Iraq Says No Hard Evidence of Iran Support For Militia + US drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

Dandelion Salad


BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq said on Sunday it has no evidence that Iran was supplying militias engaged in fierce street fighting with security forces in Baghdad.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said there was no “hard evidence” of involvement by the neighbouring Shiite government of Iran in backing Shiite militiamen in the embattled country.

Asked about US reports that weapons captured from Shiite fighters bore 2008 markings suggesting Iranian involvement, Dabbagh said: “We don’t have that kind of evidence… If there is hard evidence we will defend the country.”

Tehran strongly opposes the US military presence in Iraq, while Washington has repeatedly accused Iranian groups of arming and training Shiite militia groups in its neighbour.

Iran, whose ties with Washington have been severed since 1980, strongly denies the allegations.



United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

by Michael Smith
The Sunday Times
May 4, 2008

The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.

Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.

However, US commanders are increasingly concerned by Iranian interference in Iraq and are determined that recent successes by joint Iraqi and US forces in the southern port city of Basra should not be reversed by the Quds Force.


h/t: CLG
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The All-White Elephant in the Room + Hagee compares Roman Church to Hitler

Dandelion Salad

by Frank Rich
May 4, 2008

BORED by those endless replays of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? If so, go directly to YouTube, search for “John Hagee Roman Church Hitler,” and be recharged by a fresh jolt of clerical jive. [DS: see video below.]

What you’ll find is a white televangelist, the Rev. John Hagee, lecturing in front of an enormous diorama. Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is “the Great Whore,” Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking “the blood of the Jewish people.” That’s because the Great Whore represents “the Roman Church,” which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.

Mr. Hagee is not a fringe kook but the pastor of a Texas megachurch. On Feb. 27, he stood with John McCain and endorsed him over the religious conservatives’ favorite, Mike Huckabee, who was then still in the race.

Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video — far from the only one — was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes. Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops.



Video has been removed.

John Hagee compares † Roman Church † to Hitler


Added: January 01, 2008

Video has been removed.


Clips From Hagee’s Sermons – Scary Stuff (video)

Cannon Fodder For The Rapture – The Children of Palestine & Israel

Bill Moyers Journal: The GOP’s Nominee + Christians United For Israel (CUFI)

Jesus Christ, Revolution and Socialism (subtitled)

Bill Moyers Journal: Essay on Jeremiah Wright (video)

Max and the Marginalized: Teflon John (cartoon video!)

Shadowing Slaughter in Sadr City By Hala Jaber

Dandelion Salad

By Hala Jaber
04/05/03 “The Times

As the first UK journalist to be embedded with the rebel Mahdi Army, Hala Jaber reports on its terrifying battle

On a bare patch of ground outside the entrance to Sadr general hospital, 15 women clad from head to foot in black squatted in a sandstorm, wailing and waiting for their dead.

Lightning flashed, thunder rolled and the women’s robes were spattered with mud falling from a sky filled with rain and sand, but they did not notice.

“Ya’mma, Ya’ba” (“Oh mother, oh father”), cried Amira Zaydan, a 45-year-old spinster, slapping her face and chest as she grieved for her parents Jaleel, 65, and Hanounah, 60, whose house had exploded after apparently being hit by an American rocket.

“Where are you, my brothers?” she sobbed, lamenting Samir, 32, and Amir, 29, who had also perished along with their wives, one of whom was nine months pregnant.

“What wrong have you done, my children?” she howled to the spirits of four nephews and nieces who completed a toll of 10 family members in the disaster that struck last Tuesday. “Mothers, children, babies; all obliterated for nothing.”

The keening of Zaydan and her distraught circle of friends was drowned out briefly by sirens shrieking as ambulances sped through the hospital gateway with the latest consignment of casualties from a brutal battle that has been raging for the past month in Sadr City, a slum of more than 2m souls on the eastern side of Baghdad.

Doctors and nurses with pinched faces darted out of the dilapidated hospital to greet the wounded and dying, while administrators stared at the weeping women and saw that they were beyond comforting.

Zaydan had hardly moved from the hospital for 24 hours since her family’s home was demolished as she and her sister Samira, 43, prepared lunch. Neighbours were trying to dig bodies out of the debris when another rocket landed, killing at least six rescuers.

Apart from the two sisters, the family’s only survivor was their brother Ahmad, 25, who arrived at the hospital with leg injuries and shock. “I lost everybody,” was all he could say.

On Wednesday afternoon, Zaydan was still waiting for seven family members to be disinterred from the rubble and delivered to Sadr general. The other three were in the morgue, among them a nephew, aged three, lying on a trolley in a puddle of blood from a head wound.

The child was another helpless victim of a clash between titanic powers which has killed 935 people and wounded 2,605. Even by the callous standards of Iraq’s cruel war, this is a ruthless struggle. Most of the dead and injured have been civilians.

On one side is the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army of the radical Shi’ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, which is defending Sadr City, its biggest stronghold, with a resilience it failed to show when it ceded parts of the southern port of Basra last month.

On the other is the American-backed Iraqi army of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, which launched an offensive on March 30 with the aim of seizing control of the city but which took only one southern district before its advance was halted.

The fight between Sadr and Maliki, between the dirt-poor who look to the firebrand cleric for inspiration and the relatively secure who support the prime minister, is one that neither side can afford to lose.

Last week the Mahdi fighters took advantage of the sandstorms, which grounded US helicopters, to blast the Iraqi army’s front line positions with roadside bombs, mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and machinegun fire.

Embedded with them for four days and three nights, I witnessed the fighting at close quarters, learnt of preparations being made by Mahdi special forces to spread the violence to other parts of Baghdad and heard their commanders swear to paralyse the government and destroy Maliki if their own leader authorises all-out war.

The battle of Sadr City, with all the human misery it entails, is in danger of spilling out across the capital, reversing the security gains that followed last summer’s American troop surge.

It is little wonder that US commanders say the Shi’ite militias backed by Iran now pose a greater threat than the Sunni insurgents who were their deadliest enemies when Al-Qaeda in Iraq was at its peak.

“We can bring Baghdad to a standstill,” boasted one Mahdi commander. “Be assured that when all-out war is eventually declared, we will be able to take over the city.”

No sooner had I arrived in Sadr City than my escorts received word that an attack was about to be launched on Al-Quds Road, the dividing line between the Mahdi forces to the north and the Iraqi army to the south.

Sand was swirling through the air as a fresh storm stirred and the men knew this presented them with an opportunity.

“Allah is on our side,” said one. “They bombard us with artillery, war planes and helicopters at will. Maliki has the entire US air force behind his army and all we need is a bit of sand to bring it to a standstill.”

As we reached the narrow streets that ran down to Al-Quds Road, nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary at first. But one by one, young men in western jeans and T-shirts appeared from the alleyways with machineguns or rifles slung across their shoulders. They grinned, patted each other’s backs and uttered the greeting “Peace be with you”, before getting down to the business of war.

Two snipers had already entered shattered buildings overlooking the highway beyond which the Iraqi army was hunkered down. The dozen or so gunmen who had congregated in front of me ran forwards 50 yards to take up their positions. Then one of them briefly broke cover to open fire with his AK47 assault rifle. Another stepped round a corner and unleashed a volley of bullets from a heavy-calibre machinegun, followed by another and another.

As the Mahdi positions came under equally heavy machinegun fire in turn, the noise reached a crescendo with an exchange of mortar rounds that smashed shops on either side of Al-Quds Road, showering the whole area with shards of debris. The cacophony faded, only to be replaced by the whizz of snipers’ bullets shooting up the street. It was time to take cover.

My escort hammered on the gates of the nearest house and a woman ushered me into her courtyard, introducing herself as Salma Jamila, an unmarried teacher aged 40 who lived with her elderly parents. When she heard that I had come to report on the fighting, she fetched a small plastic chair and propped it against the yard wall so that I could peep over it to see what was happening.

Evidently a cool hostess in a crisis, she disappeared into her kitchen and returned beaming with bottles of orange juice on a tray as mortar rounds crashed on to the road less than 100 yards away.

Stranger still, another guest arrived, a cousin and Mahdi Army commander named Abu Ali who was enjoying a day off. He hugged Jamila, explained that he had come to visit her father and chatted away about how he had been arrested a few days earlier.

“One of the officers with the Iraqi army is a Mahdi sympathiser and he arranged for me to be released within two hours,” he said with a smile. “We have quite a number of Mahdi people in the army and they tip us off about certain movements.”

The violence died down as suddenly as it had flared up and some of the fighters shouted that it was all over. A man with a relaxed manner and a Russian rifle on his back sauntered past. I asked him how old he was.

“Twenty-three,” he answered. “Young for a sniper,” I said. He shrugged.

“I killed two Iraqi soldiers,” he replied, and strolled away.

Another passing fighter, a well-built man with fair skin, said he had set fire to an Iraqi tank with a rocket. There was no way to verify either account.

The men exchanged information for a few moments before walking off in different directions. Some were collected by cars as they approached neighbouring streets incongruously thronged with shoppers inured to shooting and buying food for the evening meal.

It was around 6pm, as we were driving towards the centre of Sadr City, that another call came through and we headed back to the front line. This time Mahdi fighters were trying to push back Iraqi army and American forces.

Several people were said to be buried under collapsed buildings and the Mahdi Army – which, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, has made itself popular by providing welfare services to local people – had decided to take responsibility for rescuing them, even if that meant fighting its way to the scene.

Driving along roads lined with open sewers, past children playing football in winding alleys and old women peering out from their doorways, we reached a point where men on street corners were handing cold water to fighters taking a break from the front line.

We parked and moved forwards through ranks of Mahdi Army fighters who had lined an alleyway with rocket-launchers, rifles and machineguns. The sound of sniper fire intensified but the hardened militiamen who were accompanying me paid no attention.

The regular thud of mortars and the relentless clatter of machineguns indicated that the fighting here was far more intense than it had been earlier on Al-Quds Road.

As we rounded a corner, I noticed a school 100 yards ahead on the right-hand side. I was wondering how long it would be before the pupils could return when an explosion almost knocked us off our feet. An artillery shell had landed in the playground and the classrooms were shattered by shrapnel.

I froze with fear. For the second time that day, a fighter rapped on the nearest house gate and I was beckoned into a secluded courtyard. So shaken was I that my legs barely carried me into the house. I squatted on the floor to catch my breath.

Three spinsters produced a large bottle of fizzy drink from a shop they ran from their house. As before, the fighting subsided after about half an hour and we returned to our vehicle.

The inconclusive nature of both confrontations witnessed suggested that neither side could be confident of gaining the upper hand.

The Iraqi army may have the superior fire-power but Mahdi commanders were eager to show off their own arsenal. Seven of them gathered in a single-storey concrete house to display weapons ranging from mainly American-made guns, including M16 and M18 rifles, to homemade roadside bombs known as raaed, or thunder.

“Our bombs are not Iranian-made – they are produced locally,” said one commander. “Any Mahdi fighter can put one together.”

The plastic cylinders packed with gunpowder, TNT and C4 explosives came in four sizes, he explained: 5kg and 15kg for use against small military vehicles, and 25kg and 50kg against armoured personnel carriers.

Another commander, who gave his name as Abu Ahmad, was limping from an injury sustained one week into the battle when his unit set an American tank on fire, only to be wiped out by a helicopter gunship.

He spoke softly as he described seeing his best friend, Uday al-Dulemi, killed in front of him. Dulemi’s father refused to accept condolences and insisted that his “martyred” son’s burial be treated as his wedding day. He said that if his three other sons in the Mahdi Army were killed too, he would volunteer himself.

The Mahdi Army also claims to have a secret weapon at its disposal. Its elite special forces, called “The Nerves of the Righteous – the Islamic Resistance in Iraq”, are said to be lying in wait in sleeper cells across the country, ready to carry out unspecified “spectacular” attacks against coalition forces.

Many of the members, known as “shadows”, have been trained in Iran.

According to a senior aide to Moqtada al-Sadr, they are capable of raining down missiles on the heavily protected Green Zone where the Iraqi government and US military are based, causing disarray among Iraq’s security forces and halting the work of ministries.

They have also created a potential “ring of fire” around Sadr City that could be ignited in the event of a full-scale offensive by Maliki.

Whether Sadr or Maliki will order an escalation of the conflict in the days ahead depends on efforts to secure a resolution.

Sadr is understood to believe that his rival has set out to destroy his power bases in Baghdad and Basra to ensure that he is a spent force before local elections in the autumn. He is resisting demands by Maliki for 500 named Mahdi “criminals” to be handed over. In turn, Sadr is demanding that the Iraqi army stay out of Sadr City indefinitely.

The negotiations hang in the balance but one thing is certain: if the two Shi’ite leaders fail to resolve their differences, it is the civilians of Sadr City who will suffer for it.

At Sadr general hospital last week, Amira Zaydan was by no means the only woman mourning her family. Beside her sat her neighbour Um Aseel Ali, who had lost her husband and three boys, aged six, four and two, when their house was blown up by a rocket.

“As I ran to them, the second rocket dropped,” she cried. “I started shouting their names. I looked for them and tried to dig through the rubble. What fault did we commit for this? What wrong have we done to Maliki?”

While she spoke, another woman, Um Marwa Muntasser, wept softly. Her pregnant daughter Marwa survived the same attack but was being kept under sedation, unaware that her husband Samir, her four-year-old boy, Sajad, and her two-year-old girl, Ayat, had all been killed.

“Was my daughter a fighter?” asked Muntasser. “My daughter was not a fighter. She and her family were innocent civilians minding their own business and now they are dead.” The toll in the row of six houses inhabited by these families climbed to 25.

A spokesman for the US military, which has lost at least nine men in Sadr City, said a vehicle carrying an injured soldier had been hit by two roadside bombs, gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, and at least 28 “extremists” had died in subsequent fighting. He said there had been no American air strikes that day but US ground forces had fired rockets at “militants firing from buildings, alleyways and roof-tops”. “We have every right to defend ourselves,” he added.

Witnesses in Sadr City, however, told of a second multiple rocket attack on four houses on the same afternoon in which at least five civilians died.

I found Lina Mohsen, 24, walking in a daze at the hospital, her face covered in brown dust. One minute she had been watching her 18-month-old toddler Ali play in the courtyard of their home, she said; the next, a rocket had struck.

“I began screaming for him, shouting his name, trying to find him, but I couldn’t see him for dust and smoke,” she said. Eventually, she saw that he was dead.

“I blame Maliki and his government and all those who are sitting in power and letting this happen,” she said. Then she burst into tears and walked away.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Last War & the Next One By Tom Engelhardt

Iraq: Corruption Eats Into Food Rations by Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail

Iraq: Corruption Eats Into Food Rations by Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail

Dandelion Salad

by Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail
Global Research, May 4, 2008
Inter Press Service – 2008-05-02

FALLUJAH, May 2 (IPS) – Amidst unemployment and impoverishment, Iraqis now face a cutting down of their monthly food ration – much of it already eaten away by official corruption.

Iraqis survived the sanctions after the first Gulf War (1990) with the support of rations through the Public Distribution System (PDS). The aid was set up in 1995 as part of the UN’s Oil-for-Food programme.

The sanctions were devastating nevertheless. Former UN programme head Hans von Sponeck said in 2001 that the sanctions amounted to “a tightening of the rope around the neck of the average Iraqi citizen.” Von Sponeck said the sanctions were causing the death of 150 Iraqi children a day.

Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq who quit his post in protest against the sanctions, told IPS they had proved “genocidal” for Iraqis.

During more than five years of U.S.-occupation, the situation has become even worse. The rationing system has been crumbling under poor management and corruption.

From the beginning of this year, the rations delivered were reduced from 10 items to five.

“We used the PDS as counter-propaganda against Saddam Hussein’s regime before the U.S. occupation of Iraq began in 2003,” Fadhil Jawad of the Dawa Party led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told IPS in Baghdad. “But then we found it necessary to maintain basic support for Iraqi people under occupation. We blamed Saddam for feeding Iraqis like animals with simple rations of food — that we fail to provide now.”

“When the Americans came to occupy Iraq, they promised us a better life,” Ina’m Majeed, a teacher at a girls school told IPS in Fallujah. “After killing our sons and husbands, they are killing us by hunger now. The food ration that was once enough for our survival is now close to nothing, and the market prices are incredibly high. It is impossible for 80 percent of Iraqis now to buy the same items they used to get from the previous regime’s food rations.”

Ina’m’s husband was killed in a U.S. air strike during the April 2004 siege of her city, leaving her with four children to bring up.

A World Food Programme (WFP) report in May 2006 found that just over four million people in Iraq were “food-insecure and in dire need of different kinds of humanitarian assistance.”

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in April 2007, of the four million Iraqis who cannot regularly buy enough to eat, only 60 percent had access to PDS rations. The situation is worse today.

The former Iraqi ministry of trade used to distribute fair quantities of food in the PDS, then low quality food at the beginning of the UN sanctions. The quantities were reduced after the sanctions lasted longer than the former government expected. After Iraq signed the memo of understanding in 1996 with the UN, the quality and quantity of food notably improved.

“Do not blame Iraqis for calling the sanctions days ‘the good old days’ because they were definitely good compared to the dark days we are living under U.S. occupation,” Abu Aymen, a 45-year-old lawyer with eight children told IPS in Fallujah. “All Iraqis complained about life under Saddam’s regime because it was bad, but it seems that all the good things, little as they were, have been taken away along with his statues.”

Aymen added, “We used to get cheese, powdered milk for us and our children, shaving paste and blades, tomato paste, special food for children, beans, soap and cleaning detergents, and even chicken, as well as basic foods like flour, rice, cooking oil, tea and sugar. Now we get bullets and missiles and polluted food and medicines.”

Haj Chiad, a PDS distribution agent in Fallujah, told IPS that he now also distributes illness.

“I used to deliver food, but now I distribute poison with it,” he said. “It has happened many times during the past four years that the food given to us by the ministry of trade was either rotten or actually poisoned. We distributed rice and sugar from sacks that had been stored a long time in damp places, and tomato paste that was long past its expiry date before we received it.”

The Iraqi parliament’s Committee for Integrity has demanded comprehensive interrogation of minister for trade Abdul Falah al-Sudany for the “vast corruption in his ministry.” But as with other complaints of corruption, Maliki has taken no action.

Ali al Fadhily, IPS correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East.

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The Last War & the Next One By Tom Engelhardt

Dandelion Salad

By Tom Engelhardt
May 4, 2008

Descending into Madness in Iraq — and Beyond

The last war won’t end, but in the Pentagon they’re already arguing about the next one.

Let’s start with that “last war” and see if we can get things straight. Just over five years ago, American troops entered Baghdad in battle mode, felling the Sunni-dominated government of dictator Saddam Hussein and declaring Iraq “liberated.” In the wake of the city’s fall, after widespread looting, the new American administrators dismantled the remains of Saddam’s government in its hollowed out, trashed ministries; disassembled the Sunni-dominated Baathist Party which had ruled Iraq since the 1960s, sending its members home with news that there was no coming back; dismantled Saddam’s 400,000 man army; and began to denationalize the economy. Soon, an insurgency of outraged Sunnis was raging against the American occupation was raging.

After initially resisting democratic elections, American occupation administrators finally gave in to the will of the leading Shiite clergyman, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and agreed to sponsor them. In January 2005, these brought religious parties representing a long-oppressed Shiite majority to power, parties which had largely been in exile in neighboring Shiite Iran for years.

Now, skip a few years, and U.S. troops have once again entered Baghdad in battle mode. This time, they’ve been moving into the vast Sadr City Shiite slum “suburb” of eastern Baghdad, which houses perhaps two-and-a-half million closely packed inhabitants. If free-standing, Sadr City would be the second largest city in Iraq after the capital. This time, the forces facing American troops haven’t put down their weapons, packed up, and gone home. This time, no one is talking about “liberation,” or “freedom,” or “democracy.” In fact, no one is talking about much of anything.

And no longer is the U.S. attacking Sunnis. In the wake of the President’s 2007 surge, the U.S. military is now officially allied with 90,000 Sunnis of the so-called Awakening Movement, mainly former insurgents, many of them undoubtedly once linked to the Baathist government U.S. forces overthrew in 2003. Meanwhile, American troops are fighting the Shiite militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, a cleric who seems now to be living in Iran, but whose spokesman in Najaf recently bitterly denounced that country for “seeking to share with the U.S. in influence over Iraq.” And they are fighting the Sadrist Mahdi Army militia in the name of an Iraqi government dominated by another Shiite militia, the Badr Corps of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, whose ties to Iran are even closer.

Ten thousand Badr Corps militia members were being inducted into the Iraqi army (just as the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was demanding that the Mahdi Army militia disarm). This week, an official delegation from that government, which only recently received Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with high honors in Baghdad, took off for Tehran at American bidding to present “evidence” that the Iranians are arming their Sadrist enemies.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Bush-Cheney Israel Disinformation Campaign to Justify an Attack on Iran

Secret Bush “Finding” Widens War on Iran-Democrats OK Funds for Covert Ops

Is War With Iran Imminent? This time, it’s more than a rumor…

Georgian army set to invade Abkhazia (video)

Dandelion Salad


An unnamed source in the Russian military says Georgia could launch a military operation against its breakaway republic of Abkhazia in the next few days. Earlier in the week the Russian Foreign Ministry stated Georgia was increasing its military presence on the border of Abkhazia in preparation for an offensive.

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A Tale of Three Sons by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan

by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
May 4, 2008

In the spring of 2000, my oldest son, Casey Sheehan, was at a crossroads. He was completing his third year at a community college and he had finished all of his lower division requirements. Casey earned an AA in Theatre Arts and was hoping to transfer to Sacramento State and get his teaching degree to teach elementary school. However, working full time and going to college was taking its toll on Casey.

Somehow, an Army recruiter got hold of him at the right time and he was beguiled by the promises of instant wealth (a $20,000 signing bonus that somehow metamorphosed into $4500 when he finished basic training); a specialty that was attractive to him (Chaplain’s assistant) that was transformed into being a humvee mechanic when he reached basic and promises of education that never, ever materialized. After Casey was KIA in Iraq, we got a check for $1200; his educational benefit that was taken out of HIS pay for the first year he was in the Army: One hundred dollars a month for twelve months. Not even one penny of interest for the entire time that the government had his money.

In 2002, Andy, my youngest son, graduated from high school. Uncle Sam allowed Casey to come out on leave to attend his brother’s graduation and the pictures of my four children together at that time break my heart. This was after the tragedy of 9-11, but before the insane invasion of Iraq. Andy was not much of a student and did not do as well as Casey when he tried to take classes at Solano Community College. Not every person is designed to take an academic route, so that was okay, but I worried how was Andy going to support himself without an education? One day, almost miraculously, an apprenticeship job with Operating Engineers, Local 3, fell into Andy’s lap. He was hired to be a land surveyor’s apprentice as age 19 and now at age 24, he is a journeyman in a great union with great pay and benefits. These great opportunities, however, are few and far between for our young people today.

Andy’s union bent over backwards to help him make up his apprenticeship classes after Casey was killed and Andy is getting a quality education while he is getting on the job training. I thank Andy’s lucky stars everyday that he was saved from joining the military: a fate worse than death, for sure.

Any day now, my daughter’s son, Jonah, will make his appearance into this world. Because of his Uncle Casey’s sacrifice, our family will do everything in our power to make sure Jonah does not become cannon fodder or a paid assassin for the Military Industrial Complex. There will be no more naïve, but well-intentioned mistakes in the Sheehan family! Even more important than this, however, the tale of three sons should be instructive to the US population as a whole.

A recent AP article lamented the Democrat’s “politically painful” choice of funding BushCo’s occupation of Iraq for another year. Of course, what the Democrats really mean is that they have to fund Iraq and Afghanistan past the November elections because the leadership is counting on the fact that we Americans have short-term memory when it comes to their callous political expediency. However, now, with the economy in virtual free-fall and the mess in the Middle East worsening by the day, we are all beginning to feel the sting of the personal cost of this occupation.

As a political candidate against the number one Bush enabler, Nancy Pelosi, I have felt the immense personal pain of her politically “painful” decisions and I have a plan that would help our country (and the world, especially Iraq) recover from 8 years of the Bush Horror and prevent more Caseys and promote more Andys and Jonahs.

First, as an emergency measure, we need to start bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We are borrowing from Jonah’s future to fund these occupations at 16 billion a month. We will need to use some of that money as reparations to these countries and to help our veterans reintegrate wholly into society. It has recently been estimated that 18 vets per day commit suicide (6-7 Iraq vets) and 250 more per week try, but are not successful.

Secondly, instead of using this money to fund death and destruction, we immediately institute, or re-institute jobs’ programs that put our unemployed neighbors back to work repairing bridges, levees, roads, schools and other infrastructure that has been crumbling for the last few decades.

Such barriers to fair trade, as NAFTA and other “free” trade agreements need to be repealed and we need to rebuild our trade unions to be the bargaining force that they once were. We need a place for our young Andys to go to learn positive trades with decent pay and benefits.

Finally, to prevent more Caseys, we need to reduce our Pentagon budget to a rational and moral one that would be strong on defense, but not strong enough to be able to staff almost one thousand bases world-wide, nor to be able to embark on illegal wars of aggression. Our “defense” budget has now surpassed an obscene one trillion dollars a year (not counting the twin disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan) and the nation that spends the second most is, with over triple the US population, China, at 65 billion. Adjusting for the fact that we can be the “mightiest” nation on earth, I propose a DOD budget of 70 billion dollars.

We can use the money we save every year to truly reduce taxes on the middle and working classes and invest in institutions and programs that truly make a nation strong: health care, education, jobs, and sustainable forms of energy and farming.

The vampire of US fascist militarism is sucking this country and world dry.To ensure a healthy world for Jonah and all of our children, the monster needs to be stopped!

To invest in the future of our children and grandchildren, please go to: www. CindyforCongress. org

Cheney, Satan sign non-agression pact (satire)


by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
May 3, 2008

GATES OF HELL – Vice President Dick Cheney and Satan announced they have signed a non-aggression pact where each pledges not to interfere with the activities of the other no matter how enticing it might be to jump into the fray. “This is an agreement of historic proportions,” said Yale professor Glen Gidworth, “similar to the non-aggression pact signed by Hitler and Stalin in August 1939, just before Germany invaded Poland to start World War II.” Gidworth speculates that this pact will clear the way for the American invasion of Iran.

The Post Times Sun Dispatch has learned that the Agreement, also known as the Dick and the Devil Pact has secretly divided up the world into “territorial and political arrangements” where some parts of the globe would be ruled by Cheney and the others by Satan. “I hope the US gets Satan,” said a high level official who preferred to remain anonymous, ‘because the other choice is worse.”

“Now that I know that those good ol’ boys won’t be agressicating each other,” said President Bush, “I can concentrate on the most importantest task of being selected President, clearing brush from my ranch.”

“Cheney is the kind of guy I can do business with,” Satan told reporters. “I looked the Devil in the eye,” Cheney said, “and it wasn’t me that blinked.”


Bush-Cheney Israel Disinformation Campaign to Justify an Attack on Iran

Secret Bush “Finding” Widens War on Iran-Democrats OK Funds for Covert Ops

Is War With Iran Imminent? This time, it’s more than a rumor…

Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century

Dandelion Salad

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By Manila Ryce
The Largest Minority
May 3rd, 2008

Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century

With each election cycle, it’s become increasingly clear to me that the United States must make an immediate transition from representative democracy to participatory democracy if our species hopes to be around another 50 years. Understanding how nations like Venezuela are making this transition is essential to building our own “utopia”. Continue reading

America’s Chemically Modified 21st Century Soldiers

Dandelion Salad

By Clayton Dach
May 3, 2008

Armed with potent drugs and new technology, a dangerous breed of soldiers are being trained to fight America’s future wars.

Amphetamines and the military first met somewhere in the fog of WWII, when axis and allied forces alike were issued speed tablets to head off fatigue on the battlefield.

More than 60 years later, the U.S. Air Force still doles out dextro-amphetamine to pilots whose duties do not afford them the luxury of sleep.

Through it all, it seems, the human body and its fleshy weaknesses keep getting in the way of warfare. Just as in the health clinics of the nation, the first waypoint in the military effort to redress these foibles is a pharmaceutical one. The catch is, we’re really not that great at it. In the case of speed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency itself notes a few unwanted snags like addiction, anxiety, aggression, paranoia and hallucinations. For side-effects like insomnia, the Air Force issues “no-go” pills like temazepam alongside its “go” pills. Psychosis, though, is a wee bit trickier.

Far from getting discouraged, the working consensus appears to be that we just haven’t gotten the drugs right yet. In recent years, the U.S., the UK and France — among others — have reportedly been funding investigations into a new line-up of military performance enhancers. The bulk of these drugs are already familiar to us from the lists of substances banned by international sporting bodies, including the stimulant ephedrine, non-stimulant “wakefulness promoting agents” like modafinil (aka Provigil) and erythropoietin, used to improve endurance by boosting the production of red blood cells.

As the chemical interventions grow bolder and more sophisticated, we should not be surprised that some are beginning to cast their eyes beyond droopy eyelids and sore muscles. Chief among the new horizons is the alluring notion of psychological prophylactics: drugs used to pre-empt the often nasty effects of combat stress on soldiers, particularly that perennial veteran’s bugaboo known as post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome. In the U.S., where roughly two-fifths of troops returning from combat deployments are presenting serious mental health problems, PTSD has gone political in form of the Psychological Kevlar Act, which would direct the Secretary of Defense to implement “preventive and early-intervention measures” to protect troops against “stress-related psychopathologies.”


h/t: Civilly disobedient

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