After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dictated to by the dictator

"You'll be brought down to your knees if Pakistan doesn't co-operate with you. That is all that I would like to say. Pakistan is the main ally. If we were not with you, you won't manage anything ... Let that be clear. And if ISI [Pakistan's Intelligence Service] is not with you, you will fail."

GeneralPresident Pervez Musharraf on BBC Radio 4

Five years on from the start of the Global War on Terror and this is what America and Britain have been reduced to. Held in the grip of petty dictators.

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the whole point of the war with Iraq to prevent this?

Kind of makes you miss the Saddam era. *Sniff*

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Todays post is full of revelations. Find out what is really behind all the violence in Iraq ... where the Iraqi government is these days ... original reactions to the Pope's comments on Islam ... a recipe for a failed state ... if Jews and Muslims really do get along ... why one blogger is angry at American soldiers and, if you read to the end, some serious mudslinging.

First I must wish a warm welcome to new Iraqi blogger Marshmallow26; her blog Iraqi Roses is every bit as sweet as her handle implies. Why Iraqi Roses I hear you ask? Marshmallow explains:
I am from Iraq and inspite of the war, and the sadness that Iraqis are going through; there are roses are flourishing in the middile of the warzone, and these roses are the Iraqi: hope, peace, kindness, heros, and love. Long live Iraq.

If you read no other blog post this week read this:

The Konfused Kid writes of his own personal tragedy. A day which he calls simply 6/11. On June 11th the Kid lost four close friends to the violence in Iraq. He writes:
Four of my friends were killed by a huge double roadside bomb that exploded in Karada on Sunday June 11. That’s right, four, count them … that is, if you can identify their bodies. Forever gone — can you imagine that? Since you are all comfy in your air-conditioned rooms sitting on armchairs, sipping Pepsi or Kool-Aid or whatever it is that you care to sip while your sons and daughters go safely to colleges and your spouses sleep in bedrooms million miles away from here, I’d like to take the opportunity to offer what it feels like to be insane amidst the apocryphal hell of Iraq, both weather-wise and people-wise.
I wish I could fill the rest of my article with expletives...

They were the best of people. Two of them, my best friends, were Shiites; another was Sunni and the other was Christian — an example of unity that can never be portrayed in a million years by the hypocritical fake advertisements they numb us with on TV.
And he recounts the harrowing story of how three of them died where they stood and how the fourth, who had clung to life for five more days, described the scene of the explosion. The Kid concludes:
I am sorry, but nobody of sane mind can live here … We Iraqis have been so used to being kicked and dragged through the mud that we did not recognize the abyss in which we found ourselves. But there comes a time when you look around see your world for what it is and cannot take any more of it. [...] Iraqis today are strange, sorry creatures — confused, constantly paranoid, and filled with distrust and hatred.

The Week in Politics

Just occasionally you stumble across a sentence that brings some clarity among all the madness in the world. It was in reply to a comment on his blog that the Konfused Kid succinctly sums up the whole violent situation in Iraq:
it is clear that you have only superficial ideas about the power struggle in Iraq, it is ultra more complicated than you might think. You're right, it's mostly made by greedy Iraqis, but these Iraqis act as fronts for Iran, U.S.A. or al-Qaeda.

Iraq is the battleground for the world's war.
In most other cities, police protection of schools brings some relief to parents. But not in Baghdad. Zappy explains:
[the Iraqi Education Minister] did announce that the Motto this year for the Ministry of Education would be “School Children Against Terror” he is Planning Guarding the schools by Iraqi National Guard and Police, making them really good targets… I wonder where his children go to school? Surely not in Iraq.

Stupid statements cause attention, please leave our children out of this.
And this post brought forth similar bitterness against the Iraqi police from other Iraqi bloggers. MIraj wrote: "Mansour and Yermouk areas where just fine before getting the ING's [National Guards] and police cars and putting them all over the place and there you go! The whole area is ruined now and like 99% of the shops were either threatened to close their shops or they chose to do it by their own free will so they wouldn't lose their lives" and MarshMallow26 added: "Our street waited for 4 years to get paved and finally last month all the [rubble was] taken away and the both sides got paved BUT since the policemen heard about it, they occupied one of the empty buildings nearby and stationed there and CUT the road".

Erm where exactly is the government? Baghdad Connect reports on one of their recent meetings:
When the Cabinet met this week the Secretariat of the Board found out that the Prime Minister was in Iran, the two numbers of VP of the PM - the Kurdish and Arab, were traveling overseas, and the two numbers Vice President of the Republic were voyaging too in foreign lands. Finally, the Secretariat of the Board realized that ‘to his surprise’ 22 of the total 31 ministers (men and women) were also scattered outside our country and consequently the meeting was postponed!!
Ishtar gives a long list of the security failures of the Iraqi government and writes "any government in the world with such killing rate like every day in Iraq, would declare its resignation immediately as an admission of its failure in providing its people with the basic requirement any people need to live like human beings. ... still all its members, from the president till the MPS whom quarrelling all the time, all of them are clinging to their chairs to the last breath."

And the government is not getting any respite from Iraq the Model either. After news that a church was bombed in Baghdad following the Pope's comments on Islam, Omar writes: "Regardless of the motives of the attack, the government and its security apparatus are to blame for not providing sufficient protection for Christian worship places after the terrorists declared their intentions to launch a wave of attacks against these sites. Ironically, instead, the interior ministry announces a plan to provide more protection for mosques and Husseiniyat."

Speaking of the Papal controversy. The recent comments by the Pope on Islam and the reaction raised more than a few heckles from the Iraqi bloggers. Iraqi Pundit is outraged at Muslims who protested against the Pope's comments yet do not take such offense against crimes in Iraq:
How about taking to the street over the murderers who have been disgracing our religion by shedding oceans of innocent blood in its name? On Thursday, a car bomb blew up outside a Baghdad orphanage. In all the wide sweep of the Muslim Street, is there no one sufficiently disgusted to raise his voice over such a thing?
While Mohammed at Iraq the Model digs up some skeletons from Islamic history and comments: "Regardless of what the pope said, the Arab and Muslim world, through the tense and offensive reactions, showed once again how incapable its leaders are to respond to criticism in a civilized way."

Hala_s is developing an allergy to all those that wear a religious headress. Be it women with headscarves ("back home we used to joke about head-scarves by calling them intelligence-blockers") or the Pope with his Episcopal Mitre. Hala argues that we should be looking to bridge divides and accept others by admitting our own mistakes:
The pope would have made more sense if he had spoken about Christianity’s own history of violence; the Crusades, the inquisition and Europe’s religious wars along with his statement about Islam. We are all after a meeting point not further clashes.

But how could he? He is constantly wearing something over his head doesn’t he?
The last word goes to AL Tarrar who simply curses the Pope and the Takfiris for proving they are examples of the Dark Ages.

Finally Miraj gives us the recipe served to the Iraqi people for the past 30 years:
Put the nation and apply Saddam and add splashes of ego, encouragement, lies, dash of provoking and weapons so the nation will be a little bit cracked up while saddam gets a big bigger. Put it in the oven for 8 years with Iran. Take it out you’ll see saddam is pumped up more and the two nations are cracked up little bit more.
Chill for two years and bring the third nation and use it to crush the first mixture with the help of some of the media and ¼ the amount of the weapons and dash of stupidity.
Use your full physical strength to squash the mixture.

Add the sanctions and keep away for 15 years until the mixture is totally crushed up.

Apply another run of war on the crushed mixture by adding the chemical weapons and the rest of the weapons on it until the paste becomes so crushed and mild which indicates it is ready for any form we want to create out of it now . Look for saddam , stick your hand and just take it out and throw it in the garbage for it is not necessary anymore and it was useful getting the paste ready at the first stages. Keep pinching the paste you have and keep adding the rest of the ingredients gradually for no less than 4 years (Extendable)

All we have now is this easy controlled mixture of the “NewIraq” and we can just add to it anything now and form it into anything.
The final touch is to splash the cold blood all over the mix and viola.

Sim u Za8naboot. [nearest translation - "poison and poison"]

P.S: Please await the next dishes , Iran & Syria

Word from the street: from New York to Baghdad

24 Steps to Liberty is in New York and was invited by a friend to a Jewish Friday night dinner. Being an Iraqi and a Muslim, 24 Steps was nervous about giving away his identity. This did not stop his friend telling everybody in the room. But the reaction surprised him:
“Al Salamu Alaikum” said the manager of the Jewish center, where the dinner was, Peace be on you. “You are welcome,” he continued with a really big smile. I just felt he meant what he said. ...

I ate their food. I drank their water and juice. I didn’t feel they even cared that I was there. They just acted normal. ... I wish Ehud Olmert, Hassan Nasrallah, Ismael Haniyeh, Jihasists, and many others ... were watching us last night. They should have. They would know that peace in the Middle East is not being achieved because of them, not us!
Ibn_Alrafidain keeps his record of 20 years of Iraqi wars as a collection of all the shrapnel that has landed on his house. Recently he weighed it and found it was half a kilogram. He tells the stories of each piece in that box.

Sunshine gives a snap shot of her daily life in Iraq. From the happiness of seeing her grandparents to the horror of having a major gun battle raging right outside her house. But she is also angry. Why? An American soldier told her grandfather to 'Shut Up' in answer to a simple question. Sunshine writes:
I was so angry , that soldier’s attitude ,affected my respect to the military so badly, because the soldiers should represent their country’s ethics and leave a good impression , this bad soldier was so impolite and rude , I told my grandma ( relax grandma , the soldier’s parents didn’t behave him well , that’s in case he has parents , I am sure that he lives in a box under the bridge ,and he is blessed to sleep in a tank ! ) and I still mean what I said , my grandpa is very educated wise respectful man , and he is loved by everyone, , my grandpa is a civil engineer , studied in USA , he traveled round the world because he worked for the “Arab organization for the industrial development” , that soldier SHOULDN’T talk to grandpa like that.

And finally:

I could see this one coming, El Delilah has created a fuss by diss'ing one of the highest profile Iraqi bloggers, Zeyad:
I read through his blog, and I get the image of a young man whose life-time dream is to live in the Big Apple, to fit in there and to be accepted and successful in that society. But amidst all of that, he's dumped his identity, and with honesty I say I behold nothing but despise towards that kind of people. Lighten up on the shoe-shining process Zeyad, and please…there are too many egos that expand and expand and get stuck somewhere down our throats. Brilliant blogger? Perhaps. Just stop crowning yourself, that’s what everybody else does. Oh, and another thing…America's about the blend of culture, try maintaining yours.
Ouch! Fortunately Zeyad has kept himself aloof from such mudslinging.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

UN - What's the point? A message to Ted

Newsmaker Tedturner

There is a lot of talk of UN reform. And no argument in favor could be put better than in Riot Starter's little essay. But lets cut to the chase. Its all about politics. America wants the UN as a rubber stamp for its policies and to use it to push through resolutions that even their own legislature would not pass. And any time the Security Council raises a yelp in protest, the UN is threatened with extinction or worse .. irrelevance.

There is no point to to UN except for the Security Council - all the other bodies are either toothless or can be replaced. If this can't be made effective all the rest may as well be disbanded. One does not need to look to far into the history of the Security Council to see that the main obstacle is America. All other parties rarely use their veto. Unless America can be brought under some control by the UN there is no point to this whole discussion.

But, you see, America needs the UN, and the world needs the UN. It was only the UN that was able to extract Israel from the quagmire they created for themselves in Lebanon and its only the UN that is acting as a reality check against American madness towards Iran. It was America ignoring the UN that created the disaster that was Iraq - and it will be the UN that will be used as part of the solution. Without it we are really talking about World War 3.

So here is the problem Ted, your money has bought you a billion dollar soap box now what are you going to do with it? Kofi's almost out of a job and is going around telling the truth about the mess that the UN is in so he can get some good work on the after-dinner circuit. But where are you going with all this? Are your dollars just going to make a large lump in the landfill of failed initiatives or do you want to make a difference?

Newsmaker Tedturner

There is a lot of talk of UN reform. And no argument in favor could be put better than in Riot Starter's little essay. But lets cut to the chase. Its all about politics. America wants the UN as a rubber stamp for its policies and to use it to push through resolutions that even their own legislature would not pass. And any time the Security Council raises a yelp in protest, the UN is threatened with extinction or worse .. irrelevance.

There is no point to to UN except for the Security Council - all the other bodies are either toothless or can be replaced. If this can't be made effective all the rest may as well be disbanded. One does not need to look to far into the history of the Security Council to see that the main obstacle is America. All other parties rarely use their veto. Unless America can be brought under some control by the UN there is no point to this whole discussion.

But, you see, America needs the UN, and the world needs the UN. It was only the UN that was able to extract Israel from the quagmire they created for themselves in Lebanon and its only the UN that is acting as a reality check against American madness towards Iran. It was America ignoring the UN that created the disaster that was Iraq - and it will be the UN that will be used as part of the solution. Without it we are really talking about World War 3.

So here is the problem Ted, your money has bought you a billion dollar soap box now what are you going to do with it? Kofi's almost out of a job and is going around telling the truth about the mess that the UN is in so he can get some good work on the after-dinner circuit. But where are you going with all this? Are your dollars just going to make a large lump in the landfill of failed initiatives or do you want to make a difference?

Monday, September 18, 2006

The UN - are they really listening?

Newsmaker Tedturner

So I am taking part in another Reuters debate. This time its a conversation about the future of the UN with Ted Turner, who famously donated $1 billion to the UN nearly 10 years ago. Well not exactly to the UN - it is given to a foundation that take the UN name, which he almost exclusively controls and almost exclusively funds (nearly all other income seems to be estimates of the value of voluntary work). Hmmm. I guess 100 million a year buys you a part of the UN!

But lets take this money in context.. this year the UN is on course to spend £4.5 billion (about $9 billion) on peacekeeping alone. Drops in oceans comes to mind - but still if it gets you interviewed by Reuters its worth it.

I guess my real question to Ted is - how can you honestly say that your donation has made a gnat's crotchet of a difference to world peace and security in the past ten years save curing a few children of polio?

I'll be pulling my opinions together over the next day or so - but to start the blog rolling I saw this excellent post by fellow Iraqi blogger, Riot Starter.

She goes to the heart of the crisis in the UN - the Security Council:
The most powerful bodice of all six, and the only one authorized to make binding decisions, is actually out-of-date and incapable of meeting its current-day needs. From my point personal point of view, that's a serious issue that should be addressed properly sometime soon
permanent memberships in the Security Council are exclusive to the former WWII allies, which aren't allied anymore and which makes no sense now.
And the solution:
A Security Council expansion of any kind, in my opinion, is the most pressing need because it facilitates forming functioning resolutions to solve problems more effectively. If an expansion came along with the necessary modifications to the structure and procedure, such as adjustments to absolute majority and two-thirds majority uses, decisions will definitely be more effective because they come from affected state that are granted to have better knowledge about certain problems than any First World nation.
Read it here.

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Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Here for your reading and commenting pleasure is my latest Global Voices post...

I [give] up sometimes... when I wake up in the morning [to] the sound of bomb. I feel like... someone took my heart and returned it back to my body.... Just like the computer... if you are working and it's suddenly turned off, you might lose the file you work on but you still have the last file. Can you understand my view?

Iraqi blogger HNK, interviewed by fellow teenagers in America.

This post is dedicated to the voices from Iraq and in the next I will write of the blogodrome outside. While much of the world took pause last week to remember the victims following the crashing of aircraft into buildings in America five years ago the Iraqi Blogodrome has been reliving the hell of daily life in Iraq. And how do Iraqis feel about the 9th of September five years ago? HNK again..
I just want to ask you something. After Sept. 11 took place, what did you feel? Do you feel in pain? I feel this every day. It's only a building destroyed... five years [ago] and you still remember that pain and that suffering. Well, for me it was not one building, it was a country and it's still under the occupation. And every day 1,000 people die. Do you think I will forget this? I can't.... If I live [to] be 100-years-old, maybe I will forget my name and my country, but I will never forget the pain and suffering I am feeling right now.
Or maybe you can get a feeling of the progress of Iraq through this poem by ZZ:
On Fridays the sun shone,
like it never would on any other.
I would have called it 'Sun Day',
but we rested on on that day,
while the sun kissed our skins.

On Fridays, cars honked greetings
and people smiled back.
They flocked at markets,
and hugged and kissed,
and compared prices.

On Fridays we watched the evening news
and reflected.
War after war,
we expected
better days…

On Fridays today, under the sun,
they slaughter women,
and rape children.

On Fridays today, mosques turn into infernos,
and the rubber of the flip-flops burn the nostrils
of the bodies on the charred marble floors...

On Fridays now, the streets are quiet.
The silence bites at the ears of travelers,
who move in the shadows unseen,
praying to reach home whole...

On Fridays now, people drink dark coffee.
From one memorial to its neighbor,
the bitter taste becomes the custom.

On Fridays now, people fear the evening news.
War after war…,
they wonder if they have seen the worst…

The Konfused Kid posts snapshots from a week in hell. He concludes:
Life in the past week has made me confirm many deductions which I have wished to God that will not come true, From the moment I felt the harsh, cruel wind slap me like an angry mother ... I am filled with an immeasurable sense of loss and hate, HATE at everyone who took up an official seat and blurted words beyond a microphone. I am positive that my faith in my country has been shattered beyond repair once and for all...

The last time I wished I could stay in Iraq was when I went to college, I met many friends who I haven't seen in months, we laughed, we cuddled, we talked girls, movies and football like the old days, and it was this that I really wanted, the way everyone should live - but even there in my enclosed atmosphere of the college, something sinister evokes the darkness, like the half-torn death sign of my four friends who were killed three months earlier, or the fact that half of our department are leaving abroad

Despair is not the order of the day for Miraj. And to say she has been through hard times is an understatement:
I left my first company which was looted to a better job which was bombed by terrorists ... I spent weeks and months under 50 centigrade degrees where is no electricity , where you feel your soul is struggling to get out of your body to feel relieved , where I had to suffer watching my old father begging for air at nights. I cried again, I felt sick, I thought I lost my faith. ... I was attacked in my own house by a filthy animal. I screamed, I fell ,I injured myself while running away cowardly , I cursed my life and shouted why me, I couldn’t sleep for weeks,
But, as she asks, "Has she given up?" Her answer..
No! I took another job to evolve my skills... and I am proudly one of the best qualified people to build this country once it is cleaned.

No! I still have to go out in the night to operate the generator... I still take my father’s gun and search the house, room by room when ever I hear noise.

No! I am still here on line , writing and standing in your faces.

No! I am still holding on to my morals and values ... And proud of it.

And speaking of morals, Hala_s tells the stories of those who profited from the war. Like that of a friend whose husband made more than a million dollars in less than a year..
“Sub-contracting for what?” I asked. “Imaginary projects and useless ventures, this is how they make money these days in Iraq if you have the right connections inside the Green zone.”
Hala wonders what her friends father, who dies for his beliefs in an Iraqi prison in the Eighties, would have thought. But these are small fry..
The big ones don’t even enter Iraq.
One of the ex-patriots I came across recruits Iraqis from all over the world except from inside Iraq of course to join the re-building of Iraq project.
The amount of money those people are making is beyond belief.

Isn’t it a mystery that nothing absolutely nothing effective has been achieved on the ground as yet?
And their justification for such fraud? One friend tells her “... When I put the money I’m going to make and Iraq’s interest on the scale, the money weighed much more!” She wonders:
Where would my dream fit among the reality of those people I met with?

The truth is I couldn’t spell it out. I thought I would meet a group of enthusiasts dreaming like me of making Iraq a better place, not a bunch of chameleons who change their colours whenever an opportunity arises.

All I dream of is going back to Baghdad, open a small gym; that would be for the heart.
And for the pocket, I thought a small fancy flip flops factory in a village will do!

After talking about the living we must also remember those who have died. Zappy writes an obituary to Rasool "Brooh Oobook". He is no one famous or important, in fact the opposite. Zappy writes, "He’s a Young ignorant skinny Individual with many talents, he started as a shoeshine boy and was persistently dirty and ragged ... he used to beg for either a Cigarette or a 250 Iraqi Dinar Bill (approx 10 cents) telling us “Brooh Oobook” (on your Fathers soul) give me a 250." But all the shop keepers in the area knew who he was for his mischief and humor:
One day he told us that when he arrives to Paris, France and becomes the Ambassador there he would call us and laughs and spit on us.
... he gradually started cleaning Goldsmith shops and Cars and became picky which cars he cleaned “I prefer BMW’s because their owners are better than you stinky people” sitting crossed legs in front of us smoking our cigarettes and drinking my “Istikan” of tea.
Rasool died after someone "forgot a plastic bag" on his bus home.

And Finally...

The blogs are not all despair, and there are moments of extreme happiness. At last we can be treated to one of Sunshine's best stories. She heard a rumor that a famous Hollywood actor had mentioned her blog in an interview. It turns out it was Gary Sinise. But she could not find any reference to the interview on the Internet. So with the help of a friend, she finds his email address and sends him a letter. I'll let Sunshine describe what happened next...
In the next day I was checking my E-mails and I was shocked ,I received so many E-mails , telling me that I was mentioned in news channel MSNBC & that they said something about me, I kept searching but I couldn't find anything either ! Then I received a letter, my mom was watching TV, when I told her I received another letter she said "from whom? " (I didn't even imagine that the letter came from the famous actor Gary Sinise), my mom said at once " oh ,he might be him, I said "I don't know yet I will see ," I wasn't expecting that a famous actor would answer me that quickly , when I saw the subject of the letter I shouted "OH YES HE IS " I don't know what happened to me, I couldn't wait to read it (as you know the services are slow ) , I read it in a loud shaky voice , I was so happy , & excited , I kept shaking , & laughing , it was the best day ever , & of course couldn't sleep that night !!!
And Gary explains why the Iraqi blogs are so important. He wrote...
Hello Sunshine, So good to hear from you. Yes, I did mention your website on the radio because I think it is great what you are doing and I want people here in the United States to see what you have to say about life in Iraq today. We get a very uneven view of things because all we have is the media and they are sometimes very one sided. The media pretty much only shows us all the terrible things, the bombings and the death toll but not the everyday life of the Iraqi people. We do not know how the average Iraqi citizen feels about things there and you write very well about your life in Mosul. Just being a kid and going to school and trying to have a good life.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Been a while since I last reported from the Blogodrome. It was not the holiday that stopped me - it was the mountain of work after. It seems every one is back from holiday demanding my time. Anyway I'm back, Iraq is the same-old, same-old, well maybe a darker version of the same-old but Iraqi blogs are in a bit of a spin.

Ladybird had decided to stop blogging and wrote her goodbye (post was deleted), but an outcry from her readers brought her back and she is now blogging with a vengeance. Ali, of the blog A Free Iraq deleted his blog and one of the most active bloggers Truth About Iraqis has also boldly gone. He writes:
Those few, enlightened individuals in our histories - the Ghandis, Mandelas, Martin Luther Kings, Mother Theresas and so on - are such rare occurences that our societies revere them ... But that is defeatism at its loudest. It is not these people that should be held up high but the clarity of vision they sacrifice all for. ... By revering those brave individuals we are admitting that the human collective is itself cowardly. By saying these individuals are inspiring we are admitting that the human collective is uninspired. ... We use them to remind ourselves that there is always hope but we then proceed to quash any traces of it.

Which is why the enemy is within. And it is time to boldly go ...

And where is he going?
I am a Trekker. I have made no effort to hide that. I have loved science fiction all my life, ever since I was about six. ...

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction, its essence . . . has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.

This is the last blog entry for me. And so, I boldly go ... Live long and prosper

So what of the Iraqi blogosphere? Zeyad thinks that the 212 blogs enumerated at Iraq Blog Count is a poor showing given that Technorati tracked its 50 millionth blog. But, Omar counters with this:
The fact is, those 212 blogs listed here are only the tip on an iceberg as the mass of the Iraqi blogosphere remains unseen and grows below the surface and that's mostly because this mass is almost entirely written in Arabic and thus receives little if any global attention
and he links to an Iraqi blogging site that has 1558 individual members. Not all of these are active bloggers but neither are the 50 Mil tracked by Technorati. And I can add to that al Iraqi Community with at least 5000 members. Suddenly the blogodrome is that much larger!

If you read no other blog post this week, read this

Chikitita was inspired to write about the strength of women when she encountered a female bus driver in Baghdad for the first time:
My feelings were a mixture of hope, pride, happiness, respect you name it. I just kept looking at her with a smile drawn on my face. “Come on… that’s rude stop it!” I said to myself. Shifting my attention to the street, I noticed people, particularly men with gaping mouths, nudging each other whenever the minibus I was in passed.... I could have asked her how come she took this job, but I did not. Her face spoke volumes...

What matters is the fact that I proved to myself that women are not the weaker sex as they have been portrayed. Some of us might be stupid, but they are not weak. ... Reading through the press releases and communiqués I have worked on, I was often offended by the overuse of “women and children” to buy the sympathy of people, would-be donors and NGOs. I once asked, “why women and children”. Does this mean men are not worthy of people’s sympathy? The answer was always, “because those two are the weakest of the lot.”

That is not true. I am a woman, but never have I ever felt any weaker than men, whose strength is only physical. Even THAT is debatable. When my siblings and I were kids, my sister could smack my brother just as hard as he could smack her, whereas I could not; I used a very smart strategy that is “take him by surprise, tickle him and hail him with countless slaps and blows.” So when it comes to brains, I guess women are loads smarter.

Or this one:

After experiencing the war in Lebanon first hand Hala_s has been fighting to fall in love again with her life and friends in Britain, but no such luck:
What is frightening; is how submissive we are all becoming. We are starting to believe that there must be something seriously wrong with us. Let alone contributing to the new terms; radical Islam, moderate Islam, Islam phobia, axis of terror and today’s Islam fascists …
On the other hand, you meet others who are so angry and in constant rage; no reason no space for any kind of conversation.

The Media is turning us against each other to distract us from the real culprit, and at the same time accelerating hate and disgust from others toward us.

Can’t you see that we have been slaughtered for the last 50years ...

Can’t you see that we are the only ones who have to abide by UN resolutions or otherwise what is dictated by the US while others do what they want?

Can’t you see that even when we are bombed and maimed; it turns out to be our fault?

Above all can’t you see that the conspiracy theory we are accused of believing in is utterly the only reality?

I can confidently tell you that the 1815 corpses delivered to Baghdad morgue last month made the Israelis day, along with the daily murders in Lebanon.

Wake up, our lives and destinies revolve around the happiness and safety of Israel. And those aliens Israelis who don’t speak our language and don’t share our culture have more right to exist in our own land than us. ...

Don’t tell me we’d rather have moderate people, there isn’t such thing. Where does moderation come from? You are moderate when you live in moderate surroundings.

The Week In Politics

Baghdad Connect marks the return of Abu-Ghraib prison to Iraqi control by giving an interpretation of the American abuse of prisoners way above the head of most political editors:
The conduct of the American interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison was in fact to unwrap and ‘de-tattooing’ the cultural identity of the Iraqi people by the ‘redeployment’ of human bodies within new social landscape.

Changing the lines of a body will result in removing the ethnic identities ... to reshape the ‘personhood’ of a society in order to prevail and to eventually exercise power.

The humans pyramid shape of exposed anuses of Iraqi prisoners was an interpretation of Americans defiance through associating excrement discharge to their experience. By doing so the Americans have blatantly challenged the world community with their unpopular war...

Body mutilation, humiliation etc. had been for thousands years part of ancestral comportment to redefine, punish or introduce new social orders in peoples’ lives. ... The body in the end becomes a ‘political field’.

What's in a flag? The controversy over the Iraqi flag raised a few heckles. Zappy suggests Mr. Barzani goes hit his head on a thick wall. "If you have no pride in your nation’s flag then you can “leave Iraq”. He says that the Kurds were killed and tortured by the governments of Iraq raising this flag, I say what's that got to do with the flag?". While Omar finds the whole argument childish, needless and dangerous. He write: "The behavior of both leaders ... sends a wrong message at a time when the government is supposedly trying to persuade groups and parties to join the reconciliation plan. Now if the "reasonable, responsible and moderate" leaders are acting like this, how can we expect violent and undisciplined groups to believe in the national cause?" And Riot Starter gives the politicians a piece of her mind:
ALL Iraqis had suffered under that flag, Arabs or kurds, Muslims or Chrisitans or other. Everybody had suffered under the flag, slaughtered and murdered or sent out on war in the name of hate. ... Chan este7eto! [you should be ashamed] It's been some 3 years since you have come to power, and nothing has improved yet. You've only been stealing for the past three years, and it's been out in the open since day one.

After the shooting of a British Tourist in Amman, Zeyad blasts media bias:"Again, Al-Jazeera's first newsflash on the incident announced that Iraqis were behind the attack. It's almost as if it's a case of wishful thinking... However, it turned out the gunman was a Jordanian of Palestinian origin from the town of Al-Rusayfa, near Al-Zarqa (the hometown of slain Zarqawi)."

Neurotic Wife was so seriously annoyed that Hubby wanted to return to his old job in Iraq that she tears apart the myth of reconstruction:
what kind of rebuilding is taking place...we were there....we saw the reality of projects...A school that was in shambles, was renovated by painting the walls walls WILL NOT enhance the education of the Iraqi kids!!! Where are the kids in the first place???Almost many of the parents have refrained from sending their children to the schools because of the security situation...Most of the teachers have fled...either in hiding or left the country for good....WOW great rebuilding!!!

Take hospitals, whats the point of putting some new medical equipment, or painting the maternity rooms orange when the doctors have become a prime target for kidnappers and terrorists...You go there and theres no one to look after you...Nurses and doctors decided to seek a better life in Jordan, Syria or the UAE....Your only salvation is maybe the newly painted orange wall staring back at you...aha great efforts...

The roads and bridges that were renovated, are prime targets for bombs and highway bandits...I mean cmon...Rebuilding...yes its there...The money has been spent...More money is gonne be spent, but for what....and for who...

Whither the Iraqi Government? Iraqi blogs have been alive with speculation that the days of the Iraqi government are numbered. Baghdad Connect reported that Condoleeza Rice allegedly told the Iraqi Prime Minister "We are Ironing Saddam’s clean shirt for November (thanksgiving day). Until then if you couldn’t pull it through then we will make Saddam wear it again or have it tailored for someone of his size!" Normally I would have discounted this as a fun rumor until I read that the New York Times quoted a US official saying that the Americans are considering "alternatives other than democracy" in Iraq. Then Mohammed at Iraq The Model found an Iraqi perspective to the story quoting other unnamed officials:
The report was published on the Iraqi website of Sot al-Iraq, a website run by Iraqi intellectual mostly in exile. The scenario or "plan" predicted by the author of the story says that the US is going to offer Iraqi military and government one last chance to control the situation and prevent the sectarian violence from turning into open civil war ... This "last chance" doesn't lack a deadline and according to the report the deadline is supposed to be somewhere between September and October, ... However upon failure of military efforts and if civil war breaks out the report says the following steps will be taken:

1-Declaring Iraq a zone of genocide and referring the Iraqi file back to the UN Security Council under resolution 1483.

2-After getting appropriate new resolution from the UNSC, the US and allies return to assume all security responsibilities in Iraq.

3-Dismising the current Iraqi government and parliament.

4- Appointing a US military leader for Iraq.

5-The constitution of Iraq remains active but with articles concerning governance suspended.

6-Appointing an Iraqi civil administration consisting exclusively of technocrats with no religious, sectarian or ethnic leanings to assist the US lead military administration in running the affairs of the country.

7-Holding general elections in the country under international supervision at least 2-4 years from the beginning of the implementation of the plan.

But Mohammed is not inspired by the plan because "the doubts among the masses that America came only to replace one dictator with another and not to spread democracy will become a fact" and "that would be exactly what authoritarian regimes in the region want and would give them a chance to declare the war ended with a victory for dictatorships."

And Finally

Morbid Smile is in America! After the heart rending disappointment of being thrown out of her Fulbright Scholarship because all the prospective Universities turned her down. And then recently she received a call from Fulbright saying they had a late email from a university... and two weeks later she is in America.

I like happy endings.

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