1) This is what I wrote as part of the Move-On
petition to get a good DNC chair. You too can write
the Democratic Party politburo:
Dear Party Leaders:
I don't know how you torpedoed Dean back in January,
but you did. Then you snookered us into backing the
more "electable" Kerry -- whose positions were barely
distinguishable from Bush's in terms of foreign
policy, whose campaign refused to fight in Ohio, and
whose "centrist" strategy was ultimately a bust. If
you put a DLC/McAuliffe party hack in the position of
party chair, if your party machinery inflicts another
"centrist" candidate on us in '08 -- I'm joining the
[Nader '00, Dean '04, Kerry '04 -- Nader '08?]
2) The Tale of Iraq's 'Cemetery of Books'
3) This from the Daily Kos blog, on National Guard
May the Grand Forks Herald and columnist Lloyd Omdahl
forgive this bit of infringement, as I'm posting this
column nearly in its entirety:
In February, I wrote a column upbraiding the national
planners for exploiting the National Guard in
conducting the war in Iraq [...]
For choosing Guard service as the price for their
higher education, I noted, young people were being
exposed daily to roadside bombs, rocket attacks and
sniper fire. And even though they were being
exploited, they heroically answered the call in the
face of an unjust assignment.
This February column found its way to Iraq and several
months later I received a lengthy letter from one of
the Guardsmen confirming the comments I had made.
"I hope you don't forget about us because your writing
can help people realize the reality of the situation,"
he wrote in his first paragraph. Then he went on to
explain that he had a dream of going to college and
was enticed to join the Guard because of its promise
to help finance his education.
When he enlisted, he explained, the major emphasis of
the recruiter was on the college education. Nothing
was said about the possibility of war, let alone
deployment in an optional pre-emptive action halfway
around the world.
He was assigned to traveling up and down the highways
to locate roadside bombs. It was a dangerous mission
and the equipment was inadequate. Instead of an
armored vehicle, he was assigned a heavy gravel truck
insulated with boxes of sand. Not only was he in
constant danger of running over bombs but he was a
ready target for snipers along the road.
"I told my family and friends nothing about what I
do," he wrote. "I don't want to worry them because to
me that is the worst part - having loved ones worried
When he was eligible to take leave, he declined. "We
knew everyone wasn't going to get leave so I figured I
was young with no girlfriend or real need to go home,"
he explained. "So I volunteered not to go so someone
else would have the opportunity."
With Guardsmen facing a prolonged threat to life and
limb and a denial of certain benefits, it is little
wonder that his July letter reflected a sense of
betrayal and abandonment. There was no question that
he felt the Guard was being exploited during these
months of constant danger, inadequate equipment,
extended tours of duty and logistical miscalculations.
For the Guard, service in Iraq has not improved since
his July letter. The danger appears to be greater as
insurgents continue roadside bombing and sniping.
Tours of duty have been extended time and again;
pressure tactics have been used to force
re-enlistments; troops have not been allowed to leave
when their enlistments were up.
All the while, North Dakota's political and military
leaders have been silent about these abuses. Maybe
they think that it would be unpatriotic to call abuse
for what it is. Maybe they don't want to add to the
president's embarrassment by publicly protesting.
Maybe they don't regard the situation as abuse. Maybe
they believe national defense is not their business.
Regardless of their reasons for silence, strong public
protest by the governor and the adjutant general would
lift the morale of those Guard men and women who feel
that they are being unfairly treated.
As for my July correspondent, he will not be taking
advantage of that college education he was promised.
Spc. Cody Wentz of Williston, N.D., was killed in Iraq
a few weeks ago. This column is being written to honor
his request that we not forget the Guard and to help
people understand the reality of the situation.
4) What some US service personnel are doing -- there
should be a legal support fund to help US soldiers
escape providing service for a military campaign that
remains of questionable legality under international
U.S. Army Deserter Seeks Canadian Asylum:
5) Blair Refuses to Count Iraqi Deaths:
Blair rejects call for count of Iraqi deaths
Scale of killing obscured by refusal to collect data
Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Thursday December 09 2004
General Tommy Franks, the US commander in the Iraq war
last year, spelled it out before the invasion began.
"We don't do body counts," he said, referring to the
Iraqis that might be killed in the forthcoming
His deputies were left to explain why a careful toll
of American dead was kept but Iraqi deaths went
6) Op-Ed on Blair's Refusal to Count Iraqi War Dead:
We must count Iraqi casualties
Mike Rowson and John Sloboda
Thursday December 09 2004
How many Iraqis will die today? Maybe 10. Maybe 100.
We have no way of knowing. Blair and Bush, who invaded
and occupied Iraq in order to make the world a safer
place, say there is no reliable way to count Iraqi
casualties - and so they will not try. Thus they
refuse to accord innocent Iraqis the same status as
our own dead and injured, whose names we rightly
record and honour.
In an open letter to the prime minister yesterday, 46
diplomats, academics, health experts and religious
leaders called on him to commission an independent
inquiry to count the casualties in Iraq. Blair
responded by telling the House of Commons that the
Iraqi health ministry has done the "most accurate
survey that there is". But these figures - 3,853 dead
and 15,517 injured - are not a survey, they are a
partial count covering a six-month period from April
to October this year. Even Iraqi officials acknowledge
it to be an undercount.
Iraq Body Count's ongoing tally of recorded civilian
deaths is based on official Iraqi figures, media
reports and information from aid organisations. It
does not pretend to be a complete count, but stands at
between 14,619 and 16,804 deaths.
In October, the Lancet published the results of
on-the-ground surveys which estimated the number of
civilian deaths since invasion at a much higher figure
of around 100,000. The study also reported that the
risk of death by violence is vastly higher now than it
was before the war. The authors of the study,
prominent scholars from the US and Iraq, describe
their figures as estimates, but they are based on
peer-reviewed scientific methods.
Research by the health charity Medact concludes there
has been a substantial deterioration in the health of
the Iraqi people since March 2003 and that violence
and poor access to services are creating a public
health burden of disastrous proportions.
There are other sources of information that are
collected, but not released. These are the military
contact reports sent every day by British and US
forces, which include casualty estimates. The US
classifies this information while Britain says its
figures are too unreliable to be published. Of course
military contact reports do not provide a complete
picture, partly because they only record deaths of
Iraqis in incidents involving soldiers. But they would
provide researchers with invaluable data to
cross-check against other sources. The governments of
both the US and UK should release the casualty figures
from these reports.
Tony Blair says he is committed to protecting
civilians in Iraq, as required under the Geneva
conventions, but without a casualty count we have no
means of knowing if he is keeping that promise.
Claims that figures are unreliable might be true if
they were based on only one source. We know from our
own work that a combination of methods, including
hospital reports, mortuary and other official Iraqi
records, coalition military data, media reporting and
active data-gathering on the ground, are possible. No
figures in a war zone are going to be perfect - but
that's no excuse for not trying.
· Mike Rowson is director of Medact. John Sloboda is
co-founder of Iraq Body Count
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited
7) Just as in the case of the Swiss government
Holocaust liability trial, German corporate liability
trial, [each of which have provided precedents for
Palestinian compensation claims in I believe European
courts] etc, this precedent may someday prove useful
--there should someday be a trial sueing the founders
of Starbucks, Haagen-Daaz, and other corporate
philanthropists who gave to Zionist charities like the
JDL, JNF, etc for Palestinian Americans killed either
by Israeli settlers or the Israeli army. Liability is
not necessarily and eternally a one way street:
Three U.S. Muslim charities were ordered
yesterday to pay $156 million to the parents of a
teenager from New York gunned down in a terror
attack in the West Bank.
The federal jury in Chicago awarded the
damages to Stanley and Joyce Boim, who now live in
Israel, for the 1996 murder of their 17-year-old
Earlier this month, the jury had found the
Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association for
Palestine and Islamic fund-raiser Mohammed Salah
liable for Boim's death by funding the terror group
Yesterday, the jury awarded $52 million in
damages - which were automatically tripled under
federal law - and also found a third group liable,
the Quranic Literacy Institute.
It's doubtful the couple will recover anywhere
near that amount from the defendants, but Joyce Boim
said the lawsuit was not about money.
"If I can stop one nickel from reaching Hamas
to buy bullets, to produce bombs that kill innocent
men, women and children, I will have justice for
David," she said. "It could be billions of dollars.
It's not going to bring David back."
The Quaranic Institute refused to defend
itself during the trial, and spokesman Amer Haleem
claimed religious persecution after the damages were
"They had not one bit of evidence, not one
shred of evidence against us," he said. "All they
had was the fact that we were Muslims and they used
the word terror."
8) NES department faces warring factions:
By Chanakya Sethi
Yoav di Capua sat at the head of a large table in
Jones Hall, a wood-paneled room in the building home
to the University's Department of Near Eastern
Studies. A portrait of Phillip Hitti, the man who
founded the University's Program in Near Eastern
studies in the 1920s, hung over a group of professors
and graduate students.
Given di Capua's slim, unassuming figure and soft
voice, he didn't seem to be a man who would cause much
On that day in May 2004, di Capua, an Israeli
graduate student, was taking one of his final steps
toward a Princeton Ph.D.: the oral defense of his
dissertation. It is a historiographical analysis of
native accounts of modern Egyptian history -- an
atypical approach for the Princeton NES department.
It was the end of a long, controversial tenure for
him at the University. Described by one senior NES
professor as the department's "self-anointed black
sheep," di Capua had made a name for himself by
criticizing the department's traditionalist approach
to its work. In one instance, he and several other
graduate students in 1999 protested the appointment of
an assistant NES professor, Michael Doran GS '97, to
the dean of the faculty.
Toward the end of discussion in May, as the
questioning shifted to the way Middle Eastern Studies
historians approach the region, the room exploded. Di
Capua's soft voice filled with frustration as he
yelled, "What I'm talking about is the right to write
this kind of history in the department!"
"What are you talking about!" professor Sukru
Hanioglu shouted back. The room was lined with people,
graduate students sitting on desks, professors
standing in the back. Their eyes, previously
wandering, focused. "What are you talking about?"
Hanioglu said again. "This is not the place to talk
about such things! I'm done."...
9) Here's an idea -- donate books that soldiers really
need (Chomsky, Said, etc.). The only problem with
this initiative is that it's nearly impossible to
donate books to Iraqi libraries by post: