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Monday, July 31, 2006

Cindy Sheehan Cancels NM Events to Meet With Iraqi Parliament Members in Jordan


As reported in our earlier post, Cindy Sheehan was scheduled to participate in the August 5th Day of Action in Taos and the August 6th Hiroshima Day Memorial in Los Alamos. She had to cancel her attendance at those events, but plans to reschedule a visit to New Mexico sometime in September. Cindy will be a joining a delegation of peace activists from CodePINK and other groups that will travel to Jordan on August 4th to meet with Iraq Parliament members at their invitation. They'll be discussing the goal of ending the violence and bringing our troops home as soon as possible.

Here's how she describes the visit to Jordan in a Truthout post:


Recent polls showed that 72% or our troops wanted to start coming home by the end of this year and 83% of the Iraqi people want the occupation to end. Those numbers are significant if only for the fact that they are probably low - soldiers and occupied peoples have never felt at liberty, or even secure to share their feelings with the oppressors.

To this end of creating a peace plan that the Iraqi people want and can feel comfortable and secure with (it is, after all, their country), a contingent of peace activists, including myself, will travel to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Iraqi parliamentarians who don't parrot what BushCo wants them to say and would actually like coalition forces to be removed from their country. It is a historic and significant step in this abominable and shameful episode of our history. The meeting is also highly significant since our State Department has been transformed into an adjunct of the War Department and is headed by the Deputy Secretary of War, Condi Rice. We have no diplomats in our country: just warmongers who can clear brush, shop for shoes, and laugh at gullible Americans all the way to the bank while they are depositing their war profits.

We will be meeting with the Iraqi representatives in Amman on August 4th, and many of us will return to Camp Casey in Crawford on August 6th to outline the plan and present a way that Americans and Iraqis can work together to end the killing on both sides of the conflict. August 6th is also a very meaningful date for me because it is the same day, one year ago, that I originally sat in the ditch with other peacemongers and we were eventually joined by thousands of peacemongers from all over the world.

On that day, we will ask to meet with George again to brief him on our meeting with real Iraqis who live, work, and raise their families outside of the Green Zone and outside of the influence of DC. Judging by past performance, I don't think he will meet with us (not very neighborly), but I am sure he will know that we are there and we have an Iraqi-driven plan when his only plan is to kill more people because so many have already been killed - which is what "stay the course" and "honor the sacrifices of the fallen" really mean. George is so comfortable cutting and running from Crawford when he feels threatened by the truth, I wish he would cut our soldiers loose from the nightmare of occupation and allow Iraqis to run their own country.

CodePINK has been holding a Troops Home Fast protest across from the White House for almost a month. During Iraqi prime minister Maliki's recent visit to America, they also set up a Camp Maliki across from the Iraqi Embassy in an effort to set up a meeting with him. Although that didn't happen, they were treated with respect by the Iraqi delegation. The interaction led to an invitation to travel to Jordan to meet with five like-minded members of the Iraqi parliament who are working on a reconciliation plan to end the violence in their country. Several members of Congress, academics and noted journalists have also been invited to travel to the meeting with the activists. Exciting news indeed.

CodePINK also bought a full-page ad in an Iraqi newspaper in the form of an open letter to the prime minister expressing support for an Iraqi reconciliation plan that includes the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

Note: Check out the website of our Albuquerque CodePINK group and get involved locally!

July 31, 2006 at 05:05 PM in Events, Iraq War | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are You On the Bus or Off the Bus?

From WakeUpWalMart:

19 States, 35 Cities, 35 Days
1 Mission
Change Wal-Mart and Change America

That’s right. Starting tomorrow, for 35 straight days, WakeUpWalmart.com is taking its national movement, and our headquarters, on the road in a non-stop, cross-country bus tour hitting 19 states and 35 cities in 35 days. The tour is an exciting and unprecedented move in our campaign to change Wal-Mart and build a grassroots movement to stop big, powerful corporations from taking America in the wrong direction.

So, for the next 840 hours, 6 over-caffeinated Americans and one really big 45-foot long bus (nicknamed Smiley) are going from New York City to Seattle to fight for good jobs, more affordable health care, and a better life for all hard-working families. Click here to get on board the bus and join our fight for a better America:


The tour will be stopping in Albuquerque on August 23 and 24 for a film screening and a town hall meeting.


The fight to change Wal-Mart is already being referred to as one of the “hottest, highest stakes political contests in America.” And, our national bus tour will be no exception. At several stops, we will be joined by some of our nation's best and most passionate political leaders like John Edwards, former Vice Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator.

With over 248,000 Americans, WakeUpWalMart.com is standing up to rich, powerful corporations like Wal-Mart and spreading the word that it is time for Wal-Mart to do what is right instead of shipping U.S. jobs overseas and not providing affordable health care. In town halls, public squares, and at state fairs, we will be hitting the streets to take our fight for a better America directly to the American people.

Will you join the most exciting grassroots movement and help us fight for a better America? Click here to RSVP to the 2006 Change Wal-Mart, Change America tour stop in your town:


Over the next 35 days, we will be sending you emails from the road and updating our website every day with photos, videos, funny tidbits and upcoming event details. If you don’t want to miss any part of the tour, be sure to check back often.

Most importantly, sign more people up to the campaign. We have set a goal of signing up at least 25,000 new supporters over the next 35 days. Please do everything you can to recruit at least 5 more friends.

If nothing else proves the power ordinary people have to do extraordinary things, just look last week at what happened in the city of Chicago. Despite Wal-Mart’s enormous efforts to defeat a living wage bill, the Chicago City council set a new bar for what it means to be a responsible corporate citizen and passed a living wage for working families.

A living wage in Chicago is a testament to the power you have to change a $300 billion company, to change corporate America, and to change the world we live in. But, change begins by joining together. I hope you will join with us and our 248,000 supporters as we go across the country to fight for a better America.

Thank you for all that you do,
Paul Blank, WakeUpWalMart.com

P.S. Click here to read an article about the 2006 Change Wal-Mart, Change America national bus tour.

July 31, 2006 at 11:12 AM in Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bush: Ain't Gonna Manage Calm No More

Here's Bush rambling on incoherently with immature, muddled and often straw-man arguments at his press conference this past Friday about his strategies for Iraq and the Middle East. Can you imagine what people with intelligence and common sense around the world think of the United States and our president? As I watched this video, all I could think was that it's come to this. Our ancestors must be rolling in their graves at the destruction of critical thought and nuanced communication that marks this era in the U.S. And remember, "THEY've always been violent."

July 31, 2006 at 10:31 AM in Iraq War, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Bird Blogging in Mourning

Bosco, solemnly pacing atop mourning black, says,
NOT IN MY NAME. I do too.

As the corpses of more women, children and old men are exhumed from their makeshift basement bomb shelter in Qana, Bosco the peach-faced lovebird mourns along with millions around the world who still have a conscience. Black is the color for this Sunday morning full of death, destruction, false pride and stubborn stupidity on the part of those who still believe, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that violence can beget peace or justice or progress or "victory."

This sickening delusion pervades many parts of the planet these days, driven by the aggressive madness of so-called "leaders" -- political, religious and military -- who choose to incite more violence, not quell it. They move people and planes and bombs and missles and rockets and tanks around on their Stratego boards as if this were all a game of revenge and counter-revenge, with no real blood or guts or rigor mortis muddying the abstract geopolitical landscape. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, don't they? Oh, they feel potent. Powerful. In the throes of adrenalin rushes. In control. Innocent humans suffer for their kicks. Innocent humans are turned to pulp. Those caught in the middle of the "military maneuvers" struggle without food, water, medicine or a way out.

To the freakishly immoral "leaders" and "military strategists" it IS all a game. Oh, who's winning? Who gains "power"? Who must eat crow? Every single time it is the ordinary people, the civilians, the infants, the women who bear the brunt of the murderous destruction. The "leaders" sit in air conditioned comfort, pondering how big and strong and powerful they can look to their peers -- others involved in the same pathological quests. All of them admiring their own cleverness.

Corpse of a child in Qana.

Stop the killing now. All of you. Enough. Enough. Enough. I say any who continue cheerleading or participating in this killing spree on any side should be criticized loudly for their blood lust. All of them should be shamed for their genocidal aggressions masquerading as "defense" and "bravery" and "courage" and "honor." It is nothing less than venomous murder on a grand scale and it will, as this brutality always does, bring nothing but more of the same. As an American, I cannot tell you how sick it makes me feel to see alleged representatives of the American people holding back the urgent international tides pushing for an immediate cease fire. It is American "leaders" who are allowing, even encouraging, the carnage in order to permit an outcome of "victory." Shame on all who support them in this.

Corpses of two women in Qana.

Innocent human beings are dying in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, while the militarists slither for "advantage." The only ones who win in these wars are the arms dealers, the oil barons, the defense contractors and their cronies who purport to lead their nations. A pox on them all.

An article in the Belgravia Dispatch summarizes the expected horrific results of this, as a commentator calls it, temper tantrum:

This 'accidental' war (as The Economist recently put it) will end up having proved something of a disaster for all parties involved save, perhaps, Hezbollah. Israel will not have eradicated Hezbollah (a totally unrealistic war aim, regardless, Krauthammer and Co's reckless imbecility aside), the United States has complicated its regional position immensely, and, as Cohen points out, the Cedar Revolution lies in ashes. Was the IDF action worth hundreds dead, thousands wounded, massive flows of internally displaced and refugees numbering in the hundreds of thousands, an environmental disaster unprecedented in Lebanon's modern history, and the scuttling of Lebanon's tenuous movements towards emergence from an oppressive Syrian yoke? All for, at the end of the day, a deal on Shaba Farms, the return of the two soldiers (probably in the context of a prisoner exchange anyway), French and other troops on the Lebanese-Israeli and Lebanese-Syrian borders (gee, wonder how porous that latter one will be?), and some (likely mostly chimerical) 'disarming' of Hezbollah?

Well no, of course not, this was more by way of an ill-advised temper tantrum than a serious military operation, as Arik Sharon would himself admit, if only he were aware of the disaster underway. Sharon would have recalled previous Lebanese quagmires and would have well understood (aided by the wisdom of years and the lack of any need to prove himself) that resort to airpower, in the main, cannot succeed in this context, with the specter of hundreds and hundreds of civilian deaths earning Israel international opprobrium in every world capital (save Washington), and that there is no real, sustained post-'82 appetite in Israel for a massive land incursion regardless, not least given the ultimate futility of same. No, Sharon would likely have chastised Ehud Olmert for his impestuous over-reaction, one so helpfully fanned on by myopic strategic blunderers and amateurs in Washington, both in policy and journalistic circles.

So yes, we mourn today for all the dead. All the wounded. All the victims of the geopolitical Stratego games. And we urge everyone reading this to stand up and say STOP IT NOW in any way you can think of. All moral authority (such as it was), on all sides, is in shambles.

July 30, 2006 at 01:04 PM in Bird Blogging, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (8)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Music Hall: Bring 'Em Home

Just in time for the tragic and misbegotten escalations of violence in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Gaza, Bruce Springstein performs a somber version of the historic protest song "Bring 'Em Home," with his Seeger Sessions band. Springsteen's latest album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," is comprised of a number of songs written or made popular by folk singing legend, first amendment rights champion and anti-war, pro-labor, pro-environment activist Pete Seeger.

Below, Pete Seeger does his original version of the song, which he wrote during the Viet Nam war. He's still singing a version of this song today, at 87 years of age. In 2003 he re-recorded it with Ana DiFranco, Steve Earle and Billy Bragg. You can listen to that version here. And NPR has an interview and other broadcasts with or about Pete.

It never ends, does it? This myth that military aggression can solve every problem? Instead of fighting other humans with high-tech weaponry, we need to fight our real enemies -- poverty, sickness, ignorance, hunger, greed, selfishness, exploitation, intolerance, violence, dishonesty, hypocrisy. As Seeger sings, we're not using the right weaponry for these battles. They can't be beaten with bombs and guns.

As Gandhi once said, "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Many long years after Viet Nam, the battle for sanity, common sense, compassion and reason continues.

Seeger in 1944 singing at the labor canteen in D.C.

Another timely message from another of Seeger's antiwar songs, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy:

But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

July 29, 2006 at 11:06 AM in Saturday Music Hall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Vote for Madrid by August 4th

John Edwards has pledged to headline Fall fundraisers for two Democratic congressional candidates who are chosen by the online community at his One America PAC website. New Mexico's own Patricia Madrid is one of the choices, and we have until August 4th to vote for her in the poll. Click here to make your voice heard.

With Heather Wilson and the Bush money machine joined at the hip, the Madrid campaign will need all the help it can get to compete and win. Wouldn't you like to see John Edwards at a campaign rally in New Mexico this Fall? Wouldn't you like to wake up on election day and know that Heather is gone and Madrid will be going to Washington?

We need to do everything we can to get rid of this mutual admiration society:

Heather Hearts Moneybags

And replace it with this one:

For Madrid: Joe Wilson and John Edwards

July 28, 2006 at 01:34 PM in Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

What's Wrong With Diebold: A Video

Vote This 15 minute video provides one of the clearest explanations of why Diebold electronic voting machines are so unreliable and easily gamed. It's best to view it after downloading it to your computer so you can enlarge the viewing screen and see all the details. A recent article on OpEdNews, "The Diebold Bombshell," reveals the company has actually admitted to the severe security flaws in its machines. In fact, they've stated they created the back door entryway into the software on purpose, despite the security vulnerabilities created by doing so.

Of course, here in New Mexico we're supposed to be immune to the dangers of DRE voting machines because of the bill passed at the January Legislative Session that requires a switch to paper ballot voting systems statewide. Election reform activists are still hoping that all our counties will obtain and implement the new system in time for the November election. We've heard that Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera is trying hard to have the new system up and running in the Albuquerque area by election day, but she's also admitted she's not sure that can be accomplished.

Let's hope the powers that be in this state work together to make sure we're all voting with the new system come November. Anything less would once again put the accuracy of election results in jeopardy. We can't afford to let that happen and we need to keep the pressure on at all levels. Every vote must be counted and every vote must be documented by a paper trail. Anything less is completely unacceptable given all we know about the serious security flaws discovered in the electronic machines. Without a paper trail, all electronic machines are suspect, not just those manufactured by Diebold.

As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. says in his recent must-read interview on BradBlog,

... our electoral system is broken for three reasons, in three large respects: The first is our campaign finance system, which is a system of legalized bribery, and which has allowed corporations and the very rich to control the results of our electoral process. Number two is the failure of the American press and that is also a function and result of corporate control, as I showed in my book. Number three is the election system itself, which is broken. We've privatized it and allowed four large corporations to count our votes on machines that don't work.

We've got our work cut out for us on all three fronts.

July 28, 2006 at 10:18 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Video: Medea Benjamin Interrupts Iraqi PM

Medea Benjamin of CodePINK and Global Exchange, who is fasting to bring our troops home from Iraq with lots of other people, chanted the following at Malaki's speech to Congress yesterday:

"The Iraqis want the troops to leave. Bring them home now…"

Thank goodness someone was brave enough to counteract Malaki's "war on terror is a success" speech (rumored to be written by someone in the Bush administration) with some reality-based messaging straight from the grassroots.

July 27, 2006 at 05:00 PM in Iraq War | Permalink | Comments (3)

REPORT: Bush Mulls Sending U.S. Troops to Lebanon

We knew it was only a matter of time. According to a post on Harper's that relates information provided by a "well-connected former CIA officer," Bush is tossing around the idea of sending U.S. troops to Lebanon. They'd apparently make up most of a so-called "international peacekeeper force" that sounds very similar to the farcical "coalition of the willing," created to cover Bush's unilateralism in Iraq. It's estimated that at least 10,000 to 30,000 troops would be needed at the border to have any chance of "success." Bush is allegedly pondering this action because NATO, Britain and other European nations are balking at the idea of sending troops in any significant numbers, if at all.

While this idea reportedly has support within the Administration and the Pentagon, the uniformed military apparently wants no part of it. After all, our military is already neck deep in the big muddy, quagmired in Iraq as civil war erupts. Also:

The former CIA officer said that the Bush Administration seems not to understand Hezbollah's deep roots and broad support among Lebanon's Shiites, the country's largest single ethnic bloc. “A U.S. force is going to end up making, not keeping, peace with Hezbollah. Once you start fighting in a place like that you’re basically at war with the Shiite population. That means that our soldiers are going to be getting shot at by Hezbollah. This would be a sheer disaster for us.”

The scenario of an American deployment appears to come straight out of the neoconservative playbook: send U.S. forces into the Middle East, regardless of what our own military leaders suggest, in order to “stabilize” the region. The chances of success, as we have seen in Iraq, are remote. So what should be done? My source said the situation is so volatile at the moment that the only smart policy is to get an immediate ceasefire and worry about the terms of a lasting truce afterwards.

July 27, 2006 at 11:50 AM in Middle East | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bread and Butter

(Click on image for larger version.) Cartoon by Don Wright.

July 27, 2006 at 09:34 AM in Visuals | Permalink | Comments (1)

Not Content With Causing 9-11 and Katrina, Gays Cause Israeli-Hezbollah War

Yes, you read that right. I never guessed GLBT folks were this damned powerful. Who knew all those lavender vibrations were mighty enough to call down the wrath of the dogs, er, I mean gods. But who can deny the cosmic truth?

Some kind of supernatural force that's repelled by (or attracted to) homosexual energies is making planes crash into towers, tropical storms form themselves into Category 5 hurricanes and rockets fly in the Middle East. At least according to various "religious leaders." You'd think these types would be busy with helping the poor, healing the sick or humbly serving as their brothers' keepers instead of blaming same sex lovers for their problems. Apparently not. They seem to have an abundance of time to devote to feeding intolerance and throwing rocks from the confines of their glass houses.

A World Net Daily article reports on how rabbis are claiming that plans for a gay pride parade have managed to spark what some are calling WW III:

Are Israel's troubles in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and the Hezbollah rockets slamming daily into major Israeli population centers here a result of the Jewish state's tacit support for a homosexual parade slated for next month in Jerusalem? Some rabbis seem to think so, and they are attempting to block the event from taking place in Judaism's holiest city.

"Why does this war break out this week, all of sudden with little warning? Because this is the exact week the Jewish people are trying to decide whether the gay pride parade should take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv," Pinchas Winston, a noted author, rabbi and lecturer based in Jerusalem told WND.

... many religious leaders believe the Israeli government's decision to allow a world homosexual parade in Jerusalem is having real-life consequences.

"This [parade] is an attack against God himself," Winston said. "God has told the Jewish people, 'If you are not going to fight for my honor, you will be forced to fight for your own honor.'"

... Lazer Brody, an author and dean of the Breslov Rabbinical College in Ashdod, Israel, concurred with Winston.

"When God’s presence is in the camp, nothing can happen to the Jewish people," Brody stated. "But If the Jewish people bring impurity into the camp of Israel, this chases away God's presence."

Similar to the logic that once prescribed dunking "witches" to determine their guilt, isn't it? If they didn't drown, they were guilty and had to be put to death. If they drowned, hey, no problema anymore -- they were innocent.

The Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a worldwide coalition of over 1200 rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis released a statement this week asking Israelis to "increase the holiness" of the country while it was at war by praying and among other thing cancelling the World Pride event.

Wow. It seems to me the best way to "increase the holiness" of a country when it's raining down bombs on innocent civilians would be to stop it, not blame a gay pride event.

... Meanwhile, Yehuda Levin, a member of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, has come to Israel specifically to prevent the homosexual celebration from taking place. He said a homosexual parade is akin to a parade of "prostitutes promoting prostitution, or adulterers encouraging others to try adultery at least once in their life."

"Israel is the Holy Land, not the homo-land," Levin told WND.

Snappy sound bites and everything. I guess other sins don't bother this bunch, at least not enough to blame the sinners for the war. They're not making reference to "hetero-sex-outside-marriage-land you'll notice. Or greed-and-intolerance-land. Or "rampant-consumerism-land." Or "over-the-top-armed-aggression-land." No, it's clear the gays, once more, are to blame. Such an easy target. Doesn't require a bit of soul searching on the part of any cleric or straight person, does it? Move along. Nothing to see here.


I wouldn't be surprised to start hearing calls of "off with her head" anytime any Queen of Hearts makes the scene where the "holy ones" lurk. Dadaists everywhere must be laughing. Marcel Duchamp must be rolling in his grave. Lunatics everywhere are howling.

July 27, 2006 at 09:00 AM in Middle East | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Open Thread: Get It Off Your Chest

We haven't had an open thread for some time. With all the confusing, complex situations we're witnessing on the planet these days, I thought it was a perfect time to open up the blog to what you're thinking and feeling. Click on the Comments tab and keyboard away. What's on your mind? Any links, videos or images to share? Let it all hang out right here.

July 26, 2006 at 12:11 PM in Open Thread | Permalink | Comments (13)