Monday, July 31, 2006

Blogger Round Table Update

A little while back, I tried to 'round up' some bloggers from Israel, Lebanon and Gaza, in an attempt to go back to the original purpose of this blog which was to get discussion going between people from different cultures on issues that they'd lend their own perspectives to.
A week or so ago, by suggestion of Jonathan (Intellect or Insanity), someone from an Israeli online news site interviewed me by email, where I put out the request for participation. I received more hits and a few offers for participation (thank you) but naturally, the key ingredients are still missing: bloggers from Lebanon and Gaza. I do have two Israeli participants but naturally, they are not interested in discussing amongst themselves.

I am putting out a request (again) here for referrals and/or suggestions. This is a tough time to approach people and at this point, people might be raw from the intense situations they are in right now. I can wait. But part of me does not want to. I will tell you this; the round table is not only for opening each others' eyes, but to facilitate solutions. It can't get any more populist than this. So let's try again and make the blogosphere work for what 'it' does best: communicate.
direct email:

thanks guys!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel: WITNESS!

The rock singer Peter Gabriel founded the organization WITNESS:
Gabriel came up with the idea for Witness in 1988, while he was on a world tour sponsored by Amnesty International. "I met, for the first time, many victims of human rights abuses," he said in a recent e-mail interview. "There were people who had suffered all manner of tortures, those who had seen loved ones murdered in front of them and many whose relatives had been 'disappeared.' I was appalled by everything that I was learning, but was just as shocked to discover how often the perpetrators avoided prosecution and successfully buried their atrocities. Although written reports were often published, they often seemed impotent, leaving justice undone and many activists and victims very isolated."

Gabriel had a video camera with him on the trip, and he hit on the idea "to arm the activists with cameras that they themselves would operate" in order to document abuses. He sought funding for the project until 1991, when amateur video footage of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles police officers proved how potent a tool for change video could be: Soon the King footage was ubiquitous, sparking a national discussion of racism and police brutality. With seed money from the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, Gabriel set up Witness under the umbrella of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
Since 1996 Witness, which occupies the second floor of a loft building in downtown Manhattan, has been a full-service organization for its partners. It provides not only cameras but training and assistance in editing footage and in creating game plans for getting it seen, whether in a full-blown TV documentary or as streaming video on the Witness Web site. This year it has given cameras to groups in India, Romania, Gambia, the Philippines and Palestinian communities of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and trained groups in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Here is one example: OUTLAWED:Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror'

Thank you Mash for posting this during the Blogathon 2006, and sharing the video with me.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Saturday; The torture Blogathon

Proceeds to Amnesty International/USA. I will be blogging for a few posts, and Heathlander will be pulling a 24 hour/48post run! Good luck Heathlander! So please check out bloggers against torture where you will find many familiar 'faces' blog for 24hrs, sharing Heathlanders' load with one or more posts. I have committed myself to 4. BLOGAGAINSTTORTURE.BLOGSPOT.COM
And now I leave you with something that Jews, Muslims and Christians, (and everyone else!!) can agree on; the humour of Mr. Bean at Church!

Have a good weekend ya'll!

A little good news today

I found this by way of Mash:

Report: First contacts made between Israel, Hizbullah
Al-Hayat reports that Germany, Red Cross mediated initial contacts between Israel and Hizbullah aiming towards agreement to end fighting in north and exchange prisoners. Hizbullah still refuses to reveal details on welfare of hostages
Read the FULL article
Meanwhile, the other kidnapped Israeli soldier is alive as well:
The abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is alive and is being treated as a prisoner of war, the Hamas political leader, Khaled Meshaal, said today.
Speaking at a high-security press conference in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Mr Meshaal said Corporal Shalit would be released in return for the release of some of the 9,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons
Read the FULL story
Let's hope the face saving on both sides is not going to harm them after all that!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Update! Jonathan's post on his visit to Israel's Parliamentary Committee

A few days ago, I relayed Jonathan's request for input for his meeting with an Israeli Parliamentary Committee. When he tried to post it, apparently he experienced a hacker problem and asked me to post it on my blog instead. This is what he had to say:

Everybody wans to talk, no one wants to listen

Parliament committees are the best; They are a gathering of experts in their field, coming to help the legislator to deal with issues they are not acquainted with. That is why when i came yesterday to the special parliamentary committee, i was certain that i will not fall on deaf ears, and i might have a way to persuade them that peace is the way, and that the internet is discourse.

Although i did my best, the committee was eager to hear about how Israel is dealing with Hasbara (a word why literally translates to Explination but is closer to Information, Public Relations and Propaganda) on the web. They mostly wanted to hear how are we winning in surveys on major websites and why everyone, besides the United States, hates us. I came to talk about what are the Lebanese doing and what can be gained from cooperation with them, they wanted to hear about literal violence.

Even Nir Ofir from Tapuz, which offered Lebanese to Blog on their website, didn't have the chance to explain about their actions, but only to hear again and again questions phrased like We are the ones who hold technology, how come we aren't winning the war on the net? I don't think we should Win the war on the net, but we should end it.

Even the Israeli Hasbara couldn't explain why UN officials were killed in lebanon without any cause, and rumors are that the UN notified Israel about their location and requested them not to bomb.

I'm getting sick of this war, soon i'll start protesting against it, and not only think that we should end it by disarming Hizbullah

I sense that Jonathan was not only tired but a bit disappointed to say the least. I keep thinking of Yes Minister or Yes Prime Minister, where are the Youtube video's of them that describe politics so well? Universally. Yes, universally.

No we can't have alphabetical seating in the abbey, we'd have Iraq and Iran next to each other, plus Israel and Jordan all sitting in the same pew. We'd be in danger of starting World War III. I know Ireland begins with an I but no. Ireland doesn't make it any better, Ireland doesn't make anything any better.

- Bernard (on phone), A Diplomatic Incident

Letter from an UN Military Observer in Lebanon

Thanks to KT for providing this link!
CTV Canada received this email from Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener. Major Hess-von Kruedener is suspected to be one of the four UN observers who died after an Israeli aerial precision-guided bomb hit their post. (note, I saw postings on his supposed confirmed death but could not find any sources to back that up) This is what the Major wrote about a month before:

I have been here for nine months of a one-year tour of duty. Since I have arrived here in Lebanon, this current incident is the fourth I have seen and by far the most spectacular and intensive.

The first was 21 Nov 05, when the Hezbollah tried to capture IDF soldiers from an IDF observation position overlooking the Wazzani river near the town of Ghajjar on the Blue Line. This action was unsuccessful and resulted in the deaths of the Hezbollah raiding force.

On 01 Feb 06, a young shepherd boy was Killed by an IDF patrol near an abandon goat farm called Bastarra. Hassan Nasrallah (note: Hezbollah's leader) vowed that there would be consequences to this action. Team Sierra was tasked on 2 Feb 06, to assist in the investigation of the incident, and we sent one team to do so while the other team conducted its normal mobile patrolling activities.

On 03 Feb 06, a limited engagement took place initiated by the Hezbollah on several of the IDF defensive positions located in occupied Lebanon.

Then on 28 May, the Islamic Jihad (PLO) fired rockets from South Lebanon, into Israel, which elicited an immediate aerial bombardment of positions near our patrol base and in the Bekka valley.
Team Sierra is currently observing both IDF/IAF and Hezbollah military clashes from our vantage point which has a commanding view of the IDF positions on the Golan mountains to our east and the IDF positions along the Blue Line to our south, as well as, most of the Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol Base. It appears that the lion's share of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in our area. On the night of 16 July, at 2125 hrs, a large firefight broke out between the Hezbollah and the IDF near a village called Majidyye and lasted for one hour and 40 minutes.

Read the FULL article.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Freedom of Speech, anyone?

This time, we can blow a communal raspberry at the Democrats for wanting to disinvite Maliki, Iraq's Prime Minister, to speak in Congress. Maliki spoke out against Israel and lo and behold, the coffers of the Democrats rattled and rinkled and demanded they'd make some noise. Considering the international community's stance towards Israel's engagement in the recent conflict, I guess no one better be invited to speak in Congress as well. I guess they have to be seen 'working' for their money. Excerpt:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was joined by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin Tuesday in revealing a letter to al-Maliki asking him to denounce Hezbollah.

"Your statements are very troubling. Your failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raise serious questions about whether Iraq under your leadership can play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East," the letter reads. "It is imperative that the U.S. Congress and the world know immediately whether you support or condemn Hezbollah's acts of terrorism."

"Addressing a joint session of Congress and standing at the speaker's podium is a high honor. It has been bestowed upon those who have embraced fundamental values of liberty and freedom," Reid said.

Schumer and Durbin stopped short of saying they would boycott the joint address to Congress, indicated they would strongly consider not attending.

Reid said he would likely attend since he is the Democratic leader of the Senate, but it is a "matter for each senator" to decide whether to attend. Durbin and Schumer agreed, adding that the term "boycott" suggested an organized effort when in fact senators will make a personal decision whether to attend.

If you are not with us, we'll punish you anywhich way we see fit? Pulleez.. Click on quote for the full article.

Remember Cpt. Shalit?

I hope the young men will come out of this relatively unscathed, but apparently, he's still alive. That's one good news. Mahmoud Abbas has been brokering his release but there are some obstacles:
An adviser to Mr Abbas told the Guardian that all Palestinian politicians were united on the need to free the Israeli soldier and stop all violence in Gaza, but the obstacles were the Israeli government and the Hamas leadership in Damascus.
"The problem is that both Islamic Jihad and Hamas have to seek the advice of their political bureaux in Damascus and we are waiting for their response," he said.

...the Gaza crisis was quickly overshadowed by Hizbullah's attack on Israel's northern border. The depth of the crisis in Lebanon has reduced the pressure on Gaza and made Israel more amenable to a solution, according to Mr Abbas's aide. Earlier this month, Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel's internal security agency, Shin Bet, met Mr Abbas in Jordan.
According to the aide, Israel is willing to release Palestinian prisoners in return for Cpl Shalit but insists the exchange will not be simultaneous and its release of prisoners will be described as a "goodwill gesture" and not as a direct exchange
This has been accepted by Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, and the Hamas political movement but not by Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader in Damascus. Mr Meshal wields considerable power because he controls funds donated by Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. The military wing of Hamas, which is holding Cpl Shalit, is particularly dependent on the money from Mr Meshal.
Mr Meshal is susceptible to pressure from his host, Syria. "It appears that Syria's main concern is the investigation into the murder of the Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. If Syria could be assured that the investigation does not continue, there are indications that Syria would be willing to be helpful on many issues, not just the release of Israeli soldiers," Mr Abbas's aide said.

Thanks to Kel for posting this first, read the full article HERE.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Briefly something completely different: Blogger for Dummies

Today something funky happened and my blog showed up 'blank' all day. Two people even emailed me to alert me (thank you Zeb and James), but rest assured, I noticed! (it's just a bit addicting at the moment!) Anyway, I found out later today by doing a search through the google group section that losing a blog can happen, or that it can show up 'blank'. Anyway, I am not sure what I did to correct it but I found this site that the blogspot bloggers might want to check into; blogger for dummies. Even if you do not have any issues, there are plenty of helpful tips to be had so check it out. Or have it handy, just in case you will. Which I hope you won't.
phew..that sucked!

Monday, July 24, 2006

If you want to be heard at the Israeli Parliament Committee..

this is your chance. Jonathan from Intellect or Insanity, an Israeli blogger and apparent media savvy person and consultant of sorts (I am just throwing that in myself, he's not making any claims but he is used to dealing with the Israeli media and used to be in a small, now disbanded political party),
anyway, Jonathan will attend a Parliament committee hearing on the Israel-Lebanon war in cyberspace. He is asking bloggers to either send him a video through Youtube or a text (I guess email or comment on his site) that he can compile to present to the committee. He's not only asking for feedback from people from the region, but from all over the world:
This upcoming Wednesday, i shall attend a parliament committee meeting regarding the Israel-Lebanon war in cyberspace and try to explain the current position and possible solutions. I mean, i do have a bridge to the nation’s leaders and a way to make them listen. It seems that as time goes by i have more options to point out the injustice The problem, which i saw when i attended other discussions, is that mostly what comes out is an unsettled resolution.

Therefore, my assignment for the readers of this blog: no matter where are you from, you have me to use as a vessel to pass a message to the Israeli parliament. I am here to show the parliament that the internet is not to be used only for surveillance, information, espionage and propaganda. You can use me to pass a message through. If you can send me a link to a youtube video you recorded yourself with a message, i’ll do my best to show it. If you have a text, i’ll try to send the message out.

It's worthwhile reading his post as a whole, I highly recommend it. One of the issues he brings up is how Israelis look at people protesting for peace. The one good point he brings up is how people protest, but do not offer an alternative. I suggest when you do give your feedback to Jonathan, that you need to be serious and put your emotions aside, and , trying to see it from both sides, offer some form of alternative working solution..not just short term, but long term. I will hope for some peace and quiet early in the morning (pls pls let the kids still be asleep), so I can write one myself..

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Letter to Amos Oz

A new blog found its way into being after Cecilia Cissell Lucas wrote an open letter to Amos Oz, a prominant Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist who's always advocated a two-state solution. Until recent. The open letter to Amos Oz by Cecilia was in response to an opinion piece he wrote on July 19, 2006. Excerpt:
Last Wednesday, Hezbollah launched a vicious, unprovoked attack into Israeli territory. This was also an attack on the authority and integrity of the elected Lebanese government, as Hezbollah has, by attacking Israel, hijacked the prerogative of the Lebanese government to control its territory and to make decisions on war and peace.
The Israeli peace movement objects to the occupation and colonization of the West Bank. It objected to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 because the invasion was aimed at distracting world attention from the Palestinian problem. This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages by attempting to smash Hezbollah wherever it lurks.

Click on the excerpt for the full article.
This is an excerpt of the open letter Cecilia wrote;
While it may be true that some participants in “the Israeli peace movement” have become less vocal in their criticisms of Israel over the past 8 days, it is certainly not the case, as the title of your July 19 LA Times article declares, that “Hezbollah Attacks Unite Israelis.” Yes, “this time,” too, there are voices of outrage by Israeli peace activists desperately trying to be heard. But I am not writing this to quibble with you over that point. We should not only be looking to voices of Israelis to bolster up our protest of Israel’s indescribably horrific, criminal acts.

Beginnings are a tricky matter. Where you choose to start your tale can drastically change the story, even without changing any of the other established facts. Much happened between 1982 and 2006 that neither you nor the Israeli government are talking about as you try to hold on to waning world support while the violence continues to escalate and hundreds of thousands of people are made homeless refugees. (I have to ask again, is this not yet “bogged down” enough for you?) South Lebanon was illegally occupied from 1982 to 2000, enabling Israel to exploit Lebanese resources, most notably water. (In 1987, you wrote about your friend A. who in 1982 suggested that “maybe we should keep everything up to the Litani, so we’ll have enough water for our country.”) To this day there are hundreds of thousands of land mines planted by Israel in Lebanese soil, the locations of which they refuse to disclose so that they might be deactivated. In 2004, there was a prisoner exchange. There could have been one in 2006. Do you really think, Amos Oz, that in the absence of the trigger event being pointed to for justification of Israel’s terrifying acts another one would not have been found?

The full letter can be found on the Osterly Times' blog and click on the excerpt for a the letter in full.
Through encouragement, Cecilia decided to start her own blog Mariposa Rythms
Welcome her into the blogosphere with a hi and a hello. Her words are thoughtful and worthy of discourse, regardless of one' stance. Don't shy away.

Condi Rice, why oh why?

I like to direct you, once again, over to another fellow blogger. This one has quite the career under his belt. I am referring to Jeff Huber. Jeff is a retired US Navy flight instructor, operations officer of Carrier Air Wing 9 and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, and commanding officer of VAW-124, an E-2C Hawkeye squadron.
Here is an excerpt of his "Condi's Diplomacy Equation: War + War = Peace":
On Friday, Rice said, "I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and starting shuttling around and it wouldn't have been clear what I was shuttling to do."
ANDRice won't be "shuttling," per se. In fact, the won't actually be entering the "Middle East arena." She'll be setting up a regal residence in Rome, largely because our Arab "allies" balked at hosting her visit. She's scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Monday. On Wednesday, Condi will entertain Europeans, UN officials and Arabs, all of whom are "dismayed" by the U.S. strategy. There's no word what she has planned for Tuesday. Maybe she'll go shopping for a nice pair of Italian pumps.
She won't be talking to anyone from Syria, Iran or Hezbollah. That's par for the course in Bush diplomacy, which Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) accurately described Sunday on CNN's Late Edition as "juvenile" because we refuse to talk to people we don't like.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22 Peace Rallies

Australia witnessed 3 peace rallies; in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, which had the largest attendees with a whopping 15,000. This is from the Sunday Herald;

Addressing the huge gathering, organiser Ibrahim Constantine said peace was the only way forward for the embattled region.
"We are marching today, Christian and Muslims united as one, marching to give peace a chance," Mr Constantine said.
"This is a war that Israel will not win. This is a war that no one will win.
Organisers predicted up to 20,000 people would attend, but police placed official numbers at about 15,000.
At the start of the demonstration, organisers stressed the protest would be a peaceful one and warned demonstrators not to burn flags.
Police praised all involved, saying their cooperation ensured the event was peaceful and without incident.

Sadly, this united peace rally is not to be seen here, this is from the San Jose Mercury News;

Arab American group is organizing a rally today and next Friday in front of the federal building in San Jose to call for a cease-fire in the violence between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group. A major Muslim civil rights group also had asked its members to lobby their legislators to condemn Israel, accusing it of ``terrorism.''

In contrast, the Jewish community has called for Israeli solidarity rallies in San Francisco and San Jose on Sunday. Smaller gatherings are scheduled at temples throughout the week.
The recent battles -- with their dramatic escalation, rising death toll and worsening Arab-Israeli tensions -- has elicited fierce loyalties on both sides.
``When there's a crisis going on, the community needs each other,'' said Jyl Jurman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley.

She recently sent an e-mail reminding people that ``As American Jews, it is our role to speak out in support of Israel, and counteract any anti-Israel bias we hear or read about.''

I have been pondering over that the whole day. Why is it, that so many Jews rally behind Israel even in the face of so much evidence of its violence towards Palestinians. Of course, I am talking about the government's policies and actions. Why are so many Jewish people who do not even live in Israel are so cavalier about 'supporting Israel' and totally disregard people's lives on both sides? I feel very conflicted myself as I see ordinary Israelis and Palestinians and Lebanese bearing the brunt of a pro-war propaganda machine here (US) and abroad, obviously feeling that the threat of Hezbullah is the best reason for 'defending themselves'. However, how did Hezbullah come about? Why do terrorist groups arise? Nothing happens in a vacuum and many times over, anywhere terrorism is a response to the inability to particpate in any legitimate (or usually the lack of an existing one) government procedure. I have so many serious (not meaning in an accusatory manner) questions, on both sides really, that I want to ask.. hence my attempt to get the blogger round table started. Which, realistically, as both Israelis and Lebanese and Gaza bloggers are in war right now (yes, it's called a crisis, I am calling it war) so this is not the best time to get people to participate. Once the dust settles, I think it will serve better to engage in discourse. Until then, I will still invite people and hope that in my very limited way, I can forge some sort of understanding or middle ground as to where to go next. I really would like to see that myself..
peace to all of you.. I feel very helpless indeed.

Let's not forget the Military Industrial Complex..

I hereby refer to you, once again, to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now..
this is in excerpt of her interview with Frida Berrigan, Senior Research Associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute:

FRIDA BERRIGAN: We’re looking at incredible increases in U.S. military aid and weapons sales to Israel. Military aid stands at about $3 billion a year. That’s about $500 for every Israeli citizen that the United States provides on an annual basis. And then, weapons sales, most recently, since the Bush administration came into power, we’re looking at $6.3 billion worth of weaponry sold to Israel.

Israel's relationship with the United States is unique in a number of ways. And one of those ways is that essentially the United States provides 20% of the Israeli military budget on an annual basis, and then about 70% of that money that is given from the United States, from U.S. taxpayers, to Israel is then spent on weapons from Lockheed Martin and Boeing and Raytheon. Most other countries don't have that sort of cash relationship, where they go straight to U.S. corporations with U.S. money to buy weapons that are then used in the Occupied Territories and against Lebanon.

click on quote for the full article

Friday, July 21, 2006

Upcoming Protests Around The World Against The War in Middle East

This comes by way of BEIRUTSPRING..
Dates and places of peace protests:

Saturday, July 22 2006
LEBANON - 11:00 am Martyr’s Square / ESCWA building.

Australia, Adelaide - (12PM) at Parliment house in Adeliade, and may lead to a march thru to Victoria Square.
Australia, Canberra - (12:30PM) at the Garema Place
Australia, Melbourne - (1PM) at the state Library in the city on Swanston Street
Australia, Sydney - Midday, Town Hall

Belgique, Bruxelles - (9:30 to 23 PM) Palais de Justice de Bruxelles. Place Poelaert

Brazil, Sao Paolo - (10 AM) From Monte Libano Club, though Av.Republica do Libano to Ibirapuera

Canada, Edmonton, Alberta - (8pm) Candle Light Vigil Gazebo Park Old Stathcona 83 Avenue and 104 Street
Canada, Ottawa - (11 AM) Parliament Hill
Canada, Toronto - (1 PM) Israeli Consulate, 180 Bloor Street West
Canada, Vancouver - (3 PM) Vancouver Art Gallery - Robson Square

France, Dijon - (1:30 PM) Place Darcy
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Rennes - (5 PM) Place de la mairie
France, Toulouse - (7h30 to 9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
France, Troyes - (8 to 10 PM) Devant la mairie de Troyes

Germany, Düsseldorf - (4 PM) Friedrich Ebert Str. gegenüber vom Bahnhof
Germany, Frankfurt - (2 PM) - Homburger Landstrasse/Ecke Friedberger Warte (contact: Tel.: 0172 519 84 13 , 0152 051 251 25, 0162 932 83 04 )
Germany, Hanover - Kröpcke Strass
Germany, Köln - (11 AM) In front of the Dom
Germany, Munich - (3:30 PM) Kalsplatz

Hong Kong - (11:00 AM) in central station Hong Kong

Israel, Tel-Aviv - at 18:30 in Rabin Square

Netherlands, Amsterdam - At the Beursplein

Norway, Oslo outside the Parliament on at 1pm

Sweden, Stockholm - (1pm) kungstådgården

Switzerland, Bern - on (15:00) in front of the Federal Palace (Palais Fédéral).

USA, Boston (12 to 3 PM) - In front of City Hall Plaza
USA, Michigan - (12 PM) Tribune Plaza
USA, New York (12 p.m.) Union Square (south end)
USA, Palo Alto (7pm) Vigil at University Avenue Square
USA, Seattle - (8 p.m. to 10 p.m) GreenLake – Boat Center (Right next to the putt putt golf course- South end of Lake) info - (206) 634-9001

Across the UK:
In Birmingham: 1-3pm, outside Waterstones at the entrance to the Bullring.
In Edinburgh: Assemble 2pm: The Mound precinct, Princes Street.
In Exeter: 11am-1pm at Bedford Square on Exeter High Street
In Glasgow: Assemble 12 noon: George Square
In Kirkcaldy: Assemble 12 Noon outside Kirkcaldy Town House
In London: Whitehall Place, SW1, (12 Noon), Contact: Tel 020 7278 6694, go to:
In Manchester: Assemble 1.00pm: Outside the BBC. Oxford Road. Contact: Tel: 07760 224 580
In Newcastle: Assemble Grey's Monument 1pm Nearest Metro: In Monument, Contact 07914 606 452
In Norwich: From 1pm. The Haymarket, Norwich city centre.
In Sheffield: Noon. Town Hall.
In York: 1.00pm. St Sampsons Square

Sunday July 23, 2006

Kuwait (7PM) The Greek Catholic church specialy dedicate mass for the people of Lebanon that will take place this Sunday the 23rd at 7pm at the Catholic church at Salwa bloc 12, str 6
Italy, Ancova - () ROMA SQUARE
Austria, Vienna (4 PM) @ Stephansplatz
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
USA, Florida - (4 PM) Fort Myers at Florida Gulf Coast University campus (FGCU)
USA / Ohio 5:30-6:45-rain or shine @ Blue Ash Town Square ( 9402 Town Square Ave. Blue Ash, Oh 45242)

Monday July 24, 2006

Canada, Vancouver - (6PM) vigil at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Robson Square

France, Valence - rassemblement à 19h à l'Hôtel de Ville.
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
Germany, Leipzig - (5PM) demonstration in the Nicolai Kirch

Tuesday July 25, 2006

Canada / Vancouver - (12:30PM) demonstration at the US Consulate (1075 West Pender Street)
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
Germany / Leipzig - (9PM) in the Nicolai Kirche, showing of the movie West Beirut and a few documentaries, followed by an open discussion

Ireland / Dublin - (1PM) protest at the Israeli Embassy Dublin.
USA / Miami (8pm) Vigil prayer service @ Our Lady Of Lebanon Church 2055 Coral Way, Miami Fl 33145 The prayer will be followed by procession with candles press conference

Wednesday July 26, 2006

Brazil / Rio de Janeiro on july 26 at 14:00 local time with concentration at Republica do Líbano Street, downtown Rio.
Canada / Vancouver - (5:30PM) 5:30pm StopWar meeting at the Maritime Labour Centre (1880 Triumph Street - Off Victoria from Hastings)
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole

Thursday July 27, 2006

Canada / Vancouver - (12:30PM) demonstration at Canadian Immigration Detention Centre / 808-300 West Georgia Street, Downtown Vancouver
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
E-mail details of demonstrations in your region to info @ lebanonexpats . org (remove spaces)
(Sources: Moghtarebee Lubnan,, e-mails)

The reality of war...

Mid East Tracker

I found this through Jonathan's (Intellect or Insanity) friends' site (Rogel).. the free Mid East Tracker from the Wall Street Journal.
I hope the link works.. it gives a chronological account of the current events and it's easy to oversee.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Just to add to the heartache

On my blogger rounds before turning off the computer, I went to one of my favourites, my friend Mash of Docstrangelove. His well written post was adding to the heartache I've been feeling, but nevertheless, one can't put one's head in the sand, just because the thought might be painful to bear. You need to know..

I think the Bush Administration is right on schedule for an end-of-year/election time attack on Iran.

The usual suspects are out in full force. Bill Kristol is foaming at the mouth with talk of war with Iran. All fingers are pointing at Iran as the real problem. The White House has given Israel time to "defang" Hezbollah and is oddly silent as the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon grows. Mr. Bush’s chief Anti-Diplomat at the United Nations brushed aside Kofi Annan’s call for a cease-fire with the standard mantra:

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, reacted skeptically to the proposals, saying the United States wants a cessation of hostilities to be part of a "comprehensive change in the region" and does not see how a cease-fire agreement can be reached "with a group of terrorists."

well, one happy note..happy 100th post to me! Just wished it could have been a 'happier' one..

Speaking of corrupted...(see previous post)

Just read THIS tonight and my heart aches...

Israel, which is also waging a three-week-old military campaign in Gaza, launched its assault after Hizbollah captured two troops and killed eight in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Its campaign has killed at least 312 people in Lebanon, the vast majority civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands. At least 29 Israeli troops and civilians have been killed.

The United States, which has exerted no public pressure on Israel for a ceasefire, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may travel to the Middle East next week to press for a political solution. It has demanded the release of the troops.

The US has demanded the release of the troops? Is that all? No demand for a cease fire for all parties? Is Israel fighting a proxy war? Check out this article by Ilan Pappe, WHAT DOES ISRAEL WANT?

I am speechless and lost for words. I look at the casualty list and think, how many more? Either way, it is ordinary citizens from Gaza, Israel and Lebanon who will bear the brunt. Like I said, my heart aches...

Top Ten Least Corrupted Countries

Thank you Info Please:

Rank Country
1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. New Zealand
4. Denmark
5. Singapore
6. Sweden
7. Switzerland
8. Norway
9. Australia
10. Austria

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain, and measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among a country's public officials and politicians.
Source: Transparency International, 2005. Web:

Hmmm...and where does the U.S. rank?
Check out Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption. You go..ahm people!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The (original) Intent for the Blogger Round Table

My original vision for this blog was to be a virtual gathering place, an online lil' Switzerland where people from different countries could discuss hot topic issues from their (inevitably opposing) viewpoints. Of course, not knowing anyone in the blogosphere to invite for participation did not help very much; there's only so many blogs you want go through by clicking 'next blog'! I managed to ask a number of bloggers and either received no reply, or one that said, sorry, too busy.
So I decided to just post as much as I could, get back into writing, and also read as much other people's work as possible.

I've almost written a hundred posts, found some gems of bloggers and blogs, in terms of their writing style, and/or insight, their personality and their care for their topics. My circle of blogger friends are a passionate bunch, and of course, this not being a real media, it is supposed to be full of passion, and personality. Otherwise they'd/we'd be paid journalists and we are not and won't be anytime soon.

Knowing that, I still had the original intent for the blog in the back of my head. Then, last week, as I felt myself getting too emotionally involved in this Middle East situation (considering I have no family or friends in that region, no real investment of sorts), I started to feel the pull to withdraw. When I feel too much of one thing or another, my natural tendency is to go back to the center to literally 'balance' myself.. I need to regroup and put everything in perspective. Even if I might decide that yes, this is the right stance or opinion to take..I cannot fully throw myself into one way of looking at something without simultaneously questioning myself. So what do I want to accomplish with this 'blogger round table' thing? (sorry, it's past my bedtime so my writing will lag)

Simple..I would like there to be some common ground or some sort of better understanding of the participants of each other, once they are done with a particular discourse. I'd like to see people, not changing their minds, but their attitudes. Now, the hot topic is whether Israel was right to go out and wage war on Hezbollah, whether it was disproportionate. A few months ago it was much ado about a danish cartoon that insulted allegedly the prophet Mohammed (pbuh, do I need to say that too if I am not Muslim? well, just in case, I got myself covered) which got totally out of hand, courtesy of one wannabe famous cleric in Denmark who alerted to worldwide Ummah who had been happily unawaress before than. There is the question of torture, some people are appalled that that should even be questioned and not outright be dismissed as unacceptable. There will always be something. Doesn't that make life so much more interesting, all these little dramas? Or big ones.

Seriously though, I have lived in different countries, on 3 different continents, dealing with different cultures each time, having to adjust my whole person yet again. I have experienced epiphanies from simply having lived somewhere else, understanding 'the natives' just by sharing the same living space. So I know what a world of good it can do, when people can somehow manage to bring about a little bit of peace, by trying to reach out, and explain, and most importantly, to listen to others. The blogosphere is the perfect venue for that. My new found recommend blog of Jonathan had this to say;
The Israeli media dealt with lebanese bloggers quite a lot in the last few days. It seems that blogging became what i thought it would – a mean for people to understand one another and to communicate. It is hard for the media to comprehend that, since they are still working as an Agent of Truth, where there is only one story to be told, and that is the collective Story

I believe in the personalized communication. Bloggers are all representative of the 'regular' people that are out there, with a variety of opinons and attitudes. The people who tend to comment on blogs, are the ones who are seeking to communicate and be able to express their feelings and opinions, which they really do not get to do in an easy forum, unless you count in calling in to a talk show.

For the coming weeks, regardless of the length of the current war, I would like to have at least 4 to 6 bloggers from Israel, Lebanon, Gaza, and perhaps somewhere else from the Arab world engaging in a discourse by way of the round table. I strongly believe it would be a real eye opener.
If you are interested, drop me a line, if you have a suggestion as to who would make a good addition, let me know. Jonathan has been so kind to accept my invitation, and I will be sending out two more.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Different news sources

I am going to check out the following resources aside from the blogs I recommended in yesterday's post;

Haaretz - Israeli newspaper
The Daily Star - an english language Lebanese newspaper
Some other browsings;
The Guardian - British newspaper
Der Spiegel - German magazine, has an online english site

I have issued a few invitations to bloggers to join the Blogger Round Table for discourse of the current Middle East situation. As you can tell under the blog's heading, I had intended to do so from the very beginning. But.. was not very successful. Now I am more blog savvy and more confident and know what I want. I want to have a neutral place for people to talk openly for the sake of getting a clearer picture of 'the other' or an other point of view. As soon as I have a few bloggers on board, the real intent of the blog will commence. Cross your fingers, wish me luck.

Monday, July 17, 2006

New Google trend lab

It helps to have a geekie computer husband. He figured it was worth a blog entry and for sure it is, try it yourself.
Go to the Google search page..above the search bar, where it says, Images, Groups etc.. click on more,
under the heading 'explore and innovate', click on third down 'lab',
then, click on fifth down left hand column 'google trends',

I entered the topic 'torture' and THIS is what showed; the top ten cities in the world where people did a search on the topic of torture. Birmingham UK was number 1, Washington DC was number two, now why do you think that is? (I have a hunch)

1. Birmingham, United Kingdom

2. Washington, DC, USA

3. San Francisco, CA, USA

4. Sydney, Australia

5. Philadelphia, PA, USA

6. Los Angeles, CA, USA

7. Seattle, WA, USA

8. Chicago, IL, USA

9. Melbourne, Australia

10. Manchester, United Kingdom

On the right hand side, you'll see A and B stories that led to the searches.

Change of heart, changing course..

I have found myself very emotionally involved with the whole Middle East conflict. I also have found myself reading different perspectives and commentaries and even some blogs I had not yet visited. So today I came to the conclusion that I really do not feel qualified to give any opinion on the situation, other than from what's going on on the American end of things. I need to be at peace and I cannot contribute otherwise.So I had to re-group and change course.
There are blogs and commenters from the region who are engaging in intense, and personal discussions that are much more worthwhile reading than what any outsider has to say about it. This is not to denouncy my blogger friends who do, I just don't feel that I should anymore. I have a lot of material to read, online and off. This is such a multi-faceted situation, even if it is understood that I am only writing my own opinions, it is still a waste of time.

From now on, when referring to the situation in the Middle East, I will give links of articles and/or posts to read. Let's educate ourselves instead of jumping on anyone's bandwagon with (our)pre-conceived opinions.
Here goes;
MAHMOUD'S DEN! I have often referred people to his site and now he finds himself with many commenters from the region including Israel who are engaging in some very intersting discussions. Please check out his site every day if you can, I do.
A new site I had stumbled upon a while back but not checked back with is;
and one more;
Jonathan's INTELLECT OR INSANITY, which is an Israeli site in english.

If the situation were different, I'd say, happy reading!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Interview with Derek Jinks, UT professor and expert in Humanitarian Law

It is encouraging that the issue of torture is being discussed without any dismissals of 'those people deserve it' or 'they would not be there if.. ' . In today's Austin American Statesman, there was a long interview with Derek Jinks who, aside from being a professor at UT (University of Texas), worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. Excerpt time;

Jinks believes the Guantánamo example has violated something almost sacred — the idea fortified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions that all detainees in a time of war are entitled to some basic human rights, no matter how urgent the crisis, no matter how savage the conflict. He sees President Bush's declaration (in 2002) that detainees in a war on terror were not worthy of Geneva protections as "a terrible blow" for international law. "And the reason it was such an enormous setback is because it was the United States making the policy."

Jinks is heartened by the Supreme Court's June 29 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision, which affirmed Guantánamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan's right to Geneva protections and declared the president's military tribunal policy unlawful. Long active in the Hamdan case, Jinks co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief focusing on the legal applicability of the Geneva Conventions in questions involving Guantánamo.

Jinks, a 38-year-old alumnus of Yale Law School who earned his undergraduate degree at UT, by no means sees the Hamdan ruling as an end point, especially since Congress has the power to supercede the Supreme Court as it now undertakes the question of what to do on Guantánamo. Nor is he sold on the Bush administration's statement, issued Tuesday, that henceforth all detainees in American military custody will be afforded Geneva protections

Click on quote for full article.

Reframing the Middle East Conflict; Water for Oil, part one.

From Waste To Water: Greywater Reuse In The Middle East (1)

My purpose with this post is to shift your attention from the obvious clashes to the mostly unreported movements in the back of the picture. The Big Picture. The picture that is easy to overlook as the emotions of the 'drama of the time' absorbs all our attention.
Currently, the framework is considered this; one religion versus another; Zionism's perceived self-righteous claims of (a) land versus Palestinian and (seperately) Islamic counter actions by way of political Jihad. The cycle of actions/reactions that we are currently witnessing again.
Instead, I want you to start looking at, and thinking of two other economic reasons for the conflict; water and oil.

In '95, I took a Middle East poli sci class and one of the exercises we ended up doing was a peace negotiation. We were assigned places in two camps, Israel and the Palestinians. We were given a list of issues to negotiate over and aside longstanding grievances of killings, perpetrations and expulsion were some very practical and important ones that dealt with the daily lives and livelihood of the Palestinians. One of them being water.

As water is one of the most important commodities necessary for basic living conditions, and there not being a natural abundance of it in that part of the Middle East due to climate and topography, it is actually the biggest issue here. Don't be fooled with all the clashes, acts of violence in the name of Islam or the name of Y....h, or the revenge killings on either side. That is all a 'by-product', an outcome of the attempts to control land and (water) resources.
Israel's open door immigration policy to anyone who was Jewish ensured that land had to be gained by occupation (settlements) and water to control. Even with the U.S.'s support and ever present veto at the U.N. Security Council, Israel could not, cannot just go out and take land and resources. As with politics anywhere in the world, (think yes Minister, yes Prime Minister) illegal, immoral, indecent decisions need to be reframed in order to accept general and public acceptance and legitimacy.

Mash, in a comment to the previous post, alluded to the fact that Hamas government was close to openly recognizing Israel. That act would have legitimized Hamas as the Palestinian government without question and would have put them in a position for much more open negotiations, a more visible platform to address and redress issues of the last 50yrs, at the United Nations, among other nations, in front of the world's mainstream media. This would have resulted in closer scrutiny of Israel's policies and actions, and in turn exposed them to more criticism and pressure to discuss them within someone else's framework, not their own. Theirs being one of either Zionism or survival in the face of those 'extremist Islamics' who are out to annihilate them. Never mind that they created them,themselves.

What about the calls to kill all the Jews and drive them into the ocean? What about the Palestinian 'aliya' or diaspora? By products. By products that I believe can be converted into solid material for a working nation. I do believe that that can be a one nation encompassing two peoples coming together. However, that is for a later post.
Tomorrow I will post part two; Oil. Are you already thinking what I am thinking? We'll see. It is not an easy subject. It has a long history and involves true pain and suffering of real people. On both sides. Real people who I believe to have been manipulated.

More reading material;
A Century of Zionism, from Le Monde Diplomatique
Water Issues of the Golan Heights
Water in the Middle East Conflict
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a nutshell
Research Guide: Middle East Water Issues(for those of you with a lot of time on their hands)

I am not familiar with Israel's current immigration policies so if anyone has a link or information to share, please comment and let us know.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No apologist here..

So...if one would get the idea that "all those Israelis are wrong and are out to get all the Muslims" boohoo, boohoo... than, think again. The current dialogues, discussions, heated and civilized are centered around a major reaction (Israel's) to an action (Hamas' military wing's abduction). Which escalated. You know the story by now.
Well, the Arab world is not helping much as they never have when it came to the Palestinians. This is an exerpt from Mahmoud's Den:

So what’s new? You actually expected that the “summit” which was held today in Egypt to actually result in anything other than this? If you answered yes, then you have an awful lot to learn about us Arabs, and you will need a couple of lifetimes to catch-up. No. Nothing was expected of them.

1. They have never, ever, held a single position, not even in existential matters.
2. They will never, ever, hold a single position.
3. They wait for a few days to hold their “emergency” summit, while the whole world has already held their’s!
4. When they finally do meet, we get disperate position, views, and what’s left is simple posturing. What for, I have no faintly idea

Suicide bombers, who and why?

I have even woken up last night thinking about the sad state of affairs in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza. I have been continuing to think of a response to a commenter on another site and the percolation of my thoughts are almost done.
I felt I needed to look at the 'other' side, and look into suicide bombers. I found a very enlightening article by Nichole Argo. As usual, here's an excerpt:

Suicide terror has become a daily news staple. Who are these human bombs, and why are they willing to die in order to kill? Many observers turn to Islam for an explanation. They cite the preponderance of Muslim bombers today, indoctrination by extremist institutions, and the language used in jihadi statements.

But these arguments fall short. At present, bombers are primarily Muslim, but this was not always so. Nor does indoctrination play a strong role in growing today's selfselected global jihad networks. Rather, militants and bombers are propelled by social ties. And even when jihadis use the Qur'an and Sunna to frame their struggle, their justifications for violence are primarily secular and grievance-based.

So what is religion's role? Almost 100 years ago, Emile Durkheim contended that religious ideation is born of sentiment. This is worth considering in the current context. Against the repression, alienation and political helplessness of the Muslim world, jihad speaks of individual dignity and communal power. 'Against the Goliaths,' martrydom says, 'even one bursting body can make a difference.' The Muslim street is buying it, though sometimes ambivalently. To stop the bombers of today and tomorrow, we need to figure out why.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Amy Goodman interviews Israeli ambassador Gillerman, Chomsky and Rabbani

Friday, July 14th, 2006
Noam Chomsky: U.S.-Backed Israeli Policies Pursuing "End of Palestine"; Hezbollah Capture of Israeli Soldiers "Very Irresponsible Act" That Could Lead To "Extreme Disaster"

As always, things have precedence, and you have to decide which was the inciting event. In my view, the inciting event in the present case, events, are those that I mentioned -- the constant intense repression; plenty of abductions; plenty of atrocities in Gaza; the steady takeover of the West Bank, which, in effect, if it continues, is just the murder of a nation, the end of Palestine; the abduction on June 24 of the two Gaza civilians; and then the reaction to the abduction of Corporal Shalit. And there's a difference, incidentally, between abduction of civilians and abduction of soldiers. Even international humanitarian law makes that distinction.

Donate to Democracy Now!

Follow Mohammed's news in Rafah

Yesterday, I posted several pictures from Mohammed who lives in Rafah. This 20yr old young guy has been asked to stop taking pictures by his mother, as she fears for his life. Yesterday, he got injured by shrapnell but stayed alive thanks to the bullet proof vest he was wearing. This is some of today's news;

When you don’t have medicine, food, clean water and are only sleeping in the street, I can assure you that death is just around the corner. This is what's happening right now at the Rafah border with Egypt, where over 5 thousand Palestinians are waiting to get back into Palestine. Palestinians have been waiting for more than three weeks, sleeping in the streets on the Egyptian side.

On a local radio interview this morning with one of the people who are stuck at the border, a 28 years old woman said: "There are thousands of us here, people who were outside of Gaza, who found the crossing closed when we tried to go home. There are children here who need medication, old women and men who are in very bad shape, and need medicine and water".

She added: "There is nowhere to sleep, very few bathrooms for thousands of people, most of us have run out of money and we can no longer survive like this — we appeal to all human rights organizations to end this terrible situation! People are dying and we don't know how to preserve their bodies and it's not possible to bury them here." She was appealing to the international community and the world to stop this humanitarian crisis at the Rafah border and to put pressure on Israel to reopen the border and let people return to Gaza, and to allow those inside Gaza who need to travel to hospitals, to do so.

I have been thinking a lot more in the quiet of my virtual cave. As in, just thinking without talking about my thoughts. I even started to write in my notebook, as thoughts and ideas come out differently when you write in long hand. The brain literally works differently. Even though I am highlighting the plight of the people in Gaza by way of Mohammed's site, I am by no means going to be soft on any of the instigators in this drama. I want to think and write in my notebook a bit more before I post it here. There are many guilty parties, and I am starting to feel that again, the poor Palestinians are a pawn in the hands of everyone around them. Literally.
To be continued.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What happens after an Israeli strike?

The heart of Gaza, hit by a bomb

Thank you Mohammed for permission to use the pictures.
Go to Reports from Rafah Palestine, for current updates and pictures as you won't see in/on the news.
If anyone is willing and able to volunteer for their site as webmaster, let Mohammed know.(
What can we do to stop the terrorizing of Gaza's citizens?

UPDATE: I had to post this last picture before going to bed. The mom in me has been feeling pangs in my heart looking at this all afternoon..

What's good for the goose is good for the gander..again.

Well, what can you as a government say to another when you unilaterally have declared and gone to war? "...proceed with moderation."

Here is an excerpt of Chris Toensing's "Letting Gaza Burn"

Israel's Operation Summer Rains has redefined the term collective punishment. After three armed Palestinian groups killed two Israeli soldiers and took Shalit prisoner, Israeli warplanes bombed the power plant, which serves most of Gaza's 1.4 million people, sealed tight the only commercial crossing into the coastal strip and, until July 1, shut off the fuel pipeline as well. What remains of the Gazan electric company struggles to channel six hours of power to Palestinian homes per day. Hospitals are running neonatal incubators and other equipment on their own generators, which guzzle the scarce fuel. Meanwhile, the Israeli air force regularly breaks the sound barrier above Gaza, usually in the wee hours of the morning, jangling Palestinians' nerves and terrifying children. Shrugs Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: "Nobody dies from being uncomfortable."

Chris Toensing is editor of Middle East Report, publication of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Helping out Independent Texans

Some of my 'regulars' know that I am an Independent. For those who live outside of the US..that basically means someone who does not belong to either the Democrat or Republican parties, or it could also mean someone who does belong to either party, but votes independently of party favourites. In other words, if the candidate seems worthy and ascribes to the same stance on certain issues, an Independent voter will vote for that person, even if their 'own' party differs on that stance or has another candidate in opposition. Not to forget, it could also be someone who's normally a member of the Libertarian party or the Green party.

Are you confused enough? LOL. It is the mindset most of all that sets Independents apart and I would expect/suspect that if there were to be an Independent party, the people would still not necessarily vote along partisan lines.

One of the main issues that bind together such politically diverse group is election reforms, or the Initiative and Recall and Referendum. In Texas we have the Independent Texans organization which I joined a few years ago. This year, we have an excited Governor's race where the incumbent Rick Perry (R) is facing Chris Bell (D), Kinky Friedman (I), and Carole Keeton Strayhorn (I).

After an internal vote amongs the members of Independent Texans, the majority (87%) decided to endorse Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the self proclaimed 'one tough grandma'.
And last week, I decided that since I have gotten more blog savvy (with the help of some good blogger friends), I would volunteer for the next 3 months to help the IT organization with their blog. I already spruced it up with a very recognizable template (check and see, 5 brownie points if you can tell me why it's recognizable, cheap plug cheap plug alert!), and posted two posts. I will continue to add things to the site to hopefully increase readership from within the IT membership but also from outside Independent minded bloggers. The reason I like a lot of the blogs that I plugged in my previous posts is that they have personality. And you know..personality goes a long way! (just ask Quentin Tarrantino, who happens to be in town here in Austin) People also write from their personal standpoints, even if they use other articles or video's as their jumping board. And that's the whole point of a blog IMHO; it has to be personal otherwise you might as well call it a website.

So please, check out the Indytexans blog and give me some feedback, or pointers , or 'rara's.. I take anything. I want to get some 'movement' on there and get some interesting discussion going. And not one where people necessarily agree with each other either. It ought to be possible.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stream of consciousness

I promised my friend Robbie (Independent Opinions) to talk about Korea. Not that that was a special request, but he felt that in the last week, only partisan attention was given to some of the issues that arose last week, such as Korea. North Korea to be exact. (Did I get that right Robbie?)
Then as I was mulling over in my head what I wanted to say regarding North Korea, myy thoughts jumped from one thing to another. A stream of consciousness. It went like this;
North Korea's missile launch did not upset me at all. I felt it was just another drama on the grand stage of world! Then, I thought about some of the people who could in the future be affected if the missiles would reach their full potential..(i.e. Robbie from San Diego!), then I remembered how I felt during the cold war living in the Netherlands and as a teenager I felt often unnerved thinking that if a nuclear war would start between the US and Russia, we'd be toast(ed) in our little 'kikker' landje / country! So then I thought how blase I had become since I was literally out of reach for any potential North Korean weaponry. Just wait what I would write if anything happened between China and the US...I'd surely would be covered then! Then..I thought about China's potential for stepping up to the plate of being the main Super power negotiator in this N.Korean situation and how it could lead to a stronger, diplomatic role for the Chinese that could in the future perhaps be a good counter to the US. I thought about the fact that we need more than one Super power, not for the potential of blowing up our planet 1000 times over..but just to counter the arrogance of the one that is the 'power that shall be' right now. And no, I do not think in terms of America bashing, but just a healthy set of boundaries that could lead to certain reprimands shall we say or 'incentives'.
I thought about the Economist article on North Korea this week and then thought of all the books and articles that are waiting for me to turn me into a respectible 'know enough' since I do not. Then, of course, I feel the pressure to write something half way decent and intelligent and think, I don't have time! Until the little wheels in my head spin so fast they phloop out of their joints or thinga me jiggies and I slow down again to think..ah well. Who am I trying to impress anyway. For every season, blah blah blah. It'll come.
At least I have plenty of good blogs to read, and I do enjoy all of them;
Docstrangelove, Robbie's Independent Opinions, Donkeyphant, The Osterley Times,Saudi Jeans,Mahmoud's Den, Is America Burning, Make Some Noise, Pen and Sword, Withinsight, Linday's Lobes, CafeDA, the Existentialist Cowboy Update; did I just forget my friend Zeb? After all that? tssa..Inside Zebster!

what? doesn't she know where the blogroll is supposed to go?? Yes my dears I do..but I am just doing my stream of consciousness thing and figured I'd do a wee bit of a plug...lots to read, lots to comment on, interesting topics this week..and most of all, great passion and opinions. That is what a blog is supposed to be for me.
If I left anyone out..apologies..
so if I lag behind on my posting, chances are, I'm reading and commenting instead.

Great Scot! Hao Wu is free!

I did not have much time this morning before 'mommy commitments' to do my usual blogging rounds, and lo and behold, my first stop, Mahmouds Den stopped me dead in my tracks! Great've seen it; Hao Wu has been released!
(Ok..I like to think that the few/many of you who had emailed the embassy and joined the Global Voices Online's petition had something to do with that)
After 5 months of uncertainty, including the actual charges, he's out of prison..what a nice way to start one's day!
Here is what his sister wrote in her blog;
Just got a call at home and informed that Wu Hao is out. Thank you everyone for your concern, but he needs some silence for now. If there is any new information it will be posted on this blog
Click and read the full post on Global Voices Online.

One down, 33 more to go! Let's continue equal pressure and pr for the remaining 33 journalists and bloggers still in custody.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Join the Blogathon!

As you can tell by the big button to the right; I joined the bloggers against torture. As I joined in the early stages, I was very impressed to see this blogroll get longer and longer..about 200 bloggers joined!

Now, Jamie is going one step further. June being torture awareness month got quite a boost as the suicides at Guantanamo Bay drew worldwide attention and criticisms. Even calls for closure of the detention camp plus a whack on the hands by the US Supreme Court who deemed the whole thing illegal. But..torture still exists. Whether it has stopped since the full blown attention at Guantanamo, who can tell. But..torture will persist the world over and for the blogothon, 'Bloggers against torture' is going to have Amnesty International be the worthy recipient of the fundraiser. Please check out for full info. Excerpt;
Essentially, Blogathon is an attempt by the blogging community to raise money for charity, by staying up for 24 hours straight posting at least once every half hour (and so a minimum of 48 posts). Participants are sponsored and all the money raised goes to their chosen charity.

So, this is the Alliance’s next campaign – to compete in the Blogathon 2006 to help raise awareness of torture and to raise money for our chosen charity,
Amnesty International USA. As you all know, Amnesty does vital work in standing up for human rights worldwide and defending the otherwise defenceless

Even if you have not joined the bloggers against torture, you can still help out. Step out of your comfort zone, be part of something bigger than yourself. Know that this time you can do something even in the 'comfort' of your own home. Your voice is what we need!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Let's play the blame game

Sorry guys, I have been a bit busy with commitments and 'other'. You know that last box you check off when..never mind.
That means I have not had time to reply to your welcomed comments and I am so glad you did though. So since I am going to be unavailable for posting this weekend, I thought I'd play the 'blame game' which comes to you courtesy of Mahmoud from Mahmoud's den. I had never seen this game before but it's a great de-stressor and a fun little exercise.
This is how it's played. I put out a name of someone, and you can blame him or her for all your woes. Go to town, have a ball, be unashamed and go girl (or ahm guy)! So here it is, the first recipient of the blame game;
Kim Jongil... Kim, I have issues with you. What's with this headache that won't go away, I took all the %&$* aspirin and Ibuprofen..were those missiles just a red herring and did you shoot something invisible our direction? It's fall out is killing me! And yes, you are also to blame for the gass prices..come ON already!

Who's next??

Friday, July 07, 2006

7/7 Remembered.

No one can tell it as well as a Londoner. I hereby refer you to Kel from Osterley Times who gives a heartfelt account of his memories and opinions. Excerpt:

It began around 9.15 or 9.20. A right wing shock jock on the radio called Nick Ferrari reported three tube trains and a bus had been affected by "power surges". That's what they called it. "Power surges".

It was the inclusion of a bus that made my eyebrows lift. How does a "power surge" affect a bus?

The truth is that we had been waiting for it. We had always expected it to happen. We had always known that it would be the underground that they would hit

Read the rest.

Silence in Europe means a lot. In the Netherlands during rememberance day, we would be silent from 8pm till 5 minutes after during which all the church bells across the country would toll.
Carry on!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

South American Union?

Photo by Ricardo Stuckert.

According to the Hindustan Times, Chavez of Venezuela thinks that a South American Union is the answer to reversing "underdevelopment, backwardness and violence". He is looking for a "geopolitical, economic and social project" in order to do the job.
Venezuela is about to enter the MERCOSUR, the Southern Common Market.
I bet that this will concern US critics, who have villified Chavez as they have anyone who doesn't subscribe to their brand of capitalism or any other 'subverse' political thought. These days the general public's eye is not often on South America, thanks to all the sadness happening in Iraq, or the 'sad game' that's being played in North Korea. Personally, I have high hopes that South America will cultivate a good balance between economically open markets, and socialist policies that will ensure that the people of a respective country as a whole will flourish and have good and improved quality of life. The only seemingly acceptable social policy that is accepted here is when it comes to corporate welfare. And that is even a term where most people just roll their eyes and quickly move on so as to not give it another thought.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Could you Pass this Citizenship test?

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 8 out of 10 correct!

I had 8 out of 10 right, even though I am not a citizen. I did guess about 4 or 5 of them so hmm..I managed to that without studying. Gee, if I did, I will do it perfectly! How was your score?

Citizenship Test.

A day in the life of..

I found this blog by way of Miraj' blog, Baghdad Chronicles. Sometimes, you can say something till you're blue in the face when it comes to trying to get people to understand what it's like, living in Iraq as an Iraqi, but then, there's hopefully another strategy a la House (yes, saw the two re-runs back to back, the only show on Fox, the unofficial government mouthpiece I'll promote) that says, let's just rub their faces in it. Well, I'll just do a 'gentle rub' and ask you to take a look at a day in the life of..Sunshine. She's a 14 yr old Iraqi teenage girl and a self described 'optimist' as she has decided how to cope with her life. So ladies and gentleman, aside from Miraj' blog, I invite you to click and read, so
Hope you exams went well.
Miraj, I hope that there are glimpses of something humane that will give you the strength you need to keep your spirit as much intact as you can. Salam!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Put Pressure on Chinese Government; email the Wall Street Journal

courtesy Global Voices Online.
The Wall Street Journal wrote a long article, starting on the frontpage, on arrested blogger and editor for Global Voices Online, Hao Wu.
16 bloggers, and 18 journalists (Committee to Protect Journalists) are in detention for supposedly crossing a line in reporting what they see. There is a strange parallel universe in China; on the one hand, artists are allowed to make fun of Mao Zedong; express, artistically, commentary on Tiananmen Square; they have their own version of MTV. However, the Chinese government has been aggressively pursuing news media in any shape or version; newspapers have fallen under more control or have been closed; as for blogs that became known for writing about corruption and other, government 'sensitive' issues. (Think 'saving face')

So write a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, asking the Chinese government to release Hao Wu, and the other detained journalists. Embassies read the WSJ and often respond to articles written about their country.
Click here to write a letter to the editor via email
And while you are at it, why don't you 'CC' the Chinese Embassy as well. Mention to them the article written in July 3rd's Wall Steet Journal. (front page)
Read Ethan Zuckerman's blog on Hao WU!

There are many bloggers in other countries who need a voice, and it might seem overwhelming. However, since a very visible American newspaper (regardless of their super pro-market stance) is bringing it to the foreground, even mentioning Global Voices Online in the process (good for you guys), I think we should bombard them with short, sweet and to the point (and polite people!) emails. For sure that will not go unnoticed and might just be the little bit of extra push the Chinese government needs to release the journalists and bloggers.

Update: I emailed and cc'd this letter to the editor

I thank you for highlighting Hao Wu's situation. There is nothing left for me to say, as you wrote a clear article on the paralel universe that exists in China. Certain freedoms on the one hand, (open markets, some freedom of expressions) and strict intolerance on the other. As one cannot force another country to adopt freedoms or rights by merely writing, I do believe that the WSJ's article could encourage the Chinese government to release mr.Wu and the other detained journalists. If the Chinese government does not believe in open discussion of certain subjects, it should come out of the 'Gray Zone', and into the clear white where boundaries are easily set and seen.
I posted a reference to the WSJ on my blog (though no online subscriber, we are subscribed to the print edtion), and encouraged my readers to write to this newspaper in support and thanks for making mr. Wu's situation more public.
Thank you,


I just received a returned email from the Chinese embassy. It apparently was 'over quota'. Still, I would cc them anyway. Perhaps when their email box is cleared, they are ready to receive some more!
I want to thank Zeb from Inside Zebster for helping me with my site. I now finally am able to 'show' the Amnesty International button, as well the Bloggers against torture one. I had joined them very early on, but never could make that button appear on the page. Thanks Zeb!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity and the War on Terror

As Bush and co's war on terror is unraveling even more with the latest Supreme Court ruling, the mainstream American public is finally getting the information they not only need, but cannot avoid anymore. As most bloggers against torture have condemned Bush and his cohorts, the net of cohorts get wider and wider with more revelations than we could hope for. The latest of these is a serious investigation that Dr. Steven Miles did into the medical prison personnel at Gitmo. It is detailed in his book: Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity and the War on Terror.
Read here Amy Goodwin's interview of Democracy Now with Dr. Steven Miles.

June was anti-torture awareness month, and I have not faithfully been posting on it. However, until Guantanamo Bay is closed and all other facilities and rooted mentality is dealt with and done away with for a new and moral approach to terrorism, torture awareness needs to be continued.

At the doctor's office today I saw that there was an article on the book in the July 3rd edition of Newsweek. Check it out. (am not a subscriber so cannot access it online)