McCall said that he would spend the holidays quietly, just hanging out with his Canadian girlfriend. He maintains that he has no regrets, including joining the U.S. army.
"Now that I'm in Canada and I'm in Vancouver, I realize how little I did really know about the world," he said. "I had pretty much been brainwashed my entire life, not to realize the struggles that are happening all over the world on a daily basis."
This week, Nasser waited outside what's now called the "reconciliation hall" in Baghdad's Jihad neighborhood for Amin to appear. In her arms she cradled her year-old son, whom she'd named Moubin, the Iraqi word for apparent.
"I called him Moubin hoping that his father would appear for his eyes," she said. Moubin had never met his father.
Now Amin was one of 15 detainees who'd be released as part of a reconciliation program that the U.S. military's 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment put together in hopes of easing tensions in this divided neighborhood. But the release showed how far reconciliation has to go.
More than 25,000 Iraqis are now in U.S. detention facilities. The Jihad reconciliation committee of Sunni and Shiite Muslims had requested that 562 men be released. Last month, 48 people were released, but 40 more were detained.
There is no 'win' in Iraq, there never was. The US needs to pull out immediately. Let the Iraqi people be in charge of their country. This is from"friendly argument" by an Iraqi correspondent (Inside Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers) explaining a recent taxi ride conversation with a cab driver:
Reality that you may or may not come across in most news resources.
Lynda and Billie both had a highlight they e-mailed in and they note the same things in their e-mails about the highlight. But Billie just e-mailed another one and it's not going to fit in here but we're forcing it in. The topic is Jamie Leigh Jones and the violence women experience and it really should have been in the last entry, but we'll force it in here. From Marie Tessier's "Sexual Violence as Occupational Hazard -- In Iraq and at Home in the U.S.A." (TWMC):
Nearly half of all sexual assault victims are fired or lose their jobs in the year following the assault, according to figures from the feminist law group Legal Momentum. Some states have passed laws to ensure that crime victims have a right to leave work for criminal proceedings or medical care. The far-reaching impact of sexual assault, however, often renders such legal protections meaningless, and few cover civil court proceedings such as seeking protection from abuse.
"Sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking all naturally affect the ability of anyone to concentrate or focus on work," says Legal Momentum senior staff attorney Maya Raghu. "If a sexual assault happens at work or the perpetrator was a co-worker, it can make the workplace itself a traumatic experience."
Moreover, about one in five acts of nonfatal violence happen in the workplace, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. While Jones' story from the Green Zone is stark and its details dramatic, its facts and its outcome are not unique. She speaks for thousands of sexual assault victims confounded by the failures of justice and facing the Hobson's choice of keeping a job or trying to heal.
In terms of criminal law, much of the media coverage of military contractors and their culpability for alleged crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan describes them as enjoying a "loophole" where no laws apply. In fact, while a tangle of laws create a long list of legal defenses for contractors accused of crimes in a war zone, prominent scholars and attorneys point out that legal contracts do not authorize crimes. "The underlying law is in place in many of these contractor cases," University of Connecticut law professor Laura Dickinson told Women's Media Center. Dickinson is an authority on private contractors, foreign affairs and human rights. "We haven't had any prosecution because there's no enforcement mechanism in place, and no U.S. attorney’s office that's equipped to bring the cases."
Lastly, Billie and Lynda both noted a highlight yesterday. They both noted it was important for everyone to remember that there are holidays plural and that, even with all those holidays, not everyone is celebrating. They both enjoyed the way Robin Morgan celebrates this time of year. From the opening of Morgan's "The Four Solstice Miracles" (The Women's Media Center):
The last year I sent Christmas cards was 1968: a plain, black-bordered card, mourning the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinations and the ongoing Vietnam War, urging friends to donate to movement groups instead of buying gifts. I never sent Christmas cards again, not even UNICEF cards, nor, when options became available, a veritable glut of commercialism masquerading as diversity: Hanukkah cards, Kwanzaa cards, Devali, Ramadan, and Winter Solstice cards (this last sensible, at least, since all year-end holidays are clones of solstice festivals). A secularist, I'm happy not participating in a ritual that devours forests for paper, earns millions for Hallmark and its corporate brothers, and feeds the seasonal-obligations frenzy. But.
I do send four special . . . well, messages during this season, so I can hardly pretend they’re not holiday greetings. But these particular recipients deserve far more than my humble communications, written on personal notepaper, manger- and menorah-free, unsequined by santas, kente cloth, dreydls, or overworked non-unionized elves. This is not because these four people--all highly unusual Christians--send me annual messages, or because their stories are the sort not reported in world media. It's because the imperative of their extraordinary lives inspires a loving, respectful response. Their names are partially changed here, to protect their privacy. But all four are real.
Tonight in most PBS markets (check local listings) PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio will air:
In this holiday season, is there a solution to chronic homelessness? What do homeless people most need to reenter the fabric of society? Some say the answer is right there in the question: homes. On December 21 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW investigates a program that secures apartments for the long-term homeless, even if they haven't kicked their bad habits.
If you think that sounds crazy, think again. Advocates say this approach reduces costs, encourages self-help and counseling participation, and restores self-esteem. NOW follows a man nicknamed 'Footie' who invited us to see this idea in action.
As a holiday gift, see the show for free RIGHT NOW at the NOW website:http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/305/index.html
Also, watch a web-exclusive video report about how some homeless earn a living on the street, and assumption-busting truths about America's homeless population.
Check out as well the Top 10 NOW reports of 2007! www.pbs.org/now
now with david branccacio