Iraq records huge rise in birth defects, the Cost of War, Continued….

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujahs homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

via Iraq records huge rise in birth defects – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 after four employees from the American security company Blackwater were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the street, with two of the corpses left hanging from a bridge. Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

The Iraq War happened.  Even when many in this country can’t remember how Wall Street destroyed the economy four years ago and are now poised to vote for a Wall Street Tycoon, err, “Job Creator, we also forget about the nearly decade long occupation of Iraq.   There’s going to be more to this story.  I’ll write about it from time to time, but if anyone wants to dedicate their lives to solving a real and horrid problem…this is a good one.

You can also continue to advocate against offensive, BASED-ON-UTTER-BULLSHIT WARS!!

The problems they cause tend to last for generations.  Generations.

If you’re wondering why I fight for peace so hard, this is reason N!.

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Keeeyyyystoooooooone!!!

A member of the House Tea Party caucus said Republicans are rallying behind Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the payroll tax cut standoff, calling him “William Wallace” in their “‘Braveheart’ moment.”

Speaking Monday on Fox News, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) suggested contrary to reports that the Tea Party wing of the party is forcing Boehner’s hand, his colleagues are actually rallying to defend the Speaker of the House. […]

“Out of 75 responses, there may have been one person that thought it was OK that we would put the fight off until two months from now,” he continued. “Everybody else said, ‘Look, this is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace. Let’s rush to the fight. Get us back to Washington, let’s get to our work and we’re doing that.””

via Daily Kos: Rep. Phil Gingrey: Payroll tax fight is GOP ‘Braveheart moment’.

Yea…so anyway…here’s the latest on the extension of the payroll tax that President Obama got for 95% of Americans (more than half of whom thanked him by thinking he raised their taxes) and is currently fighting to extend.

The Senate passed a two-month extension after the House passed a ridiculous version that included approval of the Keystone pipeline (referenced in the title), simply because Obama said he didn’t want it and would veto it.

Mitch McConnell (the Turtle or “Tortuga”), was for the plan, then figured he’d be against it.  Now the Democrats and Obama have to figure out a way to compromise, once again, with economic “terrorism”.   That is…everyone knows this extension is needed, without it, the recovery stalls even more (after being knee-capped by Republicans this summer with the debt-ceiling debacle).

So the Dems, in the objective “good for the country” sense, need to get a deal, the Republicans, once again, get the throw a gremlim in the gears, and hope nobody remembers who did it, and blames Obama for the results, in…11 more months.

IMHO, as a constant spectator of this charade, and of the American people…I’m about 67% sure this strategy is going to fail, and Obama is going to crush the R’s in 2012.   There is a sizable portion of my country (about 20%) that thinks Obama is the reincarnation of Mao/Hitler/Muhammed (the bad version)/Marx.   They can’t be reasoned with, they can’t be bought, most of them are retired or soon will be, and most of them (80% or so), will vote against Obama.   The other 20% doesn’t believe in elections anyway (but love the Constitution) and will stay away.     That’s about 16% of the gen pop against Obama.

This is a significant hurdle for 2012, but…outside of the nuts and the truly devoted, this long and what look’s to be a drawn out, if-not-totally-inconclusive, Republican primary session is going to devastate that Party.   Some of the stuff coming out of this is so noxious to most people (Newt threatening to do away with judges he doesn’t like being the latest example), that a tested and tried solution in Obama is going to look mighty appealing.

The U.S. economy is actually recovering, albeit slowly.  If the unemployment rate drops below 8%…which is entirely possible before next November, Obama is actually going to look like a “Messiah” in retrospect.

He killed Bin Laden (gave the order to do so), Kim Jung Il is gone, Kqadaffai [sp] is gone, Egypt is free (and chaotic, as freedom is), the  Iraq War is done, he was a damn Peace Prize, and looks to have some actual dividend coming from bringing a lot of peace to the world (compared to when he took office, mind you).

Against this….you have Republicans going to the wall for Big Oil.

It’s really not a tough game to call.

U.S. Occupation of Iraq More Than Doubles Poverty, Sickness — Leaves Country a Total Disaster

http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/147928

According to the U.S. Census of 2000, 80 percent of the 285 million people living in the United States are urban dwellers. Those living in slums are well below 5 percent. If we translate the Iraqi statistic into the U.S. context, 121 million people in the United States would be living in slums.

If the United States had an unemployment rate of 25-50 percent and 121 million people living in slums, riots would ensue, the military would take over, and democracy would evaporate. So why are people in the United States not concerned and saddened by the conditions in Iraq? Because most people in the United States do not know what happened in Iraq and what is happening there now. Our government, including the current administration, looks the other way and perpetuates the myth that life has improved in post-invasion Iraq. Our major news media reinforces this message.

The end[?] result of the last time we got back at “them” for 9/11.

A beautiful blonde, the CIA and America’s lies about Iraq

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article7132341.ece

I hope that film can add its unique qualities to the journalistic record on this set of events, so that Americans can truly understand one of the most important, dramatic and personally intense intersections of principle and personalities in their own recent history — a history that is not behind us but that still comes home to us, wounded or maddened or accompanied by officials bearing a wrapped flag to loved ones, week after week after week.

Should be an interesting flick. The way the press attacked Wilson, while ignoring the data (or lack thereof) was shameful, and one of their worst failures in modern history.

UPDATE:  There is also an interesting aspect of the film, in that they actually get to explore what it was that Vallerie Plame was *doing* as CIA operative.  This isn’t something Plame can talk about, and hasn’t, and isn’t something the CIA will confirm or deny.  It is only in the creative world of cinematic reality that it can be explored.

And it should not be forgotten here, a man (well, a Scooter) got sentenced to prison for doing this.  Yes, I know, Bush commuted his sentence, but even Bush wouldn’t pardon the guy.  What they did was wrong, and it was done to silence critics and facts and sell a war of agression.

Nance Offers to Waterboard Thiessen

I’m all for this.  For those that don’t know Marc Thiessen, and his defence of torture as public policy, you can see him here on the Daily Show (getting taken to the woodshed and whining about it).

Malcolm Nance comes from a slightly different background.

Here’s his view on Thiessen’s stance…

I spent twenty years in intelligence and four years in the SERE program waterboarding people before I ever opened my mouth on the subject. Marc Thiessen is a fool of the highest magnitude if he thinks he knows anything about waterboarding. His claims are based not on first-hand experience but on a classified briefing from people with an agenda of justifying what was done. That makes Thiessen into a court stenographer for war criminals rather than a person with any real claim of expertise.

Thiessen’s central purpose is apparently to glorify the most extreme practices used by the CIA in the Bush era and to argue that each of these practices, including waterboarding, is vitally necessary to our national security-even though no president used them before, and it seems that President Bush himself halted many of these practices over Cheney’s objection. We have prosecuted and convicted men for using these techniques in the past, and we were right to do so.

Thousands of American POWs died and suffered resisting torture practices that we have always called the tools of the enemy. The SERE program was designed to help them grapple with this inhumanity and retain their dignity in the face of it. Now Thiessen and his boss want us to embrace the tactics we used in that program-taken from the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge-as our own.

 challenge him to put up or shut up. I offer to put him through just one hour of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized in the Bush Administration’s OLC memos-including the CIA-approved variant of waterboarding. If at the end he still believes this is not torture, I’ll respect his viewpoint. But not until then. By the way, I can assure you that, within that hour, I’ll secure Thiessen’s written admission that waterboarding is torture and that his book is a pack of falsehoods. He’ll give me any statement I want in order to end the torture.

The full interview is here.

And Nance is right.  Thiessen would be squealing like a pig in a couple minutes.  Then he would say whatever Nance wanted him to.  That’s why “the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge” all used this technique, to get confessions.  Confessions to anything.  That’s the point of SERE, so you know what horrible things you’ll face if captured by the evil empires that use the technique, and have some defense against them (knowing is half the battle, go joe).

That someone would defend torture as useful (but only when we do it, it’s still evil for others to do so) is beyond the pale of moral reasoning, but seems to be the basis of Thiessen’s position.

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Wow, where to start with this one.  I’ve been reading a lot, as per, regarding what used to be a debate about much needed health care reform in this country.  That debate has since devolved into mad, crazy fear-mongering and nutjobbery about the creeping tide of communism/fascism/LOUD NOISES coming to our country.

A quick stat for you: here’s a nice graph of all the companies that Obama has nationalized…

OMG! The Horror!

It should also be noted that of the nationalized business assets, the leaders of each corporation went to Washington D.C. and *begged* to be nationalized.  In no case that anyone has seen has Obama, nor anyone in his administration been aggressive in this regard.  We’ve even begun to see a profit on some of the money we invested.

To compare and contrast, take a look at Hugo Chavez. You’ll also note that in the case of Chavez, and every other historical power monger, they have had no fear of loudly declaring their intentions.

Sadly, to those of the crazed and dazed right of this country, it is in fact Obama’s lack of saying he wants pull any of this crap that means he really wants to.  I know, I know, that doesn’t make any sense to sane and rational people, but that’s where we are at nowadays.

One of the major fears that opponents of health care reform (and more the point, foes of Democrats in general, as that who is really driving the “debate”) is the generalized fear of government that all Americans now seem to hold near and dear.

This fear tends to be illustrated by the mantra, “what has government ever done right?”

When I hear this, I’m always reminded of a wonderful scene from a movie about a guy who wasn’t quite Jesus.

The argument here, however, isn’t that government is the end-all, be-all solution to all problems.  No one, outside of the Hugo Chavez’s of the world is making such an argument.  The point here is simply that while often inefficient and frustrating, it’s nice to have clean water, and go the store and buy clean meat, and turn on the TV and have clean signals, and the list go on for a while.

Back to the greater point, what about totalitarianism?  This is the actual fear that many Americans have, that an all powerful government will watch their every move, torture them, re-educate them, and the destroy their economy.

The really funny thing about contemporary Republicans (not to be confused with conservatives, who have largely been left out in the cold by the extremists) is that when this was actually happening, and the government was conducting warrantless wiretaps, torturing people, and destroying the economy by borrowing a trillion dollars to conduct a war sold on lies, there come from the right a defeanening silence, if not outright cheers.

Indeed, many decided that torture was all right for their safety, and warrantless wiretaps were needed for their safety, and invading countries that didn’t attack us was necessary for their safety.   Back then (all the way back in 2008) the President needed to have all these powers and this vast leeway in order to protect the United States of America.

It was terribly frustrating to make the argument at that point that no, we really shouldn’t be starting a two-front war when the first front is stalled, and no, we really shouldn’t be torturing people, and no, borrowing money to blow stuff up was a bad idea, as anyone who stood up to this trend was quickly branded a Godless Treasonous Anti-American.   I would politely (well, relatively politely) point out that whatever powers were handed or conceded to Bush, would by proxy be handed to the next President, which at the time looked to be another Clinton.

This would generally generate a moment of pause, and then the nationalistic ferver would again take over and the “Love it or Leave it” chants would come louder.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and finally many can see how poorly it fits their conception of our nation.

So rather than deal with it, and work to get these policies revoked, they’ve instead decided that NOW it is UnAmerican to pay their taxes, and NOW it is UnAmerican to have their kids in school.   I will give Dick Cheney a bit of credit though for consistency though, he still thinks torture is awesome.  His only problem is that the Obama Administration isn’t learning the tactic and is, gasp, actually looking to prosecute some of the folks that did it.

Where can we go from here is the question that probably bugs me most.  We have an entrenched class of  nattering nabobs who have convinced nearly half of the Republican party that our President isn’t even really an American.

What can you say to the deluded that brings them back down to reality?   What can you do when evidence placed directly in front of their faces in ignored?  How can you convince those convinced they are fighting the next Hitler/Mao/Stalin to take a deep breath, relax, and use their right to vote in the next election, and actually trust in the very fiber of our Democracy and trust in the Constitution they profess to love so much?

I certainly don’t know the best answer to these questions, but luckily I can accept comments and suggestions as to the right path.  I know there is one, somewhere.

Perhaps I believe so because somewhere along the way, as I was protesting against the war, and the torture, and listened to those absolutely sure Bush would stage an attack to secure a third term, and then found them to be horribly mistaken, somewhere along that way I learned to breathe, and I learned to relax,.  And I remembered to vote for what I thought was right.

I learned that change can come.  Now that change is here, and the fear it brings came right along with it.

The World This Week, March 22, 2009

[videos forthcoming]

US NEWS

People thieving the electrons.

Obama: Economy hurts.  Duh.

Obama Budget Strategy raises questions.

New home construction gets a lift (month-to-month).

Small business help on the way.

Fed prints money like mad.

A couple economists agree that printing money is a good idea…today.

China wants a new global currency standard.

Palin to preach to choir.

McCain Twitterview a joke, a stilted lagging joke.

Feel the outrage….

….oh wait, we did that?

Probe into AIG bonuses launched.

Gassley suggest suicide for AIG execs, then back off to resignation and public flogging.

Laid off worked parades in front of AIG mansion.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan moves closer to rule of law.

Iraqi government wants heads to roll.

Dead Sea Scrolls authors existence questioned.

Georgia v. stem cells.

Pope v. witchcraft and tribalism.

Everyone of the Book (Christian, Muslim, Jew) vs teh Gays.

Stop-Loss phasing out.

Obama talks to Iran.

Iran wants more than talk.

SCIENCE/TECH

The Frogopalypse.

Veggie garden makes a return to White House lawn.

Obama gets schooled on Special Olympics and bowling.  NOTE: Bowling not a particularly intellectual pursuit.

The Great Unkowns and the Unknowables.

A Bit or Twenty About My Political Views

[this is an excerpt from a private conversation with a friend, who wish to remail anonymous, I think]

This is a much more civilzed conversation, but I really do prefer to have these conversations in public, as, you know…I’m a struggling writer. Really struggling.

To summarize…I’m not a Democrat and don’t follow their agenda. I saw Obama admitted a mistake with Dashle, which is why I like Obama. Bush couldn’t think of a mistake he made after four years…which was a sad joke.

I think both Cavuto and Olbermann are loud mouthed windbags who treat politics like college football. Cavuto is damn near retarded and Olbermann is a pompous windbag.

I enjoy watching and responding to, the Sunday morning talkers. NPR is one of the better sources of info. I usually scan Google News, which is run by an AI and then research from there to do my writing.

I don’t think News and Opinion should be mixed, which is why I think Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc. are a joke. Cronkite could say more with the raise of an eyebrow than most of these modern schlubs can say with a ten minute rant. All of them are first and foremost a BUSINESS and in the media game to make money. They are not after Truth, at all, they go after ratings, which is why they suck.

I blame Bush and Cheney for making a series of huge strategic blunders that pushed our country to bankruptcy. That was the goal of AQ, BTW, to bankrupt the country. It worked. Bush is an anti-intellectual fool who picked party over principle again and again and again. He picked image over substance and should be in jail for endorsing and pushing torture.

Morals are still important. 9/11 didn’t change that. We’ve killed tens, if not hundred of thousands of innocent people in response. That, I feel, is very immoral.

I’m against torture because I have friends in the military. I also believe in the Golden Rule, as it has been “discovered” by every major religion on the planet. If one endorses torture for others, they endorse it for their friends. I don’t want anyone tortured and think there are much better ways to get information. Study how we “interrogated” German and Japanese Generals during WWII for some good examples.

I can, and have, sat down with people, been honest with them, and have had them telling me their secrets in under 20 minutes. Torture only makes people tell their torturers what the tortoree thinks their torturers want to hear. It’s not a good avenue to get at the truth. It’s torture, and it’s wrong. No matter who does it. Jack Bauer is a fictional character and a number of lecturers at the U.S. War College had to make a public statement about it, because of bunch of keyboard commandos think we should torture more people.

It won’t work, and you also might want to read up on the Japanese we executed for war crimes after they water-boarded Americans. It’s just not right. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

As Martin Luther King said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” He got assassinated for that view.

I’m not a big fan of Clinton. He sold his soul to be President. Watch, or read “Primary Colors” to see how that worked.

I’m currently reading McClellen’s book on Bush, and consider it to be one of the more accurate readings on what went on in that White House.

I’ve also read two of Obama’s books, and consider him to be a very intelligent, very well read, and very good leader. I don’t agree with the Limbaughian traitorous stance that seems to be dominating the GOP. I also think “Joe the Plumber” is a tard and have written extensively about him.

I’m curious about your view of Islam, which I have a great deal of respect for, and am also critical of in my book.

BTW, would you like to buy a book? I hate to give my writings aways for free to people, as I believe them to have real value. I am an independent thinker, and wish to stay that way.

Regardless, I hope this finds you well. And I VERY MUCH appreciate the more respectful tone this conversation now has.

Peace,
-Roy

Music and the Economic Collapse of the U.S.

This is a pretty good example of what my book is like…my intellectual ramblings divided by popular culture references. The book is also my philosophy “dissertation”. However, unlike most phi-disses, this one was created to be understood by another with the capacity to appreciate simple culture, and not necessarily someone who has a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, physics, medicine, English, or any of the other fields which I reference in the book.

I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

The First Two Chapters Are Up

As mentioned a little while back, I am putting the blog on hold and writing a book.

O.k. I didn’t do such a good job of that (as the latest posts can testify) but that hasn’t stopped the book from coming along nicely.

They can read be read here.

I’d love to get some feedback on what I’ve done so far.  There is contact information in that post as well, if anyone wants more information.

The most of the book I am going to post online for free is the first three chapters (and very few graphs, and no appendices, which is where the pudding is, so to speak).  I am currently going between editing and writing (editing takes a lot longer).

I’ve always been a fan of the shareware model for software distribution and something of a fan of the street performer protocol as a way to make money and give stuff away at the same time.  That’s the only reason for the tease and, quite frankly, it’s high time I tried to sell a bit of my writing rather than just giving it away for free, as I have done for a good long while now.

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy it!

Throwing Shoes at Bush: The Video Game (Updated: Play as Bush and Read the News)

Right over here. {Official Game Title: That Time That Guy Threw A Shoe at President Bush: The Video Game}

Be warned however, Bush can dodge like an Agent….

Bush Can Dodge

I talked about this event, and some other stuff surrounding it, here.

[not my photoshop, thanks to the folks at Fark for teh funny]

UPDATE: Here’s one where you to play as Bush.

bOIng BoinG also has a collection of some good animated .gifs.  Gotta love the Monty Python one…

This guy has quickly become a cult hero in the Middle East, and I’m not talking about Bush.

BAGHDAD — Calling someone the “son of a shoe” is one of the worst insults in Iraq. But the lowly shoe and the Iraqi who threw both of his at President Bush, with widely admired aim, were embraced around the Arab world on Monday as symbols of rage at a still unpopular war.

In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported that a man had offered $10 million to buy just one of what has almost certainly become the world’s most famous pair of black dress shoes.

A daughter of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, reportedly awarded the shoe thrower, Muntader al-Zaidi, a 29-year-old journalist, a medal of courage.

In the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, people calling for an immediate American withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing American convoy.

“Although that action was not expressed in a civilized manner, it showed the Iraqi feelings, which is to object to the American occupation,” said Qutaiba Rajaa, a 58-year-old physician in Samarra, a Sunni stronghold north of Baghdad.

But many more expressed undiluted pleasure. “I swear by God that all Iraqis with their different nationalities are glad about this act,” said Yaareb Yousif Matti, a 45-year-old teacher from Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Mr. Zaidi, who remained in custody Monday, provided a rare moment of unity in a region often at odds with itself. Glee, even if thinly veiled, could be discerned in much of the reporting, especially in places where anti-American sentiment runs deepest.

Now I’m not at all for the anti-American glee thing and I know the right winger nutters are going to say that anyone who doesn’t want al-Zaidi executed is a terrorist, but this whole incident is just too damn funny….

…until you realize what led to the desperation…

As Mr. Bush was speaking, Mr. Zaidi rose abruptly from about 12 feet away, reared his right arm and fired a shoe at the president’s head while shouting in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!”

Mr. Bush deftly ducked and the shoe narrowly missed him. A few seconds later, the journalist tossed his other shoe, again with great force, this time shouting, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” Again, the shoe sailed over the president’s head.

It should be noted that al-Zaidi had told others of his plan to make a statement.  He even made sure to be wearing Iraqi-made shoes when this went down.

Another thing to think about is what this might be able to do for the Iraqi psyche, first tortured by Saddam and then liberated through fire by Bush.

A number of Iraqis said they were dismayed by what Mr. Zaidi had done. Ahmad Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening Council in Anbar Province, a group of tribal leaders that started a wave of popular opposition to fighters linked to Al Qaeda, condemned the move.

“The American president is the guest of all Iraqis,” he said. “The Iraqi government has to choose good journalists to attend such conferences.”

Mr. Zaidi, who has not been formally charged, faces up to seven years in prison for committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state. It was unclear whether his popularity would prompt Mr. Maliki’s government to lighten his punishment.

Mr. Zaidi’s hero status continued to grow on Monday.

In Damascus, a 34-year-old shop owner, who gave his name only as Muhammad, said he was on his way to celebrate the shoe-throwing incident with friends.

“This is like a holiday,” he said. “This is just what we needed for revenge.”

[full story]

That works for me.  Can we call it even now?  We voted him out of office (kinda, his party, and the Neocons…which were a driving force behind the reason we decided to attack a country that hadn’t attacked us), and y’all insulted him to his face, maybe we can build upon this common sense of things and create a more peaceful tomorrow.

UPDATE: The Washington Post is reporting that al-Zaidi suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding after the shoe tossing.  I know I’m in a huge minority of Americans here (as I was when trying to keep this particular war from starting), but I think a little shoe tossing can be forgiven when a fool invades your country on bad intelligence.  Bush should ask for him to be pardoned.  No harm, no foul.  At least to Bush.  Iraq is another story.

UPDATE: Really, Bush is cool with it.  Let the guy go.