Saturday, April 16, 2005

Interesting quotes

Quotes I found at the following site, many more there.

The official's heart must stand at attention before his mind.
A. A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky

The highest measure of democracy is neither the 'extent of freedom' nor the 'extent of equality', but rather the highest measure of participation.
A. d. Benoist

Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.
Abbie Hoffman

Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman.
Adam Michnik

A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai Ewing Stevenson

Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
African proverb

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.
Alan Coren

Freedom is when the people can speak, democracy is when the government listens.
Alastair Farrugia

Dictatorships are one-way streets. Democracy boasts two-way traffic.
Albert Moravia

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.
Aldous Huxley

The people is always expressive of the truth. The life of a people cannot be a lie.
Alexander Herzen

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.
Alexander Tytler

Democracy does not create strong ties between people. But it does make living together easier.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.
Alfred North Whitehead

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.
Alice Walker

Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words: I do not know.
Andre Maurois

Intellectual freedom is the only guarantee of a scientific - democratic approach to politics, economic development, and culture.
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov

We must all live so that our children do not have to pay for our deeds.
Andrejs Upits

Tyranny and despotism can be exercised by many, more rigourously, more vigourously, and more severely, than by one.
Andrew Johnson

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

If liberty and equality are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid.
Art Spander

The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid.
Art Spander

The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it.
Axel Munthe

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the
Ayn Rand

That's free enterprise, friends: freedom to gamble, freedom to lose. And the great thing -- the truly democratic thing about it -- is that you don't even have to be a player to lose.
Barbara Ehrenreich

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.
Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing.
Bernard Baruch

Those against politics are in favor of the politics inflicted upon them.
Bertolt Brecht

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always reach a wise decision. He should however believe in the necessity of accepting the decision of the majority, be it wise or unwise, until such a time that the majority reaches another decision.
Bertrand Russell

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
Bill Vaughan

We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.
Blaise Pascal

Democrats will play the old Washington game of calling reductions in the rate of growth of spending for any program a 'cut'.
Bruce Bartlett

Those wanting to improve democracy in their countries should not wait for permission.
Bulent Ecevit

Democracy means decision by those concerned.
Carl-Friedrich von Weizsaecker

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.
Charles de Gaulle

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him.
Charles DeGaulle

In a democracy everybody has a right to be represented, including the jerks.
Chris Patten

In democracy everyone has the right to be represented, even the jerks.
Chris Patten

He who strikes terror into others is himself in continual fear.

Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.
Clement Atlee

Tyrants have not yet discovered any chains that can fetter the mind.

Democracy: In wh

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Female Soldier Reporter's Iraq Blog from the Army Times

Army Times - News - More News
This one blog entry by Gina I am posting here in it's entirety so you can read the whole entry, but there are others on the site linked here and I urge you to read them.

""Military Times staff writer Gina Cavallaro and photographer Rick Kozak are in Iraq, covering U.S. military operations. Gina is filing occasional updates to this Web log.

Iraqi kids swarm when U.S. soldiers hit the streets
Baghdad —March 5

There seem to have been many photos early in Operation Iraqi Freedom of soldiers surrounded by Iraqi children, handing out candy to them, shaking their hands or patting them on the head.

Lately there seem to be fewer, perhaps because the media covering the ongoing events in Iraq can only stray so far from the safe areas without fear of being abducted. Of course, it hasn’t been the safest environment for the soldiers, either.

With all the images of spectacular car bombs, transfer of authority ceremonies and political activity, there isn’t as much time or space for the smaller touches. In fact, I can’t even count how many times I’ve gotten an earful from soldiers of all ranks about the negative coverage of events in Iraq.

The past couple of days I went on dismounted patrols with the infantrymen and tankers of 1-64 Armor in the 3rd Infantry Division, who are back in Baghdad after 18 months at home.

Out on the streets in these impoverished areas east of the Tigris River, they are like Pied Pipers, leading a trail of dozens of children behind them within minutes of arriving in a neighborhood.

I don’t think it’s because they are special soldiers, even though their mothers would say they are. I think it’s just because they are soldiers. Period. The children go absolutely bananas over them and get so close to them in such large numbers that it almost gets scary.

It’s a mixed blessing for the soldiers. While they know the presence of the kids in such large numbers can lower the threat level, and the kids sometimes tell them where the bombs are planted, the little ones are relentlessly curious, exceedingly friendly and have no clue about personal space. It can try anyone’s patience.

On one such patrol, we went into a neighborhood the soldiers call “Sh-t City,” because it is literally submerged, covered like a lake, in raw sewer water. It smells so bad there that you want to gag. Yet, here are all these children running around in bare feet after the Humvees as if they were ice cream trucks. I mean, killing themselves to catch up.

They shout “Mistah! Mistah! Mistah!” over and over again, running, smiling, waving and giving the thumbs up. The throng of children is predominantly male, because the girls mostly hang back near the gates of their homes with their mothers, who step halfway out to watch the spectacle.

These bad-ass soldiers finally stop their vehicles and dismount, pulling security on the street while their commander and his entourage go into a medical clinic to talk with the doctor there.

There they stand, tall, rifles in hand, shielded by their protective gear and dark sunglasses, scanning for danger, eyeing the men in the crowd but melting into Uncle Soldier as soon as the first kid approaches.

There must have been a hundred pre-teen children there. And, they have all these phrases they’ve learned in English, like “What’s your name?” or “Give me watch,” which they say while pointing to a soldier’s Ironman Timex. They want to know if the soldiers are married, do they have babies and are they American.

They want things, always, and they look up at the soldiers and repeat the names of what they want until they become like a swarm of flies that keep landing on your nerves. Chicken. Chocolate. Pen. Glasses. Money. Water. Camera. Chicken. Chocolate. Pen. Glasses. Money. Water. Camera.

They stand inches from the soldiers, surrounding them, staring at them and smiling, checking out their warrior gear. The soldiers try to answer them as best they can, but uttering a quick phrase in Arabic only excites the kids more. The kids comment among themselves, punch each other and laugh. And they don’t get bored. They stay and hang out, hoping to get something. They’ll even take a mark on a hand from a soldier’s pen.

When the soldier can’t take it anymore he waves his hand toward them and commands “Ishta! Ishta!” which means go away or get back. It’s like a magic wand and the kids move back in a wave. But it’s like pushing sand uphill. They just rush right back and the whole routine begins again, except now they’re laughing because it has become a game.

Everybody was standing on the block in front of the medical clinic, a piece of the street that was relatively dry, but we were surrounded by treacherous pitfalls. There was sewer water in a deep trench on one side, and a shallow lake of it on the other. On the next block was a man with a back hoe who was scooping out the foulest-smelling piles of jet black muck you could ever imagine, so everyone was concentrated on this one island of muddy asphalt when the inevitable happened. A kid went into the trench and all the other kids laughed uncontrollably.

“Oh, man,” the soldiers within my earshot muttered, and we watched the boy, who took it pretty well, try to shake off the water and the embarrassment. I guess someone must go into the trench every day. It seems unavoidable.

There wasn’t enough candy in the world to hand out to this crowd, so the soldiers left without giving them any, but the kids kept smiling and many ran after the Humvees through the rest of the neighborhood to another area that was worse.

Again, they crowded around, oblivious to the squalor around them, happy to have the U.S. troops in their neighborhood, standing too close, vying for attention.

The kids eventually do get stuff, but they don’t get it on these visits because there would be total mayhem if there weren’t enough for everyone. They will rip one another to shreds over a pen. I’ve seen it happen. So, the soldiers occasionally go out on missions where they’ll hand out things like toys or shoes.

The next day, we were in a much nicer neighborhood. Clean, dry, neat streets and tankers putting boots on the ground so they could talk to people and see how things were going. Again, the kids came out of everywhere, slowly at first, but in a short while there were dozens and they were giddy with excitement, jockeying for position to get closer to the soldiers.


But they come back. They’re hard to resist and the soldiers really do like them. One boy showed them his English study book and they read a few words together. They moved in too close and a few got slapped by other kids for reasons that are unclear to me. It was a different crowd on a different day, but it was the same crowd and always will be.

Chicken. Chocolate. Pen. Glasses. Money. Water. Camera. Chicken. Chocolate. Pen. Glasses. Money. Water. Camera.

Detainee Handling in Iraq, from DOD

Army Times - News - More News
The following article appeared in the Army Times
DoD preparing new guidelines for handling detainees
By Robert Burns
Associated Press

The Pentagon is preparing new guidelines for the proper handling of people captured during wartime, including an explicit ban on inhumane treatment.

The guidelines, which are not yet final, are the Pentagon’s attempt to establish clearer and more complete rules and lines of authority in hopes of avoiding the discipline and leadership failures that led to detainee abuse by some military members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Investigations have found that some of the worst abuse occurred at what the military calls the “point of capture,” where enemy fighters or suspected terrorists are captured in the heat of battle. Others were abused at detention centers or, in some cases, during interrogations.

“All persons detained by U.S. armed forces during the course of military operations shall be given humanitarian care and treatment from the moment they fall into the hands of U.S. forces until release,” the March 23 draft document said. It is titled, “Joint Doctrine for Detainee Operations.”

Noting that inhumane treatment is prohibited by international law and Pentagon policy, the document adds that even “military necessary” is no excuse for improper treatment of a detainee.

“Accordingly, neither the stress of combat operations, the need for actionable information, nor the provocations by captured/detained personnel justify deviation from this obligation,” it said.

On the other hand, the document says in a separate passage that the requirement for humane treatment of an “enemy combatant” — as opposed to a prisoner of war — is “subject to military necessity” — suggesting there could be circumstances in which the requirement did not apply.

The Bush administration in 2002 created the detainee category of “enemy combatant” and applied it to members or associates of the al-Qaida terrorist network and the Taliban militia from Afghanistan. The administration has said the Geneva Conventions for prisoner protections do not apply to enemy combatants, although it also has said they are to be treated humanely in all cases.

Human Rights Watch, which has been highly critical of the military’s detainee policies, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld saying the proposed new guidelines amount to an assertion that prisoner protections under the Geneva Conventions do not have the force of law.

“Human Rights Watch urgently objects to a proposed joint military policy that would formalize as U.S. military policy the category of ‘enemy combatant’ as detainees who are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions,” Kenneth Roth, the group’s executive director, wrote.

Protests mark two-year anniversary of Baghdad’s fall

Army Times - News - More News

Protests mark two-year anniversary of Baghdad’s fall

By Mariam Fam
Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Images of jubilant Iraqis toppling a 40-foot statue of Saddam Hussein and pelting it with garbage and shoes in Firdos Square defined the moment Baghdad fell to U.S. troops two years ago, a prelude to what many hoped would be democracy and freedom in a new Iraq.

Now radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is urging his supporters to mass at the square Saturday and mark the anniversary by directing anger at the U.S.-led coalition.

“The occupation forces started with this place, and now from this same place we want them to leave Iraq,” said Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Daraji, a spokesman for al-Sadr, who led uprisings against coalition forces last year.

“They have toppled Saddam and now we want them out. The situation in Iraq is going from bad to worse. The Iraqis saw no good during these two years of occupation.”

Sheik Hareth al-Dhari, the leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential group of hard-line Sunni Muslim clerics suspected of having ties to the Iraqi insurgency, also urged people to take to the streets Saturday.

“We call on all Iraqis to demonstrate tomorrow in all of Iraq’s cities against the occupation,” al-Dhari told worshippers during his Friday sermon.

Al-Daraji said al-Sadr’s supporters will demand that foreign troops leave or at least set a timetable for withdrawal. They will also call for putting Saddam on trial and freeing prisoners held in “occupation prisons,” he said.

A year ago, U.S. soldiers tore down al-Sadr posters in an otherwise almost empty Firdos Square because of a curfew imposed to prevent any gatherings on the anniversary.

This year, news of the planned protest brought a Friday attack by gunmen on al-Sadr supporters in Baghdad, killing one official and wounding two, al-Daraji said. He said al-Sadr’s office had asked Iraqi police and army to protect Saturday’s gathering.

The planned protests are a sharp contrast from two years ago, when Iraqis pulled down Saddam’s statue with the help of Marines and a small group from the Shiite majority, which was oppressed under Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime, triumphantly chanted “There is a burning in our hearts” and beat their chests with their fists.

Since then, Iraqis have lived moments of despair and others of triumph as the country witnessed a wave of crime, the bloody insurgency and the first free elections in a half-century.

While some in Baghdad plan to mark the second anniversary of the city’s fall with protests, others say the Jan. 30 parliamentary elections have made them optimistic better days may come.

“Baghdad is beautiful with its people,” said Safa Adnan, 40. “What’s important now is that we rebuild the Iraqi citizen. We want a new generation that is raised well, cultured and open to the rest of the world.”

The anniversary comes only days after legislators named an ethnic Kurd as Iraq’s interim president and a Shiite Arab as prime minister. Both men spent years fighting Saddam’s regime.

As the lawmakers met to shape Iraq’s democratic transformation, the streets and bridges that were blocked to guard the meeting served as a reminder of the perilous security situation.

Aziz Hammoud, a jewelry store owner, said the closed streets added about four extra hours to his commute. But, he added, as long as the legislative meetings give his country a new government that achieves security, he doesn’t mind the delay.

“I think the sacrifice is worth it,” he said. “We’re living in unusual circumstances now. God willing, next year things will be better.”

Zaid Baqer, 26, remembers thinking that things would get better as he watched the crowds haul down Saddam’s statue two years ago. And, to a certain extent, they did, he said.

Activities such as traveling abroad were nearly impossible for many during Saddam’s reign, Baqer said, and after the war he visited Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

“The real problem now is the security situation,” he said.

Like many in Baghdad, Baqer doesn’t stay out long after dark, in part because of an 11 p.m. curfew and also because many feel the streets are unsafe after sundown.

At Firdos Square, a green, abstract sculpture said to symbolize freedom sits where Saddam’s statue once stood, but concrete barriers topped with barbed wire guard the nearby Palestine and Sheraton hotels, home to foreigners. U.S. Humvees and Bradley armored vehicles sit inside the hotel compound.

At night, only stray dogs venture out, barking at the rattle of gunfire or the thud of a distant explosion. The only traffic is police cars passing by with lights flashing. At times, floodlights are turned on at the square, creating one of the few oases of light in a darkened city.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Introducing My Iraqi Friends New Blog

This is just a little exerpt of her first posting on her new blog. I hope you will visit and bookmark the page.

""A lot of people “accuse” me that in approaching the question of “what’s going on in Iraq??” I’m abnormally biased to the United States! As a matter of fact I’m rather realistic than biased. This reasonableness in evaluating the situation inevitably is biased; otherwise it would be mere wishful thinking or forged patriotism. Talking about America without biases in her favor is quite rejected and bitterly criticized not even in Iraq but throughout the Middle East and the whole of the Arab world. U.S. zealots have different reasons for prejudice. For an Iraqi, the initial zeal originated from a deep sense of injustice. The tyranny under which we Iraqis suffered for more than 35 years encourages us to try and find a way of survival, even if through the intervention of a third party, other than people and state. However, for those who were not directly touched by the brutalities of tyranny this is not the only reason. Personally, I love particular cultures for their own sakes. In the case of America I’m like Sinclair Lewis, the famous American writer, when he says “Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know she is better than every other country”.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Gates of hell are open in Iraq (from Bellaciao)

BELLACIAO - The gates of hell are open in Iraq - Collective Bellaciao

The US-British occupation of Iraq is poisoning all political processes in my country and across the Middle East. The elections held under the control of the occupying forces in January were neither free nor fair. Instead of being a step towards solving Iraq’s problems, they have been used to prolong foreign rule over the Iraqi people.

Only when the occupiers withdraw from the country can Iraq take the first secure steps towards peace and stability. Once a strict timetable for withdrawal is set, Iraq’s political forces could freely agree and set in motion a process of genuinely free and fair democratic elections, a permanent constitution, and a programme that meets the demands of all the Iraqi people.

The occupying powers are now following a policy of divide and rule, encouraging sectarian and ethnic divisions and imposing them on all the institutions they have created.

Incidents such as the recent kidnapping of an Italian journalist, released only to be received by a hail of bullets from the US liberators, have fuelled widespread suspicions in Iraq as to who is in fact responsible for many of the terrorist acts - kidnappings, assassinations, and indiscriminate bombing and killing -that are engulfing the whole of Iraq. These have coincided with a cover-up of significant military operations being conducted against the occupation forces across the country.

Not one of the terrorist crimes has been solved and not a single perpetrator put on trial. After each major terrorist crime, the arrest of perpetrators is proclaimed, using names and personalities spread by the US-controlled media. This media effort - which also seeks to bury the news of the destruction of entire towns, brutal night raids, kidnappings, curfews, and the detention and torture of thousands of prisoners - is overseen by the information department of the US forces, who earned the US defence secretary’s special thanks during his visit to Iraq