Thursday, October 28, 2004

Household Survey Projects 100,000 Iraqi Deaths

from The Associated Press
A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.
American Crew May Have Filmed Missing Weapons Post-Saddam

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.
9/11 Families: Vote Kerry, Please

from The New York Times
The principal advocacy group for families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks blamed President Bush and a group of House Republicans on Wednesday for the failure of Congress to approve a bill to enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission and overhaul the nation's intelligence agencies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Let Her Go

"The Greatest Explosives Bonanza in History"

from The New York Times
The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Bush Vs. Kerry: An Iraqi's View

from Baghdad Burning
Some people associate the decision to go to war as a ‘strength’. How strong do you need to be to commit thousands of your countrymen and women to death on foreign soil? Especially while you and your loved ones sit safely watching at home. How strong do you need to be to give orders to bomb cities to rubble and use the most advanced military technology available against a country with a weak army and crumbling infrastructure?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A lot of what passes for political dialogue in this country is just blatant lying. The government has an advanced degree in it, as governments typically do. I suppose our system works so the politically active sector of the population focuses wholeheartedly on the (not subtle) lies of the other side, rarely questioning their own; there are only two choices, after all. In the meantime, the rest of the population (50%--maybe more?) doesn't even participate. That leaves us with relatively small numbers of very vocal liars dominating the American political system.
Bush Campaign Endorsed by Iran

from The Associated Press
The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Letters to Americans

How wide is the gap between we Iraqis and America? For me, one of the benefits of this war is that it has brought American people here. We used to imagine the American through the movies: a superhuman, devoid of faults. But the war revealed the American to be simply an ordinary person, like all of us. He could be kind-hearted, peaceful and polite, or he could be vicious, aggressive and brutish. He could be intelligent and witty, or he could be unintelligent or average.

Yet in my own personal experience here, I can truthfully say I have never encountered or heard of noble attitudes from American soldiers towards Iraqi people. I am sorry: I have wished to meet an understanding, tender soldier. I would have written something nice about him. But I never have.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Riverbend FAQ

A lot of you have been asking about my background and the reason why my English is good. I am Iraqi- born in Iraq to Iraqi parents, but was raised abroad for several years as a child. I came back in my early teens and continued studying in English in Baghdad- reading any book I could get my hands on. Most of my friends are of different ethnicities, religions and nationalities. I am bilingual. There are thousands in Iraq like me- kids of diplomats, students, ex-patriots, etc.

As to my connection with Western culture... you wouldn't believe how many young Iraqi people know so much about American/British/French pop culture. They know all about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, Whitney Houston, McDonalds, and M.I.B.s... Iraqi tv stations were constantly showing bad copies of the latest Hollywood movies. (If it's any consolation, the Marines lived up to the Rambo/ Terminator reputation which preceded them.)

But no matter what- I shall remain anonymous. I wouldn't feel free to write otherwise. I think Salam and Gee are incredibly brave... who knows, maybe one day I will be too. You know me as Riverbend, you share a very small part of my daily reality- I hope that will suffice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Around the World with Oprah: Women at 30

from Baghdad Burning
So where does the valium fit in? Imagine through all of this commotion, an elderly aunt who is terrified of bombing. She was so afraid, she couldn't, and wouldn't, sit still. She stood pacing the hallway, cursing Bush, Blair and anyone involved with the war- and that was during her calmer moments. When she was feeling especially terrified, the curses and rampage would turn into a storm of weeping and desolation (during which she imagines she can't breathe)- we were all going to die. They would have to remove us from the rubble of our home. We'd burn alive. And so on. And so forth.

During those fits of hysteria, my cousin would quietly, but firmly, hand her a valium and a glass of water. The aunt would accept both and in a matter of minutes, she'd grow calmer and a little bit more sane. This aunt wasn't addicted to valium, but it certainly came in handy during the more hectic moments of the war.
Nuclear Material Missing in Iraq

Satellite images show entire buildings have been dismantled without any record being made, said Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Iraq Disks Pose No Threat to Schools

Some days ago, the media announced that a computer disk containing information about US schools was found in Iraq. The implication was that Al-Qaeda was in Iraq (which, without any time component, suggests they had been there pre-invasion), and that it was poised to attack US schools a la Beslan. And yet how quietly was the story laid to rest? So quietly that it took a person who trolls every media clearinghouse a day and a half to read that FBI Agent William Evanina said "There's no terrorism threat to these schools."

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Men of Mistakes

from Talking Points Memo
In the president’s world, accountability and punishment aren’t for the folks who make the mistakes. They’re for the people who recognize the mistakes or, God forbid, admit them. And when the president had a chance to come up with any mistakes he might have made in four years as president the one that instinctively popped into his mind were the times he’d appointed folks who turned out to be from the second category, rather than the first.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Arcata, CA Impeaches Bush

from The Times-Standard
Arcata is calling on Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to be impeached for having "planned, prepared, initiated and waged ... wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq ... in violation of numerous international laws," including the U.N. Charter, Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Accords and the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Most Guantanamo Detainees to be Released

from The Washington Post
Most of the alleged al Qaeda and Taliban inmates at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are likely to be freed or sent to their home countries for further investigation because many pose little threat and are not providing much valuable intelligence, the facility's deputy commander has said.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Rumsfeld, Bremer Retract Iraq Confessions

from CNN
"A question I answered today at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) regarding ties between al Qaeda and Iraq regrettably was misunderstood. I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between al Qaeda and Iraq."

- Donald Rumsfeld

Monday, October 04, 2004

Limited Time Only Blog

Stunning political analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election from another member of the pop-band overlord:

Ask him about how he played bass with The Violent Femmes over the weekend... dammit.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Bringing Back the Draft?

commentary from
I would favor a draft if it were a fair system. I don't think there's anything wrong with the idea that people contribute equally to something like the national defense. People will fight for things they believe in. If, however, people feel their leaders haven't provided the justification for war, they'll be less inclined to endorse it. If they feel it's immoral, they'll resist in the ways we saw during the Vietnam War, making it impossible for the government to pursue the war past a certain point (I think a fair draft could have ended it earlier). A draft presumes that everyone has a duty to defend their nation, but it also encourages popular opposition to misadventures that too frequently don't fall under that description.
Admiring Laura Bush

This afternoon a co-worker told me he shared John Kerry's admiration for First Lady Laura Bush. "Anyone who's stayed with that drunken fool for thirty years deserves admiration," he said.