I didn't include these on my post on Iraq because they deserve special attention. These stories and pictures on the tortures, rapes, and humiliations at the Abu Ghraib prison are not isolated. They are symptomatic of the entire Iraqi tragedy. We are the barbarians. Only barbarians would treat others like this. Today, I am humiliated to be an American. I am humiliated to be associated with these abominations. There should be an international war crimes tribunal to prosecute these crimes against humanity. But that won't happen because the US has made themselves immune from prosecution. The world is watching. We have gone over the edge. We are the pariah.
The pictures are horrific. I felt a multitude of things as I saw them... the most prominent feeling was rage, of course. I had this incredible desire to break something- like that would make things somehow better or ease the anger and humiliation. We’ve been hearing terrible stories about Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad for a while now, but those pictures somehow spoke like no words could.
Seeing those naked, helpless, hooded men was like being slapped in the face with an ice cold hand. I felt ashamed looking at them- like I was seeing something I shouldn’t be seeing and all I could think was, “I might know one of those faceless men...” I might have passed him in the street or worked with him. I might have bought groceries from one of them or sat through a lecture they gave in college... any of them might be a teacher, gas station attendant or engineer... any one of them might be a father or grandfather... each and every one of them is a son and possibly a brother. And people wonder at what happened in Falloojeh a few weeks ago when those Americans were killed and dragged through the streets...
All anyone can talk about today are those pictures... those terrible pictures. There is so much rage and frustration. I know the dozens of emails I’m going to get claiming that this is an ‘isolated incident’ and that they are ‘ashamed of the people who did this’ but does it matter? What about those people in Abu Ghraib? What about their families and the lives that have been forever damaged by the experience in Abu Ghraib? I know the messages that I’m going to get- the ones that say, “But this happened under Saddam...” Like somehow, that makes what happens now OK... like whatever was suffered in the past should make any mass graves, detentions and torture only minor inconveniences now. I keep thinking of M. and how she was 'lucky' indeed. And you know what? You won't hear half of the atrocities and stories because Iraqis are proud, indignant people and sexual abuse is not a subject anyone is willing to come forward with. The atrocities in Abu Ghraib and other places will be hidden away and buried under all the other dirt the occupation brought with it...
It’s beyond depressing and humiliating... my blood boils at the thought of what must be happening to the female prisoners. To see those smiling soldiers with the Iraqi prisoners is horrible. I hope they are made to suffer... somehow I know they won’t be punished. They’ll be discharged from the army, at best, and made to go back home and join families and cronies who will drink to the pictures and the way “America’s finest” treated those “Dumb I-raki terrorists”. That horrible excuse of a human, Janis Karpinski, will then write a book about how her father molested her as a child and her mother drank herself into an early death- that’s why she did what she did in Abu Ghraib. It makes me sick.
Where is the Governing Council? Where are they hiding now?
I want something done about it and I want it done publicly. I want those horrible soldiers who were responsible for this to be publicly punished and humiliated. I want them to be condemned and identified as the horrible people they are. I want their children and their children’s children to carry on the story of what was done for a long time- as long as those prisoners will carry along with them the humiliation and pain of what was done and as long as the memory of those pictures remains in Iraqi hearts and minds...
Arab Reaction to Photos of Prisoner Abuse
In any case, this incident is in significant part a direct result of Rumsfeld policies--the Pentagon's kidnapping of unprepared reservists for long-term military duty in Iraq, supplemented by unregulated cowboy security firms. It has already been forgotten that some of the fighting around Najaf was done by US private security guards, who even deployed an attack helicopter!
I really wonder whether, with the emergence of these photos, the game isn't over for the Americans in Iraq. Is it realistic, after the bloody siege of Fallujah and the Shiite uprising of early April, and in the wake of these revelations, to think that the US can still win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi Arab public?
The Iraqi prison outrage
Abuse Of Iraqi Prisoners Probed
thanks to daily KOS
US military in torture scandal
Use of private contractors in Iraqi jail interrogations highlighted by inquiry into abuse of prisoners
Iraqi Prison Photos Mar U.S. Image
Now British army is in the dock as Allies outrage world opinion
Photographs from Iraq
thanks to consumptive.org
the iraqi intifada — vietnam, lebanon, and the west bank on internet time
Quick. Someone brief Bush on reality
Bush said today:
Bush said, "A year ago I did give the speech from the carrier saying we had achieved an important objective, accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein.''
"And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq.
Except that we DO have torture chambers and rape rooms and mass graves in US-controlled Iraq.
Vietnam on Crack
At last week's Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy conference, I had a chance to talk briefly with John Mearsheimer, one of the realist camp's leading scholarly lights. He mentioned his amazement at how quickly the U.S. position in Iraq is falling apart -- especially when compared to the years, or even decades, required to convince all but the hardest of the hawkish hard core that the Vietnam War was well and truly lost.
Or, to use the cliche: Iraq is Vietnam on speed.
But, judging from today's New York Times-CBS poll, speed was just the gateway drug. It looks like the American public is already experimenting with even harder stuff:
Nearly half say the war in Iraq was a mistake -- a finding similar to the public’s assessment of the Vietnam War as measured by the Gallup Poll in 1968.
Which means that in just over a year, public attitudes towards Shrub's War have slid as far down the slippery slope as they did after four years of futile fighting in Vietnam (and more like eight years if you count Uncle Sam's pre-Gulf of Tonkin "advisory" role) -- even though the Iraq casualty count so far has been roughly (very roughly) 1/50th of the Vietnam butcher's bill as of the end of 1968.
Marines Plan Handoff To Militia in Fallujah
Car Bomb Kills 8 Soldiers in Baghdad Suburb
U.S. Marines will withdraw from this violence-wracked city and hand over responsibility for pursuing insurgents to a new militia headed by former Iraqi army officers under a deal brokered by the top Marine general in Iraq, military officials here said Thursday. In Washington, senior Pentagon officials insisted a final agreement had not yet been reached, but Marine commanders here said they had received orders to prepare for a pullout that would begin Friday.
thanks to Whiskey Bar
Guest Commentary: Ray Close on 'The Real Meaning of Fallujah'
The proposed plan to turn over control of the Fallujah security situation to an Iraqi force under the command of four retired generals is much more significant than might at first be apparent.
On the strategic level, with regard to overall American policy in Iraq, it represents a defeat for those who have contended all along that the insurgency is being carried on by a small group of thugs who do not enjoy widespread support within the Iraqi population at large. Today Donald Rumsfeld is explaining that he is merely acceding to the recommendations of local American military commanders that this compromise arrangement be substituted for the original plan for an all-out assault ---- weakly shifting from himself to them the responsibility for this sudden abandonment of both tough tactics and tough rhetoric. This represents a humiliating defeat for those who have argued that the United States had no choice but to "pacify" Fallujah, arrest the insurgents, confiscate their weapons, and reestablish the authority of the American military occupation forces. The new plan would accomplish none of those explicit and uncompromising assertions made repeatedly over the past few weeks by the president himself, by US military commanders in the field, and (please note) by politicians in the United States of BOTH PARTIES.
Interview with a Mujahedeen, Observations from a Political Scientist
Another story Ahmed tells vehemently is that of when he was detained, along with his sister. While in Abu-Ghraib prison he says he watched his sister raped by soldiers, and after three months she was released, pregnant. “Why do we not hear about these atrocities in the media? They try to portray us as barbarians when we are defending our homes and our families against U.S. terrorism?”
He continues his angry and firm tone, sitting on the edge of his chair while he says, “I will stop fighting when the last American soldier leaves Iraq.” He takes a deep breath and continues, “The Americans are the terrorists. Their military has killed millions of people all around the world. Is killing people like this accepted?”
thanks to Yolanda Flanagan
General Sees 'Staying the Course' In Iraq as Untenable
Maybe it's time, in other words, to listen to retired Gen. William E. Odom. It is delusional, asserts the Army veteran, college professor and longtime Washington hand, to believe that "staying the course" can achieve President Bush's goal of reordering the Middle East by building a friendly democracy in Iraq. For the sake of American security and economic power alike, he argues, the U.S. should remove its forces from that shattered country as rapidly as possible.
"We have failed," Mr. Odom declares bluntly. "The issue is how high a price we're going to pay. ... Less, by getting out sooner, or more, by getting out later?"
But even Zinni can't figure a way out of the rather hopeless contradiction of the American occupation of Iraq, as demonstrated in this interview with the San Diego Union Tribune:
Q: So what they did militarily and politically in Iraq, none of what you recommended happened?
Zinni: Well, I'll give you my hopeful formula to get out of this. But every day and every decision makes it worse. The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging. They seem to continue to dig. This 'stay the course' idea is wonderful except the course is leading us over Niagara Falls.
CLOSE PROTECTION? THE SHADOWY WORLD OF PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANIES
They travel in armoured SUVs, ostentatiously carrying powerful weapons - assault rifles, sidearms, grenades - and they shoot and arrest people just as the soldiers do but minus the uniform and legal status. They're paid around $1,000 a day, considerably more than the regular soldiers or police officers which they used to be, work six weeks on and three off with paid flights home at the end of each tour. The advantage for the US is that their deaths and injuries don't show up on the figures for troop casualties. They are the bodyguards.
thanks to daily KOS
The war of the words
Then there's the problem of what the Americans are going to call the Iraqis - especially the ones that they kill. You can call people who are defending their own homes from rockets and missiles launched from helicopters and tanks "fanatics and terrorists" only for so long. Eventually even newspaper readers will smell a rat.
Similarly it's fiendishly difficult to get people to accept the label "rebels" for those Iraqis killed by American snipers when - as in Falluja - they turn out to be pregnant women, 13-year-old boys and old men standing by their front gates.
It also sounds a bit lame to call ambulance drivers "fighters" - when they've been shot through the windscreen in the act of driving the wounded to hospital - and yet what other word can you use without making them sound like illegitimate targets?
I hope you're beginning to see the problem.
The key thing, I suppose, is to try to call US mercenaries "civilians" or "civilian contractors", while calling Iraqi civilians "fighters" or "insurgents".
This is a journey through 12 modern ghettos, starting in a refugee camp in Tanzania and ending in a forest in Patagonia. In each of these places, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, as editors and photographers of COLORS magazine, methodically documented their inhabitants, and asked them the same questions: How did you get here? Who is in power? Where do you go to be alone? To make love? To get your teeth fixed? For many of those photographed it was their first time in front of a camera. Some looked into it with a hard, penetrating gaze. Others obeyed the ritual of photography with smiles. And Mano, on the cover, turned his back on the camera and waited for the shutter to click.
thanks to Conscientious
Is Saudi Arabia Still the King of the Oil?
So it's almost official: World oil production is in trouble. The secret has been slipping out of late, with reports of Royal Dutch Shell and other oil producers downgrading their reserves, but it now seems that Saudi Arabia may also be in crisis mode over its reserves.
At an energy conference in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Saudi Business Council, the idea that Saudi oil reserves are drying up was certainly not something that the Saudi oil finance ministers and their U.S. counterparts would have admitted. In fact, they lined up to say that the industrial world has nothing to worry about on the oil front for decades.
That so many high-ranking Saudi and US officials should gather in public to tell us not to worry should be quite worrisome.
Tomgram: Oil wars
Recently, Mark LeVine did a pioneering piece for Tomdispatch on the nature of the chaos in Iraq, including what he termed "sponsored chaos." The two piggybacked Tomgrams below remind us that the present visible chaos in the region may be nothing compared to the chaos to come -- and that on all sides there are parties (and not just American ones) ready to "sponsor" a distinctly chaotic future.
Iraq, as we all know, sits on vast oil reserves that, for complex reasons, have turned out to be difficult indeed to get out of the ground and to market. Despite the fact that the Bush administration is, by prior experience, an energy administration with a geo-energy view of how our planet works, our media spent much prewar time ignoring the issue of Iraqi oil and the clear desire of administration hardliners to plant further American military bases in the heart of the energy lands of our Earth. Oil, as a subject, was largely left to the business pages, when dealt with at all during those prewar (and then postwar and then, again, war) months.
Anyway, that was then, this is now. As Marshall Auerback and Brandon Sprague both indicate, we should brace ourselves for future oil "wars" of unexpected kinds. Auerback, an international portfolio strategist, considers one of Bob Woodward's recent revelations -- that the Saudis had promised the Bush administration a positive pre-election oil surprise -- and suggests that Woodward's information, undoubtedly gathered many months ago, is at best out of date. The surprise, it turns out, may be all on the Bush administration.
thanks to Cursor
Twentieth-Century American Children's Literature
thanks to Life In The Present
enquiring minds want to know
11 Hard Questions For Bush
In which our columnist sits down with the prez for some truly tough talk. Can Dubya handle it?
2) Dubya, as you're apparently comfortable with the fact that more than 700 young U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq (over 125 this month alone!) and thousands more have been wounded and hundreds more will doubtlessly die in the coming months, not to mention the countless thousands of innocent Iraqi/Afghan civilians who've been killed, all as a result of your aggro-American policy to rid the world of all those who would stand in the way of your oily corporate stratagems, does this mean you are able to laugh in the face of death and mock the vagaries of time and fate?
Are you able, in other words, to transcend the physical body and the ego and attain a superhuman spiritual mastery of the earthly form? Are you a god? Or just a petty and small-minded warmonger controlled by thin-lipped master puppeteers? Did I just answer my own question?
thanks to Eschaton
i know i left it somewhere
recovered from a dump in auckland, new zealand
thanks to Life In The Present
fat is good
The big fat con story
Size really doesn't matter. You can be just as healthy if you're fat as you can if you're slender. And don't let the obesity 'experts' persuade you otherwise, argues Paul Campos
This, then, is the case against fat: America, we are told, is on the verge of eating itself to death. The core belief of those prosecuting this case is that the BMI tables testify to a strong, predictable relationship between increasing weight and increasing mortality. That, after all, is what most people assume when they read that medical and public health authorities have determined a BMI of 25 or above is hazardous to a person's health. This belief, however, is not supported by the available evidence.
A 1996 project undertaken by scientists at the National Centre for Health Statistics and Cornell University analysed the data from dozens of previous studies, involving a total of more than 600,000 subjects with up to a 30-year follow-up. Among non-smoking white men, the lowest mortality rate was found among those with a BMI between 23 and 29, which means that a large majority of the men who lived longest were "overweight" according to government guidelines. The mortality rate for white men in the supposedly ideal range of 19 to 21 was the same as that for those in the 29 to 31 range (most of whom would be defined now as "obese"). In regard to non-smoking white women, the study's conclusions were even more striking: the BMI range correlating with the lowest mortality rate was extremely broad, from around 18 to 32, meaning a woman of average height could weigh anywhere within an 80-pound range without seeing any statistically significant change in her risk of premature death.
In almost all large-scale epidemiological studies, little or no correlation between weight and health can be found for a large majority of the population - and indeed what correlation does exist suggests that it is more dangerous to be just a few pounds "underweight" than dozens of pounds "overweight". So, let us look at the most cited studies for the proposition that "overweight" is a deadly epidemic in America today. Anyone who bothers to examine the evidence in the case against fat with a critical eye will be struck by the radical disconnect between the data in these studies and the conclusions their authors reach.
thanks to follow me here...
The subways in New York are amazing. The subways in DC were new, clean, and large. The subways in New York were old, cramped, and dirty. I much prefer the New York subways. The sure do move a *lot* of people.
On October 27, 1904, the first of New York's subway lines went into operation. "The Centennial of the Subway" is being celebrated all year in 2004.
We arrived Wednesday night but too late to catch a ferry back to the island. Yesterday was spent trying to catch up and then jet lag did the catching up. (I still haven't unpacked.)
The trip was incredible. I have around 16 rolls of film split between 120 roll film and 35mm film. I kept a journal in a 5" x 8" sketch book. My observations and digressions run to 173 pages. I will be putting them up on a web site when I get the film processed. It may take awhile.
There were so many high points that I can't even begin to summarize them. Washington, DC, is amazing — from the help we got at the Naval Art Gallery in viewing and photographing my grandfather's paintings to photographing a name, of someone I knew many years ago, that was on the Vietnam Memorial.
New York City was totally mind blowing. We arrived at Penn Station and took the 1 & 9 train to Greenwich Village. We got off at Christopher Street / Sheridan Square. We walked towards the light and then just stood on the sidewalk and fell in love with New York. We spent 3 1/2 days wandering around the neighborhoods that my father, who died in 1972, grew up in. We made it as far north as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine that my grandfather's father-in-law built. I made pinhole photographs in Frank Loyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum on World Pinhole Day. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge.
As amazing as the places were, the people we met were even more amazing — from Seth Sobel, in Washington, DC, to Andrea Van Ronk in New York City. The whole trip was mental and physical overload. Did I say that we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked?
It's good to be back home, though. I have some stuff to take care of this morning and then regular programming will resume.