Weblog Archives




  Friday   June 25   2004

My move continues and it looks like it will continue for the rest of the week. No time for posting except for this little gem.


'The liberation of Baghdad is not far away'

On the eve of the so-called transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi caretaker government on June 30, former Saddam Hussein generals turned members of the elite of the Iraqi resistance movement have abandoned their clandestine positions for a while to explain their version of events and talk about their plans. According to these Ba'ath officials, "the big battle" in Iraq is yet to take place.

"The Americans have prepared the war, we have prepared the post-war. And the transfer of power on June 30 will not change anything regarding our objectives. This new provisional government appointed by the Americans has no legitimacy in our eyes. They are nothing but puppets."

Why have these former officers waited so long to come out of their closets? "Because today we are sure we're going to win."

"We knew that if the United States decided to attack Iraq, we would have no chance faced with their technological and military power. The war was lost in advance, so we prepared the post-war. In other words: the resistance. Contrary to what has been largely said, we did not desert after American troops entered the center of Baghdad on April 5, 2003. We fought a few days for the honor of Iraq - not Saddam Hussein - then we received orders to disperse." Baghdad fell on April 9: Saddam and his army where nowhere to be seen.

"As we have foreseen, strategic zones fell quickly under control of the Americans and their allies. For our part, it was time to execute our plan. Opposition movements to the occupation were already organized. Our strategy was not improvised after the regime fell." This plan B, which seems to have totally eluded the Americans, was carefully organized, according to these officers, for months if not years before March 20, 2003, the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The objective was "to liberate Iraq and expel the coalition. To recover our sovereignty and install a secular democracy, but not the one imposed by the Americans. Iraq has always been a progressive country, we don't want to go back to the past, we want to move forward. We have very competent people," say the three tacticians. There will be of course no names as well as no precise numbers concerning the clandestine network. "We have sufficient numbers, one thing we don't lack is volunteers."

"The attacks are meticulously prepared. They must not last longer than 20 minutes and we operate preferably at night or very early in the morning to limit the risks of hitting Iraqi civilians." They anticipate our next question: "No, we don't have weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, we have more than 50 million conventional weapons." By the initiative of Saddam, a real arsenal was concealed all over Iraq way before the beginning of the war. No heavy artillery, no tanks, no helicopters, but Katyushas, mortars (which the Iraqis call haoun), anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other Russian-made rocket launchers, missiles, AK 47s and substantial reserves of all sorts of ammunition. And the list is far from being extensive.

But the most efficient weapon remains the Kamikazes. A special unit, composed of 90% Iraqis and 10% foreign fighters, with more than 5,000 solidly-trained men and women, they need no more than a verbal order to drive a vehicle loaded with explosives.

What if the weapons' reserves dwindle? "No worries, for some time we have been making our own weapons." That's all they are willing to disclose.


  thanks to Steve Gilliard's News Blog

 09:09 AM - link

  Monday   June 21   2004


Ronni Bennet has been doing a series on her mother. There are four, with more to come. Do not miss them.

A mother's final, best lesson: Part 1
A mother's final, best lesson: Part 2
A mother's final, best lesson: Part 3

A mother’s final, best lesson: Part 4

A family, even one as small as mine, is an intricate web of individual and group dynamics. The complexities are bound up in family history, personal sensibilities, secrets and memories which can be both faulty and true. A family cannot be understood by friends, certainly not by strangers and is often a mystery to family members themselves, though they know in their bones their roles. It is well for outsiders to keep all this in mind.


 11:07 PM - link


Suburban Dreams

I am fascinated by the signs and symbols of contemporary life, by the relationships among people, the spaces they inhabit and their possessions. These photographs are visual explorations of people, places and things in middle-class California suburbs during the last decade of the twentieth century and the beginning of the next.

Art, age 73, and Carol, age ??


Getting Real
Photographer documents everyday life in San Francisco suburbs

Beth Yarnelle Edwards

Colby, Age 12, 2001


  all thanks to Expose

 10:59 PM - link


Juan Cole, at Informed Comment, has some of the best commentary on Iraq. This interview with Juan is a must read.

Iraq as the 51st state

ATol: Let's start with the credibility of the Iraqi caretaker government vis-a-vis the Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds, more than vis-a-vis the US and the UN. Virtually everyone in the Sunni triangle and also in the Shi'ite south used to refer to the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) as "the imported government". Will the same happen again to this American face of an Iraqi government?

Juan Cole: Everybody knows it's an appointed government. It doesn't spring from the rule of the Iraqi people. Grand Ayatollah [Ali
al-]Sistani has issued a fatwa recently in which he openly said that. His view in this matter will be widely shared. It's unfortunate that the Iraqi prime minister should have been a known CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] asset. I don't think that it changes anything. The IGC, as you said, was seen as a puppet council by many people. There's much more continuity between the IGC and this government than most people seem to realize. It's pretty much the same cast of characters - either with regard to people who actually sat at the council and persons who represent factions who had a seat in that council.

ATol: What are the implications of what you're saying for the Iraqi street?

JC: That nothing really has changed. These people are not getting anything like full sovereignty. I think it is a publicity stunt - without substance. The real question for a lot of Iraqis is not so much if it's credible or not, but if it can accomplish anything for them. Since the Americans dissolved the Iraqi army, since it's not entirely clear how do you get an Iraqi army back, one can be pessimistic ...


  thanks to Antiwar.com

Here is a good look at what the reality of sovereignty in Iraq will really mean.

Tomgram: Schwartz on symbolic sovereignty in Iraq

After weeks of contentious negotiation, the UN Security Council unanimously passed the fifth version of a U.S.-Great Britain resolution designed to confer legitimacy on the newly formed Iraqi interim administration, and declaring that its June 30th launch would involve a transfer of "full sovereignty." However, the notion of "Iraqi sovereignty" can't be anything but a fiction, not only during the interim administration, but well past the projected December, 2005 date when an elected government is scheduled to take over.

In his new book Mission Improbable, sociologist Lee Clarke discusses what he calls "symbolic plans"-- programs of action that, as he said recently in an interview in the Harvard Business Review, "look good on paper but can be worse than useless when push comes to shove." Such plans, however carefully written and however sincere their authors, can best be described as "fantasy documents". The current commitment to give the Iraqis "full sovereignty" is, by Clarke's definition, a "symbolic plan," and the UN enabling resolution is a "fantasy document" of the first order.

For a government to have sovereignty, it needs three things: a monopoly on the legitimate means of coercion; the material capacity to sustain a country's social and economic infrastructure; and an administrative apparatus capable of overseeing and administering policy. By these measures, the U.S. will retain sovereignty as long as the U.S. maintains its military, monetary, and administrative domination of the country.


Sy Hersh broke My Lai and Abu Ghraib. This is even bigger. This is so stupid.


A former Administration official who had supported the war completed a discouraging tour of Iraq late last fall. He visited Tel Aviv afterward and found that the Israelis he met with were equally discouraged. As they saw it, their warnings and advice had been ignored, and the American war against the insurgency was continuing to founder. “I spent hours talking to the senior members of the Israeli political and intelligence community,” the former official recalled. “Their concern was ‘You’re not going to get it right in Iraq, and shouldn’t we be planning for the worst-case scenario and how to deal with it?’”

Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, who supported the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, took it upon himself at this point to privately warn Vice-President Dick Cheney that America had lost in Iraq; according to an American close to Barak, he said that Israel “had learned that there’s no way to win an occupation.” The only issue, Barak told Cheney, “was choosing the size of your humiliation.” Cheney did not respond to Barak’s assessment. (Cheney’s office declined to comment.)

In a series of interviews in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, officials told me that by the end of last year Israel had concluded that the Bush Administration would not be able to bring stability or democracy to Iraq, and that Israel needed other options. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government decided, I was told, to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel’s strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with Iraq’s Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. Several officials depicted Sharon’s decision, which involves a heavy financial commitment, as a potentially reckless move that could create even more chaos and violence as the insurgency in Iraq continues to grow.

Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.


  thanks to War and Piece

Riverbend from Baghdad...

Excuses, Excuses...

I have had neither the time, nor the inclination, to blog lately. The weather is, quite literally, hellish. The heat begins very early in the morning with a blazing sun that seems unfairly close to our part of the earth. You'd think, after the sun has set, that the weather would be drastically cooler. This is not the case in Baghdad. After the sun has set, the hot sidewalks and streets emanate waves of heat for several hours, as if sighing in relief.

The electricity has been particularly bad these last two weeks in many areas. For every four hours of no electricity, we get two hours of electricity. And while we should be taking advantage of these two hours to do such things as wash clothes, get the water pump going and blog, we find ourselves sitting around in front of the air conditioner for a couple of hours of bliss, procrastinating and making empty promises to no one in particular.


Two excellent posts on life in Baghdad by Dahr Jamail.

Beirut, Iraq

Dr. Faiq Amin, the manager of the Medico Legal Institute (ie, the Baghdad morgue), told me a couple of days ago that their maximum holding capacity is 90 bodies.

Since Janurary an average of over 600 bodies each month have been brought there. Of these, at least half have died of gunshots or explosions. He also pointed out that these numbers do not include the heavy fighting areas of Fallujah and Najaf.

In addition, Dr. Amin said, “We deal only with suspicious deaths, not deaths from natural causes.”

The crime rate in Baghdad is out of control. According to Dr. Amin, this current rate of bodies brought to the Baghdad Morgue is 3-4 times greater than it ever was during the regime of Saddam Hussein.


Hep E on 'Vietnam Street'

I haven’t slept very well the last couple of nights, as the growing anxiety of car bombs has me waking at the smallest noises outside my window nowadays.

Dave was typing on his computer as I walk past him to the kitchen to make some coffee at 8:15 this morning and a huge explosion rumbles down the street near Tharir Square.

“Morning, man,” I said. “Morning,” he replied as we both stare at the huge, brown mushroom cloud that rises above the buildings out our window.

Our daily car bomb viciously welcomed another day of this wretched occupation of Iraq.


And some things just seem to repeat themselves repeat themselves repeat themselves.

Iraq, 1917

They came as liberators but were met by fierce resistance outside Baghdad. Humiliating treatment of prisoners and heavy-handed action in Najaf and Fallujah further alienated the local population. A planned handover of power proved unworkable. Britain's 1917 occupation of Iraq holds uncanny parallels with today - and if we want to know what will happen there next, we need only turn to our history books...

On the eve of our "handover" of "full sovereignty" to Iraq, this is a story of tragedy and folly and of dark foreboding. It is about the past-made-present, and our ability to copy blindly and to the very letter the lies and follies of our ancestors. It is about that admonition of antiquity: that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. For Iraq 1917, read Iraq 2003. For Iraq 1920, read Iraq 2004 or 2005.

Yes, we are preparing to give "full sovereignty" to Iraq. That's also what the British falsely claimed more than 80 years ago. Come, then, and confront the looking glass of history, and see what America and Britain will do in the next 12 terrible months in Iraq.


 10:43 PM - link

work, work, work, work, work

I've got to run off to work. I've got some excellent Iraq links I'll be putting up tonight. And some other stuff.

 08:47 AM - link


The World Record SkyCycle

Wahoo! again, the newly modified SkyCycle rode like a dream! This is actually the first time I rode the bike since I cut the frame - I thought it would be more fun to wait until the day of the record attempt before I actually rode the bike. Now this thing is tall! Riding this bike took some nerve, as it is now exactly twice the height of the first version, SkyCycle one. I rode the bike around for 20 minutes as four reporter took video and photos for the television news and newspaper - something that is necessary for documenting a world record attempt.


It's lunatics like this that give me some encouragement in the belief that not everyone in this world is crazy. This guy certainly has his priorities in the high....er, right order. I found this link at a site that j p sent me...

Information Junk

Information Junk has lots of bicycle links and some other junk. Where else would I learn that Vinokourov and Beloki are out of this year's Tour de France? That's big news for Lance Armstrong as he goes for an unprecedented 6th Tour win. Yes, the Tour de France is coming up. I'd better start paying attention.

The above links are at the BBC's excellent Cycling section where we learn that Jan Ullrich has taken the Tour de Switzerland. A fit Ullrich is not good news for Lance. A fit Ullrich is, however, good news for the Tour. Race on!

 08:26 AM - link

torture, inc.

This won't hurt much
by Terry Jones

For some time now, I've been trying to find out where my son goes after choir practice. He simply refuses to tell me. He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.

Now it may be a free country, but if people start going just anywhere they like after choir practice, goodness knows whether we'll have a country left to be free. I mean, he might be going to anarchist meetings or Islamic study groups. How do I know?

The thing is, if people don't say where they're going after choir practice, this country is at risk. So I have been applying a certain amount of pressure on my son to tell me where he's going. To begin with I simply put a bag over his head and chained him to a radiator. But did that persuade him? Does the Pope eat kosher?

My wife had the gall to suggest that I might be going a bit too far. So I put a bag over her head and chained her to the radiator. But I still couldn't persuade my son to tell me where he goes after choir practice.

I tried starving him, serving him only cold meals and shaving his facial hair off, keeping him in stress positions, not turning his light off, playing loud music outside his cell door - all the usual stuff that any concerned parent will do to find out where their child is going after choir practice. But it was all to no avail.

I hesitated to gravitate to harsher interrogation methods because, after all, he is my son. Then Donald Rumsfeld came to my rescue.


 07:58 AM - link

flyer art

Flyers and Graphics


  thanks to Information Junk

 07:53 AM - link

saudi arabia

Saudi implosion?
by Helena Cobban

How worried should we all be about the implosion of state authority in Saudi Arabia? Personally, I think we should all be very worried indeed:

The Saudi authorities have been trying since last Saturday to locate kidnaped American helicopter technician Paul Johnson, without success. On Tuesday, his kidnappers issued that grisly video showing him quaking in fear while his captors spelled out their intention to murder him Friday if the Saudi authorities don't release a list of Qaeda prisoners.

This, coming in the wake of the past two months' bombings against residential compounds housing foreign contractors, and other anti-foreigner actions in the Kingdom

Not surprisingly, foreign contract workers have been leaving the Kingdom in droves. In an evident vicious-cycle effect, this exodus is itself impacting the Kingdom's ability to provide/ensure basic public security, given the large role foreign contractors play in supervising essential elements of the internal-security system.


 07:39 AM - link


People of my Town

People of my Town is a series of forty small sized colour photographic portraits of people from Varena. Their professions seem antiquated, strange and curious: baker, beekeeper and poet.

Hunter 1


  thanks to Conscientious

 07:34 AM - link


Empire Notes

The 9/11 Commission's report promulgated this morning, Staff Statement 17, Improvising a Homeland Defense, is an absolute must-read. It is a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow reconstruction, based on a great deal of research, of the events of that fateful morning. And it is absolutely gripping.

I'll just outline the important points, but you really should read the whole thing word for word.

Ever since 9/11, there have been some persistent questions. How could the same Air Force that was able to lay waste to all of Serbia without incurring a single casualty be unable to defend against these attacks? In particular, how is it that even the third plane, which hit the Pentagon, was not intercepted? Sending up fighters to escort a plane that is acting suspiciously is fairly common procedure, even for much lesser incidents.

NORAD, which is responsible for air defense for the continental United States, is just a shell of its former self. The whole 3,000,000 square miles is defended by seven sites, each of which has two fighter planes on call. That's right -- 14 fighter planes are the first line of defense of the country against attack from the air. Contrast that with the 655 U.S. fighters involved in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (not including the numerous other planes -- bombers, etc. -- or the planes from other coalition members) and you get a good sense of just how much of "defense spending" goes to defense.


14 planes! I think it's obvious that our military doesn't think there is any threat from any other country. So why do we need a military? Not for defense. I propose that we return to the original name of the Department of Defense — the War Department.

 07:24 AM - link

  Sunday   June 20   2004


I was shocked at the exterior condition of Wright's Guggenheim, on my recent trip to New York. I feel much better to see it's being taken care of.

Guggenheim Reviving Its Main Asset: Itself

After 45 years the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright's soaring spiral that has become one of Manhattan's greatest tourist attractions, will undergo a major facelift. And while it has good bones, like many Wright buildings the Upper East Side landmark is plagued with cracks, leaks and corroding surfaces.


  thanks to reenhead

 11:39 PM - link

the temperature at which freedom burns

'Fahrenheit 9/11' on the Hot Seat

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 won't rake in as much money as Shrek 2, the Spiderman sequel, or the latest installment in the Harry Potter saga, but it could make its mark on the November presidential election. And that's what Team Bush and their right-wing surrogates are concerned about. Worried that Moore's new film, Fahrenheit 9/11 -- fresh off its award-winning debut at Cannes and set to open in hundreds of theaters across the country on June 25 -- will be a political poison pill for the Bush campaign, conservatives have launched a preemptive strike aimed at discrediting Moore and bullying a number of big movie chains into not running the film.


 11:32 PM - link


Green Hummer Project

This is the perfect SUV.

Our SUV is healthy, friendly, non-polluting, simple, inexpensive, fun, and socially responsible.

There are no black tinted windows to hide us from view. No air conditioning to further isolate us from the outside. No gas tank to fill and fill and fill. No greenhouse gasses pouring from the exhaust pipe. No frustration, no yelling, no honking, no road rage. No clocks to set, no alarm to annoy, no menus to scroll through. No video game system, DVD player, or GPS system. No "we own the road", "get out of our way", "don't slow us down" mentality.


  thanks to J-Walk Blog

 11:27 PM - link

father/moving day

I met two out of my three kids (Jenny and Robby) for breakfast this morning. My third (Katie) is visiting in Louisiana and she called me this afternoon. Breakfast also included two out of my three grandkids (Robyn (5 yrs) and Evan (5 wks). My third (Mike) is also visiting in Louisiana. Then Jenny and Robby came over and we moved my two biggest pieces over to Zoe's (Soon to be Zoe and Gordy's). Good time with my kids. But I'm getting too old for this moving shit. I should be out by the weekend. Then we get to clean. Fun!

 11:14 PM - link