Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Trying to Simplify
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Same Story, Different President?
BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Life as 8-year-old Razia knew it ended one March morning when a shell her father says was fired by Western troops exploded into their house, enveloping her head and neck in a blazing chemical.And I wonder...
Now she spends her days in a U.S. hospital bed at the Bagram airbase, her small fingernails still covered with flaking red polish but her face an almost unrecognisable mess of burned tissue and half her scalp a bald scar.
"The kids called out to me that I was burning but the explosion was so strong that for a moment I was deaf and couldn't hear anything," her father, Aziz Rahman, told Reuters.
"And then my wife screamed 'the kids are burning' and she was also burning," he added, his face clouding over at the memory.
The flames that consumed his family were fed by a chemical called white phosphorous, which U.S. medical staff at Bagram said they found on Razia's face and neck.
It bursts into fierce fire on contact with the air and can stick to and even penetrate flesh as it burns.
White phosphorus can be used legally in war to provide light, create smokescreens or burn buildings, so it is not banned under international treaties that forbid using chemicals as weapons.
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?
Saturday, May 02, 2009
I Love This Man
Thank you to Thomas for the transcript of Frank's speech.
I just tried to email Barney Frank in order to thank him, but he's only accepting emails from his constituents. Bummer.
Labels: Gay Rights
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Part We Play in the "Drug Cartels"
Americans also have a hefty demand for Mexican beer, but there are no "Mexican beer cartels." When Obama visits France, he doesn't consult with politicians about "wine violence." What's happening on the Mexican border is prohibition-caused violence.
Right on, John!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Is Peace Becoming a Popular Concept?
Never, in the 3 1/2 years that we have stood at this corner, have I heard so many horns honking in support of peace. People were SMILING. A lot! People were waving and peace signing and thumbs-upping. It was amazing and uplifting.
Did something happen to cause this? Something that I missed in the news?
When was the last time that you saw smiles on the faces of most of the people driving down the street?
It was beautiful.
Labels: Women in Black
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
How Would You Spend It?
This request for U.S. spending in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan has a 20:1 ratio of military to nonmilitary expenditures. $75.5 billion would go to support military operations, while only 3.7 billion would go to nonmilitary assistance.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. spends twenty times more on military operations than on development. The U.S. military currently spends $35 billion a year in the country, nearly $100 million a day: yet USAID spending for 2008 was only $1.6 billion, some $4.4 million a day. A RAND Corporation report says that there is only a 7 % chance of military success in Afghanistan.
Military solutions aren't working. Instead we should be funding refugee assistance, Iraqi-and Afghan-led development, and diplomacy.
USAID Country Profile: Afghanistan: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADN479.pdf
Caught in the Conflict, A briefing paper by eleven NGOs operating in Afghanistan, April 2009: http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/Afghanistan_CaughtInTheConflict.pdf
RAND Corporation report: How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering Al Qaeda. RAND, 2008: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/index1.html
Supplemental Funding Breakdown: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/budget_amendments/supplemental_04_09_09.pdf
Thursday, March 12, 2009
That is one message that I heard from Michael Schwartz, author of War Without End, when he participated in the discussion on Lessons From Iraq and the War on Terror this past Thursday at the University of Colorado, Denver campus.
(Wasn't that a lesson that we were supposed to get, on the individual level, in Elementary School? At what point do we drop the lessons and pick up the bombs?)
Schwartz also brought up the point that I have heard several times before:
I wanted to write about the thoughtful discussion that was held on the University of Colorado at Denver campus this past Thursday, but I've found that I can't. I took pages and pages of notes. I also took mental notes of my impressions and feelings about what was said and how it was said. A few years ago, I would have written an article from my notes, but something is blocking me right now and I'm going to listen to it.
The people from the University of Colorado at Denver who created this event were kind, wonderful people and it was a great experience to work with them. They brought speakers, students, and the community together for a much-needed discussion regarding the U.S policy in Iraq and the world.
I enjoyed hearing from each of the speakers, and I learned a lot from both Mr. Schwartz and from the Director of Homeland Security. I could see how, if I were in the shoes of Mr. Recca, Director of the Center of Homeland Security in Colorado Springs, I would see the world the same way that he does.
It was all good. I wish that you could have been there.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
What I Learned at Eyes Wide Open
It was about 20 degrees out when we set up the Eyes Wide Open exhibit at the Auraria Campus which serves three schools: Metropolitan State College of Denver, the University of Colorado at Denver, and the Community College of Denver. It never got really warm all day and I am still frozen to the bone.
One of the first visitors that I interacted with at the exhibit was angry. I never figured out what he was angry about, but he was a veteran and he needed to tell his story. I get that. So I listened. And I learned some things. Connecting with that man made all of the lugging of boots and shoes worth it.
But there was more.
We have a sign about the veteran suicides and we place a pair of boots that have been painted white in front of it. These boots represent all veterans who have committed suicide while in the service or afterward. We will never know the number of people this one pair of boots represents. One young man was very, very touched that we remembered those who don't count in the casualty statistics. His friend, an Iraq war vet, killed himself a month ago. His brother, another vet of this insane war, has lost his home and his marriage because of his violence toward his wife.
War is an atrocity that reverberates through families and communities, and the damage will last for generations. How can we do this to ourselves?
I saw another man bent down for a long time in front of a pair of boots . I knew that he must have known the soldier represented by those boots. I heard his sniffles. He tenderly lined up one boot with the other. When he finally left the boots, I asked him if he knew people who had been killed in Iraq. That's when the stories came. The young soldier who was represented by those boots had died only a short time after turning 18. The two were good friends. The man I spoke with was traveling behind the vehicle carrying his friend as it exploded, killing all inside.
There is a tradition in the Army that I still don't understand completely, but soldiers, after a certain amount of combat duty, may be awarded spurs. It is a high honor. At another point, they may be awarded a Stetson hat. These honors come from the tradition of the Calvary. The man that I was just writing about, whose 18-year-old friend died two vehicles ahead of him, had earned two pairs of spurs and a Stetson. While we all shivered among the boots and shoes, he had his girlfriend bring a pair of his gold spurs and he placed them on the boots of his departed friend. It was stunning.
4,257 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqis.
Isn't it interesting how sadness is so much more bearable when there are more shoulders to help carry the burden?
I hope to have photos from today soon.
I found some information on spurs and Stetsons here.