View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Thursday, March 20, 2003

Here's a link you should know about: Iraq Body Count. Since General Tommy Franks has said, "We don't do body counts," this site is attempting to let the world know how many Iraqi civilians are killed in this war. You can go to their site and read an incident-by-incident database. Right now the number stands at 16. Marc Herold, who researched the number of Afghanis killed by our forces, is a consultant for the project.

The site provides this disturbing information:

The B-2 bomber carries sixteen 2,000 lb. JDAM bombs. If all goes 100% as planned (the bomb does not fall outside of its specified margin of error of 13 meters, and the GPS guidance system is not foiled by a $50 radio jammer kit, easily purchased), then here is what one such bomb does :

everyone within a 120 meter radius is killed;

to be safe from serious shrapnel damage, a
person must be at least 365 meters away;

to be really safe from all effects of
fragmentation, a person must be 1000 meters away, according to Admiral Stufflebeem.

The B-2s will be used upon targets within Baghdad

We're at war.

On this, the first day of spring, I woke up to the news that the war had begun. It was no surprise, of course. How did the world react to this news?

In Britain, 8,000 school children walked out of their classes yesterday to protest the war. Eight thousand! At some of the schools, the gates were chained to keep the children from going out. But they went anyway. They closed a tunnel, they stage a die-in, they expressed their solidarity with Iraqi children.

Three hours after the first bombs dropped on Baghdad, 20,000 people took to the streets in Australia, including 8000 protestors in Sydney. They even egged a government official's car and hit it with their signs in their anger.

Crowds in Damascus marched on the Egyptian and the Qatar embassies, and tried to advance on the American embassy before being forced back. Marchers and police clashed in Amman and Cairo, as well. In Athens, 100,000 people marched, many of them high school students. In Italy, tens of thousands took part in spontaneous marches and rallies all over the country.

In Asia, police beefed up security around Western embassies and airports. Pakistan put an additional 1,000 police in the streets of Karachi. The U.S. embassy in Indonesia may actually close temporarily. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, and anger there is strong.

Within minutes of the U.S. attack on Iraq--not, of course, the BIG attack, which is yet to come--anti-war protestors in Vancouver were in the streets with bullhorns, urging people to march on the U.S. Consulate. Small groups in Toronto and elsewhere who showed up for rallies are planning larger ones for today.

In the United States, many, many vigils and rallies are planned today to protest the war. In San Francisco, protestors blocked intersections and paralyzed traffic in parts of downtown. Groups closed freeway exits from the San Franciso-Oakland Bay bridge for brief periods. There were many arrests. In Los Angeles, Wilshire Boulevard was closed for two hours when protestors lay down in the middle of the street.

Meanwhile, the pro-war forces have participated in rallies sponsored by media giant Clear Channel. The company owns and operates 1,233 radio stations and claims 100 million listeners. This is the first known time that a media outlet has done such a thing, which seems to me to cross a line. But remember, Clear Channel was the same outfit that released a list of songs not to be played on its radio stations after 9/11. (Included in the list were such subversive titles as "Bridge Over Troubled Water.) "They're just patriotic rallies," explained a spokeswoman. Yeah.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

This is it, then.

I know you have the same feelings I do: sadness and grief, anger, a sense of betrayal, fear and sorrow for what is about to occur, for the loss of life and for the survivors whose lives will never be the same. I feel sickened, quite literally, by the mendacity, the greed, the hubris, the naked and shameless lust for power on the part of this administration.

If you find yourself arguing with people who support this disastrous war, you need to read this piece, or perhaps send it to them. It exposes, one by one, the lies that Bush had the chutzpah to deliver with a straight face in his address to the nation last night.

Antiwar.com has put up on its site "Shine, Perishing Republic," a poem by Robinson Jeffers (written in 1963). Please read it. It movingly expresses some of what I'm feeling, the deep regret and sadness at seeing what this nation has come to.

Eli Pariser, in an e-mail from MoveOn.org, writes, "We must remember in this dark moment that we have come a long way. By working for peace around the globe, millions of people have successfully challenged the justness of this war on a world stage. We have persuaded governments to heed their peoples' call to peace, and helped the United Nations maintain its integrity. We all have been part of a historic mobilization of the citizens of the globe. It will change everything. And in the end, we will win."

That's what I'm trying to do: to realize that people from all over the world acted together for peace. That the governments of the U.S. and its pro-war allies ignored us does not negate the tremendous force for peace that we were able to generate. The global peace movement has shown that we, the people of the world, citizens of planet Earth, can organize our energy and our sense of justice into a formidable power. In the future we must try to organize that power to put into place governments that have the true interests of their citizens at heart. I will never forget the millions of people who rallied and marched for peace on the same day in a massive rejection of war.

MoveOn is asking that you put a light in your window to symbolize your continued commitment to "a vision of how the world should be -- of how nations should treat each other, of how we can collectively deal with threats to our security." Light a candle, string some Christmas lights, place a lantern or light bulb in your window. Think of it as a symbol of hope in this very dark time. And if you do, please go here to let MoveOn know that you're taking part.

See pictures of the candlelight vigils that were held around the world on Sunday night. There were over 6,000 vigils held.

Monday, March 17, 2003

On the Eve of War

It's about to happen: the war we've been dreading, the war we so much hoped a miracle would prevent.

But antiwar activists are still working: see below for upcoming actions you can participate in.

Ethan and I went to Lapeer Saturday morning and joined the half-dozen people in front of the old courthouse to show our opposition to the war in Iraq. One person honked at us and gave the thumbs up sign, but we were met with a lot of hostility, mainly by young guys in pickup trucks. One such person stopped his truck right in the middle of the street and rolled down his window to yell at us. He seemed enraged, as did a couple of other guys on the other side of the street. Funny that a few people with anti-war signs can bring such rage bubbling to the surface. I blew them kisses.


Get thee to Vote to Impeach and sign up! Bush is not even our elected leader, and his hubris and reckless disregard for peace, justice, and human life demonstrate that he's got to go.

Veterans Against the Iraq War has announced demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco on March 23. Veterans can sign their statement of purpose on the link above.

View the letter to President Bush, signed by 1,000 veterans, opposing war in Iraq.

There's a movement afoot to get the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and Nobel Peace Laureates to travel to Baghdad in order to avert war. The thinking is that even the United States government would be reluctant to bomb a city that housed such a high-profisle supporter of peace. This seems like a long shot to me, but go here to find out more.

United for Peace is sponsoring a March for Peace and Democracy in New York City this Saturday, March 22.

Day After events listed here and here. There are many vigils, rallies, and actions planned for immediately after the invasion of Iraq. Find out where you can go to show your solidarity with other anti-war activists and your opposition to this unjust and immoral conflict.

Local events held in Michigan are listed here. Click on the city nearest you.

Baghdad Blog; Independent Journalist

Stumbled across a blog written by a young man in Baghdad. To get a feel for what it's like to prepare for an unprecedented pre-emptive assault by world's most powerful nation, read a few entries. The comments are interesting as well, coming as they do from both proponents and opponents of the war.

An independent journalist plans to report from Kurdistan, sending stories via his laptop to his blog. Read about it in Wired News.

Laughing to Keep from Crying

Amy sent me this link, and it's a good one! Bush parodies, including Ring of the War Lords poster and other satiric visuals. Be patient, it takes a while to load.

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