Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Margaret Hassan from Nabil---

 I worked with Margaret Hassan in Iraq in 91-92, and

last saw her during my visit there in May 2003. This
is a strong, admirable, critical, and compassionate
person who first went to Iraq over 30 years ago. I
sincerely hope she weathers this storm, because she's
the wrong target of a kidnapping in every sense of the


Seeds, Monuments, Recruiting NCLB? ! ?

2) On the Frontlines of Globalization, Again:

"The US has been imposing patents on life around the
world through trade deals. In this case, they invaded
the country first, then imposed their patents. This is
both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani,
one of the report's authors.


New from GRAIN
15 October 2004

World Food Day: Iraqi farmers aren't celebrating

NEWS RELEASE For immediate release

When the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
celebrates biodiversity on World Food Day on October
16, Iraqi farmers will be mourning its loss.

A new report [1] by GRAIN and Focus on the Global
South has found that new legislation in Iraq has been
carefully put in place by the US that prevents farmers
from saving their seeds and effectively hands over the
seed market to transnational corporations. This is a
disastrous turn of events for Iraqi farmers,
biodiversity and the country's food security. While
political sovereignty remains an illusion, food
sovereignty for the Iraqi people has been made near
impossible by these new regulations.

"The US has been imposing patents on life around the
world through trade deals. In this case, they invaded
the country first, then imposed their patents. This is
both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani,
one of the report's authors.

The new law in question [2] heralds the entry into
Iraqi law of patents on life forms - this first one
affecting plants and seeds. This law fits in neatly
into the US vision of Iraqi agriculture in the future
- that of an industrial agricultural system dependent
on large corporations providing inputs and seeds.

In 2002, FAO estimated that 97 percent of Iraqi
farmers used saved seed from their own stocks from
last year's harvest or purchased from local markets.
When the new law - on plant variety protection (PVP) -
is put into effect, seed saving will be illegal and
the market will only offer proprietary "PVP-protected"
planting material "invented" by transnational
agribusiness corporations. The new law totally ignores
all the contributions Iraqi farmers have made to
development of important crops like wheat, barley,
date and pulses. Its consequences are the loss of
farmers' freedoms and a grave threat to food
sovereignty in Iraq. In this way, the US has declared
a new war against the Iraqi farmer.

"If the FAO is celebrating 'Biodiversity for Food
Security' this year, it needs to demonstrate some real
commitment", says Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, pointing
out that the FAO has recently been cosying up with
industry and offering support for genetic engineering
[3]. "Most importantly, the FAO must recognise that
biodiversity-rich farming and industry-led agriculture
are worlds apart, and that industrial agriculture is
one of the leading causes of the catastrophic decline
in agricultural biodiversity that we have witnessed in
recent decades. The FAO cannot hope to embrace
biodiversity while holding industry's hand", he added.

>From GRAIN Shalini Bhutani in India [Tel: +91 11 243
15 168 (work) or +91 98 104 33 076 (cell)] or Alexis
Vaughan in United Kingdom [Tel: +44 79 74 39 34 87

>From Focus on the Global South Herbert Docena in
Philippines [Tel:+63 2 972 382 3804]

NOTES [1] Visit
GRAIN and Focus' report is entitled "Iraq's new patent
law: a declaration of war against farmers". Against
the grain is a series of short opinion pieces on
recent trends and developments in the issues that
GRAIN works on. This one has been produced
collaboratively with Focus on the Global South.

[2] Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed
Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law
of 2004, CPA Order No. 81, 26 April 2004,

[3] GRAIN, "FAO declares war on farmers, not hunger",
New from Grain, 16 June 2004,

3) From the GNAA list
From: Sami Al-Banna
To: hal-tawil@hfcc.edu ; shabout@unt.edu
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2004 8:13 PM
Subject: Project to Save Iraqi Culture

To all the colleagues in the mailing list:
Please try to assist in this important project to save
the Iraqi Culture
to Save Iraqi Culture"

Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil

The US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the ensuing
conquest by the US-British forces caused Iraq to
suffer tremendous loss on all aspects: socially,
economically, and culturally. The invasion
resulted in an unprecedented pillage and destruction
of Iraqi antiquities, rare collections of manuscripts,
and other valuable artifacts. Looted also is almost
the entire collection of modern Iraqi art which was
housed at Markaz Saddam lil-Funun (National Museum of
Modern Iraqi Art) in Baghdad.

This collection is an important visual documentation
to the historical and cultural development of Iraqi
and Arab modern art. It contains magnificent examples
of the various styles, contents, techniques, and
media that characterize the rich modern Iraqi art
experience with diverse visual presentations:
political, cultural, ethnic, religious, and

For over three decades (1960-1990) Baghdad was the
center for art activities of both regional and
international nature, where Arab art Biennials,
International exhibits and conferences, and
national annual exhibit took place years round. The
results of these tremendous activities was reflected
in the richness of the priceless collection of
thousands of artworks in painting, sculpture, ceramic,
calligraphy, poster, print, and 3D forms. The
collection contains work from the late 19th century
to early months of 2003.

Starting before the second half of the twentieth
century and later years, especially during 1960-1990
Iraq rapidly developed a rich and diverse cultural
scene. For decades Baghdad was the center of bright
cultural activities that attracted artists and
intellectuals from all around the Arab world, Europe,
and the rest of the world. The outcome of those
productive years was a wealth of cultural programs,
art schools with offerings in both graduate and
undergraduate studies, galleries, and national
museums. Iraqi artists produced valuable collections
of artworks that set up an influential style in the
Arab world for years to come. Great number of art
galleries opened with around the year activities of
endless shows for Iraqi artists as well as Arab and
international artists.

The ministry of culture and information was keen to
acquire artworks and added it to the ever growing
collection of Modern Iraqi Art.

That collection was brutally looted in the aftermath
of the invasion. Currently efforts are being exerted
by many concerned intellectuals, artists, and scholars
to retrieve, restore and recover what is possible from
the collection. I recently joined Dr. Nada Shabout in
her noble task of recovering the records and
documenting that lost heritage. She has done
tremendous preparatory work to materialize the details
of this important project. We are working with the
help and support of many concerned Iraqi and Arab
intellectuals and artists to reach this goal.
Our multifaceted plan is aimed at securing, retrieving
and safeguarding what can be salvaged from that lost
Iraqi heritage. We are trying to secure funding from
educational institutions, international cultural
organizations and sympathetic individuals. Any help
in this regard is truly appreciated.

The second part of this project involves an important
portion of Iraqi culture that is in jeopardy at the
present time. While Markaz Saddam housed the entire
collection of modern Iraqi art, a considerable number
of artworks were housed in few other places, and have
not been damaged entirely. These works are found in
the following and possibly other places:

1: Saddam International Airport contains 50 artworks,
most are murals executed by prominent Iraqi artists in
early 1980s.

2: The Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad contains over 20
monumental works (painting & sculpture) and some 900
original prints distributed in the luxurious bedrooms
and suites of that hotel.

3: The Republic Palace (Saddam's Residence) contains a
museum with unknown numbers of artworks, craft, gifts,
and documents. It is a well-known fact among Iraqi
artists that a special joint committee from the
ministry of information and the palace used to acquire
artworks from major exhibitions in Baghdad for that
museum. This tradition continued for many years
(1980-1990). There is no published official record for
the art collection at the palace, but it is a sizable

4: Conference Palace, Baghdad with uncertain number of

The above mentioned four locations - with possibly
more - are currently under the US occupation
authority. Other art collections are found at
different offices belonging to the Ministry of
Culture & Information such as the Iraqi Fashion House,
and different cultural organizations.

As the country is still under occupation, it is the
responsibility of the occupying forces and the Iraqi
government - appointed or elected - to make every
effort in securing the safety of these works.

5: Public Monuments
The US-British occupiers will not allow symbols of
independence stand in their presence. Jawad Salim's
monument and Faiq Hassan's mosaic mural (in al-Tahrir
Plaza in Baghdad), both represent Iraq independence
from British colonialism in 1958 are certainly in
jeopardy. The "Shahid Monument" of Isma'il al-Turk and
Khalid al-Rahhal "Unknown Soldier" and "Victory
Monument", and many other public art monuments in
other cities will be in direct danger because of their
political iconography which does not resonate
harmoniously with colonialist mindset. These
monuments - throughout Iraq, regardless of their
quality and content - are part of the cultural history
of the country. We need to build public awareness on
these issues for their protection and that of other
cultural materials of Iraq history.

Since most of these locations have not been looted
(yet), chances are that the majority of the works are
still unharmed. There is an urgent need for action to
rescue these works of art before another wave of
chaotic events strike. It is our intention to acquire
all necessary legal advice to be able to inventory,
record and document artworks in these places. We are
in the process of consulting with legal firms to
solidify the legality of such acts and their due
process. We need to create a constructive set of
guidelines for safeguarding these works of art in
cooperation with a trusted body of Iraqi officials. We
ask all fellow Iraqi and Arab artists, scholars,
intellectuals, art collectors, gallery directors, and
supporters to assist in this noble work by providing
us with any relevant information, books, articles,
documentation, pictures, digital images, slides,
catalogs, brochures, booklets, video clips, film
footage, audio recording, and any other related useful

This is a collective voluntary effort and we need your
support. It is crucial that the project connect with
professionals in the field working in Europe, Arab
countries, Iraq, and other parts of the world that
might produce significant support to this subject.
Also please forward this message to any and all
concerned individuals, artists, and intellectuals who
might be of help. Please direct your communication and
suggestion to either me or Nada Shabout as follow:

Hashim Al-Tawil
Hashim Al-Tawil, Ph.D.
Professor & Head of Art History program
Fine Art Division
Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128-1495
(313) 845-6489

Nada Shabout, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Art History
University of North Texas
P.O. Box 305100
Denton, TX 76203
(940) 565-4027

5) No Recruit Left Behind:

Military Recruiters Demand Names Of U.S. High
Schoolers A Dream Puppet Blodspot, 10-15-4

Mother Jones tells us:

Sharon Shea-Keneally, principal of Mount Anthony Union
High School in Bennington, Vermont, was shocked when
she received a letter in May from military recruiters
demanding a list of all her students, including names,
addresses, and phone numbers. The school invites
recruiters to participate in career days and job
fairs, but like most school districts, it keeps
student information strictly confidential. "We don't
give out a list of names of our kids to anybody," says
Shea-Keneally, "not to colleges, churches, employers
-- nobody."

But when Shea-Keneally insisted on an explanation, she
was in for an even bigger surprise: The recruiters
cited the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's
sweeping new education law passed earlier this year.
There, buried deep within the law's 670 pages, is a
provision requiring public secondary schools to
provide military recruiters not only with access to
facilities, but also with contact information for
every student -- or face a cutoff of all federal aid.

Oh... so that's what No Child Left Behind means. Makes
sense now.

No Child Unrecruited:



6) No Recruit Left Behind II:

This article from startribune.com has been sent to you
by Sara.

Kim Ode: No child left unrecruited
Kim Ode, Star Tribune

It's not that I object to our kids being made aware
that military service is an option once they graduate
from high school -- they've known this ever since they
played G.I. Joe.

What I object to is our schools being strong-armed to
serve as vast databases to provide military recruiters
with our kids' names, addresses and phone numbers, or
risk losing federal funding.

And what I object to is where this new wrinkle in
recruiting is found: deep within the No Child Left
Behind act.

It's true: Irony is dead.

The No Child act blandly states that the military
recruiters should get the same access provided to
colleges and universities, or any other prospective
employer. After all, military service is a job and can
help pay for education.

Fortunately, one of its sponsors, Rep. David Vitter,
R-La., has felt less constrained about connecting the
dots. He has said that high schools receiving federal
funding must allow access because armed forces
recruiters are "sworn to protect and defend the lives
of their students and teachers."

The No Child Left Behind Act became effective in
January 2002, but little was said about this
amendment, given the greater controversies over
testing and funding. Now, though, some folks have
unearthed this provision from page 559 of the 670-page
act, not to repeal it -- fat chance -- but to alert
parents that there is an "opt-out" policy.

Here's what the act says: "A secondary school student
or the parent of the student may request that the
student's name, address and telephone listing ... not
be released without prior written parental consent."
The act also says that schools "shall notify parents
of the option."

It used to be that a school could decide whether or
not to allow military recruiters on campus. A school
used to be able to have a policy against disclosing
"directory information" to outsiders. Although it can
still have such a policy now, it must comply when the
military asks.

Schools already have quite enough to do without
getting letters from parents asking that they delete
their kids from the database. But that's how the
government, which seems to get bigger and more
meddlesome by the week, set it up.

Charles Kyte, the executive director of the Minnesota
Association of School Administrators, said he hasn't
heard much about the provision since the act was
passed, but then again, that was before the war.

When the provision was discussed, "a few of us kind of
raised our eyebrows a bit," he said. In the past, most
schools gave access to recruiters, but the act forces
all schools to comply.

"Now with everything that's transpired, all of a
sudden you have a higher concern on the part of
parents that the military is a more dangerous option
today than it was four years ago," he said.

Chances are, parents had an opportunity to keep their
children's names off the recruiters' lists while
filling out all those forms at the beginning of the
school year. The one to block the release of private
information to outsiders may not have specified the
military, he said, but that's likely the one that
schools used. He expected that most schools would try
to accommodate a parent who wants to "opt-out" now.

Kyte said he expects the issue to heat up, especially
as students grow more convinced that the draft will be

"There is sort of a symbiotic relationship between
recruiters and schools, but also a slight tension,"
Kyte said. "Traditionally, the military has
represented clean-cut men and women who provide
students with a way to get further education that they
couldn't otherwise.

"On the other hand, our young people more and more are
being put in harm's way than they traditionally were."

Our country deserves the best of defenders, and smart,
talented men and women will always enlist. So will
those who see few alternatives. But there aren't
enough enlistees, which sends recruiters to their
phones and into our schools. The government says the
improving economy is tempting young adults into
civilian jobs. Maybe. But I think it's also because
the flip side of service -- the trust that our
defenders will not be used unwisely -- has been

For American soldiers in Iraq, it's become achingly
clear that we sent them into harm's way without a good
enough reason, and without a good enough plan. For
American teenagers here, they shouldn't have to be
ambushed by their own side.

Kim Ode's column runs Wednesdays, Saturdays and
Sundays. Write to her at kimode@startribune.com or 425
Portland Av. S., Minneapolis MN 55488. For past
columns, go to www.startribune.com/ode.

7) Louisiana voting question for those in LA:

I got my absentee ballot yesterday (Metairie
registered), and am wondering what those of you who
are New Orleans area residents think. I will mail it
off on Thursday or Friday...

On the ballot:
President: No Problem There

US Senate: I'm hoping all of you vote for Arthur
Morrell, who chaired the Louisiana committee for
Howard Dean before the campaign tanked last winter.
Unless any of you argue against it, I'm going with
Arthur Morrell, and hope you are too. If you want to
volunteer for the Morrell campaign, I can put you in
touch with their folks.

LA State Amendments:

1) Right to hunt and fish: I don't understand this one
at all, as it's worded in a sense that seems identical
to current reality. I'm tending to vote for it, not
knowing what it could possibly mean really. FOR

2) homestead exemption amendment: This seems like a
complex clarification and standardization of current
practice. In the fine print, it would appear to help
the case of Civil Union partnerships to obtain
homestead exemptions. So, I'm for it unless argued
against... FOR

T-P Story on it:

3) Five points civil service preference offered for US
military veterans since 9/11. Sounds good to me.
They would get this automatically if we were
officially at war. However, since we are only
metaphysically at war, we need to put this into state
benefits through the back door. Your state police and
police officers are frequently vets anyway, why not
give them a break getting into civil service? Any
arguments against it? FOR

4) Programs to assist Louisiana farmers and fishermen
with state support and expansion of their industries,
through branding, etc...Why does this need an
amendment? Otherwise, sounds like a good idea to me.

Jefferson Parish Propositions:
1) Authority to exempt certain drilling rigs from
property taxes pursuant to... Unless there's a
compelling reason not to tax oil rigs, I see no reason
to support this. AGAINST

2) Property Tax Increase for Judicial services in
Jefferson Parish. This year I witnessed how
underfunded Orleans Parish is in the judicial field.
I support more funds for it, unless argued otherwise.

US House of Representatives:
Jerry Watts? I haven't heard of any of these people
except Bobby Jindal, who is tarred by the feather of
association with the Bush Administration. The
candidates are as follows:

Roy Armstrong, Dem
Bobby Jindal, Rep
Vinny Mendoza, Dem
Mike Rogers, Rep
Jerry Watts, Dem
Daniel Zimmerman, Dem

Any suggestions?

8) N.O. Gambit leftist political satire news analysis:


9) Here is a way to get involved with election
activism in the Battleground States. If you want to
get involved in Louisiana, email me and I'll send you
the information...


10) Petition to stop Sinclair Broadcast
Corporation from airing an anti-John Kerry
"documentary" 10 days before the election.
Learn more and sign the petition at

11) Summary of election issues online, a good roundup
of some issues & the Bush administration's state of

Aboard the good ship USS State of Denial

12) I have a wonderful interactive joke about Diebold
Corp. election machines and this election. It's too
large to clutter all of your mailboxes, but if you
want it, just email me and I'll send it as an

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