war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Exciting New Blog on Women in Iraq
This came in my e-mail today:
My name is Thierry Robin. I'm a freelance reporter and a member of the ABIR association. I will go on a trip to Iraq from 8th to 22nd of October and I will blog from Baghdad about women's rights (in French and in English). I thought you could be interested in this initiative and that's why I'm contacting you.
The ABIR is the "Association au Bénéfice des Irakiennes et de leurs familles," which, as far as I can tell, means roughly "Association to Benefit Iraqi Women and Their Families" (Hannah, help me out on this!).
With other members of ABIR, we will bring material to a dispensary and an orphanage. We will also meet Hanaa Edward from the local NGO "Al Amal" and other persons involved in the promotion of women's rights in Iraq. It will be an opportunity for me to make several reports with the aim of catching people's attention about the appalling fate of Iraqi women and girls: Sexual violence, abductions and murders are widespread, preventing the women from taking
part in the postwar society.
Ms. Robin's weblog is here.
I'm sure you all join me in wishing the best to Ms. Robin, and I'm sure we all look forward to whatever insights she gains into the situation of women and girls in Iraq today, as the CPA touts the new freedoms Iraqis now enjoy.
Friday, October 10, 2003
We Knew It Was Coming: Dems Propose Military Draft
From The Hill:
Key Democrats in the House and Senate will renew calls for the military draft as part of a critical barrage they are preparing to launch against President Bush over the length of troop deployments and the heavy reliance on reservists in Iraq.
For months many of us have been worrying about this. It's no secret that the US military is stretched thin, and it doesn't look like our troops will be getting much help in Iraq from other nations (and who can blame them?). BushCo clearly has no intention of leaving Iraq any time in the foreseeable future; we have forces all over the world, including Afghanistan, which continues to be chaotic; war rhetoric is regularly aimed at Iran and Syria; and meanwhile, the troops suffer from lack of supplies, poor living conditions, bad food, and indefinitely lengthened deployments. Something's got to give.
Military experts outside Congress say there is a political advantage to be gained by Democrats who want to make the president squirm at a time a growing frustration among military families and other Americans over the occupation.
But they also say that there are legitimate policy grounds for re-instituting the draft, which was phased out after the Vietnam war.
But this move on the part of Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) and Sen. Fritz Hollings (S.C.) looks to me, more than anything, like a way to attack Bush. It dramatically focuses attention on the fact that Bush's lack of planning has failed in Iraq and has left the troops--an inadequate number of them, at that--exposed as sitting ducks. Calls for the troops to come home grow daily, with many of those calls coming from military families themselves. To say that a draft is necessary because we can't otherwise maintain the necessary numbers in Iraq and elsewhere is to point a finger at the administration responsible for getting us into this fix in the first place. It calls into question the imperialist ambitions of this administration.
In addition, complaints from Reserves and National Guard troops are pouring into Congressional offices. The extensive use of these forces, which were never meant to be used as if they were regular Army, has come under heavy criticism. The Dems can respond by saying, "You're right, we shouldn't be doing that. But we don't have enough soldiers in the regular Army. So we need a draft." This allows the Dems to show that they don't believe the Reserves and the Guard should have such a large role.
A draft would stir up an uproar, but would the uproar be against those who proposed it or against the BushCo policies that got us into such a tight spot? Obviously, these Congressmen think it will make things hot for Bush.
I'm here to say that regardless of any motives behind the introduction of military conscription, I'm against it. I thought we outlawed involuntary servitude back in the 1860s and I don't want to see a return in any way, shape, or form. There is nothing that can ever convince me that a nation has the right to force young men and women to put their lives on the line, nothing that can justify uprooting them from their lives and forcing them to learn how to kill or to support killing.
Let's hope Hollings and Rangel get nowhere with this, even if it would make Bush squirm.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Iran and... Cuba?
I did a double take when I saw this article: Iran, Cuba call for expansion of mutual cooperation. Then I remembered that Cuba kindly scrambles the satellite TV signals being sent up by Iranian dissidents in the US, preventing them from ever reaching Iran. (Iran can't scramble them as they return to earth, because at that point the signal is much too dispersed.) Cuban Minister Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz "called for exchange of visits by officials, scientists, and experts from the two countries to help further expand mutual cooperation."
Oh dear... surely they don't mean nuclear officials, scientists, and experts....
Soldiers Consider Going AWOL
And who can blame them? Deployments stretch endlessly before them while conditions in the field continue to be morale-busters.
A hotline that gives advice to GI's reports a 75% increase in calls over the past 12 weeks, with many soldiers investigating the consequences of going AWOL. Many calls are from soldiers who are among the first to receive two-week authorized leaves, and who are seriously considering not returning for duty.
Shades of Vietnam!
Oppose "Marriage Protection Week"
Let the pResident know how you feel about his decision to declare Oct. 12-18 as "Marriage Protection Week." This has been pushed by the Coalition to Protect Marriage as a way to kick off their attempt to write an amendment into the Constitution prohibiting gay marriage.
The Human Rights Campaign urges us to e-mail and call the White House to oppose this official declaration.
I'll do it, but we all know that Bush is playing to his base here. Still, it's nice to go on record.
Help Stop Global Warming
Environmental Defense has mounted a campaign to pass the Climate Stewardship Act, a bill sponsored by John McCain and Joseph Lieberman that would require reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Click here to find out more and to add your name to the 150,000 who have already signed a petition supporting this bill.
What I've Been Doing
The good thing about not posting for two weeks is that I haven't had to blog about The Plame Affair. Others are doing a far better job on that than I ever could. See, for instance, David Corn on the impossibility of believably spinning this thing. Neither have I had to write about the failure to find WMD (big surprise, eh?) nor the whole disgusting Arnie thing. I've taken a break from getting too wrapped up in the news for the past two weeks and have concentrated instead on tasks immediately at hand.
It's that time of year when the abundance of the garden has to be dealt with. On September 30, frost warnings were up and we had to haul in every last cold-sensitive veggie in the garden. Naturally, it didn't even freeze that night, but it did the next night, and it was such a nasty evening we were glad we'd gotten everything in the night before. Ever since then I've been trying to deal with the overload of tomatoes, peppers, veggies, etc.
This entailed cleaning out the freezer so I could get all the new stuff in there. What a job! Then I decided to dry the frozen food from last year's garden and make vegetable powder out of it.
In addition, Jim picked some Concord grapes and we made grape jam as well as wine. We started the wine on the second ferment last night after pressing the grapes. (It's always something.)
Anyway, despite the mountain of tomatoes and eggplants in the kitchen, I'm back and ready to take on the global realities.