meant to be easy: this much was clear. But what could be broken and shattered could also be mended: “Tikkun. Mending. The repair of the universe.” I didn’t understand what it all meant, but I wanted to find out.

Now there’s another book in front of me: big, square, and slick, printed in eye-popping day-glow colors and metallic silver. The title is “The 72 Names of God – Technology for the Soul (TM)” and the dust jacket informs me that the book is a “National Bestseller”. Its author, Yehuda Berg, is “an ordained Rabbi and is internationally-renowned as a leading authority of Kabbalah.”

The Forword informs us that “the 72 Names are a technology for asserting the power of human consciousness over physicality.” The book is quite emphatic about the “technology” aspect, in fact, using the word ten times in the two-page foreword (and four times in the first paragraph alone).

So it is a technology. Well. If it is a technology, then it must be practical, efficient, and reliable. I certainly hope it works better than my AOL dial-up or Windows Millennium Edition.

But if it is a technology, then it must also be inscrutable. Anything technological has already been theorized, understood, studied, researched and developed, and is now in full production, ready for consumer use. Science – or what used to be called “natural philosophy” – belongs to the conjoined realms of understanding and experience. Technology, by definition, does not ask to be understood or even thought about; only used. Did your computer come with a brochure explaining the fine points of silicon doping and photolithography? Neither did mine.

What are the 72 Names? They are combinations of three Hebrew letters each, derived from Exodus 14:19-21 by a simple algorithm (one letter from each verse, in order, reading the middle verse backward). The book promises that by meditating faithfully on the various letter combinations, certain specific effects can be achieved. Of course, there is a stipulation: the Names will not do anything for you unless you commit to “proactive behavior” and renounce “ego games”.

Well and good: the 72 Names of God help them who help themselves. But these little tricks – being proactive and dealing with that nuisance called the ego – does the book offer us any practical advice regarding these things? Is it not astonishing that whole shelves of self-help books, even entire religions, have been devoted to these tasks, yet Berg offers us not so much as a handful of pointers for keeping the mind and body still during meditation, or winning friends and influencing people?

And conversely: once we’ve got will and ego under control, what will the 72 Names do for us that mere meditation, prayer, study, and action alone will not? On this point, too, the book is resolutely silent.

But let me stop nitpicking over the book; now I want to visit Yossi Kein Halevi’s article on Yehuda Berg and his Kabbalah Centre.

(End of Part 2)

The Kabbalah


You remember how it was when you were a small child? How everything was new and full of wonder? Even if you had a hard childhood, your mind would open from time to time, everything around you would fall away, and you felt yourself joined with something higher. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t tell me you don’t remember.

Even as a young adult, when you were first exploring new books and music, love and sex, you had the nagging feeling that there was something behind it all, some kind of secret – not quite like the secret codes you played with as a child, but still a way of changing and hiding a deeper message. And maybe you tried to find clues to this message in your Scriptures, or in science, or in art and literature, and you felt you almost had it, but it still eluded you.

And there were bills to pay, kids to raise, endless meetings and interviews and hasty late-night dinners in front of the television before you dropped off to sleep exhausted. You found the answers that worked for you, and they worked well enough, and you stopped asking the questions, not because you didn’t care anymore, but just because you had other things to do.

So here you are. Maybe now you’re at what they call middle age (whatever that means) and you start counting your birthdays in terms of how many down, how many to go. You wonder what comes next. In those private moments you’ve never spoken of to anyone, you wonder why you bother at all. You’re tired – tired of everything, all the time. You catch yourself thinking that if something happened to you, and you didn’t have to do this anymore, perhaps it wouldn’t be an altogether bad thing. An early retirement, you could say ... and then the alarm clock rings, and it’s time to do it all again.

What brought us here, and why? We’ve looked for answers to these questions in books, you and I, and we know that none of the answers we’ve found have been satisfactory. What we need is not for someone to hand us a diagram with our place clearly marked in the Master Plan (although let’s admit it, that would be nice, woudn’t it?) – what we really need is to learn a new way of thinking. Or maybe it’s an old way of thinking. Or maybe it’s a way of not-thinking.

Or maybe ...

(End of Part 1)

Best of Blogdad: Iraqis Address the Peace Movement (Part 2)

In this post in Iraq the Model, Mohammed describes his reaction to the protest in London, where a statue of President Bush was pulled down in imitation of the April 9 event in Baghdad, where a statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled:

-What was I supposed to feel when I see a statue representing Mr. Bush being pulled to the ground in London?
I hesitated whether to write about it or not, but I found myself compelled to do so as I couldn't tolerate to keep all the frustration inside.
-I was shocked I didn't find the slightest similarity the protestors wanted to exhibit and it never occurred to me that I would see such a naïve and absurd action, and where? In London!.
-We here are waiting for all possible help from these people to offer us what broadens our horizon and helps us reach the bright side of life as they helped us in freeing our country from the tyranny, and scenes like these make me doubt the value of such help, I mean what were they trying to prove?
-The real, living and historical event that took place in Baghdad
on the 9th of April that announced not only the downfall of the ugliest dictatorship in modern history but also the beginning of a new era of freedom was a totally a genuine and spontaneous reaction that came right out of the hearts and souls of crowds that have been brutally restrained for decades, and trying to simulate this through a previously organized and timed action was something the least I could say about is pathetic and disgusting . ...

Read the whole post at the link.

Best of Blogdad: Blood for Oil?

"No Blood for Oil!"

That was the popular slogan of the "peace" movement, as you'll recall. Here Omar responds to that notion:

... There had been a perspective that is widely spread among Arabs and the anti war, even some Iraqis, that America came to Iraq to steal the oil and other natural resources from Iraq (I don't know if anyone supports this idea in the USA) and I’ve got sick of seeing this ridiculous idea written on the walls in Baghdad or on signs held by the supposed peace activists or even being spoken in interviews on al-jazeera or other Arab media by those who pretend that they care for the interests of the Iraqi people.
I wonder how their brilliant, clear thinking got to that nonnegotiable conclusion!!?

Well I found that the answer is so simple, that even a blind man can see...heh.
I have read some statistics about the economy of the USA and I found that the (GDP) of America is something around (11,000 billion) dollars, while that of Iraq is about (18 billion) dollars (regarding the current rate of oil export), which means that the (GDP) of USA = 611 times the (GDP) of Iraq.
Another interesting result is that America can make that (18) billions in only 14 hours!.
Everyone knows that the American forces need about (4 billion) dollars/month for their supplies, operations and reconstruction work.
I find it so naive for someone to think that the USA is spending 4 billions a month to "steal" 1,5 billions.
The USA has already spent (or assigned) over 200 billion dollars, which requires the Americans to wait for over 10 years to get their money back.
What a great investment!!!
And that's only in the case that America is "stealing" all the oil or money of Iraq, while as a matter of fact, all the money that oil yields is spent to provide food, medications and of course to pay salaries to the Iraqis.The war was never for oil itself, the aims of the war were freeing the Iraqi people, destroying Saddam's WMD's, fighting international terrorism and the spread of freedom and democracy in the M.E.

Some Iraqis say that Iraq is a wealthy country and that America came here to steal our fortune, and I ask them what f***ing fortune? Saddam has driven Iraq bankrupt and even worse, Iraq is now drowning in debts.
Iraq is a (potentially rich) country, that's true. Iraq was once rich, but right now it's a poor country, and in order to make Iraq a rich country once again we need researches, experience, investments and years of hard work. This can not be done by the Iraqis alone, we need help, and we're getting that help.
Saddam wasted most of our fortune on his intelligence and security agencies and his plans to get WMD's and the rest was transferred to the secret accounts of his and his family.

However I find that there is one good side effect of the war that is related to the oil, oil is needed continuously all over the world, and the oil supplies should be maintained to every country, no crazy tyrant like Saddam should be controlling one of the largest reserves of oil in the world, imagine the mess if Saddam, Gaddafy and the mullahs of Iran decided to cease the production of oil, as some Arab countries did in 1973 when Saddam held the slogan (oil is a weapon in the battle).

Anyway I think that -even this side effect- was not in the interest of the USA alone.
Oil, like water; is essential to everyone, and no one should hold it off from the others.


Iran Regime Change Petition

Please read AND SIGN!!!


Best of Blogdad: Yassin Killing

When the Israelis dispatched Sheikh Yassin last March, opinion was divided among the Iraqi bloggers, as it was in the West. I am posting excerpts here.


I am beside myself with rage. Perhaps I should not post today and wait a bit until I can think in a more dispassionate way. But I cannot wait really. Mr. Sharon: Usama Bin Laden and his friends are delighted and send you their best regards. This stupid and senseless killing of an old invalid is a Godsend to all the terrorists in the region and has been timed at exactly the right moment. It is a stab in the back aimed at the U.S. and allied efforts and a direct attack on all their friends in the region. ...


We woke up early in the morning yesterday to the shocking news of the assasination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. One of the doctors at the residence was in hysterics about it and the noise woke me up. The first thought that came to my mind was good riddance, but then the gravity of the whole thing slowly creeped upon me. While I was distastefully brushing my teeth, I heard the doctor roaring into the bedroom ernestly trying to wake up my colleague, the Christian dentist, "WAAAAAKE UUUUUUPPP! They killed the Pope!!". My friend sprang out from
bed and rushed over to the tv, after which I heard him swearing at the doctor who was rolling with laughter at the situation.

Our cook had the most interesting reaction. "How many young men did this @#%$ send to death by brainwashing and fooling them into carrying out suicide attacks? How many innocent people had he killed?" he shouted to the doctor, "And how many thousands of dollars did he get in his Swiss bank accounts by pimping on the Palestinian cause?". "If he was truly such a hero and a believer in Jihad how come he didn't rig his wheelchair with explosives and blow himself up at some Israeli checkpoint? I say f* him". We advised the cook to stay out of politics, at least for the moment, and stick to his task of scrambling eggs for us. ...


I think what Israel did is wrong, wrong time, wrong way, this isn’t a way to perish the terrorists, Israel will make the region unstable in such operations.. I’m sure Hamas won’t keep silent.. Also, this operation will change the Iraqi people’ feelings, yes .. the people here will link between Israel and USA, I don’t know why always they consider USA is in charge of that ! you know, this is a great chance for some clerics to incite!

Poor USA, Israel kills a leader and the Palestinians carry banners saying “ Death to America” ! huh.. silly people..


I couldn’t mourn you and I couldn’t feel sorry for you. You’re an old crippled man, you’re an Arab like me, a ‘Muslim’ like me, and you fought most of your life for what you believed in. You were imprisoned for a long time and you were murdered; yet I couldn’t mourn you!
You know why? I’ll tell you why:

I’ve always took the side of the weak, poor and oppressed people if for no other reason, then simply because I’ve lived most of my life like them and I can’t argue that the Palestinian people have rights that are still missing. Some people will say that it’s because of their doing, but I don’t want to get into the huge complications of this conflict. I just want to point why and when did I loose sympathy with people like Ahmad Yassin.

Whatever we think about this conflict and whatever side we take, none of us can deny that there is a problem and it’s far from easy to determine how to solve it and who has the right in this or that. People have different opinions that spread through a spectrum where you can find millions who consider a man like Scheckh Yassin a saint and you can find millions who consider him a Satan as well as a small portion with less extreme opinions.

Palestinians had chosen different ways of pursuing what they considered their legitimate rights before the birth of Israel. Some of them chose to fight, others chose political struggle and the negotiation table and some joined the new state and pursued their rights taking advantage of the democratic nature of Israel and made it as high as can be expected, still supporting the rights of their people as well as the rights of their ‘new’ country.

I don’t want to go into the details of this intricate conflict, but I want to say that those- who chose to fight by convincing people (mostly teenagers and young men) in suicide, in the hope that during this they can murder the largest possible number of civilians; men, women elderly and children- deserve no mourning and no sympathy.

These people (Yassin alike) argue that civilians-usually Israeli and Americans- are partners in what they consider crimes against their people (Arab or Muslims), because they elected their governments and they support their actions. I say; I’ll go with you this far and suppose that you are victims to Israel and America and thus you have the right to fight and kill the American and Israeli men and women. But, what about their CHILDREN?? What about YOUR children who you send to death while they kill Israeli children? What about that 15 year old girl you convinced her of committing suicide in order to kill other people, including children?

You claim that all children are born Muslims and that their parents raise them to be Christians or Jews. If we follow your rules and believe your words, you’ll be killing Muslim children!! How can you explain that to yourself before trying to explain it to the others? I’ve asked this question to all those who support the suicidal attacks and NONE could have an answer. The best they could come up with is that these suicidal bombers do not intend to kill children and that it happens accidentally!! Don’t they have eyes that can recognize a child? And why do they pick buses when they know that it’s very likely that some children will be there?

You have not only disgraced yourselves and betrayed Gods words; you have hurt your people, the Muslims, more than anyone else. You made every Muslim a suspect in the eyes of the world and I will never feel sorry for you. ...

True Security Begins with Regime Change in Iran


As House Resolution 398 has rightly recognized, the illegitimate government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged, and continues to engage, in efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Such weapons would pose an immediate threat not only to Iran’s neigbors, but ultimately to the entire world.

The cruelty of the IRI regime is well known and abundantly documented. The regime has been implicated in assassinations throughout the Middle East, Europe, and the United States; the murder of more than 100,000 Iranians; continuing policies of rape, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment as political tools; and the kidnapping of thousands of women and girls for sale into prostitution and slavery.

According to the Department of State report released by the Department of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on February 25, 2004: “The Government's poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. The right of citizens to change their government was restricted significantly. Continuing serious abuses included: summary executions; disappearances; torture and other degrading treatment, reportedly including severe punishments such as beheading and flogging; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of habeas corpus or access to counsel and prolonged and incommunicado detention. Citizens often did not receive due process or fair trials. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights, and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and religion.” These and other abuses clearly indicate that the regime constitutes a grave threat to the people of Iran and to free people everywhere.

It has come to our attention that Israel and/or the United States may be contemplating a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. If the United States follows a policy based exclusively on the nuclear issue, however, the results will be catastrophic both for the Iranian people and, ultimately, for the Middle East and the world. Merely striking at Iranian nuclear facilities would at best delay the regime’s nuclear program, driving it deeper underground; would certainly provoke even harsher measures against the Iranian people; and would likely lure the West into a false sense of security with the mullahs of the IRI regime plotting their ultimate retribution against America, Israel, and all others who have stood in their way.

The Islamist regime continues to actively undermine American efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq. Regime-backed agents and mercenaries are killing American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines every week. To wait until Iraq and Afghanistan are “secure” before confronting the Iranian mullahs is folly; rather, the United States must take the battle to the enemy in Tehran.

The vast majority of freedom-loving Iranian people support the right of Israel and all of Iran’s Middle Eastern neighbors, as well as the United States, to live in peace and security. Therefore, it is in our common interest that:

1. President Bush must support clear and open policy calling for regime change in Iran.
2. The Administration must abandon its policy of “Afghanistan yesterday, Iraq today, Iran maybe tomorrow”, and confront the threat from the IRI regime immediately.
3. President Bush must deliver an ultimatum to the IRI’s primary hidden supporters (Britain) and secondary supporters (France, Germany, EU, Japan, Canada, Russia, and China) to stop giving economic assistance, intelligence assistance, or other assistance to the regime. The EU, in particular, should not use resources stolen from the Iranian people to finance its own failed welfare state.
4. The United States must deliver an unequivocal ultimatum to the Iranian regime to step down peacefully and immediately, and transfer power to a team of Iranian-American leaders; this team would set up a referendum under US and international supervision with military presence of US, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands in Iran as the peacekeeper. If the mullahs do not agree to step down peacefully, then the US should provide all necessary financial and military support for freedom-loving Iranian opposition both inside and outside Iran to remove the regime in a short period of time.

The Bush Doctrine advocates America’s active role in supporting freedom, democracy, and human rights throughout the world. We call on the Government to act in accord with this wise and noble policy, and help the Iranian people achieve their dream of a free and democratic Iran.

This is the preliminary text of a petition to be circulated by Iranian freedom activist groups. Watch this space for further details.

Winning in Iraq

While many young Americans are comfortably sitting in college or grad school, a few have taken it upon themselves to do something that might actually make the world a better place. They are the volunteers who are working to aid in the reconstruction of Iraq. Some of these were highlighted in National Review Online:

“I can't sleep. I lie awake in my luxurious trailer and my mind is racing through possible scenarios. A few days ago there was a stretch where we were attacked several days in a row at 8am...like clockwork. Thankfully they have subsided since but for that stretch each morning my 'alarm clock' was a loud BOOM and a shaking trailer."
So begins an April 16 diary entry of 25-year-old Brendan Lund. Brendan and his cousin, Craig, are in Baghdad, working with the Iraqi Ministry of Finance in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). They're just two of the scores of young Americans who have volunteered since March 2003 to live in a war zone, sleep in bare-minimum trailers, work 16-hour days (or more), and wake up to rocket attacks — all in the name of building democracy in Iraq.
"Personally I looked at it as the right thing to do," Brendan says. "How can people my age who have this choice not want to go out and do this?" ...

Working long hours under dangerous conditions, these young people (most of them in their 20s) find fulfillment in helping the people of Iraq to become self-sufficient, prosperous, and free. With so many youths apathetic, materialistic, and cynical, it's good to know that idealism is still alive. Don't wait for the media to tell you about this; go read Rachel Zabarkes Friedman's article here.

An Infinite Supply of Arab Murderers?

This excerpt from today's The Corner caught my eye. It says what I've been trying to find the words to say in response to American leftists who worry that "killing terrorists will just breed more terrorists":

... But I keep thinking of a point made by Bret Stephens, the editor of the Jerusalem Post, when asked why Israel keeps killing members of Hamas when it's so "counter-productive." He said something to the effect of (paraphrasing from memory):

"I think it's an odd sort of racism which assumes that Arabs are like cockroaches or insects and that they have no regard for their own lives and that we can kill terrorists forever and it will do no good because there's an infinite supply of Arab murderers." He went on to say something like "We don't believe all Palestinians are interchangeably animals who want to murder women and children." ...

This from the incomparable Jonah Goldberg. And this is exactly what I've been trying to say, that it is the leftists and the peaceniks who dehumanize Arabs and Mideasterners most of all, through the "soft bigotry of low expectations".

Read Jonah's full post here.

Hans Blix

is apparently trying to make himself useful.

Iranian-Americans Boycott Ebadi's Speech

When Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi spoke in Washington, DC, Iranian-Americans stayed away in droves, according to SMCCDI News Service.

Once a favorite of the Iranian freedom movement, Ebadi shocked activists by declaring her allegiance to the so-called "moderate" faction in the Iranian regime.

Read the news report at this link.

Morning Report: May 13, 2004

- Two-way influence. (Taheri) Reflecting on the Abu Ghraib scandal and on historical cases where opposing armies have influenced one another’s tactics, Amir Taheri explains that “it is impossible to wrestle with an adversary and not have one’s sweat mixed with his.” He concludes that “... the uniqe opportunity to stabilise and rebuild Iraq as a democratic state must not be wasted. Let us have all the Abu Ghraib trials we need. But let us not forget June 30, the date for transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government, and January 2005, the date for the first free elections in that country’s history.”
- Dark future, vicious cycle. (Iraq the Model) In a wry post on Iraq’s “dark future,” Ali warns of “the dangers of the vicious cycle of (prosperity-stability-more prosperity-more stability).” His cousin Ibrahim is a case study.


The Iraqi Holocaust: Uday vs. Women

from The Mesopotamian:

You might have heard that an assassination attempt against Uday had taken place in 1996, which left him with injuries that caused impotency. This made him even more cruel and sadistic than his usual self. It has been revealed after the fall of the regime that he shot the doctor who broke the news to him (c.f. interview with one of the close bodyguards of Uday at Al Arabia last year). This added one more complex to his extensive repertoire of psychological problems. He started to hate anything to do with other people having any kind of sexual pleasure.

Well, that horrible day we learnt that the night before the Fedayeen [under Uday's command] had attacked scores of houses and dragged women and young girls to streets and beheaded many with swords leaving the heads at the doorsteps of the victims houses. Some of these heads were left in place for more than twenty-four hours. The atrocities lasted for several weeks.

Security for Israel, Freedom for Iran

As noted here yesterday, there are persistent rumors that Israel and/or the United States may be contemplating a pre-emptive airstrike against the regime's nuclear sites in Iran.

Iranian freedom activists support Israel's right to security, but caution that any action taken against the regime in Tehran must come as part of a full-scale attack on the IRI mullahs in order to effect regime change.

For the Iranian people, a "pinpoint" strike that leaves the apparatus of oppression intact provides no relief or comfort. Such a move would only provide the regime with a pretext for further draconian measures against the Iranian populace.

For the West, it makes no strategic sense simply to "wound the beast." Merely attacking the IRI's nuclear facilities would treat the symptom but not the disease. We cannot afford to continue a failed policy of half-measures and stop-gap solutions.

Please watch this space for an official declaration from Iranian dissident organizations.

Nick Berg: Invitation to a Beheading

Nick Berg, a 26-year-old American civilian, was decapitated on camera, apparently by none other than Zarqawi. This was done as revenge for the Abu Gharib scandal.

Zarqawi’s indignation is understandable. For more than a week, al-Qaeda was upstaged by the spectacle of Americans crying out for justice against a very amateurish attempt at prisoner abuse. Disgusting. Let Zarqawi, an acknowledged expert in the systematic destruction of human beings, show us how it’s really done.

Morning Report: May 12, 2004

- Stand firm. (Safire) Morning Report is pleased to present a two-for-one special on William Safire today. In Monday’s column, recalling Secretary Rumsfeld’s decision to re-examine the White House order for “military tribunals” for suspected terrorists – resulting in “basic protections” for those accused – Safire argued that Rumsfeld should not resign in the wake of the current scandal. Today, he reminds “those of us who believe in the nobility of exporting freedom” (and yes, dear reader, that includes your present blogger) that “we need not let our dismay ... overwhelm the morally sound purpose of our antiterror campaign.”
- American Nick Berg beheaded on film. (Various) The gruesome decapitation of 26-year-old American civilian Nick Berg reached the airwaves on Tuesday. You don’t need a link from me to help you find this stuff.
- Jane on the rule of law. (Armies of Liberation) Jane says “the path to a more perfect union runs throught Abu Ghraib.” An exceptionally fine article.