Guns anyone?-Nice Guns!-Cheap Guns!-Hey Mister, need gun?

The New York Times tells the story of Mr Kassim Al-Saffar. Mr Al-Saffar was the trusted representative of the US authorities in Iraq and a splendid businessman, it seems. He was entrusted to distribute small arms to the Iraqi police cadets,who were being trained to fight the insurgency:

By all accounts, the businessman, Kassim al-Saffar, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, did well at distributing the Pentagon-supplied weapons from the Baghdad Police Academy armory he managed for a military contractor. But, co-workers say, he also turned the armory into his own private arms bazaar with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand — Iraqi militias, South African security guards and even American contractors.

Mr Al-Saffar is now in Bahrain and is blissfully unaware of any private business he’s supposed to have done in Iraq. One saucy detail:

Many of those weapons were issued when Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the top American commander in Iraq, was responsible for training and equipping Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. General Petraeus has said that he opted to arm the Iraqi forces as quickly as possible, before tracking systems were fully in place.

Parents’ Pain and Frustration on Veteran’s Day.

From The Bangor Daily News, via CommonDreams.

I found this article over at CommonDreams, and thought it was a very moving account of the Cotes’ anxiety over having a son serving in Iraq, but their unwaivering support of our troops.  As well as their frustration over Senator Susan Collins’ wobbly stance regarding, but continued support of, George W. Bush’s vanity war.

Veterans Day holds a special significance for us as the parents of a sergeant tank commander in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq.We could not be more proud of our son’s service to his country, and we could not appreciate more the sacrifices being made by families with loved ones in Iraq. However, we could not be more outraged by the Bush administration’s bungled handling of this war, or Sen. Susan Collins’ continued support for it.

President Bush has had more than four and a half years to implement a successful policy, but under his leadership the situation in Iraq has gone from bad to worse to where we are now. We have American men and women dying while policing someone else’s religious civil war.

Instead of accepting the reality of the situation on the ground and listening to the American people, the president continues to stand by a failed strategy and Sen. Collins follows him down this dangerous path, at times saying that she is against the war but refusing to support binding legislation to end it. She is the lone remaining member of our state’s congressional delegation to endorse the president’s failed policy.

In Maine and across the country, people are crying out for our leaders to change the course in Iraq and bring our troops home safely. Leading the charge are thousands of Americans who have served in Iraq or whose loved ones are serving in Iraq.

This is not a small group of activists calling for an end to the war; it is not the typical anti-war crowd. We have never been particularly political ourselves, but this issue goes beyond politics. Americans are firmly united around bringing our troops home, but President Bush and Sen. Collins stand in the way.

Sen. Collins won’t even explain her position to her constituents, having turned down an invitation to a community town hall to discuss Iraq in Orono this summer. As constituents of Sen. Collins, and as the parents of a soldier serving in Iraq, we find it personally insulting that Sen. Collins won’t answer questions from her constituents on the war in such forums.

Read the rest of the article here.

Support the Troops, Bring Them Home Now.

Veterans without Healthcare

Originally posted in The New York Times published Friday November 9th.

Although many Americans believe that the nation’s veterans have ready access to health care, that is far from the case. A new study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has found that millions of veterans and their dependents have no access to care in veterans’ hospitals and clinics and no health insurance to pay for care elsewhere. Their plight represents yet another failure of our disjointed health care system to provide coverage for all Americans.

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A great one leaves the stage

Love him or hate him, and at various times in his career he invited both, Norman Mailer was impossible to ignore, and may have been one of the last of the great literary characters in this country. It’s certainly difficult to imagine who could throw a shadow to match his among the current feeble generation of “writers” in the US.

Impossible to suggest that he rest in peace; that sort of quietude just wasn’t in him.

Good Morning from Europe – Remembrance Day and 435 Days to Go

Remembrance Day

 “If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

(Rudyard Kipling)

It’s  Remembrance Day today. Time to look at how the young men and women who are fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and getting maimed in the process are doing. Not too good, as it turns out not quite unexpectedly. Injured soldiers’ families are accusing the British government of hiding away the unpleasant realities. The forces fighting in Afghanistan are streched to the limit.  The British troops, still serving in Iraq are feeling the lack of interest in their plight. And, maybe worst of all, the ones sending them in harms way are incompetent or uncaring.  And, while we are remembering the fallen, the next war is in the making. Continue reading

Way To Go Rocky!! (A MUST read!)

We need more Americans around this country to stand up and speak out like this man; speaking truth to power. Time to wake up America!


Address by Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson on October 27, 2007

Salt Lake City, Utah —

Today, as we come together once again in this great city, we raise our voices in unison to say to President Bush, to Vice President Cheney, to other members of the Bush Administration (past and present), to a majority of Congress, including Utah’s entire congressional delegation, and to much of the mainstream media: “You have failed us miserably and we won’t take it any more.”

“While we had every reason to expect far more of you, you have been pompous, greedy, cruel, and incompetent as you have led this great nation to a moral, military, and national security abyss.”

“You have breached trust with the American people in the most egregious ways. You have utterly failed in the performance of your jobs. You have undermined our Constitution, permitted the violation of the most fundamental treaty obligations, and betrayed the rule of law.”

“You have engaged in, or permitted, heinous human rights abuses of the sort never before countenanced in our nation’s history as a matter of official policy. You have sent American men and women to kill and be killed on the basis of lies, on the basis of shifting justifications, without competent leadership, and without even a coherent plan for this monumental blunder.”

“We are here to tell you: We won’t take it any more!”
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